Doc Lithius/Gold Spam Amalgamation Article

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The old, pre-2.1.0 article can be found here.

Notice: Please don't edit my article... If you have something to say, please use the discussion page instead. Thank you.

What is a "Gold Spammer"? Edit

In short, a "gold spammer" is someone who advertises in-game services for real money, also known as "real-money services". See gold spam for more details.

Types of Spam Edit

  • "Say" Spam: Simply put, this happens when someone walks into a crowded area and uses /say or /yell to advertise real-money services.
  • Whisper Spam: A gold spammer who "/whispers" (or "/tells") you with a real-money service site.
  • Repeated Whisper Spam: Similar to whisper spam, except this one usually has one than one whisper line at a time.
  • Mail Spam: Real-money services sent via in-game mail.
  • Chat Channel Spam: Same as whisper spam, but spoken directly in any one of the in-game channels such as General, LookingForGuild, or LocalDefense.
  • Invitation/Party Spam: Someone can invite you into a party and post spam into the party chat. This and "Say Spam" is pretty common practice since Patch 2.1.0.

Regarding Trial Accounts Edit

A common misconception is that all spam -- be it mail, channels, whispers, or otherwise -- is generated from accounts created by Trial Accounts[1]. This is not entirely true, especially with the advent of the guards added in Patch 2.1.0, and here's why:

  • In-game chat channels will be unavailable.

What This Means: Characters sending messages in any channel in any region are not Trial Accounts because they cannot use public chat channels.

  • Accounts will no longer be able to whisper other players unless they have been added to those players' friends lists or have received a whisper from them first.

What This Means: It's pretty much impossible for gold spammers to use trial accounts to spam-whisper people unless the people have added their names to their friends list. The likeliness of this is very low.

  • Characters will not be able to invite players into a party.
  • Characters will not be able to join parties with other players above level 20.

What This Means: Pretty self-explanitory. What this means is that invitation spam can't come from trial accounts at all unless someone invites a spammer into the group.

How Do Gold Spammers Get Your Name? Edit

This part isn't positively clear as people have been soliciting services since the game started.

  • Some theorize that gold spammers simply use the /who command followed by random key words such as zone names, level ranges, random strings of characters, races, and other things to get a series of names on their list. They then combine this information with macros (or possibly even AddOns) to mass-whisper folks.
  • Similarly, it has recently been theorized that gold spammers have been using third-party "realm census" sites to collect a random assortment of names then mass-whispers them whether they're online or not. Further speculation addresses the official World of Warcraft Armory for the exact same usage. This could explain why when you get a spam whisper, everyone in your guild does as well, as most census sites and The Armory keep track of guilds and members of the guilds.
  • Tying in with the two above, a spammer may instead opt to use this information for Mail Spam.
  • Lastly, spammers may just be reckless and random about things, simply wandering around and /saying or /yelling their advertisements wherever possible.

What Can I Do to Defend Myself Against Spammers? Edit

Thanks to the advent of the features of Patch 2.1.0, whisper spam is a thing of the past. However, there's still /say, /yell, and Chat Channel spam as well as invite spam. Your best bet is to report the spam you see by right-clicking the names of the spammers in-question and selecting "Report Spam". It's entirely up to you if you want to accept party invites from strangers on the chance you'll find a gold spammer to report, but for the most part, it's probably not a good idea to accept random invites. And of course, if you just want to ignore any and all gold spam, there are a plethora of AddOns you can use which automatically censor/ignore messages with keywords in them and block party/raid invites from people not on your friends list.

What Can Blizzard Do to Defend Me Against Spammers? Edit

As of Patch 2.1.0, there are are a number of new spam-prevention features added into the game[2]. What we know is that they make reporting spammers far easier (à la SpamSentry's two-click method) and auto-ignore reported players. This applies not just to your current character, but to your account, as well! Very nice, Blizzard! There are, of course, other things put into play, but these undocumented changes are to remain undocumented by Blizzard for obvious reasons.

Effectiveness of the Patch Edit

15-Day statistics moved to here.

Since the major changes as of 2.1.0 and a lawsuit filed against Peons 4 Hire, typical "Gold Spam" via whispers is a thing of the past! However, the truly determined have found a way around this system. Simply put, they create a new, Level 1 character, but they don't whisper users with their various website plugs. Instead request a Party or Raid Group! Should the user accept, they'll find themselves in a conversation such as this:

[03:11:51] [Winifredmi]: Hey wanna get to 60 or 70 the fastest way possible?
[03:12:00] [Winifredmi]: You can get to 60-70 today with this stat changer
[03:12:01] [Styringer]: Don't you have anything better to do?
[03:12:08] [Winifredmi]: goto to learn more!
[03:12:10] Your group has been disbanded.

At this point, the user can simply right-click the user's name and select "Report Spam", instantly sending a report to an online GM.

List of Ideas to Stop Gold Spammers Edit

A number of people have brought a number of ideas into play about spammers and how to stop them. Here are just a few of them and some opinions to go along with them.

Introduce Player-Set Whisper Filters Edit

  • The Good: In addition to the Ignore List, players would be able to set their whispers threshold to only access whispers from certain levels, level ranges, or even no one but friends and guild mates.
  • The Bad: Unless a notice was returned to the person whispering someone who has filters on, this would cause a lot of miscommunication and lack-of-communications between players due to peoples' paranoia about spam and junk whispers.
  • The Ugly: Elitism. 'nuff said.

Put Stricter Filters on the Word Filter Edit

  • The Good: This would scramble the URLs of certain gold sites or, depending on how the filters would work, simply make it so the message can't be sent.
  • The Bad: ...but only if you actually have the Word Filter turned on.
  • The Ugly: People would still complain about this if it were implemented but more than likely wouldn't understand why it isn't working for them.

Sue the Gold Spam Sites Edit

  • The Good: Blizzard could more than likely win these cases hands down and thus net a few extra bucks in the process...
  • The Bad: ...if they could sue some of these overseas sites in the first place. Something about international laws makes this probability almost impossible, given most of the sites are overseas.
  • The Ugly: In theory, if Blizzard managed to get some of these sites, much like the "emulation scene" or "peer-to-peer music sharing scene," even more of these sites would pop up and spam would be even higher and more prevalent than now.

Completely Remove Trial Accounts Edit

  • The Good: This would stop the Trial Accounts from being used for gold spam.
  • The Bad: Where do I begin? Well, firstly and foremost, this would make it so users would have to actually go out and buy the game if they wanted to try it for themselves. This would also give you less incentive to purchase Game Time cards instead of using the online subscription process seeing as Game Time cards also come with a free Guess Pass Key good for ten days of limited play after you download the client. Furthermore, this would not stop the spam altogether. All of the above ways of spamming, in addition to whispers, would still be open and used like normal. Blizzard would essentially be shooting themselves in the foot if they decided to permenantly close Trial Accounts due to spam abuse.
  • The Ugly: Think the forums are spammed now? If Trial Accounts were suddenly pulled, there would be no end to the riotting.

Disconnect Anyone Who Sends More Than # Whispers Within # Seconds/Minutes Edit

  • The Good: This would knock a good deal of spammers offline due to the fact that most spammers spam entire guilds at any given moment they send Whispers.
  • The Bad: Unfortuantely, this would also knock off some legitimate players who are just extremely chatty and of course nullify certain beneficial AddOns that "spam" things like Enchantment Lists or Crafting Lists to people upon request.

Implement a Live Filtering System for Names Edit

Note: For further information about this specific suggestion, please visit the Naming Policy page.[3]
  • The Good: With a name authentication system in place (and presumbaly live people to authenticate some of the less "mechanical" names such as "Beelzebub" or "Gyarados"), less and less peculiar names as well as some of the more "clever" misspellings or respelling of "famous" names will be seen. ("Légolas" is one.)
  • The Bad: This will unfortunately mean that naming conventions will have to be considerably more strickly enforced and a great deal of names, be they famous or not, may not make it past the "censors"... Furthermore, determined spammers would easily circumvent the filters and filterers just so they can spam however they feel like. It's not just the gibberish names that spam people, afterall.
  • The Ugly: Forum spam. "My name wasn't approved! I demand to know why!", "hay i want my name its 'legoman' plz approv kthx", "I think the approval system is a ridiculous waste of everyone's time and Blizzard's money. Some people don't have the time to wait around an hour or more to get their character names approved.", etc. etc. On the European servers, it would alienate nationalities who view a name with accents or marks around the name as legitimate (e.g. the Swedish names Åsa and Åke are legitimate female and male names in Sweden, and are quite common.)

Disallow Players Under Level # from Sending Mail Edit

  • The Good: This would probably put a slight damper on the (on some servers) elusive "mail spam" people talk about where someone advertises their real-money-services site via mail as opposed to via word-of-mouth.
  • The Bad: This would prevent people from making "bank alts" (alternate characters used exclusively for holding and soliciting items to the player's main characters or to the guildmates' characters) and leaving them sit at low levels as most bank alts need that mail function to send and recieve items.
  • The Ugly: Honestly, is it really that hard to hit that little "Return to Sender" button? Or even "delete"? You cannot get viruses or keylogged through in-game mail. Period. Furthermore, the outcry of lowbies being unable to mail their pals would be pretty high considering most, if not all "bank alts" are Level 1. A lot of people just don't see the point in levelling up a character they never intend to actually play.

Further Reading Edit

1. Trial Account Restrictions
2. SpamSentry at Curse Gaming
3. WoW Forums: Upcoming (Now-Implemented) Spam-Prevention Features
4. WoW Policies: Naming Policy

See Also Edit

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