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[Official] Bots

By #[MOD]Wish November 10, 2008, 16:33:03

There has been a large number of topics about botting recently. This is an issue that is very annoying to players, and it's understandable for people to have remarks and complaints about them. However, there are some facts about bots and how Ankama deals with them that is getting lost from topic to topic. Therefore, this topic has been created as a central place for information about bots and remarks/suggestions about the issue.

All other topics about bots will be either closed or merged into this one.

Here is information from Support:

satochan|2008-11-02 15:06:00
Hello,

We do know about the Bots Ingame (we don't like them either), we do fight them day by day , here is some numbers (bots banned from our servers) :
215000 Bots removed in June 2008
320000 Bots removed in July 2008
450000 Bots removed in August 2008
900000 Bots removed in September 2008
1850000 Bots removed in October 2008

We are improving our filters too (Captchas can be added/removed too) , we will see what is needed in the future.

Thanks,

Sato


From a moderator's perspective, we ban hundreds of bots (that includes the farming and hunting bots, not just the spamming bots) every day. But the people who run these bots do so for a purpose that is beyond entertainment. Unlike the moderators (who donate their time to try to improve the community), botting is their paying job. Running bots keeps their families fed and pays for their home. They are not discouraged by being banned once or twice. There are entire companies that pay their workers to do nothing but create new accounts for these bots and to train them all day long, which is why it seems like they never stop multiplying. Even with a dozen paid mods working non-stop on each server (with over 30 servers, that would bankrupt Ankama quite quickly to pay them!), there would probably still be bots around. The mod team is working every day to decrease the bots in game, and, as Sato stated above, Ankama is working on coding solutions as well.

With all that said, bots are still annoying. Go ahead and post your suggestions and thoughts here.

-Wish
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First Ankama intervention
talith|2010-10-11 06:52:00
by blocking proxies, ankama forces the bot companies to use more easily identified IP addresses leading to even faster bot banning. what ankama needs to do is blacklist IP subranges used by bots to connect if they detect that its not a proxy. someone gets caught up in the blacklist? they can call up their ISP for a new IP. bots try that? blacklist the entire subrange and move up a level in the IP address to ban from. you have four levels to an IP afterall- ie 192.168.1.1 (default gateway address for most US made routers/gateways)


We block botting proxies on a regular basis. However, like with banning accounts this is a temporary fix; the botters change proxies to regain access.

Our support team is working on new filtering method to recognize bot accounts and block more of these types of connections to the game.
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Thank you for finally making an official thread on the matter *hopes now that people won't make recurring threads on this topic*.

Unfortunately, I've had many ideas, all with problems of their own, major flaws. I quite like the idea of "Question Cards", which was an idea going back a little while. Basically, a box would pop up after you've logged in. The box displays a type of fruit (for example) and under it, a question "What colour is this apple?" (just an example). The question would come with corresponding answers.

Of course, the problem came up that on International Servers, some players may not be able to understand the questions. Replacing the answers with actually pictures of colours could solve half this problem. I'm not too good at explaining, and I guarantee you won't understand me. xD I apologise.

Sophidian ^^

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VarHyid|2008-11-10 12:45:00
Sorry, but I don't and won't believe it. Raising the subscription fee from $6.90 to $6.91 would be enough to hire 10-20 people and making a "round" $6.99 would probably exterminate every bot there is. If you want to prove me wrong, give me some numbers.


Obviously, I can't show you a completely accurate cost/benefit analysis on Ankama's staff, as I have absolutely no access to their financial data. Even so, I'll be glad to indulge in a little speculation; let's have a look at some of the numbers that can be made available to the public.

A dozen mods for each server, as I said above? Minimum salary in France is about fourteen hundred euros a month. That's nearly seventeen thousand euros a year. Twelve paid mods for each of 36 servers is 432 mods, which is over six hundred thousand euros a month, over 7 million euros a year in payroll, not counting new computers for them to work on, offices to house them, health care, taxes, etc. I speculate that office space would be the biggest obstacle, I've seen information suggesting that Ankama Games (the entire company, not just the Dofus branch) has around 200 employees (this may be inaccurate, other news articles from 2007 list Ankama's staff at only 50), this many moderators would easily triple the size of the company itself.

Last Ankama-released figures had just under 450,000 active paid subscribers. That was in April, so let's be generous and say there are now at least 500,000. There are many more created accounts, many more free players, and many more who have subscribed in the past (I believe that figure is counted in the millions), but 450,000 was what they released to a third party press company. There's no hard data on how many of those pay seven euros a month, how many have paid for a year or half a year, etc (and thus pay less than 7 euros a month), so it's not completely accurate to assume that each of the 500,000 is equal to exactly 7 euros a month, but we'll be generous again and say that each one does pay 7 euros each month. That gives Ankama an estimated monthly take of 3.5 million.

Assuming that this amount of 3.5 million covers the cost of the current staff, the servers, the offices, marketing, the materials, taxes, utilities, etc, and the company is not losing profits (obviously there are no available numbers on Ankama's actual running costs, so this is completely based on speculation, and the fact that they haven't gone out of business), even raising the cost of subscriptions by .10 euros is not enough to pay for the salaries of these proposed 432 paid mods. Not even 8 euros a month is enough. Of course, plenty of players already believe that 7 euros is far too dear a price to pay, so would an increase in sub costs be helpful to bringing in more players and more money?

What's truly lacking in this analysis is good data on the resources of the botting companies to determine how effective these mods would be to completely stopping bots. Some sources suggest that there are over 400,000 people working in gold-farming worldwide (meaning that there is nearly a 1 to 1 ration of gold farmers worldwide to active Dofus subscribers!) I can say that I've spent six or seven hours completely cleaning a server of bots, only to have at least as many return the next day. I can tell you that just 10-20 mods for all 36 servers isn't anywhere near enough, even if they are paid.

In the end, the paid moderator question is a complete speculation game for anyone who isn't on the inside at Ankama, like guessing the number of gumballs in a large jar. My best guess, based on the research I've done, says that it's X. Your feeling is that it's Y. My point is, there must be more cost than it is possible for Ankama to bear right now, or they would have done it already.

-Wish
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anzuk|2008-11-10 13:41:00
How can you get a bot-free server?
-P2P only
-Permanent Death

There you go, Oto Mustam is the one. There are some scammer bots spamming malicious links (in french usually) but they are easy to ignore smile

It's not the main reason why I play on Heroic but it's certainly a big plus when there is no horde of farmer and other bots. I've tried to see if I can find any bots farming etc but so far I haven't found anything that looks or sounds like a bot.

*Zuuk


You mods only need to ban the scammer bots on Heroic server, right? I'm still almost sure there are no farmer/hunter etc bots in the harsh enviroment of Oto Mustam, but I'd like to hear if someone found any.
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Yes but Oto Mustam is only 1 server. And if all the servers were like Oto Mustam I would have never played this game for more than a few weeks.

And I have to repeat AGAIN that even though you ban millions of bots per month, the hunter bots get banned around once per month and I suspect farmer bots to have similar statistics. With just a daily mod or two patrolling around Astrub, you could greatly reduce the number of bots to an extent companies will probably have to rise their prices a lot, meaning less buyers too.

Conclusion: why the hell doesn't Amakna want more active mods?

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RollbackSucks, I'm very sorry, but that just isn't correct. Mods ban hunting and farming bots all the time, but these farming companies have literally thousands of accounts that they create automatically. One time, trying to get a list of all the accounts attached to one bot, the list was so long it literally crashed my client. Being banned barely slows them down for a moment. I know that it's hard for someone who hasn't experienced this fight first-hand to understand the sheer scale that is involved here. Bot moderation is literally a task worthy of Sisyphus. Our mods can ban over 300 accounts in an hour, and still not run out of bots, or make a noticeable dent in the number of bots that keep showing up. The motto of these gold-farmers seems to be "Ban all you want, we'll make more."

Prices for kamas have dropped a lot since the game came out. If people were already paying higher prices before now to allow these companies to flourish and the prices to drop, it's doubtful that people would stop buying even if the prices were to raise back up a bit.

-Wish

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Without pidgeon-holing maybe Dofus can limit play just to players from 'gold-farming free' countries. I know its unfair to current subscribers from the likes of say Asia, maybe Russia (I dunno just speculating here), but maybe Ankama can limit play to people from 'Developed Countries' and not allow access to people from 'Poorer' countries. Okay it might sound a little discriminatory, but I tell thinks as they are - the gold-farmers are from 'Poor' countries - we all know the stories behind so-called Sweatshops etc.

I am sure it's possible to tell which ISP/Country a player is playing from... of course this may/may not help when it comes to those Random IP Switching programs that are freely available etc...

Thats my two-cents worth.

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[MOD]Wish|2008-11-11 02:14:00

RollbackSucks, I'm very sorry, but that just isn't correct.

You're not REALLY sorry and rollbacks don't REALLY su... oh wait rolleyes

Joke aside, many times i,ve seen killer bots last over a month. And those are only the times I was F2P (staying in Astrub to see bots). The smallest amount of time I've seen a killing bot banned was more or less 2 weeks.

And I'm wondering something: if by 1 bot you are able to identify MANY of its followers by a simple click (admittedly it takes seconds/minutes to create the list), wouldn't a daily mod sweep be rather short? Or at least, much shorter than I imagined it would be. Couldn't a quick sweep then take a couple minutes?

Would be fun one day if you tried realying mods every couple of hours for a day or two on one server, checking how far bots could go without getting banned. Until you really try that or come with actual proof it would do nothing, I will continue to state you should get more (active) mods.
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RollbackSuckz|2008-11-10 22:37:00
You're not REALLY sorry and rollbacks don't REALLY su... oh wait rolleyes

Joke aside, many times i,ve seen killer bots last over a month. And those are only the times I was F2P (staying in Astrub to see bots). The smallest amount of time I've seen a killing bot banned was more or less 2 weeks.

And I'm wondering something: if by 1 bot you are able to identify MANY of its followers by a simple click (admittedly it takes seconds/minutes to create the list), wouldn't a daily mod sweep be rather short? Or at least, much shorter than I imagined it would be. Couldn't a quick sweep then take a couple minutes?

Would be fun one day if you tried realying mods every couple of hours for a day or two on one server, checking how far bots could go without getting banned. Until you really try that or come with actual proof it would do nothing, I will continue to state you should get more (active) mods.


If you literally do not believe what a certified bot-killer is telling you, I'm sorry, there's not anything that I can do for you. I cannot post bot banning logs, and even if I could, would you be convinced? Would you say that I doctored them? If you are determined to believe that mods are lazy and they could get rid of the bots if they just "tried harder" then you won't believe me unless you can do it yourself.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

-Wish
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RollbackSuckz|2008-11-11 04:37:00
Would be fun one day if you tried realying mods every couple of hours for a day or two on one server, checking how far bots could go without getting banned. Until you really try that or come with actual proof it would do nothing, I will continue to state you should get more (active) mods.

Please take note at the displayed statistics at the top of the page. According to Sato, roughly 200,000 bots are banned per month. This does not mean "only kama-sellers", but quite the contrary. Evidence is provided to the bot-killing claims. If you think you're able to do a better job and moderate Dofus and its Forums for 4 hours a day (or more) like some Moderators do, maintain a safe environment for players and ban the abundance of bots in Astrub, feel free to send in an application. Good luck.

Sophidian ^^
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Sophidian|2008-11-11 05:04:00
If you think you're able to do a better job and moderate Dofus and its Forums for 4 hours a day (or more) like some Moderators do, maintain a safe environment for players and ban the abundance of bots in Astrub, feel free to send in an application. Good luck.

Mod applications ave been closed for a very very long time as far as I'm aware. Plus I seriously doubt Amakna would let me become one with my "disagreeing" views smile But if a couple appropriate people are added to the mod team, I'd be very glad.

As for Wish, I'd like to know what you don't agree on exactly. Is it when I say I've seen bots last over a month a couple times? Is it when I say getting more mods could mean the ability to do a quick sweep every couple of hours or daily? Is it when I say regular cleaning of the killer and farmer bots (mostly killers I think though) would help?

And I don't think mods are lazy, in fact I like (most of) you guys. But the few of you just don't seem to suffice, especially when it comes to banning bots. But I have no idea why, if you ban that many bots, how come I can see the same ones for over a month. Might be what Amakna tells you to do, but I still find it strange. Personally those killer bots would have been my 1st target.
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RollbackSuckz|2008-11-11 17:06:00
Does this mean you agree with me on that? I'm not sure what you mean.

From what you'd posted, I gathered you thought that not enough fight-bots were being banned and all the attention was focused on the more obvious kama-selling-bots. I was just informing you that this is not the case.

Sophidian ^^
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Ah, now I understand. However I might disagree. I see those spam bots getting banned almost every hour, instead of a muh longer lifespan for killer-bots. Might be only due to some automatic banning system though, in which case mods wouldn't have anything to do with it.

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Today, my ban log was over 10,000 lines long, listed a total of 2271 bot accounts banned, and represented 9 solid hours of surfing the servers, killing bots. About 30-40 of these accounts were spammer bots, I almost exclusively banned hunting bots. I was only one of four other moderators that I personally spoke to while banning. They were also banning. At least three others were also on the servers before I logged on. Let me know if you see any difference in the total number of bots on the game, because I didn't.

-Wish

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Don't know how new bots are created. But when you logged on I just went through the areas around Astrub. Thought I got most of the bots, couldn't see anyone at that point. After 5 min chatting, suddenly there were new groups on more then one map. So as MOD we can easy things up, but clean the servers from bots, no way thats possible, doesn't matter if we should be two or three times as many MOD's as we are today.

//Zoothia

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I see. Well I guess if it only takes a few minutes for them to come back then I was wrong, I thought it would take them a few hours to be operational again (they do need to gain a couple levels somehow). Thanks a lot for actually going through this.

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RollbackSuckz|2008-11-11 22:57:00
Ah, now I understand. However I might disagree. I see those spam bots getting banned almost every hour, instead of a muh longer lifespan for killer-bots. Might be only due to some automatic banning system though, in which case mods wouldn't have anything to do with it.

Fight-bots are harder to ban. They're constantly on the move, making money. Stands to reason that more kama-selling -bots are banned, but I gather all types of bots are given equal attention. As far as I know, the only automatic banning system is for over-working a profession, which suspends your account for two hours. I may be wrong? Which means Moderators are responsible for the mass-bannings of the bots. rolleyes

Sophidian ^^
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I invited spam-bots to my guild: Sadida's bots. After an hour, or two at most, they would be put offline. Unless they THEMSELVES log off to never come back, it means they get banned in about an hour, either by mod or by auto-system. Killer-bots, in comparison, can last a month. Now if Zoothia said is right (they come back in 5 minutes) I now agree with these methods.

But I am wondering if it's an auto-system that bans spam-bots or mods. I know some bots have a counter when they speak (a number is added at the beginning or end of their message) and that is probably some programming flag. Added by the devs or by the botters, I don't know though. Could be part of an auto-ban system.

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