Recent Events

Started by Halaster, March 01, 2023, 07:37:07 PM

Under no circumstances is abuse of any type okay. We will not, do not and never will condone it.  We as a staff body hold this view.  This is not stated as a means of passing the buck, or a cop out - this is a unreserved belief that any guilty party should be held accountable.  Things that happen outside the domain of our game are beyond our control.  The only portions that we, as a community and more specifically a staff body can do, is hold to account things that happen here and are covered under our rules and regulations.

That said, various regulations were broken. Various rules were broken.  And, of course, trust was broken.  We have taken action in these portions that we have oversight upon. This includes our own staffing body and we will continue to do so.  Does this soothe or fix anything that has transpired?  Likely not. Nor should it. Anger over these types of topics and lived experience deserves anger.  It deserves accountability and it deserves closure.  It deserves acknowledgement and an unreserved apology that it happened in the first place.

To any party that is or was harmed, it still happened here and, for what little it helps - we apologize.

We have kept to a set of policies that were put into place long before a lot of us arrived on staff.  Some of us agree that some of those policies need to be changed, while others feel that the policies are currently fine the way they are.  We're a collective group of players from our community that do not always agree on everything - just as we don't expect all of you to agree with each other.  The feedback thread,59072.0.html that is open right now is a way for us to engage the community in aiding us working to move forward and form a better community.  We are asking for your help by participating in good faith in that conversation.
"I agree with Halaster"  -- Riev

I misstepped and I apologize.  I had been planning to let Shalooonsh go from staff for a little while now, and over the course of a few weeks I was talking to Shabago (and later Brokkr) about it and had convinced them it was best for the game.  The worst allegations against this staffer were fairly recent news to me (except Delirium's a while back), as I was not on staff from 2007 to 2021, and so I had already made the decision before I heard most of it.

Shalooonsh was let go from staff because of long term, pervasive rudeness towards players.  He was coached multiple times about this, and in his defense he would respond well to the coaching every time.  Ultimately though, the behavior returned and I had enough.  I admit that it was stressful for me to fire anyone, it's not something I have a lot of experience with as a person in the game or outside of it.  Therefore as a courtesy, I offered the option of how we phrased it.  I thought it would be less painful and embarassing for everyone.  I had no idea that would be seen as a bad thing.  I was clearly wrong, and I apologize for that.

Understand that staff are a team, and even among Producers things require collaboration and consensus.  Getting that consensus often can take time - which is also why THIS response is slow in coming.  Going foward, we will be as transparent as we can about issues like this after we have collectively made a decision.

While this is our full explanation of his removal, this will not be the last word on the broader subject.
"I agree with Halaster"  -- Riev

A staff member, Shalooonsh, was removed from staff for long term, pervasive rudeness towards players.  That was the original reason it was decided it must happen at the time.

Additionally, he played a 'resource PC' noble role - and it has become very clear to us that he was abusing his position on staff via this role.  When I was the Southern Team Admin, the idea of the character was first pitched to me and I responded with something like "cool idea", which was not meant as approval.  However, the next day the character had been created.  I asked the rest of the Southern Team if they were OK with this, and they said yes, so I dropped it and let it continue - which I should not have done.  The character was in game for over a year, and I failed to properly monitor him because during that time I assumed I could trust him.

On February 14 the first complaint about that character, that I can readily find, came in.  That complaint also dealt with other allegations outside the game, which are beyond our purview and our ability to handle, but that we in no way diminish.  We started some basic discussions with him about ending the character, and he self-stored on February 18.  On February 19 another complaint came in about the character, though that player was not aware of his storage.  He was let go from staff on February 26.  Regardless of that, the abuse of power and trust had been happening for some time by that point, and we failed to put a stop to it.

How the abuse of power from this character continued was not because of staff maliciously or knowingly letting it happen.  It was a combination of not paying attention, not understanding, failure to notice patterns, and an assumption of trust among staff. A rule breaker breaks rules, so having the rules against the behavior didn't stop it from happening.  Staff's ongoing failure was a lack of proper monitoring and enforcement of our own rules.  And I hold myself particularly responsible for this because I was Southern Team Admin when the character was created, and then a Producer while it continued.

It is evident there was a long pattern of Shalooonsh abusing his position as staff.  For staff not doing the proper due diligence and allowing it to continue, I apologize on behalf of ArmageddonMUD.  To the individuals he harmed, insulted, and made feel unwelcome, I apologize on behalf of ArmageddonMUD.  The fact it happened, and continued to happen over time, is a huge mistake on our part and staff are working behind the scenes to write more sensible policies that will help prevent this, and more importantly figuring out better ways to monitor and enforce it to prevent it from happening again.

We want our game and our community to be an enjoyable experience for everyone.  We do not condone any abusive, hateful or harassing behavior between any community members, especially from staff.  I will say that if we see it happening, or it is brought to our attention, we will deal with it accordingly.  Let's be honest though, our track record with Shalooonsh shows that to be lopsided and unfair.  The only thing I can say to that is that we apologize, recognize our mistakes, and fully intend to do better.
"I agree with Halaster"  -- Riev

Below I will summarize a series of events that led to publication of allegations on the Shadowboards by a member of the community. This was preceded by a Staff Complaint against Shalooonsh by that player.

A Staff Complaint was made on February 14.  It was mostly an account of intertwined real life and in-game occurrences over a number of years. While some of the details were the same, it differed materially to the post made on the Shadowboards on February 24. I am not going to go into the details, it is not my story to share and I have no desire to feed the popcorn eating folks.

The request asked that Halaster be the one to investigate and reply. After the background details, there was a list of things that community member wanted:

QuoteWhat I want from this is for -

-Staff to seriously vet other staffers
-Staff to pursue transparency
-Actually allow players to occupy roles of power and support them instead of giving this to other staffers either directly or by proxy
-Be honest with the players
-Make the game 18 + since its all themes of sex, drugs and violence and protect underage people
-I don't need a big public debacle or Shalooonsh necessarily "canceled" or "retired" but I do feel this behavior needs to be checked and reigned in.  I (and I know many others) are tired of being subjected to it

The account that led up to these questions did paint a picture of general harassment, but not necessarily sexual harassment, in the game over a long period of time.  Nor was the complaint clearly an allegation of sexual harassment.

On February 16, Halaster responded.  It was mostly a response to the above questions, along with some sympathy for the negative real life things that had happened, but also a statement that as a video game personal lives are largely irrelevant to the game itself.

Quote-Staff to seriously vet other staffers
While we do what we can to make sure we're bringing on the "right" people, we can only do so much.  We're not going to check into someone's personal life or background.  We judge them based on their time with us as a player, as that is really all we have.  Ultimately how we bring on new staff is up to us.

-Staff to pursue transparency
We feel we are currently the "right amount" of transparent with the community.  I know you probably won't like that answer, but that's what it is.  We are much more transparent than previous staffing groups, but we're only able and willing to go so far with it.

-Actually allow players to occupy roles of power and support them instead of giving this to other staffers either directly or by proxy
Our policy today is that we do give these roles of power to players when they volunteer to fill them.  However, it's not unheard of for us to put out a rolecall and get no takers.  In these cases, when we want the role occupied but no players are interested, we'll let a staff (if they're interested) to play the role.  After some amount of time, we'll do another rolecall, and if a player steps up to volunteer, the staff must store in favor of the player.

-Be honest with the players
I understand where you're coming from.  As much as we can be we are honest with players, but there are scenarios where we simply cannot let the community know something.

-Make the game 18 + since its all themes of sex, drugs and violence and protect underage people
We've discussed this and I believe our ultimate consensus was:  We have no ability to determine this, but we are going to put up an ESRB style notice, just like any other video game about the content.  That's on me for dropping the ball for forgetting to put that on our home page.  I'll get to that soon.

-I don't need a big public debacle or Shalooonsh necessarily "canceled" or "retired" but I do feel this behavior needs to be checked and reigned in.  I (and I know many others) are tired of being subjected to it
I will not comment on if and how we discipline staff, but I appreciate you bringing this up and letting me know.

On the same day that this was answered (and closed), another complaint was opened up, as the player did not feel it was actually resolved.  They made a somewhat more cohesive argument and added in details that were not in the original complaint. Among those new details, they brought up that other players had complaints about Shalooonsh's behavior as well as relaying IC comments his character had made.  As policy, we do not let player's file a complaint on another player's behalf, which was noted.  There was a little back and forth which seemed cordial enough and the request was closed.

In the background, Halaster was already concerned about Shalooonsh's behavior towards various players.  The comment "I appreciate you bringing this up and letting me know." was not made lightly. Removing Shalooonsh is the sort of thing that would take all three of us on board.  He made what in retrospect were probing comments to me at least, getting the temperature and setting the stage for going beyond what had been asked for by the player.  However, we hadn't gotten to formally talking about it before the post was made on the Shadowboards on February 24.

After that came out, Halaster had very clear, pointed conversations with Shabago and myself. These conversations did not focus on Sexual Harrassment/Harrassment but rather how Shalooonsh was interacting with players.  It was decided that Shalooonsh had kept coming back to a place we did not feel comfortable with, so we let him go from staff.

I want to make clear, the original complaint we received was not what was posted on the Shadowboards.  It was not a straightforward Sexual Harassment complaint, in that while it detailed things that could be considered sexual harrassment, both in real life and (in the second complaint) potentially in game, those were more elements of the background that was given in support of the questions above. There were multiple themes in the complaint, from general harassment, to not wanting Staff to play in positions of power, concerns around transparency and concerns given the background given how we bring on Staff.  And we treated it as a general complaint with several different components.

While the original complaint stated, "I don't need a big public debacle or Shalooonsh necessarily "canceled" or "retired" but I do feel this behavior needs to be checked and reigned in.  I (and I know many others) are tired of being subjected to it", ultimately the Producers felt that the only way for Shalooonsh to be "check and reigned in" was to not have them on Staff, and we agreed this was necessary.