So yesterday I talked about the surf icons, today I’m going to give a few ways for owners to actually detect and stop cheating. This is where intuition and experience comes into play.
- Talk to your members. This is a big one, because someone bot surfing isn’t going to be talking to you in chat. The whole point of bot surfing is to not be viewing the ads. It’s one of the top reasons I like having chats. Think someone is cheating? Have a weird feeling? Talk in chat and see who’s actually paying attention. That’s something a bot can’t account for.
- Talk to other owners. You’ll need to find people you can actually trust. But talk to other owners. Most cheating happens in groups. It’s like a group of people in one room saying lets go take advantage of sites this way. So if you’re talking with other owners and they start noticing weird things, you can be on the look out for them too. That’s something a bot can’t account for.
- Pay attention to your site. Analyze logs, etc for oddities. We spend hundreds a month on sophisticated monitoring. So when I see 1000′s of hits on our surfbar images, but not that many hits to our surfbar, I know someone is trying to teach their bots how to read the surf icons. So it’s time to change things up.
- Hire a programmer. Like I said in the last post, having your site work different then others is crucial to stopping bots. It doesn’t have to be hugely different, but minor changes to make it different enough can be all it takes. And changing it periodically can frustrate the bot creators because they have to keep updating their bot.
- Talk to your members. Again, communication is a huge part of this thing. Having Larry, Brenda, and Bill on our team allows us to know our members in ways we couldn’t before when it was just Tim from StartXchange. They know who is who and who to look out for. It’s the biggest line of defense.
That’s what I got for you for now. I may talk more about this in the future, I might not. I don’t go into specifics because the people who make bots read this blog as well. In the end I want you as a user to see that a site with icons A isn’t any better than icons B. It’s silly that was even suggested.
You should look for sites that have great customer support, because that is what attracts real people like you. And you want real people seeing your ads. There will always be cheaters, always be bots, always be problems. But when it comes down to it, the people running the site are what take care of those problems. So if they aren’t there to help you, they aren’t going to be paying attention to that other stuff either.
And I guess the final point is, looks can be deceiving. Especially when it comes to security. I’ve changed our surfbars many times without users knowing. That’s because I want our real people to be able to use our sites as they have been, and make it difficult for bots, not the other way around. So don’t judge a site by what you see ;-)