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Old 07-20-2002, 05:10 PM   #1
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I have been playing MUDs for many, many years, and started when I was 10 years old, and now I am 18.  I have gained certain insights over all those years.  I would like to address a subject which recently has been causing me great frustration.  It is MUD admins who are cuckolded by the players.  I'm sure most of you have experienced these at some time or other.  Let's say there is a mob who gives way too much experience points.  The immortals fix the mob to give only normal experience points.  The players complain, and instantly, the head imm gives way and un-fixes the mob.  This is a short-term concession which sacrifices the long term in order to stop complaints in the present.  It's the equivalent of owning stocks in a company which you know will only gain value, but you sell all those stocks anyway.  There are many common short-term concessions which alot of new MUDs these days make, here is a list:
* Super duper easy levelling
* The default newbie equipment is on par with the best level 30 or even 49 stuff
* The ability to use color tokens *EVERYWHERE*
* Free spellups from mobs, including sanctuary and stat-increasing spells
* A corpse-retrieval system that lets you easily get your corpse back when you die
* The list goes on and on

Why do new MUD admins do this?  It is to attract players...  what kind of players does it attract?  It only attracts bad players.  When a good player sees these in a potential new mud, it disgusts them.  MUDs with these short-term concessions end up filled with lamers.  And since the entire playerbase is made up of people who want everything for free, it is impossible to ever do any enhancements which involve making the game more challenging.

Is it necessary to do these things to get any playerbase at all?  That depends entirely on the skill of the MUD creators... if the answer is yes, then why the hell are you creating a MUD in the first place??  Go back to McDonalds, you're late for work.  If the answer is no, then you probably are smart enough not to do these things to begin with...

Please, if you are considering making a new mud...  DONT make levelling super easy...  DONT give people free level 50s during the first month the mud is open..  DONT add code snippets just for the sake of code snippets, when all they do is destroy game balance...  for the love of god, DONT delete the "send_to_char" function and replace it with a copy/paste of the "send_to_char_color" function... and if a player tells you otherwise... then that player isnt worth having on your game.
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Old 07-20-2002, 05:26 PM   #2
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Exactly why is it that you're complaining? I personally have a strong dislike for MUDs of the sort you describe, but if they attract only "bad" players, what's there to grumble about? To each his own, I say, and if people enjoy playing those kinds of MUDs, I'd rather let them play there and have fun than have them come to my home MUD and be miserable (and therefore complain alot).

The only thing that irks me is when MUDs like that falsely describe themselves an "RP MUD", or "Original/Custom/Modified" when basically all the "modifications/customizations" are patches of stock snippets. Those are the ones that lead MUD newbies to think that that is all there is to MUDs, and they never really get out and experience truly innovative MUDs.
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Old 07-20-2002, 07:29 PM   #3
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Maybe the administrators of the MUD feel that the way the MUD is run is more of a democracy than a communism (The People have their choice vs. The leaders has their choice). If it is in the best interest of the players to have something done or not-done, then it's in the immortals eyes to do what's best. If the immortal did something, they probably had good reason to do it.

Also, if you won't to complain about a certain MUD being really bad. Try seeing if there is a forum for complainers?

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Old 07-20-2002, 09:30 PM   #4
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On the other hand, imagine mud utopia, where you get everything for free, but as only good players have found the mud, they limit themselves rather than being limited by the admins.

I don't know about pk muds, but I see this type of thing in freeform RPing all the time.  (I'm not certain I'm getting the terminology right.  Freeform RPing is RPing that is basically a bunch of collaborative writing where each writer has control over his own characters, isn't it?)  Such RPers could give themselves unlimited powers, as they are absolutely free; but they often don't, because they are concerned with making an interesting story, and having fun, etc.  In fact, in one free-form sub-community I used to read, I saw God-like powers in several of the players, but even then the powers themselves were used in ways to make the RP more fun, not simply to "win."  They were often given up at some point.

Maybe the problem isn't that power is given away too freely, but that it is overvalued in the first place.  

If the purpose of the mud is only to win, then how a person wins doesn't matter.  If the purpose of the mud is to have fun as a group, then you need to realize that winning is not a group activity, so a culture centered on winning, on the value of power, defeats the purpose of the mud.
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Old 07-21-2002, 11:27 AM   #5
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Enzo wrote:
Maybe the administrators of the MUD feel that the way the MUD is run is more of a democracy than a communism.
Muds are dictatorships. The admin can pretend that they're running the mud as a democracy, but they're not - you cannot overthrow or vote out the admin. If they do leave, it's because they do so by choice. A communist mud would be one in which the experience points earned by every character was split evenly among all other characters, and where equipment earned went into a big pool that anyone could help themselves to.
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Old 07-21-2002, 12:22 PM   #6
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A communist mud would be one in which the experience points earned by every character was split evenly among all other characters, and where equipment earned went into a big pool that anyone could help themselves to.
Lovely metaphor. You omitted the fact that the Immortals' morts would have first-access to this pool of equipment, and that they would get a small percentage more than their share of the experience, commensurate with their position as 'servant to the people'.

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Muds are dictatorships. The admin can pretend that they're running the mud as a democracy, but they're not - you cannot overthrow or vote out the admin. If they do leave, it's because they do so by choice.
Isn't that a horrible truth, though? I remember, as a player, thinking that surely justice would be done and the Immortal who had cheated would be reprimanded, stoned, cast out for all to see, or SOMETHING.... and I equally remember how appalled I was that it did not happen, that I was in fact rebuked for questioning the rights of the administrators...

As an admin myself now, I try very hard to preserve the image of democracy for the game. We Immortals hold ourselves to a high standard not because we need to but because it is enforced by the Implementor (my wife), and those who fail to meet the standard are sent west. Sadly, occasionally it has been necessary to lift the veneer of sophistication from the eyes of a player and let them see, truly, that it is in fact a dictatorship.

In the immortal words of a close friend of mine:

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Think of this as Little Cuba. I'm f-'in Fidel, and YOU are Juan. You got no rights.
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Old 07-21-2002, 01:17 PM   #7
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Lovely metaphor. You omitted the fact that the Immortals' morts would have first-access to this pool of equipment, and that they would get a small percentage more than their share of the experience, commensurate with their position as 'servant to the people'.
That would be like the communist governments, true - but it wouldn't be a real "communist" mud then (according to the communist theory). It would still suck, though!

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As an admin myself now, I try very hard to preserve the image of democracy for the game. We Immortals hold ourselves to a high standard not because we need to but because it is enforced by the Implementor (my wife), and those who fail to meet the standard are sent west. Sadly, occasionally it has been necessary to lift the veneer of sophistication from the eyes of a player and let them see, truly, that it is in fact a dictatorship.
I'm not really sure what it's necessary to try and present an image of democracy - I prefer to be honest with both myself and my players. A dictatorship is only as "bad" as the dictator, and (unlike real-life dictatorships) there is nothing stopping the players from leaving and going elsewhere.
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Old 07-21-2002, 01:54 PM   #8
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A sub-topic of this particular thread has been of interest to me for a while now; the concept of "winning" in a MUD.

I mainly with to PK-oriented MUDs, in which the eventual point is (normally) to stockpile equipment, make either yourself or your clan invincible, kill everyone a few hundred million times, and then junk your stockpile, remake a low-level pointless immortal character and get put in the hall of fame for a while. I've been seeing a lot of animosity towards that particular style of game-play on this site over the past few months, and I'm wondering why.

Is it against some rulebook of roleplay that I have yet to hear about that players should play fair, that they shouldn't cheat to their advantage, that they should be honorable, chivalrous, or whatever it is people think is "fair play"? Why the hell would any halfway-intelligent player NOT use everything he can to his advantage? Why wouldn't he exploit everything he/she had access to, get as powerful as possible, and then sit back and watch the MUD die from admin incompetence, or see the mud advance and become better through his/her efforts?

The concept of "fair play" and "winning" on MUDs has always interested me; I've always adopted the policy "it's legal unless you get caught" into the MUDs I've put up for periods of time over the last couple of years. Most of the players, knowing this, exploit a code bug horribly for about an hour, get bored, tell me about it, and move on to the next one. Because of my attitude and theirs, I'm able to quickly debug code with full cooperation of the pbase.

Anyway, I've written too much already, but these things have always puzzled me and thwarted my understanding. Does anyone have any insight on the matter?

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Old 07-21-2002, 02:21 PM   #9
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Is it against some rulebook of roleplay that I have yet to hear about that players should play fair, that they shouldn't cheat to their advantage, that they should be honorable, chivalrous, or whatever it is people think is "fair play"?  Why the hell would any halfway-intelligent player NOT use everything he can to his advantage?
When playing chess against someone, would you stealthily move some extra pieces on the board when they weren't looking?

When playing a pen&paper roleplaying game, would you add extra stats or equipment onto your character sheet if you thought the GM wouldn't notice?

When playing football, would you foul the opposing team members when the referee was looking the other way?

Rules are there to create a sense of fair play.  I gain enjoyment from using strategy and tactics, true - but not from cheating.  It just doesn't give me the same sense of satisfaction to beat someone if I've got a "super god-modified sword of ultra slaying".  Where's the challenge in that?  Where's the skill?  For me the satisfaction lies in knowing I've beaten someone because I'm a better PKer than them, not just because I know a loophole in the code.
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Old 07-21-2002, 03:43 PM   #10
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What if knowing a loophole in the code is what makes you the better pker?  In truth, what you are exploiting is not the code, but the admin's intentions.  It isn't a matter of fair play, but one of courtesy as a guest (even if that means being courteous to an incompetent host).

Of course, if the admin's intentions aren't obvious, then anything goes.  Whether a particular innovation is good or bad for a game is a matter of personal preference.

If the personal challenge wasn't there (even such challenges as finding a good challenge), then the innovator wouldn't have any motivation to use his innovations, and thus wouldn't use his innovations.  The fact that they do use them proves that there is a challenge involved.

Or if you take a utilitarian approach to this - and you certainly can - then you can no longer claim that the objective of the game is winning.  Rather, the game now centers, perhaps, on creating as effective as possible a tie in the end. There is challenge in that, just not the challenge of winning.
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Old 07-21-2002, 03:48 PM   #11
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What if knowing a loophole in the code is what makes you the better pker?
But it doesn't, not really - it doesn't reflect your skill level, any more than (for example) being an imm and giving yourself super-powered equipment makes you a "better PKer". Any more than moving someone else's chess piece when they aren't looking makes you a "better chess player".
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Old 07-21-2002, 04:38 PM   #12
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That depends on how you define "pking" and "chess-playing."

Chess is already expressly defined by a standard set of rules, of course, but PK is not.

Each mud usually does have some rules on PKing, but they aren't standard, and they often aren't even intended to define PK. (Particular actions are often allowed even if the rules do not express that allowance.)
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Old 07-21-2002, 05:51 PM   #13
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When someone achieves a spectacular scoring hit on another through RolePlay or use of the accepted codified norms, this is worth recognition and lauding. That person shall be labelled 'good', and shall be showered with all forms of recognition by other players, and the world will sit well.

When that same someone achieves that same 'hit' through a loophole in the code, or by violating a proscribed rule of the system, that person shall be declared 'cheater' and 'villein', and shall be spit upon by all present, and Cast Out, that he may walk through the nether regions of hell, and despair.

Under the first axiom above, one has proven that they can excel by adhering to the same stipulations as every other player.

Under the second, they have cast their acceptance of the very rules which govern the existance of the system in which they play to the wind, and become a blight.

I personally have no patience for the second type of person. They are not a player, they are a destroyer. You could apply the same twisted logic which justifies their presence to the deeds of a raper - for is it not their satisfaction which is being reaped? To throw back to KaVir's earlier analogy: I have absolutely no problem (and, in fact, take great joy) in reminding a violator of our rules that they exist at my whim, and then withdrawing that whim.

Note that this does not mean that the programmer is entirely faultless; any hole in a function is through failure to properly design and account for the actions of the players. One should account for the possibility of poor consideration, and take it with a grain of salt when a player does utilize such a loophole - the first time. If a player habitually finds these, then they should be recognized, not punished. If one habitually finds them, and then suddenly stops reporting them, then you have failed as a programmer to properly compensate them, and you will reap the consequences. (This from experience).

There's a difference between finding a bug and exploiting a loophole. But, to answer the question: If you think that it is good to play outside of the rules, then you are fooling yourself, and using the thin veneer of that justification to cover the fact that you are, in truth, chaos.
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Old 07-21-2002, 07:17 PM   #14
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I agree. I didn't say that it was good to play against the rules. I said that there currently is no standard set of rules by which the game is (adequately) defined.

There must be standard rules to go along with the tools, the code, if you believe that there are values the code cannot completely account for. And if there are none, then it should come as no surprise that people act differently, as they all have varying opinions on what the standard rules should be should there ever be any. (It's kinda like the corporate accounting crisis we are having right now.)

If all you have is the code, and a rule saying "Don't violate the code," then you really don't have any meaningful rules at all. We might as well pass a law making it a crime to violate the laws of physics. Should we shun airplane pilots for exploiting a loophole in our gravity system?

The rape example is irrelevant. Our laws expressly forbid rape. We don't try to cover it under absurd laws like "Be good!" or "Don't violate laws of nature!" Would you really like to go back to the times when the "laws of nature" reasoning could be used for banning anything and everything a particular leader didn't agree with, when we could instead have a law expressly forbidding rape?

Not only is it irrelevant, the rape example is rather extreme compared to exploiting a loophole on a mud.

A more relevant and proportional example would be something along the lines of poor etiquette. And it needs, of course, to actually be beneficial to the performer relative to other people, rather than just being something against tradition or personal tastes.

Such as eating most of the candy in a dish on the host's coffee table! That fits because maybe the host intended it just for show, and maybe the other people in the room are just as hungry as you but they refrained for the sake of good manners.

Now, I'm sure they might talk about it behind your back, and maybe the word "pig" would come up, but should the host kick the person out their house for eating the candy? I don't think so. It was there in front of you, and candy is edible. Rather, the competent host would tactfully remove the dish when the unmannerly guest isn't looking. And I, being your friend, would wait until we were alone and say something like "I wonder if the host minded you eating all the candy like that?" And you might say, "Why should he? Candy is to eat." And I might not agree, and I might even say so; but as I don't know the host's unexpressed intentions any more than you, I wouldn't shun you for your actions or call you an agent of chaos.
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Old 07-21-2002, 07:55 PM   #15
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Forgive the brevity of this post; my laptop is literally breaking down before my eyes, and the trackpad no longer is functioning, therefore I cannot cut and paste quotes I would like to refer to.

Regarding the rape allusion: You're most likely correct. However, I painted that metaphor as a programmer who has been victimized by players who have claimed that, in the absence of codified structures to prevent it, it was therefore acceptable. Taken in that context, I believe that the two are much more related.

I believe failure to prevent an action both through code and lack of policy is indicative of a MU* in its death throes, albeit the admin may not yet be aware of its mortality.

You can have either, and be sufficiently stable that it isn't an issue: MUSHes, for example, rely greatly upon the commonc courtesy system, while MU*'s generally take the codified route.

I personally have no experience with the PK-style MUDs, as I've never enjoyed what they have to offer, but I do understand the point of lack of rules to govern a system. Your reference to the candy dish at the hosts residence was right on key. In your version, however, it seems the host himself was too polite to mention such to the individual. Were he to inform him that he would not like all the candy taken in the future, and the guest to do it again, the host would be justified in evicting that guest from the premises.

Analogied to a MUD: Were the violater to have rules created because of his transgressions, and then told that they were to be followed, failure to do so in the future could be grounds for removing that player from the game.
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Old 07-21-2002, 10:21 PM   #16
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Exactly so. As you say, the host could have solved to the problem by stating their intentions expressly. In completely unexpected cases, this would almost certainly done after the fact, and if the person didn't change their actions, the host would be well within their mannerly rights to evict the candy-eater.

To make the example even closer to the truth...what if the host and other mannerly people were in the other room at the time, looking for something to eat, and hasn't much paid attention to the candy after first putting it there, and so didn't learn about the candy-eating incidence until 2 months later? Should the host evict the candy-eater for no reason other than not informing them sooner that the candy was edible?

Maybe if they were starving. But not, I think, if they were merely playing a game in which the person who gains the most weight without stepping out of the house wins.

Okay, so in the original example, the candy-eater knows the host MIGHT not want him to eat the candy; he just doesn't believe it, and doesn't care enough to ask. So what if he still doesn't know, but suspects the host doesn't intend for the candy to be eaten.

If I were the host, and I found out the he suspected it, I would have no problem with telling him to get out of my house pronto. The problem, of course, is that that all assumes I have some proof available that he suspects. The only way I could get such proof is if he confessed it to someone, and they told me about it, and I happened to have a running tape recorder lying about in the room at the time of the candy-eater's confession.

The first two conditions are quite probable in a complex-enough social setting, but I doubt the second is very probable even on a mud. I have a hard time imagining that the admins could feasibly transcribe everything that happens all the time throughout their mud, unless it was a very small mud and rather un-dynamic. Of course, I'm still a newbie when it comes to mudding, so please correct me on this if I'm wrong.

And of course, if reasonable proof of the whistleblower's tale can't be gained, then it would be the responsibility of the admin, IMO, to assume innocence in intent, thus reverting back to your own conclusion.
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Old 07-22-2002, 11:45 PM   #17
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Quickly reexamining my original post, I find that I need to clarify my rule to make my point more clear. I am in the process of hard coding rules as much as I can in my MUD; I would eventually like to make admins obsolete from the game as far as discipline and player-monitoring goes. Because of this, I've allowed for a policy of "if it isn't hard coded otherwise, it's legal."

At first this may seem counterintuitive, especially because I can't have possibly thought of every scenario in which I wouldn't want someone to be able to do something, but with that rule and a few months of vigilant logging of players' actions, I think I can come a long way towards finding and securing all of the transgressions players would be tempted to do.

In an RP environment, cheating would probably be the worst form of trasgression against the came, simply because the focus of the game isn't about killing everyone, and so using something to your advantage that isn't even part of the point of the game is not only cheating, it's stupid. However, when the point of the game IS to use everything you can to your advantage so that you can become the superior pker...why not use loopholes?

There is always the possibility that the admin is going to be angry enough that he'll punish you for exploiting a bug. So be it. He should have fixed it in the first place. As a player I believed this wholeheartedly, and I still do as an admin; there is no excuse for my not having created a perfect piece of code. I allow that I can rarely do that, and accordingly I ask that players tell me when they find something they're pretty sure I wouldn't want them able to do. Also acknowledging that I would never tell an admin if/when I found a bug on most MUDs, I also keep logs of the players I know to be fairly good at tracking down and exploiting the code I implement, and I'm usually able to refine what I do quickly.

This is long-winded, but the fact is that admins get so angry about people who exploit bugs in their MUD...and I don't see the justification. If you didn't do it right, and someone figured out how to break it, it's your fault. Stop blaming everyone else.

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Old 07-23-2002, 03:37 PM   #18
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when the point of the game IS to use everything you can to your advantage so that you can become the superior pker...why not use loopholes?
By the same reasoning - why not (if you're an imm) pump your character's stats up? After all, if the players are using everything they can to their advantage, why shouldn't you?

Trust. That's why. I don't cheat in my own game - I consider it poor style. I gain my enjoyment from beating players within the "rules" of the game, but if I just boost a character up there is no real challenge to it.

Equally I expect the same sort of respect from my players. A player who uses a loophole is, to me, no different from an immortal who boosts up their character. Both of them are performing actions outside the intended scope of the game - in other words, they're cheating.

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This is long-winded, but the fact is that admins get so angry about people who exploit bugs in their MUD...and I don't see the justification. If you didn't do it right, and someone figured out how to break it, it's your fault. Stop blaming everyone else.
My mud is like my house - it's a private place, but I don't mind inviting people around as long as they are polite. If I left my wallet on my desk and someone took it, I would be angry at them - even though you could argue that it was "my fault" for being careless.

As a guest in my house, I expect to be able to trust you to a certain degree. As a guest in my mud, I have the same expectations. If you take advantage of my mistakes, don't expect to be invited back.
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Old 07-23-2002, 04:36 PM   #19
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I suppose it boils down to a matter of opinion, at that point.  If my MUD were anything like my house, there wouldn't be a chance in hell that anyone would play it.  Also, although I do take a similar stance to my house, I tend to treat my MUD as something slightly less important to me than keeping my sanity IRL in my own house.  And I take responsibility for my mistakes everywhere.

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Old 07-23-2002, 06:34 PM   #20
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I take responsibility for my mistakes everywhere.
True story: A friend of mine had his bicycle stolen, so he went to the police to report the theft.  The police said to him "Did you chain your bike up?".  My friend replied "Yes - I used three chains!".  The police responded "Oh, well, you should have used more chains".

Do you think that's fair?  Do you think he should have "taken responsibility for his mistake" and just bought more chains in future, or do you think he was right to be angry?
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