Do you suspect product shills on the board?

I have to admit, now that the boards are googleable, whenever I read a thread asking about a certain product or service, or complaining about some defect, and a previously unknown name with a recent register date pops up to defend that product or service, I tend to think “shill”.

I’d guess most of you would think the same. But what do you do after? Do you give in to the urge to look up their posting history to see if they really are a shill or simply a fanboy? Do you report that person to the mods?
For me, it’s a bit too much trouble to do all that research, so I don’t bother. But I wonder, how many of us do?

There has been at least one thread or mention of this before and pretty well confirmed. As confirmed as we can get without one of these Shill Posters actually coming out and saying as much.

But yes I do believe certain posters around here only create accounts to defend their product or service (GameFly I’m looking at you).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy an ice cold 20oz bottle of thirst quenching Dr Pepper (Are you a pepper?) then retire to my perfectly comfortable bed, thanks to my new Sleep Number mattress. What’s your number?

I see it a fair bit on other message boards - they’re quite often very obvious in that it’s not just a newbie touting the product, but they also resurrected a years-old thread to post it, or the link to the product is in their sig and the post content is gibberish or some bland message thanking everyone for their input.

I report them when they’re obvious and if I have the time, I research borderline cases by googling a selected phrase from them, to see if it’s been posted elsewhere.


There have also been a number of posts by people that ask suspicious questions and later show they were indeed trying to do something boarder line ethical. They were asking for help all along to to set this up, but didn’t say so knowing they wouldn’t get help. I won’t try to post links, as I remember only the latest poster to do this, and I really don’t want to deal with the drama that will ensue. This is why we have moderators to clean up the board, gather information against the poster, and to kick them in the posterior with a jackboot.

We occasionally get shills, yes. Usually they’re content spammers. On occasion, it’s someone who’s done a search on his service or product and found us.

When one of us on the moderating staff finds a clearly spam post, we immediately remove it and, if it’s a brand new poster, we generally ban the poster, too. If it’s questionable, we send it around the mod email and ask other opinions. We might or might not wish a thread or post into the cornfield while we review it.

We remove quite a few posts, and we do it quickly. Personally, I prefer to remove threads and posts and ban spammers while the spammer is trying to create another thread. I don’t know what sort of message the spammer gets when he tries to submit another spam post, but I hope it’s something along the lines of “You are the lowliest life form on this planet, and an utter disappointment to your parents.”

This is different from:

and this:

I believe the OP was talking about something like this (See Lepracorn and Jack Batty’s exchange)

That’s why I use [product]Amazing Stuff![/product]

Nothing else even comes close. :wink:

I’m not buying anything from you, you don’t have a clue, boy.


You know how I like my coffee!

I can vouch for this. This morning some guy posted something in a foreign language (and a weird font/alphabet). I reported it, and the guy was banned before I could post “reported” as the first reply.

I’ve never noticed any on this board, although that Lepracorn poster seems a safe bet. On another messageboard I post to, that is music related you’ll get people defending or promoting music related services like CD duplication, printing etc. I don’t think anyone cares once they are transparent in their interests.

I identified a poster that did almost nothing but start threads about upcoming movies and television shows. He flew under the radar because he shilled for a variety of production companies.

If you see something you think might be spam, please report it. As Lynn said, we catch a fair amount of it, but we don’t read every post in every thread and we rely on you guys to let us know when something funky is going on.

For instance, when someone resurrects a zombie, I usually take a look at who it was. If it’s a new member, I’ll take a look at their other posts. It is often obvious when it’s a content spammer. OTOH, if the spammer’s post is buried in an active thread that I don’t happen to be reading, I’m not going to see it if no one flags it.

Aside from the usual forum spam, I’ll get the occasional bout of “astroturfing” on my site; a new member who is shilling for a television show, movie or celebrity. Unlike forum spam which usually originates in India, China, Pakistan, the Phillippines, or a CIS country, users that astroturf are usually from the United States; more often then not the IP will be in the Los Angeles area.

Tag-team spam is sneaky but also easy to catch: new user posts a question, another new user responds with a link to the product or site they’re trying to advertise. It’s a favorite tactic of Indian and Eastern European black hat SEO firms.

Some guy popped up shilling for AMSOIL a while back. I like plain ol Pennzoil myself.

I recoil at the idea of shills crapping up a board, and strongly suspect many bloggers are guilty as hell of it as well (I am sure you are shocked by this).

But when I really have a good experience with a service or product, I want to tell people. Perhaps it’s because it is so unusual these days. I like Panera Bread a lot and would gladly recommend it to a friend. But it’s difficult to say that in an online forum without sounding like I’m being paid. I guess each site has to apply its own standards and hope that their content remains credible with whatever audience they have chosen to pursue.

Well, if you’re an established member of a community, and you talk about other things, then you’re just sharing a good experience. If you’re a new member and/or you mostly talk about how great Product X is, and how you’re looking forward to Movie Y, and you want everyone to play Game Z, then the moderators and the members are going to suspect that you aren’t doing this just to share how great these products are. In the first instance, you get paid by the warm fuzzy feeling of letting your friends know of something you like. In the second instance, you get paid by cold hard cash.

I love to check out things that other people have recommended. I’ve discovered many books and games and other things just from what I’ve read about on the SDMB, and I think that the boards would be much poorer if our real posters didn’t post their opinions on various goods and services. So, if YOU know that you’re not a shill, please, continue to post about the good things in life.

And if you see a suspicious post, then yes, please report it.

I’ve posted about 50 times about how much I heart GameTap. I imagine one or two people who frequent the Game Room probably assumed I was a bot.

You spamming spammer! I am sooo going to report your post, but I’m a little parched so you’ll understand when I take a quick Dr Pepper break.

One time I reported a dude who was obviously shilling for his own blog. This was before the board was open, I think. He started threads linking to articles and then tried to get a discussion going on the article. I happened to click on links in two of his threads, noticed they both went to the same site and were by the same author. I looked through his posting history and found that almost all of his posts were just in his threads he started. He did get banned.

Since then, I sort of keep an eye out for a similar thing to happen. Just because I am a nosy fuck :slight_smile: I haven’t ever been suspicious about people shilling products or entertainment…but now I am totally paranoid and think you are all out to sell me something!