[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Sun Jan 23 23:56:45 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Matthew Mihaly wrote:
>On Fri, 21 Jan 2000, Jon A. Lambert wrote:
>> I've thought along those lines, but it doesn't resolve one of the common
>> problems of administrating a space.  In particular, the multiple hierarchies
>> approach doesn't address the problem of the complete expulsion of a 
>> particular annoying user from that mud space.  The toading or banning 
>> of a player completely from the mud.  I assume you reserve that power.
>> I'm talking about giving that power over to the general user administrators
>> as well.  
>Ahh yes, I see what you mean. You're right. About the most extreme would
>be effectively banning a player from the area under your jurisdiction
>(say, a city, or, if you are on the Council of Oakstone, all the forests
>on the continent) by causing the player to take regular, and significant
>damage, whenever in that area (for instance, wolves and thorned vines will
>attack you in the forest). 

Yes and if something about your game setup is predicated on global 
communications it's not likely to help.  This could also be a big world vs small 
world issue.  There are some very big worlds (in size, number of areas, etc..) 
that are actually really very small worlds in terms of the ability for players to
move about easily.  The effectiveness of @exile on a particular player can be
quite variable.

>I'm curious, how do you (or do you propose) choose the players? 

It may be easier to start this experiment from a mud where one has 
already established a playerbase.  One where the owner believes their 
audience is "ready for it" and can "handle it".   A very subjective 
and slippery notion.  Certainly something rather annoying and unproductive
might show in a playerbase that rises to about 10 and passes laws to
effectively ensure it stays that way.  :-P

>It sounds
>to me like you are talking about some sort of populist democratic
>system? (correct me if I'm wrong please.) 

Perhaps, more or less.  I suppose pure populism would require that every 
issue or action require a vote.  Most power would reside in the players' 
elected representatives, a republican form of government.
Although I wouldn't want to presuppose that whatever initial setup
was implemented would be permanent.  It may be that the playerbase
decides to shift the different powers around into some other form. 

>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? 

Could happen.  I would guess that maybe half or more of mud startups
already suffer one or both of the above at some point.  I've seen an awful 
lot of owners (co-owners) go out with a bang. 

>I think this really boils down to the old argument about democracy
>vs. autocracy. Democracy, historically, produces less great leaders but
>less really tyrannical leaders. On the strength of this, I decided that I
>trust my judgement more than my players as a collective. Some of them may
>have better judgement, but I firmly believe that as a whole, I am better
>able to pick good 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. Hmm, very interesting idea I have to say. I'm not sure I'd be
>willing to try it, but I'd love to see it done, particularly totally in
>the absence of owner interference with the decisions of the
>playerbase-chosen administration.

More than just a feeling, an actuality.  Granted it just won't be universal.  I'm
certain there will be minorities created that just aren't going to share that feeling 
of empowerment no matter what. 

>> That's what I mean by user ownership.  They decide how they want to play, 
>> and the penalties for not playing their way.  It's their collective ball and they 
>> decide who can play and who can't.
>Ahh, now this really gets into some interesting territory I think, but it
>would have to be a little more complex than that. You are essentially
>modeling a national democratic system, but with a citizenry far more at
>odds with each other (probably) than in the western democracies. 

I think they would be much less at odds with each other.  After all for the most 
part they share a common purpose, that of playing a game.  
Here's another analogy.  The owner builds a fenced-in set of basketball 
courts and hands the keys to a group of players, and says it's yours, go 
play, and if you need to do anything that you can't do page me.  They might 
decide to play horse or pig, or they may pick teams and play regular style.  
They may develop all sorts of criteria for letting people on the courts, or none 
at all.  The owner tries to provide mechanisms that allow them to exercise
whatever administrative functions the desire.  

Sure they could decide not to play basketball at all, they might decide 
to use the courts to engage in drug trafficking.  There are probably some issues
where an owner would have to _demand_ minimum standards of enforcement 
from any user government.  The server is going to live on an ISP which is 
under some localities legal jurisdiction.  It's very existence may depend on 
some criteria that has to be enforced, like those on a university-owned box.  
Then again maybe there aren't any. 
They might decide that they want to play pinochle or contract bridge, however 
the presence of the basketball courts is compelling, it's the reason they came 
in the first place.   That much they share in common, though they may have 
substantial disagreement on the mechanics of play or what is considered good
play.   What is a foul and what is not a foul.  They might establish that some of the 
courts be set-aside for different games.   They may prohibit fouling period or 
establish that players must sit out for some infractions; complete banning for others.

>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. That method is also poor
>is applicable. How to resolve this issue is not simple. Books have been
>written on how to avoid Madison's problem of majority tyranny. 

That's certainly possible.  On the other hand, It's also possible that a user
govt. will recognize this situation as well and develop a compromise.  Many
players share the same desire as owners when it comes to playerbase size.
Those whose jobs depend on it may be more in tune with the nature and
strength of popular opinion than even an admin.  I'm thinking compromises 
may be more common with indirect representation, than direct representation. 
Emigration and immigration are much more fluid in mud spaces than IRL.  
It's possible the playerbase will undergo some dramatic purges and variations
in size until it attains a uniformity of common purpose that's stable.  How much 
diversity in play will be tolerated by a player majority is something I do not know.
Perhaps such a space will invariably gravitate towards either one strongly-suited 
in hearts or strongly-suited in clubs.

>If you could set up some sort of system that could more accurately reflect
>true majority sentiment, I think you'd be on your way, as far as the
>playerbase passing such sweeping laws on itself, through elected
>representatives. I don't have a solution, but I do think it'd be neat.

It poses interesting technical problems.  Is suffrage universal and immediate,
or predicated on one-vote per user, one vote for character (multi-playing), one 
vote per active character?  Another potential set of problems for mule characters.  
Length of time for polling, determining when a quorum is present, etc.  Certainly
most muds have a sizable majority of inactive and for most purposes dead 
playerbase, as compared to active characters.  Where to invest and how to 
implement immediate executive powers like @squelching and @booting? 
In individuals like "police" or the shared keys approach that's common to those 
charged with overseeing nuclear devices?  Permanent @bans by executive
action, legislative committee vote or popular vote?  Mechanisms for voting
and recall, terms of service, checks and balances, ad nauseam... ;-)

--*     Jon A. Lambert - TychoMUD Email: jlsysinc at nospam.ix.netcom.com     *--
--*     Mud Server Developer's Page <http://jlsysinc.home.netcom.com>      *--
--* "No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." Thomas Jefferson *--

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