Writing about the Warez Scene and private BitTorrent trackers always has the potential to ruffle the feathers of a passionate sub-section of the file-sharing community. Very often there is an opinion put forward that ‘the Scene’ should never be spoken about, and that private BitTorrent trackers are somehow super-secret locations that only the privileged few know about.
Maybe in some ideal, utopian world that doesn’t obey the normal laws of society and human nature that might be possible, but this is 2010 and the days of staying completely under the radar are long gone.
One only has to look around the most prominent half dozen torrent invite communities. There is always someone spilling the beans on even the most supposedly low-profile of locations – often with the full knowledge of the ‘secret’ site’s staff. The facts of life on the web are simple – if you’re on there, have a URL and you invite people to your torrent site, word spreads as easily as the files being shared on it. Hollywood and IFPI can’t stop that free flow of information – and neither can site owners.
Although there are plenty of smaller communities with a few hundred members, a large proportion of the more visible private sites – despite what some of their users may think – could not survive without a level of publicity since members are kicked out all the time. These sites, one way or another, nurture their image and desirability using things such as the apparent exclusivity of their community, the size and quality of their swarms (which by necessity require a decent number of contributors) and their efficiency at getting the best material first.
In recent times, the ability to get the latest releases first after they have pre’d (been released onto the net) has become one of the major bragging rights site staff and members use to demonstrate that their community is ‘better’ than that of their competitors.
So, in common with members of the Warez Scene who also have their own races to see who can be numero uno, many torrent sites are involved in competition too. Their rivalry is tested in something called a TRACE (Torrent Race). Thanks to a website that has been running for a few months now, the results of these races can be discovered without using IRC channels, making them even more public than they used to be.
When one first visits pre.corrupt-net.org and enters a title into the search box, it functions as any other preDB (Pre-Database) might, displaying a list of releases and a time and date of when they first hit the Internet. Since the movie ‘Inception’ topped this week’s Top 10 Most Pirated Movies chart, we’ll use that as an example below.
With the release format (DVDR/XVID) on the left, the penultimate far right column reveals the time when the release first hit the Internet. However, by clicking the green ‘TRACE’ buttons next to them, the list of which private torrent sites got them first can be viewed.
Using Inception.NTSC.MULTi.DVDR-THENiGHTMARE as an example, we get the following results:
What we can see here is that a site with the acronym of TL offered this particular release 6 minutes and 57 seconds after it first appeared on the Internet and was quickly followed by sites AL, HS, TBy, IPT and TB.
Many staff and members use acronyms when referring to their sites (ahem) in public, often for speed but also so that outsiders don’t know what they are talking about. But as a security measure it’s absolutely hopeless since anyone Googling ‘tracker acronyms’ can easily find out the full name and URL of the site in question.
When site admins give highly public interviews, as was the case with the owner of ‘TL’, the whole thing is made even easier. Many private sites say they want obscurity and many of their members believe that, but obscure sites don’t have tens of thousands of members and they certainly don’t race.
Rewind back more than a decade and a half ago and finding the latest warez releases on the Internet was a fairly difficult task to say the least, and if you had a reliable and safe source you were not only lucky but in the minority. Back then even the notion of a private tracker where one could sign up (let’s admit it, fairly easily) and get almost anything would be almost unthinkable.
These days everything is mainstream and as much as even the most 1337 inhabitants of private trackers would like to have people believe, nothing is off limits to someone determined to get in since everyone knows these sites exist. Of course, that’s by design, because if people don’t know they exist there would be no way to replenish their userbases.
And what’s one of the best ways to attract quality users to boost those constantly diminishing userbases other than relying on existing users to invite them? By having the top releases, first – and proving it with consistent TRACE results.