[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Tue Jan 18 13:41:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Tue, 18 Jan 2000, Jon A. Lambert wrote:
> Dundee wrote:

> > The player was banned for being insulting to me.  
> I understand that these are very common policies throughout the 
> "mudding" universe.
> "Thy shall not insult or offend any member of the administration"
> and
> "Thy shall not insult or offend any player"
> Note that the former is usually enforced with great enthusiasm, while
> enforcement of the latter is haphazard and oftentimes explicitly 
> non-existent.
> Any thoughts as to why this is so?  

Some obvious reasons:

 - Such cases often come down to one person's word against another's --
   A says B was insulting, B denies it.  If one of the parties is a 
   member of the mud's administration, the other admins are much more
   likely to take that person's word.

   Sometimes there are witnesses -- but many of those times, witnesses
   will be split on what happened.  Again, it comes down to "who can we

 - Human nature.  Police go after offenders who are attacking other 
   police with greater zeal.  By the same token, when a player starts
   insulting an admin, the whole admin team is likely to band together
   behind the insulted admin.  In a player-vs-player, dispute, however,
   there may be one or more dissenting admins.

 - Lack of reporting.  Admins are likely to either ban the offender 
   themselves or report it to the other admins, because they can be 
   fairly certain that their word will be respected and the person
   will be banned.

   Players, on the other hand, may not have that certainty, or may not
   want to involve the admins for various reasons.  Some players may 
   act in a passive-agressive fashion, complaining loudly about the
   insults but not taking any action to do anything about them (i.e.,
   not directly contacting the admins).

> Do such policies introduce a "class" system into a muds social
> structure regardless of whether the administration is faceless or not?

Policies which explicitly say that insulting admins is punishable, but
insulting others is not, do introduce a class distinction.  Differential
enforcement of policies may introduce a de facto class distinction.

IMHO, there will *always* be a class distinction between admins and
players.  Indeed, there has to be; if there is no distinction between
them, then there is no difference, and no reason to call one an "admin"
and the other a "player."

However, you can work to minimize the distinctions and to reduce friction
between the players and the admins.  "Faceless" admins are one way to do
it, but won't do it by themselves -- people will come to dislike even a
faceless administration that is unfair.

In this sort of case, it might be better to found an independent tribunal,
made up of a 50/50 mix of admins and players, and let these people decide
if there is enough evidence to support a claim and what to do about it.
This helps to sidestep the problem of admins sticking together.

> Don't such obtuse policies essentially boil down to 
>     "You can be banned at our whim"?

They can.  Indeed, *any* policy can boil down to that.  Take the example
of countries that have human rights policies, but ignore them on a regular

If you do not enforce policies consistently and fairly, it may not matter
how good those policies theoretically are.

> What is it about administration personnel that makes them so much
> more delicate and important when it comes to being insulted or 
> offended?

Admins often have a higher emotional investment in the game, and a greater
feeling of ownership.  Consider the difference between a random person
yelling an insult at you out on the street, and someone you've invited
into your home insulting you there.  Also, consider the difference in
being insulted by a random person on the street vs. having someone insult
you while eating a cake you helped make.

In the first case, it's natural to feel more insulted, and to feel an urge
to tell that person to leave.  In the second case, it's natural to feel
more insulted and to not want that person to get to enjoy any more of the

By the same token, when a mud admin is insulted by someone in the mud
he/she helped build -- someone who is enjoying the fruits of the admin's
labor -- it's natural for the admin to feel more insulted than he/she
otherwise would, and to want to expel that person from the mud.

       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'_) 

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