[MUD-Dev] Re: (fwd) Re: POLL: Games ruined by bad players (Playe

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Tue May 5 18:12:43 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Thu, 30 Apr 1998 18:49:14 -0500 (CDT) 
Cat <cat at bga.com> wrote:

>> This is a direct parallel to a segment of the "POLL: Games ruined
>> by bad players..." thread running right now on on r.g.m.* (and
>> rapidly heading for the wallows): the financial and human cost of
>> administration in capital, expense, and overhead.

> Well the paragraph of mine you quotes was, if I'm not mistaken, part
> of a reply to someone who was replying to something I wrote, which
> was actually a post to that very thread originally (my first post to
> rec.games.mud.misc in several years) and that you reposted here to
> the list.

Quite, however that ignores the fact that the mention directs list
members attention back to one of the few signal threads in r.g.m.*,
and that your original entry into the thread was on a different

> So if it's related in subject matter to that thread it's no
> surprise, as it's a descendant of that thread.  Interestingly my
> post there seems to have garnered almost no response in the
> newsgroup, although it did get some here.

There's a reason this list exists.

>> Do you have another solution than expensive mass human supervision
>> to to UOL's reputed problem of K3wlD00dz,

> Yes.  :X)

> I said in an earlier post I wasn't going to do into this subject at
> length.  But basically I favor "inexpensive mass human supervision".
> I have notions about how to make it scalable, effective, etc.

What about accountability (as I assume you are going to be using
(semi-)volunteer effort)?  What about corporate handling of miscreant
volunteer admins?

>> Next, given that you do have a scalable affordable solution for
>> such, you are then, if only by inference, "guaranteeing" a PG rated
>> environment.  Is liability a concern?

> Yes, it's a concern.  I've been following this issue, among others,
> since the days when BBSes and the big commercial online services
> were the main things in the online world.  I often lamented the
> notion that there was no "middle ground" defined yet by legal
> precedent, only the extremes of "let anybody post anything anywhere
> and claim you're a common carrier with no liability", or
> "review/edit everything and have liability for everything".  For a
> while it seemed like if you decide to review, categorize, or ban
> just some subset of the material on your service, trying to improve
> quality without going nuts trying to read everything, you might
> still get stuck with liability for everything, since the moment you
> excercise one iota of editorial control you're not a common carrier.


I should note that I spent a lot of time on the commercial and
hobbiest online services (FIDO, RIME, ILINK, EchoNET, BIX, CIX, etc).
I founded ran echoes, subbed for other moderators etc, even started to 
found a FIDO-style alterNet.

I got my share of legal threats.

> My apprentice dug up some encouraging legal precedent, though.  It
> turns out common carrier isn't the right model to strive for, but
> it's also not the only type of entity that's granted some freedom
> from liability over content.  Some ISPs are using bookstores as a
> model.  Bookstores aren't 100% ignorant of the content they're
> conveying like a true common carrier (the Post office or the phone
> company), and they're allowed to apply subjective selection criteria
> in choosing which books to carry.  But if the author of a book
> writes something that's actionable, the bookstore isn't liable -
> just the author and/or book publisher.

Understood, and a good disctinction.  However:

  Bubba is a mamber of your player base, but has received
(semi-?)official sanction from you as the game's operator to help
administer the game.  How official the sanction is really doesn't
matter -- Bubba claims its official, and thru accidental oversight you 
fail to notice this fact.

  Bubba does a naughty (your pick of what) and abuses his power (your
pick of effect).

Now it is a concious and knowing act by a member of your game's
management structure -- even if that member is of partial or dubious

Recommend: Get a really good legal team and pay their retainer.  I got
burnt on this point in particular.  The final summary was that I was
not held culpable, but that the character of the problem area was
sufficiently legally vague as to allow a lot of expensive legal

> I also developed some theories about "how not to be the one who gets
> involved in the precedent-setting court case".  Even if you win one
> of those, the time and expense involved is considerable.  


> But from observing the BBS world some clear patterns seemed evident
> to me about who got to be the test case and why.  And it's really
> not hard to avoid if you're shrewd and if you wish to do so.

Every so often some little pre-school or similar puts up a mural (say)
of Mickey Mouse, usually using volunteer parent labour etc, and every
few years Disney Corp comes along with full legal battalion in tow and
orders them to take it down as a violation of their trademarks etc --
and with much public outcry, newspaper coverage on how mean and nasty
Disney is being to those little kids etc, the painting comes down.
The reason of course for Disney's attack is of course defense of their
marks, as if they didn't actively enforce and defend them they'd lose
them overnight (compare current suits brought by Playboy regarding web 
pages and images).

I followed this Disney area in particular for a while, looking for
patterns, and follow-up behaviours.  There are several.  Key however
was that the selection of what sites to attack was based not so much
on the site's activities or promience (unless it was blatant), but on
minimising negative PR, legal costs, and greatest return in legally
demontrating that they were effectively protecting their marks.  As
such the little tiny backwoods guys got a disproportional share of the
legal interest.

  The real untold story of course for the wee kiddies is that Disney
usally comes back after the rucus is over and puts up officially
sanctioned artwork FOC, hands out a bunch of free passes to Disney
World, and generates a nice big positive (if localised) PR wash to
recoup some of their losses.

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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