Policies


  • Pitcrew

    Just curious, as I'm pondering yet another theme on the side (I go back and forth), what sort of policies do most people expect when seeing a new place, what sort of policies would turn someone away or off a new place because they felt it necessary to define, or what sort of non-policy would be a turn off?

    Myself, I always have something about TS. Only because I don't care, but I don't want to have to field questions form players (hey, can we fornicate with furniture? - me: don't ask, don't tell, I don't care). Some people may not be interested in a place with such policies because some leap to the idea that TS is encouraged or something.

    Or inversely, I usually have a consent saying by playing at the game, there is consent to ICA-ICC, but one doesn't have to consent to play it out, they just need to accept the consequences. Maybe if this policy was missing, staff's take on consent, someone would be hesitant to start RP'ing without knowing how this was handled by staff?

    Just curious, I don't want to over due it with policy (or under do it). Curious what sort of policy lists folks like, what the think is too clunky or too lite.


  • Politics

    @Lotherio said in Policies:

    Just curious, as I'm pondering yet another theme on the side (I go back and forth), what sort of policies do most people expect when seeing a new place, what sort of policies would turn someone away or off a new place because they felt it necessary to define, or what sort of non-policy would be a turn off?

    Don't have a policy that requires the disclosure of any player information, even an e-mail address.


  • Admin

    Don't have policies you can't enforce.

    Don't turn personal peeves into policy.

    Don't institutionalize nepotism by making it into policy.

    But also this: The OP didn't ask so feel free to disregard, but above all else I want good word of mouth: If staff is shitty it doesn't matter what the policies are, or what they say, since they'll do whatever they want anyway.



  • @Lotherio I personally think the most important ones to outline are ones that there's disagreement on, or can vary significantly from game to game, which can describe the atmosphere and culture you wanna foster. If you don't want a PvP game or you find it fun, it's a good idea to decide which and point it out. If you are okay with underage characters or it makes you uncomfortable, same thing. Do you want carefully moderated talks and civility, or free wheeling arguments and complete transparency. And so on.

    If something can be argued either way and it is not defined, then people will act towards whatever way on an issue they fall upon, and just naturally expect most people will be on the same page.



  • @Lotherio said in Policies:

    Myself, I always have something about TS. Only because I don't care, but I don't want to have to field questions form players (hey, can we fornicate with furniture? - me: don't ask, don't tell, I don't care). Some people may not be interested in a place with such policies because some leap to the idea that TS is encouraged or something.

    "What you do in private locations, provided it does not break any other game policy or rule, is your business and your business alone. It is not the business of other players or staff. Players not directly involved in such scenes should not approach staff with concerns about who may or may not be engaging in roleplay of mature themes that do not violate game policy; if they are not breaking a rule, it isn't staff's business, and it isn't yours, either."


  • Coder

    @Ganymede said in Policies:

    @Lotherio said in Policies:

    Just curious, as I'm pondering yet another theme on the side (I go back and forth), what sort of policies do most people expect when seeing a new place, what sort of policies would turn someone away or off a new place because they felt it necessary to define, or what sort of non-policy would be a turn off?

    Don't have a policy that requires the disclosure of any player information, even an e-mail address.

    You've repeatedly said in the past that if someone breaks a game rule, it should be publicly known. Is this not player information? "Thenomain was banned from this sphere for shit-talking to staff." Or are you referring to "RL information" such as connection IP, times, location, email, name, and so forth?


  • Politics

    @Thenomain said in Policies:

    You've repeatedly said in the past that if someone breaks a game rule, it should be publicly known. Is this not player information? "Thenomain was banned from this sphere for shit-talking to staff." Or are you referring to "RL information" such as connection IP, times, location, email, name, and so forth?

    The latter. Mostly, don't require people to register a name and e-mail address to get a character bit.


  • Pitcrew

    I don't think there's anything wrong with a policy that points out actions taken against a player, like on a bboard. Even if it is as simple as: [Charbit] has been [punished] for [time period] due to [reason that breaks policy]. It is not for the purpose of recrimination or anything like that, but more to illustrate a decision made and to promote transparency over the activities of staff.

    But this is mainly because I think the idea of not making punishments publicly known (supposedly to avoid dogpiles) is more to protect the actions and behavior of bad staff.

    I'm not sure what policies would turn me away. Like @Ganymede, I'm generally not a fan of providing information. I like seeing a policy that basically says 'TS is fine but keep it to yourself'. If TS is allowed, however, I do not think there should be any characters there below the age of consent.

    I think the post @surreality made, about telling other players that it is not their business to play MUSH sheriff is a good one, too. This seems like it needs to be more directly mentioned than it used to be given the prevalence of automatic scene loggers.

    I think good MU* policies should be built around fairness, equity and transparency.


  • Coder

    Everything about policy files is what staff expects. Everything in policy files should be what staff are willing to react to.

    The most honest policy I've ever seen: "Don't make us care."

    No matter what other policies are in place, you can get away with anything if staff doesn't care, and can't get away with a friendly "hello" to someone if staff does care.

    There are worries that go along with this, starting with, "How do I know what you care about?" This, and every other policy, comes down to the ability for staff to self-police. If staff can't self-police, what they say doesn't matter and you might as well default to the Playground Politics rules of these games.

    For games where staff is responsible, "Don't make us care" is one of the best things you can hear. It says something more like, "As long as you guys get along, you can do whatever. It's when you don't get along that we'll have to do something, and we don't want to do this, and we'll be grumpy, and we won't make you happy." This is not a bad policy to have, if you can otherwise keep the game staff cordial.


  • Pitcrew

    The weirdest policy I've ever seen on a game is "no characters with mental illness". To me, that felt really strange and specific.



  • @Thenomain said in Policies:

    The most honest policy I've ever seen: "Don't make us care."

    I adopted this one re: TS/Adult Content/etc. with the 'provided it's within the rules of the game'.

    Which is basically just 'consent required, no kiddie fucking', for any place I run. If someone was violating either of those things, yeah, then it becomes staff's business. Other than that? No.

    It is amazing what players sometimes expect staff to care about, and much of it comes down to gossipy crap that is not just not staff's business, but not the business of the complaining player, either, as it does not involve them. Sometimes it's not mature content! ...but usually it is. The number of 'OMG THEY NEVER LEAVE THEIR BEDROOM DO SOMETHING!!!!' and similar pages I've gotten as staff from people who have never interacted with either character, nor are involved with any faction they're in/etc. to have even the vaguest cause for concern about it, just never fails to amaze me. Nipping busybody behavior like this in the bud is, I think, a very good idea, and the more direct you are about it, the better, in the long run.

    Players will still gossip amongst themselves, but the more you make clear that you do not want complaints about it without specific cause, the less likely they are to gossip about it to you. And let's be honest, the moment someone hears 'so-and-so complained to staff about Bob and Suzie never leaving their room', it's typically assumed staff's OK with gossiping about players, which is never a good impression to make on one's playerbase.


  • Coder

    @surreality

    The "ethics" file from Dark Water was something along the lines of: Treat others as adults. Expect others to treat you as an adult. Don't touch without permission. Don't do anything in public if you think it would bother someone, or at least ask. If someone in private says they're bothered, stop.

    It may not be perfect (and the actual file was better refined than the above), but it was:

    • Brief
    • Clear
    • Applied to everyone, even staff

    I cannot express how many times I've seen separate "player ethics" and "staff ethics" files where staff are granted more latitude in how they can act. Or where ethics and rules are so involved and convoluted that it depends on who's enforcing it and how they decide to enforce it.

    That's what I mean by "playground politics". Staff should at the very least be held to the same standards as players. But too many times they clique up and become The Untouchables, making any policy written pretty much moot.

    Keep it simple. Keep it easy to enforce. And enforce it.



  • @Thenomain Agreed re: staff behavioral standards. IMO, they should always be a lot higher than for a player. A player screws up on ethics, the damage is usually pretty minimal unless it's an exceptional circumstance, and is almost always fixable. A staffer screws up on ethics? Just the opposite -- the damage is generally pretty big with rare exceptions and is usually irreversible.

    I take a pretty hard line on staff gossip behaviors especially. Once that stuff starts, you're basically doomed. It will get out. People will find out. It is inevitable, it will destroy players' trust in staff in the blink of an eye, and once it's gone, there's usually no getting it back, and it hits staff as a whole, not just the guilty parties.



  • This is why I dislike allowing people to play in the sphere they staff. Whether TL or Admin, that person has authority in the sphere. They are more likely to be taken seriously by another staffer than a random player that other staffer may or may not have any interaction with. Responsible people can handle it well, but lets be honest and recognize that the responsible people aren't the ones policies are made for. They're made for the people that will otherwise cheat or try to skirt around or take advantage. Yes, sometimes rules will adversely affect the good people. But that's the downside to having rules. Not just staff rules, rules. And frankly, I have seen far, far more instances of staff abusing their position for their own ends while utterly ignoring the rest of the sphere, than I have of conscientious staffers that will still put the sphere first.



  • @Thenomain Yeah, you'd think it would be the other way around. But usually being Staff means you always get the benefit of the doubt, while being a player means you're held to whatever standard Staff's mood dictates is appropriate.

    Toxic attitude that would get a player booted? Then just everybody has a bad day, and staff is stressful, and besides, the players provoked.

    Made a mistake? Everybody makes a mistake. Except the last person who didn't make a mistake but was obviously trying to play an angle.

    Etc, etc. It doesn't happen everywhere, and less than you'd think from people's complaint's, but its one of the ways power corrupts. The more and the longer you have it, the easier to see yourself as the exception to the rule, and you're better and above them.

    Look at the FBI director; by all accounts a reasonably ethical man. But he thought the rules didn't apply to him, and he and circumstance were above them, because he viewed himself (probably accurately) as a just man. But he'd never allowed his subordinates to get away with it for all the reasons he got crapped on himself as a result.


  • Pitcrew

    I like the Dark Water ethics policy @Thenomain, I do agree, it should apply to staff. That's about everywhere, alas. I haven't seen a separate staff ethics policy per say, but a number of places it always seemed like an understanding with the way some staff alts were treated.

    As an aside, my TS policy is along the same lines, what happens in the dark stays in the dark, staff doesn't care to know about it, and make sure its okay with your partner. There's usually a other policies apply, no harassment (no means no for anything), age policy (aside from Coral Springs, I prefer 18 to 21 as minimum age to avoid kiddie stuff all together).

    The one I'm on the fence about is pose courtesy. Pose order or 3pr or pose at will is more the consensus of the group in my book. The only common courtesy I like is waiting a few poses before jumping in, but don't think there needs to be policy on this either. Some folks like 'page before coming' just to see what's happening and if it all fits, but I'm more a fan of, if you're in a public place, you're in an open scene. There's tons of places to find 'private' scenes from personal rooms to TP/RP/Plot/Anything rooms.



  • @Lotherio said in Policies:

    The one I'm on the fence about is pose courtesy. Pose order or 3pr or pose at will is more the consensus of the group in my book. The only common courtesy I like is waiting a few poses before jumping in, but don't think there needs to be policy on this either. Some folks like 'page before coming' just to see what's happening and if it all fits, but I'm more a fan of, if you're in a public place, you're in an open scene. There's tons of places to find 'private' scenes from personal rooms to TP/RP/Plot/Anything rooms.

    Stuff like this you can put into a 'best practices' or a 'style guide' that's more of a resource or a reference than a rule. It's the kind of thing that can be the most helpful for newcomers to the hobby, really; just noting, 'some people prefer being asked before you join a scene in progress/some assume blah/etc.' can go a long way to simply remind people, or initially educate, that there are different preferences about such things and ultimately, whatever people agree on is what's easiest to run with.

    For instance, I have a style guide thing I've been working on that addresses stuff like 'please don't use ANSI all over your poses, while some games are cool with this, we're not' and 'writing style default for the game is third person, present tense, if you want to use second person please check with your scene partner first as this can make people uncomfortable' and so on.



  • @Lotherio

    I prefer very clear policies, even at the risk of going overboard on the overly specific because it sets clear, non-subjective expectations. Example:

    'Don't be a dick on +channels' v. 'Disruptive behavior and hate or harassing speech/subjects will not be welcome on channels.'

    I also prefer clear policies on how you intend to discipline players who violate things. Example:

    'First Offense: Written Warning
    Second Offense: 7 day temporary ban
    Third Offense: You will be excused from playing here permanently'

    @tek

    Would this happen to be Dark Spires?

    This is the only game where I've seen this policy but there may be other places. The reason that I was told when I wondered about it is the game owner is personally affected by this issue to some extent (I don't know/didn't ask for specifics) and often finds that people who play mental illness tend to play it as unhinged crazy or socially maladjusted, that it borders on offensive stereotype or is just entirely unpleasant to have to RP with.

    But it makes sense that other games would ban these concepts, as well.



  • @GangOfDolls said in Policies:

    This is the only game where I've seen this policy but there may be other places. The reason that I was told when I wondered about it is the game owner is personally affected by this issue to some extent (I don't know/didn't ask for specifics) and often finds that people who play mental illness tend to play it as unhinged crazy or socially maladjusted, that it borders on offensive stereotype or is just entirely unpleasant to have to RP with.

    But it makes sense that other games would ban these concepts, as well.

    A lot of people run with the fishmalk, too. :/

    I have a pref for this one for people to clarify if they have issues interacting with this sort of char so people can self-select. It just feels more fair than banning it. People can warning label themselves as playing a 'crazy' alt, and people who have sensitivity to certain types of portrayals can say so in a non-confrontational way. It just 'felt right' as a way to give people the tools required to find/avoid what they're looking for/looking to avoid.


  • Admin

    How do we feel about policies which punish players for their past behavior from different games?

    As in, a new game opens and @Arkandel is already banned. Come on, you've all considered it.



  • @Arkandel Too busy trying to ban you from LIFE to worry about a game.

    But really, this is one of those topics that people are just going to spew out opinions on, and it's highly unlikely they will lead to any change in anyone's way of doing things.

    I think a lot of games/staff bodies are constrained by things like not wanting to seem too strict, not liking conflict, not wanting to police this or that, or the other, etc. Having a set of policies is great and we can get a committee together to design shining, pristine examples of what a good policy file should look like, but at the end of the day, the policy that works is the one necessary to the game environment you want, that your staff is comfortable enforcing.


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