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Old 07-28-2007, 09:47 PM   #21
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Exclamation Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by the_logos View Post
It’s probably not a huge deal but by approving them before they’re posted TMS is essentially endorsing them (as opposed to removing them after the fact if someone legitimately complains) and that's got potential consequences that you may want to factor into how you implement your new system.

--matt
True, but anyone looking for that much of a reason to sue could also make the same claim when reviews are actively moderated after being posted - a review is "endorsed" by virtue of not being removed.

If someone posts a flat out lie and it can be demonstrated that's a lie it will be removed, combined with the option to openly respond to a review which is rarely the case in newspaper situations would give the impression of lower liability. If we start to try to determine "facts" in reviews and moderate that, then miss some, that would be more of a liability than moderating only for the appearance of a "real" review.

I did a quick search on "user generated content liability" and uncovered this article which offers some good advice but really only tells me this area of the law is still wide open:

Cooley Godward Kronish LLP | News & Publications | Cooley Alerts | Website Provider Liability for User Content and Actions

Forget reviews for a minute. Look at our MUDs. I figured this was important/interesting enough to be in it's own thread:

TMS Game User Generated Content Discussion
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Old 07-28-2007, 09:59 PM   #22
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
True, but anyone looking for that much of a reason to sue could also make the same claim when reviews are actively moderated after being posted - a review is "endorsed" by virtue of not being removed.

If someone posts a flat out lie and it can be demonstrated that's a lie it will be removed, combined with the option to openly respond to a review which is rarely the case in newspaper situations would give the impression of lower liability. If we start to try to determine "facts" in reviews and moderate that, then miss some, that would be more of a liability than moderating only for the appearance of a "real" review.

I did a quick search on "user generated content liability" and uncovered this article which offers some good advice but really only tells me this area of the law is still wide open:

Cooley Godward Kronish LLP | News & Publications | Cooley Alerts | Website Provider Liability for User Content and Actions

Forget reviews for a minute. Look at our MUDs. We "moderate" the content by removing constant trouble makers from channels / notes and in extreme situations the game completely. The real scary part here is that just as much of this could apply to any online game where people can communicate. I think this could make an interesting discussion in it's own thread.
These questions definitely aren't settled yet, indeed, but common carriers are definitely allowed to remove people from their service without losing common carrier status. On the other hand, most of us do remove content of various types if it's posted (I don't think too many MUDs would like to see someone encouraging the lynching of rl minorities for instance) which seems to call into question any claim we have to common carrier status at all.

(For those of you not sure what we're talking about: Common carrier status is a status under US law that's granted to phone companies, pure ISPs, etc. It allows them to avoid liability for content that travels over their network. Imagine if you could sue the phone company because someone defrauded you via the phone service....it'd be quite hard to run a phone company.)

Anyway, yeah, not a huge worry but thought I'd point it out.

--matt
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Old 07-28-2007, 11:01 PM   #23
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

I like reviewing systems which allow the user reviews to be rated by other users, either via a "was this helpful? [yes/no]" method, or via a x out of 5 scale system. Higher rated reviews are either ranked higher in the list or are "featured."

Reviews that simply say "this mud is awesome!" would slowly sift down the list of reviews, or can be removed by a moderator.

The main disadvantage with that feature would be that it seems that detailed positive reviews always place higher than detailed negative reviews.
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:33 AM   #24
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Lasher, are you saying that you are taking away our right to turn off reviews?

I think anything short of professional reviews is effectively spam. I occasionally read a few reviews off the front page here, and the overwhelming majority of them are still fanboy/flame reviews. They are complete garbage. Moderating them MIGHT reduce the most extreme offenders, but the ones that get through will still mostly be junk. After all, the tendency of moderators is to let through as much as they can. They will err on the side of approving rather than denying.

Being able to mail you about libelous or dishonest reviews simply means more workload for the MUD operator. Why should I have to comb your site regularly just to protect myself from defamation? Furthermore, noticing it and reporting it are all after the fact. You will still have given these kinds of misanthropes a forum to spread their lies for however long the review is up.

The MUDs that have reviews turned off tend to be the more popular MUDs. That alone should be a big clue as to their value (or lack thereof). If they had reviews on, you can be sure they would get a lot more positive reviews than negative. But these operators know that it isn't worth the hassle of dealing with the libelous ones, and the truth is the reviews have no actual value anyway.

I sincerely hope you intend to let us still keep reviews off. The people who list their MUDs here are the ones who send the traffic. Let them have the right to just avoid the agony and hassle of having to deal with it.
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:48 AM   #25
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
If someone posts a flat out lie and it can be demonstrated that's a lie it will be removed, combined with the option to openly respond to a review which is rarely the case in newspaper situations would give the impression of lower liability. If we start to try to determine "facts" in reviews and moderate that, then miss some, that would be more of a liability than moderating only for the appearance of a "real" review.
I think it would be a bad idea to just 'censor' the reviews. Lies should be exposed to the light and dealt with, not just suppressed. If someone posts a 'flat out lie' about a game in a review, it should exposed and proven to be a lie, rather than just censored in the original post. If this is done, the poster of the lie will lose all credibility, which is a much more effective way to deal with things like that. TMC has a system with comments to reviews that seems to work very well. I remember seeing some partly negative reviews there, which the Mud owners dealt with in such a balanced and mature way that it left me with a high degree of respect for them, and actually made me a lot more inclined to try out their game than I would have been if the original review had been a 100% positive one.

I would have preferred 'professional' reviews, written by independent authors, without a vested interest in the game they review, but I can see the difficulties in recruiting qualified and respected reviewers. However, the changes that Lasher proposes for the current system seems to be a definite improvement. Allowing the option to respond directly in the review thread should be a very effective way to deal with any 'defamation' or obvious mistake, (intentional or accidental). And even if the original review was poorly written, the comments would definitely make it more interesting, and isn't that what we are looking for here?

Rathik's suggestion to give the readers the option to 'rate' the reviews for content might be helpful too, provided it was used actively. As it is, very few of us actually read any reviews (except of course the ones for our own games), because the general quality is so low. But if the content improved a bit, that might quickly change, and the ratings would sort out and expose the bad posters - at least theoretically.

I'm not sure if it would work well in praxis however. In my own Mud Forums we have a system where the readers can 'applaud' or 'smite' a post, and this will in turn affect the 'Karma' of the poster. While the idea seemed a good one theoretically, it caused some abuse in praxis, where one player would 'smite' all posts of another, just because he disliked the poster. (I could see the same thing happen here). Also it seems that the rate system was used very actively in the first few weeks or so, and then people just tired of it, and would stop using it. Today it is hardly ever used by anyone.

I definitely agree with Valg that the present option for some games to turn off all reviews should be removed. The site should offer the same conditions for all members.
It boggles me why some mud operators are so afraid of reviews. If you have any confidence in your own game - which you should if it is a good one - what is there to be afraid of? People are usually not that easily fooled, they will see through the disgruntled-player flames as well as the fanboy fluff.

One would have thought every Admin that runs a decent Mud would welcome seeing reviews about it. After all, it's exposure, and isn't exposure what we all are looking for? Even if some negative things are occasionally pointed out, isn't it be a good thing for the Admin to be made aware of the problems, so you can deal with them? And even if there is the odd mainly negative review, wouldn't the majority be good, if your game is any good?

Last edited by Molly : 07-30-2007 at 12:29 PM. Reason: remove double signature
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Old 07-29-2007, 08:11 AM   #26
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Lasher, are you saying that you are taking away our right to turn off reviews?
Nope. Read the thread again, you'll find suggestions by others to do that. The "lie" comment was in response to the idea of liability if reviews are moderated.

Quote:
The MUDs that have reviews turned off tend to be the more popular MUDs. That alone should be a big clue as to their value (or lack thereof). If they had reviews on, you can be sure they would get a lot more positive reviews than negative.
Reputation management for a public service on the internet is a fact of life, you either do it or you don't. If players want to talk about your MUD they're going to do it on their own pages, on forums in non-review areas and in any other way they like.

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But these operators know that it isn't worth the hassle of dealing with the libelous ones, and the truth is the reviews have no actual value anyway.
This operator strongly disagrees after having our Wikipedia entry removed due to insufficient "external references" to back up facts on the page - Most other MUDs still there made it through by referencing external reviews, even bad ones. The existing reviews and articles on TMS are also some of its most highly ranked pages in search after the front page. Aardwolf had reviews off because they were unmoderated, spammed and when someone did post complete junk about the game there was no way to respond, leaving reviews out there indexed for years with uncorrected false information.

Regardless, I don't plan to remove the option, but that doesn't prevent someone from discussing a MUD in a post of their own outside of the "reviews" area.
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:17 PM   #27
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Lasher, are you saying that you are taking away our right to turn off reviews?
This is a third-party site. I don't see why User A (a MUD owner) can decide what topics User B (a MUD player) can write about. If you want the site to be appealing to players, you can't treat them as second-class citizens.

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I think anything short of professional reviews is effectively spam. I occasionally read a few reviews off the front page here, and the overwhelming majority of them are still fanboy/flame reviews. They are complete garbage.
We've gotten a number of reviews that I'd find useful as a prospective player.

Part of this thread was about making the site more appealing to players (especially since players vastly outnumber owners), and if the administrative stance is that players are too dumb to write reviews, I think we may have located the source of that problem.


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Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Being able to mail you about libelous or dishonest reviews simply means more workload for the MUD operator. Why should I have to comb your site regularly just to protect myself from defamation? Furthermore, noticing it and reporting it are all after the fact. You will still have given these kinds of misanthropes a forum to spread their lies for however long the review is up.
Like calling the written work of site users "garbage"? Or lumping them as "misanthropes" or "fanboys"?

Again, it's not hard to see why a player wouldn't use this site if that's a prevailing opinion.

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I sincerely hope you intend to let us still keep reviews off. The people who list their MUDs here are the ones who send the traffic. Let them have the right to just avoid the agony and hassle of having to deal with it.
And the people who are writing the reviews are giving the site traffic. Word of mouth sends this site traffic as well. A healthy forum community would send this site traffic.
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:32 PM   #28
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
The existing reviews and articles on TMS are also some of its most highly ranked pages in search after the front page. Aardwolf had reviews off because they were unmoderated, spammed and when someone did post complete junk about the game there was no way to respond, leaving reviews out there indexed for years with uncorrected false information.
Pre-approval probably solves a lot of that, both directly (irresponsible reviews get snipped) and indirectly (people tend to behave better when they know someone is watching). The ability to reply serves two purposes:

1) The replier can provide factual corrections, context, and explanations. Presumably, the replies would feed in through the same moderation option, so flame wars can be rapidly brought under control.

2) In the case of a MUD administrator replying, a browsing player can see how the ownership treats criticism, constructive or otherwise. For a lot of players, that's important information to have while "shopping".

The fact that the review sections are frequently searched speaks volumes about what you could do with the site to draw in a wider audience.

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Regardless, I don't plan to remove the option, but that doesn't prevent someone from discussing a MUD in a post of their own outside of the "reviews" area.
This seems confusing to me, even though it's how the site has operated in practice-- threads about MUDs which did not allow reviews came up in the forums anyway. Synozeer even participated in some, suggesting he didn't disapprove of it in theory.
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:50 PM   #29
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Smile Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Valg View Post
This is a third-party site. I don't see why User A (a MUD owner) can decide what topics User B (a MUD player) can write about. If you want the site to be appealing to players, you can't treat them as second-class citizens.

We've gotten a number of reviews that I'd find useful as a prospective player.

Part of this thread was about making the site more appealing to players (especially since players vastly outnumber owners), and if the administrative stance is that players are too dumb to write reviews, I think we may have located the source of that problem.

Like calling the written work of site users "garbage"? Or lumping them as "misanthropes" or "fanboys"?

Again, it's not hard to see why a player wouldn't use this site if that's a prevailing opinion.

And the people who are writing the reviews are giving the site traffic. Word of mouth sends this site traffic as well. A healthy forum community would send this site traffic.
Please don't turn the comments of one non-administrative poster into "the administrative stance is that players are too dumb to write reviews" or "prevailing opinion".

If someone doesn't want to have to deal with the "overhead" of responding to player's reviews of their MUD that's up to them and people will make their own decision what that means. If players just don't care then it makes no difference either way. If players do care the only thing that is harmed is that MUD.

I turned off reviews for Aardwolf under the old system not because of any opinion that "players are too dumb to write reviews" but because there was no way to respond to false information - you could post something in the forums but that was quickly forgotten while reviews are out there indefinitely.

Quote:
2) In the case of a MUD administrator replying, a browsing player can see how the ownership treats criticism, constructive or otherwise. For a lot of players, that's important information to have while "shopping".
All a matter of perspective, you could also argue the fact that the administrator would prefer not to have that feedback (on this site) at all is important information players will not be aware of if there is no option to opt out.

Most posters in this thread are Mud admins, so thankfully they're all understanding of those situations where you make a change knowing that half your users will love it and half will hate it no matter which way you go --- right?
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Old 07-29-2007, 02:12 PM   #30
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think TMC moderates reviews before they appear -- they never appear instantly after you write them, in any case, but seem queued up, as a bunch arrive at once. Basically what Lasher proposes is the TMC system, and I think it works well.

edit: on the other hand, I don't know if mud owners can turn off reviews on TMC.
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Old 07-29-2007, 02:47 PM   #31
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

So I was digging around in old threads here about reviews, and one thing that came up was that Brody said he wrote a 'review' article for TMS under the old management.

Lasher, is this still something you would accept as an article?
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Old 07-29-2007, 02:51 PM   #32
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Valg, please try to avoid projecting your own opinions about players onto other people. If you think players are, to quote you, "too dumb to write reviews," then post it as your own opinion instead of slyly attributing it to someone else. I said nothing of the sort.

Real players are perfectly capable of writing good reviews. This should be obvious, since how could anyone write a review that doesn't PLAY MUDs. A good review can ONLY be written by a player.

Most people who take the time to write reviews, sadly, are not "real players" and they certainly do not write reviews in good faith. Most "real players" are so busy playing the game they like that they won't bother with a site about MUDs or writing reviews. Yes, a few will. Those are the few reviews that are actually good and worthwhile (be they positive or negative).

But the majority of reviews get written by people who are unbalanced for one reason or another. The people who actually end up taking the time to write reviews are more likely to either be blatant suckups or enraged haters. Those are the motivations that are most likely to supply that last, final bit of motivation to actually take the time to go to a site, create an account, and write up a review.

You see this same phenomenon all over the place. It is why comments on ESPN.com stories or responses to movie reviews on movie sites tend to be only the most extreme. The more normal folks with less virulent opinions can't be bothered to post.

That is why MUD reviews that are not written by "staff" are doomed to always be mostly junk. The majority of the time, the thing that motivates someone to take the time to write a review is not something that lends itself to a good, honest, objective review.
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Old 07-29-2007, 06:21 PM   #33
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think TMC moderates reviews before they appear -- they never appear instantly after you write them, in any case, but seem queued up, as a bunch arrive at once. Basically what Lasher proposes is the TMC system, and I think it works well.

edit: on the other hand, I don't know if mud owners can turn off reviews on TMC.
TMC has an option to refuse player reviews, yep.
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Old 07-29-2007, 06:23 PM   #34
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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So I was digging around in old threads here about reviews, and one thing that came up was that Brody said he wrote a 'review' article for TMS under the old management.

Lasher, is this still something you would accept as an article?
I do recall writing a review article once. I think it was about Armageddon. Long time ago. Not sure where it went!
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Old 07-29-2007, 09:38 PM   #35
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

Was it completely a review? Or was it an article on a certain type of MUD using Armageddon as an example?

I'm surprised it was published as an "article" if it was 100% review.
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Old 07-29-2007, 10:01 PM   #36
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Was it completely a review? Or was it an article on a certain type of MUD using Armageddon as an example?

I'm surprised it was published as an "article" if it was 100% review.
Actually, the more I think about it, I recall it was an objective piece spotlighting Armageddon - so, more of an article about the game than a review.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:02 AM   #37
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Valg, please try to avoid projecting your own opinions about players onto other people. If you think players are, to quote you, "too dumb to write reviews," then post it as your own opinion instead of slyly attributing it to someone else. I said nothing of the sort.
Except I obviously don't think that, which is why Carrion Fields has always allowed players to write reviews, why we actively encourage our players to do so, and why I've held a consistent stance that third-party sites like TMS should allow it. My actions dictate that I do think reviews, in aggregate, are valuable feedback.

In this thread alone, you've referred to the majority of player reviewers as 'blatant suckups', 'enraged haters', and/or 'misanthropes'. You've claimed that 'anything short of professional reviews is effectively spam'. This attitude unfortunately pervades a lot of threads here on TMS. Now, if a player comes here and sees posts of that sort from MUD administrators going unopposed, how likely are they to contribute to the community? If no players are coming here, what good is your promotional material?

Individual reviews can be bad or good, which is where moderation comes in. It's no different from forums. There are plenty of posts on the forums which I don't think much of, but I'm not advocating that we shut down all forums.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:19 AM   #38
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Originally Posted by Lasher View Post
I turned off reviews for Aardwolf under the old system not because of any opinion that "players are too dumb to write reviews" but because there was no way to respond to false information - you could post something in the forums but that was quickly forgotten while reviews are out there indefinitely.
While I've always left the reviews enabled, the above was one of my major concerns with the original system as well. I think allowing responses to reviews is a vast improvement, and would certainly make the site more player-friendly. You can also tell a lot about a game based on how the admin respond to negative reviews.
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Old 07-30-2007, 10:58 PM   #39
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

If you prune the name calling and gross generalizations from Threshold´s posts you end up with his main (and strong) valid point. Forcing open reviews on all MUDs would force upon the administration of said MUDs the policing and following of the reviews on their MUDs, knowing that even though a good response to a flaming review from a disgruntled player could be as powerful (or more) than a good review, a bad and unfounded review left unanswered will at best be ignored by some visitors at worst negatively affect the game´s perception by the audience.

I think I do agree that a change of this sort should be at least carefully thought because it would force administrators to spend more time here (opposed to coming here because something interesting is going on or because they want to contribute, this "feature" would encourage coming just to cover their backs). On the flip side, if a player is interested enough to be checking reviews, as soon as he/she notices that a game has blocked reviews but sees that there are tools in place so administrators can respond making the review system a solid one, his/her opinion might just be that the administrator does not care to hear criticism or deem them inferior just for that. In this case not allowing reviews would only affect the unlisted game, as Lasher pointed out.
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Old 07-31-2007, 07:28 AM   #40
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Re: Reasons to promote/discuss your MUD on TMS.

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Forcing open reviews on all MUDs would force upon the administration of said MUDs the policing and following of the reviews on their MUDs, knowing that even though a good response to a flaming review from a disgruntled player could be as powerful (or more) than a good review, a bad and unfounded review left unanswered will at best be ignored by some visitors at worst negatively affect the game´s perception by the audience.
Indeed it would, but is that necessarily a bad thing? It's extra work for the admin, certainly, but it could also bring in a great deal of extra traffic to TMS and give free publicity to the mud in question. Players are going to complain and flame anyway, and I'd rather they did it here where (1) it's immediately brought to my attention, (2) I can refute or respond to their claims on neutral ground.

But I think the real question is whether Lasher wants to make TMS primarily a website for admin to promote their muds, or a website for players to find and review muds. If TMS is primarily aimed at mud owners, then it makes sense for mud owners to be able to switch off, control and/or filter reviews. If TMS is primarily aimed at players, then it makes sense to allow players to post their views about all muds.

Right now TMS is geared towards mud owners, and I suspect that's a big part of the reason why the traffic is fairly low. Most of the active posters are developers, while the players typically have little to discuss and usually only log on to vote. The only time I really see lots of players joining in the discussions is when one mud or another is being flamed.

As has been pointed out already, the Mud Connector has more active discussions than here - however its reviews are pretty quiet. I suspect this may have much to do with the moderated nature of their reviews compared with the unmoderated nature of their forums. There's not much point posting negative views about a mud if you know it'll just be removed (assuming it even makes it through the review filter), but if the forums are unmoderated you know you can vent your (non-libellous) frustrations without being censored.
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