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Telamon

Best Way to Ban Users?

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Hi there, Our casual online game has reached a milestone today - we need to ban our first problem user. Ideally, I would like to ban him from both playing the game (the game is played in a downloaded exe) and posting in our online forums. I know the traditional approach to this has been blocking IP addresses, but in this day of proxy servers and wireless internet access, I am not sure that that would be effective. I was thinking about banning users by hardware MAC address and/or other unique hardware IDs that people might be able to suggest. I think this would work pretty well for the game client - not sure how to apply it to banning people from the forums - any ideas? We have talked about it and we don't want any scheme that involves banning by email address - too easy to get around and we don't want to require honest users to give us more personal info than necessary.

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Banning by MAC address probably wont work. If they go to another computer or even use a different interface on their computer then this will be ineffective.

The moderators and staff will probably have more insightful comments from their experiences, but I would ban by IP. Yes, there are methods of getting around this but there are methods of getting around any technique you put in place - your game and forums are public, people can play or post if they want. You just have to make it difficult for this person to get around the ban (that might mean repeatedly banning them) and moderate them into nonexistence.

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ROBLOX, huh? Seems like a place that's all about being friends. I say create an alternate ROBLOX universe where it's all about making enemies and send him there. Seriously, I don't think there is a way of banning anyone from anything without making it hard to join for everyone else. Don't forget that any methods (like by MAC address) can by bypassed by hacking the client. Your best bet is to ban by IP/username/MAC/etc all at once and hope he gets bored before working it all out.

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Actualy, presuming you are dealing with someone whos just being foul of mouth to your games inhabitants, may I sudgest a more transparent solution?

1. Ban them by IP address, but dont exactly ban them. Block their chat, but dont make it obvious to them. In the game, allow them to see what they are writing, but so noone else can see it. Eventualy they will probably get bored and give up, thinking you arnt doing anything to clean up the mess, and people could care less. Ban both user and IP that way, most likely if he doesent see a "your accounts been closed" or "your chats been blocked" sign, then hes not going to even bother changing IP addresses or users.

2. You could alternatively transparently place him in a virtual world (using the same transparent banning system in point 1) on his own computer, which includes only aimless NPC's set out to annoy the SOB to all hell. I doubt this is some black/red hat who really has any vile intentions, just a moronic 13 year old with nothing better to do.

3. Another interesting, yet more sadistic idea, going along with the idea its some underage kid (as it most likely is.) put a spyware-eque popup program that occasionaly pops up with pornographic, obscene, and/or illegal websites. Nothing better then your parents, teachers, or school librarian catching you staring at "gaynursinghomeporn.com", I guarentee you he wont be bothering your site... or the rest of the internet... for a few years.

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Quote:
Original post by PaulCesar
3. Another interesting, yet more sadistic idea, going along with the idea its some underage kid (as it most likely is.) put a spyware-eque popup program that occasionaly pops up with pornographic, obscene, and/or illegal websites. Nothing better then your parents, teachers, or school librarian catching you staring at "gaynursinghomeporn.com", I guarentee you he wont be bothering your site... or the rest of the internet... for a few years.


Hmmm... Yeah, that explains why there are loads of casual games available for free on the Internet, and that explains why they are always rigged with spyware; to get you busted and to spy on you (and install viruses).

I like number 2 best, really good idea. Redefines online multiplayer and it should work for a bit.

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Quote:
Original post by hh10k
I say create an alternate ROBLOX universe where it's all about making enemies and send him there.

That's a very good idea, but I'm not sure he will agree.

IP ban is usually kind of effective. Most of the time, we play from our home so it works quite well. Of course, there are known limitations but no method is perfect. IP ban is teh win in most cases.

PaulCesar's idea #3 is not very legal, so while it sounds like it is fun, don't do it [smile]

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sorry just one question how does IP banning work cause i thought that ur IP adress was renegotianted approx every three days (resulting in it potentially changing) so wouldnt that mean that they could still get on once there IP changed?

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Just remember, they're in control of the hardware, so there's no hardware key that cannot be spoofed, emulated, or otherwise changed to suit their needs (and to be non-unique). Not a few OSes will allow you to change your MAC addy via a simple command.

An IP is guaranteed unique-ish and valid or else you're not getting their packets.

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Quote:
Original post by Julian90
sorry just one question how does IP banning work cause i thought that ur IP adress was renegotianted approx every three days (resulting in it potentially changing) so wouldnt that mean that they could still get on once there IP changed?


that is up the your isp really, i got one connection with a guaranteed static ip address (100Mbps fibre) and one with an isp assigned ip that hasn't changed in 3 years (10Mbps ethernet), the second one could be changed by my isp without notification, the first one can't be changed by them without notifying me. (since i'll need to change my settings if they change it). dialup users generally get a new ip every time they connect.

static ip addresses are generally prefered when the isp allows you to host private servers. in general though dynamic ip addresses are getting more and more common it seems so i wouldn't recomend ip bans, there are also some isps who use NAT to let multiple customers share a single ip (very horrible but they are often quite cheap)

if its an online game i would suggest banning the account + email used to create the account.
Yes he can create a new account but that would force him to create a new email account aswell. you can also prevent the ip from creating a new account for 24 hours or so.

i also suggest blacklisting known proxies to prevent people from accessing the game through them.

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Ban their CD key and associated user account. If they can hack that then you're game is getting ripped off anyway.

I would also log IP's and hardware configs for investigative purposes. Do not collect too much personal information but do let the users know what you do collect. Information is power in the event of necessary litigation, but you do not want to scare off innocent gamers.

It should also be expressly declared in the TOS that any attempt to breach an imposed ban is a violation of the TOS.

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