Ethicality of automatic contributions
  • Translation
Hey Habr! Today I would like to talk about ethics, namely ethics in the professional field. It will be a question of services that perform 'fake' (automated human-like) activity and of those doubts in which they can result both the ordinary ordinary user, and the professional of development sphere.

So, let's start. What I mean by the phrase «fake activity» is not difficult to guess: it is the manipulation and compromising of the data that are responsible for the indicator of your activity, or more simply, of actions on the Internet. With this, of course, every one of you who used social networks at least once came across: Facebook, Instagram, and so on.

I will describe this scheme on the example of Instagram: each person has his own account, and for developers API access is provided. And what did we do? We started to launch bots that can perform all sorts of activity through a person’s account (such as like, subscribe, comment on other people's posts, or even independently manage their (or owners) page, for example @neuralcat ). And soon this opportunity began to be actively used in the business sphere. Attracting a new audience by targeting according to certain criteria and carrying out activity on their page. Everything would be fine, but over time it went beyond all limits. Every day dozens of incomprehensible accounts like your photos, leave spam comments, tag you on advertising posts and so on.

Bot activity has gone beyond all limits of prudence that today Instagram closes its API, and here is one of the reasons: “Most of the services that work with auto-posting, likes and OML-like likes — do it through private api — login / password, but not through the official API.”

Purely my opinion on ethics here is negative. Compromising the user's activity wins on the user's trust in the service, which undermines it with time.

And now let's move on from the example from Instagram to an example more related to us as a developers. Meet, GitHub — the largest web service for hosting IT-projects and their joint development. It also has an activity indicator:

Now, let's take a look at the following activity screenshots:

And here I have a question: is it acceptably at all? On the one hand, a person made a script that keeps up his activity indicative (well, if he wrote it himself), but on the other hand, imagine a situation where, for example, a recruiter needs to select a candidate for a certain position, skim look at the statistics will make positive impression of a candidate, especially from the professional side, but is this really the case?

Especially now, services like that are starting to appear, which allow you to enable automation of your activity in a couple of clicks. Those services performs different numbers of commits per day, and then by eye it is no longer possible to distinguish where a real person is, but where a bot is:

I do not blame people using such services or scripts, but I give reason to think about whether to give such services a way so that later it wouldn’t become a problem like with the Instagram API. The future of any service, including GitHub, depends on users and how they will use it. Thanks for attention.

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Is it ethical to use such services & scripts?

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