[MUD-Dev] Admins as Mortals twist

Koster Koster
Wed Nov 24 15:48:00 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


> Raph wrote, in response to JC:

> > > My assertion is that the only real approach is to make the

> > > administration both invisible undetectable within the game world,

> > > and generally contactable only in the abstract outside of 

> the game.

> > 

> > I have a counter-assertion, which is that you need to 

> humanize your admins

> > as much as possible. When admins screw up (which they will) 

> and when they

> > get corrupt (which they will) and when they abuse power 

> (which they will)

> > players tend to be more forgiving of actual people than of 

> a faceless

> > bureaucracy.

> 

> I dunno Raph.  I agree that all those problems will happen, 

> but I'm not sure

> I agree about 'humanizing' the admins.  I've toyed with the 

> idea of making

> all the admin-avatars interchangeable, so you never really 

> knew who you were

> talking to, only that you were talking to an admin.  Of 

> course they could

> tell you their name, but heck, they might be lying or give a 

> general answer

> or something.  



So I'd argue that cults of personality are inevitable, and that faceless
bureaucracies are always hated.



Remember, we started out with this model on UO. All our in-game admins wore
a red uniform. They had names, but you couldn't contact a given name
directly. They had no personal interaction with anyone, if they stayed
within the bounds of the rules.



It blew up in a big way.



> The point of this is to avoid the cults of personality (or anti-cults)

> surrounding specific admins: "I'm looking for so-and-so; he 

> likes me." Or,

> "Forget it, I'm not talking to AdminX, he's not fair and has 

> it in for me."



You don't have to have either of these things--make all admin calls go thru
a queue and avoid the former; on the latter, just go, "fine" and be glad
that your support manhours are lesser. ;)



> This also makes it possible to deal with admin turnover 

> without any visible

> effects in the game.  And when problems arise, it makes it 

> easier to yank

> one problem admin out for a while, and to deal with the players with a

> united front.  



I'd argue that it is just about impossible to provide a truly united
front... but that having somewhat personalized admins is not going to hurt
it any.



It's the same logic as having police engage in community outreach, or having
phone operators at some huge mail order company tell you their name. It's
just basic psychology.



> > It's human nature to distrust authority. It's extra-obvious 

> to distrust

> > authority that has godlike powers over your life. If said 

> authority is in

> a

> > uniform and has no fixed name and is (worst of all) just an 

> email address

> > out there in the beyond, the worst will be assumed about them.

> 

> I agree that putting a human face on the admins is necessary. 

>  I just don't

> think that the baggage that comes along with each of them 

> having a unique

> identity is worth the value gained.



I suspect you are overestimating the amount of personal identity I am
speaking of. :)



>  I don't think the worst will be assumed

> about them; I think this will even out -- the players' opinion of the
admins

> will pretty accurately represent the aggregate experience with the admins.



I wish... :) Players' opinions will tend to be formed by the most vocal
players out there. Admins deal with players only when they are at their
worst, which is why they have a high burn-out rate. And players at their
worst tend to be the most vocal. Hundreds of people will become convinced of
the state of game admin based on the surfacing of some six-month old
scandal. If they do not have a face to put to the scandal, all admins will
be tarred with the same brush. And scandals are imho inevitable. :)



> If most of the admins are not doing their jobs well, the good ones will
find

> it harder to work.  But if most are doing their jobs well, the poor ones

> will be easier to bring up to speed behind the scenes.  



If players cannot pinpoint who the source of problems is, all the staff will
be assumed to be poor.



> > Whereas if you know that they have a dog and like to collect stamps,

> you're

> > more likely to think of them as a person. And empathy is 

> gained. And when

> > they screw up, you're more likely to forgive them.

> 

> That hasn't been my experience.  Personalized problems with individual

> admins live long in the player memory.  Players hold grudges 

> like nobody else. :)  



This is also very true. I'd rather they have a grudge on just one admin than
on all of them, though. A lot depends on the severity of the grudge. 



-Raph



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