General discussions about the Particracy web game.


Postby lewiselder1 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:06 am

Greetings everyone!

I haven’t spoken much about this with my fellow moderators, players or with Wouter, but I’m afraid I have little choice but to resign my position as Mod for a number of reasons. When I set out I had expected to do this just over a year after taking the position, aiming for around August of next year. I soon revised my plan: early 2019, just after the new rules. Sadly a number of factors have made me decide to do so now.

The first is simply that I don’t have the time. I am simply so busy with my commitments in real life that I struggle to find the time and energy to dedicate to the position. When I do find the time, it’s almost always doing simple admin or sorting out player issues — which I’ll get onto in a moment — instead of doing the things that I was really passionate about: redrafting the rules, reforming the GRC, reforming RP and political protocols and combatting nation raiding, establishing a stronger third world and encouraging the game to blossom into something I could be proud to say that I helped build. I hope that what little time I have been able to dedicate to these areas will prove useful, and, if my fellow moderators would be happy with it, I will endeavour to involve myself in these areas wherever possible and provide whatever opinions and ideas that I may.

The second reason is player expectations. I expect here this post shall take something of a turn to the negative for which I apologise, but I feel that I have a responsibility now to explain fully my concerns and to speak on behalf of my fellow moderators and the GRC whom are unable to express these views without risking backlash. Too often we see players expecting mods to act immediately, to respond immediately, and to take all responsibility on themselves — I don’t think people are aware of the amount of time and effort that is required for this role. I certainly wasn’t. In addition to the requests on the forums, which can take a long time in and of themselves (and often carry a large amount of additional responsibilities which aren’t easily codified: there’s a lot to remember), and then more of this replicated in the in-game messages, I regularly find myself with heaps of notifications waiting for me when I log into discord. and instead of being able to dedicate time to redrafting the rules — which, again, is very time-consuming — find myself spending more time dealing with minor disagreements, uncivil behaviour, and a whole host of issues. And when we don’t manage to do it all in a day, we are often bombarded by players arguing that we’re inefficient, incompetent and ineffective. Maybe so, but I expect that most people with real lives would struggle to keep pace with what players expect. Oh — and we’re not real players when we don’t manage to squeeze in time for RP, too. And if you find yourself stressed by all this, make sure you don’t relax on the discord or have some playful banter: you must be professional all of the time, even in your sleep. And if you make a mistake? There goes the public trust! You must obey the letter of the rules or you’re a dictator, but don’t be too stringent or you’re supporting trolls. Half of the game thinks you’re too lenient on noobs; half of the game thinks you support the old guard too offen. Did you make a joke? You’re unprofessional. On and on and on...

How can a moderator ever live up to those expectations? The only solution is to disregard them.

These same kinds of expectations define my next point, too. This game community has dissolved from a group of friends playing a game and telling stories into a hodge-podge hotpot of anger and fury, uncivil rants, personal hatred and heated arguments all stemming from a game. I cannot stress this point enough; this. Is. A. Game. There is absolutely no need for an argument to erupt from a game. Even if you think a lemur is a suitable candidate for the WC, if you think the solution is to bully a GRC member into resigning, there is something seriously wrong. Even if you think the Mods have trolled you and acted on self-serving motivations, if you think the solution is to troll the mods so consistently for a month, something is seriously wrong. Or if you think we’re the police state for being anxious about introducing a voice chat, or whatever, if you think the answer is to get angry, you are simply wrong.

This community has developed a vicious and angry trait, and it is deeply saddening. This is exactly the kind of thing that drives new players away from the game. It really is ridiculous: you’re arguing over a game as if it was a personal issue. There is no need to attack each other because another player developed nukes in a fictional country that was too poor to do so. It’s a fictional country, in a fictional game, doing fictional things, and if you just approach it calmly, these apparently big problems can, actually, be resolved in about ten minutes. With an atmosphere like this, is it any surprise that so many mods find themselves burnt out? Or feel forced to turn to increasingly strict moderation? Most players probably only see a slither of the aggression: mods are forced to deal with it all, and anyone who partakes in this behaviour is in my humble opinion ruining this game community.

This would not be such a problem if moderation had the authority to act. Unfortunately, too often the court of public opinion wishes to involve itself in private affairs. Moderation can’t share private information. Moderation can’t act decisively on trolls in a game when the whole playernase wants to critique them after seeing perhaps 10% of the full story. Which brings me to my next point: the authority of the moderator has crumbled. No longer can a mod make a decision, perhaps to ban somebody after a month of trolling and trying to resolve the issue in private and receiving nothing but fury and spite in return, without finding themselves accused of oppression. I have said it before: what you say is not of interest to us, it is how you say it. Your feedback is valued and will affect policy — it has on multiple occasions — and we will apologise if we’re at fault — as we do, regularly — even if sometimes we disagree. But you cannot expect us to permit angry crusading and trolly circular debates instead of calm discussion. Plenty of players manage to say what they think without being a dick about it, but far too many can’t.

(For the record, these players who disagree calmly: they are not blacklisted for their dissenting opinions, as the rumour mill would have you believe. Instead, more often than not we put them in the GRC. The so-called ‘clique’ is not a gathering of lapdogs. We don’t appoint our friends if we don’t think they’re a good fit for the role, and we do appoint our enemies — both in terms of who we like/dislike personally and who oppose our policies in-game — if they are. PT is a meritocracy, not an aristocracy, and I guarantee we can give solid reasons for appointing or not appointing anyone to any position if asked.)

Because of these high expectations, the high volume of tasks, and the pervasive fury and intolerance of the PT community in its present state, being a mod requires an extraordinary degree of patience. I like to think that in almost every situation I remained calm and tolerant. But if on occasion I slipped, I apologise: I also stress, however, that mods should be allowed to slip. We’re human. We’re unpaid volunteers. We’re not public servants. This is a game. And this is ridiculously stressful job for, I say it again, A GAME. If I leave anything behind it is this: remember that this is a game. I cannot repeat it enough.

This isn’t Parliament: not every decision by a moderator needs to be dissected and discussed and challenged. Mods have, bar Wouter, the ultimate authority, and exercising this isn’t Draconian, it’s our jobs. Mods are not accountable to the players: this is not a democracy. Mods are accountable to Wouter. Wouter is accountable to you. Mods must be able to make key decisions and have them decisions respected. You can disagree, you can make a complaint, your feedback is wanted (see above), but fundamentally if moderation is to succeed again it needs to secure that respect and authority again. Sadly I believe that the only way to do so is to have a low tolerance on uncivil behaviour and take a slightly more active, controlling role while encouraging debate. This has been our policy recently and I believe it is working. Sadly the two short months before we initiated this policy have been so draining and aggressive that I cannot wait around to see our new approach succeed. Some of you will be surprised at how soon I have resigned: let that be testament to my word here.

As a result of this atmosphere I have attempted to describe here today, an image of moderation as the Tyrant Mods and Tyrant GRC, some kind of self-absorbed tyrannical elite inner circle (a bizarre image considering, as I say, THIS IS A GAME! Who cares enough to form that sort of elite circle?) has emerged. Several people have told me that some sort of underground movement views moderation in this way and I’ve experienced it first-hand. But tell me: why? I challenge anyone who holds this opinion to describe why they do. Give me specific examples from, say, since I became mod. You will find none. Yet again this is the court of public opinion acting without all the evidence. Those who hold this view wish to insist upon its accuracy yet are rarely able to provide any examples of us doing anything except asking to hear your views. Too many people buy into this anti-authoritarian fervour without a good enough understanding of our inner workings and without making an effort to approach us about these issues calmly. When the facts disagree, the fervour doesn’t disappear, we’re just ‘again refusing to listen to the people.’ If I may speak freely, I find this perspective to be complete and utter nonsense. I think it is completely inaccurate, and I invite those who disagree to change my mind, honestly: perhaps I am incorrect. As I say, we have always wanted to know your thoughts. You’re invited to disagree.

So: to conclude this characteristically long essay. Please, please, please change. These truths have too long gone unspoken and I urge my fellow, or former, colleagues to endeavour to shed light on these truths and realities of the job more often, to stand up for their views publically more openly, and not to be afraid any longer, as I have been, to act decisively and to speak out even when it means alienating the community or offending those who would rather this game become an angry mess. It does not hurt our reputation, I have concluded, to do so: it strengthens it.

I am sure I have made mistakes as moderator but hopefully I have contributed something positive to this game as well. My apologies to my colleagues for this surprise resignation — I shall remain in the role until a replacement is appointed I expect. It is truly a shame for me to resign so early when I had such hopes and ambitions for my time in the role, I wish I had been able to do more, and it is not through lack of willpower but through an ever-brewing frustration that strikes, I think, all moderators that has caused me to resign. Perhaps if I was not so busy, I could sustain my efforts, but I have considered this too many times even in my short term in the role to continue. I hope, then, that if I make any great contribution to this community it is this. With this final commentary, free from the responsibility of sustaining my role, all I can hope is that my desires and anger here can, in some way, encourage some improvement to this frankly dire situation, and I regret that I shall not be the moderator to see this through. Best wishes to whomever decides to take up the mantle.

And my apologies for lingering so much on the negativity here. There have been some great positives: I have enjoyed the company of my colleagues ceaselessly and am always glad of the contributions, however small, I have been able to make to this community, which I love in spite of my anger and misgivings. Thank you, too, to those who have sent such encouraging messages of support: it helps more than you know.

Perhaps one day, should Wouter will it to be, I may pick up the job in better times, perhaps in the new game.

Last edited by lewiselder1 on Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:25 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Resignation

Postby cm9777 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:32 am

I’m sorry to see you go Lewis. You’ve done great as a mod and don’t have anything to apologise for. Best wishes for the future.
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Re: Resignation

Postby wlievens » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:59 am

Sorry to see you go man. Good to hear you're determined to stay active in the community though!
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Re: Resignation

Postby jamescfm » Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:04 am

While I wasn't around for much of your time, it seems you've done a pretty admirable job. I think you'll enjoy the freedom of playing the game without any outside pressures.
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Re: Resignation

Postby CCP » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:22 pm

I thought it was a bad decision to appoint you moderator because I believed you were ill-equipped for the role. I still believe that. But you've brought an enthusiasm to the moderation team that was much-needed. And your leadership of the rules reform has been very well done. For those reasons, I wish you'd stick around and I'm sorry to see you go.

Now we're stuck with Polites and that lout from the Criminals Colony. Heaven help us.
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Re: Resignation

Postby lewiselder1 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:41 pm

Thanks everyone!

Good luck with that lout indeed
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Re: Resignation

Postby Ovarix » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:29 pm

Man this is really saddening to see. You are one of the reasons I play the game, man - You encourage others to get active and you have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into this game as have the other mods. Even when I was in the wrong you always took time to listen to me and take my concerns seriously. Best of luck man I hope you come back when the new game comes out as a mod.
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Re: Resignation

Postby FPC » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:00 pm

You did a great job man. Really sorry to see you go. Hope you can find a way to continue being a part of the community.
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Re: Resignation

Postby M13 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:39 pm

Wauw. I even wonder what I ever said that was misplaced.
But I must say that I respect a good Mod, certainly in a game like this, where anyone is able to play free of charge. Let's say that I personally haven't witnessed to much of what Lewiselder described, but I can imagine that as a Mod you get sh*t all over you at a certain stage. That's why we should remember, as you said yourself, that this is a game and was designed to have fun and to use your creativity.
Too bad to see a Mod go...
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