Are Bots Ruining the Yosemite Reservation System?

Discussion in 'Reservation Systems' started by David Blackwell, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    @davido,

    As of last week, we were never prompted for a CAPTCHA. Never seen it on ReserverAmerica.
     
  2. chambo

    chambo Active Member

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    On behalf of frustrated campers everywhere, thanks for making the effort. But I'm with tzmartin and I don't understand. Is the concern that most of the people who were able to book a site in the first few seconds did so with a BOT, or are you implying that a BOT is booking all of the sites and then the BOT company turns around and sells them at a profit? I would think that if this were the practice it would be at least occasionally mentioned on any of the RV boards/forums. Places like Yosemite have a national and international draw. I really think it comes down to luck. Thousands and thousands of people are trying to book a small number of campsites. It is frustrating.
     
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  3. JustRelax

    JustRelax Active Member

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    I agree until you see the sites available for sale in a secondary market there's is no reason to think it's bots. Bots target popular concerts to resell on ticket exchange sites. Until there is a secondary website my guess is that it's rather more people are trying to book than there are sites available. Just because it shows unavailable a minute later doesn't mean they have completed the reservation. You can't click on a site to reserve it if someone is actively booking it, it will show unavailable so it can't be double booked...
     
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  4. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

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    .....I believe you have identified the fairest and perhaps the only solution to this supply/demand problem. The lottery winner would have to be announced 6 months out, one site per customer, limited one week occupancy, require immediate payment with no refunds, and the person who claims the campsite would have to be identified to prevent fraud and scalping.

    We prefer to reserve each stop in our cross-country camping trips, and it is already very difficult to do when dealing with a patchwork of private, state, and federal reservation systems when you like to keep moving every few days. A well controlled lottery for prime areas would reduce the unfair gaming of the system that is currently happening.
     
  5. JustRelax

    JustRelax Active Member

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    Something else I'm curious about. Was the site available the previous day? I'm sure some of the sites were already booked for the day you wanted so not all 400 some sites were picked, only the ones that were open that day. If trying to book on a Friday you may have better luck picking an open day on Wednesday or Thursday?
     
  6. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Considering how popular Yosemite is, and the fact that you also had your reservation already entered and ready to submit, it is not hard to think there are a couple thousand people out there all trying to do the exact same thing you were doing. If I were hoping to book a site I would do the same thing - get a reservation ready and be prepared to hit submit as soon as the window opened. Pretty sure everyone else is doing the same thing. You can't resell sites so it is not a bot issue, I think it is plain old supply and demand. Yosemite has been fighting increasing crowds for years, as have most of the other big NPS parks. If I were you I would just keep checking the system - cancellations happen all the time. Good luck!
     
  7. MsMac

    MsMac Active Member

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    Another vote for supply and demand being the issue here.

    We stayed at Crane Flat last October for 5 nights (Monday through Friday). The CG was totally booked for all of those nights, and in fact, we had to stay at the Dimond O campground for the weekend before, because there was no availability within the park. (We made our reservations in August.) This was non-holiday, pretty much at the tail-end of the camping season. I can't even imagine what the park and its campgrounds look like at the height of summer. [:O]

    It's definitely not out of the realm of probability (read: very much possible) that a lot of people were vying for the limited number of sites at the same time. Also consider how close this park is to a major metropolitan area- people from the Bay Area literally can make it a weekend jaunt.

    I'd also suggest to keep checking, and perhaps looking at some of the NF campgrounds outside the park. Though "not the same", I thought Dimond O was a very nice place to stay in a pinch. (Though that was also booked solid when we were there, so I'd not suggest going without some sort of reservation or Plan B.)
     
  8. David Blackwell

    David Blackwell New Member

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    #18 Davido: You were right about the ReserveAmerica and Recreation.gov (RA/RG) customer service. That pretty much went nowhere. I didn’t try to run the programs but simply looked at the code for some idea as to what it would try to do.

    I was surprised that RA’s Terms of Use specifically allowed search engine bots and banned all other types of bots. Perhaps I’ve vastly underestimated this situation. Even if a small fraction of users have created some sort of "super" bot, it is entirely possible those tools could be swallowed up in the tidal wave of demand breaking on the virtual shores of RA/RG’s websites.

    #21 mpking: Conversely, if RA/RG are well aware of Captchas, and choose not to use them, there must be reason? Either they don’t work, cost money, or they consider them unnecessary. (I will try to ask some of my colleagues in our Information Security department if they have any insights here.)

    #22 chambo: My intent all along has been to level the playing field. Both RA/RG are well aware of lottery systems. RA uses it to allocate Half Dome hiking permits. Again, such a simple idea/fix, there has to be reason neither RA/RG have implemented a lottery system for high-demand campsites.

    #23 JustRelax: Both RA/RG’s Term of Use do not allow the reselling of sites. Your only choice is to cancel for a refund i.e. no secondary resale market. Could you imagine what a secondary market would be like?

    #25 JustRelax: Yosemite is a bit different. The commonly used codes are “A” available; “R” reserved (already booked); and “X” unavailable. All campsites are released at a single moment in time (i.e. 7am PDT). In other words, unless it’s within your booking window, all you will see is in an “X” for unavailable. That was the annoying and most troubling part when I was trying to make my reservation. I was using the list view for my target location (somewhere in 150’s of Upper Pines Campground) and I could see 25 sites at time. The page went from all “X” to all “R” in 5-10 seconds. Which meant to me either bot invasion or multiple people waiting for each and every site – either way trying to book this way is ludicrous.

    Perhaps I’ll just have to wait another 10 or so years until I retire so I can go during the off months. While I’ve been able to let go of my disappointment, it took a few days. In meantime, there are plenty of other great camping and fishing locations. Someday my corporate indentured servitude will end and I will be free to go whenever it’s convenient for me.
     
  9. chambo

    chambo Active Member

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  10. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

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    Just a related experience to provide perspective. There is a little 90-site campground on a lake (lakes with campgrounds are certainly not rare in MN) in a very remote area of northern MN operated by the former mining town it is near. They went to a new online reservation system this year and it went live this past Tuesday. I'm retired so I was ready when the countdown ended at 9:00AM on Tuesday and got the site I wanted. I had read this thread previously, so I was curious and went back in at 9:09AM only to find that all weekends and about half of all available sites were booked for the entire season by then. Because of the remoteness and the new reservation system, I have to think it's just a supply and demand thing in this case.
     
  11. JustRelax

    JustRelax Active Member

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    Good information. I could see where popular places would be prone to this service. I hadn't heard about it before.

    My measly parks there would be no money in this service, but I would say it's possible for a similar service to be offered for Yosemite, etc.
     
  12. davido

    davido Active Member

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    Wow. Well I was wrong about that. Apologies.
     
  13. David Blackwell

    David Blackwell New Member

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  14. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    Quite interesting...
     
  15. silverfz

    silverfz Active Member

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    Interesting thread so i did some research and found a git hub script that you can run with reserve america open that takes dates in and clicking the boot site button.
    so if you start this thing at 6.59 am , it will find a site on auto mode. i have never have to use it but it is very simple and easy to do on google chrome.
     
  16. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    So, in English... what does this mean?? [:)C]
     
  17. Katskamper

    Katskamper Active Member

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    wow.
    eloquent. factual. strongly worded.
    did they respond?

    i have found that not all parks in a destination location use the reservation system. they are a “first come, first serve” park. can you risk it?

    3 ACE parks on lake whitney TX are not online. 3 are.
    so ... sometimes i wing it. last thanksgiving all my plans got changed, so friday morning i got online, found a few open non elec sites, booked one, packed up my leftover & the dogs, & was on the road by 9. glorious trip.
    using same spot this weekend!

    what else is close
    ?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  18. silverfz

    silverfz Active Member

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    There is a brower called google chrome. If you hit F12 on your keyboard it open a small developer dashbaord where you can run scripts .
    Most browser code in the world is in a language called Javascript.

    GitHub is free code storage where can people put code for others to help/find/use. sharing like this forum but for code.

    Now i found a github file were some one posted a code snippet. that you copy and past in the developer dashboard of google chrome with the reserveamerica site open for a state park.
    in the top of the code. You enter date etc . He gives some examples. THen you kick the code in a loop.

    If you start it say a minute before the booking opens, the page is looping few thousand times a minute to enter dates, number of days and click book site.
    So at 7 am when booking open think of having 1000 users click for you in a few seconds. You will find a site.
     
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  19. MyName

    MyName Active Member

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    @silverfz. Wow. I need to step my game up.
    PS great "english". [:D]
     
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  20. brwarrior

    brwarrior Member

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    This is a big issue at Oceano Dunes SVRA (aka Pismo Dunes) in California. I just saw a notice today put out by Parks that they will not be honoring any sites purchased through Craigslist or Facebook. Big weekends people will reserve a bunch of "spots" (more of you have a reservation to stay there as there are no specific spots, just 1500 acres of dunes) and then sell them for profit. $10/night and I've seen people offer up $100/night. On those weekends, last minute you couldn't stay at the local Motel 6 for less than $150. Pretty much every weekend from Memorial to Labor Day is already reserved. You can roll the dice in the off season, non-holiday weekends. I prefer to always pay the whopping $8 reservation fee.
     

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