[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Koster Koster
Wed Jan 19 09:48:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


Matt, and you thought YOU were harsh... :) My apologies in advance.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew Mihaly [mailto:diablo at best.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2000 12:24 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Community Relations
> 
> 
> On Tue, 18 Jan 2000, Raph & Kristen Koster wrote:
> 
> > 
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Matthew Mihaly <diablo at best.com>
> > To: <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
> > Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 3:22 PM
> > Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Community Relations

> > > Remember though that many of us are involved in 
> commercial endeavours, and
> > > that attitude is not appropriate for most commercial endeavours.
> > 
> > It is misguided regardless of whether the venture is a 
> for-profit mud or
> > not.
> 
> I disagree, and I don't think you thought about this 
> statement before you
> made it. "Misguided" mean not guided towards something, 
> presumably your
> goal.

Actually, I was speaking of the admin's responsibility towards his players.
If he wants to run a psych experiment, a mud devoted towards driving players
insane, a mud to experiment with poor management, etc, then he had better be
warning players away with huge banners. If he's not explicitly trying to do
that, then he had better cut out that behavior. To my mind, when you open a
public facility of ANY sort, you are then responsible for it on many levels,
regardless of whether he is trying to maximize playerbase size. The fact
that playerbse size WILl increase if the place is well-managed is
coincidental: you manage it well because you owe it to the players to manage
it well, because you have created a public space. If you want to make a
private space, then don't tell anyone about it. If you opened a public space
in order to get an ego-boo, get over yourself and realize what you've done.

> It is a mistake, I think, to implicitly assume that the 
> goal of a
> mud is maximize the size of the player base. It's a bias that I see on
> this list all the time, and it's a completely unwarranted 
> one. 

A commercial mud has as its goal maximizing revenue. Not playerbase
size--they are not necessarily the same thing.

A free mud may have many different goals. Almost all of them (certainly all
the justifiable ones in the case of an advertised, publicly accessible mud)
require a playerbase. 

If a playerbase is well-treated, it will attract new players. This does not
imply growth of the playerbase, as other factors such as retention and
advertising may still result in a net loss. Treating the playerbase
well--actually, let me make that blunter: treating them decently but also
manipulating the hell out of them for the common good--is, to my mind, a
responsibility of the admin regardless of which goal they are pursuing, if
they are running a publicly accessible space.

> In summary then, if some mud admins choose to run their muds 
> capriciously,
> I don't see where anyone gets off criticizing them on more than a
> "personal preferences" level. In other words, perhaps you 
> find that sort
> of style distasteful, but that doesn't mean it's Wrong or Misguided in
> some universal sense.

I say it is wrong or misguided in a universal sense, and you're not likely
to convince me otherwise mostly because my conviction relies on some
articles of faith about people.

Players are people. Just because they are people far away on the other side
of a lot of wires and computers and routers does not mean they are any less
of people. Treating people capriciously in the real world is wrong,
especially when you have power over them. Treating them capriciously in the
virtual world is also wrong. Admins have power over PEOPLE, not just
characters. Those are real feelings over there.

A mud admin who advertises his mud is asking real people to come into a
virtual space he created. If he does it for the purpose of knowingly
tormenting them, abusing them, or causing them pain, then that is
reprehensible. If he torments them, abuses them, or otherwise puts them
through emotional pain out of ignorance, it can be forgiven, but he had
better realize quickly that they are PEOPLE.

He also needs to realize that the reason they are there in his space is
partly because of the nature of the space he created, and partly for the
other people. All of those people have put themselves in his hands, under
his power, in his control. To say he has no responsibility for their welfare
is shortsighted and frankly cruel. They do not HAVE the power, in the
current state of the art, to manage their affairs completely. Current mud
designs RELY on that admin stepping up to the plate and acting in a mature,
responsible fashion. In fact, they practically require an inhuman level of
devotion to duty.

The players doe snot think in these terms. He is generally naive about these
matters when he first logs on. But he'll catch on, though he may never be
able to articulate it. But the admin--to my mind, the admin damn well better
learn this stuff, preferably before advertising any site locations. It
doesn't matter what he made the mud for: as soon as he opened the doors, he
effectively said, "this isn't mine anymore, it's yours."
 
> The goal
> of this list is the advancement of muds, not the advancement 
> of the bottom
> line for the companies that own muds. 

It would take an exceptionally farsighted company to consider the cost of
careful community building to be a necessary upfront expense. :) I am not
saying these things in the light of only commercial practices. This is the
standard to which I held my immorts on LegendMUD, and frankly, it is the
standard to which players *everywhere* hold their immorts. 

> I'm sorry if I sound 
> harsh Raph, but
> the point of view I'm railing against is one that I hear most of the
> commercial people on here (myself included) implicitly 
> espousing a lot,
> and upon reflection, I don't think it's justified. The 
> advancement of muds
> does not implicitly require commercial-style management.

Separate debate, but IMHO the advancement of muds DOES require improved
community management. This does not, however, imply administrative
management.

> Only 
> muds which
> are concerned with either profit maximization or as large a 
> player-base as
> possible do.

If you look at the goals you listed, you'll find that they all depend on
playerbase to one extent or another, and the most common of them (which
sadly, includes ego-boo) depend very literally on increasing playerbase over
time.

> Poorly phrased by me. My point is that regardless of where 
> the content is
> coming from (players or creator), the fact is, the world is 
> _owned_ by the
> creator (or his assignee). He does not have any real 
> responsibilities to
> his players unless he chooses to accept them.

So here we have a fundamental disagreement.

> I agree that few admins
> actually have any clue what it is they are creating, but I don't think
> that's relevant. They own the world, end of story. If I want 
> invite you to
> my house for a party,

It is no longer your house, in the case of a mud. Rather, it's actually
public parkland. You can choose to take it back, but it is still public
parkland until such time as you do. And to my mind, that changes the nature
of the equation.

> and I decide to arbitrarily insult you 
> and throw you
> out, that's my right, and thank god for it.

Actually, doing this sort of thing could very well land you in legal
trouble, for the precise reason that it is an activity detrimental to the
community.

> In the end, people volunteer because they get something out of it,
> generally either status in the community or a good feeling 
> inside. If a
> mud creator/admin runs his mud in a capricious, vindictive, 
> arbitrary way,
> and it makes him feel good, bully for him I say. He's the one 
> that put in
> the effort, time, and possibly money, and I, for one, am not 
> going to tell
> him that he must treat the beneficiaries of his time, effort, 
> and money in
> any particular way.

Ugh. If a park administrator, restaurant owner, mayor, or president runs his
restaurant, park, city, or country in a capricious, vindictive, arbitrary
way because it makes him feel good, we usually call him a jerk. He may be
the one who put in the effort, time, and possibly money, but I, for one, am
still going to tell him he is being a jerk by playing with people that way.

-Raph



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