[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Geoffrey A. MacDougall geoffrey at poptronik.com
Sun Jan 23 21:46:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


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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...

> 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?

Has this strategy ever been successfully applied?

> 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...

> That method is also 
> poor (and I
> think this is a major failing of American-style democracy) 
> because it does
> not allow people to indicate HOW strongly they feel about 
> something. What
> if 40% of your players are rabidly pro-player-killing,  15% 
> are rabidly
> anti-player-killing, 5% who don't really care but if pressed will be
> pro-player-killing because they are speciest and want to kill all
> Dwarves, and 40% don't really care, but if pressed, will say
> they are anti-player-killing, because their aunt got killed once (by a
> Dwarf, no doubt) when she logged into a mud? (I'm not saying this is a
> realistic breakdown of this particular issue)
> 
> So, let's define people who are rabidly either way as being people who
> care enough to quit your mud if things go against them, while the ones
> more towards the middle might get a bit disgruntled, but 
> don't care enough
> to stop playing.
> 
> Then, in this case, even though, when it came to a straight vote, the
> anti-player-killers would win (assuming everyone votes, which 
> may be close
> or far from what actually happens, depending on how important the
> electorate takes politics), the anti-player-killers would 
> win, with 55% of
> the vote. However, this does not accurately represent the way this
> community thinks about things. In this case, the majority 
> vote would cost
> you 40% of your player-base, while had it swung the other 
> day, only 15%
> would have quit. This is an extreme situation of course, but 
> the principle
> is applicable. How to resolve this issue is not simple. Books 
> have been
> written on how to avoid Madison's probolem of majority tyranny.

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.

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 )

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.

> As
> politically correct as it is to hate special interest groups 
> in American
> politics (sorry to be nation-specific, but it's what I'm most familiar
> with), they do help to more accurately represent the true majority
> _preference_ of the community. They essentially magnify the 
> influence of
> their members by organizing and collection donations, which 
> are then used
> to affect the electoral process. They effectively magnify the voice of
> those who care enough to donate/participate in the special interest
> groups, thus reflecting that those people care extra about 
> those issues.

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?

Cheers,

Geoffrey

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<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>matt wrote:</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; I'm curious, how do you (or do you propose) =
choose the </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; players? It sounds</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; to me like you are talking about some sort of =
populist democratic</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; system? (correct me if I'm wrong please.) What =
happens when </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; they elect the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; mud equivalent of hitler, and he decides that =
all Dwarves </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; should be kicked</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; off. Or, worse yet, what happens if the player =
who is at the </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; top of the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; hierarchy decides hr is going to quit, and is =
going to go out </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; with a bang? </FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Checks and balances.&nbsp; Limitations on =
power.&nbsp; Certain acts require the consent of multiple =
administrators...</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; I suppose though that it's not completely a =
matter of </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; gettting the best</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; administrators, but also of giving the =
playerbase a feeling of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; empowerment.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Interesting phrasing - because a _feeling_ of =
empowererment is, by definition, not necessarily the same thing as =
empowerment.&nbsp; Is it possible to grant a user base the feeling of =
empowerment without actually surrendering control?</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Has this strategy ever been successfully =
applied?</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; It's not</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; so easy as just letting them vote straight out =
though, and </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; then vesting</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; all legislative/executive/judiciary power in =
one hierarchy, </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; because you</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; will end up with tyranny of the =
majority.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>An effective charter of rights (as defined in my =
previous posting) goes a long way in avoiding these problems...</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; That method is also </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; poor (and I</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; think this is a major failing of American-style =
democracy) </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; because it does</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; not allow people to indicate HOW strongly they =
feel about </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; something. What</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; if 40% of your players are rabidly =
pro-player-killing,&nbsp; 15% </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; are rabidly</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; anti-player-killing, 5% who don't really care =
but if pressed will be</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; pro-player-killing because they are speciest =
and want to kill all</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; Dwarves, and 40% don't really care, but if =
pressed, will say</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; they are anti-player-killing, because their =
aunt got killed once (by a</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; Dwarf, no doubt) when she logged into a mud? =
(I'm not saying this is a</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; realistic breakdown of this particular =
issue)</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; So, let's define people who are rabidly either =
way as being people who</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; care enough to quit your mud if things go =
against them, while the ones</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; more towards the middle might get a bit =
disgruntled, but </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; don't care enough</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; to stop playing.</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; Then, in this case, even though, when it came =
to a straight vote, the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; anti-player-killers would win (assuming =
everyone votes, which </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; may be close</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; or far from what actually happens, depending on =
how important the</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; electorate takes politics), the =
anti-player-killers would </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; win, with 55% of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; the vote. However, this does not accurately =
represent the way this</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; community thinks about things. In this case, =
the majority </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; vote would cost</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; you 40% of your player-base, while had it swung =
the other </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; day, only 15%</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; would have quit. This is an extreme situation =
of course, but </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; the principle</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; is applicable. How to resolve this issue is not =
simple. Books </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; have been</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; written on how to avoid Madison's probolem of =
majority tyranny.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Two points - </FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>1.&nbsp; The problem you've just outlined only arises =
if every member of the commmunity is forced to vote.&nbsp; Voting, for =
the most part, is optional IRL.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; (Assuming mildly-opinionated voters will be balanced by =
strongly-opinionated non-voters.)&nbsp; So... To determined the =
interests of the population, hold a vote.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; Only =
dedicated lobbyists will go to out-of game web-pages, and jump though =
additional hoops to make their opinions known.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>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.&nbsp; In Canada, at least, voter turnout is =
relatively high in federal elections, while very few people vote in =
municipal elections.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; =
(No offense to any would-be municipal politicians in this group. :p =
)</FONT></P>

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

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; As</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; politically correct as it is to hate special =
interest groups </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; in American</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; politics (sorry to be nation-specific, but it's =
what I'm most familiar</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; with), they do help to more accurately =
represent the true majority</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; _preference_ of the community. They essentially =
magnify the </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; influence of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; their members by organizing and collection =
donations, which </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; are then used</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; to affect the electoral process. They =
effectively magnify the voice of</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; those who care enough to donate/participate in =
the special interest</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; groups, thus reflecting that those people care =
extra about </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; those issues.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>And 2.&nbsp; Is there a way to build this extra =
influence into the system?</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Ex - Some race car games artificially enhance the =
capabilities of vehicles being driven by players who are falling off =
the pace.&nbsp; 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.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Is this kind of idea applicable in a MUD?&nbsp; Avoid =
the tyranny of the majority by playing with the odds to grant the =
minority an advantage?&nbsp; 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?</FONT></P>

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

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

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