Monday, April 30, 2007

Has hell frozen over?

For once, I'm thinking that a lot of the drama going on between PC and me has root in my position as a Super Cheats administrator. On one side, I run to the root admins at PC and I get hounded away by the people they employ to stand in as superior moderators. On the other, I happen to be the one at a disadvantage just because the other has decided to exploit glitches to prove his point.

The latter case is that of David and me. Ah, when we were super mods; we didn't have to worry about banning others or setting massive rule codes. The ones with the power to ban were Rich and Dennis. Then Dave is promoted in place of Rich, who had been in the process of moving to Spain, and soon enough he's fixed in that position. Before then, we were neutral, often agreeing with each other, but ever since he became the administrator (I was to follow a few months later), things came unglued. All of the sudden, lower mods were complaining that he had been putting his foot down with personal opinions, a few times having to ban some for annoyances over MSN (and now Andy blocking me on that plea doesn't seem so bad after all). Since Nintendo_dude would soon leave his post as admin, I ended up being the one having to rake the muck.

There were a few problems by the time this came to be, though. First, I was by the time I became an admin a full-fledged PC member, becoming a moderator a mere month after Nintendo_dude and I became Super Cheats' newest administrators. Naturally I would have to lay down some ground rules in my part to make sure the forums were running fine, but as I sank deeper into PC, I actually began to drift away from Super Cheats. These days, a lot of the actions I take are the result of being buzzed on MSN, instead of me doing regular patrols. The first sign, though, was dropping off with submissions; I initially attributed that to an increase in working hours. So I sometimes feel that I'm not as sharp with situations as I had been before I found PC; in fact, even after I fell out, I still felt as if I now had a void to fill, and being an administrator at a site as popular and prone to spammers as Super Cheats was becoming unpleasant, what with Dave being hospitalised and cut down a few bars by Rich in the past that he sought madly to make up for misinterpretations of his own agenda — really, the rules he made as well as flawed interpretations of the ones I set. So I constantly bear the brunt. It's not that I have MSN or that I've been around longer; it's that I've written a lot of the rules.

Then I think: Andy, David (Origin), Jake....They must be in such a position as well. The staff administrators and root administrators, as I have said before, are not on the best of terms. The former group has been found to effect policies that I would normally expect of Steve or Kwesi given their position. And that's all I've critiqued them on. Yet I wonder: Could my criticism of them have root in my position on Super Cheats? It very well could. I've been so bitter to not realise that it was all a reincarnation of my attitude toward Dave for not following through on a plan I had set for the forums, although in the latter case I probably had significantly more grounds for it as I was at the same level as Dave and I looked up to Rich for what his position as site owner meant for him.

So as I crawl into bed, I think: Am I not cut out for Super Cheats anymore? Have my instincts spread into PC and paralysed it? Am I becoming, like Mewthree, an admin with decaying criteria?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have mercy on the criminal

Rage over the massacre at Virginia Tech is one thing. However, I really believe that one of the worst things anyone could possibly do is pay attention to the video that suspected gunman Cho Seung-Hui made announcing his decision to attack the students.

Reports have swirled that Cho had made the video during the intermission between the shooting rounds at the university; he'd even gone as far as to send it to NBC. But should it really have been broadcast at this time? Personally, I don't think so. It's nothing more than fodder for the tabloids, and the immediate shift of focus by all the mainstream media from the concern over the sale of guns to this one dramatised video is more or less a desecration of the victims and survivors.

Cross Stinging Reality offers its condolences for the victims and survivors of the shooting on Monday.

Read the rules

It's really a shame that I have to rant about something that should have been planned by forums, chat rooms, and social networks everywhere but often isn't explained well enough.

When you register for any of these types of sites, you have to read and agree to a set of terms. Often you're presented with a little blurb describing the forum and what is expected before you register. On boards built on vBulletin, Invision Power, or whatever more, they write the terms of service for you. Of course, everyone knows that you have to read such terms in order to be a member, but not enough effort is made to make sure everyone goes by them. This is due to three reasons:

  • no-one is quizzed about it;
  • such terms of service don't often constitute the rules referred to when moderation is carried out; and
  • in normal cases you just have to click a little checkbox or button to get past the TOS screen.

In these cases, it's easy for any of four things to happen: A law-abiding member registers and posts, and eventually things get sour, a person joins to spam the hell out of the board, a person joins and assumes that the rules are probably the same for the board as any others they may be members of, or a bot registers (which is beyond the scope of this entry).

In the first case, either the person is hiding it really well, or something develops from something insignificant into a major glitch. This could result from repeated harsh experiences with the moderators or lack of agreement with much of the community on certain domestic or moderation issues. In half of such cases the administration is just full of miserable people; in others the member develops his or her own ideas that either misconstrue the objective of the administration or certain rules. The trigger either is a case of mini-modding (which obviously suggests superiority on the part of the person doing the modding) or an intramural event such as a relationship breaking up or a change of blood. In cases in which the member errs, it is usually resolved after the member is subject to peer mediation or insight therapy; in cases of the administration just being sour, you don't have a chance.

Then we have people who join, assuming that rules across the board are the same. This is a risky interpretation, seeing as, for example, PC has a whole section dedicated to emulation whilst PKMN.NET and SPPf don't want a word said of it.* A sub-problem can also be the lack of explicit regulation, leaving members to discern for themselves what the rules of posting are and potentially make posts bound to offend others. As a former PC member, I can tell you that implicit regulation made what the staff is today: While behaviour on the forums is average, some of the staff really wish they could have implicit regulation again. Here's the problem, though: You really have to trust all of the members who sign up, and bots and career spammers still are liable to join. Andy, in particular, isn't giving in so easily to this fact from what I can tell; I personally believe he's as much a piner for the old days as Paul or Ty, given his ramblings about how his perfect environment of unwritten rules was tragically spoilt by an influx of n00bs:

I'm sure if you read all this then you'd know by now you'd know I can't stand n00bs (and most if not all of this is about n00bs). I wasn't always like this, there was a time where I wouldn't put anyone down. Times change and n00bs came in, over the past few months it's like PC has had a rush of n00bs. It's like setting out food on a table outside and watch all the flys come in after it. And sadly n00bs has gotten to most if not all of the Staff of PC. I know all of us had last 1 run in with a stupid n00b on PC. And I know tons of members had run ins with them too. So everyone knows how I feel about them (at least a little). Lately I've been getting too many n00b PMs and threads for my own good. And if given the chance I'd ban every single one of them, just so I don't have to see their stupid posts. I get PMs from members crying about their thread not showing up, or about a friend that's banned. n00bs don't read the rules unless told, they also don't try to do better on PC. They just go on with their stupid ways and know it all attitude. I hate it when they think they know more about PC then the Staff. They think they know what should be changed better then the Staff. I'm open to ideas, but when you walk into PC a week after joining and wanting to make a major change to PC for your own good, then that's a little stuck up and self centered. Even more so when Staff say it's a bad idea and that n00b keeps going on about it. I tell you, if I didn't have a bad feeling about telling someone off then I would. I'd tell them off so bad (not flaming) that it'd make them cry and leave. But I know if I did it then it'd come back and bite me in the butt one day. But it still doesn't change the fact I HATE them. And I wish all of them would just leave PC. We'd be soooo much better off without the stupid n00bs that bugs the living day lights out of me and all the other Staff and members around PC. To me if I happen to end up leaving PC (or at least the Staff) one day then it's going to be the stupidness of stupid dumb butt hole n00bs. Members are members, newbies are newbies, and n00bs are n00bs. Incase you didn't know, there's a difference in newbies and n00bs. Newbies are new members on PC that tries to learn the rules and to get around with other members and so on. Every good member on PC was a newbie at one time (no one joined PC and knew the rules and how everything worked right off the bat). But n00bs on the other hand will not learn and won't listen to anything Staff says. There's a big difference in the two and so I hate n00bs. I am not going to cover it up with some nice word or try to make them happy. I hate n00bs, did you get that? I HATE n00bs! Let me say that one more time I HATE THE F-ING n00bs ON PC!!!

While this excerpt does the term 'n00b' justice, defining the boundary between the sort and the law-abiding newcomers, it simply dismisses the fact that that's what you get for running a forum with no written rules. The fact of life that they are, spammers and flamers are actually technically protected by unwritten rules — meaning that there's no excerpt of code or TOS that can be used to cite their offence and keep them banned. As the tone of this blog section is conveyed, he must have been reeling (and he probably still is) from the shock. In fact, what he said about me in response to another accusation from Paul in the April DCC buffered by my 'predictions' suggests that he expected others to take his rants seriously:

Oh, CW. You mean that stuck up ex-Mod that thought he knew everything on PC and thought so and so should have done things differently only because he had a Mod/Member prospective about things? Said I should listen to n00bs, respect them, I should change my ways because he thinks he's the ruler of the world? That said he got paired to a Staff member** so he could get Modded? That said we should have a smaller Staff only because [PKMN.NET] has a smaller one? You mean that CW?

This rant arose mainly from my complaint about staff redundancy and a complaint about the Simple Questions scheme going on in the gaming forums. I'll explain the latter here to make better sense of the rant: If you look at all of the gaming forums on PC, they're usually brimming with locked threads under an ordinance requiring that 'simple' questions go in a designated sticky thread. The issue I raised was that the word 'sticky' was rather vague and, judging by the amount of locked threads, the scheme obviously wasn't working. As a admin, I can tell you that as soon as someone gets into a game talk forum there's potential for help requests, and someone's going to make a thread asking for help on a certain subject. To resolve the situation, I offered three suggestions: clarify 'simple', shift the 'simple questions' to a subforum, or retire the scheme. Nope, Andy simply delivered his hollow 'n00bs' argument and it was over.

In order to keep this from turning into a full-out anti-PC rant (you can't hate a forum, you only hate the members or the staff for the way rules are executed — perhaps this is an anti-Arcanine rant?), I'll just move on to the third case: career spammers. They can take the form of mental patients, thugs, and bored schmoes. Whatever the case, a career violator is a career violator to the name, posting derogatory rants, deliberately flouting decency rules or making topics filled with 'SPAMSPAMSPAMSPAM' just to get a reaction. In that case, you have to do something, and fast. Of course, this would require explicit regulation, as I said before; otherwise, not everyone will stand idly by.

The fourth case I won't elaborate on. Okay, maybe a little. A lack of security precautions — image verification or remote activation, to name a few — can mean your site is prone to hijacked computers through which people send bots (and also HTTP requests, which contributed to a lot of the crashing that went on prior to the big hacking) to advertise services or trick members into contracting a virus.

For admins, the message is clear: You can't trust your members. Also, moderation is subject to trial and error; if one thing proves cumbersome, it's likely to all fall down. For members: Read the rules.

* The argument for PC is that they are not distributing ROMs, and their rules prohibit members for requesting or distributing; also, most of the ROM discussion is over the creation of spin-off games using the dump files. For PKMN.NET, such information is bound to be useful for real pirates as well as hackers who have downloaded dumps whilst they had the actual game in their possession.

** This is a fallacy; I paired with Lily two months after my promotion.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

'OMG im leaving'

For those wondering, this isn't a new PC rant (but I have been refused a return to staff — but that we can cover later).

On the subject of departures, however, there is a funny side. All over PKMN.NET these days there are a lot of proclamations of 'I'm leaving!' because of several incidents that the poster has gone through. I admit that before I was banned from PKMN.NET I made a long one of my one, declaring myself the 'enemy of PUK'. These days, though, the fact that the author is more and more liable to back down on a leave is ridiculous, and the reasons have become more and more hostile and unforgiving.

I know it seems like a trend to leave, but I'm leaving permanently without any sub-accounts, attempts to come back or anything like that.

Basically, I just seem to you guys to be a wanderer who says stuff that everyone ignores than someone who can be considered a friend. This isn't for pity - or saying I have 'lack of friends' - I just don't seem to very popular or fit in well. Getting voted underrated several times (yes, I have paranoia, so I nominated myself), really struck my confidence. I guess I never broke my shell - I guess I just didn't hit off with you guys.

I wasted almost 2k posting here, only to find my opinions are totally misregarded. I think I've just wasted my time, you have better Team Builders, cooler people, and me to talk to through MSN, so it shouldn't be a problem.

I'm sorry that I put so much detail into this post, I wanted to come off blunt really, but I wanted to make it clear why so I didn't make you think it's a joke and, on top of that, make it clear I expect absolutely no pity (which I don't).

I'm still gonna be on IRC, occasionally, I just don't see any point in being on the forum. I'm not deleting my account - for that ever common habit to come back - but I'm not going to be here.
Hicky, supposedly beleaguered by lack of recognition for his efforts, decided it was time for him to go, and in doing so he published a harsh screw-it topic to declare that he was out. Had he considered coming back or even just cut the hostility out, I would have more sympathy for him — as I've felt out of place on PC on numerous occasions — but I've only ever recognised him for being standoffish.

Unfortunately, the trend is that the ones to publish a farewell post are the ones who have the most ire. Some people do give reasons and are generally calm but down-to-earth about it, as Akinari was before he left on school commitment, but many times you'll find in such a topic severe resent for joining and lack of insight. Worst of all, as I said, many do break their vow, returning with even more ire for the moment. This doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't post an advance for a vacation or if you're going to appear less due to a restriction or some mulling. You could probably even make a post saying that you feel out of place and might not see it worth coming back, but the worst thing you can do is arrogantly proclaim that you will never come back.

I've done it quite a few times, yet most of the time it's been via email, on this blog, or on IMs and PMs. That way you keep your reputation intact with the mainstream, although not necessarily the friends you send it to.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Reinstatement letter

I am writing to inform you of my decision following the events that occurred over the past few months, inclusive of the offence I dealt Kelsey and my removal from the staff. The conclusion I have reached is that my actions over this time have been done with lack of forethought and a relentless generalisation of members, and would not have been done had I simply accepted that what I had done to Kelsey before, when I was confronted by Dawson, was itself without forethought or consideration for situations prior.

You may be aware of the statements I made regarding how PC was going to 'die' and such. I realise now that, although some of what I predicted and hoped for initially has come true, such statements were only of blasphemy to the Community and indicative of my own search for benefit. As part of my plea for forgiveness I have removed such statements from my blogs.

A lot of my anger was also rooted in things that I either had no control over or were the result of paranoia. When Dawson and Karli confronted me, I immediately assumed that the staff for which they worked backed their reaction. The truth is, what I said to incite it was spiteful and irritable. In the delusion that the staff was, for these reasons, organising against me, I ended up copping out and throwing a fit at everyone I came across, eventually asking to be removed after an attempt to incense the staff over one of the statements I wrote. My hatred went on, eventually driving me to deep regret, which, with the only tools I was familiar with, could not move anyone.

I think the root of this all comes down to a few things. Many of you know I communicate very often using the MSN service. I use this service because I expect a quick response if I need to talk to someone, and for that reason I do not like communicating through the private messaging system or email. Therefore, when someone cuts me off, I become very upset. I understand that some of you have blocked me for good reasons, yet before I was too concerned with this method to allow for them.

This aside, I have two disorders: I have Asperger's syndrome, and I am passive-aggressive. Thus, it is very hard for me to keep my emotions in check, and I usually rely on them to make my decisions for me. I see my life as a balance, which I try constantly to keep.

And because of this, the thought that some of you are put off by what I've done still lingers, which makes it difficult to remain active on the boards; it's as if there's someone out to get me. I'm mainly writing to see if I can talk to you as a whole to help put these misunderstandings aside and become happy chums again, even if you decide against restoring me as a staff member.