(Long post but well worth the read - please stay with me here)
Using a 3rd party program or an add-on to perform tasks within the game that automate actions is a bannable offense. Sometimes developers skate the grey areas of what is automation, as is the case with the heavily controversial QA3 auto-scan auto-undercut plug-in. This plug-in is soon to be broken in an upcoming patch. In my opinion, disabling this can't come soon enough. Anyone who has ran across a competitor using this "cheat" is likely to be rejoicing as well with the news of its downfall.
On my server I have been battling in certain markets with a well known (and hated) user of this QA3 plug-in. I have reported him for botting, even though I know that this program was still in the grey area in terms of legal or illegal. Nothing happened and he continued to drive more and more people out of his markets. This guy was camping the auction house with his level 2 semi-botter. Let's call him Bankbot. Bankbot was almost always on, and almost always marked as AFK, but very rarily did he drop connection and relog on. Using the plug-in, Bankbot would post one of each of his glyphs and gems, then when u placed an item cheaper than his, it was a matter of minutes before his plug-in would undercut you. Imagine this happening pretty much all day long in multiple markets. As these markets were near impossible to profit in, I focused on other markets I was able to maintain sales in.
Switching focus a bit: A few days ago I was logging onto my mage to run the daily Coren Direbrew dungeon for easy Frost Emblems. Since he is dps and the queue can be a bit longer, I usually would just kill beasts and use the mage's skill at Skinning to pass the time doing a bit of farming while the dungeon group forms. During my hunting in Scholazar Basin, I ran across an intersting specimen. Let's call this guy, SkinnerBoy. Suprise suprise he's a poorly geared cookie cutter Beastmaster Specced Hunter. Oh look! He sends in his pet after beasts, stands back and autoshots only, then closes in to skin after the kill. Next he and his pet head to the next creature, rinse, and repeat. Hrm. I notice his delay between creature death and skinning start, so I tag along. With the delay I am allowed to kill and skin my own mobs, as well as instant cast on his targets as soon as his pet starts to charge. Hrm. So he is basically killing mobs flagged by me, and I am stealing all his skins as well as killing and skining my own. Skinnerboy is obviously a botter. He never complains, never says a word, never breaks from his obvious bot cycles. Bong! My Coren group is ready and time for some jokingly easy Frost Badges. Before I head to The Grim Guzzler, I report this cheater with an explanation of why I know he is botting. I get the standard: "We will watch him to make sure and if true he'll be gone soon enough." Yup - I'm fighting the good fight.
Today I happened to realize that I haven't seen Bankbot camped at his normal spot all day long. A quick search on The Undermine Journal shows that Bankbot hasn't posted a single auction since early Tuesday morning. Wonder where he has been? I further delve into the excellent information provided at The Undermine Journal about this hated competitor and do a review of all the markets he is in. Yup, there are the glyph and gems markets he has ran me out of, but I look further. It appears that he has an even bigger foothold in the Armor and Item Enhancement markets. Digging deeper it shows that Bankbot is a major supplier of scrolls, but he sells 3x as many Leg Armor Enhancements. Looking into his armor sales, they are 90% crafted Leather Armor items. Wait a minute! Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
If my hypothesis is correct, Bankbot and SkinnerBoy are on the same account! I reported the obvious botter SkinnerBoy and in turn may have possibly got the most hated villianous semi-botting Bankboy banned as well. Could it be true? Could he have been so dumb? Only time will tell if Bankbot appears camped at his usual spot in the Orgrimmar auction house. If I really did get Bankbot booted, then I am surely the hero of the day for my Realm.
What is your take on botters? Do you report them? Do you exploit them? Do you appreciate their ability to provide low cost bot derived raw materials?