Hattrick News (March 2008)

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For this editions editorial section I'd like to grab the opportunity to comment on some of the feedback Hattrick news has received so far. It's been a pleasure reading even though I've had some trouble finding the time to answer everyone and everywhere, hopefully this will get better.

One frequent feedback is the length of the articles and the newsmail as a whole. But the thoughts on this vary quite a bit. Some say it's all too long, hopeless to read. Others say they want more, longer and more in-depth all over. This proves how hard it is to please everyone. Even though we all have Hattrick as a common interest we're spread over age groups and other factors that can vary a lot. Some are used to reading many hours a day, others loose interest if a text gets too long. This is nothing strange but it's the foundation why it's hard to make every article for everyone.

Some articles need to be lengthy. Like for instance last editions piece about the Hattrick economy. We wanted to hand you something in-depth for those really interested and not just scratch on the surface of the issue. To be able to deliver the full story with background facts, methods and the thoughts behind it all helps us keep misunderstandings down. The more complex a subject is, the greater the risk of misinterpretations if the text about it is kept too short. We'll try to have a good mixture of articles and hope that everyone find something that appeals to him or her. We'll also try to have articles written in different ways, both the fact packed neutral style and the more personal style, like this editions piece about cheat hunting.

Edition 2 was plagued with problems when it was sent out. I wont go into detail about what happened or better yet did not happen but let's just say it wasn't a smooth ride. To send mails to more than 900 000 recipients where each mail is a slightly unique combination of language version, banners, address and more is somewhat different than sending one mail. For instance, when you perhaps read on the conference that some users have received the newsmail it may still be days until you get yours without there being any problem at all.

We'll continue to develop Hattrick News and to improve the service, all in order to bring you a variety of Hattrick related reading. Your feedback is very valuable, so keep it coming if you have suggestions.


(The problems during the sending of the last edition caused some users not to receive Hattrick News. We couldn't know for sure who had received it and who had not and we didn't want to spam hundreds of thousands of users with an extra mail. Therefore we now hand you the link to the web view of the last edition in case you didn't get it: Hattrick news #2)

Changes in the HT-team

Normally we don't bang on the drum for personnel changes. A new HT can come without any big fuzz. This time it might be of interest to have a look at what's been going on though. The new HT, HT-Aartspam, replaces HT-Tjecken as responsible for the volunteer staff and HT-Tjecken moves on to new tasks.

The alias of our newest team member, Aartspam, is probably recognized by some. As a former LA, former Mod, former GM and on top of that also a former Senior GM, Aartspam is one of the most well known characters of the volunteer staff.

So, Aartspam, you've been around as a HT official for quite some time. Guess you didn't think that applying for a Hattrick team would lead up to all that and to moving to another country a couple of years later?

Becoming responsible for the volunteer staff was not something I had in mind when I started 5 years ago. At that time I was only thinking about learning this game as soon as possible. Therefore I started looking at the conferences as I thought it was the best place to learn about the game except for the rules. Pretty soon I started reporting mistakes in the Dutch language and all of a sudden I was asked to translate part of the conference rules which wasn't translated yet. If I did well, the Dutch GM's might have me appointed as a Language Administrator.

Now I am about to move to Sweden (I will have moved when you all read this), apart from my nice colleagues I don't know much about Sweden. I know they are friendly nice people, that it usually is colder than in the Netherlands, that they have a King and that it is a beautiful country if you like to look at the natural environment. Further, my Swedish is pretty disastrous at the moment, but I do hope to become passable soon. They say the first levels should go faster but I still have my doubts about that. Nevertheless I hope to be able to speak and understand Swedish in half a year.

You're replacing Tjecken as had of the volunteer staff and have been with us for a month now. Could you describe what you do on an average workday?

It's a bit difficult to describe exactly what I do on an average day, because every day is different. But in general I talk to many of the volunteer staff about problems they encounter, answer their questions and think of improvements which may enlighten their tasks. Because I have done pretty much every task they have to do, it is for me also easier to understand the problems they encounter and I can use my experience with it to help them and know what they need most. Furthermore, I also hand out rights to new staff members, because without them they aren't able to help us out.

Have you found out what the hardest part of managing the volunteer staff is yet?

I think I have already. Sometimes you have to take decisions on which not everyone will agree with, but you have to take them because it is in the best interest for Hattrick even if I may understand why someone doesn't agree with the decision. It is rewarding though if that someone accepts your decision.

Moving on to Tjecken, who has been part of the HT-team since dinosaurs ruled the earth and fishing was still an Olympic event.

Looking back at your old tasks, the volunteer staff have grown a lot since you first started. Could you give us some figures?

I don't remember any exact figure, but I think there were around 100-150 staff member s all together when I started working fulltime in Dec 2003. Today we have over 550 staff members. Moreover, I also think staff members dedicate even more time for staff duties today than four years ago so the just comparing the numbers will not give you the full picture.

You're moving to news tasks, could you describe what you're working on nowadays?

I will assume responsibility for all our informational issues and make sure the information on site is correct and up to date. Related to this I will also focus on the user community, which also means I will make myself more visible on our forums, especially the Global English conference. Moreover I will also be a direct link between our test persons and the developers to improve the communication and our testing facilities (which in the end should give us better feedback, less bugs and better features).

Right now I'm in an intense writing and planning period. We're approaching season end and a new season, and usual we've got a lot to announce during this period. In addition to this I’m also working on rewriting the rules.

Cheat hunting

A couple of days ago I was answering a mail from a user, mail that was quite similar to many others I received during my GM career. I was once again explaining what this job is really about, what I must do as a GM and what I can't. I was thinking "If only I could reach all those users and tell them something more about how I work." And then I got the newest issue of Hattrick News. That gave me in idea. I contacted the HTs and told them I wanted to write an article on cheathunting. After all, who (apart from maybe hundered other GMs) is better qualified to do that? They answered: "That's briliant! You're a genius! Do it and we'll give you a truckload of beer and Swedish blondes". OK, what they really said was "Do it" but you know, I can read between the lines.

All right, enough of that. I promise the rest of this article will be less delusional than the introduction above. However, before you continue reading I suggest you go back to the game rules and remind yourselves of what is written in chapters 21, 25 and 26. That will be really helpful for better understanding of the message I want to put through here.

As I stated, this article is about cheathunting, mostly about multiple accounts and overpriced transfers, which are by far the most common cheats. I'd like to elaborate a bit on how we deal with them. Of course, I'm not about to spill the beans. You'll not about to finally find out what tools GMs have at their disposal. I don't talk that much. Still, my experience tells me that what I'm about to say will be a surprise to quite a few of you. So here we go: the History of a Cheat.

It usually all starts with a user noticing something suspicious, something not in accord with the rules and reporting it to the GMs. Previous sentence already contains one important information: you send your reports to the GMs. We are the ones given a task of dealing with them. You should not hold the moderators accountable for that. Their responsibility is only to take care of the conferences. The other thing is how you report it. You shouldn't accuse anyone on the conferences, you shouldn't send us personal HT-mails or any mails, for that matter. What you should do is go to the "Report suspected cheaters" page, fill it up with necessary data and hit the "Send" button. If you notice an overpriced transfer it's even easier – all you have to do is go to the player's transfer history and click the star next to the suspicious one.

Some users are reluctant to send us a report. They feel like they are denunciating someone, cooperating with “authorities” against other players. We sure have that problem here in Poland. To those people I say: "You'll not doing this for the GMs. Not for the HTs, either. You're doing it for other honest users. They might be living on the other end of the world, you'll probably never meet them, but their league rival is gaining an unfair advantage over them, so you should protect them. I bet you'd love them to do the same thing for you."

There are three other things you should know about reports. Firstly, they are anonymous. We never disclose who told us about a potential cheat. Secondly, we also never reveal our decisions to anyone but the ones directly involved. The reporter will not be informed about what we did. Thirdly, report does not equal punishment. This is quite often doubted, but i've noticed a strong tendency in GMs to evaluate the evidence before they make a decision. contrary to your ht matches, there is very little random in what we do. So we look into the matter and if we find out the accusation is not justified, we close the case. There are so many managers who have been under our investigation and never found out about that because they were cleared.

We've now moved to the next stage. The report has been filed and some GM is getting to grips with it. First thing you have to know is that we tackle each and every case. Every single report is taken care of. It may take some time but eventually we'll solve it. Usually it takes no more than a couple of days, at least in Poland. Our decisions, as already stated, are based on evidence we get from our tools. However, the user we investigate always has the right to present his side of the story. Sometimes what he says proves to be a valid alternative explanation of what we saw. Then we unlock a team or withdraw a fine. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is clearly untrue according to our evidence. In such cases, we maintain our initial decision. The only thing left for the user to do then is to appeal to Senior GMs. That, however, is another story. You had a chance to read it in the first issue of HT News. Finally, some managers believe that the rule "innocent until proven otherwise” isn't applied in HT. That's supposedly because we don't reveal the evidence we have. Well, the implication there is not logical. The fact that a cheater can't see the evidence doesn't mean the evidence doesn't exist. And if it exists then it means that the cheater has indeed been proven guilty.

There are two rules that are most commonly broken and that we have to deal with: prohibition to have multiple accounts and and to do overpriced transfers. There's not much I can tell you about the first one. By now you should know the rule: you can only have one team, you can't log on to others and no one else can log to yours, no matter the circumstances. You break that principle, you're in trouble. Quite a few people (unfortunately) try to play smart with us. They write that their brother / sister / father / friend / stepmother wants to have a team and that they'll be using the same computer. We agree but always warn that we'll be checking if that's true. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's two names but one person. Now you might be wondering if we can really tell that is the case. Do we have cameras at users' homes? No, we don't, but we have other tools. Which ones, you ask? No, I'm not falling into that trap, my lips are sealed. All I can say is you either trust me these tools exist (even if you can't imagine what they look like) or you assume that something like 300 GMs are making wild guesses about who to ban. It's up to you to decide which explanation seems more logical and plausible.

Transfers are a bit more complicated issue. We tackle them in two steps. First, we have to check if a given transfer is indeed overpriced, that is, if the player cost significantly more than other similar ones who were sold at about the same time. How do we do that? Well, you are all familiar with the basic tool we use. That's transfer compare. Most of the time it's enough. You don't have to be a GM or an experienced day-trader to realize that a passable winger is not worth 200 thousand Euros. Sometimes though it doesn't suffice. Multiskill players, NT players, extremely promising youth pulls, all sorts of rare birds who can't be compared to other similar ones, because there are very few, if any, similar ones on the market. In such cases we consult other GMs. If we're still not sure or disagree we go to the highest powers. We call those powers "Yuppies", and rightfully so. This is a group of GMs whose main task is to closely follow the transfer market and pay special attention to those unique players. You won't find many users in HT who know more about the current prices than them. With their help we can evaluate any transfer and then, if necessary, adjust the price (i.e. cut off the excess money). Let me be clear about this: every overpriced transfer we find is adjusted. We're doing this to ensure fairness of the competition. You would probably be delighted if by some chance couple of million dropped in your lap, but I suspect you'd be much less happy if it was your next opponent being so lucky. Imagine him strengthening his team with that money.

After we have decided that a given transfer was overpriced we have to check if this was a cheat. What? So not every overpriced transfer is a cheat? Well exactly, sometimes it isn't. Someone can get carried away in a bidding war, someone can hit the "0" button too many times. Shhh... accidents happen. That's not the same thing as team A selling 10 players to team B, all on inflated prices (to give an obvious example). Again, I can't go into details. I just want to tell you that you shouldn't be too quick to jump to conclusions. Have you ever seen the "25 highest transfers" list? Have you noticed those TSI 90 players being sold for 10 million Euro? That's some obvious, impudent cheats, right? Well, wrong. Vast majority, if not all, of those transfers are actually not cheats, at least not in a clear definition of the word. This is what we call "drop-out turns". A user is giving up HT, he's selling all of his players and investing all that money into some player he accidentaly finds on the transfer list. On a side note, I always wonder why they do it. They probably think they're original and/or funny. Let me tell you something, these are not adjectives most people would use to describe a 100th person who's telling the same joke at the party. They'd probably use words like "boring” and "tiring". That's in case you'd like to do something similar. Anyway, you might have seen someone sell the worthless player for a huge lot of money and not be banned. You might have thought that we don't care or that cheating is allowed. You might have been tempted to try the same. You might have sent accusatory mail to the seller. I know such things happen. If so, you were wrong. We deal with those transfers, we just don't necessarily ban sellers. Why would we? They're usually innocent victims, often doing the right thing and reporting the transfers themselves.

After we decide that HT rules have been broken we deal out punishments. There are two basic types of those: bans and fines. Ban means a cheater's team is locked and he is kicked out of the game. He has the right to come back after 7 weeks (not earlier) and start anew. Fine means we take some money from the user's team account. The severity of the punishment depends on several factors, e.g., which rules have been broken, how often that happened or if it is the first time a person crossed the rules. As you have probably noticed, I haven't mentioned the transfer price adjustment. That's because, frankly, TPA is not a punishment. We're just asking a user (truly, without giving him an option to do otherwise) to give back the money he undeservedly got. Imagine you found a wallet on the street. Would you feel punished if you were asked to give it back?

By the way: Yuppies, drop-out turns, TPAs... Are you enjoying the GM slang?

I've already written that no-one except for the directly involved person finds out about our decisions. You should remember that if evaluating our work. You will not know if we fined the user you reported. You can only check if he still logs in to HT after that. Even if he stops logging it can be misinterpreted. Some time ago I received the mail abuse report. It was a transfer ad, if I remember correctly. I went to deal with a sender and found out he had more than one team. I banned him. Now, if the reporter has been checking it, he probably drew a conclusion that I locked the team because its owner had been spamming. Oh, what harsh rules! What harsh GMs!

That's also an example showing that we usually know more than "ordinary” users, both about the issue itself and about the history of the managers. The cases that look same to you might be very different to us. That's why you sometimes see certain users being punished differently for what to you seems to be the identical offence. On the other hand, there are occasions when we know less than the reporter. He might have eye-witnessed another player log on to two different teams but if that person was lucky enough not to leave any traces we can do nothing. We can't ban anyone just because we were told so.

One last common misunderstanding I want to clarify: the supporters don't get any special treatment from us. If they cheat, they'll be punished just like anybody else. You cannot buy immunity in HT. And if it happens so that one day HTs collectively lose their mind as a result of some experiment gone wrong and decide to change that rule I'll be giving up my GM hat before you can say "This Grobar guy has weird associations". I also have gut feeling that from 97 to 99% of other staffers would do the same.

Four pieces of advice for you as a summary of this lengthy article:

  1. Read the rules
  2. Do not cheat
  3. Report suspected cheats
  4. Have faith your report has been dealt with the best we could

Good luck in HT and may you always be on the right side of the HT-law.


GM-Grobar is one of our volunteer Game Masters. He has been part of the Polish GM-team for one year and is an experienced hattricker. He has had his team Grobari Kraków for 4,5 years.

Statistically speaking

Do you want to take a guess at how many divine players there are in HT today? How many Divine keepers, playmakers, forwards, wingers, defenders, passers? What is the best main skill a player has today? What is the highest sum of skills a player owns? If you do want to guess stop reading, write your guess down and come back for exact details.

The HT universe has today a lot of divine (or more) players playing in real teams (not bots). There are around 3 000 divine players in the game (not including set pieces). Around 40% of them are keepers (1 200 divine keepers). There are 629 playmakers with divine skill, 278 forwards with divine scoring, 606 wingers and 294 defenders and even 1 divine passer.

The highest main skill a player has today is a keeper with a divine +12 skill level.

The highest playmaking for a player in normal team is divine +5. The same is for scoring. Highest defending is only divine +4. The best winger is divine +8.

When summing up skills there are 10 players with a sum of nearly 2,5 divine skills and more than 2 000 players have two divine skills when all their skills are added. Since this is referring to outfielders and use only 5 skills this means they have an average of around high excellent for all the main 5 skills (defending, playmaking, winger, scoring and passing). Almost all of them have high wing. It also means that theoretically a new outfielder pull from one of the youth systems can immediately be among the best player in the HT universe in terms of overall skill summary if he gets all excellent on his 5 skills.

Last week there were around 550 000 skill pops in Hattrick. Almost 150 000 of them are pops to wretched, poor or weak levels. The highest number of pops is to solid level. There were around 77 000 pops like that in the last week. While there were only 15 000 skill pops for keeper skill, there were 166 000 skill pops for playmaking.

(Thanks to Ron, our number cruncher mentioned in last editions economy article, for this statistic contribution)