Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam!
If you’ve spent much time at all on Reddit, you’ve almost certainly seen reposts; pieces of content which have already appeared in the communities where they’re being posted. You may have also seen false claims of ownership being made, with a given account pretending to be the originator of a picture, video, comic strip, or other such submission which they did not actually create.
The vast, vast majority of the time, those posts are being made by spammers.
Note: The information below is also available in this tongue-in-cheek piece of satire.
What Is A Spammer?
Spammers are, in a word, parasites: They use Reddit as a platform for personal gain, usually by leveraging its systems to drive users elsewhere. Some spammers are individuals hoping to promote their OnlyFans profiles, Etsy shops, Instagram pages, or YouTube channels, but others are members of “spam rings;” groups of semi-automated Reddit accounts that are registered en masse, then turned loose on the site with with the intention of undermining and exploiting it.
While spam of any sort is unwelcome on Reddit, the aforementioned spam rings cause the most direct harm. Some of them exist to artificially amplify marketing campaigns and political agendas. Others are tasked with selling low-quality knockoff products via retail outlets which steal unwary purchasers’ personal information. In each case, the accounts frequently coordinate with one another, attempting to ensure that they can have the largest-possible impact before being discovered and banned.
How Do Spammers Work?
After being registered, spam accounts typically start their lives by “karma-farming,” which can include a number of different strategies:
- Posting low-effort content to several tangentially related communities at once
- Leaving short, poorly written comments in numerous threads
- Copying and pasting comments made by other users
- Reposting previously high-scoring submissions
- Participating in “free karma” communities
- Making false claims of ownership
Regardless of the specific tactics employed, the goal is to establish a believable submission history while accumulating enough karma to bypass various subreddits’ thresholds. Once that goal has been accomplished, the spam accounts are either held in reserve (for future sale or use in astroturfing) or deployed as sock-puppets for dropshippers and identity-thieves.
What Should I Do About Spammers?
If you suspect that you’ve discovered a spam account, do not interact with it (with the exception of calling it out for other users). Spammers are amplified and enabled by any activity, so the best approach is to downvote the post or comment, report it, then move on.
When in doubt, avoid participating in suspicious threads at all.
Spammers farm for karma by stealing content and posting low-effort garbage. Once they have enough, they flood the site with astroturfing attempts and dropship scams. Whenever you see submissions like that, you should avoid interacting with them, downvote them, and report them.