Whacking Moles

I am convinced that some users simply fail to appreciate that they are most always dealing with other real people on the other sides of their computer screens.   Surely,  I think to myself,  folks would never be this dishonest and petty if they were not convinced that cheating somehow doesn’t count when you do it online for play money.    It was an ugly situation in the #SocialEmpire group.

A long time Empire Avenue  player who runs a charitable organization was complaining that he had created  a very high value mission offering 50,000 eaves to folks who donated $25 to his charity.   He gave away a lot of play money and only three folks made the reciprocal donation to his charity.  A member of the Empire Avenue staff popped in and mentioned that they can help in this sort of situation.   Several folks pointed out that all users who offer missions can make them contingent on being a member of a particular Empire Avenue community,  and if you have a closed community,  you can carefully control whom the mission funds go to.     The gentleman who had lost 1.5 million eaves   (who is btw a very nice guy and whom I consider a friend)  vented a bit more,  and then one of my other friends took offense.    Some days social media(tion) is not so fun  🙂

However the problem,  which the guy who lost a boat load of eaves complained about,  is a real and growing problem.   My friend Gaye Crispin told me she recently lost 100,000 eaves offering a simple re-tweet mission.     While I have been genuinely thrilled with all of the visitors missions have attracted to this blog,  I certainly share my friends’ frustrations with folks who just take the eaves and ignore the instructions.    So I was pleased when Gaye announced she is forming the Missionaries Community on Empire Avenue.   I have run several missions now,  paying extra to require that the mission be open only to this community.    The first two worked pretty well,  but the third one….I was really disappointed that so many folks took my thousand eaves and didn’t even do the simple re-tweet that was the easy alternative for my mission.

And so I have been playing whack a mole again,  blocking the folks who took my play money but didn’t bother to even send a simple re-tweet as I asked.    I suppose I will have to let Gaye know about the worst of the cheaters in her group,  which was specifically set up to save us from the legions of cheaters.   Sometimes…..social media games really suck.


72 comments on “Whacking Moles

  1. Isn’t Gaye’s community Missionistas? Anywho, I think what you’ve observed has been a problem since the beginning of time and is not an artifact of social media – though the apparent anonymity of the medium makes people emboldened. The challenge is not to oversteer – to create so rigorous and restrictive requirements that legitimate, by-the-rules players don’t get turned off by all the hoops.

    I’ve also seen that some Mission Masters have started to impose hold periods – must have been a shareholder for “n” days; this also seems reasonable, and at coupled with community membership helps impose requirements to drink from the font.

    • LG– I believe Gaye’s community is called My Fellow Missionaries. And I myself have just had a pleasant mission surprise. I set out a comment on this post mission for 30 people to receive eaves, then went to bed and slept for 8 or 9 hours. I woke up and found this post with 32 new comments. 🙂

  2. After several failed mission where people just took eaves, in 1,000+ eaves each, I now only release short YouTube missions. So, there’s no loss for me last week.

    Yet, my attitude do change over time. In the beginning, my eaves are tight so that any steal is hard for me. But, my eaves grow everyday based on my investment philosophy, I’d like to give each one benefit of doubt if the mission is complicated. There’re technical issues involved. For example, I have a hard time to complete blogspot comment mission. I don’t have any blog on Google blog system so that I want to use OpenID or wordpress ID. The spam verification screen just flash and disappear that I couldn’t put my comment in to tie my wordpress blog. So, I give up blogspot comment mission unless I have time and eaves are attractive.

    • I was a blogspot blogger when Google first introduced Open ID. Initially they made it so that no one could comment on a blogspot blog without an Open ID. I moved my blog to self-hosted WordPress, though I was pleased when Google later reversed themselves and left the option for folks to comment with their name and URL. Lately I’ve been frustrated by many blogspot sites adding a captcha to frustrated commentators. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Nicolas.

  3. Although I do not run missions of your caliber, I did try out Gaye’s community approach. My missions are usually done within an hour, but the one with community membership did not do very well, it lasted two days and then I had to cancel it. Not sure what the solution to this is.

  4. I know that 50% of my marketing budget is wasted I just don’t know which half. Well on the avenue You know. You will always have people willing to take the easy route. These are not the people I care to do business with. I mean come on if you are so fast to cheat and blemish your reputation for nothing you are a real piece of S@#T.
    I ran a mission yesterday with 40 slots. I had 16 complete the mission. All they needed to do was click the mission button then follow the page for 1000 eaves.
    I suggest we view it as shotgun advertising. You pay for each shot if it hits the target or not

    • I believe I’ve read that it was Philadelphia department store mogul John Wannamaker who first said that ‘half of all marketing it wasted, the problem is we don’t know which half’. From a marketing perspective a 50% completion ratio is huge. From a community perspective, it’s not so hot. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I am really pretty disgusted with a lot of EAvers. You have seen it with missions and I have seen it with +Ks or FB likes. Frankly I will “like” anyone’s FB page. It does not hurt me and there MIGHT be some benefit apart from karma. So, it’s pretty disappointing when one likes 18 in a 10 hour period and only 7 like back. (It’s not as if it would actually cost them anything other than 30 seconds and it is the “offer-consideration.- acceptance” of that group.

    More difficult is where it is a FB like where once you get there you see you already like the page. Usually there is something else that mission organiser is happy with – a buy, a pile of comments, a share, some endorsements etc. Rarely would there be absolutely NOTHING that the thief could not respond with.

    Rant over:

    Compare it with 3 of us who this afternoon all +Ked 20 topics each – all within about 4 minutes in total. Respect to those two guys.

    I am actually now becoming much more “careful” which missions I do. I will not RT a string of “rubbish” unrelated to my twitter following or in anything other than Spanish/English and I will not RT events outside Spain.Nor will I RT or comment on guns and or abortion – two missions I have seen today. I don’t do the missions and I don’t take the eaves.

    • Steve, I think you’re very wise to be careful about what you re-tweet. Twitter can be a great tool for having conversations but if you spam out links and crap you will lose your followers. I think that Gaye’s community can be very useful for filtering out some of the mission cheaters. It sounds as though Gaye and her fellow group admins will be open to removing group members who cheat. Thanks so much for visiting today and leaving such a substantive comment.

  6. I am selective with the missions I participate in. Even though this is a play environment, you must abide by the rules established for missions. I have not built enough equity to offer a mission – I have learned that I will need to be careful.

    By the way, the pie pictures have caused me to stop by the bakery and buy one. Gained 10 lbs.

    • lmao, Tom. I actually added a sub page (look on the Alan menu) disclaiming responsibility for readers’ weight gain and pointing out that all of my jpegs have zero calories 🙂

  7. It’s such a bummer to hear about so many cheaters. I left the Social Empire group (for other reasons) before I saw any of that behavior, but other things did turn me off of the “gaming” experience. I didn’t know it was a game until I was in it for awhile, I always thought (and still do think) that it’s a great way to socialize & network. I might be Pollyanna, oh well 🙂

    • Daria, it seems to me that Empire Avenue is a social network itself, and also a social networking monitoring tool and a stock market game. Different participants have their own reasons for being there and may be focused more on one of these aspects than others. Honestly, I have friends in all three camps and I don’t ever want to say that any of them are “doing it wrong”. (Though I certainly will say that the cheaters who take the eaves and don’t complete the missions are doing it wrong.)

  8. You do Missions well. So does Gaye, Dan Stepel and some others. Many do not test their links, or consider that we might not be a member of some archaic network. I am quite sure that when people are quick to cry foul and automatically assume Mission-accepters “took the eaves and ran,” they might consider what their links lead us to – and how its often a “wild goose chase,” tracking down where the button or comment field, etc. that they referred to is.

    • Valid, Saluman…..one mission the other day took us to a personal FB page and not the fan page. So, we could not “like”.

      I clicked to “friend” her – I thought that was “fair”. A couple of hours later she came back blaming everybody but herself, “You all should have known etc,…..” She gave us the (correct) fan page and I went to “like” it but to be honest with her attitude, I’d have preferred to have given her the 500(e) back and I’d have then felt justifying in un-endorsing etc.


      • Steve, I suspect that in another year or two lots of folks will begin hitting up against Facebook’s 5,000 limit (you can Like a maximum of 5,000 pages, though most folks don’t realize this yet) we will see many people become MUCH more selective about what they Like, and the number of eaves you will have to offer to get a Like will skyrocket 🙂

    • Saul, I’m certain that there are abuses on both sides (mission creators and mission participants). I’ve heard many people complain about folks who have unreasonable expectations and ask you to do way too much for just 500 eaves. And certainly I’ve seen for myself how often folks take the eaves and run, completing ignoring what they were asked to do. Thanks so much for becoming a regular visitor and commentator.

  9. I do agree with Gaye Crispin idea and understand her disappointment about these missions. I’ve found myself in this position too. But I do not agree with the idea of paying extra to make it a requirement to belong to a group to participate in missions. Currently I have three missions going on and one of them require that you sign up to my group Southeast Asia Business Group and I haven’t got one person to join.My only reason for this requirement was to actually try to get some members into my group. The lesson I’ve learned is that I will not be disappointed anymore if it looks like some people may be cheating a little. I think it’s not worth it to damage my health because of being too serious. Have a great day:) http://about.me/ajarn

    • Don, for me the extra 10% to limit the mission to members of a community is trivial IF it limits the number of cheaters. As for creating new communities– it really is a lot of hard work. I don’t think I could do it successfully.

  10. Oh, I could write an essay on this topic. I’ll break it down into points:

    1) I’ve run 6 Missions and none of them were to accomplish some big goal. They were all basically giveaways so I don’t consider it “losing” any money. I wanted to bring something to people’s attention and a Mission was like a shareholder’s message with some $$ attached! I might feel differently I was a company or trying to raise my activity scores or achieve some objective.

    2) Nicholas is right, I run into technical difficulties on about 1 out of 20 Missions. The link is bad, I need to be friended first, I’m asked to RT something that is just garbage, I go to a page to leave Likes and I’ve already Liked everything posted, or, I think that I’ve completed a Mission but because I have so many tabs opened, I find out the next day that I never followed through. So, I think it’s important to allow for some human error, on the part of the Mission Giver or the Mission Taker.

    3) Some Mission Givers are just plain cheap and have inflated expectations. I saw one person ask players to max out their stock, cut & paste a Tweet and to go to their Facebook page and share some posts. For 500 eaves. Since you can only provide ONE link, the more complicated and demanding the Mission, the more likely people will not follow through, especially when you aren’t compensating them adequately for their time. Ironically, I’ve found that the higher the rewards, the simpler the Missions tend to be. It’s really surprising when it is the really rich players who do this while players with much less means are more generous.

    4) But, but, I think there are people who consistently can’t take 10 seconds to Like or RT when it takes so little effort to follow through. If this happens repeatedly and is the rule rather than the exception, I think they deserve whatever happens to them. What boggles my mind the most is that ANYONE can see who has taken rewards so it’s not like this information is hidden. How do they think they can get away with this without anyone knowing about it? I’d love to know if any of them have challenged being blocked or banned.

  11. I totally agree and I created my own mission community after reading about Gaye doing it. I thought it was a great idea. Until Empire gives mission creators more control about who can, and can not do missions, it’s a great idea.

    • Joanne, I find myself really hoping that Gaye’s group can become a kind of default for ethical missionaries. (Wow, it felt odd typing that phrase.) Even with the new limit of 100 total communities that each member can join, if each of us tries to set up our own group for missions, it will be very limiting before long.

  12. Before answering your question, I would like to submit a request – it is very hard when I am on a diet to be faced with all the delicious puddings (OK desserts) you have as background here! I feel I should get off the page as soon as possible before I go and raid the fridge…

    FWIW I think the prevalence of cheating may be because people think they are invisible behind the computer screen and they do not have eye contact with their victims. I also doubt whether they really see other members of Empire Avenue as real people. I think Gaye’s idea of forming a group is a good one, as it should build up a feeling of community – people should then be less willing to cheat.

    I do now check each time to see what I am being asked to do – as others have said there have been one or two missions which make me very uncomfortable and in one or two cases I have bought eaves instead if I have already got the ‘already completed’ button. Otherwise, I now leave the mission untouched. I am getting much better at this with practice 🙂

    • Laura, as I type this reply the background image is a bowl of vegan gumbo that I put up for my friend Elza. In truth, I post a lot more pie pictures than I actually eat pie 🙂 I definitely believe that you are right that those who cheat a lot don’t really understand that they are in fact dealing with other real people. IMHO, as individuals get more experienced online this realization does usually get brought home to them.

  13. concurrence – and drives me nuts – i have only done 5 missions and not large – but definitely get taken advantage of … my last mission i asked people to comment into the mission comment – with ANYTHING – and IF they did – I told them I would go back and buy some of their stock – and if maxed someone of their choice – i STILL only got half the people commenting – much less whether they actually delivered the mission – think about that – half the people either didn’t finish reading the mission – and/or really can’t be bothered to write a comment to get someone to buy more of their shares ….

    on the flip side a lot of people go above and beyond and I do find people buying more of me – even though that isn’t the mission drivers

    recent mission is to give me klouts – and again – if they take the eavs – do the klouts – i +K them back – and buy stock – as i am working through the lists – have got 5 people who don’t even have klout accounts – and still took the mission

    there are ways round the problem – the walled garden approaches make sense – but the open ones don’t – i.e. join this community – and no acceptance – why bother – there are some communities i belong to that are invite only – and everyone knows quite a few of the people within

    but EA needs to tighten up what they re doing to really make it work

    • Good point, John

      I would almost always max in anybody who set a mission. Either on the spot or soonest. Why? Simply because I feel they have a commitment to EAv, that they think outside the box and are adding value to EAv/my day.

      So for a 500 (e) gain, I often spend 30,000! Mmmm, maybe the maths don’t stack but “hey, what the heck!”

    • John, it seems to me that it is possible that EAv may be able to integrate the missions more tightly with other networks– eg, clicking the re-tweet button or the Like button actually releases the eaves. Missions do generate traffic to wherever you set the click through to. I also feel I should mention that many times I have gotten more than 100% completion– not that every one who took the eaves did something, but because some did more than they were asked the mission generated that much activity.

  14. I have done a total of 3 missions.

    1st Mission was a RT, just click for an RT and the Results : a total of 50 took the eaves with 31 Mission participants actually following through with the RT requirement.

    2nd Mission: Within a few minutes of it beginning 7 Mission participants took the eaves and ran and 1 RTed. I aborted the Mission.

    3rd Mission: 1 mission participant took the eaves no RT. Mission was an RT for 500 eaves last night. I decided to abort the Mission because I realized the Oscars were on if that really made a difference or not I do not know.

    I participate in a lot of Missions. I try very hard to do my best following the instructions for the Missions.

    I find that there are times that you have to hunt down the share links and not all links hook right to the Mission.

    I treat others the way I want to be treated.

    Respect is the key. We will not always get it right but we can sure try 🙂

  15. I completely agree with the creation of groups to monitor missions. Gaye actually gave an extended explanation just like this post of the reason to create a community which in my case wasn’t needed at all. Our eaves – we can play spend however on whomever we want. There is a flip side to this too. A week ago a mission link when clicked took me nowhere but gave me the eaves. I immediately posted on that person’s EA page and boom the mission was gone. Later that day the mission was back and i got a message saying thanks and asked to endorse some other post on the same page. Thankfully it had some nice posts.
    But some missions don’t have enough explanations and when clicked take us to a page where there is no connect between what’s posted there and what we do like or see or hear … How in the world am i supposed to endorse without liking it ?
    Hence i decided to do missions only after clicking the link below and seeing the contents and then click for the eaves.
    And those who discuss are the honest ones in my opinion. Cheaters won’t come out that easily in the open forums.

  16. Golly folks What ever happened to Playing because its fun , You meet new and different people from around the world. You have an opportunity to Match and Find folks you Enjoy WOW . I guess to me as there is a lot of return in EAV if you just give and don’t worry so much as to what people do with the Fake Money. i saw two new coffee clutch groups opened today to Make Restrictions on partaking missions . Honestly All the new Communities are defusing the strong communities that had been established. I really wonder how much time is wasted going out and Checking people to see if they did the mission . HOW BORIING IS That . I am like Liz , I believe most folks are Good folks and intend to carry out . Often folks once inside a mission find it overwhelming or against their principles . Should someone find out once in the mission that You have to watch an 18 minute Video on Android and you use I phone ? Should People Buy VOTES ???. Should you Be a Pro Life Person or a Conservative and Like Something not up to your Beliefs . Like jokes that are off color ? If honestly I notice a regular Scooper that isn’t Honest, I just will Block them and not whine to the world . Lets get back to fun and Socializing . promise my missions will be easy to do and will ALWAYS allow YOU To Choose not to do if they Violate any Personal Standard YOU CHOOSE. Stop WHINING , takes the enjoyment away.

    • i am with you John – though you might not think so by my post – but that is for me – so far i have spent NO dollars on EA – and i am exploring it and a lot of other spaces for different reasons to most I suspect.

      That said – there are people that have – and I suspect some of these missions do cost real money (alas Dups and co don’t tell us to my knowledge) – but there are people trying to do good – spending real money to get EAVs to give to game players to further their cause – right now – to a certain extent – i agree – who cares – but if EA is to be used in a real way which I think is where they are headed – there is a lot of change in front. fact is you expect 10 or even 20 percent of people to fail – and made up by over delivery by others – that’s life – but taking 3,000 , 5,000 , 10,000 eavs ‘for a simple RT’ – and not following through will stop the engine that makes EA work – and that would be a shame.

    • Agree with John on the buying votes missions. There have been too many missions asking for votes in contests/ratings that are NOT really open to the entire internet. Not very honest to expect someone in Nebraska to leave a comment reviewing a restaurant in Idaho.

  17. I agree with Liz Pullen on the following:

    “3) Some Mission Givers are just plain cheap and have inflated expectations. I saw one person ask players to max out their stock, cut & paste a Tweet and to go to their Facebook page and share some posts. For 500 eaves. Since you can only provide ONE link, the more complicated and demanding the Mission, the more likely people will not follow through, especially when you aren’t compensating them adequately for their time. Ironically, I’ve found that the higher the rewards, the simpler the Missions tend to be. It’s really surprising when it is the really rich players who do this while players with much less means are more generous.”

    I think keeping the Missions as simple as possible has a lot of Merit and action that accompanies them in a positive way.

    • Kathleen, I definitely agree that some mission creators are asking way too much for the handful of eaves they offer. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts.

  18. The topic of your post was the last thing I expected with whack a mole for a title.

    I had come across the missions you write about and thought it was a pretty unique idea. I may have even thumbs upped it and commented to show support for the mission.

    Overall I feel EA has done a great job flushing out the mission concept, taking a lot of what we were saying when they were first released into account. I imagine there will be a bit more tweaking over the course of time.

    Unfortunately this type of behavior will always be present. I myself don’t expect any more than a 50% follow through. If I get more, I’m thrilled. Hey it’s hard enough to get people to comment on or even thumbs up a mission. I find that it doesn’t matter if I put requirements on missions or not, the follow through is about the same.
    I would like to see one requirement per mission be available without a charge.

    Bill, Lynn, and friends of Bewitched!

    • Bill, I do know that in marketing/advertising a 1% response rate would be considered phenomenal. I also know that many have observed that a 40%–50% completion rate is typical for missions. But it still rankles that folks who are supposed to be your friends (or your Facebook friends at any rate) take the money and run. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  19. I don’t have a good answer t the mission dilemma . I know I do my best to complete any mission I take (and there are a few that I wound up regretting once I got started but I do believe in keeping my word. That said I am sure I have misunderstood or just plain made a mistake or had an uncontrollable technical problem now and then.
    I understand however from many threads that there is a pervasive problem of a pattern of some people who purposely hit and run. That really shows one’s true character, and we all choose who we want to associate with. I do think that this kind of behavior is character-based.

      • of course my entry is still waiting moderation – but others seem to be auto appearing … must be me !

      • just FYI, John, if you are a first time commentator on my blog, your comment is held for moderation. If I have previously approved a comment from you, subsequent comments go through right away.

    • Anne, I know you’re right that sometimes things go wrong and occasionally some folks will fail to complete a mission through an honest error. I am hoping that Gaye’s private community or something similar to it will be a way to keep missions fun and productive for all of us who enjoy them. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your views.

  20. It’s definitely a sad situation. People who have no integrity around completing a mission are ultimately missing the point of the game – creating relationship with other social media influencers. Anyone who thinks it’s just about the money is sadly loosing in a big way.

  21. Cyberspace is no ivory tower, that’s for sure; it’s more like making an announcement at a bus station.

    A listing in private forums of players who consistently “take the money and run” would be useful as I will pull my eaves in a heartbeat. Financial pressure works in real life (sometimes), why not on EAv?

    • Part of me is troubled by the idea that we will soon have the social equivalent of credit reporting agencies to keep track of who the good guys and the bad guys are. Another part of me thinks that Mandy may be ready to start that business rather soon 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting, Sarah.

  22. Reminds me of take a penny and leave a penny trays. Some people only take and never leave. It would be interesting to see why people fail to complete missions. Given my background, I would love to conduct the study 🙂

  23. For myself i would only do missions that i know i can do as well as missions that do not contain things that might insult, harm or be degrading in any many.. I am indeed very grateful to all that provide the missions and i must admit i would not have improved without it that much faster, so once again thank you. ( i did fail in one mission to post a picture for someone else in facebook so i did the next best thing i did a string of likes and apologized when the person sent me a message, of which i explained that the picture could not be loaded for some reason or another, and that was that, so when before taking any mission i check it out first and only if i am comfortable with mission will i undertake it, otherwise i would just pass on it ). Have A super Week Ahead 🙂 cheers

  24. Hi Alan,

    This conversation certainly highlights the diversity in the EAv community.

    I believe that playing games is a great way to get to know people. Games, and how people play the game, reveals much about the character of a person… and therefore their character in business and life.
    It’s quite a fascinating topic indeed.

    Thank you for yet another interesting read.


  25. When I ran my first couple missions – and got bent over like WOW! – I was told to just accept that 40% or so completing it was good and any better was a gift. I couldn’t accept that then, and still don’t, but it’s been true. I’ve run missions from 500e to 2500e and whether I spent more or less didn’t seem to matter so far as completion rate. I put shares restrictions on them, tried time restrictions, share price restrictions – and to be honest – I got screwed worse using restrictions than not. I was getting the same completion rate pretty much and spending extra to boot.

    I don’t expect 100% – I’m not naive. I think 65% would be nice. I try to keep missions simple – go to A -> click B if you want to -> See ya. I’ve even asked just for a thumbs up on the mission page itself for taking giveaway eaves and still failed to get 50% so I’ve kind of resigned to half the mission eaves being wasted even if compliance only takes about 2 seconds. I do keep notes on who takes them and runs – that is my little hobby, sad as it may be, and I have blocked tons of repeat offenders. I tell them beforehand and ask if they have any valid reason for porking me 3+ times – so far not one single person I asked has ever answered.

    But so far as it goes, If I run a mission, I expect to get hammered by about half the people – even if it is for a post to buy crippled puppies and kittens prosthetic limbs. When I do a mission – I look at the link first and then do it if I decide it’s worth it – unless it is someone whose work I am familiar with. I’m not as concerned about the amount of eaves offered as I am the content I am being given to interact with – and even then I don’t care about controversial so much as I care about being interested. Agree with the stance or not, I want to be informed/entertained and if I get that I’ll usually do more than is requested.

    • Mandy, Thanks so much for another great comment. (I’ve found myself thinking that I could do another blog with nothing but the wonderful comments you an Liz leave on this blog 🙂

  26. Pingback: U+2159 OR 241543903 | Libdrone's Thoughts and Musings

  27. What? It’s Christmas already? Did I sleep that long? Alan, why didn’t you wake me? .. lol .. love the xmas wallpaper .. gorgeous 🙂

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