Tackling Spam and Inauthentic Behavior
Strengthening moderation, empowering users, and building trust.
Some of you have shared your frustrations lately about link-bombing, spammers soliciting sketchy websites, and bot/AI-generated comments and stories on Vocal. We know how hard you all work to create stories and we want all creators to get support and feedback from real users.
This isn't a new problem for us, or any community-driven site that reaches scale. Within the first few months of launching Vocal, we saw bad actors creating spam and plagiarizing stories. At the time, our moderation team was small, and we all would literally spend every free minute moderating stories.
Over the years, we continued to invest in tools and methods to combat inauthentic behavior and scale moderation, but with the release of comments a few months back, in conjunction with large language model tools like ChatGTP being more accessible, the spam problem has become more dire.
Thankfully, we have a few more people and tools in place to mitigate this issue. We can't expose all of the techniques we use to detect and remove bad behavior, as doing so makes it easier for bad actors to exploit the system, but here are a few things we are working on behind the scenes that we would like to share in an effort to be more transparent .
Increasing moderation and curation
We're constantly building more automated tooling for moderation and curation, but sometimes there’s no replacement for real people. That's why we are increasing our human moderation team to ensure bad actors are flagged and removed faster than ever.
Additionally, our engineering team has helped us create better tools for programmatic detection, which has dramatically improved our spam detection capabilities.
We're also going to be increasing the aggressiveness of our policies. Our moderation actions will continue to get more severe as necessary to ensure bad actors are penalized. Please do not be that creator whose stories and/or commenting privileges get banned due to shady tactics.
A few months back, we introduced the Report link on stories and comments, but it has become more important in recent weeks as we’ve seen an increase in ChatGPT-created comments and stories. We've had a discussion internally about auto-detection of AI generated content, but at this time these models are still a work-in-progress. In the interim, we kindly ask that the community help us by reporting any bot-generated comments and stories you find on Vocal. You may even receive a Bonus for helping us tackle this issue.
Recently, we've introduced Vocal Creator Chat, Raise Your Voice, and Future Challenges threads. We're hoping these remain spam free and act as a framework to foster genuine community engagement.
Trust and verification
We've also added more significant focus on email verification, as well as surfacing the age of Vocal accounts on profile pages. We implemented Stripe Identity, which helps us confirm the identity of users to prevent fraud attacks for payments on Vocal.
We're also exploring different ways users can authenticate their identity directly on Vocal using connected social accounts. We'll keep you updated as this progresses.
Spam is a never-ending battle for any social platform online, but we're committed to keeping Vocal a safe, genuine platform where creators can thrive.
We appreciate your patience. Let us know your feedback and suggestions in the comments below or in the Vocal Creator Chat on Tuesday @ 12PM ET.
About the Creator
Justin @ Vocal
Founder of Vocal. COO/President of Creatd ($VOCL), the parent company of the Vocal platform.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Every single piece I write on Vocal is authentic. I use my own words and voice. I spend hours sometimes, working on my chapter stories which are often slow processes. I even spend time with pen and paper sometimes working stories out before I publish, and then there are some I just write! So, I really appreciate this Justin.
Hi [email protected], I am doing a vocal creators interview blog. It is very popular in Vocal Facebook group. I was wondering if you would allow me to interview you . You can contact me at [email protected] Vocal community love to learn about their fellow writers
Hi, Justin. I apologize if this is the wrong place for my inquiry, but I'm having an ongoing issue that may be related to the measures discussed. On five occasions, I've had challenge submissions—all of which carefully followed the guidelines—removed from a challenge in error. This has mostly occurred in recent months. I contacted customer support and was told the problem would be passed along, but I haven't heard back. I'm now wondering if the initial round of sorting is done by computer? Is it possible that my entries are being confused with spam? Not sure how it works. Is there anything I could be doing wrong? I'd just like to resolve this going forward. Thanks very much!
Yes, a comment section would be much better with linking disabled.
Thank you! I’m sure it’s a far more complex task than we can imagine. One possible method of control is limit the ability to “comment” to accounts with Stripe. This may already be the case and I demonstrate the limits of of my knowledge. I appreciate you taking the time to address this with us.
Your article demonstrates a high level of research and analysis
Okay, what are You going to do about malicious reporting that targets real, genuine, authors? I had a comment of mine get reported 18 times and I was mentioned that I "violated community guidelines," but was never told what guidelines I violated. I finally got the answer to which comment of mine was reported. Yet, things still seemed improperly handled. Only comments I report are spammers and link bombers. I can understand if hateful, hazing, and belittling comments are being taken down. However, when Vocal just strips an a genuine person's ability to comment, especially without providing detailed, logical reasonings for removing said comment(s) and/or ability to comment something tells me that's not just a bug in the system. Something tells me that there's something else going on behind the scenes as well. It may be as simple as an "oops" or "I don't get paid enough to deal with this," but the platform owes it to the creators to be as genuine as the creators are. Besides, I'm not the only person this has happened to. Some people have reported spam comments and replies to those spam comments affect whoever's the author of the replying comment.
Thanks for your hard work and updates!
As long as AI doesn’t win a challenge, I’m fine with the spam comments 😅
Ying will always have it's yang, You guys work hard, it is much appreciated. Vocal is like an addiction, a therapy session for many, A quiet respite and release where we can relax and meditate through words. Many blessings on your hard work.
I imagine keeping on top of spammers and fake accounts, as well as identifying AI content or plagiarised content has sadly become such a large undertaking anymore. Thank you for all that you've been doing and for working to remain flexible and relevant to these sensitive issues. Do you know if the issue has been resolved with reporting responses to comments? There were several creators that had commenting suspended in error because the responses to comments were being reported and the author of the story was penalized inadvertently. I stopped reporting those for the time being.
Good job, Vocal fam!
Thank you for making us feel valued . 🙂
Thanks so much. There are always going to be a few bad apples. Vocal is fab though and I wouldn’t have started writing again without it.
Thank you for dealing with this.
We really appreciate the update, keep up the good work. Vocal is an excellent Platform and I would hate to see it marred by a few bad actors
This user has a profile made up entirely of stolen Top Stories and Vocal Challenge Winners. Several members of our Facebook Group reported their profile yesterday but the profile is still viewable. They need to be removed immediately. Here is the link to their page for convenience. https://vocal.media/authors/sam-t9au7y0n1b
Thank you, I am delighted that you doing this,
I am really glad you guys are addressing it. I think it's really rude when people start linking their work on top stories just to get attention. Like it's not fair to the creator who earned that spot. Continue working on your craft and your stories will get featured eventually. And this is coming from someone who's been featured in the past. Like write stuff that's meaningful and empowering. Stuff that you are passionate about and others will follow along in that journey. But stop stealing the light from others in the process who earned their moment.
Glad to hear this!
Thank you so much! As Mike said most of the comments given on a story are supportive and authentic. There are unfortunately still some "bad actors" who will spam or worse plagiarize work that is not theirs. I'm glad Vocal is hearing creators on this and continuing to make improvements to the platform.
I appreciate it. I do use the Report option, and just this morning reported the stories a new 'writer' is lifting and submitting (word for word, image for image, title for title!) from other authors, top stories, and Challenge winners. I'm glad that using these tools are encouraged because we value this platform, as well as the genuine efforts of our fellow writers/creators.