What is cheating and what not? Word games

30 replies. Last post: 2015-12-23

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What is cheating and what not?
  • Aganju at 2009-12-16

    I wanted to put the question out here for discussion:

    ***What is considered CHEATING and what NOT?***

    I have been playing a lot of the word games lately (WYPS and GWG), and I often wonder how people come up with the words they use. (Ok, I'm not a native speaker, but my vocabulary is still rather large I think).

    I typically try around with letter sequences that sound like words, and check if the program allows me to send it; that way I find some rather rare words.

    Is it ok to use a website that gives you all words with the given letters? Is it ok to type the letters into Google to see what comes up in the help? Or should you not use anything outside of LittleGolem??

    What are you all doing, and where do you see the line to cheating?

  • FatPhil at 2009-12-16

    There's no firm consensus. See the older threads for more input.

    The word games are certainly ones where there's a very shallow slippery slope leading to full-blown assisted play.

  • chianti at 2009-12-27

    … and FatPhil must know what full-blown assisted play is! Thanks for him, there are not too many players in GWG now. Good thing is that he has probably not developed a software for WYPS yet.

    I certainly have more respect for NagyFathy who is a Top6 player in both Word games and keeps playing.

  • kingofthebesI at 2009-12-29

    Well if a computer is playing the game that is wrong if not clearly listed as a bot. With GWG a sophisticated enough program would win all games where it bids first and lose against perfect play by half point when going 2nd in the bidding phase.

    Checking if a word is allowed is fine by me as it's impossible to play illegal words.

    FatPhil which older thread I am not aware of the forum having a search function, so without a search function or a thread on what is ethical in how you play word games on this site. Without search or sticky threads then duplication of threads is inevitable!

  • FatPhil at 2010-01-02

    The discussion wasn't even necessarily in the GWG forum, so might be hard to find. It crops up repeatedly, however, so shouldn't be impossible to find. (As does the still multiple-account-using chianti's bizarre claim that somehow single-handedly I am making GWG unplayable on this site despite the fact that neither RoRoRo nor I have signed up to anything for years. A strange little fantasy world that one (*cough*) lives in, clearly.)

    Discussions about the Monster or the Tour would probably be good places to look first, as various ground rules have been discussed several times.

  • kingofthebesI at 2010-01-04

    Well part of the reason people for some not playing, is the perception top players are cyborgs or bots real or imagined.

    Some may also see that perception as reason not to bother as they will be seen as a cheat if they do too well.

    Sock puppetry is also cheating and not just in word games.

  • FatPhil at 2010-01-04

    The important word is 'single-handedly'. If you divide the number of times the finger has been pointed at me by the tuscany trolls by the number of times other people who have used machine assistance have been accused of the same, then you get a division by zero error. I'm perhaps being singled out simply because my code is apparently better. That's why I don't take it as too much of an insult. I'm sure the guys who wrote wzebra and fritz wouldn't be ins

    And what level of tech scares people off? As I said right at the start, there is such an incredibly fine-grained gradation between black and white it's almost impossible to know exactly where to draw the line to keep everyone happy.

  • chianti at 2010-01-04

    @F@Phil, I may live in a fantasy world but it is a fact that you won tournaments with your 'derob' nick without telling other people that you used a grid reading software (in other words, it was not 'you' who searched for word alternatves but your program).

    And with your 'FatPhil' nick – which, as you openly declared, also used a program – remained signed up for tourneys as late as December 2008. That is, not 'years ago'. Incidentally, this nick remains on top of the GWG rankings with using a bot. Not quite fair.

    Since you came out as a player using full-blown, outright program assistance, the number of players reduced dramatically – many good players left the site since then. Just compare the player rosters of 2006 and 2009.

  • FatPhil at 2010-01-09

    Correlation does not mean causation. And the correlation isn't even particularly strong as you appear to be blaming me for things that happened before I could have had any influence on them. But your sense of time is notoriously messed up, so this doesn't surprise me. And, given that I was not the only person using self-written machine assistance, the blame would have to be divided across all of those who did, and surely even more those who still do?

    And do you know how many of the top players have used machine assistance? Your attempts to demonise the only one who's been open about it are quite misguided.

  • Aganju at 2010-01-09

    I think an important point that has been made here (or somewhere in a similar discussion) is that

    LittleGolem does not have a rule page which says what's allowed

    so it's up to everybody's moral position and feel what is ok and what not, and that results in these discussion, sometimes based on facts and sometimes not.

    But as long as 'Cheating' is not defined, it is not defined what is cheating, period.

    We should start a text that describes the 'behavior' rules (in simple words not legalese), and make them available in 'a conspicuous location', so every player and every newcomer knows what are the rules. THEN we can flame anybody violating the rules.

    Try to be constructive, and not flame back and forth. That's boring, and does not get you anywhere. Let the past be the past (you can't change it anyway) and make the future better.

  • gpallis at 2010-01-10

    Here's a seperate question - looking around at WYPS and GWG players rated over, say, 1600, what are people using right now? My rule is that I'll use standard publication-type scrabble lists (e.g. Q-words, vowel dumps), but not robot-generated lists - e.g. “words ending in RNO” or whatever.

  • FatPhil at 2010-01-11

    A program (which you didn't write yourself) generated those scrabble lists.

    There's no difference between looking at a list of q words and doing

    $ grep q $DICT
  • ypercube ★ at 2010-01-11

    I have a dictionary where the words are ordered according to their ending (fuzz is very near the end of the dictionary). Can I use it?

  • gpallis at 2010-01-11

    Of course you can! Do you? I just think it'd be interesting to know what other people do.

  • bloke at 2010-01-11

    Since I am a no geek GWG player, lingering above 2100 by virtue of playing zillion games, I have no idea what is

    $ grep q $DICT

    Could you explain?

    Is this part of the bot that you (and supposedly 1-2 other people) have written? Is this one inch down on the 'slippery slope' that someone wrote about somewhere?

  • quartastella at 2010-01-11

    I would say cheating is getting help that is not allowed at a regular OTB (on-the-board) tournament.

    I have my doubts that using a dictionary or a computer generated word list is allowed at a Scrabble tournament (or any other word game).

    I have my doubts that using a calculator at a Summy tournament (or any other math game) is allowed.

    I know that using a computer program to play an opening or “just once when I don't know what to do” is not allowed at an Othello (Reversi) tournament and I'm sure that also applies to chess and similar games.

    Yet, many players in the Internet community don't see anything wrong with that behaviour and that really puzzles me.

  • Marius Halsor at 2010-01-12

    Personally, I use a dictionary for GWG and Wyps. I will, however, ONLY use it manually. I don't even use the “find” function. This is because there are lots of English words I don't know. I see knowledge of which words are allowed, and which are not, as part of the rulse, and therefore think using a dictionary where all allowed words are, is OK. But that's just my opinion, of course.

    Quartastella, I think many people will compare an LG tournament more to a “play by mail” tournament than an OTB tournament. And the rules for such tournaments are different. For some games, I use a separate board (usually on a computer) to play out certain lines - but I will NEVER have the computer do an analysis for me. But even playing out lines on a separate board is not allowed in OTB-tournaments, and this is almost encouraged on LG, at least for Chess and GO, where there are links to programs for doing this for the ongoing game.

    Oh, and a rules page on LG WOULD help. Then, at least all players who DON'T want to cheat will know what they can and can't do, and all such players will be playing by the same rules - which is NOT the case today, particularly for word games, I think. Also, it will be easier to point fingers at the cheaters.

  • FatPhil at 2010-01-12

    @ypercube - iff I can type

    $ perl -ne 'print map{scalar reverse} (sort map{scalar reverse}())' < /net/noarch/share/dict/sowpods












    @bloke - that above grep command simply extracts all words with a 'q' in them from the wordlist. Grep's very powerful, you can give it choices of letter combinations to search for, or say “I don't care what's in between, just make it start like this and end like that”, so it can tell you all words that enter or leave a GWG corner square, or extend words through star tiles, for example. It was the second step on the slippery slope for me (the first being the 'incremental search' feature in emacs, my editor of choice).

  • quartastella at 2010-01-13

    I guess that explains why when I'm struggling trying to figure out a word longer than dog or six, my opponent spells pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

  • chianti at 2010-01-14


  • Marius Halsor at 2013-11-23


  • Paavo Pirinen at 2014-01-02

    It would be fun to hear more about people's personal moral constraints. IMHO in an atmosphere as loose as LG, very few things can be reasonably called cheating or detestable. You can't expect your opponents play with same rules as you do. Some are more purist, some are less. It's best just to accept that and have fun.

    Games like OSKI and WYPS have a lot of depth even for heavily assisted play, as it can still be a hard tactical choice what to play even if you knew all the possible words. On the other hand I can imagine a sort of family game purist going “Slang words, regional words, obsolete words and unassimilated loan words are all bullshit. If you can not use a word in your regular writing with a good
    conscience, don't use it.”

    I play loose-moraled unassisted play. I don't use dictionary - other than to quench my curiousity and check, what a word I or the opponent used really means.
    Since I have a sort of a code, I can consider myself stretching it. I like to think of my two “vices” as Tycho way and Gabe way, in honor to a certain rather popular web comic.

    Tycho way says “Dust off some workhorse suffix like -ously, -ation, or -esque, and Bob’s your uncle.”
    If I know a word, I consider prefixing, suffixing and compounding all fair game, even if I have absolutely no idea, why some obscure hypothetical construct would make its way to dictionary. If my opponent establishes a word I did not know beforehand - well - I know it now, and happily try -ing and -ed and dis- and what-have-you on it. It's fun, so I do it. Just the mental image of someone misjeering is a reason enough to try the word. Didn't work.

    Gabe way says “Just choose random letters and push submit. Eventually, it goes through.”
    I avoid going truly “Gabe”, but I often come rather close when I test words that I have a vague hunch I kinda might have seen somewhere and almost perhaps might know what they roundabout mean. I'm not terribly good at remembering correct spellings, so now and then I play words I did not know accidentally anyway. Also: everything that's probably Latin is English enough that it's worth a shot; old-timey misspellings are worth a shot too.

  • scrampy at 2015-12-21

    After playing OSKI for a while, initially as a means of getting past the 10 inital game limit required to allow posting to the forums, and now nightly just because it is a great game, I have developed a similar, but quite different Tycho/Gabe heuristic:

    I play pure, searching unassisted, enjoying the game, delighting when I find a new word, and cursing when my opponents find a better word.  Of course, having a large enough vocabulary to know what is a word that humans know, and what is a word that assisted players find in SOWPODS using a script or website, I accept the first non-reasonable word with a shrug and give the opponent the benefit of the doubt.  I've often stumbled upon a word just by trying something that sounds word-like.

    Once the second such word is played, I go on “rage tilt” and play out the remainder of the game pitting my script against theirs.  After all, its just a game, although one that is different from the one that I wanted to play.

    At this point in the game, I've lost.   They've accumulated a usually insurmountable lead.  But at least when I play CALPAC, after the top ranked OSKI player on LG has played both NODICAL and CACUMEN, and my script happens to list that all of his plays during the game were the longest possible (and, subjectively, the most obscure) words, I don't feel like I'm doing anything against the rules, whatever those rules might be.

  • Richard Moxham at 2015-12-22

    FatPhil is right when he says that any word-list generated in whole or in part by a computer is equivalent to any other.

    I say there's one and only one acceptable code of practice for word games: namely, that for the duration of the game nobody consults any reference tool of any kind. ( And even if there's a technical obstacle such as that the game won't allow entry of a word not in its database you still don't make the exception that “it's okay just to check first”.  What you do instead is alter the program so that an invalid submission is automatically rejected and the turn passes over, with a zero or penalty score against the name of the offending player.)

    I'd like to see anyone attempt to justify anything different from the above.

  • Galbolle at 2015-12-22

    Richard, regarding your suggestion, something like applying the penalty after, say, 5 failed attempts per game sounds a bit less harsh.

  • Richard Moxham at 2015-12-22

    Well, I don't know.  When we played *family* (!) Scrabble in my childhood, it sometimes happened that you had a word in mind but were unsure whether it existed.  If you then took the risk and laid it down, someone might query it and call for the dictionary.  And if it wasn't in there, you'd have to take it up again and that would be your turn.  You certainly wouldn't expect to be allowed another try.  The thing is that so many obscurities exist in English that the odds on your hitting one with any vaguely plausible combination of sounds are pretty reasonable (I just looked up “pluff” in the big Oxford as a test and there it was).  So surely there needs to be a cost for gambling on a loser.

    Come to think of it, mere existence wasn't good enough in my parents' household - and absolutely not in my grandmother's.  When challenged, you had to be able to say what you thought the 'word' meant, and that had to be right too!  So actually what I'm proposing here is a considerably *less* draconian rule :)

  • Marius Halsor at 2015-12-22

    Richard: I don't play much word games these days, but when I did, it would have been much harder for me without a dictionary, since English isn't my first language. Also, there can be a difference between words appearing in different lists, so getting a word rejected when submitting an illegal word may not be a good idea. This is also the case because something may be considered “legal words” in some languages but not others. For instance, “English” is probably not allowed as an english word, but I think the equivalent word would be accepted in Norwegian. Now, having a dictionary for manual use is a VERY different thing than having a script ply the game for you!

  • scrampy at 2015-12-22

    Something worth considering: in bodybuilding competitions, there were separate events for those athletes who used steroids and other substances to enhance their outcomes, and events for what I think were called “natural” bodybuilders.  The competitors in each event knew what was allowed, and what was not, and there was no need to complain about steroid use by the winner of the event in which it was an open fact that steroid use is allowed.

    Perhaps the same approach could be taken for word games. Nothing need be enforced, just segment the games and tournaments to “assisted” and “unassisted”.  Those looking to compete in an unassisted contest would have no guarantees that their opponents would be playing “fair”, but at least those suspected of using lists, dictionaries, websites, bots, scripts or any other tool would have less of a leg to stand on when such discussions come up one implemented.

    The suggestion is certainly not perfect, but I believe it would be rather lightweight to implement, no additional programming would be required, other than setting a new game title for the affected games.  Keeping the current configuration as-is would allow all those who have stellar performance to keep their records unchanged.  Those of us playing in the unassisted games would start back at 1500.

    Without much noise in here though, I doubt Richard will take notice.

  • mmKALLL ★ at 2015-12-23

    Would dividing the playerbase like that reduce the activity too much?

  • scrampy at 2015-12-23

    @mmKALLL: My suggestion is less about reducing/preventing the activity.  I think people will cheat if they want to.

    I'm proposing the Unassisted branch to *eliminate* those players who believe it is fair to use anything other than their own abilities to play.  Their appears to be a contingent of top players who are openly playing assisted, and argue that “anything goes”, either by suggesting that games like OSKI are purely strategic, and that the skill involved is simply taking the list of all possible words and choosing the right ones to play at the right time.  Another common argument appear to be “the language of the game is not my first language”, which seems like a reasonable argument not to play in the Unassisted games.  Of course, this has given me the idea of playing in the German, French etc. OSKI games to ensure that this argument holds water in the forums.

    Either way, I hope that we can make some progress on the issue.

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