Fri 5 Aug 2022 2:48PM

Broadcast Only Accounts and Bots

SW Sam Whited Public Seen by 81

Hi all,

The Community Working Group has recently had several reports from users of social.coop accounts that do not violate our Code of Conduct in any way, but which the users consider spammy because they do not interact with other users. Broadly these fall into two categories:

  1. bots and bridges (ie. users who mirror their Twitter but do not engage on social.coop)

  2. users posting marketing material or links (eg. new blog posts, business updates, monthly meetup links, etc.)

There has been some discussion of whether Twitter mirrors and the like should be allowed on social.coop, but I am not aware of any discussion of option 2. An example of this kind of user might be a co-op who posts links to their monthly meetup each month but does not read the timeline or engage with other users content except maybe to answer questions posed to them about the meetup. They do not directly reach out to other without their consent to advertise (this would definitely be spam and is likely against our CoC), but this is still seen as spammy by some users who see it in the local timeline and do not like the marketing-speak these accounts engage in. I apologize for not providing an example, but I don't want to call out the existing accounts that have been reported.

Some points to think about whether these accounts should be allowed in our community:

  • Is there any distinction between bot/mirror/gateway accounts and actual users who do not engage and should they be moderated differently?

  • Is there a distinction between users who mostly post free services or events vs. paid services or events?

  • Is there distinction between a organization account that acts this way vs. an individual users account (ie. if a business hosts a lecture series and they post about it every week vs. if an individual user who just likes that lecture series or helps organize it posts about it every week)?

  • Is there harm to the community caused by allowing these accounts?

  • Is there a benefit to the community caused by allowing these accounts?

  • Anything else I've missed?

Thanks in advance for your feedback and discussion! I apologize for the long but also somewhat vague post. If it needs any clarification please let me know!

EDIT: to clarify, this is for accounts that exclusively (or almost exclusively) post marketing materials and do not otherwise engage with the community, not any account that has ever advertised an interesting co-op project or the like :)


Leo Sammallahti Fri 5 Aug 2022 2:52PM

Hi Sam, I post quite a lot of 2) stuff, so I might be biased: hopefully, people feel comfortable telling me if they find it too spammy. I would allow 2) stuff as long as it's coop or mutual related. In fact, would love more people to promote their coop projects in Social Coop.

Don't have an opinion on your 1) point but that is not because I don't think it's important, just that can see both sides' arguments quite convincing.


Sam Whited Fri 5 Aug 2022 2:58PM

To clarify, this is for accounts that exclusively post marketing materials, not accounts that post any links to other co-ops or businesses :) You're definitely a community member who engages, not just a waterfall of links!


Nathan Schneider Sat 6 Aug 2022 7:07PM

Two cases in which I veer into this area:

  • Early on, I created a @platformcoop account that mirrors the same handle on Twitter. This seemed appropriate because platform cooperativism is so integral to social.coop. That account is not regularly monitored. I would be fine with removing that.

  • I use the Twidere app to post simultaneously to Twitter and Social.coop with @ntnsndr. That app also monitors responses on both, so I use it to manage an active presence on both. So while it might seem I am using Social.coop to mirror Twitter posts (not all of them, though), I am an active user.

I suppose I would support a policy along these lines:

  • Generally, users are expected to use Social.coop as an active social space, not just a place to re-post from Twitter or elsewhere.

  • Bots must be clearly labeled as such and are subject to review and removal by the Community working group according to a set of explicit standards.


Nick Sellen Sat 6 Aug 2022 7:15PM

I appreciate you bringing the topic to discussion :)

I tend to mute accounts that just mirror twitter accounts, as it has a different vibe. If the whole of social.coop was just that, it would be a sad place! (although also if the whole site was just made of users like me it would also be a pretty empty place!).

I'm also happy people are keeping an eye on these pure-marketing accounts, it isn't really the spirit I am here for. I'm not sure I've actually encountered many of those though, but yeah, I'm not a very active user here.

Thanks for caring for the community!


Will Murphy Sun 7 Aug 2022 6:16PM

When it comes to other coops, it sure would be nice if there was a place where they could share business updates that wasn't itself an extractive business, even if said coop didn't have the staffing to actively monitor & engage.

That's something we have the ability to offer, and doing so would align with principle 6, cooperation among cooperatives.


Sam Whited Mon 8 Aug 2022 12:03PM

I'm curious, does this view change if it's an individual posting only links to a paid seminar, for example? If we do decide to vote or make changes, it would be nice to drill down and see where people draw the line or what criteria they're interested in. Thanks!


Will Murphy Wed 10 Aug 2022 5:48PM

For me it would depend entirely on whether it's a cooperative or extractive business. If it's an individual who posts only links to paid seminars offered by their cooperative business, I'd say that's P6 and individual user moderation tools like mute and block can be used by those it bothers.

If it's extractive, then we have no obligation to host it

Item removed


Django Fri 16 Sep 2022 4:54AM

I have wondered what the value is in having Bots on the instance?

Posts on this account are auto-generated from Twitter. I do not pay attention to interactions on the fediverse.

No interaction, or dialog to be had...


brainwane Thu 17 Nov 2022 9:20PM

@Django: that specific issue is what rankles me, and is discussed a little in https://www.loomio.com/d/muEICZQ2/bot-repost-policy- as well. If someone wants to have an announcement-only feed that posts into our local timeline, but specifically and explicitly and preemptively denies any intent to be open to Fediverse conversation about what they've said, and the account is labelled "bot", then I would really like an option to pre-emptively mute that and similarly "bot"-labelled accounts.

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