Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – The Spamming Question

With a confusing system and a new form of social networking, the right way to go about getting used to Hey! Nielsen is taking one’s time. You step back, view the situation, and based on that engage the new medium with a fresh eye.

But fan movements aren’t about taking their time: for better or for worse, they are about mass movement and mass impact, something rarely associated with stopping to smell the roses. The result was a huge swarm of Jericho and Supernatural fans as they rose to the top of the charts, which is seemingly “good” based on the site’s attempt at measuring fandom. However, it was clear that in the hustle and bustle there had arisen some hard feelings. Jericho and Supernatural fans were labeled “spammers,” flooding the site with too many opinions and only focusing on a single series.

While here at Cultural Learnings we provided a certain level of warning to fans about this, we did make note that those who attacked fans for this were missing the point. This was echoed by fans who responded, upset at the lack of patience on the other side of the fence.

“To generalize our fandom like that makes me a little upset,” Supernatural fan Brooklyn writes, “because some of us know how to conduct ourselves accordingly. I also want to say that I think one reason we were so zealous is because we saw this as an opportunity to really get the word out on our notoriously over looked show.”

Similarly, Jericho fan Starfire felt “people should use the Grandmother principle: as in “What would your Grandmother think of your actions – if she would give you a pinch – don’t do it.” However, all sides agreed that a certain level of negativity is to be expected; unfortunately, however, negativity is something that can go too far.

These two fan groups, with so much in common, found themselves not only pitted against overzealous users from other areas but also against one another. A lot of this can be linked to the competitive element of the website: fans from one side trying to regain the top spot placing negative views on the other show in question.

One Supernatural fan notes that they “don’t like Jericho, but I’m not over in the sandbox mucking up thier threads. It’s silly and childish.” And many others agreed: the competitive element of the site brought out some unfortunate behaviour that is not likely to be indicative of normal internet etiquette. It became a race to become #1 as opposed to promoting their show through non-numerical, non-quantitative ways.

And I don’t understand this, I’ll be honest: Jericho and Supernatural fans have a lot in common, and attacking one another was in the best interest of no one. I understand that being #1 became important, but was not also the public perception of one’s fandom through comments/reactions part of that concern. These are two fan groups that should be working together, not at each other’s throats.

There were also other individuals who began attacking this rising fandom by placing negative reactions on all things Jericho, Supernatural, Stargate: Atlantis, Dresden Files and everything else. I think this is the exact opposite approach one should take. These fan groups were overeager, maybe, but is eagerness really such a sin?

However, these fans are not dwelling on the negativity. As Jericho fan foxgray1 notes, “I feel it is the nature of humanity for some people to be heavily defen[sive] in their own thought systems[;]…also, some people will fight just for the sake of fighting.” This attitude promotes the message I received from most fans: they accept the negative comments, feel they’re slightly out of taste, but have not been distracted from the thing that brought them there in the first place: promoting the show(s) they love.

Which is why this isn’t a problem that Hey! Nielsen can really fix. The competitive nature of the site will always bring out the worst in everyone, and it’s up to fans to keep it from surfacing and to not let it distract from the real purpose. This is a solution that is about fans, users and Hey! Nielsen being more understanding of the fandom out there, and I don’t think there’s a “plan of action” that could solve these concerns. However, really, this is more for the fans to decide. I’ll post more of their comments below, and then hopefully more might offer their own solutions to this concern.

Sandy, a Supernatural fan, feels it was inevitable:

I think it was an overreaction. This is what happens on every Internet survey and poll. One fan finds out about the survey/poll and posts all over their fandom that their show isn’t first! OMG! Must go support show! Everybody runs over to vote, and suddenly that show gets a huge surge in voting. Then another fan in another fandom will see the change in votes and post all over their fandom that their show is losing ground! OMG! Must go support show! And then *that* show’s votes surge, and around and around and around it goes.

Shoi, a Supernatural fan:

It’s a little disappointing, honestly. The show receives very little promotion from its network, and always seems only just out of danger of being canceled when renewal times come around, and so I think it’s not surprising that a lot of us are eager to jump up and immediately be counted as a proud fan, or to talk about how much we like it and how good we think it is. I think that’s understandable from the point of view of anybody who’s been a fan of an under-appreciated genre show! I can’t fault people for being somewhat annoyed, I guess, but I think where other fans of shows in similar situations are concerned, we’re really in the same boat. No reason to go for the throat.

OKJHawkGirl took a more proactive approach from a Jericho perspective:

Didn’t bother me much, because there wasn’t that many. I just gave them a complete disagreement on the rating scale.

WelcometoCO, another Jericho fan, raises an issue we’ll be discussing in greater issue tomorrow:

If someone has an opinion that’s different from my own, I can ‘agree to disagree’ and respect that differing opinion, as long as it’s just as respectful of mine — and that it’s backed up with reasonable justification. However, when I see Jericho, its cast, and its fans being bombarded with -5s and nasty comments from ‘users’ just for the sake of being negative or as an unjustified lowest-possible-rating protest vote, then I question the usefulness of this system to provide any true measurement of anything.


Filed under Jericho, Social Networking, Supernatural

9 responses to “Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – The Spamming Question

  1. As a Dresden Files fan, I can say that we also were overjoyed that finally there was a chance for our opinions and choices to be heard outside of the regular forums. Afterall, the people we need to reach don’t all hang around in forums! 🙂

    We have noticed, however, that there’s a particular poster that seems to negatively rate EVERY opinion or comment made on the Dresden page/poll (and others) – even on the polls of the actors on the show! I can understand not caring for a series, actor/actress, band, or whatever, and stating that opinion – but why take the time to target particular series and negatively rate every single posting?? That is beyond stating your opinion and choice. That is deliberately trying to undermine the efforts of others to positively express their OWN opinions. That kind of behavior is unreasonable, selfish, and just plain rude. In essence, it is the poll version of being a troll.

    As others have stated, those of us who are tired of being ignored by channels, networks, &/or the advertising industry need to work together, because there are already enough circumstances, executives, and attitudes working against us and they don’t need any help!

  2. Zarina, I couldn’t agree more: what was once a problem for Jericho and Supernatural fans has transferred onto Dresden Files and Stargate: Atlantis fans. No matter the fanbase, that kind of behaviour doesn’t solve the “spamming” problem (If it’s a problem), and should be discouraged.

    Thanks for reading and having your opinion heard: I’d love to hear more from Dresden Files fans on this issue.

  3. dragonmiss

    I am also a Dresden fan who is outraged by folks who seem to think it their duty to undermine fan loyalty to any show. I hate to come off sounding like a conspiracy nut, but almost smacks of someone connected with the network programming trying to neutralize any negative publicity or positive efforts towards renewal concerning these targeted shows. They are deliberately belittling the fans (something the network exec types have a tendency to do), making us feel like idiots for even trying to defend and support our shows and in general are trying to discourage any continuance of our renewal-lobbying efforts. Far from working, however, it only gets us angry and spurs us to greater efforts.

  4. cwo3thomas

    I post on Hey! Nielsen and I am a Dresden Files fan. I post on The Dresden Files because it is my favorite show and is having a little difficulty, little minor thing like being cancelled. It would show ignorance on my part or any one elses part to go and post against another show for any other reason than expressing an honest opinion. I, like every one has likes and dislikes, and we should be allowed to express our opinion. When our opinion is motivated by other than rational reason and designed to hurt others for personal gain, it is a sign of immaturity and unfortunately we do not have anything we can gauge this against in an environment that is virtual.

  5. Honestly, I have no idea what kind of person has the *time* to spend generating negative will at large. As someone who loved the Dresden Files, and about a million other things, I don’t have enough time in the day to turn other people on to all the stuff I think is cool. Which is tragic!
    I’m all for trashing people — who deserve it. But it’s not my primary recreational activity. In the same manner that only boring people get bored, people who don’t think anything is cool, aren’t … cool.

  6. snoogens99

    It is a shame when fans must bring down other shows to uplift their own. Much the same as the biggest kid on the block gets to be the school bully, the internet has taken “size” out of the equation and simply left meanness in it’s place. If you love a show, promote it by any means possible, but it is truly unnecessary to bring down another show in the process. Most of us are of an age that we should understand the negative consequences of these actions. However, even at my 34 years of age, I still see people of my age and older cutting in line. Grow up, love what you love, and leave the rest alone.

  7. Pingback: Closet Sci-Fi Geek :: Hey! Nielsen

  8. summand

    It might not be such a huge issue for the Hey!Nielsen team. I mean, is it the point to be Number One or to reach Nielsen?

    I have monitored such a voting system(on a much smaller scale though) for a while as an admin and it is ridiculous easy to identify spammers. Most of those people forget that it is possible to log the IP of a voter/poster.

    Ok, there are some people behind proxys and such but if IP and ratings for some accounts are always equal, the probability of spamming is quite high…

    I also found that there are only a few people who really spam, its like a few % generating most of the buzz.

    Also it is very easy to find accounts which are clearly different. Again, taking a look at the IPs of the voters, somebody from New Zealand is quite probably not the same person that posts from germany.

    If Hey!Nielsen is somewhat clever, they will or are even now filter spam votes out and do some data mining in the votes to get decent results.

    About Dresden: I think it is incredible what a dedicated group of fans can do. Wow. This is certainly no small feat for a show with just one season. I think it is a fine show, certainly better than most and I would be glad about a second season.

  9. Mona

    I haven’t voted against any other shows at this time, but frankly there aren’t very many good, interesting, intriguing or engaging television shows. It’s a vast wasteland and it’s sad.

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