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Additions to Rules, Sock Puppets and Termination of Membership

Started by dedgren, June 03, 2007, 10:45:32 AM

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Most SC4D members have only come in contact with my happy, smily side.  I feel like I'm having a great day on SC4D when I can log on, add to my MD, cruise the forums for new topics and comments of interest, exchange greetings with some friends and maybe check out the LEX or work on some custom content.  I'm pleased to be able to say that this description captures my experience here the great majority of the time.

As you know, however, I am also an administrator of the site- one of the folks who jeronij has charged with keeping things running smoothly, fixing things (to the extent of my ability to do so) when they aren't working, and in general making interim operational decisions about things when he isn't around to confer with.  Please understand, neither myself or any of the other administrators "run" the site- jeronij does that.  However, when I act or speak as an administrator, I do so for jeronij under his authority.  This, btw, also holds true for our SC4D moderators.

Usually, when I have to do something as an administrator here, I am not happy and smily.  This is because generally whatever is going on is taking me away from the things that I came here to do, as described at the start of this comment.  My time, just like everyone else's, is limited.  If I can use it doing things I like, well- that's great.  If I have to use it stamping out fires and doing traffic control- hey, that's not so great.  I guess it's common knowledge here that I'm an attorney.  Doesn't mean anything at SC4D- we have no laws, no police and no courts.  Nobody to issue me a license to practice in this jurisdiction.  We only have the SC4D Rules [linkie] and a staff that jeronij has charged with the duty of enforcing them.  So, what I'm about to say is not because I have any special or particular authority- I'm simply doing my job- and, as you have probably already guessed, I'm not very happy about it.  What follows is certainly the most serious thing I've posted here to date- the reason I've taken you through the last several paragraphs is so you'll understand that and make no mistake about what is said.

SC4D is dedicated to the serious SC4 player and custom content developer.  It is not a social site, although it is certainly possible to have great interactions with other members here.  It is not a "chat" site, or a site where "off topic" matters are encouraged, even though we allow a little bit of the latter.  Members who fail to understand this have a fundamental problem- and that problem is the member's problem, and not SC4D's problem.  We are going to continue being what we are- the vast majority of members here are perfectly satisfied with that state of affairs.

There are almost certainly rumors floating around that several persons have recently had their SC4D memberships terminated.  These rumors are true.  The actions were taken in light of particularly egregious violations of the SC4D Rules [linkie] by the offending individual.  While we do not make the facts of any particular membership termination action a public matter, what you should understand is that this action is absolutely a last resort for us, is taken only in the most serious of situations, and generally follows one or more more or less explicit warnings about this consequence to the member involved.

Since we do not make the termination of any particular membership a public matter, all you generally will know about the matter is what the terminated individual decides to tell you, if anything at all.  We will not defend our action or otherwise explain it to other members who enquire, and generally will not engage in further discussion with the person whose membership was terminated.  Our action is a final one- not an invitation to negotiate.

I have become aware, in connection with a particular individual's termination, of the making of what I consider threats by other members, along the lines of

...fine, since you've terminated so-and-so, we won't cooperate with this-or-that.

As far as I'm concerned, folks, that's tantamount to blackmail- the clear message is, "reinstate so-and-so and things will once again be just fine."  As far as I'm concerned, and remember that I am just one voice here, if someone wants to grumble about our decisionmaking- grumble away on a PM to me or any other staff member you would choose.  Speaking for myself, I'll tell the writer what I think about his or her thoughts (politely and professionally, I might add) and not hold it against anyone for speaking his or her mind.  A challenge to our authority in a public forum, however, or in another manner that interferes with efficient administration of this site will likely be dealt with very severely.  There may or may not be a warning, depending on how serious the challenge is.  If I had been dealing with the situation I've described above, the members making threats would have been making them from somewhere else because they would in fact be former members.

One reason for recent terminations of membership has been when members here go to other fansites and say things about SC4D that are completely incompatible with continued membership; i.e.: why would someone want to be a member of a fansite who would go somewhere else and say (actual quote follows) that the fansite "sucks"?  To that end, we have added the following to our SC4D Rules [linkie].

  • In cyberspace generally SC4D is, by and large, a self-policing community of members.  The staff cannot enforce these rules at some other fansite, or indeed anywhere away from SC4D itself.  Please do not expect, then, to the extent you would have a complaint about another member's conduct offsite, that any action will be taken- we are a fans of a computer game and not the cyberpolice.  One exception to this, however, is if a member is found to be offsite stating untruthful or defamatory things about SC4D or its administration- if you have a complaint about or some other issue with us, please give SC4D the courtesy of bringing that to our attention here in the form of a PM to any administrator or moderator.  If a member is found to be offsite making statements that, in our view, are not constructive as regards SC4D or otherwise reflect inappropriate discredit, our assumption will be that the member no longer values the benefits of SC4D membership and he or she will almost certainly have membership terminated or, at the very least, suspended for an extended period, to include privileges on the LEX.

In other words, we can't help when SC4D member "X" gets in some tussle with SC4D member "Y" over at some other fansite (unless that dispute itself is brought over here, then you can bet we'll intervene, and fast).  It doesn't do any good to complain, then, about what so-and-so said about you or your MD or whatever in a comment made over at ST or SimPeg- we just don't have any authority to control the behavior of anyone at those places.  But if a member says bad things about SC4D at one of those places- well, suffice it to say we will take notice of that.  We care very much about how folks perceive us in the community at large, and will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our good name and reputation.

Another issue that has come up recently involves the use of sock puppets [linkie]- where a single member uses more than one nic and user account, usually for some improper reason.  Here, I will name names, because I want everyone to know how serious this situation is.

We terminated the membership of "He Who Will Not Be Named" (we assume that is his real name as well as his nic) for reasons I will, as noted above, not go into.  Several weeks later, a new member nic'd "Tyreal_56" registered.  Yesterday, Tyreal_56 posted this.

We saw this and took a look at Tyreal_56's registration information.  It was almost immediately apparent that Tyreal_56 was none other than Mr. Pearce.  We are now checking the laws of Canada (where he lives) to seek to determine whether what he did was an actual crime- as it would be in my jurisdiction (Alaska- obtaining services through fraud or misrepresentation).  If there appears to be, we will evaluate making a criminal complaint.  He Who Will Not Be Named is now persona non grata here.

The bottom line- we are dead serious about sock puppetry.  Here's the added rule in this regard (new text in blue).

  • SC4D does not allow inappropriate member conduct on the forums. This includes, but is not limited to: posting spam, posting hostile comments, "flaming" of any sort, posting simply to increase post count, and so on. So, expect in advance that such content will be noticed quickly and then dealt with severely.  Any member who is found to have created a "sock puppet" (i.e.: a second or otherwise multiple user that is actually the same member under another nic) for any purpose will have membership immediately and permanently terminated, and will lose privileges on the LEX.

I need to let folks know that we are aware of several other active members who, for whatever reason, appear to have sock puppets.  It is likely that most of these situations are innocent- created as part of a registration problem or for some other innocuous purpose.  That said, I will personally be looking into every one of those instances over the next few days and contacting the members involved.  I will also be looking for additional sock puppets.  If I find them, and if it appears they are being used for improper purposes, the consequences will be serious for the member involved.

All that said, we will give a grace period of 10 days.  If you have a sock puppet on SC4D, PM me and ask that it would be removed.  I will do that- no questions asked.  Any member, though, who would intentionally create a new sock puppet after that 10 days will not only face virtually certain membership termination but also further action on our part to follow up in the criminal justice system where that person resides.  We take this situation that seriously.

Thank you for your careful attention to this long, but necessary post.

D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren