Fur Affinity cracks down on 'watchbot' accounts
Furry art community Fur Affinity has announced restrictions on the use of automated watching scripts, which they termed "watchbots".
While staff had been "addressing botters on a one-on-one basis for several weeks", to the tune of "roughly two dozen" accounts, they faced a growing number of users who were unaware of their position. Some also became concerned upon being watched by "TheNSA".
The trend appears to have been started by Mishka Burr, who claims to have watched over 160,000 users using a script on a Raspberry Pi. Several other accounts running a published watch script inspired by Mishka's work had over 40,000 on their watchlists prior to clearing.
Basically, when it was one or two people (namely Valdyrburr) we could look the other way. It was not an issue. But then it became a handful of accounts, and then a few dozen. And everyone took an "If Valdy can do it, so can we".
We initially reached out to discuss the issue with those responsible, and kept things in check. But things got out of hand, and we started taking action against individuals. And then it spread further, and here we are today. [Fender]
One or two mass-watchers was seen as a curiosity, but as others sprung up in their wake, their actions increasingly became an annoyance to regular users:
The one website whose user base is not primarily comprised of automatically generated accounts that pester real people and contribute nothing, and people find a way to make themselves into useless pesty robots. [skrimpf]
Mass-watching can also increase levels of submission and journal notifications, which previously caused major issues for Fur Affinity - although staff indicated that the bots did not "create a serious strain".
It's not all bad news for bots on FA, with site leader Dragoneer expressing an interest in using them for administration.