Next stage of troublemakin! :) All in Boblet's honor this time I think. ;)
Now that we have a functional ASH system and some good baseline teaching/testing tools out there - there's a project I've been kicking around since way on back when Mael first brought up the idea of a organizational restructure. Before that really - helping a friend of mine who was rebooting her own RP website after an absolute implosion of drama llamas - but it's useful here as well. I know a few folks on site have already seen this because I wanted to get some initial bugs out of it before going forward - but I think we've hit the point on that end where it's time to get it out for review and eventually into a proposal and set / done.
Here's what I was thinking. We've had a lot of site policies and thoughts and sort of a unwritten guideline of how we do things on the site for years. Unfortunately that sort of setup is really vulnerable to wiggling about, reinterpretations, or just straight up getting forgotten as people come and go. If you look around the site in fact - mostly the only reason we even have a world and academy departments is because that's what we had before. It's a carryover.
So what I would like to do is get our most basic of site-governance policies written down, formally checked off by the site so we know everyone's cool with how it all works and documented. Sort of like a constitution - it's to outline how we operate so it's not just an instinctive "oh this is how we did it, right?" sort of thing.
Since that sort of stuff is really long - I'm gonna put this up in chunks so we can look it over without getting swamped.
So: PART ONE - this is just a basic introduction and outline of major site principles, with explanations on what they mean. Any questions, comments, or even just a simple "Yep - that all looks about right" is good feedback here.
Given the current age and history of the site, we need to start planning for the long-term.
In the many years of Vaxia’s growth, we have had many different approaches to handling site decisions, but we have often relied on memory and convention, or the decision-making of the server owner (or loudest member) of the site. We haven't had much of this written down. While overall this has gotten us along, it hasn’t been without many bumps, pain, and leaps of faith. But where memory is unreliable, open to interpretation, and generally malleable to the personal needs of the most convincing voice in the discussion - words are not. Which is to say:
If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
The goal of this document is to write down a formal structure for vaxia.org’s continued site administration to provide for the coming decades. Ideally we will never have to rely on this document to secure the health and safety of the site - but there’s always the chance and we can’t predict the future.
Guiding principles should be used as guides to decision-making in the future. These are the overarching principles that take precedence over any department, storyhost or individual decision. If a site decision is in violation of the guiding principles then that decision should be reviewed and adjusted to bring it into agreement. If that is not possible, then the decision should be reversed.
The Three F’s
The “Three F’s” are the goals of our decisions on the site. In order, they are “Fun”, “Freedom” and “Fairness.” Ideally every decision on the site will incorporate some aspect of all three of these principles. Realistically, not every decision is going to be able to do that. Where possible, err on the side of “Fun” for the most people, followed by “Freedom” for the most people, followed by “Fairness” for the most people.It is important to note that the principles of Fun, Freedom, and Fairness are judged based on their impact on the majority of the site - not by the impact on an individual.
Fun is a measure of the general enjoyment of the site. This is not purely a matter of players enjoying the material produced on the site, but also more measurable aspects such as the overall difficulty to learn and rule the system, the impact of technological limits on play, or the feeling of being safe on the site. What is fun for one person is not necessarily fun for another, nor will it continue to be fun for all time - decisions based on fun need to consider multiple viewpoints and the long-term impacts of decisions made.
Freedom is the ability to act on the site as you wish, so long as you don’t unduly impact another’s freedom or fun in the process. Freedom includes the ability to be allowed to fail as well as the ability to be allowed to succeed. Other elements of freedom include being allowed to ask for advice and assistance out of character, and having a minimum baseline of support for the play of characters regardless of the character's specific aspects such as evil alignment or other concept-based choices. Other characters are free to welcome the play of a specific character or not as the case may be. Not every decision is going to be able to avoid impacting an individual, but again multiple viewpoints and the long-term impact are critical.
Fairness is the out-of-character understanding that your work and efforts are just as valued as those of any other member of the site. Fairness is found in system mechanics that are overall balanced for cost of experience vs. payoff, observable means of making site decisions, and being able to have the same opportunity to contribute to site efforts. Fairness does not guarantee success though it should guarantee equal opportunities to succeed. Characters may experience IC unfairness, players should not. Again, this principle is best applied with multiple viewpoints and long-term impact.
Transparency is understanding that, wherever possible, we act and speak in the open. Conversations should be logged and recorded on the site. Verbal meetings should have meeting minutes. Decisions, and what was said during the course of those decisions, should be publicly available for review afterwards wherever possible.
Secrets prevent site members from being able to judge the worthiness of a potential-lead during elections, creates an environment of mistrust around those who have off-site communication, and generally encourages deceptive behavior in both those in power and those not. In order to safeguard the health (both mental and social) of the community and our long-term continuation, we must operate in the open as much as possible.
In general, all concerned parties should be able to participate and review the process of decision making in order to fully understand both the considerations that went into the decision and the choices of the decision makers involved.
Not all discussions are appropriate for a completely open discussion, though the option should always be considered first. For example: A personal dispute between two players may be best held in private, through both players should be involved as they are the concerned parties for the situation.
Origin of Power
Without players we don’t have a site. And we have no right to take from players what they are not interested in giving. They are people and they have rights. To add any new power or privilege for the site, a given department, or site representatives not already described in this document, the players must first agree to give that power through the systems described in this document. Any powers not specifically granted to the site, its departments, or its representatives in this document are assumed to be retained by the individual player.
Thoughts? Again any questions, comments, or even just a simple "Yep - that all looks about right" is good feedback here. :)