Articles - ArticlesIt's been awhile since we've done an interview. For our latest discussion we've decided to re-interview someone that has been an integral part of enhancing many Anarchy Online player's game experience since 2010.
Recently, while testing a guide I was updating, I ran across a rare event. Famed Budabot Project Leader and Developer, Tyrence, in game! I took the opportunity to ask what projects he has been working on and interview him a bit regarding them.
Hi Tyrence! I know people will want to know, so we'll ask this first. Do you still play these days, or just log in for bot purposes?
[Tyrence]: I do not play Anarchy Online at all. I am hardly ever in game, and if I am, it's only to test something. But I do log into chat pretty often, so if you see me on, feel free to send me a tell.
Well, let me say that we appreciate your time and all of your efforts to ensure those still playing have nearly flawless resources to use.
One of those resources, Budabot has been around for quite a few years. It was started in 2006, with you taking it over in 2010, and you have just recently fully released Budabot 4 in game. With all those versions and years of coding and recoding is Budabot getting is old and bulky?
[Tyrence]: Budabot is a very capable bot and many people use it, but there are some things that I wish I could change but can’t because it would be too hard and require too much work.
Im sure many players would like to hear about what you're up to. Is there a lot planned for Budabot in future, or are their other projects you have been working on?
[Tyrence]: I have no more plans for Budabot. Budabot 4 is the last release I will do for Budabot.
[Tyrence]: Tyrbot is a new bot I have written from scratch that tries to fix a lot of the things that I wish I could fix in Budabot. I hope that Tyrbot will eventually replace Budabot.
So now that you have started working on Tyrbot, how long do you plan to support Budabot 4?
[Tyrence]: I will continue to support Budabot until I release Tyrbot.
Given that you've written your own bot, I'd love to talk about that. So, what makes Tyrbot different from your previous Budabot project?
[Tyrence]: One of my goals with Tyrbot has been to expose core functionality. For instance, in Budabot, if you wanted to change core functionality, you had to modify the core files. In Tyrbot, you will be able to do a lot of that customization from a module, which means that people with customized bots no longer have to stay on an old version.
[Tyrence]: So for the average user, Tyrbot and Budabot will be mostly the same.
[Tyrence]: They will look and work very similarly.
So, players will use the same commands they use in Budabot's main functionality?
Tyrence]: Well, nearly all the same commands
I see. I'm sure a lot of players will appreciate that and bot manager and developers will be glad to see the changes.
Have you change the language you are coding in with Tyrbot? In other words will anyone have to learn to code in something other than what Budabot uses?
[Tyrence]: Budabot is written in PHP, but Tyrbot is written in Python. So people who want a customized bot will have to learn Python.
I see. Why did you switch to Python for this project?
[Tyrence]: Python is better.
[Tyrence]: I evaluated several languages for Tyrbot. Clojure was one, Node.js was another. I wanted a language that would be easy for other people to use and understand, like PHP is.
[Tyrence]: A large part of the success of Budabot is due to the number of contributions we have gotten from the community so having a language that people could learn easily was an important requirement. Python met all those requirements and I felt it was the best option. I have been very happy with Python so far.
Will it be easier to run multiple bots ... like for people who hosts numerous bots? Take up less resources?
[Tyrence]: It will take about the same amount of resources (memory, CPU) as Budabot.
Is Tyrbot ready to be run as an org or raid bot, yet?
[Tyrence]: Not yet.
[Tyrence]: It doesn't have enough features yet for most Orgs to use.
[Tyrence]: It is pretty stable now and I don’t intend to change the core very much anymore, so any developers that want to use it or try it out are welcomed to.
[Tyrence]: Lightnet is currently running on Tyrbot, so the bot is definitely capable, but as an org bot or a raid bot, it’s still missing a lot of commands. Most users should wait until an official release.
Lightnet? The in-game shopping bot? That is your project?
[Tyrence]: Yes. Lightnet is a spam bot for Anarchy Online similar to some of the other spam bots AO has had (Dnet, Darknet, etc).
What made you decide to run an in-game shopping or “spam” bot?
[Tyrence]: Nearly all of the other spam bots employed moderators who would ban people for posting messages that did not conform to the rules of that bot. The problem with that system is that admins are biased, they have agendas, they have opinions, sometimes they aren’t online, they apply the rules inconsistently, and often times they don’t know or understand the entire situation of what was happening. I wanted to see if this could be done a better way, and I thought maybe a community-moderated spam bot would work, so I wrote Lightnet.
So does Lightnet have a lot of admins or is it self sufficient?
[Tyrence]: No, it doesn't have any admins other than me.
With no Admins or moderators how do you keep FC bannable offenses in check?
[Tyrence]: Do you mean how do I keep the bot from getting banned?
[Tyrence]: I can only hope that FC is past their phase of banning spam bots for the actions of individual users.
[Tyrence]: I also hope that people are smart enough to downvote drama and in turn there would be no need. If they don't and the bot gets banned, then they lose it.
Have you ever banned someone from using Lightnet?
[Tyrence]: So far all of the bans issued have been because of feedback and I have never banned anyone personally.
[Tyrence]: The bot has a feedback mechanism which lets players indicate which messages are good and which messages aren’t. And then the bot uses that feedback to decide what moderation actions to take.
So, the Lightnet bot is somewhat of a player policed system, then?
Nods and looks at her notes
As you've said, you implemented a “Feedback” mechanism that uses “downvoting” with Lightnet. Does the feedback system actually do anything important?
[Tyrence]: Feedback DOES matter and it will automatically ban people that receive a large amount of negative feedback. After acquiring a certain amount of negative feedback, the bot will use a 30-day “spam restriction” (ie. a ban) during which that character cannot post messages.
Thinking about the ability to downvote players by giving negative feedback, how do you keep people from abusing the feedback system without live Admins?
[Tyrence]: For sure some people try to abuse it, but the bot does try to take that into account.
[Tyrence]: People provide negative feedback, (downvote) for a variety of reasons, and you may get downvoted on perfectly reasonable messages. As a player in a public game, that is something people will need to take into consideration.
You've mentioned that once you get so many negative Feedback votes (downvotes), the bot auto bans? How does that work?
[Tyrence]: Yes. The bot uses a ranking system and ranks votes based on a variety of factors. So, some feedback is ranked higher than others. Depending on how each feedback is ranked by the bot, their could be a just few votes or it could be lots of votes.
[Tyrence]: The bot has an algorithm that translates feedback into points based on a number of factors. I do typically review the spam restrictions periodically to make sure the algorithm is working as intended.
How does the algorithm work?
[Tyrence]: I keep that algorithm pretty secret to prevent people from abusing it. :)
So I can't get you to tell me your best kept secret?
[Tyrence]: No, sorry :)
Can't blame a girl for trying!
What if someone just keeps downvoting posts without appropriate reason?
[Tyrence]: That is considered an abuse of the feedback mechanic and if I see it happening, I will issue bans to those players.
[Tyrence]: If I felt that someone was abusing the feedback mechanics of Lightnet, or if they were sending messages that had legal repercussions, I would manually intervene, probably with a permanent ban. But so far I haven’t needed to do that.
[Tyrence]: I have actually removed a few bans that I felt were not in line with the spirit of Lightnet, and then tweaked the algorithm to prevent those situations in the future.
[Tyrence]: However, if someone feels that they were "targeted" to the point that the bot issued a ban, and they feel it was unfair, AND they have made NO inflammatory or abusive messages, then they should contact me.
How would one contact you?
[Tyrence]: You may contact me in-game on Tyrence or on Discord: https://discord.gg/stHaJuN
Is being banned the only repercussion players need to worry about when receiving negative feedback?
[Tyrence]: The negative feedback also affects how long you have to wait to send a message
[Tyrence]: By default it's 10 minutes, but with lots of negative feedback it will be longer
So, we know what the negative feedback does. Is there a benefit to the positive Feedback feature?
[Tyrence]: Yes! Currently it will reduce the amount of time you have to wait to post a message, so if you are posting messages that are getting a lot of positive feedback you will be able to post more often. I am still thinking of other things that positive feedback could do.
I'm sure that will encourage people to participate in the feedback system!
Does Lightnet have a lot of rules to follow and where do we see those?
[Tyrence]: Lightnet doesn't have rules
[Tyrence]: I guess it has two rules. You can’t post anything illegal, and you can’t abuse the feedback mechanic. Besides that, it has no rules, and in general, if your messages aren't getting downvoted, it's fine to keep posting them.
I mean, at times it seems as if a lot of unchecked drama goes on, is that handled in anyway?
[Tyrence]: Well, in some cases, those people get banned.
[Tyrence]: In other cases, they aren't getting downvoted so they aren't getting banned
I'm not sure a lot of folks realize that downvoting triggers that. Most ppl dont read past how to get it up and running to be honest.
[Tyrence]: Yeah, more people adding appropriate feedback would make the system better for sure. To date, the bot has issued 37 spam restrictions with 13 of them still currently in effect. So if you haven’t seen any messages from your favorite troll for a while, this may be why. If you are seeing drama on Lightnet, you should definitely give negative feedback to those messages.
Tyrence, thank you for your time Is there anything else you'd like to add to while I have you here? Info, thoughts, etc?
[Tyrence]: People should definitely take advantage of the feedback option in Lightnet, the more people we have submitting feedback, the better this system will work.
[Tyrence]: And for anyone interested in Tyrbot development they should join the Discord channel listed above. Even if they aren't coders, they can see what we are working on.
[Tyrence]: We could always use more developers to port modules from Budabot, or to write new modules. In fact, eli (Vlad) now has a working Discord module for Tyrbot.
Discord has become popular. That will be very useful.
Tyrence, I want to thank you for taking the time to fill us in on what you've been planning. I look forward to getting back with you once Tyrbot is complete for a follow up interview. It was nice talking to you! But for now it looks like I should let you get back to work on Tyrbot!
[Tyrence]: Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate all the work AO-Universe and it’s staff have done for AO!
Article written by Cariadast
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