How Not To Be Influential? Quora Spam On Mechanical Turk

There’s has been much discussion in the past couple of days about how Quora can handle its recent explosive growth, avoid becoming a Yahoo Answers (i.e. full of nonsense and spam) and scale with grace.

As further evidence of a growing success problem, Google spam avenger Matt Cutts points us to this evidence of Quora fraud through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Ironically the above Human Intelligence Task (HIT) involves voting up Internet marketer Larry Genkin’s answer to the very popular and highly contested question “How do you become influential?”

Quora’s official policy on paying people for upvotes:

“Solicitation for upvotes is not allowed on and users are not allowed make offers to (1) buy upvotes, (2) reward users for upvotes with consideration, and/or (3) trade for upvotes.”

Someone has already made reference to the Mechanical Turk HIT under the answer in question. And the answer has been “collapsed” because of the policy violation, which means that no matter how many upvotes it receives paid or unpaid  it won’t show up. Repeat offenders of Quora policy are warned and then potentially blocked.

Founder Adam D’Angelo tells us that there is currently no system in place to search for/or prevent this kind of spamming “This isn’t a common enough problem for us to have standard procedures or systems built out yet. But maintaining the integrity of our system is really important to us, so we’re going to invest a lot in it as we grow.”

While this isn’t the first time Quora has been involved with Mechanical Turk, right now the “How do you become influential?” item is the only Mechanical Turk task that I can find related to Quora. In contrast there are countless offers to click “Follow” on Twitter and “Like” on Facebook for pay.

Quora recently addressed concerns about the difficult problem of maintaining site integrity in a post entitled “Commitment to Keeping Quora High Quality.“ It’s a start.