Etiquette Question

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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby GhostEcho » 12 Apr 2017, 19:39

I'm normally one to be dubious about any "ongoing game" question, but this one's actually so general it could probably apply to any game of Diplomacy ever played! To recap:

DirtyHarry wrote:Anyway, the questions is, I'm country A, and I decided to ally with country B to attack country C. Now, as you would expect, country C is making overtures about A (me) switching alliances. Since I have no intention of doing that at this point, I have ignored the requests so far, but would it be better to just respond politely that I'm not interested? I admire country C for continuing to try to work and fight, but the die is cast.


Not replying gives up the opportunity for direct influence. It sends a definite message "Not Interested" but doesn't allow you any room to explain yourself - or to negotiate a better deal. So generally I feel it's better to keep talking. There are two circumstances, though, in which I wouldn't:

1) Certain players will push and prod at length to get anything they can use from you. It may be something they think they can pass on to help out on another front - maybe even to Player B. If Player C's trying to troll for information, I might just shut up completely for a while until he gives up, and re-initiate contact on my own terms. On the other hand, I might feed the troll and see where it gets to. But there's only so much insubstantial you can say - if C's not got any good ideas, you at the very least want to slow the message rate down. A cursory message every turn or year, maybe.

2) Silence as power-play. Dangerous, of course, because your disinterest in working with C could be used by somebody else against you. But if you can get the timing right (and don't necessarily want C eliminated), an ominous pause followed by an offer of terms can come off pretty well. Though you don't want to be begging for alliance because your plans got upset, but rather offering a new-and-better opportunity.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby Nibbler » 14 Apr 2017, 08:58

WHSeward wrote:Gotta say I disagree with you Nibbler. This is a game. A social activity. A lot of etiquette applies.

I agree. There is a lot of etiquette. I think, though, that this - whether to reply to a message or not - is not one of those areas.

WHSeward wrote:Lot's of people think that since they are anonymous on the internet, it is OK to be a jerk. They are wrong. They are just jerks.

I agree. The net is the place where many people release their inner idiot. And that will affect Dip as much as anywhere else.

WHSeward wrote:In this particular case, not replying to a message is rude. If you have diplomatic reason that you want to be rude, I suppose you can do that, just understand that it comes at cost.

And you may be right here, too. There are certainly times when it might be considered rude to not reply. As most will tell you, I usually reply if I think a reply can add something to the discussion or if it would further my interests in the game. But that is a strategic consideration, not an etiquette-related one.

There are times when I reply simply to reply. Maybe I think my response may make someone smile (although my sense of humour seems to pass people by), or I might just reply for the sake of replying. Etquette? Perhaps, but I don't think so.

I think there is a big difference between the strategic reasons for replying - which have been laid out repeatedly above - and etiquette. There's a lot of strategic discussion, which - given that this is the Strategy section - is fine, I guess. But the OP clearly said that this was about etiquette. And this is an active game; as GhostEcho said above perhaps this is a wide enough strategy discussion that it really doesn't matter whether we're discussing strategy and giving strategy advice in an active game. But the OP wanted to know about the etiquette.

I should say that I agree with the strategy points. Dip is a game about relationships, among other things. You build a relationship by communicating. If you choose not to reply to a message - or a bunch of messages - that is a risky strategy. You're going to be alienating/frustrating/angering/seriously pissing off the player to whom you're not replying.

On the other hand, if your strategy is to deliberately alienate/frustrate etc a player, without being out-and-out rude by being abusive, then not replying is a possible route to take. Yes, it's dangerous and it might not be the best way to go, but it's a choice. Why would you do that? Think about it.

My point is that - if something is a strategic choice - it isn't a question about etiquette.

Dip is a social game. While in social situations there has grown up a set of social rules - etiquette - to suggest that etiquette should trump other considerations is to ignore the gaming aspect. Dip is a social game. That's the way I apply the stress. Others may choose to stress that it's a social game. Fair enough. I think, though, the more you stress social, the more you look to apply etiquette, the more you focus on a set of unwritten rules.

Not replying to someone is rude. Where does it say you can't be rude when playing Diplomacy? Where does it say you should be constantly polite? Constantly nice? Taking this idea to extremes, well, perhaps stabbing an ally is "rude"? Perhaps, then, the drawmongers have the game socially correct. In which case, why play the game at all?

"Ridiculous. The game is designed to be one of betrayal. It's designed to mimic the false alliances built prior to WWI. Stabbing is part of the game." Correct, IMO. But some people will choose to not stab - perhaps for strategic reasons, perhaps because that's the way they choose to play Dip.

In the same way, some people will choose to apply their ideas of etiquette to communicating. And that's fine. But the design of the game means how you use communications, an aspect of strategy, affects the game. If you exclude the possible strategy of not replying, and even of replying provocatively, then you are restricting your strategic options to be polite. Etiquette - social niceties - trump game-play.

My opinion is that etiquette in games should be limited:
> You want to play a game? You get some idea of the rules of the game first - etiquette. As an example, starting a game without knowing that you can only move to a neighbouring space, is bad etiquette and shouldn't be happening.
> You join a game? You play the game - etiquette. Eg: quitting a game when things go badly, bad etiquette.
> You are playing a game? You play it as best you can - etiquette. Eg: playing in a limited way - not messaging or playing too many games to focus on a game - bad etiquette.
> You want to enjoy the game? You remember that the other players want to enjoy it, too - etiquette. Eg: refusing to end a game when it is clearly over, bad etiquette.
> You want a fair game? You don't cheat - etiquette. Do I need to give an example? OK - know the rules of where you're playing.

Beyond that, I think, we begin to apply unnecessary and limiting pseudo-rules. It may be necessary to adopt some of those rules, depending upon the attitude of the people with whom you're playing. But that begins to edge into strategy: it becomes about playing to fit in with how other people play simply to not upset people and make yourself a target and thereby have a better chance of success.

So, to be specific:
DirtyHarry wrote:Anyway, the questions is, I'm country A, and I decided to ally with country B to attack country C. Now, as you would expect, country C is making overtures about A (me) switching alliances. Since I have no intention of doing that at this point, I have ignored the requests so far, but would it be better to just respond politely that I'm not interested? I admire country C for continuing to try to work and fight, but the die is cast.

Strategically, ignoring the messages is a bad choice. It's likely to be too early in the game to be frustrating another player. Strategically, you may want to lie (another example of bad etiquette but of occasionally good game-play); you may want to avoid answering the overtures but still communicate; you may want to explain why you don't think abandoning the current alliance works for you.

In terms of etiquette: I don't believe there is anything in Diplomacy that says ignoring the messages is "bad etiquette". It is outside the etiquette of playing the game.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby WHSeward » 14 Apr 2017, 17:28

I think your reply largely (double entendre intended) reiterates what I wrote. To focus on the crux:
Nibbler wrote:My point is that - if something is a strategic choice - it isn't a question about etiquette.

No, it is still a question of etiquette, you just may have strategic reasons for violating etiquette. That is fine. It is still rude. It still comes with a social cost. It comes with a diplomatic cost. If those costs are worth it, then go ahead, just understand there is a cost. Not replying to a message is a pretty low-level rudeness, and pretty easy to be forgiven. There are, however, worse offenses.

Nibbler wrote:In terms of etiquette: I don't believe there is anything in Diplomacy that says ignoring the messages is "bad etiquette". It is outside the etiquette of playing the game.

That is a strawman. The Diplomacy game only has rules (and suggestions.) Etiquette is social convention. It never comes from the game box, it comes from the people who play it. It's the unwritten rules.

It is also wrong. Gunboating through a regular game of Dip is annoying and rude to the players who signed up to play a real game. Socially, you won't be invited back to play. Diplomatically, you will be isolated. Those are the costs. Ignoring one player is a subset of that. Again, these is a low-level offenses, easy to enough to be forgiven, but rude nonetheless.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby Carebear » 14 Apr 2017, 17:51

I agree with WHS 100%.

At the very least, one can reply with some like they are unhappy and are not ready to communicate yet. It acknowledges the other player.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby GhostEcho » 14 Apr 2017, 19:02

WHS, you've put your case too high.

WHSeward wrote:No, it is still a question of etiquette, you just may have strategic reasons for violating etiquette. That is fine. It is still rude. It still comes with a social cost. It comes with a diplomatic cost. If those costs are worth it, then go ahead, just understand there is a cost... Gunboating through a regular game of Dip is annoying and rude to the players who signed up to play a real game. Socially, you won't be invited back to play. Diplomatically, you will be isolated. Those are the costs. Ignoring one player is a subset of that. Again, these is a low-level offenses, easy to enough to be forgiven, but rude nonetheless.


DirtyHarry started with the question of not responding to a single message, and you've transformed that to "ignoring" the player and then practically equated that with not communicating at all. Seriously? I see how you get there: The meat of your position is that of course people generally send messages expecting a reply. And so to not reply at all is, especially in a game reliant on communication, rude.

But the question was replying to a single message, which is really a different order of question entirely. Yes, you leave the sender hanging if you don't reply. But sometimes there's not a good answer. I'm more frustrated to get back an empty "I'll think about it" or the like than I am with silence - silence is an answer of its own (usually disinclination to acquiesce to a request) and I can plan on the basis of no answer as well as on the basis of a cloudy one.

Now if we're actually talking about a habit of not replying, that's rude. But, as a potential message-answerer, I could want to, for instance:

- see what another player or ally says first so I can give a better answer
- see how the current turn plays out before making up my mind (but I wouldn't want to say that explicitly in many cases)
- wait to see whether the sender realizes he's made a silly request

Other scenarios could be imagined. So depending on the message, the timing, the game, the players, etc. I don't think it's necessarily "violating etiquette" to simply ignore a message, or even multiple messages occasionally across a game. In this sense the format of the web game is very different from face to face, where you can't just walk past a "Hey, Turkey, we need to talk" without being rude - and play by post was probably similar due to time and cost involved.

Yes, you need to be aware that not getting a reply could offend someone. But then, if you catch the wrong player, virtually anything can offend them - I've played with people on a couple occasions offended by a proposal to switch allies!
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby WHSeward » 14 Apr 2017, 19:58

Well, the OP specifies plural, so it's not a single message, but yes, the exchange between me and Nibbler is about a broader topic.

It should be a simple, non-controversial concept: be diplomatic. If you aren't, have a reason and be prepared to pay the cost.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby Nibbler » 15 Apr 2017, 09:55

I understand what WHS is saying. I simply think we're approaching the game with different ideas: I suspect - but can't say for certain, obviously :) - that WHS approaches Dip as a social game whereas I approach it as a social game. There's nothing inherently wrong with either position. If you view Dip as being primarily social, for all the reasons that have been expressed, then you'll avoid the potential cost of not replying to a message; if you view Dip as being primarily a game, then you face the potential cost of not replying to a message.

To reiterate, not replying to a message does have a cost. If you're going to do that, then plan to deal with it - actually, you should have planned to deal with it ahead of doing so. It is a choice you make and it should be part of your strategy, rather than just being lazy. There should be a reason to not reply, in other words.

But I think focusing on the cost of not replying is, to use WHS's phrase, a straw man. Everything you do in Diplomacy comes with a cost: it is all about managing that cost. If your reply to the type of message the OP received is falsely positive (something along the lines of "OK I will change my allegiance"), in other words a lie, then you're showing yourself to be a liar to anyone in the game. There's a clear cost to that. If you reply with an honest negative ("Sorry but I don't intend to switch my allegiance") then the cost is that your opponent knows exactly where he stands and will act accordingly.

Managing the cost of your choice is the key. It should be an active decision, no matter what you do.

To repeat myself, I think if you restrict yourself to certain unwritten rules - and applying social niceties is a restriction - then you are narrowing down the potential options in your game. That might not matter: you may be good enough to play withing those restrictions - you'd better be! ;) - and it probably indicates that you're a better player than someone who releases themselves from potential restrictions! But Dip is a multi-dimensional game and the more dimensions you use the more options you have open to you.

One final thing: as GhostEcho says, no message is a message in itself. Then again, a non-committal message is a message in itself - and probably just as clear. The problem is analysing what the message you're being given actually is. What is the opponent trying to do by replying with a non-message... or by not replying, by replying positively if that positivity seems to make no sense - in fact, by any reply?

And people wonder why players of Dip are habitually paranoid... :D
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby WHSeward » 15 Apr 2017, 10:39

Silence is notoriously difficult to interpret.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby Eleusinian » 19 Apr 2017, 07:48

Firstly, I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised! Being a non-hardcore (and non-good ;) ) player, I thought that I'd be in the minority in thinking that ignoring people is rude.

Nibbler, I'd like to suggest a further refinement of your breakdown: Diplomacy is a social, competitive game. You seem to be putting the emphasis on competitive. To your point, that's fine, and a perfectly valid standpoint. Personally, I put the emphasis on game. To me, that means it's ultimately supposed to be fun -- and being ignored isn't fun, especially when you don't know if the person is ignoring you on purpose, or has just signed up for too many games and is gunboating them all. Of course, like anything else, it can't always be fun, and of course the balance between social / competitive / game is a sliding scale. Maybe there's a strategic reason for someone to be ignoring me, which basically means they're putting more emphasis on "competitive," at the expense of "social" and (to me) "game." Okay. But to WSH's point, it's valid to at least recognize that that tradeoff is happening. And fwiw, my rough guess is that in most cases, whatever strategic advantage they think they're getting is way outshadowed by their anti-social, and thus non-fun, behavior.
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Re: Etiquette Question

Postby Nibbler » 22 Apr 2017, 10:08

Without wanting to cause any offence, because it isn't meant to, you remind me of a teacher of mine, Eleusinian :)

She had this habit of trying to get us to work on what she'd prepared. "It's fun," she'd say. "You'll enjoy it." This was especially the case with art activities. I was never good at art; I'm still not. Draw a horse and it looks like it should be barking. Just not my thing.

We were reading Danny, the Champion of the World and she had us paint pictures based on the book. My "portrait" of Danny was... well, different. I can remember it well. I was 9 so it at least looked human. But his right leg was about four times as wide as his left leg. My teacher, bless her, put it up on the wall, just to show me how "fun" it had been. I remember the comment of one of my class mates who wanted to know if I'd painted Jake the Peg and if his extra leg was in the right leg of his trousers.

(If you don't know Jake the Peg, look it up. If you get something porn-esque back, sorry - I haven't tried :? Diddle-iddle-iddle um.)

My point is that "fun" is subjective. I didn't find fun in art. Danny was fun because it told a story of a totally different - and possibly no longer extant - way of life from that of a boy living in a distinctly urban district of a big city. So different that I expect, today, the book isn't read in classrooms. Seems that, today, anything which kids will have a problem empathising with, anything not easily identified with, is not part of teaching. For me, it was so different it captured my imagination.

I've no doubt that many of the kids in the class found art fun. It wasn't maths and it wasn't writing. It wasn't watching two hippies singing songs and playing a guitar while a big white dot bounced along words at the bottom of the screen, making us join in (which wasn't fun for anybody). Despite things not being fun for everyone, this "fun" was imposed upon us (and rightly so - this is school where we are rightly exposed to different experiences) and we were expected to find it "fun" because we were told, in no uncertain terms, it was such.

Dip is a social game. If you can't be bothered to communicate, you're playing the wrong game. And if you deliberately choose to not communicate, or not reply to a given player or message, there is a cost. I suggest that the cost is strategic rather than social.

There are assumptions being made and, in my opinion, lazy ones. First, that not replying to a message is anti-social; second, that not replying to a message is - objectively - "non-fun".

I could reply to almost every message I get in a game. Does that make me social? Not necessarily - I could be an objectionable jerk most of the time. But, assuming I'm not (at least when playing the game; I may well be an objectionable jerk outside the game) and I respond appropriately to everyone, does my choosing to not respond to one player make me anti-social? More specifically, is the single act of not responding to a message an anti-social act?

What I'm saying is that, when that choice is made based on strategy, then the choice is about strategy; if the choice is about strategy, labelling it as being anti-social misses the point. It doesn't matter if the non-response is to a single message or to one player in a thread of messages: applying a generalised label to something - anti-social or against etiquette - is prejudiced; it is presumptive and, if the choice is made strategically, inappropriate.

This is a game which was designed to be anti-social to some extent. What is more anti-social than betrayal? It's a game which probably involves lying or at least being misleading. How social is that? It's part of the game.

I recognise that communicating is also part of the game. When playing f2f it is difficult to ignore someone. But this game isn't f2f; there are different options open to players. One of those options is being able to not reply to a message. Possibly not the best option - but an option, nonetheless. It's a choice that is open to players.

I would also suggest that one player's idea of what makes the game fun is not, necessarily, another person's idea of what makes it fun. Personally I think everything about the game is fun. And that includes the challenges of working out what is going on.

If I don't get a reply to a message, I have to work out what is going on. Is the player gone from the game? Is he pissed at me (then, why)? Is it that he chose to not reply? Is it simply that he's not had the chance to reply yet? Can I get any clues from the board? What does his history as a player tell me? Then again, if the player replies to a message, I have the same challenge for different reasons. The point is that a non-reply is a challenge. For me, that's part of the fun.

Obviously, that isn't the case for other people - well, the challenge might be but not receiving a reply to a message is more of an insult than anything else. OK, that's fair enough. But is it my responsibility to ensure that I please everyone in a game?

I think that playing any game carries responsibilities. As I said before, there are some aspects of playing this game that can be classified as "etiquette". I think they apply to playing any game. One of them is that you need to remember that other players want to join the game, too. The question is how far you take that.

Do I have to make allowances for everything that might possibly prevent someone from enjoying playing Dip? How far do I take that? Do I have to reply to messages just in case I'll upset someone by not doing so? Perhaps - if not receiving a reply would upset me.

In another topic one reason given for not breaking an alliance to try to win the game was expressed as:
If that final stab doesn't seem fair to me, by which I mean the victim will be personally insulted because they can't see the game-motivated reason for it, then it just feels wrong and undermines the part of this game that I enjoy [the interaction between players].
The stress is mine.

According to this view, maintaining an alliance is something to do if the player who you might otherwise stab may not be able to see the reason for the stab. That is a point of view; not mine. The inability of another player to understand my reasons for stabbing him isn't my problem.

In the same way, if another player can't appreciate any strategic choice I make, including - potentially - not replying to a message, that isn't my problem. And the only reason for not replying to a message, IMO, is a strategic one.

I have to say, I can't remember a time when I haven't replied to a message deliberately - at least, as part of a longer strategic discussion. That is mainly because I think that it makes more sense, in most situations, to reply and be evasive than to not reply 8-) But I certainly wouldn't dismiss it as a strategic option nor on grounds of it being "non-fun" or anti-social. It isn't up to me to define what fun is for other players... but neither would I go out of my way to spoil the game for other players.
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