[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Tue Feb 8 12:25:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Lovecraft wrote:
>Players decide to what degree to carry the law.  Role-playing laws are
>generally considered a special form of harassment, because it annoys some
>members of the community.  If nobody present is annoyed, then there's no
>need to enforce it.  A law enforcer could be more demanding, but I wouldn't
>want it.  Entertainment is more important than lawyering.  Authoritarianism
>kills fun for the common man.

Your administration of Dark Ages would certainly fall under the general 
category of authoritarian.  I don't believe there's anything inherently negative 
in that term.  Obviously there is room there for a large range of qualitative 
differences.   What you describe is an administrative philosophy that is 
primarily service-oriented.  You simply respond to complaints rather than 
seek out violations and violators.   

Conversely, there is a style of administrative authoritarianism that is common 
on many muds which is often both annoying and detrimental to the 
entertainment of the user base.    I'd call it LIFEGUARD administration.  It's 
where the administration constantly monitors or polices the playerbase "for 
their own good".  Lifeguards are preventative administrators, seeking to 
short-circuit problems before they occur (ha) or responding to a user's action 
with or without the pretext of any user complaint.  A Lifeguard will almost always 
attempt to adjudicate P v P and P v Group problems based on "the pool rules" 
rather than waiting on and encouraging possible user solutions to problems. 
I think Lifeguardism perpetuates itself through conditioning the user base to 
rely more and more on the Lifeguard as the primary (or only) mechanism of 
problem resolution and as a coercive threat or fear weapon (i.e. If you don't 
stop I'll scream help!).  I think Lifeguard administrators often start with the best 
intentions, but become caught up in a user feedback loop leading to belief in 
their own inherent moral or intellectual superiority over their user population at 
large.   I think the frustration with and perceived inability of users to solve 
problems amongst themselves is   negatively reinforced with this administration 
style.   Perhaps there is less truth in the statement "Users are poorly equipped 
to deal with problems.", than in "Administrators are indisposed to allowing users 
to deal with problems."

I think your style probably comes pretty close in spirit to the user-controlled mud 
space I described in an earlier post.  Dr. Cat's comments on some much earlier 
threads on how he handles PvP problems are also similar.  

--*     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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