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Hostile SIC Puppets
Nothing real to respond to

While I recognize the desire to 'flesh out' SIC to give a better sense of population, and while I know this is sometimes a tool for enforcing theme, there's a few reasons I am not a fan of these, and think their use to direct hostile comments at players should be moderated more than it is.

1. There's nothing to respond to. The puppet only exists on SIC and will vanish with time. Much as players are discouraged from creating uninteractable characters with their spoofs that other players can't respond to, I think these often create situations where a player might want to respond, but can't.

2. There's no 'character' behind it. No NPC that you may have history with, or know how to gauge their importance or relevance to your character by. In effect it feels like comments directly from the staff (which it is, really) which is fine when it's theme enforcement, but doesn't foster a lot of good feeling when they're just pejorative.

My impression is there's a whole system in place for SIC chatter to make it easier than puppeting characters, and I think it adds a lot of atmosphere when it comes to events and keeping everyone clued-in to the basics of what's going on elsewhere, but if I get this comment on SIC:

Rando: >> No one likes you 0x1mm, fuck you!

And I can see it's coming from a SIC puppet, how is anyone to interpret this without a real character behind it to add context... except as being direct commentary from the staff?

If I get the same from my NPC boss, or some allied faction, or an enemy faction, or someone from a group I can disregard, then it's easy to contextualize that as being IC, but I think the anonymity of the current system really works against that.

My suggestion is if staff want to use this sort of tool to guide or influence players, they should use actual NPCs for it, and leave the SIC puppets for background chatter.

I like these because they usually say critical things of people and their actions that if I were to say the same thing, I would die and they would just brush the criticism off as shittalk.
"1. There's nothing to respond to. The puppet only exists on SIC and will vanish with time. Much as players are discouraged from creating uninteractable characters with their spoofs that other players can't respond to, I think these often create situations where a player might want to respond, but can't."

If a player wants to respond, they can investigate and in many cases, will find something. Just today a funny SIC interaction turned into a plot when several people started asking questions about someone being mentioned on the SIC.

"2. There's no 'character' behind it. No NPC that you may have history with, or know how to gauge their importance or relevance to your character by. In effect it feels like comments directly from the staff (which it is, really) which is fine when it's theme enforcement, but doesn't foster a lot of good feeling when they're just pejorative."

All comments from NPCs are coming directly from staff, that doesn't make them not IC. The SIC should be alive with random shit being said all the time the only reason it isn't is because staff doesn't have the time and it is hard to script it out and make it not repetitive via code.

Also, many times people think something is an NPC it is actually one or more PCs. Keep that in mind.

"My impression is there's a whole system in place for SIC chatter to make it easier than puppeting characters, and I think it adds a lot of atmosphere when it comes to events and keeping everyone clued-in to the basics of what's going on elsewhere, but if I get this comment on SIC:

Rando: >> No one likes you 0x1mm, fuck you!

And I can see it's coming from a SIC puppet, how is anyone to interpret this without a real character behind it to add context... except as being direct commentary from the staff?"

How do you know it is staff? Maybe another player is fucking with you. I used to pay immies (as a PC) to fuck with people I didn't like. Psychological warfare.

"If I get the same from my NPC boss, or some allied faction, or an enemy faction, or someone from a group I can disregard, then it's easy to contextualize that as being IC, but I think the anonymity of the current system really works against that."

I think you are reading too much into interactions and thinking there is a subtle message that isn't there, at least not from the staff side.

"My suggestion is if staff want to use this sort of tool to guide or influence players, they should use actual NPCs for it, and leave the SIC puppets for background chatter."

Thanks for the feedback. We use SIC to build ambiance, make folx aware of goings-on, and to seed or flesh out plots. We'll continue to do that.

I tend to use them as a gauge for public reaction which (I hope) is mildly reflective of Corporate stock price movement. Though with the obvious caveat that the actual group influencing that is very small (specifically investors) and not every SIC puppet will be reflective of that group. It's still a somewhat useful PR tool or also simply one for social signalling as to whether someone can expect social rejection of certain actions of behaviors and how much.
"There's nothing to respond to"

Well who would have thought that in a SIC network with 80 million people in it, you will hear random BS from people you never heard about before.

Ever been in an IRC room?

Sindome isn't a 50 person town.

Have you heard of twitter?
I've found that sic chatter is generally used to be a good response to your character, whether positive or negative, giving you a bit of extra attention so you know your character's actions have been noticed and realized, maybe push you to a path you didn't realize was possible or give you a nudge in a direction your character should start acting now depending on circumstantial and situational changes.

It's all about creating a bigger environment and atmosphere to accurately reflect the millions of people rather than the hundreds. Especially when it comes to media types too, so those archetypes can get a read on where staff sees their skills and how the public would respond to them. Are you Juicy V level or close or are you one out of nameless thousands still trying to make your stamp on the city each week?

Sometimes SIC is just @good-thought/@bad-thought in disguise.
Sometimes SIC is just @good-thought/@bad-thought in disguise.

^ This, in principle. They're supposed to be enforcing the theme by showing the wider range of opinions out there.

I totally feel where 0x1mm is coming from, though. How do you know it's coming from an NPC?. You can infer who was an NPC and who wasn't over a long enough time frame; maybe you end up being wrong, but reasonably speaking, probably you're right.

Then you think (if you're neurotic) "Oh no, GMs are picking on me because I did XYZ unthemely thing and I'm just the worst." Or you think, they're completely wrong, you argue back at them and more random aliases emerge until one of them throws a bounty on you because hey, random chummers in the brutally poor Mix have tens of thousands of chy to waste on strangers. These types of interactions can feel forced and unsatisfying and, as 0x1mm points out, there's typically no recourse. If it's just a dopeslap it's just a dopeslap, but the figure delivering it is a nameless cardboard cutout.

In many cases this kind of interposition is totally understandable, like when someone's clearly breaking theme and needs a reminder from the world at large to see things differently. Other times, it just feels like a barb.

Some things I'd like to throw in based on my time as a GM:

1. SIC is full of random jerks. As Johnny said, it's like twitter with a double douse of toxic attitude and less oversight.

2. I almost always create a story behind my SICs. Who's making them? Why? What's their angle. You all almost never get to know them but I put in this effort.

3. If something seems to catch on, I go out of my way to give a SIC alias a physical, real IC presence that COULD lead to more. It doesn't always lead to anything.

4. I'm not an internet troll. Or any kind of troll. I'm not a very judgemental person. I'm not a criminal or murderer. I like to believe I'm not an asshole. But the Sindome world are full of people who are one or more of these things so I do portray them.

5. Yes, sometimes we need to sue SICs to illustrate the wider worlds thoughts as all too often PCs are unfamiliar with the theme we push or want to ignore it. If 3 out of 50 active PCs share an unthemely opinion we have to balance that with noise or that opinion would appear to carry far more weight then it really should.

6. I don't use thinly veiled IC SICs to send OOC messages. Not like it's suggested here. I have xhelp and shouts I can use for that.

7. You can engage and react to any alias on SIC. Use 'cm' or 'cc' to say your piece and @note it. It you want to use a known SIC alias or give contact info, you could also @request-puppet to do a puppet request. In either case, explain the situation.

Almost forgot:

8. In a lot of cases I have multiple aliases throwing in on multiple sides of a topic. It doesn't always make sense to do it but I tend to do this wherever it would make sense.

I do see where 0x1mm is coming from here. We all know SIC is a toxic social media platform at it's barebones, but it's like that without staff involvement too. I think something that might have been ignored on this post is that when a SIC message is blatantly from a SIC puppet, people are biased towards agreeing with said SIC puppet due to them thinking it's a staff member.

A staff member may have a SIC puppet say 'hey batko you're dumb for doing x y z' and players, knowing it is staff, will then assume the staff are trying to use SIC puppets to basically say they OOCly take issue with what is going on, even though I'm fairly sure it's never what's going on. SIC puppets can be assholes just to be assholes sometimes. But I have most often seen SIC puppets ruthlessly criticize player characters, and not much else, not counting when the staff needs some screaming dying people to add ambient horror to something. It has happened to me before, and it does feel like shouting at a brick wall when responding, in no small part because of how when you check if the alias is still online, it's often gone before you even write a response. Then your character is just defending themselves to all of public SIC, but, if I am correct about this unconscious (or conscious) bias, it doesn't go anywhere, people believe you've earned the ire of the staff.

In five years I've rarely, if ever, seen an ambient NPC puppet say something positive about anyone. You shouldn't really take it to heart.
SIC is the raw, visceral id of Withmore. Don't change it.
I would liken it more to 4chan than Twitter though.
For the record the pattern of abusive commentary that prompted this post (and which was directed at a character I didn't know) ended months ago and I've seen nothing like it since.