Over on Code Golf Stack Exchange, competitions are run where multiple programmers compete against one another. One particular class of challenges is "King of the Hill". Here is an example of a King of the Hill challenge. The unique aspect of King of the Hill is that the players must interact until a winner emerges. Most of the other competitions are non-interactive.
When interaction is introduced into a game, collusion become an issue. In real life, collusion is often not in the best interest of the players due to social consequences. However, on the Internet, the social factors play an almost nonexistent role. Anonymity allows multiple players to collude in private, or even allow a single person to manipulate multiple players.
I really have two questions, but they both address the same problem from different angles.
- How can collusion be discouraged or prevented in an online, multiplayer, interactive game?
- How can collusion be caught and punished in an online, multiplayer, interactive game?
Things to keep in mind:
- This is not a Kingmaking scenario. "Kingmaker" specifically describes a player who chooses to collude as a result of being doomed to lose.
- One player may unintentionally help another player while trying to win. This is not collusion.
- Simply prefacing every challenge with "No colluding allowed." will lead to an argument over what constitutes collusion. Can it be objectively defined, given the previous bullet point?
- In case anyone is unfamiliar with the culture differences between sites, Code Golf Stack Exchange does not subscribe to the "Question and Answers" format. The format is geared towards "Challenge and Solutions".
I found some information on collusion detection from online poker sites. They detect collusion by flagging accounts who always play at the same table, and either manually or automatically take action. This solution does not translate well to the Stack Exchange format, but it seems like a step in the right direction.