Ethtrader Publishes Secret Blacklist

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Ethtrader blacklist, August 2019

Bitcoinist, The Next Web, newsbtc, news.bitcoin.com and news.8btc.com are just some of the domains that apparently have secretly been banned from r/ethtrader for years, ethereum’s main public discussion space.

“After internal discussions, we have decided to make the list of blacklisted domains public… this list is from before the split and secret blacklists are supported by r/ethfinance’s mods. This post is about potentially getting rid of them altogether,” an ethtrader mod says.

Carl Larson, the top moderator of ethtrader, stated: “making the blacklist public has been something I supported and previously brought up with both mods and as with a governance poll.”

Another ethtrader mod said: “With the change of moderatorship, advocates of public blacklists now outnumber those in favor of secret ones, so a decision was made to change the policy on blacklists and make them public.”

There was a split recently where about six mods very loudly and very suddenly announced they were leaving to a new sub, ethfinance, which was created about six months ago by someone who was not an ethtrader mod Aftab “DCinvestor” Hossain. Hossain is now what he likes to call “owner” of ethfinance, but not lead mod as he claims decisions will be made by consensus among mods.

The mods that left have apparently taken the blacklist with them. Jeremiah Nichol, aka jtnichol, said:

“The ‘Blacklist’ is all the sites that have been caught vote manipulating or spamming. i.e. Scams and fake or poorly curated crypto “news” sites. In addition, many times we’ve also caught the click farm accounts associated with this activity and we ban those accounts. Those end up on the ‘mod Log’ as ‘temp ban’ or ‘perm ban’.

There has been discussion with the old team about maybe letting the public vote on that somehow. It’s a dumb conversation. That’s why it’s called a ‘blacklist’.”

Quite a few banned sites are recognizable as just copied content from sites that actually engage in reporting, including from Trustnodes.

Perhaps a poor example is a recent article from Micky. Here it appears some human has spent a bit of work to kind of cover a recent article by sort of copying, slightly rewording, and mixing original content from others.

A look at their site shows some of their content is straight out copied without even rewording let alone mixing.

Google usually catches the blatant breachers, but sometime google actually gives copied content priority over original content.

Since those that make original content are busy finding and creating it, thus don’t have time for “marketing,” these straight out copied or sort of copied sites then submit their own article to subs, like in the above example to r/cryptocurrency.

That sub itself tested doing something about it in May, but instead of a blacklist, they went with a whitelist which was generally seen as far too restrictive.

That sub however can be a fairly good example of what could happen if the blacklist is removed. You’d basically get copied content submitted and upvoted before anyone bothers to submit the original, with users usually annoyed because the copied content, or copied and mixed a bit, is very low effort and general… well rubbish really.

Part of the mods’ role is obviously to prevent such cheating, but in the process it appears some fairly decent sites have been included.

Some crypto articles from The Next Web have been a bit… misinformed if we can put it like that, but they’re a semi-mainstream outlet so whoever was writing for them was perhaps just learning about this space.

News 8btc is the english facing section of one of the biggest crypto site in China. Since some of their writers are Chinese, their english might not be perfect, but generally they have decent content.

Nichols says the blacklist is “all the sites that have been caught vote manipulating or spamming,” two very different things. Vote manipulation is obviously cheating if it isn’t unintentional or somehow accidental.

Spamming on the other hand can maybe be subjective. Is the content spammy, or are there too many submission from… the public or the outlet, or what exactly is meant by spammy.

Anyway, we don’t know why 8btc has been included, but if quality is a criteria, then that’s a mistake. If it was something else then they perhaps could have been reached out as there might have been some sort of misunderstanding or you know it can be a rogue employee too or even perhaps someone trying to “frame” them.

Trustnodes has obviously not been included in this blacklist, but although plenty of sites do belong in this blacklist, it appears that due to potential, perhaps inadvertent mistakes, some sites that perhaps don’t belong in the blacklist, are in it.

Transparency can allow for the correction of such mistakes, but the argument against that might be that it might also allow cheaters to get around it more easily. The argument against that however is that secrecy might allow for unchecked abuse of power, so it’s not an easy square to circle.

Making it public could be a middle way as the bitcoinist for example isn’t going to change their domain name and if there was some reason for their inclusion, then arguably it would be in the public interest to know that reason.

What exactly might work best we might find out in the months and years to come as the publication of the blacklist clearly shows a different attitude to moderation between the two subs.

Ethfinance plans to be more hands on with what sounds like curation of the frontpage as one mod there says “front page space is limited to only 25 slots and we want people to be able to take away as much useful information as possible from those 25 slots.”

That’s in addition to comments moderation with some previous examples given by a new ethtrader mod. He says:

“I dug one example up – it’s a long time user, was banned just for
‘Because bitcoin will eventually fall and this fucking shitcoin has no spine.’
BOOM, perm ban. So fair, much wow.

Second account, this time the permban was done just after removing these two comments:

‘Bitcoin has the best ROI than any other investment in this planet.’ ‘Lmao, buying a shit ton of eth instead of bitcoin was the worst mistake of my life.’
Reason for ban – ‘pure trolling’.”

The existence of ethtrader itself should presumably keep ethfinance moderation in check, but it appears participants from the other sub are not quite happy to just go their own away amicably.

Heavy downvoting on yesterday’s daily on ethtrader had this explanation by the new mod there:

“It’s because the subreddit is being brigaded by folks who left who have more time on their hands than maturity.”

Ethfinance does not have a downvote button, so a cynic may well say the downvotes are trying to show the “benefits” of not having such button.

Making all this a sign of change in the ethereum ecosystem as the network finds itself a bit at crossroads in a transition to a new blockchain.

Copyrights Trustnodes.com

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