Staff Policy

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Deliberation

All major decisions will be discussed by at least 4 members of staff. Major decisions will include but may not be limited to: SUSPECT flagging, player/staff discipline, large-scale story arcs/TPs, and theme/policy modifications. Players are warned in advance that SUSPECT flagging may occur if staff deliberations have determined that ample evidence exists in support of the suspicion that the player in question is engaging in illegal or destructive activity, and they appear to have been dishonest when confronted regarding the suspicious activity. All use of the SUSPECT flag will be logged and reviewed by staff as a whole.

Minor decisions will be discussed by at least two members of staff. This may include minor code modifications, character applications, minor player complaints, and small-scale TPs.

Discussions will attempt to determine what needs to be done, how it ought to be done, and who will do it. All rulings, regardless of who is in attendance for them, will be posted in a location that is accessible by all staff members.

Character application approval requires at least 2 members of staff to sign off on it. With four people currently members of staff, this should allow us to address applications in a reasonable time frame. All applications should receive a response within two days, whether it be approval, a request for changes, or denial. If it has been longer than that, please check in with us.

Staff Roles

The only members of staff with specific assigned roles are:

Koinonia will serve primarily as a mediator/gripestaff, as well as an usher and guide for new players. If a player has a complaint or issue with another player or staff member that they have been unable to resolve on their own, they may contact her on or outside of the game to request her help in solving the problem. She is also wiki admin.

Volund is a code consultant. He is the one who set up most of the softcode on this game, for which we are very grateful. He’s an excellent resource when it comes to code, and has always been extremely helpful.

All staff members will have the opportunity for an equal contribution to every decision made. If a staff member didn't happen to be present during a deliberation, they are free to review the decision made and question/challenge it if they so desire. Their input will be taken into consideration/discussed.

All staff will possess an equal level of power and authority on the game (wizard-level). There will be no ranks, nor a "head" wizard.

Communication

Effective communication includes prompt replies, diligent records, and staying on task and focused during discussion. Focusing our conversations, particularly during meetings, also allows us to remain on-task, and to shorten the length of our meetings. Something that simply serves to illustrate a point rather than further one will only slow the conversation down. We want to advance discussion, not sidetrack it. Staff discussions -- or staff discussions with players -- should be recorded whenever possible, particularly if there are decisions made. All decisions should be at minimum recorded in a quick bullet point for all staff to see. Particularly in matters of player discipline, we will need permanent records.

Organization

The most important part of organization is making it easy for everyone to communicate and stay on the same page. As a result, we need to be sure that we reply promptly, and stay up to date in our conversations.

It is important to have to-do lists with clear priorities. To ensure things are done in timely fashion, it's also important to delegate appropriately.

Player Demands

While we should try to always seem fair to the players, keep in mind that they don't get to make unreasonable demands; acquiescing to players' every whim might make you popular, but it's not going to lead to a particularly coherent or stable game.

We do not negotiate with terrorists. The worst a player can threaten is to leave. There is no player who is so valuable that we need to allow them to behave in a manner that is damaging to the game or the players to keep this from happening.

If a player is behaving in a manner that is mean, aggressive, unkind, etc., keep a record. Players that misbehave regularly should get a warning about their tone with examples.

If a player is threatening suicide, remember you are not their therapist. Encourage them to go get help, but do not allow yourself to become their therapy outlet. Here are some good hotlines that anyone on a MU* can find online:

Player Discipline

A player will receive a warning after a demonstrated pattern of negative behavior. The player is expected to modify their behavior. If the behavior continues after the warning, it becomes a strike. On the third strike, a player will be banned.

However, staff reserves the right to ban any player immediately, without any strikes should we come to the conclusion that the severity of the player’s offenses warrant it.

It is important to note the difference between strikes and warnings. Staff should not be liberal with strikes. A strike ought to be the result of an accumulation of poor conduct/policy violations, not of every single bad thing a player does. It should also follow a series of warnings that were not heeded.

All bans will be posted publicly to ensure transparency, together with an explanation for the ban. Other player discipline issues will remain confidential between the player and staff.

Priorities

As a member of staff, your priorities will have to change. What is most important becomes not your characters or your story, but the overall health and function of the game. Everything that you do as a member of staff feeds into this.

This is not to say that staffers cannot have fun with their alts -- there's plenty of room for both! -- but it's our responsibility to consider the game as a whole first. We should always come to plots and problems through the lens of big picture instead of what our own characters will do. Prioritize task lists, and consider the opinions and skills of others when making lists. There may be items that can be delegated, freeing up time for other, higher priority tasks.

Propriety

As a member of staff, you have to not only behave in an ethical manner, but seem to behave in an ethical manner. The appearance of propriety matters as much as whether you actually did anything wrong. If it could make someone uncomfortable, don't do it. Staff abuse of power is enough of an epidemic in games that even the appearance of anything that looks like it will spook even the most experienced players. Trust in staff is an extremely high value commodity; do not squander it.

While it is entirely possible that some members of staff can GM for themselves fairly, it has a high risk of appearing unfair to the players. Avoid acting as a staff member or GM for yourself particularly in ways that make your PCs look better, or your rivals look bad. When you are a staffer, your PC becomes secondary in staff plots. Staff PCs can absolutely help shape plots, but try to keep everyone in the loop before you take action that might dramatically alter any organization that's happened.

As much as possible it is important to maintain a positive attitude both in public and in private. The attitude we take can quickly sour as negativity becomes self-reinforcing. Remember that players will rarely make the distinction between your voice as a player and as a staffer: as such, consider that everything that you say from a PC will be read as a staffer's voice. Thus, it is important to be positive and kind about players and games no matter which bit you are logged in on.

It is also important to maintain a positive attitude about players: give them the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind that most of us have been playing and staffing for a long time and on many games. The MU community is, ultimately, not that large, and many of us have experience on a wide variety of games. Everyone has a history. We may have run into players before. Most people will come in with experience with a variety of game cultures, so try to listen to concerns on their own merit rather than dismiss them as a product of past behavior or different history.

Respect

Treat each other and players with kindness. If you ever find yourself in a state wherein you are unable to be respectful to others or find it difficult to do so, please pull yourself away until you can be. As it is, there should be plenty of other staff members who can step in for you should you need some time away from the game.

Responsibility

As a member of staff, we are responsible for staying up to date on areas in our spheres of influence. It is important not only to read, but to understand. If something is not clear to you, ask for clarification. Prepare for meetings by reading the agendas or other related documents. Prepare for GMed scenes by reading the plans. Keep up to date on discussion during an event, and if notes are being taken, refer to them in order to clarify decisions if you are not sure. If you have a question, check to see if it has been answered.

Responsiveness

Guidelines for responsiveness should be adhered to closely. We should set limits on the length of time we have to vote or rule on an issue, respond to applications, and wait before scheduling. As much as possible, we want to have a short, responsive turnaround. This is particularly important where players are concerned: they can't see the discussion. It often disappears into a black box and they are left waiting, nervous.

This does not mean that everyone should be glued to the screen at all times: as much as speed, it is important to note who is needed to reach a decision.

Time and Energy

Please be aware that what seems easy to you may not be as simple in practice. Respect the limits of each other's time and energy. Sometimes someone may be willing to up the priority of a task if you offer to take something else off their plate. Delegate where possible so that no one person is overburdened. Be mindful of others’ RL schedules. If someone is particularly busy one week and you are less busy, be willing to pick up some of their slack.

Tone

It is important to accept a decision that does not go your way gracefully. Complaints should be kept within staff, and even then, we should all strive to work in a positive, productive atmosphere rather than a negative atmosphere. Give each other the benefit of the doubt, just as you ought to do with players.

Transparency

It is important to be clear about discussion with each other and with players. Rulings -- whether app, plot, discipline, or some other issue -- need to be laid out clearly. For example, if an app can be approved in all but one part, you need to make sure that player knows clearly coming in what part it is must be changed and why. It is important for players to understand.

*Note: This page's content was derived in part from Transformers: Lost & Found Staff Polices as seen at the following link: http://lostandfound.riverdark.net/wiki/Staff_Policies

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