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Banning bots from the grid?


Paul Hexem
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Someone suggested, seriously, in another thread that bots should be banned from SL.

I gotta wonder if that's even an idea worth considering. Just thinking about the group management and product demo bots that so many SL businesses rely on, would banning bots totally throw SL into chaos?

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Linden Lab has decided that all the information bots can gather is public and can be used. And may be even published outside Second Life.
Discussion is not appreciated. Threads get locked.
So what is there to discuss?

It is cold outside over here. At your place too?

Edited by Sid Nagy
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The thing to do is not ban them, but make them readily identifiable inworld so they cause less havoc.

That means:

o The profile MUST read "bot" just like it says "resident" or "Linden Lab employee" now.

o The bot MUST show up as a different colour than green on the map -- I would suggest blue, as that is not used for any other map function.

There should be a campaign, BLUE THE BOTS.

That way you can avoid nests of them, kick them out of your club or land on sight, etc. It means their annoyance factor is diminished, but people who need them for inviters or NPCs etc can still have them.

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1 minute ago, Sid Nagy said:

Linden Lab has decided that all the information they can gather is public and may be even published outside Second Life.
Discussion is not appreciated. Threads get locked.
So what is there to discuss?

So: It is cold outside over here. At your place too?

Electricity rates have gone way up. I think it's not just the war in Ukraine, but the use of all these b-- oh never mind.

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   I'm not sure about 'total chaos', but it certainly would cause a harmful effects on a portion the SL users and their business.

   I don't think that bots should be banned on the basis of recent 'discussion' based on conspiracy theories and hearsay. 

1 minute ago, Prokofy Neva said:

o The bot MUST show up as a different colour than green on the map -- I would suggest blue, as that is not used for any other map function.

There should be a campaign, BLUE THE BOTS.

   But all those Tiny Empire bots in the oceans will be so hard to see!

   .. Also Lindens and moles are blue dots on the minimap, at least on my end, so that might get confusing (they're not blue on the world map though - don't want to make it too easy to complete that collection of mole bears!). 

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We must appreciate that we can leave our money in SL. Tons of it. Unlimited amounts.
Discussing about what might be wrong or what could be improved is not really what LL wants to read on this website.

So did you see that lovely new dress in the 50L happy weekend?

Edited by Sid Nagy
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3 minutes ago, Orwar said:

   I'm not sure about 'total chaos', but it certainly would cause a harmful effects on a portion the SL users and their business.

   I don't think that bots should be banned on the basis of recent 'discussion' based on conspiracy theories and hearsay. 

   But all those Tiny Empire bots in the oceans will be so hard to see!

   .. Also Lindens and moles are blue dots on the minimap, at least on my end, so that might get confusing (they're not blue on the world map though - don't want to make it too easy to complete that collection of mole bears!). 

I didn't know they were blue on the Mini-map because I never see them, I'm not in Bellisseria much where they tend to congregate and I go to the code Linden office hours like maybe once a year.

So make them azure? Purple? Once the political decision is made to designate them -- and it definitely is political, and not technical -- the colour they should be will be a trivial matter.

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9 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

The thing to do is not ban them, but make them readily identifiable inworld so they cause less havoc.

That means:

o The profile MUST read "bot" just like it says "resident" or "Linden Lab employee" now.

o The bot MUST show up as a different colour than green on the map -- I would suggest blue, as that is not used for any other map function.

There should be a campaign, BLUE THE BOTS.

That way you can avoid nests of them, kick them out of your club or land on sight, etc. It means their annoyance factor is diminished, but people who need them for inviters or NPCs etc can still have them.

I actually do like the idea of bots being easier to identify, and this comes from someone that runs some script interfacing bots. 

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2 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

I didn't know they were blue on the Mini-map because I never see them, I'm not in Bellisseria much where they tend to congregate and I go to the code Linden office hours like maybe once a year.

So make them azure? Purple? Once the political decision is made to designate them -- and it definitely is political, and not technical -- the colour they should be will be a trivial matter.

   The minimap colours include blue (Lindens/moles), yellow (people on your contact list), and green (everyone else) - at least I think that's the default colours, I have no recollection of ever changing them.

   I think they should be red, it's the only base colour not used and it should stand out. And because red has that sense of danger which might frighten people a little - and that I always approve of!

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Bot banning is a major undertaking, it's not just a matter of posting a NO BOTS sign. Look at any MMO that has had to deal with resource farming bots, which actually do cause harm to their in-game economies and are frequently involved in banned real-world currency transactions. Such cases require that resources be put into bot detection (resources that could otherwise go into features, fixes, and improvements) and are never completely successful.

Personally, I would prefer to see something in the TOS addressing data export and aggregation, or at least some clarification that would make it clear harvesting data (whether by bots or humans) and placing it in an external location is not permissible.

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If all of the bots we've been recently chatting about follow the same naming convention, like bb_123 and bb_124 etc, could you not simply add a script to a parcel or sim-wide security orb that checks for any variation of the base name (like bb_***) and simply bans those? Or is this person using variable names? In that case, they're all owned by the same person, can you not script a detection of the owner name instead and ban anyone/thing with that owner with a orb?

As you can see, I'm not very technically knowledgeable.

Edited by Katherine Heartsong
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11 minutes ago, Ezbeharra said:

Bot banning is a major undertaking, it's not just a matter of posting a NO BOTS sign. Look at any MMO that has had to deal with resource farming bots, which actually do cause harm to their in-game economies and are frequently involved in banned real-world currency transactions. Such cases require that resources be put into bot detection (resources that could otherwise go into features, fixes, and improvements) and are never completely successful.

Personally, I would prefer to see something in the TOS addressing data export and aggregation, or at least some clarification that would make it clear harvesting data (whether by bots or humans) and placing it in an external location is not permissible.

This particular discussion is less about what they do and more about the idea that they should be banned.

Someone that usually posts intelligent things thinks they should be banned, and I can't decide if they've gone insane or not. 

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3 minutes ago, Katherine Heartsong said:

If all of the bots we've been recently chatting about follow the same naming convention, like bb_123 and bb_124 etc, could you not simply add a script to a parcel or sim-wide security orb that checks for any variation of the base name (like bb_***) and simply bans those? Or is this person using variable names? In that case, they're all owned by the same person, can you not script a detection of the owner name instead and ban anyone/thing with that owner with a orb?

As you can see, I'm not very technically knowledgeable.

That's not what we're talking about. Lots of bots never go to any other parcels and their names don't matter.

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In regards to coloring the dots of bots. Eh, could be a good idea. Thing is though, at least on Firestorm, the colors of the dots are in the viewer's settings and not at all set by anything else.

The only thing that would be required to implement it, however, is sending the flag for whether an agent is a scripted agent or not to every viewer. I don't know if there's still room in the flags for sending that data, but if there isn't, an extra byte to send to add room for that flag wouldn't be too much trouble I think.

Of course it'd only catch those that have voluntarily flagged themselves as scripted agents. Accounts flagged as such don't contribute to the Linden based stat for traffic, and if someone gets caught using a scripted agent to game traffic, that's a bannin'. Of course, that's only if they get caught. And it's the scripted agent that gets banned.

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Bots modeling clothing in stores or designed to answer some basic questions are fine, IMO.

Bots providing role-play type characters for additional realism in regions - fine by me, let them be.

Bots gathering info - I've decided I don't care about them (as long as they haven't managed to find an exploit that lets them get info they should not).

Bots that automatically spam me with chat and inventory offers should be banished into the neverlands.

Edited by LittleMe Jewell
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1 minute ago, Paul Hexem said:

This particular discussion is less about what they do and more about the idea that they should be banned.

Someone that usually posts intelligent things thinks they should be banned, and I can't decide if they've gone insane or not. 

Well you don't have to worry because if you look at any MMO that has active bot policing (probably most of them), it's way more effort than LL is likely to ever put into anything. And that's not even counting the use of third party clients in SL, which throws quite a wrench into the works.

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5 minutes ago, Katherine Heartsong said:

Or is this person using variable names? In that case, they're all owned by the same person, can you not script a detection of the owner name instead and ban anyone/thing with that owner with a orb?

   Detecting which owner of what? For all intents and purposes, a bot appears like a normal avatar, so they don't have any 'owner' and the owner of all of their attachments will be the bot itself. If bots were to use a specific attachment that you can pinpoint, then yeah, if you can pin point that you can make an orb that'll ban anyone wearing that attachment - there's places that do that to boot anyone wearing certain HUD game stuffs for example.

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10 minutes ago, Katherine Heartsong said:

If all of the bots we've been recently chatting about follow the same naming convention, like bb_123 and bb_124 etc, could you not simply add a script to a parcel or sim-wide security orb that checks for any variation of the base name (like bb_***) and simply bans those? Or is this person using variable names? In that case, they're all owned by the same person, can you not script a detection of the owner name instead and ban anyone/thing with that owner with a orb?

As you can see, I'm not very technically knowledgeable.

The person who operates the BBs claims they don't actually own all of the BBs you can find on an avatar search, that some of them are copycats with unknown motivations. You can however go to the BB webpage and see a map of where all the BBs are, and examine the HTML on that page to get a comprehensive list of all the BBs operated by the actual BB project.

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21 minutes ago, Myra Loveless said:

In regards to coloring the dots of bots. Eh, could be a good idea. Thing is though, at least on Firestorm, the colors of the dots are in the viewer's settings and not at all set by anything else.

The only thing that would be required to implement it, however, is sending the flag for whether an agent is a scripted agent or not to every viewer. I don't know if there's still room in the flags for sending that data, but if there isn't, an extra byte to send to add room for that flag wouldn't be too much trouble I think.

Of course it'd only catch those that have voluntarily flagged themselves as scripted agents. Accounts flagged as such don't contribute to the Linden based stat for traffic, and if someone gets caught using a scripted agent to game traffic, that's a bannin'. Of course, that's only if they get caught. And it's the scripted agent that gets banned.

That's just what has to change. To operate a bot -- a scripted agent as they are called on your account -- you have to sign a form.

There's no technical reasons why these scripted agents can't be labelled the way residents and Lindens are labelled. None at all. The reasons are only political - it's a hangover of Turingism, about wanting to make computers people and give them rights. They want the bots to pass the "Turing test" and fool people, and thinks that great -- because *they* are in charge of this. It's about the power to wrangle bots, really, not so much even the bots themselves. Power over other people, pure and simple.

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I bet bots add to the user count, which makes LL look better for average SL user counts.

I bet bots provide a service to those interested in buying / selling land.

I bet bots provide a service to those interested in which mesh bodies / heads are popular.

I bet bots provide a useful service in mapping SL. 

None of that benefits me.

BAN THE BOTS!!1!!

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