False advertisement bounty: How to defeat clickbait

Background:
Roblox advertisements use a bidding system to split impressions between buyers. Therefore when bad actors are participating in the bid with clickbait and false advertisements, they are taking ad space away from good developers who just want to play by the rules. These unfair and misleading ads also harm the average user’s experience and cause general mistrust in the advertising system. Vandalism of the ad system hurts Roblox as a whole. Wouldn’t it be better for players if they weren’t bombarded with low quality clickbait? Wouldn’t it be better for devs if players had more trust in the ad system? Fortunately Roblox has recognized the problem and is already taking action. However, all you need to do is refresh your Roblox webpage a few times to realize that this problem is still rampant.

As an individual, there is no incentive to report these ads. You could spend all of your free time reporting these ads. Maybe every ad you report gets deleted. You log in the next day and continue to be bombarded with the same amount of these ads as you did yesterday. It feels as if clicking the “report” button didn’t actually solve anything because this problem is at such an immense scale that you, as an individual, are just a drop of water in a grand ocean. And you’re not the only one who feels this way. Granted, if we could all suddenly start cooperating this problem could go away rather quickly. But that kind of societal-level mass cooperation is often not realistic and I wouldn’t count on that happening any time soon.

Feature:
Please read carefully. The details matter. There is a Q and A section responding to anticipated objections.

  1. A new button called “Claim False Ad” or “Challenge” would appear below every ad.
  2. This brings up to a new page showing the ad, what it leads to (with icon and URL), and an option to claim that the ad is violating Roblox’s rules.
  3. In order to challenge the ad, the challenger must pay a fee proportional to what the ad buyer spent.
  4. A human moderator reviews the challenge and passes down one of three judgments.
  • The ad is verifiably against the rules: The ad is deleted, removed from circulation, and the challenger gains Robux equal to the value of the ad’s remaining time plus a refund on the challenger fee. For example, a 240 Robux ad with 1 out of 24 hours remaining would have an estimated value of 10 Robux. The challenger gets their fee back and ends with a profit of 10 Robux.
  • The ad is verifiably in accordance with the rules. The ad stays up. The challenger has lost because they put down money on the fee, and they won’t be getting that money back because their claim was false.
  • In the case of false advertising, the mod may not be able to verify. In this case the challenger is refunded part of the challenger fee, but not all of it.

Q & A:
Q: We already have reporting, which is similar to this. What can this accomplish that reporting couldn’t?
As stated in the background, there is little incentive for users to participate in the reporting system. But once people can make easy money from taking down these ads, a new occupation will emerge. Let’s call them “ad hunters”. Their numbers would fluctuate in response to the amount of ‘bad money’ being poured into the ad market. If there are more bad actors, more ad hunters will rise to take their money and force them out of the market. The end result is an ad system that is substantially cleaner than what we have now.
Q: What if someone were to start challenging every ad they see?
A: The challenger fee % would need to be adjusted to ensure the EV of randomly challenging ads is negative. If the fee is sufficiently high, someone doing this would quickly lose all of their money and be forced to stop.
Q: Isn’t it unfair to require the challenger to pay? Shouldn’t this be free?
A: Mods have a limited amount of time. Having no downside for fake challenges would result in a positive EV for ad challenges, leading to many false positives and wasting mod’s time.
Q: Would this violate Roblox’s privacy policy?
A: I’m not sure. That depends on the nuances of the privacy policy. If necessary, maybe the challenger would simply get the Robux without any notification or explanation as to how they got it as to avoid a dissemination of moderation actions.
Q: Is there any way someone could profit from farming their own rulebreaking ads?
Because the money goes directly from the rulebreaker to the challenger, I don’t think it would be profitable to farm your own ads.
Q: What if multiple people challenge the same ad and win?
A: They all get their challenger fee refunded and split the reward. They all took a risk putting their Robux down and it wouldn’t be a good user experience to be denied all rewards because someone else challenged the ad a minute earlier.

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Hi @ernakou, thank you for bringing this up! Just to clarify, are you referring to the banner ads on the Roblox website?
Furthermore, have you seen any issues with sponsored games being advertised on the website or mobile?
We’re constantly improving moderation practices and your feedback is really appreciated :slight_smile:

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