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Wednesday, March 04, 2009


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Robbie D

A fun and interesting topic Hamlet - I'll be back for more.


Todd Borst

A fun and interesting topic, I'll be back for more. I'm kidding I'm kidding!

From your previous discussions with Linden Lab, bots doesn't even sound like an issue they care to address. Besides wasting resources, bots are not that annoying right now, but that may evolve as well...


I hate bots in SL. Well... not all bots, but the "misused bots" (traffic bots, bot farms, land bots etc).

So, seeing all the recent discussion about bots in many blogs, I opened a discussion in SL's Jira to gather votes against these bots. Let's see what happens... I hope this makes LL take some action.

Check out here:


Comments, suggestions and ideas are always welcome there!

Veeyawn Spoonhammer

Maybe all land should be turned to "damage enabled" so we can just kill them and send them "home."

Arwyn Quandry

Isn't that the problem with everything? You can make it more sophisticated, up the level of security, make it so this and that gap is closed, but you'll never, ever be totally secure and have an area that people can go into and actually use.

It's the same with everything, not just blog commenting and e-security. Take the wall at the US-Mexico border. We could use extreme security and try to make it so no one can pass through, but someone will, as always. It's just a matter of determination and intelligence.

A techie friend was explaining to me today that anything can be hacked, no matter what, unless it's made so it's totally secure - nothing can get in or out - which means it's non-fuctional. The best security software is only as good as the smartest person in the company making it, and if a smarter person comes along, they can break in. We will never have a perfect filter that doesn't inconvenience the real users - computers just can't do that.

Gary Hayes

Yes poor old bots, always picked on. This discussion seems to come in bi-annual cycles, often when another small step is made towards singularity/transhumanism and we make 'them', 'appear' more human eg: Daden or MyCyberTwin or a hundred other initiatives.

I still think as I mentioned in my post What Have You Got Against My Bot this time last year, we are at the dawning of a growing backlash against automaton (I specifically referred to the fiction of Spielberg AI's FleshFairs or the whole context of Bladerunner in my post - it is a basic human problem, machines are useful if they enhance our lives (information, entertainment etc) and an irritation if they try to cross the Uncanny Valley and fool us. Outside the wonderful immersive spaces of Social Virtual Worlds we also get irritated if we think we are being data mined and receive targeted ad messages - it is actually part of the same paradigm shift those younger than us will grow to accept.

As you implied Hamlet, in a wholey digital world 'they' (at the moment toys but in the future totally autonomous) will have the advantage and before you know it posts like yours and mine will be hacked and removed by over-zealous bots before we have had chance to review it ourselves! Now that is the nightmare scenario :) Although the bots trawling YouTube and pulling down copyright music is...well another story...

Ciaran Laval

Bots aren't going anywhere and more sophisticated bots are already in progress and it's seen as a good development.

The use of bots is the issue, not the concept. bots should be developed to improve the experience not detract from it.

Ann Otoole

The solution to "bad bots", whatever they are at any given time, is Bladerunner units that retire them. And the owning account.

I.e.; it is a matter of policy and removal of accounts engaged in unethical behavior. Once people observe that it hurts bad to stick hand in fire they tend to avoid doing that.

NPC units (aggro mobs), whilst being "bad and evil" by their very nature of attacking anyone in range of the triggering level, they are good because they add entertainment value. And SL needs NPC units (bots) that do not tax the asset system.

So not all bots are bad bots. Only people make bad bots happen so you have to remove the bad people and the bad bots go away.

Kwame Oh

As a technically challenged, user of virtual world's I have always been interested in what i would like to describe as automated human interaction, and would like to know are bots the prelude to real AI, and we are going through the evolutionary process?

The Best Julius Sowu Virtually-Linked London

Protector Cone

Damn SkyNet! Sure, it's just annoying right now, but wait until they go around killing people.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

The abuse of bots will continue as long as there's an advantage to be derived from it, so it will require either the dropping of traffic or tracking down those who abuse bots and ARing them, and punishment with teeth. Unless that punishment reaches into RL, though, it won't be totally effective, because it will just make bots and their abuse the province of griefers, who by definition couldn't care less about SL save the extent to which they can use it to get their sick jollies by wrecking things for others.

Kwame Oh

@Protector, was thinking more as an AI/bot that you could allocate to a newcomer who would be a companion through orientation?

But yes a kill protocol built into the AI/bot would be great to weed out griefers although, grief in virtual word is still subjective, that is when does sheer lunacy which I love become grief, but that is for another debate lol

Hamlet Au

I'm still shaking my fist at Robbie's first comment. DINGO! DINGOOOOOO!


Sounds like TypePad (or whatever the hoster is using) should drop in one of those anti-bot plugins that check headers before accepting the connection. I use Bad Behavior myself (as an augment to Defensio), but anything similar should do.

It should be interesting to see what the response is in the OpenSim space, as their grid groups become more popular; The simplest solution with them could be to extend the protocol to make some of the above suggestions easier, making it diverge even further than the original (RealeXtend already does this to some degree).


Nexii Malthus

Perhaps, upon login into secondlife there should be a simple captcha system to make the user proven as a human user. This would help out weed the automatic bots at least, if the captcha wasn't responded to properly the account would be flagged as a bot and given no minimap/worldmap dot, as well as prevent certain economic actions, or perhaps all economic actions but the basic stuff, such as transferring L$ between other accounts. A simple fix to traffic and land bots and the stuff can be extended/limited further into different ways.

People could still log their bots in if they responded to the captcha themselves of course... but the automated bad bots would be weeded out quite easily like this.

Nexii Malthus

Oh yeah, hamlet, just put up a captcha response system on this blog even.

A text response against an image is so much better for proving a human user easily without being annoying to the user. Humans are pretty sophisticated machines that can easily handle visual imagery information.

Hamlet Au

That's the thing, Nexii, I hate using captcha myself, so I wouldn't ask my readers to go through that same ass-pain. I'd rather deal with a few bots than lose a few good comments.

Julia Banshee

Nexii, personally, I find that *I* cannot read the proper response to captcha half the time. There are also software programs that do get the answer right much of the time. So, it's false that a captcha system proves a user is human, and also false that it works without being annoying to the user.

That said, it's better than nothing if the spam-culling workload on a blog is too high. No reason Hamlet has to suffer all the pain so we don't suffer any. It is highly annoying, but most would understand if it was implemented...

Hamlet Au

OMFG I've typed out comments in blogs, then get to the captcha thingie, can't read it correctly, and then the whole comment gets lost.

Connie Sec

Have to agree with the gist of Jezz's thoughts on bots. And another thing. In my hunt for things of interest to me in SL, the traffic to a site is NEVER a consideration of mine as to whether i go there or not. And I would suspect that would be the case with a majority of people with any time spent in SL. So, I'm afraid you guys thinking your Bots drive traffic are barking up the wrong cyber- tree there.

Extropia DaSilva

'OMFG I've typed out comments in blogs, then get to the captcha thingie, can't read it correctly, and then the whole comment gets lost'.

CAPTCHAs have to be made more and more difficult to read, because character-recognition ai is getting better and better at passing the CAPTCHA test. Sooner or later it will have to be abandoned, because the CAPCTCHA will have to be so distorted most people would not be able to read it, which is obviously pointless.

I expect we will then turn to some other area of pattern-recognition that people are more proficient at than AI. For now.

Hey, Hamlet, if and when ai gets smart enough, you could work as a full partner for Wagner James Au, rather than simply being his puppet. That is assuming you would not rather sack him and go it alone;)

Ann Otoole

Improve capcha type garbage all you want.

Won't stop the armies of contractors from India and elsewhere (And soon the USA as we fall into the depression not even Obama can stop) that get hired off getafreelancer to go and post manually. Many people think these are bots when they are not. Just some person in rags making a few cents to feed a family in an impoverished nation.

Only way to keep spam comments off a blog is full moderation.


Though I agree on the points related to captcha's annoyance and futility (which is why I use Bad Behavior instead), I don't think cheap armies of internet-connected folks - probably at good 'ol 56K - will become the new spamnet anytime soon. The average 'popular' weblog has so many 'bells and whistles' things that need loading nowadays, that you almost *need* broadband to access them.

Quoting something from my vast button collection: "Dull is fine. I _like_ dull. I could use a little dull in my life." Hence the clean-cut, fast-loading format of my site, or my general preference to use MyWay as news portal (over Yahoo, AOL or Google).

As Michael Hampton (maker of BB) declares, even his own product should not be considered an end-all, be-all. He believes in defense-in-depth like many others in the security circles do. It's just good sense, and with a little legwork in choosing your tools it can become pretty reasonable for all.

I also don't think that Full Moderation is absolute. I don't do that (well, not to a full extent), though I do protect older posts by auto-closing comments on them.



A few days ago I discovered a great way to promote the site and beyond, using traffic-bots.
Works great! For me it is brilliant. You can take a look, you will not regret:

Have a nice day !

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