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KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Along with many others on the forums, I have encountered severe problems in the methods that moderation is carried out. This has resulted in great surprise from these people, including me. The specific problems are Botwatch and the appeal system.

I apologize in advance for the extreme length; I find it important to fully explain my points and detail my information. A concise version of all of this is at the bottom of these posts.

I should also mention that although my writing may or may not indicate otherwise, I actually have great respect for many of Jagex's staff members, and I do not assume them to be dishonest or abusive.

Contents:
= Details of problems =
= Suggestions =
= Oppositions / Summary =
= Concise version =

= Details of problems =


Botwatch is used in order to efficiently track, judge, and take action based on activity depending on whether it is considered botting. All of this was most notably proven on 27 September 2012, caused by an oversight involving a testing feature, and it is currently being proven by continued yet more subtle false positives.

Another problem is the current appeal system, which, despite its name, is simply used for requesting a review of an account. This is a good start, especially compared to the previous lack of the system. However, the absence of a particularly important section requires improvement as well.

I took interest in these because I found Jagex's methods to be rather strange due to their potential for injustice. After further investigation, I noticed that the system appears to focus more on removing as many bots as possible than on protecting those who play the game; this imbalance causes more concern than relief among some, including legitimate players. I have never trusted this system from the beginning; any trust that I did have was little more than shaky optimism. My experiences with and research of it have re-inforced my distrust.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:29:23 - Last edited on 14-Mar-2018 17:09:37 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
For those who are curious, on 9 September 2017 at 15:51, Botwatch removed me from the game for fourty eight hours for "Bot Busting Moderate". I used what I dare call the 'appeal' system to request a review. However, the form contained no section for user explanation. After slightly more than a week, I was told that "after a comprehensive review, there [was] no evidence to suggest the ban was applied in error"; this is not equivalent to claims that evidence of botting existed, which was very suspicious both because I did not bot and because such wording can be misused.

I eventually discovered that a mass ban had evidently occurred either due to legitimate methods of alchemizing things or – far more likely – due to something at the Lumbridge Beach event, as several other players reported similar concerns and problems on the forums around similar times. This assumes that these false positives were not entirely indiscriminate.

This is one of several problems with the current moderation system. Botwatch and the current appeal system are ineffective in protecting players for three reasons: ineffectiveness against bots, unnecessary ambiguity to rulebreakers, and harm to legitimate players.

Attempting to obscure evidence from botting accounts – by delayed banning, specifically – causes more harm than good. While delayed bans may help to track mass botters, this also allows greater average lifespans, which allows bots to interfere with players in some activities for longer. It does not slow bot development significantly because those who review the accounts will know what happened anyway due to current common knowledge and, more importantly, the presence or even the anticipation of the bans. Therefore, it is unnecessary to expend excessive effort towards obscuring evidence. Legitimate players' gameplay should not depend on what bots are capable of, regardless of how obscure the activity is.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:29:35 - Last edited on 15-Feb-2018 19:53:35 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Secondly, due to lack of evidence, delayed banning, and the resulting lack of clear communication, some rulebreakers will not be able to learn anything from bans, and some have even improved their behavior after learning for themselves, rendering such bans pointless after too much time has passed. In addition, distrust will occur as others notice that no evidence is given apart from accusations, even if the enforcement is justified. There is a difference between showing evidence and showing circumvention methods; one can be done without the other.

Also, enforcing rules and laws is best done if it is swift, certain, proven, and proportional to the offense; uncertainty, ambiguity, and delays render it useless, and unreasonable severity and wrongful targeting incite retaliation. Therefore, it is ineffective to obscure evidence.

Lastly, and most importantly, these ideas of enforcement are also relevant to legitimate players because the current methods of moderation are harmful and counterproductive to them. Because Botwatch often uses automated bans, action is often taken before any manual review. I understand why this is done, as Botwatch's false positives are evidently rare, and it is important to improve time efficiency.

However, due to obscured evidence and the lack of an explanation section in the appeal system, legitimate players do not receive fair defense against accusations; one particular user described this as "very very frustrating, and unjust". This is not proper enforcement due to wrongful targeting and "kangaroo court" and because it is not swift, certain, or proven. Such treatment can render individuals angry, paranoid, or both, causing various reactions of their own, such as forms of retaliation or withdrawal respectively. In other words, neglect breeds hatred. Therefore, it is both counterproductive and harmful to obscure evidence and to prevent appeals.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:29:56 - Last edited on 29-Sep-2018 22:45:18 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
= Suggestions =


All of this is why I cannot ignore such treatment, on behalf of myself and others who were affected by false positives. Although the current progress with the appeal system is a decent start, it is possible to improve it without hindering the moderators. I propose several improvements to Botwatch and the appeal system, which will address each of the three main problems.

In order to work more effectively against bots, I and Miu recommend taking action immediately upon detection and potentially after moderator review against roughly 50% of bots. This will benefit players by reducing bot interference while still tracking the activity of mass botters.

This is also helpful against rulebreakers because it contributes to proper enforcement, which is much more effective in encouraging improvement of behavior. Because it is particularly important to use proper enforcement with this group, I also recommend reducing any ban delays and showing evidence of wrongdoing for all offenses. As previously stated, evidence can be shown without circumvention methods.

(These would be unnecessary for mass-botting accounts; no players are using them.)

Showing evidence is also helpful in giving fair defense to legitimate players. However, in order to ensure that this is truly fair, I propose two modifications. First, I strongly recommend allowing appeals for more gameplay offenses, such as bug abuse; imperfections with efforts against botting indicate imperfections elsewhere, and the moderation team is not infallible.

More importantly, I very strongly recommend adding an explanation section to the current appeal form. This is very important because it would allow full, actual appeals to be submitted while still allowing time efficiency for moderators and more accurate judgements with proper investigation; these would result in more fair decisions being made and better cases on both sides.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:30:21 - Last edited on 25-Sep-2018 20:12:53 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
I also strongly recommend re-wording moderation-related messages that are sent to users, especially responses to appeals. For example, when an appeal is denied, the user should be told that evidence was found that an offense was accurate and how, not that no evidence was found that it was inaccurate. In addition, not everything is the user's fault, as Botwatch has demonstrated; users should not be accused of not reading rules or properly securing accounts if they are not found to be at fault. Modifying the wording of messages will encourage a greater impression of honesty, which improves trust of the moderators.

Although I do not support or oppose this, considering one-time appealable warnings – mere reminders, not further action – may help to mitigate problems with false positives that do occur while avoiding potentially unnecessary vengeance against rulebreakers.

Lil Trout proposed upgrading player moderators by allowing them to spy on, temporarily ban, and send CAPTCHAs to players and to view recent activity logs. These true moderators would improve time efficiency and players' trust.

Responding to those who submit reports may help to improve their trust, their accuracy, and, therefore, moderators' time efficiency.

Lastly, I understand that appeals can be misused by rulebreakers who seek impunity, so I recommend imposing mild punishments for blatantly false appeals. This is only to be done when an offense was clearly committed and the user fails to provide reasonable defense; no punishment would be given for presenting a reasonable case, even if the appeal is denied. This will reduce the number of false appeals that are submitted, providing more time for moderators. (This suggestion relies on the vital implementation of explanation for appeals.)

= Oppositions =


I have also considered several interesting oppositions to these ideas, which contend that they are either not possible or not necessary.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:30:50 - Last edited on 12-May-2018 19:48:44 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Regarding possibility, staff members likely have limited time, considering everything that they do as staff members; I generally assume good will whenever possible, and proper time management is extremely important in their work. I also understand that the presence of rulebreakers who submit false appeals would be a waste of time. My suggestion for extending appealable offenses would contribute to this problem.

However, it is important to avoid cutting corners; the lack of an explanation section in the appeal form is a very good example of this. In addition, the presence of evidence means that little time is required to review it in comparison with users' explanations in many cases, and those explanations would actually help to reduce time spent per review. Lastly, my suggestion for mild punishments in response to blatantly false appeals is intended to discourage such time-wasting. It is possible to avoid cutting corners while effectively managing time. Therefore, it is possible to implement these suggestions.

As for necessity, I found five relevant points: responsibility of rulebreakers, records of offenses, current care in reviewing offenses, and two important points of common witch-hunting.

It may be considered unnecessary to show evidence to rulebreakers because they should know what they have done and because it is their responsibility to observe the rules. While I agree with the reasoning, this is not the case for everybody who is accused. Not all rulebreakers may learn anything without evidence, such as those who simply do not remember the incident; more importantly, not all accused individuals are rulebreakers. Showing evidence makes improvement easier for rulebreakers and resolution easier for legitimate players, which improves trust of staff members by dispelling most, if not all, claims that appeals are investigated too carelessly. Therefore, it is more worthwhile to consider these individuals than those who merely seek impunity.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:31:17 - Last edited on 15-Feb-2018 20:04:00 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
It may also be considered unnecessary to allow users to provide any input on suspected offenses because all records are already stored; all reviews would hypothetically be accurate as a result. However, my experiences with the system have indicated either that not all information is truly available, or that not all aspects of offenses are considered outside of account ownership, including the events of the suspected offenses themselves. Allowing explanation in appeals would allow moderators to review the correct aspects of incidents, depending on users' claims and beliefs regarding them, and determine whether offenses are truly accurate. Therefore, it is necessary to refrain from one-sided cases and allow explanation in the appeal form.

The third and fourth points are regarding the quality of the system. In the sticky thread "Bans, mutes & more" in Community Led Account Help, one of the J-Mods claimed that all offenses – including bans – are reviewed extremely carefully; the code for the thread is 408-409-0-65731276. (However, since I posted this thread, the J-Mod's thread was removed; please feel free to ask me about any other details that were included.) This would intuitively mean that appeals would be unnecessary because the system is already perfect. In addition, many non-malevolent witch-hunters make similar implications; their claims indicate beliefs of perfection.

However, my experience and research of Botwatch indicate otherwise; I've provided reasoning for this argument above. While I understand why it would be important to avoid worrying players, it is more important to be honest; misinformation and stonewalling are not solutions to this because they have extreme potential for abuse, and it is difficult to assume good will in these cases. Therefore, moderation – including the automated system – is not perfect or omniscient, and should not be treated as such.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:31:40 - Last edited on 07-Mar-2018 18:38:59 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Lastly, in claims against another person, one particular unnamed witch-hunter claimed that players "have no 'rights' here" and that "Jagex can pull [their] plug at any time without reason or explanation". While the implication may be arguably valid due to the terms of service, I find it very unwise to use this reasoning. This is authoritarianism; enforcement is considered strict and non-questionable, and power is used in the place of reasoning. It is unhealthy to both the staff team and the community for a large number of reasons; at its worst, it encourages distracting power-hoarding habits, fuels witch-hunting, discourages trust of staff, and incites hatred and retaliation such as boycotting or rioting, which can and does affect both groups.

All of these cause reduction of game quality due to fixation on moderation, such as by witch-hunting, worry of random bans, or retaliation; this affects the staff members due to reduction of trust, which also results in reduction of player count and real-money purchases. Several other online games, which I will not name, are a testament to these points. Authoritarianism is unhealthy for individuals and the community, and is ultimately counterproductive; as previously stated, neglect breeds hatred. Therefore, it is necessary to treat players with more respect by improving the system for the benefit of them and of the staff team.

(This is not to imply that Jagex is currently using authoritarianism; my evidence does not currently indicate such malicious intent.)

For all of these reasons, it is both possible and necessary to improve the moderation system by often taking immediate action, showing evidence, extending appealable offenses, and allowing full appeals, including explanation. I believe in the staff members' ability to implement these. They are better than careless bans and appeals, and they have the opportunity to prove it for both their own benefit and ours.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
=-

Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:31:57 - Last edited on 23-Jun-2018 17:15:21 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
= Concise version=


Here is the concise version of my points. Please read these original posts in their entirety before responding, however, as they contain many more details.

Although I appreciate Jagex's efforts among their staff members, the current methods of moderation are causing problems through ineffectiveness against bots, unnecessary ambiguity to rulebreakers, and harm to legitimate players.

These problems can be resolved for all three groups by taking immediate action against roughly one half of offenses, showing evidence and reducing any ban delays for accounts used by players, allowing appeals for more gameplay offenses, re-wording messages for players, and – most importantly – adding a section to the current appeal form for the user's explanation.

Although staff members likely have limited time, there is a difference between efficiency and cutting corners; my suggestions are possible because they will not interfere with time significantly and because the explanation section would actually improve time efficiency.

These suggestions may be considered unnecessary because rulebreakers are expected to know what they did, records of incidents already exist, and offenses are already reviewed carefully, and they may be considered pointless due to a possible authoritarian system. However, these suggestions are necessary in order to address false positives and other imperfections of the current moderation system, which will benefit both the community and the staff team.

I will continue to add to this thread as I obtain more information and discussion, and I will ensure that it remains active until I have completed my purpose with it; please feel free to discuss this or request modifications, as I would like to avoid unnecessarily inciting problems while providing as much knowledge of this situation as possible.

Please spread word of this thread if you wish to support these ideas.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
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Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:32:12 - Last edited on 14-Mar-2018 17:25:07 by KathrynMiles

KathrynMiles
Apr Gold Premier Club Member 2016

KathrynMiles

Posts: 123Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
If you would like to investigate this further, I have added several reference threads. They act as helpful sources regarding the situation, although I do not guarantee the accuracy of all information and I advise caution due to possible heated posts. Many no longer exist due to being pushed past page 50 (marked by -) and some are simply listed here to show where I investigated. However, threads about botting and claims of false positives often appear with a forum search of words such as "bot" for those who wish to investigate further.
408-409-0-65731276 - Bans, mutes & more (Deleted by a J-Mod)
14-15-633-65943835 - High Alch ban? (Source of witch-hunting points; locked due to a flame war primarily about using tape on a mouse, and since pushed past page 50 of threads)
14-15-6-65948459 - High Alching question (My starting point of forum investigations, in which a player asked about re-positioning their mouse; since deleted, likely by being pushed past page 50)
408-409-942-65940773 - Ban for botting? (Deleted; was not locked or pushed past page 50)
409-410-665-65914261 - Mistaken for a bot! (-)
74-75-843-65952091 - Zami Wine (Outdated; still exists)
408-409-720-65952403 - Ban for using bot?? (-)
408-409-613-65952579 - So I got banned for macroing? (-)
408-409-207-65961027 - Account falsely banned. (-)
408-409-697-65952198 - 2 falsely banned alt accounts (-)
408-409-436-65982367 - Hacked and banned for botting
408-409-970-65981658 - Banned alternate account
408-409-344-65982082 - Banned after 10 weeks of basic

I also recommend viewing Lil Trout's posts - located between pages 2 and 3 of this thread - which mention upgrading of player moderators; this may help in improving time efficiency and prevention of botting while avoiding further false positives.

On page 4, I mentioned introducing indications when reports are accepted or denied, which may help to encourage more participation and more accurate reports.

This post is reserved for any additional information.
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Katheryn Lucy Miles (alias)
=-

Moderation improvements | Improved player customization | Great Orb Project improvements

28-Oct-2017 21:32:24 - Last edited on 10-Feb-2018 20:20:47 by KathrynMiles

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