After learning [here]
that 2,933 November 2011 users at ArrowOutlet.com are robots, the natural
next question is, "Who are these robots?". The data indicates that ArrowOutlet.com is using fake bidding robots
to manipulate and/or win their own auctions.
In November 2011, the data shows ArrowOutlet won 11,529 of their own 16,797 auctions and manipulated the other 5,268.
The robots caused 905 legitimate users to lose a combined $122,501.22 in one month.
From our previous discussion, we know that these robots are bidding without using ArrowOutlet's webpage interfaces.
These robots are either computer scripts running on computer(s) that communicate directly with ArrowOutlet's server
or they are fake bidders built into ArrowOutlet's auction software. How does the data indicate the latter?
Argument 3: The robots' bidding "fingerprint" is identical to ArrowOutlet's own Bid-O-Matic's. They both only place bids on integers which is
weird and when they do bid, they both have the same pattern of accuracy:|
|ArrowOutlet's Bid-O-Matic placing
5,173 bids at precisely 7 seconds.
(Avg = 6.982, Std = 0.012)
|The robots placing 50,606 bids |
at precisely 7 seconds.
(Avg = 6.985, Std = 0.011)
Each vertical bar indicates how many bids ArrowOutlet reported they received within a specific 0.002 second interval.
ArrowOutlet takes an average of 0.01 seconds to process new bids before sharing the information.
When a user's bid reaches ArrowOutlet's server with precisely 7.00 seconds remaining in an auction,
ArrowOutlet processes it and then publicizes this information to any computer that asks starting
on average 0.01 seconds later. Therefore, to every outsider (including us), it looks like the user placed his bid
when 6.99 seconds remained.
We know that the Bid-O-Matic places bids exactly at 7 seconds.
By noting the similarity of the three histograms, we can
conclude that the robots are placing bids at exactly 0 and 7 seconds also. These are the histograms
of perfect bidders. The variance we observe is due to ArrowOutlet's fluctuating processing
times and not fluctuating bidding times. Our recording software is in the same building as ArrowOutlet and
yet it struggles to monitor auctions to within plus or minus 0.005 seconds. The accuracy of the robots is
impossible for anyone outside ArrowOutlet's building to achieve.
|The robots placing
511,779 bids at precisely 0 sec.
(Avg = -0.011, Std = 0.009)