Gaming Memeorandum, NOT!

Oh, boy, Memeorandum can be gamed? Um, sorta, but only by hacking the humans who participate in Memeorandum’s link analysis. Just by linking to this article, which already is on Memeorandum, I am gaming it.

Pete Cashmore says that humans are better, because they can’t be gamed. I say BS!!! We are gamed regularly and in many ways more transparently than an algorithm can be (an algorithm is just more consistent).

To game Memeorandum you must talk people who are on Memeorandum’s seed list into gaming the system. It’s NOT THE ALGORITHM THAT YOU ARE GAMING. It’s the humans!!! Got it?

Guess what? Five of us could get together and game it. You can only do that a few times, though and if Gabe notices you are doing it you’ll get pulled out of the database and where will that lead you then?

But, here’s how Memeorandum works and why gaming it isn’t very likely (and why there is almost zero spam on Memeorandum):

Gabe Rivera started with about 1,000 bloggers. He hand selected them. Then he built his algorithm to look at linking behavior. Depending on the day it might take as little as one link to get onto Memeorandum (I’ve noticed that sometimes as soon as I link to something it gets on there, but only rarely). So, to game it you should wait for a slow news day.

The real trick you should think about there? Write a sexy headline. That catches more blogger’s eyes and gets them to link to you.

Here, what’s sexier?

Yahoo’s maps rock
or
Yahoo’s new pretty maps doomed (and so are Microsoft’s)

???

The second headline was at the top of Memeorandum for almost an entire day, so I know which one caught your eye.

Then, you need to write a bit of length. Oh, and stay on topic. Again, both things that a human would use to judge whether a post is worth reading. Short one-line posts don’t make it onto Memeorandum (which is why Dave Winer rarely appears).

Other tips? Get other bloggers to link to your blog. Remember that bloggers, if they don’t know you, don’t like to be begged for links. Also, write original content that adds value to the world. I find that when I’m just being an echo chamber maiden, like now I’ll only make it underneath a post in Memeorandum, but if I post an original idea or something new that I’ll get on the top of Memeorandum.

All systems can be gamed, though, even human ones. Why do you think we have advertising?

Oh, and if Memeorandum is being gamed, why can’t it be gamed on both of its sites at once? Ever think about that one?

Comments

  1. Linking to good content and being on guard for/against deception will help keep sources like memeorandum relativey untainted.

    It sucks when you link to something and then find out you were duped by a spammer or some lame scheme.

    I’m sure Gabe is monitoring this situation (not just this experiment of Alex and Tara’s, but the system as a whole) closely. He seems to be pretty on top of this stuff.

  2. Linking to good content and being on guard for/against deception will help keep sources like memeorandum relativey untainted.

    It sucks when you link to something and then find out you were duped by a spammer or some lame scheme.

    I’m sure Gabe is monitoring this situation (not just this experiment of Alex and Tara’s, but the system as a whole) closely. He seems to be pretty on top of this stuff.

  3. Yup, personally this kind of stuff only makes the system stronger and makes us all wiser as to how things get onto Memeorandum. I wish I understood as much about how Google’s News page worked.

  4. Yup, personally this kind of stuff only makes the system stronger and makes us all wiser as to how things get onto Memeorandum. I wish I understood as much about how Google’s News page worked.

  5. Wow, well said, Robert. Just noticed all this now, as my connectivity is spotty today.

    I’d say memeorandum is “gamed” less than a bunch of well known blogs, since it draws on the output of a large group of people to decide what to post.

    Pete also makes this Digg=people, memeorandum=algorithm distinction that makes no sense to me.

    BTW, there are ways to combat “gaming” that don’t even require booting sources from the site. In fact, I’ve haven’t kicked out any site to date.

  6. Wow, well said, Robert. Just noticed all this now, as my connectivity is spotty today.

    I’d say memeorandum is “gamed” less than a bunch of well known blogs, since it draws on the output of a large group of people to decide what to post.

    Pete also makes this Digg=people, memeorandum=algorithm distinction that makes no sense to me.

    BTW, there are ways to combat “gaming” that don’t even require booting sources from the site. In fact, I’ve haven’t kicked out any site to date.

  7. The new currency is trust and reputation, but we need better tools

    Somebody seems to have played Memeorandum and Scoble links to the article saying: Pete Cashmore says that humans are better, because they can’t be gamed. I say BS!!! We are gamed regularly and in many ways more transparently than an algorithm c…

  8. [...] Hmm, it seems that people are so desperate  to  get  into  memeorandum  that they game the system.  This is another example of why such systems don’t work and it’s better to concentrate on building a site rather than trying to get into a specific listing.  This proves that as soon as something like memeorandum becomes mainstream spammers will target it mercilessly. Technorati Tags: Digg, slashdot, memeorandum [...]

  9. Robert,

    I think you’ve misunderstood my points. I wasn’t trying to suggest in any way that Memeorandum has failed (this was actually just a bit of innovative social engineering by Alex and Tara) – I was just using Memeorandum as a starting point to explore the issues of how algorithms and humans interact. Gabe is right: everything is humans + algorithms, so the only distinction there is between implicit human behaviour (linking to someone) and explicit human behaviour (Digg this). The former is generally very efficient as a means to gauge relevance. And there’s also a whole spectrum between these two behaviours.

    I think it’s more a case of putting humans back in the loop when things go wrong – Gabe presumably acts as the human check digit in Memeorandum, which works fine right now (and may be scalable depending on how Memeorandum works behind the scenes). The point is that where algorithms fail, humans need to step in with an explicit action (Report Link, remove blog from database). I responded in the comments:

    http://mashable.com/2005/11/08/hacking-memeorandum-more-proof-that-algorithms-dont-work/#comment-206

  10. Robert,

    I think you’ve misunderstood my points. I wasn’t trying to suggest in any way that Memeorandum has failed (this was actually just a bit of innovative social engineering by Alex and Tara) – I was just using Memeorandum as a starting point to explore the issues of how algorithms and humans interact. Gabe is right: everything is humans + algorithms, so the only distinction there is between implicit human behaviour (linking to someone) and explicit human behaviour (Digg this). The former is generally very efficient as a means to gauge relevance. And there’s also a whole spectrum between these two behaviours.

    I think it’s more a case of putting humans back in the loop when things go wrong – Gabe presumably acts as the human check digit in Memeorandum, which works fine right now (and may be scalable depending on how Memeorandum works behind the scenes). The point is that where algorithms fail, humans need to step in with an explicit action (Report Link, remove blog from database). I responded in the comments:

    http://mashable.com/2005/11/08/hacking-memeorandum-more-proof-that-algorithms-dont-work/#comment-206

  11. Its a game of trust which is like a spiders web. It catches everything that encompasses its span – however if a single strand brokes then the whole model fails. Likewise the “trust web” also is like the spiders web-5 times the strength of steel.

    What matters here is the out of many comes one. (E.g boing boing,slashdot, memerandum,digg) all their content is second hand. They point to soemthing else. Human intravention is critical. Without it there would be no meaning. Everyone is ‘gaming’ here. Take a look at the pubsub catogory list- another human being doing the work.

    The true game is to ensure creditablity and create trust – by whatever algorthims and methods makes no difference.

  12. Its a game of trust which is like a spiders web. It catches everything that encompasses its span – however if a single strand brokes then the whole model fails. Likewise the “trust web” also is like the spiders web-5 times the strength of steel.

    What matters here is the out of many comes one. (E.g boing boing,slashdot, memerandum,digg) all their content is second hand. They point to soemthing else. Human intravention is critical. Without it there would be no meaning. Everyone is ‘gaming’ here. Take a look at the pubsub catogory list- another human being doing the work.

    The true game is to ensure creditablity and create trust – by whatever algorthims and methods makes no difference.

  13. Wow…I can safely say that neither Alex nor I intended to cause such a ruckus here. I, personally, didn’t even think it would work.

    I’m always happy to open up interesting debates.

    And, for the record, I love Memeorandum and I think Gabe is brilliant. I believe the fact that he limits the blogs in the meme is a good way to keep out spammers. Perhaps an AttentionTrust.org x Memeorandum mashup would help?

    From this point forward, however, I vow to behave and never to abuse my privileges again…trust me, I’m honored to be part of the meme.

    T.

  14. Wow…I can safely say that neither Alex nor I intended to cause such a ruckus here. I, personally, didn’t even think it would work.

    I’m always happy to open up interesting debates.

    And, for the record, I love Memeorandum and I think Gabe is brilliant. I believe the fact that he limits the blogs in the meme is a good way to keep out spammers. Perhaps an AttentionTrust.org x Memeorandum mashup would help?

    From this point forward, however, I vow to behave and never to abuse my privileges again…trust me, I’m honored to be part of the meme.

    T.

  15. Exactly Robert, this is what I said over at Shelly P. BurningBird blog when the “testosterone meme” post hit. The system comes pre-biased because it is based on a seed-list of people.

    It would be much easier to game if it were pure algortihms (see Google PageRank if you need an example.)

  16. Exactly Robert, this is what I said over at Shelly P. BurningBird blog when the “testosterone meme” post hit. The system comes pre-biased because it is based on a seed-list of people.

    It would be much easier to game if it were pure algortihms (see Google PageRank if you need an example.)

  17. [...] If you look at Memeorandum right now, you’ll notice that our discussion on hacking Memeorandum is still up there and seems to be picking up speed, currently Pete Cashmore’s post – More proof that algorithms don’t work is leading the pack. Pete says: The serious point here is that once someone figures out how an algorithm works, they will use that knowledge to their own advantage – if Memeorandum ever goes mainstream, it will be targeted by spammers and lose much of its usefulness to the community. … In my post Humans vs Algorithms, I suggested that we need to put human minds in the loop if we are to keep the spam out of search engines and news sites. [...]

  18. So I should probably note one more thing: what Robert said about the seed list isn’t entirely accurate. A seed list is used to find a larger set of sources, and then that larger set (not merely the seed list) is used to discover what to post.

  19. So I should probably note one more thing: what Robert said about the seed list isn’t entirely accurate. A seed list is used to find a larger set of sources, and then that larger set (not merely the seed list) is used to discover what to post.

  20. Gabe,

    Right but it’s still the fruit of the poisoned tree (to borrow a “Law and Order” term). You picked out a single group, each member of which have their own bias and favorite people to link to. :)

    I agree with Robert that it’s much harder to game people. It’s social engineering vs. brute force.

  21. Gabe,

    Right but it’s still the fruit of the poisoned tree (to borrow a “Law and Order” term). You picked out a single group, each member of which have their own bias and favorite people to link to. :)

    I agree with Robert that it’s much harder to game people. It’s social engineering vs. brute force.