User:Viktor Suvorov/suggestions

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Suggestion sandbox/archive

I'll put here all my suggestions despite their state. I'm also copying whole discussion for development purposes.


Anti-impersonation countermeasures

Timestamp: --  17:53, 6 June 2008 (BST)
Type: Anti-abuse system
Scope: Impersonators and their targets... and game author :)
Description: We're going to allow users to easily deal with their impostors


Why?

User impersonators (exploiting font similarities adding/removing spaces etc.) are one of the most annoying problems in UD. Currently there is no mechanism allowing to deal with them. It's quite obvious that character impersonations shouldn't be possible - it's a pure abuse of simple browser based technology used in UD.

How?

Implementing this idea will let Evils Presley easily ban EviIs Presley or allow calista griffin to ban caIsta griffin. In order to ban somebody you must fulfill 3 requirements:

  • your account must be older than impersonator's account
  • your name must be similar to impersonator's name
  • you must make sure that impersonator is currently active (isn't crossed out on your contact list)


Example

We simply add a small panel to the settings page (or create a new page accessible from profile page/settings page):

Impersonator banning
Impostor profile:
Check profile


Then - if you aren't calista griffin after clicking "Check profile" you will get a message like:

Impersonator banning

This player (caIsta griffin) doesn't look like your impersonator, you can't request banning.


...but if you are you will get:

Impersonator banning

This player (caIsta griffin) looks like your impersonator. Do you want to request banning?

Request banning
Cancel


After clicking "Request banning" you'll get a message like:

Impersonator banning

caIsta griffin has been added to the ban queue.


Implementation note

First check (done when you're submitting impersonator's profile) may be quite simple - just a date comparison + a weighted string distance algorithm (we need to consider I similar to l or 0 similar to O, etc...).

Second check has to be more advanced - we have to avoid banning innocent people (Johny Smith doesn't have to impersonate John Smith). It may require a googling bot, or even manual processing of requests.

Discussion (Anti-impersonation countermeasures)

A nice idea, in principle, but completely flawed in the execution. The sloth with which kevanm has been treating this game, to the point where we rarely ever get anything done about blatant zergs, let alone anything else, indicates that he wont be willing to sit down and sort through the thousands of cases himself. Likewise, it is not financially viable to hire a staff to do it for him. You also have to take into account the fact that there are approximately 1.27 million characters in the game, most of which are idle, ill grant you, but any character is liable to return at any time. Ive unidled some of my characters almost a hundred times.
There are a lot less truly unique names than 1.27 million, or at least ones that would appeal to the human psyche. You are defuinately going to be flooded with false positives, all of which will need to be investigated. But heres another problem, how do you get in contact with a person when all you have is their profile ID? You cant. Even fitting in an IP address isnt perfect. You will usually run into a wall at their ISP, who will be unwilling to give out such information over such a triviality. You end up with a system where accuracy is a practical impossibility and you get false positives and malicious reporting from jerks with similiar names to other people to deal with, and the false positives would pretty much drive off players who cant be arsed to file a complaint, or if they do the experience has tainted their opinion of the game, and they slink away not long afterwards (Unless they were really enjoying it before then, which face it, is not really likely for either side. at this point in time, or the forseeable future).
Nice idea in principle, impossible to put into practice. --The Grimch U! E! WAT! 18:16, 6 June 2008 (BST)

A nice idea in practice, but for every zerg, theirs a pathetic bill or sillylillypilly. Blending into the crowd or advertising your intention is part of the game sometimes. --RosslessnessWant a Location Image? 18:42, 6 June 2008 (BST)
I thought about SLPs an Bills before adding it - that's why it requires manual ban requests by impersonated players. Of course I'm assuming that SLPs and Bills won't try to ban each other. I was afraid that manual processing of requests will be the weak side of this suggestion. We may avoid it though (I said that we may use a bot to process the queue):
  • after adding an impersonator to the queue all his actions will be monitored for a period of time (I think 1 week will work)
  • if he operates too close to the impersonated person (which is an obvious sign of the bad faith) he's automatically banned.
We will probably get very few false positives. They may be handled in a similar way to false zerg-positives (like banning people playing via lan or sth). currently we have 33154 active characters - getting thousands of ban requests will mean that it's a terribly serious problem which has to be solved. But... I think it doesn't affect more than 1% of players - so I guess there won't be more than ~300 reports. Also - to prevent abusing it we may only allow donated accounts to request banning (I know it's against one of the suggestion policies, but impersonator banning is not an ingame feature).
--  19:03, 6 June 2008 (BST)
slps and pathetic bills are well known characters who could be exempted, since the "impersonation" is a welcome and intentional part of the slp and bill mystique. so, just because there is a potential for making people feel bad, we should do nothing about the many intentional impersonations of characters. what about griefers using impersonators to ruin the reputations of groups and individuals, to pk them in their own suburb and headshot them at rps with copies of themselves on a daily basis, who use these impersonations to discourage and dishearten legitimate players simply out of spite against those who choose to stand up to them? what about the people who leave the game because of that? should they just suck it up because somehow they brought it upon themselves? it's something that is happening vs some that might happen. you are making a hypothetical more important than the actual. something should be done, ignoring the problem, because it doesn't affect you, isn't going to change anything. plus this is a suggestion, it can be tweaked to provide safety for all. i think it is a real suggestion that has merit and use in the game that could address a real problem. also, maybe some people have to actually stretch their imaginations to think of different types of names, where's the harm in that?--Calista griffin 19:12, 6 June 2008 (BST)
Am i being unconstructive? No. I merely stated an issue and wanted VS's thoughts on it. Obviously this is an issue you feel strongly about and I can understand why. I just want to stretch and break this suggestion down as much as possible, in order to make it flameproof by the time it is submitted to voting. --RosslessnessWant a Location Image? 19:18, 6 June 2008 (BST)
If an SLP, or Pathetic bill goes crazy or, heavens forfend, their account gets hacked, there is nothing at all stopping that person from filing those manual reports. Plus there are other, far less well known groups of people who follow the same pattern, and there is always the potential for more. You cannot say it wont be a problem because the ones you know of are well known, because there are always going to be those that you wont know about who wont be subject to the same potential exception you claim solves the problem. Similiarly there is nothing at all preventing a jerk filing a report on a complete stranger who happens to have a sufficiently similiar name, the liklihood that people will be in a position to make such a report approaches certainty the more characters there are, and we have just under 1.27 million of them at present as i said before, with in the range of several hundred new characters a day.
Also, if its being added to a ban queue, then it implies a review by a person. All the things i said in my first post then apply to that request. The simple fact of the matter is that its not financially viable for kevan to do it just because you made fools of yourselves and are oversensitive. If it really annoys you, create a new character and dont tell people who it is. It takes less than two weeks to get all the essentials for pretty much any style of play. Heres the thing: Greifers only greif people to get a reaction. If you dont give them that reaction in the first place, they will move on seeking easier targets, unless you are such a colossal jerk in the first place they feel you royally deserve it. --The Grimch U! E! WAT! 19:23, 6 June 2008 (BST)
not at all, rosslessness and grimch. but i don't want its merits lost. i appreciate people's pointing out it's potential flaws, but i don't want to see it destroyed by hypotheticals being considered the only outcome. i think that some people exploit loopholes in the game and hurt a lot of players who can't be arsed to try go through the leveling up process every time they meet angry nut with a grudge. but is simply telling people to make a new character and don't let anyone know it's you is a solution? it's not. it's letting bullies have their way and believe it or not, sometimes griefers target people who don't deserve it. sometimes, they won't just grief you for a couple of weeks so that if you ignore them they go away. it's an oversimplification. it doesn't work with dedicated griefers who claim territory and will grief anyone who does what they don't like usually under some unknowable code of conduct that they won't bother telling you. it's not that simple. --Calista griffin 19:32, 6 June 2008 (BST)
OK. Heres another look at it. Like Grim Says, its Pretty labour intensive as a system. But look at the reasons it can happen. Your first problem is the game itself. Similar names (IDENTICAL names with different casing) First of, The lower case letter "l" (ell) and the upper case letter "I" (eye) look almost exactly the same in Urban Dead's font. Why not ask for a change so they are different, making impersonators more easy to spot. Secondly. Why not expand the automated system on passwords? As such if someone has the same name, you cant use that usename. Why not make this system non case sensitive. (Your above noted griefer would then be unable to create future alts to discredit you)? --RosslessnessWant a Location Image? 19:51, 6 June 2008 (BST)
Calista griffin, i have never had the problem you are complaining about happen to me, despite my recieveing a rather large number of death threats from the playerbase of this game. As some of the older goons can confirm, i got three during my stay on the desensitised forum when it was up and running. What makes me so different to you? Do people hunt me down and PK me in game for what i say here? No. Well, they might, but im a pretty hard guy to find, and i wouldnt care if they did. Impersonators? nope, there is only one me, a fact for which some of you are greatly thankful.
You have to ask yourself a question: Why do I an others have a problem when a reviled member of the community doesnt? Do i know the right people? No. Almost all the people i knew back when i was genuinely influential in the game have stopped playing, and those that i was in contact with are no longer in contact. I could go down point by point, but im rather tired at the moment and ill skip to the end here. The reason is how i react to such provocation. I would ignore it. Its quite simple. Ignore the seed of the problem and it never takes root.
As rosslessness says, you should find out how they are possible and make suggestions to shut that down if you like, but id say you should examine the root causes of why the problem happens and try to resolve them to keep what could be a minor source of amusement from turning into a stressful dramabomb.
What you have to understand is that we are not just pointing out potential flaws, but actual ones. Within a few days of it going live it will be flooded with reports. Who is going to sort them? You? me? I dont think we could be trusted by kevan to do so. Kevan would also likely not want to do it himself, which leaves the option of hiring outside help, which is just not cost effective, especially when these problems could be resolved by a demonstration of maturity instead of a prolonged bitchfest.
If greifers are in an area giving you trouble, how about you move to a different area a few suburbs away in one move? The city is pretty much the same anywhere you go, and its not like they have any real chance of following or even finding you, especially if you decide to avoid sleeping in major landmarks. There are almost always ways to deal with problems with other users which dont require bitching to kevan, and in game the almost dissapears. --The Grimch U! E! WAT! 20:24, 6 June 2008 (BST)
Calista is right. This is a serious problem. Just because it hasn't happened to you doesn't mean it's not real. Going away, giving in to bullies doesn't work. A "demonstration of maturity" doesn't work, either. They don't always disappear - some of these guys are more like stalkers than anything else. The root cause of the behavior is the personality of the offender. You have a bad case of "blame-the-victim" going on here, and I think you're uninformed about the seriousness of the problem. Stalkers don't just go away, and it's not your fault if they obsess on you. --Violet Begonia Dean MCM MOB 23:37, 6 June 2008 (BST)
some of these guys are more like stalkers than anything else. The root cause of the behavior is the personality of the offender. You have a bad case of "blame-the-victim" going on here, and I think you're uninformed about the seriousness of the problem. Stalkers don't just go away, and it's not your fault if they obsess on you. - No kidding, I know. See my above suggestion and the immediate Goon responses. Obsession... waiting for Gardenator or DCC to make another picture with words and LOL afterwards. --Tselita 01:12, 7 June 2008 (BST)

Seems like a good deal more administration than Kevan would be used to doing - he tends to rely on programming to get rid of zergs, rather than reports, so I think this would go the same route. Plus there's the problem of someone making a similar name without intending it to be impersonation (like bub5736 - saw him while I was reviving, and Bub - kevan's character) --Tselita 20:59, 6 June 2008 (BST)

is it sad i know bubs UID number? Yes, I think it is. --RosslessnessWant a Location Image? 21:03, 6 June 2008 (BST)
characters like Bub and bub5736 won't even pass the first level of validation - the edit distance between them is 4. It's an implementation note - but I think it's reasonable to accept only requests below 2, and assign fractional weights to space addition/removal and I<->l, 0<->O substitutions. --  21:21, 6 June 2008 (BST)

I think its both not an annoying problem, and in fact is somewhat realistic. It would be VERY easy to "impersonate" somebody in a "real life" UD setting. In fact, what is unrealistic is how easy it is to tell just who somebody is. Its like everybody has their name tattooed on their forehead and can't change it... AND we all have a self updating phone book... AND... well, you get the picture. "Impersonation" is only annoying if you assume you SHOULD know who a character is. SIM Core Map.png Swiers 22:09, 6 June 2008 (BST)

The problem isn't annoying if you play as a zombie, pker, feral survivor or a member of a small survivor group - but pro survivor players in larger groups are easily 'griefable'. About realism - there is one problem - we have no 'look' in UD - all we have is our name and udid. Using a similar name, alongside with copying profile, group, web page and real name can make you look identically. It's not realistic - you can't make yourself look like somebody IRL... especially in a zombie-infested city (no plastic surgery, etc). --  22:47, 6 June 2008 (BST)
You don't need to look like the person you are impersonating if the people you are trying to fool have never seen that person. You think impersonation never happened before the advent of plastic surgery? If anything, impersonation is EASIER and MORE COMMON in "low tech" situations where there is no central authority issuing ID's. Then you compound this with the fact that a lot of people are in Malton are probably using fake names / "handles" to begin with.
And you know what? The "problem" is ABSURDLY easy to solve, in a realistic manner. If you add somebody as a contact (using whatever color you like) the "impersonators" will look very obviously different. So yeah, you CAN tell when a contact is being impersonated- but how would you realticially expect to tell when somebody you never knew or heard of (IE, who is not a contact) is being impersonated? SIM Core Map.png Swiers 06:09, 7 June 2008 (BST)
I know that you don't have to look like somebody to impersonate them. But when the only unchangeable attribute of your character is your name it's much easier than in "real life". About contact listing: yes - you know how to deal with them, I know how to deal with them, probably most people voting also know. The problem is that about 90% of Malton survivors don't metagame and can be deceived. Yeah - I also know that sooner or later everything can be explained - but it takes some time and seriously affects game flow. I'll use an obvious example: NewbieSurvivor1 is PKed by caIsta griffin, then after getting a revive finds and kills calista griffin - it happens all the time, much more often than you suppose. As a pure abuse (yup, we don't agree here) it shouldn't be allowed. --  10:06, 7 June 2008 (BST)
Agreed; it's very easy to create alts (usually zergs) to deceive people who aren't already aware of the problem or checking other resources to find out who's who. This is the best solution that anyone has come up with so far that I've seen for this problem. The only other thing I could suggest instead would be to have Kevan add a huge banner at the top of map.cgi warning people to check the wiki and profile database before taking anything at face value, and linking to a list of known impersonators, compiled by ZHU and others... Hmm... nah... on second thought, I like Viktor's suggestion better. ;) --A raptor 10:09 8 June 2008 (BST)

Howabout you can't be banned for this if you're over level 4. Most zergs are low level throwaways. --BoboTalkClown 22:14, 6 June 2008 (BST)

This will work only partially - smarter impersonators level up their character as zombies till they're around level 10. The best example are (about 20) impersonators of TDB and some (I guess around 15) goons impersonating DHPD. I'm not affiliated with those groups - they're just notable examples. --  22:47, 6 June 2008 (BST)

This is pretty complicated; why not just ask for a new font where "I" and "l" look different and hope people aren't stupid for the names that aren't trying to be exact dupes. --Riseabove 01:47, 7 June 2008 (BST)

Stop suggesting logic when obviously what is needed is a new button to mash and the option to ban people.--– Nubis NWO 02:59, 7 June 2008 (BST)
A different font won't change things, since many impersonating accounts are created by adding/removing a space or changing one digit at the end of a nick with numbers. And I don't think it's fair to say that people are being "stupid" when they don't know instantly that someone is an imposter. If a bystander thinks that they see someone (who is not a PKer) killing innocent survivors, when it's actually that person's imposter, the person's reputation is negatively affected, and that isn't the fault of the bystander being "stupid." --a raptor 09:58, 8 June 2008 (BST)

And what about people who have no imagination, create names with a variant that will go through? I'm sure they never actually expect to meet the other person. I mean, sure, if you have your gaming alias, and someone has something even remotely like it, it can be slightly irritating, because it can feel like a rip of your name, that diminishes you..but you also have to think of other people, and the scale of the game..especially when it may be like "name unavailable" "name unavailable" "name unavailable" so they just make a variant. you see it all the time in (especially large) mmos. Not everyone is born with a sense of imagination.--F4tal3rror 03:14, 7 June 2008 (BST)

No. Too open to abuse. There are numerous popular names that heaps of people want to use (in all good faith), and when they find they are unavailable, they try workarouds like the capital I for lower case L trick. Allowing someone with a similar name to have them banned if they ever meet is only going to encourage worse griefing. Besides, impersonators are part of the flavour of Malton. Trust no-one, unless you know them personally (they are on your contact list) -- boxy talki 04:03 7 June 2008 (BST)

How about adding a distance check and more comprehensive profile comparison? If your impersonator runs in the same suburb, copied your real name and half of your profile it's a quite obvious sign of bad faith... --  10:06, 7 June 2008 (BST)

http://profiles.urbandead.info/index.php?name=TseIita --The Malton Globetrotters#19 - DrPain TMG 07:09, 7 June 2008 (BST)

You know what's funny? I registered my own name and all the beleivable variants I could think of pretty much as soon as I joined the wiki. And I don't know the passwords. http://profiles.urbandead.info/index.php?name=Swiers
Of course, that wasn't really needed; Kevan has deleted chracters in the past for having offensive names or names that impersonate / mock specific (real world) individuals. Of course, I'm lucy in that regard; if my name were "John Smith", I doubt I could convince Kevan to delete a character named "John Smith's Johnson". SIM Core Map.png Swiers 08:06, 7 June 2008 (BST)

-

Cause discussion is getting a bit long I'll sum it up.

Summary of major flaws:

  1. Kevan will get thousands of false reports, from various jerks wanting to get rid of their opponents, or just play with new buttons.
  2. Groups like SLP or Pathetic Bill will suffer.
  3. Some people may try to "hack" (by guessing passwords) other accounts just to get a possibility to ban somebody.
  4. Player impersonations (by copying name) are a part of the game, therefore shouldn't be punished anyhow.
  5. It doesn't really hurt anyone, so why should we care about it (I have to note here that such comments are made mostly by zombie/PKer oriented players - while problem affects rather dedicated pro-survivor groups)

Summary of proposed solutions:

  1. Change the game font - this will work partially (I'll probably try it if this gets killed) - We'd need to use a serif font, which is much harder to read, and will generally hurt everyone, also - people play UD using various browsers, systems, devices (PDAs, smartphones etc) - it's almost impossible to make sure that it will be displayed in the same way.
  2. Use contact lists - this works, but ... it can't be applied by an impersonated person. It's very doubtful that newbie (or simply ignorant) players will bother.

Suggestion fixes:

  1. Ban requests can be made only by players who donated their accounts. This will seriously limit the number of stupid reports made just "for fun", additionally - players who already donated have reasons not to drop their alts - also - if somebody donates just to make a request it's a clear sign that such griefing is painful to him.
  2. Only one request per month... quite obvious... prevents somebody from making 256 variations of JohnSmithIIIIIIII and spamming the ban queue with them, also - will make attacking groups like SLP or Pathetic Bill much more difficult and time consuming.
  3. Every added name is checked using a web search engine, if we get more than _CERTAIN_SELECTED_LIMIT_ of results, it is removed from the queue. Limit should be high enough to stop griefers from putting some content on the web just to increase they hit count, and low enough to filter all popular and obvious names.
  4. Every added player spends 2 weeks in the ban queue - during this time all changes in his profile and activity is monitored. If he stays far away from the "impersonated" person, doesn't interact indirectly and keeps his profile description completely different - he's removed from the queue (points 2 and 3 will be working parallelly - so John Smith impersonated by JohnSmith (who copied whole his profile, real name, group and hides in his safehouse) will be able to get rid of him.
  5. You can't submit a request if you're actually impersonating someone (or look like an impersonator). It will both prevent SillyLillyPillys (except the first one) from banning each other and stop people using popular names from sending unfounded requests.

Notes:

  1. With about 33000 active players (where probably not more than 20% are donated) we won't get thousands of reports (I doubt we'll get more than 200).
  2. Some players claim that such griefing is justified by stupid behavior of players/groups. It's worth noticing that it happens mostly to coordinated pro-survivor groups (like TDB, DHPD)... it's not a secret that harmanz with a bit of good metagaming are overpowered - I think frustrations of pro-zombie/PKer players who can't deal with them are the main reason.
  3. In UD we don't have voices, faces or anything distinguishable. Our name (and udid) is all we have - when you enter a building with 200 people inside you don't ask them about their names - you look at their faces and recognize familiar looking ones. It's perfectly similar to entering a building in ud and quickly scanning player list. That's why copying your name and description is more like "stealing" your look than like a real life impersonation.
--  18:02, 8 June 2008 (BST)
Perfect summary of the situation. I think you've done a great job of considering the potential drawbacks and difficulties and dealing with them accordingly. Many people might not be aware of how serious a situation this is in-game, but I've seen what happens when people get confused and wonder why honest pro-survivors are killing each other (they're not) and when bystanders or those who were killed retaliate against the wrong person, knowing nothing of impersonation.
I especially like your estimation of the scope of these impostor reports; you've obviously thought through how this could be abused and countered it effectively. You're right; it seems that it wouldn't be very many people, since a smart algorithm would eliminate a lot of false matches, and the total number of reports (especially if it required a donation) would be pretty small. Also, banning some accounts now would serve as a warning for others who might be willing to put the effort into creating more impostors and leveling them up, but won't bother if they know that there's a strong possibility of these accounts getting disabled.
Thanks for putting your time and effort into thinking up this solution and posting it to try to improve this wonderful game that we play. --A raptor 22:54, 8 June 2008 (BST)
Heh... Thanks but I'd rather like to see REs of people who were against it before :P --  00:12, 9 June 2008 (BST)

Am I the only one who has noticed that this has already been fixed? SLP Original and SLP other. Compare. Or maybe I'm just seeing things? -- Quizzical  Quiz  Speak  00:34, 9 June 2008 (BST)

That's how it's always been in profiles, but the in-game interface uses a different font that makes what is an obvious difference in the profile screen less obvious.--Karekmaps?! 13:38, 9 June 2008 (BST)

Wow. This wall of text is insane. Look... this can be a real problem. And Grim just because you've never experienced hardcore griefing, doesn't mean it isn't real. On that level, calista and Tselita are 1100% correct. However, the real issue here isn't impersonation -- because honestly I kinda see misrepresentation and impersonation a legit RP thing -- the real problem is zerging. Very specifically, we're talking about Finis Valorum who has created a bazillion zergs to zerg the Dribbling Beavers and make their home suburb ininhabitable. The main way impersonation becomes a problem, i.e. becomes legitimate griefing, is when it involves a zerg army. Get rid of zergs and you get rid of one the worst problems UD has, on many different levels. The simple solution is to just fucking ban proxies. Period. A whole whack of problems, including this one, solved. In an instant. --WanYao 02:26, 12 June 2008 (BST)

I never said it wasnt real because i have never experienced it. I have just said that im a prime candidate for such impersonation because i am almost universally disliked, and at times such hostility has boiled over to the forefront, such as the six month drama spree at the turn of the year, and yet it doesnt happen for several reasons, not least of which is the fact it wont get a response, hence my "Grow a thicker skin and ignore it" stance. I agree with you regarding the proxies. Proxies should be banned, as should Tor. --The Grimch U! E! WAT! 12:53, 16 June 2008 (BST)
Banning open proxies will really increase the server load if you want to do it in an proper way (by scanning every new host). I'd also like to hear how do you want to ban TOR? Afaik without banning whole 0.0.0.0 netmask you won't be able to ban TOR users. --  00:59, 20 June 2008 (BST)
TOR is what again? I'm not up on my Urban Dead acronyms --Tselita 03:12, 21 June 2008 (BST)
TOR isn't an UD acronym. It's an onion routing anonymity network, practically impossible to ban. --  13:02, 21 June 2008 (BST)
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