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Author Topic: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal  (Read 4666 times)

secret2023identity

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Greetings, Esteemed Members of the "Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist" Community,
I trust you're all relishing the intricate narratives and immersive experiences that this server has to offer. As someone who has been deeply involved in this community for a considerable period, I've come to appreciate the tireless efforts of our admin and Dungeon Master teams in maintaining a harmonious environment. However, even the best of systems can benefit from constructive dialogue and potential refinement. Today, I'd like to open a discussion on a topic that has been on my mind: the transparency of disciplinary actions.

A Note on Anonymity
Before diving into the subject matter, I'd like to clarify that I've elected to post this anonymously. I recognize that the topic at hand is one that elicits strong opinions. While I have full confidence that our esteemed DMs and Devs would not hold this discussion against me, I've chosen anonymity to ensure that the focus remains solely on the issue, not the individual raising it.

The Quandary We Face
In our current modus operandi, the outcomes of player-reported issues are shrouded in a veil of confidentiality. While this approach undoubtedly serves to protect the privacy of individuals, it simultaneously casts a shadow of ambiguity over those who took the initiative to report the issue, as well as the community at large. We are implicitly asked to place our trust in the wisdom and judgment of the DM team, yet the absence of any tangible feedback can gradually erode this trust.

The Unintended Consequences
The lack of clarity regarding the outcomes of reports has another, perhaps less obvious, downside. When the community is left in the dark about what constitutes a rule violation, it can lead to an increase in "fake" or misguided reports. These not only waste the valuable time of our dedicated DMs but also create unnecessary tension within the community.

The Imperative of Transparency
Transparency is not merely a buzzword; it is the bedrock upon which thriving communities are built. It engenders trust, fortifies accountability, and serves as an educational tool that helps delineate the boundaries of acceptable conduct. In many modern societal structures, the transparency of rulings is considered essential for maintaining both the integrity of the institution and the faith of the community it serves.

A Thoughtful Proposition
With these considerations in mind, I humbly propose a nuanced alteration to our existing procedures. Upon the conclusion of an investigation, a succinct summary should be shared in a designated section of our forum. To truly hold individuals accountable, the player name or handle associated with the rule violation should also be disclosed. Such a summary might read:

Quote
An investigation concerning player [INSERT PLAYER NAME OR HANDLE] and a potential violation of rule §3 has been meticulously reviewed. The player has been found guilty of the violation and appropriate action has been taken.

In Closing
I am convinced that this modest modification could significantly enhance the collective trust within our community, ensuring that we all operate under a uniform set of expectations.

Your Voice Matters
But what is a community without the voices of its members? I invite each and every one of you to share your thoughts, insights, and suggestions on this pressing matter. Do you agree that a shift towards greater transparency would benefit us all, or do you have reservations? Your input is invaluable, and I look forward to a constructive dialogue.

Erikat

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2023, 01:08:58 PM »
Reports are assuredly one way the team is able to know who to investigate, and where wrong doing is spotted. When reports go into the abyss of no replies or understanding of action taken, players lose faith their voice, concerns and reports have any weight. I value the confidentiality the team has maintained in the past, that said at least informing those who've been wronged or raised concerns or at least aware that action has been taken, would be valued. I generally agree with the proposal as listed.
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aliceofthevoid

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2023, 01:16:47 PM »
I do think a private message from the team that action has been taken following a report would be appropriate, but I don't think a public forum showing every infraction is necessary. Only when its a long term ban should it come with a public announcement I think, if for no other reason than the consideration towards people that have been building stories with them, so they know not to wait around for their input or whatever.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2023, 01:19:50 PM »
I do support a private word that the matter reported has been looked at, but nothing more. Not what decision (if any) has been taken, and certainly no public naming and shaming.

apeppertoo

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2023, 01:20:36 PM »
I don't like the idea of there being a public shame board for people to crow about.
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2023, 01:27:21 PM »
I do support a private word that the matter reported has been looked at, but nothing more. Not what decision (if any) has been taken, and certainly no public naming and shaming.

+1

Misan

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2023, 01:31:10 PM »
I do support a private word that the matter reported has been looked at, but nothing more. Not what decision (if any) has been taken, and certainly no public naming and shaming.

Agreed. It's not everyone's business, nor should be used as a forum for public shaming. People make mistakes and correct them all the time.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2023, 01:32:59 PM »
I do support a private word that the matter reported has been looked at, but nothing more. Not what decision (if any) has been taken, and certainly no public naming and shaming.

All reported matters are being looked at.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2023, 01:34:28 PM »
I do support a private word that the matter reported has been looked at, but nothing more. Not what decision (if any) has been taken, and certainly no public naming and shaming.

While I understand the sentiment here, I am not sure it adds enough to offset the extra workload it would add. DMs are already swamped, and I suspect sending out a form letter saying a report has been reviewed without any details of the outcome is unlikely to satisfy those doubting anything has been done.


jimkaf

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2023, 01:36:32 PM »
In my opinion a private message to the one sending the report in that the matter has been looked at and whether there was indeed foul play would go a long way towards making the community members feel that their reporting does matter and "justice" is done.
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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2023, 01:40:34 PM »
In my opinion a private message to the one sending the report in that the matter has been looked at and whether there was indeed foul play would go a long way towards making the community members feel that their reporting does matter and "justice" is done.

As soon as you confirm wrong doing took place, you are naming and shaming. It is 99% odds that the letter will be shared. And if the team comes back and says all was fair play, it is likely to enflame those that do not agree. That is the opposite of building trust.


jimkaf

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2023, 01:47:44 PM »
In my opinion a private message to the one sending the report in that the matter has been looked at and whether there was indeed foul play would go a long way towards making the community members feel that their reporting does matter and "justice" is done.

As soon as you confirm wrong doing took place, you are naming and shaming. It is 99% odds that the letter will be shared. And if the team comes back and says all was fair play, it is likely to enflame those that do not agree. That is the opposite of building trust.

That also is an opinion that shows that clearly there is no trust towards the playerbase, I refuse to believe that all people want is to shame others.
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Agony

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2023, 01:54:12 PM »
In my opinion a private message to the one sending the report in that the matter has been looked at and whether there was indeed foul play would go a long way towards making the community members feel that their reporting does matter and "justice" is done.

As soon as you confirm wrong doing took place, you are naming and shaming. It is 99% odds that the letter will be shared. And if the team comes back and says all was fair play, it is likely to enflame those that do not agree. That is the opposite of building trust.


That also is an opinion that shows that clearly there is no trust towards the playerbase, I refuse to believe that all people want is to shame others.


I never said that is all people want. I did say people would very, very likely share the letter with friends because that is a thing people already do. It is human nature to share with those we are close to.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2023, 02:39:27 PM by Agony »


bloodless

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2023, 01:55:38 PM »
Not all, certainly, but we don't exactly want for rumours as is. Things could be transparent as OP suggests, or they could be private as they are. Both models have their pros and cons, but trying to mix and match doesn't serve as a compromise. Limited transparency is all but guaranteed to spread, there's plenty of evidence for it. It's either all out, or none of it, intentional leaks aside. My suggestion is simply to reassure people that yes, their concern has been looked into. It's extra work, yes, and it may not be the closure they seek, but it's a point of positive reinforcement and one I think is good to have.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2023, 01:58:04 PM »
As it stands now, a significant part of the playerbase simply finds reporting rulebreaks to be a waste of time. There's no way to find out if anything was looked at, if there was foul play, or if the report was even posted in the first place.

Not worth the effort.
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Erikat

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2023, 01:59:24 PM »
Not all, certainly, but we don't exactly want for rumours as is. Things could be transparent as OP suggests, or they could be private as they are. Both models have their pros and cons, but trying to mix and match doesn't serve as a compromise. Limited transparency is all but guaranteed to spread, there's plenty of evidence for it. It's either all out, or none of it, intentional leaks aside. My suggestion is simply to reassure people that yes, their concern has been looked into. It's extra work, yes, and it may not be the closure they seek, but it's a point of positive reinforcement and one I think is good to have.
Agreed. The current no response is immensely dissatisfying, and prone to aggressive rumormongering and distrust. There need not be excessive details shared, but at the very least a confirmation of "We have looked into this, and are handling it." Would go a long way towards ensuring that the reports are not going into the wastebin of forum threads (if they get posted at all) and making folks a bit more comfortable reporting in general.
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William Roberts

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2023, 02:05:17 PM »
To be sure, some members of the community can be trusted to obey the rules and some can be trusted to show discretion about disciplinary matters. Given, however, that an investigation presupposes someone in the player base has violated a rule (and thus trust), it is reasonable to deduce that a person who violated a rule and is found guilty has some non-zero probability of likewise sharing a report.

If the player community was 100 percent reliable and trustworthy, we would have no need of reporting or enforcement at all.

I've probably reported something "suspicious" in all my years of being here about half a dozen times or so. In every case the response from the DM has been satisfactory. I don't enjoy these situations, so I wouldn't say the experience has ever been the bee's knees, but I've never felt ignored either.

A downside in the current system in my opinion is not being able to learn from stare decisis. But, all things considered, that's probably a worthwhile sacrifice because of all the heartburn that would result otherwise (endless arguments over consistency, for one).


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Maiyannah

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2023, 02:06:04 PM »
As it stands now, a significant part of the playerbase simply finds reporting rulebreaks to be a waste of time. There's no way to find out if anything was looked at, if there was foul play, or if the report was even posted in the first place.

Not worth the effort.

I left, frankly, because not only did the things I complained about go into a cloying blackhole and nothing improved, I felt as if there was no prospect of that improving and I had no trust remaining in the DMs to want to continue the shared narrative in it's current context.  When questions of player consent are dealt with proclaiming a heady "get over it" and the times that I have reported things I would bet dollars to donuts rarely made the DM boards because of personal distaste for me, I am left to muse on one single sentiment:

"It is better to strike a match, than curse the darkness."

I've been doing my own thing and been happier for it, and I frankly I suspect that voting with your feet is going to be the only language the incumbent administration understands.

Perhaps I'll get banned for this, criticism certainly seems to be the one thing that merits administrative attention these days, but I find myself with as much ennui towards that outcome as the average person has for reporting, so here we are.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2023, 02:11:10 PM by Maiyannah »
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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2023, 02:21:35 PM »
I must be the outlier in all circumstances.

I have reported people and seen that they have been handled. I have been reported, contacted and dealt with what people have had issues with me, concerning not only perceived rulebreaks but also on levels of distrust with me.

I have thrown suggestions at the staff about things I think should change, and I have seen a good deal of those changes implemented. They listen.

In general, I have interacted with the community and the team on a lot of different levels and I have never made an attempt to try and disguise myself or mask my doings with anyone else. I am always honest about what I say and do and the important thing is that it is my choice that I do so still. It should be left like that.


The post here speaks of transparency, yet speaks anonymously. Deeply ironic, because what it proposes is for people to be made known to others when some kind of ill act is committed, so why not take the first step and be held accountable for your constructive feedback. Do not preach what you do not do.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2023, 02:26:16 PM »
Public shaming? No. No-No. 3x no.

A detailed report of the offenses incurred, even if that risks outing the player/dm that dennounced? Yes. Yep-Yep. (Fuck yeah)².
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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2023, 02:35:13 PM »
The post here speaks of transparency, yet speaks anonymously. Deeply ironic, because what it proposes is for people to be made known to others when some kind of ill act is committed, so why not take the first step and be held accountable for your constructive feedback. Do not preach what you do not do.

The poster here wants to keep things on track and not focused on themselves, and with how toxic this community can be, I don't blame anyone in wanting to post something like this anonymously. They've done nothing to warrant a need to post this transparently.

The subject as I see it is that we're given warnings, based on something the DM team is privy too but when we ask for more information on what it is we broke, we get vague responses and no proof, relying on the trust that things weren't taken out of context or worse. We all will make mistakes but if we're being accused then I personally would like to see the proof of it so I can have the right to defend myself against out of context or other foul accusations, or improve on the mistakes I make.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2023, 02:36:01 PM »
TBF, Skelni, we're all quasi-anonymous here.

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2023, 02:36:20 PM »
This topic gets a hard no from the admins every time it's brought up.  It's up there with Balors in perf being weak and sorcs needing an extra spell known per level. The admins are adamant against this idea of punishments or investigations being public knowledge and that won't change. 
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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2023, 02:38:25 PM »
Public shaming? No. No-No. 3x no.

A detailed report of the offenses incurred, even if that risks outing the player/dm that dennounced? Yes. Yep-Yep. (Fuck yeah)².

It would be nice to see that matters of concern were infact brought up and dealt with. The DM team is busy as all heck, and people over look messages by mistake due to the sheer volume.

Having something that is sent letting the player know it's been posted would go quite a long way, and going even further to post that recently there was a rule break involving X rule and the matter has been cleared would be amazing. People would then feel like there is a worth in sending reports, because like it was already mentioned, very few people currently feel it is worth their time to collect the evidence and upload images and fashion the report. A post like that would also help the team become more aware of which rules are broken most commonly and could perhaps even help them figure out how to prevent these breaks from happening again.
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Maiyannah

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Re: Fostering a Stronger, More Transparent Community: A Thoughtful Proposal
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2023, 02:45:33 PM »
Quote
The subject as I see it is that we're given warnings, based on something the DM team is privy too but when we ask for more information on what it is we broke, we get vague responses and no proof, relying on the trust that things weren't taken out of context or worse. We all will make mistakes but if we're being accused then I personally would like to see the proof of it so I can have the right to defend myself against out of context or other foul accusations, or improve on the mistakes I make.

"True justice satisfies all, false, none."

The one time I got a warning was basically because I continued to arbitrate something I cared about that the developers did not want to address; that is their perogative, I suppose.  But that's the thing: roleplay like this is a shared narrative, and people have to be able to communicate freely with each other without fear of reprecussions.  When you chill speech you cannot have a proper narrative, it is one or the other.  When players feel their consent is infringed - as many did in that controversial scene with the children - and they can do nothing about it, then what you end up with is people taking their time and finding healthier roleplaying environments, because that is anything but.

This community has, even in my relatively short time, developed a habit of brushing player complaints, even deep-seated complaints that lead to considerable unrest, under the rug.  They are not arbitrated in a fair and reasonable manner, nor in the public light, but instead taken to quiet corners.  The developers then complain of players going on in private discords - but this is a behaviour they have only learned from the administration, whom will take these matters "under consideration", discuss them in a private forum, and more often than not, we will hear not of it again.

I should not need to say the how and why of why this distrust only begets more distrust, but I will nonetheless state that it does.  When it feels like our future here is at the will of an often capricious administration whom decides everything in secret, we can only take it on a trust.  And as I am ever fond of saying: to give something the benefit of the doubt, first, I must possess doubt.

I lurk on these forums because there is a part of me that still holds out a hope - a fool's hope, it feels to me like - that there might be improvement here, and I might return to tell the stories I frankly enjoyed telling.  However, that improvement can only come out of taking responsibility for past errors, and having the honesty with one's self for sincere self-assessement.  It's not going to happen until that does, and I remain cynical as to its prospects, given that there is definitely an inertia and preference for the status quo, even as it becomes more and more obvious it isn't going to be sustainable, in the long term.
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