We all get our share of problem players from time to time, and we all have different methods of dealing with them. Itís funny how different the approach and opinions about Twinks are from the Administratorís point of view compared to the playerís perspective. Luckily most Admin have a past as a player and/or play as mortals in other muds, while at the same time running their own as Admin. This at least gives us SOME perspective on the different player Twinks, which might otherwise drive us insane. :-)
So here is my list of the worst types of players you encounter as an Administrator, and what methods could be used to deal with them.
1. Total jerks.
You know; the kind that name themselves JewKiller or Allimmssuck, and log on to a mud only to type "KILL ALL JEWS" or "THIS MUD SUX" about 54 times. Or log on just to spam the open channels with advertisements for another mud - usually a very sucky one.
Steps to take:
There is usually only one way to deal with this type - immediate disconnection and siteban, (which is otherwise NOT a method Iíd recommend). You can lift the ban within a day or so, when they have moved on to the next mud. However, I have at times used a different method, with amazing success. You trans the culprit to your room- (preferably a soundproof room, to keep the spam off the channels). Then you ask them politely what their problem is, and why they picked this particular Mud to cause trouble in. In some cases the jerk turns out to be a pretty normal kid, who had a few drinks too much, whose girlfriend broke up, or who just got banned from his favorite mud. The shock of someone actually taking notice and being polite too them sometimes knock them back to their senses, and they leave on their own with a sincere apology - (probably to go stir up some trouble in another Mud, but at least they are out of YOUR hairÖ)
2. The "Crusaders".
These come in many shapes, and although seemingly harmless, they can be just as detrimental to the atmosphere in a mud as bad imms. They are generally very smug and self-righteous know-it-alls and believe themselves to be faultless and above the rules.
Usually their first step is to make endless demands about how the mud should be changed to their liking, and they never listen to reason when told why this isnít desirable or even possible. Or they start a crusade over some real or imagined wrong to themselves or another player, that nobody actually would care a hoot about unless it were made an issue of.
Step two is telling all the players how uncaring and/or incompetent the Admins are, step three is to try start a rebellion, working both covertly with tells and openly with chats and notes on the mud board, when they think they can get away with this. If they are "good" at their dirty work, they sometimes end up getting all players to take side for or against, but usually they just bore everybody to death with their rantings and intrigues. Or they get the staff so pissed by their unending complaints, that all the fun of working on the mud is taken away and imms start to go permanently wizinvis just to avoid being addressed by the jerk. In most muds this type get nuked before passing from step 1 to 2 even, in the ones with tolerant imps they are usually left alone until the spam gets so bad that nobody can stand it anymore. (That is when they sometimes go to some Discussion Board to continue the spam there - *cough*).
Steps to take:
This is also one of the few cases where Iíd actually recommend siteban - naturally AFTER youíve failed to talk some sense into the person. Iím all for free speech, but SPAM is something I hate almost as much as LAG. So this would be my motive for the siteban - not that they dare to voice a different opinion than that of the Admin, since in my mind everyone is entitled to voice his own opinion. But NOBODY has the right to endlessly repeat that same arguments ad nauseam, and while doing so spoil the fun for all the imms and players who were actually content and happy in that same environment.
No-channelling would be another and maybe better option - at least then youíd get the spam out of the open channels, and the players could avoid them by leaving the room and ignoring their tells. Since this type wants attention at all costs, ignoring to them is usually the best method. Eventually they tire of getting no response and move on to plague a fresh audience.
This is the type that come whining to imms about every possible problem they encounter. - even to the extent of "the beastly fido killed me and I lost 200 exp points!" or ďSo-and-so killed me just because I called him a faggot!Ē
Everything that happens to them is always somebody elseís fault. If they accidentally junk their bag, they claim it to be because of a bug. If there IS a crash and they should be unfortunate enough to lose some equip - which normally doesnít occur - there is no end to the whining. They demand to have every single item restored, even if they are almost top level and quite easily could get them back themselves or with a bit of help from clan mates or other players. Sometimes they donít even remember what they had, but they still want it restored. Or they mail you a list, containing all possible high-power equip there is in the game, without providing any proof whatsoever that they actually had it in the first place.
This is also the type that come whining about so-and-so being rude to them, (sometimes the rudeness adds up just to a player using one of the socials in the mud). They seem unable to deal with anything on their own and regard the imms of the mud as baby-sitters, who should spank the other kids for taking their toys away. Maybe not exactly dangerous, but DEFINITELY annoying, and not my favorite player type.
Steps to take:
Tell them to deal with their problems themselves. Tell them that imms have more important things to do than listing to kids whining. You may come out as arrogant and uncaring, but in this case it is actually justified - at least after the first 5 events. (You very soon start to see the pattern). They wonít listen to you, and most likely continue their whining, and then the best option would be to put them on Ignore, if your Mud has such a command. Once you give in to their demands, there is usually no end to it. They will keep coming back, again and again...
4. Pkillers that get out of control.
This is the type who go around killing all newbies, or all female players, or all clerics, or some other idiotic motive for killing. Usually they also loot their corpses and junk the equipment. This is one of the worst type of Twinks, since they can ruin the fun for all new players and drain the playerbase in the long run, if they are high level warrior types. Obviously they are total jerks - what possible challenge or "glory" could there be in killing a player 20 levels below yourself? It beats me how anybody could find any pleasure in doing this, and yet the type exists and is even pretty common. And one of the additional irritating aspects to the type is that they generally turn into whiners, if the other players take their revenge and in turn pkill THEM for being absolute jerks. This is when they come running to the imm screaming about so-and-so killing them without any provocation at all... *boggle*
Steps to take:
In our mud we have restricted PK and the code puts a KILLER flag on anybody who kills illegally. With this flag any player can summon and kill them, the shopkeepers refuse to deal with them and the cityguards attack them on sight. Still, as annoying as this may to the Killer, it doesnít always help. Some of them even take the flag as an excuse to go on a killing spree, since they no longer have anything to lose. Others find ways to beat the flag, for instance by summoning the newbies to aggro mobs.
You can always try to explain a few things to this type, and try to shame them for being cowardly bastards. Sometimes this actually works, but if it doesnít, the best policy is to declare the hunting season open on them, and let the players deal with them. The other players will have some fun hunting them down, and the Twinks usually leave the mud shortly after that. However, if the Killer has grown very powerful this may not work, since nobody is strong enough to dispose of them. In this case you have to resort to other methods, the main idea is to make the punishment hard enough for them to stop their favorite pastime, or better still leave the mud on their own account. Jailing for several days is one way, stripping them of all equipment a second, demoting them to level 1 a third.
5. Lazy newbies.
Iím sure you are all familiar with the type. They log on to a new mud and immediately start to ask over the open channels where the "cool equip" is, where they should go to level quickly etc. The more unabashed type ask higher level players on line to take them levelling or to bring them some top class equip. And the REAL jerks donít even ask - they demand. If ignored, they usually chat "THIS MUD SUCKS" and leave - and good riddance too. Even if some of them go on to give the mud a bad report in the Mud Connector about being "newbie unfriendly", itís still a blessing to lose them. No mud wants that type of players. Especially since they usually develop to be whiners if they DO stay on.
Steps to take:
Direct them to the helpfiles or Mud school, otherwise ignore them, and tell the players to do the same.
6. Professional Troublemakers.
This type is usually a teenage player, who wants attention. To get that attention they are prepared to go to any lengths, and quite often they go a bit too far, managing to piss off an imm or two enough to get nuked.
Personally I usually find this type quite amusing, since they can be very inventive in the methods they use. Since their main motive for being a pain in the ass is that they want attention - good or bad is irrelevant to them - a good method is usually to give them that attention by talking to them a bit. Youíd be surprised how that helps with many of the worst cases. (Of course, you have to take the time to do it, which in turn prevents you from doing more important things, so the choice may not be too easy).
Most of the Troublemakers are smarter than the average player. Which is why they get bored pretty fast of normal play. Most of them are experts in finding and abusing bugs. They seem to do this mostly as a sport, since they usually are very good players, and donít really need to cheat. (See type 7 below).
Steps to take:
Usually just treating them with some tolerance works wonders. Many of them have been sitebanned from one or several muds, and are more or less expecting to be nuked for saying "piss" on the open channels. If you donít rise to the bait, they sometimes settle down quite happily and become good players. However, most Troublemakers have the potential of being a real asset for the mud, if treated right. The best way to deal with this type is to canalize their energy into some meaningful occupation - some of them make astonishingly good builders for instance. They are also often good leaders, so getting them to start or lead their own Clan would be one way. They also make excellent test-players and bug-finders, if you can convince them to work WITH you instead of against you.
I must confess to being a bit partial to this type too.
Iím of course not talking about those that get "special" equip from cheating imm friends - for those I have no mercy. What Iím talking about is the "inventive cheaters", the ones that find and abuse every bug in the game to forward their char. Needless to say they donít report the bug, at least not until they have sucked it dry of every possible extra treat for themselves. Then they MIGHT report it, if only to stop others from using it. But more likely they will share their knowledge with the whole mud, except the imms. They are usually very good players, experienced, something of "computer wizards" and with a way of thinking that differs quite a bit from the average mudder. Some of them, but not all, are hackers, in which case they might present a real threat to the mud.
When I catch a cheater of this kind red handed, I rarely punish him (they are always male for some reason, hehe). Basically I think the fault lies NOT with the player for abusing the bug, but with the coder/builder for allowing the bug to exist and thus providing the opportunity. (Most glitches turn out to be not code bugs, but bad building, by the way) So we just quietly fix the bug or the flaw in the zone, possibly also keeping a bit of a sharp eye on that particular player in the future.
Steps to take:
Like the Troublemakers above, this type also can be turned into an asset. Respect their knowledge of muds and computers, flatter them a bit and try to make them work with you instead of against you, and you might have got yourself the best possible test-player. And even if you donít succeed in transforming them into legal bug-catchers, you can still take advantage of their exploits by just calmly keeping an eye on them and patch up the glitches as they discover them.
One thing Iíd definitely not recommend with this type is siteban. Generally this only makes the culprit more motivated to come back to "get even", and with the knowledge these kids have about computers they can usually find at least 20 new ways to connect before you have finally exhausted their resources. By then you have probably banned half the world too. And each time you have to uncover a new isp-address before you know who you are dealing with. Better stick to the enemy you know.
Even though this type actually CAN be helpful at times, when they reveal a cheat or an abuse that the Admin wasnít yet aware of, I still canít get myself to like them. Probably because smug do-gooders generally arenít very likeable. I find myself definitely preferring the cheaters to this type. At least those show some initiative and creativity in their approach to the game. The squealers are usually driven by envy and jealousy, or a desire to "get even" with some enemy. Needless to say the snitches are always immensely unpopular among the other players, which is why they can in some way be harmful to the general atmosphere in a mud.
Steps to take:
Treat them politely but coldly. If you feel the need to take action on the information they provide, do so, but donít reward them for squealing. If the information concerns another player directly, donít tell that player about who provided the info. Also donít take any action without confirming their story in some other way first. (There are always methods to get evidence about cheating or player abuse, once your attention is drawn to the existence of the problem). In this way you can confront the sinner, without revealing where the first info came from.
9. The overly helpful players
This is a type that means well, but end up being detrimental to the mud. They take newbies power-levelling, they bring high power equipment to anybody who asks, and in the worst cases they even reveal the solutions to Quests and problems in the game. Their main motive is that they want to be popular and/or show off their knowledge of the mud. As a result they produce a number of level 20 newbies with top equip, who donít have a clue about how to navigate the mud on their own, and who expect to be pampered in the future too.
Steps to take:
Since this type is generally well meaning, it often helps to talk to them and explain just WHY it isnít a good idea to do what they are doing. You can also point out, that if you spent a fair amount of time and effort yourself figuring out the solution to a Quest, it will be demeaning your achievement if you by your blabbering allow every Tom, Dick or Harry to get the same reward without any effort whatsoever.
One method is also to actively engage them as Newbie helpers, after having explained to them exactly WHAT is helpful in the long run and what is not. Guidance and subtle hints instead of Ďfree ridesí can produce more skilled players for your mud, and the tutor will have the pleasure of being a tool in this.
Sorry if this list comes out as a bit arrogant, but after some years running a mud you tend to become a bit disillusioned and cynical... There just are TOO many jerks around, hehe. Thank GOD for the few good players that still enlighten your day! :-)
Molly O'Hara of 4 Dimensions
Molly OíHara has about 5 years of mudding experience, with a past as Troublemaker in a mud called Age of Chivalry, which has since shut down. Sheís been a Builder for 4 years, a Head Builder for 3 and imp for about the same time. Currently she is one of the three imps on 4 Dimensions, a Time Travel mud with all original zones, where she built a majority of those zones. (she has over 40 to her name by now). The address to 4 Dimensions is 188.8.131.52 Port 6000, and to the WebPages http://www.4d.mud-puddle.net. Molly can be reached over e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org