Reporting User Accounts - When is it worth while, when not to bother?

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zixianna's picture
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Reporting User Accounts - When is it worth while, when not to bother?

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zixianna's picture
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Joined: 26/03/2010 - 7:44pm

Mailed the following ticket in. I'm sure I'll get some generic 2 sentence answer. BUT, what do we think here? It isn't our job to police Neo, and nobody wants to falsely report someone, but sometimes things just look wrong



As a long time player with quite some understanding into normal activities, as well as the fact that there are some not-so-legitimate activities as well, but without having any moderator or staff insight from behind the scenes, I was wondering if and when it is appropriate to report an account that looks to be illegitimate in some way.

I ask for the following reasons:
Over reporting, or reporting for reasons that are not overtly suspicious can harm the overall ticketing and investigation process. Not only that, but over reporting reflects badly on the individual doing so.

Reporting for things that there is no way for staff to confirm, even if it is illegitimate play, does nothing but clog things up again, even if it is correct.

My main concern currently is what appears to be a prevalence of auto-buyer programs (both to buy from main shops and user shops), as well as multiple 'shell accounts' that are used in order to further their use.

I know for a fact from reading other forums that these are used, and often carefully. I'm sure you have heard of/read/investigated ones such as 'neocodex'.

The most recent account that made me write this mail would be duckheaded123:
Reasons for suspicion:
1) Very old account with little in the way of ANYTHING shown for actual activity.
2) A shop with items for sale, signifying that it cannot be a legitimate 'side account'
3) Selling the item 'Olde Zafara' in auctions, an r99 item that could be auto-bought and sold.
4) All items in shop come from restocking a few specific shops (with the exception of a Plushie Petpet Paint Brush, thus implying they probably used the NTKTHANKS code on the account). Something a Human MIGHT do, but an AB would definitely do.

Reasons NOT to report:
1) There is nothing I can say that is PROOF of anything, and it IS entirely possible the account is 100% valid.
2) There may be no way for staff to prove anything either, and therefore even if there IS issue, it is a waste of time to report.

I know that there is a large community of illicit users, and the number of actual accounts involved is even higher, both from ones recently created, to ones that look much more legitimate because they at one time were. The question is, is there anything an end user can do to help by reporting suspicious activity that is not in the end detrimental to the efforts of staff, etc?

I see these suspicious accounts on a daily basis, and know how some of their behavior works (such as the account logging in most days, but the actual user only checking them periodically, thus not necessarily responding to NMs about Trading Post offers until the actual user logs in, etc), but neither want to have to 'compete' with these shell accounts, nor go report happy and cause an overabundance of tickets for Neopets Staff to deal with.

Thanks in advance for your time!

davymuncher's picture
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Joined: 10/08/2009 - 10:41pm

Good Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park.

I've taken a look at the account too, and I see what you mean. No avatars to speak of, pets that haven't been changed since the day of creation, it really looks like some account that was abandoned 6 years ago and then has now been tapped into by someone, but personally I don't think you should report this one. First, it could be someone got cged on their main account and started playing on this one or something else that would explain why someone moved to an old account of theirs. Also, Autobuyers can seem really obvious but TNT has to be really careful when it comes to freezing people they think are using them because I know of a couple people who got suspended/frozen (depending on who I'm talking about) for using one when they were really just that skilled. Even if this account is using one, which I think is likely, there's an alright chance that they aren't, and TNT doesn't have any way of checking what's running while you play neo, so it could lead to a false problem.

Bad Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park... to a bear.

Good Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park.
Bad Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park... to a bear.

zixianna's picture
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Joined: 26/03/2010 - 7:44pm

Exactly why I wonder what is worthy of reporting and what isn't.

I mean, sure everything you said is possible. Many people write something if that's the case (rebuilding, old account was Bla, etc). Or, they have done something to the account by the time they would restock, find a buyer, and sell in a private auction an r99 book for 5M.

But there is only so much one can see from the user side of things. There's no way for us to know if it's a side account, or only a main, etc. We don't know how long it's been 'active' for, only that it last logged in a day ago. These are all the types of things that TNT CAN see though.

So, is it EVER worth reporting something that is suspicious but as the user cannot be proven by end users? What if someone bid on and won auctions actively for 40 hours straight? It's possible for someone to do that, however unlikely. Besides, it would take multiple people to confirm that anyway (unless one person wants to stay up for 40 hours to watch it themselves, thus proving the other person could have been legit anyway, they were only on as long as you were watching them).

Accounts that only have a few games played, and have medals only in HTML games, usually the same few as everyone else. Were they auto-played, or are they all people who don't have flash and therefore only play the same few HTML only games? It's possible. Etc etc.

Therefore, what constitutes something 'reportable' as suspicious, or should it be zero user intervention, even though we know for a fact that there is a large community of people with many automated shell accounts?

Or are all these shell accounts actually good for Neo, as it makes it look like there are more people actively playing than there actually are, and their ad views are up (though click-thru rates would be way down)?

davymuncher's picture
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Joined: 10/08/2009 - 10:41pm

Good Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park.

Now in the case of 40 hours straight I wouldn't feel bad because if that person is being honest then they need to be frozen and get a life.
So to be honest I just don't know what you should do. There should be integrity in playing and a way to enforce it because bots unbalance the game making it harder for real players, and if TNT allows them just to bring up their account total then that's just wrong. But there are also as many reasons to report them as not. Overall, your decision to report or not will be up to you. For me, in this case, I won't.

Bad Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park... to a bear.

Good Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park.
Bad Idea: Feeding stray kittens in the park... to a bear.