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[Major] Rules & Policy Updates
Please read this and make sure you understand it!

Hey Folks -

Some rather large changes I'd like to update you on. First, some rules changes.

Earlier today the staff voted on the removal of the following from our @rules:

----------------------

2.G. Admin Harassment

Administrators are not to be abused, accused or harassed on-MOO or off-MOO

[email protected] is for making respectful complaints about personal problems

with specific admins or engaging in long-form communication at the request

of a specific admin. Bans will be levied against anyone that breaks these

rules.

2.H. Community Harm

Don't be a dick. Occasionally, a player's dickishness becomes so serious

that it impacts the entire game, even if they are avoiding the specifics

of other stated rules. If a player cannot de-escalate misbehavior after

repeated communications with admins, they will be removed from the game

for an extended (and exponential) period of time.

-----------------------

We decided that we needed to remove 2.G because we want everyone in our community to feel safe in raising concerns with our staff, and not worry that they are going to be punished for disagreeing with an admin.

2.H was removed because we have decided it was too broad and open to interpretation.

We are currently drafting new language around for dealing with situations where an admin feels harassed or where the staff feels someone is harming the community through the IC or OOC actions. This language is still being revised and I will make a new post when we have ratified it.

Feedback

As many of you know, both on here and on Reddit there it a lot of debate about Cerberus. I've stated on many, many, occasions that I almost never disagree with what Cerberus is trying to say, only with how he is saying it. I think delivery is very important, especially in text, as it's so easy to assume tone that doesn't exist, or isn't intended.

I've talked with Cerberus about this many times, and he has improved dramatically in the last couple of years, but even after all that, he is still a lightning rod when it comes to criticism of Sindome.

Some of the criticism is fair, and we appreciate those of you who took the time to write out your thoughts and feedback constructively. It's obvious to us that Sindome means a lot to you, and it means a lot to us too.

Some of the feedback however, is made by people who Cerberus dealt with before he took feedback on how he says things to heart. I think the fair criticisms are just that, fair. I think the criticism by former players who are most likely banned, or former staffers who didn't like Cerberus because he was the only one around to tell them 'No' most of the time, does more harm than good for our community.

In the end though, Cerberus and I are quite tired of having to defend Sindome on Reddit, and on the BGBB. Everyone on the staff would rather be seeing feedback about game mechanics, and changes we might make to the code or theme to improve the game, and not be dealing with criticism we can't even verify is coming from real players, and often times suspect is just former players trolling us.

If you've read any of the Reddit threads you know what I mean. There are people on there (and on the BGBB) with legit criticisms of Cerberus, but even if they are the original poster of a thread, the thread is quickly hijacked by people who just wanna spend an afternoon hating on Cerberus for being a jerk, or playing a character, or being good at Sindome, or whatever else.

I can only speak for me, but I am pretty sure what I'm going to say goes for every admin, especially the Senior ones. Criticism of Sindome, the game, or the community, truly and deeply affects me. Criticism is hard to take, but when it's constructive, it's useful. It can prompt new ideas or new changes or policies or updates to code or lore or what have you.

Having to endure endless posts and xhelps and Reddit threads about how mean Cerberus is, a guy who devotes a large part of his life to this game, is fucking stressful. Cerberus is not perfect, as I've already said. And his way of talking to people, while much improved, still irks enough people that him and I both agree it's just not worth it anymore.

So he isn't going to engage with players on OOC-Chat, the BGBB, xhelp, or @shout anymore. Those things will now be done by other admin. Hopefully spreading out this burden will alleviate some of the problems we commonly hear about. Disciplinary/rule breaking issues that require we talk with players will be handled primarily by me, with support from other Senior Admin. And as always, any disciplinary actions (temp and perm bans for example) will continue to be voted on by the staff.

The downside is that one of the most active senior admin will not longer be doing this heavy lifting. It's unfair of us to continue to ask him to fill a role he is vilified for filling. This also means I will be spending less time coding, and anyone who we suspect has broken the rules, or needs to be spoken with by a senior admin will be spending more time in the $void until such time as I am available. My apologies in advance, but I am not a GM anymore. I don't know the day to day of what is going on, and thus, when issues arise it's going to involve a lot more questions & answers from players involved, for me to get up to speed on a situation. This will also slow down the entire process of getting whatever has happened, squared away.

In the end, we get it, we heard the feedback, we internalized it, and it's become clear that this is how we need to do things, because it's just going to cause less issues and less stress on our end. It sucks for the staff who individually now have more work to do, and it sucks for anyone who has to sit in the $void for half a day while they wait for me to have time to sign in and figure out whatever issue has cropped up, but we simply do not want to deal with all the negative criticism about someone who, regardless of what some people think, is doing the best they can.

I hope this post while far from concise, has been clear, and that after reading it, everyone has a good understanding of these changes. If you have questions, please feel free to respond with them.

-- S

I'm so annoyed that people have forced Cerberus to close himself out from communicating with the community, it will isolate him from us in the end and it will exacerbate the issue of "us vs. him" when it comes to him. People are just upset because he doesn't let people get their way and they take it out on him. Granted I've not always liked Cerberus, he has been a dick to me at least once but I have let it go because I know how stressful a job like his job can be and how he has tried so hard to improve, and because in hindsight his intentions were not ill, despite his shabby delivery. This has improved greatly in the past and I don't think that enough people are acknowledging it.

This guy gives more effort than most people in the entire community, let alone staffers, and he is forced to retreat into the shadows like some kind of outcast. I know there are staffers who work behind the curtains but I am sure that they didn't step in that role because they were incessantly influenced into it, not because they actually wanted to take that role by their own volition. Even as someone who is a stranger to most of the context that led to this, I can tell that some of the involved parties are suffering from bleed. (help bleed)

That being said, I know you guys agreed to this for the health of the game (And your own health too), and it might be the best decision among a line of not-so-optimal decisions. So let's see how it pans out.

Will there be a time limit on being kept in the void if a suspected rule brake happens?
Will there be a time limit on being kept in the void if a suspected rule brake happens?
I agree. I was just sitting here thinking, "if he's more cut off, that's going to make it seem like a punishment to him". It's a layered situation for sure but I actually think -more- social interaction is better to remedy, not less.
No blanket limit on how long you'll sit in the $void unfortunately. We'd shoot to get things resolved within the same day, but I can realistically see situations where you have to wait over a weekend where all the senior staff are unavailable.
Huh. Now this is a dramatic change if any. Let's hope it turns out to do more good than bad, and if the latter, hopefully there'll be a way to make it better.

I understand the reasoning behind it, however, you've explained it very well, @Slither. Not just for the community's sake, but possibly making it easier for Cerberus as well.

Last night, after I made the comment about passive aggression, I was banned by Cerberus after a half hour argument for a week. Today, I logged in and was shocked to find the ban was lifted, and an email was sent to me apologizing and informing me of recent policy changes. I've been a pretty vocal critic on these boards on things from mechanics to tone from certain staff. I want to say I think the system worked this time, and I've had a lot of my faith renewed, where I was growing quite cynical. I don't get the impression it was damage control, and I think this was an impressive move for the better for the entire player base. Words are just words until they're backed up by actions, and seeing real policy changes enacted was something I didn't expect. I'm willing to give my benefit of the doubt moving forward, and I'd really like to see this be a positive turning point for the game.
I am new here and have only been playing for a couple of months. I do not have any direct experiences with Cerberus, or his characters, to my knowledge.

Having said that, I have been accused of similar behaviors that I see Cerberus being accused of. Specifically, on numerous occasions I have come across as more harsh than I intended to. I have also been told while although I might be "right" or have the best intentions, that my delivery of style of interacting with others makes it "impossible" for them to see past HOW I am saying things, and actually hear / absorb what I am trying to say.

A few years ago, it was too the point where I almost got fired from my job because multiple clients refused to work with me, and explicitly asked that I not be involved with their account, or participate on calls with them. The only reason that I still have my job is because my skill set made me invaluable, and the company could not easily replace me.

I make all of these points because I emphasize with Cerberus, the position that Slither is in, and the challenges of communicating professionally.

In my own life, I had to adopt the belief that EVERYONE is doing the best that they can. Often times, my expectations of what they "should" be capable of doing, do not necessarily align with their capabilities, or inclinations. When dealing with people in any sort of a way that involves criticism or rejection of their actions, I've found that the less time I focus on what they have done wrong, and the more time I spend getting them to focus on and acknowledge the "correct" way of doing things, the less friction the conversation has.

When trying to educate and modify behavior, whether it is a player on a game, or an employee on a team, the more time spent on the "future state" of how you want things to be, the better. Spend as little time as possible on what is / was "wrong". There is an old adage, "Whatever you resist, persists." When you focus on what went wrong, you just amplify it. When you redirect to the desired state, and explain how to get there, and how things will be once that state is achieved, then you move people beyond the instinctive "defensive" responses to having to defend themselves / justify their actions.

Anyway, I have rambled enough. I hope that there are some tibdits of knowledge to be gleaned from it.

@Hek Thanks for the response. I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge the difficulty of the situations, and I'm glad you seem to have found a strategy to deal with it in your own life. I've got to say, I completely agree with the approach of focusing on a future state, and while I haven't ever heard it articulated before, I think it's something I employ when talking to players on the game. Now that I know it's a real thing I think I will research it! And also be more aware of it in my own interactions with people.
I'm just going to +1 to Ephemeralis. I fully agree and I don't want Cerb to be cut out, that promotes divide while what we need is better conversation. My past interactions with all GM's have been amazing so I can't complain at all, just really productive and respectful.
Cerberus is not being cut out, he is just going to leave talking to players and enforcing the rules to the other admin. It's something he was the -primary- person for. Which means that just about every admin policy, game rule, theme correction, rules enforcement, etc. was presented to the player and the community, by him. So other admin will be doing that now.
I feel like this has been done before. While I don't necessarily agree with this, I don't disagree either. I'm seeing many new players post and it's possible y'all don't understand how long this has been going on. Cerb has had to endure years of this. It speaks to his dedication to this game the amount of bullshit he's had to deal with directed straight at him. That can wear you down after a while, especially if it's negatively impacting something you love. I think Slither is much better equipped to be a PR guy, it's just a shame that reaction time is gonna be punched in the face by this. And while I'm not really happy about Cerb being completely cut out of talking to players, I can acknowledge that if it was not absolute he'd probably just be dragged into the same position again over time and the same issues would come back up. Like I said, pretty sure something like this has been done before.
I want to be clear here, this was something Cerb and me and Johnny agreed to do. Cerb doesn't want to deal with being the bad guy anymore. He did it because Johnny and I are typically not on the game as much as he is, and while I'm almost always available, I'm not always online to make the corrections and have conversations that need to happen on a day to day basis to keep the game running the way we want it to be.
I think it's great that steps are still being taken to address a persistent issue. When Cerberus apologized originally and said he'd be better, I came back. This decision makes me glad I stayed. It shows flexibility and maturity.