Feedback On ILB

Discussion in 'Server Feedback' started by Dimov, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. Dimov

    Dimov Cooked Bacon

    BCash: ß 500
    I wrote a short piece on a problem that others and myself have perceived as critical to ILB and has ultimately lead to and will continue to lead to problems in all aspects of ILB. While this is strictly opinion, it is founded in reality. As the last thread in this subforum was from 8 fucking months ago, this is long overdue.

    ILB is rotten. It's not rotten in the corrupt sense. There are no backroom deals to keep infamous players coming back ban after ban, no power-for-purchase, or anything of that nature. ILB is the type of rotten that happens to the apple that's been sitting out for a month and leaves a gross stain on the counter. At its deepest, most fundamental core, the structure has rotted away, and it is only held haphazardly together by the few bits that haven't gone squishy. ILB is on a date with disaster and refuses to ask for the check.

    This post isn't to call anyone out, or make anyone feel bad, or hurl baseless insults at authority figures. This is a dire warning to the powers that be: THE END IS NIGH. I'm not in a position to judge if the end is inevitable or not at this point, but it is a forgone conclusion with the course being sailed. Every problem I address, I will present with the solution that my decade of experience with small online communities has afforded me. If you have the authority to carry out decisions, you are not in any regard being demanded to take action. This is your ship, and I have jumped ship at the last port. Hit the iceberg if you wish to do so.

    The most glaring, most unable to be ignored problem I can see is simple; the community as a whole and those in charge of it are as far disconnected as possible while still technically remaining one entity, but I'd even argue this isn't the case. Every decision made is made by someone that is not a fully participating member of the community. ILB is an oligarchy. Decisions that affect the by far largest portion of ILB's playerbase, its roleplayers, are not made by roleplayers. They are made by disconnected individuals that monitor the server remotely and from afar. They are the monarch separated by an ocean. This is evident in both day to day and long term decision making. Polls are held to gain feedback from the community once in a blue moon, and the vast consensus of these polls is ignored. The few polls issued are generalized and do not ask about the issues players actually have. Grievances raised on platforms like Discord are dismissed, ignored, and sometimes met with reprimand. The MO of staff regarding complaints is "dismiss, dispel, disperse, and ignore". Big Brother does not know best in issues pertaining to roleplayers, because there are none besides the "RP monitors" (hardly staff. They're hall monitors promised more, and a good chunk aren't active anymore) in the active staff team.

    The staff team is grossly small for the size of the community it deals with. Decisions on bans and general regulations AND their enforcement falls on 3-4 people if I'm generous. Its senior members are well versed in the management of the whole community and server, but not its parts. RP is, again, the big issue. I do not know of any senior staff that frequently roleplay with the members of the community, and therefore, they are less informed on what drives roleplayers than they should be. The issues plaguing roleplay on ILB should not even be addressed until the foundation itself is corrected.

    How, though? What should be done? My suggestion is that the senior staff (i.e the ones that have full staff powers and make executive decisions) are placed into the Executive Admin caste, where they take on a roll as general community administrators, handling ban appeals, server protections, interpersonal disputes, and technical service. These tasks are what are already handled by these same people. They will also have all the powers of the lower caste(s), but should only fill in if the proper people aren't available.

    Next, a new caste must be created. These are simply "Admins". They handle the day-to-day kicks, bans, RP whitelist management, and enforcement of rules on the server, including those of the RP hub(s). This caste should be filled with a variety of players to effectively represent the population. I would propose 2 Admins to each Super Admin at the bare bones minimum. These should be frequent players with decent standings in the community and selected via applications voted on by Senior Staff.

    If this sounds like I'm proposing to take away power from staff and give it to the players, what you'd call "mob rule" in you retort, you're half right. I think it's possible to give players more power while staff retain existing power. I'm not asking for nor do I want a staff role. Like I said, it's your ship to sink or sail.

    To summarize, the decisions made in the past ~year have conveyed to a notable percentage of players that the current staff team is too disconnected from the players, and sometimes arrogance in the form of "father knows best" decision making. People are seeking greener pastures and they will not stop if you continue this path. Regardless of your intentions, your actions have had effects beyond your anticipated result, and you must deal with it as it is. Restructuring that incorporates engaged members into decision making and enforcement roles is necessary for continued operation. Both of the SB RP Discord servers I'm in feature frequent polling and staff engagement. It's working for them, and it's time to adapt or die. ILB may not collapse, but it could turn into one of the rotting buildings on the side of a backwoods road, long abandoned and one gust of wind from finally buckling. Maybe we're there already.
  2. ICDeadPixels

    ICDeadPixels Detective Pixie Bacon Manager R&D Team

    BCash: ß 100
    Out the gate, I want to preface this by thanking you for the input. It's always great to see posts like this. I love the discussions it brings up and it gives me an opportunity as a staff member to share things from our perspective.

    Getting down to business, I've read over this and I'd like to note on a couple things. We actually do what you've suggested in a lot of things. Particularly in this section:
    We have one or two senior staff put in charge of each system of iLB. Bacon will oversee most everything and those particular admins go to him when they have an issue. If lower staff have an issue they'll come to the senior staff. Of course, it should also be noted that we are understaffed as you say. So senior staff end up doing just as much work as the normal. We are also constantly searching in the various chats of iLB for players we think are up for the task of moderation. Often these are members that have been around for some time and are pleasant to speak to or helpful to the community. We have to be careful about who we bring in though. Giving power over players is a dangerous thing and absolute power can corrupt absolutely. We have to be sure, so as to avoid abusive staff, that people can handle such a responsibility.

    As for community voice, it's a funny thing. I had a discussion earlier today about it, but we're now hearing desires to go back to New Earth and perhaps even its systems, we're hearing people want magic banned or heavily restricted while also hearing a great desire for lack of restriction, we're hearing there is too much violence, but then we're also hearing there isn't enough violence. What becomes immediately clear is we have a large community we're catering to and that large voice can paint a confusing picture of where to move next. We don't have enough staff to enforce a very restrictive system, and I'd like to avoid going in a direction where restrictions become our main way of dealing with issues. It happened on New Earth and caused people to back out when things tightened down too much. With Port Lux, we wanted to focus on trouble users that abused the open nature of Lux RP. We were hoping people would report issues with players just as they do in any other part of the server. However, due to that perceived community and staff disconnect, we've had trouble getting anyone to report even serious rule violations in RP.

    I'd like to put heavy emphasis on that 'perceived' bit. We are listening to the community. We hear every complaint. But there is plenty we aren't staffed efficiently enough to handle and we're trying to work around these things the best we can. There are plenty that are steps backward to the systems we used before. There are also plenty that tells us to keep things the way they are now. The idea of 'father knows best' is one I can understand being perceived but I think it's important to consider every angle. Some requested systems are too heavy to be efficiently managed by the staff we have, some are too restrictive on the player base, and some are far too extreme to one type of RP (e.g. ban crp). We still pull ideas from these suggestions and requests, but they have to be balanced out to fit the community as a whole. Not just the subsection requesting it.

    I've said it since I began my time in iLB. This is a system that fails if the community doesn't trust the staff to do their jobs from a moderation angle. It isn't by any means a bad system. It's open and free and allows for a lot of things to go on without staff bearing down on every aspect. But without player support, we cannot hope to maintain it.
    Pip Cryt and Lachee like this.
  3. IHazBagels

    IHazBagels Bacon Manager Tasty Club Modder

    BCash: ß 450
    I will start by saying you make a few good points.
    However, some of what you said shows that you do not know how we run things. (I'll explain later)
    Anyhow, I will be constructing this reply via responses to certain comments.

    While managers and administrators are not extremely active up front, we are aware of the issues that crop up and the status of ILB.
    We are aware of day to day events since we talk with one another on a regular basis about issues.
    We maintain server tools, prevent attackers from harassing community members, and organize community events among other things.
    Typically the higher ups do not touch roleplay issues at all, as that is the job of RP Staff.

    I am not sure where you get this mentality that roleplay direction is dominated by the higher ups.
    We have our roleplay team determine the direction of things and these RP Staff are taken directly from the RP community.
    Also, we even have event ideas and suggestions taken from roleplayers and we have made changes before based on their input.
    That being said, I am not sure where you get the complete disconnect idea from.

    As for the activity issue, yes, the roleplay staff has been a bit slow to get moving sometimes and even inactive.
    I fully acknowledge this fact and have discussed this issue with them multiple times.
    I as well get frustrated with the unavailability of team members because it slows overall progress.
    These RP Staff members are good at their jobs and not easy to replace or have someone fill their job while away.
    Remember these are people that also have lives with real life obligations, we are not machines.
    Not to mention we do not have many applications to staff coming in to even grow the size of the staff team.
    We do look for potential staff members and even suggest people apply on occasion.
    But not everyone is willing to take on the responsibility of being a staff member, because it is not an easy job.

    We would love to handle issues that are brought up in a civilized manner and clearly discussed.
    More often than not in those debates or complaint sessions, it becomes open season on staff and players just take that time to take shots.
    This causes the initial topic to become buried and staff are forced to make people settle down.
    Or in the case their is a dialog, sometimes the ideas provided are not viable and people proceed to snap at us when we tell them so.
    If an idea is good and it is something we can implement and effectively execute, we will take note of it and see what we can do with it.

    We already have a separation of staff levels and categories.
    RP Staff do RP organization, Lore, RP blacklisting, RP events, handling violations of RP guidelines, and monitoring the hub.
    Server Staff do moderation business like defending against attackers and keeping people from breaking server rules.
    Community Staff do oversight of the lower levels to make sure things are progressing and handle more complex issues involving users.
    Along with the previously mentioned maintenance of the server and tools.
    Often times, they do the job of lower levels of staff as well out of necessity.

    This suggestion for hiring community members sounds like a relabeled staff application.
    Existing staff review the applications and then hire someone if they are reputable and suited to the job.
    As for your suggestion to have community members involved in staff, how is this any different from someone applying and being hired to staff?
    As I mentioned before, we look for people to hire and suggest they do if they are a good member.
    We even added a Server Watcher rank to give a transition/position for reputable members seeking to become moderators or just help out.
    We do want more staff and we do need help from the community members to do this.

    More on the matter of Roleplay, I understand your frustration with the way things are.
    I am just as irritated by the way things are going because the RP Staff team and I have invested time and effort into this Hub.
    Admittedly, it is discouraging to see RP population dwindling and this does not help RP Staff motivation.
    Not only that, there is stress that RP Staff are subjected to, due to conflicting opinions of different sections of the roleplay community.
    There is no single direction people are moving toward, so this leaves RP Staff left to sort out some sort of middle ground everyone can enjoy.

    We try our hardest to make things go smoothly so that everyone can have a good roleplay experience but we do not always achieve this goal.
    Part of the problem I see is how the RP community members respond and act toward each other.
    Because ultimately even if RP Staff make the best possible systems, it is up to the members to use that system effectively and for the benefit of all.
    Pip Cryt and Deatho like this.
  4. Dimov

    Dimov Cooked Bacon

    BCash: ß 500
    There is a limit of how aware you can be about the community from solely using Discord or whatever server management app you guys use. Fact is, you don't have a full grasp on what people truly think when you're not embedded and engaged with them. You may know the big stuff, but the little stuff simply passes under the radar. General attitudes and trends may not be picked up on unless you monitor every message in the RP world(s) or participate in them yourselves. Staff need presence to be as effective as possible.
    RP staff don't make decisions on what the guidelines should actually be, nor do they have an active role in enforcing them because they pretty much just report to someone higher on the chain. Mall cops or hall monitors. There are no events, there are no story arcs. The lore is completely ignore-able because it has zero impact on the world. There are no actual factions with tangible presence beyond their members roaming around. There is no economy, there is no player-impacted change in the world. None of this happens because RP staff have 0 authority on RP beyond reporting rule violations, something players can and do do (hehe) themselves.

    Well, not many people have faith in the system anymore. This is what I mean by "displace" in my note; blame is displaced on US. People don't have lack of confidence and faith in the staff team for no reason.
    This too is displacement of responsibility. "It's your fault you're unhappy" is not a counter-argument that instills any sense of confidence or faith in the ability of the staff team.

    Very true. I sure as fuck hope you guys aren't machines. The fact is, the pool of the ILB community is so massive that you really are not trying if you can't find people you trust. People from all around the world play here, so the fact that you can't find admins to fill the very high traffic hours for North American and European hours is baffling.

    Ultimately, nobody cares about magic or super technology or wizards or whatever. It's a scapegoat, and a reactionary effort to get staff to do literally anything. Aether was a very good opportunity for staff to have an active role in Port Lux, but it fell through because of inactivity. We'd put up with magic and unrealistic tech if there were people around with the capability, authority, and activity required to make case-by-case calls. If you want to continue the current weak system, RP staff need to be wiped of the inactive and given a bit more authority to act on things.

    Hearing and listening are not synonyms. Taking the time to type "mhm yes i understand that" to each complaint isn't listening. You HEAR noise. You LISTEN to conversation.

    This is correct, and the community doesn't trust staff to do their jobs. That's not subjective opinion, it is stone cold fact and the reason why people have already left with no intention of coming back. Your system relies on management from the sidelines, but that will not work any longer. Changing things means being active and engaged, and you should be willing to step aside and let someone else do the work necessary if you are not willing. ILB worked in the past because the staff were genuinely on the server and RPing and chilling with everyone else. It's understandable if you no longer have the time or energy to dedicate to it. Other people do. Relying on the same antiquated, inactive team to do what they did 2 or 3 years ago is not reasonable anymore.

    I saw the mention of being understaffed multiple times. There is one way to fix that. We cannot fix this for you, nor should we. The problems do not go away if we stop bringing them up. "Trust us to fix it" fails without trust, and you all have lost the trust of a lot of people. It's not our job to earn it back.
    Pip Cryt and Dimi-tre like this.
  5. Max Bacon

    Max Bacon Tasty Owner Bacon Chief RP Manager Tasty Club

    BCash: ß 240
    The "super admins" of ILB, aka me and Lachee is a rank that is simply more deeply tied to the very core of the development front, the developer and technical level maintenance of our machines and systems, aside of the community management.

    Our Managers are the localized admins, from RP to server moderation, to modding, the leadership is more segregated through multiple people to try to avoid overwhelming the same persons with everything, the Manager is the "super admin" of the responsibilities given and me overall just review what goes on, as well giving support to what needs to be done.

    The community engagement and staff disconnected from the in-game playerbase is not one new argument you brought, it's one argument that I have been bringing up with our management multiple times, the lack of greater involvement with the community especially in terms of events and such do in my view contribute to the opposite of one healthy player base, this is where the server gets a rather stalled.

    Our Staff team does a lot, this server runs 24/7, always with players, always something is happening, we have handled almost 9 thousand support tickets by now and still address overall dozens per day, it just never stops, so when people talk about "staff this or that", they sure must understand how much wear and tear it has on us, especially after 5 years of this very same never-ending routine to maintain the server.

    That said, we do are understaffed, from the moderation, the RP management, the RP monitoring, to the actual lack of someone willing and fitting to take upon some leadership roles on management that need more help, this would mostly be RP and the Contributors leadership; RP is most definitively the area that causes most drain on the staff because while we DO listen and know what is the feedback is, we also know that nothing will ever please everyone and it needs to be a compromise, especially because several things suggested would require a lot of effort from the RP staff team and it feels to me people on the team do not feel appreciation from the players for the work they do for RP, perhaps is that why they're not motivated and get worn down? For all our team to work on this server, the only thing they get back from the time and effort they spend on ILB, either that is RP, or Moderation, or Events, is the appreciation from the community, without that it will continue killing their morale.

    Long story short, we do know and are aware of the status of the community, what are the problems, what can be improved, but we don't have enough activity at this point to properly react as we would want to, neither is the recruitment front being capable to answer to those needs.
    ICDeadPixels and Pip Cryt like this.
  6. Dimov

    Dimov Cooked Bacon

    BCash: ß 500
    From what I'm gathering, you guys are somewhat aware of the issues here, but either do not have the capability or do not have the willpower to deal with them. Unfortunately, I'd not just shrug this one off. You guys may not be past the point of no return yet, but that means immediate measures are required. I find it very hard to believe that there's NOBODY out there you can add to the team to alleviate just a little more workload. I don't deny you guys do a lot, but a lot more is required, and that requires more people. You cannot and should not sit idly by here despite the fatigue. I like ILB but it's just not a healthy environment like this. If you're out of steam, please start seriously looking for people with energy. They're here, they just need something to believe in and a reason to bother putting in effort. You're a staff TEAM.
  7. Max Bacon

    Max Bacon Tasty Owner Bacon Chief RP Manager Tasty Club

    BCash: ß 240
    Things do are happening over time, and it'll face rollouts over time. The doom-mongering you bring does not compute with me because ILB is as stable now as it was before, and I do think it is more healthy right now as it was before (on both RP and PvE), we've taken measures that have increased consequences on abusing the experience of our players (allowing the adventure hub to suffer less for being a free edit world), to even adding blacklisting on our RP Hub that filters out the majority of the trolls and abusers, so I'd say there's hyperbole from you on that aspect.

    Things as the recruitment front will be more advertised soon in a further organization and review to captivate further interest in filling and refresh positions with active and involved players.
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