An exploit (known as "exploitive activity" by Blizzard) is a method of playing the game in a way not intended by the game developers to gain an advantage over other players. As with all massively multiplayer online games, World of Warcraft has its share of players who exploit and cheat.
One common exploit was the use of leet (example: |-| () \/\/ |2 U? (how are you?) ) to communicate between the Horde and the Alliance, since symbols and numbers were left unmodified in otherwise scrambled communications. This has since been stopped by modifying the linguistics engine to remove punctuation and numbers from the text.
- Speed Hacking/Teleporting/Subterranean Travel - Since character position in World of Warcraft is determined by the client side, it is possible for players to send out artificial positional data and be instantly transported to any part of the world (even underground) or used to speed up traveling speed by increasing positional deltas.
- Botting - A player who runs a third party program to control their character. The bot will kill monsters, loot money, mine ore, collect herbs or gain levels automatically without the player having to be in front of the computer.
- Duping - Duplicating, or replicating items or money.
- Game Mechanics Exploits / Bug Exploits - There are also other exploits involving the physics of the game, sometimes in conjunction with items. This includes using wall-walking to get into unfinished areas or abilities to make one's character unattackable by other players.
- Data Mining - This is typically most common around the time that a patch is released on the public test realm. Players will try to access files not yet in game and then host them on websites to expose content not yet released (usually new zones, items, and graphics).
- Power Levelling - Although not an exploit, some users consider paid power levelling to be an exploit. They believe it gives users who pay to have their character taken to a high level an unfair advantage. Accounts have been suspended over power levelling due to Blizzard's no account sharing policy.
The World of Warcraft End User License Agreement specifically forbids this kind of activity.
Blizzard tries to take action against anyone who exploits the game by temporarily or permanently suspending accounts. So far, Blizzard has banned tens of thousands of accounts from World of Warcraft. Blizzard makes heavy use of a system known as the Warden (software) on the Windows version of the game in order to detect third-party programs, such as botting software. There has been some controversy as to the legality of the Warden, since it allegedly uses techniques similar to spyware in order to analyse other running software on the players' PCs, as well as the file system. However, some argue that software such as anti-virus software loosely falls into this definition as well. Debates regarding the game's EULA as well as the rights of the players continue.
For more information, see The Warden (software).