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Old 10-06-2002, 01:23 PM   #1
Seraphina
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My default understanding of placement on the mud listing would be that the game with the most votes has the most players coming to vote for it therefore has the most enthusiastic player base.

I have found it to be quite the challenge to come here twice every 24 hours to vote for the game I play. Doing it for a few days is no biggy, but doing it every day indefinitely is a lot. Still, I don't mind because I really love the game I play and I enjoy meeting new members. For me newbies have a contagious enthusiasm I find hard to resist.

Still, I don't know how long I'll continue voting at this pace. After all, my primary interest is playing the game not voting for it at every opportunity.

On the other hand, if my game offered me something like say, experience, or wealth, or a chance to win something every time I voted, or a discount on my membership, that would definitely provide more incentive to come and vote every chance I got indefinitely.

I don't really have a preference as to whether or not incentives should be permitted but they do skew the results. Now that at least one game is using incentives to vote it leaves the others in an awkward situation. Many feel that it is a grey area or have condemned the practice as being unethical.

If it is allowed, which it appears to be at this point, I would prefer that it be permitted officially rather than simply not addressed. Other games could then add an incentive that they feel is appropriate to their environment.

If it is officially sanctioned that changes the situation. Games can add incentives without feeling they are somehow doing something borderline unethical. If it is not officially sanctioned, then if a game gets found out they can be reported.

Another option would be for the games which do not offer incentives to specify in their description that they do not offer voting incentives so the ones that do stand out.
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Old 10-06-2002, 03:19 PM   #2
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I'd prefer voting incentives be against the rules here. Anything else makes the list invalid for its stated purpose.
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Old 10-06-2002, 04:11 PM   #3
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This site is, and always has been, a popularity list for muds. Personally I would prefer incentives to be banned - but unfortunately nobody has yet been able to come up with a feasible way to do this. I therefore agree with Seraphina - if incentives are not going to be officially banned, I think they should be officially sanctioned, at least until some acceptable solution is found. At least then the voting is on even footing between the muds.
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Old 10-06-2002, 04:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Seraphina @ Oct. 06 2002,1:23 pm)
My default understanding of placement on the mud listing would be that the game with the most votes has the most players coming to vote for it therefore has the most enthusiastic player base.  

I don't really have a preference as to whether or not incentives should be permitted but they do skew the results.  Now that at least one game is using incentives to vote it leaves the others in an awkward situation.  Many feel that it is a grey area or have condemned the practice as being unethical.  
I think you're drawing unwarranted conclusions about what the list means. The list cannot be skewed by any means I'm aware of, since it is set up to measure one thing: Number of unique IPs sent to the site, with a single unique IP able to be registered successfully only once in a 12 hour period. I think Adam may count certain IP ranges as a single IP also, to prevent AOlers and others with dial-up dynamic IPs from disconnecting and then reconnecting to get a different IP and vote again.

The ranking list is basically the same thing as a banner exchange. The more people who you bring to the banner exchange via clicks from your site, the more exposure you get for your site. So from that perspective, which I believe is the objectively accurate perspective, insofar as it describes what is actually being measured, there is no way to skew the site without figuring out a way to somehow scam Adam's software and vote with the same IP multiple times in 12 hours. I'm sure that sort of nonsense would be caught right away though, and it's explicitly against the rules anyway.

To summarize, I don't think it really matters how you get people here. The system is set up to measure the fact that you do get people here, and that's all it measures. It's a you-help-me-I-help-you arrangement with topmudsites that also happens to benefit every mud on the list because it encourages muds to send as many people there as possible, thus exposing other muds to as many people as possible, as many times as possible (which are key metrics in advertising: reach and frequency).

I can understand why people impose secondary meanings on the list, but I think it's a mistake to do so, as they're arbitrarily imposed meanings.

--matt
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Old 10-06-2002, 04:48 PM   #5
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Incentives are officially sanctioned for the time being. Currently, enforcing a system where no incentives are allowed would be too time-consuming and ripe for abuse.

Imagine if a group of people report that a mud used incentives to get players to vote, and even doctored up a small log to show this is the case. I can get on that mud, but I won't see anything out of the ordinary unless I stay there for long periods of time and get lucky. And I certainly can't punish a mud for doing this unless I have positive proof, which basically means I need to see it myself. The time I'd need to spend to check every accusation (and there would be many) would be too great, and I would have to check *every* accusation, or the system fails at this point.

In a perfect world, it would be great to have the ranking list show which mud is the best and most liked. To do that, the entire ranking system would need an overhaul. TMS (in its current incarnation) is more akin to a banner exchange, where the more visitors you send, the more you receive. While you may have muds at the top of the list who by far send more visitors than other muds, the fact is, the more traffic sent to TMS, the better chance you'll get a new player, even if that traffic is just from someone who is doing it to get some sort of reward.

I am reading all your posts, and I am considering all suggestions, so please don't feel like it's falling on deaf ears - it's not. I simply prefer discussions and debates to play themselves out so I can get the maximum number of viewpoints and ideas. Along those lines, I've been reading the PTP mud discussions, so please keep those ideas coming.

Thanks,
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Old 10-06-2002, 05:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
the_logos wrote:
The list cannot be skewed by any means I'm aware of, since it is set up to measure one thing: Number of unique IPs sent to the site, with a single unique IP able to be registered successfully only once in a 12 hour period.
Obviously the results are "skewed" by offering incentives - if they weren't, you wouldn't offer them, nor would your mud have suddenly leaped ahead of all the others. By offering incentives, the percentage of a muds playerbase which will vote increases tremendously. This only provides an accurate indication of the popularity of a mud when compared against other muds which also offer incentives.
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Old 10-06-2002, 05:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Synozeer @ Oct. 06 2002,4:48 pm)
Incentives are officially sanctioned for the time being.
I don't feel comfortable offering incentives because I feel it's not "fair play." Yet I know that if I offered incentives in my game we'd be getting many, many times more votes on a daily basis. This puts me in an uncomfortable position.

If you are sanctioning incentives, could that be added to the rules listed on the site?

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Old 10-06-2002, 06:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Oct. 06 2002,5:07 pm)
Obviously the results are "skewed" by offering incentives - if they weren't, you wouldn't offer them, nor would your mud have suddenly leaped ahead of all the others.  By offering incentives, the percentage of a muds playerbase which will vote increases tremendously.  This only provides an accurate indication of the popularity of a mud when compared against other muds which also offer incentives.
In that sense then, just listing a MUD skews the list, because your MUD wouldn't be anywhere on the list without listing it first. (Incidentally, Achaea was #3 before we began rewarding our players for voting.) In that sense, skew isn't a bad word. It's like saying that someone who trains hard to win a race is skewing the results. Yes, it's true, he is, insofar as his training is altering the results, but that's not a bad thing.

There's no question that a higher percentage of a playerbase will vote when given an incentive to, but that doesn't skew the results, as the list does not measure the popularity of a MUD. It measures how many people (whether from your MUD or not) you can send here, and how often. It's doing a fine job of that.

Again, it's a mistake to think of topmudsites as some authoritative list on the most popular MUDs. It isn't that, and while there's a correlation (gotta have some players to have votes, regardless of whether you encourage them to vote or not), the strength of the correlation differs across MUDs, so one cannot really draw a conclusion from that. But then, since the site isn't set up to provide you with that conclusion, and since it IS set up to reward a site for bringing the most traffic here, I don't see how anything is being skewed. The site is accurately measuring exactly what it was designed to measure.

--matt
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:20 PM   #9
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In that sense then, just listing a MUD skews the list, because your MUD wouldn't be anywhere on the list without listing it first
If your mud isn't listed on the list, then it's irrelevent to the list. X% of players will vote for their favourite mud simply because the see the voting button, or have it pointed out to them. Y% of players will vote for their favourite mud because they gain something for doing so.

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It's like saying that someone who trains hard to win a race is skewing the results
No, it's like saying that someone who runs a racing team is skewing the results by paying people to run for him, when the other teams are only asking for free volunteers. It's like saying that someone who stands for election is skewing the results by paying people $X if they vote for him, when the other candidates are just asking people to vote. It's like saying that someone who has entered into a competition is skewing the results by paying the judges to give him a better score, when the other candidates are relying on the judges unbiased opinions.

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There's no question that a higher percentage of a playerbase will vote when given an incentive to, but that doesn't skew the results, as the list does not measure the popularity of a MUD. It measures how many people (whether from your MUD or not) you can send here, and how often.
Yes, it does skew the results - because you're measuring the number of players from your mud who will vote in return for an in-game benefit, against the number of players on other muds who will vote because they feel like it. That is not a fair comparison, and thus creates a skewed result. By sanctioning the approach you're using, Synozeer is saying that it's okay for other muds to compete with yours on the same footing. I cannot see why you should have a problem with this.
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Oct. 06 2002,6:20 pm)
No, it's like saying that someone who runs a racing team is skewing the results by paying people to run for him, when the other teams are only asking for free volunteers.  


Quote:
Originally Posted by
There's no question that a higher percentage of a playerbase will vote when given an incentive to, but that doesn't skew the results, as the list does not measure the popularity of a MUD. It measures how many people (whether from your MUD or not) you can send here, and how often.
Yes, it does skew the results - because you're measuring the number of players from your mud who will vote in return for an in-game benefit, against the number of players on other muds who will vote because they feel like it.  That is not a fair comparison, and thus creates a skewed result.  By sanctioning the approach you're using, Synozeer is saying that it's okay for other muds to compete with yours on the same footing.  I cannot see why you should have a problem with this.
If paying people to run for your team isn't against the rules, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Especially when the way the race organizer supports putting on the races directly benefits from better runners.

And why the heck would I have a problem with other people rewarding their players to vote? I don't care if you do that. Bring more traffic here, fantastic. More chances for us to land a new player. More chances for everybody to land a new player. I bet it won't be long before a couple people who were outspoken against the practice and claimed not to care about being #1 start employing it too. And hypocrisy aside, good for them. Helps us all out.

--matt
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:36 PM   #11
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It's not hypocrisy to be competitive. To dislike something, but be forced to do it in an effort to be competitive isn't hypocrisy. It's sad, is what it is.

My opinion is why not promise to run quests with uber-powerful weapons, if your MUD reaches a certain point on the list. Give out free unlimited sanctuary orbs, super-weapons, and lots of gold. Temporary HP, Mana, and Move boosts, etc.

If someone wants to offer a spell up or a restore for voting, one up them. Offer the above. Just remind me to stay away, because eventually people will be offering free avatars, special classes that can't be picked by a mortals, etc.

I think I'll start giving people an incentive to vote. "If we get in the top 30, I'll give you all a character with 10% more hp/mana/move, and a lower exp base than the rest." *rolls his eyes, and walks away disgusted*
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:43 PM   #12
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If paying people to run for your team isn't against the rules, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Especially when the way the race organizer supports putting on the races directly benefits from better runners.
Right - however the results would still be skewed, which was the original point. The only thing I've been arguing for is that everyone be put on equal footing - to use the analogy above, for the race organiser to specifically come out and say that it either is or isn't okay for professional runners to participate.

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I bet it won't be long before a couple people who were outspoken against the practice and claimed not to care about being #1 start employing it too. And hypocrisy aside, good for them.
It's not the practice itself which most of us object to - it is the way that the muds are not being compared on an equal footing. That has now been addressed, and so hopefully the results will start to become less skewed in the future.
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Old 10-06-2002, 06:55 PM   #13
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Orion, imagine a custom-written mud which was not "pay to play", but not "free" either - instead it was listed as "advert sponsored". Players did not have to pay anything to play, but money for hosting and the like came from banner clicks. In order to play the mud each day, you first had to click on the current advert banner. In this way the mud owners could gain a small income from the mud from the players, but the players wouldn't have to pay anything - just give up a few seconds of their time. Would you have a problem with such a mud?
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Old 10-06-2002, 07:43 PM   #14
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If paying people to run for your team isn't against the rules, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Especially when the way the race organizer supports putting on the races directly benefits from better runners.
I thought I would add my tuppence.  

On the List itself and what it represents:
-------------------------------------------
Personally I feel that there is an unsaid ethic that the list presents.  I.e. people come to vote because -they believe their MUD is the best-.

Whether or not we agree or disagree with that perception, I can guarantee that someone new to the site will read the list and accept that the "cup holder" is the best.  They will not stop to consider whether players are coming here because of incentives offered.  What conclusions they draw is entirely their own responsibility.

The written word and picutres are a very powerful medium:  if it's written most often people will not only believe it, but also accept it.  We even have sayings to warn people of the dangers of doing this, and whole books are written on the power of the written word and the influence it has (Herb Cohen wrote some fun ones).

I feel the list misrepresents the perceptions, but it is a bit of all is fair in war and play and there has been the statement to that effect.

What the site/list owners may like consider is the removal of the cup icon or the use of a first, second and third ribbon.  I feel that would give a much fairer representation plus it would give stronger credibility to the site itself.

On whether paying players is "fair"
--------------------------------------
To try and compare paid players and unpaid players and expect them to compete in the same arena is a little like trying to compare amateur and professional sport.  They just dont compare.   It is not an even playing field.

To then attempt to justify the validity of the list where paid and unpaid players vote is really a waste of time.  Eventually I think it will all be the proof of the pudding.

I also think the volunteer player will come here, vote when they remember and then go off and play and have the fun they want to have.  There will obviously be a small sector of devotees that enjoy the sense of competition and will religiously vote, but I think the majority of people vote a few times, and then just cant be bothered with the extra clicks..just so that their game can be ranked number 1 on a list that isnt an even playing field.

The paid player however, will routinely vote because there is a direct benefit to their game play.  The payment now weights the players choice, because there is compensation that will positively enhance their enjoyment.  If such compensation continues then naturally the player will continue to vote, and vote very regularly.

So then is it fair to list everyone on the same list where some are "professional" and some are "amateur" voters.  My gut feel is that no it isnt, but as the site owners have said, how do they police such things?

anyhow..hrm..that was a bit more than tuppence but there ya have it!
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Old 10-06-2002, 09:30 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by (Wandering @ Oct. 06 2002,7:43 pm)
Whether or not we agree or disagree with that perception, I can guarantee that someone new to the site will read the list and accept that the "cup holder" is the best.  They will not stop to consider whether players are coming here because of incentives offered.  What conclusions they draw is entirely their own responsibility.
Yep, I'd agree with that. The more highly ranked you are, the more likely someone coming here is to think highly of your MUD initially. That's exactly what makes the site work. You send the most traffic here, you are likely to get the most traffic back.

--matt
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Old 10-06-2002, 09:35 PM   #16
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Yep, I'd agree with that. The more highly ranked you are, the more likely someone coming here is to think highly of your MUD initially. That's exactly what makes the site work. You send the most traffic here, you are likely to get the most traffic back.
Fine. If we use this logic, then allow one vote per player per voting cycle. I believe that Achaea is the only MUD on the TMS rankings that even has its players voting more than once over a 24 or 48 hour period consistantly as it is, and it severely inflates the vote count compared to other MUDs that do not....cheat.

-D
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Old 10-06-2002, 09:42 PM   #17
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The current voting system does not even really measure popularity. If the mud was popular enough, no one would want to divert their attention from it long enough to vote for it. Rather, the voting system measures an aggregate of many factors; popularity is just one of them. Among the others are coded incentives, social incentives from the current mud community, how much the current players desire new players (i.e., incentives from projected mudding community), boredom (voting just for something to do)...and we don't want to forget awareness and knowledge. I voted often for the first mud I ever played, simply because it's the only mud I knew much about, so it was by default my "team." Newbies will likely pick a top-20 mud as the first mud they ever play, so this unknowledgeable competitiveness will be in favor of the incumbents, increasing their chance of pulling in yet more newbies to vote for them.

Maybe the question we should be asking is not "Is it fair," but "What do we want it to measure?"
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Old 10-06-2002, 11:23 PM   #18
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Thank you very much for your answer Synozeer, much appreciated.

To any admins concerned about the ethical or game philosophy aspect of offering rewards for voting I think if you put your minds to it you can come up with an incentive that will not affect game balance or be jarringly OOC.

Over at the game I play I have suggested a monthly drawing. Each vote would count as a ticket or a chance to win. The prize could be getting to play a part in a GM led event. Because DR has so many players, participating directly in an event with GM played characters is by chance, right place right time.

I also suggested that an item, not uber-weapon, or an alteration of an item could be a prize. Within DR we have a huge variety of items to choose from but alterations are highly prized to further individualize one's "look". Again alterations are usually by chance, right place right time.

I prefer the idea of a drawing rather than a per vote or most votes reward. I have no idea if DR will adopt this or any other incentive program because I am just a player.

Mud coders are very creative people. I think if you brainstorm on what sort of reward you could offer that would not conflict with the philosophy of your particular game yet still offer a "thank you" to players you could dream up something appropriate.

A chance to win something for voting doesn't seem to be too radical an incentive to me.
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Old 10-06-2002, 11:39 PM   #19
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Cool

Well then, dear, you're not playing an RPI where all game rewards must be earned IC'ly.  Where no OOC communication is allowed in game and where the very idea of rewarding someone for something ooc is just.... absurd.

This makes me sick.

Why is it that a gentle reminder on a discussion board isn't enough for someone to come vote for your site?  As an admin, I won't even -mention- it to my players.  If they don't want to remember to click on the voting link, then I'm doing something wrong as far as I'm concerned.  Occasionally my players have reminded each other but not me, not ever.

But then I'm one of those admins that doesn't care about being #1, as hard as that is to believe.  My problem with this is that there ARE lots of muds like mine, where to give an IC reward for an OOC action completely detracts from the game itself and pretty much makes a mockery of what an RPI Mud is intended to be.
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Old 10-06-2002, 11:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Dulan @ Oct. 06 2002,9:35 pm)
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Yep, I'd agree with that. The more highly ranked you are, the more likely someone coming here is to think highly of your MUD initially. That's exactly what makes the site work. You send the most traffic here, you are likely to get the most traffic back.
Fine. If we use this logic, then allow one vote per player per voting cycle. I believe that Achaea is the only MUD on the TMS rankings that even has its players voting more than once over a 24 or 48 hour period consistantly as it is, and it severely inflates the vote count compared to other MUDs that do not....cheat.

-D
You're a funny little man. The site owner, who makes the rules, explicitly endorses what we're doing, and you still rant away about cheating. *shrug* Rant away.

As for voting once per 24 hours, why don't you check out the website for Dragonrealms. Note the "Please be sure to vote every 12 hours."

Our players are only rewarded for voting every 24 hours currently, not that it's really any of your business.

--matt
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