Captcha to report and automagically disconnect botters

90 Undead Warlock
10905
26/10/2012 15:18Posted by Jito
And the worst part is that right now it's difficult to say that he isn't right.
And this is the key.

I would love to see blue's side on this part of it all.

We see nothing happens. We self regulate because it simply isn't done by blizzard.

It used to be frowned upon, now you fall behind because you still have principles and don't want to.

That's the world up side down.
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90 Undead Warlock
10905
26/10/2012 15:30Posted by Takralus
Even if you change those numbers around of legitimate players versus compromised accounts - we only stand to lose more if we don't take action on bots (which we do, regularly).
Then why don't we see ANYTHING being done?
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90 Tauren Druid
6010
The problem with the focus on revenue protection is that revenue protection isn't the players' problem. The players' problem is the bots.

And right now, from the players' point of view, you appear to have just written 400 words justifying not doing anything about bots who pay their bills on time.

Talk is cheap. How about some action?
Edited by Amadruid on 26/10/2012 15:46 BST
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90 Blood Elf Monk
12470
26/10/2012 15:38Posted by Darkangle
Even if you change those numbers around of legitimate players versus compromised accounts - we only stand to lose more if we don't take action on bots (which we do, regularly).
Then why don't we see ANYTHING being done?


Bots are incredibly hard to detect. Just because you see someone mining for 9 hours doesn't mean it's a bot. There are addons which give you optimum routes (named 'Routes') for mining nodes, herb nodes as well as archaeology. A player could simply follow the route in a robotic fashion for 9 hours and he's not botting; but the act of robotically following a path makes it look like he's botting.

Bots are extremely hard to detect. Usually impossible.
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90 Human Paladin
9345
26/10/2012 10:35Posted by Takralus
Time to hire some new staff with the savings they made to actively watch the game for botters, exploters, other rule breaking (see trade chat)..


If you think of how many realms there are, then consider how many people you'd need per realm, we are talking literally hundreds, if not thousands of staff. Just to sit and observe the game, not actually helping with the large selection of other issues that Game Masters deal with. Do you really think that's a good investment?


Wow, I really like your honesty.

I wish that you guys could have been just as honest about the total lack of content in Cataclysm. Obviously you felt that it was a good investment to not update the game for a whole year, and prey on people's ignorance.
Edited by Garían on 26/10/2012 15:53 BST
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90 Tauren Druid
6010
26/10/2012 15:30Posted by Takralus
in botting cases, usually forwarding the info on to our exploitation/hacks team


aha! So when you talk about GMs' "suitable response" or "appropriate actions", you really mean "forwarding the ticket to someone else".

Are the exploitation/hacks team part of the GMs on the org chart?
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90 Human Priest
5310
But why would Blizzard ban bots?
They have a active subscription and pay money.
Why would any company reduce their own income on purpose?
It doesn't make sense... Allthough I don't like so many bots either.
But for them to actualy ban most of them, and lose out on so much money
from the botter's subscription.. Would they realy do that. I don't know.


I think Nevalistis summed this up quite well: This is one of the biggest misconceptions we have, and I genuinely wish we could permanently clear it up. I'll provide a few hypothetical situations (mind you, these numbers are ENTIRELY made up).

Let's say 90% of botters were compromised accounts. This means that 90% of these botters aren't paying accounts; they're stolen accounts, which are generally fueled by stolen credit cards. These payments usually get disputed and taken back, which actually costs us money. If we're looking to make a purely fiscal observation, it makes no financial sense to let these continue (aside from the fact that we don't like compromised accounts to begin with - we want our players to be playing their own accounts safely and enjoyably).

Let's go on the other side of the fence and say 90% of these botters were otherwise legitimate players paying for their accounts, as you purport. When players bot, other players are inconvenienced by this behavior (and trust me, you guys outnumber the botters, even if you may feel it's the other way around). The inconveniences range from normal players having difficulty farming on their own to struggling to keep up with an economy that's being forcibly fluctuated via unfair advantage. When players are inconvenienced in this manner, they submit petitions.

Every petition submitted goes to a Game Master for review. A living, breathing person that is paid to provide customer service looks over it, does what's necessary for the situation (in botting cases, usually forwarding the info on to our exploitation/hacks team), and provides a response. Let's say 1-2 people are inconvenienced by a single botter (in all likelihood, we probably get many more petitions per botter than that). This would mean each botter is inconveniencing at least as many, and likely more, players that are positive to the community (the kinds of players we like and want to continue to play our game). For each botter we allow to continue botting, we potentially stand to lose more than we gain for a single subscription, just out of the sheer inconvenience it causes other players.

Even if you change those numbers around of legitimate players versus compromised accounts - we only stand to lose more if we don't take action on bots (which we do, regularly).


Thank you for making it more understandable.

I don't intend to insinuate or purport anything, as I realy don't know much about this subject and how it all works, and I didn't know many of those accounts are stolen. I just figured it to be the most logical way of thinking, that they were paying customers. But if many those account are stolen, that is terrible! And if even credit cards linked to them are being falsely used and stolen, I don't understand why the real owners of those accounts don't do something. They surely must see their credit cards being used, even if they don't play WoW anymore :S

This thing goes further than i ever imagined! So they hack accounts and do Credit card theft, account theft, and all that silly stuff. Some people actualy want to risk going to jail, by stealing credit cards and money, just for a virtual PC game?? What are they even thinking! I'll never understand!
Edited by Angeltoes on 26/10/2012 15:57 BST
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85 Human Paladin
7155
26/10/2012 15:30Posted by Takralus
When players bot, other players are inconvenienced by this behavior (and trust me, you guys outnumber the botters, even if you may feel it's the other way around).
I'd honestly like you to look into the random battlegrounds for levelling 85-90. Because, really in those there were definitely times when the bots outnumbered the players. You can see them most clearly in IoC. It really shocked me.

And, it makes sense. The current "required" grind right now is 85-90. So, people that already bot are simply putting one character at a time through 85-90 in BGs on a bot, while they get on with, whatever else they do. Probably sleeping.

26/10/2012 15:30Posted by Takralus
Every petition submitted goes to a Game Master for review. A living, breathing person that is paid to provide customer service looks over it
I'd wager there's ticket quotas per CS agent. That means that the temptation to just knock out the first response suggested by the QA database and swap the status to customer is quite strong.

You know the cost saving activities from the cheaper ISPs and so on, I expect because of the low profit margin inherent in that market. But, as a company Blizzard makes a lot, not revenue but bottom line. So, what's the problem with investing in your current customer base? Giving them the customer service they're paying for. You certainly used to!
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90 Tauren Druid
6010
Bots are incredibly hard to detect. Just because you see someone mining for 9 hours doesn't mean it's a bot. There are addons which give you optimum routes (named 'Routes') for mining nodes, herb nodes as well as archaeology. A player could simply follow the route in a robotic fashion for 9 hours and he's not botting; but the act of robotically following a path makes it look like he's botting.

Bots are extremely hard to detect. Usually impossible.


This was posted to the PvP forum recently...

http://mmnet.iis.sinica.edu.tw/publication_detail.html?lang=EN&key=chen08_manifold

Yes, Dorothy, there is real academic research being done on bot detection.
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Community
And that's probably the problem. If I can stand in front of a guy who's botting who has about as many achievement points as me, then the only reason why he dares to bot is because he does not feel there is a risk of losing anything by doing so.

And the worst part is that right now it's difficult to say that he isn't right.


Those who choose to believe they are above detection range far and wide, I’m sure. Possibly because they may have been getting away with it for a time. However, we investigate every single bot report that comes in. We don't usually deal with the reports immediately because the underlying issue would remain in place.

What we do is study the bots, see exactly how they do what they do, and fix it so that they don’t work anymore. Once we’ve applied the fix, then the ban waves take place. By doing it like this, we can also come up with better methods of detection, and devise systems that are more effective against bot detection and removal.

Having said that, it's an on-going fight. Botters develop new bots by working out what we detected and fixed, and it starts all over again. In the process, we’ve ruled out one way of cheating the system though. I can’t go into much more detail without providing botters with information that would help them :-/
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85 Human Paladin
7155
26/10/2012 15:58Posted by Takralus
What we do is study the bots, see exactly how they do what they do, and fix it so that they don’t work anymore. Once we’ve applied the fix, then the ban waves take place. By doing it like this, we can also come up with better methods of detection, and devise systems that are more effective against bot detection and removal.
I was waiting for this to come up.

I don't agree with this though. I think you can get the basic evidence right away. Also, most of these bots are downloadable. So there's nothing stopping the exploit team downloading and using them in a sandbox and learning EXACTLY how to detect it.

The gap between ban waves simply means that in the meantime the rest of the players are being "griefed" by these botters you're still collecting information on.

I can understand why. But I think there are better ways, and the downsides of waiting outweigh the benefits (which can be achieved through the suggestions I just made).
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90 Blood Elf Monk
12470
Could you elaborate a bit more on how you would 'fix' it? How can you fixed automated pathing? Do you nerf the spawn rate of certain mobs, nodes, herbs? I don't understand this. Also, what's your stance on the 'rotation' bots which allow you to execute a certain rotation with 100% accuracy?
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
17715
Whilst I can understand people's feelings about and towards Botters, I can also understand where Takralus is coming from. Dealing with Botters isn't an easy thing to solve, as each individual person is going to have a different idea of what they think constitutes Botting, so sorting through tickets and reports is bound to take some time.

In all honesty I've had a number of players walk past or up to me recently whilst I've been fishing up the Nat Pagle rep quest-items and either duel-spammed me or outright called me a "damn bot", simply because I'm doing something they consider boring for a long period of time. Having a squad that polices game-realms might seem like the fix-all solution, but you risk blanketing genuine players with those that are Botting, and it would be the same with a Captcha system in my opinion.

Having to either converse with a GM/Customer Support Team Member or enter something into a Captcha every time I hunted down those elusive fish would just make catching them so much more of a chore, not to mention that most of the time I'm either browsing websites or forums, watching Cartoons (currently Adventure Time with Finn and Jake xD) on my secondary monitor, or playing something else on my PSVita whilst listening out for the "sploosh" from the fishing bobber, so having to then deal with a Captcha or GM conversation between my ways to overcome the boredom of fishing rep-items would end up pushing me towards just not bothering at all, and if everyone ended up not bothering with these side-challenges, the likelihood is that they'd be removed, which is a pity as most of them are pretty cool such as the fishing chair Nat Pagle is said to mail the player who becomes Exalted with him.

But all that is just my take on this and might not be entirely correct. Having said that though, I am trying to fish up the Flying Tiger Gourami in The Jade Forest (Ghostlands-EU), so blame the fish! xD
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Community
26/10/2012 16:02Posted by Andrai
So there's nothing stopping the exploit team downloading and using them in a sandbox and learning EXACTLY how to detect it.


I'm not a coder, so I have no idea, but I think you're assuming that once we know how a bot works, we can easily stop it from working. I can imagine it may be very tricky to 'fix' a bit of code that currently makes the game run. I don't know though, as I said. I think detection is only half the battle though.
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90 Blood Elf Rogue
13990
But why would Blizzard ban bots?
They have a active subscription and pay money.
Why would any company reduce their own income on purpose?
It doesn't make sense... Allthough I don't like so many bots either.
But for them to actualy ban most of them, and lose out on so much money
from the botter's subscription.. Would they realy do that. I don't know.


I think Nevalistis summed this up quite well: This is one of the biggest misconceptions we have, and I genuinely wish we could permanently clear it up.


I was reading this on MMO Champion just now and logged in purely to reply to this one.
You will NOT clear this one up, never, ever; unless Blizzard actually addresses the situation in a way that the players can actually observe.

We are not seeing anything being done, and the bot situation is apparently worse than it ever has been.

Unless YOU, Blizzard, be a lot more proactive on the bot situation this "mis"conception will never go away.
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MVP
90 Gnome Priest
18815
26/10/2012 15:35Posted by Darkangle
We see nothing happens. We self regulate because it simply isn't done by blizzard.

I do think Blizzard does something. And I think they do a lot. They're just fighting a battle against an enemy with near endless numbers. It is difficult to win such a battle.

The problem is that the bots are often compromised accounts. So you can't just delete those accounts, because they belong to people who aren't actually botting. So instead Blizzard have to simply suspend them.
That makes it difficult to take major, serious action against bots, because Blizzard are forced to investigate on a case by case basis whether it's an actual botter, or whether it's a compromised account.

So part of the problem has to be solved through account security, to prevent accounts from being stolen in the first place. Authenticators are a good step, but it's not enough. It doesn't seem as if many players actually use one :/

Beyond that, then there's some effort being made that we don't really see. It's the legal stuff. What works better than to try and remove a near endless numbers of botters, is to simply remove the botting program. Blizzard have done so in the past by suing the makers of the Glider program for example, which resulted in the fact that people couldn't use that botting program anymore. Such action pretty much stops every botter....for a while at least.

They also do the same in regards to the people who compromise other players' accounts, and who generally run the majority of the bots. The goldsellers if you will. For example, in the past Blizzard sued Peons4Hire and pretty much shut them down, and thus all their activities (gold selling, botting, advertising, etc.).

In regards to that, it also has to be said that the players are part of the problem themselves. The only reason why these goldsellers exist in the first place is because players buy their gold. If people would stop doing that, then they wouldn't have any gold to sell, and then they wouldn't have any reason to hack into people's accounts and use them for botting purposes.
So part of the solution is also to make people understand that buying gold hurts their own gameplay experience in the end. So don't do it.

And then there's probably something to be said for the game design as well. I think Blizzard makes some game design changes to combat the usefulness of botting. For example, it's not very rewarding to bot in random battlegrounds today compared to a few years ago. You can't use Honor points on as much stuff anymore. And people wonder why it's difficult to obtain gold through PvP. One reason is probably to make it less appealing to bot in PvP.
I think there's more Blizzard can do in this regard. You can still preserve the fact that PvP rewards gear and such that makes your character stronger, but without rewarding anything that can be transfered into gold. A radical suggestion would perhaps be to remove Honor points and simply reward the gear based on wins, and then remove sell value and DE option on the gear.
Either way, there's some effort being made in this regard, but with more probably being possible.

And then there's the Warden program, which is a topic in itself. But needless to say, that program is 10x more Hal2000 than it was a few years ago, which is slightly scary in itself, but good for the sake of combating bots.

Ultimately, Blizzard do do (hehe :P) a lot to combat this issue. It's just that it's very difficult to do something that really has a long lasting impact. I mean, these botters are like weed. They spread, and they keep comming back again.
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85 Human Paladin
7155
26/10/2012 16:08Posted by Takralus
So there's nothing stopping the exploit team downloading and using them in a sandbox and learning EXACTLY how to detect it.


I'm not a coder, so I have no idea, but I think you're assuming that once we know how a bot works, we can easily stop it from working. I can imagine it may be very tricky to 'fix' a bit of code that currently makes the game run. I don't know though, as I said. I think detection is only half the battle though.
Sorry, I should clarify my stance. I mean that once you have enough information, or the ability to produce the information (read, being able to run the bot in your own controlled environment) there's no valid reason to leave users of that bot unbanned.

I disagree with waiting between the ban waves. Because every day you leave the botter there, is causing misery to the real players having to play around that, or indeed those bots.
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51 Blood Elf Rogue
7375
How do you actually know when another player is a bot? Forgive me being a newbie to pvp. I don't think I've ever noticed one before. I wouldn't be able to tell a bot from an actual player.
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90 Human Paladin
0
26/10/2012 15:30Posted by Takralus
Let's say 90% of botters were compromised accounts. This means that 90% of these botters aren't paying accounts; they're stolen accounts, which are generally fueled by stolen credit cards.


I know you said that those numbers are pure fiction, but you really make it sound like the whole botting thing is a huge underground enterprise, controlled by a huge network of hackers who is stealing credit cards and wow login informations, when in reality, it is far less accounts which are actually compromised accounts, and in reality, it's the average player who downloads a client to use.

What would any hacker get out of using a compromised account to bot in BGs?
Only the actual character gets rewarded for that, so it is either the owner himself who's botting, or the owner paid for a service on a website, of which he got his Rating boosted or the like.
- Just to give an example.

Also, if what you say is really the case, then you seem to fail on two fronts in this game, Bots and compromised accounts.
I know that compromised accounts are the owners own fault, but if the amount of bots corresponds just a little to your numbers, it would seem like you had to do something extraordinary in order to keep accounts safe.

Forced Authenticator should be one thing, the only thing a hacker, in his own words, would find the most destructive to his business.
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