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Old 01-01-2003, 12:37 PM   #1
DSer
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Unhappy

I noticed that a certain mud in the top ten is advertising on their webpage for donations.

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Originally Posted by
(...)players can make donations which will be used solely for expenses, such as hosting costs and advertising on sites such as TopMudSites.com and The Mud Connector.
Is this allowed? If so, how do you determine when money is profit and when it's 'advertising expense'? Why isn't everyone else doing it if it's legal and ethical?

Comments appreciated.
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Old 01-01-2003, 12:45 PM   #2
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Depends on the codebase, really. Some spell out that you can't even accept donations. But others simply say you aren't allowed to charge a fee for people to get access or gain advantages *within* your game.

There's nothing unethical about accepting voluntary donations. Is it unethical for players to accept for free the hard work many MUD admins put into their games? Nope. The MUD admins are giving of their own volition. Similarly, a player who chooses to show his appreciation by donating money to the game - and the admin who accepts the donation - is behaving ethically, in my opinion. They cross the ethical line, however, if that donation somehow translates to a benefit within the game (XP, equipment, etc.).

If a MUD says it's using the money for hosting and advertising costs, then you'd better see ads as a result of the contributions . Otherwise, there's something fishy going on.

But, speaking as a MU* admin who has accepted donations in the past, I can tell you: It's not profitable. At all. Players of free games are generally not folks who have a lot of disposable income. I actually had to quit advertising here at TMS because our funds dried up.
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Old 01-01-2003, 12:50 PM   #3
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The mud in question is a ROM mud.
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:33 PM   #4
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Being that I'm actively on these forums, and don't mind answering questions in general about things that I, my game, or players do, I will take the nebulousness off "A certain mud in the top 10". I am fairly sure DSer's comment is based on Feudal Realms' website and our donation link.

Firstly, if you are going to quote the page, quote everything on there, including the disclaimers.

Quote:
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While the world would be a far more amusing place if funds were unlimited and you could just go beat up a squirrel for his 2 gold and 36 silver, in the real world money makes the world go 'round. Advertising and hosting cost money. While prohibited from making a profit by our license (and our goal has never been to make money from Feudal, and never will be), players can make donations which will be used solely for expenses, such as hosting costs and advertising on sites such as TopMudSites.com and The Mud Connector.
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Originally Posted by
If you would like to make a donation to Feudal Realms, you can do so in one of two ways. Directly through Paypal, or indirectly through purchases at amazon.com.
Quote:
Originally Posted by
There is absolutely NO online in-game benefit for making a donation to Feudal Realms. Names of those who donate will be placed on this page if that person wishes, but once again, no in-game benefit will be given. All funds donated directly or indirectly will be used for hosting and/or adverising costs and will not go into the pocket of any member of the staff, nor any pets, relatives, etc. The intent is to use donations to increase server capability and advertising, not to make a quick buck.
Feudal Realms does do advertising, on this site, which is $100.00 a month, and our server costs are around $40.00 a month. Other than members of my staff pitching in, we have recieved one donation of $30.00 from a long-term player on November 15th, which went into the kitty to pay for that month's advertising. I do keep records of any and all donations, and as my webpage states, there is no profit being made, no in-game benefit, or anything of the sort, other than a thanks to the person in question, and if they wish, the posting of their real name on the donation page.

Accepting donations for server costs and advertising is not against the ROM license, and if you think that I make a profit running Feudal Realms, well, please pass the bong over...

Terloch
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:50 PM   #5
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Terloch -

I wasn't bringing this up to point you out specifically. If I had wanted to I would have mentionned your name. I have, what I feel is, a legitimate question here.

I didn't insinuate at all that you didn't spend every penny you got on anything other than advertising. No reason to get ants and your pants and say that I'm high. I see everywhere that you're advertising on. Basically I wanted to know what others thought about doing it.
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:56 PM   #6
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No, you didn't point me out specifically, but you left it vague enough so that anyone who wanted to would go and start digging, I felt it more effective to just say it's me and make it clear what's being done and why.

The whole ethics on donations threads have been beaten to death on here many times...
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Old 01-01-2003, 03:07 PM   #7
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It has been beaten do death by KaVir and the legal minds of our realms and even I disagree at times. Your intent Terloch is fine, they would question the legality and I always approached it like from the US Military policy on gays perspective. "Don't ask, Don't tell."

If you run a T-3 service, a 200 meg tarred base, let any old mutant play AND have to support tons of builders with their own box, donations are certainly appreciated by anyone. Hmm, our own Imms have donated for a new box, are we deriving "in game" benefits from it?
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Old 01-01-2003, 05:18 PM   #8
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Well, I don't know much about the ROM license (never looked it over, because I don't use it). But, I know the DikuMUD license states you can not profit from the game.

When I contacted them, they made this specific distinction. If you ask for donations or sell things via your MUD's website, you are NOT in violation of their license. They are only interested in what happens with the use of their code. Particularly what happens in-game.

So no, the MUD in question is not in any legal trouble by using their MUD's website to accept donations or for that matter to run a shop selling game-related materials (mousepads, t-shirts, etc.). As long as no in-game benefits are reaped from their purchase, the license has not been broken.
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Old 01-01-2003, 07:59 PM   #9
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I think my main question is how do you prove you're not profitting from donations? It was nice to hear that Terloch kept a ledger of exactly where his donation money is spent, and I hope that any other admin who does request donations is accountable in some way.

Thanks for all your responses.
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Old 01-01-2003, 11:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
I think my main question is how do you prove you're not profitting from donations?
Show receipts for everything the money was spent on. Point is, does it matter? The only way it matters is if one profits USING the MUD. Using the MUD's website, it makes no difference. I can set up an e-commerce section for my MUD website and sell $200 t-shirts from my website, then go out and use that money to buy a car (if anyone would be dumb enough to BUY them, that is). Is that profitting? Yes. Is it unethical? Only that people dense enough to buy a $200 t-shirt are allowed to have money. Is it illegal or in violation of the license? Not at all.

Quote:
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It was nice to hear that Terloch kept a ledger of exactly where his donation money is spent, and I hope that any other admin who does request donations is accountable in some way.
Depending on the location, and whether they report these 'donations' they could be. The IRS would, potentially, see that as taxable income.
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Old 01-02-2003, 12:14 AM   #11
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Ok, it just finally clicked. I get it now
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Old 01-02-2003, 04:52 PM   #12
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Speaking as a mud that does allow players to donate -- ain't no one going to be buying a new car off donations. We use donations to pay for the DSL and machine expenses. We have an Amazon.com associate partnership, and make a little off that, which is used to pay for advertising. We also have a Cafe Press shop, which sells at cost, in order to let players buy shirts and such if they want.

Right now, a year's expenses, including advertising, connectivity, machine upgrades, domain registration, fees for the server that hosts our message board, runs us at least 800-1000 a year. We don't make back anything close to that. But we have a good time with the game, we've formed close friendships, we have both an annual player/staff gathering as well as a week-long staff vacation (which we all pay for out of our own pockets, heh). So it seems worth it to me.

That's not to say you can't make money off a mud - I've seen someone make potloads (literally, since he would get on the imm channel and brag on the doob he bought with the latest donations) -- but it involved in game rewards, which (at least to my mind), all licensing issues aside, compromises the integrity of a mud in an irrevocable way.
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