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Old 03-26-2008, 01:40 AM   #1
prof1515
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MUD Players' Bill of Rights

I hear a lot of complaints about different MUDs and myself have experienced instances where the sheer arrogance and callousness of a MUD's staff were intolerable. Sometimes it almost seems that disrepectful, arrogant, deceitful, bastardly administrators are more common in the community than not (I do retain hope that this isn't the case though!) and that players are viewed as nothing more than a disposable resource to be (ab)used and discarded when they cease to be of use or grow tired of the abuse or neglect they're subjected to.

So, I started coming up with the thought of a Players' Bill of Rights that I shall hold myself and my staff accountable to. While players are also subject to expectations, those may vary from game to game (though some are probably standard and are often just as applicable in real life). I thought I'd post this here, not just for feedback but as a reminder to some in the community that their actions toward their playerbase are not only unacceptable but that they have wider-reaching effects upon the entire community. Abuse one player and you hurt every MUD, not just your own.

So, here is a tentative MUD Players' Bill of Rights. Feel free to offer suggestions for expansion (I know that I'm likely forgetting some important considerations).

1. Players should be able to search for a game without having to sift through exaggerated and outright dishonest claims regarding features, player-base size, etc.

2. Players should be secure in knowing that their personal information, such as email addresses, will not be used or released without their consent unless so specified in the terms of its gathering.

3. Players should be able to expect fairness from a game’s staff and secure in the knowledge that favoritism is not employed to give some players benefits over others.

4. Players should be able to expect that respect and courtesy to a game’s staff will be met with equal respect and courtesy.

5. Players should be able to expect that a game’s staff will be honest about changes to the game that may affect the players’ experience.

6. Players should be able to expect that staff will acknowledge mistakes and take immediate action to correct them when they occur.

7. Players should be able to expect that staff will enforce their own game's policies and not waive them when convenient or desireable.

Last edited by prof1515 : 03-26-2008 at 01:43 AM. Reason: Amended
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:01 AM   #2
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

While I agree with everything you have there, I think it all comes down to 1 "Right":

1) Players can choose to play another game if they do not like the game they are playing.

Simple, easy to understand and doesn't take a lawyer, or lengthy discussion, to figure it out.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:45 AM   #3
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Mabus View Post
While I agree with everything you have there, I think it all comes down to 1 "Right":

1) Players can choose to play another game if they do not like the game they are playing.

Simple, easy to understand and doesn't take a lawyer, or lengthy discussion, to figure it out.
If the attitude of the police in your country were "if you don't like being regularly beaten up and imprisoned without due process you can always emigrate" do you think that the police would be fully discharging their responsibilities by saying that?
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Old 03-26-2008, 09:22 AM   #4
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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If the attitude of the police in your country were "if you don't like being regularly beaten up and imprisoned without due process you can always emigrate" do you think that the police would be fully discharging their responsibilities by saying that?
Apples and elephants...

A game world is not the same as the real world.

In the real world things can happen to you based on choices. One of the number of choices you can make is where/how to get your entertainment. If you choose to get it from a place that you feel does not represent your interests, or you feel is unfair, you can attempt to address the issue, accept the issue or move on.

To address the issue it is best to take it privately to whoever runs the customer service division of the entertainment medium. Calmly and politely state your concerns. If that does not work (and the CSR person is not the top person) you can attempt to go to the top of the administration of the medium.

If bringing the concern to the attention of the entertainment service does not result in decisions and actions that meet with your requirements you can either accept things the way they are and stay, don't accept things they way they are and stay (and possibly cause grief for others), or move on.

Of those options I think the third, moving on, is best if all respectful avenues have been tried and the game does not fit with your entertainment standards.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:44 AM   #5
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Mabus View Post
To address the issue it is best to take it privately to whoever runs the customer service division of the entertainment medium. Calmly and politely state your concerns. If that does not work (and the CSR person is not the top person) you can attempt to go to the top of the administration of the medium.

If bringing the concern to the attention of the entertainment service does not result in decisions and actions that meet with your requirements you can either accept things the way they are and stay, don't accept things they way they are and stay (and possibly cause grief for others), or move on.
Yes, but a bill of rights isn't about addressing concerns after the fact. It is about addressing concerns before you have a problem.

It's analogous to running a forum, for example...Top Mud Sites. You can either say, "if you don't like this forum, take a hike", or you can say, "we have agreed to a basic bill of rights that includes respect, honesty, maturity, and the occasional flamewar, but this is what we as a community have agreed to. We as a community are not here to enter the Thunderdome."
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:01 AM   #6
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

8 or 9 years ago, I and a number of other people helped Raph Koster put together a document called "A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars". I had problems with it at the time (quite a few of those comments on the right side of the post criticizing parts of it are from me), and now I think the document is a little silly, not the least because avatar's don't have rights - people do. Raph Koster's Home Page

Beyond that semantic quibble though, the problem is that what set of rights should exist in every world is going to be different by every world. It's not a great analogy as there's little comparison between a country and a game world, but no country in the world grants its citizens the same rights as every other country.

It's not that I necessarily disagree with any particular right listed in the document (most of them seem pretty reasonable). It's more that I dislike and disagree with the idea that there's one "right way" to run virtual worlds.

--matt
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

8 - You have the right to remain silent.

Sorry, someone had to say it!
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Yes, but a bill of rights isn't about addressing concerns after the fact. It is about addressing concerns before you have a problem.
No matter how many rules, bills of rights or outright promises you have there will always be concerns and problems. No matter how hard you work, how good of established policies you have, and no matter how hard you try there will always be those that will complain. Players and staff are humans.

I said in my initial post in this thread, "While I agree with everything you have there...". I am not in disagreement with the OP, and it is entirely fine for a game to use whatever it wants to try to ease player concerns.

If those "rights" are good for a specific game, then they can post them up and deal with people stating they are breaking them as it happens.
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:37 AM   #9
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Beyond the question of whether it's appropriate to specifically define how all games are run, which I don't think is even possible, who is actually meant to enforce these rights? In general I agree that most of the "rights" you list are good guidelines for most administrative and CSR staff to operate by, but #1 is more of a meta-guideline and its enforcement is entirely subjective.
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:28 PM   #10
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

I always thought myself that this player's bill of rights was quite good, although it clearly answers different questions
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Old 03-27-2008, 01:41 PM   #11
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by Galleus View Post
Beyond the question of whether it's appropriate to specifically define how all games are run, which I don't think is even possible, who is actually meant to enforce these rights? In general I agree that most of the "rights" you list are good guidelines for most administrative and CSR staff to operate by, but #1 is more of a meta-guideline and its enforcement is entirely subjective.
There is no such thing as a "right" that exists in a vacuum; people only have the rights that their society chooses to confer on itself. Strictly speaking, talking about "human rights violations" is (usually) a misnomer; what you mean is not "these people's rights are being violated" but "these people don't have rights that I think they ought to have".

Obviously any given MUD therefore has its own unique set of rights, and no one outside that MUD can enforce them (unless there is a conflict with a higher authority such as a nation's legal system). So what is being debated here is not "what rights do players have?" but "what sort of rights might it be a good idea for MUDs to choose to give players?" Whether or not any given MUD decides to sign up to such a Bill is entirely up to the MUD in question, just as it's up to a country whether or not to sign up to an international treaty, and just as it was a matter of choice for each state to sign up to the Declaration of Independence (or not).

It's perfectly reasonable to say "I think people would be a lot more comfortable playing on a MUD where they have a right to X" or "I think it is unreasonable for a player to expect to have the right to Y"; that's simply a matter of opinion, not enforcement.
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:08 AM   #12
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Well. It is always better to lay down a set of principles on which you based your interaction with players. This charter of rights is one way of establishing it. Having them as non negotiable make it something that is expected to be followed by all players and immortals like.

However, these are also basically commonsense guidelines for not losing your playerbase. Immortals who powertrip and chase players away arent doing so because there is no vague set of principles, but because MUDs are a chaotic unregulated buisness where anyone can set up their own mud. Consequently, many simply lack the maturity to become good leaders/immortals.

In short, yes, it would be nice to have a set of rights for a game. Would it stop player abuse?- not unless there are any clear consequences for the admins who ignore the basic well being of their own games. Unfortunately, players cannot elect new admins through democratic elections, removing non performers and powetrippers. Therefore, the only realistic solution in such settings would be to walk away or try to convince the imps to change their ways.

IRL if you live in a dictatorship (even a benovelent one) and you want to change the system, you either defect and loudly complain about human rights abuses in your country or join the administration and try to bring about change from the inside.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:08 PM   #13
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

4.5 Players should be able to expect that disrespect and discourtesy to a game’s staff will be met with equal disrespect and discourtesy.

Now I'm not saying, sink to their level and be a chump. Simply put, it's a two-way street on respect and courtesy. I've ran a game for a long time now and seen good and bad players and imms. I think the big thing that does bug me is when players feel they're entitled to something just 'because'. Now I don't mean that they shouldn't have a fair and honest world/staff etc, that's a given. But when they feel that they should say jump, and the staff should answer... 'how high?' Then I have a problem with that player, it shows a lack of respect or courtesy on their part.

The people that run games, or help run the games, do so (at least in my game) for no money, often little to no thanks, simply because they enjoy the genre and the game itself.

But yes, an additional one could be.
# The right to play elsewhere if the game, it's players or it's staff, do not meet my approval.
(Of course... every game has this right, you simply don't reconnect.)
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:23 PM   #14
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Thing is, when we apply to be builders or other species of immortals- no matter that we are all unpaid and volunteers and etc etc, we take on a responsibility to do certain actions that take the game forward. The players have a right to expect timely and reasonable action for the improvement of the world. Players also have something of a right to expect the staff to take into some sort of cognizance their opinions on how the game should be run. Of course different people may consider what is timely may differ from person to person. The trick is to explain our limitations slowly and patiently and be ready to accept that you would never satisfy everyone.

Having said that, I think we are talking about different issues here. Your issue is about instance when the staff member IS trying to do his/her/its best and still gets yelled at. My issue (and that of the original poster) is that some games the staff MAY actually powetrip and act nuts. I guess that is more likely to happen in startup muds with 14 year old imps experiencing power for the first time. Your MUD and mine are definitely not one of them. But in this time of easy to establish almost stock muds, there ARE a lot of such games and such admins.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:57 PM   #15
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

It all seems a bit like running in circles. If a MUD's administration is mature enough to adopt something like that bill of rights, they already don't need it. And an administration that does need it almost certainly doesn't want it. What's the value add?
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:43 PM   #16
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Great points Kleo (Yours too Chaos) I think both of you hit the proverbial nail on the head.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:05 PM   #17
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Note that I'm not trying to say that I know there is no value add; I'm asking for an eludication of what it might be. If the bill of rights is ineffective as an admonishment to administrators (and maybe it is, maybe it isn't), are there other functions it can serve?
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:24 AM   #18
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

I'm glad to see this thread resurface. Let's not fall into the 'safe drivers do not need to worry about seatbelts' trap. There are drunks on the road (games that aren't run by mature, objective individuals). The more community members, players and staff who come to expect ethical treatment as a rule, not as an exception, the better.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:51 AM   #19
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

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Originally Posted by chaosprime View Post
Note that I'm not trying to say that I know there is no value add; I'm asking for an eludication of what it might be. If the bill of rights is ineffective as an admonishment to administrators (and maybe it is, maybe it isn't), are there other functions it can serve?
Here is the value add. But first a slight digression.

Muds have been around now for about 30 years. That's a long time on the Internets. Long enough for the first developers of muds to now be grandparents. However what I don't see in the face of this impressive mudding history is much institutional memory of what has gone before, been done, and might be lessons for the future. This memory exists more like digital rock art, things we might come upon randomly out on a hike somewhere and interpret. But it's largely transitory, and we reinvent these concepts over and over.

One of the concepts this memory could include is a cultural quality of how we treat one another. There are communities that build a culture and pass it on from one to the next. In time the concept is almost set in stone. This is never entirely good or entirely bad, but I think there are things that are more negative (a culture of hate) and more positive (a culture of respect). At a certain point no one may even remember there was a bill of rights. But its effects will be inscribed in the values of the community that grow from it.

Someone needs to plant the seed.

OK, time to clean out my bong.
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Old 08-18-2008, 02:50 AM   #20
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Re: MUD Players' Bill of Rights

Hey. Watch it, whippersnappers. *whaps people with her cane* I'm a grandma... *grin*

For the record, I agree. So what's it going to be, a centralized place we link to, or a version of the PBOR on our own sites?
Show of hands?
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