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A couple thoughts:

Why is a character who has not posted for a month without an away allowed to have a proper death thread written by their handler, but Jeff and Aura have a death post handled by SOTF_Help mid through a discussion? Staff has the right to declare inactive characters dead, but at least let the death be handled by their handlers when they're active. Equality, guys. A month is the double of 2 weeks.

There's actually a really specific reason for this, and I don't think it's an incorrect choice on staff's part (bar the "midway through a discussion" bit). The short of it is, killing characters off takes a lot of staff time and effort and is usually a last resort. If a character is rolled but the death is taking forever, staff is faced with a choice. If they intervene, they either have to do the scene in progress on the handler's part (which produces roughly the same results as letting it go, but potentially actually slower as staff has to catch up, and likely at lower quality as staff isn't as familiar with the character) or do something totally different (burning those currently involved with the death, and also being kinda slow and not as great). If they don't intervene, that stuff is avoided.

Meanwhile, if a character is inactive, it's pretty important that staff write the death, just because of what inactivity means. If staff allow handlers to write inactive deaths, it raises a really big question: why are the characters dying to begin with? If someone can be trusted to get a death together, that's effectively a second chance. At that point, just let them keep writing the character! Otherwise, it looks like the purpose of the inactivity system is narrowing the field, which it really isn't (at least, in my experience).

I don't think that the thread in question is meant as an insult. I think it's a pretty standard inactive situation absent the external circumstances around it, and there's a lot of complicated stuff that goes into writing such threads. It's not mid-bathroom-break-collarsplosion here. Stepping into an unoriginal character's story just to end it is really tough, will almost never feel totally satisfying or line up with a character's story well, and just kinda sucks all around, and I think by and large staff do the best they can.

re: communicating with staff, I also had mixed feelings about the "new" rule, but mostly just because it confused me. Heck, it still confuses me, since as I mentioned a while ago it doesn't actually seem to apply to the situation in this thread. I do think that in most cases a simple "Thanks for raising this concern, I'll have to bring it up with staff and get back to you," suffices. There's even room for a "Here's my personal opinion, but this is very much not up to me and needs to go through staff as a collective." I think everyone agrees that nobody should be pressuring staffers one on one and that decisions should involve the whole staff if necessary, but I'd also put forward that staff made it this far dealing with all kinds of stuff without routing people through Help, just via solid in-staff procedures. The weird thing to me about the rule is that it's basically no major change to how stuff has always been handled, except removing a bit of staff responsibility to be able to deflect.

If both side of the issue have broken the rules, however (which I would disagree with, since on a purely technical basis, only Ciel broke a rule (sorry Ciel)) and the consequences of both are inconsistent, then the only option left is inconsistency. If there were a rule in place to deal with conflicting rules, then there wouldn't be inconsistency, but there isn't, so whichever option offers the least inconsistency, it seems, would then be the best option. Murder and Riki have said that what Staff says through SOTF_Help should be considered true for fairness for the handlers on the receiving end, even it it's because of an individual member going rogue, but while that might be a good policy and perhaps a good rule, it isn't official. Since it isn't official, even though it perhaps should be, the only inconsistency is perhaps the lack of leniency. I'll get back to this later.

I would disagree here, even in technicality. The rule in question is:

Inactivity PM
If you wish to appeal this inactivity, please respond to this PM within three days (seventy-two hours) with your appeal. Failure to respond within the time limit will result in your appeal being denied, unless you are validly listed as Away and thus unable to respond.

I think arguing that Help isn't binding based on stuff outside handlers' knowledge is a very slippery slope. After all, if that's the case, how are we to trust this rule? And what does it mean for the vast majority of the site's rules, which are posted from individual staffers' (or former staffers') accounts? Is all of this stuff unofficial?

For Ciel's case, which might or might not be a moot point at this point, some people have said say that we can be lenient despite the importance of rules, as long as it's stated that this is a one-off thing because of the mistake made by the member of Staff or because that would be more conducive to the fun we're to have here. The counter-argument that has been made to the first point is that this is not a one-off thing and gives individual staff members too much power, whether or not they're punished afterwards, since this does set a precedent for any case in the future where a staff member makes a mistake - it's either that, or more inconsistency, which would also counter the second point, since that would impact the fun for other people in the future, among other things. In essence, if and on whatever grounds leniency is/would be granted here (since this has been thoroughly discussed and will be brought up in later cases), whatever is granted has to become a new rule.

This same counter-argument above has been used against the idea that there should be a rule that everything that Staff says in official capacity should be true - having individual staff members make a decision that can't be changed can definitely be dangerous. I don't have to say why, I think. That fact that staff members are thoroughly vetted before joining mitigates this somewhat, but staff members are people, and people can make mistakes, as demonstrated here.

I sort of agree here, but the big thing is that there is an enforcement mechanism already in place for rogue staff decisions: internal discussions, procedures, and consequences, as necessary. As I've said before, that could range anywhere from "Please do not do this again," to "Okay, you need to check everything with at least three other staffers before posting and failure brings dire consequences," to "Sorry, you're off staff." It's all about magnitude and results. I think making everyone wait a day to see if staff means what they say is an unnecessary slowdown--that sort of thing should come before they say it! Especially since staff check-in has been something that's been harped on a good bit internally (I don't have the text anymore, but I had a couple rambles on this a few months before dropping from the team).

re: RC's point about who the staffer was, I actually disagree. I do think new staffers make mistakes, often. That's part of the learning curve! But the staff test at least historically has specifically poked at the difference between unilateral action and staff discussions, and while mistakes happen, it's still not fair that the handler be punished. I do think it's a good argument for internal staff stuff to amount to a slap on the wrist, though.

re: second appeal, I've avoided it because Ciel has expressed a desire to avoid digging into it. Also, while I personally disagree with rejecting it, I think that, had it been a first appeal, staff would've been 100% within their rights to do so, and I'd be in a spot where my stance would pretty much be, "Wow, that's pretty hard-line, but it's staff's right to say rules are rules." Staff can reject appeals for pretty much any reason barring their own screw-up. I don't think they should, but they can!

That said... there's a reason that staff screw-ups are the exception: it's unfair to punish handlers for staff error. We all know where this line of discussion goes.

re: exceptions: I dunno. I don't think rewriting the thread is the way to go as far as the issues at play go. If staff wanna do so, cool (there is precedent from V4 Endgame, though that offer was never taken up) but that's a whole other can of worms and a real complication, and as I've said I think the death thread isn't perfect but I think absent its interjection into the conversation it's pretty fair. I think any staff fiddling with it is outside the scope of my issues and if they do that's really them going above and beyond and being extremely extremely generous.

My conversation with Ciel that started this all was mostly him venting, and us actually disagreeing about the general workings of the activity situation. The initial appeal situation didn't come up until two hours in, and pretty much hard-turned me on the issue. That's my dog in this race. That's what I see as being a huge issue (coupled with the communications issues that have shaken out since). Aside from those two issues, I think staff has handled everything in a way that's harsh but does follow both the letter and a spirit of the rules (not taking a potshot with "a" as opposed to "the"--there has always been disagreement on the exact philosophies and purpose of the activity system).
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