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Proposal Discussion: greater RMB tolerance

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I wasn't sure of the best way to title this thread, but this will probably do.

This comes from a discussion that we've been having on discord, so it's not totally coming out of the blue. But to sum it up for those without discord, I've felt lately that we come down too hard, too fast, on new players who break our RMB etiquette. Often they haven't read the rules, or maybe make spammy comments, or double-post, etc., but instead of helping them to understand our culture, we suppress posts right away and are trigger-happy with the banhammer. I think that this has hurt our community both by shrinking it, and creating a more toxic atmosphere.

I am aware that we don't have jurisdiction over anything gameside, but I think we can still accomplish something to improve this situation. I envision some changes to the RMB etiquette, making it a bit more intuitive for newcomers, paired with a document outlining a new attitude/response towards infractions.

Obviously I can't speak for the whole community, so I'm not here with a fleshed-out proposal I want to see voted through instantly. Instead, I'd like to see input from more people we haven't heard from on discord, as well as sort of generally raise awareness that this is something I consider an issue. I am, however, perfectly happy to draft something putting together whatever ideas we come up with.

 

The most important thing is that we are welcoming, understanding, and respectful of newcomers. This means not calling them 'n00bs,' going easy on our TWP snark, and answering their questions in a friendly way. It means recognizing that as a feeder, our region belongs to first-timers (and we were all there at one point), and treating everyone as an equal. I know a lot of this is already in our 'Regional Message Board Etiquette' dispatch, but I think it bears re-emphasizing, even stronger codifying, in a new document.

Some other changes that I think would be easy to implement: 

  • Putting the onus of language translation on the reader rather than the author in order to be more welcoming to non-English speakers.
  • Allowing double posting--this is maybe where I see the most infractions; the edit button is simply unintuitive, and seems geared toward fixing mistakes, rather than adding new content to a post. We can always draw the line at triple-posting.
  • Instituting a 3-strikes system before posts are suppressed, except where content is offensive. 
  • Maybe allowing an emoji or two? I personally don't think it's as ugly as a suppressed post.
  • etc.

Thanks to Fujai, Halo, Warlorder, and others, who have discussed this on discord... some of their ideas are shamelessly stolen here. I know not everything I'm suggesting will be popular, but that's fine; I'd like to hear your opinions and alternative suggestions.

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I'm not really a fan of a 3 strike system as it stands. Unless we monitor the Guardians and others, I can see it being used to intimidate people and only furthering the problem that our culture is on the offensive.
 
I'd prefer to see something that uses the Guardians' judgement within a new framework on a case by case basis, but since its that judgement we're concerned about, we'd have to make sure there's actual change occurring. 3 strikes seems somewhat callous and uncaring, especially if we're not doing a good enough job to get people to read and understand the rules in the first place.
 
I like the idea of loosening up on double posting, though it's interesting that no one bats an eye on a double post if you just apologize for it in the post itself. The ban on ascii is really just because people don't want to be "invaded" by its overuse because that'll "turn us into TEP." If a post is ascii art for its own sake, then yeah, that's not really contributing to conversation, but a simple shrug isn't going to hurt anyone.

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I can see where you're coming, from, Fujai, because again, the most important part is to change the atmosphere. Ideally the 'three-strikes' thing is used to give people a second chance, rather than crack down on them once they've burned up their strikes. The idea's strengths and weaknesses are the same: it's easy to codify. This makes it something tangible that the hall of nations can do, but also can reduce it to a situation where it's easy to follow the letter of the law without the intent.

I'm not sure exactly how to find that balance between practical guidelines and a more holistic, general approach, besides just putting both parts next to each other as one might in a WA proposal where you give the context first before getting down to nuts and bolts.

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In the matter of language, to determinate what is going on I suggest doing an internal poll of which language each one is able to talk without issues of grammar (in that language) So that  HoN citizen, can help to give instructions to the news in a gently way. I said gently because text sometimes is rough, and myself not being native english I can understand others that sometimes the way that the wording is used, could sound r00d, or rough, even if is not the intention.

 

The languages that I have been seeing is: Spanish, French, Estonian, German, Italian, Portuguese.

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I have felt for some time that our tight RMB standards have hindered our growth as a region.  As Delegate, I studied the other GCRs and their governments and growth.  TWP was lacking in nations that were active in the region that were around 1-5 years old (the nation demographic of the most active nations in gameplay in my opinion).  After studying this for some time, I tried to figure out why.  I interviewed dozens of former TWPers and came up with the conclusion that we were perceived as a "good old boys club" and too rough on new nations via the RMB. 

Therefore, I made some unpopular choices in Guardians to try to change this paradigm. While I didn't handle myself well in doing this, the reasoning still seems to be an issue.  I think that I failed the region in not properly communicating my thoughts on this when I was Delegate as this is still an issue--as is our lack of participation in the region.

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So i understand the issue with 3 strikes is that its up to the guardians to judge, however something ive seen other communities use (not NS) is a system where the strikes reset at the beginning of the month. Reguardless we shouldn't be as snarky or rude to new players. I remeber when i first joined almost 2 years ago if i'd gotten to reply some do today i probably would've left twp. So a good start would be an atmosphere change. Another place to start would be a consolidation of the dispatches it easier to read and understand. Lastly I could try and get a meet the new players via and get then engaged. 

 

Note: sorry for grammer on phone and all that buisness. 

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I am wholly behind this initiative. 

What I would like to see is a set of Guidelines that Delegates could use in conversations with their Guardians.

I do think that new players need to be treated more kindly and that the Guardians should be more patient. Educate politely rather than condemn snarkily.

On the other hand, the RMB does need to be policed and I do not want it to become as it is in some other regions. I also think that the Guardians are intelligent people who really do have the best interests of the region at heart. This situation, although long-standing, is currently my fault. I do not think I have been clear with the Guardians about how to treat the new players. This effort will assist me in addressing this.

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Dont we have a whole department geared toward helping the new kids and mentoring them?  We used to.  Its tiring and thankless work, so those doing it usually burn out in 3 months.  After NS summer, you could fire it up again.  It's just cruel to ask someone to do it during summer.  They might actually quit NS over it.

In my experience one of these departments greatly increases retention and participation.  The real trouble is keeping it staffed and fresh.

 

An added note about languages: The reason English was chosen as the language of choice is not the same as making it a ban-able offense.  It would be good to be kind to those honestly trying to communicate.  The trouble is that when Guardians are over worked, it's easier to just see non-english and suppress it, then get on with the work day.  So, there needs to be clarification about what gets suppressed and what doesn't.  And expect no quarter about jerks that post in some random code without translating.  There is an art to running a good RMB. And it takes a serious time commitment from staff and the Delegate.

It took me months of telegramming to get Yy to behave enough to gain himself a known presence on the RMB and then work on his manners enough to make him Delegate.  The reason I chose Yy was because our RMB had died.  The Comm Rangers had made it so that RMB recruitment was rare, but the R/D game had died with influence and off sites/IRC were where the game was played.  As Delegate the first time around, I didn't even log into my nation except to tart daily and answer TGs.  I knew our community would die if we didn't find a way to attract new players who only saw our RMB with one communication every few hours.

And there was Yy, who only communicated on the RMB.  I also started speaking with those who were in NSG and role play sections of the forum as well as the UN.  I wanted to be a true feeder.  A region that welcomed the new player and helped guide them into any aspect of NS that they wanted, thus gaining loyalty to TWP.  Part of that plan worked and part faded away.

My point is that any initiative involves a major time commitment from the Delegate and Guardians.  Even if the decision is to change the Guardians.  It all takes the support of the current Guardians.  Legislating it isn't enough.

I guess that is longer than a note.  Sorry.

Edited by Darkesia
long winded second thoughts

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4 hours ago, Big Bad Badger said:

Therefore, I made some unpopular choices in Guardians to try to change this paradigm. While I didn't handle myself well in doing this, the reasoning still seems to be an issue.  I think that I failed the region in not properly communicating my thoughts on this when I was Delegate as this is still an issue--as is our lack of participation in the region.

This much is true,

Dark is talking sense - I’d advise listening to her experience and not trying to legislate your way out of a problem - if it is a problem.

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5 hours ago, Reçueçn said:
  • Instituting a 3-strikes system before posts are suppressed, except where content is offensive. 

I think a 3 strikes system is a good way of ensuring newcomers have time to adjust to the rules of the RMB, but in addition to suppressing offensive comments, first-strike suppression seems like a reasonable tactic for dealing with spam comments like walls of random numbers and letters, which can clog up the message board. Furthermore, I think first-time offenders shouldn't be banjected, which is something I've seen happen in the past. Banjecting after a set number of strikes might be an effective addition to the 3-strike-suppress system. If a nation hasn't read the rules on what is acceptable to post to the RMB after being told to do so after the multiple times it "strikes out," it deserve to be removed from the region, but a first-time offender shouldn't be trebuchet'd with the first rule-breaking comment he/she makes.

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Who is going to track the strikes?  I'm not being curt.  I'm at dinner with friends. Just remember all those great ideas need people to administer them.

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8 hours ago, Big Bad Badger said:

I interviewed dozens of former TWPers and came up with the conclusion that we were perceived as a "good old boys club" and too rough on new nations via the RMB. 

Therefore, I made some unpopular choices in Guardians to try to change this paradigm. While I didn't handle myself well in doing this, the reasoning still seems to be an issue.  I think that I failed the region in not properly communicating my thoughts on this when I was Delegate as this is still an issue--as is our lack of participation in the region.

Besides not communicating well, Badger, what other mistakes do you think are to be avoided? And what parts of your approach do you think could have worked? Obviously if you've been through this before, it doesn't make sense to ignore the past and start over.

4 hours ago, Darkesia said:

Dont we have a whole department geared toward helping the new kids and mentoring them?  We used to.

-snip-

My point is that any initiative involves a major time commitment from the Delegate and Guardians.

We do have the MoE, but to me, the welcome committee thing is sort of separate from this conversation, in that we can be doing our utmost to educate and welcome newcomers, yet still have what can come across as a hostile environment on the RMB. Obviously, both are important, and it's great that increasing retention and activity is a motivator for us to reevaluate how we react to people, but to me that while always be secondary to being decent to people for decency's sake. 

Also, Darkesia, I think you make a very important point about the Guardians. It's both unfair and unrealistic to add to their workload. That said, ideally, I would see this as making their jobs a bit easier, since there'd be fewer suppressions, banjections, etc. 

4 hours ago, Bhang Bhang Duc said:

Dark is talking sense - I’d advise listening to her experience and not trying to legislate your way out of a problem - if it is a problem.

I definitely think there's a problem. You may be right that legislation isn't the answer--it brings with it all the problems of game vs. forum balance, the hall trying to legislate over the guardians heads (bad news bears right there), plus in a situation where I'd like to ease up on people, adding new rules is going in the wrong direction. That said, I think Halo has the right idea when he says we need guidelines--another way to put it might be a statement of intent. 

Another thing I'd like to say is that I'm not trying to blame the guardians. Obviously they're the ones with the power of suppression, ejection, etc., but I see this more as a cultural issue. It's also up to those of us who aren't in regional government. (Which ties back to the point about how difficult this is to tackle with legislation--it really needs to be an effort on the part of the whole community for it to succeed.)

As far as the details go for the 3-strikes idea, I had sort of envisioned it on a case-by-case basis--it would be impossible to keep a list of people who have committed infractions. Instead, I picture that rather than suppressing the first spammy message, we respond by treating the individual seriously and civilly, while also letting them know what they've done that might put someone out. We would give them a second chance too. Only after persistent disregard of warnings would we suppress their posts, and eventually, eject them. This is maybe close to how we do it now, I realize, so again, there's plenty of fair criticism. I would just like to see a couple more chances given to people who sometimes don't know any better, and see "troublemakers" treated with a bit more respect throughout the process.

I hope I'm not coming across as unappreciative of the work that our guardians or any of our regional leaders are doing. It's definitely a tough job, I just think we could handle it a bit better.

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Personally, I would like us to find a balance where we have a clean, polite, intelligent RMB, while still helping new players. Sure, there are obvious cases where the nation should be banned on sight ... the fascist, the spammer, the jerk ... but then there are others like the new player who triple posts about his nation's stats or the lady from Germany who posts in her native tongue, that could just be politely educated.

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As a note, as Speaker I do not support legislative means on this topic. I feel this is a great discussion to have, and the solutions we raise are better handled at multiple levels, from the Delegate to the Guardians to all citizens at large. 

For me personally, this is all our home. We have to keep it in good shape and make it welcoming for newer folks to join us. They need to learn the ropes, but we need to help them learn the ropes. I will never want to see our RMB as horrifying as most of the other GCRs. I cringe at the sort of behavior on other RMBs, and am proud of the standards we have. We can be a bit overzealous at times, myself included in my eternal hatred to glitter. However, I see that as coming from a good place, because I know that the folks here all want to see their home in good shape.

It takes two to tango. I'd be interested in seeing ways that I, as a Guardian, can help newer folks learn the ropes fast and be able to support them in our community. I think all government members should also consider that question.

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I think if you beef up the Education Department and give it an outreach component along with a mission (internally) to be more active on the RMB, you will see amazing results.  Think of it as the "if you build it, they will come" syndrome.  You attract specific types of activity by manifesting it first.

If the goal is to make the RMB more welcoming to new nations, then spend time on the RMB being welcoming to new nations.  It sounds a lot easier than it is.  But it is just that simple.  Be the nation that jumps on and says hello and posts links.  Be that nation that follows up a new nation's first questions with a polite and simple telegram offering an answer and assistance.  The same principles apply to any group dynamic.  If you want a different atmosphere, you have to make it happen.  That means you have to stop talking about it and just start doing it.  Don't wait for someone to appoint you and give you a title.  Just dig in.  Seriously.  You will see amazing results almost immediately.  We all emulate that thing/person which makes us happiest.

"There are two ways of spreading light.  Be the candle or that which reflects it."  <<<<  That quote is the reason I chose my avatar here.  And now you know why. :) 

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20 minutes ago, Darkesia said:

I think if you beef up the Education Department and give it an outreach component along with a mission (internally) to be more active on the RMB, you will see amazing results.  Think of it as the "if you build it, they will come" syndrome.  You attract specific types of activity by manifesting it first.

If the goal is to make the RMB more welcoming to new nations, then spend time on the RMB being welcoming to new nations.  It sounds a lot easier than it is.  But it is just that simple.  Be the nation that jumps on and says hello and posts links.  Be that nation that follows up a new nation's first questions with a polite and simple telegram offering an answer and assistance.  The same principles apply to any group dynamic.  If you want a different atmosphere, you have to make it happen.  That means you have to stop talking about it and just start doing it.  Don't wait for someone to appoint you and give you a title.  Just dig in.  Seriously.  You will see amazing results almost immediately.  We all emulate that thing/person which makes us happiest.

"There are two ways of spreading light.  Be the candle or that which reflects it."  <<<<  That quote is the reason I chose my avatar here.  And now you know why. :) 

I completely agree with Dark on this.  I feel that we will be much more successful being an active, friendly RMB.  I think that it will also create more regional retention, buy in and interest.  This task needs to be done by a team of people.  There needs to be 15-20 people with one or two always on creating banter to truly make this successful.  I think that our discord has done well recently creating this environment.  

 

12 hours ago, Reçueçn said:

Besides not communicating well, Badger, what other mistakes do you think are to be avoided? 

 

I think that it is important to make sure that an enormous majority RMB banter is positive.  It tends to get threatening and ominous when someone misbehaves as was evident yesterday.

I feel that discussions including threats of banjection should be done in private via telegram.

 

Quote

And what parts of your approach do you think could have worked?

 

At the time I felt the personnel change was warranted.  Had I taken the time to speak with them first before dismissing the crew, I think that the transition would have been more positive for the region as a whole.  The region needed a change and a breath of life.  Many of the changes I implemented were largely successful.  But manner in which I went about this change I regret.

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I agree with Dali that this isn't something that can be legislated. Even so, let's continue to discuss this in this thread. I want to hear everyone's opinions on this.

I also agree with Dark and Badger that we should have a team to interact with new players on the RMB, so that burden isn't all on the Guardians ... 

and that's exactly what we have been planning! :D

One thing we are going to implement is having Gameside Advocates under the jurisdiction of the R&C Minister. One of their responsibilities will be to welcome and direct the new players.

This position is currently under development, but I thought I'd mention it here since it's so relevant to the topic.

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This as all very aspirational, and laudibly so, but the implementation of a more detailed/refined RMB management system is going to be almost certainly onerous, cumbersome, and still rather arbitrary.  It is impossible to formally legislate against bad/poor RMB behaviour and unless we have a dedicated team whose members have infinite patience and are happy to continually 'bang their heads against the wall' trying to manage the behaviour of aggressive, rude, and uneducated new players, any regional system will eventually fall into disrepair/disuse through the exhaustion of its guardians, rather than the region's Guardians.

In general terms, the RMB is already managed to an extent that is proposed; three strikes, gentle public warnings, no spamming etc.  Whilst any changes to our MO of RMB management are certain to be implemented, I am uncertain that the ends would fully justify the means.  That is not to say something that might help retain players within the region and to make them more welcome should not be tried.  A cautionary note; however.  You are, as a natural consequence of playing 'soft' with new players, inevitably going to end up with in an increase in RMB verbiage that will stain its formal, informal record.  As in RL, I am always suspicious of a change that moves things to a more open and freer behaviour pattern.  A lesson learnt on an open RMB is often a lesson more readily learnt by association by other players. This is similar to, but in the reverse sense, of the system that is becoming more prevalent in schools... not telling off a student in class because of poor behaviour and instead having to do so in private.  Left wing politics running rampant... be careful what you wish for.

Grumpy Old Sage and RMB Watchdog signing off :)

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I think a good first step would be to become more active on the RMB, I for one have neglected the RMB which is totally my fault, so I'm trying to become more active but if we want the RMB to be inviting having people on it would be a good start. like Dark said build it and they will come. 

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