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The Disciplinary Process
#1
So, since I'm the lead guy when it comes to enforcing CotH's rules, and there's been a lot of buzz about bannings (two fairly recent ones in particular, I'm aware) I figured I ought to do some writing in my blog on the disciplinary process here on CotH, how it works, and hopefully get folks to better understand why we make the decisions we do. Or I like hearing the sound of my own voice. Either works.

So, in broad strokes, we generally work on a three-strike system: warning, 3-day suspension, full ban. This is just a general rule though, and gets very flexible in its actual application depending on a number of factors. For example, infractions may just warrant another warning if it is fairly minor (usually, it takes a number of incidents when it comes to things like disrespectful behavior to even count as one full infraction. Everyone has bad days, after all, so it requires a fairly consistent negative or toxic attitude to warrant action.) On the other hand, certain factors or rule breaks may warrant skipping one of the steps straight to a suspension or a ban: particularly blatant breaks of Rule 2, obvious trolling of the server, cyber-stalking, possessing strong evidence of ban evasion, so on and so forth. So, the system does end up relying on looking at infractions on a case by case basis. We're a small enough community that it's beneficial to look at each person and incident in an individual manner.

It's for this reason that sometimes things happen that, if you only take a singular incident, may not make sense, but makes more sense in the grand scheme. I've heard a number of times people question why X got banned but Y didn't, when what Y did was worse than what X did. Of course, the answer varies. Perhaps X has a long history of toxic behavior and his relatively minor infraction was the "straw that broke the camel's back," while Y's behavior isn't a recurring trend and thus easier to ignore.

But what's important to remember is that bans are almost never made on a snap decision. Only in particular emergency cases is this ever really done. If someone is banned, it's been after quite some buzz has been made regarding the player's behavior over the long term. Most players have several weeks worth of discussions before a ban verdict is given, and such verdicts are almost always given with the support of a significant majority of the GM team. Yet, I think many of us have heard a banned player saying that they were banned for X specific incident or because Y GM hates them. Why is that?

It's important to remember human nature. Anyone who's taken a basic communication or psychology course will know it's human nature to divert blame to others when possible. That's not a judgment against others, I don't pretend to be any different. But, instead of being able to admit one's own faults, it is easier to claim that the GMs are corrupt, that Y GM fabricated reasons to get him banned, that it's all someone else's fault, etc. It is important, therefore, to take what you are told by others, even from friends, with a healthy dose of skepticism. Don't think that the GM team is any different here, we are prone to our own biases as anyone else is. The best thing to know is that you probably don't have the whole story. (As an aside, I don't have a problem discussing a particular ban for the curious, but know that I may be limited in the information that I can provide. The last thing I want is for someone to be targeted for "getting their friend banned." And yes, that has happened before.)

Everyone here is human, and I can assure you that the GM team doesn't have some grand conspiracy that the players can't see. I know that, speaking for myself, I don't *enjoy* giving bans. I am always frowning every time I put one in, even if I believe in it and think it's for the best and the person involved is someone I dislike.

So, why not other methods of reform? Why not longer suspensions after the three-day? In most cases, if a 3-day suspension didn't help bring someone in line and curb their toxic behavior, a longer suspension will not either (we've tried it a couple times in the past.) The other disciplinary tools that we have tend to be more for emergency issues and would hamper roleplay (muting, freezing, etc.) And so after a certain point a ban is the only thing that will logically come after. Now, there are cases where we've allowed a banned player to return and he/she has greatly improved. I can think of a couple instances of such players still currently playing on CotH. It's just a rare occurrence, but an encouraging one.

We are, however, looking to improve the system as we go. In the past, GMs were often lax in communication with players getting closer to the level of being banned, and we've been working to improve that communication. Just as an example.

I do encourage players to approach me with questions regarding the disciplinary system, their own status, and questions on if the GM team believes in any need for improvement. I have no problems discussing the process or one's own situation if someone wishes to talk about it. Either here, or if you can catch me in-game. Either works.
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#2
Let's be honest. This system seems to be simply perfectly assembled and it looks like it would work just fine. As long as the system itself remains pure. I don't see any problem with the system. It's a good idea to keep toxic behavior away, even if you have to sacrifice small parts of the community. I believe explaining why the staff made whatever move they made also helps. Keeps the transparency, which is good.

Personally, I have been suspended before and I accept that, my behavior at that time was indeed not good enough to remain around. I accepted the suspension and considered it fair. Problem is that others don't/won't accept their own suspensions and would probably be more.. vocal, after the ban if lifted. I am wondering if people that have been suspended before are monitored after they are unbanned. Or are they left alone, and when they do something bad again, the past bites and influences the decision that will be taken. Hm?

Punctuation and grammar is not my forte, early in the morning. I posted now because I might not have the time to do so at another time, or simply forget. Apologizes for possible grammar errors or punctuation failures.
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#3
Say one got a suspension, restarts ago... <.< >.> Hypothetically....... by a self-admitted disgruntled GM at the time. Restarts ago, plural. Is there a time allotted that would pass before one would go back to warning, suspension then Ban? Or is it over the whole lifetime of the server?

Glad we can respectfully inquire about other cases we are curious about.

Also how does one who is banned, get to come back? What steps would you go through or recommend a rehabilitated CoTher to use to return to ye olde server?

Thank ya kindly.
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#4
(03-21-2013, 01:15 AM)ThePharaoh Wrote: Also how does one who is banned, get to come back? What steps would you go through or recommend a rehabilitated CoTher to use to return to ye olde server?

Ban Appeals can be sent via the forum PM systems (and usually including Kretol, Grakor and three GMs-of-choice on it, but I suppose you could only send it to the admins) but I believe they can also be sent via Skype or other such program. A banned user should not create a new account to post a public ban appeal or to send PMs (I'm not -exactly- sure if banned users can send PMs to Admins). It is important to note here that forwarding a ban appeal on behalf of a banned user will not get you in trouble*. Kicking up a storm and all that, however, could.

* Forwarding the banned user's appeal. This does not mean writing an appeal on behalf of someone: They have to write it themselves for themselves. Make sense?


Once the appeal is sent, the Admin and GM team review and discuss it and the circumstances to determine whether the player will be allowed to return. The response time varies but a response is given: No news doesn't mean bad news, it just means no news.

(I'll let Grakor or another GM elaborate more on that if they'd like, but that's the overall process~)
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#5
I would offer a simple piece of advice myself, one that I find most effective in avoiding such conflict in the first place. If the occasion arises that I become irritated or displeased with something in game I log almost immediately. While it is rather rare that I find myself in such a position, as with everyone else, it does happen. More often than not, however, external factors tend to provide the catalyst for such misbehavior. There are days when I wake up feeling like a jerk for no particular reason. There days that I am feeling particularly spammy. These are days that I choose not to log in at all, knowing full well that I am likely to engage in some form of altercation. My point, put simply, is to be aware of your attitude and compensate for it instead of allowing yourself to get a hot head. As a general rule, if you feel like a jerk you read and write like a jerk as well. In regards to one's forum pressence, I advise avoiding controversial threads all together. If the direction of the thread seems to be bordering on hostilities, holding on to your two cents provides substantial savings in the long run. My grandpappy used to say that "Smart people keep their mouths shut" and being as that's about the only thing he ever said to me I figure he knew what he was talking about. Humor aside, I find these tactics to be particularly effective.

As a last note, I would offer a piece of advice concerning Skype channels. As much as it may seem like common sense, DON'T VENT IN PUBLIC CHANNELS! We all need to get something off our chest from time to time but it is generally unwise to do so in a room full of people. When something is bothering me, there is one person that I burden with all of my ranting. Fortunately for me, they don't seem to mind in the least and my displeasure never becomes the focus of discussion amongst others.

Be mindful.
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#6
I have been suspended once too and, though I can't say I'm proud to openly admit it, I can proudly say I accepted and accept it. I really can't say I haven't done anything; I can, however, admit that I --then-- had a hard time due to numeral factors, only one being tied to CotH (but I shall not detail). It has been, by my personal standards, a long time ago and I consider to have matured a great deal since then.

If I'm allowed to say any advice to people who are (if any) or will be suspended... allow yourself time to cool down. What I did after my suspension was take two or three weeks away from CotH, until things cleared out; I haven't left CotH, mind you, I just wasn't active; I still checked the forums, but I refrained from commenting anything. In other words, I kept my opinions to myself, some to be worded later with a cleared head, some to never be.

ThePharaoh Wrote:Is there a time allotted that would pass before one would go back to warning, suspension then Ban? Or is it over the whole lifetime of the server?
I would also like to know; I'm one of them, after all! :P


And, in the end, taking this opportunity, I would like to open up to anyone who has had or still has any problems with me. Let's talk about some things I've done, see how I can improve! Via Skype, of course; not wanting to clog this thread. My ID is Kira13f :D


Peace!

EDIT: And yes, Grakor, I would like to know my status. :D
"Life is offensive, people; it's brutal, stupid, annoying, dirty, and at the end, ******* pointless. Seriously, folks, you need to get a grip, alright? Relax yourself!" - Foamy

#7
Since no one's talked on this yet;

@ThePharaoh
@Kira13

This works in two different ways, really. You'll probably be pleased to hear we're not going to hold people accountable to actions and punishments from that far back; within a reasonable amount of time we'll more or less revert to a warning (unless the behavior is excessive, of course), since after a fair time off of our 'radar' so to speak we tend to assume people have eased up a bit.


That being said, there's a different situation that we've seen multiple times in the past by now, and that's people who seem to come up only to create trouble. We've noticed several people who tend to appear and have bad conduct, and then will vanish for a month or so at a time. That's less tolerated, for fairly obvious reasons, heh.
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#8
In the past, the GM team has become very transparent - I like this change, as it gives people a better insight into the team's decisions. Keep up the good work! :)
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#9
(03-21-2013, 01:15 AM)ThePharaoh Wrote: Say one got a suspension, restarts ago... <.< >.> Hypothetically....... by a self-admitted disgruntled GM at the time. Restarts ago, plural. Is there a time allotted that would pass before one would go back to warning, suspension then Ban? Or is it over the whole lifetime of the server?

Glad we can respectfully inquire about other cases we are curious about.

Also how does one who is banned, get to come back? What steps would you go through or recommend a rehabilitated CoTher to use to return to ye olde server?

Thank ya kindly.

Granted, if the person left such a sour taste that it's still vividly remembered, it's highly unlikely said person will be allowed back.

I suppose this means people tend to return with the rotation of the GMs. But eh. They'll just get banned again if need be.
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#10
I am back from sleep!

(03-21-2013, 05:33 AM)Caravan Wrote: Ban Appeals can be sent via the forum PM systems (and usually including Kretol, Grakor and three GMs-of-choice on it, but I suppose you could only send it to the admins) but I believe they can also be sent via Skype or other such program.

Indeed. They can also be sent to my or Kretol's CotH emails if all else fails. However, this might slow the process a bit as I don't check my email as much as I should.

Also, to anyone wanting updates or making queries as to their own position: probably best to poke me in a private method of communication, I apologize for the lack of clarity before. I mean, unless you *want* me to go around talking about your disciplinary history in the middle of a public thread!

And yes, Rigley is correct. Time does play a factor in the disciplinary process. Depending on the person, of course, and if it's being an issue of "I come back every couple months to show disrespect and then leave again before they can ban me." ...which, yes, has happened. But if we have seen that a player has been on good behavior for a significant period of time, we tend to forgive past infractions.
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#11
I'll make a short post real quick. There was one ban I was majorly angry with (as some GMs know, past and present as well as a few FHs) that left me rather sore. It wasn't because of the ban itself, but that it came out of nowhere and the one banned had no clue why. It was my understanding that GMs were unclear with warnings, so a seemingly minor altercation triggered a ban. I don't want this sort of thing happening to people since it makes the staff look like they throw around bans as they please. I know that's not the case, but y'all gotta be clearer with the warnings.

I'm not a particular fan of the ban or the appeal process taking so long, but I doubt any aspects of it will be changing anytime soon. I'm not gonna rant, get all angry, or point fingers like I did that one time, but a rather recent ban did make me raise my eyebrow and question something here.
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#12
(03-21-2013, 09:20 AM)SachikoMaeda Wrote: I'm not a particular fan of the ban or the appeal process taking so long, but I doubt any aspects of it will be changing anytime soon. I'm not gonna rant, get all angry, or point fingers like I did that one time, but a rather recent ban did make me raise my eyebrow and question something here.

I'm afraid that the timing can't really be helped -- It allows for a majority vote and it has also kept people from being full-out banned (by giving a cool-down time for us as well. We're human) and instead getting a 3-day suspension or a serious discussion. That's not always the case, but taking time really helps gather the facts and see the bigger picture more clearly.

I believe Grakor mentioned, too, that when it comes to things like this and banned people telling their side of the story... that that's their side of the story and it is most likely missing key details or is (naturally) biased.
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#13
(03-21-2013, 09:38 AM)Caravan Wrote: I believe Grakor mentioned, too, that when it comes to things like this and banned people telling their side of the story... that that's their side of the story and it is most likely missing key details.

Indeed. One must also remember that due to it being human nature to shift blame on others when possible, often you will have people omitting details, whether intentionally or not. Knowing the ban in question, I can promise you that said person was spoken to over every incident that we had issue with: I'm looking right at the logs that prove this as I type this.

Don't be hasty in judging bans that you are not personally involved in. I know it's difficult to keep this in mind, and we are partial to believing our friends, but without the full set of knowledge, you can't make a fair judgment.

Edit: Allow me to specify to avoid misinterpretation: I mean the ban you displayed anger at, Sachiko. I don't know which recent ban you're curious about, but you are free to ask and I will explain as best I am able given the constraints I have.

I also want to be clear before someone takes this personally: I'm not accusing anyone of lying. To say that one lies is to assume a certain level of maliciousness or intentional deception, which (usually) isn't the case in these particular situations. Unless the person is just obviously angry and looking to do a smear campaign, but those are usually easy enough to spot.
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#14
I'll contact you in private when I have the chance to, Grak, but I'm gonna let the drama die out a bit before I do. I'm not doing a repeat of last time.
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#15
Being on both sides of the ban system, and being a return banee, I can honestly say that unless you've been on both sides of the fence, it's really, really hard to know the process completely. It'd be really, really easy to say "Well, I got banned because X and Y didn't agree with me and just wanted me to be gone." I fully admit, when I was banned, it was because of my own stupid actions. Luckily, since people here are understanding and gave me a long, long while to cool off and re-evaluate things (About a year), I was allowed to come back.

It'd be really easy for me to be bitter, and say that I was not wrong in my banning, and that I deserved better treatment. I'd also be wrong. I know this because there was a point and time I was a GM, and I knew how the process worked---there was only a handful of times we banned people for "Not being a right fit", and -since- then things have changed drastically, and for the better.

People -do no- get banned for solo instances (Unless it's as stated above) or over small matters. It just does not happen.
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