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Author Topic: How to spot anyone using a bot or software aid?  (Read 2338 times)
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Onlinebackgammonmoney
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« on: March 28, 2012, 01:27:35 PM »

Hi fellow backgammon players.

The issue with bot aided or software aided play at backgammon sites seems to exist. I've seen job offer over at freelance sites for building a backgammon bot to work with Play65,BGRoom and etc (they seem to target these, because they are biggest).

This may be an issue over at FIBS too. Do you have any techniques for spotting such players. Something like playing too fast or slow? Obviously playing on a supernatural level raises my alert high, but some seem to play at lower level and I still suspect them of using software aid.

Your ideas?
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ah_clem
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2012, 02:50:50 PM »

My take is that the only way to catch someone is if their plays are the same as some known bot at some specific setting (i.e.  they make the same moves as gnu 2-ply).  Unless they do that (and it's trivial to simply substitute the third or fourth best move that loses little equity) it's going to be tough.

If you can find a specific person and observe him or her playing under controlled conditions and they play at a much lower error rate than online you'll have a good case, but i don't see how this is helpful as a screening mechanism.

I don't think speed of play will be of much use - it's trivial to slow the bot down if it plays too fast, and a skilled player using the gnu command line interface can play as fast as an ordinary human. Yes, you might catch the person who occasionally pauses to enter the position into gnu, but these aren't the fish you're after.

Bottom line is that it's too easy to cheat with a bot and too hard to catch them, which is why I'd never play for money online. (the real reason is that I'm not good enough, but that's another matter.)

As for bots on FIBS, the API allows bots to connect and play, and there are many of them.  Etiquette says you're supposed to declare it to be a bot, but since there's no money on the line, who cares?
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2012, 02:50:50 PM »

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Backgammon65
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2012, 10:31:19 AM »

My take is that the only way to catch someone is if their plays are the same as some known bot at some specific setting (i.e.  they make the same moves as gnu 2-ply).  Unless they do that (and it's trivial to simply substitute the third or fourth best move that loses little equity) it's going to be tough.

If you can find a specific person and observe him or her playing under controlled conditions and they play at a much lower error rate than online you'll have a good case, but i don't see how this is helpful as a screening mechanism.

I don't think speed of play will be of much use - it's trivial to slow the bot down if it plays too fast, and a skilled player using the gnu command line interface can play as fast as an ordinary human. Yes, you might catch the person who occasionally pauses to enter the position into gnu, but these aren't the fish you're after.

Bottom line is that it's too easy to cheat with a bot and too hard to catch them, which is why I'd never play for money online. (the real reason is that I'm not good enough, but that's another matter.)

As for bots on FIBS, the API allows bots to connect and play, and there are many of them.  Etiquette says you're supposed to declare it to be a bot, but since there's no money on the line, who cares?


I know that  at Play65 they always check for bot and backgammon cheats. They check with automation tools and if something looks suspicious they close the account and check manually.



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« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 04:03:23 PM by stog » Logged

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ah_clem
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2012, 06:37:35 PM »

I'm aware that they try to police the software cheats, and even occasionally catch one. But I'm skeptical that they're any more successful than the real police are at stopping illegal gambling, drug usage, prostitution, etc.  It's just too easy to cheat with a bot without being detected.

Sure, if you just use the bot as-is and wind up with a PR of 1 or less you're going to get caught.  But if you use the bot judiciously and play at, say, PR ==5 with occasional blunders I'm not seeing how they're  going to catch you.  And I'd guess that a PR of 5 is good enough to beat most players (at least those not using a bot themselves).
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