A Matter of Principle

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hj
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A Matter of Principle

Post by hj » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:12 pm

Well, I'm not going to lie - this is the first time I've actually combed through this forum, and I figured this would be an apt place to post this. Over the past few weeks, I have had increasingly pressing concerns regarding this league, which I figured I would voice in the hope of any deviation from, based on the newly infamous Riker thread, what seems to be some sort of jaded status quo. I will be posing a few questions, suggestions, and issues here that pertain to a multitude of topics within GU, so I couldn't really figure out a subject for this post other than what it is. Because everything I write from this moment forward stems from what I believe to be a matter of principle. And that principle is that the GU League should be first and foremost, a player's league.

And so, here I find myself amidst that infamous argument of players vs admins and what not from the Riker thread. I do not know what all this debate will culminate in and what the final verdict will be, but let us start with a very simple observation. The observation that there is a seemingly monumental rift between GU players and admins. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Could it have been prevented? My opinion - yes, it absolutely could have been prevented. While the people behind the @ have personalities that we have all come to love (or not love - your opinion is your own), the idea of the collective GU Admins as a council seems to be a concept quite distant from us. In fact, it seems that said rift between players and admins is akin to the infamous Iron Curtain separating Europe from the Soviet Union. Fine, that was hyperbole, but the fact remains that this rift exists and could have been prevented.

The GU Admin Council makes decisions along with the input from hosters. However, is there formal input from a non-GU admin? The Council exists of 8 voting members, which SillySir I believe already noted, meaning that if everyone votes, there is a very real possibility for a tie. Given that this is a players' league, the players should at the very least have input on what goes on during meetings and the final vote. Would anyone disagree with that? And yet, admins are not chosen by the players, but rather by admins. I won't argue with that process - only admins have access to logs, and rightly so, so they know the true characteristics of each person better than any of us would. However, when it comes to decision-making, there should be an individual on the council who represents the players and only the players. The 9th voice that may end up having to break that tie. The argument against this, of course, is that the Council, since it is in fact made of real people, is able to gauge players' opinion and it tries to do the best job to represent the masses. While this is admirable and noble to a certain extent, this is so much work for our admins that it borders on foolhardy. Let me compare the system we have right now to a political system. Each registered GU player on the spawn list is a citizen. Thus, all players and admins are citizens. The players are the people and the admins are Congress. However, in this legislature, Congress makes decisions the people have to follow while the people have no check or balance on Congress. Not quite the society I would like to live in. In an ideal world, we would hope that the admins act in our best interest, and I'm sure 99.9% of the time, they do. However, I'm a realist and I recognize the fact that in order for the players and admins to co-exist peacefully and for business to run effectively, there should be as much player-admin contact and player representation as possible. The best way to do this would be to have a non-GU admin, chosen by the players, to represent them during these councils. This way, every voice - that of the admins who have experience with running the league and that of the players - is given a formal vote.

The following are a few examples of ways to better improve the efficiency of this league and the representation of the players that stem from the above issue.

Firstly, the idea of reporting matches. If the autoreport bugs are fixed, this issue will become all but obsolete, but the way that matches were reported in the first place concerns me. I do not know the full history here as I only joined the league in 2008, but it is my understanding that at first admins were the ones who could enter matches. Why was this the policy in the first place? Well, the easy answer is that not everyone is trustworthy so naturally admins should be the ones in charge of entering these matches. Yet, how many times have you finished a match, realized there are no admins to report to, and then either joined another server where an admin is and told them to report it or mailed them the details of the match via the GU site? Let me pose another question. Do you believe that every time you report a match, an admin goes to the replay server or checks the server log to make sure you are not being deliberately deceptive? Yes, that was rhetorical. It is no more difficult to fraudulently enter a match than it is to fraudulently report it. Every registered player on the GU League's spawn list should be able to enter a match. Best case scenario, the league becomes much more efficient and admins have less work to do. Upon reflection, it is in fact in their best interest to share this "power". So, I ask again, why was this, this...power, for lack of a better word, to enter matches reserved solely for admins? I keep trying to answer this question logically, but the only logical answer is that it is a "power" that admins enjoy. Which is in and of itself absurd! This is, after all, about entering matches. If a match is entered erroneously, then players from the opposite team will notice and will report it. The result: a ban of predetermined length. Decisive and rapid punishments deter undesirable acts - that is the basis of criminology. This issues of finding an admin to report to and mailing an admin because none are online, both of which are unnecessary hassles, now become non-issues. Entering matches is a right, not a privilege.

Next, enter the referee. The post of a referee was made presumably because admins realized that there are a lot of matches to report and they needed help doing this. Perfectly reasonable. The admins looked for high-character individuals to whom they could bestow this "power". Unfortunately, by separating these individuals from the rest of the players, the admins directly created a culture where referees had to conduct themselves in a professional and nearly flawless manner, much like admins had to. Thus, becoming a ref meant that you had the characteristics of an admin and you were on your way to becoming one. However, this is a problem. It not only limits the number of people you can make referees, which exacerbates the problem you were trying to fix in the first place, but it also bastardizes the post. Thus, if a referee breaks a rule and is banned for bad language, for example, then their referee-ship must be revoked. How absurd! The job of a referee is to enter matches, and being banned for bad language in no way impedes one's ability to do so. Being a referee should in no way be considered a stepping stone to becoming a GU admin. This directly conflicts with the purpose of the position - to have as many people report matches as possible. Hopefully, we will not have to deal with this, but if the autoreport bugs prove to be more difficult to fix than expected, this idea/issue should be on the forefront of the Council's agenda.

From referees, we move on to the last issue, The Riker Cup. Now, there is ample debate regarding whether this is supposed to be North America vs. Europe or not, so we shall steer clear of that. I would like to again point out that this is a players' league, and that Riker's is indeed, for the players. Thus, why should a select group of admins choose the captains on both sides? The admins choose the captains, the captains choose the players. To me, this does not seem to demonstrate an adequate form of representation for the teams to be labeled Team North America and Team Europe. The constituents of the regions themselves should, via poll, be the ones who decide who their captains are. Then and only then will these teams truly represent the two sides for which they stand. Until then, The Riker Cup is a glorified match between two teams that four people made. If this were to occur, would the teams be the same? Maybe. Maybe not. But in the end, it all comes down to a matter of principle.

-hj

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Re: A Matter of Principle

Post by jh^ » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:32 pm

I like the ideas of players voting for rikers/chesval captains and making the match posting available to all members of the league. Anyway, these "traditions" ofcourse wont ever change, nothing much does around here in bz leagues.

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Re: A Matter of Principle

Post by An SQUERRILz » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:30 pm

hj wrote:And that principle is that the GU League should be first and foremost, a player's league.
You know, 2014 starts my 7th year in GU and it is only this year that I have ever come across the idea that the GU Council is meant to act in the interests of GU players. So I'm not sure whether this principle is actually accepted. Sure, most of the Council members respond to queries in-game, but "You know who" might well be one of the only Council members who genuinely accepts correspondence with and input from players (those pesky inferior beings that keep asking questions). As a player who nearly got permabanned twice throughout my GU/bzcareer without any notification, I have been paying attention to this kind of thing. Feels like talking to the corner of the room. So I feel it is doubtful whether the Council as a whole has any intention of being more open to players. They have deliberately locked us out in the past, whether maliciously or to protect our eyes from the horrible truth. The Council has been exceedingly poor at communicating with players and among themselves. This year I witnessed a request from Council Member #1 to GU Admin #2, and it was like Chinese whispers that failed at the first transmission.
hj wrote:I do not know the full history here as I only joined the league in 2008, but it is my understanding that at first admins were the ones who could enter matches. Why was this the policy in the first place?
Actually, 'Rc' the ref used to check a LOT of replays. And she did find incorrect reports.
Giving report power to all is a bad idea from a technical perspective. If someone decides to blatantly post 1 million match reports using a bot, sure they will get banned but who is gonna remove the reports? Only like 2 people can and can bother solving such a thing.
The other reason for refs to report is the idea that they can sort out cases of accidental double-reports and disputes such as whether a match was forfeited or not. It is rare but people have argued over what the final match score was or whether the match should be reported at all - in such cases a refs role is to tell them the rules and submit only the correct and final report.
The result: a ban of predetermined length. Decisive and rapid punishments deter undesirable acts - that is the basis of criminology.
Our player base is getting younger and we know this doesn't work. <Insert names of snake, zoom, jacko, honeytank, 6 serial-swearers>. Then again, I'm pretty sure the viewpoint of the GU Council is that it works because they end up getting banned. Problem solved. Yep. Solved.

On a related note, a lot of us real people have noticed and admit that GU is not a good influence nor a safe place for young players (<14). GU playerbase and Council treats young players like s*it, by culture.
-hj

Code: Select all

reverse("-hj")
> "jh-"
"jh-" == "jh^"
> DNA match: 44%.
That explains a lot.

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Re: A Matter of Principle

Post by sillysir » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:18 pm

It truly astonishes me how so many of us players could be so united, but so wrong.

The truth is BZFlag is a game with an involved community. It is a multiplayer, open source, completely free, virtual fighting game for people across the world. It wouldn't be multiplayer if only one person played. It wouldn't be open source if BZFlag was owned/operated/sold through a company and mandated by the founder (Riker). It wouldn't be completely free if no one sacrificed a few dollars to host servers. It wouldn't be a virtual fighting game if we were in real tanks and hugging each other. And it wouldn't have an involved community if we weren't playing it now.

So, it is not the GU League, it is not the GU Admins or refs, it is not the bzb administration team, and it is not a single player who controls BZFlag. Instead, it is everyone combined, that controls BZFlag.

I have had numerous realizations from the moment I first downloaded BZ. Its that we get too involved within this game. We step over the boundary between what is essential and not, and what is a game, and what is not. And I believe that everyone who posts on this forum has crossed that barrier a few times. I don't mean we are bad people, or we are stupid people, or all of this discussion is pointless, I mean that we need to all take a leap back and look at what this game truly is. It is not our job and it is not our livelihood. It is something we play, purely for entertainment purposes. In order to increase our entertainment value, we humans, tend to involve ourselves on every aspect of the game. That is how we live to improve, by discussing and developing perspectives to make everything better.

Its like in order to improve a house, you don't just look at the bedroom, you look at every room and you look at every piece of material. But so many of us get too fixated on the bedroom that we need to take another look around...cause chances are, there's another bedroom. And that other bedroom is the admins/the leagues. And those leagues/admins, well thats under the same roof. So, lets all peek outside our bedrooms, go out front and admire the house, not the room. Then, lets change the color, the tiling, the floor, the walls, the windows, the doors, and improve circuitry. Then lets all relax, lay back, and watch the olympics in the family room. ;)

In summary, it is pointless to take sides. Admins vs players, servers and leagues. However, it is never wrong to change and it is never wrong to attempt. And change, well, that only happens when everyone changes together. This includes admins, lets not fight at these posts, instead lets be open to change. And to players, dont fight the admins, instead lets be open to change.
silly :P

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Re: A Matter of Principle

Post by macsforme » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:56 pm

hj wrote:The GU Admin Council makes decisions along with the input from hosters. However, is there formal input from a non-GU admin? The Council exists of 8 voting members, which SillySir I believe already noted, meaning that if everyone votes, there is a very real possibility for a tie. Given that this is a players' league, the players should at the very least have input on what goes on during meetings and the final vote. Would anyone disagree with that? And yet, admins are not chosen by the players, but rather by admins. I won't argue with that process - only admins have access to logs, and rightly so, so they know the true characteristics of each person better than any of us would. However, when it comes to decision-making, there should be an individual on the council who represents the players and only the players.
I'm not (personally) fundamentally opposed to having a formal "representative" of the players, but it feels like it might promote the "us versus them" mentality that some people recognize. Also, we have to keep in mind that discussions take place in the admin forum which is archive for a significant amount of private information going back several years. That is why admins have to be carefully selected.

We have to remember that admins are players too. I'm not of the opinion that the current system for choosing leadership is the only one that would work. Nonetheless, it is the system we have, it does function, and I'm not sure how any different system would function better. It seems that it would just be… different. Is it so contrary to reason that a few more experienced players should be tasked with defining the rules, promoting events, and dealing with issues?
hj wrote:Every registered player on the GU League's spawn list should be able to enter a match.
I agree with the concept of self-reporting, although I believe automatic reporting is even more superior. The issue with self-reporting with our current tools is that we lack a mechanism for reversing malicious reports in mass quantities, which would not be difficult for a motivated troublemaker to achieve. At least now, if a match is manually reported to an admin, anything that looks suspicious will generally raise a red flag before long, so in practice less damage may be done. I think that ultimately, the less of the human factor there is in match reporting, the better.

Your idea for Riker Cup captain election is a valid one, but is different from what we have now. Why not try this format for a different/new event and see how it goes? Tradition isn't critical to maintain, but a departure from a format that does work should be approached carefully.
jadespicy wrote:You know, 2014 starts my 7th year in GU and it is only this year that I have ever come across the idea that the GU Council is meant to act in the interests of GU players. So I'm not sure whether this principle is actually accepted. Sure, most of the Council members respond to queries in-game, but "You know who" might well be one of the only Council members who genuinely accepts correspondence with and input from players (those pesky inferior beings that keep asking questions). As a player who nearly got permabanned twice throughout my GU/bzcareer without any notification, I have been paying attention to this kind of thing. Feels like talking to the corner of the room. So I feel it is doubtful whether the Council as a whole has any intention of being more open to players. They have deliberately locked us out in the past, whether maliciously or to protect our eyes from the horrible truth. The Council has been exceedingly poor at communicating with players and among themselves. This year I witnessed a request from Council Member #1 to GU Admin #2, and it was like Chinese whispers that failed at the first transmission.
What? Whose interests are the admin team supposedly acting in? What good is this league without the players? You think being an administrator for a computer game league means going on a power trip? Even if that power feels good (what increase in responsibility does not?), do you think that feeling lasts long at all? If our methods and performance are not ideal, where's the constructive part of your criticism?

I have been in the GU League for several years myself, and only from you and a small handful have others have I ever encountered the idea that the GU League admin board exists for their own betterment or to revel in power and oppress the lay population. So, as long as you insist on propagating this idea to others, I will continue to call you out on it.

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Re: A Matter of Principle

Post by An SQUERRILz » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:55 pm

If our methods and performance are not ideal, where's the constructive part of your criticism?
You communicate poorly amongst yourselves. I offered this criticism and I need not present it in a friendly manner.
You also missed my hint that we need to hear from more admins to know if they are legitimately interested in self-improvement. Otherwise we are never on the same page, and even constructive criticism would backfire.
What? Whose interests are the admin team supposedly acting in? What good is this league without the players?
I grew up on this game and in GU. I presented my involuntary impressions. That the league needs players to thrive does not contradict the idea that admins also act on self-interests. A member of the Council told me the main reason for their vote on a ban was not the rules that were broken, but that he deemed the banished unfit in the community. I'm not referring to power, but that admins fundamentally shape the culture we have. They decide what is appropriate and inappropriate (yes, they do so beyond the extent of the Council policy). Therefore they set their own desired standards. Players are invited to play by that measure. The Council exists for the sake of preserving their own values that they deem fit for the player base. That is not the same as a Council that is founded on the needs of the players.
I have been in the GU League for several years myself, and only from you and a small handful have others have I ever encountered the idea that the GU League admin board exists for their own betterment or to revel in power and oppress the lay population. So, as long as you insist on propagating this idea to others, I will continue to call you out on it.
I presented the idea of power previously but I did not allude to it this time because that would get us nowhere. I never insisted on anything. So don't call me out on an idea that you brought up.
"you and a small handful" - it matters not in this case, but remember that even for some popular opinions, few of that accord may be bothered to complain openly to the admins.

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