Is BabyPips proliferated by bots?

Just happened to glance at the sidebar and saw another spam session on the side bar. One or two users just start spamming the heck out of threads usually with random advice. Happens frequently enough but this time I decided to give each account a closer look.

BP side bar

Thought I’d give it a closer look this time at these two profiles and besides the near identical numbers across all the categories a few things that stood out are the boxed numbers


  1. The join dates are identical.
  2. Their created post counts are identical.
  3. They post almost as much as the threads they view. 83% for ON and 86% for KR, which explains the randomness and head scratching responses to the conversations/topics.

The last part is significant because a study of their most recent posts clearly show they don’t reply more than once in the same thread. Which means that the the likelihood they have one post/topic is a highly likely trait throughout their membership span.

Plus these two accounts also appear to post on the same dates with near identical posts counts/day when studying a sample for the months of August and September.

KRON post frequencies
highlighted text where counts don’t match

A look at their top categories also skew their activity in favor of #beginner-questions and #community:introduce-yourself as folls:

KR-ON Top Categories

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this behavior. It happens so frequently I personally find it annoying because it devalues the content of the sidebar knowing these bots are posting irrelevant BS and drowning out relevant conversations.

If I could mine/scrape the data against these two user IDs I’d be able to infer a lot more observations. This is just basic stuff from just a profile look over.

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Wow, excellent detective work. We’ll take a look at the accounts in full and determine if there is something nefarious going on.

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention.

Pipstradamus

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If it helps I’ll add other accounts I come across. But I’ll blur the usernames in future. Made a mistake not blurring them. There’s still a chance they could be two people (even if highly unlikely).

If you have usernames to share, please share those by messaging myself or another moderator directly using the Messages feature under your profile.

Thanks!

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This explains a lot. I admit, I was a little disheartened by the disconnectedness of the responses to my original introduction post a while back. It was off putting to say the least. I responded politely, figuring that English may not be their first language and it was nice that someone at least replied. But I haven’t really posted much since, as the forum kind of felt empty and hollow based on that first impression. I’ve been reading over old threads instead and enjoying the conversation and discussions there.

As a newbie, I figured that the culture had shifted and it was no longer such a dynamic and supportive place for learning and discussion. Super reassuring to know that impression likely derives from bots instead!

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Just had another wave of spam by KR. All the posts were previously replied to by ON
KR posts

  1. There could be similar shared topic IDs in their prior history that might be an added confirmation.
  2. Would be interesting to analyze the date/time stamps for each msg ID and determine whether there’s any uniformity b/w post times.

Update: While writing this noticed that ON carpet bombed more posts (bet they were all posted earlier by KR too). Found 6 similar profiles I’ll PM. Atleast 4 share similar numbers and appear to share post history with the 2 previously listed.

KRON 2

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Really sad to hear about that experience. Hopefully you come across frequent usernames of folks who still post and are able to recognize them when they turn up on the side. But yea, I feel where you’re coming from. I find myself trawling through a lot of old threads too for a lot of quality content. Can be fun when you discover certain gems :smiley:

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So true - I recently discovered the Tess and Jo threads, among others. Brilliant!

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Would it help other newer users if we suspect a random comment is from a bot to respond “Bot?”?

Possibly, though that could be a difficult endeavour to try to catch all bots (plus the risk that it is a real person, not a bot). Might be better to just counter it with an effective comment instead? One that fits the context

On a different note, I’m a little perplexed as to the purpose of the bots? Why go to the trouble to spam the beginner forums with insane posts?

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Best approach is to just privately flag it to the moderators. They will always respond to it.

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Yea, even if the behavior indicates strong bot like behavior it’s still circumstantial and only diminishes the likelihood of it being a real person. Doesn’t eliminate the possibility completely.

:100:

Could be a stress test to determine bot controls on the forum but the more I look into it the more it looks like some AI experiment because not all bots exhibit identical behavior.

If you look at some of the responses it appears to be pick up key words from the topic title and incorporate it into a message that fits a higher level general topic/statement. Which explains why the theme of their posts remain are relevant to the topic but are so disconnected to the specific question or flow of conversation till that point.

Worst case scenario they go off tangent and generate messages that build bad advice upon bad advice, like how it transpired in this thread.

There appear to be attempts at realistic conversations between multiple bots, like displayed in this thread. And this goes all the way back to MAR 2018.

One thing I’ve noted is not all bots exhibit the same behavior. There are notable cohorts:

  1. The two already highlighted has very similar traits to 4 other accounts I sent to the mods.

  2. There are two accounts were also created early AUG 2020, but have links posted and replies to other members even, which the previous accounts didn’t have.

  3. Just came across another cohort. Accounts created in APR 2017. These have additional characteristics in that they have tried liking and replying to each other’s posts. This cohort consists of 5 identified accounts so far and has not yet been sent to the mods.


  4. There is another possible cohort from DEC 2020 I made a mental note of a while back (24DEC20 join date I believe). Brushed it off at the time because I thought I was being paranoid.

Could be a harmless AI experiment on the best case scenario but, at worst, could be more nefarious if it’s trying to exploit forum security protocols.

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Wow, you really looked into this! I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for these types of posts from now on as well.

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Hi @darthdimsky

I just identified 5 or more just in random replies to new posts. The culprit account name is OronzoCapon. If the account holders wishes to comment in response that it is a real person, great. If not it is one for moderators to take a look at.

Thanks for initiating this thread.

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Wow those threads! :unamused::thinking:

Great work digging into this and identifying the problem. When looked at together I think you are right re someone is using babypips as an AI bot training ground. Yikes

Thanks for flagging this!

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I have also noticed a lot of bots here and it certainly does derail and muddy quite a lot of threads!

My own hypothesis is they use the bots to comment and like each other to build up their profiles and website trust levels. Then down the line they can sell the accounts to shady training course providers or brokers to advertise their services. That way it looks like a long time and reputable member of BabyPips is recommending a particular company and can be trusted. I could be way off, but who knows!

This is highly plausible I think. And coincidentally might explain the more advanced nature of the cohort I suspect I found and just forwarded to the mods.

These two engage in conversations with members but are still terrible in their canned responses. They still create posts that can be vastly different from the topic thread but go undetected because we assume either a language barrier issue or a really bad newbie. One example is this post that’s strictly related to a coding problem. If not a bot, then why an individual (claiming to have some experience trading) would want to get get involved with generic comments is mindboggling. And this is frequent.

On another note I’d also found earlier members make notes of these changes in sporadic posts back in 2018/19 while trawling through old threads. So there is evidence of folks picking up on cues from way back.

Profiles:


Example of member engagement:

This is an amazing revelation - and not a pleasant one either! I am seriously concerned that I have been wasting a large amount of my time talking to bots! :frowning:

I have often wondered why some new accounts ask a question, get a series of responses, and never reply. Now I am beginning to wonder… I don’t like this at all! But I think you have done a good job in raising these cases. Each (genuine) poster needs to decide how they are going to deal with this - I know what I am going to do…

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This might be a naturally high attrition rate from the whole COVID thing. I suspect there’s a lot of new member registrations in the time of crisis’ but no/low engagement beyond that first post. Desperate times breeding unrealistic dreams of getting rich via trading.

The suspected bots though, even if they don’t reply to someone asking them anything, continue to engage with usually irrelevant advice in other topics periodically. So the behavior is markedly different in this instance.

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