TheSixtyOne Seeks to Solve the Problem

In an interesting move against those who would manipulate traffic on the social web, music site TheSixtyOne is looking for a programmer who can crack the codes of voting rings.

On sites such as Digg, Reddit and even TheSixtyOne itself, spammers can rig a supposedly democratic system that allows good content to rise to prominence. They do this by having networks of bots that automatically vote for any content they submit. TheSixtyOne hopes that a cleverly written code submission will solve the problem of gamed virality or popularity mechanisms – and they’re looking to hire the hacker who can do it.

They’ve added the following problem to their Jobs section for candidates who “want to make [their] application stand out.”

A social news website called ‘Reddigg’ has hired you as a consultant to help them with a potentially serious problem. Reddiggers submit news articles in hopes that their submission will make it to the front page — an article has a chance of getting posted once it receives enough upvotes.

Reddigg suspects spammers have found a way to manipulate the system by commanding fake users to regularly vote for their own articles, hence forming ‘voting rings’. You’ve been hired to identify suspected voting rings based on recent user data.

Your task may not be as straightforward as it seems however. The caveat is that the spammers may have fashioned their sock puppets to act like real users. To create some misdirection, fake users may sometimes withdraw their vote on targeted articles or even vote on articles that they have no association with.

Kevin Huffman and Alexis Rose, the creators of Reddigg, request that you write a program in Python or C to identify the top five suspected unique voting rings consisting of at least five users for each ring.

In the past, musician friends have told us that they suspect a certain amount of system-rigging goes on at TheSixtyOne. It’s nice to see that a social media site is trying to put a stop to this kind of behavior instead of allowing its ecosystem to grow in an unhealthy way that serves no one – not end users and not genuinely interesting content creators.

For more information on TheSixtyOne, check out our previous coverage – its recent redesign makes it one of our favorite apps of the year.

jolie odell