What's your opinion on Astroturfing?


(Shreyas) #1

TIL the word Astroturfing.
Not being a native English speaker, I always try my best to improve my vocabulary (and grammar) with the help of the internet :grin:. I was reading about What is Astroturfing and how Quora & Reddit used it to solve the “Chicken and egg” problem.
Although we’ve done this in our community to build the initial momentum, I never knew that’s what it was called. Other than the obvious benefit of the forum not being empty, it helps in setting the tone of the community.
Steve Huffman of Reddit talks about Fake users, not fake content.

In case you’re interested in how the term astroturfing came about, it is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots.” The implication behind the use of the term is that there are no “true” or “natural” grassroots, but rather “fake” or “artificial” support, although some astroturfing operatives defend the practice.

What are your thoughts on this?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

I feel strongly about this. I don’t think it’s ok. I believe that honesty and transparency are pillars of community. I have no issue with lots of content being seeded by employees or community staff, but pretending to be other users is straight up dishonesty.

Here is a post from @Patrick which outlines the basis of my argument – it’s pretty old but still largely relevant.

I’m open to debate though – does anyone have a counter argument that legitimises the practice?


(Shreyas) #3

Oh yes, in our case it was seeded content. The content team used their own identity to post discussions. Also, huge + on honesty and transparency. Great post by @Patrick! Another super interesting post hyperlinked to that post was about poachers- a real problem that we faced when we started.


(Delfin Vassallo) #4

Same as HAWK I have a strong opinion on Astroturfing; it is just plain wrong.

Undermines your community’s credibility as a reliable source of information, even if the content is OK, the practice can be easily discovered by regular users who have trusted you, this, in essence, is betraying your users with lack of transparency.

In my communities, this was the absolute number one rule to follow, and whether on purpose or due to ignorance by employees from other business units, it was energetically corrected and employees quickly reeducated.

No matter the purpose, to me is an absolute No-No for any community.