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Old 06-14-2004, 10:26 AM   #61
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Exclamation

I agree, they are desperate for data, however, they are even more desperate for cashflow. I don't care what business you run you are not going to put your data priorities before your cashflow ones.

The article summed it up pretty good when they had the man feeling "obligated" to join the rewards group so he didn't have to pay for the Internet service. They are not offering him these rewards to obtain data but to "differentiate" themseleves from the hundreds of other hotels he could have gone through...

"Differentiate" for those who don't know (in laymans terms) is what a business does to make itself different (usually for the better) to increase customer loyalty. They do this by offering something different that people may really enjoy. That way, the customer may see their business as "better and different" then the rest.

The rewards card is simply a reinforcing tool to have a customer come back. If it's a hassle to join another "rewards group" and the difference in price is only a couple of bucks, most people won't bother and keep returning to the same spot. That's what the hotels (in this case) want, as have very difficult times filling their rooms to 100% occupancy (with the exception of speical events)

This is why you see rewards cards needing more information from people. I remember way back when to join an "air miles" or similar card required only your basic info. Name, Address, Telephone, Cred Card #, etc.

And to be perfectly honest, most of these reward cards don't require the info the hotels do (you'll notice that in my previous answer I'm speaking about business as a whole, not just one sector).

I'm not saying the data isn't important, however cash is the bottom line, every hour of the day, every day of the week, every week of the year.

As for my character, it was Ravenwing I believe. Not sure how long ago it was but I am certain it was in the winter time.
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:18 PM   #62
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As a mudder who plays on Traithe's mud, I would like to say that I find the two lines that tell me whether or not I have voted extremely helpfull. I prefer not wasting my time to figure out whether or not I have allready voted and it is much much better when the Mud tells me if I have or have not. I have never seen any mention or reminding of voting in the entire mud at all other than two lines when I log in if I haven't voted. I could decide not to vote for a month and recieve no spam.
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Old 06-14-2004, 02:30 PM   #63
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The intention of the list is to measure how many players are willing to vote for the mud because they think that mud deserves it (if this wasn't the case, there would be no purpose behind the rules as they stand now).
That may be the intention but it's nowhere near the reality. It's not possible to gauge the intention behind a vote on TMS and there's no point in doing so.

The site measures what it always has: Traffic sent here. No more, no less.

--matt
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Old 06-14-2004, 08:54 PM   #64
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Speaking of providing penalties for not voting, check out the second to last paragraph in the latest review of Aabahran: The Forsaken Lands. I don't know if its true or not.
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Old 06-14-2004, 11:09 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 15 2004,06:30)
KaVir,June 14 2004,06:12 = "The intention of the list is to measure how many players are willing to vote for the mud because they think that mud deserves it (if this wasn't the case, there would be no purpose behind the rules as they stand now)."

That may be the intention but it's nowhere near the reality. It's not possible to gauge the intention behind a vote on TMS and there's no point in doing so.

The site measures what it always has: Traffic sent here. No more, no less.

--matt
On the contrary, it would be easy for Adam to add a radio button list to the voting page itself, or even a once-off survey page that is displayed after you have voted.  Something like...

Did you vote for this mud:
a) it is the best mud you have ever played
b) to help attract new players to your mud
c) for benefits players will receive in-game if the MUD is high on the TMS rankings
d) so they stop hassling you to go and vote

Granted, that's a fairly pessimistic survey -- but there are many other surveys that could be done in the future that would be useful to administrators and other players.
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:14 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by (Fireblade @ June 15 2004,02:54)
Speaking of providing penalties for not voting, check out the second to last paragraph in the latest review of Aabahran: The Forsaken Lands.  I don't know if its true or not.
Interesting indeed - and regardless of whether or not it's true, the fact is that (by allowing imms to trace votes) it's certainly possible.

I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted? A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't? An increased chance to flee for those who have? The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:51 AM   #67
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I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted?  A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't?  An increased chance to flee for those who have?  The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
This discussion just shows what we already knew; that some mud owners would go to any lengths to get a high score. The voting list has been ridiculous for a very long time, ever since certain muds introduced certain methods to boost their votes, methods that had never been a problem in all the years before. As soon as one unethical method is exposed and 'stopped' by new rules, they will invent something new. Or just become more secretive about what they are doing. And as long as not ALL muds use the same methods, the voting results will obviously get skewed, since they are not competing from an equal footing.

Also there are even more unethical methods than those that have been discussed so far. And below is a true story, to illustrate that fact. It's a bit longwinded, so bear with me; it does have a point.

The voting system is designed to prevent spam votes from the same person (the 12 hour rule), and that filter works up to a certain point. This does however not stop people with access to a large number of hijacked computers, the type of persons that are usually referred to as l337 or hackers (by themselves), or script-kiddies (by others). Those are pretty common in the mud world, we have at least 4 of them even in our rather small mud.

One of those 'hacker' players has caused us some problems in the past. On two occassions he has ddosed the mud and crashed the server, after quarrels with some of the other players. We don't usually ban troublemakers, and in this case it would also have been pretty useless. So I talked to him instead, and made him realise that crashing the server of a mud you actually like to play is not a very good idea. After that he's mended his ways, and become a skilled player and very loyal to the mud.

But here comes the interesting part:

I stopped reminding my players to vote over a year ago, since it seemed obvious that they needed to be hassled almost constantly for us to even get close to top of the list, and that just isn't my style. Accordingly we dropped to a very low position on the list.

About half a year ago this player decided he wasn't satisfied with this low position. So he approached me on line and offered to demonstrate how it was possible to 'better' the votes. He told me to watch the list on line, and then, in about 30 minutes, he advanced us just as many places. Apparently he controls a lot of computers all over the world with 'Trojans', and was using those to vote. He also told me that there was some kind of barrier against it on the website, and that it took him 20 minutes to crack that. (Apparently he meant this as a compliment to Synozeer's defence system, not the opposite).

After this demonstration he offered to set up a script, so that the spam voting could be done automatically from the shell at the beginning of every 12 hour period, because as he said, it took him some time doing it manually, and he was too lazy to keep it up. He said that he would provide the isps to vote from, but the actual script had to be run from the shell. I'm not sure about why, because I am no computer expert myself, but that's what he said.

I don't like cheating in any form, so I politely declined the offer and told him to stop what he was doing, and we dropped back to our usual place in the listing. I think our low position will convince anyone in doubt, that we are not cheating with our votes.

Still, his demonstration convinced me that it can be done, and my belief is that some muds actually are doing things along this line. I am not pointing the finger at anyone particular, but to me all those with an unusual large number of votes compared to the actual player base look a bit fishy. Just do the math. Since I know how the average player works, it seems pretty obvious that you don't get large number of votes without giving some incentive (positive or negative, hidden or open).

The average player is very loyal to his/her home mud, but doesn't like taking the time off mudding to visit a webpage and click a button. But the average player does not like being spammed with reminders to vote either. That narrows it down to either secret incentives, (perhaps given only to 'trusted' players), or other forms of cheating, (like for instance the above mentioned method. Or maybe a script that uses the adresses of all the players on the mud instead. Perhaps a script that makes every player automatically vote on log-on, by clicking a link without even being aware of it).  

My story is just an illustration that there are more than one way to skin a goose.

The list as it stands is pretty useless. It doesn't even show who brings most 'traffic' to the page, because the majority of thosee voters are not really visiting the website, they just click a link. What it mainly shows is which muds are best at inventing different methods of boosting their score.
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Old 06-15-2004, 03:17 AM   #68
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The voting system is designed to prevent spam votes from the same person (the 12 hour rule), and that filter works up to a certain point. This does however not stop people with access to a large number of hijacked computers, the type of persons that are usually referred to as l337 or hackers (by themselves), or script-kiddies (by others). Those are pretty common in the mud world, we have at least 4 of them even in our rather small mud.
I forget the name of the mud already, but 2 or 3 weeks ago some mud that suddenly appeared in the top 10 was found to have about 3 players. The admin was from Russia, and, not to malign Russians, but that area of the world is awfully big on talented script-kiddies (if that's not a oxymoron).

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The average player is very loyal to his/her home mud, but doesn't like taking the time off mudding to visit a webpage and click a button.
That's definitely the case with the average player. The average player also never votes in most muds. Certainly in all the muds at the top, the average player is rarely voting. In the cases of all three of our games, and Aardwolf and Threshold, if the average player voted the vote totals would be a LOT higher. Usually it's the players who are most enthusiastic about supporting the mud that vote, in my experience at least. In our case, for instance, a lot of players do actually seem to realize that voting can be their way of paying us back for using a business model that lets a lot of people play without ever paying.


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The list as it stands is pretty useless.
With all due respect Molly, you have no idea what you're talking about. I don't believe your mud has ever been in a position to actually gain much benefit from the site, because it contributes little traffic to the site. It may not be useful for what you personally want it to be useful for, but it's definitely useful when looked at for what it is (ie a traffic exchange).

Achaea has 1149 characters in our database that heard about us from Topmudsites (so the number of created characters from Topmudsites over time is much higher, since most created characters get nuked from inactivity), and 342 customers. Achaea only started running banners a few months ago, and they are significantly less effective than being #1 or #2 is in terms of bringing in players. Heck, just in the last 7 days we have 167 characters that said they heard about us on Topmudsites. And that's only first-order referrals. Our biggest method of customer acquisition is word of mouth, so each person that heard about us on TMS is likely to bring in over 1 extra player, on average. Topmudsites is awesome, which is why we're willing to spend significant effort sending traffic to it and help contribute financially with banners (got 6 running right now, soon to go to 8 or 10).

--matt
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Old 06-15-2004, 07:44 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ June 15 2004,02:14)
Interesting indeed - and regardless of whether or not it's true, the fact is that (by allowing imms to trace votes) it's certainly possible.

I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted? A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't? An increased chance to flee for those who have? The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
I am (well, was) a player at the MUD in question, and I believe the reviewer was referring to a long wait when you login, which is removed once you vote, not a 'fudge' of dice rolls or anything of that nature.

I have shown the head coder my concern for rule breaking. He claims he has already written to the administrator of this site and is awaiting a reply on the issue. In his view he is not breaking any of the rules. He claims he does not force people to vote - just click on the link to the voting page at TopMudSites - and people are free to decline to vote once there.

As for the wording of the rule, might I suggest something along the lines of:

"Gameplay must be the same for voting and non-voting players"

or

"MUDs cannot track votes for the purposes of affecting gameplay"
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Old 06-15-2004, 10:34 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Gakusei @ June 15 2004,13:44)
Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ June 15 2004,02:14)
Interesting indeed - and regardless of whether or not it's true, the fact is that (by allowing imms to trace votes) it's certainly possible.

I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted?  A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't?  An increased chance to flee for those who have?  The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
I am (well, was) a player at the MUD in question, and I believe the reviewer was referring to a long wait when you login, which is removed once you vote, not a 'fudge' of dice rolls or anything of that nature.
I didn't say they did, but the point is that other muds could do that - and more - utilising the voting data available, in much the same way the mud in question does.
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Old 06-15-2004, 10:48 AM   #71
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KaVir:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted? A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't? An increased chance to flee for those who have? The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
If your goal is to make the players do something, they have to know about the incentive/punishment.

Molly:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
The list as it stands is pretty useless. It doesn't even show who brings most 'traffic' to the page, because the majority of thosee voters are not really visiting the website, they just click a link. What it mainly shows is which muds are best at inventing different methods of boosting their score.

Let's pick the #1, #2, and #3 muds in the list right now: Achaea, Aardwolf, and Threshold. Achaea has .35 (1535/4292) clicks out for every click in, and Aardwolf has .36 (1427/3885 now). Threshold has .96 (!. Evidently quite a few people are browsing around and checking things out. That high a clickthrough rate for ads is very favorable compared to other web advertising, particularly given that some of these people are visiting multiple times a day.

Looking at your mud (4 Dimensions), 17/23 = .74. That ratio sounds high compared to Achaea or Aardwolf (but not Threshold), and Achaea/Aardwolf encouraging their players to vote is arguably a factor in their comparatively high rate of "just vote" visitors to TMS. Looking back at the totals, though, Achaea and Aardwolf are still each providing on the order of 60-70 times the ad clicks that 4 Dimensions is.

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Old 06-15-2004, 11:29 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Stilton @ June 15 2004,16:48)
KaVir:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I wonder what other things you could add...slightly fudged dice rolls for those who have voted?  A tiny delay on all actions for those who haven't?  An increased chance to flee for those who have?  The possibilities are endless - and it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)...
If your goal is to make the players do something, they have to know about the incentive/punishment.
As I said at the bottom of the paragraph you quoted: "...it would be so easy to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)..."
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Old 06-15-2004, 12:51 PM   #73
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Incidentally, I wonder whether the discrepancies between people who claim to get spammed to vote on a specific MUD and those who claim it never happens could not simply be traced back to the following fact:

Those who got spammed came from "rare" domains with no votes at all, making it easy to pinpoint them out of the mass, whereas those who don't have issues log in from big ISPs...

So there might actually be 3 sides of the story, including the admin's word.

Speaking of which, Matt hasn't followed up on the promised investigation of the complaining character... unless I missed it in all the high-density arguing.
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:31 PM   #74
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KaVir, responding to me:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
>If your goal is to make the players do something, they have to know about the
>incentive/punishment.

As I said at the bottom of the paragraph you quoted: "...it would be so easy
to deny it (and so difficult to prove otherwise)..."
But that doesn't make sense.

If you were to tell the users about an illegal incentive, one of them would rat you out. If you don't tell anyone, and the reward isn't sufficient for someone to deduce its existence without being told, then you can't succeed in buying any votes.

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Old 06-15-2004, 03:07 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by (Alastair @ June 15 2004,12:51)
Speaking of which, Matt hasn't followed up on the promised investigation of the complaining character... unless I missed it in all the high-density arguing.
Nope, no can do. As I said, I checked the last 100,000 commands entered, which takes us back to mid-March. The guy is now claiming that this happened in the winter, under the character name Ravenwing (which he didn't seem too sure about). We don't keep logs back that far, and the character Ravenwing is owned by a well-known player of ours and has been since long before winter.

That guy is just talking crap.

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Old 06-15-2004, 03:11 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by (Stilton @ June 15 2004,13:31)
If you were to tell the users about an illegal incentive, one of them would rat you out.  
Oh, I guess you weren't aware that muds had developed mind control. Not only do muds have the mystical power to annoy users with constant spamming of vote reminders while not losing half their playerbase for doing so, but they can control each and every last user so well that they're guaranteed not to be ratted out.

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Old 06-15-2004, 04:24 PM   #77
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With all due respect Molly, you have no idea what you're talking about. I don't believe your mud has ever been in a position to actually gain much benefit from the site, because it contributes little traffic to the site. It may not be useful for what you personally want it to be useful for, but it's definitely useful when looked at for what it is (ie a traffic exchange).
With all due respect, Mihaly, you seem to have completely missed my point - (whether intentionally or not I will leave aside for now).

Of course I realise that the list is 'useful' to the Muds on top of it, the ones that gain the most benefits in the form of increased traffic to their Muds - I am not naive. Why on earth would I otherwise think that certain mud owners are so desperate for this traffic that they would sell their honour to cheat with their votes?

What I am saying is, that if the positions can be cheated that easily, perhaps some muds with unscrupolous and dishonest owners are getting all those benefits at the expense of the honest majority, who would never even dream of cheating. This is why I think that the ranking list is not only useless, it is dangerous, because it is a direct incentive to a certain type of people to cheat. The more benefit you get from a high position on the list, the bigger this incentive is. And all it takes is one dishonest Admin, coupled with one dedicated script kid, or else a coder who knows how to set up something similar.

It really amazes me that you don't see this, because you don't strike me as particularly naive either.

Also it is not a question of what I 'personally want it to be', it is a question of what the list was meant to be, when Synozeer created this site, and what it actually WAS, until some muds decided to change the scores by bribing their players. Since then it has been mostly downhill.
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Old 06-15-2004, 04:53 PM   #78
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Molly, replying to logos:
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Also it is not a question of what I 'personally want it to be', it is a question of what the list was meant to be, when Synozeer created this site,
Cite?

There's a reason it says "Top Mud Sites" above the rankings, rather than "Top Muds." There's a reason for the totals being shown as clicks in and clicks out, rather than as a single "Votes" column. There's a reason why votes are allowed every 12 hours, an insanely short amount of time if the goal was to do real customer preference research, as opposed to encouraging web traffic through TMS.

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And all it takes is one dishonest Admin, coupled with one dedicated script kid, or else a coder who knows how to set up something similar.
Are you really suggesting that the admin of a mud with a sufficient playerbase to plausibly be in the top few rankings would risk jail time for hacking systems to boost their rating on TMS? Your previous post about your own script kiddie boosting your vote totals through trojans to prove feasibility makes me think so.

*boggle*

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Old 06-15-2004, 08:17 PM   #79
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With all due respect, Mihaly, you seem to have completely missed my point - (whether intentionally or not I will leave aside for now).
Oh, I think everybody reading this knows what your point is. Your point is to constantly toss out innuendo that implies the muds at the top are cheating, especially if they're commercial and especially if they're from Iron Realms Entertainment. You do it every chance you get. You used to be a lot more blatant in your slander until I told you that you were on the verge of being sued for libel. It warms my heart to know that our success seems to really tick you off, truth be told. I'll work 70 hours on Iron Realms this week instead of 68 hours because of it.

*ponder* No, 71, because you're precious to me.

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What I am saying is, that if the positions can be cheated that easily, perhaps some muds with unscrupolous and dishonest owners are getting all those benefits at the expense of the honest majority, who would never even dream of cheating.
Yes yes, why don't you just insert "Iron Realms Entertainment's muds" wherever you talk about muds that could, potentially, just possibly, and who happen to be at the top of the list, be cheating. I assume you have some concrete reason to believe that these muds at the top are cheating, and some mysterious motivation for not sharing it with anyone.

As the person whose muds send the most traffic to Topmudsites, don't you think I'd be the first to be ****ed off if I thought someone was managing to vote here without actually sending eyeballs here? Of course I would be. I personally don't care how they get eyeballs here, as long as they're mudder eyeballs.

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The more benefit you get from a high position on the list, the bigger this incentive is. And all it takes is one dishonest Admin, coupled with one dedicated script kid, or else a coder who knows how to set up something similar.
Sure, that's all it takes, and both Materia Magica and that other mud were caught eventually and kicked off the list. MM benefited from cheating for quite awhile, it's true, but they did get caught and banned.


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It really amazes me that you don't see this, because you don't strike me as particularly naive either.
Of course I see it. I understand the mechanics of the system and how to motivate players to vote extremely well, obviously. Script kiddies are easily caught, because they won't have decent sized muds (such as that one whose name I cannot remember that was kicked off a couple weeks ago). In the case of a Materia Magica, which is not, I believe, run by script kiddies or the equivalent thereof, it took longer to catch them because they do have a sizeable playerbase. I'd rather not talk about how they got caught, as there's no need to alert other potential cheaters a way to avoid looking suspicious in that regards, but there just aren't that many muds capable of fooling those of us monitoring the system for that long.

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Also it is not a question of what I 'personally want it to be', it is a question of what the list was meant to be, when Synozeer created this site, and what it actually WAS, until some muds decided to change the scores by bribing their players. Since then it has been mostly downhill.
It was always exactly what it is now. The most popular muds (both from Simutronics) have never been at the top of this list because they don't send traffic here. That's the only reason, as that's the only thing that factors into your list placement. I don't see what's so difficult to understand about that.

It is, in every way, a traffic exchange. Even if Synozeer claimed that's not what it was, he'd be dissembling for the sake of not bursting the bubbles of a tiny percentage of TMS users who haven't managed to see the ranking list for what it is or just mistaken.

--matt
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Old 06-16-2004, 12:58 AM   #80
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logos:
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Oh, I guess you weren't aware that muds had developed mind control.  Not only do muds have the mystical power to annoy users with constant spamming of vote reminders while not losing half their playerbase for doing so, but they can control each and every last user so well that they're guaranteed not to be ratted out.
If I license Rapture, is that one of the included libraries or is it sold separately?

Also, I'd forgotten how long MM had been "successful" for.  It's probably better to consider various means of encouraging players to vote as a wholly separate issue from playing games with the server or zombied PC's to cheat.

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ooc cheating OnyxFlame Roleplaying and Storytelling 22 05-20-2003 07:10 PM

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