Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bot Raiders

It has come to my attention that a few bot owners feel that Wiki prices only attract scammers that buy at your lowest price and sell to you when you are the highest price. This is only partially true, Wiki also does provide a lot of good buyers to your bots as well.

Ways to protect yourself :

1: Keep your prices updated. I suggest at minimum every 24hours, therefor you can keep up with current market trends

2: Use the email feature to your advantage.  Make sure the email that you have registered with Mtgolibrary.com goes to your mobile device. This way you can see and regulate every transaction with your bots.

3. Use the Black list option. Below I will talk about how to identify a bot raider, once you have identified yours, include their name in the blacklist file.

How to identify a "bot raider"

1: If a person buys or sells just 1 card at a time to you multiple times. They do one card at a time because wiki prices is not 100% up to date meaning they don't want to buy a card from one bot at $1.30 and sell it to you at $1.40 if you have already reached your buying max for that specific card.

2: If you notice a person buying always at your lowest prices or selling to you always at your highest prices. Says for instance you noticed Tropo sold you 4 Chromatic lanterns for $.36 do a wiki search on it. If people are selling less than that, then he is a scammer.

I am a botter and personally review every transaction, I have created a nice blacklist to keep bot scammers away from my bots, just PM me to have it, maybe it can help.

Modo handle: Teamstoge


  1. I have just begun using the blacklist as well a few days ago, banning tropo. Thanks for the other scammers: I recall seeing two of their names a lot in my trades a while back.

    1. Your welcome. Check back once in a while as I will update that list as I find more scammers.

  2. Out of curiosity, how is this scamming? Buying low and selling high is exactly how the stock market works, and if someone is taking advantage of it, I wouldn't quite call them scammers. People doing this provide my bot with some much needed liquidity.

    1. It all depends on how you define scamming. But when there i a priced increase on a card, these 'scammers' will buy the card cheap from a bot that hasen't updated pries yet and sell it for more to a bot that has icreased the price. This reults in a loss of possible profits for the first bot owner, and i suppose is good for the second since they get a card for a price they wanted.

      The bigger issue is if there is a price decrease and a scammer buys a card cheaper from one bot, and then sells it back to anoter bot that hasn't updated their prices yet. This results in a very slim profit margin or even a loss depending on if the second bot has to sell for near what they bought the card for or perhaps even less than they payed for it. It not the same as the stock market where you buy stocks to speculate on their value going up or down, since the scammer is taking advantage of the lag time between a price trend changing and the time it takes bots and update pricelist. People who buy low and then sell high to other bots when prices are stable may still be considered 'scammers' in that they cherry pick your good deals. However this latter type of scammer may have the unexpected consequense of stabilizing prices which can be good for the better stocked bots since their main attraction is not necisarrily price but having a good inventory.
      -I have quite a bit more to write on the topic of bot scammers, ill be writing a new post with some more of my thoughts and ideas in a while, after breakfast and waking up a bit.

      Perhaps you could elaborate on the idea that they are good for your bot and provide liquidity?

    2. Pricelists were coming with Sliver Overlord ( foil ) ~ H09 ~ (and many other h09 foils) for triple the price it was worth.

      The list had something like buying foil for 2.7 and sell for 4.5.

      With that card being worth about 0.5-1 (you can even find it on litebots) this resulted in some of my bots being "scammed" overnight, Luckly my mainbot wasnt on pricelist and i dont buy non standard cards with such high correction. the bot affected was BestDeal2 which buys non standard foil mythics with a fairly low correction, still this meant buying 8x this card at about 2 tix a piece. as it this wasnt enough he then proceeded to sell even more of these to Bestdeal2 after BestDeal2 refilled BestDeal with the 8 sliver overlords he just bought overnight.

      You might call it liquidity. I call it 32 Event tickets + 1-2 Tix (fee) loss in 1 night.

      With the competitiveness of the "bot market" which force us to shrink profit margins to almost nothing this means i need about 200-300 tix worth of trades after that just to cover up that "easy wikiprice scam".

      Bots take risks, sometimes lose on trades, need a expensive computer to run them, electricity to power the pc 24/7 and time dedicated updating pricelists, setting up, dealing with customers etc. The reward for this is the profit on the end of the day, which may vary from 10 to 1000 tix a month to most bot users. These scammers use almost 0% risk as checking if a bot is still buying a card or not is typically easy (specially if it has marking all cards tradable). Checking the price before selling to it is also easy, pick a random card see if price matches wikiprice, is selling price of for example "Snapcaster mage" match wikiprice (and isnt a personal prices price like 6.924 and not 7.000) then that bot will also have same buy prices as wikiprice.

    3. But this is always the case. If WikiPrices didn't exist, if we didn't have an automatically updating price list, people will still search bots for their prices and buy from where it is cheap and sell to where it is profitable.

      It sounds to me more like a problem with the price list and automated nature of the bots. At some point you have to trust that the prices are going to be, on average, fine.

      And yes, I call it liquidity, and/or deal hunting. I don't get angry when someone buys a card off of me for cheap and it goes up the next day. And I don't get angry when someone sells me a card and the price drops the next day. This is the nature of markets with price elasticity.

  3. I have a 10-20 users blacklist. you might wish to swap. surprisingly that tropo is on it aswell. email me yours to bestdealbot@hotmail.com I will share whatever i have. (i use MTGO Block instead of blacklist)

    I had to remove my main 2 bots off wikiprice due to these "raiders". With BestDeal buying some cards quite high, Like standard Mithics +30%(Which makes them just sitting at about the cheapest selling bots or slighty above) this is a must for me. I know I am buying a card for 30 that most bots sell for 28-31, But i do not wish to buy 8 of those cards exclusively on the day that card happens to drop value down to 20tix or less within hours (like JTMS/SM ban etc).

    In the end of the day, people that use wikiprice, (Scammers or regular users) will only buy you cards if you're the cheapest or sell you cards if you're the highest buyer. 95% of trades or more which means you had the cheapest card, or you were the one paying the most for one card usually result on Loss(since you will end up selling cheaper than you bought as you update prices,etc).

    Also as i've said before, if my bot is buying a card 1-2 tix above the "normal" price i rather benefit 3-4 members of my clan or bot customers that use my bot which need my bots to dump their drafting material, rather than one single person (such as tropo) that will clear the 8 cheapest bots card to drop on my bot for easy 16tix profit.(causing my regulars to not being able to sell that card to me later on, making them going to other bots, resulting not only in 8 bad trades but also in loss of customers.)

  4. A new function we will add soon is the 'blacklist' via website. You know that know ML Bot can ban specific users via the file 'Blacklist.txt'. This is ok, but requires a lot of work if you have many bots, because you have to edit it multiple times.

    We will create a 'shared' blacklist, available on the Online Control Panel, that will ban scammers for ALL the bots. Remote, and in one click

    1. I'm getting blocked by several bot chains now. I have credit so this is nothing less than theft. To top it off most say it's because 1 person said I abused his rules ,which in fact he now says I didn't.
      Well ,People blocking me and stealing my credit for no real reason is frustrating. So frustrating that I have been yelling at WoTC for weeks now. They recently released a new rule ,that will allow them to Ban Bot chains ,that block people from using their existing credits ,as theft.

      Now that the bot can be set to limit the amount of purchases ,this will prevent most situations from happening ,but does not resolve the issue I have found.

      I would suggest not to blindly block someone on the word of another with no real evidence and no proof. Especially over something trivial.

      I will be reporting several bot chains very soon. I apologize now if you lose your accounts ,all card and tickets on them.

    2. Why apologize? They are attempting to steal your money, they should be turned in and shut down.

  5. sorry i wrote too much, so i have to post it broken up over multiple comments

    The partial scammer list got me thinking that some sort of official scammer list might be neccisary. I was going to suggest some features for one. I know the ML bot staff has a lot of work at the moment recoding the website and what not so I had been hesitant to suggest a scammer list feature.
    Before my thoughts I would like to define what I consider a scammer and two sub categories of them, as well as why some players may appear to be scammers even though they are not.

    I think of a scammer as someone who buys cards cheap from a bot in order to resell either as a human in the classifieds or back to other bots.

    The type of scammer who buys and then resells in the classifieds is bad since you are losing some potential proffit, but in general the botter still makes money. Just not as much as they could have if they had had a chance to uptdate their prices. In some situations the bot wont lose money at all if the scammer is selling the cards at an above market price on the classifieds. This is still not someone you want on your bot, and even if they are scamming other players not other bots its still not ok. Scammers are bad both for botters and for the magic comunity, especially newer players.
    The second type of scammer who buys and sells to bots, takes advantage of the time lag when a certain cards gains or loses value quickly. This is really bad since it can result in not only in loss potential profits but in an actual lose of money--badbad. These guys have no right to use wikiprice.

    Then there is the legit player who appears to be a scammer. How does this happen? Well they want good deals so they use wikiprice to shop around to find the good deals on what they need. These players may then only or mostly trade with your bot when you have a good deal, possibly because of a recent price change or possibly you are just the best deal. You could label them as scammers and blacklist them, but in the long run that would probably be a mistake, and it would make mtgo a terrible experience for the user if they ended up on a universal blacklist that most botters just add without giving much thought to the individual users.

  6. Albert: I am glad you are thinking of adding a blacklist function. I was a little bit affraid to suggest it since I know you have so much work at the moment with the recoding of the website and stuff. I do hope however that you don't make an automatic blacklist that is automatically updated and comes pre-set with the bot. I don't think this is something you would do but I just thought I would mention it just in case. To ensure lots of botters inforcing wide bans occurring on on the Players that look like scammers, individual bot ownders should be able to add users they choose but the blacklist should start out empty. Sorry if this is stating the obvious. If people are concerned about these scammer look alike players the best option is proably to be removed from Wikiprice though I personally think its a bad idea not to be on wikiprice if the true scammers can be taken care of.
    Here are my thoughts on what features a good blacklist system may include. Some of the ideas might not be good or viable and there are most likely things that I have not thought of. Basically to submit a scammer there would be a form where you fill in the scammers username, and then a box for free text where you can comment about the specifics of the trade. For example cards sold/bought and at what price allong with current market trends and any other helpful information. With the submition you would also choose to label the user as either a 'scammer' or as a 'legit player'. I feel that it would be important to be able to add comments since as long as the botting comunity is active and vigilant this allows som degree of trade tracking. For example if Bot A sells sells a card to Mr. X, and then Mr. X sells the same card shortly there after to bot B and both botters report the trades, then this gives very strong evidence that this Mr. X is a bot to bot scammer which is the worst kind. Also if Bot A reports the trade, Bot B might be more watchfull and notice the trade as a scam when Mr X sells to him which might not have happened otherwise. Being able to give someone a vote for being 'legit' and of course reasons why in the comment text i feel is imoprtant too since it minimizes the chance that non scammers get blacklisted all over. And of course with all this information you could have a scammer list, that you could choose to sort by numerous variables such as number of 'scammer' marks or the number of 'legit' marks. The scammers username could like to a page with all the comments about him or her allowing individual botters to evaluate if they think the person falls in the scammer category or are just a player who uses wikiprice to find good deals. Also this scammer list could have a button by the scammer name that allows users to add individual scammers directly to their blacklist on all their bots after having a chance to evaluate them.

    I am hoping for and looking forward to more discussion about scamming with the rest of the bot community.

  7. or do what cardbot/mtgotraders/etc bot does. When bot buys Card A for 11.25, any other of those bots will adjust buy price to 11. then on same day any of the others buy at 11, goes down to 10.75 and so on.

    MTGOLibrary couldnt do this, BUT maybe a option like:

    Quantity Correction (you could change values):
    If own =0 buy at +25%
    If own 1 to 3 buy at +15%
    if own between 4 and 7 buy at +5%
    if own >= 8 buy at -5%

    but then wikiprice would be more confusing.
    This would remove the need for Multiple bots to many users.

    1. I like this idea! It's great. Quantity correction could also be done with selling prices. This would help bots adjust to the market on their own to some degree which makes it harder to lose money due to sudden price changes. It also allows the bot to find the sweet spot for buy/sell price that maximizes sales volume. I suppose max sales volume doesn't always translate to max profit, but more sales on the bot does mean more traffic on the bot and some people will end up buying other things too.

  8. also for Albert: I just had an idea that i think is a good one, though there may be practical or other reasons for not implementing it. In my comment above I mentioned some scammer types. It may be possible to more or less completely eliminate the bot to bot type. ML has access to the trade logs for all the ML bots (i would assume), so a in theory a script could be written that compares users buying and selling trades which would identify all the users buying a card from one bot and then reselling it for more to another bot. It would then be easy to quantify how often they do such trades to see if they are casual players seeing a chance to squeeze out a few extra cards now and then, or active scammers doing a lot of damage. Obviously I have no idea of how your databases and servers are set up and even if I did I don't know anything about coding so I really don't know if it would be practical. I'd love to hear if you think the idea might be possible to implement and if not id be interested in why it wouldn't work.
    I often feel like I am complaining when I write suggestions or report bug, but that has never so far been the case. I am quite happy with my ML bot experience, and I also understand that you are running a business and have a lot to do so I am completely understanding of responses like ''It's more work than its worth'' as reason for not implementing the scammer hunting script or any other suggestions you might get.

  9. with "quantity correction" you could even have a bulk buy price. like anything you have over 16 cards would buy 0.00x per common 0.0x per uncommon etc, this would defnatelly reduce the amount of bots i use (as my bots have all different pricing).

  10. Sure, I won't implement an automatic wide-range blacklist, I will rather leave the choice to the individuals. I must say I am not a fan of banning and I will always say 'think twice before banning a user' :-) . One should always be careful when banning, and use this only as an 'extreme' remedy.

  11. Im not really a fan of blacklisting people either. I fear that many magic players who use wikiprice for finding good deals may inacurately get labled as scammers and then lots of bot owners will blindly blacklist them. That's why i made the suggestions above as possible ways to rank identify scammers. Not saying they must be done, just a few possibilities i came up with.
    Personally i won't blacklist anyone just because they are on some list unless it is acompanied by overwhelming proof that they are abusing the system or i have personal experience with the user.
    how were you thinking of obtaining the names for the blacklist? its bad for everyone if legit users start ending up on a blacklist. I know how i would react if i was unable to trade with half the bots on wikiprice - id stop using it. Basically being able to identify true scammers and block them would be great, but i suspect a lot of regular people will start to get blacklisted too if the system for identifying scammers is too casual - and blacklisting lots of regular people is bad for everyone, even those who don't

  12. Lots of great feedback everyone. I have lots more thoughts on this topic in which I will be sharing in part 2 of this post..

  13. for me a scammer is someone that will sell like 8 of a card(usually 1 by 1) to my bots that is seriously miss-priced. this is scamming as no one happens to keep for example 8 copies (or 16 in the example earlier) of sliver Overlord foil (H09) which just happened to be well miss-priced on pricelist.

  14. i get hit by all these scammers as well thanx

  15. on the end of the day theres only 1 way to be sure you dont get scammed, which is buying very cheaply and sell cheaply (meaning no1 will sell top cards to you) or buying high and sell 10-15% above everyone else's pricelist(requires huge investment but i believe to be the best long run).

  16. I'm still trying to figure out how to implement a blacklist. Any info would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting hit by them as well. :(

    1. write their names on blacklist.txt and tick the option to load the blacklist on the general options of your bot

  17. Carlos,

    How do you not fall into your own defination of a scammer? Hint: YOU DO 100%

    But you know that already dont you? Your one of those people that thinks the rules are different for you, that you can call everyone and anyone a cheat or scammer while doing the exact same thing yourself, arent you?

  18. Funny. Every person that thinks Buying Low and Selling High is a scam because they took advantage of the Prices ,is just a little Naive. You guys don't even know who the real "scammers" are and how you are getting scammed.
    The funny thing is. When I get blocked ,it's almost ALWAYS one of the Dealers that are the true scammers here.
    I can point out , show you ,who is "stealing" your profits and Making you "compete" at prices that are cutting your profits so thin and it's not a Buyer/Seller. It's your fellow Bot user.
    Amazing the Mentality of blaming a person for doing what's natural and being so Blind to the real Crime.
    After reading these post , I am reporting EVERY Bot user that has blocked me. I still have Credits owed to me , so they are stealing and exploiting the system.
    I was just writing it off. But after seeing the people blame the innocent people in this and not the Real Criminals. I am going to take the time to Report the Bot users who Blocked me , Stole my Remaining Credit and Never messaged me to why.
    I did nothing wrong.
    I can see what's happening and who is doing it. It's amazing that there can be a whole community and not 1 other person sees it. I could help the Bot maker to fix this. I already see several "Fixes" and changes that NEED to be made. I contacted them but have not herd back. Oh Well. Bot remains less than it could be and very exploitable.

  19. Wait a minute here...

    You guys buy stuff from everyone else at lower prices, you give them fractional tickets that normally you keep a significant balance of when all added up, and then you have the gall to whine that someone buys cards from you at a certain price, and then re-sells them later because they've gone up?

    You sound like a bunch of thin skinned children...

  20. You people have no idea what a scammer is, the process of buying low and selling high is a basic rule of commerce. If you are truly concerned with being cheated then you need to pay more attention to updating your prices. The only person at fault is anyone who is to lazy to oversee there own transactions or foolish enough to get into more transactions then they can handle. And as for blocking buyers from future transactions, if you do not want to sell to someone that is your choice but if you still owe that person credit (credit that you promised to deliver in exchange for a good or product) then you are morally responsible for finding a way to compensate the buyer for that transaction or you are nothing more than a thief attempting to create a monopoly through cooperation with other bots to fix the prices of your common goods.