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Update: A Valve employee took to reddit to counter what was said in the bug report:

Hi! Valve employee here. The bug report is incorrect. VAC will not ban you for simply having catbot in your user name (either your steam profile or on one or more of your linux accounts).

The bug report--and I suspect many of the posts in this thread--are a tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems.

VAC has many different types of detections and we cannot discuss what they do publicly because doing so makes them less effective. However, one thing I can disclose is that all detections require that the detection occur while a user is actively cheating and connected to a VAC-secured server.

Linux historically hasn't been a problem for cheating--the base rate of cheating is significantly lower on Linux than it is on Windows. Unfortunately, a "healthy" community of cheaters grew up around catbot on linux and their impact on TF became large enough that they simply could no longer be ignored. Those banned users are very annoyed that VAC has dropped the hammer on them.

Kisak moderates many of valve's github bug repositories for us in an attempt to keep the bugs high quality and actionable. The VAC team asked him to close the issue in question and to indicate that github was not an appropriate location to discuss VAC bans. He did so, and we support this action.

For proof that I am a Valve employee, you can check my posting flair in the other subs I post on (/r/CSGO and /r/tf2) or a mod can message me and we can work on confirmation using my work email and PMs.

So in this case what Valve is doing is fine. They're getting rid of cheaters and that's how it should be.

Original article

Happy New Year! Let's start 2018 with a bit of a joke shall we: Knock Knock. Who's there? Catbot. Banned.

It seems one user came across an unfortunate issue playing Team Fortress 2 on Steam, as they were VAC banned for having their Linux desktop username contain "catbot".

I can certainly understand when a bot comes along, if it uses something so easily identifiable then as a quick temporary solution you could ban it like that until it's fixed. However, that's obviously not a good long-term solution and will (like in this case) cause an issue for users. It's not even a good short-term solution, considering how many millions of possibilities there are for a username to have "catbot" in there somewhere. Going by usernames just isn't a good idea, it's just not. Why is it not? Bots can just use random names, then this doesn't even become a temporary fix, it becomes useless.

This is what Valve replied with:

Good day, I've received word from the VAC team that this is intentional and not open for discussion on Github.

In general VAC issues are not handled on Github in any capacity and further issue reports on this may result in being banned from the Valve Software issue trackers.

Ouch. I get why they don't want their GitHub filling up with VAC issues (it's not the right place after all), but threatening a ban just like that, without any suggestions on what the user could do is a bit harsh don't you think? Considering this GitHub request is talking about bans, to then threaten a ban from the Valve GitHub trackers—come on.

Valve has done a lot of good for Linux gaming and continues to do so, but I think it's still important to highlight issues, even if they are on the stupid side.

19 Likes, Who?
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The comments on this article are closed.
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codythedragondude 1 January 2018 at 1:37 pm UTC
operation ditch valve in favor of gog itchIO and other stores lets do it
in fact lets go even further one month of no steam challenge commence!
Mountain Man 1 January 2018 at 2:02 pm UTC
Yeah... I don't buy this. Someone got busted for using cheat software and is trying to fight it with a lame excuse.

Last edited by Mountain Man at 1 January 2018 at 2:04 pm UTC
Guest 1 January 2018 at 2:09 pm UTC
codythedragondudeoperation ditch valve in favor of gog itchIO and other stores lets do it
in fact lets go even further one month of no steam challenge commence!

A bad idea with good intentions. Linux gamers can't afford to ditch Valve at this point, not at least until GOG delivers on Galaxy ( don't hold your breath seen as they said they are not working on it ) or starts selling a lot more high tier titles.

I read, although im not sure how true this is that it is not just your steam username but also your Linux machines hostname
Guest 1 January 2018 at 2:24 pm UTC
.. Also it's always a good idea to capitalise on the GOG connect when it becomes available. That way you can build up your library of already purchased DRM free titles from Steam. Im making an effort to get some older single player/local coop titles from other platforms and using steam for the more mass multiplayer games due to the friend/invite systems.

It's not always good to put all your virtual eggs in one virtual basket
Lonsfor 1 January 2018 at 3:06 pm UTC
The funny thing is, the souse code to the 'catbots' has been available on github for a long time.

This is literally the laziest "fix" they could have come up with

Last edited by Lonsfor at 1 January 2018 at 3:06 pm UTC
ddm 1 January 2018 at 3:22 pm UTC
Given how much destruction catbots caused on TF2 a while back, it's completely deserved. I'd assume Valve compared a list of known catbot accounts with a list of Steam accounts queued for VAC bans (remember that VAC bans are delayed to waves to maximise people caught), and they found no normal accounts.

The "one user" who made the issue, has pinned CS:GO cheating tools on GitHub. The guy almost certainly had used catbots, and that's how he found it. Oh, and the next two users also have cheating tools/bot tools for Valve games in their GitHubs...

I'm not saying everyone in that thread has used catbots though, in-fact most probably just found the issue and tested it out.

But yeah. Deserved, (probably calculated by Valve to cause) no actually innocent people affected, and also a very small amount of effort for Valve to implement (letting the VAC team get on with actually adding more detection to the system).
Salvatos 1 January 2018 at 3:47 pm UTC
I have no idea what VAC or catbot means.
Nanobang 1 January 2018 at 3:51 pm UTC
liamKnock Knock. Who's there? Catbot. Banned.

Code Artisan 1 January 2018 at 4:26 pm UTC
Outside of hardware-based signatures and cloud gaming, programs like this can't be countered. This was what i feared when steam came to linux; that it become the platform of choice for cheaters. edit: this is also why you will never see clients like esea on linux.

Last edited by Code Artisan at 1 January 2018 at 4:27 pm UTC
Patola 1 January 2018 at 4:30 pm UTC
VAC is Valve Anti-Cheat [system].
But I also don't know what a catbot is. Anyone care to clarify?
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