From Transformers: Lost and Found
Staff is organized with an administrative head -- Tez -- aka, the admin, overseeing all areas of the game and staff management. Beneath the admin is the rest of staff, who cover apps and overarching metaplot. Staff answers to the admin, who are the final authority.
Members: Jay, Sao, Yam
Effective communication includes prompt replies, diligent records, and staying on task and focused during discussion.
Prompt replies allow us to stay accountable to players. Nothing should disappear into a black box, where players never hear from us again. Try to keep the lines of communication flowing not only within staff, but between staff and players.
Diligent records, including logging conversations, allows us to be sure that even if someone isn't present, they can stay up to speed with what is going on. If an issue is discussed on channel, try to be sure to log the conversation and post it to the proper area in asana. Asana discussions are automatically saved. If we ever need to go back to check on a ruling, we'll not only know the decision we made, but why we made it. This also helps eliminate the problem of "wizard shopping": going from one staff member to another to get a different answer. Staff's answer should always be the same, given the same set of information. Particularly in matters of player discipline, we will need permanent records.
Focusing our conversations, particularly during meetings, also allows us to remain on-task, and to shorten the length of our meetings. Although it is tempting to interject with personal anecdotes, please refrain unless they advance the point at hand!
All discussions that staff has with a player or group of players is kept confidential within staff. Nothing may be discussed with players who were not involved. Staff matters should not be discussed outside of staff. This includes anything from applications to plot ideas.
However, any discussion that is held with a single member of staff should be considered -- and shared -- as though it was had with all members of staff, to avoid miscommunication.
We use Asana for our organizing purposes, which makes it easy for people to create personal to-do lists, post logs, and record decisions. All members of staff will need an Asana account and be granted access to projects for their areas of responsibility. Be sure to stay up to date on recent changes and conversations in your area(s)!
While we should be fair to the players, keep in mind that they don't get to make unreasonable demands; acquiescing to players' every whim might make you popular, but it's not going to lead to a particularly coherent or stable game.
The worst a player can threaten is to leave. There is no player who is so valuable that we need to allow them to behave in a manner that is damaging to the game or the players to keep this from happening.
If a player is behaving in a manner that is mean, aggressive, unkind, etc., keep a record. Players that misbehave regularly should get a warning about their tone with examples.
If a player is threatening suicide, remember you are not their therapist. This being the MU* community, it will happen, probably more than once. Encourage them to go get help, but do not allow yourself to become their therapy outlet. Here are some good hotlines that anyone on a MU* can find online:
Player Discipline falls under the purview of the game admin. The larger game staff may be exposed to player issues, but they are only responsible for logging patterns of negative behavior and cannot administer official warnings or strikes. Admin may, and often does, speak with players before this point in the hope of clarifying issues before it advances to a need for discipline.
A player will receive a warning after a demonstrated pattern of negative behavior. If a player is warned about their behavior, it will be clearly stated that this is an official warning, and that the next action will be a strike. The player is expected to modify their behavior. If the behavior continues after the warning, it becomes a strike. On the third strike, a player will be banned.
At any point prior to receiving a third strike, a player may be immediately banned if their behavior threatens or harms other players on the game. All bans will be posted publicly to ensure transparency, together with an explanation for the ban. Player discipline issues will otherwise remain confidential between the player and staff.
It is important to note the difference between strikes and warnings. There shouldn't be an issue with admin not wanting to be the bad guy and give the last strike. It's not a strike for every bad thing a player does. With the warning-strike system, you're going to have witnessed a whole lot of bullshit from a player by the time you get to even one strike, much less two or three.
As a member of staff, your priorities will have to change. What is most important becomes not your characters or your story, but the overall health and function of the game -- IC plots as much as OOC attitudes. Everything that you do as a member of staff feeds into this.
It's the inevitable sacrifice of staff. This is not to say that staffers cannot have fun with their alts -- there's plenty of room for both! -- but it's our responsibility to consider the game as a whole first. We should always come to plots and problems through the lens of big picture instead of what our own characters will do.
Prioritize task lists, and consider the opinions and skills of others when making lists. There may be items that can be delegated, freeing up time for other, higher priority tasks.
As a member of staff, you have to not only behave in an ethical manner, but seem to behave in an ethical manner. The appearance of propriety matters as much as whether you actually did anything wrong. If it could make someone uncomfortable, don't do it. Staff abuse of power is enough of an epidemic in games that even the appearance of anything that looks like it will spook even the most experienced players. Trust in staff is an extremely high value commodity; do not squander it. The game admin take this very seriously and if a member of staff is seen to be abusing the trust players have placed in us, they will be removed.
While it is entirely possible that some members of staff can GM for themselves fairly, it has a high risk of appearing unfair to the players. Avoid acting as a staff member or GM for yourself particularly in ways that make your PCs look better, or your rivals look bad. When you are a staffer, your PC becomes secondary in staff plots. Staff PCs can absolutely help shape plots, but try to keep everyone in the loop before you take action that might dramatically alter any organization that's happened.
As much as possible it is important to maintain an attitude of positivity both in public and in private. The attitude we take can quickly sour as negativity becomes self-reinforcing. Remember that players will rarely make the distinction between your voice as a player and as a staffer: as such, consider that everything that you say from a PC will be read as a staffer's voice. Thus, it is important to be positive and kind about players and games no matter which bit you are logged in on.
It is also important to maintain a positive attitude about players: give them the benefit of the doubt. Even new players. Even new players who might make you a little nervous.
Keep in mind that most of us have been playing and staffing for a long time and on many games. The MU community is, ultimately, not that large, and many of us have experience on a wide variety of games. Everyone has a history. We may have run into players before. Most people will come in with experience with a variety of game cultures, so try to listen to concerns on their own merit rather than dismiss them as a product of past behavior or different history.
Treat each other and players with kindness.
As a member of staff, we are responsible for staying up to date on areas in our spheres of influence. It is important not only to read, but to understand. If something is not clear, read it again. If it still is not clear, ask.
Prepare for meetings by reading the agendas or other related documents. Prepare for GMed scenes by reading the plans. Keep up to date on discussion during an event, and if notes are being taken, refer to them in order to clarify decisions if you are not sure. If you have a question, check to see if it has been answered.
Guidelines for responsiveness should be adhered to closely. As much as possible, we want to have a short, responsive turnaround. This is particularly important where players are concerned: they can't see the discussion. It often disappears into a black box and they left waiting, nervous.
This does not mean that everyone should be glued to the screen at all times: as much as speed, it is important to note who is needed to reach a decision. It is very rare that decisions need full consensus.
Time and Energon
Please be aware that what seems easy to you may not be as simple in practice. Respect the limits of each other's time and energy.
Sometimes someone may be willing to up the priority of a task if you offer to take something else off their plate. Delegate where possible so that no one person is overburdened.
It is important to accept a decision that does not go your way gracefully. Complaints should be kept within staff, and even then, we should all strive to work in a positive, productive atmosphere rather than a negative atmosphere. Negativity can swiftly turn toxic. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Give players the benefit of the doubt.
Tone resources include:
It is important to be clear about discussion with each other and with players.
Rulings -- whether app, plot, discipline, or some other issue -- need to be laid out clearly. For example, if an app can be approved in all but one part, you need to make sure that player knows clearly coming in what part it is must be changed and why. It is important for players to understand.
No is always an acceptable answer, but players will languish in silence. If there is a problem, address it so that all involved can move on.