[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Sun Jan 23 19:15:40 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


On Sun, 23 Jan 2000, Geoffrey A. MacDougall wrote:

> matt wrote:
> 
> > I'm curious, how do you (or do you propose) choose the 
> > players? It sounds
> > to me like you are talking about some sort of populist democratic
> > system? (correct me if I'm wrong please.) What happens when 
> > they elect the
> > mud equivalent of hitler, and he decides that all Dwarves 
> > should be kicked
> > off. Or, worse yet, what happens if the player who is at the 
> > top of the
> > hierarchy decides hr is going to quit, and is going to go out 
> > with a bang? 
> 
> Checks and balances.  Limitations on power.  Certain acts require the
> consent of multiple administrators...

Well, the way the person described it, he mentioned a hierarchy with one
single person at the top.

> 
> > I suppose though that it's not completely a matter of 
> > gettting the best
> > administrators, but also of giving the playerbase a feeling of
> > empowerment.
> 
> Interesting phrasing - because a _feeling_ of empowererment is, by
> definition, not necessarily the same thing as empowerment.  Is it possible
> to grant a user base the feeling of empowerment without actually
> surrendering control?

You never surrendur more than temporary control, because the users have
the power only by your leave. All non-consensual (and by that I mean 100%
consensual) government relies on power and in the end, the control truly
does lie with the owners recognized by the law, for those who worship the
law are inevitably going to be more powerful than your users.

 
> Has this strategy ever been successfully applied?

I've never heard of it being applied, but I'd really like to see someone
do it (perhaps this is a case where a non-commercial mud would be best
suited as a testing ground?)

 
> > It's not
> > so easy as just letting them vote straight out though, and 
> > then vesting
> > all legislative/executive/judiciary power in one hierarchy, 
> > because you
> > will end up with tyranny of the majority.
> 
> An effective charter of rights (as defined in my previous posting) goes a
> long way in avoiding these problems...

Who enumerates what rights the players have? I must have missed this in
your post. The way I recall the system being described was that the users
themselves would decide on such things. Also, such a charter requires
human interpretation, presumably by the players, in such a system.


<stuff snipped about how simple voting by the entire populace, done in a
way that requires someone to either vote entirely yes or entirely no on an
issue or candidate will not reflect the community preference>

> Two points - 
> 
> 1.  The problem you've just outlined only arises if every member of the
> commmunity is forced to vote.  Voting, for the most part, is optional IRL.
> The same must be even more true in MUDs, because forcing a vote will
> alienate the large majority of your players who are there to hack 'n slash
> or chat, and who don't really care about the way the MUD is governed.  So,
> if, by your example, only 55% of your population holds a strong opinion on
> the matter, chances are that your voter turnout will not be much more than
> that.  (Assuming mildly-opinionated voters will be balanced by
> strongly-opinionated non-voters.)  So... To determined the interests of the
> population, hold a vote.  To determine how strongly that opinion is held,
> make voting optional, or go one step further and make it a slight hassle to
> place your vote.  Only dedicated lobbyists will go to out-of game web-pages,
> and jump though additional hoops to make their opinions known.

Good call on making them jump through hoops to vote. I've never understood
why Americans get so emphatic that it should be easy to vote, except
insofar as making it easy to vote helps certain political factions. It
certainly does nothing for finding out what the preference of the
community (if an abstract notion can be said to have a preference at all).

 
> The solution I've just proposed is not a particularly unique or original
> one, as the two variables I describe - the results of the vote, and the
> number of voters - are already used by pundits in this very manner.  In
> Canada, at least, voter turnout is relatively high in federal elections,
> while very few people vote in municipal elections.  This leads to the
> conclusion that international trade policy is generally held to be more
> important, and elicit stronger opinions then what day my garbage is
> collected.  (No offense to any would-be municipal politicians in this group.
> :p )

Chuckle, good point. 

 
> Holding separate ballots on different occassions for each issue is also a
> way to ensure that people don't voice an opinion about issues that they
> don't really care about.

Another good call.

 
<stuff snipped about the useful function that special interest lobby
groups have by allowing people who care more about an issue to have a
greater effect on it>

> 
> And 2.  Is there a way to build this extra influence into the system?
> 
> Ex - Some race car games artificially enhance the capabilities of vehicles
> being driven by players who are falling off the pace.  The idea is to level
> the playing field, so that the players battle it out on the turns throughout
> the course of the entire race, instead of having the race won off the
> starting line - the assumption being that the former scenario is more fun.
> 
> Is this kind of idea applicable in a MUD?  Avoid the tyranny of the majority
> by playing with the odds to grant the minority an advantage?  This tactic is
> already applied on a micro scale - ex. NPCs don't help Necromancers so make
> their spells more powerful - but can it be applied to the community at
> large?

Hmm, I'm not sure that is applicable. The reasoning behind it in terms of
gameplay is to make it more fun, but I'd think the reasoning behind voting
mechanisms for players is to accurately reflect community preference
(though I'll grant that some players find elections fun by nature). 

--matt




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