Helium Denylist - How to Petition for Hotspot Removal or Addition

Article author
Customer Support
  • Updated

DenylistArticle.png

NOTE: The denylist feature is implemented and maintained by Nova Labs, not Bobcat. As such, we do not have the authority to add or remove Hotspots from the list, we cannot check on the status of a removal request, and we cannot speed up processing of a removal request.

If your Hotspot was wrongly added to the denylist, please see the section: My Legitimate Hotspot is on the Denylist, How Can I Get It Removed? for instructions on how to request removal.

What is the Denylist?

After the passing of a proposal put forth by Nova Labs on January 13th, 2022, a denylist was instituted to be maintained by Nova Labs for the benefit of the Helium community. Hotspots suspected of gaming the system or otherwise acting in bad faith to artificially increase their earnings are placed on a denylist which is referenced by Validators to deny proof of coverage rewards to those hotspots.

When a Hotspot is placed on denylists and is prevented from earning proof of coverage rewards by Validators, the Hotspot will still transfer sensor data normally and be rewarded normally for data transfers allowing the network as a whole to still benefit from the deployed equipment.

Along with the Nova Labs maintained denylist, many other parties have created and continue to maintain their own denylists. Validators can freely choose which denylist(s) to utlilize, or not utilize one at all.

In order for a Hotspot to be denied proof of coverage rewards a majority of the Validators in the consensus group for that particular block must have the Hotspot on their denylist(s). If enough Validators agree that the Hotspot should be denied (if the Hotspot is on their denylists) the Hotspot will not be rewarded for proof of coverage activities.

What Factors Help Determine if a Hotspot is Potentially Gaming?

Many of the exact mechanisms used to determine gaming Hotspots are not shared publicly in order to prevent bad actors from finding workarounds. There are some general published guidelines however which community members are encouraged to follow when trying to determine if a Hotspot is likely gaming and should be submitted for review.

Location Confidence

Using witness receipt data, 1,000 programmatic estimates of the asserted location are made to derive a predicted location of a Hotspot. The Location Confidence Score metric reflects what percentage of estimations are within range of the Hotspots asserted location.

Witness Maker Diversity

The Witness Maker Diversity metric gives the percentage of Hotspots witnessed by the original Hotspot that are produced by different makers. If most or all of the Hotspots being witnessed are from the same maker, this can sometimes indicate an abnormality.

Witness SNR Vs RSSI Plot

This graph compares a Hotspot's Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) against its Relative Signal Strength (RSSI). In general, small RSSI values correlate to a low SNR and vice versa.

RSSI.png

Hotspot Witness Graph

The graph shows a central Hotspot, the Hotspot’s immediate witnesses, and other witnesses connections within a 10 km range. Each line indicates a witness connection between two Hotspots. Hotspot owners are represented by unique colors, where Hotspots owned by the same wallet address will be displayed in the same color.

WitnessGraph.png

Witness RSSI Vs Distance

As the distance between Hotspots increases, the signal strength (RSSI) decreases due to environmental factors. Signal strength ranges between -136 to -80 dBm, with -90 to -110 dBm is a very strong RSSI (unlikely in real life), while -130 dBm is very weak. Similarly, a high R² value indicates strong correlation and goodness of fit.

WitnessDistance.png

What is Crowdspot?

Crowdspot.png

Crowdspot is a self-service tool built by Nova Labs for the community. The tool allows anyone to explore Helium Network Hotspot data in an effort to understand atypical Hotspot behavior and identify anomalies. Now, anyone can submit denylist requests directly from Crowdspot and submit requests to remove Hotspots from the denylist.

Simply log into or create a Helium Wallet using the Helium Wallet App and visit crowdspot.io to link your wallet to the site (there is no fee to link your wallet). You can then submit Hotspots to be investigated for possible gaming, submit requests for legitimate Hotspots to be removed from denylists, and vote on the legitimacy of individual Hotspots.

How Can I Submit Suspected Gaming Hotspots?

Visit the Crowdspot site and log in using your Helium Wallet. Once you have logged in, click the Submit Denylist Request button to begin your submission.

SubmitReport.png

Submission Type

On the Submission form, select the Addition radio button under Submission Type.

Enter Hotspot Address(es)

Copy and paste the b58 address of the Hotspot into the Enter Hotspot b58 Address field. The b58 address for a Hotspot is the 52-character address of the Hotspot NOT THE ANIMAL NAME. The b58 address for a given Hotspot is the end of the URL for the Hotspot on the Helium Explorer or the value next to Address on the Hotspot's page on Crowdspot.

B58Address.png

Multiple Hotspots (up to 100 at one time) can be added as part of a single denylist submission by clicking the + button and inputting more Hotspot b58 addresses.

Reporting Clusters

Some Abnormal Hotspots are part of a "Cluster," a group of Hotspots that only witness each other. Clusters are often asserted in a roughly circular formation and may be nestled among Legitimate Hotspots.

When reporting a Cluster of Hotspots, include all b58 addresses and toggle on the Is this a cluster of Hotspots? checkbox. This information assists in evaluating the legitimacy of the Hotspots in the request.

Written Reasoning

While not required, submitting a written description to support the denylist submission can provide valuable insight for evaluation.

Create the Submission

Once you have added all the required and optional information, click the Create Submission button. You can view the status of your submission on the Submissions page, linked in the Crowdspot menu bar.

My Legitimate Hotspot is on the Denylist, How Can I Get It Removed?

Reminder: Bobcat does not control the denylist and is not involved in adding or removing Hotspots from the denylist.

Checking Denylist Status

Before attempting to submit a denylist removal request, verify your Hotspot is actually on the denylist and your flatlined earnings are not simply due to a technical issue.

Visit your Hotspot on Helium Explorer. If there is a red 🛇 ON DENYLIST icon under your Hotspot's name, it is on the denylist. If this icon does not show on your Hotspot, it is not on the denylist - proceed with troubleshooting any issues that may be causing the flatline in earnings.

OnDenylist.jpg

Reasons for False Positives

The exact thresholds and mechanisms for flagging Hotspots is not released by Nova Labs, however there are a few simple reasons that could lead to legitimate Hotspots being flagged and ending up on the denylist:

  • A secondhand miner was purchased which was already in the process of being investigated for gaming and was added to the list after the purchase had completed
  • There was another Hotspot or multiple Hotspots nearby participating in gaming and this caused skewed data resulting in the legitimate Hotspot being flagged as well
  • The Hotspot's legitimate activity is out of the normal expected range for some reason and triggered a false positive. For example:
    • Location Confidence is low due to the Hotspot's asserted location being slightly off when compared to Witness receipts (this can happen if asserting location in an adjacent hex to try to get 1.0 Transmit Scale)
    • Witness Graph is off due to there being a legitimate clustering of Hotspots in a circular layout
    • RSSI vs Distance is skewed due to natural phenomenon (large bodies of water allowing for abnormal distance of LoRa signal transmission) or other abnormal transmit efficiency increases
  • A user on Crowdspot manually flagged the Hotspot for gaming and their provided evidence convinced the reviewer that the Hotspot was participating in gaming

How to Request Removal of Your Legitimate Hotspot

NOTE: For security reasons, text and visual evidence submitted as part of removal requests will only be accessible to denylist maintainers, not Crowdspot users at large. Although you cannot view this evidence when you click on a submission's status, rest assured it can be seen by the reviewers and will be evaluated.

Visit the Crowdspot site and log in using your Helium Wallet. Once you have logged in, click the Submit Denylist Request button to begin your submission.

RemovalRequest.jpg

Submission Type

On the Submission form, select the Removal radio button under Submission Type.

Enter Hotspot Address(es)

Copy and paste the b58 address of the Hotspot into the Enter Hotspot b58 Address field. The b58 address for a Hotspot is the 52-character address of the Hotspot NOT THE ANIMAL NAME. The b58 address for a given Hotspot is the end of the URL for the Hotspot on the Helium Explorer or the value next to Address on the Hotspot's page on Crowdspot.

B58Address.png

Visual Evidence

Denylist Removal submissions can optionally include visual evidence, such as screenshots or other images, to support the removal claim. At this time, visual evidence can only be submitted as a URL with a limit of 3 URLs per submission.

  • For multiple images, we recommend using a cloud image storage platform, such as Google Photos or Flickr. Upload your images and share a link to the folder in the Visual Evidence field. Please ensure you enable the correct sharing settings, as links will be publicly available.
  • For a single image, we recommend using a free image-to-link converter and paste the URL in the Visual Evidence field.

Good visual evidence to provide is anything that helps address any potential data points causing the false flagging. Here are some general suggestions:

  • Provide an image showing your Hotspot (showing the label on the back of the device if possible) next to a phone with your current GPS coordinates or location on Google Maps in order to prove your Hotspot's location assertion is legitimate.
  • Provide images of your antenna showing where it is mounted as well as any cabling, connectors, filters, and/or amplifiers being used as these can affect RSSI calculations.

If you suspect the Hotspot was added to the denylist based on it having incorrect information such as the antenna gain and height details not being correct on Helium Explorer, your location having been asserted somewhere different than where the Hotspot is physically located, or other reasons be sure to correct these items before submitting your removal request. Make note of any setup changes you made in the Written Reasoning section.

Written Reasoning

Written Reasoning is required when submitting a removal request and must contain a minimum of 150 characters. Providing a written description to support the denylist removal request can provide valuable insight for evaluation. Provide any information you think may be relevant to the review process including recent changes made before being placed on the denylist, any antenna or equipment setup details that fall outside normal bounds, and anything else that may be useful to prove the legitimacy of the Hotspot.

If you made any changes to your Hotspot's setup (such as correcting the antenna details or location assertion), be sure to include that information in the Written Reasoning field.

Create the Submission

Once you have added all the required and optional information, click the Create Submission button. You can view the status of your submission on the Submissions page, linked in the Crowdspot menu bar.

Checking the Status of Your Submission

To check the status of your denylist removal submission, visit the Submissions page, linked in the Crowdspot menu bar.

Submissions can take time to be reviewed as each one needs to be manually reviewed via human intervention. Bobcat cannot check on the status of removal submissions as we are not involved in the process. The best way to get the most up to date status on your request is to check the Submissions page regularly.

How to Get Additional Assistance

For complete information on Crowdspot, refer to the official Helium documentation on Crowdspot and documentation on submitting denylist removals. If you have any questions or issues with Crowdspot (such as login issues), refer to the #crowdspot channel in the Helium Official Discord for assistance.

Was this article helpful?