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A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots

by mischief (Hermit)
on Oct 19, 2001 at 21:00 UTC ( #120068=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

As some of you might know, votebots have become something of a problem in the past. Chatting on the CB, tye said "if you can figure out a better way of dealing with votebots, post and I'll ++ it!". Always on the lookout for extra XP, I saw a clear chance for whoring and put my mind to the task.

Unfortunately, I'm not very clever, so I could only come up with two potential ideas. However, on the off chance that tye will actually consider them to be "better", I thought I'd post them anyway to see if I get that experience point.

The first thing I thought of was making votes not count against XP until 24 hours has passed. Some kind of trigger could be set so that if a post or person gains or loses over a certain amount of XP in any 24 hours period, some kind of alarm would go off and the admins can have a look for themselves to see if the situation needs tending to or not. If it's obvious that something dodgy is going on, the votes could be declared null and void and we all get to start over - something like a rollback feature.

The second thing I thought of was to change the XP algorithm slightly, so that votes made by monks of a higher level have a higher chance of affecting XP. This would mean that effective votebots would be much harder to create - simply registering lots of accounts and waiting until they're level 2 wouldn't make much difference, as level 2 votes wouldn't affect XP too much.

caveat emptor (not entirely sure what that means, but I think it's something like "disclaimer"): Neither of these suggestions will get rid of votebots entirely, and neither are fleshed out very much. But I want that experience point, so I'm posting anyway.

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Re: A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Oct 19, 2001 at 21:43 UTC
    I was in a similar discussion on the CB as well (but not one where anyone offered votes... sniff) and we came up with the following: (apologies to the various people on the CB that day, /msg me and Ill credit you)

    The idea was to have a nodelet that presented a generated sentence in PNG or JPG or GIF form dynamically, put it through something gimplike to prevent OCR bots and then display it to the user. The user would have to enter the sentence (or randomly chosen words, whatever) into a textbox to activate the ability to vote for say the next hour. By doing this intelligently it should prevent pretty much any bot around from getting access (and if it could figure it out then maybe it _deserves_ to vote :-)

    The concensus was though that despite the fact it might work in general it wouldnt prevent anyone really malicious as they could just log in their votebots by hand and then sic them on some unsuspecting guru that they had decided to loathe that day. The other issue was that perhaps it would annoy the hell out of the community, (the non-asshole non-votebot types).

    My response to the first one is that despite the fact that professionals will always be able to steal my bike (they could raid my company at gunpoint and steal it that way if they really wanted) I still carry a lock, and I _always_ lock my bike. My response to the second point is a bit simpler:good point...

    Anyways, since you started this off..

    You are not ready to use symrefs unless you already know why they are bad. -- tadmc (CLPM)

        Hmm. Thats interesting, cause Im pretty sure merlyn wasnt online when I started it off. My original idea was something along the same lines of a zero knowledge proof or a turing test. Neverthesless, if he implemented that idea as well then all the power to him.

        As my memory kicks in I recall that virtualsue and maybe footpad was online so maybe they remember who was around... Or maybe not, either way it doesnt matter.

        Anyway, :-)

        You are not ready to use symrefs unless you already know why they are bad. -- tadmc (CLPM)

Re: A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots
by $code or die (Deacon) on Oct 19, 2001 at 21:54 UTC
    As I see it, the problem with votebots is not that they might affect XP. And in fact that was the whole point of the node that you refer to in your opening sentence.

    Frankly, a couple of -- votes is hardly going to make my XP drop significantly. It's the fact that votebots go out and "distriminately" vote up or down certain users. Votebots don't have brains. They don't evaluate the content of a post before voting. They just do it. And it's sad. If someone doesn't like what I say, I don't mind if they downvote me, maybe I'll learn something, maybe we'll agree to disagree. I can come to no such happy conclusion with a votebot.

    I don't care about the XP, but I can see how it can be annoying if a perfectly reasonable post is downvoted. It doesn't matter if it's only one or two votes - It won't affect your XP, especially if other people are ++ing the node. But the fact that someone might use multiple logins or a votebot to manipulate the rep of a node of mine is upsetting. What's wrong with one node one vote?

    I'd be happy to stop hearing about votebots. Whatever counter-measures are introduced, someone with a bit of free time will come up with a way around them. And the whole discussion will start again.

    Simon Flack ($code or die)
    $,=reverse'"ro_';s,$,\$,;s,$,lc ref sub{},e;$,
    =~y'_"' ';eval"die";print $_,lc substr$@,0,3;

      I think we're talking about different types of votebots - you mean the ones that people use just to increase their XP by using up their votes every day; I'm referring to the ones that are designed to affect XP. The discussion in the CB I mentioned was talking about these kinds of bots, too (I *think*!) - apparently merlyn was losing 40+XP per day. And jcwren's post was sparked by jcwren losing votes over what he considered a reasonable post, and specifically mentioned votebots as part of the reason he left.

      I'd be happy to stop hearing about votebots too, but they're a problem, or used to be at least. Apparently "steps have been taken" so that they're not so much of a problem anymore, but to be honest I thought my suggestions for preventing abuse couldn't be easily circumvented, which is why I posted them (and dammit I need more XP!).

Re: A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots
by HollyKing (Pilgrim) on Oct 19, 2001 at 21:10 UTC

    caveat emptor is Latin for "Buyer Beware." At least close enough to get the point. :)

    Owl looked at him, and wondered whether to push him off the tree; but, feeling that he could always do it afterwards, he tried once more to find out what they were talking about.

Re: A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots
by jackdied (Monk) on Oct 19, 2001 at 21:34 UTC
    Expanding on your second idea, there is a distribution of votes by level for a given day. Articles that were close to the distribution keep the points, other articles only get the fraction of the points that meet the distribution. This means you 'throw out' the extra level 2 voters, in essence.

    So if 20% of the daily votes are given by saints, and a post only has 10% of the votes delivered by saints, then we throw out lower level votes until the saint's portion is 20%.

    To prevent the saints and higher levels from being the gatekeepers of XP, there would be a wiggle factor, so in the above example you would only throw out lower votes down to say %15 saint.


Re: A couple of ideas for dealing with votebots
by data64 (Chaplain) on Oct 21, 2001 at 02:37 UTC

    Here's a slightly different idea.

    For all PM users below monk level, each post that has reputation >= 0 will provide 10 votes. There will be no daily quota of votes. Votebots do not usually post meaningful nodes, hence those accounts would not get any votes.

    Monks and levels above that should continue getting their daily quota of votes as reaching this level means you have gained some level of trust and are not expected to be be running votebots.

      I'm not sure if requiring people to post to be able to vote is such a good idea; some people either don't want to post (and just lurk, but still contribute by voting) or there's nothing for them to post about, so they'd end up posting rubbish just to get their votes (for example, I didn't post for three or four months after registering for both these reasons.) Also, I think this might be fairly easy to get round, by just preparing a set of "generic" posts that could be used (maybe pulling random old nodes from SOPW that everyone's forgotten about and altering them slightly?).

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