Literally 1984 (or, addressing toxicity in the community)

Started by MarshallDFX, February 26, 2024, 04:05:54 PM

All change.

That's what you hear when you wake up groggy and drunk at the end of the line. You might be furious; you wonder how you're going to get back from Southend at 2am. But here we are, and change we must.

Halaster listed as a requirement: "GDB / Discord overhaul, addressing toxicity in the community". Now is the time to be motivated and to make big changes if Arm is going to do anything at all.

The upshot is our reputation is too poor: there are plenty of times I think the community is great, but also many times where the snark, backbiting, and rudeness too pervasive.

Despite my joking about 'rage engagement' metrics, there is a time and place for everything, and the official game channels should be a positive and helpful experience.

So the question is: where in the scale of "today" vs "shut down both the GDB and Discord to all but help channels" do we want to land.

Building a community

We're here because we enjoy (or enjoyed) the niche hobby of playing ArmageddonMUD, or similar RPIs. We want to talk about nerd shit and enhance our enjoyment of the genre.

I believe the purpose of the GDB/Discord spaces is: we are here to support the game and the genre.

We should have the same standards as if you were attending D&D at your local pub. This doesn't mean become a mindless cheerleader, but you do choose your battles, be polite, come to have fun, and you're not trying to spoil the night for everybody else.

Everybody needs to feel welcome.

Being stricter with rude behaviour

I want to share some stats. These won't be perfect because a) the people with admin powers didn't help me, and b) I spent only 10 minutes scrolling modlogs to compile these.

In the nine months of player moderators prior to the seasons shutdown, moderators have issued:

  • Many warnings via Discord (we specifically noted at least 20 but didn't typically log them)
  • 7 mutes less than an hour
  • 12 mutes that were one to twenty-four hours
  • 2 mutes that were twenty-four hours
  • 1 seven day mute
  • 2 twenty-four+ hour bans
  • 3 permabans
  • 90 GDB warnings
  • 6 GDB bans/read-only (of lengths from 7 days to permaban)

In that time, and sometimes for issuing a mute of less than an hour, I've been: called a weak ego, clown, dickhead, shitty ass mod, wagon circling party line man, told to eat a dick, told I'm making a trash-heap of the community, and told I only lower myself to mingle with the masses to attack uppity plebs. There's more, but I spent 10 minutes browsing my PMs.

Ban policy

The ban policy on r/MUD is:

Quote"Mild infractions will get a warning via a reply comment on the thread, or via private message. Greater infractions will result in a temporary ban, usually 30 days. Repeat offenders will be banned permanently. The Moderator decision is final; arguing/begging will be ignored."

In my view the moderation guidance should be much stricter; currently it bends over backwards to give people the opportunity to change tack. My experience is that this drags on any palaver, and then an argument starts for a mod having the temerity to even perceive somebody might be being rude.

I think our ban policy should be to not give in-channel warnings before discord moderation actions – a time-limited mute will be the warning. Trying to talk to people down just seemed to invite the debate because everybody is always innocent and persecuted.

If it's a grey area, if the question has to be asked, then the default will be to mute.

In the moderator guidelines I have written that we will usually use a 24 hour mute, 30 day ban, or permanent ban. There might be other circumstances, but those would be the main tools.

Handling criticism and rudeness

To address the comment "you get banned for disagreeing with staff" or a similar argument, I think we need a rubric for constructive criticism.  I don't want to stamp out criticism, and we have to find a way of creating the right culture around critique. For example, it should not be seeking to be hurtful. It should be specific. Better yet it should have actionable advice.

If it's just stating that you don't like something, do it in a way that highlighting a challenge, not seeking to tear the game down.

Basically, imagine you're responding to a group email at work when you're criticizing something, which at it heart should remember you're on the same team.

Then, I think we must draw a firmer line on rudeness. We should raise the standard of behaviour expected when participating.

"What about rude staff?"  I don't have the powers to ban or mute staff, and we only see the public discord and GDB.  We should, however, call it out. If it's going to make a difference, this has to be consistent.


For a small community dedicated to a niche hobby, we have a lot of procedures. It's not that the content is wrong, but most of it appears to come from compensating for lack of trust of those in charge.

Easier said than accepted, but we have to unwind some of this overwrought procedure and work on just demonstrating that "power" is exercised in a reasonable and fair way.

To that end, I think it's better to do more with fewer people that the community has confidence in. Some of these edits reflect that.

I get that for some, it will never be believed that moderation will be fair, or that the right people will be moderated. I don't think there's anything I could say that would change that perception. Those with moderator powers currently:

  - marshalldfx (lead moderator)
  - mansa
  - circlelessbard
  - nao
  - rahnevyn (inactive)

We will do our best.

Summary of changes

Here I'll summarise changes I think should be made to the rules.

Harassment policy

The content is valid, but I don't think another policy is necessary.  I have made this a specific rule (R2) and the policy can be something useful in the moderator forum to read.

Community Moderator Guidelines

  • Made more concise.
  • Deleted three paragraphs which I'd summarize as: "be fair, assume positive intent, be aware of yourself, don't be heavy handed, use encouragement"
  • Added that moderators should hold participants to a high standard.
  • Removed Discord modmail guidelines because it is impossible to 'reach out' via modmail in the first place.
  • Removed 'auditing the moderator team' and also indicated we're a lot less interested in hearing complaints about moderators moderating.
Community Rules

  • Firstly purge everything that appears like a duplicative set of rules and use the same ruleset for the GDB and Discord.
  • Number the rules ala reddit style, because I'd like to be more precise about what rule exactly I think somebody is breaking.
  • Edit R1 to provide more examples.
  • Added an 18+ rule.
  • Ensure it's community rules not game rules (ie the rule is discussing abuseable bugs; actually abusing bugs is a game rule)
  • Make it clearer that "not discussing bans" is a rule we expect all the community to follow (previously it was in the moderator section which confused me)
  • Make the "moderators and staff" section to paragraphs, because it is not clear to me that these were actually "rules" we expect the community to follow.  I think they are general information about moderation.
  • Add a new rule about posting game logs and screenshots and not revealing your identity
  • Edit the 1-year rule to be within a season.

The structure of the GDB and Discord

Non-game content. I have been a little torn about this, because who doesn't love #pets, and I enjoy chatting with lots of you.  But non-game related channels means moderators have to moderate non-game stuff.  It gives ammo for people who get angry to disrupt personal lives. I think it would be better for Arm in the longer term to focus on the game, and so we are working out what to keep on the GDB and Discord.

The General Discussion Board (and other social community services) has too many subforums, folders, and too many sections, and it tends to allow meandering conversations and idle talk about non-game things. Forums like ask-the-staff often seem to be about call-outs. So we're proposing to reduce the number of subforums that are available, and remove subforums that have not been useful for "staying on topic".  To continue this - to remove some idle social aspects that are currently promoted and to focus the GDB on specific ArmageddonMUD topics.

On the Discord, because the conversation is a lot more free-flowing, I am a bit more torn.  On the one hand, I think the same principle applies: it would be better to limit non-Armageddon discussion.  So I am tempted to remove all non-Armageddon channels. 

On the other hand, channels with limited scope are actually easier to moderate, and some are quite enjoyable.  So right now we're looking at a halfway house of keeping some non-arm channels but removing off-topic.

Proposed new guidelines, rules, GDB structure

QuoteCommunity Moderation Guidelines

The vision for our community is to be a place that anyone can feel welcome, safe and comfortable to interact with other members of the community to support ArmageddonMUD and shared interests.

Moderators will seek to be examples to the community in creating this environment and be fair in enforcing the rules.

Players are expected to behave politely in the Discord or GDB. The standard of conduct is if you were in any other real-life public gaming space, and moderators will proactively use timeouts or bans if this does not appear to be the case.

Specific Moderation Guidelines:
When moderating, mods will:
* Use the moderation tools whenever possible
* Communicate what caused the moderation to the moderated (via reason field)
* Make a record of the moderation action within #moderator-chat
* In the 'reason' field of the moderation command be clear about the wrong doing
* In general moderation action will be a 24-hour mute, 30 day ban, or permanent ban depending on severity or repeated rule breaking.

General Discussion Board:
*Make a record of the moderation action within #moderator-chat
.* Moderators may use the "WARNING" feature, reach out to the community member in question and:
* In the ban reason field, be clear about the wrong doing.
Removal from the Community:
* If the account in question is specifically made to cause harm to the community, the account will be banned.

General Feedback to the Moderator Team:
Please submit via modmail so there is a record of it, or reach out to the lead moderator.

Joining the Moderator Team:
Please use the request tool to indicate your willingness.
Complaints about the Moderator Team:
Moderator decisions are final. If you want to engage constructively or if there has been a genuine misunderstanding, use modmail. Arguing and begging will be ignored.
If you want to complain to staff about moderators, utilize the Request tool and use the Player Complaint option.

QuoteCommunity Rules

**General Rules**

R1. Show respect and kindness above all in your discourse. Some examples of moderatable content:
  - Being highly sarcastic and 'snarky' in your comments
  - Personal attacks. We respect a healthy debate can occur, but debate the idea, not the person supplying it.
  - Effectively airing a player complaint in public (eg the guild leader last year did 'X' and should have been banned)
  - Bluntly crapping upon segments of the player base, eg 'all mages I've seen are lame powergamers'. Please use tact.
  - Seeking to dismantle and demolish another player's opinion. Respect that other players may wish to lodge their view but not enter an intense debate. Remember you could always ask them if they're looking to be responded to.
  - Engaging in a protracted an intense debate on Discord with one other party (even when they are willing). Respect that many others may not wish this to dominate the conversation and consider taking this to DMs or a GDB thread.
  - Bashing former members of the community

R2. There will be zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment.  This includes: offensive actions and comments directed at someone's gender, sexual orientation, appearance, race, religion, language, etc., unwanted attention, deliberate 'outing' of identity, misgendering, threats, or publishing private conversation.

R3. Keep the conversation on topic and in the proper channels.

R4. Keep your personal information private, and do not request the personal information of others in public channels or DMs. Please do not harass, abuse, or send other unwelcome communications to other members (e.g., romantic advances, explicit content).

R5. No NSFW content allowed.

R6. Do not bash other MUDs, communities or other users.

R7. No advertising.

R8. Do not discuss the specifics of bans or moderation.

R9. Use modmail to interact with moderators or report rule violating content.  Do not PM individuals to disagree with their moderation decisions.

R10. You must be 18 or older to participate in the Arm community.

**Game Discussion Rules**

R11. Within a game season, do not talk about characters or events until at least a real life year has passed and every PC involved is dead, to the best of your knowledge. Characters not from the current season can be freely talked about

R12. Do not post sensitive game information not present in the helpfiles or General Discussion Board. This includes plots, magick mechanics, psionic mechanics, items, NPCs, or locations in the game.

R13. Do not coordinate in-game actions outside of the game. Please keep all conspiring play inside the game.

R14. Do not discuss any potentially abusable bugs. Please report any bugs in the Request Tool (

R15. Do not post game logs or screenshots that reveal: your current characters description, name, age, race, class, subclass, or clan; what zone you are in including room titles, descriptions, or exits; what animals you are fighting eg carru, scrab, drov beetles, mekillots.

**Moderation Actions**

In response to violations of these rules, moderators may issue a time out or ban to community members, temporarily or permanently. In the first instance timeouts will be used, followed by time-limited bans then permanent bans; however, moderators have the authority and responsibility to make judgment calls on issues that arise.

Two final points on etiquette: First, please do not repost or quote any comments that violate our rules. Instead of engaging, please ping @Community Moderator or send a message through @ModMail. Second, do not @Consultant, @Armageddon Producer, @Armageddon Admin, @Armageddon Storyteller unless it is a game-breaking situation. Please respect their time, they are people too.

GDB Restructure
QuoteStaff Related:
-> Staff Announcements:
-> -> Role Call Archives
-> -> Storyline Archives
-> -> Code Updates Archives  * New
-> Ask the Staff              -> Hide        ***
-> Staff Policies and Documentation
-> Submissions
-> Seasonal Updates

Community Change Discussion:  -> Hide        ***
-> Feedback & Discussion      -> Hide        ***

New Player Forum:
-> New Player Questions

-> General Discussion
-> -> General Archives        -> New (Archived of Good Threads)
-> Original Submissions Discussion
-> World Discussions          -> Merge with Roleplaying
-> Roleplaying Discussion      -> Merge with World

-> Code Discussions
-> Player Announcements        -> Merge with Player Collaboration
-> Player Collaboration        -> Merge with Player Announcements

-> Helpfiles                  -> Keep Hidden ***

Non-Armageddon Discussion:
-> Gatherings                  -> Hide        ***
-> Non-Armageddon Discussions  -> Hide        ***

Discord Restructure:
QuoteArm Related
 # help
 # tech-support (possibly remove)
 # general
 # future-of-the-game (remove)
 # artwork (new)
Non-Armageddon (feedback requested)
 # pets
 # games
 # jukebox
 # books (new)
 # off-topic (remove)
 # sports (remove)
 # memes-for-all (remove)
Voice Channels
 (all removed except for events)

Feedback requested
Some specific things I'd like reactions on:
  • How is it best to manage the various shades of "criticism" - is there any good examples that could be used?
  • What do you think about the GDB and Discord restructure?  What Discord channels are worth retaining?
  • People change but we also want to be stricter. How and when people rejoin the community following a ban is something I'd like feedback on. I think there should be dialog but I don't want it to turn into 'arguing about my ban'. How should this be handled?  My feeling on this is that people change, but not quickly. That requests should go to staff, but it will probably be a year until somebody is re-invited.

And lastly thanks for those who helped me put all these specific bits together.  It's been a group effort.


General Discussion feedback thread:,60276.0.html

The changes regarding forum consolidation on the GDB and channel changes on Discord have been made.
"I agree with Halaster"  -- Riev