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!