MU and Alternate Channels



  • I will be up front about this. I put this here for genuine consideration but the source for the question comes from a banning that happened on Arx and was recently reversed in decision.

    So for consideration guys, how much separation should the staff of a MU consider there to be between the game and things like Discord? Or Teamspeak? Or Skype? At what point, for example, should a Discord channel be considered a community channel, if at all? And thus behavior on these mediums can and should have a response by staff in a game who are also merely guests in those mediums and not the moderators or hosts of the server itself?

    Thoughts?



  • Personally, I don't care where the log comes from but if I am handed evidence that one player heaped abuse on another that included wishing them dead, no matter the source, then that player is not a good fit for my game and would be gone. They would not be invited back because of the message it sends, not just to the population of the game, but to the abuser. You draw your line, you communicate your line clearly to your players, and then by god you hold that line.



  • I have banned a player from my game who was stalking another player, and part of the reason for it was multiple skype logs, in addition to page convos.

    While that is extreme (two folks arguing in skype is their business, for example), fishing behind people's back for real life details that that person doesn't want given out is serious.

    I would also give a warning if I saw a player starting to go after another on a mush community skype channel, or trolling, etc, as imo it's basically an extension of the game. To a point, I feel the platform is irrelevant if it's the same community.

    Same for teamspeak, etc. I've been part of mmo guilds where abuse on TS was considered bannable in-game, and agree with it. Death threats are pretty much a deserved instaban.


  • Creator

    I definitely don't think it matters where the abuse comes from. Like, when you start splitting hairs like that, where would you draw the line?

    People get fired for horrific racism from their jobs all the time, even if that racism didn't happen on the job. And while some people would argue that jobs should protect freedom of speech or whatever, why is a company going to risk both bad publicity and a possibly toxic work environment for everyone else?

    Harassment is harassment, being horrible is being horrible. It's not staff's responsibility to do anything about stuff that happens outside of a MU, that much I will say, but it's certainly their prerogative, and in some cases I would say it's in their best interests. Staff can and should do whatever they want/can to protect their players, to say otherwise, in my opinion, is mostly an arbitrary restriction.



  • I don't care where the exchange happens, if it is related to the game and involves participants being abusive, I would take it seriously.

    "I made sure to contain all of my stalking to skype!"
    "I only discussed my plan to cheat in email!"
    "All I did was rally a mob to hunt down my OOC rival on the forums with lies about what they were doing!"
    "I was only harassing them in gchat, not on the game itself!"
    "I just defaced their wiki, it's not like I did anything to their PC!"

    ^ If anybody considers the above something that means their behavior is suddenly peachy keen because it happened off the MUX/MUSH/MUCK/MOO/Evennia/etc., a heavy duty reality check is in order.

    Evidence is obviously still required, but change of venue is NOT a defense.



  • If the abuse happens on a platform that the staff have any level of control over (official Discord channels, et cetera) then it is their responsibility to punish.

    If the abuse happens on a platform that the staff have no control over but are present at (unofficial Discords, Skype calls, communal bonfire weekend celebrations, et cetera) then they have a moral duty to punish but not an outright obligation.

    If the abuse happens completely outside the scope of staff's authority (Facebook messages, constant fucking Linkedin Emails, et cetera) then it is the responsibility of the controller of that service (be it the abused by blocking blocking or the equivilent, or contacting the appropriate officials, or whatever else) to punish.

    If you, as staff, are presented with a log that details abuse from an external source over which you have no control or vague oversight, trust but verify - if it is further evidence of dickholery, then punish accordingly. If it is the first word against a person; instead of going right for the banhammer (which shouldn't always be the go-to solution), perhaps mediation or a restriction of privileges for the [alleged] offender - restrictions from channels, exclusion from earning XP, or the like as appropriate for your game.



  • Thanks for the input guys. Lots of good points and helps me give consideration to my own point of view on it.



  • @Tinuviel I would genuinely love to be able to go the 'if it's just more evidence' route on this one, I really would.

    Unfortunately, I have known a handful of people who are so vastly different on the game than they are in alternate channels, purely because they actively rely on the 'but it didn't happen on the game!!!' defense.

    As in, I have been mid-page convo with someone, and had them shift immediately to skype to add heavy duty smack-talk to the conversation, actually stating they're doing so 'so it isn't happening on the game and they can't get in trouble for saying/doing it'. Then they flip their shit if ever it gets mentioned on game because it caused concern, trying to make me the bad guy for calling them on straight up lying about it once they're back on the MUX. Zero conscience about the lying, all the blame shift on the 'how could you ever repeat that!' ("Because you're lying and cheating, duh.")

    Needless to say, while I will keep the most trivial confidences to the grave 99% of the time, I am not somebody to brag about how you cheated, harassed someone, etc. to, because I have zero respect for that behavior. I won't mention it unless it's harming someone (myself or someone else, and usually if it's just me it takes a lot to get me to give enough of a fuck to say boo), but seriously... people should not tell me this kind of thing if they want it to stay quiet. (Personal shit, no matter how embarrassing about whoever? Doesn't matter if I love them or hate them, that doesn't get relayed, period. :/ That is just non-cool.)

    These folks were an unfortunate wake-up call about it all. It's not suddenly not cheating, harassment, stalking, or abuse due to change of venue. Evidence still has to be there, but the venue from which that evidence comes ultimately makes no difference.



  • @surreality The problem with having to enforce good behaviour elsewhere is that it can be a slippery slope. I think I'm using that phrase correctly.

    You and I are talking. I go onto another game to talk shit about you to a mutually known person. Is that staff's responsibility?
    What about here? We talk shit about people all the time. Is posting all the vile things X person has done not harassment? Does the game's staff have to respond?

    I agree with you that using alternative platforms to cheat is bad and should be dealt with as such - but the terminus of that situation happens on the game. The cheating happens on the game itself, even if the arrangements are made elsewhere.



  • @Tinuviel There's a difference, I think, between bitching about somebody or venting and harassment or cheating, and it's a pretty important one.

    Maybe it's just that I don't tend to take second-hand views on people to heart very often (which has absolutely gotten me burned for it; I mean I let Spider live in my house, ffs), and tend to judge for myself, I dunno, on the gossip front.

    The instances I'm thinking of involve things like fellow staff on a game doing things like trying to influence me to deny apps from people they don't like, or give those people grief over things I'd never give anybody else grief over. It's the difference between bitching and people expecting me (or someone else) to take action based on their bitching in a way that's negative, and unjustified, to the target, in most cases. Which is a pretty easy line for me to draw, at least.

    Scream up a blue streak about how much you hate JoeBobMonkeyPants, get it out of your system, but don't talk about how you wanna cheat him out of something, or create extra hurdles for him as a staffer that no other players deal with, tell me about how you enjoy harassing him (seriously people have done this, what in the actual fuck, people?!), or try to get me to join in some crackpot scheme to drive him off the game/etc.


  • Admin

    @Tinuviel said in MU and Alternate Channels:

    @surreality The problem with having to enforce good behaviour elsewhere is that it can be a slippery slope. I think I'm using that phrase correctly.

    You and I are talking. I go onto another game to talk shit about you to a mutually known person. Is that staff's responsibility?
    What about here? We talk shit about people all the time. Is posting all the vile things X person has done not harassment? Does the game's staff have to respond?

    I agree with you that using alternative platforms to cheat is bad and should be dealt with as such - but the terminus of that situation happens on the game. The cheating happens on the game itself, even if the arrangements are made elsewhere.

    It's not really a slippery slope if what's happening is actionable. Think of the effect, not the cause, and usually you'll be on the right track; metagaming is a problem, and whether you're doing it over pages or on Hangouts is just a matter of semantics. Sexual harassment is a big deal, and whether I'm stalking you in pages on the game or it started on Google Docs and if I now suddenly create alts to follow you around from sphere to sphere it changes nothing.

    Not liking someone isn't actionable. If you tell @surreality "you know, I fucking hate Arkandel" it's the same regardless of the medium; if you spread lies "you know, Arkandel was in prison for starting a dog-fighting ring" then that's a problem no matter where you said it.

    There's no new slope to slide down here.



  • @surreality
    Agreed. Staff need to be held to a higher standard anyway, but that's just an icky, bullshitty mess. Actively planning or expressing desire to break the rules on the game should be punished, no matter where that expression or planning takes place.

    @Arkandel
    If you're sexually harassing someone outside of the game, that's the responsibility of the people that run the service you're using. Not game staff's. If they do it on the game then it's an issue, but that's not the point. The point is where is the limit to where staff should act, not whether they can act. If I accuse you of dog-fighting ring organisation on here, but don't do diddly on the game, why should game staff be expected to act? They can act, of course. They don't strictly need a reason to act. But should they?


  • Admin

    @Tinuviel said in MU and Alternate Channels:

    @Arkandel
    If you're sexually harassing someone outside of the game, that's the responsibility of the people that run the service you're using. Not game staff's. If they do it on the game then it's an issue, but that's not the point.

    If I was staff and you came to say - with some degree of evidence - someone has been following you from game to game creating characters to hit on you then I would have a fairly stern chat with them explaining they are expected to not do it on this game.

    Staff response can be preventative as much as it can be punitive. If a line doesn't already exist but it should then create it.

    The point is where is the limit to where staff should act, not whether they can act. If I accuse you of dog-fighting ring organisation on here, but don't do diddly on the game, why should game staff be expected to act? They can act, of course. They don't strictly need a reason to act. But should they?

    Again, as staff, it's your responsibility to keep your game fun for as many of your players as you can. One person can - and has - ruined games before.

    So if you have to choose between that one guy who's trolling everyone, spreads rumors for his own amusement and creates chaos, and the multiple perfectly legitimate players who are not doing these things but who are being chased away by these antics, what do you do?

    I'm not saying all cases are as cut and dried, only that you only need to look after your game's interests, not any particular problematic player's virtual rights, especially if they demonstratively don't respect those of others.



  • @Arkandel
    Most cases, luckily, are as cut and dried as your one versus many example above. Those, for any decent staffer, don't need explaining.
    It's the weird edge cases that I'm worried about. Those pesky problems that make you want to just get rid of alleged victim and alleged perpetrator to be rid of the problem.

    I don't have specific examples to hand, mostly because if I ever staff these days I typically log in, do my jobs, hang out for a few hours to do other jobs, and then leave - thus I don't have much player contact from the staff-side.


  • Admin

    @Tinuviel Look, for all we look for supervillains on MSB the truth is most people aren't out to create utter havoc and be dicks to everyone around them. The majority of the time it's just us nerds, some with assorted deficiencies in social skills, being awkward as shit to each other and coming off the wrong way.

    That's why I advise staff to have more tools in their bag'o'tricks than the banhammer. It'll still come in handy eventually, they should have it for those occasions, but not every case will be about a complete shithead; the majority won't be.



  • @Arkandel Except me. I am a dick to everyone around me.


  • Coder

    You are responsible for your behavior and actions at all times.

    This is something I wish people would enforce and expect from each other a lot more than most seem to. If Bob goes onto another medium and talks shit about a game, that game has the right to hold him to it, given evidence. If Bob is talking shit about a player, that player equally has every right to avoid Bob for whatever OOC reason. It doesn't matter if it was Skype or a Web Forum or a Munch that Bob was caught spouting cruel things. I have the right, as a game owner/staffer, to ostracize you from my game for talking shit*. <cane_waving> A lot of the problem of people's behavior on an anonymous medium is due to the fact that they operate differently in this internet circle as opposed to that internet circle. </cane_waving> Some take that to extremes.

    I feel that if someone is vitrolic outside your game, what are they doing inside your game? They certainly aren't likely to be cooperative, inclusive, positive, the way we want all of our players to be. Someone going through a momentary upset of something is one thing, but a pattern (there's that word again) is altogether evidence of someone's truer, base feelings.

    As for targeting a person for stalking or abuse? Absolute ban, in my opinion, given evidence of a pattern. That should be entirely unacceptable. For fuck's sake, we're talking about a hobby in where TRIGGERS are a common and flammable subject, so why would you allow anyone to stalk and let that slide?

    *Granted, a venting wouldn't warrant this reaction from me. We all vent, I get that. But those that repeatedly bitch tend to be very destructive to games, foment upset on that game, and drive players away whether you realize that they are doing it or not.


  • Admin

    @Rook said in MU and Alternate Channels:

    This is something I wish people would enforce and expect from each other a lot more than most seem to. If Bob goes onto another medium and talks shit about a game, that game has the right to hold him to it, given evidence. If Bob is talking shit about a player, that player equally has every right to avoid Bob for whatever OOC reason.

    You know what the real bitch of an issue from staff's perspective is, though? That some of the shittier players realize this, and they will use it in their favor, yet it's them who have to be able to tell the difference.

    So we're in an IC political spat and I'm butthurt because I'm losing, so now I want there to be a 'no contact' clause between us; coming up with some sort of reasoning for it, creating that narrative even, isn't very hard - but how are staff to decide if that's indeed the case? And then who gets inconvenienced the most? How is this enforced? If I'm in a scene with other important characters and you can't come in because it'll be interpreted as aggression then you just got screwed over, didn't you? And if the ruling is lighter - maybe it's not a full 'no contact' clause - you'll be still walking on eggshells all of a sudden because any action you take against my character, anything you say about me, could be seen as you being a dick... when you didn't do anything!

    But if staff don't do anything they also risk the chance I might be telling the truth.

    The lines aren't as nice and neat as we'd like them to be.



  • It's rarely about what rights someone has as opposed to what rights should be exercised at any given point.

    A game owner/empowered staff member has the right to deny access to a game to anyone. Period.
    The question that needs to be asked is should they?

    That is what needs to be asked more often. Not can I but should I.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel
    So you would no-contact two players after one incident, to the point of banning public RP?

    See, there is something I wouldn't do. It is one thing to have a page block set on them, but banning them from thematic/core-theme RP with other players? Hell no. That is a perfect opportunity to have said other players report back on whether said Aggressor was actually aggressive, or if the Aggressee (is that a word) might be overstating the case.

    You glossed over (for the sake of argument, I get it) the 'why' and 'what' that the Aggressor did, in your example. So help me understand your example here. Are you saying that the Victim would write up logs that never happened? Yes, that is something that Staff will be hard-pressed to catch or even prove, I agree. That is a hell of a lot of effort and underhandedness, a surprising amount actually, just to 'take someone out' of the IC scene for your own personal advancement. Shit, is that the type of crap that we're talking about, the extremes that happen out there?

    My ignorance might be showing here, but I'm just trying to understand your viewpoint and example. I think I am following you, though. Agreed that the lines are muddy, of course they are.


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