I know the gold sellers were/are an issue. But the current system is worse.
The Zone chat is dead. Not kinda dead, or slow, nope. Very dead. Necromancers gave up on it, deemed too dead.
Even the flat earthers and crazies not posting anymore.
Trade and the PE LFG don't look better either, there are probably several millennia old Egyptian mummies with more life in them.
The problem is that if I was a new player, and I've seen that lively chat, my conclusion would be that the game is also dead, 100% dead.
There is a lot of effort in "new player experience" but it all looks moot if the new player can't enable chat on their own (they need to finish half the leveling process first), so they can't ask anything, and the global chat is so dead I needed to check if I had it enabled.
No solution is perfect, but many free service companies battle the same battle and most solved it in better means. For example Valve games, and Google use phone attachment to account. It works well because people usually have a finite number of phone numbers - create account, get SMS with verification number put number in - you are assumed human. Ban = ban the phone number too.
If world wide SMSs are an issue, two factor authentication phone app. Takes probably a week to make one, same idea and no SMS costs.
ofc other means can stay in place, like buying any amount of ZEN, or the current system of getting some quest chains done. But it should be very clearly explained.
A chat full of crazy idiots that most of us disable is better than the dead desert there is now.
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