By: Sven Hi everyone, Before I begin, I want to first acknowledge the solutions I am proposing may seem radical. They may seem foreign, confusing, pointless or put simply, drastic. I implore those who are interested to read the entire forum post and keep an open mind. Of course, I am open to criticism and critique, as I believe the best way to solve a complex issue is with the minds of several people – not just one. A couple of days ago, I was in Lobby-1 and a spammer came into the lobby. They were spamming racist, discriminatory, abusive and rude profanity to several players in the lobby. When I asked them why they were doing it, they claimed that they were ‘bored’ and ‘had nothing better to do’. When I recorded him hacking a little later on, the player claimed that he had over 300+ alternative (alt) accounts and that he didn’t care whether he would be punished or not. Although the player was eventually punished, the player stayed true to his word, hopped on another account and continued their spamming. This is an experience that a large portion of the Mineplex community has had to deal with for years and continues to deal with to this day. There is no doubt that over the years, hackers, spambots and other rule breakers have been a rampant problem here on the server. Since 2013, Mineplex and its upper management have tried several methods to curb hacker and spambot activity on the server via the Mineplex Anti-Cheat and now GWEN. However, as one can see, although these plugins have been moderately successful in banning rule-breakers automatically, it is only a band-aid solution to the everlasting problem of rule-breakers as hackers (in particular) continue to use their clients and spam bots on alt accounts. The current process of hacking on Mineplex currently proceeds as follows 1. Hacker uses their client 2. Member of the community reports the rule-breaker to staff 3. Staff member observes hacker and punishes them (via ban) 4. (Optional) Hacker uses a VPN 5. Hacker uses an alt account and comes back on the server 6. The player continues using their hacks 7. Repeat One can see how although the hackers’ account is punished, there is currently no or very little defence against the use of alt accounts. Put simply, we are currently taking a REactive approach to the hacker problem by simply banning player’s accounts. Instead, we should be taking a PROactive method of targeting the root cause of this reoccurring issue, being one’s ability to use alt accounts to bypass their punishments. In order to think of a solution, I needed to narrow the problem. What is the problem? For me, the root problem of Mineplex hacking is punishment bypassing. So, the question becomes, what can we do to stop the action of punishment bypass when players use alt accounts? The answer I am proposing is three folded. I will get into these possible solutions a little later after discussing the significance and the urgency of the Mineplex hacking problem. As many of you know, the hacking culture on the Mineplx server has significantly tainted several aspects of the Mineplex experience, most particularly with gameplay. We play Minecraft and Minplex, in particular, because we want to have fun. The whole point of Mineplex is that there are several minigames for a player to choose from in order to have fun with their friends. The games on the server are (mostly) designed in a way that emphasizes a player’s skill and requires the player to play more, to get better in order to win. When a hacker is present, the emphasis on skill greatly decreases as the client does the work and makes the game unfair for those who are willing to use their skills to play fairly. The presence of hackers ruins the player experience. When hacks are present, other players are no longer having fun, which in short, discourages them from playing more games, as the mentality of “what’s the point?” becomes increasingly common. As a result of this, players may be more willing to not play games at all or the worst, go to a different server. I am not saying this is particularly the situation on Mineplex; however, there ought to be several players who have succumbed to this train of thought. I fear that if Mineplex does not take “radical” steps soon to curb hackers on the server, players will continue to feel discouraged and be more likely to place their loyalty elsewhere. Now that I have discussed the significance, I will now attempt to explain (the best I can), my vision for the solution to the hacking problem here on Mineplex As I previously noted beforehand, I envision the solution to the hacking problem as a three-step approach. The first big step is to conduct a punishment overhaul, which entails a change of the type of punishment given to those found using hacks on the server. As it currently stands, when a hacker is found to be using hacks, their account is banned with the duration being decided based on the severity of the hack used. Mineplex.com/rules illustrates the severities of different hacks nicely and I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. In order to prevent users who are found hacking from bypassing their punishment with the use of an alt account, I am proposing that instead of banning the account for hacks, Mineplex should IP ban the account instead. I envision the severities staying the same and the time duration for the punishment staying the same, which I think is important to note. Now, I can already sense the animosity and the disapproval (especially from staff) about this idea, however, allow me to explain my reasoning. For those who are not aware, the difference between a regular ban and an IP ban is that a regular ban just punishes the specific account, whereas an IP ban bans the IP associated with the account, which means that all accounts under the same IP will be banned as well and thus preventing the hacker from accessing the server. The major positive from the usage of IP bans is that staff are able to disable the hacker’s ability to use an alt account with the same IP. This can be really helpful in limiting the user’s ability to access an alt account and to use their hacks on the server. The negative is that it places a lot more “power” in the hands of staff in the sense of a “with greater power comes greater responsibility” mentality. Seeing as Mods+ can currently perm ban a user, I do not see there being a huge difference with temporarily/permanently IP banning a user instead. Obviously, I am not a developer and am unaware if this change can be possible. Now you may be asking, “well can’t they just use a VPN to temporarily change their IP to bypass their punishment anyways?” The answer simply put is: yes, absolutely. And that’s where step 2 comes to play. The second step is to develop/purchase/use a Minecraft plugin called VPN Blocker. This is a popular type of plug-in that several servers are now using to prevent hackers from bypassing their punishments and coming back to the server. One of the major downsides of bans (reg and IP) is that users can simply use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to essentially change their IP address and bypass their bans. Thankfully, over the years, Minecraft plug-ins have been developed, which brings new hope in the battle against hackers. One of the major breakthroughs in the Minecraft plug-in world is something called “VPN Blocker” or “VPNGuard”. These types of plugins prevent players from joining the server behind any type of anonymizer (whether it be a VPN or a Proxy). This will effectively help reduce spammers/bots and Miscellaneous individuals from joining the server by automatically kicking/banning them if they have an IP address which belongs to a hosting organization. I am not too well versed in the realm of Minecraft plug-ins, so I won’t embarrass myself trying to explain the intricacies of them. With that being said, however, below is a good video showing an example of VPN Blocker/Guard in action from a staff (Admin+) perspective: With the combination of using IP bans for hacking-related offences and a VPN Blocker-like plugin, I can see Mineplex being able to better handle and control the hackers that are present on the server. Not only do they prevent a user from using an alt account on the same IP, but the VPN blocker also prevents them from utilizing a VPN to access the server and continue hacking. The positives of using a VPN blocker is that they are effective in preventing users with alt accounts from rejoining the server. The IP ban compliments the VPN Blocker because when an IP is banned, the VPN blocker learns and if the user tries to use a VPN, their alt account will be kicked/banned, thus effectively preventing them from coming back. It is important to note that this is a drastic oversimplification of the plug-in and one negative would certainly be that It would certainly not work 100% of the time. However, I would argue that this would greatly reduce hackers who use alts to bypass their punishments. Step 3 is rather simple in that Mineplex should also continue to improve the anti-cheat software GWEN so that it continues to improve detecting client users and punishing them accordingly. I would argue that GWEN should still issue regular bans (not IP bans) as it is an automatic process without staff intervention. I feel with any good proposals there ought to be a section dedicated to describing the limitations to the solutions I proposed in this thread. The first limitation is whether or not the IP bans concept and VPNBlocker plug-in are possible to develop. As I am unaware of coding in Mineplex, I am unsure whether or not the implementation of IP bans and a VPN Blocker-like plugin is possible with the current configuration. This is something that the Leadership team, Devs, Sr Mods can comment on as this would be important in determining how realistic these changes could be. Another limitation is the existence of competing priorities among the Leadership Team, the Admins and the Devs. There is clearly a lot going on in Mineplex. There are new game modes coming out, a new (old) lobby, new cosmetics, etc. The people who make these things possible are constantly busy and so a limitation to these solutions’ implementation can be competing priorities. Is reforming the punishment matrix and adopting a VPN Blocker plug-in a priority for the Leadership team? If it is not, then I do not see this going anywhere quite frankly. With these three steps, I feel as though we can seriously change the method of punishing hackers here on Mineplex. By using IP bans, a VPN Blocker-like plug-in and continuing to improve GWEN, I strongly believe we can drastically reduce the hackers on the Mineplex server. With the implementation of these solutions, I envision the hacking process to go something like this: 1. Hacker uses their client 2. Member of the community reports the rule-breaker to staff 3. Staff member observes hacker and punishes them (via IP ban) 4. Hacker uses an alt account and comes back on the server 5. They fail 6. Hacker uses a VPN to change their IP and bypass their punishment 7. They fail again 8. Player gives up and waits out their punishment or appeals their punishment on website Even if this idea is rejected by the community (which I imagine is quite possible), it is important that we (as a community) continue to discuss the issue of hacking and how best we can solve it. As I said in the beginning, more heads are better than one and with everyone’s input, I’m sure we can find a solution to this complex problem.