Vote brigading

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Vote brigading is massively coordinated online voting. It refers to the practice of affecting reviews or scores on websites that feature crowdvoting, such as online stores or review websites, by calling on large numbers of people to submit (often false) reviews, thus boosting or decreasing ratings artificially. This may be done for political reasons, for example to harm the commercial prospects and credibility of films dealing with controversial or sensitive subjects.[1] Vote brigading is a form of participation bias, which can decrease the reliability of the aggregated score.


The first known use of "brigade" or brigading in reference to orchestrated negative voting online was a post by blogger Konstantine Thoukydides from the German web forum Toy Town, about a massively downvoted thread by a "downvote brigade".[2]

Prominent examples[edit]

  • The online community Reddit, which sorts its content visibility in a popular voting system, has dealt with censorship issues related to vote brigading.[3][4]
  • As part of a promotional campaign conducted in 2012 for a brand of energy strips, rapper Pitbull was to be sent to an arbitrary Walmart store at a location voted for by visitors of the brand's Facebook page. An organized campaign ensued, with over 70,000 visitors voting for a store at the remote island of Kodiak, Alaska.[5]
  • In 2013, 4chan engaged in vote brigading to attempt to manipulate a contest being held by Boston radio station Kiss 108, that allowed participants to meet Taylor Swift. While the brigading was successful, the organizers of the contest cancelled the event after learning of the interference.[6]
  • Gunday, a 2014 Indian film, suffered from vote brigading on IMDb due to a supposed historical inaccuracy in the opening narration of the film. At the time of its release it was the lowest-rated film on IMDb, with a 1.4/10 rating based on more than 44,000 votes, out of which 91 percent gave it just one star.[7]
  • Demon, a 2015 film about a groom possessed by an evil spirit the night before his wedding, suffered from vote brigading on IMDB.[1]
  • The Birth of a Nation, a 2016 drama about a slave rebellion in 1831 Virginia, was the target of vote brigading due to the rape charges against the film's director, Nate Parker.[1][8]
  • Ghostbusters, the 2016 female-led reboot of the 1984 comedy by the same name, was a target of vote brigading on IMDb on the day of its release.[1][8][9]
  • Kicks, a 2016 indie film about a boy and his two friends embarking on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve a pair of Air Jordan sneakers that were stolen from him, suffered from vote brigading for unknown reasons. Two other films that shared the same release date as Kicks suffered from a similar issue.[1]
  • The Promise, a 2016 film about the Armenian Genocide, rapidly received over 80,000 votes on IMDB after only three screenings, many of which were either 1/10 or 10/10.[1][10][11]
  • I Am Not Your Negro, a 2016 film about the history of racism in the United States, may have been the target of vote brigading.[8]
  • It has been suggested that the wide disparity between CinemaScore audience scores and film critics' ratings and those of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic users of the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi may have been due to vote brigading on the latter two.[12]
  • Captain Marvel received over 58,000 audience ratings, mostly negative, on Rotten Tomatoes within hours of its March 2019 release; for comparison, its highly grossing predecessor Avengers: Infinity War, released the previous year, received fewer audience ratings throughout its entire theatrical run.[13] Captain Marvel was also subject to negative audience reception before its release in response to lead actress Brie Larson's supposed feminist activism, which led Rotten Tomatoes to disable its "want to see" scoring system.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Raftery, Brian (14 September 2016). "IMDb Voters Are Tanking Indies Before They're Even Released". WIRED. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  2. ^ "ToyTown: How an online community built around mutual aid is becoming a social wasteland because of hierarchy". A Division by Zer0. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  3. ^ "This week on Reddit—fighting downvote brigades and helping small business". The Daily Dot. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan. "The Internet Has Spoken: Pitbull Is Headed to Alaska, And He's Taking Along the Prankster Who Sent Him There". Gawker. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  6. ^ Alfonso III, Fernando. "4chan rigs a contest so a "fat old creep" can meet Taylor Swift". The Daily Dot. The Daily Dot. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  7. ^ Goldenberg, David (1 May 2014). "The Story Behind the Worst Movie on IMDb". Five Thirty Eight. Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ a b c "Is 'I Am Not Your Negro' the latest victim of online 'vote brigading'?". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ Hayes, Britt. "'Ghostbusters' Haters Spam IMDb With Low Ratings". ScreenCrush. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Armenian Genocide film gets 86,704 IMDb ratings off three screenings". The Independent. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  11. ^ Ihrig, Stefan. "Genocide Denial Goes Viral: 'The Promise' And The IMDB". Forbes. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (17 December 2017). "Did Audiences Enjoy 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'? Deciphering Online User Reviews From Exit Polls". Deadline. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  13. ^ "'Captain Marvel' Sandbagged on Rotten Tomatoes Within a Few Hours of Opening". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Trolls Are Already Review Bombing Captain Marvel on Rotten Tomatoes". ScreenRant. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.

See also[edit]