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Script: "Reliant" + HTML Script Legality Discussion

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Sedgistan
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Script: "Reliant" + HTML Script Legality Discussion

Postby Sedgistan » Mon Feb 21, 2022 4:02 am

It has come to our attention that the script identifying as "Reliant" is violating site rules. Those who have been using the script should stop doing so immediately, and contact us via Getting Help Request to confirm they have stopped using it, and to detail their previous usage of it.

We are additionally requesting that the script author(s) contact us via Getting Help Request to detail the workings of the script, and with a copy of its code.
Last edited by Sedgistan on Tue Jun 14, 2022 1:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: title, again

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New King Isles
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Postby New King Isles » Mon Feb 21, 2022 12:33 pm

More illegal scripts?

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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Tue Feb 22, 2022 4:40 pm

Is this firm confidence in a violation as the post reads, or a suspected violation?

While it has been rumored offsite to be a private, sparsely-distributed script used by a certain GP faction, is admin willing to disclose anything about the function and use of this script? There are no records easily findable on the forums or internet (i.e. git) about an NS script with that name. How about the scope of its use, by volume, duration, or frequency?

Is there any information available as to which type of violation you suspect this may be?

Is there any sort of loose deadline for the contact you're requesting, and will consideration be given for those who may not see this announcement (or perhaps even visit the site) in that window? Will you attempt to contact users of this script in order to inform them of their inclusion in this group? With Predator, we saw some folks come back to enhanced warnings for non-cooperation after simply not visiting the game during the window in which GHR's were invited...though, granted, that possibly got muddled with the fact that leaders of the main violating org were actively discouraging GHR's for a bit.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Tue Feb 22, 2022 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
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The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Tue Feb 22, 2022 11:57 pm

At present there is not anything to add to what is contained in the original announcement. We will provide further information in due course.

Players who used Reliant and who are present on the site should contact us without delay. We will take all relevant factors into account when we move onto the next stage.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Mon Mar 07, 2022 12:29 pm

We've been asked via GHR for an update on where things stand; I feel it's best to reply here.

There's no significant update to give at present. The nature of scripting violations, particularly ones that involve multiple players, is that they require admin time to investigate fully before things are handed over to the Moderator team to determine next actions. As people know, admin time is limited, so while there has been progress internally, we have not yet reached the stage where this has been handed to the Moderator team to follow up. I anticipate that when things are handed to the Moderator team, we will be able to finalise things relatively swiftly.

At present, the main thing I can say is to bear with us; it will be a while yet before there is a definitive outcome on this. In the meantime, I wish to reiterate that the announcement about the script Reliant being illegal is - and remains - correct. We have been contacted by several players who have made use of this script at various points. We are not currently working under the assumption that every usage of Reliant was necessarily illegal.

We're aware it's frustrating for those who are unsure of where they stand at present. Likewise it's frustrating for all staff members - admins who have to spend time investigating an illegal script rather than working on improving the site - and mods who would like to see this wrapped up.

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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Tue Mar 08, 2022 9:36 am

Thank you for the public update, Sedge.

While I understand that the era and the events leading to the discussion were different, I've been a part of some discussion about how in the case of Predator, the relevant threads had Staff discussing how the tool might be illegal both before the main "it's probably illegal contact us" post, and again during that period, particularly this post after both of those contact requests that detailed quite clearly what was illegal about the tool while the investigation was ongoing (March 18). Both illegalities (DOS collaboration and also scripting rules violations) were discussed publicly by Reppy and Elu even before a firm admin ruling on legality was reached. Elu then discussed the confirmed scripting violations in detail and with rules citations 2 weeks before mod action (April 2). By comparison, here there have been no staff details so far about what this tool was, did, or how it was illegal....and those who operate it clearly aren't publicly discussing it either. All staff has said is that it exists and is illegal (but not necessarily in every use case).

Is this difference just a quirk of how the Predator thread progressed, a matter of that being somewhat of a "first," and/or is there an intentional decision to be less transparent during the process this time/to follow a different procedure from that precedent?
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Tue Mar 08, 2022 10:17 am, edited 3 times in total.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Tue Mar 08, 2022 10:23 am

The Predator situation came about differently, for a whole host of reasons, and I feel there's aspects of that we'd probably run more like we are with Reliant if it came up now.

The main staff goals with situations like this are:

1) Stop illegal behaviour.
2) Punish rules violations as appropriate.
3) Explain the above to avoid future such violations.

Goal 1 is always the immediate priority, and was handled with this thread. 2 + 3 are best handled together. 3 also cannot be fully covered until the admin-side investigation is complete - I'd prefer not to give people partial or unconfirmed information on that - it's best handled when we have the full picture and can share that.

I know there's players waiting and worried that a Predator-esque mod-bomb is going to drop on them. We would all like to get this finalised as soon as possible, not least to avoid people being in a position where they're waiting with those concerns. From a mod point of view, we have no idea what/if the outcome on our part will be, because we haven't even got to that stage of the discussion yet - we don't have the information we need from the admin team yet.

I cannot put an ETA on things, as I think we've all learned you cannot put an ETA on admin time.

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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:14 am

Sedgistan wrote:The Predator situation came about differently, for a whole host of reasons, and I feel there's aspects of that we'd probably run more like we are with Reliant if it came up now.

The main staff goals with situations like this are:

1) Stop illegal behaviour.
2) Punish rules violations as appropriate.
3) Explain the above to avoid future such violations.

Goal 1 is always the immediate priority, and was handled with this thread. 2 + 3 are best handled together. 3 also cannot be fully covered until the admin-side investigation is complete - I'd prefer not to give people partial or unconfirmed information on that - it's best handled when we have the full picture and can share that.

I know there's players waiting and worried that a Predator-esque mod-bomb is going to drop on them. We would all like to get this finalised as soon as possible, not least to avoid people being in a position where they're waiting with those concerns. From a mod point of view, we have no idea what/if the outcome on our part will be, because we haven't even got to that stage of the discussion yet - we don't have the information we need from the admin team yet.

I cannot put an ETA on things, as I think we've all learned you cannot put an ETA on admin time.


Thanks, Sedge. So we can expect that sort of clarity further down the road, got it.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Fri Mar 18, 2022 10:07 am

I understand that it's the run-up to April Fools season and that there's other things on admins' plate too (Frontiers, HTML bots proposed rules revisions, etc), but it seems a little ridiculous that as of the start of next week, a month will have passed since this was confidently declared illegal without resolution.

I don't even have an axe potentially looming over my neck, just an interest in how my faction may have been fighting against an illegal script on the other side + an enduring interest in whether or not my faction's code reviews would have caught the issue if it came through the pipeline I supervise - but even by "admin time," a month to wrap up something from the point it was already confidently declared illegal seems excessive.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Fri Mar 18, 2022 10:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:07 pm

It's potentially going to be several more weeks. It requires a ridiculous amount of work - and admin work, which is the most limited thing here - to investigate these kinds of cases. There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.

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Wymondham
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Postby Wymondham » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:11 pm

Sedgistan wrote:There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.

Is this a policy that is genuinely being considered by admin/moderation or just a turn of phrase for frustrating this issue has been for site staff?
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Free Algerstonia
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Postby Free Algerstonia » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:20 pm

Banning scripts sound amazing tbh for things such as z-day and n-day because those have straight up rigged the game. Dont really care on r/d because when I participate I am a mobile player.
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Postby Madjack » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:22 pm

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:I don't even have an axe potentially looming over my neck

Axe here is a fitting metaphor, given that your only interest in continuing to pursue this is that you and others in your faction have an axe to grind over past misdeeds that many of you still don't accept that were proportionately punished.
Last edited by Madjack on Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:29 pm

Sedgistan wrote:It's potentially going to be several more weeks. It requires a ridiculous amount of work - and admin work, which is the most limited thing here - to investigate these kinds of cases. There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.


Interesting. You probably can't say, but is the difficulty of investigation because the author/operators have been uncooperative? I hope not, that would be unfortunate, and show a total lack of lessons learned from the past. =/ I mean, if there *is* cooperation, and it's already decidedly illegal, what's taking a month and "several more weeks" to investigate??

Madjack wrote:
Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:I don't even have an axe potentially looming over my neck

Axe here is a fitting metaphor, given that your only interest in continuing to pursue this is that you and others in your faction have an axe to grind over past misdeeds that many of you still don't accept that proportionately punished.


As I said in the rest of that quote, I have an interest both for gameplay reasons (consider rereading "My Thoughts" for the inverse perspective on wondering how your operations have been affected by facing an illegal script - and that's in a case where multiple script authors including Chingis and Atagait shortly thereafter proved that you could do what Predator did *better* and 100% legally) and also because I organize TBH's script review process, a process which has existed in its present form since Predator. As the person overseeing our authorship and review process, I do have a vested interest in learning what was illegal, and how, to double check that our authors are aware of whatever the issue was here, and that our methods would catch this during a review.

Also, clearly, as Sedge just said, the fallout here could affect everyone. That alone is reason enough for me to request clarity here.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:54 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Dawn Denac
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Postby Dawn Denac » Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:51 pm

Madjack wrote:
Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:I don't even have an axe potentially looming over my neck

Axe here is a fitting metaphor, given that your only interest in continuing to pursue this is that you and others in your faction have an axe to grind over past misdeeds that many of you still don't accept that were proportionately punished.


The axe, as Sedge pointed out, is quite possibly leaning over everyone's (or every script's) neck from + what I would assume to be is just burnout from having to deal with this and other issues constantly doesn't help that.

For once in GP's lifespan, maybe not flinging crap at eachother like agitated chimpanzees in a zoo could help with that.
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Roavin
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Postby Roavin » Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:03 pm

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:By comparison, here there have been no staff details so far about what this tool was, did, or how it was illegal....and those who operate it clearly aren't publicly discussing it either.


I can fill in some details.

Reliant is a tool for quicker defender update operations, basically. It has features also found in the old Telescope (which was never public but had been relatively widely circulated), Breeze++ (particularly the keybind aspect) and Koru (also an update script, though with more of a tagging focus), as well as a few innovations of its own.

Reliant was built with site compliance in mind from the beginning, and its source code contains comments to that effect. While Reliant was kept under close wraps from other players, it identifies itself in every request to the website, which is (presumably) how site staff found out about it. The relevant code even contains a comment that explicitly links the forum thread where Eluvatar recommends how these kinds of scripts should identify themselves. To facilitate legality, Reliant's initial release candidate was code reviewed by another player specifically to check for site violations, which led to further changes to fix a possible edge case.

Here are two screenshots from Reliant's source code to demonstrate this:

Image


Image


Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:It's potentially going to be several more weeks. It requires a ridiculous amount of work - and admin work, which is the most limited thing here - to investigate these kinds of cases. There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.


Interesting. You probably can't say, but is the difficulty of investigation because the author/operators have been uncooperative? I hope not, that would be unfortunate, and show a total lack of lessons learned from the past. =/ I mean, if there *is* cooperation, and it's already decidedly illegal, what's taking a month and "several more weeks" to investigate??


We have been as cooperative as we possibly could. Once this thread was posted:
  • Site staff were given a copy of the full source code by two players independently
  • Site staff were given access to the git repository which was used to develop Reliant
  • Site staff were offered access to the channel used by Reliant users to discuss it
  • Site staff were given a log excerpt from the discussion following the above mentioned code review about how to better follow site rules
  • Site staff were given a full list of players with access to Reliant
  • Every player on that list has also GHR'd, and many of them also provided the packed version of Reliant
  • ... and probably more worth mentioning that I'm forgetting

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:As the person overseeing our authorship and review process, I do have a vested interest in learning what was illegal, and how, to double check that our authors are aware of whatever the issue was here, and that our methods would catch this during a review.


Unfortunately, at this time, we have no idea what is illegal about it either, except that we were told that it is.
Last edited by Roavin on Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dawn Denac
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Postby Dawn Denac » Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:13 pm

Third Edit because Roavin responded to it (Sorry mods last time I swear): I'm going to err on the side you can't say anything due to the staff's investigation into the matter, but on the off chance you can, do you yourself or other users of Reliant have any theories on -why- it might be illegal, or are you in the dark as well in that regard?
Last edited by Dawn Denac on Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:14 pm

Roavin wrote:snip


I greatly appreciate you adding context and your side, and I'm glad to hear what you have to say there.

If that's the case, I'm even more mystified as to what is going to take a second month to investigate, and create threats of banning a whole class of scripts. @Admin, not @You; given the above I imagine you're just as frustrated.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Roavin
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Postby Roavin » Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:30 pm

Dawn Denac wrote:I'm going to err on the side you can't say anything due to the staff's investigation into the matter, but on the off chance you can, do you yourself or other users of Reliant have any theories on -why- it might be illegal, or are you in the dark as well in that regard?


We're totally in the dark, and even our few educated guesses are a stretch.
Last edited by Roavin on Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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" — Tim

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Dawn Denac
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Postby Dawn Denac » Fri Mar 18, 2022 1:31 pm

Roavin wrote:
Dawn Denac wrote:I'm going to err on the side you can't say anything due to the staff's investigation into the matter, but on the off chance you can, do you yourself or other users of Reliant have any theories on -why- it might be illegal, or are you in the dark as well in that regard?


We're totally in the dark, and even our few educated guesses are a stretch.


Well, I wish you only the best. This isn't a pleasant experience for anyone by my guess, so I hope everything works out.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Fri Mar 18, 2022 2:02 pm

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:Interesting. You probably can't say, but is the difficulty of investigation because the author/operators have been uncooperative?

No, as per Roavin's post.

Reliant violated, at a minimum, the simultaneity rule. It also potentially "execute[d] a restricted action in any way other than by immediately responding to a user's mouse click (or similar input) at the ratio of one click to one action". I must note that in both cases, this does not necessarily apply to all usage of Reliant, whether recent or over its history, or by all those that have used it. Trying to determine that, as well as whether it was only those using Reliant in certain ways that violated the rules, is what requires significant investigation by admin.

We have two active members of the Admin team. Only one of them is carrying out the investigation of this case, and they have very limited time at present.

Wymondham wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.

Is this a policy that is genuinely being considered by admin/moderation or just a turn of phrase for frustrating this issue has been for site staff?

It has genuinely been put forward as a potential option.

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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Fri Mar 18, 2022 2:07 pm

The information is appreciated, thank you.
Proud Raider; General of The Black Hawks, Ret.
TG me anytime; I'm always happy to talk about anything!

The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8944227
http://www.nationstates.net/page=rmb/postid=8951258

Misley wrote:
Hobbesistan wrote:Don't think I understand the question.
The color or what?..

Jesus, Hobbes, it's 2015. You can't just call someone "the color".

Reploid Productions wrote:Raiders are endlessly creative

How Do I Telegram API?

Omnis delenda est.

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Zizou
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Postby Zizou » Fri Mar 18, 2022 2:21 pm

Sedgistan wrote:There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.

I sincerely hope that this is not the route we end up going down. Scripts that interact with the HTML site have significantly improved the NS experience for many different groups of players, and it would be a shame to see them go.

I'm also a bit confused on what exactly the staff is exasperated about. The only major recent incidents I can recall are with Storm, where there was cooperation with the moderators and the script was promptly fixed, and then this, where there also seems to be full cooperation with the moderators. Now obviously there may be things going on behind the scenes that we're not aware of, but if this is all there is, I'm not sure why there's this level of exasperation and angst here as well.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Fri Mar 18, 2022 2:26 pm

Zizou wrote:I'm also a bit confused on what exactly the staff is exasperated about. The only major recent incidents I can recall are with Storm, where there was cooperation with the moderators and the script was promptly fixed, and then this, where there also seems to be full cooperation with the moderators. Now obviously there may be things going on behind the scenes that we're not aware of, but if this is all there is, I'm not sure why there's this level of exasperation and angst here as well.

See:
[violet] wrote:HTML bots violate site rules on a very regular basis. It's very difficult for admin to tell whether this is because the author made a mistake, was unaware of the rules, or was trying to cheat. A large percentage of the time, when there's a major system performance problem, it's because of a bot running rampant on the HTML site. Often, I see bots that are clearly trying to stay within the rules but slip up occasionally, sending too many requests in a burst.

We built an API for bots that doesn't have this problem -- you can do whatever you like there, with no fear of accidentally falling foul of the rules. The API itself simply prevents bots from breaking the rules, and serves you data in a fast, efficient, and stable format.

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Sandaoguo
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Posts: 404
Founded: Apr 07, 2013
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Sandaoguo » Fri Mar 18, 2022 3:54 pm

Sedgistan wrote:It's potentially going to be several more weeks. It requires a ridiculous amount of work - and admin work, which is the most limited thing here - to investigate these kinds of cases. There is a chance that staff exasperation with situations like this could result in admin banning script use on the html site (as against API) entirely.

If that's the case, then quite frankly NS needs to hire developers or go open-source and let the very talented pool of developers who play this game help improve it. Because despite handwringing over all this stuff, the Scripting Era of NS has always been a direct response to poor game design and outdated UI features. Banning all script use that's not through the API will lead to an exodus of players. Nobody wants to use the API because it's a burden and 90% of the enhancements third-party devs are making for NS aren't possible through a rate-limited API.

The prospect of endo tools possibly being illegal, until I got that clarification from [v], was already about to result in the collapse of TSP's long-term security org. This whole saga has led to several of our top talent being so disillusioned with the game, they've quit their leadership role or are leaving NS altogether.

I can't imagine a worse way NS admins could be approaching this.
Last edited by Sandaoguo on Fri Mar 18, 2022 3:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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