|Something smells a bit fishy here...|
I'd like to think I can spot a farmer after six years in game. Of late, their numbers have most definitely been on the increase.
Back in the days of leather grinding in the Burning Steppes, you could spot the bots from a long way away. The same commands, the same paths as they mindlessly slaughtered (insert name of item being repeatedly killed) and character names clearly invented by smashing a keyboard with a fist. There was no subtlety, because you didn't need any. Times have of course changed and now your average farmer is unlikely to bother fighting anything. Modern Botters have node farming.
You're likely to have met a Node Botter if you're a miner or a herber, but you may have thought that perhaps they were in a different phase. They appear at a node (often from right above it or up through the ground) and don't seem to have an animation for gathering at all, they just take the stuff and mysteriously vanish. Often you can hear the node being 'farmed' but not see who's doing it. This software came to prominence on our server at least after Icecrown Citadel launched and has been run by illegal gold farmers and chancing scammers alike ever since. It can be virtually impossible to 'spot' the name of a farmer unless you're on the node when the character appears. This used to be the case but more and more now these botters are getting sloppy. This week alone I've reported two Gnomes who popped up trying to grab the nodes I was already gathering. The speed at which Blizzard seems to come in and deal with these guys makes me think a) they're clearly taking environmental exploitation very seriously and b) they have a programme that searches all tickets for the word 'hacked' and immediately prioritises them. Both show that we've come a long way from the days of Vanilla where you could report a bot and it would be there for weeks, often months before being banned.
One of the suspect Gnomes' Activity feed is reproduced above, and if you look at it it doesn't take a genius to see what's happened. The account hasn't been used since December 2010 and suddenly in the last 36 hours we've gained a bunch of professions achievements and maxxed our skill in search of stuff to sell. If I hadn't caught the thieving git nicking my Stormvine it wouldn't have seemed an unusual thing to look at, but in most cases it's all about the context. If you think of all the people you know who've not played for a few months (and we all know that there has been a drop off of players even if Blizzard assures us the numbers are constant) and then consider how many accounts are sitting around unplayed and unprotected by Blizzard authenticators... it's a veritable goldmine for your average scammer. People will get exploited, and they are, so if you see anything at all you think is unusual behaviour from anyone while you're gathering, you should seriously consider reporting it... especially if it's by a Naked Gnome wearing nothing but a tabard in a L80 area ^^
If you suspect someone of Nodesploitation, report it to a GM, coz they'll know if the account's been compromised or not.