Griefing is the act of irritating and angering people in video games through the use of destruction, construction, or social engineering. Popularized in Minecraft by teams, griefing has become a serious problem for server administrators who wish to foster building and protect builders. Most players tend to dislike and frown upon griefing, while others feel it adds a certain degree of drama to the game. Trolling however, is different from griefing, because afterwards players give their items back, and repair any damage they did.
History of griefing
Griefing is far from a new phenomenon in video games. It dates to the late 1990s, when it was used to describe the willfully antisocial behaviors seen in early massively multiplayer online games like Ultima Online and first-person shooters like Counter-Strike. Frustrated users or mal-intentioned gamers have oftentimes tried to cause grief among other players in multiplayer servers they join, but many griefers just "do it for the lulz", or just out of plain boredom. An increase in organized griefing occurred with the creation of teams producing their own videos which popularized Minecraft griefing. Fortunately for server administrators, the increase in griefing has pushed the creation of numerous anti-griefing tools and techniques.
Basic griefing methods and prevention
|Method||Description||How To Prevent (If using Bukkit and plugins)|
|Destruction||Self-explanatory. Most griefers' goals are to destroy as much land, buildings and creations as they can in order to make the server as destroyed and unusable as possible. This can include Creative "nuking", where users can instantly destroy all blocks in reach, or "torch nuking" when the griefer destroys only torches (many hacked clients have these as built in features). A more time-consuming and generally expensive method of griefing is creation of TNT cannons to bombard other players' creations from a safe distance. In very rare cases, they will cut out a fairly large chunk of your house, usually in a square, and fill it with water, to make it harder for you to re-build it.
Another approach is to pack every open space in a house with TNT and light it.
|This can be avoided with block and chunk protection plugins if you are using Bukkit. Logging/Rollback plugins can completely undo the damage done by individual griefers. Restricting TNT will render cannons worthless.|
|Creation||Nearly as frequently as simple destruction of servers, griefers also often attempt to create offensive structures such as swastikas, and nude or offensive pixel art. Also, cages around players that are AFK are built, often of materials unable to mine with tools obtained early on, like obsidian. Sometimes players even surround other players' structures with obsidian, bedrock (if in Creative mode), and sand or gravel (the latter two are annoying due to their falling properties).||Logging/Rollback plugins if you have chosen to use Bukkit can completely undo the damage done by individual griefers.|
|Chat Spamming||Chat spam is simply typing large amounts of messages in chat and sending them, often randomly. The result of this can be server lag, which thus makes chat spam more of an annoyance rather than vandalism.||Stopping chat spam is relatively easy with spam protection plugins, of which there are a variety on Bukkit.|
|Abusive Mob Spawning||This form of griefing is spawning mobs to the point that the server lags, which if lagged enough, can corrupt the map and render it unusable. If the spawned mobs are hostile, then they can be especially destructive on PvP servers. Creepers, Withers, and "endermobs" (Endermen and the Ender Dragon) are even more destructive as they can move and destroy blocks. Spawn eggs made this even more of a problem.
In some case griefers use so called chicken cores to lag server since seeds are easy to get with nuking. They put very many chickens in a 2x2 pen with hoppers to get eggs and mostly throwing them in other houses or sometimes they turn the farm into a lag beacon.
|Lava/Water Flooding||If able, griefers often will attempt to place as much lava (preferable because of its killing properties) and water around a map in order to make it as ugly and dangerous as possible. Rarely, water and lava can be used in conjunction to create massive amounts of cobblestone, or even rarer, obsidian, very quickly.||The best way to prevent this from happening is to simply limit who is able to place lava or water using a Bukkit plugin. If the damage has already been done, the best way to remove it is with world editing plugins.|
|Spawn Killing||On servers with PvP enabled, some players will take advantage of this to kill legitimate players as they spawn (because the spawn point/area is predictable). The use of client modifications such as "Kill Aura" is frequently used to give the griefer a large advantage.||The most effective way at preventing this is to disable PvP in the spawn area with Bukkit plugins and provide multiple exits for newly spawned players to escape from (a single exit point is very predictable).|
|Tree Creation||For a long time, block logging plugins did not have the ability to roll back the growth of trees. Because of this, many griefers will place saplings and use bonemeal (if available) to grow full trees in the locations where houses once stood, preventing rollbacks from easily undoing their damage.||Previously, server admins would restrict the use of saplings and bonemeal with Bukkit permissions, however that lead to problems for normal players. Luckily, Bukkit logging/rollback plugins are now able to track and undo player-grown trees.|
|Fire Destruction||Most builders use a lot of flammable materials, and if the server has fire spread enabled, a griefer armed with a Flint and Steel can destroy a lot, very quickly, including setting themselves on fire. Fire was nerfed in Beta 1.6 and currently does much less damage than it once had. However, this can still burn a large chunk of flammable objects.||Disable fire spread with world protection plugins if you have chosen to use Bukkit, or use /gamerule doFireTick false|
|Social Engineering||Social Engineering is any technique used as an attempt to gain the trust of people by acting as a normal player or creating a situation where the legitimate players need to trust them. A common trick that griefers use is pretending to be from popular Minecraft websites, or popular Minecraft teams/clans and asking for OP status in order to "review" the server. This is not a typical form of destruction griefing, however this is a strategy employed by many griefers to gain trust and cause rage, or it may be done to get OP status, and cause great destruction.||Be very careful who gets administrator tools, make sure that you know them well enough to trust them with power.|
|Trolling||Trolls like to annoy people, rather than grief. There are several ways to troll, such as killing a person and then watching while you throw their diamond pickaxe into lava, spamming, and promising to give them stuff, giving them the stuff, then killing them the moment they go out of a safe zone.||Most of these cannot be blocked, though they are usually easy to notice. A troll always wants you to see what he or she has done so he or she could annoy you more. A good temp ban will solve things. But a lot of Trollers will stop after a firm warning, for example "stop trolling or i will ban you" normally is as effective as a ban. Most times, you only need to ban the person for a day.|
|Map Corrupting||A relatively rare form of griefing, map corrupting is simply making the map file as big as possible, usually by running as far as they can. This can lead to a lot of lag in the server, and can make the map size so big that it cannot be loaded. If a backup is not available, then the map may need to be deleted and all structures will be lost. This was a large issue before the Beta switch to a new chunk managing method.||Some Bukkit plugins can limit the size of a map, and some make automatic saves/backups of the file.|
|Combat Logging||Combat logging is mostly a problem on PvP servers. Combat logging is when you're in combat with someone and they log off while you're fighting them. It does not inflict harm, but like trolling, just annoys people and causes frustration. Sometimes PvP logging is the sign of a desperate player trying to stay alive.||Some Bukkit plugins can "tag" people when they get hit whilst in combat, which will create a penalty if they log out.|
|Lag Generation||Item drops, redstone, minecarts, and boats have a long history of causing strain on servers and clients. A griefer may attempt to lag out a certain area of the map by placing a lot of the aforementioned items into a small area, forcing both server and client to handle a lot of different things at once. This form of griefing is especially prevalent in creative servers where obtaining these lag-inducing blocks is incredibly easy.||If you are using Bukkit, you can limit creation placement of certain blocks that have a tendency to cause lag and research plugins that will remove item drops on a regular basis.|
|Illusion Grief||A socialized form of griefing where multiple people grief and then blame it on one of their alternative accounts so they can escape a ban most of the times. This screen of deception can get alternate accounts or even innocent people who tricked in banned while letting the real griefers continue their rampage. This form of griefing is becoming more popular with the rise of 'cracked' servers and the ability to create many alternate accounts.||To prevent this, watch very closely if the stories of the suspected griefer and the blamer match. If they do, it's most likely your dealing with an illusion grief attempt. Some Bukkit logging/rollback plugins (such as Core Protect inspector) can tell you who actually did it, and you will be able to treat them as you please.|
|Name changing||Some griefers change their names if they are banned to join the server again. This is a nuisance because they get to return to the server and troll again, and makes bans ineffectual.||Make sure
There are other forms of griefing, however they are simply variations on the ones listed above. Essentially, if moderators are attentive and the server is equipped with the necessary plugins, a server can be very secure from griefing.
While modifications to Minecraft clients are fairly popular with legitimate mods, griefers also often employ client modifications to aid their efforts. Apart from the mods below, griefing clients often include an ingame GUI to display enabled mods, as well as things such as chat commands (".commands") and keybinds to easily turn hacks on and off.
- Kill Aura/Forcefield/Aimbot: Kill auras, and similar mods called ForceFields, automatically hit/attack any players or mobs within the range of the player.
- Build: Build hacks are simply modifications that instantly place blocks in a predetermined pattern. Common builds include cubes, pillars, swastikas, and platforms.
- Critical: This hack is used make sure you always hit a critical attack upon another player and/or mob. There's one which forces it without actually jumping, and one which jumps before attacking. Both are effective.
- ESP: This hack draws a 3D box around the player which is viewable from a long distance and through blocks to locate the player, in some cases, also displays some info; Object in hand, armor, co-ords.
- FastPlace: This modification eliminates the normal delay when placing blocks. This may also be applied to placing eggs in order to create a lot of entities in a short amount of time.
- Throw or Egg: A hack similar to fastplace. The difference is that the while FastPlace very rapidly places blocks and throws entities, Throw is used to throw a lot of entities such as eggs or snowballs instantly. It can be used to lag the server.
- Flight or Fly: Not necessarily used just for griefing, this hack gives the user the ability to fly similar to as if he or she was in Creative mode, often at adjustable speed levels.
- Spider : This mod, similar to but less obvious as flight, causes every block the player encounters to be treated as if it had vines, allowing access to areas not normally accessible, used for griefing and especially for PvP.
- Freecam: This mod allows the user to separate him or herself from his or her body and fly around to scout out areas. Since infinite reach was patched, the user of this mod cannot affect any blocks outside his or her reach radius. However, this hack can be used to freecam into obsidian bases, and open chests within the player's reach distance.
- Fullbright: This hack lights up all blocks as if they were in direct sunlight, even in pitch blackness. The addition of the "Night Vision" potion in Snapshot 12w32a makes this feature obtainable in vanilla Minecraft, also it's possible by editing the options.txt the gamma (line 4, in-game called Brightness, ranging from 0.0 (moody) into 1.0 (bright)) into 15.0 or more.
- Godmode: This makes the user invincible, preventing them from being able to take damage. Almost all versions of this hack have been patched, but there are still some versions which still exist.
- HighJump: This allows the player to jump higher than normal, often at an adjustable jump height.
- NoFall: This hack prevents damage from being taken when falling from high areas.
- Nuker or Annihilator: This destroys all blocks within reach radius automatically and quickly. They are also often configurable, allowing the user to destroy only certain block types.
- Sneak: This allows griefers to sneak indefinitely, and without being slowed down. This will keep their nameplates hidden behind walls just as if they were holding the sneak button.
- Spam or Flood: This allows the client to send a large number of chat messages to the server, and often very quickly. This is partially patched in vanilla, with the "disconnect.spam" kick message if you send messages too fast.
- SpeedMine or FastBreak: This allows the user to break blocks much faster than normal. It does not usually work on blocks such as obsidian, however.
- Instant or OneClick: These may sound similar to SpeedMine, but it is not the same thing. Instant and OneClick both allow the user to click blocks once without holding their mouse down, and a short time after, the block will break as if they had clicked and held to break it. This makes it easier to destroy multiple blocks quickly.
- Step: This modification allows for the user to simply walk up multiple blocks as if they were half steps. The number of blocks is usually adjustable.
- Tracers: This hack draws a line, which starts at the crosshair, and ends at another players position. It is used to locate a player accurately.
- X-Ray or Wallhack: Stops the rendering of any block besides ores desirable to the griefer. This hack is often used to find chests or valuable minerals such as diamond. It can be partially prevented using Bukkit server plugins that disguise ores and chests that are not adjacent to transparent blocks.
- Sprint or Speed: This will make the player sprint at the normal sprint speed, or faster. Most of the time, this will not deplete hunger. Other speed hacks can make you run at several times normal speed, enabling you to travel huge distances in a short time.
- AutoSoup: This will automatically eat Mushroom Stew (Soup) which in turn heals typically 3 hearts of health. This modification is only useful on servers where Mushroom Stew heals health, typically Kit/Faction PVP servers. When this mod is used, the soup is usually taken from inside the inventory and when the bowls are empty, they get stacked inside the inventory.
Other Griefing Methods
- Join Bots: Join bots, such as "PWN4G3", "World's End", "Paradigm", or "DarkBot" are used to join tens or hundreds of accounts ("bots") to a server at once, usually to lag or spam the server. There are multiple methods they can use, such as connecting and disconnecting rapidly, chat spamming, drop spamming (In Creative mode), and slot filling. They are often hard to ban due to the fact that they use many accounts and proxies. Proxies make every connection that the spammer makes to the server appear to come from a different PC, thus preventing IP bans. Most Join bots can be combated with a good Bukkit(Reported Proxies) antispam plugin but can cause console floods still(Join flood).
How to prevent griefing
While there is not much that can stop a determined griefer, there are ways for a server to mitigate the risks of being griefed. The following is a list of steps server owners can take to try to keep their server protected:
- Protect the server with appropriate Bukkit anti-griefing plugins.
- Do not let administrators abuse their power (this can incite anger in users and bring about griefing). Also, be cautious in choosing who to give administrative permissions to begin with.
- Should power abuse happen in severe cases, it may be a wise idea to be the only administrator.
- Be careful what permissions to which people have access. Owners can limit access with Server modifications.
- Be careful where the server is advertised. While more exposure means more members, it also means griefers can find it just as easily.
- Become familiar with what griefers are capable of doing. There are no hacks "to gain op" or "delete the server". If one takes the time to learn what is possible (by watching griefing videos and reading griefing forums), you will be more able to counter it.
- Change servers so that only friends (or owner) can do things big (but not grief if they want to).
For a much more in-depth (and anti-grief biased) analysis, see Crayboff's thread on the topic.
Anti-griefing server modifications
While there are many people creating grief-friendly client modifications, there are equally dedicated programmers creating server plugins to foil their attempts. Using the popular and extensible Bukkit server software and other Server Mods, programmers have made numerous add-ons to enforce correct client behavior. There are plugins that allow administrators to log and rollback all edits done on an individual basis, employ jails to trap griefers, and even protect certain blocks or entire chunks.
- "Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World". WIRED. Dibbell, Julian (18 January 2008). Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- "Power of Laughter: Team Roomba". The Escapist. Gillen, Kieron (29 APRIL 2008). Retrieved 18 May 2012.