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Crucible City Mux has one unforgiveable sin.

Being 'passive-aggressive'.

Yes, you can be banned from the place outright for being 'passive-aggressive'.

I've seen it used repeatedly to tar people, especially by one of the staffers in a non-staff alt. I'm fed up with it. This person uses the word to describe any behavior that they don't like, and for the shock factor.

Quoting the Wikipedia article on Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder:
Sometimes a method of dealing with stress or frustration, it results in the person attacking other people in subtle, indirect, and seemingly passive ways. It can manifest itself as resentment, stubbornness, procrastination, sullenness, or intentional failure at doing requested tasks. For example, someone who is passive-aggressive might take so long to get ready for a party they don't wish to attend that the party is nearly over by the time they arrive.

Someone who is passive-aggressive will typically not confront others directly about problems, but instead will attempt to undermine their confidence or their success through comments and actions which, if challenged, can be explained away innocently so as not to place blame on the passive-aggressive person.

Now... Here's an interesting observation.
Staffers are immune to censure for this sin of sins.
As the sole judges, they are uniquely empowered to use the techniques themselves with impunity.

And they use them frequently when they're dealing with people that aren't in their clique. Further, I suspect there may even be a blacklist, informal of course, excluding some players.

An example: one of the staffers, who as part of their position frequently runs plot scenes, will announce that there is room for some number of characters of certain levels. Initially, I would respond to these, along with several other people.

After the fourth time in a row when I wasn't chosen, and when other people who weren't in the clique also weren't chosen, and somehow the people who got accepted were inducted soon after into... the clique. So, I tried with other staffers. And ... didn't get in. Even to scenes which were relevant to my character, which had to do with things I had +requested information on, and so forth.

I tried three more times after this. Never got in. Gave up. I do not play in any plot run by any staffer there, because it is a waste of my time to try to get into it. I've been 'shunned out'. Unprovable, of course, which makes it classic passive aggression.

By random events of inheritance, I ended up running a team. Global or community events would happen - certain villains, or even specific villains that were enemies of some of my teammates would do nefarious things. Members of my team would ask for resolution from staffers, would propose searches or investigations that were well within reason, given the resources they were drawing on. Yet, they were consistently turned down.
Every time. To the point that, without fail, I could predict that the resolution of the storyline would go to a member of the Clique.
Once again... passive aggression. When I asked why, I was given the classic explanation of innocence.
I even told my teammates not to bother because frankly, they wouldn't be given an answer. That earned a wounded rejoinder.

The trap there being that, of course, it could simply be coincidence, there could be no prejudice at all. And if a character had no particular special skill or trait to permit them to do what they wanted, no amount of contact and preparation and hard work could do it.
Or so we were told, and we have to believe it, or we're being passive-aggressive. What a lovely double-bind.

I also took note of the several times I've tried to do something with a character's stats and powers, been refused, and then, later, found the very thing I wanted on another character.

The scariest thing about the place? It's the silence. People disappear. Their characters vanish, their accounts deleted, their IP address banned, and there is never an explanation of what happened. It's like living in a dictatorship.

So. If I vanish from Crucible, you now know why. (And it will probably have to do with my making this public comment.)
If I don't, well, I may choose to leave anyway. Because I am fucking tired of being hit with the two-faced accusation of passive aggressive.

Honey, if I want to be aggressive, there won't be anything passive about it. I'm not passive, I'm pissed off.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
Huh. I just started avoiding staff-run scenes because (with one exception) I dislike their GMing styles, which are largely more suited to Paranoia (only played "straight" most of the time).

The problems with involvement, as far as I can tell, are that you have to jump two barriers. First, you have to figure out the answer to the mystery before you even ask to investigate. I suspect this is where a more innocent explanation of the clique comes in...these are simply the players who best know the minds of the staffers, so they guess right. THEN your character has to have the relevant skills to do something about your theory. But it doesn't matter if you maxed out all the relevant skills, if you the player don't figure out the answer first and know exactly where to look, you the character will sit around with thumbs up butt. No "I rolled really high, can you toss me a hint?" stuff here. And I suppose, with a larger player base than tabletop, SOMEONE will figure it out, so no need to toss clues. But it IS annoying.

Of course, being a fan of Christopher J. Priest's comics, I'm used to "editorial" playing favorites against what I like....
Jun. 9th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)
The cliques center mostly around those characters who are either staff alts or who were early-beta players.
Jun. 9th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
Which, unfortunately doesn't necessarily clear things up. Obviously, these people would be most likely to be able to figure out what a staffer has in mind for a mystery. It's the policy of "the player has to figure it out first" that's clearly wrong, though. Not necessarily a cliquish attitude...although such a thing just makes things worse.
Jun. 30th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
This sounds like a pretty tough situation all around and I'm reluctant to wade in too deep out of the desire to avoid offense to people, many of whom I have not played with in a year or more.

What I can say is that, while the individual RP styles of some of the Guardians drove me personally batty, I always liked the team and wanted them to flourish. I hope that, perhaps with patience, dialogue, and an open mind something can be worked out for the future.

Jul. 1st, 2005 11:24 pm (UTC)
I appreciate your support and understanding.

Unfortunately, this is a combination of my personal frustration with a particular staffer, the increasingly cliquish RP, especially with "that one team everyone wants to join", and with my inability to be engaged whatsoever in the global plots for the last year or so.

MU was a great idea for a special event, but it played out horribly. Since nobody could do anything real or effective, and nobody could learn anything, the net effect was that it was basically an RP-disruptor for regular team RP (as it isolated people from one another) and a frustration for anyone who wanted to do anything, learn anything, or otherwise have any real effect.

The global things since have been equally frustrating, for much the same reason, and I simply couldn't find Count Urizen interesting enough to bother with, even though I know the whole idea was great. Once again it started out as another 'if you're in the in-group, you get to have an effect, otherwise, have your private self-gratification sessions (team RP) but they won't really do anything' ... and since my RL situation wasn't such that I _could_ take the time to play much, I simply haven't gone IC in months.

And, yeah, I know that personal RP styles can be frustrating.
Jul. 3rd, 2005 01:22 am (UTC)
"if you're in the in-group, you get to have an effect,"

There is no in-group. There are people who request things, and people who don't. There are people who volunteer for scenes, and people who don't. If there is an appearance of an in-group, it is only because those are the people that get active, request things, and volunteer for scenes.

Case in point: Cap, Jess, and Ian all volunteered for finale scenes. Cap, Jess, and Ian were all in finale scenes. Seth and Sam did not volunteer, Seth and Sam were not in scenes. It's honestly that simple.

As for the Staff post on the Guardians board, it wasn't a wounded reply at all. It was the simple honest truth. The requests we were getting from Harold (and Mercury) were so specific..and so totally absurd that there simply was no reasonable way to respond.

You don't have to guess what we're thinking. Far from it. If you just +request something like "I look into X event using X skills and see what's there." you'll generally get something back from us. The reason you perceive us as shutting you out is because the requests we were receiving were things like "I look for definitive proof that Villain X is behind everything!" Given that Villain X had absolutely nothing to do with the plot in question..all we could do was say "You don't find it". We suggested, numerous times I might add, that he'd get better results if he didn't keep trying to assume details of the plot. Unfortunately he apparently didn't believe us.

This is a recurring problem with +requests we receive from The Guardians. You have the perception that the people who are getting things done are doing so because they have a better idea of what we're thinking. This couldn't be farther from the truth. The people who are getting things done are doing so because their +requests are general enough to give us the leeway to answer in a productive manner.

In parting, there have been, to my recollection, a grand total of six people banned in the two years that CCMUX has been open. They are: Stahl, Puppy, Iroas, Corporal Freedom, Aleron, Angel.

There may be one or two more, but their omissions would be due to poor memory rather than an attempt at obfuscation. We don't announce bannings, but we don't hide them either. If someone disappears and you think they've been banned..just ask us. We may be a dictatorship, but we're an open and benevolent dictatorship.

Jul. 7th, 2005 06:22 pm (UTC)
Benevolent or not, a mux is not a dictatorship. It is a cooperative venture between the staff and the players, and your role there is to serve as a facilitator and as a gatekeeper, and I strongly suggest you rethink the whole dictatorship concept, because it is condescending and offensive, nurturing the same cliquish, in-group attitude that you claim isn't there.

Now, to address your claim that 'people who volunteer' get into things... you're simply mistaken on that one as well.

From my personal experience, and I began paying attention to this around September of 2003, plot staff offered one to two scenes a week, and during winter of 2003, I applied to at least one of those scenes a week, offering either of my characters. The only time I was accepted was for the Jupiter mission (and I don't remember when that happened, precisely, and don't want to dig through logs).

I am not paranoid, and I realized that getting new players involved was important, so I continued to do the same thing for the next three months. In May of 2004, I had not been accepted into a single staff-run scene, except possibly for open party scenes that allowed everyone in the place to show up if they had a pretext for doing so.

However, other long-time players, those who were part of Dawn Patrol or involved with them in RP, did get invites to these scenes, often enough to suggest that there was, and is, an in-group preference. I am not including team-run scenes or plots in this, of course; those are supposed to be in-group, that's part of teaming.

Personal issues (four years of unemployment, desperate job search, burning through my retirement funds, and losing my house) rather distracted me from RP as the year went by, so I stopped playing actively. Also, getting City of Heroes in July of 2004 was a further distraction - the quality of in-character roleplay there is not so high, but the fun factor is so much higher than what I was getting that gradually I stopped bothering with RP on Crucible.

(yet more to come...)
Jul. 7th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
Back to your claim that people who involve themselves do get responses, and leaving out my experience to the contrary in one specific area,

Yes, people who ask questions get answers, but are they useful?

I won't argue that Mercury and Herald were on the wrong track with their questions. However, the responses were part of the problem, in my opinion.

They brought considerable resources and powers to bear on a particular plot thread, more than once, without asking for specifics, and after the first one or two attempts were rebuffed with "There isn't anything useful you can get from that line of research", they decided that it was necessary to be more specific, because generality wasn't working.

They told you what resources they were using, they told you what their suspicion was and that they were going to look for any evidence relating to person X (I forget, Literalis or somesuch).

I expected they would get something more like 'You find positive proof that X is not involved in this, as they are currently focussing on a plan to simultaneously pull the wings from every fly in Crucible City. However, in the process, you stumble across rumors and clues pointing towards Y, Z, A, B, and C.'

What they got was 'You find nothing.'

So, they concluded that you weren't going to give any kind of useful answer, and they left, or dropped the characters from frustration. And I don't blame them. What's the fun in playing an investigator who can't get more than a binary yes-no answer?
Jul. 7th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)

Finally, regarding in-groups and cliques... the ideal is fine, but don't fool yourself. There are definitely such things on CC, and staff there has always participated in them, and in the worst cases (the botched launch of Night Watch comes to mind) it has been the in-group vs. out-group dynamic that has been the underlying cause.

Night Watch got more complicated, but the initial failure happened when one in-group, veterans of a particular set of World of Darkness muxen where a particular style of roleplay has been used toxically, misinterpreted the posing style of another player who came from the superhero muxen where that style is considered narrative. The fact that some of those players were staff alts only made the initial situation more unpleasant.

Finally, about banning ... yes, I know you don't announce bannings. I think this is a bad thing. You're far too young to remember this first-hand, but in the 70s, Salvador Allende took over Chile in a military coup. Anyone who disagreed with him vanished. There are stories of the 'disaparecidos' - the people who were 'disappeared'. People who asked about them, who were too noisy, also disappeared. That had a quelling effect on political speech, which was the intention, and since his 'vanishings' generally involved the murder of the vanished, the man has since been tried for crimes against humanity.

This dynamic, in a much much smaller scale, applies here. Whether you like it or not, banning someone without explanation is a great way to sow distrust of staff. When Puppy vanished, there were more than a few questions, and the public answer, 'She had already gotten two strikes for a particular kind of unacceptable behavior and this was her third', was satisfactory for most people.

Personal opinion time. I am opposed to secrecy in staff operations. I dislike secret Staff alts, on the grounds that they lead to abuse of power that is a bigger problem than those problems which come with open alts. I am opposed to secret policy in every respect, because of the way it creates an attitude of distrust, and yes, cliquism and in-groups. I haven't pulled this from nowhere. I have been a staffer, I've dealt with good and bad players. I know whereof I speak.

I reiterate, being on a mux Staff is not a position of authority. It is a position of service, and because it carries with it the only true powers in the game (to remove someone from the game, and to gather information about players and their actions on the game without their knowledge or consent), it also carries the responsibility to clearly delineate the precise situations where those powers will be applied.

So far as I know, Crucible staff has never abused the information gathering side of things. If they had done, there would have been outraged complaints about it long ago.

However, there have been complaints about the close-handed application of banning, and censoring boards, on-game and off-game. Not that the banning happened, but the way it was carried out, inspire distrust, as demonstrated repeatedly. This doesn't mean abuse, it means that secrecy is bad.

It's unfortunate, but the fact that I have this conversation happening in my Livejournal rather than in the boards on the mux, means that I don't trust that I could have it there, because it would be censored.
Jul. 7th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC)
I had a longer reply ready (believe it or not), but it's just as well that I lost it, as it was undeservedly snarky. You did a fantastic job with the Urizen global plot. Nothing I say here should be taken as a complaint about your performance as a staffer in general. There are some specifics that I'll address.

As I said in my original and followup, for many reasons I did not get involved in this global. That, and only that, is why I didn't ask to be in a finale scene. Don't point to that and draw conclusions.

You might want to look more closely at what I've said, and do it with an open mind. I don't pull random complaints out my ass. Your responses seem dismissive and indicate that you haven't thoroughly read this thread.

My gripe with you personally:
You are the one who, during a late-night conversation in the public lounge, declared that I was being 'passive aggressive', because I was doing exactly what you and the others were doing: stating my opinion. The fact that I disagreed with yours does not make it passive aggressive. As I have said many times, if I want to be aggressive, I will not be passive about it. However, as a member of staff, in a MUX where one of the banning offenses is that very thing, you making that accusation is hypocritical and an abuse of power. It is something which I cannot protest there, because you hold the decision making power in that case, and arguing staff decisions is forbidden. By making the poisoned insinuation, you are, in fact, doing the very thing that you accused me of doing.
By your 'innocent' remark, you make it impossible for me to continue, and you do it in such a way that you cannot be blamed. This is the textbook definition of passive-aggression.
You have done this before, and you have never made a word of apology for it. I made it clear at the time that it wasn't acceptable. It still isn't.

(And this is still too long... continued...)
Jul. 23rd, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
Only a few replies.
Been on vacation, and didn't think to check this for awhile. Anyway, I think that a lot of your issues are a simple matter of perception rather than fact, here. We're the ones who saw Harold and Mercury's requests in detail. We're the ones who stared at them every time they came in and simply could not do ANYTHING with them. We /GAVE/ them the sort of replies that you suggested, giving them alternate routes to try, options to follow. The responses they sent in turn were EVEN FURTHER off-base than the originals, despite our guidance.

"So, they concluded that you weren't going to give any kind of useful answer, and they left, or dropped the characters from frustration. And I don't blame them. What's the fun in playing an investigator who can't get more than a binary yes-no answer?"

For the record, Harold left after receiving a single Cautionary for continuing to try and use his powers in a way that we specifically told him would not work and would not be allowed. Despite us telling him this, he several times used them this way in a PrP where the GM couldn't have been aware that we told him no. After receiving the Cautionary, he left in a huff because "we didn't respect him". Who knows what he was thinking.

"You are the one who, during a late-night conversation in the public lounge, declared that I was being 'passive aggressive', because I was doing exactly what you and the others were doing: stating my opinion. The fact that I disagreed with yours does not make it passive aggressive. As I have said many times, if I want to be aggressive, I will not be passive about it.However, as a member of staff, in a MUX where one of the banning offenses is that very thing, you making that accusation is hypocritical and an abuse of power."

/Oracle/ has never once engaged in a conversation in the public lounge. /Oracle/ has never even sat in the public lounge for more than a few seconds on her way to the FRP. My /player bits/ are no different than anyone else's. If you want to have an arguement with Arashi, feel free. I couldn't care less. Anything said by my player bits carries no further weight to it than anything any other player says. Again, it is only your perception of this matter that is a problem here. I don't go out of my way to announce who my alt is for two reasons:

1: She is the highest PL on the game. I earned this PL honestly through two years of play, but the perception will always be that it was gained dishonestly because that's what people expect on a MUX.

2: I don't want people thinking it's a staff mandate when Arashi sits in the OOC room and says things. That is when I, like everyone else, sits and talks frivilously. You think I'm sitting there with a quasi-anonymous alt trying to trick people into saying the wrong thing so I can ban them? You say you're not paranoid, but I have my doubts on this matter. My motives are perfectly clear at all times. I never intend anything further than what I state. If I was going to chastise you over some matter of protocol, I'd do it with the bit for which that was appropriate.

Also, being passive aggressive is not a 'bannable offense'. The only bannable offense is getting three Warnings, which can only be gotten if people complain about your behavior to Staff. I don't arbitrarily hand out Warnings. Policy /requires/ a complaint before a Warning can be given. Policy /requires/ three Warnings before a banning. That the only Warning on your sheet is from before I even became a staffer should tell you something.

Re: Dictatorship: It was a joke. A humourous comment playing off of one of your more wild accusations. Nobody on the MUX 'disappears' unless they themselves quit in a huff, as Harold did. Our policy on not announcing bannings is strictly because we don't feel that the dirty laundry of our players needs be made globally public. We have never declined to answer a question about someone's banning, nor do we ban people without them being well-aware that it is coming. Even then we do our utmost to contact the player afterwards so that we can inform them for the reason they have been banned.

In any case, that's as much typing as I wish to do right now. Cheers!

Jul. 24th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Only a few replies.
You persist in the notion that what you do and say as a player is totally unrelated to what you do or say as a staffer. Sorry. Doesn't work that way.

Perception is very important. Just take a look at congress if you don't believe it.

As for bannable offenses, sorry, you weren't a staffer when I was told directly that passive-aggressive behaviour was one of the handful of things that would merit a ban without warnings. If it's changed, that's a good thing.

I really don't know or care what PL Arashi is, nor did I say anything whatsoever complaining about how she got there. Why did you bring it up?

And finally, re:Dictatorship... You aren't the only person ever to use that phrase on CC. It's been used in (apparent) seriousness many times by other staffers. It's another one of those perception things.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )