User Pillum got the Publicist badge on this question with only 27 views... say what?!?!

Screenshots to prove that it was < 1000 at the time this post is made:

  • Great... right when I finish making this question, I find this possible duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/127574/… However, here you have a factor of almost 50x. I don't think the counter is that conservative.
    – Mysticial
    Apr 18 '12 at 16:55
  • 7
    Hmm. Since I always assume the worst in people, my money is on plain abuse. Question views are only counted with JavaScript enabled, so he probably got a couple bots to fetch his referral link.
    – a cat
    Apr 18 '12 at 16:57
  • 13
    Got to remember to have javascript turned on when I use my bot net so its not so obvious Apr 18 '12 at 17:09
  • 2
    Don't know if you've noticed but there's something seriously wrong with the background colour of your text boxes... ;P
    – yannis
    Apr 18 '12 at 17:21
  • I changed the color (intentionally) in Windows. :P
    – Mysticial
    Apr 18 '12 at 17:25
  • @Mysticial rose goes well with manga?
    – sehe
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:30
  • Yeah, I had a pinkish Anime background for a while. So the pink in the windows/text-boxes was to match it. Then I changed the background to a night-sky picture, so it's black - but I left the pink in the windows.
    – Mysticial
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:33
  • 1
    Irony? This post in meta has doubled the post in question's views. :D
    – Sam DeHaan
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:36
  • 1
    @SamDeHaan No, the irony would be if someone managed to get the Publicist badge on this question before it hit 1000 views. Alright everyone, turn your bots on! (and keep JavaScript disabled)
    – Mysticial
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:39
  • Very carefully. Apr 24 '12 at 0:41

If you look at their activity, you see that the badges were also awarded in quick succession (with the order depending on which script ran first).

enter image description here

This means that the views would've had to come in rapidly in large volumes that it managed to beat the scripts and bucked the natural pattern of Announcer being awarded first, Booster a few hours/days later and finally the Publicist badge.

This is not normal viewing behaviour where someone chances upon a link and then maybe clicks it and moreover, the question isn't that interesting/catchy to have such a large volume of views. If the devs look at the kurtosis of the data points (time viewed), I'll bet they'll find a very high kurtosis for this case.

My guess is that the strict view counter™ also takes into account the velocity of views, which explains the low views displayed (closer to the actual number), whereas the link tracking script merely looks at unique IPs, making it easy to farm badges if you have the means and knowhow to write a script to do that.

  • This user's badges were also awarded out of order (20 minutes apart though).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 18 '12 at 17:57
  • Is it really farming? The user is meeting the requirement of that badge after all...
    – Hogan
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:03
  • 2
    @Hogan: How would it be any different than a user making 500 bogus edits to posts, or a user creating duplicate accounts to upvote their own posts? It's not appropriate behavior and shouldn't go unpunished.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:06
  • It's definitely possible to get the badges in quick succession. I got Booster and Publicist only 10 min. apart - which might be an artifact of when the scripts run. But yes, there's definitely something fishy going on here. +1
    – Mysticial
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:08
  • @animuson Yeah, badges being out of order by itself isn't convincing (I've gotten vox-populi before suffrage in a similar vein), but your example is a question that I can easily believe would've quickly gotten the views if posted at the right time and place; not the one mentioned in the OP :) Apr 18 '12 at 18:09
  • 5
    +1 for kurtosis
    – gnat
    Apr 18 '12 at 18:17
  • I think your answer is correct. But I'll wait for official confirmation before I accept it. (assuming it does turn out to be abuse)
    – Mysticial
    Apr 19 '12 at 18:22

This user got the badge fraudulently, and we removed it accordingly.

  • 7
    totally called it
    – a cat
    Apr 23 '12 at 19:21
  • Is there going to be any change in the algorithm that counts views? Or is it safe to assume that this is rare enough to handle case-by-case when they happen?
    – Mysticial
    Apr 23 '12 at 19:22
  • 1
    @Mysticial - the question wasn't viewed 1,000 times, so the error wasn't in the view count, it was in the badge...and we're looking at possible changes there. Apr 23 '12 at 19:25
  • *I meant the view/ip counter for the badge. But yeah, I get your point. :)
    – Mysticial
    Apr 23 '12 at 19:27
  • 1
    Am I the only one shocked that someone would spend this much time to (fraudulently) get a badge? Apr 23 '12 at 19:27
  • 4
    @AdamRackis You don't know how much time he spent, though. If he already had a 1000-strong botnet handy, all he would have had to do is deploy a payload to fetch a single URL. Hell, maybe I'm on an entirely wrong level of maliciousness and he just put the link into his signature as an image somewhere. That'd take just about a couple seconds.
    – a cat
    Apr 23 '12 at 19:32
  • 3
    @lunboks - smart - that gives me an idea.... Apr 23 '12 at 19:37
  • Here's another one: stackoverflow.com/questions/5578845/… Publicist with 314 views.
    – Mysticial
    Apr 24 '12 at 16:00
  • And another one from the same person. Publicist with 202 views.
    – Mysticial
    May 1 '12 at 5:11
  • And yet another from the same person. Publicist with 80 views.
    – Mysticial
    May 2 '12 at 0:49
  • @Mysticial we're aware, and will be changing how this works. Don't worry, ill-begotten badges will not stick around (definitely feel free to keep reporting them here though). May 2 '12 at 1:50
  • The first one here stackoverflow.com/badges/262/publicist?userid=47322
    – Double AA
    May 20 '12 at 2:22

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