How To Treat Your Players Right



  • In some other thread, in the middle of much memeage, there was this:

    @mietze said in Intersectional MU* Community (Interest Check):

    While we are on the subject, I'd also like to say that I have seen more gross creepy behavior on mushes that loudly proclaim how much they are above rapey stats and how much they look down on play involving themthan I have on open season ones. Maybe it's because if you already shame folks it makes those experiencing bad things around those subjects less willing to come forward? IME predatory behavior often thrives where there is an incentive to keep things very very secret due to shaming.

    Though I have been very happy on the game I currently play, and am reasonably sure if someone were to be receiving very bad ooc behavior from a play partner they'd engages in iffy/unsanctioned but private play with, they would be listened to.

    This is worth discussing.


  • Pitcrew

    @Thenomain @mietze
    I replied in the other thread so I'll reply here again, more or less.

    Making players feel safe about coming forward against creepers and bad actors is imperative. Even if they consented to RPing taboo things with said player. Consent can be withdrawn and when these things are not respected they should be reported. This is part of why I went on a rant about it in the other thread, people should not be shamed for their (CONSENSUAL) TS, even if it's on our squick list.

    Is Sally comes to me as staff she should feel comfortable to say 'Yeah we agreed to play kidnapping scat fetish with non consent elements but then he got marshmallows involved and i didnt want to continue and now he is harassing me.' and staff should be able to go 'Yo, dude, knock it off, or you are banned.' and if they continue (or there is enough evidence that really there is no conversation needed) then you kick them off.

    However Sally should also be able to say 'Hey, I consented to some stuff and now he's taking it too far and wont leave me alone and wont respect my wishes' without details and STILL GET HEARD AND TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

    Also please log things.



  • @Wretched

    There was a time when I was headstaffing The Reach when someone told me that people he knew were being severely harassed. I asked him to let them know to come to me and none of them would.

    I felt like shit about it. I would've taken the slightest clue, the least amount of information, and maybe I should have on pure rumor alone but it's hard to come to someone and say, "I hear you're being a dick to some people." Because if I'm asked what I mean, I couldn't say. In retrospect I could've ended with "I have my eye on you", but I was too desperate to give this ass the boot.

    Hell, @EmmahSue and I came up with a pretty conclusive list of what we would do, but it wasn't enough. We weren't enough. We didn't have the time to be there all the time, and so we had to trust our staff.

    And if you, the reader, didn't already know, most Reach staff wasn't trustworthy.

    I still feel like shit about it because I've always believed that if you don't treat your good players well, if you don't foster trust, you will never get it or them back.


  • Pitcrew

    @Thenomain It is not easy, and I still dread the next complaint that comes in, because i will always question my decisions when I am in a position of power like that.

    When we banned Henry/Jingshen/Whatever million alts, I had players crawling out of the woodwork paging and thanking me that I was overwhelmed, and my first reaction is OMG PLEASE JUST REPORT THESE PEOPLE, but i can also now see why some people are gunshy, staffers are people too, and whether true or not, not everyone trusts staffers. I mean I am not always the easiest person to talk to when i have a bee in my bonnet either, but it is something I am trying to work on.

    Related story time: As we are going through all of the old newsfiles from TR and FC for Miami, we noticed a lot of aggression in tone in the news and rules files. So many of them were written (I presume) immediately after someone fucked up.
    We ddint wanna make this rule but now we have to so blah blah stop pressing your buttholes to the glass you asshole sphinx cat wannabies!.
    And that might be a small contributor to the problem, and it was even pointed out to me as I was writing things by other staffers. Sometimes we let our exasperations shine through when writing rules that have become necessary. What this can do is immediately put people on the defensive, especially when it comes to sensitive things like TS. OMG IF YOU HAVE THIS KINDA TS AND STAFF HAS TO DEAL WIT H IT, U R BANNED Which doesn't help. Consent is consent. Don't shame people for consenting, shame people for not respecting consent.

    I will probably not hit the nail on the head here all the time, but I will try to. I think those of us making genuine efforts to make our games safe places, where we respect one another, that people will be able to tell the difference between that and people who are genuinely abusive.

    And to be clear, as many times as you and i have been at odds, or miscommunicate, I've always found you to be one of the most genuinely helpful people in this hobby. I consider you a friend and would never judge your intentions to be malicious. Mad <3 for you.

    So, people who have dealt with harassment and haven't wanted to speak to staff, for fear of favortism or nothing being done, or being outed... what can change to make you more comfortable reporting harassment? How can the community change, both on staff and player levels?


  • Pitcrew

    I agree that predatory and abusive behavior best thrives in cultures & atmospheres of shame attached to sexual activity and thoughts. Conversely, I also think that Staff has to set certain restrictions to ensure the safety, privacy, and continued operation of the game; such as 'no illegal pictures/materials', and 'no TS involving characters under the Age of Consent'.

    Also, I think sometimes Staff can set up a culture of shaming without directly intending to, simply through how they present their policy on TS. 'We don't allow TS on this game' has the same policy but is less aggressive/shaming than THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO TS ON THIS GAME!!!, which is how I've seen a lot of games phrase their policy.



  • I would advocate for some ability to allow people to put in complaints of this nature anonymously, and staff with the wherewithal to act on anonymous complaints to the fullest extent possible.


  • Pitcrew

    @Tinuviel I was thinking that having a semi-Staff position of 'Player Representative' or 'Player Ombudsman', where a player is selected by the player base to help represent them in interactions with Staff in regards to complaints about Staff, would be a good idea. But then, I started thinking about how the position could be abused/gamed by someone aligned with a bad actor on Staff or just a straight up creeper.

    Ultimately, it has to come down to a trusting relationship between Staff and Players. It's hard to establish and easy to break.

    The anonymous reporting sounds like a good idea, but imagine what it would turn into in the hands of a toxic player. Think of how it could augment the whisper campaigns of Persons Who Shall Not Be Named, But We All Know Who We're Talking About.



  • @Runescryer said in How To Treat Your Players Right:

    The anonymous reporting sounds like a good idea, but imagine what it would turn into in the hands of a toxic player. Think of how it could augment the whisper campaigns of Persons Who Shall Not Be Named, But We All Know Who We're Talking About.

    I would rather err on the side of making things easier for complainants. It would still be up to staff to investigate the accusations.


  • Pitcrew

    @Tinuviel I think a single-blind drop-box kind of reporting system works, because then the victim/harrassed party isn't going to be prompted by staff for an inconvenient and uncomfortable conversation, but that also would likely mean a curtailing of evidence on their side. Perhaps anonymity is optional but the dropbox system can be instructed with a set of links to logs and whatnot.


  • Pitcrew

    @deadculture The Complaint Job bucket on FC was only visible by Headstaff.


  • Pitcrew

    @Wretched Can you detail Fallcoast's procedure for handling complaints?


  • Pitcrew

    @deadculture

    I can tell you that the time I put a complaint in on Fallcoast about Spider, the first thing staff did was go to her with details of who complained, what I said, and much of it was promptly used in her whisper campaign against me.


  • Pitcrew

    @deadculture Honestly? if there was a complaint, Liz or i took it responded to the player, asked for logs and then took action.

    Or at least that is/was the idea.

    In the case of Henry it did, in another case multiple staffers ragequit after we told them to stop the CoI a player complained about. I'm not sure we had an actual structure, it wasn't something I was really interested in when i first started staffing there.'

    I know that I hit burnout once and came back to a complaint over a month+ old and i felt really bad about that.

    Building a game from scratch now, one that I am going to be solely (Co-Solely?) responsible for, i really want to do better and have some better and concrete policy going forward.

    One thing I have harped about before and will again is logs and documentation. Even if you 'think you are overreacting' take notes. You can even approach saying "i think i might be overreacting but, this is what happened', and staff should be able to look at that and have a genuine nuanced conversation. But the reason i really like logs and documentation is because I don't know any staffer that feels good about banning somone over he said she said. However, lack of direct proof should not be a reason to be silent either.

    @Sunny I was not aware of this but i wasnt headstaff until long after she was banned.


  • Pitcrew

    @Sunny Then in that case, there's a severe flaw in the reporting method. You never, ever, bring up the person who made the complaint up with the person being investigated. Also, the log itself should count as proof that said behavior happened, and at the very least disciplinary action must be taken.

    @Wretched You will want to set up a series of procedures to investigate the complaint's contents without compromising the person complaining. You will also want to make sure you have as much evidence to go with at first blush as possible. And you will also want to be decisive in taking disciplinary action. Not 'maybe not now, we'll get them later' or devil's advocacy. Immediately. If they are doing something shitty that undermines the social contract between players and the game, at the very least they need to be pulled aside and told sternly it isn't going to fly, and the slightest sign that the behavior hasn't improved needs to be followed by an immediate ban.



  • @deadculture said in How To Treat Your Players Right:

    Also, the log itself should count as proof that said behavior happened

    Unfortunately editing logs is exceedingly simple. It can count as evidence, sure, but not proof.


  • Pitcrew

    @Tinuviel A fair point. What I do is ask for a screenshot of the offense with a timestamp. Most clients give you one if you hover over the corner of the scroll.


  • Pitcrew

    @Wretched

    OK? It happened.

    The "blind" / anonymous method only works as far as you can trust staff. If you can trust staff, you don't need to be anonymous. If you can't, there is absolutely no reason to trust that they're actually keeping things confidential like they say they are (guess what? if they aren't trustworthy people, they aren't). The code systems used are pitifully easy to get around with no way to tell if they've been accessed.

    @deadculture
    Nah, there was just a problem with the staff on that game; they couldn't be trusted. No reporting system is worth more than the people running it. There's no one-size fits all answer.

    I caution the log thing though, man, I really really do. I know of at least one person that was banned from a game, come to find out later that the four matching logs vs his one...the four were doctored. It was fabricated and ugly, and as @Tinuviel says, they are trivially easy to doctor, as are screencaps.


  • Pitcrew

    @Sunny said in How To Treat Your Players Right:

    @Wretched

    OK? It happened.

    The "blind" / anonymous method only works as far as you can trust staff. If you can trust staff, you don't need to be anonymous. If you can't, there is absolutely no reason to trust that they're actually keeping things confidential like they say they are (guess what? if they aren't trustworthy people, they aren't). The code systems used are pitifully easy to get around with no way to tell if they've been accessed.

    @Sunny I hadn't meant to imply that it did not, only that it was news to me. Apologies if it sounded that way. I wish I could say i was surprised, but as we all know, there are no more things to be surprised about, I can even guess staffers that would have shared it.

    As for the rest of your statement, I agree, staffers need to be trustworthy, and if they aren't, then hopefully they arent the headstaff and can be removed. If they are the headstaff, then prolly not a game to be part of.



  • The only real way to unequivocally "prove" that an interaction occurred is to log everything server-side and have someone go through it all. Then that becomes a freedom vs security debate, which is older than time.


  • Pitcrew

    @Tinuviel There's another way, actually, depending on the platform. But that's being needlessly pedantic when you have a great point.


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