You've probably seen it, running across the edge of the wilderness, looking for all the world as if Bob the Builder had gone nuts with his bulldozer. It's a ditch. It separates the wilderness, where "anything goes", from the more civilised parts of the RuneScape world. Its function is to prevent the unwary from wandering into the wilderness unprepared and unknowing. It does indeed perform this function admirably. I had great fun the day it appeared, jumping back and forth until some meanie called me a n00b and hurt my feelings.
This week's update gave us a fun new quest with a fun new weapon and also a whole new level of protection. For the longest time, there's been a scam around whereby someone would announce in a newb-rich environment "Jagex blocks your pass! See ********"?. This would invariably prompt the newbies to try it and the scammer would cull a boatload of passwords ready for the hacking.
So what did I do when I read about this? Well, I jumped across the Ditch of Stupidity – hey I was going to try something stupid – and ran off into a deserted part of the wilderness. Then, with no white dots (or even yellow dots – some of those monsters will do anything for a few more seconds of life, muwahahahaha!) I typed in a sentence which contained my password and this is what happened:
"You appear to be telling someone your password - please don't! If you are not, please change your password to something more obscure!"
Then even though my password was already something fairly obscure, I logged out and changed it to something even more obscure. I just hope it's not too obscure for me to remember. Yes, I am paranoid. No, I've never had my RuneScape account, or any other online account hacked. I take my online security seriously; I use a good anti-virus, a strong firewall, and run a system check automatically once a week.
But back to the Ditch of Stupidity. It's not very impressive is it? It's just this gouge in the dirt running across the landscape. A moat would have been much nicer, much more appropriate (perhaps it could have been filled with piranhas or even a kraken or two just to add some spice to leaping over it).
Let's face it, if it's going to be called the Ditch of Stupidity (and I'm not the only person calling it that) then it's far too small as it stands. In order to hold all the stupidity of the player population, it would need to take up most of the map area. And it's stupidity which has driven the password censoring update this week. Mostly player stupidity to be sure, but Jagex has its share too. One of the truisms of programming is that as soon as you make something idiot-proof, the universe builds a better idiot. Programming sometimes seems to be a perpetual race between the programmers, who want to idiot proof their programs, and the universe which wants to build bigger and better idiots. At the moment, from where I'm standing, it looks as though the universe is winning.
Now we all do stupid things – sometimes even terminally stupid. There's been more than one person whose last words were: "Here, hold my beer and watch this." Actually any time any one says that to you, put the beer down and grab a camera. You'll be glad of photographic proof of their stupidity later.
So we're never going to get rid of stupidity -- even smart people do stupid things from time to time. Some of us do them over and over again. However, it's been my experience that if your stupidity doesn't hurt you, you won't learn not to do what ever it was again. I saw a picture on the internet the other day of two kittens lying in front of a car wheel. The caption read: "Try it – it doesn't hurt. We've done it eight times already!" That, I think illustrates the point nicely!
A similar caption in RuneScape might be: "I always wear my lucky purple phat to the wildy – it keeps me safe." No ditch, of any size, is going to prevent the person who says that from going to the wildy wearing his lucky purple phat, until one day he gets PK'd and loses it. Just because he hasn't lost it yet, doesn't mean he won't lose it another time.
While it's nice of Jagex to prevent us from giving away our passwords in-game, that's not going to prevent people from giving them away in IRC, AOL or other chat rooms. Greedy people will continue to fall for the "give me your password and I'll log in as you and put a million GP in your bank" scam. Lazy people will continue to lose to the scammers who offer to play their characters and train their skills for them. Real world traders will continue to rip off the greedy and the lazy and the stupid, no matter what Jagex does – short of making trading between players impossible, because there will always be greedy, lazy and stupid people playing the game.
The more Jagex protects players from the consequences of their own greed, sloth, or stupidity, then the longer it will take them to learn how to take care of themselves both online and in real life. Parents tell toddlers (repeatedly in most cases) not to touch the hot stove, climb up the bookcase, swing from the chandelier, or drink from the toilet (no, wait, that last one's puppy training, not child rearing!). But inevitably the child, or puppy, does what it's been told not to do and is hurt. Hopefully not badly hurt, but just enough to remember not to touch the stove, climb the bookcase, etc. It's the same in RuneScape. Jagex can tell the players not to give out their passwords, take their phats to the wildy, trade with scammers, or whatever. Some people, usually ones who've already learned that doing things you're told not to do is often painful, will listen. There will always be some who don't. Because they've never lost anything or been hurt before, they'll ignore all the warnings and go blundering around until they lose their best stuff to a scammer or PKer. Then they'll cry and complain to anyone and everyone who'll listen.
I guess it's out of frustration at all the "I was scammed" or "I died in the wildy and lost stuff", "poor me" complaints that Jagex gets deluged with, that monstrosities like the Ditch of Stupidity are born. And now we're stuck with it. So be sensible when you're playing – I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: when someone makes you an offer that's too good to be true, don't take them up on it because it almost certainly is. Not losing your stuff to scammers is the route to Happy ‘Scaping. Now I'm off to Edgeville – there's a ditch that needs to be jumped over some more.
Did You Know...
...that you can get to Ardougne without crossing over White Wolf Mountain or completing the Fishing Contest quest? All you need is 30 gp. Find your way to Brimhaven - it's on the Western side of Karamja Island - then take the boat from the pier located to the North of the village.
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