Bots Make Mockery of Traffic Statistics

by Alphaville Herald on 23/03/08 at 6:53 pm

50k of traffic – but nobody is home
Does bot abuse explain population growth and stagnant economy?

by Amazing4u, concerned citizen

Teeing up the Avro, Honi, and Enzo bot clans in a skybox over Liberty Central S

Just thought I’d drop you a line and a photo of so-called Bot abuse.

I went looking for a place to rent in a mall, and discovered a new mall with 50k traffic. I thought this was strange and went to investigate. Up high in the sky I found a skybox. Inside were about 30+ av’s – all with very similar names. I took a pic which is included. After a while, word got out and people came to look – including several SL mentors.

Harold Mapholisto – the owner of the land – stopped by but he couldn’t say much. Mr. Mapholisto owns part of the land at Liberty Central S (rented). Mapholisto then brought in an associate named Rocko Fallon who said that “his bots have been designed to manage up to 25 groups” and that “everyone of these bots are group managers”. [it looks like the bot group managers are doing T-pose yoga together - maybe it is really an avatar exercise class? - the Editrix]

All the bots were created on the 14th march 2008. One of the SL mentors pointed out that LL terms of service states only 2 accounts to be created in 24 hour period. Some might consider this sort of bot abuse a deceptive practice, creating high traffic to entice shop owners take out rentals on the mall on ground level.

Can anyone trust people’s traffic if this sort of thing happens?

30 Responses to “Bots Make Mockery of Traffic Statistics”

  1. Ann Otoole

    Mar 23rd, 2008

    LL will not address this issue and instead encourages deceptive criminal behavior.
    And then they wonder why they have to eat DMCAs night and day rofl!

    Best bet is if you observe this type activity then never go back and make sure anyone that will listen knows about it.

    LL loves them false statistics don’t they?

    Before i opened a sim to the public i used some sleeks to test traffic measurement.
    And the camping thing I bought never paid them lol!
    I wonder how many legit camper folk get burned by camping things that are borked and never pay?

  2. Talwyn Mills

    Mar 23rd, 2008

    Oh please, does anyone even bother with traffic these days? Its been abused for so long about the only thing you can guarantee when you see high levels is either a load of bots or a load of campers, or both.

  3. A concerned parent

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Unfortunately this sort of thing is way, way too common.

    The strange thing is that I’m pretty sure that by the letter of the TOS this practice is disallowed, yet it’s been allowed to run rife for a long, long time. Are the Lindens more concerned with appeasing owners of commercial land than enforcing their own rules? I think we all know the answer to that!

  4. Angel

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Anne prattles: “LL will not address this issue and instead encourages deceptive criminal behavior. And then they wonder why they have to eat DMCAs night and day rofl!”

    What the fuck have DMCAs got to do with Camper Bots Anne? It’s traffic gaming not copyright theft. Sheesh, you are loosing your sanity here. There is not a Brazilian under every bed ya know you silly old cow.

  5. Traffic's always been FAKE

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Traffic numbers have never been trustworthy.

    On mainland, they dont add up cause they also count whomever zooms by on their way tot he other part of the continent, some malls and clubs cheat with it in other ways (like, a beachclub, mall and club on one single plot, combined traffic being counted and shown as mall traffic)

    So if this worries you, dont let it. Cause you’ve been taking totally bogus numbers for real traffic sofar, so one bot more or less doenst matter. Your data’s always been wrong.

    If you wanna know if a mall is good to sell your products at, hang around for a bit and see for yourself, or ask someone about it who already has a vendor there, or just take your chances and go for it.

    Also, word of mouth is powerful. If a mall is really good, you’ll probably have heard others comment on it.

  6. Near

    Mar 24th, 2008

    You’ve all missed the point by light years.

    LL ignores the problem because the more bots they have, the higher the average number of users grows.

  7. Ric Mollor

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Linden labs will never take action on this for several reasons.

    1) It artificially inflates the ‘number online’ making Second Life look more popular than it really is. Additionally, since the bots don’t move, don’t IM, don’t change clothes, and never teleport it makes the _average_ user experience look better than the reality. Since bots are usually non-physical they don’t load the physics engine either. Furthermore, they are undoubtedly logged in with a light client like SLeek and make a very low bandwidth demand on the servers. Great for inflating claims of how many users a sim can support.

    2) Linden Labs understands that land owners are _customers_ and customers pay the bills. As long as it’s the _customers_ server space and the actions aren’t hurting the grid at large why disallow the bots and risk alienating anyone? Now if someone were to park 25 bots in a competitors store LL might take interest. But challenge customers rights to do what they want on the servers they are leasing?

    3) Does Linden Labs really care if traffic measurements are valid? Everyone who has more than a casual understanding of the Second Life economy is aware of the gaming of traffic measurements and the various workarounds to inflate the metric. Bots are just low cost campers and camping has been accepted for as long as it’s been possible.

    Stop a practice that improves your metrics, pleases your customers, and has negligible cost? Would that be a rational business decision?

  8. Just Me

    Mar 24th, 2008

    One of the hardest things for me is finding a decent mall to set up my shops …. since traffic isn’t a good indicator, I have to do exactly that .. ask other vendors or hang out in the mall for hours to see if there is “real” traffic or not

    I have three shops with reliable income. My others are continually being closed and reopenned elsewhere after a few weeks with no, or little, sales.

  9. Kristoffer Juneau

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Easy solution….get rid of traffic numbers. What do people really care if someone uses bots to boost their traffic, I run a business and use a few(3-4) to boost my traffic and one of them also handles my group invites….who does this hurt? I hate the game of doing it, but how else do you compete with everyone else that is doing it? Yeah the noble answer is maybe be the better person, but when you are running a business you need to do what you have to do to survive and compete, and with the new search having traffic taken into account (or so I understand) you do what you have to do as long as it is legit and you think it is honest, and this is legit. The traffic numbers are a joke anyways, so I would really call this dishonest.

    I do have a problem with the bot farm types with 30 or 40 bots, but hey thats their business and if it isn’t hurting the end user experience with lag, whats it really matter? They are just using the system to get people to their shop, what business owner wouldn’t want that?

  10. Sigmund Leominster

    Mar 24th, 2008

    “Traffic’s always been FAKE” makes a good point.Like real life, word of mouth is a good way to find out about places. Another way is to read the Second Life press (cough) because even if you hate it, at least the reviews of places demand that someone actually go along and see it, then tell folk a little about it. Herald lovers should feel free to look at… other publications. Herald haters should continue to read the Herald and complain about its imminent demise – while simultaneously checking out the content.

    Oh, and I would include blogs as “media” within the SL community. Anyone with enough time to live in-world and also write a blog has to be taking SL a little seriously.

    You might also want to check out MetaLife’s MetaHUD system (use your search button to find it), which provides lists of popular places based on folks actually voting for them rather than simply TPing in and out, or sitting on camper chairs. The more folks who use the MetaHUD, the more accurate it will become.

    Otherwise, just talk to people: They are your best source of places to see and things to do.

  11. Ari

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Group bots?!? LOL!

    I have a group bot. And the only one I am aware of in SL (yes, I could be wrong here) is the JLA version -which causes the bot to sit and hover in a yoga fashion over an invisible prim.

    But WTF – who gives a rip?

    The more bots, the higher the traffic, but also the higher the lag and fewer ‘slots’ for real people to come shop.

    When I look for a place to open business – if I see a club or campers anywhere in the vicinity – I don’t even bother looking around and I’m off to the next potential mall.

  12. Jim Schack

    Mar 24th, 2008

    I fail to see the big hooplah over this. So your faking traffic with bots. How is this any worse than paying noobs 2 tenths of a cent for 10 minutes do do the same thing for the same outcome?

    Here is a simple way you can solve the problem:

    EVERYONE USE THEM. soon you’ll drive the traffic up so high everywhere LL will either terminate traffic or modify it to ignore bots or campers.

    Now drop this topic. There’s more shit on the carpet that needs to be scooped up be worrying about a couple of dust bunnies.

  13. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Mar 24th, 2008

    “One of the SL mentors pointed out that LL terms of service states only 2 accounts to be created in 24 hour period.”

    Perhaps the Mentor can point out where this is stated in the ToS. Section 2.4 talks about the creation of multiple accounts, but doesn’t mention a time restriction. Maybe this would be a good question to ask at the next GTeam Office Hours, Wednesday morning at 11:00 in the Kremer sim.

  14. Philip Linden

    Mar 24th, 2008

    I admit to creating all of those bots. Yes, it was me! I did not do this to generate bogus traffic though. I did it because now that I am not the CEO, nobody talks to me. Talking to yourself is bad but talking to yourself in an alt doesnt mean I am crazy…just creative.

  15. typical

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Traffic stats are a joke.
    The “one account per user” or paid 2nd account policy is never enforced. It’s become a joke.
    Stopping copy/clone bots has become a joke.
    Customer service is a joke.
    Anti-harassment policies are never enforced, becoming a joke.

    SL itself is becoming a joke. But not a funny one.

  16. Frankie Antonioni

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Well today I banned a campbot,that was in my store using a dancepad.Now some of the posters here are against camping,however without camping some people will not be able to buy anything,unless its a free item.Others use their L$,that they make from camping,to rent land,or houses.

    So a good part of the SL economy,is from camping.What LL needs to do,is to track the ISP address,and find out how many come from one address.You can have up to 5 accounts,so if somebody has more than that,then they are breaking a TOS agreement.

  17. Shirley Shipley

    Mar 24th, 2008

    @Typical – there is no one account per user and you cannot pay for an alt even if you want to. The policy changed a few months back, but its not in the TOS. If you try to create a sixth alt on the same email address or the 3rd alt within 24 hours, the system denies the account creation and gives a note about LL reserving the right to limit the amount of accounts an individual holds.

  18. typical

    Mar 24th, 2008

    Only 5 per e-mail address?

    Give me 30 minutes, I”ll be back with 20 of them.

  19. suggestion

    Mar 25th, 2008

    “When I look for a place to open business – if I see a club or campers anywhere in the vicinity – I don’t even bother looking around and I’m off to the next potential mall.”

    Yeah but clubs = traffic. REAL traffic. So I’d specifically go looking for malls near the big crowd gatherers if I were you, not avoid them alltogether.

  20. sick of it

    Mar 25th, 2008

    The bots are no worse than the fake prims to boost ratings and fake group members with picks. Even Bliss does it, using the new search, they have several listings on the first page and also on the classifieds next to it. Then check their item listings, about 300 fake prims to get that higher listing. This is supposed to be a “reputable” company. LMAO

  21. Bot Keelers R Us

    Mar 25th, 2008

    Ain’t gunna buy from noone what runs bots to up their traffic! In fact, I’m gonna remotely nuke the hell out of them if’n I finds them. Yeah sure, they’ll pop back but I’ll do it again. Gunna sic the posse on em. Ain’t playin with no system gamers! Mutha-fucks!

  22. Marx Dudek

    Mar 26th, 2008

    I recently bought land in Lyralo, one of the new sims. I noticed a ton of traffic in the area of a shop selling little more than basic sculpties. Seeing that the traffic appeared to be above the shop, I threw on my MF and flew up to investigate. I found about fifty of these bots sitting in a builder’s box above the shop. Apparently this set off warning bells, because the owner (Loni Arado, a name that sounds familiar to a controversial skin-trader) flew up to investigate my investigation. He explained in broken English that they were “his family”. I didn’t think to file an abuse report at that moment, but apparently someone did – or he got skittish – because they disappeared shortly thereafter and hasn’t returned.

  23. Petar Ivanovic

    Mar 27th, 2008

    I think it’s a pitty if this happens, But you cant stop it. Anyway for a Landlord it’s almost not doable checking if people have bots. Which are campers and which are bots. also i think. I’ve seen many places with high traffic go down, Because when i shop and i see campers, I just don’t shop there, u can notice right away it’s not popular.

  24. sn0wlady March

    Mar 29th, 2008

    family..? LOL

  25. Quest Jarrico

    Mar 30th, 2008

    “Yeah but clubs = traffic. REAL traffic.”

    I just went to the Beyond Good & Evil club, and they have an astonishing stock of about 40 bots in the sky to bolster their traffic.

  26. Quest Jarrico

    Mar 30th, 2008

    “I fail to see the big hooplah over this. So your faking traffic with bots. How is this any worse than paying noobs 2 tenths of a cent for 10 minutes do do the same thing for the same outcome?”

    Well, first, believe me, I’ve always hated camping chairs and until bots came along, saw them as the sleaziest thing a landowner could do to boost their traffic. But compared to bots, campers are much better, at least to get campers to your sim, it involved a fair amount of advertising and business planning to get the sims name out and get people to come. Bots? You could have a private locked sim with no advertising become one of the top 10 most popular places in less than a week.

    Now yeah, you might say that who cares it’s meaningless now, but that’s only to people like us who know about bots and camping and are jaded over the whole traffic system. New players however still buy into the farce until someone tells them about how the systems are gamed or until they figure it out themselves. So these people are getting undeserved business and undeserved attention with their undeserved traffic.

    LL really should have taken out the entire traffic system a long time ago when it was first widespread gamed by camping places, but at least then there was a BIT of meaning because the camping places had to fight each other for campers and popularity, but now that it’s entirely 100% raped and left in an alley to die sort of meaningless, I hope they’ll reconsider and take the whole flawed broken system out.

  27. linda brynner

    Jan 25th, 2009

    ~25% is faked in SL like that :(

    This is discovered within only 2 days. And abuse reprots to LL aren’t addressed as it does not serve that company.
    To my best guess, ~25% in SL is faked traffic my region owners to get high in search. You only have to visit 50 places in sl and find out.

    Anzere: group, Land Verwaltung
    Amberville – **Club Industry open 24 hours**
    Artisan Isle – Boogie Beach, bots on stage rented from Dance Island
    ASD Studios
    Classic Rock: all avies are robots while no events or activity
    Dance Island: huge pile on dance pads in region corners,
    standing/dancing inside the club.
    Also renting dance/traffic bots to others.
    This region is the largest fake in sl.
    Evanda Islands
    Fierce Island
    Garden City – Toby’s Juke Joint Club
    Kallisto World
    Kilkenny – Aftermath Strip Club
    Murinata – The Markus Hotel
    JDs Estate
    Taravista – Female Clothes, group: Bulgaria

  28. Cupcakes

    Feb 12th, 2009

    …..:::::::~~FLIRTINI Clothing Main Store~~:::::…… Came up in 6th place in the search engine when using the keyword women with a traffic score of over 63k. Upon tele’ing there I found an ill designed store with less then quality items for sale and not one actual person on the lot other then the owner herself. Looking at the map i saw about 60 green dots stacked on top of each other making a pole formation. I thought to myself this had to be one of those places using spamatars. I decided to fly around and see what i could find and yes you guessed it.. 64 spamatars with empty profiles with only one thing in common the flirtini store group at 3800m high in a box.

    You’d think with all the bad rap about spamatars, one would not go to such lengths and risk their reputation only to lose everything but this just goes to show that most people lack dignity and being proud in ones self is less and less a desirable trait to have.

  29. Little Lost Linden

    Jun 23rd, 2010

    I am 100% convinced that only 1 person in the whole wide world can stop the bots. That person is Pappy Enoch.

  30. Little Lost Linden

    Oct 22nd, 2010

    With all this CEO nonsense, perhaps it is time for another great bot hunt.

Leave a Reply