(Meta) Suspected ZURB Foundation Voting Ring

over 6 years ago from , Design Student

Update: DN (Jody and Maxwell) have replied to my email and have said that they are well aware of this issue and are working on ways to improve the situation.

Over the past few months it seems apparent to me that ZURB is using a voting ring to artificially get stories on the top section of DN. I've reported this to DN already, although I have yet to receive a reply. I've attached the email below.

Hello DN,

I’ve been a reader of DN for a long time and have check upon it every day for the past few years.

I’ve started to suspect that the ZURB foundation, is running a large voting ring with many people, many of which also use the website legitimately.

Take for instance this story, which while somewhat interesting, is no way interesting enough to get 14 upvotes in two hours, especially without comment.


Or this story which had 15 upvotes in 15 minutes when I saw it when it was new. I unfortunately don’t have a screenshot of that. Although this story might have continued growing organically after the fact, the voting ring is still an unfair advantage.

A while ago I felt suspicious that Designer News was apparently excited enough to give 32 votes to Foundation’s birthday and not give a single comment. It’s the same story (no pun intended) with Foundation’s countdown to a release

Last, one of ZURB’s events suspiciously got 9 upvotes, and made it to around the top, even though the article itself doesn’t give any details on what the event actually is. I also doubt many people follow Zurb that closely. The only comment on that story could be considered a form of spam.

The person who wrote that spammy comment, Rafi, started the ZURB Foundation AMA on DN with the job title “Foundation Advocate”. He/she also has upvoted pretty much every recent ZURB related story in the past year, including the ones I mentioned above,with only two stories on that list that are non ZURB related.

I do think ZURB and Foundation do great work, but if they wish to promote their content on Designer News they have to do it fairly.

In addition I saw this today:


If you check out the guy's profile, he has been submitting nothing but ZURB related articles.

Edit: As of this writing there appear to be two artificiality highly voted ZURB articles on DN.


  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, over 6 years ago

    Great job on this! I am already polishing my pitchfork, when do we start?

    24 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 6 years ago

    Is it possible that these are just ZURB employees upvoting ZURB content? Would that be considered a voting ring?

    14 points
    • Laurens Spangenberg, over 6 years ago

      It looks like the upvoters are also ZURB employees if you take a look at the profiles of the people who submitted these articles. This is still considered a voting ring under Reddit's definition:

      A "vote ring" is a group of people who agree to vote on certain things together, either a specific submission, a user, a domain, or anything like that. Upvote each submission or content for the value of the information in it, a variety of things that you think are interesting and will benefit the community.

      Although I don't mind one or two upvotes from colleagues or friends, ZURB have gone way beyond that.

      16 points
    • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 6 years ago

      I think it's up to the owners of DN to decide if they like it that larger companies and/or teams can upvote each other, and make it to the top of their website. It might be a coordinated effort. it might also be a huge internal chat where someone posts "He people, I just submitted something to X", without explicit requests for upvotes.

      Either way, we have to accept that the content of DN is a bit like design by committee. And doing this has some side effects. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks.

      The only way to ensure content from reaching the top "unfairly", is by creating curated content or doubling down on moderation. I'd be pretty interested to see what would be on the DN front-page if it were curated.

      0 points
      • Laurens Spangenberg, over 6 years ago

        My main issue with ZURB is that the articles they've written or submitted are in my opinion very low quality ones. Although in the end I think we can algree that we all want DN to be is a place to get great and high quality articles about UI, web design and everything related to that. This however is a WTF.

        What I don't want DN to be is a place for marketers to "engage with the 'design' audience in a meaningful way." Or at least if you do so, you better write articles the level of Frank Chimero. I believe this should be a community, like Reddit and Hacker News.

        18 points
    • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, over 6 years ago

      Probably employees. That's how a lot of sites get accidentally banned on Reddit as well. Employees voting their company's content, all from the same IP.

      0 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, over 6 years ago

    "Designers Should...Just kidding, check out my product/agency."

    There's a business blog spam problem in general here as well, but I don't know what you'd do about that. Everything feels "promoted" lately.

    5 points
    • Laurens Spangenberg, over 6 years ago

      I totally agree. Like that Engine Digital article from yesterday. Take a look at the profile of the commenters.

      I really wish more people just wrote about this industry and UI/web design for wanting to say something meaningful rather than for promoting oneself or company. I seriously remember it being somewhat different a while back.

      Another small thing I've noticed is that there have been an increase in users that say something along the lines of "content management" or "marketing" as their job description.

      3 points
  • David BachmannDavid Bachmann, over 6 years ago

    15 upvotes? Oh the huemanatee

    4 points
    • Radley MarxRadley Marx, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      I agree. If it was 100s of upvotes, then ban 'em.

      But a dozen? Oh please... ヽ(゜Q。)ノ?

      0 points
  • Ariel VerberAriel Verber, over 6 years ago

    I would be more surprised if a post got to the top without friends upvoting.

    4 points
    • Laurens Spangenberg, over 6 years ago

      The difference is that your articles seem to be genuine and quality ones.

      3 points
      • Radley MarxRadley Marx, over 6 years ago

        For the Zurb peeps following DN, they are. Not to us of course, but that's immaterial. If we want better posts up top, start voting more for better post... and get more better people to actually use DN... ;)

        0 points
  • Ale UrrutiaAle Urrutia, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Well, Zurb has been involved on design and dev industries for so long and giving so much for free that wouldn't be a a surprise to me that their quality content gets so many votes.

    Have you tried Foundation? If not I strongly recommend you to do it.

    PS: I don't work for them...

    3 points
  • Jonathon HalliwellJonathon Halliwell, over 6 years ago

    Paging /u/pitchforkemporium

    3 points
    • Nick NobleNick Noble, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Since they aren't here:


      COME ON DOWN TO /r/pitchforkemporium

      WE GOT 'EM ALL!

      Traditional Left Handed Fancy ---E Ǝ--- ---{


      33% off! 66% off! Manufacturer's Defect! ---F ---L ---e


      The Euro The Pound The Lira ---€ ---£ ---₤




      * some assembly required

      3 points
  • Stefan TrkuljaStefan Trkulja, over 6 years ago

    Noticed this too, not a good look.

    2 points
  • anthony thomasanthony thomas, over 6 years ago

    I agree with OP's conclusion based on his testimony. I would like to hear ZURB address their actions before any action is taken by DN. It's only fair to hear their side of the story as well.

    If they own up to their actions and apologize then I would let them off with a warning. If they do not address their actions, I would ban their domain for a month or more and tell them why. It's important to specify why so that people won't get resentful and feel they are being treated unfairly.

    As for which ZURB employee to talk to? You talk to the boss. It's likely that the boss emailed everyone a link to the story and told them to all upvote it. You hold the boss accountable because he has the most influence on his employees.

    2 points
  • L Theos, over 6 years ago

    Works on Dribbble why not on DN?

    1 point
  • Norm Sheeran, over 6 years ago

    Design Scandal!

    1 point
  • Vasil EnchevVasil Enchev, over 6 years ago

    So that's why I see so much ZURB stories recently...

    Maybe DN could do something like Pay with Karma if there were stories from this domain recently and then a whitelisting of domains like medium(not that I am a fan of medium articles but because there are different authors there), etc... which will be done by suggestion and approval by moderators.

    So when a new link from lets say zurb is submitted in less than 30 days you will either request a domain whitelisitng or pay with karma poionts.

    1 point
  • Bowen LiBowen Li, over 6 years ago

    This would be mitigated if DN has the abilit to 1) flag content and 2) downvote low quality content. This has been brought up before: https://www.designernews.co/stories/56505-ask-dn--do-you-want-the-ability-to-downvote

    To be clear, not upvoting is NOT the same thing as downvoting. Downvoting provides information about the content that is useful. This is expanded upon here: https://stackoverflow.blog/2009/03/the-value-of-downvoting-or-how-hacker-news-gets-it-wrong/

    0 points