Avatar has a growing staff after a long period of inactivity and it is quite refreshing. Quests occur often, there seems to be momentum and growth, and the collective voice seems to be one of progress rather than one of complaint that seemed to dominate for a few years.
Having read recent posts, including those that have been removed, I must agree that there are some problems. The problem isn't the mud, although there are issues. Code problems tend to be ignored on muds that are fun and inviting. The problem is social and administrative...and sadly it is entrenched like a cancer.
Players like Zaffer (a recent reviewer) are allowed to spend all day talking to anybody who will listen about how crappy the game is and how crappy the staff are in whatever it is that's the latest flavor of complaint. Zaffer isn't alone, by any means, and because of the loose and overly generous rules favoring players, they remain to turn the core players rotten with their hatemongering. It isn't just an "us vs them" mentality because these same players pick on each other. It's like a soap opera for Junior High at times.
When you add to this some reversals of punishments simply due to what can only be considered favoritism (Gynamede...how many times can this guy get jailed and still come back, anyway?!), some bad promises (new code that never surfaced), and some crazy unenforceable rules (no triggers, no sponging), I don't see how people can stay happy with the Implementor, Snikt. Everybody who plays there acknowledges his generosity in paying for the game's survival, but the atmosphere isn't pleasant for experienced players who don't want to deal with players such as described and simply want to relax and play the game.
It sounds like a rant, but it truely is a valid viewpoint. I think Avatar is a fun game with fun people. When I log in and play, I have a great time...until I read a note, see a chat, or otherwise am made aware of the presense of people who ruin the fun of others. What is truely sad is that there are so many people who enjoy the soap opera of hating staff and each other that to systematically remove them from Avatar would wipe out 30% of the playerbase and could very well end the game.
I will continue to log in and hack-and-slash to kill a dull evening, but I will never truely call Avatar home. My advice for the staff is to encourage new players, encourage the good ones to stay, and try to achieve a long term atmosphere change by making the bad players a minority rather than the vocal majority.