The invasion of beggar bots (or flatterbots as they're sometimes called) throughout the Second Life grid continues to be a hot topic of conversation on NWN, and last week, reader "Zod" put forth this apropos analogy:
"Beggar bots in SL are the equivalent of gold farmers in an MMO game. Farmers usually hunt mobiles or employ crafting/resource gathering skills to obtain in-game currency for resale into legal tender. Where possible, they will utilize third party software to help facilitate these activities; regardless of whether they are against the terms of service or not. More recently, gold farmers have involved themselves in more nefarious schemes such as in-world hacking and account scamming to improve their bottom line. Second Life has always been an attractive platform for botting - especially given that no grinding or equipment acquisition is required."
That leads Zod to an intriguing (and to my mind plausible) speculation:
"[T]he recent onset of beggar bots, incessant pay for group join requests, phishing attempts posing as surveys and scripted object giveaways suggests to me that a gold farming consortium has taken an interest in Second Life.
"Eliminating farmers wholesale has proven to be ineffective since many are legitimate accounts that have either been compromised or sold. Even Blizzard, with all it's resources, has yet to quell gold farming completely. The company has however, made significant strides on reducing scam and spam attempts by placing restrictions on trial (free) accounts, vigorously monitoring their online forums and offering hardware key authentication services.
"As for solutions pertaining to Second Life, Linden Lab can adopt a few of the aforementioned ones save for account restrictions as a significant portion of the user base are non-premium members. Individual land owners have their own tools such as disallowing avatars without payment on file in their store. Each will need to make a judgment call on what restriction parameters work best for them. The most potent weapon in the battle against beggar bots is education. Having this as a forefront issue on Secondlife.com and viewer login pages will help significantly."
Good points, all, and I'm sure they'll lead to still more interesting conversation. As for Zod's final point, I'm asking Linden Lab their opinion of beggar bots, and will report back anything they say.
Image credit: SL Vanity Bots, a blog devoted to exposing SL beggar bots.Tweet