July 18, 2021

Introducing rule #9 (no excessive promotion), updates on career questions

Hey folks. We’re keeping the pace up with the requested changes to this subreddit, and have two things to announce today. Following on from our [prior survey](https://www.reddit.com/r/cybersecurity/comments/ol0b0l/quick_poll_on_removing_career_content_from_this/), we’re ready to start curbing self-promotion on the subreddit, and have built out a policy which will shortly be automated. We’re also going to be asking for volunteers tomorrow for authoring answers to career questions, but the way we are going to do this is different than we’d originally planned.

# Introducing rule #9, “no excessive promotion”

We’ve received a lot of feedback about the low-quality blog, YouTube channel, etc. promotion on this subreddit. It creates a lot of noise, and we feel that much of this promotion is bad-faith: by uncaring “SEO marketers” who are happy to spam content on this subreddit, or by content creators that are only interested in the clicks this community can generate, spammers, outright advertisements, etc.

So, we have been working on a rule which seeks to *discourage* bad-faith blog/corporate/etc. spam on this subreddit, while *encouraging* positive community members to promote resources they find interesting or valuable (including their own).

*All promotion (i.e. self-promotion) on this subreddit must be both:*

* *Under 10% of your posts and comments on this subreddit.*
* *Once per week at most per promoted entity.*

A wiki entry about this rule is available [here](https://www.reddit.com/r/cybersecurity/wiki/rules/promotion). Though some highlights:

**What does this mean?** If you *really* like a particular author/company/etc. (whether that’s yourself or someone else), you can post an article from them once a week, on top of your normal discussion and participation on this subreddit. If you like many authors, you can post something from each author once per week, though please avoid this exceeding 10% of your contributions to the subreddit.

**What is the goal?** Following this rule should be effortless for our community members, while draining and frustrating for leeches who harm our community. We will tune the exact parameters of this rule to attain the right balance for this community.

**Why not just “self-promotion?”** Making this apply to all promotion makes it substantially simpler to enforce – especially when automation comes into it. Hunting down whether or not someone is the same person they’re promoting, an employee or affiliate of whatever company they’re promoting, etc. is also a waste of moderator time when the real concern is “we want community members to post cool content, but we don’t want non-community-members to abuse this community for clicks/traffic/clout/etc.”

**What about news?** News from trusted, ethical, journalistic sources is exempt. Anyone can post relevant news from those sources to this subreddit, as that is hardly a ‘promoting’ activity.

**Will accidental violations of this rule result in any penalty?** Absolutely not. Formulaic rules often need some flexibility, which we’ll give, and assume good faith of all our community members. The only time violations of this rule will result in a ban or other penalty is when it catches someone with a long history of spam, or when someone intentionally posts bad/repetitive content to skirt the rule, etc. at moderator discretion.

**How will this be enforced?** For the next two weeks, manually on a best-effort basis. Please report possible offenders for violating this rule and we’ll check in on it. In the coming weeks, we will be launching a bot which will detect and respond to excessive self promotion in real-time. This is unfortunately far too sophisticated to implement in AutoModerator, so it will take some time to build/test/deploy this off hours. Bot authors which have offered help will receive a reach-out from me over the next week to trade notes or look over source code.

More questions? Please ask below and we’ll respond ASAP :)

# What about career questions?

The plan is that we are going to build a careers FAQ which answers all repetitive or basic questions, and then direct any askers who have missed the FAQ contents to read the FAQ. This will reduce repetitive or unwanted career questions on the subreddit substantially. We will then reevaluate after about a month with the new setup.

But, we still have work to do before we get there, and the way we are going to do this has changed!

Originally, we were going to ask for a couple volunteers to take wiki editor permissions and run with it. Evaluating this, it would probably take about two or three weeks to get our ducks in a row here – three days for applications, two for reviewing, one more to organize with the wiki authors, and then (depending on their regular work schedules, because again, everyone’s a volunteer) probably one or two weeks for them to burn through answering many basic questions. Then, they’d not really need to do much, because… the surge is over. So it just doesn’t seem like a good outcome.

Instead, we think it’s a better outcome to crowdsource all of this, and have any/all interested community members submit FAQ entries. This will take an evening to set up, and then everyone can work in parallel. So, we’re setting up a GitHub repository for all of these contributions, will include a couple demo responses, and some contribution guidelines (including GitHub guidelines for people who aren’t familiar with the platform – don’t worry, I got you!!).

Here’s how this will work:

* **Today:** Start thinking about things an FAQ should answer. These can be as broad as “what laptop should I get” and “how do people get into security” or a bit more granular, like “how do you become a pentester.” You should be able to answer any given question within about two paragraphs of content, high-quality external resources, etc.
* **Tomorrow:** I will make a post with the GitHub repository where we will be working. It will contain a couple examples as well as some guidelines. Anything submitted to this GitHub repo will be licensed **CC BY-NC 4.0** ([learn more](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)) which allows adapting/remixing the content but preserves attribution and stipulates it may not be used for commercial purposes.
* This is a human-readable, ultra-limited summary of three important points, and not a complete legal analysis or legal summary. Please see the CC BY-NC 4.0 license for complete information.
* **To reserve a question:** Create an issue detailing what question you’d like to answer. One issue per question. I will confirm that nobody else is writing a duplicate or too-similar question. Once I have confirmed, you may start writing.
* **To write your answer:** Fork the repository, create a new file according to the contribution guide, and write your question and answer in Markdown. Optionally, you can sign your username and provide a backlink to your personal Twitter/personal site, etc.
* …keep in mind, people might ask you for 1:1 help if you do that though.
* We would ask that you be polite when redirecting them to Mentorship Monday.
* **To submit your answer:** Push your changes and create a pull request which references your issue number. Again, we’ll have a quick guide for this. A moderator will review, and may provide feedback or edits for you to incorporate. Once the content is ready to be finalized, we’ll merge it.
* **To forfeit your question:** Please message a moderator, or allow your reservation to lapse. If it takes over one week for you to complete the answer after a moderator confirms you own it (due to inactivity, or inactivity after edits are suggested), we will allow others to answer.

Finally, we’ll manually compile the content into the wiki, and make the rule switch. We may do this as early as seven days from now, and manually add additional FAQ entries as they’re written, to iterate on the concept faster and flag any new posts that come in afterwards to have a FAQ entry written.

If this is successful, our entire wiki may move to a community-managed format. You might notice our “events” are horribly out of date on the wiki, and external community-management of community sites has worked exceptionally well for other technical subreddits that have a lot of wiki content (e.g. r/techsupport).

And of course, please comment any questions/concerns/etc. We’re happy to answer!

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