Crowdturfing or, as I like to call it, The Mechanical Jerk
This morning, Gang Wang, of UC Santa Barbara, presented "Serf and Turf: Crowdturfing for Fun and Profit"

"Crowdturfing" is a term that combines crowdsourcing and astroturfing to describe the use of crowdsurfing sites to create artificial campaigns on microblog sites, forums, instant message groups and blogs. (The fifth common kind of campaign is simply to ask workers to create accounts on new websites, to artificially boost their traffic. Which makes me imagine an Internet bubble comprised of new websites populated by users funded by the companies that are funded by venture capital money.) The paper focuses on two crowdsourcing sites in China, one of whose sole purpose is supporting crowdturfing. The campaigns prefer workers with established accounts and many followers, and these workers command a premium price. The authors found that the campaigns can succeed in generating large information cascades, while avoiding the security systems that are designed to catch automated spam. Pay-per-retweet campaigns are more effective at engaging real users and spreading superlinearly (proportionally to campaign cost) than pay-per-tweet campaigns in terms. They also observe that the spam campaigns are highly effective, driving hundreds of clicks from normal users.

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