Out-of-Game Influence

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lilith2013
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Sun Feb 06, 2022 5:35 pm

OUT OF GAME INFLUENCEThere have been a number of cases recently that have related to out-of-game influence (OGI). We want to clarify a handful of situations related to different kinds of OGI, and exactly why certain actions are unacceptable.

  1. Invoking trust tells.

    Trust tells have long been a point of confusion, and for good reason - they are one of the most subtle rules we have, and if you don't understand them it's not even clear why they'd be a problem. They act as a form of OGI typically by allowing a player to assert themself as town more strongly than would normally be possible. The subtlety around trust tells comes mostly from their distinction from acceptable self-meta. Self-meta turns into a trust tell when there is an explicit or implicit statement that it would never be broken, or that it would only be broken extremely rarely. Important here, and a distinction from how we've handled things in the past, is that we are extending this to include cases where the person is not intentionally building up a trust tell, but is instead simply pointing out a pattern in their meta that they never intend to break. For example, the following may all constitute trust tells depending on context:

      "I will never lie using red text."
      "I have never faked a guilty as scum."
      "I will always claim my real role."
      "I never bus as scum."

    Context is very important here. If a relatively new player says that they've never fakeclaimed before, this is not a problem - however, if a player with many dozens of completed games points out the same thing and says that they never fakeclaim as a policy, then every game where they don't lie about this policy increases the credence of their claim. After a certain point, this becomes an unfair advantage because statistically, the more times in a row someone has told the truth about something, the more likely it is that they will always tell the truth about it.

    There are a variety of factors that each push something toward being an unfair trust tell: history of having followed the tell, specifically stating that the tell will never be broken in the future rather than merely stating that it's been followed up until now, an explicit advantage (such as being more plausibly town) being gained by people believing the tell, the tell being about very specific behavior, and so on. However, none of these individually are necessary for something to be a trust tell.

    If you wish to refer to your own meta, as a rule of thumb, do not speak in absolutes. We obviously cannot (and do not want to) punish someone for having some of these policies (e.g., if you believe that it is never correct to bus as scum, or don't want to fake a guilty, we can't make you). In these cases, you simply cannot discuss behaviors like this in discussion of your own meta. If someone else brings up something that may qualify as a trust tell for you, you can say that you've never done the behavior in question, but you cannot say that you have a policy of never doing it. This is not a perfect solution, but we don't believe that a perfect solution exists.

  2. Exploiting or attempting to gain an in-game advantage using game/site rules.

    It may not be obvious why this is problematic, or why it is a form of OGI. One way to see why it is OGI is that enforcement of rules is a separate function from gameplay, and arguing about rule enforcement in a forum that is meant for gameplay (a game thread) can have a weight or authority behind it that can easily be entangled with regular gameplay arguments. This kind of OGI can come in different forms, including:

    1. Pretending to break a rule.

      When someone pretends to break a rule in a game and there is no action taken subsequently because they did not actually break a rule, other players may speculate in-game whether the lack of action was game-relevant - and indeed, the original user is often intending for the lack of action to appear game-relevant. Players might believe that a game moderator is less likely to take action on particular rule violations when the offender is one alignment versus another. In some cases, the user pretending to break a rule may impact game integrity by doing so. For example, a player who pretends to take an action that would get them modkilled, who is then not modkilled, could argue that the game moderator did not want to modkill their slot because of their alignment or role.

      This is why we treat pretending to break a rule as if the rule had been broken.

    2. Using or attempting to find loopholes in game/site rules that are technically within the rules but break the spirit of the rules.

      The rules that are in place are there to preserve game integrity as much as possible and provide an even playing field for all players. If someone finds a loophole in one of the rules that is still technically allowed but breaks the spirit of the rule, that can impact game integrity and provide an unfair advantage. Breaking the spirit of the rules is still breaking the rules, and will be treated as if the rule was broken even if it wasn't "technically" broken.

    3. Using or threatening to use a site/game rule to prove something is true (or false).

      This includes taking or threatening to take any action that would get your slot modkilled or force replaced; or any other rule-breaking action taken or threatened with the aim of "confirming" yourself or your in-game statements. For example: threatening to post your role PM unless other players do what you say; posting your role PM so that you will get modkilled, removing your alignment-related motivations and therefore compelling other players to trust what you say before the modkill occurs; and threatening to post your role PM to create similar conditions in which other players would be compelled to trust you because you are willing to take an action that would lead to being modkilled.

    4. Publicly accusing other players of breaking rules.

      Whenever someone publicly says that another player has broken a rule, there can be implications on that player's alignment based on which alignment would benefit from the rule being enforced. This is especially true in borderline cases, where for example if someone pushes for a modkill on a slot that borderline broke a rule, and that slot later flips scum, it can lead to a reason to read the accuser as town for an out-of-game reason (because rule enforcement is separate from gameplay). Other examples include accusing other players of not playing to win condition and accusing other players of exploiting rules themselves.

      If you believe another player in a game you're playing has broken a rule, you should contact the game moderator (if the rule broken is a game rule) and/or report the post (if the rule being broken is a site rule).

  3. Exploiting or attempting to gain an in-game advantage by exploiting forum software.

    Similar to exploiting game/site rules, forum software is not meant to be used as an in-game tactic. Using any aspect of the forum software to attempt to prove or confirm yourself or your statements can also hold more weight than regular gameplay arguments and harm game integrity. This includes tactics such as: setting your online status to show your most recent login and not logging in for the entirety of the night phase to "prove" that you did not submit any night actions; registering with a username with non-alphanumeric characters and using this to "prove" that you could not be mafia because you would not be able to be added to a mafia PT; etc. You are allowed to make statements about when you or other players were or were not online, as long as you do not attempt to use the forum software to prove it.

  4. Having information that not all players have access to and is not required to be provided to you by the setup.

    If you have information related to the game you're playing that is not publicly available and was not required to be provided to you by the setup, you must tell the moderator and request replacement. It doesn't matter if you don't think the information is important or useful - any degree of asymmetric information about a game that comes from outside the game can give an advantage. If you notice something that was posted publicly about a setup in a place such as the signup thread, a thread about the setup, or even a thread in general discussion, that's fine. However, you must divulge information relating to the setup of a game that you're playing that comes from private conversations with the moderator or setup designers or reviewers or anyone else with inside information, posts in public places that have since been edited or removed, places that all players might not have access to (such as the Discord server or the Speakeasy), private topics not related to the game in question, or any other source that would not be equally accessible to all players in the game.

    This applies equally to moderators: you may not talk about your setup in a place where some but not all players can see (except when doing so is a part of the setup or a game mechanic). If you do talk about your setup with players, you must ensure that any information you divulge is made public.

  5. Discussion within a game about future behavior on the site.

    There is a wide range of behavior that might be classified as OGI in this area around threats, bets, bribes, and promises, and as such, ultimately many cases will be judgment calls because we can't possibly anticipate every case. The line that we have decided to draw for when this behavior is unacceptable is one that we use in many other cases: whether or not it breaks game integrity. When we say that game integrity is broken, we typically mean that an advantage has been gained or information has been provided with veracity beyond what the rules of the game should generally allow. Here are a few examples:

      "Please don't play with me again after this game is over."
      "I feel like we're working well together, we should hydra at some point."
    These messages are acceptable, because they do not tangibly break game integrity, even though they discuss future events. We still recommend against making statements such as these inside games, because it is very easy to accidentally stray over the line.

      "If you don't accept Z, then I don't think I'm willing to play with you again."
      "If you're on board with me about Z, then I feel like we're really working well together. Maybe we could hydra at some point."
    These messages are not acceptable. Some examples of things that Z could be are "me being town", or "my read that player X is scum" - anything that has an implication about in-game behavior, particularly as a threat or promise. There are two ways in which these behaviors can break game integrity. First, they can create an unfair pressure on the player being talked to to agree with Z, because there are implied out-of-game consequences to agreeing or disagreeing with Z. Second, they can create unfair veracity for the claim being made, particularly in the case where Z is something like "me being town". If a player is willing to imply that their out-of-game behavior would change in response to another player's read on them or someone else, it can make it unfairly hard to doubt that that player is telling the truth. This is because there is a tangible difference between lying about in-game behavior, and lying about out-of-game behavior.

    This also includes bets, bribes, and promises that involve out-of-game consequences or rewards. For example:
      "I'll delete my account if I'm wrong."
      "If I'm wrong about X, you can pick my avatar for the next month."
      "If you vote with me, I'll buy you pizza."
    Again, these kinds of out-of-game consequences/rewards can create an unfair element of veracity to the in-game statements being made, making it unfairly hard to doubt that the player is telling the truth because they are promising tangible outcomes.

    Because it bears repeating, even the first examples that we will not moderate in isolation can easily stray into game-impacting territory. If, for instance, it is clear from context that those statements are tied to another player's current or future behavior in the game, rather than something like play styles that clash or mesh well together, they could still threaten game integrity. These statements are best left for after the game.
Last edited by lilith2013 on Mon Feb 21, 2022 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Updated language in #4 for clarity


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