Thursday, February 27, 2003

Internet cheaters or Man at his most honest

Over the past few years I have been involved with:

1) Ebay
2) Global Combat
3) The Computer Simulated Fantasy Baseball League
4) Various fantasy sports.
6) Online chatting (which I will not discuss because it is almost as depressing as (thank you Onion) online gambling.

What have I encountered in my forays into these internet communities? Easy: human dishonesty and greed at its most blatent.

First ebay. Ebay has been the most innocuous of all these subjects when it comes to dishonesty and greed. At least to me anyway. I have not been ripped off yet but I do know some that have been. Of course the main reason most people are honest on ebay is feedback from other users which is the small piece of genius which, I think, has made it so successful. What does strike me most about ebay is the pettiness of some of the sellers with their "shipping and handling charges." This may sound petty but six bucks to mail a DVD? C'mon, take a chance, you skin flint. How can you justify charging more than and (my favorite) for the item you sell? This is just an underhanded way of having a reserve price without admitting it.

Now we move on to Global Combat and the Computer Simulated Fantasy Baseball League. Global Combatis a Risk-type turn-based game you can access and play through your browser. CSFBL is a baseball game that allows you to draft and manage randomly generated players. Judging from the mesages from emails and message boards the designers of these free! games spend an inordinate amount of their time policing those that use loopholes in the game to cheat. Most of the cheating is done by those that create extra user names to affect the outcomes of the competition. Other users also have to devote time to ferreting out these sneaks. The antics of these cheats remind me of Calvin, from the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes," who would actually work harder at avoiding work than he would if he just did the work.

That brings us to fantasy sports. Fantasy sports, which uses the performace of real players that are drafted by the laity to determine the outcome of competition, not only bring in those who cheat with multiple identities but also brings in those that desire attention. Lots of attention. Oftentimes if someone is not using two usernames to secure the advantage of one of those teams then he will be doing all he can to slow down the procedings through messages and by proposing one-sided trades. Usually this type of individual turns out to be a child or teenager who does not need a computer in his room but rather more one-on-one time with his father.

I have a person bookmarked on whose username is boxofficehits because the feedback he received from other users was so amusing because of his dishonesty. Judging from his feedback he spent most of his weekends buying every videotape he could at flea markets with no concern as to their condition. He would post for sale these hundreds of tapes and mail them off as they sold. About niney percent of his sales were legitimate but those tapes he sold that were defective he chose to ignore the compaints of his customers. The rage expressed by those he boned made for some great reading.

Online chatting? OK, we can go there for a second. How many identities have you had?

I don't know what this says about us as a species but it might have something to do with the world as we see it today. These few examples might just directly explain those of us that drive SUV's while others go hungry, why we are preparing for war without the real reasons being brought forward, why there is such a thing as an entertainment INDUSTRY and why winning is the only thing. This all reminds me of what I read in the first two volumes of History of the English Speaking Peoples by Churchill where those in power proclaimed most of their self serving acts in the name of God and country. Any positive repercussions of their deeds were merely accidental.

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