wormfood for thought
Issue 3: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Disclaimer Ė and a warning.
Welcome to a special edition of wft. What makes it special? It’s length, I guess. Once again, the Reader’s Digest abridged disclaimer:
My opinion, no others. Donít like it, donít read it.
An additional warning:
This issue is much too long, and very dry. Please read it at your own risk. I will not be responsible for boredom, eyestrain, brain lock, or any other side effects from irresponsible use of this product. Also, this was hastily put together, so please pardon ani gramitacal er spelin errerrrs K.
Take a deep breath, now here we go.
Chapter 1 Ė Community Chest
In my misspent youth, I was always looking for something “new”. New people, new places, new things Ė anything new was an improvement over the same olí same olí. As Iíve gotten older, Iíve grown to appreciate the comfort of familiarity. Some would call me “boring” (among more colorful adjectives), but Iíve learned to appreciate a good thing when I find it, and Iím no longer in constant fear of missing out on something better. I wear the same styles, I eat the same foods, I keep the same friends, and I hang out at the same neighborhood bar. For me, the attraction of my neighborhood bar shares much in common with the Nostromo servers. At my bar, people from a variety of ages, incomes, races, religions, and political orientations mix freely and comfortably. Most are proud to be known as Regulars, and feel a sense of belonging and protectiveness toward the bar and the other patrons. I think the same is true of Nostromo. I believe the word that best describes it is “community”.
The term community has many meanings dependant on its usage – the most common dictionary definition being “people with common interests living in a particular area”. My preferred definition comes from the Dictionary of Sensibility: “it is a fellowship, an identity, a commonness between people, a sociality”. When I refer to the Nostomo community, I am thinking in those terms Ė fellowship, identity, commonness, and sociality. A Quake community is a bit unusual in terms of communities in general, because the primary purpose for its existence, the commonality if you will, is a contest. The fact that each member of the community is competing to some degree with each other member creates an unusual amount of tension and a high potential for conflict. The relative youth and “fire” of the average Quake player adds to this potential, and to the emotional response to disagreements when they occur.
Chapter 2 Ė Are you propositioning me?
Nostromo is unusual in my experience because of the large number of regulars, some of whom play here exclusively. Most other Quake servers have a few regulars, but at any given time the player spots are filled mainly with “transient” players who drift wherever the action is. I greatly enjoy playing in a consistent environment (i.e. whack settings) with familiar, friendly players. I have found a good community here, more so than any other servers, and that is why I choose to participate in more that just the fragging. The reason I post to the message board, and spend time each week writing this column, is because I appreciate being welcome here and I enjoy sharing more than my rockets with my fellow Nostromotics. It is my sense of community which feels threatened by emotional arguments, divisiveness, insults, and the “f*** you Iíll do whatever I want” mentality which often arise from simple semantic differences or conflicting personal opinions. It is my desire to protect this community which prompts me to seek a process of problem resolution that will promote compromise and harmony between the unique individuals that make up our fellowship. Thus, my proposal.
Since Iíve already typed the basics once, Iím going to cut-and-paste a section from my Arena forum post wherein I first broached the subject:
We need a clearly stated, comprehensive set of ethical rules for the Nostromo server. Without posting those rules, I believe you cannot, in good conscience, call for banning people who violate them. For the majority to be comfortable with the rules they must represent, as closely as possible, a consensus opinion of the majority. Since a mass vote would be technically difficult and impractical, a committee of mature, fair-minded representative members of the Nostromo regular community seems a logical choice to draft those rules. Although Sporbly could certainly determine the rules on his own and has every right to do so (itís his server after all), I think he gets enough harassment already without the added requests for judgements, exceptions, and ensuing arguments. I propose the formation of an “advisory committee” with the purpose of drafting the “Nostromo RA2 Code of Ethical Combat”. This committee could be chosen to represent, as closely as possible, the wide variety of opinions of the Nostromo regular community. By allowing a diverse group to vote on the “rights and wrongs” of RA2 behavior, we could hopefully come up with a compromise set of rules that the majority can live with. This would also relieve some of the responsibility, and the corresponding blame, of judging complaints from Sporblyís shoulders and spread it over several shoulders.
Chapter 3 Ė Details, Details, Details
Iíll expand on this proposal with more detail:
- The stated purposes for the advisory committee are: to draft the “Nostromo RA2 Code of Ethical Combat” and submit it to Sporbly for approval, to serve as the body of appeals for changes to the code, and to recommend those changes to Sporbly. Optionally, the committee could also review complaints of violation of the code, and submit their findings to Sporbly for action.
- Potential members could be nominated in the Arena forum, over a fixed period of time (say 1 week). Self-nominations would not be allowed, but confirmation of interest once nominated would be welcome.
- Sporbly could pick 5 or so of the nominees (or include persons not nominated if he so chooses) to get the committee started.
- Those 5 initial members would then vote (2/3 majority) on the remaining members from the nominees Ė up to 13 total (more than 13 would be logistically prohibitive).
- To provide equitable representation, no more than 1 member from a single clan would be admitted to the committee.
- Sporbly can at any time remove a committee member. If necessary, a member could also be removed by a 3/4 majority committee vote.
- Once all positions have been filled, the committee will propose and debate each item to be included in the code. Communication between members could be handled by email, with all members included on each message. (If you have a better method, please let me know)
- Each item would require a 2/3 majority vote to be included in the code. A 3/4 majority would be required to remove an item once passed.
- Once the final draft has been approved by Sporbly, the code would be posted on the Nostromo web site. The opening menu on the RA servers would include a mention of the code, the URL to reach it, and a disclaimer stating that by joining a game the player agrees to abide by the code.
- Enforcement of the code is completely up to Sporbly, using whatever methods he sees fit, possibly including admins of his selection.
Conclusion Ė My Life With The Over Kill Cult.
I recognize that all of this may seem like overkill. Many of you (if many even read this) may think the whole issue has blown up completely out of proportion, and that may indeed be the case. However, the background motivations will not disappear when the most recent confrontational disagreement blows over. In fact, those hard feelings will remain close to the surface Ė ready to re-erupt in a future heated argument. I hope that by analyzing, identifying the causes, and implementing a logical and even-handed set of behavioral guidelines, we can keep the fractious verbal confrontations to a minimum. A clearly worded, visibly posted code of ethics will, at the very least, give all of us a common point of reference for resolving future conflicts.
I welcome any suggestions, alterations, additions, or derisive comments concerning this proposal. Feel free to email me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or post (tastefully) in the Arena forum.
As soon as Iím able, Iíll return with wftä – Issue 4: Quake Widow Syndrome.