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June 10, 2012

How to Catch an Empire Avenue Cheater

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Written by: Ross Quintana
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How to Catch an Empire Avenue Cheater

I started my day by creating some missions on Empire Avenue for a client of mine. I was looking for some comments on a video blog. Now you may have read my previous article on cleaning up the streets of Empire Avenue where I suggested a simple way for Empire Avenue to fix the issues with mission cheating. They are really not owning up to this issue and it is too bad. I sent them a support request with the link and my simple solution and they never responded. It is much like Facebook’s non existent contact us email (You get an auto -responder telling you not to expect a quick reply if any).

The problem with mission cheating is that people work hard and some even buy eaves to run missions. When people steal them and don’t do the mission the person running the mission has to work hard to earn more eaves and maybe wait to try and run the mission again. Empire Avenue is being negligent as well by not addressing this issue because they charge you double to run a mission. So if you run a mission offering 1000 eaves to 10 people who will comment on your post then that costs 10,000 eaves. Then Empire Avenue charges you 10,000 eaves to run the mission. So the thief takes your 1000 eaves and doesn’t leave a comment and then Empire Avenue also takes their 1000. By doing nothing they are a silent accomplice.  So I accidentally found a cheater today and then learned how you could do the same. Here’s what happened.

Today I caught someone who stole eaves from 2 missions of mine and didn’t leave comments. I saw in the activity feed someone who had just done a few of my missions by chance when I was in the missions section under recent activity. It doesn’t let you scroll so the odds of your mission showing up isn’t normally that great. So I thought good, I knew the person who did the mission and she is always doing missions so I went to see what comment she left. Well, there was no comment. At first I thought it may be a mistake so I went to the other link to my other mission that it said she just completed…. No comment either. I thought really? I waited and reloaded the pages in a bit to see if there was a delay. Nope. So I went to her page and said I know you took my eaves and didn’t leave a comment.

So then out of curiosity I noticed on her wall that it showed a link to the missions she had completed. I clicked the link and read the mission, it wanted 20 likes, a share, and a comment for like 5000 eaves. I went to the person’s Facebook page that ran the mission to see if she did it. I counted and she left: 7 likes, no comments, and no shares. I then went back and looked at another one that was 1000 for a Rewteet. I went to her Twitter and she hadn’t tweeted anything in 10 hours and this mission was done a few hours ago. I went to the next one, it asked for a like for a Facebook page, there was no like from her in his recent activity and no like on her page either. As I dug into her missions I found 8 missions she cheated on in a short amount of time. At this point I was upset. You can see she does missions until she times out (Empire Avenue limits how many missions you can do in a short amount of time). Then starts again. But in my anger about her cheating I also realized how to find a cheater on Empire Avenue. Here’s how:

So if you run a mission you can camp out for a few minutes and watch the recent activity section on the right column of the missions page. When you see someone who does your missions you can click to see if they did it. You can also visit your shareholders pages if your mission is shareholders only but this would take a long time to do. The best way to do it is to create a few missions and spend 5 or 10 minutes watching the activity feed to see who does it. Once you know who did your mission you can go to their page and see if they did other people’s missions as well as yours. It may seem like a bit of detective work, but I am happy to find out who is stealing everyone’s eaves. So I ran a mission titled: “Mission Cheater – Her Name” and explained the situation and what I found. This way people can see who is cheating and block her from doing their missions. Now if she wanted to give me back my eaves and the people who she stole from I would be happy to forgive her. But instead she posted a mission for people to buy her shares and mentioned that she had a computer virus so she couldn’t complete the missions. I called BS.

Mission Cheater

Lying goes with stealing. She should have come clean. If she had a virus then why did she not give me back my eaves, why didn’t she stop doing missions? Why not leave a comment for the people who she took eaves from? Instead she did 15 missions taking the money and not completing many of them. If she had a virus why could she keep commenting and doing missions and leaving a few likes when she was supposed to leave more. I don’t know of any virus that lets you do Empire Avenue missions but not finish them over and over again. That must be the Empire Avenue Cheater’s Virus. It was just a plain old lie from someone who got caught stealing. I did her mission and took back the eaves she stole from me.

Many people felt uncomfortable with the fact that I called her out in a mission. I don’t feel bad as she was the one who made the choice to steal repeatedly. If she steals in our community then she should be ashamed in our community. I did not mention her name here as I hope she stops cheating and does what is right. Cheaters ruin good things like Empire Avenue where we are supposed to be there to help each other out and network. Many people who saw she ran her mission suggested that she buy some shares in me to make up for what she admitted in that she didn’t complete my missions. She didn’t. I told people they could go to her wall and check out the missions she did today and see for themselves. If someone steals from me I am going to say something, and if they steal from my friends I will also say something. I know that isn’t for everyone, but by letting others know that she took their money and didn’t do the task they at least don’t have to sit and wonder who is stealing from them. I wen to the mission pages that she didn’t complete and posted saying that she didn’t do it. I did post on her wall that I knew she cheated on 8 missions today and that she should give the people back their eaves. I am not happy to call her out, but it needed to be done. People who we trust steal from us all the time. There are thieves in every group and every workplace. The chamber of commerce estimates employee theft to cost companies about 20-40 billion a year.

I am not happy I had to waste my time to research her cheating, but I am a big believer in community and a community with no rules and stealing is not going to be successful. I had noticed the stealing getting worse and worse. It used to be a few would cheat, now it is a few that carry out the mission. As the Bible says, people whose deeds are dark do not like the light because it reveals their dark deeds. Moral of the story…. Don’t steal or everyone will know it and that makes it harder to get people’s trust. This is no different then a credit score which tells others who might do business with you if you have a habit of taking their money and not paying them back. It is simply turning the light on so people know who they are dealing with. Lying and stealing hurt any relationship and every community. Tolerating it does not make it go away, it enables it. A honest environment keeps people honest and is unfriendly to dishonesty. It is difficult to stand up for what is right and to say something that may not feel good or make people happy, but that is what integrity is all about. Let’s keep the streets of Empire Avenue clean for the law abiding citizens.

UPDATE!!!! Sweet, thanks to a comment from Adam Justice (AGJ) (though his comment wasn’t supportive of stopping cheaters (weird with a last name of Justice) but his comment broke this post open because he revealed a little secret I didn’t know existed. You can click on your mission and the green box that says how many remaining can be clicked on and a list of those who completed your mission pops up. This is exactly what I wanted so you could cross check who did your mission and who stole the eaves. I fear this will lead to many cheaters being called out. Thanks Adam for the tip. P.S. I don’t mind being the sheriff of Empire Avenue….. I am your huckleberry :]



About the Author

Ross Quintana
Founder of SocialMagnets, I am passionate about social media, influence, innovation, strategy, and marketing. I love to help people learn and understand the digital world. I stretch people's thinking and share my analysis of information, tools, and strategies in social media. Let's connect




 
 

  • http://dwaynekilbourne.com Dwayne Kilbourne

    It certainly is a problem that needs some attention… some people cheat the system while others play it ethically. Any recommendations to the Empire Avenue team?

    • Ross Quintana

      I think they need to let people flag accounts for cheating and if someone gets to many flags in a certain time their ability to do missions should be suspended just like Craigslist allows its users to police the system.

  • Cheryl

    The old saying is true, cheaters never win and winners never cheat! Good job keeping people honest.

    • Ross Quintana

      I agree, people will always try and game the systems but gaming a networking platform is particularly risky.

  • http://diamondcinema.ning.com/ Christi

    Its also the fault of the EA members who create some of the missions. A BIG way to lessen cheating is to make your mission very clear about exactly what kind of website or content you want us to FB like, tweet, or whatever. In my missions, I try to give information about the content will help members understand better about what they are getting into. I can’t stand it when an EA member is vague and don’t come clean about their content when they write their missions. When a person clicks on the mission link, they are sometimes driven to a website that is just spammy, shady, or against what the person feels comfortable “liking” or tweeting…that person is risking their own social media reputation if they ‘like” something that is shady.

    • Ross Quintana

      Christi, you bring up a good point. I didn’t address this in this post but it is fodder for another post which is how to make a mission that people can and will complete. I agree there is a lot of user error, though the sad underbelly of mission cheating I have found is a lot less about user error and more about laziness and dishonesty. I tracked my missions like a hawk and then followed the patterns of certain people on other missions and you could clearly see they were just grab and dash people. A few of them were surprising as they had a pretty good network and risked their reputation for doing this to a group of fairly influential people.

      • http://diamondcinema.ning.com/ Christi

        I just found 2 cheaters on mine…thanks to your tip about clicking on the number missions remaining.

        • Ross Quintana

          Yes I was so happy to find that little trick. I usually follow up with a message to the cheater saying I see they took the eaves but didn’t finish the mission and give them a link to finish it. I have found over half then finish the mission. You can also offer for them to buy that much in your shares if they decide they didn’t want to do the mission.

  • http://www.samapplegate.co.uk/ Sam Applegate

    Great post, thanks! I’m new to EA (just joined yesterday), and I’m falling in love with the concept. I’ve been connecting my accounts, buying lots of stock, and now on the brink of the > 30 eaves stock price required, to create missions.

    I have done a couple of missions, and it didn’t take me long to realise the big loop hole here… a quick google search brought me to your post!

    Are mission-cheats still a problem? (your post was written in June). Surely EA have implemented a basic feedback system to prevent cheats? I’m about to run my own missions and want to get my eaves’ worth!

    • Ross Quintana

      Yes, it is an issue, but there are some things you can do to get more engagement and stop the cheaters. I will be doing a post shortly on how to run great EAv missions. Thanks for your comment and leave your ticker in the comments and I will buy some shares of you.

  • Karen Shelton

    Hi Ross. Thanks for being willing to take on a controversial topic on Empire Avenue. Mission cheating was the reason I dragged my feet about running missions when I first arrived on EAV. Yes, I saw mission cheaters on my missions, but I had prepared myself and found it was less upsetting when cheaters showed up because I knew it was a common problem. The repeat offenders who cheat may not wind up on a EAV list anywhere, but after awhile many of the EAV veterans know who cheats and who doesn’t. In my humble opinions the cheaters don’t seem to do as well in general as the non-cheaters who go above and beyond to play an honorable game. Cheaters may grab some eaves without doing the missions, but long term they will probably never achieve the same success as the non-cheaters. Ultimately in EAV, like in life, everyone reaps what they sow. Kudos to you for being one of the good guys.

  • RealityCheck9

    Losses are a cost of doing business. Any real business person knows that. Uproar about “cheaters” makes Empire Ave look quite silly.