Types of manipulations on the forums by means of comments, ratings and fishing. Examples of how trolls work, and ways to protect yourself

What do people do before selecting, for example, a certain broker, Expert Advisor, or before taking a decision to start trading? In most cases, they start with reading other traders’ comments and opinions, compare the ratings and so on. It is exploited by “bad guys”, who prefer the methods of unfair competition. From this review, you will learn about the means of brainwashing; study the examples of fake ratings, comments and chats on the forums; you will also learn to distinguish real comments from fake ones, and understand fishing.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

How traders are brainwashed: spot a troll

Are you going to enter the promising world of trading, foreign exchange, stock or commodity market? I fully support this idea, but I want to warn you beforehand; in particular, I’d like to demonstrate on real examples what you’re going to face. Unfortunately, people are receptive to various kinds of convictions; and professionals know how to press weak points of human deposition so that a person will take the decision they need. When people want to find information about something they first read the comments on the Internet or visit topical forums, which is exploited by brokers. They aim at attracting traders, and so, they apply different tools: defamation of rivals and, on the contrary, presenting favorable comments about themselves. There is a wide range of marketing hooks and dubious websites, presenting brokers’ ratings. /p>

Of course, not all comments or rankings are fake. Many of them are quite objective and reliable. The only question is how to distinguish between real information bits and the fake ones. You will learn the answer from this article.

Are ratings and comments worth trusting? Let’s sort out the information background around brokers

Brokers’ techniques of traders’ mind control strive for a single goal: create a positive for traders image of themselves and a negative one of their competitors. Some brokerage companies even fund special departments that are to monitor comments and make the right image.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

By the way, not just brokers can commission writing reviews about themselves. The rating platform can do it as well in order to make it look as if traders are actively writing themselves. The task usually looks like this: to write three comments on each broker – positive, negative and neutral. There are numerous companies that provide packet services in this field.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

By the way, not just brokers can commission writing reviews about themselves. The rating platform can do it as well in order to make it look as if traders are actively writing themselves. The task usually looks like this: to write three comments on each broker – positive, negative and neutral. There are numerous companies that provide packet services in this field.

1. Manipulation by means of ratings

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

Let’s do what an ordinary person does: enter into Google search box a query like “Best forex brokers” or “forex top brokers”. If you don’t pay attention to the search advertising, numerous links to follow don’t fit in the first page; and all the websites present controversial opinions about the brokers’ positions in the rating. There arouse a number of reasonable questions:

  • What principles and criteria are they based on to comprise a rating? Is it just according to the number of traders, clicking on the “For” or “Against” buttons? If so, the rating can be easily increased (if you rule out the variant when the rating is formed by the website itself, according to which broker pays more). And so, it can hardly be called objective.
  • How often is the rating updated?
  • What is a review platform in fact: contacts, addresses and so on?
  • Where can you find record backfiles of the reviews? Sometimes, it is rather interesting when a brokerage company, called the best by the platform, turns out to be a Ponzi scheme

On most review websites, you won’t find the answers to these questions. And that is the first evidence that the reviews are nothing else but a means of manipulation. A rating can be called objective if it is based on the weighted evaluation by traders and analysts. But who is benefit from it?

Now, let’s see real examples.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

There is quite much of unclear information on this screen. First, why do the top-5 most popular financial companies do not correspond to the information, indicated on the right panel “Best Forex Brokers”? Second, not all top-5 brokers are known to most traders. If the second matter might be ignored, then the first one arouses questions.

Here is another example.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

All brokers provide CFD trading; and the presented company is by no means the largest provider in this field. After all, it could be called a marketing plot, a kind of some innocent prank in terms of advertising. Some more popular top-review platforms apply far more powerful tools.

The founders of this rating own at least four review platforms as well (insider information). Below, there is a screenshot of the website in the English version. It turns out that the reviews, placed at the same time in the English and the Russian versions are different. Isn’t it strange?

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

In the review in the Russian version of the websites, at least two companies, included into the top list, have rather doubtful reputation. Many brokerage companies avoid problems due to their offshore incorporation; but many of them have spoiled their reputation and numerous lawsuits are brought against them by investors; there are even groups and associations to file class action suits. Is there a point for the platform in risking its reputation? It seems to be so, everybody needs the money.

After all, may it be so that only this rating has such a flaw? It is not the only one. There is the English version of another site. I marked with the arrow the fact that the rating is on main page of the website, and highlighted the time when I had made the screenshot (to be objective).

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

If you look at the same rating, presented at the same time, but not in the English version, you will see that there are strong differences; the leader and the second position have changed (I emphasize that I was checking the versions at the same time). It might be explained by Geolocation, but the brokers in the list are obviously not local, they operate not only in Europe and the CIS countries, but in Asia as well. The only explanation I can suggest is that all of these review platforms are advertising something that is adjusted to certain target audience. So, it isn’t worth trusting.

Let’s go on. There is the screenshot of one of the Forex training Academy websites, popular in the CIS countries:

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

This snapshot was saved on my computer; I made it a few years ago, and it is of great use now. Remember, PrivateFX (the seventh in the rating) Forex Trend and Panteon Finance turned out to be a single Ponzi scheme, one of the biggest in the CIS. Is this rating that places that dubious broker, I wrote above, in the fifth position worth trusting? The conclusions are up to you.

2. Comments as a means to manipulate traders

Comments are the easiest and a rather efficient tool to affect traders’ minds. Hardly any platform provides the opportunity to attach documentary evidence (for example the chat with support or the profile screenshot); and so, you can write anything you want there. Most often, comments deal with quick and easy (or, on the contrary, problems with) money withdrawal, advertise spreads or claim about money losses. There is usually no exact information there.

Sometimes, comments can even be ridiculous. I wouldn't venture to judge their credibility (there is still the assumption of innocence) even though they are clearly commissioned. I just want to share some interesting examples of the errors.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

Here, a person hasn’t even found out beforehand what services are provided by the company that is being denigrated. The trader is instantly responded by the company representative, who says that the broker doesn’t at provide the suggested services (binary options).

The situation with that comment is not that clear. At first, the negative comment seems to be commissioned, the writer has been mistaken and the broker’s support service responded instantly. The writer is bad, the rivals are rascals and the broker’s support service is excellent (those guys even manage to monitor the comments!). But, if so, then the comment should have been deleted from the site.

Let’s look at the other side. What if the comment was written by that broker itself? It demonstrates how well its support service works (the feedback) and the fact that the competitors are afraid of the company if they resort to dark PR. In other words, Trade 12 may benefit from the comment and nobody can know who really wrote that comment.

The examples of “Officer Friendly and Officer Frosty” are quite common among the reviews. It is based on that one person shares a positive opinion that is soon followed by a negative comment by another person; it is immediately responded by the support, asking to specify the number of ID or confirmation. Of course, there is no confirmation. And the reader has a feeling that the negative comment on the site is fake, and the positive opinion is subconsciously perceived as the truth.

Another example:

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

It seems that there is nothing unusual on this screenshot: two opinions – one positive and one negative. There is no reason to state them to be commissioned. But there is one point: why was the positive comment written only 1.5 year later? Especially since people write negative comments more often. By the way, this flaw is featured by many commissioned comments: first, there is a long break, and then there is a lively discussion of the broker and several messages a day. It has been always interesting to see the bots, talking to each other, but you shouldn’t trust such messages.

Now, a few words about Plagiarism Detection Software and how it can assist. I took the first comment, encountered on one of the review platforms and entered into Advego Plagiatus to check if it is original.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

A remarkable fact: the comment is 100-percent original only on a single website. Now, imagine you were a real person, leaving a comment. Will you write it only on a single website? Or, maybe, you will copy it and past on at least a few platforms from Google top list, won’t you? In my opinion, the situation is like this: if my opinion is positive, I will hardly spend my time on sharing it everywhere; I’ll write one, if any at all, comment. But if I don’t like anything, I’m going to spread this opinion around all the platforms, trying to get my money back from the broker. That is human psychology, you a kind of initially expect good service so there is no point in writing about it; but in the opposite situation, everything is different.

As for me, I think bots are spreading the same information across millions of platforms. The above examples are the attack of clones and unfair competition between brokers.

3. Manipulation by means of forums

People, who don’t trust comments or ratings, visit topical forums. The logic is simple, forum users are real people who have been chatting to each other for a few years. And so, their opinion can be trusted. Even if it is personal, at least it is real and that is already good. But there many traps as well.

The easiest and the most common technique, applied by trolls (or rather the competitors) is when they register dozens of accounts on the leading forum platforms. Some of them, take some time so that the registration date wouldn’t be so conspicuous, and even type a few messages in other topics, so that they have some number of messages. Others ignore even these points.

I have witnessed a situation when there suddenly appeared two people in the section, who had just registered and immediately after, they started discussing a company. They had hardly any other messages (the first one had 3, the second -4), and the intervals between the messages were less than 15 minutes.

This activity aims at a few objectives:

  • To shape readers’ opinion about a certain broker. Not so many people pay attention to the dates, and moderators don’t block trolls’ accounts unless there is anything rude or abusive in the messages. If there isn’t direct advertising, just a discussion, the messages are not deleted. By means of the fake chatting between a few trolls, they can shape any needed opinion.
  • To promote the needed opinion about a broker in the search engines (it sometimes happens, though quite rarely). The point is this: there is a forum that is included into Goggle top-5 websites according to many specific queries. For example, someone asks “Broker X comments”. If broker X is discussed o the forum (and with the use of so-called “key” words), the link to the site is instantly among the very first ones. If the link to the site, where there are negative comments about broker X, corresponds to the query, it is moved downwards.

My advice: focus on such things and read at least a few pages on the forum. Those, who have been on the forum for a long time, spot such moments and pay attention to them.

4. Fishing as means of mind control

Vast amount of various comments, reviews and ratings just confuse traders and they chose to ignore them at all. Partially, it is a right decision: it makes no sense to sort out what reviews are real and what are fake if you’ll still need to check them yourself. It is easier to try working with brokers, who are well-known. It can be used for malicious purposes.

Below, you can see an interesting screenshot of such a dishonest broker. The point of manipulation is this: the representatives of this company are trying to make nice with traders and persuade them to invest their money.

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

SpotOption is a trading platform, like MT4 and other trading terminals, utilized by many brokers (for example, Alpary or uTrader). It gets a lot of real positive reviews that are displayed by a search engine on the corresponding query. Try to copy the broker's name from its website and past it into Google query box’ you’ll see multiple links to the platform. But pay attention to how the address is spelled! The address of the original platform website is written without a hyphen; but it is written here.

When you study in more detail, you’ll see that there is no information about either the trading terms or any data about the broker. In other words, the company took advantage of the fact that the name of SpotOption platform is well-known; it has only changed it a little by adding a space to the name and a hyphen to the address. Based on the number of the deceived people (of course, they couldn’t withdraw their money), many potential traders don’t think about the differences between the broker and the platform; they just see a familiar name and the reviews in Google and transfer their money to the fraudsters.

How to protect yourself from brainwashing and select a reliable broker

Even if brokers apply unfair means of competition, it doesn’t mean that you should distrust everything. Thousands of traders make money on foreign exchange and stock markets, ignoring any manipulations by “kitchens” and scammers.

A few tips to trade safely:

  • Don’t blindly trust reviews and ratings, doubt in any word you read on the Internet. Don’t draw biased conclusions, try to find as much information about the object, you’re interested in, as possible. Study multiple sources. Not everything on the Internet is a lie; but not everything is the truth.
  • Check the reviews on the review sites for plagiarism (examples of plagiarism checkers: Text.ru, Content Watch, Etext). In most cases, a real trader will write the same comment under the same name on a few sites with an interval of a few minutes. If the comment is only on a single site, or on a number of sites but under different names and with long intervals of time between them, it is a reason for doubts.
  • Forums may also serve as a means of manipulation. Pay attention to the date when the account was registered. If you can, read other topics and messages, written by the forum participants. It is a common practice on the forums, when they sell old accounts with numerous messages or just senselessly type a lot of posts to improve the account’s status.
  • Focus on the exact data. Ignore personal opinions that can be either rather prejudiced or fake. A review must include exact figures and measures, taken by the trader. There must be an opportunity to connect with the author.
  • Pay more attention to negative comments with sound criticism. If a trader has no complaints about a broker, he/she will hardly spend time on writing positive reviews, taking it for granted. Disgruntled traders are more likely to write comments in order to warn the others.
  • Don’t believe the promises of fast and big profit; money isn’t appear out of nothing. Any profit results from a hard work on gaining knowledge and experience.

You can learn more about the differences between real brokers and “kitchens” in the articles here.

Tips to choose a good broker:

  • Assess a broker, based on the trading conditions. You get what you pay for: the more attractive look the conditions, the more likely is a fraud.
  • Study as much information about the broker as you can find; from addresses and contacts to real lawsuits. It stands to reason that lawsuits don’t suggest a broker be reliable.
  • Estimate the transparency: accessibility of support service, if there is a formal offer and whether it is clear. The simpler and easier is the offer to understand, the more transparent is the broker.
  • Pay attention to the regulation. Though, it won’t be of any help in most cases, it is at least a little guarantee of the broker’s reliability. You can learn how to file a complaint against a broker from this article.

Conclusion. The Internet is a big mess of information; but among spam and ads, you can find some really useful information. Forms, media, various websites and blogs are used for both information exchange and manipulations. The best way to avoid brainwashing is to check everything on your own experience. Of course, you shouldn’t waste your money investing in another Ponzi scheme (it is the case when it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes than on your own). But in cases that are not obvious, you’d better rely only on yourself:

  • Test a broker on a demo account. Risk topping up the account for the first time but only with the amount of the initial deposit and trying to withdraw your money right away. You will lose on the commission but you will make sure that the broker meets (or doesn’t meet) the commitments.
  • Compare the quotes on a demo and on a real account. They must be the same.
  • Diversify your risks by trading through different platforms and different brokers.

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Let’s spot the trolls together. If you’ve discovered fake reviews or ratings, share the links in the comments.

Be careful and don’t get yourself to be deceived!

How traders are brainwashed or a battle of trolls

The content of this article reflects the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the official position of LiteForex. The material published on this page is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as the provision of investment advice for the purposes of Directive 2004/39/EC.

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