I’ve put up a number of posts concerning bots of late.
Till recently I thought the bots were focusing exclusively on the same area of modules which I deal with, namely POS structures etc. However, I recently had call to sell and purchase a lot of items elsewhere across the market and I noticed what appeared to be the same botting mechanics / buy / sell orders on many other items. In short, it now appears anything which is flagged up as having a sizable gap between buy / sell (the bread and butter of station traders) is now target by the same bots - which I suspect all relate to the same syndicate.
The other thing I noticed was the numbers in Jita local, which now sits at 1,100 to 1,200 a day during off peak hours. (if I remember rightly it sat around 700 - 800 offpeak about a year ago) Running some checks one morning - of the 1,200, 974 are not in any alliance, and 611 of these are in NPC Corps. Does anyone think 1,200 is strangely high for off peak and also weird that 50% are NPC Corps.?
The other thing I’ve done is run a number of checks on local over 4 days, cross referencing different times, seeing which toons basically stayed logged in 24/7. My personal belief is, based upon what I know, seen and experienced for the last 8 months is their are between 200 to 250 bot accounts currently operating across the Jita market -
So, back to the bots.
To cut a long story short, some time back in the course of trading I identified 40 odd market bot characters which I reported to CCP. After a period of time they eventually banned them all one morning - basically, on the day I got an update on the ticket saying now closed, at the same time they all disappeared from local and you can’t bring up their accounts anymore on searches etc. I mention this incase I get the usual, how do you know they are bots, they are probably players etc etc - they were and are definitely bots
Very quickly, new bots began to appear on the same commodities. I again gathered evidence and names and reported these. This time CCP just closed the ticket saying it was in hand. These bots are still operating and have been for the last couple of months, so whatever in hand means, is meant little for the last 2 months. In frustration, as basically my market trading had ceased due to them, I resubmitted a ticket, naming them again, along with two dozen other names I’ve since identified -in total I submitted 51 identified names, 37 of which incidentally also had corroborating sus contract histories, typically found with RMT’ing ie shuttle for 10 bill etc. - I’m currently awaiting the outcome of this ticket.
So, … as mentioned, I’ve been scanning the rest of the markets and I’ve found what appears to be the same bots operating across PI, tech3 subsystems, drones, ships, ship modules and many other areas of the market.
In short, if you play the market currently and the item you are competing for has a sizable buy / sell gap then you are probably competing against bots.
Now, how to spot them.
They operate on anything which has a sizable buy / sell difference
95% of their buy orders will be for 3 days or less, so they typically show as 2 days 3 hours etc - I’ve figured out why but not going to explain why as this posts long enough already. (yes, some players use this setting, but realistically not many)
The bigger the gap between buy and sell, the more 3 day buy orders they will place
They work as follows - say they have 6 buy orders up on an item, each will be by a different toon. (yes, one toon can put all these up but they don’t work like this) Lets call the toons, A, B, C through to F. Each runs a botting programme, in this case with 6 toons, each programme. which checks to see if they are top buy order, will loop every 30 minutes, with each toon having their programme timed to run 5 minutes after the last toons. This way, on the item in question, they are checking every 5 minutes they collectively are top, as buy orders are filled gaps begin to appear in the loop so the over bidding becomes less aggressive, that is until the orders are replaced 2 or 3 days later. (one of the reasons for 3 days)
So example, you place you buy order up. Toon A’s programme runs and they better yours. 5 mins later you increase yours, this time B’s bot programme runs and this one now leapfrogs yours, A stays where it is… and so on.
They don’t compete against their own orders, and as a rule they increase by .01 but I have seen other amounts fixed
If they have refilled their buy orders and have multiple orders up, they will better yours within 4 to 5 minutes. Where orders are sparse due to being filled, it will take longer
Using multiple toons means they can mask their actions better, they have resilience to banning and they can stagger them throughout the day if required
If they have buy orders up, they will also have multiple sell orders up on the same item - These are standard 90 day sell orders
They have fixed ceilings on the buy orders, so you can’t push them up into their own sell orders, equally sell orders have fixed lows.
99% of the time the toon in question will be in an NCP Corp. If they are in a Corp it will be named after the toon and they will be the only member.
If you push their buy price up and then drop yours back again, they won’t readjust down.
You can pull their sell prices down with just one item
With a bit of patients, you can pull the buy and sell profit margins close enough together that they leave the item - which is what I’ve done
Here are just some examples which show their buy orders and the leapfrogging (mine in blue, theirs < 3 days) and I’ve marked them with an arrow
POS Structures - Amarr Control Towers Medium - Good example which not only shows the bots leapfrogging of buy orders immediately after my own - but also shows me pushing their buy orders up and their sell orders own - Pretty certain this is 100% bot buy orders, bar own- https://www.imageupload.co.uk/image/E57R
PI - Polytextiles - Good example of how dumb they can be - The bot has buy orders up for thousands of units, I better him by one unit and it reacts to leapfrog me. The top 20 odd buy orders I am sure are bots https://www.imageupload.co.uk/image/E57h
Subsystems - Tengu Offensive - Magnetic Infusion Basin - Notice how I pushed the price up for a single unit, I didn’t mark the bot 's buy orders as there are too many, <3 day https://www.imageupload.co.uk/image/E57J
Ships - Absolution - Shows leapfrogging of orders immediately after my own orders placed - suspect 99% of buy orders on this bots https://www.imageupload.co.uk/image/E575
There are hundreds of items affected, have a look yourself and if you don’t believe me, place your own buy / sell orders up where you see the signs, play with them by pushing up and down, sell to some of the buy orders and have a look at the buyers contract history etc - you will see I’m right. I’ve identified 51 bot accounts on the market and I’m sure there are many many more… with numbers increasing every day - praise be the Alpha toon
So, why am I posting this here and now.
I want to raise everyone’s awareness about this. If you are aware you may be able to counter it and potentially screw up the botters day.
I want players to start making noise about this - this will kill the market and long term will kill Eve - just have a look at what happened on the Chinese server with bots and their inflation. If you wondered why plex keeps going up in price, here’s the reason- If we don’t make noise then history has taught us CCP are slow to react
I want CCP to acknowledge this is a problem and that they prioritise dealing with it
Make NOISE people !!!