Recently, we started monitoring our voting activity a little closer.
With the user growth we are having, some of the peculiarities of our voting systems become more apparent.
One of the things we watch closely is cheating and attempts to influence your rating and the rating of other users. We created the voting and rating algorithms in such a way, that no individual user can significantly influence the overall system. We would like the community to collectively decide which photos are better than others and the best photos to flow to the top. It is not uncommon for a newly registered author to upload a photo and be discovered on the front page in a matter of hours. If your work is good — it will be noticed and it will be rated accordingly.
However, in the past couple of days we noticed a slight deviation from the usual heartbeat of the community. There was a small shift in the collection of photos we see in the Popular section. Then, some users started sending me emails asking to take a look at the votes they received, because they suspected someone was deliberately voting against their good works.
So, I looked. What I discovered was pretty nasty. There were several users that did vote against the good works of other people. One of these users was particularly crafty. This dude created a whole network of accounts that he used to vote his photos up and others photos down. You got to give it to him — creating over a hundred accounts with real email addresses, confirming them all, filling out the fake information — all this takes time. He is a really hard working dude :) I wish he turned his efforts to something more constructive and honest.
All his votes were removed and all accounts deactivated. I will not publicly release information about this user and other cheaters, but if this behaviour repeats in the future — people like that just might unlock the Public Humiliation badge in the Hall of Shame on 500px.
We will punish everybody, who tries cheating the system. We have all your data and we have pretty good automated analysis as well as very smart humans. When users try to cheat — they are messing with our creation and our business. Let nobody assume we will not notice — we will and we will kick cheaters out. Cheating will work against the users who attempt it.
In addition to this, we will introduce tighter voting rules in the nearest future. More info about this — in the next blog post.