Keeping games and the Forum separate

Etiquette and guidelines

Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby rick.leeds » 12 Jan 2011, 16:38

This thread has been replaced by the rules here: http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=660&t=43415#p748913

I think we pretty much all agree that once a game has started and is underway, the Forum should play as little part in the game and how it is played out as possible. Games should be played with as little interference as possible. Certainly the consensus has grown up in the Strategy section, for instance, that discussion of strategy and tactics shouldn't be aimed at gaining an advantage in a specific game or situation by pooling the knowledge of a number of members. I've also had concerns raised with me that posts in Cheaters and Bugs, for example, are aimed specifically at altering a game situation rather than being what we may call "genuine".

The Admin/Mods have been looking at this. As a result, over the next few days you will see posts in Site Rules and various other forums which set out guidelines, policies and rules that are aimed at preventing games being influenced unnecessarily by Forum posts. When these go up, I'll post links below that take members to them. Although the underlying principle is not up for debate the guidelines/policies/rules will certainly benefit from your input: they're not set in stone and we hope they'll be improved by comments, questions and criticisms ;)

What we don't want to do is prevent anyone from posting a genuine concern, either in-game or in the Forum, nor do we want to prevent discussions of strategy. I think instances in which players try to use the Forum as a tool in games are fairly few. But some areas need improving. For example, although the site policy will remain that in-game messages and Private Messages will generally remain private, messages that use the threat of the Cheaters forum to change a game are seeking to use a tool which should not be available. There's nothing wrong with asking players in a game to explain a questionable situation, but simply accusing someone of cheating or threatening a player with reporting them simply to change a game situation is using something outside the game to influence the game.

Bugs forum guidelines (Bugs Policy)
House Rules
Before posting here... (Strategy)
Before posting here... (Rules)

As said above, any input is much appreciated.
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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby pippin the short » 12 Jan 2011, 18:08

My (possible) solution might be heretical to some, but to me it returns the game more to its roots. If the only incentive (and this could be debated by those who have been here longer) to cheat is a higher position on the Rankings List, then eliminating the List altogether would go a long way toward solving the problem. The unranked games (which I play exclusively now) are a partial solution, but the games there are still permeated by the culture engendered by the list. Two examples of this are Playing for the Draw (which affects strategy) and Playing Many Games at the Same Time (which means people pay minimal attention to each game.) I would enjoy games here more if the culture were closer to the game I started playing 40-some years ago. I've started a series (Bare-knuckles Diplomacy) to try to address this, but the first game has been less than satisfactory in this regard.

I'd love to hear more on this idea.

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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby rick.leeds » 12 Jan 2011, 21:20

I don't necessarily think the only incentive to cheat is position in site rankings, although the solution of getting rid of rankings was something I suggested not long after joining the site myself. The answer I got then was one of the answers I'll give now: although the rankings for a lot of people aren't important, for a lot of people they provide an added bit of interest to the site, even to those who aren't really concerned about rankings primarily. I still take the view that without rankings we'd get a game which was more like the original idea and games would definitely stand alone more, and I still hold that, for me, they could be dropped. BUT I do recognise that they have some sort of a place on site for the majority of the community (by community I mean the people who use the Forum and Premium members) at least. I'm not sure we can say they have a place for the majority of the site, as I'm not sure we ever get the views of many people who play here.

Back to my first statement. Ranking may well be one reason people cheat, but I also believe very strongly that some people would cheat anyway. For some, perhaps, it's almost operational. In other words, it's something they do. If there's a way to cheat, they'll do it. But I think the main reason is that for some just winning a game is enough to cheat. It wouldn't matter to them whether the game was ranked or not; they'd cheat just to win the game. I think that is true of multi-accounting and metagaming. Another reason is more to do with the metagaming side: some people won't break an alliance with someone because they know them. For these reasons, no matter what we do, we'll find people on site cheating; I'd suggest taking the rankings down would not reduce cheating by too much.

We also need to recognise the scale of cheating, which is small. The vast majority of people on site, and who have been on site, do not cheat. The majority of games I investigate do not involve cheating. Sometimes it's easy to lose track of that when you visit the Cheaters forum and see the number of games there. But that forum is going to falsely represent the site as it shows games which have needed investigating. The vast majority don't need investigating. So, whilst taking the rankings down may lower the cheating level by some extent, it would be almost throwing the baby out with the bathwater: it would penalise the members of the site for the actions of a small minority of members.

As far as this incentive goes, the number of people who do actually abuse the forum to further their interests in a game is very small. But it's there and it seems useful to address it and make it known that it isn't acceptable to do so. On the net we're never going to get games which are like ftf games; playing on the net is a variant of Dip itself. I believe, though, that if we can take some steps to eliminating SOME of differences then it can only be a good thing. Separating games from the influence of the Forum as much as possible is one of the things we can do.
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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby pippin the short » 13 Jan 2011, 00:30

Thanks for your insights. I haven't been playing here long, it's good to hear another perspective.

To expand further on my previous post (which I had to write in haste), cheating is not the only issue. I hate cheating because it breaks the implicit fundamental contract we make with each other when we enter into a game together - that we do all we can to win within the agreed-upon rules. By definition it is not a game if some people are playing by other rules, and it then becomes a waste of my time. Which I hate.

But cheating is, as you say, a small problem here. I think the larger issue is that rewarding players who don't win the game (i.e. a draw situation) changes the way people play. And rewarding players for playing a lot of games simultaneously causes the same thing. Folks will go for the easy draw and get a few points, and not do the heavy lifting of actually spending the time to TALK TO EACH OTHER (how radical!) in order to push the game toward a single-player win.

Rant over. So, is there a way to start a game and have some assurance that the people who join are somewhat on the same wavelength as me? I'd love to do that somehow.

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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby super_dipsy » 13 Jan 2011, 07:54

pippin the short wrote:Rant over. So, is there a way to start a game and have some assurance that the people who join are somewhat on the same wavelength as me?

There are two or three possibilities that might help you. One is that there is an option called DIAS which you can choose when a game is set up. This forces any draw offer to onclude all the survivors - I THINK that is one of the things you were asking. Another is that there are some games which are played under a 'solo-only' banner - look around on the forum and you will find them. This is an informal group, so the decision to play until a solo only is voluntary and not enforced, but you may find some joy there. The Classicicsts group is another possibility if you want to try to play with people who do not tend to drop out of games. Hope this helps.
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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby rick.leeds » 13 Jan 2011, 16:46

Links now added in the first post.
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Re: Keeping games and the Forum separate

Postby pippin the short » 15 Jan 2011, 03:36

Thanks - I might try the Classicists.

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