Author Topic: East Continent, case #980, "Protest and Expectation of Letter"  (Read 1980 times)


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East Continent
Complaint #980
Date: July 06, 2021
Title: Protest and Expectation of Letter
About: Delphine de Montigny (Francois), Ender Fate (Richard), and Gislin Luitolf (RC)

This case was reported to us following various messages and a protest which centred on a ruler (Alyssa) not making a public statement to the realm following a referendum which focused on Alyssa's leadership. The concern here was that there was an Inalienable Right (IR) violation; specifically, the activity IR. Since there were multiple incidents spanning mostly the same day, we have decided to provide a brief timeline of events in the hope that it will aid in understanding how the situation unfolded.

July 06, 2021
  • At about 00:15, the referendum came to a conclusion.
  • At about 11:30, there was a protest by Ender Fate: "Why is our Queen so silent on one of the most pressing issues our realm faces? Our voices are being actively, emphatically being ignored. Which is part of the problem."
  • At about 14:00, there was a message from Delphine, the relevant part being: "As you, I would have expected to hear from the Queen by now on such an important issue.  Should she remain silent for another half day, it will show that she does not care and should be removed, already it is not a good start."
  • At about 14:18, there was a message from Gislin Luitolf containing the two quotes: "Her quietness is my entire point. Even is she does not have the time to write something in depth, a simple 'I will address this soon' would at least show us that she has it in her sights and cares. I have not seen even this." AND "Again it is your right to protest, but I again am asking that you hold off for a while. Give the queen another day or so to process this information and open talks."
  • At about 15:00, there was an Out-of-Character (OoC) message containing a couple paragraphs from Alyssa. This was the first sign of activity from the ruler.
July 08, 2021
  • At about 12:15, Alyssa was protested out of office for various reasons.

Going in order of events, we will first cover the decision regarding Ender Fate. The protest was deemed to be a possible IR violation because there were no signs of activity from Alyssa between the referendum's conclusion and the protest. We found there to be a reasonable interpretation that this protest was focused upon issues prior to the referendum. There were, after all, other protests around that time about prior issues. Despite this uncertainty, the fact that there was a reasonable interpretation of the protest being centrally focused on the lack of a response to the referendum, led to us to judge this to be within the "ten-foot pole" radius of the IRs.

Considering the above, and the fact that the only other reasonable punishment was a temporary account lock, we decided to issue a public warning to Ender Fate.

Next is Delphine de Montigny. Delphine's message was deemed to be an IR violation because it pressured the player of Alyssa, who had not yet been active, to respond to the referendum within a single day. Essentially, the message states: "If you don't login and respond to us within twenty-four hours, then you do not care and should be removed from rulership." This type of message is not a "ten-foot pole" situation; this is a clear IR violation. Unlike the protest from Ender Fate, this message was clearly about a response to the referendum as indicated by the context of the conversation, and Delphine de Montigny was a government member (General).

Due to the aforementioned reasons, Delphine de Montigny was stripped of their position as General and locked out of the position for fourteen days.

Finally, we arrive at Gislin Luitolf. For the sake of brevity we did not include all the relevant messages from Gislin, some of which occurred prior to Delphine's message. The messages by Gislin were deemed to NOT be an IR violation because the concerning aspects of the messages were clearly focused upon reeling in protests, some of which legitimate, until Alyssa had a chance to respond. It should also be noted that Gislin did not protest Alyssa following the referendum despite doing so before the referendum.  This lends credence to the idea that the focus was not on the Alyssa's lack of response to the referendum. Considering that there was concern that a player might reasonably interpret parts of the messages from Gislin as pressure to be more active, we judged this to be, at most, within a "ten-foot pole" of the IR.

With the above in mind, we issued a public warning to Gislin Luitolf.

The activity IR is of paramount importance as it is connected to the very essence of BattleMaster—a light-weight game. Any violation, or even getting close to a violation, of the IR will result in Titan action. Consequences, or the threat of consequences, for inactivity will not be tolerated. Even pressuring people to be more active than is required by the game will not be tolerated. The fact is that allowing any possible transgression of the IRs, no matter how slight, will result in the degradation or slow erosion of BattleMaster's foundation.

During this case, we applied the logic that the activity IR consisted primarily of the right to log in to play when one wants. This meant that if you logged in and played, then you were active. (There was more nuance, but we will not go into all the details in order to keep this summary at a reasonable length.) For this reason, we did not take into consideration anything which occurred after Alyssa's OOC message. This is reflected in the timeline given with the case summary (i.e. no events are listed between Alyssa's message and her getting protested out).

Following the verdict in this case there was more discussion amongst the Admins and the Titans about how to deal with players, specifically council members, who are only able to play for a short period of time on a given day. As shown by this case, there are certainly times when a council member has a crisis to address but doesn't have the time on their first login to do so. While the previous method did allow for the council member to be protected in this type of instance, there were concerns that the previous method did not go quite far enough in protecting players' ability to play at a temporarily decreased pace.

Moving Forward

In the short term, during some kind of crisis, whether external or internal, or even if it's a crisis the council member precipitated themselves, demanding that they be there to manage that crisis—which is to say, demanding that they devote any particular amount of their time, effort, and energy to the game over a short period of time—is a violation of the activity IR. For the vast majority of cases, this "short term" translates to all council members being allowed TEN days to respond to a crisis. The exception here, is if there is egregious negligence by the council member.

In the long term, and in the aggregate, council members are expected to fulfill the duties of the office more or less to the degree their realm expects. If a council member is serially unable to do so for any reason, including their own activity level, then that reflects on their choice to remain in that position rather than giving it up to allow someone else to take it. This does not mean that a realm can expect an unreasonably high level of activity.

In essence, we are saying: Your right to play at your own pace is protected. Your right to play without fulfilling your duties is not.

Answers to Potential Questions

What is egregious negligence?

Egregious negligence, this being a rough example, would be them sending out many letters on different days all while neglecting to handle the crisis. In this example, they clearly would have had the time and energy to play but chose to be silent on the issue, so protesting would be acceptable. With the exception pointed out, we still generally recommend trying to give the full ten days for two reasons: 1) Egregious negligence is a rather subjective term. Your interpretation of egregious negligence may not align with other players, including the Titans as they are players as well. 2) It is rarely the case that you cannot wait for the full ten days to pass. It will not kill your realm, or your character, to wait the ten days.

What is an unreasonably high level of activity?

If a realm is expecting a council member to send a large amount of messages, which can only be achieved by having a high level of activity all the time, that is unreasonable. If a realm is expecting a council member to always respond to messages in a single day, or even within five days, that is unreasonable. Council members still hold the right to not login more than once every five days even in the long term, provided they are still fulfilling their duties. Demanding that they generally respond within five days is reasonable so long as the message count being demanded of them is not unreasonable.

Why is the short term limit set to ten days?

Council members automatically abdicate their position if they do not play for five days. This means that they have to play at least once every five days. By giving players ten days, this guarantees that they will have, at the very least, two separate days of playing to address any issue.

Why does so much of this, and other rules, carry such subjective terms? Wouldn't it be better to lay out precisely what is meant by the terms?

Covering every single situation, which would require many explanations and exceptions, is not possible; to attempt to do so would require writing a novel. We try to avoid requiring players to read a novel to follow the rules. Along with the concern of length is the concern of rules-lawyering, and players intentionally trying to stretch the very limits of what is expected. If we always give a very precise line, players will abuse this by going exactly up to that line while acting in bad faith. For these reasons, we try to focus primarily on conveying and enforcing the spirit of the rules rather than the letter of the rules. You can see an example of that at the end of the "Moving Forward" section: "Your right to play at your own pace is protected. Your right to play without fulfilling your duties is not."
Timothy Collett

"The only thing you can't trade for your heart's your heart." "You are what you do.  Choose again, and change." "One of these days, someone's gonna plug you, and you're going to die saying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"  ~ Miles Naismith Vorkosigan