The public contract mechanism is too precise, and scammers are taking advantage of this to make easy ISK.
I’m proposing having a random delay of between 10 minutes and a half hour on all public contract updates. The only exception to this would be contract completion since the consequences of not meeting the delivery deadline are severe.
What does this mean for players in various roles:
Traders - other than station traders, no one would care about a delay given that delivery times are in hours/days
Haulers - mixed since haulers might be going to a system to pick up a contract that was grabbed 20 minutes ago and not shown as such yet. However, haulers will rejoice knowing that they have a good chance of delivering scam contract that might otherwise be prevented by a change in docking rights.
Scammers - adamantly oppose since the proposed delays mean scammers have to put great effort to determine when to change docking rights. Because scammers can no longer rely on knowing when a contract has been accepted and the plastic wrap can be shift among alts, scammers would have to focus on delivery to quiet system and scan ships for hours to catch someone.
GMs/CCP - appreciate having delays in contract updates since I’m sure scam contracts generate lots of customer support tickets. Because scammers have to put in more effort, there will be less of them.
When citadels first appeard, I advocated strongly for introducing a delay into the process of changing docking rights so that contracts could be completed. Clearly that’s not going to happen. So maybe the other way of handling this is to introduce the delay in the public contracting mechanism.
I would think CCP would appreciate having a delay in how contracts are processed. This shifts this activity from real time to non-real time, and that puts less demands on the system. And if the delay is random for each contract (say between 10 and 30 minutes), CCP gets alot of latitude in doing updates to contracts if other activities in the game suddenly demand system resources.