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Discussion in 'SteamRep General Discussion' started by Xenophobia, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. SilentReaper(SR)

    SilentReaper(SR) Retired Staff

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  2. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    It's pretty funny when SteamRep Admins are shooting down each others arguments. Heh, I don't even need to respond to him now, thanks!

    I didn’t vastly overestimate anything. I went through the reports forum and estimated the number of SteamRep reports to be between 40-50 per day. (The latter being a generous figure).

    If you are seriously asserting that your eighteen partner communities cannot handle, or find the staff to handle, two or three reports per day each, than I must seriously question what the partner communities are for?

    Also noting that additional partner communities would, in effect, help reduce the individual workload further.

    I found it somewhat amusing that you asserted that people should accept that their report probably won’t be handled because resources are stretched. What about appeals? That is, people who have potentially been tagged in error? Is it reasonable for those people to have to wait in excess of twelve months to have their appeals looked at? Should they just accept that they could potentially stay erroneously tagged forever? Get off the grass.

    Centralised or not, this does not affect my main point of: “The SteamRep team can’t keep up with the number of reports. Even your own admins say you’ll never be able to keep up. So change your strategy, get out of the business of tagging people yourselves and instead focus on providing tools and expanding the number of partner communities so that they can be in a position to handle the volume of reports in a speedy and efficient manner. You can also focus on educating users in your spare time.”

    You can still have partner communities playing their part while keeping things centralised.

    [quote="Mattie!, post: 234494, member: 2”] We really appreciate the support of those working with us. Instead of insisting that we change the way a specific person demands…[/quote]
    I would have expected more likes for a cheap shot like that. Nevertheless. Yes, I am being critical of the shortfalls in this project. But I am doing so solely because the flaws are systemic and will remain until changed. The great thing about systemic flaws is that they can be changed. But in order to bring about change you must accept that, “The current way of doing things is not working and is unlikely to work in the future.” From there, you can than start asking, “Okay…so what can we change about how we do things in order to meet our objectives.”

    I know it might be hard to believe, but SteamRep isn’t the only volunteer-based organisation that has to handle a large number of tickets, reports etc with very low resources. There are other organisations that have systems setup in such a way, that they do extremely well in this exact set of circumstances. I would encourage you to look around at other organisations to see what model they use to handle large work-loads similar to this – and then to see what improvements can be replicated into your own systems.

    The answer could be (for example) that you replicate the OpenDNS model of domain tagging, that is, make it reasonably easy to become a volunteer and then correlate the determinations of multiple volunteers to then reach an outcome on a report. When there is a dissenting opinion, then, and only then, should it be handed off to a higher authority.

    Now, I realise that I’m probably going to get a response attempting to pin holes in that method of handling reports, but if that were the case it would only demonstrate that you’ve missed the apparent essence of what I've said. I'm not saying that you should use that model, rather, it is one of the many models that are out there which could provide solutions or ideas to help address the shortfalls in the project.
    Roudydogg1 likes this.
  3. Thomas Matthias

    Thomas Matthias Retired Staff

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    Both of them were actually sarcastic about adding more staff being a solution to SR issues. @SilentReaper(SR) just made his sarcasm more obvious by adding a few words to it... You did not get @You Are The One 's sarcasm anyway...
  4. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    I prefer to assume good faith rather than immediately writing off an assertion as sarcasm. There is a reason that people say sarcasm doesn't travel well over the internet. As an administrator of a public forum conversing with users, even you should know this.

    Infact, what You Are The One stated could easily (and was more likely) intended exactly as it was written. It seems like predictable behavior for a defensive staff member to turn around and effectively say, "If you don't like the fact that we ignore your reports and leave mis-tagged people tagged for eternity, why don't you volunteer and do something about it?"

    Given that an average person would take You Are The One's post as a serious assertion, it's easy to see how the second post would seem contrary to the first and that's what I was commenting on in passing. But hey, my bad for thinking I'd get anything more than jokes and sarcasm from the staff when discussing serious issues with the project. I mean, who was I to think that you guys actually care about the fact that you have backlogs in both reports and appeals stemming back over a year. Am I saying that you can't have a sense of humor? No. What I am saying is that in this context, where the backlogs are potentially affecting significant numbers of users, it was somewhat tactless.
    Roudydogg1 likes this.
  5. SilentReaper(SR)

    SilentReaper(SR) Retired Staff

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    Riiiiight. like you have such good ideas here. What Mattie said was true: we need to improve how we work. Just calling for more staff is forever, for we lose as much staff as we gain over the years, *shrugs*. We started out in April 2011 with 3 admins, of which 2 coders, 1 appeal admin, we gained in the months after about 5 more staff members. Almost all of the beginning are gone, and the number of active admins isn't much bigger now.

    You simply forget the amount of work involved in just one report, or a appeal. For instance a report on itself is done fairly quickly, if they don't decide to make it a 6 page shitcalling contest. Its the work after a report that is sometimes excruciating much. No alts found? its easy, report and done. Do they have 20 alts? Well, take a hour or 2-3. With the server upgrade, this is 10% faster now.

    An appeal? dig up ALL the reports, get to know all of them intimately, and then read the appeal, check for lies, find all alts, etc etc. an appeal can take up to 4-5 hours of work, just reading, checking, doing all what we need to do for it.

    We have some 800 open appeals, some 17000 open reports.

    Lets average, 1 hour per report, 3 hours per appeal: 2400 hours appeals + 17000 hours reports= 19400 hours of work divided by a 40 hour "workweek" (we do this voluntarily, so we cannot even spend that much time, but w/e) 485 full workweeks, which is some 10 years worth of WORK to do here right now. And its growing.

    Can you understand now why I say more staff isn't going to work, unless we make our staff like 200 people to just get things done in any meaningful way? And is impossible to coordinate without people full time for this?

    We are THE place for all those reports, but really, if we would shut down and say: go to our partners while we "lock" the reporting so they MUST go there? we'd have to work thru it for so long, those partner communities will be overflown way past what they can do within a week. For they don't have the staffing either to work on it, and most of them have just bout 1-3 admins trained that know enough to handle what they get, and have other duties within those partner communities as well, and are doing that ALSO as volunteer.

    So indeed, we need more staff, but its unrealistic to say we can ever get to a point that we are waiting for a report to be made, or an appeal.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
    Tio José das Vacas likes this.
  6. Thomas Matthias

    Thomas Matthias Retired Staff

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    @Leon Hunter

    The reason why we are being sarcastic about adding new staff is that everytime SR issues becomes a topic in this section, we are given a great idea that is "ADD MORE STAFF" OR "MAKE ADDING STAFF A TOP PRIORITY". This is not a solution to SR issues and it was somehow described in this forum at least a few times... So we have had enough of this...
  7. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    Did I in any way suggest that you add more staff? No. The crux of my responses has been: Outsource it to partner communities and let them decide how much importance they place on tagging or change the way you do things.

    Hence you can see why the sarcasm isn't something I'm particularly phased with.
  8. SilentReaper(SR)

    SilentReaper(SR) Retired Staff

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  9. Thomas Matthias

    Thomas Matthias Retired Staff

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    I did not say that you did.

    But one of other discussants mentioned something like that:
    The only reason I quoted you was that you did not get the sarcasm and thought two admins were shooting down each others arguments, so I explained to you that the part of the post quoted below was the sarcasm.
    That's it. I get out of here.
  10. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    As a courtesy to the other users of this forum, this will likely be my final post on this matter. I stress the need for re-evaluation of how you do things. Think outside the square.


    If reports can turn into a six page s✿✿✿ fest:
    Ask yourselves why they are allowed to turn that way? A report should be a simple case of "I am making a claim. My claim is that this user scammed me by doing X. Here is my evidence." <- There should be no need for additional replies beyond that. I realise that quite commonly a user does not submit all the required information. In this case, I genuinely believe that SteamRep should just outright reject the report, ensure that it's instructions are clear and if the user wants to resubmit the report they can. Chasing after users who cannot follow simple instructions only punishes those who file clean, concise, open and shut reports via increased processing times. There should be no need for a user to comment on a report once it has been made. Either they've supplied enough information to nail a person or they haven't.

    If finding alt accounts is time consuming: Why not automate that process as best you can? I'm guessing you check for alternate accounts based of name similarities and IP address information you siphon from servers running your plugin. Here's a scenario:

    Scenario A:
    Tom uses IP Address A on Monday
    Dick uses IP Address A on Tuesday. Dick is a scammer or gets tagged as one.
    Tom uses IP Address A again on Wedesnday
    IP Address A has only been used by two people in this case. Meaning it probably isn't a AOL proxy etc.
    It is reasonably safe to say that there is a connection between Tom and Dick and that they are possibly the same person, live at the same house or work at the same organisation.
    Even if the IP Address was dynamic, this would not explain the extreme unlikelihood of Tom re-inheriting an IP address he used so recently, with an unrelated scammer using it in the mean time.

    Scenario B:
    Dick uses IP Address A on Monday. Scams a bunch of people and gets tagged as a result.
    Tom starts using IP Address A on Friday. Toms steam ID indicated that his account was made very recently and it appears that he only has free-to-play games or a private profile. (Or none at all)
    It seems odd that an IP Address so recently used by a scammer is suddenly being used for a brand spanking new steam account after it was tagged.​

    ^ What I just wrote are two examples of what can be easily transposed into an algorithm which automatically adds a notice to Toms profile saying: "Our systems have detected that Tom is a possible alternate of Dick. Please use extra caution when trading with them and avoid high risk trades." Additional criteria (such as Steam Account age or name similarity) could also be programmed in to prevent erroneous conclusions. Suddenly, you've not got alt accounts being handled by a bot rather than having to do them yourselves.

    If reports are generally time consuming: Why not look into creating a custom designed interface where you bring up a report. Look over the evidence and information supplied. And if it checks out you simply need to click one of three buttons such as "Accepted | Rejected (Invalid) | Rejected (Not enough information)" - Clicking on a button would not only give the reporter a boilerplate response explaining that it was accepted or why it was rejected and things they need to review before resubmitting, but also tag the user in the SteamRep database and schedule an automated search for alternate accounts based on (as an example) the above criteria. Suddenly, handling reports no longer takes "an hour on average" as you've previously claimed.

    Don't have the development staff? Then ask the community for help and start an open-source project, I am sure there are people who would be willing to help, I for one would contribute to such a cause.
    Roudydogg1 likes this.
  11. Mattie!

    Mattie! SteamRep Admin

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    @Leon Hunter -- You clearly have your mind made up on the options you recommend. We're going to work to improve things, but it's going to be tough to discuss with you forever as there's actually some work to do. :)

    To help with the statistics, since we started using the scam report forms, there are stats I can include. We've received 15,161 reports between April 8th of this year and December 8th of this year (245 days). The flux goes up and down, but that's ~62 incoming reports each day-- with all sorts of spikes and troughs.

    We had a dedicated volunteer who gave us easily 30-40 hours of week working purely on reports for a long time. That combined with extra spare time help from other admins wasn't enough to make a dent on the influx. Fair investigations to confirm fraud just require a substantial amount of time. Even if we had a dozen admins who weren't burnt-out volunteering their spare time, we wouldn't be able to stay ahead of this queue.

    Also keep in mind that each of our partners already receives and handles their own reports and appeals. Very few are way ahead of their own queues, though we have some good exceptions to this. They barely have the staff power to keep up with their own needs (and most of them have fewer volunteers than we do).

    Steam Community is 75+ million members-- TF2 started trading with a fraction of that and now everyone on Steam is trading summer cards or emoticons or games. The scam report volume on Steam is not going down anytime soon and will likely just continue to increase and increase.

    We're working on ways that Partners can cover more of the workload when they have the volunteer power to do so. But we're not going to close our doors to everyone and have people guess where to report scams--- none of our partners are volunteering to handle a major subset of the investigations. We have some awesome ones (like FoG and HG) who are stepping forward to offer help, but it's simply not going to be enough.

    No, that's not reasonable for them to wait that long. The backlog is a big gap due to resources and how hard appeals are. We're working on that workload, too, and we intend to review every single appeal. (I'm not sure what "Get off the grass" means, but probably something mean?) It's a really depressing problem.

    I prefer to see fresh recommendations like this-- brainstorm on ways to improve the process. There's all sorts of options and different evolutions. We never ever ever said we were the only organization with problems like ours and that we can't learn. But why do you think we're not doing so? We can learn from them and we're working on tools and practices that are taken from many of those who came before us. (For example, forming a nonprofit around the community to give it an organization to support a greater cause, etc, etc)

    I don't understand why you're so confrontational about this-- we're just doing our best to help. We're happy to hear the ideas, but just because we don't spin-off and commit to every radical idea (without any evidence they will help) isn't a reason to believe we aren't doing the best we can with what we have. We have a lot of improvements in the works and this announcement is one of those first steps. We have a vision that's pretty close to what you champion and we are headed in that direction-- but it won't happen overnight.

    Keep the ideas coming, but please give us the benefit of the doubt that the few volunteers on this project are working to improve things. I've spent the last year of my life, much of my spare time, giving myself ulcers trying to figure out ways out of some of our problems. Our staff meets and brainstorms on these topics-- and ideas like deferring to partners have come up many times for years. Yet we feel that there's only so far that can go and thus a multifaceted strategy is the better solution.

    We'll keep at it. I don't think I'll convince you, though.

    I apologize for the sarcasm from some of the other staff-- people are constantly sending criticism our way while assuming we're fools. It's a big demotivator which is a huge part of the problem for recruiting more volunteers. If people are seriously interested in improving the community with regards to preventing fraud, they'll respect the fact that we're giving our spare time to try to help people.

    The donations and support coming in, though, is a big motivator. There are lots of people who have been helped by SteamRep and understand that it's an extremely hard problem we're working on. Anyone who thinks we're not doing it right, volunteer to help us because we really do need more hands to help coordinate the changes and workload. You can help change things by partnering with us and showing us how well your solutions will save the day. :) We're actively evaluating new potential candidates.
  12. Mattie!

    Mattie! SteamRep Admin

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    We do a lot of that, and improvements are in the backlog for that, too. And leveraging existing fraud prevention services now that we have donation funds incoming.

    If you want to volunteer to help write a cool system for that, drop me a PM-- happy to brainstorm with you on tools to improve all of this!

    Great ideas-- and most are even in our backlog. We have a lot, lot, lot of development ideas. Setting up a foundation and restarting donations was the start to give us more resources to work with (e.g. server infrastructure, API fee costs, etc) to support more expansion in the area of tools. We absolutely want to open source more of our tools and infrastructure. That's part of moving to a nonprofit, rather than a closed group like it was before.

    We also are looking to open up our API a lot more, add even more data, so others can build even cooler anti-fraud tools on top of that. Maybe someone will invent something amazing that makes scam reports obsolete? We're all for it!

    That's why you see in our initial post that we'll be starting with some visual design contests, and that we brought on a new coder who is making some great improvements for us.

    But we need time and resources and volunteers to coordinate these things without putting at risk the core trust people put in our group. We barely have enough staff now to coordinate our existing volunteers, partners, communicate with people, and just-day-to-day maintenance to keep things going. So the going is slow in setting up these programs, but they're underway. This simple discussion with you has surely eaten up probably 50% of our staff's available free time today. But it's worth it to get people thinking of new ideas and working with us.

    Sounds like we're on the same page-- that new and exciting ideas need to be tried. My only frustration is that you seem to think that we don't want to try new things. We do. Some ideas have been considered and won't be very helpful-- but we're anxious to improve things at SteamRep moreso than anyone else.
  13. SilentReaper(SR)

    SilentReaper(SR) Retired Staff

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    LMAO on the IP matching, those are way too easy, and not what we typically encounter.
  14. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    So I take it you have IP matching completely automated then? Given that it is so easy that is, I mean, you make it sound like only an idiot wouldn't automate something so simple.
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  15. Ninja Otter With A Taco

    Ninja Otter With A Taco Retired Staff

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    Silent just said that most of the IP matching was more complîcated than your examples, which would imply that an automated system would be a waste of time because in the long run it wouldnt be that useful due to the fact that an admin would still have to double check everything and then use other methods to search for alts that it would be simpler to just not make an automated system
  16. Mattie!

    Mattie! SteamRep Admin

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    There's definitely a lot more we can do that would be useful, though. Let's not focus on specific algorithms, because even if one doesn't apply, there's more effort we could to to improve other approaches. There's lots we could to to make appeals (especially) go faster, we just need the resources and time to make progress there. We already have a lot of tools to help us, but we definitely need more.
  17. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    That's an extremely benighted thing to say. If there is a set process and criteria to determining the probability of an alt account, along with a probability threshold, then an automated system can do it extremely well.

    Ergo: I'm pretty sure the process of determining alt accounts can be represented as a flow-chart. If that is indeed the case, then a computer can do it.

    The only exception is if "admin mood" comes into the decision making of whether something is an alt or not, in which case that's what the rand(); function is for. </sarcasm>
    Roudydogg1 likes this.
  18. Roudydogg1

    Roudydogg1 Moderator; Neonheights Co-Owner SteamRep Moderator Friend Community

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    Then why are you offering a scamming prevention service?
  19. Leon Hunter

    Leon Hunter New User

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    That wasn't particularly helpful, honestly. Where possible, try to provide solutions along with any choice remarks like that, else you just look like a massive c✿✿✿. (Not saying you are, but you run the risk of looking like one regardless.)

    Whilst I may be strident and critical with much of my posting, you might have noticed that I'm balancing criticism with potentially viable solutions. Please try to do the same.
  20. Horse

    Horse Administrator SteamRep Admin

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    I'm or we (WA) not awesome? :(