[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Geoffrey A. MacDougall geoffrey at poptronik.com
Wed Jan 19 23:43:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


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I'd like to preface this posting with the qualifying statement that my
background is in political theory, and I am therefore want to find this
stuff overwhelmingly interesting.  :)

Ola wrote:
> That is one of the weaknesses of democracy. Rather stable, 
> but incapable
> of changing, and when something changes it does so in a 
> rather slow and
> inefficient manner.

Actually, that is a strength of democracy, not a weakness.  In fact, most
western democracies are designed to render the process of implementing
fundamental change as slow and as cumbersome as possible.  Reason being that
it limits any one group's ability to implement change before there has been
adequate time to scrutinize those changes from every possible perspective,
i.e., the dialectical process.  The US is a prime example.  The Canadian
system, through the use of "party whips", is more susceptible to the tyranny
of the majority.  (I am Canadian, btw.)

Authoritative systems are the most agile - but not always the in the right
ways. 

Having said this, however, I think it is also important to acknowledge that
value judgements pertaining to strengths and weaknesses are highly context
specific.  It all depends upon what it is you are trying to achieve.

I won't go into further detail because these points have already been
touched upon earlier in this thread...


Matt wrote:
>Further, beneficial to WHICH players? I think you'd have
>a hard time finding ANY wide-spread program that is beneficial to all the
>players (or citizens in a democracy). And again, define beneficial. Is
>giving money to the poor beneficial to them? Not such an easy question to
>answer.

That's because it's not up to the provider to answer the question.  It's up
to the receiver to decide for themselves, and a good system design will
accomodate both positive and negative responses.

>If you are truly concerned about the players, then shut down your
>mud and urge them to go do things that will more efficiently improve their
>lives. I, for one, am not convined that the players spending thousands of
>dollars to play my game are truly benefiting. They are enjoying
>themselves, but frankly, I suspect that they would benefit more in the
>long run from doing other things with the money and time. 

I believe social interaction to be a benefit in and of itself.  And in
accordance with my previous point, if your players believe themselves to be
better off, then they are.  If you don't agree with their decision, then any
responsibility you have to them begins, but also ends, with informing them
that there _are_ alternatives.  Any other course of action would imply that
you do not believe your players to have the same capacity for decision
making as you do.

>The search for a single system of
>beliefs that is best for everyone is futile.

I wholeheartedly agree.  But implicit in that statement is a belief that
leads to a specific and universally applicable conclusion about a preferred
course of action, and is therefore subject to dismissal by its own logic.

>Isaiah Berlin wrote an
>excellent essay on this called 'The Pursuit of the Ideal' in which he
>talks about how most ethical thinkers throughout time have implicitly (and
>without good reason) assumed that if only certainy could be established in
>our knowledgeof the external world by rational methods, then surely the
>same methods would yield equal certainty when we speak of human behavior
>-- what we should be, and how we should live.

I like this point because it reaffirms my own assertion that there is no
such thing (beyond basic animal instinct) as human nature - and therefore
any attempts to design systems around premises such as "humans are basically
greedy" are doomed to failure.

>I'm not a Christian, and I don't believe in God. I think the entire
>concept of natural rights is a joke. So where do these rights derive
>from? Your arguments, it seems to me, presuppose that the Christian
>ethical structure is right, and that is entirely as arbitrary as any other
>system of ethics.

I am also an atheist, but I *do* believe in rights..."rights" (in accordance
with Dworkin's position) as trump cards against the will of government.
Government, in this case, representing a group that is empowered by its
citizens to act on their behalf.  Rights - and I mean civil rights - stem
not from God, but from the Social Contract that one accepts by the act of
affirming citizenship to any given country - or, for country, read MUD.  By
accepting the social contract, you do not gain the right to perform certain
actions, but the right to be protected from others wishing to perform acts
upon you.

Therefore, to answer the question "So where do these rights derive from?" -
They derive from the body populace of any given society.  They are
self-imposed and self-affirmed.  There is no need for an external power.
People grant rights to themselves.

The nature of rights, therefore, has a fundamental and implicit contradition
that renders them difficult to understand.  A right is an inalienable power
that I grant to someone else to stop me from doing something.  If I grant
it, how can it be inalienable?  And how does any of this relate to the
discussion? :)

Well...  The point I'd like to make is that rights are not set in stone.
They are a function of the needs and beliefs of the society from which they
originate.  Therefore, if a MUD player base acknowledges a right, then they
have a right.  End of story.  These rights, therefore, can be different for
every MUD.  You don't need to get into abstract discussions of rw vs vw
legal jurisdiction.  If the MUD community says it is, it is.  That's their
social contract.  If a player base says that people cannot be banned, then
people have the right not to be banned.

This is all assuming, of course, that the admins choose to honour the wishes
of their players - and that depends upon whether or not admins consider
themselves to be a part of the community.  If they are, then they have to
respect the rights of the players, if they aren't, then who cares...

Basically, if a player understands the conditions under which they surrender
their personal freedom to the government of a MUD, then all's fair.

>Unlike in real life, where escaping
>oppression is hard, it is easy to escape oppression in a mud. Just
>leave.

A number of leading thinkers in this field have already addressed this
point, so I'll simply paraphrase.  Leaving an oppressive rw or vw scenario
requires an individual to sacrifice, among other things, their social
network.  If more people were willing to desert their families and friends,
there would be less oppressive rw environments.  The value most people place
upon meaningful social interaction is what causes them to remain.  And
assuming rw and vw social interaction are equally rewarding, you have your
answer as to why people are not free to "just leave" a MUD.



Some thoughts...

Cheers,

Geoffrey


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<TITLE>RE: [MUD-Dev] Community Relations</TITLE>
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<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I'd like to preface this posting with the qualifying =
statement that my background is in political theory, and I am therefore =
want to find this stuff overwhelmingly interesting.&nbsp; :)</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Ola wrote:</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; That is one of the weaknesses of democracy. =
Rather stable, </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; but incapable</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; of changing, and when something changes it does =
so in a </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; rather slow and</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; inefficient manner.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Actually, that is a strength of democracy, not a =
weakness.&nbsp; In fact, most western democracies are designed to =
render the process of implementing fundamental change as slow and as =
cumbersome as possible.&nbsp; Reason being that it limits any one =
group's ability to implement change before there has been adequate time =
to scrutinize those changes from every possible perspective, i.e., the =
dialectical process.&nbsp; The US is a prime example.&nbsp; The =
Canadian system, through the use of &quot;party whips&quot;, is more =
susceptible to the tyranny of the majority.&nbsp; (I am Canadian, =
btw.)</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Authoritative systems are the most agile - but not =
always the in the right ways. </FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Having said this, however, I think it is also =
important to acknowledge that value judgements pertaining to strengths =
and weaknesses are highly context specific.&nbsp; It all depends upon =
what it is you are trying to achieve.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I won't go into further detail because these points =
have already been touched upon earlier in this thread...</FONT>
</P>
<BR>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Matt wrote:</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;Further, beneficial to WHICH players? I think =
you'd have</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;a hard time finding ANY wide-spread program that =
is beneficial to all the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;players (or citizens in a democracy). And again, =
define beneficial. Is</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;giving money to the poor beneficial to them? Not =
such an easy question to</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;answer.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>That's because it's not up to the provider to answer =
the question.&nbsp; It's up to the receiver to decide for themselves, =
and a good system design will accomodate both positive and negative =
responses.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;If you are truly concerned about the players, =
then shut down your</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;mud and urge them to go do things that will more =
efficiently improve their</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;lives. I, for one, am not convined that the =
players spending thousands of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;dollars to play my game are truly benefiting. =
They are enjoying</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;themselves, but frankly, I suspect that they =
would benefit more in the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;long run from doing other things with the money =
and time. </FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I believe social interaction to be a benefit in and =
of itself.&nbsp; And in accordance with my previous point, if your =
players believe themselves to be better off, then they are.&nbsp; If =
you don't agree with their decision, then any&nbsp; responsibility you =
have to them begins, but also ends, with informing them that there =
_are_ alternatives.&nbsp; Any other course of action would imply that =
you do not believe your players to have the same capacity for decision =
making as you do.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;The search for a single system of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;beliefs that is best for everyone is =
futile.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I wholeheartedly agree.&nbsp; But implicit in that =
statement is a belief that leads to a specific and universally =
applicable conclusion about a preferred course of action, and is =
therefore subject to dismissal by its own logic.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;Isaiah Berlin wrote an</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;excellent essay on this called 'The Pursuit of =
the Ideal' in which he</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;talks about how most ethical thinkers throughout =
time have implicitly (and</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;without good reason) assumed that if only =
certainy could be established in</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;our knowledgeof the external world by rational =
methods, then surely the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;same methods would yield equal certainty when we =
speak of human behavior</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;-- what we should be, and how we should =
live.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I like this point because it reaffirms my own =
assertion that there is no such thing (beyond basic animal instinct) as =
human nature - and therefore any attempts to design systems around =
premises such as &quot;humans are basically greedy&quot; are doomed to =
failure.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;I'm not a Christian, and I don't believe in God. =
I think the entire</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;concept of natural rights is a joke. So where do =
these rights derive</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;from? Your arguments, it seems to me, presuppose =
that the Christian</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;ethical structure is right, and that is entirely =
as arbitrary as any other</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;system of ethics.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>I am also an atheist, but I *do* believe in =
rights...&quot;rights&quot; (in accordance with Dworkin's position) as =
trump cards against the will of government.&nbsp; Government, in this =
case, representing a group that is empowered by its citizens to act on =
their behalf.&nbsp; Rights - and I mean civil rights - stem not from =
God, but from the Social Contract that one accepts by the act of =
affirming citizenship to any given country - or, for country, read =
MUD.&nbsp; By accepting the social contract, you do not gain the right =
to perform certain actions, but the right to be protected from others =
wishing to perform acts upon you.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Therefore, to answer the question &quot;So where do =
these rights derive from?&quot; - They derive from the body populace of =
any given society.&nbsp; They are self-imposed and self-affirmed.&nbsp; =
There is no need for an external power.&nbsp; People grant rights to =
themselves.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>The nature of rights, therefore, has a fundamental =
and implicit contradition that renders them difficult to =
understand.&nbsp; A right is an inalienable power that I grant to =
someone else to stop me from doing something.&nbsp; If I grant it, how =
can it be inalienable?&nbsp; And how does any of this relate to the =
discussion? :)</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Well...&nbsp; The point I'd like to make is that =
rights are not set in stone.&nbsp; They are a function of the needs and =
beliefs of the society from which they originate.&nbsp; Therefore, if a =
MUD player base acknowledges a right, then they have a right.&nbsp; End =
of story.&nbsp; These rights, therefore, can be different for every =
MUD.&nbsp; You don't need to get into abstract discussions of rw vs vw =
legal jurisdiction.&nbsp; If the MUD community says it is, it is.&nbsp; =
That's their social contract.&nbsp; If a player base says that people =
cannot be banned, then people have the right not to be =
banned.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>This is all assuming, of course, that the admins =
choose to honour the wishes of their players - and that depends upon =
whether or not admins consider themselves to be a part of the =
community.&nbsp; If they are, then they have to respect the rights of =
the players, if they aren't, then who cares...</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Basically, if a player understands the conditions =
under which they surrender their personal freedom to the government of =
a MUD, then all's fair.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;Unlike in real life, where escaping</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;oppression is hard, it is easy to escape =
oppression in a mud. Just</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt;leave.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>A number of leading thinkers in this field have =
already addressed this point, so I'll simply paraphrase.&nbsp; Leaving =
an oppressive rw or vw scenario requires an individual to sacrifice, =
among other things, their social network.&nbsp; If more people were =
willing to desert their families and friends, there would be less =
oppressive rw environments.&nbsp; The value most people place upon =
meaningful social interaction is what causes them to remain.&nbsp; And =
assuming rw and vw social interaction are equally rewarding, you have =
your answer as to why people are not free to &quot;just leave&quot; a =
MUD.</FONT></P>
<BR>
<BR>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Some thoughts...</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Cheers,</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Geoffrey</FONT>
</P>

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