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Staff Conduct Guide

Bozo

Firestarter
Management
Founder
Day 1
#1
As mentioned at our introductory podcast, we're making the Staff Conduct Guide available to the entire community. We figure, if you know what we're expecting from one another, you can better know what to expect from us. You're welcome to make comments or ask questions in this thread.

Staff Rules and Guidelines

Whether you’re a player just looking to eke out a meager living for your character or someone who is donating their time by serving as a member of staff, our mutual goal is to have fun. No one wants to take the joy from serving on staff by making it a job but the position does come with a set of expectations and responsibilities that have been put in place to maintain the integrity of the server. Staff members must review these rules and agree to adhere to their requirements while taking the guidelines into account.

1. We don’t rule. We serve.
One of the worst mistakes a staff can make is assuming their position is one of rulership. As members of the staff, we’re sometimes forced to act as figures of authority but this shouldn’t be our normal stance. Our primary goal is to create a fun environment and one of the best ways we can accomplish this is by seeking out opportunities to help players, not punish and certainly not hinder them.

We’ve all seen staffs or, at least, members of staffs on other servers that seemed to revel in the idea of doling out punishments and imposing correction upon players by force or threat. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of that attitude, you know how it can completely destroy your desire to play for a while. If it happens with anything close to regularity, the damage can be permanent. This will not be how things happen here.

Whenever possible, we should take a proactive stance and look to assist players who ask for it or who seem to obviously need it. Corrective measures (bans, ajails, kicks, etc.) should be a last resort. Not everyone can be corrected so it’s never a failure if you have to ban someone unless you haven’t tried everything in your power to help a person avoid a ban.


ALWAYS TREAT EVERY MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY WITH RESPECT!

There will be times when you don’t feel it's reciprocated but, so long as we’re making it our duty to treat every member of the community with respect at all times, we’re already ahead of everyone else.


2. Be a Role Model
We must always adhere to the rules that we expect the players and other members of the community to adhere to. We must set the example for others to follow. If we slack off or slip, others will see this and believe it’s acceptable. Corollary to this is that, if we’re ever unable to adequately perform our duties (had an extra rough day, drank a little too much alcohol, etc.), it’s absolutely imperative that we are smart enough not to try.


3. Have fun!
This can’t be emphasized enough! There’s real work.. But there are ways to make real work fun, too. Stay in contact with the staff-team as much as possible. Not only does this keep you informed, it makes the difficult parts of the job more palatable because everyone can commiserate and joke with you when things are feeling a little rough. And when you need a break to unwind, just say so. Hopefully, you’ll only need a short time - an hour or an evening. But, even if you need longer, we’ll try to accommodate you.


4. Recognize each other’s work and accomplishments
Anyone who has been staff before knows that it can be demanding and thankless. So, sometimes we have to be the ones to thank one another for a job well done. Did someone help resolve a difficult scene in way you think deserves commendation? Say so! Has someone helped you by pitching in to tackle a problem? Thank them! Keep the praise public so we can all recognize when someone deserves a pat on the back.


5. Ask Questions!
If you don’t know how to do something, ask for help. No one knows everything and it’s easy enough to forget the syntax of some command you used once three months ago and not again since. Similarly, you might like to get a better grasp of why a in-game ruling went the way it did. There is nothing wrong with asking. However, you should always try to avoid arguments. You may always offer your opinion but, at the same time, you should support your fellow staff member’s decision.


6. Solicit ideas and opinions
Equally important to asking questions is listening to the opinions, suggestions, wishes and desires from our community members. We should always be soliciting opinions and ideas from the community. PR Staff will almost certainly make this a big part of their daily tasks but we should ALL be prepared to listen to the community’s voice. It is an important step in understanding how to best serve the community.

We must put a high value on every opinion that anyone is willing to tell us and encourage community members to share their suggestions with us - preferably directing them to the forums for discussion. As we do this, you must also avoid falling into the trap of assuming your personal agreement or disagreement with a suggestion is the criteria for having the idea brought to the rest of the staff. Sometimes, an idea that seems far-fetched or too difficult to implement ends up being neither of those things when they can be discussed as a group.

Listening to the community can help us to focus our energies on the things that are truly wanted. No matter how cool we (or ANY small group!) think a feature might be, it doesn’t help the community at all if we’re wasting time adding things no one is asking for while the community is pointing out issues they feel need to be addressed.

Similarly, we’re all going to be looking for solutions to problems as we go about our time on staff and discussing the issues and your possible solutions with other people is a good way to test them whenever you might be unsure.


7. Disagree behind closed doors ONLY.
The BEST staffs will always present a cohesive message to the people they serve. Since everyone’s opinion is highly valued, we’re bound to find ourselves debating and discussing conflicting points of view from time to time. Ultimately, as a group, we will come to a decision and, from that point on, ALL staff members are expected to support the final decision. It hurts the integrity of the staff and the server if some staff members publicly indicate that their personal opinion differs from the ruling that has been put in place. This causes gossip and gossip drives wedges into the staff and, ultimately, the community.

Also, whenever we, as staff, are discussing an issue, a potential ruling, rule change or any other topic, the contents of the discussion should never be discussed with the community until the subject is decided or the issue is closed. In almost all cases, if an announcement is required, this will come from PR staff. You should not get ahead of PR staff by revealing the contents of an announcement before it is released.


8. DO NOT get in the way of rp.
We should be doing our best to facilitate rp. Even when a system is in place, if a player has an alternative to using “the system”, we should always try to support it unless it is somehow game breaking. For example, turning cocaine into crack is easy. While there might be a system in place to obtain crack for distribution, if a player is willing to rp the work required to turn a sum of cocaine into crack, there’s no reason not to support their efforts. They need to demonstrate that they’ve done the work (screenshots will do) and have any scripted equipment required (they obviously need cocaine but other paraphernalia may also be scripted, as well) or roleplay obtaining any non-scripted items. At the same time, a player who hands you the blueprints to an actual railgun and a few screenshots of some work being done shouldn’t suddenly be handed a super-weapon! When in doubt, see Rule 5.


9. DO NOT play favorites!
Players absolutely detest the feeling that someone is receiving advantages just because they know the right people... and they should! This shall not be a problem on this server because nepotism has no place here. No one should ever feel like an admin’s friend has an unfair advantage in a scene because of that friendship or that an org has a “pet admin” because an Admin is a member of that org.

Similarly, a player shouldn’t have their issues given priority because they’re friends with an admin. That being said, there will be times when you become aware of issues as a part of your normal playing time. Your friend might be affected by a glitch and need teleporting, etc. You don’t have to ignore these problems when you’re aware of them but you should ALWAYS have the issue documented by the player with a /report.

HOPEFULLY we will be able to use a log of reports to try to search down and squash bugs so there actually is a method to the madness. So be sure to tell anyone you ask to /report an issue you’re addressing to report it properly. A report like, “/report Bozo told me to write this.” is useless for later analysis.


10. ALWAYS Use your powers for good!
You will, from time to time, need to use your staff-given abilities to help yourself. You might need to teleport somewhere to re-involve yourself in a scene that you had to leave when you responded to another player’s plea for help. This is fine! But using your abilities to teleport away from a location to avoid a scene that is detrimental to your character or using any of your abilities to provide an unfair advantage to yourself or to any other player is absolutely prohibited. This includes acting IC’ly while you are on duty. When you are on duty you are ALWAYS OOC.


11. DO NOT Oversee Yourself!
If your character is involved in a scene where an Admin is required for a judgment or ruling, you must NEVER issue that judgment or ruling yourself. You can not ask other players “if it’s ok” as they may feel intimidated and unwilling to say no even if they'd prefer you didn't. Everyone far more likely to appreciate an admin or moderator who admits to requiring help in the interest of fairness.

Similarly, you must never respond to reports that involve you, as a staff member or one of your characters. No matter how objective you think you can be - and even if you are completely right about that - it creates the wrong impression. There’s logic to support the notion that an admin who was involved in a scene from beginning to end will know the most about that scene and be able to rule on it fairly. However, our expectation of the players is that they will submit to the trust the ability of an admin who isn’t necessarily involved in their scenes to adjudicate issues fairly and wisely. We have to demonstrate that we are willing trust the same people we ask them to trust.


12. Learn From Your Mistakes!
At the end of every day, we’re all human. We can make mistakes. Everyone will make a mistake from time to time. Don’t entrench yourself in the defense of a mistake. You rarely fool anyone and it hurts your own image and the image of the staff, as a whole, when you try. It’s hard to earn back the respect from the community once you have gained the reputation as someone who would rather be wrong and "in charge" than someone capable of admitting to an obvious mistake and helping to make things right.

Admit your mistakes quickly. Apologize. Do what you can to correct the situation.

An honest person can admit their mistakes. A person with integrity will correct them. The players will ultimately respect you for your honesty and integrity far more than they would have if you stuck to a flawed ruling to avoid admitting you made a mistake.


13. Fun > Reality!
We don't need to overly consider the level of realism when someone wants to play a gay Italian mafia boss, or a female gun supplier, or a cult leader who demands his followers accept that he is part of a benevolent vanguard from Mars here to ward off a coming Venusian invasion and his followers are all soldiers fighting on behalf of the rest of us ignorant Earthlings. If the player and their org are fun, we should stand ready to assist. If they're NOT fun, players will not gravitate toward it and it will likely die off on its own. At the same time, if someone is modeling their efforts after some real-life example, they need to make some effort at providing some authenticity. That gay, mafia mob boss shouldn't be organizing his underbosses into a marching band and touring the city while wearing a Pope hat and demanding everyone kiss his butt. If they're calling themselves an Italian mafia org, then they should be recognizable as such even if they stray from some of the things we might expect to see in real life. Rather than hoping to have our game and setting mimic real life, we should be looking at real life as the springboard from which our players (and we!) get to to be creative and launch cool, fun ideas.


14. Respect OTHER Communities
Three's no reason we need to sugarcoat the fact that many of us are motivated to help construct this server and "do it right" because we feel other servers have gotten it wrong. That's to be expected. If we were all happy and thrilled to be playing on Server X, why would we be putting this much time and effort into LS-V? However, we should respect that the people on other servers work hard, too. And, no matter how much we might disagree with their methods or methodology, we must remember that their jobs are just as difficult and require as much time and effort as ours. It's highly unlikely that anyone is trying to do anything but create the very best server they can.

Even though we might find ourselves on the receiving end of some poor attitudes by members of other staffs for any of a variety of reasons (in fact, it's already happened...) and, no matter how strong the temptation to trash talk the competition - even if just in good fun - you're expected to be respectful to the other communities, their members, leaders and to the services they offer. They may be our competition but they are not our enemies. An enemy will tear you down but competition should inspire you to do better and to be better and that's all we should allow anyone to do.
 
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