AI For Bot Detection
October 19, 2023

User Experience pitfalls and Bots:

The news is out that Elon Musks’ X has finally figured out how to stop bots. All you need to do is just charge all your visitors one dollar - I’m guessing in a multi-polar world, other currencies are available. 

So that’s what ‘state of the art’ bot management looks like for one of the largest social media sites in the world today.  ”That's all I could think of,” said Elon. X plans to trial the $1 dollar annual fee in New Zealand and the Philippines.

We will wait and see the results of the trial. Fundamental changes in user behaviour such as charging even nominal amounts, are likely to result in pretty steep consumer declines in usage, which will make an immediate impact on advertising revenues. 

The UX research is pretty clear as shown in the table below:

UX research shows sharp declines in page abandonment with even small UX changes

67% of users will simply abandon a page if they encounter ANY complications. 

Users are frustrated with CAPTCHA - and text CAPTCHA has a failure rate of nearly 30%. Worryingly math tests had the lowest success rate, and although picture identification and games provided a better user experience, they also consumed more time. 

1.5% of users simply abandon any page with CAPTCHA.

Bots can buy things too.

According to Elon charging the $1 will make it 1000x harder for the bots. I’m not sure about 1000X, as there are millions of scalping and sneaker bots today in operation making transactions for re-sale of tickets and other desirable consumer items for resale. The $1 fee isn’t about the fee as such, it's also about the ability to verify the payment, details, address, and fingerprint the device associated with the payment using some form of 2FA. 

More CAPTCHA anyone?

The effectiveness of CAPTCHA in improving user experience depends on its ability to deter spam and malicious bots. Unfortunately, sophisticated bots have become adept at solving CAPTCHA puzzles. Furthermore, the emergence of "CAPTCHA farms," where spammers pay human workers minimal wages to complete CAPTCHA tests, has added another layer of complexity to this issue.

To be fair, creating a universal test that every human can pass is an immense challenge. Professor Jason Polakis highlighted this challenge, stating, "You need some type of challenge that works with someone from Greece, someone from Chicago, someone from South Africa, Iran, and Australia at the same time. It has to be independent of cultural intricacies and differences, easy for an average human, not specific to any subgroup, and difficult for computers simultaneously. This places severe limitations on what can be achieved."

How VerifiedVisitor works to enhance User Experience:

VerifiedVisitors take a radically different approach. Our AI platform learns from the actual behaviour of the visitors and builds up multiple ways to determine suspicious behavior. Along with the bad behaviour, we also recognise the good behaviour of a verified customer. 

This allows us to start dividing the various visitors into risk cohorts, and then selectively applying adaptive testing just for the suspicious behaviour. 

Risk Surface area captures Visitors by Risk Cohort

At this stage, none of the existing verified customers are disturbed. The user flow is not disrupted. However, when a visitors show signs of suspicious bot like behaviour it is then subject to further checks, for example more telemetry is captured and the bot may be served a CAPTCHA. Most of the time, the only visitors affected by these additional tests will be bots. You’re not punishing all of your customers by making fundamental changes in user behaviour, and instead minimizing friction. 

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