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Please Remove Me

On the topic of AI, Bots, and Coded Scripts

By sleepy draftsPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 5 min read
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Please Remove Me
Photo by Cash Macanaya on Unsplash

The topic of AI and bots is not a new one, especially on Vocal. Since comments were introduced to Vocal, the issue has become even more apparent, and quite honestly - it's reached a point of being infuriating to me.

As this technology becomes more sophisticated, it can be harder to sniff out what's genuine and what isn't. Still, there's a certain gut feeling that comes along with receiving a bot comment, and once the pattern of consistent evidence starts trickling in, well - it's hard to ignore. When the comment consistently rolls in 30 seconds after posting an article with a 5-minute read time, or the comment doesn't make any sense in relation to the piece being commented on, or the same pattern of discrepancy between reads and likes shows up on every story certain individuals comment on/like... you put the pieces together, eventually.

And what can I say - I don't like dishonesty.

I keep seeing my friends who work very hard on leaving thoughtful, genuine comments on nearly everyone they subscribe to's work get screwed over by this sort of thing come leadership board time. It's not even about the money, it's about the discouraging feeling of seeing someone work hard to be a light in the community, only to see another take the importance of that for granted by throwing a bot into the mix.

And I have to say since certain bots and writers who use coded scripts, or writers who have made multiple Vocal accounts to comment on their own Vocal+ account (harder to track with VPNs,) have received leadership board recognition, top stories, and the like (by complete accident, I truly think,) there has been an influx of more bots on the platform.

I was debating posting this but it's gotten to a point where I feel like I need to say something or risk losing the platform I love and its integrity to the bot tsunami. I don't know if people can't tell or are too polite to say anything... so, I decided maybe it's time I should speak out.

Today I want to talk about one very, verrrrrrry specific aspect of AI that I don't know if everyone knows about, though. For your consideration. But first, I need to take a bit of a detour (I promise it all leads back to the same place.)

I love playing League of Legends, however, I'm not very good. Therefore, I'm in the lower levels. Now, keep in mind that League is a live game with live players - that means no pausing and every interaction needs to be deliberated in real-time. Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues with being in the lower levels is that other players will use "scripted bots" to try and "level climb" without actually playing. These scripted bots are clumsy and mess up the entire game for everyone since the bot isn't playing in real time; the little animated character is following a coded script that is programmed with a sequence of commands to tell it what to do and where to go based off general data and statistics online, instead of the human player moving up levels by actually playing the game.

In short: it's cheating. And it never works. Especially not in the long run.

(Like... bro, you're bad at the game and you're bad at cheating? Why are you still doing this? Go away!)

Now let's say a user on Vocal was able to script a code with commands to automatically leave comments in a similar fashion. That means they don't ever have to read your piece or even remember your username, so long as they're subscribed or you're subscribed to them. The script just goes in and comments on subscriptions/subscribers' pieces with generic messages. That gives the writer all the time in the world to work on their own writing or leave the computer without having to put in the same effort or dedication many of us do to try and make it as a writer on the internet. This person leaves the appearance of being a hard worker or loyal reader and then racks up the reads, views, genuine comments, and money from Vocal while providing nothing authentic in return. Just the odd pop-in with a genuine comment to make the account look real every once in a while and avoid getting reported before letting their script-bot take over again.

Genuis! My goodness.

Now, I don't expect Vocal to be able to keep up with all these bots, scripts, and shenanigans. It's a lot and it's hard to tell for certain if a user is a bot or not, especially if they're using this method. No one wants to accidentally boot someone off their platform because they think they're a bot when really it could boil down to a language barrier or social awkwardness. In that case, I think with the ever-evolving, wide-open Pandora's box that is AI, we, as internet users need to become a little more savvy when it comes to protecting ourselves (and our energy) online.

The only solution I could really come up with on Vocal's end would be to add a comment box to the report feature to explain unique spam situations or to add a tickable box that mentions "coded script suspicion" to the report feature. A human moderator would have to go in and evaluate it, though, which costs money to make happen - we don't want our lovely mods overworked, and I don't know how Vocal's back end operates, so this is just a suggestion from my very narrow perspective! My only other suggestion would be to add a block feature (which I understand could also have its own setbacks/potential drama attached to it.)

So all I have left to say is this:

To the users who comment but don't read, use coded scripts, put a user profile that does well on Vocal through ChatGPT and ask for a poem or story based on that profile, plagiarize stories, or make multiple fake accounts to harass a creator - whether you're using a coded script or not...

Please remove me from your subscription list.

No number of surface-level comments or link bombs will make me support you. I will never read your work. If I already have when I thought you were real, you won't see my name again. You will find with time, I likely won't be the only one.

Which, honestly? Is sad. Especially if you're an artist who has created something worth sharing and you're using a bot just to boost numbers.

Don't let your ego destroy your art by destroying the most important thing you have as a writer: your readers' trust.

And if you aren't using a bot and are just spamming disingenuine comments, likes, and links because you think you're automatically entitled to eyes on your work? Or worse yet, plagiarizing because you think you're owed "easy" money? Well, you're just an asshole. A real-life human asshole.

But that doesn't mean you can't change and do better in the future.

Cheers!

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sleepy drafts

a sleepy writer named em :)

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Comments (50)

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  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    Many of us have written similar stories/rants, yet it only gets worse. Maybe Vocal should do away with free sign up. Let them pay for everything...sorry authentic people, but it is getting crazy out there.

  • Bozhan Bozhkov2 months ago

    I knew that some "creators" use AI to prepare their texts, and there are also crafts who use special software to alter other people's texts to make them sound different. But today, I realized that people are even resorting to cheating with comments and fake reads! I am surprised by the ingenuity of some people when it comes to cheting. I'm completely speechless.

  • Harbor Benassa2 months ago

    I'm so glad I saw this, I was starting to get worried about this website falling to an influx of bots. Honestly, allowing anything AI on this platform is a terrible idea, and it always bothers me when genuine writers include AI images in their prompts or stories, even. AI needs to be completely banned in creative spaces. It is literally just theft. If someone can't publish good work honestly, they don't deserve to be among those of us who do.

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Sleepy Drafts, thank You for making such a well put together article! Girl, there ain't nothing I hate despise more than cheaters trying to ride other people's coat tails only to try to yank them off their own horse in ride into the sunset on another person's success. Goodness, the bots, AI, scripts, and even real people making multiple fake accounts have made the desire to leave Vocal that much more tempting. The only reason why I stay around as much these days is to finish off a few pieces that I have here and to interact with a few friends that I've become well acquainted with.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing! I wasn't aware!!! Loved you story!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Kalina Bethany2 months ago

    I enjoyed the use of ego in this, because that is definitely at play. Once I achieve a Computer Science degree, how about I come back on here and kick all these bots out for good?! 😁 AI… Oye

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Thank you for addressing this issue and calling them out. It's sad and infuriating that we live in such a fake world. Cheating is a disease. A passive-aggressive one.

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    Thanks for putting this out there. I don't really get how this stuff works i.e. bots and such. I understand AI in relation to creating things and I don't like that part of it, though I understand it is difficult to find an image for a story when you need one. If art or photography is your thing then using AI to create it is cheating. If writing is your thing then using AI to produce it is cheating and it is only cheating yourself in the end. I worry for where it's all going.

  • Krishan Mubashar2 months ago

    Thanks for speaking out loud! For some time I was wondering if I should speak out on this, but always decided against it, because I was not sure what will happen then. I guess, as long as you can make money with comments, we have to face frauds. I hate it, but... (also because those who comments for real have no chance of earning that money)

  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    It needed saying, well done for saying it!

  • Rene Peters2 months ago

    I couldn't agree more. There have been a lot of times where I'm unsure if a profile is AI so I request Mother Combs's advice. If she agrees that it seems to be AI, I report it but it seems like nothing happens most of the time. I had one piece (I forget which one) where it was a sad piece but the comment made it sound like it was some upbeat piece, like they wanted me to feel that way. Needless to say, I was pissed about it.

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    I have been so naive with this, and each time I think I'm wising up, the paranoia that I'm wrong rears it's head and I end up giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I don't know how to stop! Thismorning I read a story about trying to goad AI into insulting the writer, but I ran it through a detector which said it was written by ai, I mean, is this the ultimate satire?

  • Meg2 months ago

    Enjoyed reading this and couldn't agree more!

  • Natasja Rose2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this! AI should be used for help desks to filter out the people who need to be told to turn their device off and on again from those who need help, not for creative writing!

  • Sandra Matos2 months ago

    Thank you for writing this! I feel so old with AI. I can't tell. Sometimes I feel like I can tell but what if I am wrong? As far as comments, I can tell for sure that some people haven't read my work before commenting. I try to be thorough when I comment on someone's writing. I write about what touched me or caught my interest. Because of this, I can't read or comment as much as I would like to but,I believe in quality over quantity. I'm going to look up Judey's articles on how to spot AI, do you know the title of the article?

  • Mohammed Darasi2 months ago

    Sheesh! "A real life Homan asshole" gave me a nice laugh 😂. This piece was so well done, and definitely shows an unfortunate reality for vocal. There is a specific profile on here that I actually reported to vocal before because I believe they were using AI for their stories and comments, I mean their comments literally had quotation marks! 😂. I even tested them to see if they were actually real people but they failed those tests (by replying to their comment with a question for example, but not getting an answer, or commenting on one of their stories with a question that should start an interesting discussion but it went nowhere)... Sadly the report seems to not have worked because they're still here, and I'm pretty sure they won "most supportive comments" at least once on those leaderboards which actually made me laugh 😂😂. Aaaaanyway. Great piece, and we all share your frustrations 👍🏽

  • Kodah2 months ago

    I feel very fooled that I didn't spot these AI generated pieces🤦 It never came to my mind that people on Vocal would do that. Thanks for this!! 💓

  • /-\ 5 |-| 3 R2 months ago

    Blocking would be a solution down and upvotes would be easy enough to add and implement a karma system. Humans sniff out bots (still) with relative ease. Enough down votes (-1pt) or blocks (-10pts) could nullify someone's karma quite quickly. That could be gamed and you could have gang attacks on someone. But that's rare enough that an appeal system would not be a terrible load on the back end team.

  • Call Me Les2 months ago

    Well said Em! 👏

  • Mackenzie Davis2 months ago

    I, too, would like to be removed from their sub list! If they're reading this.... :D Fantastic piece, Em. I had no idea about the coded scripts and stuff. It doesn't surprise me, of course, I just don't know how all that works. There are a lot of fake accounts out there. I always wonder how many of my subscribers are fake...and I almost wish we could see that list so we could more easily report them. But...I really like your idea of adding to the comment report function. I know "spam" is already there, but this isn't exactly that, is it? Ugh. I'm still working on finalizing my article about AI art models. The more I see AI BS the more I hate it. And I don't want to hate it, really. I like the idea of it as a tool. But not for stuff like this. I wish humans were better. Congrats on your Top Story to be! Ain't no way this won't be on the homepage soon. It's got way too much engagement!! :D ❤️

  • I was hoping you'd drop names like Naveed, Ha Le Sa, etc. Lol. Celia, Judey and I have collaborated on a piece exposing these people on Google Docs but none of us is willing to publish it, lol. If you're interested, I'll send you the link and you can publish it. I really want people to know the names of these frauds! And boycott them! Naveed has already placed 3 times on the Leaderboard and Ha Le Sa 2 times. But it may be more times. I just feel it's not fair to genuine writers and readers! Also, I had no idea about the coded scripts thingy. I'm not very well versed with all these tech stuff and I had no idea they can even use that to cheat on games! I also knew about ChatGPT!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    One top story coming up: Thank you for writing this, one of my stories was recently rewritten by AI and submitted. Thankfully someone spotted it and informed me. Vocal responded quickly with my concern, That persons site is now closed. As for the quick response once it is posted, yep drives me a little crazy. Or others that never read just click like and move on. Well said , Signed, non bot

  • This does not compute. Danger, Will Robinson! She's onto us! Maybe it's my autism, but while I get the occasional link bomber or vacuous comment, I can't say I see a whole lot of AI on my stuff. Which probably means I ought to be writing & publishing more, lol. But I heartily agree with everything you say. I have early on subscribed to people who were putting out AI material (Judey helped me learn how to identify it) & I have to say I got tired of it real quickly & unsubscribed.

  • Colt Henderson2 months ago

    It's ridiculous this is happening. I can't believe someone has now been ripped off of their work. I am sure it has happened before, but this is getting crazy. Thanks for the very relevant rant.

  • Rachel M.J2 months ago

    Yes!! Thank you! I would love the option to delete comments, too. It's such a shame to see genuine comments left by friends and readers get buried under thoughtless 'congrats' comments on any top story.

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