Thursday 6 November 2014

Malma Bot - Part II

Shortly after posting my Market Bots article last week I received the following eve-mail from another player.
about your Market Bots article
From: Name withheld at sender's request
Sent: 2014.11.03 09:24
To: Moxnix Induli,
I just read your "market bots" blog entry, smiled really big, and wanted to share some private words of encouragement.
I petitioned that activity in Genesis, on 2012.08.21
It was closed with the standard "thank you - we'll investigate."
I wish you good luck with your petition.

All I do now is keep a few token buy orders active in Genesis, to cramp his profit. And watch with fading hope, for the day the next highest orders disappear.
I had too much time on my hands, and pressed hard on several orders at all hours.
In my original petition, i noted:  A real player is monitoring the activity.
Frequent buy order increases result in this player raising his usual increase amount, sometimes significantly.
This player will reduce market buy order amount if I "give up" and back down by a significant amount, and there is no other competition.

(not in the old petition, conjecture:)
One of my ship buy orders while "playing" with this... character... went over a threshold, and I was rapidly sold a ship.
I didn't name the name in my original petition, *because* it felt unprovable by me... I just listed a few orders and prices they could reference.
Then some time later, I got this, lol. Same character that sold a ship. Frequently seen in Malma ;)
Bounty placed on you
Sent: 2012.12.14 23:13
Name Withheld placed 50,000,000 ISK in bounty on your head.
I'm active nearly every day... and have lost only ONE ship since this bounty was placed ;)

That was about 2 years ago. I'm quite certain he's talking about the same bot I am since the one I ran across uses exactly the same methods described in this mail.

In other words, the Malma character has been obsessively guarding his business with near instant responses at all hours for at least 2 years. Sure sounds like a bot to me and I have a lot of experience fighting back against bots from back when I played that other game that's even more infested with auction bots than Eve is with market bots.

Though I didn't mention it in my original article (it's always a good idea to keep a few details secret in any investigation) I'm certain there's a real player monitoring the bot too. That's easy to tell when he suddenly raises his prices significantly, cutting by much larger amounts than usual, then goes right back to the usual near instant 0.01 ISK response on most items. Most items that is except the ones where I've already forced him over the bot's usual high price threshold settings.

Oddly enough (that's sarcasm btw) on those items his response is no longer near instant.

Having a few billion sitting in escrow doing basically nothing for the next 3 months (or 3 years if that's what it takes) forcing the bot to buy at, near or over Jita prices really isn't a big deal to me. Now let's see how long the bot can keep it up with his even larger buy orders. If he's bluffing, as they often are with high priced orders for large(ish) volume, it's going cost him a fair bit in lost broker fees when he finally realizes I'm not going away any time soon and cancels his orders.


  1. Sure sounds to me like a player who has been reported years ago to CCP is probably not a bot. I doubt they just ignored the report, and they have a lot more information than you will have access to. Sounds like a player with a lot of time on his hands and a good set of tools for monitoring his orders. People will always jump in and swear blind that other players must be cheating, but 99% of the time they are wrong.

    1. Typical, people always jump in defending the botters, swearing blindly that even the most blatantly obvious cheaters aren't cheating.

      If every bot that ever got reported got banned there would be virtually no bots around. The truth of the matter is bots rarely get banned.

      I don't care how "good his tools" are, if they're so good that they can ensure extremely quick response at any time over a 2+ year period, he isn't using tools, he's using cheats.

    2. It's not like I'm some market newbie who just woke up a few days ago, got undercut a couple times and said "Hey this guy must be botting".

      I do have a clue what I'm talking about. I've been battling bots for years and can tell the difference between a no-lifer doing it manual (yes even one with good "tools") and a botter.

    3. Bots that are actively monitored by the operator are pretty hard to catch, since their behavior isn't automatic. If he never leaves the bot alone for an extended time and responds for the alerts of the bot, he will NEVER be banned, despite he's botting and CCP suspects it.

    4. As a matter of fact the big problem with reporting market bots is CCP's usual response is to tell you to use the "report bot" function to report bots. The problem with that is you need the player name to "report bot" and the only way to get a market bot's name is by playing into his hands and buying from or selling to him.

      When you specify you can't use report bot because it's a market bot and you don't want to enable his cheating by buying from or selling to his orders just to get his name, your ticket just sits for a week or two before they finally respond with something along the lines of "Oh, we'll look into it"... And then probably file it under G (for garbage).

      So yeah, in order to even report cheaters "properly" we have to become enablers, helping them make even more with their cheating. Great design decision there CCP (sarcasm again).

  2. I'm not "swearing blindly" that he's not, but it seems to me that if he been reported and supposedly botting for 2 years, CCP would have banned him by now. They say use the "report bot" function where you can because it gives them much quicker notification that the botter is active right now, so they can investigate it more quickly. That doesn't mean they don't investigate from tickets. The reason they come back with a standard response is because it's their policy not to discuss warning or bans against other players, as it is with most MMOs.

    And sure, you're not a newbie, so you know full well that there's absolutely no way for you to categorically state that this guy is a botter. All you've got to go on is what you've seen from your side and a guess that he doesn't just have a lot of time on his hands.

    Any good market scanner can give you market data within a minute of updates, and as soon as you see one item updated you'll naturally go through others in the same region, and that's not rule breaking.

    1. "Any good market scanner" does NOT help you stay awake 24/7, be online 23.5/7 or make it so you always respond with 1 minute without ever leaving the computer. Market scanners don't do that, but bots do. Even the most obsessive no-life, hardly ever leaves the house, basement dweller has to eat, sleep, piss and go to the welfare worker's office occasionally.

      When he pretty much instantly responds all the time over a long period of time, it's a bot and that's about all there is to it.

      I have noted this guy's behavior many times in the past but hadn't done a closer check to see if he actually is there *all day and *always responds that quickly until recently. Until then I was pretty sure it was a bot but I wasn't certain, it could have been particularly obsessive no lifer.

      Now I am quite certain, it's a particularly obsessive no lifer sitting there watching the bot. Gevlon is absolutely right in saying game companies will almost never ban a bot that's being actively monitored.

      I got a major botter banned who with the help of roommates monitored an army of bots 24 hours a day on multiple accounts at once back in WoW one. But it took over a year with half the major auction players on the server submitting many, many tickets before he finally got banned. Even then he only got banned in the end because he got too cocky and left the bot running unattended for a few hours with blacklist settings to undercut me and a couple others both further and more quickly than he cut everyone else.

      His mistake was having multiple bots running on the same computer (and probably the same IP too) all under cutting me at the same time with loop times of under 1 minute to fully check thousands of auctions.

    2. How do you know he is there 23.5/7 unless you are there that same amount of time? All you know is that the times you've changed your orders, he's been there. You can't know for sure he's a bot, since you don't have all the info. You can suspect that's the case and report him, but you don't "know".

      It's clear that if he's already been reported and still there, CCP is satisfied he's not a bot, so he's unlikely to be banned for it going forward, no matter how many tickets you put in. They'll decide from their server stats if someone's a bot, not from your gut feeling.

    3. You're being intentionally obtuse.

      I check say 50 times throughout the day at random intervals. Every single time he's there to respond in under 1 minute.

      I do that several days in a row, even checking when I wake up in the middle of the night and he never misses a beat, always responding in under 1 minute except on a few items that I've pushed over the Jita price and are now over his thresholds.

      Add to that over a full year ot whenever I logged onto my Genesis trader he was always there waiting and ready to cut in the same too quick way. Always, without fail for over a year no matter when I logged in. I could spend 2 hours camping and cutting every 5 minutes, spend several hours sem-camping, go days or even weeks between sessions. No matter what he *always, *without fail*, started cutting my orders within about 1 minute.

    4. This might seem harsh but in my experience the ones who most vehemently defend botters are usually either botting themselves or are more casual market/auction players who don't really understand how botters think and operate.

      The first type are spreading disinformation and propaganda to convince the average player everything is fine and hardly anyone bots while also trying to discredit anyone who exposes them or their methods.

      The second type are naive, they're far too willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. They actually believe the lies of the first type and help propagate them.

  3. I really love that even though you have no way to actually know - as in know for sure, not summise from circumstantial evidence - and that CCP have been told and yet haven't banned the guy, that you are so unwilling to admit to even the possibility that you could be mistaken, that now you're attacking me and claiming I'm either a botter or stupid. It's outragous.

    I'm done with this. Enjoy complaining about non-existant bots that undercut you.

    1. Quite frankly the chance I'm mistaken n this case is vanishingly low.

      You continually ignore the fact that he's ALWAYS there cutting. No matter when it is or how it's been since the last time you modified an order, he'll cut your orders within about one minute. Spend all day posting he'll undercut every time within 1 minute. Wait a month, as soon as you log in and change a few orders, within 1 minute he'll respond.






      You seem to believe that being reported and not getting banned is conclusive proof he's not botting. That's about as far from reality as it gets. The fact of the matter is bots rarely get banned unless it's become more hassle for the game company to deal with complaints about him than his subscriptions. In fact that's true of bans for just about any reason, as long as the company figures his subscriptions are making them more money than his actions are costing them, they won't do a thing about.

      Bots do exist and there are a lot more of them around than you think.

    2. Belgarion appears to think that his leaving this discussion will leave the rest of us poorer for it (lol).

      The truth is, it's not necessary to have "proof" (in the mathematical sense) that the guy is botting. A preponderance of the evidence, gathered in numerous sessions over two years, is sufficient to draw the conclusion; botting is the best explanation for the guy's pattern of behavior.

    3. Exactly, if it looks like a rat, smells like rat, sounds like a rat and acts like a rat, it probably is a rat.

    4. Then sit around without proof complaining for the next 2 years that this guy *must* be botting, just like everyone that kills you in cod *must* be cheating. CCP are unlikely to ban someone because a competitor claims they are botting. They'll take a look at the logs - again - and if they decide he's not botting they'll do precisely nothing, and that will be the end of it.

      As a note by the way, what you have is not "evidence", you've got guesswork. You've got a guy saying "at the times that I managed to be on and update an order, this guy was also on and saw the order get updated and countered, therefore he is a bot, even though I'm not".

      If you'll read what I wrote before, you'll even see that I didn't even claim though this guy is not a bot. My only claim is that the op cannot *know* he is a bot. He can guess he's a bot, he can estimate that he is a bot, but he cannot *know* he is a bot, and the suggestion that he can is arrogance.

    5. A couple more

      If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider the possibility it is a duck

      And my personal favorite...

      If it looks like shit, smells like shit and feels like shit, you don't have to eat it to know it's shit.

    6. Belgarion is continuing to spout some bad epistemology. This suggests, but does not prove, that what he says isn't worth taking seriously. Also, he is not done with this discussion, despite claiming otherwise, which does prove him to be a liar.

      For MoxNix: do you think you might be able to push the botter's buy orders high enough that it would be profitable for you to haul in goods to sell to him? It might be interesting to see if you could force him to change his behavior that way. And, also, it'd let you get the name without helping him to earn isk.

    7. I already have pushed many of his buy orders high enough for that and I have a billion or so ISK worth of T2 ships (mostly frigates, bombers and cov ops) coming in via courier soon too.

      I'll probably sell about half of them to his orders and post the rest halfway between his buy orders and the lowest sell orders.

      I have him over 20 mil most bombers and cov ops and had him as high as 21 mil on Manticores until someone (I don't think it was him but not sure about that) sold me a couple for 20.5 mil. The current sell price for Manticores in Genesis is 32.5 mil. I'll pick up those 2 Manticores now and use them to start squeezing him on the selling end too.

      Oh and there's a nice big stack of Manticores in the courier shipment too. ;)

      Heh, I just posted a new buy order for Manticores and he cut it within 1 minute again. Then when I raised it again about 10 minutes later, it got cut within seconds. Likely be back over 20 mil again before I finish writing this comment. Hopefully he'll go to 21 mil again so I can fill his order when the courier shipment comes in and post the rest for 25-30 mil.

      Might even see if I can push him to 22 mil first.

    8. LOL, over 20 mil now... The last time I raised he cut in 1-2 seconds.

    9. Success! I pushed him to 22 mil on Manticores.

      It's very tempting to see how much higher he'll go but I think I'll wait for that stack to arrive first.

    10. hamsandwichesforlunch: I've responded because you directly insulted me, and I don't see why I should sit by in silence. I have no interest in debating with the OP over whether or not him calling someone a bot makes it an undisputed fact (which it quite obviously does not), but that doesn't mean I will just ignore other people's comments.

      With the above though, if he is botting and you're able to push his orders up to something so inflated over Jita price so easily, it's at best a homebrew bot. Most botting software has safeguards against exactly that behavior, which further suggest this guy is just a nolifer. Did you manage to sell to his orders?

  4. Two market bots which I reported last week have apparently been turned off, or, at least, are being used with greater care. I'm still monitoring the players, but they are no longer updating nearly as frequently as they did previously.

    So, it looks likely that they did indeed get a warning from CCP.

    BTW, I did not file a petition - I used the Report Bot feature on the Character panel.

    1. I may have to do that eventually though it goes against the grain to enable his scheme by selling to one of his buy orders.

      Then again I've already driven his buy price over 20 million on several T2 frigates, I'd actually be making a profit selling a single ship to one of those.

  5. I have to say I agree. I have been competing with a "player" that updates his orders like clockwork for about a year and despite many petitions he's still there. One sign you're dealing wiht a bot is when in response to you updating one order he updates a block of them covering multiple stations/systems. So example: I order a station order and 5 minutes later 10 orders covering many stations/systems (including mine) are updated at the same time with the same price. No logical player would do that. Over and over again.

    1. Do you mean he has multiple orders for the same item in the same region and updates all of them at the same time?

      Or did you mean in different regions? I've often noticed what seems to be coordinated activity with widespread significant price changes on multiple items across multiple regions, but I really can't say for sure how much time it takes whoever's behind it to update them all. If it's only taking a few minutes to coordinate price changes across multiple characters in multiple regions on very many items then yeah it might be a bot.

      But if it takes hours or days to implement the strategy across several regions it's probably just someone like me.

    2. Same region but different ranges/systems ... so he'll have region buy, system buy and station buy and maybe 2j range buy. Makes the market look more competitive then it really is. And he'll have different system buys with the same prices for different systems in the same region. He does not leave it unattended but checks once in a while.

    3. Ok, that's what I thought you meant.

      In main hub regions I often use 2 buy orders, one short range (station, system or 2 jumps) and one longer range (10 jumps or full region). Sometimes I'll use a 5 jump order instead of 2 or 10 jumps too.

      In regions like Genesis I generally only use 2 orders when I'm fighting a bot. In that case I'll often add a second lower volume order higher priced order with either 10 jump or full regional range.

      That way I can leave my regular order up at normal prices and use the 2nd order to keep pushing the bot higher. If I push him far enough he decides to dump to my order, I'm only buying a couple items not 10, 20 or more.

      Usually works great, most no-lifers / bots will move on after a week or two of that. Except the most obsessive, really persistent ones who practically never go away unless they get banned. In that case I like a scorched earth policy... If he won't let me buy or sell anything I'll let him have all the business, I'll just make sure he isn't making very much off it.

      Want to pay 20-21 mil each for ships that usually go for 17-18 mil in Jita? Be my guest.

      Buy order is for 20 at 20 mil each? Awesome, I'll buy 30 on Jita for 19 mil each, sell him 20 and post the other 10 for 20.5 mil each.

      He buys those out? Even better, buy another 20 on Jita, ship to Genesis and post them for 21 mil each.


    4. And if the guy has an ounce of common sense and avoids the oldest trick in the book? You're basically wasting your time posting up ships at minimal profit while he's off selling something else. The second you start trying to get at someone for daring to swarm you're business, you're too emotionally attached to the game.

    5. Like I said earlier, I don't mind having a few billion sitting there doing basically nothing for months on end. It doesn't hurt my business one bit.

      And I'm the one that's off selling something else while he's still obsessing over stopping my "minimal profit" orders from selling.

    6. How do you know he's obsessing? And why is it him that's obsessing while you aren't? It's just as likely he also has a wide spread of the market and won't be hurt keeping his stock their either.

      Seems like whenever there's a conflict you consider yourself to be the one in the right, the one with the most clever plan, while your opponent is automatically some idiot. Again that seems like arrogance to me.

    7. Got it Lucas alt.

      The way you accuse me of doing exactly what you do all the time gave you away. Go away, take your accusatory crap somewhere else and stop harassing me.

    8. What? Where did that come from lol.
      So first a player is a botter because you say so. Then a trader is an obsessive loser because you say so, and now I'm someone's alt because you say so? You have some very serious issues.

  6. is this true?

    1. I doubt it.

      If it were true, it'd be pretty much the same as telling you "yup, that guy was botting and we banned him" which is against CCP's stated policy.

  7. Interesting, though the bot went to 22 mil on manticores last night, today he sold me a couple for 21 mil.

    Still waiting for someone to pick up and deliver that courier shipment. I've never had to wait this long for similar contracts before... No matter where they are or where they're going (not even in low sec, which this contract is not). Must be the jump changes behind that, I'll probably have to rethink my courier strategy, especially for moving ships or anything else that takes up a lot of cargo space.

    1. Oh and the name of the seller is the exact same character as the one named in the email I received about another trader's experience versus the bot 2 years ago.

    2. Once again today, I post a buy order for 2 manticores and within seconds it's been overcut.

    3. MoxNix, I'll supply what seems to be the obligatory response: "Just because he responded within seconds only suggests that it is a nolifer. He couldn't be botting; you don't have 'proof' (ie, you fail to meet a standard of evidence beyond that required for academic publication)."

      More seriously, have you bothered to google the name of the botter? It'd be interesting to see if other people have posted about him, whether on the forums or on a blog (such as this one).

    4. Not when he does every time, without fail, no matter when it is or how long it's been since last time.

      I work from home, so I can randomly check just about any time.

      I don't follow any specific pattern he can time to know when I'm on. I intentionally mix things up specifically to not be too predictable.

      I can leave my character online all day long checking several times an hour for 16+ hours. He'll respond every single time within 1 minute. Slightly longer (2-3 minutes) if I camp a few cycles in a row and mix up the timing on my cuts, which throws his perfect timing off a bit.

      I can wait a days between cuts, but as soon as I do he'll respond within 1 minute. No matter when it is or how it's been since last time.

      No human, no matter how much of a no-lifer he is is sitting there all day long every day just waiting for someone to cut him and *always* responding that quickly.

      That's why I'm so certain this isn't just a no-lifer but a bot. He *always* responds very quickly over long periods of time. Note that's *always* not just sometimes, most of the time or for several hours one day, but *always*, all day long, every day, at any time, for weeks, months and according to the player who mailed me about him, years.

      On the other hand I'm quite certain he is a no-lifer too, spending most of the day watching the bot (or more likely multiple bots) work and doing some manual price adjustments at times too.

      Besides to paraphrase one of the cliches I quoted earlier, if I step in shit, I know what it is and I don't have to eat it to prove it to anyone just because he says it might not be shit.

  8. Aw... I'm only worth a 400k bounty, not 50 mil like the other guy.

    Tempted to slap a 400 mil bounty on him and send him a message asking why he's so cheap?

  9. I'm confident I know the name of the character doing the botting now.

    After having him on my watchlist for a while, getting sold a couple ships by him (when I intentionally pushed a buy price over Jita prices to see what he'd do) and having a bounty placed on myself by him shortly thereafter, I'm quite sure it's the same guy described in the eve-mail. Same guy, same method of operation as reported by another player 2 years ago.

    For anyone else looking to report a bot, here's a link to a dev blog about the "report bot" function. How to use it, what it should and should not be used for, etc.

  10. If this is a bot he should be selling the program and make real money instead of isk. A bot that stays active 24/7 for 2 years and remains undetected by CCP despite of all the boting reports and messages sent to CCP is full of win.

  11. Either that or CCP's bot detection procedures are full of fail.

    The fact is monitored bots rarely get banned (in any game), at least not as long as they put a little effort into trying to hide it, aren't doing anything really stupid and don't push things too far.

    Even the dumb ones don't usually get banned until a competitor repeatedly, over a long period of time, tricks them into doing stupid things and/or pushing things too far.

  12. LIES!

    1. Really?

      A smear and slander campaign now?

    2. Actually your screenshot proves it is a bot.

      I push the bot to 500k (less than 2.5%) margin between buy and sell orders on one item. His thresholds kick in so the bot stops cutting that one item.

      Meanwhile during the same timeframe he's still instacutting everything else.

      All you proved is the bot does have thresholds.

    3. You seem incapable of comprehending the difference between a bot that's being actively monitored and occasionally overridden by the player and a bot that's running completely unattended.

      If I were merely "pushing lies" about another trader I would have posted his name long ago, which I have not done at all.

    4. Your obsession with me and my blog makes it clear if you aren't just another Lucas alt, you're just like him.

      Either way, you're no more welcome here than he is. This is the last comment from you that will ever get posted here.