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DPRJones 24 Hour BlogTV Charity Donations Ticker

CosmicSpork
CosmicSpork
Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:58 pm by CosmicSpork

This is a semi-live feed of the donations for DPRJones’ 24 Hour BlogTV Charity Drive!

As you can tell, the target has already been SMASHED, but that’s no reason to stop donating!

You can donate at the following links:

http://tr.im/dprjonesfirst (FirstGiving)
http://tr.im/dprjonesjust (JustGiving – UK)

Or you can bid on items on eBay:

http://tr.im/dprjonesebay

All money goes to MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (Doctors without Borders) – http://www.msf.org.uk

Votebot Anatomy 101 – Part 2

CosmicSpork
CosmicSpork
Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:32 pm by CosmicSpork

Following on from Part 1 of my Votebot Anatomy 101 series of blog entries.

Some of the software that can be used in order to perform a Votebot attack is in my opinion quite expensive at around $100 a pop, I don’t have $100 to spare, and I certainly don’t want to line the pockets of the people who make the software, but from researching demo’s, videos, information on the web and my own knowledge of web technologies I will attempt to explain how a person might perform an attack and how the software facilitates this.

YouTube currently does very little to stop you from rating a video more than once in a given period of time. When rating a video a cookie is stored on your web browser with a list of videos you have rated (I believe this is also the same for when viewing a video), I’m not sure if this only stores the last video you rated or all videos you have rated in that session, the cookie is encrypted so the information contained is not easily viewable. If this cookie is deleted, or you rate a different video or your session times out and then come back you are then able to vote on that video again. (Whether the repeat ratings get counted I’m not sure of, but it would make sense that they are due to the massive number of ratings some people get during an attack. Even if the repeat ratings are not counted, it’s possible that with enough Sockpuppet accounts the same result can be accomplished.) It is possible however that YouTube may do some sort of throttling on ratings if there is a large number coming from one IP address in a short period of time, or at least, I hope they do.

From what I can gather, the majority if not all the software being used to perform a Votebot attack essentially acts the same way as a web browser but automatically performs the actions needed to add ratings to a video the way you would if you were doing it manually, only the software is able to skip certain steps, like viewing the video, which is why most of the time someone who has been attacked will see a disproportionate number of ratings to the number of views (for the more technically minded, the necessary POST parameters are sent directly to the URL used by YouTube’s AJAX scripts when the rating is clicked).

When a Votebot user decides to start an attack in its most basic form, they find a video they don’t like, copy the URL to that video and paste it into the software, set how many ratings they want to add to that video and the star rating they want for each rating added (depending on the software you can set a minimum and a maximum rating to randomly add a rating equal to/between those two values), then click a button and leave it running whilst it does its thing.

(more…)

Votebot Anatomy 101 – Part 1

CosmicSpork
CosmicSpork
Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:01 am by CosmicSpork

Hi, this is my first blog post on the League of Reason. In case you are wondering who I am, I am the League of Reason webmaster, and as such, my main area of expertise is web based technologies (among other things). I keep the server running, the website up to date, and so on and so forth.

My scientific knowledge isn’t particularly good, my grasp of philosophy is almost non-existant, and my insight on religion is limited. So I think I’ll leave those things to those far more capable than I.

I’ve noticed that there isn’t a great deal of information on how Votebots actually work, and would like to give what information I know and any theories I have for what I don’t know about these how dubious bits of software do their dastedly work.

I’ll start by giving some information about the Votebot software and its origins:

For those who don’t know what a Votebot is, it is a piece of software or script that someone runs who wishes to drop a lot of votes onto a YouTube video to alter its ranking and thus its visibility in things like related searches. The name Votebot has actually been made up by the YouTube community who have been attacked by these bots, rather than have any positive effects from them (I say positive effects in the sense that a persons video has had its ratings increased rather than decreased. In my opinion, the use of this software to manipulate the rating of a video in any way is wrong and should not be looked at as a good thing regardless of its effects).

The original purpose of these software applications/scripts was to promote a persons own videos in order to gain exposure and make money through various means, and people do that, and can make a rather large amounts of money. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s right, it gives the illusion of effort when there has been none or very little. The video in question may not even have anything worth watching, but can potentially out perform a video that is highly entertaining or informative.

Some of these software applications are not limited to simply casting votes on videos, they can also increase the number of views on a video or channel (YouTube have recently added a countermeasure that helps to prevent this, but also has some potentially harmful side effects to legitimate YouTubers which I will explain another time). On top of that they can automatically post comments,  add subscribers to a particular channel using Sockpuppet accounts, favourite a video on said Sockpuppet accounts, and also help create these YouTube Sockpuppet accounts with very little effort. Apart from the voting part the other features can only be used for ‘positive’ effects (except for the views countermeasure side effect I referred to earlier and will reveal in due course).

Well, that’ll do for now, I hope this information so far has been of use to you. If you already knew all this, then good for you 😛

In part 2, I will go into more depth about how Votebotters actually go about performing their insidious tasks and the inner workings of the software and its interaction with YouTube’s system.

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