[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Wed Jan 19 22:44:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Travis Casey wrote:
> Is a mud a "public facility?"  Not all places that allow the public in
> are "public facilities" -- for example, most businesses allow the
> public in, but are private, and have the full authority to throw
> people out who are causing problems.

The librarian can tell you to get out of the library if you refuse to
shut up, yes???

But you cant throw people out, not here, and probably not over there
either. You can tell them to go, but only the police are allowed to use
force. UNLESS using violence is less damaging than whatever they are
doing. You are not allowed to deny people access because of their skin
colour, sexual habits etc in places that are open to the public, in a
closed private space you obviously can! However the space being closed
and private isn't enough. If I have a well on my property, with a
warning sign and a fence and somebody falls into it, I am still
responsible. It was accessible. It should have been covered and locked.
Similarly, I am not allowed to set up death traps in my house to catch

If you run a mud and you should have known that people were using it for
exchanging child pornography and you did nothing about it, you can in
fact be held legally responsible. The fact is, most of the virtual
public spaces are probably under regulated because they are new. If
enough members of the MUD community screw up badly and it hits mass
media, then you can be sure that somebody will pass new laws that
restrict that legal freedom in undesirable ways.

> I think we're getting away from the original idea here -- that of
> players who are insulting.  If you walk into a store and start
> insulting managers and clerks, do you think they'll let you stay long?

If I was a regular customer and had reason to complain and it didn't
create trouble for all the other customers... YES!  However, being
thrown off a MUD is more like being thrown out of social housing complex
and the country in which that complex is located. You interfere with the
person's private life, his social sphere.

> (They might *if* you were also buying a lot of things... but in the
> case of a free mud, the concept of "buying a lot of things" doesn't
> apply.)

So, why do you compare it to a business that sells lots of things if it
is a bad analogy??

The Palace was free last time I used it. Does that mean that they are
morally free to treat people like trash? What about MUDs that make money
from in-world advertisements? Are they free and beyond moral
obligations? Besides, I don't see why those lousy 10USD should make all
the difference.

Besides, using a MUD is not free. That somebody loose money on it, does
not make it free. Players do work, they do unpaid betatesting! I pay for
phone lines, and connectivity. I also loose time, and time is money.
Etc...  A free pizza delivered on the door is free, takes no time, not
additional costs etc. (Just trying to point out that free and free and
free are different things)
> mud admins.  Players who do abuse the mud admins (or anyone else on
> the mud, really) should expect to be quickly shown the exit.

I don't really think it matters what players _should_. That's rather
pointless. You should expect whatever can be expected from a section of
the population. If you open a free playground you are assuming a greater
responsibility than those that happen to see it and make use of it. 
Even in the legal sense.  That's the basic issue here.

> And, to get back to the original point, if someone comes in, sits down
> at a table, and starts insulting one of my volunteer GMs, or one or
> more players, I have every right to throw that person out.

"right"?  What kind of right?  You don't need a reason legally to deny
people access or to tell them to leave. You can deny people access
because of their shoes if you want to, but is it reasonable? You are
focusing on the wrong issue, that is what controls legal businesses in
general. Is it acceptable for a phone company to cut off your phone
lines, severely harming your business, just because you yelled at their
operator for screwing up badly?!

> In the same way, a mud exists for a specific purpose (or purposes).

And all purposes are acceptable?

> Anyone who acts in a way that is disruptive to that can be thrown out.

That can happen in a public park too. Why this abuse of analogies?

> I agree with this as well.  I don't agree with Matt that mud owners
> can act however they want -- but neither do I agree with the idea that
> a mud is a "public space."  It's a private space which the owner has
> chosen to allow the public into, for certain purposes.

It is certainly private if it is by-invitation-only. However, most MUDs
are no more private than a web page. And, as I have tried to point out,
there are significant limits even on private spaces.


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