Fairly recently I quit MUSHing. Sort of. I still log into one game and hang out, fiddle with stuff, chat with the players, help out with docs and stuff, but I’m not an active gamer right now. The game I quit was one where I managed to engender a surprising bit of animosity.
The short version is they made a guy I knew was unethical, an ass, and had abused powers before, a staffer. So I quit. I made a (fairly) polite post on the forum, to the gist of not trusting the wizards anymore, and logged out. Two other people joined me (for the same reason). One, who happened to share my IP address, was @newpassworded (this means they changed her login password and didn’t tell her what the new one was). The other was not. I logged in twice after that. Once was to @wipe my character, the other was to see that I was being accused of being another player.
See, after I left, I went to a website called When Online RPGs Attack (aka WORA) and I bitched. I outed the player’s player character (that is I told people that Staffer X is Player Y), I re-told the tale about how he’d stalked my friend, and I didn’t hold back my feelings. This is what WORA’s for. It’s a great place to vent, to accuse, and to otherwise be the ass you normally aren’t.
My friend and I got confused for each other, and the fellow I outed posted on the game that I was her, and I (we?) was a liar. When I went back to see that post, I found I was sitebanned.
Sitebanning, for you non-MUSHers, means I was blocked from ever being able to login. It’s the harshest thing a person can ever do to a player on a MUSH. It’s downright vile. There are reasons I can see it being done. If someone is logging in and continually harassing other players and staff, and won’t stop, then yes, ban them. But I wasn’t doing any of that.
I went to another site, one you have to register at to read, and I posted my version of the truth. The only ‘unethical’ thing I did was publicize the staffer’s non-staff alt. Yes, that was very assy of me, but I wasn’t the only one who felt threatened by him as a player, and knowing he was staff and that he’d already spied on people before, I felt that it would be hypocritical of me to stand silent.
Normally when you piss of MUSH gods, they contact you and ask to talk. This game did that. I said I had nothing to say that I hadn’t already and left it at that. The saga got weirder after that, but it doesn’t matter anymore. All this backstory aside, it got me thinking about the ethics of sitebanning people. When is it right, when is it wrong, and when is it stupid. I’ve been accused of harassing someone (untrue), vandalizing their site (untrue) and lying (arguable). I didn’t intend to lie, but I may be wrong.
It appears that I was banned, without anyone emailing me or telling me, for being aggressively vocal on a venting forum about what I saw as a critical failure. I don’t argue that admins have the right to run their games however they see fit, but they don’t get to turn around and tell me that I’m not allowed to voice my opinion. If a game is such that any vocal dissent anywhere they might find it is disallowed, well, then. I won’t be playing there anymore. And if you ban people for venting, you don’t get to claim high and mighty ethics, especially if you don’t tell them they’ve been banned.
I mean really. It’s not like they don’t have my email.
Now if you flip this around to something less virtual, maybe it’ll make more sense.
Lets say we all go to Joe’s house to play cards. I used to play cards with Tom, and I know he cheated once by palming a card at Mary’s house. Mary and I want to play with Joe, but Tom shows up. Well. Okay, fine, we’ll be polite. Tom is his usual self, and while it’s not offensive, we don’t trust him and things are tense. Mary tells Joe about the cheating, and Joe says that Tom won’t play cards with us, since it’s obviously a problem. We thank Joe and go on playing. Mary does very well, our friend Ashley joins us. All is good.
Then Joe says Tom’s going to help him deal the cards. (Joe broke his arm, work with me.)
Mary, Ashley and I leave. Mary is very vocal. Ashely says nothing. I email a day later to say ‘I don’t trust you anymore, can’t play with you.’ Ashley is locked out right away. Mary and I go to Frank’s and sit on the lawn bitching about Tom. Jane, Laura, Peter and Bob come over, and tell us they too have problems with Tom! Word gets around. Tom complains we’re harassing him and quits, except Joe’s still letting Tom shuffle the deck before we play.
Mary and I bitch some more. We’re locked out of Joe’s too.
Now, I agree Joe’s in his rights to say ‘Hey, you can’t bitch about Tom like that!’ Except that isn’t what was said. Joe just changed the locks and said nothing. In fact, Joe said so long as we didn’t bring it into the house, we could say what we wanted. Joe already knew why we didn’t like Tom, and agreed it was a bad idea for all of us to hang around. And yet he still brought Tom in.
It’s really fucked up, no matter how we look at it.