News Web site Digg.com recently encountered a similar problem after it was exposed that people were paying others to log on and prop up traffic for their content. In another incident, mobs of Digg users forced stories containing a protected decryption key for DVDs to the top of the site's most popular stories, despite efforts by site administrators to block the publication of the key.
Such schemes to pump up user-generated content will grow as quickly as wider audiences tap into such Web 2.0 sites, the analyst said.
And, as sites such as YouTube begin offering money to content providers who can pass along clips that drive hits, more people will be encouraged to try and cheat the ratings systems and somehow cash in.
"Right now, YouTube and most of these other sites are still about building an audience for something, but in the next several years, these sites will begin sharing more of the advertising revenue with content providers, which will create even greater incentives to grow traffic," Laszlo said. "This gaming is still a scattered issue versus a plague, and these companies can still handle the problem manually; but if these companies cannot develop technological means to deal with it as its grows, it will eat away at this notion of community and aggregate wisdom that these sites are trying to promote."