When is it “Gaming” or Fair Play?

Filed as Features, Guides on June 4, 2008 4:26 am

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A number of times lately I have seen people say

  • That is gaming the search engines
  • You shouldn’t do that, it is gaming Digg
  • What you are doing is unethical, it is gaming the system
  • StumbleUpon will ban you for gaming the votes

What do people mean when they say this and where do you draw the line?

I can sometimes see a clear case of gaming, for example vote-stuffing on Digg using fake accounts. In SEO, spamming blogs is obviously gaming Google. In other cases I am not so sure.

For example, if I ask a friend for a vote, is that gaming the system? Perhaps if they feel compelled to vote, but what if you ask them only to vote if they like it? That would mean you are giving them the option to not vote and they are simply using the tool as it was intended (most social voting sites have a send to friend feature or two).

Another aspect I would like your input on is when people take it from being “unfair” to actually calling out practices as “immoral”. When does something shift from bad form to plain bad?

What are your opinions on gaming search engines and social media? Where do you draw the line and what do you think is fair play? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

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  1. By Tom posted on June 4, 2008 at 7:31 am
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    I happen to think that as long as you’re not cheating anyone, no technique for getting your content to more people is wrong.

    I was pretty disappointed to discover that Stumbleupon ban you from submitting pages from the same site if you do it more than about a dozen times. Forever. I had used this method (among many others) to publicise good quality, relevant content which would go to people who were looking specifically for that type of content. I didn’t stumble every post, just the most interesting ones. And people seemed to like them.

    Of course, the only reason that Stumbleupon do this is that they also have a paid advertising platform and they don’t want to give away any kind of free publicity for sites. It’s a shame and I reckon it will hold them back.

    As to things being called ‘immoral’ this just sounds like the usual internet hyperbole to me. Things get a hell of a lot more ‘immoral’ than gaming Digg!

    Reply

  2. By GoingLikeSixty posted on June 4, 2008 at 9:46 am
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    If I can motivate thousands, well, tens, of people do Digg or Stumble me, what is the harm?
    Isn’t this the binary version of Word of Mouth?

    @Tom: I stumble my own stuff regularly and haven’t been banned (yet)

    Yahoo Buzz is inviting pubishers to Buzz Up their posts.
    http://www.trendhunter.com/community

    Reply

  3. By Chris Garrett posted on June 4, 2008 at 12:04 pm
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    I have heard now if you stumble your own stuff, rather than get you banned, it just has a reduced effect, down to zero. But that is same for any user routinely stumbling the same domain over and over, not just your own.

    Yes I think putting quality stuff in front of people and leaving them the option of voting or not, while not every users idea of “good and proper” is far from unethical, and in fact might be a good thing

    Reply

  4. By gogle posted on June 5, 2008 at 2:30 am
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    Of course, the only reason that Stumbleupon do this is that they also have a paid advertising platform and they don’t want to give away any kind of free publicity for sites. It’s a shame and I reckon it will hold them back.

    Reply

  5. By Shane posted on June 6, 2008 at 1:49 am
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    I have pretty much given up on Digg as it seems to be run by a whole bunch of cliques. If you aren’t part of the ‘in crown’ your diggs barely register. Not sure if this counts as gaming the system though?

    I am not afraid to point out good content to a few select people and ask for their digg or stumble support but I always preface my request with “if you like it” and do it sparingly.

    I have a few people that ask me quite regularily without thinking about whether or not the content is of interest to me or if I think it’s good.

    Gaming the system, I don’t know but I know the latter group drives me nuts and I’m inclined to ignore their requests after a while.

    Reply

  6. By Chris Garrett posted on June 6, 2008 at 4:07 am
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    Yeah I think that is more how I feel, some people just take advantage but while we have a choice I don’t think it is gaming just annoying :)

    Reply

  7. By William Stewart posted on June 13, 2008 at 11:22 pm
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    Life is a game, and business is certainly a game.

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about gaming.

    Reply

  8. By John posted on June 25, 2013 at 5:16 am
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    Gaming is a world you go into for fun. not to earn money.
    As long as you know that, you will never REALLY lose…

    Reply

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