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I don't get the impression that there's any substantial vote monitoring, and so it surprises me that it even cost money to do this kind of astroturfing. How hard would it be to setup and maintain a dozen Reddit accounts and spread them over a VPN service? 10 min initial startup, and not more than a minute a day of doing innocuous activity on those accounts, occasionally. When a campaign rolls out, then have the accounts work in concert.

Sure, it might not be as 100% successful as Fiverr (though I imagine it's fairly easy for Reddit to ad-hoc identify voting blocs if something was known to be bought). But you could employ additional optimization techniques, such as the one used by most high-karma users (e.g. Gallowboob): if a post fails to hit critical upvote mass, then delete and resubmit later in the day.

To give you an idea of how things seem to be relatively unmonitored until users flag it, there's the story of Unidan:

https://www.reddit.com/r/MuseumOfReddit/comments/2m5q11/a_fe...

And as a more recent, obscure example, there was the mystery of why the mod of r/evilbuildings had something like 499 of the 500 most upvoted posts in his own subreddit. The math was so laughably in favor of manipulation but a Reddit admin, using whatever shit tools they have to investigate this, acquitted the mod:

https://www.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/67r1ht/the_...

Follow up:

https://www.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/6ao8cv/dram...

The details of how this mod was able to boost his own posts without being called out for vote manipulation is too banal to explain in detail (basically, he would shadowdelete other popular posts so that his would get picked up by the Reddit front page, and then undelete the popular posts before anyone noticed). But the fact that a Reddit admin (I.e. a paid employee) thought that the evilbuildings mod always having the top post in his own forum for 6 months straight was just a coincidence, and/or because that mod was just apparently an amazing content submitter, spoke hugely about how uncreative the Reddit admins might be in detecting fraud.

Edit: if you are interested in subreddit drama details, here's a thread that combines the evilbuildings drama and Gallowboob: https://www.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/6d3syc/evil...

If this is the kind of effort users put toward imaginary points (though arguably raising karma is part of Gallowboob's professional work), I'm nervous to think about the schemes that PR firms will construct when they realize the easy return on investment offered by Reddit popularity.




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