Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

COTW: Scamming and the EULA

I've received the following statement or question five times now during my CSM run, and I thought it would be useful to make public what is becoming my standard answer to the question.

Here's the statement netted down to its basic form:
Scamming should be against the EULA.  Don't you think so, Jester?

Here's what is becoming my standard response:
You are directly attacking one of the bedrock principles that EVE rests on.  EVE is a sandbox controlled by player actions with the barest minimum action against players taken by CCP.  It is quite literally laissez-faire capitalism taken to the farthest extreme.  In a very real way, that principle is what a lot of EVE players play EVE for: it is not Star Trek, where humanity is a many times nicer version of itself.  Instead, it is a world built without warning labels or consumer protection bureaus where you have to watch out for yourself.  Stealing from people is a valid tactic within the game.  Hell, CCP wrote a whole trailer video about it promoting this style of game-play.

In EVE, wherever possible, in-game problems are solved by the players, not the devs.

If scamming bothers you that much, why not start a searchable database of scammers that EVE players can reference, add to, and comment on?  Then as it becomes a popular service, add in-game or RL advertising and make a few ISK/dollars for yourself?  That is the sort of player-driven solution that compliments how EVE is built.  This is how an EVE player solves an in-game problem, not another set of rules that CCP has to enforce.

It's a pretty harsh answer, but "harsh" is what EVE is about.  Sorry I can't give you an answer you like better...

Might lose me a few votes, but that's what I believe on this topic.  Here's the trailer that I reference in the response:



Thank you to everyone who has sent me this question!(1)


(1) In before a few dozen people redirect this post to say the opposite of what it says.  "Jester says ganking isn't PvP!  Jester says scamming should be against the EULA!  It's right there in his blog posts!"  ;-)

42 comments:

  1. With all due respect Jester, and I can see why you take the position you do politically, the kind of scamming the video is referring to is more like "grand betrayal"; a rather extreme reaction to piracy which requires (presumably) the protagonist to adopt the lifestyle of a pirate himself, then fuck over (completely different) people who had come to think of him as a friend.
    Quite unlike the garden variety scamming (such as selling a vexer as a VNI), by a dedicated scamming alt, which is what I would assume the people asking mean.

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    1. It's sort of all the same thing, tbh. Your are misrepresenting the truth for profit. That's what a scam is. I'm not sure why one should be allowed to rob alliances, but not to sell idiots tengus with no subsystems.

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    2. I would go further though... what about the Margin Trading scam? By all appearances the market is safe except for this loophole. It can easily wipe out billions of ISK and break the back(bank) of a 2-6 month noob unless one is a forum warrior like myself & stumbles across it. Where in the tutorals is there warnings about such things?
      People claim that margin trading is essential for regular business but I'd argue its used 95+% of the time for the nefarius scam which really looks like a broken market mechanic.

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    3. So whats the difference, meaning why should the small one be against the EULA and the big one not ...
      Betraying months if not years of trust is somhow better than hoping for someone stupid enough to click accept without checking the contract?
      Being smart matters in EVE and thats the way it should be.

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    4. I agree, what pisses everyone off and they want to see gone is the constant stream of scams being spammed in local chat. Most of them are using spambots which are already against the EULA.

      Just getting rid of the spambots in the 5 major tradehubs would be terrific.

      And don't try saying most of the spammers aren't bots. Nobody is actually sitting there typing the exact same thing for hours, days and weeks on end. At the very least they're using Autoit/AHK macros to automate the spam and that's against the EULA too.

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    5. @Darth, Noobs shouldn't be investing everything they own on any sort of get rich quick scheme. The market is not safe. It's every bit as much pvp as locking someone with a rifter and clicking F1. And the same rules should apply to your finances as everything else in eve: don't risk what you can't afford to lose.

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    6. Darth Nefarius--margin trading is used legitimately by literally EVERY trader... never heard of somebody who made their isk by trading that didn't use it. Margin trading is a very valuable part of eve online.

      THAT SAID, its current implementation is totally broken. In real life if you get margin squeezed, your broker starts selling all your shit until you're paid up. In eve, your order just disappears. That's a big fucking problem.

      Indeed, unlike nearly all other scams, it's impossible to see what the scam is no matter how hard you scrutinize it, and that's not OK. Likewise trade window scam is a crock for being nearly impossible to see even if you stare at it. For these two only two rules will save you, and indeed it seems like two rules is enough: Have a bunch of external knowledge about the game from other players (not realistic expectation), and IF IT"S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS! (realistic expecation)

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    7. The margin trading scam...someone looks at a contract that says "Liquidating stuff!" that has a bunch of obscure items in it, looks at the market for each and realizes, "Hey! I can make some isk if I buy the contract and then sell the stuff!"...but utterly fails to follow that line of thought with "Wait a minute, if I can do that, why hasn't the seller just done the same? Oh...".

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    8. I actually agree (except maybe on the margin trading scam), I was just trying unsuccessfully to point out that what is represented in the video doesn't seem like scamming to me. More like espionage or something. I guess I just have more respect for alliance robbers (who work long and hard) than for people who casually rip off ignorant noobs.
      I certainly don't think the bottom feeders should be outlawed.

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    9. "It can easily wipe out billions of ISK and break the back(bank) of a 2-6 month noob unless one is a forum warrior like myself & stumbles across it. Where in the tutorals is there warnings about such things?"

      As a few weeks old noob, I had no problem to notice something was amiss, even if I learned the mechanism behind it only months later.

      I second the part about tutorials, though: you need to learn the mantra "if it looks too good to be true, it problably is" the same as "don't fly anything you cannot affort to lose".

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    10. I think we can agree that the line between 'scam', and 'espionage' or 'vengeance' is definitely a matter of perspective. The methods and the results are virtually the same - only the motivation(s) distinguish them.

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  2. There are still people who think scamming should be against the EULA? What game have they been playing?

    Scamming is part of Eve at all levels. Banning any style of scam beyond what's necessary to make sure new players can still get into the game (I believe scamming in the rookie help channel is still prohibited, for obvious reasons) would break the fantasy of unrestrained capitalism that is the basis for Eve's popularity.

    It ain't a sandbox if other kids can't try to steal your shovel and knock over your sandcastles.

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  3. What a polite response. I'd tell anyone who wants to make scamming against the EULA to stop being an utter moron, spend 3sec looking at what they're doing, and never get scammed again. I've played eve for 7 years and as far as I can remember, I've never once been scammed because I have more than 2 brain cells to rub together.

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  4. In as far as im concerned scamming, of any kind, on any scale, involves 2 things: creation of an illusion, and exploitation of said illusion. You promise people a vni, they fet a vexor, you promise them a bill isk, they get a trit, you promise them leadership and resposibility, they lose their stuff. Scamming is scamming, just because it involves more isk doesnt mean it should be called a different thing. And in that regard, jesters answer is what i expect to get.

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  5. The trust (and lack of trust) that people have in each other is what gives rise to the whole metagame in Eve. Is betrayal was not allowed, the there value of being trustworth and the value of being a friend is diminished. If betrayal is not allowed then the difference between a friend and a enemy is simply a click and a colour change.

    The fact that betrayal is allowed is what gives rise to the complex metagame with all the interwoven relationships between players. The history, the grudges, these are all there because betrayal is allowed. If I could take my sworn enemy, right click set to blue, and now if he backstabs me I can run to CCP to get it reversed, then was he really my enemy to begin with?

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  6. The more common low level scamming, like buying some minerals and listing them at a storyline station for a 400% markup. Like buying out all the stock of some item in a quiet region and relisting it at a 100% markup?

    The problem with the common scam is how to draw the line that it doesn't include any other profit making activity (which you happen to feel is legit)

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    1. seriously? the things you list are not scams in any sense of the word. You're thinking of ripoffs.

      And there is no line drawing problem, even with real scams. This is eve. Jester's right (this time ;) and that's really all there is to say.

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    2. Neither one of your examples is a scam.

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    3. These are not scams. They are profiteering by, in the first case, relying on people being lazy and ignorant to charge more than a more informed market would pay, and in the second case, using one's wealth to control the market.

      Neither is a scam, and both are perfectly legitimate in unregulated markets like EVE's, if being dickish in the minds of many people.

      Both are easily countered by doing a little market research and being willing to exert oneself a little (i.e. fly out to a market hub to do your buying). If you can't be bothered, well you're choosing to pay a premium in exchange for being lazy. Heck in your second case, if you or a friend has money and a freighter, you can undercut the guy who bouth out the market, take a healthy profit, and leave him holding a bunch of stuff that he can't make real money on.

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    4. Nonsense, I wouldn't consider that a scam, it's the price of convenience. A can of coke from a vending machine is much more expensive than if you were to go to the supermarket and buy in bulk. But if the vending machine is right there and you only want one, then it's a good enough deal.

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    5. "The more common low level scamming, like buying some minerals and listing them at a storyline station for a 400% markup."

      That's actually no scam (not even border line): You provide a service (transport) for a 300% markup fee. If that fee is reasonable is the buyers choice. She can transport herself.

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    6. Even small scams, not protecting them with the EULA reinforces the idea that in EVE, players have to protect themselves. It's not a gardened world and you're meant to self-form and self-organize to deal with your problems. There are plenty of resources to see if an item on the market is worth what its being sold for, and using effort and money to supply is part of the game of being a marketeer

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    7. I totally agree, those aren't scams. They simply selling something for a lot more than it's actually worth, which at is at the heart of what most people consider a scam.

      Providing transport as a service to justify the markup. I guess you could explain it like that, but in reality you just selling the product where there is a combination of a small supply and a large demand. Because of this specific market situation you are charging a huge markup.

      The problem is how would you procedurally distinguish between legit market manipulation and scams?


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    8. Equating profiteering as scamming? You must vote Democrat. =D

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  7. Maybe that "garden variety" scamming serves as some sort of, I would almost say, "eugenics" EVE tool - removing ISK from those 'less fortunate', or even removing them from the New Eden (unsubscribing). So yes, it might be called "evil" by our world standards, or also might be labeled as some sort of EVE experience/IQ check.

    Personally I don't like scamming, Jita local spam in particular, just trying to look at it from other point of view.

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  8. I heard you could look over contract details before you purchase something to make sure it is what you want....but I could be wrong.

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  9. Scamming is scamming... It's actually more properly called a Confidence Game or a Con Job or just the Con. The people who do it are Confidence Men or Con Artists. This is something that goes on IRL and has for as long as man has had language... I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising Cro-Magnon was able to scam some poor Neanderthaler out of his Mammoth hide coat... =]

    All forms of Scamming in EVE are, as Ripard said, our problem, not CCPs.

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    1. While you are right on terms of how we deal with them, you are wrong on terms of them as game mechanics.

      Scamming is integral part of the game, and as such its ccps job to make sure the mechanics are working and add to the game play, just like its ccps job to make sure that pew pew spaceships are entertaining and more important working.

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  10. Neither of those was my first thought honestly. My first thought was how your view of market bots and automated chat spam ties in with this view on scamming. To me they're interrelated and all undesirable from a player retention point of view.

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    1. While botting is bad, and CCP are fighting it, scamming is one of the pillars Eve stands on. "undesirable from a player retention point of view." People who say "Well gee, people can scam me in this game if I'm not careful? This is a terrible game and I don't want to play this" shouldn't be playing it.

      A lot of Eve's playerbase plays the game because of scamming. If you focus on new player retention and remove the ability to scam, a lot of the old guard would get mad and unsub. At that point the expansion that would remove scamming might as well be called "Incarna 2".

      Removal of scamming would also make Eve into a theme park, which is another thing certainly not wanted by the current playerbase.

      CCP don't even need to do that much to get better player retention, a good strategy would probably be to get the current newbie-handlers (e-uni, rvb, etc.) to get the complete newbies and show them the actual meat of the game. And if you want to do that, you don't need to remove scamming.

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  11. On a semi related note it would be nice if we had a chat option to block all messages with contracts linked in them.

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  12. My question is much more interesting and relevant: Do you have the Chops?

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  13. My only problem with scamming is that scammers with a 'clean' account can create essentially an infinite number of toons to join newbie friendly corps with, and there's nothing said corp could do to detect them.

    For this reason scamees have *no* ability to pro-actively protect against scamming. Their only defense is to completely avoid corp storage and ensure their pilots at all times have protection against their own corpmates.

    I think this is a high burden of anti-fun mechanics for the scameees while scammers can ply their trade safe in the knowledge it never has to be linked back to their main.

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  14. "If scamming bothers you that much, why not start a searchable database of scammers that EVE players can reference, add to, and comment on?"

    I am sure that you are aware that most scammers use disposable alts that get bio-massed on regular base. Fun fact: That is actually against the eula, and it does make such a database, any plans on revenge and the whole idea that there are consequences for your actions rather pointless.

    It makes as well the notion that distance matters kinda pointless, as everyone as alts at Jita, maybe some more at other places, a few jump clones everywhere, and even if not, the next alt is always available for a just a few billion isk at the character markets.

    In my humble opion this whole thing is eve biggest design-flaw, and until I can ask my locater agent at what apartment that fucker who tried to scam me is, land on his station, walk to his apartment, beat him to death with printings of the faked contracts he offered me, steal the key to his ship, and leave the system before concord finds his cold corpse and give me a sec standing hit, until that day scamming will be just as one sided and consequence free as suicide ganking.

    Both mechanics are broken by design, and still they are so unique that they are a reason for people to play eve. Imagine how much better eve could be, if ccp would fix them.

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  15. The problem with scamming (and ganking) is exactly that your suggestion of the database of scammers is useless.

    In real life, after a crime, YOU are punished (if they can find you).
    In EVE only a disposable alt can be punished. This makes YOU invincible even in game terms. I mean you can't stop me joining corporations by blacklisting my scammer alt. I can be an upstanding and respected member of a mining corp while ganking them with an alt.

    The only way to make EVE similar to real life is removing alts, which is impossible as anyone can have a second account (same-account alts can be blacklisted due to API check)

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  16. if you make scamming against the eula and also make ccp implement something that stops me from undocking drunk you got my vote for sure

    clearly the world will be a better palace if CCP is responisble for protecting me from my stupidity

    oh and also some function that stops me from attacking people that have way too much backup

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  17. Well said, Jester, and admirable for you to stand for your convictions regardless of political popularity. Voters deserve to know what you believe in, we all appreciate the candid response.

    Best of luck to you in the election, for those of you that haven't voted, make sure Ripard Teg is high up on your ballots!

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  18. I'm reminded of a quote from Malcolm Forbes:

    "You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them."

    http://thoughts.forbes.com/thoughts/character-malcolm-forbes-you-can-easily

    Getting back to your database of scammers, I suspect you will have as much success as Yelp does: including allowing people with bad reputations to purchase "good reviews" and bury the bad reviews. I've played this game enough that the first thing I thought of was that the whole database would be a scam - like Mittani doing 3rd party transactions for supercapitals.

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  19. +1 for this entire post, and the trailer.

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  20. I don't know too many folks that are upset at scamming. What they do get annoyed with is the scammers. Jita local is a joke - nothing but a constant stream of scams, frauds, tricks, and traps. Oh, and the occasional helpful statement from a pilot pointing out that such and such is a scam.

    I completely reserve the right to loose my shirt because I'm too stupid to read a contract properly, or too greedy to realize the truth in what I'm reading.

    I just wish I had some way to eliminate all the crap I don't want to read in local, without adding 50 or 60 names to a black list each day.

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  21. I don't understand the complaining about disposable alts.

    If you don't want to be scammed open the character info on an alt and go through a check list. If he doesn't have a long corp history, sec standing loss or gain, faction reputation loss and gains, long contract history, etc then why would you do business with him?

    Why would you do business with a toon that isn't worth the item you are trying to buy/sell?

    Make a personal rule to only trade high value items with mains and your scamming potential is significantly reduced.

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  22. You seem to missundersand some of those who are annoyed of scammers.
    We do not get scammed, but get spammed by them.

    The problem is related to suicide gankers. As well, they do not hurt you really, but you can not hurt them either. It is simply a lame game mechanic, the way ccp implemented it. Any hate and rage about such issues are wasted energy as these things can not become personal, and a call for revenge is fruitless.

    EVE advertise itself as a game about talking risks, but scammers and gankers take even less risk than carebears. They exploit the game mechanics for profit and tears, and while I can not blame them for doing so, I can blame CCP for not fixing the game since 10 years in this regard.

    Disposable alts and no credibility involved in game characters is simply a problem.

    This is not a problem by large for the spy meta-game of eve, because here credibility and long-term commitment are much more important. But it is defiantly a bad side of eve for simply scams and ganking.

    Players should be able to track down those people, their supporters and fight back.

    Hacking such alts and gain access to their market transactions and data could be a viable ingame mechanic to involve risk in such actions. API-Keys are demanded from alliances and corps for that exact reasons when you join them. Right now there is nothing a victim can do about the issue except just accepting his loss.

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