[MUD-Dev] Re: META: list "peerage"

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at futuresouth.com
Tue Jan 26 00:10:12 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Mon, Jan 25, 1999 at 12:36:04AM -0800, a little birdie told me that
Andy Cink remarked
> At 08:06 PM 1/20/99 -0800, Matt (diablo at best.com) wrote:
> >It's lovely to talk about improving the quality of MUDs generally, but the
> >problem isn't the concepts used, it is the people running them, and as
> >long as any idiot can just download a code base and slap up a
> >cookie-cutter mud, that problem isn't going to go away. The barrier to
> >entry is just too low.
> 
> Ultimately, people have to learn somehow. I don't think there is a huge
> amount of published material on mud design. (If there was, most likely
> I'd have some of it) Therefore, the only way to learn how to design a
> game (or even build a world, or administrate, etc) is to actually put
> up a working mud. Therefore, I consider it a net positive that people can
> easily get code and set up a mud. This makes it easier for people to enter,
> and ultimately expands the pool of available talent, as well as increases
> innovation. (More example code to look at, more people to answer questions,
> write FAQs, etc, etc)

The problem I see with this is a mentality problem.  It's actually the
same problem I see in the PC market with Windows (don't get me started on
that rant).  The problem is, that when you don't HAVE to put out effort
to get started (or have to put out so little as to be essentially none),
there's that much less incentive to learn more.  That's about the best
way I can put it without going on for pages.  There's nothing wrong with
a low barrier to entry per se.  The problem is with people who take that
as an invitation to STAY at that low level and not try to go higher.

When you have that situation, there's positives and negatives.  One of
the positives is that over time, you get a much larger group of
knowledgeable people around, and an even larger group of
semi-knowledgeable people.  You have a larger group of 'test cases'.

But on the flip side, you have a lower S:N ratio.  A fair number of the
people who put out the effort to go beyond the basics are the people who
would do it even if there weren't that 'low side' to come in on
initially, whereas none of those who won't put out the effort (by
definition, really) would have.  You also get a lot more disillusioned
player-types, who blanketly state 'all muds are crap', and that
disrespect fans out into the community at large, so today to say 'I admin
a mud' in a lot of computing circles is kinda like saying 'I used to drink
non-alcoholic beer' at an AA meeting; most people's estimation of you
becomes 'well, I guess you're kinda in the same boat as me, but keep on
your side of it'.  You perhaps see that less in sociological circles just
because of the nature of the field.

So it's a pretty mixed bag.  You end up with more press, but also more
bad press; more people, but also more bad people.  Is it worth it?
Another open question...

> I do however think that a major problem is that talent is simply spread too
> thin out there. While it's all fine if someone wants to learn how to run a
...
> I think the best thing that could happen to the mud "universe" is if less
> people started opening their own muds, and more people worked together to
> generate a quality mud. Perhaps some sort of service could be designed to
> match people to projects, such that people with similar aims could work
> together, rather than each independently building a similar mud. I think
> a problem with this is that people have a "virtual god" complex and don't
> want to share the limelight with anyone else.

A problem with this approach is that there's fairly few people who have
similar enough aims to do that.  Especially on the coding side, if you're
coding in a group, you're going to hit massive snags from even the
smallest differences of opinion, which eventually is going to tick
somebody off enough that they leave and create their ideas alone
elsewhere.  I remember reading somewhere (maybe here) the 'One coder per
MUD' rule, which is, like any blanket rule, not strictly true, but
obviously applies to a wide range of situations.

> >Speaking only for myself, I don't find anyone intimidating. The main
> >reason, I think, is that while there are some detectable attempts by
> >people to big themselves up with jargon, I don't see much of it, and the
> >impression I get from most people who post here is that they're not about
> >puffing up their egos at the expense of others on the list.
> 
> I feel as intimidated as hell. Every time I post I wonder if
> everyone thinks I'm a yutz or not. But I post anyways, because
> if I post, hopefully some of the other new people will too,
> and that can only help the list grow.

Well, I've been lurking here for something like 3 or 4 months, this is
the first time (well, if you're seeing this it is ;) I've come out of the
shadows.  A lot of the discussions I didn't really personally care about,
or I hadn't thought about and felt I had to catch up before I could
contribute, or what I had in mind had already been said, or I was too
busy IRL while the thread was alive to contribute what I had.

But I think the BIGGEST barrier that I found myself up against was the
nature of being allowed to post.  The list information (rules, FAQ,
whatever) says something along the lines of, 'When asking for posting
permission, it is suggested that you attach your intended post'.  My
reading of that is that it isn't really as much a 'suggestion' as The Way
To Do It.  So now, not only did I have to (as with EVERY post anywhere)
have something constructive to contribute, and not only did I have to get
permission, but I had to have a post good enough to submit to GET the
permission.  That's pretty daunting, at least to me.

(nb: That's not a reproach, and I don't have a better solution; in fact,
I think it works well.  Just a little intimidating)

---

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| Matthew Fuller     http://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd |
* fullermd at futuresouth.com       fullermd at over-yonder.net *
| UNIX Systems Administrator      Specializing in FreeBSD |
*   FutureSouth Communications   ISPHelp ISP Consulting   *
|  "The only reason I'm burning my candle at both ends,   |
*    is because I haven't figured out how to light the    *
|                     middle yet"                         |
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