updating the player punishment system

#1

(before i start, let me say that in no way is this post intended to be a complaining post, or anything of that nature, and i’d appreciate it if it were not viewed as such.)

i really think that pmu needs to update its system of player punishment, and how warns, mutes, and bans are given out. in the past week i’ve seen tons of people muted or banned, including myself and some of my friends, and i don’t want something like that to happen again, for anyone.

i’ve always found the pmu punishment system vague and at times, inefficient. i believe that at the least, there should be a post somewhere in the forums, or some information easily available to players about how the punishment system works - what warrants a warn, other than a vague offense such as ‘discussing inappropriate topics’? how many warnings will lead up to a mute? how many mutes/warnings will lead up to a ban?

this would solve a lot of problems: a lot of the times people get reported and muted, i find it unfair or odd - if a staff had been on then (not blaming anything on the staff team by saying this), they would’ve told the player or players in question to cut it out and drop the topic. or at the very least, a light warn or unofficial warn would be provided to dissuade them from pursuing the topic. but when no staff are on, there are no strict or solid guildlines for players to see that tell them what exactly it is that they can’t talk about. thus players’ conversations get screenshotted and they are given a harsher punishment than they would’ve been given had a staff been on to prevent the situation from building up.

i’ve seen players go unpunished for actually dropping the f bomb, cursing on purpose, or screaming in caps on global because the staff that were on made the judgement according to the situation and saw it unfit to mute or warn a player for that. i’ve seen people get muted for really minor offenses that honestly only warrant a warning because no staff were on to fully assess the situation. all they have to judge by are cut out pieces of text -‘evidence’- from screenshots that may not even give context.

muting and reporting players who may have intentionally brought up inappropriate topics that weren’t harmful - does punishing these players really make pmu a better game? does it make the community any better or closer together? does it do anything positive at all in the long run? i think the punishment system needs to be either much more situational (with few to no exceptions: things such as excessive cursing, no matter how situational, will be wrong, but bringing up certain topics/making certain references that may be inappropriate should be judged based on the situation) or the conditions of punishment need to be explained much more thoroughly and made publicly available.

thank you for listening and feel free to provide your opinions/any insight on this :!!:

edit: also, how do players contact anyone while muted? i was lucky enough that i could make new accs with new characters to seek out the staff that were online when i got stuck in a dungeon, but some people can’t do that (strangely enough, they get ip muted?). this seems unfair that players cannot contact staff in any way if they need help immediately, like they get bugged or have questions about their punishment/something to report, and seems to discourage you from playing the game at all.

#2

i agree, it would be very helpful to have a page stating which offenses are punishable by ban/mute/warn. i think it would also be helpful if staff were more strict/lax and consistent with punishments. for example i have gotten warned for swearing a few times, yet i’ve been muted for mentioning (not talking about) topics such as drugs and atheism.
i also know of users who have swore on global chat publicly yet have not received a mute, or warning as far as i know.

perhaps if staff could access chat logs punishments could be more fairly handed out.

#3

the problem here are two things:

the kindergarden rules

and the staff team making rush decisions

#4

this is a really good idea, as i’ve seen so many players get frustrated when their reports are turned down by a staff for the sole reason of ‘you didn’t take screenshots, so there’s no proof’. the opposite is also true: ‘you took screenshots, so whatever is there is mostly solid proof’, which is not always the case.

this might be hard to implement but it’d be something i’d really look forwards to in the future. it’d definitely ease up a lot of conflicts.

the ‘kindergarten rules’ apply in pmu but they are not always followed, which is what i have a problem with. this post is trying to encourage people to see that and give solutions, so naturally it is an existing problem lol.

but you have a point with the staff team rushing to make decisions. sometimes, it’s needed, like when someone is obviously trolling with spam and curses on global, but for regular punishments i think the staff team should pass it through at least 2 or 3 other members - this would take more time, yes, but it would provide more perspectives, allow for those in charge of the judgement to step back and look at the situation as a whole, and avoid some unfortunate mistakes in general (not gonna use names, but sadly there are some staff members that get a lot of hate because of the above reason, and i think this would ease the situation for them as well).

#5

[quote=“wishful_sinking”]

the ‘kindergarten rules’ apply in pmu but they are not always followed, which is what i have a problem with. this post is trying to encourage people to see that and give solutions, so naturally it is an existing problem lol.
[/quote][/quote]

i just dont understand, why cant we swear? as long we dont offend anyone, or abuse it, but no, there are kids out there, that probably swears at other games but yea you got the point

#6

I agree how the rules are enforced can be too kindergarten-y, though I see why straight (non abbrev) cussing isn’t kosher. Some people just aren’t comfortable with that, and games can benefit from a family-friendly setting as long as it isn’t too restricting. I sincerely don’t believe the average person, including 12 year olds, would be offended/corrupted by “wtf.”

Moderation inconsistency has been a topic for years now. Can staff comment on what’s being done about it/how discussions have gone about this?

#7

Well, let me start saying that I personally am as worried as you are with this issue.

We urgently need a rules revamp aswell as a moderation guidelines for the whole team to follow and I can say that even if progress is not fast we for the first time are planning a staff restructure which also includes the two things mentioned before.

As you mentioned this is something that has been going on for years now and I feel it is something that is going to take time to achieve. I feel that in a general way the staff team and the players have go themselves in a mindset that is really hard to change.

Moderating right now is mostly based in thoughts and moral of each individial of the team which is anything but right. Include to that the rules are old and not clear enough for everyone to follow and things like the mentioned above happen.

Generally speaking, though, is true some rules are solid and understandable as the non swearing rule but if some staff don’t punish for them they usually lose strenght and players get confused on what is right to do. And making it worse they pick favorites in the staff team and dislike other members when this shouldn’t happen. I don’t believe that we as staff are better than anyone, on the contrary we are just like players but we try to focuss in adding content rather than playing the game. But in my opinion powers don’t make a difference at all and we should use them to make peace rather than start a war.

Now, there are also certain situations where players don’t collaborate with the staff at all and push warnings until they’re muted. Or sometimes they keep going even when told to stop just for the sake of it. This also isn’t positive for neither of us.

However I’m fairly positive things will change. It is not going to be an easy transition but I really hope we can organize both the game and moderation rules in a way everyone understand how things are without creating a grudge between players and staff.

So yeah, I believe things need to change, and while the team not always is the most organized out there I think this time if we all collaborate and put enough effort into it things will be more clear for all of us.

#8

Many questionable words also get treated as something completely destructive even if they’re just somewhat offensive at most.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bastard
Perfectly simple word, and used in the right context? Haha nope, Levy got warned by Carlos because of it. For anyone who just wants a quick context, it’s much like the original definition of “gay” being “happy” but now people shame it for the slang.

Another funny thing about that is that the filter system does absolutely nothing to prevent damage, it just gives staff some witches to hunt, even if they are in places unreachable by minors. Doing a dungeon run with people you know are mature? Can’t let you do that, Fox. The filter system has also been allegedly “improved” as stated in changelogs (staff refuse to disclose how), but nothing was changed to make it actually do something useful. And it’s been like that for years, yet no one cared to do anything about the system. Staff really don’t care about any actual children getting “corrupted”. (as silly as the hypothetical scenario is in the first place)

#9

well, it’s a step that the staff team are aware of the situation, so that’s already better than nothing, which is really good! i know there’s long running jokes about the pace of the staff team, but perhaps something could be done as a temporary substitute (ie making some moderation policies pass through more than a single staff member) in the meanwhile, or at the least, an idea of how long can be provided? i feel like this would also be an opportunity for the staff team to regain the trust of players and make their reputation better, as i’m aware there’s a lot of people in the community who don’t have high opinions of the team.

as art and zeebrah mentioned above, the filter/the system determining what a ‘swear’ is is also lacking. people are sometimes getting warned for no reason (a recent situation including someone stating the name of an artist with a ‘profanity’ in their name, as well as a friend of mine saying ‘wop’ accidentally without even knowing it triggered the filter) and it is overall an unsatisfying experience.

i’ve seen a lot of speculation in-game by players who think that staff should be able to see guild/party chat but not moderate it as harshly - there are plenty of family friendly guilds out there, but there are also some pg-13 ones where everyone is at a decent age and consenting to a more ‘dirty’ chat. nothing over the top, of course, but perhaps these chats could be more lax. this might be difficult to implement, however, so it’s really more of a luxury idea.

#10

What would be great is a filter that actually masks the words but lets you opt out of it. In that case, any chat would be able to be lax and without such silly restrictions without “corrupting” the children. We wouldn’t need any rules against swearing and things would be a lot simpler, and it would be quite trivial to implement.
Another thing of note is that you can even get warned for saying literally “****”, so my hopes aren’t all that high.

#11

What would be great is a filter that actually masks the words but lets you opt out of it. In that case, any chat would be able to be lax and without such silly restrictions without “corrupting” the children. We wouldn’t need any rules against swearing and things would be a lot simpler, and it would be quite trivial to implement.
Another thing of note is that you can even get warned for saying literally “****”, so my hopes aren’t all that high.[/quote]

There are always variations of a curse word that could be done, such as letters taken off, spaces in-between, numbers, etc,. A masking system would have to be able to cover every single variation. There’s a company I know that tried the same thing as what you are suggesting but they only covered the generic words and no variations. Lots of players simply put periods in the middle of the words to bypass the filter.

#12

The “filter” system already does not cover those, so there’s no loss. And if the system is opt-out, then people wouldn’t really care about doing so… except when they try to cause damage, but again, we aren’t losing anything on this since it can already be done. And Levenshtein distance is a thing.

#13

On the plus side, if there is a filter and people are actively having to put in effort to avoid it, then those people have no excuse and could actually be punished fairly.

[hr][/hr]

Could staff please hold a meeting for this in a staff-only forum topic? It’s easy.
Here are some examples of what was done in a different project. Note that GM is an equivalent of moderator here, only with more power/is considered a high rank.

Preface within staff about existing rules/during 2014 ruleset rewrite (since the old ones were stupid). Starting with this because the screenshot after this one is important for moderation consistency attempts.
http://prntscr.com/bushgw

Talking about each rule, including removal of loopholes. This makes sure the intention of each rule is not lost/misconstrued or taken too far to an extreme. This allows for good decisions in a complex/odd situation that would require a judgement call from moderation:
http://prntscr.com/busi9c

Snippets of the discussion about how moderation should be approached. First post is organized and up to date. ( It’s also stickied, in a staff section):
http://prntscr.com/busjea

http://prntscr.com/buskax

This still leaves most approaches in the hands of the staff member, but the differences between how each staff handles cases won’t vary so wildly that players will be confused. (Some staff will invariably be recognized as more forgiving than others, but players still know what is/isn’t ok.)

[Keep in mind mutes in this example project normally start at 30-60 seconds, and reasons can be added to the mute command so that they know exactly why they were muted for 60 seconds. Meanwhile I think in PMU they start at hours/days[?], but I feel PMU could use the 60 second rule since it normally “jolts” people back to reality without them feeling like the punishment was too harsh.]

There used to be consistency issues in the example project as well. Here’s how it was changed, mostly in order:

*Moderation staff as a group came up with those guidelines by communicating their moderation styles with eachother. Harsher/more forgiving styles were also talked with the rest of staff, so that staff as a whole could agree with and justify/understand any actions taken. This prevents staff from openly disagreeing with each other through public channels, which is confusing/sloppy; they can talk directly to eachother instead, and everyone is acknowledged.

*Logic >>>> emotion. If a good point is made, it cannot be ignored. Admins had to enforce this early on when the group had less savory characters within staff, because otherwise conversations could and would derail, sometimes into insults. If there is a disagreement that doesn’t hold water when challenge, the lack of logic is pointed out and if the person bringing the point up cannot adjust to meet standards, the point is not attended to. Entertaining poor logic/no logic for too long wastes time and can result in mistakes/damage that leaks to the players. Staff that degraded into hostility or failed to cooperate mostly did not get their way, but in hindsight at least one person should have been demoted.

—Entire ranks were not punished for abuses; individuals were. When community-based groups could not handle the ban power right, the people who abused their power were removed instead of compromising an entire rank’s efficiency just because of a bad egg.

*A lot of the “moderation culture” is unwritten, in that most people have similar expectations via talking to eachother in staff chat during this time and by staff hiring similarly-minded people (in other words, the personalities in the group do not clash/have vastly different goals or ideals…or at least clashed less as time went on). This requires upper management having a mostly clear, unified vision for the game’s culture/moderation enforcement. (Management can’t give people conflicting goals when it comes to rule enforcement.)

*If somebody was too harsh/too easy, other staff are normally kind about it and give their 2 cents without vilifying the staff member they disagree with or demanding change/a revocation. There is not a “shaming” culture within staff where people have to hide from their mistakes or have a chance of getting “ganged up” on. Mistakes are just talked out with both people trying to understand the other side; Moderation staff has semi-final say but is expected to seriously consider critique (see: Logic > emotion), and admins can jump in and direct moderation culture in a specific direction if something appears to be going poorly (ex: they believe logic is being ignored by the moderation team).

*“Bloodthirsty” culture [where Moderation would entrap people to punish them or make a spectacle of punished players] was discouraged and ultimately abandoned. It is disrespectful to turn bans/mutes/behavior reform discussions into a circus. It also takes the community into a terrible direction to allow people to publicly shame others; it is terrible when staff laugh at other players openly with the community, because of how much sway a tag can have. A single tagged member calling a player something negative in a semi-serious manner (ex: annoying, trouble maker, hacker) turns a player into black sheep that can get picked on by the rest of the playerbase. Reports were made private when they were previously public. Obviously joking about it is ok, but sincerely encouraging people to “shame criminals” is not.

*Logic >>>> emotion v2: Staff are never supposed to give out clear, non-hostile answers to players, no matter how annoying they are, until they have been warned.

*Every new staff in the moderation role gets directed to there and has a “trial” period where they are put “into the wild” so to speak. Since existing staff have already unified their moderation techniques, existing staff work by example, which prevents new staff from going in a wildly different direction.

*[IMPORTANT]: Moderation was “detangled” from existing content groups. The content groups used to be able to ban/mute as well as implement maps/NPCs. This ended up holding the entire staff back, because “good hires” for content had to be passed up because they weren’t also “good hires” for moderation. This lets content focus on content as long as they don’t have a bad personality/lash out at players. This also lets content not have to delay important content projects because they have to deal with unruly players/bans/controversies. This also lets mods not be “outclassed” by content groups and be recognized as important (which they are) instead of as a stepping stone to get to other groups with.
----The example project has 2 levels of moderators, actually: one expected to help the community and foster kindness/host mini events, and a level for serious cases like bans/security.

[hr][/hr]

Keep in mind that this REQUIRES upper management to care and be proactive about discussions so that they are kept moving in a healthy direction. Admins/high-influence staff (high-influence meaning whoever in staff can get people organized regardless of rank) cannot be passive/inactive/drop the ball here…But that’s true of everything in a project. This is just one example of why it is so important that upper management has their stuff together.

[/wall…I’m sure I’ll post another next week.]

#14

i think what zeebrah said is a very viable and achievable idea. if all the staff could take even just one or two days to all be online at the same time (or perhaps even on a staff-only forum post or on trello somewhere) on a platform such as skype to discuss what is to be done, that would be quite reassuring. it would be amazing if a post were made on what updates are in discussion/updates to come about the staff team’s structure and moderation. i didn’t expect this many replies, and i’m honestly surprised by how many ideas the community has relating to this topic, so perhaps more could be contributed on a similar thread made by an actual staff member.

as much as i would like for a swear on/off filter to be implemented, i feel like the coding may be too complex for pmu at the moment. i was previously informed that even an /ignore command was difficult to implement, when i inquired a staff member on the subject. so unless someone who is capable is willing to code this, i doubt it will be put in any time soon, sadly. but i’d love to see this expanded upon.

i also really like the idea of a shortened mutes. a taste of an hour to three hours of being muted, or maybe even shorter than that, is a good wake up call. if people are consistently abusing this system (doing things to get muted say every other day), then longer mutes or bans can be given out, as then it is obvious that the players abusing the system are doing it on purpose. this would also help clear the issue of being warned/muted for days due to minor offenses, as the punishment will not be as harsh.

are there any staff looking at this topic that can provide some info about what you guys are planning to do about this?

#15

Will see what I can do about this. Will report back in a few.
I’m tired, so forgive me if I type something weird.

not “erica’s logs” notes:

  1. planning on making a spreadsheet with a full list of infractions in-game, forums, and possibly skype
  2. want to share, need approval first
  3. if possible, will try to push for an “official” fancy version of this in the rules section

Erica’s Logs

edit 1: july 19th
making list of types of infractions.

edit 2: july 19th
google doc has been made. also found coki.

edit 3: july 19th
found nuxl. progress is being made. I think everyone else is still asleep.

#16

edit2: allowing swearing