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Recent Events: Admin Trust
A story of why you should trust the GMs...

This is a true story, the names and details have been changed or omitted to protect those involved. Four players were involved in this story.

One is an admin-alt (Joe)

One is a current player (CP)

One is another current player (Chum)

One is a no longer with the game (Sam)

Sam, who OOCly did not trust Joe or the GMs, believed that there was a vendetta against him ICly and perhaps even OOCly. He believed that Joe had killed him and wanted him permed. Sam believed that after Joe had killed him, CP was sent (by Joe) to finish him off. Sam believed that Joe was abusing his IC power as an admin-alt and his OOC knowledge as a GM. Joe avoided the 'admin-alt perm rule', where alts are not allowed to perm or try to perm other players without the entire staff approving it, by sending CP to kill Sam. However, after CP killed Sam, another player named Chum cloned Sam from his corpse, and so Sam avoided getting permed.

Sam complained about this OOCly to the admin and he got the normal 'its IC' response. Sam then fled the city, fearing retribution from Joe the admin-alt. Sam spent time in San Mara, not having fun, because there is not a lot of RP in San Mara. Sam complained about this in an email to staff, and over xhelp. His character had been ruined by Joe, not ICly but OOCly. Joe was a foe he could never hope to beat, who had access to admin powers to supplement his already formidable stats. Sam was told that no wrong doing had happened. Sam was then prompted and pushed by the GMs to go back to the city, given an IC means to do so, so he would not have to continue to not have fun. When they got back to the city they continued to not have fun because they could not leave their apartment for fear of Joe killing them.

Sam spent time complaining to the GMs on xhelp and over e-mail. Sam also spoke with other players OOCly and told them how all this had happened and how it was unfair and biased and how the admin were not on the level (Editors Note: I was not privy to any of these conversations, but this is what I assume the gist of them was based on the various things I've heard).

Perceptions were changed about the admin because of this. Debates were held. OOC-Chats were had. More OOC conversation off-moo happened. More players started to get their hackles raised and started to see 'unfairness' happening. Why wouldn't they? An admin-alt had just tried to perm a player, skirting the rules by having ANOTHER player do the dirty work on his command, while keeping his own hands clean. Plausible deniability on Joe's part.

Unfairness abounded. Players that were involved with chatting with each other started to form an echo chamber of dissent and other players good times were effected by this. But, these were important conversations that needed to happen because admin-alts were basically cheating. They shouldn't trust the admin, because they had 100% undeniable proof. Forget the fact that one of the Head Admin had told Sam personally (after launching a time consuming investigation) that there was nothing afoul, that the RP was on the level, that Sam did not know what he did not know. Forget that the only thing the admin ask for in payment for playing the game is to follow the rules and trust that they aren't out to get you. That was obviously not the case.

Much back and forth with one of the Head Admin's happened, in which the Head Admin responded to lengthy e-mails with equally lengthy ones. Sam had done his best but could not change the opinion of the Head Admin with regards to the unfairness that admin were obviously exhibiting so he decided to quit.

Later, the Head Admin found out that Sam had been discussing a lot of things with other players OOCly in a manner that is completely against the rules. The Head Admin banned at least one player due to this and banned Sam as well, though since he had quit already, it was a preventative measure.

And that was the end... well, from that perspective anyway. Let's go back to the start of the story. The part where Joe sent CP to kill Sam so as to avoid the no-perm rule admin have to abide by.

I have personally reached out to CP and asked their permission to reveal the this: CP was not ordered by Joe to perm Sam. CP wanted Sam dead for their own reasons. CP, a -player-, wanted to perm another -player- and took advantage of an IC situation to make it happen. CP was being CPAF (Cyberpunk As Fuck).

Everything that happened after CP took that action was blamed on Joe both ICly and OOCly. Tons of anti-admin sentiment were raised. At least 12 hours of my time (let alone others) was wasted doing investigations, answering emails, writing BGBB posts in that recently 'hot' thread, speaking with players on OOC-Chat and other admin on our admin chat, and in writing this post. It is not an exaggeration to say that this has had a pretty negative effect on the game. Lost time, tainted RP, divisions in the player-base, loss of player trust in the GMs, OOC collusion and communication, banned players.

It all stemmed from the 100% certainty that the GMs were not acting fairly. Except... that is exactly what we were doing. We could not tell Sam what had really happened. We wanted to. We knew it would solve the problem. But there was no way to do that without revealing that CP had -wanted- to perm him. That is IC info. That is potentially game changing for both Sam and CP. That would be SO UNFAIR to tell Sam, just so he would stop distrusting the admin. It would be fighting BS with BS, in my opinion.

So, I hope the next time an admin says "it's ic" or "it's above board" or "you don't know what you don't know" or "you don't see everything that is happening or has happened" or even the slightly more meta "more going on there than you are aware of"-- you accept that our hands are tied, that there are things we cannot tell you, that you don't know, what you do not know. We can no more tell you what really happened OOCly than we could tell another player something you did OOCly.

It comes down to trust. Either you have it or you do not. If you find yourself unable to trust the staff of the game, it's time for you to move on to another game. We're sorry to see you go, but we can't do more than we already do to prove ourselves.

It was very hard for me to write this post because it feels like I am breaking our own rules by revealing even the little that was revealed in this post. However, revealing it now, en masse, to everyone is important. We now have a concrete example we can point to and say: this is why we have the rules we have, this is why you need to trust the admin and this is what happens when you don't.

Thank you all for reading!

Slither

Also important to note:

After the initial 'kill' Joe was not involved at any level in any RP, did not pursue Sam, did not hire anyone to go after Sam, did not even remember ICly that Sam existed.

Thank you for writing this. The plot twist of CP manipulating Sam's fear was... very badass.

I at one point had the perception that something IC was mishandled by staff OOCly and I wrote help@sindome.org. Linekin was very kind to not only answer, but to investigate, then answer again, putting my doubt to rest.

And that was it. Game on.

Personally, I don't doubt that most of what is perceived as unfair targeting or other misbehavior has a good explanation. I have noticed the amount of work and the complexity of the results. Easy to misread patterns.

If I had any complaints, it would be to ask for more tolerance of playing styles. Personally, for me the game is a vacation from a life already packed with work and nonstop activity. I prefer a more passive, relaxed play style. I provide ambiance and RP opportunities for others, but I am not really interested in busy, busy scene or lots of dialogue. This has brought me too much negative feedback and I am planning to retire my character over it. Next one will stay further in the background.

Having said that, I have already thanked the GM's for their work and I do so again. Not all of them have the same levels of people skills, but all of them have worked hard for me and I wish I could give more in return. Out simply, though, I am exhausted and so all I can do is say thanks.

this reminds me of my own particular case. I'm

Not going to name names. But I was stupid to fall for this sort of distrust. Which was really uncalled for. I want to apologize to all GM's and I thank them for letting me play again. But yed I have been st the end of this were I literally trusted others above the GM's and -that- was a serious mistake.

Having been on a few sides of issues like this. I can simply say I recommend turning off OOC-Chat, in some cases ripping your SIC, and getting back to the roots of why you like this game. From a back to basics perspective, it's easy to make it a game again (which is what it is, right?). You stop taking things so personally and worry less about "losing". You also can take this opportunity to make your own role about improving the game for other people rather than for just yourself...albeit, none of that is very cyberpunk. So...just make sure ICly you're a bad bad person.

So, I've never seen anyone in game, or on the bbs say something more important, and more true.

"Having been on a few sides of issues like this. I can simply say I recommend turning off OOC-Chat, in some cases ripping your SIC, and getting back to the roots of why you like this game. From a back to basics perspective, it's easy to make it a game again (which is what it is, right?). You stop taking things so personally and worry less about "losing"."

Mad Kudos Reef, I agree 500% Play the game, get in character, and love your charcter. I really wanted to continue with a rant about how I've seen ooc chat turn to sexual harassment, turn to people quitting, etc, etc, etc... but ya, I wont.

Good yo you Reef!

This is a good post. It's like learning how a tiny snowball becomes a giant avalanche. Or how, out of molehills, mountains are made.

Hey there. I feel like, with everything that has been going down, it's not hard to guess that I'm Sam. And I feel like an apology and explanation is on order.

Just to fill in gaps in the OP story as best I can... here's a brief rundown of things from my perspective.

I made my assumption off of a brief line exchanged between Joe and Sam on the way from point A to B, somewhere along the lines of "You don't have a clone, choose your last words carefully." So, when circumstances occurred as one would expect they would, I made what seemed to be a logical assumption, one I never actually questioned until I forgot it was even an assumption and it was rock-solid fact. This was a mistake.

After messing with Joe and CP and suffering the entirely legit consequences for messing with a powerful person, and the perming attempt (and kills made after that), while running to San Mara, I wasn't really mad. Sure, things may have smelled a little fishy in the details, but the admins have never failed to provide a good time in the past. I expected to get into some of the usual shenanigans while I thought my way out of my predicament.

Two weeks later I realized that finding fun in a roleplaying game by yourself is kind of hard, and failed to do so. I was mildly Phanny Flustered because it felt like Joe had forced me into this situation, but sighed and resigned myself to grinding up money until I felt like I had enough to get out of the situation safely.

Two weeks after that, I've gradually climbed up the buttmad scale all the way to a moderate Booty Blasted. It's about this time I reach out to the one of my two OOC SD contacts (the one who has IC knowledge of the situation) and complain, asking if they're feeling like this is a load of malarkey as much as I do. They confirm that the situation seems like a load of horse manure, and... start telling other people who have reservations about Joe and his player, who then share their own personal tales of his nonsense. It's about this time I learn of the rule about admin alts not being allowed to perm without consulting other admins, I imagine some dots to connect, and fly all the way to Applebottom Annihilated on the buttmad scale. I write a whiny email, I don't find the explanation I'm looking for in it, and then of course join in on the self-perpetuating OOC whining rabble described above, finding myself trusting oldbies that I don't know telling Boogeyman stories about Joe and his player more than I trust the admins I'd placed my faith in (and found it consistently well-placed) for over a year.

Fast forward to now and apparently I've really hurt and divided the community I love trying to affect change and fight corruption that didn't need to happen and didn't actually exist. And I really just can't apologize enough.

I'm sorry for doubting the staff, and would like to personally apologize to Joe for letting shit-slinging on XOOC color my perception of them before I even got a chance to see them work for myself.

It seems like I've really just made a horrible mess of a lot of things based on a single incorrect foregone conclusion.

So, I'm sorry, guys. Hopefully I'll be able to give this a try again in the future with a less suspicious attitude when this ban finishes it's term.

However long that term actually is. I don't know.

It's too bad about Sam because it sounds like they made an aces escape from CP.

I agree the game is more fun without ooc communication. I like using xooc but, I've spent plenty of time without the green text too. Like Fengshui said in an xooc comment, "What do we have in common if we meet here? Sindome." So, the chances of then discussing SD with an OOC contact are very high. In the end, it's still just a game.

It is things like this that make me want to reap all players every once in a while.

As a long time table top gamer, and the one to usually be the dungeon master, I thought I would throw in my quick 2 cents. As a player in a campaign, trust is must. This trust is not so much a matter of that game master not cheating, not lying about dice rolls, these are things a good GM will know when to do, and when not to. Sometimes it is necessary to fudge a roll here and there, to ensure that the players, and the game remain entertained and entertaining. The trust in the GM is that he will craft a tale that is intriguing, and that he will ensure that tensions are high, and the players have rewarding game play. As far as I am concerned, I could care less if each NPC in the game were max stats and skills, as long as the GM's of the game know how and when they should succeed, and when they should fail. I have full faith in the GM's of Sindome, faith that they are here of their own free will in an attempt to craft a meaningful world for each one of us to participate in. Try not to get too caught up NPC's and their stats, just sit back, relax, and know that the Staff of Sindome are going to use the tools at their disposal to bring this world to life and craft meaningful stories for everyone.

Amen to that, mindkontrol.

To contrast:

Two things I fucking fucking LOVE about Sindome which I CAN NOT GET from a tabletop game is the mystery, as well as the PVP.

Sindome's @rule 1 of not-metagaming is what makes the entire game possible. Sam and his or her OOC clique jabbering on Skype or however they did it OOCly outside the MOO broke the game for them, and then they had to ruin it for everyone else too by disrupting OOC-Chat.

Get over yourselves and appreciate your admins. If one of us WANTED to metagame so they could "win" over you, they couldn't get away with it, because the rest of the admins would catch them and hold them responsible. Nobody GMs Sindome in order to stroke their own PC alt. Everyone who GMs Sindome or does any of the other admin jobs does it so that you can have the game.

I hope that the other OOC chatterboxes have also been banned, and not just Sam. This is the second time in something less than two years that this has happened - OOC echo chambers of a small clique of un-fun people resulting in game-wide disruptions and lengthy, even permanent, bans. This shit sucks pus and needs to not ever happen. It's @rule 1. Look it up.

This is about to be long. I just felt I wanted to add my own perspective on this situation, since this has become a serious concern lately apparently.

I will preface by saying, I don’t talk to people OOC’ly, not Skype, not Steam, with the rare exception emails exchanged over art commissions that I haven’t had the time to do (to the one person this relates to: sorry about that I swear to god I’ll get to it..) Regardless of this fact, I notice issues with my RP where I am left questioning how in hell X makes sense, and am quite guilty of hand wringing wondering if I pissed someone off. It's only normal.

But after I have some time to chill out, I personally do not believe anyone’s deliberately being spiteful, or hateful, or anything of the sort. Misunderstanding some things maybe, sure. Pissed about something in general and having a shitty day maybe, could be that too.

I sequester myself from engaging in OOC conversations about the games I play, actively and deliberately. I do it for myself. I do it because of the reasons I’m about to cover off.

This is not me telling you that you have to do this, it’s not up to me to tell anyone to do anything. This is simply, my explanation as to why I do and why I can understand that it’s a rule. Albeit an extremely difficult to enforce rule, but the intention is fairly self-evident.

NPC responses, admin responses and held perceptions, without the ability to gauge the causes for them, can easily create animosity. But SD staff have expressed, repeatedly, the current limitations of the GM community. Calling for ‘temp GM’s’, Slither is posting breakdowns of how much work is actually going on, etc.

I typically deal with my OOC frustration levels / tiredness / general not feeling game-ready by limiting my RP and breaking it into segments that I can manage it without getting a headache, and also just not bothering the NPC’s (aka the staff) very much. Because I truthfully do not think they have the resources right now to effectively handle the volume of pressure they’re obviously under to make everyone's plots and RP run smoothly.

That all being said..

I work at a marketing agency so I’ll give my perspective from the standpoint of marketing/consumer psychology. I felt I may as well offer an analytical approach rather than just stating my opinion. Certainly don’t bother reading this if these things bore you to tears, or skip to the analogy or the TLDR at the end, but I feel like there is a case study to be had here. So, I felt I may as well jot it all down, just to give another view point.

So this is some general preface information first:

Attribution bias - The innate tendency to attribute the behavior of others to internal characteristics and our own behavior to environmental or external causes.

In marketing this is challenging because what happens is, a company does ten things right and one thing goes wrong which leads to people talking about just that one thing, assigning a blanket of blame, negatively impacting the entire brand. (See: Echo chamber of dissent)

Practical Example:

Joe cuts you off in traffic.

(What a dick. He’s drunk. He’s an idiot. Reckless. Irresponsible. Fuck that guy.)

Few people are going to consider external factors. Is Joe racing to his pregnant wife? Is a family member injured and needs help right now? It’s just not what you gravitate towards thinking of. Issue being that you -can’t know- the external factors and you are -not- psychologically wired to weight them with any significance. The brain also doesn't like dealing with information gaps, so it happily inserts whatever fits to make a cohesive story.

Anchoring effect - The tendency for people to be influenced by the first data point they encounter (e.g., price/response/negative/positive) and how it “anchors” they way the interpret subsequent information.

From a marketing standpoint it can be a useful thing, you put a big giant price tag and slash it with a much smaller tag underneath it (see Groupon/Walmart) and it ‘anchors’ peoples mindset to see the prices as ‘reduced’ and ‘favorable’

It can also be a bad thing when you are dealing with negative remarks or poorly presented information. If the first time you reach out to people OOCly you encounter an angry mob, that’s going to affect your perspective without extremely vigilant self-regulating practices, like it or not.

Confirmation bias - The tendency for people to seek information which fits the conceptions they already feel are true.

This is a big one, it’s a major challenge in science when trying to preform research. It’s also why double blind studies are valued so highly, because the double blind type helps prevent placebo effects and influence, while also helping to protect the researcher from being affected by his or her internal desire to prove a hypothesis correct.

Basically, if you have formed a shitty opinion on something, it’s very natural for you to seek out proof you’re right, while subsequently ignoring evidence or potential evidence that you’re not right. (Again, see: Echo chambers of dissent)

My analogy for this whole situation and why I personally avoid talking about SD OOCly:

Suppose you go to an Applebee’s fairly often. The food is always good. You enjoy it. It’s not a five star restaurant but you always have a nice time. You don’t expect creme brûlée and foie gras, it’s an Applebee’s, you know what you signed up for and it’s exactly what you’d expect.

One day, your buddy Steve goes there and Dan the waiter fucks his order all up. Steve tries to manage his shit without being too frustrated at first but he’s hungry and Dan is not being very helpful. Managers get involved. Steve ends up pissed anyway because he feels like he got cheated out a nice afternoon lunch by other peoples incompetence. Storms out telling everyone this Applebee’s is bullshit the waiters are all useless, the manager was rude, fuck that place.

Now you hear this from Steve and even if you don’t mean for it to happen, your perception of the Applebee’s is very likely suddenly affected. It’s always been good, but man they really fucked Steve’s day up and you know Steve really well. You don’t know Dan the waiter or Jake the manager so why would you give them the benefit of the doubt?

The next time you go to Applebee’s (if you do even go) there is now an increased likelihood you will ‘notice’ the flaws which you didn’t see before. (Man this bathroom is pretty dirty maybe they really don’t care after all. Service does actually seem pretty slow. My portions do seem kind of small, they skimp on the dressing a lot too.. I think this fork looks dirty)

You scan some reviews when you get home and see others have expressed Steve’s feelings. It's not hard to find negative reviews and you're looking to confirm them, not defend the Applebee's, why would you? So you find yourself wading through a shitload of people's comments on how much that Applebee's sucks. Confirming your concerns and you probably now like that Applebee’s a whole lot less and maybe decide to go to Chipolte instead.

Flipped around:

That Applebee’s is actually really good, it always has been. It’s so good in fact, that the business has blown up too fast for the current staff to manage it very well.

Dan the waiter is doing double shifts because they don’t have enough employees. Several have left, being burned out or just simply are not able to do enough.

Jake the manager is frustrated AF because he’s having to field all these complaints being created by the underlying issue, while trying to hire more people to manage the whole operation, on top of everything else he does normally.

Everyone working there also has their own lives, problems, issues and other such factors coming into play. Julie the janitor’s mortgage is overdue and her mom is sick. Ted the dishwasher just found out he has a serious illness and has to work in order to afford treatment. Tammy the cook is in an abusive relationship, she’s losing sleep and she’s distracted. Everyone is overworked and underpaid and no ones purposefully fucking your taco salad up.

TLDR:

OOCly being pissed happens. Staff being pissed happens. Bleed-out happens. Staff will screw up sometimes, especially when they are undermanned and over worked. Staff are human. Trust is important. If shit feels wrong anyway, noting it clearly is helpful. Pointing it out politely is helpful. Try to have a little patience. Failing that, consider taking a break or at least stepping back from any serious RP so you can look at the whole situation with a cool head before getting pissed off.

We’re a community of people here and we’re not our (asshole) characters. I hope this resolves because despite any misgivings I’ve ever had, I’ve played for over two years now and SD continues to be a really fun game for me, so long as I keep my mindset away from fretfully scrutinizing what may be off-camera until my eyes-cross.

*drops her microphone and goes to work feeling better for having gotten that out of her system*

I've said this before in other threads, but I feel like it bears repeating.

Arguing that there is instutional cheating requires two things to be true:

Number 1: That the individual volunteer staff do not share a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of their own characters in a world they have succeeded in because of it's integrity.

and

Number 2: That Johnny is turning a blind eye to the integrity of the MOO itself and his staff. I find this not just unlikely, but insulting, and I can see why Jinx gets pissed and wants to reap everyone. It's unfair in ways that should make you ashamed to even suggest it.

I think the argument fails to stand up under even the most cursory of inspection, regardless of what the circumstantial evidence suggests, and the whole thing has been an ugly witch hunt from the start. Put away your pitch forks and go back to RP. This is a waste of our good admin's time.

Thanks Wildgiller, that was a really interesting post to read. I appreciate you taking the time to write out your thoughts on all of that with us.

In fact, I appreciate all the responses this thread had received and really think we have all learned at least one valuable lesson.

Thanks everyone!

-- S