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Author Topic: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions  (Read 3936 times)

Hades_Kane

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Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« on: February 23, 2018, 1:38 PM »
Going off of the discussion of the more general moderation stuff from here:

http://www.mudconnect.com/SMF/index.php?topic=81200.0

Something that has come up repeatedly is the issue of promotions.  I figure it would be beneficial to have a separate, focused discussion on that issue specifically as to not derail the more general moderation discussion.

Currently, it is against the rules to derail a promotional thread from its original intent and purpose.  More specifically, this has meant that a poster can not criticize any aspect of the promotional thread, but that questions or comments about the game or post are permitted, provided they aren't critical or negative in nature.

This was a rule that was in place before general moderation of the forums was introduced and was a rule that was laid down by Icculus.  The reason being is because at the time it seemed every other MUD promotion was being flamed or would turn into a flame war and was creating an environment where promotion a MUD would basically place a target on you, the MUD, or the thread.

That said, even if the community and moderators are all in agreement that this should be changed in some way, that doesn't necessarily mean that Icculus will agree.  To be clear, I haven't spoken with him about this in years, but if we, as a community, can come to a consensus and IF that consensus is to change this rule in some manner, then we can reach out and see if he is agreeable to the change.  This was the only rule that I can recall he seemed insisting remain intact whenever moderation was initially introduced, but that has been many years now and his stance may have changed.

I figure there are mostly two primary prongs of discussion to be had and examined here...


1) Should the rules with regards to responding to promotion threads be changed, and if so, how?

If changed, potential ways forward could be:
A) Promotion threads are under the exact same rules and treated equally as all other threads; people are welcome to discuss anything/everything related to the topic of the MUD being promoted provided nothing is flamey, even if critical or negative.

B) In the interest of keeping promotion threads from derailing and continuing to serve as a means for MUD owners to recruit players, critical posts still aren't allowed, but a post linking to concerns or criticisms of the game is allowed via a short, to the point comment followed by a separate link to another post that addresses the concerns, and all further critical discussion should be focused in the new thread.


2) Should posts that are mostly promotional in nature be confined specifically to the MUD Promotions forum.  This would be largely intended to cut down on the amount of obviously self promoting posts that may occur in somewhat unrelated discussion.  For example, say I post asking for code help on a maze generator code (as I have recently) and then someone were to respond with "That looks like some good code and I hope you figure it out.  How we handle this on Hades_KaneMUD is we dynamically load and generation blah blah and the several players that login and enjoy this daily yada yada."

Likewise, should there be a limit or policy on frequency or amount of recommending your own game in "looking for" posts and do we try to determine and police genuine recommendations vs. borderline spam?  If we do limit or police, what types of posts are acceptable?  Full on promotional posts, or just "Hey, Hades_KaneMUD meets your requirements, check out <promotional post link> for more information!"  What about someone who has asked for specific things, are point by point replies based on the OP's original requests acceptable?  If so, is there a difference between that and a wordy, full on promotional post reply?



Other things that need to be considered and discussed...

-How frequently should a new promotional post be allowed to be made on the forum?  Before the new forums, there was a vague "promotion posts should be limited to every 1 to 2 weeks" but there's never been anything put in place specifically since the new forums were introduced.

-What about bumping your own promo threads?  Should an "update" or additional post be more lienient or should it be under the same rules?  Should there be a limit on bumping?

-What about other posters bumping a post?  Sure, questions on a post are one thing, but replies that are basically testimonials supporting the game are obviously just "let's bump this post".  You can't really hold the OP of a game responsible for what others choose to reply on their thread, can you?  Even if you have reason to believe (but no way of proving) the MUD owner has encouraged others to do this or that several new posters replying to a thread may in fact be the same person using a proxy?



There's a lot to cover here, so please give input.  I'll reply with my input separate from starting the topic.
-Diablos
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 2:23 PM »
Icculus has reached out and let us know that any change that is decided for promotions is fine by him.
-Diablos
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Epilogy

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2018, 2:26 PM »
1B

2 weeks
If it's been 2 weeks, and you don't see the need to make a new promo, sure.
Testimonials are a means of advertisement, and promotion, and should be treated as if it were the OP themselves bumping it. If a player wants their testimonial included so badly, it should be given to whomever control's the mud's account to post themselves alongside their promo, or included in an edit after the fact. This is 2018, no one should believe testimonials.

Further, I think promo and EVERYTHING else should probably be divided. I won't suggest how, but it would discourage the use of flooding the forum with plugs in places where they're not intended, and leave the general activity, and conversation of the forums to their business without being interlaced with promos that many may not desire to view.

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2018, 2:39 PM »
I tend to look at MUD promotions as the forum equivalent of a TV commercial.  The purpose of a commercial is to convey information about your product to a wide audience.  Commercials do not provide opportunity for the viewers to provide feedback, either positive or negative.  Authors of the commercials are held accountable for false advertising.  Commercials for the same product are typically not run back-to-back, as there is a cost associated with running them.

In the same vein, I would suggest that MUD promotions could be treated in a similar manner:
- Promotions would be a one-way communication from the author to an audience about what their MUD has to offer.
- Promotions would be contained in the "Mud Staffing and Promotions" category, so as not to disrupt regularly scheduled programming (all the other categories).
- Each MUD would be limited to a single promotional thread in the forum at a time.  The thread should either be autolocked, or replies should only be allowed by the original author as a means of bumping or presenting a list of changes. 
- Feedback about these promotions (questions, criticisms, player-advertising) would be conducted elsewhere in the forums (perhaps a new Promotional Feedback board?)
- To enforce a "cost" on running a promotion, impose a 2-4 week delay on posting/bumping.  It may be possible to reduce this delay through active participation on the community, or other critieria at the discretion of the administration.
- Any misleading or falsified information in a promotion should be met with penalties.  One potential penalty is the removal of a promotional post and a reset (or extended) delay before it can be reposted.

For reference, I was looking through the MUD promotions forum today.  My browser shows 20 threads per page, and there are 13 separate threads (exlcuding stickies) updated since February 1st.  Even with a 4-week delay between posts, all of these threads would still be displayed on the first page of the board.  If the number of promotions increase to the point where more than 20 threads are actively being updated, then the 4-week delay could be reduced.  As long as a MUD is still on this first page in the promotional forums, I don't really see the incentive in bumping it.

I'm just a player, and that's how I see things.  Certainly, there are multiple opinions on the subject, and I look forward to reading them.

Hades_Kane

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 2:50 PM »
As far as my feelings on it...


I'm really on the fence.


On one hand, I think being able to call out MUDs and promotions for deceptive, dishonest, illegal, immoral, or "community offensive" behavior/practices is important.  Potential players have a right to know what they are getting into, AND consistent with my feelings that community pressure is the best tool for stamping out certain things in the community (such as license violators or code thieves), disallowing critical replies cripples the most effective means of community pressure.

On the other hand, posting a promotional thread that is open to critical responses can feel a bit like navigating a mine field, and ultimately promoting and seeking MUDs hav been for the last few years more or less the life blood of the forums.  Opening promotion threads to critical responses could reduce the frequency in which they occur, further eroding activity here that I don't think can really be afforded.

I feel like a post basically equating to:

"This MUD has been known to violate licenses and use other people's code without permission.  Please see <link to separate thread> for more information before playing this game."

could be a good compromise.  That would be option "B" for issue "1" I suppose.

But what happens when everytime a MUD that a handful of posters have issue with posts a promotion thread such a reply is posted on every. single. promotion.?

Is that acceptable?  I'm not sure.  Again, on the fence with that.  On one hand, if the posters have a real, undeniable complaint (clear license violation, for example) then is that a bad thing?  But what about the recent bit of drama?

It could be argued that simply creating another thread would suffice, but others have expressed concern that this still largely sidesteps any effective counter measures since it is an entirely separate thread.


With regards to issue #2, whether promotional replies should remain in the promotional thread... Again on the fence.

Its annoying to be discussing one thing only to have someone chime in with a thinly veiled promotional post.  If I'm discussing my maze generator code issue, how is a reply helpful that is just talking about how your MUD handles a similar system completely different or how your players feel about the end product or whatever.  But is this actually harmful?  Is something being generally useless and annoying enough to make it against the rules?

I do think that promoting your game in a "looking for" post is appropriate, and that "just post a link to a promo thread" isn't generally helpful.  My gut tells me that when someone is posting looking for a game, they don't want to have to follow links to a general promo thread that doesn't address specifically what they are looking for... that would prefer a reply directed at them and what they are looking for specifically.  Sure, someone writing up a novel in response (of which I'm guilty of, in these situations) might be considered annoying or overkill... is it really harmful?  I've replied to promo threads in such a manner, going point by point on their list of wants, and even some of my lengthier responses have been met with gratitude and further questions on specific points.  Personally, I think this is exactly what people in "looking for" posts are looking for, and that making that against the rules because certain posters are tired of seeing posts for certain games is a bit silly.  There's also the thought that if someone is like "Hey, anyone know of a MUD where I can play a Werewolf, Vampire hybrid?" and someone replies with a wall of text unrelated to the OP's original request, they only hurt their own promotion so it kinda works itself out.

Is there a compromise?

Maybe you can reply with lengthy responses only if the responses are directly addressing the wants in such a post, and any extra information can be provided in the form of a link to a full promotion post?



Frequency of promotion posts...

This is hard to say for sure.  2 weeks apart feels too long, once every 7 days feels like it could be a bit overkill on a forum not super active, but any other number in between feels unintuitive.  I do feel like there needs to be something listed though, but this is really more of a "just incase" because we really haven't had any issues... but if we did, I'd rather have a rule to point to rather than having to be all "knock it off even though you didn't know better".

I feel like a poster should only bump their posts if there is a significant update, or otherwise follow the same time period rules for new promotion posts.  However, this is so easy to circumvent with using a proxy and another account, I almost wonder if its worth bothering.  I have had to ask someone to stop making update posts on their own threads every other day or so, because that did seem outright abusive, but I would have preferred to have been able to handle that situation with a rule I could have pointed toward.

As far as multiple accounts posting positive testimonials that really just serve to bump a post?  Annoying as sh**, but I don't really feel like there is a way that can be policed that is fair.  If we can't prove that someone is doing something wrong in that situation, we risk punishing, silencing, or otherwise running off actual legitimate new posters to the forum.  Even with as suspect as a recent promotional thread that saw this happen was, there's every chance that every one of those accounts was a new individual and new legitimate registration to the forums, and while none of them ever came back for any other sort of discussion or interaction on the forum, IF they were all original, legit new members to the forum, there exists that possibility of new blood (and even new potential players for the other MUDs here).  What does more harm, potentially running off innocent parties, or being annoyed a barrage of testimonials?  I can't help but to feel the "other people bumping a post" is something we just have to suck up and deal with.
-Diablos
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Tijer

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2018, 3:15 PM »
Could we not just allow comments on the mud promotions from all and split them if they become an issue, dealing with them in the same way as other threads are dealt with?  I do think i was one of the people who was all for no comments on them originally, but my thoughts on this have changed over the years.
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Darkozx

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2018, 4:07 PM »
Nah, he rather lock the post and force me to make a repost so I can post more updates on my own topic. Too hard to split his buddies.
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2018, 4:12 PM »
Nah, he rather lock the post and force me to make a repost so I can post more updates on my own topic. Too hard to split his buddies.

Continued intentional derailing, trolling, and baiting will incur further moderator action.  Consider this an official warning.  Keep this topic on-topic.
-Diablos
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Teryel

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2018, 5:39 PM »
if we, as a community, can come to a consensus

This will never happen, because it's some people's goal in life to swim upstream. Not going to name names, but you know exactly who I'm talking about.

That being said, I'm in full support of 1:B). I don't want to see every single promotion thread get derailed either, but I think being able to link to a separate thread detailing issues would be healthy. That is, in fact, something that some of the more 'heavy handed' moderators used to vault and ban for.

As to 2) It really depends. Obviously some people use the tiniest thread of connection as an excuse to promote ("Hi, I'm looking for a pirate themed MU*" "Oh, well these two MUDs aren't really pirate themed, but they have a single pirate class! We also offer blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah"). I think the better way to handle that would be, "Hi. We've got a pirate class at X MUD. Here's a link to our TMC listing, our promotion post, and a couple reviews!"

In the case of what you were talking about, with the code thing: Saying, "Over on Hades_KaneMUD we use a maze generator. We handle it like this. If you want to come over and see the results on our test server, send me a PM." or something to that effect. But again, saying, "We use a maze generator, and blah blah blah blah blah blah" isn't even remotely necessary.

RE: Bumping; I really don't see that much problem with it, and frankly I would really rather someone bump their own promotion post than spam other posts. That being said, I do think that within reason is a necessary caveat. Like you said, a bump every week or two. Preferably two. And yes, obvious bump is obvious. If it's being bumped, by players or the OP, every day or two, and it isn't an actual discussion, then lock the thread. Leave it, but lock it, and allow the OP to start a new one.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 5:51 PM by Teryel »

Hades_Kane

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2018, 5:45 PM »
if we, as a community, can come to a consensus

This will never happen, because it's some people's goal in life to swim upstream. Not going to name names, but you know exactly who I'm talking about.

Let's please not derail the thread by opining as to whether or not we will all settle pretty close to the same place on this... the more productive line of discussion is going to be how each of us would like it to work.

With Icculus already chiming in that he trusts whatever is decided will be fine, that really means at this point that the moderator team just needs to come to a consensus, and I would much prefer that consensus be drawn from community input as much as possible.
-Diablos
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Teryel

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2018, 6:02 PM »
Here, I think, is a prime example of what should be allowed in a promotion post. It was, in fact, posted in a promotion post, and might be considered against the current forum rules. Regardless:

So, one rather significant problem right out the gate is that I created a Miraluka character (unsure if the species mattered) and was completely incapable of understanding anything that the tutorial NPC's spoke. At all.

I also couldn't change the language I was speaking using the provided syntax in the help files. And Speak without anything else returned that I could not speak... Lekku, due to lacking the required body parts.

Skills learning has a serious issue in that when I was trying to learn force skills, you cannot specify two word skills to learn. So I cannot learn Heal Self because fskills learn heal # just automatically defaults to heal others (despite the fact that heal others isn't even on my list of force skills I can learn)

Given the two skill systems work the same way, I assume learning normal skills has a similar issue though I could be wrong there.

Essentially I'm finding this a bit unplayable in the current state it is in, honestly. Apologies, but you really really need to spend a bit more time on basic bugtesting and playability in my opinion given this is just what I found in about 5 minutes.

Tijer

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2018, 7:27 AM »
I think that there is no need to limit their bumping of threads, as long as there is new content that has been added.  I seem to remember one mud back in their say that would continually post new promotional threads which were exactly the same.  The rules ideally  should prevent people making multiple threads with the same information in them and not about bumping previously created threads up, so they show on the front page.
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2018, 4:21 PM »
One thing I'd like to see: simple post deletions of off-topic posts in promotional threads. Example:

OP: I'm looking for a mud that has A, B, C, and not D. I'd accept E but I'd prefer not to, and if I find out a month in that I need F, it's a deal-breaker.

Responding post: "Hey, we don't have A, B, C, and only have D sometimes. We have E all the time, and I simply won't mention F. Try us, we're great!"

Delete the responding post completely. It's not a "violation" but it is basically just an advertisement that takes away from the OPs request. No need to put it in the vault, or point out that the post was deleted, or even inform the person posting that their post was deleted. If you stop giving ANY attention to these posts and make them disappear, they'll cease to become a bone of contention on the forum.

I actually agree with this.

We have traditionally been very anti deletion... people typically react poorly to having posts deleted (myself included), but I think we should open this point up, specifically, for conversation.
-Diablos
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Orpheus

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2018, 4:48 PM »
For what it is worth, I agree too.

When a player is actively looking for a game that meets certain requirements, but the game advertised only meets about 20 percent of what he or she is looking for, that does get a bit irritating.

No player should expect to find a game that is perfect for them, but if a game doesn't have at least 50 percent of what they're looking for, why even bother trying to recruit them?

Ateraan

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Re: Forum / Moderator Policy on Promotions
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2018, 10:35 PM »
For what it is worth, I agree too.

When a player is actively looking for a game that meets certain requirements, but the game advertised only meets about 20 percent of what he or she is looking for, that does get a bit irritating.

No player should expect to find a game that is perfect for them, but if a game doesn't have at least 50 percent of what they're looking for, why even bother trying to recruit them?
I disagree with this because who determines what 20 % or 50 % is. That is extremely subjective. I also have not seen this as a problem as you usually only get one or two new people a month asking about a certain type of mud they are looking for. I don't recall anyone ever suggesting their game based on Desharai's example of the OP asking for 5 things and the responder suggesting a their game that only has the 1 thing the OP is asking not to have.

I've have noticed some suggesting various muds to a requester and some of the suggestions are not what was requested. Though the example seems rare.

Having said the above I do recognize that in the past I have been guilty of much to large and often of advertising about Ateraan and will in the future be more circumspect on that.

What is more common I think, however, are snarky comments in promotions or flame responses in posts that are completely unrelated to the topic but personal attacks that are obvious subjective flame. While comical and entertaining it tends to make our community amateur and sophomoric.
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