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.
I have to point out one flaw with this system; while it would make it more difficult for scammers, they could still post a very well paying contract and try to accept it with an alt every 10 or 15 minutes - after all, that would still accurately show whether it was taken or not. Since scammers typically put empty containers in packages, all this means is a bit more busywork for them, as well as transferring ISK from issuer alt to checking alt every attempt.
It means more busywork, but not really more “effort” - there would be no need to hang in space, check hauler’s cargo, or anything of the sort to continue the scam. This change would provide more of a soft disincentive to scammers, but sitll leave it as an extremely profitable venture for the time spent, with no extra tools to avoid scams for haulers - and the annoyance could prove to be too much of a negative. After all, keeping contracts visible and “open” kind of amounts to the game displaying false information, which is a very frustrating game mechanic to deal with.
If scammers are creating and deleting contracts every 15 minute (or every hour), then I feel they’re finally having to put some effort into their scam. Currently, all they do is create a scam contract and leave it there for 2 weeks. That’s not much work.
If you prefer a random range of time between 30 minutes and 45 minutes, that’d be fine too. But whatever range of time you choose, I don’t think it should be under 5 minutes (since the current push technology already provides this much uncertainty) or over two hours. In GHSOL, we delay updating our public website’s list of completed contract by 2 hours just so gankers cant use this to precisely know our jump freighter’s location.
Remember, I’m not trying to eliminate scam contracts…just have the uncertainty in the system require more effort from the scammers (and possibly haulers too). And if contracts are very predictably rotated, then it’s time to make accusations of “bots”.
To me at least, the little bit of extra effort of creating/removing the contract every 10-15 minutes is meaningless. It’s only 5-10 clicks extra, so it just doesn’t feel worth it as a deterrant to scams. On the other hand, if it goes to 45 minutes of delay, that’s far too long and would make the public contracts page essentially useless - first filter out ignored users, then ignore those through lowsec, and what’s left is half fake contracts that don’t actually exist anymore. While i can’t disagree with trying to find creative solutions to the problem of instant/no-risk/no-tools-for-avoidance citadel courier scams, a limit doesn’t seem like the way for me. Too short, it’s pointless. Too long, it’s extremely annoying for actual couriers. And all the while it can be circumvented with a few more clicks for the scammer and an alt (and let’s face it, the people actually doing these scams a lot already have dozens and dozens of alts anyway)- in the end, i think a delay would probably just do harm and not much good.
That said, what you mentioned with your own service could make more sense - a delay to private contracts could maybe help allow the courier to make the delivery, as the issuer couldn’t just try to accept to see if it was taken. However, they could still try to delete it and if the hauler has turned contract notifications off (i imagine most have) they wouldn’t know the difference between a freshly issued one or one that’s been taken down/remade 5 times in the past hour. Having an “issued to” history could help avoid that, however, and then you’d have a system where the issuer is actually unable to know whether their contract was taken until the time is up.
In the end, if a delay were to work in making citadel scams not a 100% assured catch, it would require more than just a delay, as the issuer is at all times able to check if their contract is taken or not, even with a built-in delay to the one text field. Adding a small amount of effort (in the form of clicks) wouldn’t really change the status quo, since ~20-30 clicks in an hour for billions of ISK is still a stupidly high reward/effort ratio. The only way i can really see it changing is if the ACL system changed (which we know won’t) or if the system got major changes. Perhaps that drop box that has been mentioned by CCP devs (that would force scammers to be in space and gank the hauler), or some other large rework of contracts.
I dont want to wait hours for items to show up when I’m using contracts to move them between characters who may or may not happen to be in hisec or w/e the items may be. It’s already a ■■■■ wait on assets window to show them in the first place.
Conversely, the docking changes might have happened AFTER posting the contract, because of the delay in the contract updating. All it takes is flipping the switch on occasion to make sure the contract is picked up when it says there is access.
Um… scammers can oppose this idea for more mundane and legitimate reasons you know? This suggestion kinda loses more merit than you realize just for trying to marginalize a legitimate playstyle.
They could not give a ■■■■ either way. If someone makes a ticket regarding being scammed, the answer is literally “live and learn.”
I’ve always thought that CCP takes a little TOO free a hand with contract scams (and a few other narrow kinds, such as intentionally unfillable buy orders), because unlike true “scams” these abuse the game mechanics themselves to put players in a no-win state.
I’m fine with EVE allowing scamming, I’m sure it saves CCP a tremendous amount of effort chasing down “borderline scams” where some people would say “that’s a scam, ban him!” and other people would be equally reasonable saying “it’s a deal gone bad, but there was no scam here”.
But I really think abusing game mechanics is the point at which “scam” becomes “exploit” when you’re taking advantage of the interaction of different mechanics to create a situation where the game itself is enforcing the terms of the scam. The game itself doesn’t enforce “double your ISK” or other scams, you transferred isk using the chat interface, you shouldn’t have EXPECTED to get it back. On the other hand, when the game itself is enforcing the terms of an agreement mechanically, you should expect those terms to be upheld.
My personal opinion is they should implement a system where issuing a contract to a destination requires that YOU have permissions to that station, when the contract is issued a temporary docking right is created for the courier, which cannot be revoked or rescinded in any manner while the contract is valid and in progress.
Another alternative if they want to make access rights fully controllable at all times would be “when access rights are changed, all contracts are nullified immediately, the collateral is refunded, the good are teleported back to the station they came from and the character they came from and a mail is sent to the courrier notifying them that the contract has been rescinded by the system.”
Exactly, but I think the requirement would have to be formalized if you made contracts act as a non-revocable temporary docking permission that acts outside the normal docking permissions system and means that no matter what, you can always deliver the load.
“Well, something needs to be done. When I search public courier contracts…when I get to the third page I get throttle”
I get throttled too, and I never use to. But then I had filter controls so that at most a couple hundred contracts would be returned. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with contract involving a citadel, so my contract count using the same filters as before regularly exceeds 500.
Maybe this is what will finally cause CCP to take steps to make the contract searches less intensive. CCP was always concerned that raising the item limit for a contract to 500 would put too much load on the system. These scam contracts and all the haulers getting hundreds of irrelevant contracts in the results might finally motivate CCP to put a generic “no citadel” filter (like the “high sec”, “low sec” and “null sec” checkboxes that already exist).
Let’s hope CCP can address this before haulers’ contract searches overwhelm the server due to hundreds of extra scam contracts in the results.
I’m glad this was addressed with Citadel drop boxes. My searches are soooo much faster now, and I don’t have literally pages of scam contracts that I have to skip over (since I won’t play the cat and mouse game of blocking scammers).
I’m proud to say that I never fell for a scam even once. But I had to take the hard line of never accepting a contract that finished in a citadel for many many months. That really detracted from this game and certainly caused me to respond in surveys that “I do nothing with citadels”. And of course, I wouldn’t bother to invest in one if I can’t be assured that haulers will deliver goods to them.
Were the old citadels the equivalent of old null sec POS which were supposed to revitalize that type of space, but docking rights ended up negating much of the benefits?
yes, going to pick up a haul only to find it was picked up 30 mins ago would be horrible.
More personally, I often speak to whomever picked up my contract and secretly offer them time bonuses. As a for instance i offered a famous hauler 100 mil extra to get my haul done within one hour, it was delivered as i desired, he was paid 200mil total.
probably a lot of other reasons this should never happen and won’t.