Thursday, August 23, 2012

Answering Comments On The War On Bots

Yesterday I received some good comments to my post, "CCP's War On Bots: Don't Get Cocky".  I thought I would go ahead and respond to a few of them.

Powers wrote:  "I am pretty sure they are getting banned due to virtual machine usage. That seems to be the common denominator from a lot of your summaries that you've posted."

One of the factors of getting banned is virtual machine usage and I am pretty sure that virtual machine usage flags an account for closer inspection, if not plays a major factor in the detection algorithm.  But other factors that all the botting forums seem to agree on is length of time spent logged in and how the bot acts while logged in.  CCP Stillman told the CSM at the Spring Summit that Team Security uses a combination of technical and behavioral detections when evaluating whether a player is a bot (p. 146).  That seems borne out by the stories I've read over the past year.

One item of interest is that I believe this commenter is the Powers that is a moderator over on TheMittani.com.  Will we see a in-depth look at botting and illicit RMT on TheMittani.com in the near future?  I hope so because on Eve News 24 we only get to read syndicated blogs covering the subject.  I want to see a real high-quality piece written about botting and the illicit RMT trade.  As the TheMittani.com explains:
"There are other news sites for Eve, too, but the level of quality tends to be awful.  With a few exceptions, articles tend to be scrawled in a patois only vaguely related to any written language known to man, while desperation for content means that badly-disguised sock-puppet pieces explaining the links between Test Alliance and the Knights Templar appear with alarming regularity.  Syndicated blogs tend to be of mixed quality at best, and bias is not just tolerated but celebrated."
Gevlon wrote:   "The 'sentiment among botters that if you bot you will eventually get caught.' worries me. It means that they know that they'll get banned but it still worth to them, assuming they can protect their main account. Simply the bot punishments are rather bot costs that one pays for profit. Botting won't stop until being caught = being utterly destroyed."

When I first started covering the War On Bots™ I considered calling the feature "The Shadow War".  I still may because that is what Team Security on one side and the bot developers and illicit RMT sites are waging: a war in the shadows.  I don't have figures to back this up, but I get the impression over the past year that the more casual users of bots have decided that botting is not worth risking the penalties that CCP Sreegs has imposed.  This means the opinions of the hardcore are more prevalent.

For those who don't know, Gevlon is the proprietor of The Greedy Goblin.  I'm not sure how goblinish his conclusion is that botting will not stop until being caught means being utterly destroyed.  I don't think wide-spread botting will truly disappear until two things occur.  The first is tht the illicit RMT shops conclude that selling ISK in Eve is not profitable.  Some sites, most notably IGE, have stopped selling ISK.  The second is when null sec alliances stop engaging in or encouraging botting.  I know of one botting forum that allows the advertisement of renting space in null sec to botters.  As long as alliances believe that botting can help them in their sov wars, I don't see the bots in null sec systems going away any time soon.

Anonymous wrote:  "nice writeup.  would be curious to see if the increase in bans of bots has any impact on economy yet?  Alas, with CCP holding numbers close to the chest I doubt we'll ever know :("

 I think this passage from the CSM Spring Summit notes may answer this question.
"Finally, prices began to fall when Burn Jita started, then stabilized during Hulkageddon.  Hulkageddon appears to have stopped a natural fall in prices by reducing supply, but at the same  time, between Escalation and Inferno, mining activity dropped in all sectors of space. The CSM had many theories to explain the changes in mining activity and prices.

"CCP Dr.EyjoG expressed his awareness of concerns about inflation, and that it might price T1 ships and components out of the reach of younger players. However, he noted that EVE is a sandbox game, and the systems are functioning, so for now he is just watching to see how things play out.

"CCP Dr.EyjoG : When you put it all together (game changes, wars, player events, banning of bots, etc.), you can say we had a perfect storm."  (pp 160-161)
Mabrick wrote:  "Thanks for the update! It's truly fascinating stuff to ponder.  As for your comment about CCP taking the low hanging fruit, there is another interpretation: CCP reduced the noise to signal ratio. By getting rid of the easy stuff, it makes more clear how the hard stuff is working. That's difficult to ascertain when you are sifting through reams and reams of 'intelligence.' Now with the easy stuff gone, what is left is bullion rather than gold dust if you follow the metaphor."

That comment makes a lot of sense.  I used the term "low hanging fruit" because that is what I read in the CSM Spring Summit minutes (p. 149).  I think we will see a lot more information revealed by CCP Stillman at Eve Vegas in October.

Anonymous wrote:  "I do not call this a success. These people are a few private botters, which do not cause any harm to the economy. The true damage is done by the large bot-networks using the ISK to RMT or finance empires such as SOLAR.  They stay under cover, even though EVERYONE in EVE knows what they are doing."

A few private botters?  Try hundreds, if not thousands of accounts over the past year.  According to the CSM Summit minutes, before Fanfest Team Security had been banning 1,400 accounts every ten days (p. 146).  Either CCP was going after the large alliances or there were more than just "a few" private botters.  Trust me, just from reading the botting forums there were more than just a few casual botters.

And isn't SOLAR a Russian alliance?  I thought the whole "Russians are the only botters in Eve" meme went out the window at Fanfest when it was disclosed that the largest amount of botting occurred in space controlled by the CFC.


I should add an explanation about the jab about the high quality of writing at TheMittani.com.  The level of writing really is pretty high.  But as I am one of those syndicated bloggers that appears on Eve News 24 from time to time, I just couldn't help returning fire just once.  I still do want to read a piece over on that site about botting.  I'd like to hear the null sec view of the subject.

3 comments:

  1. The comment from mittani's site about the quality of posts is laughable, but typical hypocritical spin. They talk about "quality" and then post the griefer tears bullshit about how the mining barge changes will ruin Eve. Obviously, their journalistic standards are as low as any other site, and they will most definitely spin and misinform, if they think it will benefit the goon-derps.

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  2. At what point does the energy expended to police a particular form of deviancy among a population become greater than the amount of energy required to alter the system away from the conditions that encourage it to propagate? Is is 100 customers a day? 200 customers a day? 1000?

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  3. "at Fanfest when it was disclosed that the largest amount of botting occurred in space controlled by the CFC."

    But CFC doesn't mine and they have no agenda for blowing up HiSec mining barges. It has absolutely nothing to do with their armies of botminers and cache of Tech moons.

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