I Was a Paid Internet Shill: How Shadowy Groups Manipulate Internet Opinion and Debate
The “complex debate” part of the job involved a fair amount of additional training, including memorizing more specific information about the specific posters (friendly and hostile) I’d be sparring with. Here, too, there were scripts and suggested lines of argument, but we were given more freedom. There were a lot of details to this more advanced stage of the job – everything from how to select the right avatar to how to use “demotivationals” (humorous images with black borders that one finds floating around the web). Even the proper use of images of cats was discussed. Sometimes we used faked or photo-shopped images or doctored news reports (something else that bothered me).
So I think most people on message boards and forums have accepted the fact that there are a substantial percentage of posters who are shoveling bullshit with questionable motives. They exist in every significant forum on the internet -- including here.
So the question is this, how do forum mods and owners deal with these issues? How do you draw the line between "yeah, they're nuts but they haven't done anything to result in deactivation," and "they're actively and subversively changing the tone of the conversation for financial benefit."