How do you define and delineate Social Engineering and Win trading in Ingress Prime?

The concepts of social engineering and win trading have been brought up in previous discussions in this forum. Social Engineering was mentioned by an agent as crucial in successfully creating fields controlled by a rival faction, but how does an agent delineate it from win trading in the first place? 


  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here are some simple and well-known examples of legitimate social engineering:

    • Finding a friend or a friend of a friend who works at a closed facility and asking for their help.
    • Getting yourself invited to a private event.
    • Approaching the person who controls access to an area and asking for permission to enter.

    I don't see any overlap between those things and win trading.

  • @ Hosette, here's a theoretical question. What if that friend (rival agent) who works at a closed facility gives you access to a particular portal (potential anchor). He/she lets you in the closed facility or event based on a condition that he/she will take down your field? Isn't there an overlap of social engineering and win trading here? Wouldn't other agents suspect there is win trading since you are friends with a rival agent who has access to a closed facility or event?

  • ToxoplasmollyToxoplasmolly ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    What you're describing is straight up win trading. There is no deception involved. There is no manipulation of people involved. You're simply making a deal that directly involves the game.

    Post edited by Toxoplasmolly on
  • ToxoplasmollyToxoplasmolly ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    To answer the original question, let's ask Google (emphasis mine):

    so·cial en·gi·neer·ing


    2. (in the context of information security) the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.

    In Ingress, this might become: The use of deception to manipulate individuals into making it easier for you to create links and fields that will score at some future checkpoint, or into making it easier for you to destroy links and fields in order to prevent them from scoring at some future checkpoint.

    On the other hand, win trading is based on an explicit quid pro quo between two Agents of opposite factions: I'll let you do X if you let me do Y, and we both come out ahead, to the detriment of the greater game.

  • Otrera35Otrera35 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    @Toxoplasmolly, thanks for your explanation. Here's another theoretical question, would befriending a rival agent or simply joining an XFAC eventually lead to win trading in the future? How often does it happen? Just curious.

  • ArkFangArkFang ✭✭✭✭

    There’s no reason people of rival factions can’t be friends. It happens all the time. Sometimes someone you recruit will flip to the opposite faction, and that’s ok. Ingress is no reason to end IRL friendships

    However, there does need to be caution involved so that win trading doesn’t happen. And XFac meetup events like IFS are meant to be enjoyable times between agents of both factions. You just need to be careful, as with everything else in life.

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Otrera35 Win trading and social engineering are two entirely different concepts.

    In the example you cited you can remove the restricted access part of the question and just asked what happened if an opponent helped you put up a field on the condition that they could take it down. For example, they offered to clear the links in an area for you. Helping you gain access to a restricted portal is just one of many ways that an opponent could help you throw a field.

    Here's a stickier set of questions: Niantic issues one of their periodic challenges where you have to jump through some specific set of hoops to get a shiny badge for your profile, like create N links or fields. You know of this park that's perfect for it and it's all grey so you head out there, but when you arrive you find an opponent microfielding it... almost certainly for the same reason you are there. Here are some scenarios:

    1. You decide to just chill in your car and let them finish before you smash it and field it yourself.
    2. You decide to walk it and pre-farm some keys while they're building and you pass them and exchange greetings so you both know the other is there.
    3. While you exchange greetings you say, "I'll let you finish this first."
    4. You start on the opposite end of the park from where your opponent is and basically the two of you go around in a circle... you smash and field what they just built and then they loop around and smash and field what you just built.

    Which of those scenarios, if any, is win trading?

  • Otrera35Otrera35 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    The #3 scenario could potentially lead to win trading. Have been in a situation similar to #4 wherein our team was doing a mission banner then a rival agent suddenly just smashed the portals we captured. Of course, we recaptured those portals (not going home without doing so ^-^), but there was no direct communication between us. It was a quick battle over portals; it was fun, but it delayed us from completing some missions. Not going to complain about it because we experienced a portal battle firsthand. It is just tricky navigating around the whole social stuff (IFS and XFAC, not to mention the nutcases out there) without getting into win trading. My tip to newbies out there is to reach out here than the COMMs when you want to find a suitable community or team. Just made sure that we stay clear of the win trading drama.

  • ToxoplasmollyToxoplasmolly ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Otrera35 I think much of the "drama" over win trading comes from people who get hung up on the idea that Agents of opposite factions might be colluding together without spending enough time considering the actual "harm" caused by the activity.

    Colluding over a limited access portal holding a variety of strategic links is very different from a chance encounter in a local park or deciding to get together over a few Battle Beacons in that same park.

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Toxoplasmolly Yes. I'll also point out that in the Before Times Niantic organized monthly win-trading events.

  • Otrera35Otrera35 ✭✭✭

    Using the other end of the spectrum, social engineering can be defined as the psychology of persuasion. Since it targets the mind like an old school grifter or con man. The aim is to gain the trust of targets, so they lower their guard, and then encourage them into taking unsafe actions such as divulging personal information (, n.d.).

  • Win trading is premeditated. Like: "Let's walk down Main Street together - what you capture, I'll **** and capture. What I capture, you **** and capture." Both agents' scores go way up, but they are not really playing the game.

    Endless cases are not that obvious. Especially if they help shake loose gameplay that has been blocked for months.

    Say a town is predominately one color. Niantic has a challenge that includes capturing. An agent of the predominate faction sends a text to an inactive person of the other faction (who loves to ****), "Could you please **** everything so we can earn this event badge?"

    Or, say someone owns all the portals in a park, and keeps them charged, and doesn't care about teamwork. Someone else of the same faction wants to do a mission there, including unique capture credit. So they say to their friend on the opposite faction "Could you go **** up that park in the morning so I can play it in the afternoon?"

    Or a town has been covered by a perma field from their own faction, for over a year. So they beg someone on the other faction to take down the field. Or - what if they offer to drop viruses to someone on the other faction, if they'll go use them on the perma field?

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