"Unwanted Publicity" in Todays BitTorrent Times

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othersna

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I wrote a blog article years ago about what would constitute "unwanted publicity" at private trackers and why respecting "publicity" rules at trackers was important. Back in the day, the culture was to never talk too much about private trackers on an open forum or blog, especially one read by the general public. Even here at TPS, we would almost never post full URLs of trackers and just use their nicknames or letter acronyms. Now some trackers were so secret you were not supposed to even discuss them at all, so some members would refer to them with a letter and a few "*" s , like F*N for the now defunct scene tracker. This would backfire as people not members of the secret tracker would get curious and want to know more.

Well how times have changed. I think one big change was the formation of the subreddit about trackers. As Reddit prides itself on only rarely censoring information, all sorts of information about private trackers seems to leak out there and stay there. I know the era of the "secret tracker" is probably over. Usually within weeks of one opening up, there will be something written about it at Reddit. The post may not be detailed, but remember members of such trackers shouldn't talk about it at all. Also, users of Reddit can sign up using nicknames not used at their trackers, to remain anonymous (and avoid getting banned).

Recently, news about 2 trackers banning Windows 10 exploded all over the internet. Not only did it hit Reddit, but it showed up at the popular torrent blog TorrentFreak. TF is read by mainstream newsmedia, and sometimes the mainstream media quotes TF, such as their "Top 10 Most Pirated" articles. Now TF will only rarely bring up names and acronyms of private trackers, and I was surprised it mentioned these 2, because they are fairly low publicity. They only referred to them by 3 letter acronyms, but for whatever reason interest in their article cause the news to spread all the way to the front page of Yahoo News. This is not the first time news about a private tracker exploded over mainstream media. I remember the whole buzz about Microsoft COFEE being uploaded to a private tracker near and dear to us.

Now the trackers themselves can get angry with their member who leaked the info, or direct their anger at the blogs and forums which allow talk about them, but the bottom line is, it's hard to keep a secret on the internet, and if the secret is "interesting," news of it will spread like wildfire since it's the internet. For example, I wrote an blog article about the mysterious WDMA places. At the time of the article, I didn't know much about them, and thought some talk about them might be just folklore. Well let's just say now I know a lot more than those places would want me to know.

But here's the big question. What are the consequences of "unwanted publicity?" It is said that all private trackers have either been infiltrated by an anti-P2P group, or at least be acknowledged by them, and for whatever reason, these groups have left most private trackers alone, probably because they are considered "small fish" and not worth the effort to go after. Will having their nickname splashed across mainstream media motivate these groups to go after the trackers more aggressively?
 

sbuser

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:jollyr2:but the same time sites like TPB also survies against anti-P2P groups so IMO these private trackers are over-reacting. its not even hard to find info abt any trackers for this big guys they almost own planet .
 

AbeSimpson

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I'd be interested to know how much information the authorities have about the various private trackers. I'm sure they have knowledge, but how much is the question?
 

jammyone

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What are everyone's thoughts about reposting PT information on TPS that has been posted on Reddit? I posted the story of the first tracker that banned Windows 10 and I did include the name. It didn't include usernames (I would remove such info) and as I'm not a member of the tracker I didn't know their policy for sharing announcement information.
 
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Null

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We need more information-leaker witch-hunts IMO
Being there site or acronyms have been advertised I could potentially see someone going after said site, mainly due to the publicity just to prove a point. We have seen small sites in the past face such acts from various anti-p2p groups, most recently I recall TSH with FACT and its not like TSH is IPT or even TPB. You never know what reasons such group have for there actions, my guess is it's all about the publicity and the gossip.

Where you want to be and where they can be, is there they will be. Expect the hammer!

 
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cherwonk

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Well let me say a thing or two on this subject. Private trackers and publicity do not mix. The trackers are private for a reason, in the instance of UTN, it was to shelter the IMAGiNE group. What a fail that was! Personally if the site can survive with 2 or 3 hundred members then it should stay as anonymous as possible. Believe me I wish no one ever heard of the IMAGiNE tracker, but when you've got something people want .... word travels fast. After our URL leaked that first week, we tried to figure out where it originated. With under 100 members and 20 of them staff and suppliers it was a short list, but it was in reality long enough to where we failed to find him/her. Before long the invites were being sold and traded, you know the rest.

As far as being infiltrated and whether its worth the time and money to shut them down? I can say with certainty that most if not all the "level 8 and 9's" have been infiltrated (at least they were 3 years ago). The level 10's ... not so much. But even the tracker that gave birth to IMAGiNE, one that claims to be the oldest tracker running, has been hounded by HLS and FACT. They've had to change servers and domains 3 times and have lost that many Pay Pal accounts since I went away. Most likely it is because of its affiliation with the release group, possibly because it is the oldest tracker running. Over the last 16 years its used up the range of domains, from .com and .net to .org and .me there might have been an info in there at one time. Now its just a quiet small place, 40 visitors a day on some slow server in a country that doesn't care what is on it. The owner doesn't take donations any more he pays for the server himself. Its more pride and stubbornness than anything and I commend him on it.
If people could just be honorable and not talk like a bunch of old ladies then maybe a lot of the WDMA sites would still be around, especially the smaller ones. But once you get too big theres no keeping that bulls eye off the site, publicity and demise is inevitable.
 
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antrax3434

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Lookt at scene FTPs and private FTPs from P2P groups, they are never advertised (you can't find a list of them on public or private forums unlike trackers) because they have true shit and if you get caught speaking about them, then there are some severe consequences..it's not a hobby like these secret/hidden trackers which are not "created" seriously.

And there are still hundreds of people on a single FTP..and i can count hundreds of private ftps
 
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Dwarsligger

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The post may not be detailed, but remember members of such trackers shouldn't talk about it at all.
They shouldn't but someone always does. For the sake of being in the spotlight for a sec, as revenge after getting banned or to make a quick $ when it concerns invites. The post on the secret German tracker with only 100 members is a good example, just 1 question is needed to raise attention. One person talks to a friend who asks a friend who then goes poking around and the ball gets rolling.

Private trackers and publicity do not mix.
Privacy, people and internet also don't mix well. You need to have a very small group of members that are 100% trustworthy and that's almost like mission impossible. Internet and real life are so much alike, someone always talk when they shouldn't to gain some personal status amongst others, rat on people out of jealousy, whatever.
Besides that it is in fact the secrecy that also just attracts people for the wrong reasons. When someone writes about PTP the movie tracker everyone just read it, when someone writes about P** the secret movie tracker people go on a hunt. Curiousity didn't only kill the cat but also some secret trackers.

What are everyone's thoughts about reposting PT information on TPS that has been posted on Reddit?
Good question. Do you spread the news even further by doing so or do you just talk on something that's already spread widely? Besides knowing or not knowing the tracker's rule on it, is the harm already done? Imo the harm is already done but there's still no need to keep it alive, especially not if tracker staff still see an opportunity to control it. My personal thought is to be better safe than sorry.
 
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Deku-shrub

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I research law enforcement actions (specifically the PIPCU, FACT, MPAA, RIAA) very closely, understanding the practical methods they use and the effectiveness of the legal tools they have in different jurisdictions. I am cool like that :D

Shutting down small private sites is simply not one of their priorities, unless they turn out to be either:
* A known source of major content leaks
* Suspected of involvement in significant commercial operations

Sure, going back a few years the scene was considerably more complex with enforcement of quality control and protection of sources as a priority, but today's piracy market is considerably flatter, with only a very small amount of release groups required to feed in quality media into the open piracy and bittorrent ecosystem. These days a person capable of creating a reasonable quality rip and go direct to listing on torrent sites.

So from my perspective I do feel the age of most private trackers is at an end.

Also, I think it's important that piracy embrace it's mainstream nature. Pirates should not have to practice heavy OPSEC as if they were hacking websites or selling drugs online. Pirates should ensure they are performing minimal commercial activity so they can stand behind their actions and proclaim 'this is the best way of getting content, hurry up and catch up with us Hollywood'.

Also othersna, you may have missed it, but I explicitly sent the info thedeh reposted to TorrentFreak in a summary context and I think it was the right thing to do. The fact they didn't redact the names of the sites was an interesting choice, but a choice no doubt they made to increase the story's credibility.
it's hard to keep a secret on the internet, and if the secret is "interesting," news of it will spread like wildfire since it's the internet
I absolutely agree with this.
 
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othersna

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What are everyone's thoughts about reposting PT information on TPS that has been posted on Reddit? I posted the story of the first tracker that banned Windows 10 and I did include the name. It didn't include usernames (I would remove such info) and as I'm not a member of the tracker I didn't know their policy for sharing announcement information.
TPS is a forum which exists to talk about trackers and BitTorrent. So if something is happening at a tracker, and the rules of the tracker don't forbid talking about it, then it is perfectly fine to talk about it here. If a tracker explicitly says don't post announcements or review the tracker, we will respect that, but generally that's only if we have a working relationship with that tracker's staff. If it shows up on Reddit, I still prefer we don't repost it here if it's against the tracker's rules. Yes places like Reddit, FST and even TF will post info trackers don't want out there, but we can still do our part.

That being said, if a tracker doesn't have a working relationship with us, we don't know their rules so I'll only remove posts about it if their staff contact us and ask us. Otherwise it stays. (I'm still waiting for the owner of that secret tracker Shazbat to ask us not to talk about it. ;) ) Same goes for the German place. We won't post its URL, but I'm not going to stop the thread about it. I don't see any big secrets being revealed in that thread.

In summary, I leave it up to our own members to check their trackers' rules to see if they want something posted, and if they see something at Reddit, perhaps check with a member of that tracker to see if it's against the rules. But the stuff is still going to leak out to other places no matter what we do.
 

thedeh

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What are everyone's thoughts about reposting PT information on TPS that has been posted on Reddit? I posted the story of the first tracker that banned Windows 10 and I did include the name. It didn't include usernames (I would remove such info) and as I'm not a member of the tracker I didn't know their policy for sharing announcement information.
If it shows up on Reddit, I still prefer we don't repost it here if it's against the tracker's rules. Yes places like Reddit, FST and even TF will post info trackers don't want out there, but we can still do our part.
I agree with most of the sentiments being expressed in this thread, but I'd like to take exception to this point. There's a big difference between TPS and public forums such as Reddit.

Our membership is small and in many ways screened better than the majority of trackers (invites are exclusively issued by staff and only after careful review of each member application). TPS can be considered a private or semi-private forum and our content is exclusively reserved for members. We're not indexed by search engines and content cannot be hyperlinked. I think It's also safe to say that our members are generally very knowledgeable about all things Bittorrent and are capable of treating sensitive information with a modicum of discretion.

This makes the discussion of sensitive information here fundamentally different in terms of the impact and flow-on effects of this information being available for consumption.

Additionally, once this information gets out into the wild such as on Reddit, it becomes public information and censoring it here becomes pointless. I think even the trackers that have asked us to refrain from posting various internal content/information would concede that once the information becomes publicly indexed it can be considered common knowledge and therefore open to discussion. Censoring information available on Reddit is really an exercise in futility.

In the case of FSC: At request of their staff I was happy to remove their quoted announcement regarding the Windows 10 ban, as this announcement was never meant for public dissemination and at the time I could not see it posted anywhere else. I can also respect that they were distressed by the enormous fallout of the situation and this warranted special consideration on our part.

But I strongly dislike the idea of censoring information once it becomes publicly available. All this does is unfairly restrict our members from receiving information about, and discussing the current events of the PT community. We should practice best efforts to avoid being the original source of this kind of information, but we're a discussion forum, we should be able to repost any and all publicly available information here for discussion.
 

othersna

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Filesharingtalk - a big torrent forum that I don't like to give a lot of attention to because it allows trading. It, like Reddit, allows just about anything to be posted about trackers, including a lot of negative stuff. They aren't particularly fond of us, I may add.....

TD I think we're saying the same thing. My caution is for example an announcement at CN or Pedro's shows up on Reddit (or T-I.com) . Being a member of both places, I know for a fact posting their announcements is against their rules. Out of respect for their rules I wouldn't want a direct copy/paste of the announcement posted here, but if the announcement is newsworthy, we can discuss the issue involved.
 
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Cherokee

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:jollyr2:but the same time sites like TPB also survies against anti-P2P groups so IMO these private trackers are over-reacting. its not even hard to find info abt any trackers for this big guys they almost own planet .
Yes, and they've been arrested, had their assets confiscated, etc. So who's actually overreacting. Most private trackers nowadays have had to fight to stay up. You can't just use any old IP or server (or country) anymore. Back in the good old days, it was almost like the authorities/media, etc, were okay with private trackers, but nowadays, they're not. Just because you don't hear about it, there's all sorts of stuff going on in the background. The more publicity a tracker has, the more likely the authorities are to go to the extra distance.
 

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The only real secret trackers are those 6/8 years old ones that only have like 20 active members.
That's what I call low profile.
The biggest the tracker, the harder it will be to keep it secret.
 

CMMurrayIsDead

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We need more information-leaker witch-hunts IMO
Agreed.

I'm normally not one for witch-hunts a majority of the time—and this whole situation could've been avoided if staff members of certain trackers weren't stupid enough to disallow users from accessing via Windows 10 in the first place—but this is the type of incident in which finding and singling out the culprits would be best. So as to discourage and hopefully curtail any future incidents like this in the future, at the very least.

It's one thing to share this type of info in a semi-private/private setting, a la TPS, but to do so in a blatantly public setting like /r/trackers is idiotic and dickish as hell, and defeats the purpose of the aforementioned sites' want to be private and away from the public's eye.

If you want to mock dumb staff decisions like this, by all means, but don't be an asshole and do it in public places like /r/trackers. The subreddit is shitty enough as is. No need to encourage and promote this type of behavior.
 

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5-6 years ago I was a member, then staff at a secret tracker. They were so anal about it, it verged on psychosis! I always thought they were over doing it. I eventually made staff there and that gave me a unique perspective on this secrecy stuff.

There was literally a small team of staff that ONLY did damage control. They hunted out unwanted publicity and killed it. Was very effective and interesting to be part of. How ever over the next few years I started to see some correlations between site secrecy and unwanted publicity. The more secret and the further underground we went the more posts popping up about the site. Also the more they were attacked, pay pal accounts being reported, IRC wars, publicity wars, lots of drama!

So yea practically everyone had heard of the site even tho it was meant to be a secret, it had myth like status, people weren't sure it existed, most of the members were bt old timers or some form of elite in the community. Activity was nuts, everyone wanted in...it was crazy. Unfortunately the more secret we wanted it the more it got discussed.

Fast forward to the present, site sorta died at one stage, went through a few evolutions, and this time round the site has removed a lot of the secrecy and they aren't so anal about them being mentioned in trusted places at least. Publicity on the site is at an all time low, not many people know the site still exists, its a very small user base, and it seems to be flying under the radar. By loosening the secrecy thing several things resulted. Main thing is it isn't talked about much any more, no one wants to talk about a non-secret site...lol. The unfortunate side affect is its not as attractive to people because its just a normal site now, so activity is pretty low as far as torrenting goes, however the forums/community is a very close knit private one.

While I do love the private, close knit community, I do miss the hussle and bussle of the secret days...lol. Moral of the story is if you make something too secret it defeats the aim, aka secrets tend to get spread more than just idle gossip.

In summary:
unwanted publicity is bad because it does attract the wrong sorts, those that want to hack the site to sell the DB to marketing people (bt sites are easy targets), ant-P2P mobs, and generally bad folks. At the end of the day, its the publicity that attracks these assholes, and its these assholes that can break a site. Try and have your pay pal account killed 6 times in a row. Or have your members get cease and desist notices on fear of prosecution, or even worse fines from RIAA or whoever. This is basically how the site died in the first place.

So yea while some think its staff over reacting, there is a reason why we seem to over react. Many small sites die due to assholes, this really happens, and small sites don't get millions of $ worth of donations, which is what is needed to fend off the bad guys aka RIAA or whatever anti-P2P group is threatening you. This shit really happening, but is not discussed in public when it happens.
 

othersna

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^ I think I know which tracker you are talking about (or if not, it sounds familiar) . It was the old CN. In 2009 it was so secret people doubted it even existed, but surprisingly, it was able to thrive. In the beginning it never showed up on any forum discussions and no one ever talked about it. (Similar to WDMA places, but as I wrote, even now info about WDMA places is leaking out). When CN recruited at TPS, they just called it "Mystery Tracker" and the only info to applicants was given via PM.

And yes, the upper staff was religious about "unwanted publicity" (I borrowed that term from the CN forums, actually ;) ) . You could be banned just talking about it, and even writing C* at TPS could get you in trouble.

Well sure enough, the disgruntled ex-members decided to be trolls and would post screenshots, and info about the site and sure enough, it wasn't so secret anymore.

It is ironic now that the new CN has relaxed its secrecy rules, people don't make the fuss about it like they used to.
 
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