How to Speak With People 101

General discussions of games, players, ideas, and Pern canon.
Aya
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How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:01 am

So there's a lot of talk in another thread about how people need to listen better. Talk more. Do something. But nothing actually constructive in how to do it.

So let's pose scenarios of things we've encountered in general tones, no names or games please. Keep it constructive, and other people offer input as to how to go about in this situation?

Here's something I encountered frequently when I used to admin, and I am sure common everywhere.

Player A applies for gold for Cycle 1. Does not play. But shows immense promise in terms of ideas and creativity. Is a great, cheerful person who interacts on the channel a lot. You just wish they'd play. You inform the player that she didn't Impress (gold) because of her lack of activity and cross your fingers and hope that she applies next time and that she plays.

Cycle 2 rolls around and Player A applies again. Yay!

Does not play.

It starts to feel cyclical at Cycle 3. Etc... And after a while, you just wish they'd play just one scene.

In the past, I've always told someone their activity wasn't up to snuff, pretty upfront. But most of the time, it didn't work. Either

a) Player A would quit playing altogether by idling out.
b) Player A did not heed the advice and talk about how much fun it is, but never actually play.
c) Player A would quit playing altogether and make a stink about meanness.

We are not talking about Player A here, just as a reminder. But rather how would the collective Pern community deal with this situation? What would you say to this person? What would you want to be said to you if you've done this before? No judgments.

skywaterblue
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby skywaterblue » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:59 am

I usually offer them something good, if the quality of the app was good. Maybe you need a criminal or the Lord Holder's heir for a plot, and hey, they're free and clearly looking for a meaty bone... usual reactions:

1. Player takes me up on the offer, has a grand time with the plot and realizes they had rolled a character they weren't clicking with, either because they wanted the gold too much or thought it would be a short cut to lots of play. Problem solved.

2. Player takes me up on the offer, and fucks it up somehow. The most generous thing you can say is that this person didn't end up clicking with the offered chance. Ultimately, this person doesn't really want to RP, at least, not with my game/group. A plot has to be rescued or buried and that's work for me, but a bullet has been dodged.

3. Player doesn't take me up on the offer, but the discussion about plots inspires player to ask how to get hers off the ground. We discuss it and...
3a. Player's plot is awesome and she earns that gold in the next round!
3b. Player's plot fizzles, but at least she tried. She is either more motivated to play or status quo resumes.
3c. Player's plot goes nowhere, bullet dodged.

4. Player is uber pissy about it. Bullet dodged.

Also, I often feel like chatty ledge sitter types like this player feel like they need engraved invitations to come out and play, and as a result, they know a lot of people via OOC chans but not ICly. I don't think we should return to the bad old days of mandatory events (no one does this shit anymore, right?) but they did have the benefit of forcing the hands of some of these people. A lot of times I find that encouraging them to make IC friends is all that's really needed, which is why I would encourage staffers to be the change they seek and drag some of these people out and together. If you see someone struggling, it's ultimately to the group's benefit if you can help them integrate better.

Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:05 am

skywaterblue wrote:I usually offer them something good, if the quality of the app was good. Maybe you need a criminal or the Lord Holder's heir for a plot, and hey, they're free and clearly looking for a meaty bone... usual reactions:

Also, I often feel like chatty ledge sitter types like this player feel like they need engraved invitations to come out and play, and as a result, they know a lot of people via OOC chans but not ICly. I don't think we should return to the bad old days of mandatory events (no one does this shit anymore, right?) but they did have the benefit of forcing the hands of some of these people. A lot of times I find that encouraging them to make IC friends is all that's really needed, which is why I would encourage staffers to be the change they seek and drag some of these people out and together. If you see someone struggling, it's ultimately to the group's benefit if you can help them integrate better.


I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but my take away from your post is: staff should hand hold players who seem like they have a lot of potential but just don't bother playing.

If that's what you meant, at what point do you stop trying when it's clear that no matter what is being handed to them on a plate complete with silver spoon is not working? At what point should players be expected to create and involve themselves in fun on their own?

If not, can you clarify what you meant? :)

Fallen Caryatid
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Fallen Caryatid » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:03 pm

Have you spoken with the player? That's what jumped out at me. Not telling them why the didn't Impress, not dangling plot enticements in front of them. Just...paged them and said hey, I noticed you haven't hopped into any RP, is there anything I can do to help with that? That's what I'd do, and then I'd go from there depending on how they responded.

Approaching it from a perspective of it being hand holding or spoon feeding to reach out could be a potential barrier to opening that sort of dialogue though.
Geek Social Fallacy #1: Ostracizers Are Evil
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Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:50 pm

Fallen Caryatid wrote:Have you spoken with the player? That's what jumped out at me. Not telling them why the didn't Impress, not dangling plot enticements in front of them. Just...paged them and said hey, I noticed you haven't hopped into any RP, is there anything I can do to help with that? That's what I'd do, and then I'd go from there depending on how they responded.

Approaching it from a perspective of it being hand holding or spoon feeding to reach out could be a potential barrier to opening that sort of dialogue though.


This is not a current issue. Well, I imagine it is a current issue. But this is a recurrent issue over the years. I no longer administrate and play only sporadically, but I am observing these issues as happening constantly in the last two decades.

And yes, when this happened I would ping and chat. They always said they were active and playing. Except they weren't, which would probably be another question.

If a player believes, truly believes, they are active but does not ever play (and not just plays and doesn't post logs), and stomps off because they believe they are incredibly active and deserve all rewards and plot points, then what do people think is a good administrative middle ground? Do the people in question realize they aren't actually active? What makes them think they are active and how do people think admins should address this situation?

What happens when the player in question holds major leadership roles and does only the absolute bare minimum to get by?

Fallen Caryatid
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Fallen Caryatid » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:17 pm

Ah, thanks for the clarification. What looked simple at first is less so!

HT doesn't have a bad policy now, that characters of rank need to have (I think?) 3 or 4 public grid scenes in a month. For someone who is filling a role that can and should be used to encourage activity in an area, that's not a bad policy. They've also recently instituted a rule that Google Doc scenes (which are great for little time/different time zones players) do not count towards activity requirements. Personally, I love Doc scenes, they remove some of the time crunch issues I've found to be a problem with mu*ing. But it does mean that a lot of RP happens off game, which makes counting activity difficult.

A player who holds rank and insists they are active without evidence to the contrary should have the activity policy clarified, if they are required to be out fluffing area activity with inclusive RP. If the policy isn't clearly defined, that can be remedied. If their position isn't one that requires activity, well...everyone plays in their own way? Visibility of activity is crucial to an area's health but like elbows and other anatomical areas, everyone has a different opinion of what this means. Maybe they've got tens of logs piling up in drifts on their hard drive but they're not someone who's comfortable with putting it all out there because they're concerned people can't separate IC and OOC, or they prefer to maintain mystery in their story, or they don't think their RP is solid in comparison to other logs going up. Maybe they've got five Doc scenes that aren't done yet because the pace is slower there. Maybe they just wanted the shiny and are reluctant to give it up or don't know how or feel guilty and are being avoidant or any number of things. It's one of those "varies by the individual" issues that is best solved by sitting down to converse with a player.

If they're hitting the bare minimum, then they're still hitting stated requirements. In that case, it isn't the player who is at fault, but staff who hold an expectation above their own stated rules. If the minimum isn't satisfactory, then policy should be reviewed and adjusted to an acceptable level.
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Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:13 pm

Fallen Caryatid wrote:Ah, thanks for the clarification. What looked simple at first is less so!

HT doesn't have a bad policy now, that characters of rank need to have (I think?) 3 or 4 public grid scenes in a month. For someone who is filling a role that can and should be used to encourage activity in an area, that's not a bad policy. They've also recently instituted a rule that Google Doc scenes (which are great for little time/different time zones players) do not count towards activity requirements. Personally, I love Doc scenes, they remove some of the time crunch issues I've found to be a problem with mu*ing. But it does mean that a lot of RP happens off game, which makes counting activity difficult.

A player who holds rank and insists they are active without evidence to the contrary should have the activity policy clarified, if they are required to be out fluffing area activity with inclusive RP. If the policy isn't clearly defined, that can be remedied. If their position isn't one that requires activity, well...everyone plays in their own way? Visibility of activity is crucial to an area's health but like elbows and other anatomical areas, everyone has a different opinion of what this means. Maybe they've got tens of logs piling up in drifts on their hard drive but they're not someone who's comfortable with putting it all out there because they're concerned people can't separate IC and OOC, or they prefer to maintain mystery in their story, or they don't think their RP is solid in comparison to other logs going up. Maybe they've got five Doc scenes that aren't done yet because the pace is slower there. Maybe they just wanted the shiny and are reluctant to give it up or don't know how or feel guilty and are being avoidant or any number of things. It's one of those "varies by the individual" issues that is best solved by sitting down to converse with a player.

If they're hitting the bare minimum, then they're still hitting stated requirements. In that case, it isn't the player who is at fault, but staff who hold an expectation above their own stated rules. If the minimum isn't satisfactory, then policy should be reviewed and adjusted to an acceptable level.


Right.

But, I guess my point for this thread is the fact that the other thread is thinly disguised RVF in reality and very little concrete constructiveness.

What do people expect/want to happen and be said in these situations? What is the player base in general's expectation of staff/admin to do with this. How many chances does a player get (whether applying for Search or being in leadership or any other of the very few situations in Pern that might warrant activity checks like promotions or whatever)?

Like there's policies, but as someone who administrated for years, enacting those policies have always come with the price of people getting very angry and upset because they think they are living up to those policies or they think they don't have to follow those policies.

What kind of verbiage could be used that makes it less something to cause someone to be defensive, and more copacetic all around?


ETA: This isn't about policing how much people play, but when people are wanting something more like the following:

* applying for Search
* creating a plot, but not playing it
* wanting to jump into a plot, but not playing
* wanting a promotion, but not telling anyone and also not playing
* wanting a significant other character, but not playing
* wanting to be made an admin, but not playing and/or contributing in other ways OR letting their desires be known
* wanting to bring a character not canon for the game or area and being told to modify
* wanting to have ranking characters, but not playing
* already being a ranking character, and not playing or communicating

I guess what I said in the OP could hold true for any of these scenarios. Clearly, people have a lot of issues with how staff across the board on HT, NC, PernWorld are dealing with this.

What could be done better? What kind of words seem like they'd work better? What kind of attitude? Coddling? Hand-holding? Frankness? Suck it uptitude?

What would you say/do? If you were one of these players, what would you want to be said to you? What kind of approach works best? :)

Fallen Caryatid
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Fallen Caryatid » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:21 pm

Wow.

Edit: To add, (and this may actually be pertinent to what you're asking) I'm not comfortable engaging in discourse when I attempt to construct an answer in good faith and it was posted as a bait and switch "gotcha!". That is intellectually dishonest, and I would think against the spirit of "constructive discussion".
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Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:26 pm

Fallen Caryatid wrote:Wow.

Edit: To add, (and this may actually be pertinent to what you're asking) I'm not comfortable engaging in discourse when I attempt to construct an answer in good faith and it was posted as a bait and switch "gotcha!". That is intellectually dishonest, and I would think against the spirit of "constructive discussion".


I'm sorry you felt that way, that was not my intention. The question posed from the start was a global discourse rather than game-specific ones.

I didn't think your response was actually answering the initial question of: this player is idle, this is what I have done in the past, what would other people do.

It was a question of: have you spoken to the player? I cannot think of any admin out there who has not paged first, and then gone to +mail and other more formal types of communication to try and convey what the issue is. So I said yes.

And then you mentioned HT's rank policy which is all good and well, but clearly those policies are not working for people, or how those policies are handled don't sit right with people. And this is not just an HT issue, this is an across the board gaming issue. So how does the general gaming population feel these situations should be handled better?

I'm not sure how it was a bait and switch.

Fallen Caryatid
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Fallen Caryatid » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:30 pm

And my answer was that if the policy in practice is proving unsatisfactory, it should be revisited. Preferably in a way that involves player input.

This thread was disingenuous from the start. Because there was an agenda hidden beneath the surface, of course my answers were found to be unsatisfactory.
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Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:35 pm

Fallen Caryatid wrote:And my answer was that if the policy in practice is proving unsatisfactory, it should be revisited. Preferably in a way that involves player input.

This thread was disingenuous from the start. Because there was an agenda hidden beneath the surface, of course my answers were found to be unsatisfactory.


The agenda was what kind of changes do people want to see. If you think it is disingenuous then that is how you are reading it. But that is not how I wrote it. Which is also a prime example of how communication breaks down on game.

What kinds of ways should it be revisited? What should change? How do players who are clearly unsatisfied want them to change? I don't play anymore or administrate and I have no dog in any of the politics or drama on the games. After being away from gaming for three years and seeing those threads, I am curious as to what people feel should be different in concrete ways. Not just 'it should be revisited' but exactly in what ways? How would people administrate these situations? And maybe as a collective community of thirty some odd players, we can help each other out rather than tear each other down.

Meg
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Meg » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:03 pm

Bear with me because I am on my phone while I type this response, but I do think you are right, Caryatid, in that maybe policies need to be revisited. Also I think there is a miscommunication in that. For example, when looking at HT's policies or FTW @ Norcon, just to use the area that I am admining at--

When I see those policies for ranked users needing to do this amount of RP in a month at minimum, I interpret that as, hey you got really busy this month because life and things so you could only do four scenes. To me, you should be aiming for /more/. If you are concerned with the health of your area, you want to do as many as you reasonably can and four is not very much, tbh.

Now, if I were looking at applicants, and one is only playing the bare minimum consistently, that to me doesn't seem active. Is it fair to judge based on that? This is why I would agree about policies needing to be reviewed and rewritten.

But I do think players who want rank/plot/etc /know/ that scraping by at a bare minimum isn't going to get them far. And so it comes down to how to communicate that. What would you put in your policies? This is the bare minimum that we'd like to see you RP and ideally you should be doing x amount (or double that or whatever). But that starts giving me the creeps about dictating how much time they should be devoting, but maybe it should be said.

Idk. I obviously don't have all the answers, but if anyone else does! :) (that wasn't snarky. If you have answers, please share them. This is my first time admining in pern related and I find it is very different but also very the same as other games. For one, in other games we don't have to really deal with bursts of activity around search where it is hard to gauge if people will stay or not etc)

skywaterblue
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby skywaterblue » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:05 pm

Aya wrote:
I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but my take away from your post is: staff should hand hold players who seem like they have a lot of potential but just don't bother playing.


That's exactly what I meant. Pern (and MU*ers in general) are in the historical habit of viewing staffing as if it's strictly administrative work, but that's an incorrect view and was incorrect even when we had 200+ logins. Staffers are NOT (primarily) administrators. It's not a job, and even if it was? Players are the end-user customers, not your boss.

Staffers are GMs. You should treat your players as if they've come to your tabletop group. We're here to collaboratively tell stories and your first task is to create and maintain the environment for that. If they're not having a good time, you're failing as a host.

Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:10 pm

skywaterblue wrote:
Aya wrote:
I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but my take away from your post is: staff should hand hold players who seem like they have a lot of potential but just don't bother playing.


That's exactly what I meant. Pern (and MU*ers in general) are in the historical habit of viewing staffing as if it's strictly administrative work, but that's an incorrect view and was incorrect even when we had 200+ logins. Staffers are NOT (primarily) administrators. It's not a job, and even if it was? Players are the end-user customers, not your boss.

Staffers are GMs. You should treat your players as if they've come to your tabletop group. We're here to collaboratively tell stories and your first task is to create and maintain the environment for that. If they're not having a good time, you're failing as a host.


Disclaimer: not snarky, honestly curious.

Does it work? Like, what's the success rate of giving someone who isn't playing some prime plot goal to run with and if they don't follow through, do you give them more?

There are a lot of people supremely happy with SP but there are others who weren't, for example, and I recall that's the last place you staffed so was this something actively done on SP?

ETA: And I also don't disagree, I do think staffing now has become far more GM and ST and that's for the best. :)

skywaterblue
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby skywaterblue » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:18 pm

Aya wrote:
Disclaimer: not snarky, honestly curious.

Does it work? Like, what's the success rate of giving someone who isn't playing some prime plot goal to run with and if they don't follow through, do you give them more?

There are a lot of people supremely happy with SP but there are others who weren't, for example, and I recall that's the last place you staffed so was this something actively done on SP?

ETA: And I also don't disagree, I do think staffing now has become far more GM and ST and that's for the best. :)


I haven't been staffing or playing there for over a year, so the current team (Cari, Schmitt, March) would have a better idea of current policies there, but this is something I've always personally done as a staffer. As I outlined, it's not entirely successful - I'd give it 50%/50%, but you'll never learn WHY someone claims to love the game but is ledge sitting unless you ask, and like all asks, it's best if you come with something to offer rather than chiding with hat in hand.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes you make a bad match on your end. Sometimes the player isn't into it. But you don't know unless you ask.

Aya
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Aya » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:21 pm

skywaterblue wrote:
Aya wrote:
Disclaimer: not snarky, honestly curious.

Does it work? Like, what's the success rate of giving someone who isn't playing some prime plot goal to run with and if they don't follow through, do you give them more?

There are a lot of people supremely happy with SP but there are others who weren't, for example, and I recall that's the last place you staffed so was this something actively done on SP?

ETA: And I also don't disagree, I do think staffing now has become far more GM and ST and that's for the best. :)


I haven't been staffing or playing there for over a year, so the current team (Cari, Schmitt, March) would have a better idea of current policies there, but this is something I've always personally done as a staffer. As I outlined, it's not entirely successful - I'd give it 50%/50%, but you'll never learn WHY someone claims to love the game but is ledge sitting unless you ask, and like all asks, it's best if you come with something to offer rather than chiding with hat in hand.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes you make a bad match on your end. Sometimes the player isn't into it. But you don't know unless you ask.


Does this make you burn out faster? I am not an endless font of ideas even in my best days. Does it make you sad when they don't pick something up?

It's a different way to view it, cause I agreed on the GM/ST thing, but as a service to players who initiate and create rather than create for. Giving people who aren't contributing never seemed fair to those who are. Did you ever find other players, who are contributing, grousing?

I'm actually more curious about burn out than anything. How do you go about it? Just create something that might fit the character and +mail? Page chat? Outline an entire plot or? I guess this goes into another subject, what you would consider plot since it seems to vary from player to player, as to what a plot is.

poppet
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby poppet » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:23 pm

Meg wrote:When I see those policies for ranked users needing to do this amount of RP in a month at minimum, I interpret that as, hey you got really busy this month because life and things so you could only do four scenes. To me, you should be aiming for /more/. If you are concerned with the health of your area, you want to do as many as you reasonably can and four is not very much, tbh.

Now, if I were looking at applicants, and one is only playing the bare minimum consistently, that to me doesn't seem active. Is it fair to judge based on that? This is why I would agree about policies needing to be reviewed and rewritten.

But I do think players who want rank/plot/etc /know/ that scraping by at a bare minimum isn't going to get them far. And so it comes down to how to communicate that. What would you put in your policies? This is the bare minimum that we'd like to see you RP and ideally you should be doing x amount (or double that or whatever). But that starts giving me the creeps about dictating how much time they should be devoting, but maybe it should be said.



This. So much this.

Those are guidelines. They're there for bouts of RL, when you honestly cannot drag yourself on game, but at the same time there should be a grace period. At what point is it an occasional thing that stretches into routine? It shouldn't be routine. I agree the policies should be tweaked in those instances.

I do feel that expecting more out of players isn't unnecessary. A player who wants to play a feature character - let's go with Weyrwoman for this example - should pretty much /get/ (maybe another reason for policy clarification) that there's a necessity for higher expectations. It's a role that traditionally has a lot of on camera time, both for IC/OOC reasons. Why would anyone think that they could get by with that sort of feature character at the bare minimum? Why would they want to? What's wrong with playing a non-feature character if you can't commit the time and/or energy to the game?

We all have RLs. We all want happy fun pretend times. I think there's this prevalent sentiment of entitlement going around. I'm here! I'm a player! I have needs! Therefore, you should give me what I want! No, no, there's only so many cookies to go around, so sometimes you'll have to share. Staff tries to spread the pot evenly, but someone is always going to be disgruntled by what they get, even if what they got previously was more than enough.

Call me the activity police, yadda yadda.

skywaterblue
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby skywaterblue » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:38 pm

Aya wrote:
Does this make you burn out faster? I am not an endless font of ideas even in my best days. Does it make you sad when they don't pick something up?

It's a different way to view it, cause I agreed on the GM/ST thing, but as a service to players who initiate and create rather than create for. Giving people who aren't contributing never seemed fair to those who are. Did you ever find other players, who are contributing, grousing?

I'm actually more curious about burn out than anything. How do you go about it? Just create something that might fit the character and +mail? Page chat? Outline an entire plot or? I guess this goes into another subject, what you would consider plot since it seems to vary from player to player, as to what a plot is.


I always have a bunch in my pocket in reserve, but storytelling ideas are pretty easy for me. I was pretty crispy by the time I left Second Pass, but I think three years of the kind of high activity staffing I set for myself is probably a pretty long time. It would be a longish run for any tabletop group to be doing the same campaign with the same people.

I prefer paging, it should be an actual conversation. A plot is any story that has a beginning, middle and multiple endpoints. I like baking is not a plot, it's a character aspect or attribute. I like baking and want to rank up by winning the baking contest so I need to get these out-of-season berries is a plot.

Generally I find that players who are contributing are more focused on their OWN stories and don't really mind if someone else is getting lots of staff attention, so long as that attention isn't interfering with their ability to do their thing.

Xan
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby Xan » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:39 pm

I think, too, there is a difference between four random scenes, and four scenes that actually make an impact. I do think can be an amazing feature/ranking character/whatever you want to call it who doesn't play constantly, if you make those scenes count. Create RP for other people; further a plot; create ongoing story. There's nothing wrong with casual encounters... but if you're a feature character, I expect more than that, especially if you're only meeting your minimum. If you're a Weyrwoman/Weyrleader/other ranking character and you're not making use of the position you have... why bother?

Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to write policy around qualitative objectives rather than quantitative ones!

lovely
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Re: How to Speak With People 101

Postby lovely » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:44 am

I think the initial half of this thread is actually quite the metaphor for conversation between players and staff. (Aya/Fallen's interaction.) It's actually quite interesting to see, because I think quite frequently a player will feel staff is jerking their chain, when staff is probably just trying to get everyone involved in something. Both parties walk away feeling they were in the right -- but the sad part is that one party walks away feeling like a martyr, and will brand the other party as the aggressor in the future because of that interaction.

This is miscommunication in action, folks. This is what happens when someone leaps to a conclusion and grudgematches. This is obviously a minor example of it, and I'm not taking sides on it other than to point out that this happens on-game more often than any of us would like. When a player flips their shit and goes from conversational to 'you are baiting me for specific answers so I am taking my toys and going home now because I don't like you' when there's the least little non-agreement -- well. We see this all the time, don't we, fellow players? The problem is that it shuts down the pipeline for conversation, and I think there's nothing we can do as staffers, because if we poke that hedgehog after the prickles have gone up, even just to make sure it's not dead or it doesn't need help, it's always going to feel as an attack. I think this happens as player/player interactions too, but I think the real heartburn comes when it is a player/staff interaction.

Specific example. I can think of one player on HT that was left standing several years ago, now. I was the one who had to speak with them on why they were left standing, because I had volunteered as a search lead, and someone had to do it. As this player had a well-known history of OOC blowups, and I have pretty thick skin, I felt it was better to aim that firehose at me rather than anyone else. In full disclosure, the conversation was informed by all of SearchCo -- I was the mouthpiece, more or less, but it wasn't an exclusive action on my part. It took a long time. There was anger (unsurprisingly). There was frank communication. There were a lot of things. Five hours later, we wrapped it up and moved on.

Well, I should say, I moved on. In the years after this, I can't interact with this player at all, because this player has pretty much classified me as the antichrist. I was not the person who decided unilaterally that they would not Impress. IIRC, it was a larger Co -- seven or eight people. The decision at that point in time was unanimous. In the exit interview conversation, it was actually said it was unanimous. But the player since then has leapt to the conclusion that I was directly responsible, and that everyone else involved wasn't. In the long span of time since then, I've tried to mend that fence, tried to reach out to the player, and every time I try to talk to them, I get hostile reactions. I get shut down. I get silence or offensive commentary in return. (Needless to say, I've reached a point where I don't try anymore, because I know it's futile.)

That's an extreme case, but we all see this in varying levels. Another instance -- again, a couple years back, I once saw a player freak out and leave an area because someone was promoted over them -- even though they'd never indicated at any particular junction that they were interested in advancing their character. Though it was privately said to their friends, and then gossiped back to staff (god why are we so freaking gossipy, guys?), the only thing that was publicly communicated to staff was, "this other area is a better fit for my character". When staff paged the player to make sure everything was okay, the player said everything was fine, no hard feelings. As an outsider to the whole thing, it was mind-boggling. Everyone was more or less aware of the situation, but it was all broiling under-the-skin because everyone was afraid of a blow-up.

The above, by the way, is a perfect example of negative reinforcement by way of avoidance or escape -- a behavioral phenomenon that is strongly desired and therefore often executed. Most people will avoid a confrontation, unless they are reinforced by a confrontation, or it is more punishing to not have the confrontation. The problem is, in these kinds of situations, staff talking to a player about things they've heard secondhand a) points out that they have been at least indirectly involved in gossip about the player, and b) expresses that one of the person's private circle has been gossiping about them. So the staff, in that case, is negatively reinforced by not talking to the player, because it's a potential conflict avoided.

So here's the next round of questions: how do you mend a fence when the other person has burnt that bitch to the ground and doesn't ever want to talk to you again? How can a staffer salvage a relationship that has soured? SHOULD the impetus for fixing that be on the staffer, or the player? How do you overcome things that have gone unsaid, have long gone unsaid, by both parties? Is this why we have different areas? Can we do things to prevent players from jumping to conclusions, or are their just people who enjoy being the martyr? Can we all get along -- should we all get along?


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