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Hollywood Is Losing the Battle Against Online Trolls (hollywoodreporter.com) 487

An anonymous reader shares a Hollywood Reporter article: It had taken years -- and the passionate support of Kirk Kerkorian, who financed the film's $100 million budget without expecting to ever make a profit -- for The Promise, a historical romance set against the backdrop of the Armenian genocide and starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, to reach the screen. Producers always knew it would be controversial: Descendants of the 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire shortly after the onset of World War I have long pressed for the episode to be recognized as a genocide despite the Turkish government's insistence the deaths were not a premeditated extermination. Before the critics in attendance even had the chance to exit Roy Thompson Hall, let alone write their reviews, The Promise's IMDb page was flooded with tens of thousands of one-star ratings. "All I know is that we were in about a 900-seat house with a real ovation at the end, and then you see almost 100,000 people who claim the movie isn't any good," says Medavoy. Panicked calls were placed to IMDb, but there was nothing the site could do. "One thing that they can track is where the votes come from," says Eric Esrailian, who also produced the film, and "the vast majority of people voting were not from Canada. So I know they weren't in Toronto." The online campaign against The Promise appears to have originated on sites like Incisozluk, a Turkish version of 4chan, where there were calls for users to "downvote" the film's ratings on IMDb and YouTube. A rough translation of one post: "Guys, Hollywood is filming a big movie about the so-called Armenian genocide and the trailer has already been watched 700k times. We need to do something urgently." Soon afterward, the user gleefully noted The Promise's average IMDb rating had reached a dismaying 1.8 stars. "They know that the IMDb rating will stay with the film forever," says Esrailian. "It's a kind of censorship, really."

Hollywood Is Losing the Battle Against Online Trolls

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:23PM (#54250537)

    Alternative title: IMDB fails to prevent botting and vote brigading

    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:34PM (#54250673) Journal

      Pretty much this, right here.

      Given the topic of the movie, how frickin' hard would it be for IMDb to dump anything with a Turk/Russian/{CDNs-common-to-VPNs}-IP-originate vote of less than 3 stars?

      I'm guessing they'll wait for some SJW-centric production to get vote-bombed, and then decide to do something about it?

      • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:48PM (#54250821)

        I'm not sure that is really workable, they could use VPNs, proxies or bots. Its hard to see what they can do long term other than hope the bots are a minority.

        They should probably restrict reviews for early releases, I think Rotten Tomatoes did something similar in the past few years - at least I feel they used to have an issue with people rating movies before they could have been seen.

        • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @04:22PM (#54251733)

          There's tons of ways to block botting. Easiest is when a vote is entered the IP and userid for that vote goes into a table with a timestamp. When another vote for the same IMDB item is cast the table is referenced and if it's the same IP but a different userid and less than 10 or 15 minutes has elapsed, the vote is rejected and the UI pops a message about the same IP with a captcha to solve. If the captcha is solved then the vote is registered. That way bots are blocked but a family who just watched a movie and for some reason ALL of them wanted to rate it on IMDB within a 15 minute window afterward could still vote.

          • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @04:50PM (#54252011)

            This. Many sites do it, and while it takes some setting up, it;'s fairly straightforward to prevent folks from the same IP or username from voting repeatedly. It's not normally an issue in IMDB because who cares enough about a movie to vote enough times to change the ratings in that way?

            Oh wait...

            Actually, when I see something with lots of single stars I'm pretty suspicious anyway.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Wait up, is this fair or is it just selective censorship based upon greed. So you have what is often crap content created by Hollywood vs content collectively created by many more individuals that targets the Hollywood content. Basically content wars, the rich and greedy vs trolls (why trolls, fine, want a another label to distort from what it originally meant fine, trolls originally were individuals whose purpose was to annoy people of forums, not creative content challenging other content and collective '

        • Restricting to the locations that the film is available would not make it impossible to game, but then nothing ever will. It will turn the potential millions of downvotes into hundreds or thousands (also you can just block proxies).

      • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

        vote of less than 3 stars

        Why only negative votes? Wouldn't it make sense to dump everything?

    • Looks like the summary's conclusion and the Turkish campaign to baselessly and irreversibly denigrate the movie are overblown.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In other news, people who did bad things in the past continue to deny having done bad things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        In other news, people who did bad things in the past continue to deny having done bad things.

        The Turks don't deny that bad things happened, nor do they deny that they were the ones that did it.

        What they do deny is that it amounted to genocide. In 1915 the British Empire landed 250,000 troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and the Russians launched a major offensive in the Caucasus [wikipedia.org]. The Turks were fighting for their survival as a nation. The Gallipoli landing failed, mostly due to astoundingly incompetent leadership on the allied side, but also due to the brilliant and decisive leadership of Mustafa

        • by Nikkos ( 544004 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:06AM (#54256189)

          "Did this amount to a centrally planned and coordinated effort to exterminate the Armenian people?
          I don't think so."

          You're wrong. Simply, clearly, and provably wrong. There's a whole wikipedia page full of high-level government witnesses - including Turks/Ottomans - that talk about the intentions, the systemic nature, and the results. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Basically, the Turks who want to continue to deny the genocide (and you, apparently) are claiming that they didn't _intend_ for 1.5 million to die, it 'just happened' that, after the massacres, everyone who wasn't killed right away somehow died during an organized and planned forced march through the Syrian desert with no food, water, shelter, or rest.

          And the justification of some Armenian 'fifth column' is ridiculous. You don't kill all the women, children, and grandparents because a handful of Armenian men are helping the war against you. It was simply an excuse to take action against a hated group people who were already denigrated third-class citizens because they weren't the correct religion.

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:16PM (#54251117)

      I was going to suggest that the alternative title could be "Someone Didn't Get The Memo: IMDb Scores Are Still Useless".

      A few years back, I used an extension to display IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic scores in Netflix's web UI, thinking they'd help me cut through the chaff and find the films I was most interested in. It became apparent almost immediately that while the Rotten Tomatoes scores were good and the Metacritic scores were occasionally decent, the IMDb scores were nothing more than useless noise, given that they were so far out of sync both with what the other sites are reporting, as well as what my own experiences would suggest reasonable scores should be for the films I had seen. And really, none of this should come as a surprise, given that IMDb is a wiki platform with poor policing, meaning that the scores have become a battleground for various forms of e-peen measuring contests.

      So far as I'm concerned, Rotten Tomatoes has for years done a far better job, particularly with their distinction between critic and audience scores, which makes it much easier to understand what to expect from a movie:
      - High critic score/high audience score = probably the best thing I'll see all year
      - High critic score/low audience score = a thought-provoking film that likely won't entertain
      - Low critic score/high audience score = mindless, "junk food" entertainment
      - Low critic score/low audience score = a trash film that's only thought-provoking inasmuch as it begs the question: why was this film was made?

      In contrast, IMDb scores give me no useful information. They don't tell me what to expect, whether I'll like the film, or even if it's a good film. They're just noise.

    • Couldn't IMDB separate votes to certain criteria? Sure it will get one star in Turkey, but usually people care more about scores given by people in the same region and age - or as some prefer cohort.
    • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @04:32PM (#54251817) Homepage

      Nothing to do with Hollywood or Trolls. Just people pushing an political idea.

  • Someone is wrong on the internet! And now all those random anonymous people who post on IMDB mean I'll never watch another movie again!

    If IMDB was so important to the success of a movie wouldn't there be evidence of every major hollywood movie being hyped there by millions of paid shills?

  • This is what the Slashdot trolls do when they're not busy buggering me.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:30PM (#54250617)

    movies don't make a profit. They make it all on the back end where we don't have to pay out any % to actors.

  • A solution (partly) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The IMDB should make it so the user could sort the rating by geography. In this way one could, for example, filter out all the reviews from Turkey from the ratings results. or see how a film was rated by reviewers from a particular country or region.I mean IMDB is a database right?

  • Why should I depend on some random people to tell what I will like and dislike?

  • Gone are the days of 'experts' guiding content consumption. Nowadays everybody has a some sort of internet connected device and an opinion. If they can also then tap into social media and create a cause they can summon a quite a force.

    Recent non-movie events with airlines, the 'leggings' incident and United fiasco.
  • by hackel ( 10452 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:33PM (#54250659) Journal

    Honestly, sometimes I think these idiots deserve Sultan Erdogan. What a pathetic display this was. Of course there are plenty of good, decent, progressive Turks out there, and it's very sad that their voices can rarely be heard over these idiot children. Very sad indeed. I can't imagine anyone taking an IMDB rating seriously, but the fact that they are refusing to do anything to combat this is equally disturbing. "Nothing they can do" is total bullshit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:39PM (#54250725)

    I've been a slashdot troll since the 90s. Trolling is high art - the modern day equivalent of the court jester - the practice of teaching everyone not to take themselves too seriously.

    This crap that is happening now with 4-chan esque social justice warfare against women, minorities, the historical fact of the Armenian genocide is *not* trolling. These people are doing the exact opposite of trolling - they're propping up the global misinformation machine instead of trying to convey the sense of critical thought and skepticism that I and my brethren have been working fastidiously toward for the past 3 decades (or more).
     
    STOP calling them trolls. This is not what trolling is!

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:41PM (#54250745)

    Some e-commerce sites have tags on reviews for verified buyers- maybe the movie studios should implement a similar system for movie reviews. Get a code after watching a movie, maybe by dispensing them as viewers leave (not connecting to a specific ticket to avoid privacy concerns) or when you download or buy a DVD. Use the code when reviewing the movie. Allow people to see confirmed viewer and non-confirmed ratings. Of course this could be abused, but seems no worse than the current system and might offer some improvements.

  • by griffo ( 220478 ) <lars@planet.nl> on Monday April 17, 2017 @02:47PM (#54250809)

    What utter BS that IMDB cannot control their rating system. They will not maybe. But cannot is a lie. Do they not own their own site?

  • It's a completely subjective unit of "goodness" or "I-like-it-ness" whose ratings tend to cluster around 1 or 10 (or 5 on a 5-star scale) making it a very polarizing way of rating things.

    But if you asked people to rate each movie relative to another movie, they would have to think a little more and so voting brigades could not simply assign "1 star" or "10 stars" to movies.

    Then you could use a Condorcet method or similar to rank all movies in order from least to most liked, and assign each movie an "all mov

    • whose ratings tend to cluster around 1 or 10

      It's called rater bias and it in itself is an important and useful statistic to have. The bias in the scale makes people say they either like something or they hate something. People who think critically have the option to not chose absolutes. However when you average the results, even when they are skewed to either end they produce a very meaningful answer, a tendency for people to either like or hate something.

      In general, don't overthink reviews, and don't live by them. Different movies have different the

  • Maybe coordinate with Fandango/Theater's to do what Amazon does for Verified purchases (Verified watcher). That way, you can filter out the unverified noise and see ratings from those who spent money to see it. Also, if you request a refund, you should void your Verified watcher status on your review. You can hurt them financially or publicly with a review, but not both.
  • So we're back to being unable to trust reviews. Game reviews are bought and have been from the first gaming magazines. Film critics have weird bias that makes it tough for average people to compare their own tastes to the critic's tastes. At least with Siskel and Ebert you had two very different points of view, and I tended to like things that Siskel liked.

    In this era of we have setup very democratic systems that allow everytone to contribute. Theoretically we can have access to information of not just the

    • Bah, who looks at ratings on IMDb anyway? That always seems to be the site for factual movie content..

      _examples_

      Usually: Hey, who was that guy in that one movie? Oh, let me check IMDb...

      Never: Hey, should I go watch that movie? Let me check IMDb...

  • RT critics say 38%.

    Why would you trust IMDB ratings for any film? Is there anyone here that finds IMDB ratings at all useful? Serious question.

    I find RT scores useful for things to avoid because they're trash. And in general a high score (by critics) is a good sign.

    • Yeah I think Hollywood won, the trolls got stuck in the honeypot bombing reviews no one looks at. It'd be like bombing reviews on Kmart's webpage for a product while leaving Amazon alone.
    • RT critics say 38%.

      RT critics are as unreliable as an IMDB review that has been trolled by 4chan before its been released. They often get corrected, they often disagree with user ratings. Frankly RT are a great source for a general idea of how good a film is ... a month after its release.

  • These folks seem to think their movie deserves a high rating because of the honorable subject matter and courage to tell a little known story. I've seen plenty of films which were lousy no matter what the subject matter was. This might be just a failed attempt.

    • by Higaran ( 835598 )
      I'm sure that they think they made the best movie ever, but I agree, it's not possible for 100000 reviews when only 900 people saw it at the premiere. This is a very tough issue, it won't be really settled for a few generations more.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:02PM (#54250967) Homepage Journal

    IMDB rating number these days is completely meaningless. Many complete trash films that deserve 2 or 3 stars at most end up with very high ratings because.... Disney owns the film.

    Take Force Awakens, which has a very high 8.1 rating. However if you go into the User Review section, majority of reviews are very very scathing. And having watched the film, I agree that the movie was terrible. So why the disconnect between user review and user ratings?

    My guess is that it's easier to game the user rating than it is to submit fake reviews, because writing a genuine-looking review is much harder than simply stuffing fake votes with a bot or (in Disney's case) simply paying for a higher number.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:38PM (#54251315) Homepage

      Take Force Awakens, which has a very high 8.1 rating. However if you go into the User Review section, majority of reviews are very very scathing. And having watched the film, I agree that the movie was terrible. So why the disconnect between user review and user ratings?

      14yo kid: It has laser guns and lightsabers -> high rating
      Anal retentive SF-nerd with "Han shot first" issues -> bad review

      Seriously, some people take light entertainment waaaaaaaaaaay too seriously. Star Wars, obviously. All the superhero movies Marvel makes, they're comic books in movie form. Even LotR had their naysayers because Tom Bombadil was missing and Arwen's love story was a side show from the appendix and... whatever. Consider it a bit like the biggest hits on the music charts, they're not the deepest and most "meaningful" songs. They're what most people want to hear, just like McDonald's isn't going out of business no matter how many food experts shit on them.

  • Literally Hitler (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:04PM (#54250993)

    No, this is not against trolls, but something far worse. Erdogan is literally the closest thing in the industrialized world to Hitler we have. Don't believe me?

    1. It's looking more and more like he staged a fake coup (remind you of the Reichstag burning?) to preemptively crush dissent.
    2. He's adopted a view of immigration and migration that is close to the Nazi policy of lebensraum.
    3. He has used a popular referendum to greatly empower himself and gut the authority of competing institutions.
    4. He has taken a Turkish equivalent of the Nazi view about fellow Germans living in other countries. His government went nuts when European states clamped down on Turkish political organization in their borders.
    5. FFS, he even channels Hitler with the moustache.

    Odds are very good that if there is a mass civil war in Europe over race and religion, it will be directly the result of Erdogan's work combined with the idiocy of Merkel and a few others who let him get away with it. Anyone who considered Erdogan, who wants to resurrect Ottoman Turkey, would have wanted to keep those migrants out at bayonet point if necessary.

    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      He's going to have a real problem on his hands when all the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq is finished with ISIS and has idle time on their hands. Erdogan will stop at nothing to prevent a unified Kurdistan, and it's likely to tear NATO apart.

  • Weak Response... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sizzlinkitty ( 1199479 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:11PM (#54251065)

    IMDB can be doing more to fix this issue but since they are taking the easy out here, fighting fire with fire is the only suitable response.

    I believe the best response would be for IMDB to limit what users can rate and how early in the release of the movie it can be rated. When someone attempts to put a rating on a movie that hasn't officially been released and their account is new or with very few reviews (which I assume is the case with most of the fake reviews), you hold their reviews back for moderation and flag as internet troll.

  • by Lorens ( 597774 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @03:29PM (#54251237) Journal

    This ought to backfire.

  • As a movie buff I like the IMDB site but their ratings make no sense. For example, the recent remake by Disney of "A New Hope" using a female lead was thoroughly trashed with one star ratings on IMDB. Reading them was as entertaining as reading Monster Cable reviews. IMDB gave it an 8+ rating overall. There is no possible way that wasn't fabricated. In order to rate a movie you have to write a review. I doubt any of these trolls can put together a single grammatically correct sentence let alone form a
  • by Headw1nd ( 829599 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @04:18PM (#54251701)
    So there is a breakdown of the vote, and it's quite amusing. [imdb.com] Looks like they could just skim off the 1's and 10's and get a decent picture of the actual score.

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