HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011 - 31 Dec 2012

Rules for using the site and playing on site.

HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011 - 31 Dec 2012

Postby rick.leeds » 19 Jul 2011, 17:38

PLEASE SEE THE UPDATED LIST OF HOUSE RULES EFFECTIVE FROM 1 JAN 2013.

This is a newly updated version of the site’s House Rules for playing on the main game site. It is based on the original version of the rules written by Diplomat, and it is with acknowledgement to him that these rules are presented.

There are three areas that site members need to keep in mind:
A. Rule Breaking.
B. Violating the Spirit of the Game.
C. Breaching the Separation of Games from the Forum.

Additionally, some of these rules are adapted depending upon the status of a game, whether it is RANKED, NO RANK or a FRIENDS game. These modifications are detailed at the end of the House Rules.

A. RULE BREAKING.
1. Multiple Accounts.
The site rule is one member, one account. If you are found to have more than one account in different games, all but one of them, and in some cases ALL of them, will be permanently disabled (banned) [see A2 below].
The one exception to this is for class-based games where, in certain circumstances, we will allow users to have an "Official" and a "Personal" account.
(i) An OFFICIAL account is an account which is set up for a SCHOOLS game as part of a class-based project. These accounts need to be set-up using a school email address and a username identifying the account as a school account. Accounts will ONLY be classed as Official accounts if they are used solely for these games.
(ii) Accounts will be judged to be PERSONAL accounts if:
- an account is set-up as an Official account but the player enters games which are NOT part of a class-based project;
- an account is set-up using a personal username; that is, one which DOES NOT contain a school identifier in the username, regardless of email address.
(iii) Players may therefore have an Official account used ONLY for games which are part of a class-based project but if these are used in other games they will be seen as Personal accounts.
(iv) Personal accounts are subject to full House Rules.
NO PLAYER MAY HAVE MORE THAN ONE ACCOUNT CLASSED AS A PERSONAL ACCOUNT.
[For more information on setting-up class-based games and account see HERE.)

2. Multi-accounting.
(i) Operating more than one account in the same game, or accessing a game with more than one account. This will lead to ALL accounts attributed to a user being permanently disabled.
(ii) Multi-accounting also includes accessing another user’s account in the same game. Whilst “subbing” for another user IS allowed, members are not allowed to sub for anyone with whom they share an active game.
(iii) Checking the availability of a position in a Gunboat game using a secondary account. This might be tempting: is the NMRing country open to be taken over or not? Attempting to ascertain this be trying to join a game with a second account, which would tell you whether the power is surrendered or NMRing, is banned.
NO WARNINGS will be given for multi-accounting. A ban is immediate.

3. Members must ensure that they do not break any rules specific to certain games:
(i) Anonymous games: Players must not know which power the other players control start of an anonymous game. [It may be that, during the course of the game, a player may discover or work out another’s identity, and it is not against the rules to claim an identity in the game, whether true or false; it is to prevent an unfair advantage at the beginning of the game that this rule exists.]
(ii) Gunboat games: These games do not allow any form of communication, other than by orders issued to your units.
(iii) Public Press Only games: Communication is not allowed except via the Public Press box/Shoutbox in-game.
(iv) Fog of War games: In FoW games players have a limited amount of the map they can see. Players are not allowed to to use screenshots or similar technology to pass on information that another player cannot see on her/his map.
Breaking any of the communication rules will result in removal from the game(s) affected and players will receive one warning. A repeat will result in the account being permanently disabled.

4. Anonymous accounts.
There is no need for players to have a "dummy" account as the Short-handed Variant removes that necessity.
The site has an anonymous account that can be used for advertising anonymous games on the Forum ONLY. It is called AnonGamePoster and the password can be obtained from a Moderator.
An anonymous account must not be used in games.

5. Inappropriate content.
In (regular) games, players can communicate by sending messages to individuals, which can only be read be the recipients, or by sending messages in the Public Press box which can be seen by everyone in the game. The Public Press box can also be seen by site members and can be seen on the internet, therefore members must not post inappropriate content; that is, pornographic or abusive content. This will result in players receiving a warning, may result in removal from the game and, if repeated, being banned from site.

6. Cyber-bullying.
(i) Taking action, or threatening to take action, off site, whether on other sites or in person in an effort to influence play in games.
(ii) Taking malicious action, or threatening to take malicious action, on the site Forum or in Private Messages in an effort to influence play in games.
This includes "trolling" anywhere on site or on other sites (when it can be evidenced as linked to games on PlayDiplomacy.com) by carrying out personal attacks or spreading rumours about other players.

7. The Moderators may also act to prevent anything else which is, in their opinion, bad for the site.
This may include such things as phishing for account details, maliciously impersonating other members, etc.

B. VIOLATING THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME.
There are two main aspects to the spirit of the game: (1) that players ENTER a game intending to achieve a solo victory (although this may not be possible and therefore players may have to settle for a draw) and (2) that every game stands alone and is independent of any other game. Failing to honour the spirit of the game is usually termed “META-GAMING”, and may be summed-up by three terms: team play, cross-gaming and negative meta-gaming.

1. Team Play.
Players are forbidden to enter a game as a team or with a pre-arranged alliance. This includes entering the game with the intent to eliminate the opposition and then “shoot it out”. This means that the following are not allowed:
(i) Entering a game with other players as a team or an alliance set-up prior to the game.
(ii) Entering a game as a replacement with the intention of allying with another player to achieve a draw or other result.
(iii) Forming an alliance with other players solely on the basis that you know them from off-site or from previous games. [We know and accept that, at times, it is natural to ally with friends, family, etc. If you are not prepared to stab a friend, family member, colleague, etc you should play FRIENDS games with these people.]
(iv) Entering several games with the same player(s) and regularly forming the same alliance. As a guideline, no more than 1 in 5 of a player's games should feature the same alliance of players and have similar outcomes/results or the same pattern of alliances.
(v) Entering games with family, friends, co-workers, school mates, etc and treating them differently to other players in the game by default.
(vi) Entering a game with the intent to draw with specific players.

2. Cross-game Play.
This is specifically when actions in one game are linked to events in past, current and/or potentially future games. Each game should be independent of all others. The following are not allowed:
(i) Forming alliances in multiple games, along the lines of “Hey – we’re in three games: we should ally in all of them!”
(ii) Exchanging favours between games, so that if she does this for you in THIS game, you’ll do that for her in THAT game.
(iii) Exchanging information across games in which both or all players are involved, discussing events in Game A whilst playing in Game B and/or giving information in Game A to a player just because you are allied with that player in Game B.
(iv) Offering players the chance to play in an up-coming game with you if this is linked to forming an alliance there.
(v) Referring players to past games in which you and other players in the current game were involved. [This means specifically linking two defined games. It is something along the lines of: “Turkey will stab you cos she did it to me in Game 12345”. There is nothing wrong with commenting in general terms about a player’s style.]

3. Negative Meta-gaming.
This is similar to the above but, rather than being aimed at helping a friend or ally, it is aimed at hindering an opponent unfairly. The following are not allowed:
(i) Entering a game with the preset idea of attacking a specific opponent, no matter what happens, as a response to events outside that game.
(ii) Threatening actions/reprisals/retaliation in a game for events that have happened outside of the game (or that game).
(iii) Threatening actions/reprisals/retaliation in future games for events in a current game.
(iv) Malicious action taken in games where a player enters a game, targets another another player and then leaves the game, when in response to actions in another game. This includes leaving malicious messages or public press posts.
(v) Threatening malicious action as in (iv) above.

It is obvious that some of these are hard to prove, therefore Mods will look at patterns over a number of games.
Actions taken for violating the spirit of the game may range from a warning, to removal from a game or games, to a permanent ban. However, a permanent ban will normally only be enforced where the cheating has been regular and over a protracted period.

C. BREACHING THE SEPARATION OF GAMES FROM THE FORUM.
The basic tenet is that the Forum should have no impact upon actions or events in games (with the exception of,say, advertising for someone to take over a surrendered position). The Mods will take action if they believe a player has attempted to use the Forum to influence a game or gameplay. If you are at all unsure about this, contact a Mod by PM.

1. Accusation of Cheating in Game and the Cheaters Section.
In general, it is pretty obvious that an accusation of cheating should only be brought to the Mod’s attention if you are convinced about it. The following are not allowed:
(i) Openly accusing a player via Public Press of cheating WITHOUT bringing this to the attention of the Moderators via the Cheaters forum. Should Moderators feel accusations are being made in order to affect the game with no real evidence, the accuser will be removed from the game.
(ii) Continuing to accuse players of cheating in a game once the game has been investigated and cleared.
(iii) Falsely accusing someone of cheating in the Cheaters Section. A Moderator will base this decision on the evidence available to you and whether, in the Mod's opinion, that equates to a fair reason to report the game.
(iv) Posting in the Cheaters Section claiming you have been accused of cheating when this has not happened.
[If you are accused of cheating in a game, the best way to deal with this is to suggest that the accuser (eg. through Public Press) report it in the Cheaters Section of the Forum. This will either openly clear you of cheating (assuming you aren't, of course) or show the accusation to be a ploy within the game only.]

2. Bugs Section.
Players are very welcome to post anything they think might be a bug but using the Bugs Section to support in-game activities when there is no evidence of a bug will not be tolerated. The following is not allowed:
(i) Players posting false bug reports.
(ii) Players seeking to use the Bugs Section to support mis-information they have given in the game.
[In general, admin will not consider altering game history unless there is clear evidence of a bug on site or clear mis-adjudication.]

3. Strategy and Rules Sections.
It may be difficult, sometimes, but players should do everything they can to prevent linking questions to specific situations in current games. The following are not allowed:
(i) Players must not provide a link to an active game they are in.
(ii) In STRATEGY, players shouldn’t refer to a situation in an active game they are in and should not post the name and number of an active game.
(iii) In RULES, players should not mention the game name or number unless asked to by a Mod; usually the situation can be described without the need to link to the game.

4. Games Section (including AARs).
(i) When advertising for replacement players in a game members should not tell prospective replacements what actions the advertiser wants them to take and MUST NOT offer an incentive for joining the game.
(ii) AARs are After Action Reports and should be presented only after the game has finished.
(iii) Similarly, any comments from players involved in a game about the way the game has progressed should NOT appear on the Forum until after the game has finished.

When these rules are broken, they may lead to a warning being issued, possibly to being removed from the game. Unless this happens on a number of occasions players are unlikely to face a permanent ban.

APPEALING.
There will always be a shade of doubt to any decision about possible cheating. The Mods decisions are based upon the evidence open to them and they are committed to investigating thoroughly. Action will only be taken where the evidence is convincing. If a Mod is unsure, s/he MAY contact members by PM or by email; however, they are under no obligation to do so.
Should you wish to appeal a decision, you can do so by the visiting the Cheaters Section (or appropriate Section) and looking at the report there. To appeal you will need to present the evidence as to why you were NOT cheating.
Mods aren’t perfect and occasionally mistakes may happen. Please remember this isn’t a result of the Mod NOT doing her/his job, but a decision made on the available evidence.

OPENING A NEW ACCOUNT & REJOINING GAMES
Should an account be deactivated and removed from games for cheating, new accounts are NOT allowed to go back into the same game. This is, effectively, multi-accounting.
The same for the case where a secondary account is deactivated and removed from games for Multiple Accounting: the primary account is NOT allowed to replace the secondary(ies).
If an account is deactivated (and so removed from games) because it contains abusive or strongly offensive words, the new account MAY return to the same game if that position is open but may NOT return to the game as a different power.

MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOUSE RULES BASED ON THE STATUS OF THE GAME.
There are three basic types of game status:
1. RANKED games.
These games award points towards the site rankings. ALL of the House Rules apply with no exceptions.

2. NO RANK games.
These games do not award ranking points. In general, ALL of the House Rules apply UNLESS the game has been deliberately set-up to break certain rules. For instance, a game may have been set-up to simulate WWI, or a game might have been set up as a team event. In order to allow these modifications, however, the game description MUST state the type of game being played clearly, otherwise Mods will view it as operating under standard House Rules.

3. FRIENDS games.
This status has been specifically designed for players who wish to regularly play against the same groups of players, where meta-gaming may be difficult to avoid, or for games with less than seven players. As such, they are also not ranked. We do not investigate FRIENDS game for cheating unless:
(i) We are directly asked to investigate possible multi-accounting (we will not investigate meta-gaming), or
(ii) FRIENDS games are part of a wider investigation that includes RANK or NO RANK games.

4. SCHOOLS games.
This status has been designed for teachers to set up games classes, or for mentors to run mentor games. As such, they are not ranked and will not be investigated.

Please feel free to post questions or points you would like further clarifying below.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby ebjosef » 19 Jul 2011, 18:27

There are several basic questions every player in any position should want to know [at the start of a game]: A. Have you played with any of these players before and how did it go?


That is from the New Player Guide and seems to clash with:

This means that the following are not allowed: ... Forming an alliance with other players solely on the basis that you know them from off-site or from previous games.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby slippydippy » 19 Jul 2011, 18:48

"the Forum should have no impact upon actions or events in games"

Advertising available positions for substitution is an accepted exception to this rule :geek:
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby Willie900 » 19 Jul 2011, 19:28

slippydippy wrote:"the Forum should have no impact upon actions or events in games"

Advertising available positions for substitution is an accepted exception to this rule :geek:
SubstitutionSally.


but is it an actual exception? perhaps this can be clarified...
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby rick.leeds » 19 Jul 2011, 21:26

ebjosef wrote:
There are several basic questions every player in any position should want to know [at the start of a game]: A. Have you played with any of these players before and how did it go?


That is from the New Player Guide and seems to clash with:

This means that the following are not allowed: ... Forming an alliance with other players solely on the basis that you know them from off-site or from previous games.

Nope sorry, that isn't a contradiction at all. Knowing how you got on with someone is fine; forming an alliance with them SOLELY on that knowledge isn't. We can never cut out that human thing that says: "I think I know I can trust this person" or "She stabbed me last game so I need to be careful." But forming an alliance BECAUSE you were allied in a past game - linking one game's alliance with another - or deciding that you are going to attack THAT player no matter what because of that stab is not the same as being cautious. Basically, don't get yourselves into the position of accepting an alliance on the basis of "We were allied in the last game."

Willie900 wrote:
slippydippy wrote:"the Forum should have no impact upon actions or events in games"

Advertising available positions for substitution is an accepted exception to this rule :geek:
SubstitutionSally.


but is it an actual exception? perhaps this can be clarified...

I'll alter that section.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby WarSmith » 19 Jul 2011, 21:47

This is similar to the above but, rather than being aimed at helping a friend or ally, it is aimed at hindering an opponent unfairly. The following are not allowed:
(i) Entering a game with the preset idea of attacking a specific opponent, no matter what happens, as a response to events outside that game.
(ii) Threatening actions/reprisals/retaliation in a game for events that have happened outside of the game (or that game).
(iii) Threatening actions/reprisals/retaliation in future games for events in a current game.


Would such an outside factor be rank? I.e. Would you now consider taking action is someone is rallying others to attack a player because of their rank/history only?
I'm not looking to bring up the whole debate again... Just want your interpretation on this, as its often the easiest thing to prove via in-game messaging (i.e. Point i).

Thanks Rick,
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby rick.leeds » 19 Jul 2011, 22:18

As far as these House Rules (and previous ones that I've been involved with are concerned) there has never been any intention to link ratings, rank or points with cheating. The specific rules on meta-gaming were originally about preventing events IN A GAME affect the way another game is played.

I think it is getting into muddy waters. I see the point: Player A trying to rally others against Player X because Player X is 15th on site rankings DOES bring something to the game from outside the game. But then so do any stats. "This guy will NMR - don't ally with him." "This player goes for solos, so watch her." I don't see using rankings as being any different from that. I think whilst the stats, the rankings, past games, etc are there to be seen it is difficult to say that if a player uses them to persuade others about an alliance it can be seen as meta-gaming. So I don't think we can ban any reference to these in game thinking, nor in alliance discussion.

What would be possible, perhaps, would be to say that if the ONLY reason presented for an alliance against an opponent was, say, rank and there was no strategical side at all, that might be possible to interpret under these rules. In other words, should it be evidenced that Player A had attacked Player X from the start, and that the only negotiations with possible allies were about Player X's rank, then that could be meta-gaming. It would need the actions and words to match, of course (as anything does) and would have to be very specifically ONLY based upon rank.

I'll have a think and maybe bring up something in Suggestions. As I say, I think it is very muddy water and whatever was decided the rules would have to be very carefully put together.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby WarSmith » 19 Jul 2011, 22:38

Thanks Rick - I think the latter is what would work easiest, and n.b. I have been witness to it. The problem is I guess the fact that someone could argue that sending a message to potential allies such as 'player x is ranked #y, lets get him' right from the start, was only an opening gambit of a different strategy, lke me pretending to be a girl in a recent game to influence one person whose anonymity I had thought I'd figured out... Its bringing in some kind of external knowkedge into a specific game - i.e. Recognising a person's writing style - but theres a difference between having, even spreading knowledge, and actually acting on it, and it alone (i.e. Using something in a wider strategy is probably ok) So, you'd have to let it play out and see what other diplomacy followed. If one external factor (any kind of stat for example) was found to be the only point to an attack/alliance etc - then yes, I'd say a metagaming warning would be warranted under interpretation of this rule.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby ebjosef » 20 Jul 2011, 05:21

rick.leeds wrote:
ebjosef wrote:
There are several basic questions every player in any position should want to know [at the start of a game]: A. Have you played with any of these players before and how did it go?


That is from the New Player Guide and seems to clash with:

This means that the following are not allowed: ... Forming an alliance with other players solely on the basis that you know them from off-site or from previous games.

Nope sorry, that isn't a contradiction at all. Knowing how you got on with someone is fine; forming an alliance with them SOLELY on that knowledge isn't. We can never cut out that human thing that says: "I think I know I can trust this person" or "She stabbed me last game so I need to be careful." But forming an alliance BECAUSE you were allied in a past game - linking one game's alliance with another - or deciding that you are going to attack THAT player no matter what because of that stab is not the same as being cautious. Basically, don't get yourselves into the position of accepting an alliance on the basis of "We were allied in the last game."


That does rather seem like splitting hairs. I mean, I understand where you're coming from, but if someone won a two-way draw with another player and then finds himself in another game with said player the New Player Guide suggests that he should look at the players, see that he has achieved victory with the aforementioned player, and thus ally with them. But the rules state that this is not allowed as the only contributing factor to the decision the result of a previous game. Don't get me wrong, I agree with the rule, but I question the wording (of the New Player Guide). Because when I joined the site I read the NPG and my conclusion was, based on the wording quoted above, that allying with players that you had previously achieved success with was not only ok but encouraged. Now, I do not consider myself a stupid person, and my grasp of English is quite good, so I would suggest that many, if not most new players would come to the same conclusion, especially when a good proportion do not have English as their first language and therefore might not automatically pick up on what, I think you'll agree, is a very subtle distinction. I would suggest a slight modification to the NPG to clarify this point.
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Re: HOUSE RULES - effective from 20 July 2011

Postby rick.leeds » 20 Jul 2011, 11:40

I understand where you're coming from and I take the point about the "fine" definition. I would say that the guy who wrote the main body of the NPG isn't - and never was - a member of the team here, though Diplomat (who added to it) was one of the first Mods (and a Cheater-hunter, too) and I guess he didn't see a contradiction there, either. Diplomat isn't active on site any more so I can't clarify with him the situation as he saw it (he was also the person who wrote the originally House Rules).

What I will say, without repeating myself, that when we look at cheating we take into account what players have said and what they do. It is only when words and actions match that we consider if we need to take something further. In looking at this kind of cheating - meta-gaming - we need to see something like "Hey, we were allied in game 12345 so let's ally in this game, too." In other words a clear link between games. This IS different to thinking about previous relationships with an opponent. I think most of us, when coming across a player we've played before, think about what we know about that player: What type of player is he? How often did he lie? When did he lie? Did he honour an alliance? How good is he? How communicative is he? The difference, as far as that becoming cheating is concerned, is being able to see a definite link between previous/concurrent games and THIS game.

I think along the lines of a hierarchy, something like:
"Hey, we were allied in game 12345 so let's ally in this game, too." - definite link: meta-gaming.
"Let's get 'em!" (as a first message) - probable meta-gaming as it seems likely that the alliance would be built upon personal knowledge.
"Wanna do it again?" (as part of a first message) - possible meta-gaming as it seems to suggest that the alliance should be built on a previous one.
"Hey, we did OK in the past working together, what would you say about doing so again?" - would raise concerns but would need a lot of evidence to support it.
The first specifically links to a game, the last suggests an alliance on previous history but doesn't necessarily mean that is ALL the alliance is built on. ALL of them would need to be evidenced by actions in the game, too. Saying these things and NOT following up with unit orders is NOT cheating.

Where it becomes more difficult - obviously - is when there are no messages, or where the messages don't refer to anything like this, but where players in a number of games ally very regularly. This has to be evidenced by the orders only, as well as the question of HOW regularly. Is it every game the two are in together? Is it in non- or limited-communication games? What proportion of games does it happen in over ALL games the players play? Does it have a similar outcome? The proportion is important. As it says in the House Rules, the guidelines are 1 game in 5 with the same alliance. If, out of 20 games, the same alliance crops up in 15, we probably need to do something. If it is in 4 or 5, we need to ask questions. If in less than that, it isn't a problem.

The outcomes are also an issue. Are they allied from the start? Then it is something that causes concern. Are they allied to eliminate opposition before turning on each other? That is also going to cause concern - it may signal an agreement to work together and then fight it out. Does one or the other regularly come out of the game with a solo? Do they share draws very regularly? These are also concerns. Does the alliance last the game or the length of one (or more) player(s)'s participation? That is going to send up flags. Do they ally later in the game? This is unlikely to cause issues, especially if they were in a position to ally at the start but didn't.

There are a lot of "safeguards", if you like, that are in place in Mods' minds when we look for meta-gaming. We need to be convinced by the evidence. Not convinced? No action. Some possibility? We might message them and mention our concerns. Also, meta-gaming rarely leads to a permanent ban. It will usually result in a warning and removal from games active games. Archived games might be UNRANKED. It is only when it has been on-going on a regular basis over a protracted period that a ban will be considered.

Meta-gaming is a complicated issue. I concede that the NPG MIGHT suggest that building an alliance based upon past history is OK. I would suggest, however, that this ISN'T what is says. It says:

"A. Have you played with any of these players before and how did it go?" ...
... the responses you get could very well be lies told to you to try to influence the decisions you make in the game.
(italics added by me).

In other words, the writer - Edi Bursan has been around The Hobby (the name that grew up around playing Dip - and other - games via post) for a loooong time - is saying ask OTHER players the questions. So you could ask Player A the question, but it isn't necessarily about asking yourself it. It isn't saying to build an alliance upon the history on YOUR past dealings with others, but ask another player about the players: What are they like? How do they play? Now this in itself might lead to another meta-gaming issue, specifically NOT linking a specific past game with this one [B.2(v) above], but we accept that there might be some communication about this kind of thing just that it shouldn't link to past, specific, common games between players.

It is interesting to read the New Player Guide. I hadn't read it before as when I came to the site I'd played Dip a lot previously (mainly by post... yeh, I'm THAT old) and didn't bother. I appreciate the concern and you bringing it up. Hope that clarifies and puts some concerns to rest. As for re-writing the NPG, we could (or maybe add bits) but that would then have to go through frenzal and Avalanche (the site Tech Admin and site owner) and I'm not sure it's a pressing concern. I think taking that alongside the site House Rules would clarify the situation.
World Diplomacy Forum.
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