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theraiden

Creation of a shopping bot for pre-order madness

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The idea is to pool together resources (something like 5$ USD each) to commission a creation of a Shopping-Bot to beat the scalpers at they're own game regarding Pre-orders of Macross Toys.

This would greatly reduce the stress and failures involved with securing a pre-order on a popular item.

I have already sent out feelers to 3 developers and i am currently waiting answers.
I will contact more as i find them, and if anyone can think of a programmer/developer i can contact them if you dont want to. Just pm/me

And if anyone has any ideas or thoughts please share them!!



________________________________________________________________________________________
Does anyone have a Fiverr account ?

There's quite a lot of programmers on Fiverr so if someone with a Fiverr account could maybe send out feelers?

Edited by theraiden

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I'd be interested depending on what kind of personal financial information is required to have the bot purchase it.

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25 minutes ago, wm cheng said:

I'd be interested depending on what kind of personal financial information is required to have the bot purchase it.

Same here.

Chris

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I'd rather pay 5$ to have a Script made to load the page without images. That's how they (the resellers) do it. The bot would still be limited by service speeds

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9 minutes ago, skullmilitia said:

I'd rather pay 5$ to have a Script made to load the page without images. That's how they (the resellers) do it. The bot would still be limited by service speeds

This is a very achievable thing for web coders (which i sadly am not skilled enough!)

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24 minutes ago, eXis10z said:

Wonder if there are any scalpers in this forum jump in on this. :lol:

Valid concern!
Maybe only Strait Shooters or members with good Kharma?
 

But then you might alienate some guy or girl that is new to the hobby and might worship a Valkyrie better than us moving forward?
 

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5 hours ago, skullmilitia said:

I'd rather pay 5$ to have a Script made to load the page without images. That's how they (the resellers) do it. The bot would still be limited by service speeds

Thats a good point! Maybe that should be the route to go, but the advantage of a bot is that it could be trying to purchase on multiple sites at the same time while you sleep.

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2 minutes ago, oshanmacross said:

Valid concern!
Maybe only Strait Shooters or members with good Kharma?
 

But then you might alienate some guy or girl that is new to the hobby and might worship a Valkyrie better than us moving forward?
 

Another fair point. We would not want this tool to be misused by scalpers, but then again aren't they doing it already? And correct me if i'm wrong, but is there usually a buying limit on pre-orders, like one unit per customer?

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1 minute ago, theraiden said:

Another fair point. We would not want this tool to be misused by scalpers, but then again aren't they doing it already? And correct me if i'm wrong, but is there usually a buying limit on pre-orders, like one unit per customer?

Good point, this "buying collective" might have to involve a lot of management.

Question is, Who will manage?

 

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33 minutes ago, oshanmacross said:

Good point, this "buying collective" might have to involve a lot of management.

Question is, Who will manage?

 

Maybe only distribute bot to those who chip in AND can send picture of a collection they have (minimum 4 valks maybe) with a piece of paper on the picture with they're username on it. To proof they are collectors and active users here on MWF ?

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Here are some Chrome extensions that blocks images.  I am sure there are a ton of them.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/block-image/pehaalcefcjfccdpbckoablngfkfgfgj?hl=en

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/image-blocker/mkhbghdfcdepfhgeklhdhlmdldiiaajp?hl=en

Ideally, you would run some analysis to see what on each site is taking the longest to load and then selectively block out the scripts/images/cookies/etc that are taking the most time.  There are a number of open source and free tools to achieve this.  Of course, you should also test it out first so that you do not break the site...

Google Analytics is another contributor to slow load times on sites because that is purely based on Google's response times.

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2 hours ago, theraiden said:

Maybe only distribute bot to those who chip in AND can send picture of a collection they have (minimum 4 valks maybe) with a piece of paper on the picture with they're username on it. To proof they are collectors and active users here on MWF ?

I have a feeling scalpers already have something lined up, but this should be fairly easy to achieve anyway, since many of us take pictures of our collections on the regular for one reason or another.

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I've already weighed in on this is situation in other threads, so I won't repeat myself here.  As a web developer, there does seem to be some misinformation floating around about what a bot can/does and doesn't do, but (again) I've already commented on that; if you want to dig through my comment history feel free.  

All I'll add is:

1.  There is no one bot that will work on all the major sites (as they have bot-resistant architecture). So you'll have to either pick a bot for a specific site, or make a bot that targets the weaker, less bot-resistant sites.  Whoever you find to do this needs to be aware of that going into it.  And if they are decent, they should be able to recognize that pretty early on.

2.  Be careful with who you are dealing with, and don't get your hopes up too high.  Putting in $5-10 for having at chance at a bot that will have a chance at increasing your pre-order success is one thing, if you're ok with understanding that you are throwing money at a gamble.  And you're ok with the possibility of having 0 ROI on that gamble. Having a group of internet strangers pool money together to give to yet another internet stranger, hoping that everyone will act in good faith, seems pretty naive to me.  And some of the comments in this thread and about this topic general kind give me kind of a "I'm new at internet" vibe.  But that's me.

If you do get a functioning bot that does work on one of the major sites, there is nothing stopping just one person out of the many who have the bot from becoming the next big scalper.  Yes, the sites have customer limits, but of course there are ways to circumvent those, if you are willing.  With great power comes great responsibility, or something like that :D.

So good luck, I hope it works out the way you all are hoping.  Just be careful and manage your expectations accordingly.

 

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1 hour ago, HardlyNever said:

If you do get a functioning bot that does work on one of the major sites, there is nothing stopping just one person out of the many who have the bot from becoming the next big scalper.

This. I'm happy competing with other MW users, so long as we're on an even footing (no accounting for location and round-trip connection times, natch).

Gatekeeping the bot in any way is just as likely to hurt newbies or collectors who aren't forum members as it is the scalpers. Developing the bot at all increases the risk from scalpers over time.

This all just risks escalating the arms race.

Also, y'know, it's almost certainly against T&Cs.

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Good valid points from @HardlyNever and @WaferMouse

I come into this discussion with zero expectations, and as is i have only sent out feelers for possible development of a bot.

I know such a tool would come with it's share of problems and issues, like you pointed out not working on all sites, the need for sharing some personal or financial details in the software, would it be used with good intentions or bad ones etc.

I am not being naive with the notion of pooling together money for a "stranger" and hoping the best.
Rules would be established, goals would be set and results would be vetted.
And yes, we would probably need a project manager that would be willing to donate time.

But we do have a pre-order problem. Many who want do not get, cause of tactics that are used by scalpers that create an uneven playground for the rest of us.

Best of all would be if the vendors would spread out the pre-order time window for instance by dividing pre-order stock over different time slots.
(200 units between 12 am and 4 am, another 200 units between 4 am and 8am, etc) but this ain't a perfect world.

That script idea from @skullmilitia above sounds reasonably possible and would possibly be a good tool to increase our chances against scalpers?

So the question becomes, is using a bot the best tactic to tackle this problem, is there anything else we could do (like scripts or changing vendor behavior) or is it just something we have to accept?

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41 minutes ago, theraiden said:

Rules would be established, goals would be set and results would be vetted.

This is kind of my point.  If someone is going to act in bad faith, they aren't going to care about rules.  And they are going to play "nice" until they get what they really want.

41 minutes ago, theraiden said:

That script idea from @skullmilitia above sounds reasonably possible and would possibly be a good tool to increase our chances against scalpers?

This is will net only the most marginal "advantage," unless you're using a really slow internet connection.  Disabling images is pretty trivial to do in most browsers; I don't even bother to do it because my internet connection is pretty good.  Loading the images doesn't take much time, compared to human reaction speed, in most situations.  However when servers are bogged down, it might help a little bit.

Doing it in Chrome is very easy.  Doing it Firefox is also pretty simple.  You can also load a page in HTML only (all the styling stripped out), and improve your load time speed.  I do none of these things during pre-order madness, because page load speed generally isn't the true bottle-neck.  Others are welcome to give it a shot, of course.

I understand the frustration of the situation, but personally, I don't think us botting is going to solve much of anything.  The only reason I'm considering developing one personally, is so that I don't have to get up at 3AM (my time) to do this crap manually.  That's my real incentive there.  I don't think it would improve my odds of success that much.

But I'm not trying to derail this effort, per se.  Just giving my two cents.

41 minutes ago, theraiden said:

So the question becomes, is using a bot the best tactic to tackle this problem, is there anything else we could do (like scripts or changing vendor behavior) or is it just something we have to accept?

In my opinion, if we were going to act collectively in some fashion, trying to change the behavior of one or more of the big retailers would be our best bet.  We have some people here that drop some pretty serious cash at some of these vendors.  Collectively, we might represent enough buying power to influence something like AmiAmi, HLJ, etc. to change their pre-order practice, at least when it comes to Bandai DX Macross products.  But that would require us acting collectively, not individually (and selfishly) to get preferential treatment for ourselves.

Edited by HardlyNever

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1 hour ago, HardlyNever said:

 is so that I don't have to get up at 3AM (my time) to do this crap manually.  That's my real incentive there. 
 

This is my entire incentive.

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1 hour ago, HardlyNever said:

In my opinion, if we were going to act collectively in some fashion, trying to change the behavior of one or more of the big retailers would be our best bet.  We have some people here that drop some pretty serious cash at some of these vendors.  Collectively, we might represent enough buying power to influence something like AmiAmi, HLJ, etc. to change their pre-order practice, at least when it comes to Bandai DX Macross products.  But that would require us acting collectively, not individually (and selfishly) to get preferential treatment for ourselves.

This is a very good point. Any thoughts on how we might accomplish this? Signature list with a statement? Flood them with emails with pre-determent statements? Advice they're sales team? Special pre-orders for MWF members?

Edited by theraiden

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It's a shame that we can't just make a business and get distribution direct from Bandai. But as I recall Bandai makes vendors sell all their stuff.

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HardlyNever speaks truth.

I'm not a web developer, but I am a programmer, and I think most people grossly underestimate the cost of custom programmed software. 

Just counting unique replies here (not the lesser number of who said they would contribute), you are collecting a bit over $100.  $100 buys practically nothing in terms of programmer time.  An hour or two maybe?  If you increase the price, look for some people to drop out or take their chances in preorder madness.

Taking HardlyNever's word at face value, multiple bots would need to be created, one for each major site you want to hit.

Your best bet is having a programmer on this site do this for themselves and just share with you, or try to go to one of these sites and say "look we have 20-30 people that would order from you if you could gaurantee a preorder without the madness" and see if they would play ball.  That sounds more interesting to me as well.

Just putting a warning out there you get what you pay for.

 

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14 minutes ago, Sanity is Optional said:

It's a shame that we can't just make a business and get distribution direct from Bandai. But as I recall Bandai makes vendors sell all their stuff.

And I don't think we could sell Macross in the US could we? HG would be all over that????

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