[REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

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[REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Jupiter_Storm » Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:39 pm


Policy Rework: Player Complaints & Bans


Beware - Essay Alert! (Disclaimer:) I have a great deal to cover here, so I will try to be brief and keep my main problems / resolutions bullet pointed. This suggestion is not for my own benefit, but for the server as a whole - although a number of people I know, have been hurt consistently by these factors which prompted me to hasten the development of this idea. Please bear with me as some of you may take this personally but the ultimate goal is to improve the way Players and GMs interact, for everybody.

I'm also fully aware that I stand a high chance of being lynched for this, but it really needs to be said. I honestly don't care - I can't be the only one who feels this way - If I am, that would be a real shame indeed for the gaming community.


Current Issues - Why is change needed?

  • #1 - Preferential Sourcing / Bias: As it currently stands, a player with a better reputation or popularity index can inherently be considered as a more credible source of information regardless of the accuracy of that information, which in the absence of logs hinges only upon said player's aforementioned perceived credibility. Unless you want to promote an insular, divisive culture, hard evidence coupled with impartiality of judgement are tantamount; regardless of personal feelings on behalf of the Moderators. Without those things, you have the sort of situation that exists now - whereby interactions with better-known players are a worrying prospect due to the looming threat (imagined or otherwise, it makes no difference) of being branded for 'Harassment', purely because you happen to like the same playby or because you happen to play an ICly abrasive character.
    .
  • #2 - [Lack of] Transparency: Complaints regarding players, presented by other players, are handled in a (perhaps unintentionally) 'secretive' manner with no indication of what evidence has actually been presented to lead to the final ruling, and why that information is relevant to the matter at hand. This is because most complaints are handled in private messages - a task made a great deal easier when one knows the GM in question rather well. By extension to this issue, the very act of handling complaints in this way is inefficient at best, where one has to personally message all parties involved - waiting for them to be online, or otherwise 'un-busy' enough to give you, the Moderator, the answers that you want.
    .
  • #3 - Deliberation: Sometimes, issues will end up stewing over for several days with staff all 'agreeing' that something should definitely be done, but nobody actually mobilizing to resolve it (I know this from past conversations with Moderators regarding unsolved matters) - whether this is due to being busy or otherwise, it's not really a good thing for anybody? Or perhaps this is due to difficulty tracking the workload of each GM, or because a collective decision is required? Even so - being that all Moderators are held to the same standard, does a decision really need to be unanimous for the majority of cases?
    .
  • #4 - Outright Dismissal: Occasionally, whether the accused (or indeed, the accuser) will be heard or not can purely be down to a roll of the dice - a roll influenced in part - but not entirely by the specific person contacting the GM. From first hand experience I know that the GMs do discuss matters with the person in question and allow them to defend themselves and present their side of the story, but I have evidence to suggest that there are some players this does not apply to at all. Moderators do state that they will seek to remain unbiased to the best of their ability - and I'm sure this is largely the case. However, if that is true, you still need to appreciate the fact that being ignored frequently or not consulted on issues that pertain to yourself, comes across very badly, regardless of the truth. Seeming is being, which lends itself to my point regarding transparency.


So, why does this matter to me, personally?

Well, if you're a Moderator, the issues I've highlighted can be a big problem for you, as much as they are for the players. Where transparency plays into this - if you're attempting to perform your role to the very best of your ability in a professional and unbiased fashion, that will be far more visible if relevant individuals related to each case can clearly see what you're doing - which not only benefits your reputation as a collective group but also lends itself to more fluid cooperation with the players. Furthermore, a large portion of the current process is - as mentioned - inefficient and probably makes your job a lot harder than it really needs to be - particularly when you aren't paid to do this, and give up your own free time for it.

If you're a player, whether this post is really relevant to you depends entirely on your perspective - I will be honest here, this stuff probably doesn't matter to you, because you follow the rules and try to get along with everyone, yeah? Well, you'd be right in that - until the point where you're not, and you are suddenly the butt of an accusation which you feel is unjust or untrue. Your friends all abandon you, because they think you're X or Y - and because being seen to support you would look very bad for them. Nobody ever believes this will happen until it does. And when you find yourself in a situation like mine, and those others who this thread is relevant to, would you prefer things to be done differently to ensure you get a fair deal?



Okay Jupiter, you do nothing but complain, now try proposing something?

To use an existing, working example - Space Station 13 servers such as Aurora, Bay and Paradise (for all their infinite faults) handle issues regarding player conduct extremely well - nigh-on flawlessly, in fact. The only issue that the player base of those particular servers have with that system is that it works SO well, that the rules are enforced relentlessly, leaving them with no leg to stand on when they are banned for griefing, poor roleplay or generally bad behavior.

  • #1 - Player Complaints Sub-Forum: In order to promote a healthy, transparent environment where all players of the server can clearly see recorded incidents (barring those of a more 'personal' nature), readily access the cases to present relevant evidence of their own. A GM can select the case, post that they are handling it - all the evidence is already provided for them, anything else that they deem necessary is at their discretion. The accused can either respond to that thread or be interviewed privately. Idyllically a Moderator need only take action based on what lies before them (unless it's not enough). I suggest a sub-forum like this one, which should speak for itself. Let there never be any confusion as to why a person is being punished. 'You know what you did', while there is a chance that you may be correct, is not a satisfactory answer particularly when a person, and those close to the case in question, remain puzzled with the outcome.
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  • #2 - (Habeus Corpus!) Accusation > Evidence > Witnesses > Action: Equally, I understand that all cases cannot necessarily be dealt with publicly - either due to a personal, embarrassing interaction or because an issue in progress requires a more immediate resolution. For this, we still have Discord and GM Help, as ever. With that said... It should be standard policy in such a situation for evidence to still be presented, including logs, statements of any witnesses, and a statement from the accused player giving them a chance to present THEIR own logs. If this is already standard policy, it is NOT being enforced - or if it is, then it is done so selectively and dismissed when convenient. It is also never enough to provide a one-word explanation as to why a person is being punished, unless of course you are exceptionally lazy and are treating that person dismissively - in which case you absolutely should not be a member of a team that (supposedly) enforces server rules FAIRLY and WITHOUT BIAS.
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  • #3 - Rehabilitation vs Punishment: Why do people become Moderators? There are many theories behind this, but only one correct answer (for those that deserve to hold the title) - because they want to promote a healthy environment where all players can enjoy the game without interference, or negative behaviors of others. Healthy is the operative segment here, and when players do step over the line, the intention should be to correct their behavior, advise them on how they can change, administer a fitting punishment and hope for the best. This means believing in the capability of other players, to change. This means dealing with every situation on an individual, objective basis, where previous transgressions cannot be used against the accused. By all means, a person's punishment can, and SHOULD increase with severity if it is a repeat offence, but treating a person like a criminal, because of their past mistakes, is a self-contained spiral from which a player with a sordid history cannot escape REGARDLESS of whether they are trying to change or not, BECAUSE the accusations and rulings of others acting on bias alone CONSISTENTLY label them as the villain, ADDING to the list of transgressions that may or may not even be true to begin with.
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  • #4 - By default, administrators are under no obligation to explain anything to you: This is wrong. On every conceivable level. This needs to be removed - the GM team absolutely must be able to provide clear evidence that the decisions they have come to are fair and just, because an unwillingness to explain a situation that is neither embarrassing nor a great deal of effort to do, could very well be considered an admittance of guilt in and of itself. I'm not talking about providing a reply the size of this deplorable post of mine, I'm talking about literally telling a person what they have done wrong, and how you know they've done that.


You're proposing a change that could take a lot of work...

Actually, no. I already have a working template for a Player Complaints sub-forum, including guidelines for posting and a policy on 'igniting a flame war' in a thread. The actual submissions themselves include the Username (Discord optional) of the accuser, the character name of the accused (NOT their Discord - because that's giving away another person's information without their permission), a brief description of the situation and a segment for logs and screenshots to be posted. None of this requires work from the GMs - if a Player feels that an issue is truly serious enough to the point where they are unable to resolve their own dispute, they can take ten minutes to compile a post about it. No dramas. Process streamlined.

Bear in mind, as an aside, that far larger roleplaying communities such as World of Warcraft and Star Wars - The Old Republic, flourish (yes, flourish) with very minimal GM support, if any. Of course, we do need our GMs because they work very hard to produce events for us, but I'm talking about player moderation here - a role which involves unpaid, unpleasant work.

I'm not saying 'leave, we don't care', because that isn't true. What I'm saying is that right now, a very just argument can be made that Moderators are doing far too much additional work which would frankly be unnecessary if players could simply put on their adult trousers and resolve disputes by ignoring one another, finding a compromise or even something as simple as rolling a dice. If we're going to have a moderated community, it needs to be done right - not this childish game of Chinese Whispers we currently see, played in the shadows by individuals who are arguably just as bad, if not worse in some ways, than those they report to GMs.

To re-iterate, the system currently in place is NOT one that promotes a healthy community - something which, I have it on good faith from one of the GM team, we are aiming for. Even just one or two of the changes I've proposed may improve interpersonal relations and lend a degree of transparency to disputes between players which in turn will in itself act as a shield against questionable behavior - something that players inherently know will be publicized in a TRUTHFUL manner.


Last edited by Jupiter_Storm on Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by HoboJenkins » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:24 pm

The people's champion, ladies and gentlemen. Excellent post Jupiter.

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Snake » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:57 pm

We assumed SL2 would be a "game where everybody gets along and has no OOC complications because we're all mature and respect each other's opinions!". That may be wrong, or else this thread wouldn't been lifted. People are way too immature about it as I've been observing for a good while now, and lack something basic on both sides. The bare minimum respect for their fellow players.

GMs may also be a lot more powerless than I thought? If their judgement's blotched by their incapacity to look at the factual logs to have a proper middle ground, then that may be an issue by itself. Then oh boy... Dev should make this a more comfortable system for GMs to work onto. I've seen and been an Admin in several games, and had little to no issues handling problems through the reports since:

A- I could just right click and open the player's logs in an instant to see if they weren't trying to bullshit stuff to weight on their side.
B- I had firm guidelines that not only I knew about, but the players also knew about. GM had guidelines, and players had rules. Both were very apparent, self-explanatory and honestly, not as childish as to put "a gm is the law if dev's not around ha heh".


I don't think we can change this in a flash, but it's like I've been commenting around. We'll never have a healthier environment if we don't get GMs a bit more power, and players a bit more conscience on what they're supposed to 'not' do. "Common sense" doesn't really apply to everyone, but rules do. While business has all rights to be private, it's better done under everybody's jurisdiction.

A public forum for complaints, GM help and communication can both keep everyone aware of the issues that happen in SL2, and serve as an example of what to not do, for a future reference. I agree.
Last edited by Snake on Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by pizzatime » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:01 pm

really good post, jupiter! i appreciate the structure and attempt to elaborate on a problem while also presenting solutions

you know, good traits arguments should have

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Jupiter_Storm » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:10 pm

Snake wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:57 pm
GMs may also be a lot more powerless than I thought? If their judgement's blotched by their incapacity to look at the factual logs to have a proper middle ground, then that may be an issue by itself. Then oh boy... Dev should make this a more comfortable system for GMs to work onto. I've seen and been an Admin in several games, and had little to no issues handling problems through the reports since:

A- I could just right click and open the player's logs in an instant to see if they weren't trying to bullshit stuff to weight on their side.
B- I had firm guidelines that not only I knew about, but the players also knew about. GM had guidelines, and players had rules. Both were very apparent, self-explanatory and honestly, not as childish as to put "a gm is the law if dev's not around ha heh".
I actually wanted to put this in to begin with but I thought the idea of a baseline mechanical addition to the game that would help GMs to perform their role on the platform itself might be too much to hope for because of the work involved - but seeing someone else (particularly one proficient with code work) recommend it makes me think it wouldn't be such an unrealistic notion after all. +1 this idea.

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Snake » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:16 pm

Just by having that we would probably not need thaaat much suggested.

I sure would believe more the judgement of a well-informed self-sustained moderator than someone who actually 'needs logs given by Players for evidence'. No offense. Now pray 4 Dev for this to be added somehow.
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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Jupiter_Storm » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:22 pm

None taken because honestly that's how it should be done in the first place. It's essentially the whole, 'officer did you witness this crime' method, which drastically simplifies any process of resolution.

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Clockworkers Doll » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:35 pm

After re-reading the original thread several times, and even coming back to re-read it again, I can't really find anything I personally disagree with -- I do have a few little things that I feel like I personally want to point towards as well.
While having only little discussion with the GMs, both good and bad, I can tell that the community needs a re-work of how things are dealt with from a slightly-outside viewpoint. The only thing I think I can add onto is that there's also a lack of consistency with the way GMs deal with different issues. In short example, we'll see randos and trolls get banned with detailed messages in-game, explaining what they did exactly, then we'll see others get banned with one-word messages. A microcosm of the issue at hand, I'd say. There should be a standard of how the issues are addressed publicly as well, for both consistency and transparency. I believe that players should be allowed to view who the GM giving the ban out was so that we can speak to that GM specifically, since getting multiple GMs involved in one situation can only make the situation more confusing for both the GMs and involved player(s).

One other issue with consistency is that the GMs also seem don't seem to communicate on smaller issues. Through the years we've seen a lot of GMs give different rulings on lore that the other GMs don't approve of. I've actually been a handle of this, as I once asked a GM if a silly alias was okay to use and I was given a "sure, that should be fine", and another GM later saw said alias and changed it on me without saying a word to me, in game or otherwise. That being said, I also wanted to bring up something related...

There's also, I believe, a lack of a way for GMs to talk to players inside SL2. Just suddenly seeing a seemingly random person post in LOOC with an OOC name can be confusing for players who don't know the game and even frightening for some players that know the GMs do that. Discord is good and great and all, but a lot of people still don't use it (like myself, because I don't like the idea of randoms from the game DMing me because I'm in the SL2 Server, among other reasons) and those that play SL2 casually are not likely going to want to have random people on their friends list, even if they're a GM. This also regards that pager just absolutely bombs as a place to chat. In my case, the pager is a laggy garbage mess that I can barely log into SL2 with, much less chat with a GM on if I needed them.

I also want to agree with this earlier sentiment.
Snake wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:57 pm
We'll never have a healthier environment if we don't get GMs a bit more power, and players a bit more conscience on what they're supposed to 'not' do. "Common sense" doesn't really apply to everyone, but rules do.
"Common sense" is a debated thing I can provide an example of. Outside of SL2, my friends and I have a discord server for friends, that has never really had a "rules" section because 'it should just be common sense'. However, we have a member with epilepsy and has a problem with a particular real-life tragedy, as well as another member who has problems with a particular word that can be used offensively. These were never fully stated rules in the server, and therefore things happened that shouldn't because we just said 'it's all common sense'. What happened was that the problematic members were just given a shove in one way or another without knowing what they did wrong. This changed because it was decided that because of another incident, the server should have dedicated rules that can be understood flatly. Since then, we have never had another issue with people accidentally breaking rules.

Those all being said, Jupiter's said what I could've already. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of making a player complaint forum, as long as it's handled and maintained well by both the community, as well as making the community a healthier place in general.
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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Moira » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:59 pm

I agree with the points outlined in Jupiter’s post. The current system as well as having to rely on other player’s logs for evidence versus server side logs is dysfunctional. HTML logs that you save can easily be edited. People can submit partial logs to misconstrue the situation. Having a forum system as displayed by the Aurora, Bay and Paradise SS13 server would benefit everyone by keeping open communication. It would help moderators and players alike. Transparency for the players and less leg work for the moderators for their unpaid work.
Snake wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:57 pm
I don't think we can change this in a flash, but it's like I've been commenting around. We'll never have a healthier environment if we don't get GMs a bit more power, and players a bit more conscience on what they're supposed to 'not' do. "Common sense" doesn't really apply to everyone, but rules do. While business has all rights to be private, it's better done under everybody's jurisdiction.
I agree with this statement Snake made. I think we could also benefit from updated rules that spell things out a bit more clearly. Like are moderators just moderating what happens in game? Or are they also moderating what takes place out of game in DMs? Like for example, discord. What parts of DMs could be considered valid to bring up in a report? Just stuff that's meant to be IC? Or if there was a fight between players that took place over DMs? Or one of the many private servers that contain SL2 players related to the game? That's an important distinction to make because discord is heavily apart of the game as well. I personally use it for IC stuff like delivering letters to other characters.

I would also like to hear from the Dev if he would think saving logs would increase the cost of running the server? If so, by how much? HTML logs aren't very big and I think they can be set to be purged after a certain amount of time. Like a few months. (Maybe make it policy to save any logs that come up in a dispute made indefinitely so if someone comes to appeal a ban or it somehow comes up again, they're there.)

EDIT: I just wanted to show how easy it is to doctor HTML logs. (To stress the importance of sever side logging and possibly allowing GMs to only download the original file. Not edit it.)

Original:
https://imgur.com/U48H12s.png
One I edited in like 30 seconds:
https://i.imgur.com/exfNPfl.png

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Re: [REWORK] Player Complaints (Policy & Handling)

Post by Jupiter_Storm » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:37 pm

Thank you to everybody who has made their opinion known thus far, and in particular to Kunai for an excellent suggestion on a mechanical change that can really help to resolve disputes more fairly and efficiently from here on out, if it is implemented. It's truly heartening to see a problem of this magnitude being taken seriously, and I hope that at the end, it will bring us closer together.

I want to stress that the Moderators are NOT the problem here, per se, but rather the way that they are forced to do things and the way that this process can be exploited or skewed by personal feelings and close relations.

I'm also aware that there are a lot of people out there who express doubts regarding this thread. Preferably, I would urge you to present your argument here and explain why you disagree or why you believe a divisive community and a secretive complaints procedure is perfectly okay. Perhaps this is merely a heavy misunderstanding on my part and those who have presented their opinions already - and if so, we'd like to know what we've got wrong. Understanding is the first step towards bridging a gaping chasm between two 'camps'.

Otherwise, I will address a few concerns:

- No, I don't have an ulterior motive: I have put a great deal of work into this thread and consulting others regarding the validity and fairness of its content - far too much work for anything so petty and base as a targeted rant to 'rock the boat'.

- Yes, this proposal is not perfect: Then again, if you are looking for flaws and holes in the logic here, then you haven't understood the point. We have a clear problem with our community, and in the way that we handle our issues. Just because you haven't seen it - and thank god that you haven't, because it's a fucking horrible position to be in - it doesn't mean it isn't there. Please please please come forth and correct these flaws, regardless - pointing out a hairline crack is still one step closer to repairing a faulty engine.

- This thread is absolutely not about one or two individuals: Again, I've put too much work into this to simply have my ideas loosely disregarded because of imagined reasons that border on paranoia and suspicion. Raising a discussion on this scale as an appeal for a 3-day ban seems a little counter-intuitive, no? It was the catalyst, but very very far from the reagent.

So, to those who do have any opinion whatsoever on the matter and have yet to come forward, I urge you to do so. We have a very real chance to take steps toward positive change - not just in the way that the rules are enforced, but for how we interact as a community, on a game that we have loved for a long time and wish to enjoy to its fullest potential. Let's open a dialogue, for good or ill, and look towards who we wish to be - not what we regret having been.

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