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Staff Responsibility/Accountability
Topic Started: May 30 2017, 02:31 PM (3,007 Views)
MurderWeasel
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Hey, staff. It is with a heavy heart that I come to the long-forgotten Support/Suggestions board today, but a matter has been brought to my attention that I feel requires immediate and public acknowledgment and redress.

A member came to me today to ask advice on a situation regarding inactivity. The specifics of the case aren't particularly consequential, but what stirred me to action was when, near the end of our conversation, the member mentioned that their appeal had actually been granted by SOTF Help, they had posted, and then hours later they were informed that their appeal had been granted erroneously and was thus being revoked.

I think it goes without saying that such a turn of events is completely unacceptable from any sort of fairness-based or member-first perspective.

While I am given to understand that the initial appeal was granted by a single staffer acting without authorization or approval of the team, that does not change the fact that an appeal was granted through SOTF Help and that the member posted in accordance with said appeal, constituting a return to activity, prior to the PM rescinding the appeal.

If a mistake was made on the part of a staffer acting unilaterally, that is very much a problem worthy of internal discussion and possibly of some form of appropriate action or reform, but that is an internal situation that should be handled by staff. What is totally unacceptable is for a member operating in accordance with rules and official staff communications to be punished for an internal staff error. The unauthorized granting of the initial appeal was the fault of the staffer who granted it, not the handler who received it. The failure to follow protocol was on the part of the staff team. If a handler is making a request or communication through an unauthorized channel, staff needs to handle that appropriately, shutting it down or redirecting as need be. I've been in that spot, again and again. I know it can be tough to say "My personal opinion is X, but that has no binding until discussed by the whole staff," but that is the only correct action. Once a staffer knowingly uses their authority to grant an appeal, they are wielding the weight of the team, and while this can be repaired (and has been at many points in the past), that repair work must be done with a keen eye towards treating affected members with all possible fairness and leniency.

I was on staff for a long, long time. I remember vividly the difficult and tense situations we've dealt with, and I know that an erroneous ruling can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. At the same time, staff has always prided itself upon fairness and has always accepted the repercussions of its mistakes. No single staffer is perfect, and the collective certainly is not either. Mistakes happen. But part of making mistakes is dealing with them fairly and professionally, and rescinding an appeal—one that had been granted by SOTF Help and acted upon in a timely fashion—due to errors made by staffers and utterly outside the control of the affected handler, is neither professional nor fair.

A key part of staff work has always been weighing costs and rewards. In this case, I see very little reward that could possible be worth the cost to staff's reputation of undoing a ruling to the expense of a handler. I have been, by and large, very proud of the operation of staff since my departure. I consider you all friends and I trust you to do what you think is best. But this is not best. This is a massive staff error, and one that demands immediate corrective action and acknowledgment of the mistake.

If staff going off half-cocked is a problem (and I know it historically has been) then that should be dealt with internally. If that means establishing procedures to prevent similar occurrences (or enforcing existing procedures more carefully), barring certain staffers from handling certain decisions or using certain features (say, SOTF Help) without oversight, or (in the worst case scenario) placing staffers on probation or removing them from the team, then so be it. But a staff mistake should not result in punishment for a handler. A granted appeal must be a granted appeal, unless for some reason something comes to light to suggest that the handler knowingly supplied inaccurate information. Anything else undermines the system we've spent so long honing, and that cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

In the interests of full disclosure, and with permission of the handler involved, the PMs that provoked my ire with dates and times included may be found here. I understand that there have been further communications, but that really falls outside my sphere of concern; I'm only getting involved in this due to what I see as a tremendous mistake on the part of the staff team, one which causes me serious concern for the site's well-being.
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TwelveFourtyFive
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Staff has a board to decide things. Why would they single-handedly just 'ok' stuff?
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MurderWeasel
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birthday kid
May 30 2017, 03:46 PM
Staff has a board to decide things. Why would they single-handedly just 'ok' stuff?
It's caused a lot of trouble historically (and was something I talked a lot about prior to stepping down), and I certainly can't speak for anyone involved. In the three occurrences in V6 Pregame of unilateral staff action, the staffer(s) who acted erroneously was/were talked to about it and the most lenient option among those proposed/enacted was the one allowed to stand. This has also been the precedent in prior versions and a change from that represents a notable departure from established handling of such situations.
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Ciel
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I'm going to throw my two cents in here.

As you might have gathered from the logs Toben posted, staff marked my character Scout Pfeiffer as inactive. A pm was sent through SOTF_Help as I was in the middle of writing a post. I was distraught about the situation, and I sent the response without really thinking. The response was short and panicked. If I were given the chance to do it again, I would have chosen my words better, but I can't change what's in the past.

However, regardless of the circumstances or the wording, there is no requirement for what your appeal should say. It just says that you have to respond in three days, or seventy-two hours. So by the written rules of the site, my appeal is considered an 'official' appeal. So I do not understand why staff is making the distinction between my appeal and an 'official appeal'.

I also do not know what lead to the decision of accepting my appeal. I certainly have no clue how many members were involved in the decision. But the fact that staff feels they are allowed to just up and decide to repeal a decision made through SOTF_Help, the mediary that represents staff as a whole, is just plain wrong.

My big thing about this is that staff has taken the stance that the decision was made without any 'staff deliberation', effectively distancing themselves from any responsibility in the mistake. Before proceeding to lump the blame onto me by bringing up the fact that I approached a staff member asking them to check Help and insinuating that I was putting 'pressure' on them. That claim is laughable, frankly. It's been my habit to poke a staff member whenever I send help a message. I've been doing it since V4 and not once have I been reprimanded for it. In fact, staff has gone out of its way to make an announcement denouncing inappropriate conduct with staff, and yet they make the point of mentioning 'it's fine to approach us to ask us to check the SOTF_Help mailbox'.

And yet I am being punished for following the rules and expectations of the board? It's my fault that staff made a mistake?

Now you could make the argument that my opinion should not matter, not only because I am not staff but because this deals directly with one of my characters and that is a pretty biased position to be in. I can understand that line of logic. However, even if I had no part in this, if I were instead a third party who was just learning about this, I know my opinion would be the same. This sets an unfair and quite frankly scummy precedent. I do not think staff realizes the severity of this situation.
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Ruggahissy
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I think the staff is within their rights to correct an error. The notice was given in error, staff cops to it, and says that Ciel can appeal now that staff is on the same page about how to handle it, that being as a group.
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MurderWeasel
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Ruggahissy
May 30 2017, 05:49 PM
I think the staff is within their rights to correct an error. The notice was given in error, staff cops to it, and says that Ciel can appeal now that staff is on the same page about to handle it, that being as a group.
I think it is incorrect and unjust for a handler to be punished due to what you are saying is an acknowledged staff error. If the error is staff's, then so must be the fallout.
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Ruggahissy
May 30 2017, 05:49 PM
I think the staff is within their rights to correct an error. The notice was given in error, staff cops to it, and says that Ciel can appeal now that staff is on the same page about to handle it, that being as a group.
I would concede to your point if we were talking about a known staffer or subset of staffers making the call on their own. But this was funneled through SOTF_Help, an account that was made as an anonymous middleman between staff and the regular members.

I don't know how many people were involved in this decision and I really don't care. Names and numbers do not matter in this case. Isn't the entire point of having SOTF_Help is to avoid this sort of thing?
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TwelveFourtyFive
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Well, we can all agree that this situation is stupid and we should fix this kind of problem for v7.
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MurderWeasel
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I don't think it needs to take until V7 for this to be fixed. In fact, the system as established has prevented such problems for at least six years.

I'm giving this a poke because of a few reasons. First off, I have yet to receive an official response of any sort to my concerns, as expressed either in this thread or through PM (I've received several polite and professional unofficial ones, but this is something that really does require an official response). I understand that these things can take time to discuss and deal with, but I strongly believe such things must take precedence over plowing ahead in ways that serve to compromise the potential for fair decision-making. This leads to the second factor in my renewed discussion of the matter: the posting of rolls using a list excluding the character in question. I contacted two staffers within ten minutes of the rolling list being updated to strongly suggest that any characters in contention remain on the list in the short term. This has been policy for a very long time because it prevents some pretty unfair situations, and I'm disappointed that such preventative measures were not taken, especially since doing so in no way compels staff to change their minds, merely leaves a window open for it to be less of a problem should they choose to do so. The roll system is key to SOTF's functioning, and its integrity really needs to be beyond question.

In this case, if a character is excluded from the list but later restored to good standing, a huge procedural problem emerges. It's unfair to every other handler in the game to wave a restored character through even a single set of rolls, especially so late in the game; getting a free pass represents a huge advantage. It's unfair to the targeted handler to roll ahead in such a way as to put them into this situation, especially if in so doing staff makes it harder to hold a discussion on the situation. Likely the fairest option should an appeal be granted afterwards would be to hold a special set of rolls based on the probability the character in question would have been rolled had they been included in the first place, followed by a separate set of card and death timers as needed should it unfold that they are rolled. Needless to say, this is inelegant and messy in the extreme.

I bring this up primarily because it represents what I feel has been staff's inexplicable and damaging philosophy throughout this issue: a full-speed charge ahead followed by a bullheaded defense of the actions taken sans acknowledgement that they might have been incorrect.

This has manifested further in my private, unofficial communications with staff. I was repeatedly led to believe that a factor in the rescinding of the appeal was that the initial action had been in some fashion coerced or guilt-tripped. I came to suspect, however, that the bulk of staff was not actually particularly aware of the incident prompting this, since my discussions on the matter with various parties produced markedly different summaries of what transpired. This led to the following exchange (also featuring my suggestion about the rolling list--in the interests of full disclosure, the staffer in question stated they were not involved in the rolls, leading me to seek out a second staffer who informed me that it was too late to make any adjustments, and I have no complaints whatsoever with the staffer in question or any aspect of our communications--indeed I greatly valued a chance to bounce ideas and thoughts off a member of the team). I'm the one doing the majority of the talking in this excerpt:

Posted Image

So I went and got the logs myself. Here they are (with the staffer in question masked for anonymity):

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Note that the only direct request made in the conversation is to check Help's PMs. The staffer in question politely and professionally suggests calm, notes that they are going to talk to other staff, and makes no promises of either resolution or timeframe of response. This is, bluntly, a pretty perfect reply to the situation... except that the staffer in question apparently then made the decision without actually consulting all of staff.

Everything in this exchange suggests that all avenues being pursued are the official ones. There are no untoward requests whatsoever. Indeed, the recent post detailing manners of staff contact agrees:

Emphasis Mine
 
Attention handlers,

Recently we've had a series of instances where handlers have approached individual staffers in regards to appeals, matters of dispute, and other sensitive discussions. We would like to take this moment to direct people towards messaging the SOTF_Help account instead.

Approaching individual staffers for matters that require input from the entire staff team is awkward for the staffer in question, as it puts them on the spot and comes across as pressing them for a speedy answer. It can also cause issues where personal relationships are involved, as whilst we wish to have pleasant interactions with handlers on the site, we also have responsibility to maintain fairness and keep the rules enforced, which can naturally lead to some disappointment. Utilising the impersonal channel of SOTF_Help allows us to avoid awkward conversations between staffers and handlers, and keeps relationships out of the decision-making process.

Please keep this in mind when considering approaching a staffer for matters. Whilst things like questions and requests for information are fine in most instances, sensitive matters or appeals should go through SOTF_Help. It is fine to approach one of us to ask us to check the SOTF_Help mailbox, but please leave it at that.

Thanks and kind regards,
The SOTF Staff team


At no point in the logs is any request made other than to check Help's PM box.

So, having secured these logs and permission from the handler involved to see to it that staff received them, I PMed them to staff with the following note:

Me to staff
 
Heya, staff!

In the interests of full disclosure, I did get hold of the logs of Ciel's initial contact with staff. I think it will pretty well verify that he did not request specific treatment or intervention, was led to believe that his decision was the result of staff team consideration, and at no stage behaved inappropriately. I was pretty disappointed to receive these, honestly, because I'd been hoping there was a lot more going on that I was unaware of.


I received the following reply signed by a single staffer:

Posted Image

I replied as follows:
Pronouns Changed for Anonymity
 
That requires a willful misreading. He approached [them] to check and bring the matter to staff attention. [They] notified her (should be "him"--what can I say? It was late) that [they] had done so. He thanked [them] for [their] assistance. Individual staffers are thanked for collective actions often.

More than that, what's material here is that there is no inappropriate behavior on his part. I was told there was some pretty major emotional manipulation. That appears to not be the case.


So we are back to square one, and my complaint and request for reply stands. A handler followed every rule, was specifically told that their appeal came as a result of staff consultation, and then had it rescinded after posting.

For all intents and purposes, staff did this:

Posted Image

I really do think this needs to be addressed and discussed as a matter of serious concern and site health. Mistakes are natural. To grant a mediocre or poor appeal is a minor mistake. To do so without staff discussion is a moderate to severe one. But to then retroactively move the goalposts and steam ahead without proper discussion is the single biggest non-member-safety-related mistake I've seen in my time on the site. Endless V3 Endgame delays coupled with unfulfilled promises? This is worse. That affected everyone evenly and staff by and large owned and apologized for their mistake and did their best to see things handled as fairly as possible given the circumstances. Hero Deal enforcement? This is worse. That was a horrible rule that undermined the very spirit of Hero Cards, but it was one applied evenly and in which there was at least a clear good faith rationale behind it, however misguided. To selectively call backsies on an issue affecting a single handler, one in which the stakes are so lopsided, shows that staff are willing to make exceptions to over a decade of policy and written rule in favor of punishing one member for unclear reasons.
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MurderWeasel
Jun 2 2017, 12:53 AM
Posted Image
... What the hell does this even mean?

I was just saying thank you. Because I was relieved to still have my character and I assumed the person I contacted was the one who broached the subject to the rest of staff. That's all.

I was fucking upset. I was frantic and scared. I thought staff would gather that from my original appeal and these logs. I thought they would understand because I have directly told them as such.

Is giving thanks and apologizing for one's behavior normally congruous with shady dealings? It must be. I don't even want to consider the alternative; that staff thinks so little of me that they could dismiss a former administrator's claim like this, and through Help of all places.

I don't know how to feel about any of this. :(
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Ciel
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Now that I have given this time to stew I have decided how to feel about this.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how staff operates or how it chooses to make decisions. That is their prerogative. So how they choose to behave out of view of the rest of the board is also their choice.

But bias and closed-mindedness should have no effect on how the game works. Because at the end of the day, we are trusting staff. We, the regular members, are told to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. We aren't told how staff make decisions, we just know that the decision is made. So all we can do is trust that they do so in a timely manner and that they handle it in a professional manner.

So when staff makes a mistake? If they make a wrong judgement call or jump the gun? It is staff's fault. Not the regular member.

I shouldn't have to explain myself. I could go on and on about the circumstances that have lead to my inactivity, grounds for an appeal that I feel are more than sufficient to successfully appeal the terminal activity notice.

The burden falls squarely on staff. THEY should have to explain the real reason why they revoked my successful appeal. They have been giving both me and Toben wishy-washy answers that are either purposefully vague, do not hold up under scrutiny or both. I still have absolutely no idea why staff have not budge on their decision, and if anyone deserves an explanation, it should be the person that has been impacted my said decision.

Here is what happened:

1. Soft_Help sent me the inactive notice at 8:41 AM.
2. I sent my appeal at 8:51 AM.
3. I pop into a skype chat group at 8:52 AM asking if any staff members around.
3. I approach a staff member on skype at 8:54 AM asking to check Sotf_Help.
4. The staff member responded at 8:57 AM.
5. Sotf_Help sent me the approval of my appeal at 9:07 AM.
6. I posted at 9:25 AM.

In any other circumstance under the sun, this would be it. An open and shut case. The appeal went through and I posted soon after. According to the rules of the site my character is considered active. The opposite of inactive.

But apparently I am wrong. My character is still considered terminally inactive for reasons that have yet to be fully explained. Something tells me it is never going to be explained.

Again, I really do not care how many people were involved in granting my appeal, and I don't care about whether it is put through the right channels or not. Because it does not matter. It happened. I didn't manipulate anyone, I didn't hold a gun to anyone's head, I did everything that I was supposed to do. If the staff member I spoke to told me to wait (and they sure as hell did) I would have done just that.

I would actually more understanding if they revoked the appeal right after I posted. It would not make the revoking right, sure, but people make mistakes. I'd be bitter about it, sure. It isn't unreasonable to feel bitter about something like this. But I would deal with it. Why would I ever get petty over a stupid game? Life goes on.

It took staff nearly seven hours though. Seven hours to correct a mistake they knew full well that they had made. A mistake that I played no part in.

Staff has yet to post an official response on the matter. And I am afraid that is not going to change.

So yeah. To say that I'm feeling indignant would be putting it mildly.
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Rattlesnake
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Alright, I'm going to throw my hat in the ring here. Be aware that this is MY response. I have run this past other staffers to ensure that my intent comes across properly and to get permission to quote Help, but this isn't a pr-filtered committee response and all the words here are my own. If you're looking for a messenger to shoot, aim here.

The first important thing to agree on, or at least to know, is that the inactivity appeal would have been denied on its own merits. I don't think this is a particularly controversial assessment since it's pretty elementary to what's going on here, but I thought it was worth repeating since it is so important. Simply put, there were no extenuating circumstances for going over 336 hours and that fact is going to be taken as a given from here.

In light of that, I'm really not keen on the characterization of this as a punishment for someone else's mistake. If the mistake had not been made, the appeal would have been denied. The only punishment being handed out is the one for inactivity, and the real question being raised is whether the miscommunication warrants a courtesy rescinding of that punishment.

For the record, the text of the reply to the first request for time is as follows:

Quote:
 
In light of the fact that you were in the process of posting when this notice was sent, staff has agreed to rescind your terminal activity warning. Please note that this does not guarantee that you will not be notified of terminal inactivity at a later date if necessary.

Thank you for your time and attention.

-The SOTF Staff

The two sticking points I'm seeing are that the SotF_Help account was used, and that it contains the phrase "staff has agreed." Both unfortunately obfuscate the nature of the response as an improper exercise of authority by a single staffer. A personal PM with no "we" in it, certainly, would be much more obviously illegitimate. So I'm agreeing that it does seem official, or at least not obviously unofficial.

Aside from the potential out left by the PM's author at the end, which I'm mostly mentioning in passing since it's mostly notable in retrospect as an example reinforcing an issue with the PM rather than an argument itself, it's important to note that this was sent sixteen minutes after receiving the request. Sixteen minutes is blazingly fast. Inactivity appeals, like all major rulings, require majority approval by staff, which means catching notice of a group spread out through different timezones with different schedules within those timezones. If you get a reply within sixteen minutes, I can just about guarantee you that it was not brought to attention, discussed, voted on, drafted, approved, and sent by an effort of the majority. Especially if it happened, as in this case, at a time when most of us were asleep. If you'd be satisfied with an immediate response then consider the seven hour turnaround as immediate because that's how long it took to get enough eyes on the situation to make a legitimate ruling.

I'm not saying that either or both should have been obvious red flags, but the wording and the timing are certainly mistake-shaped. Really, it was pretty shady as far as official PMs go, which makes sense seeing as it technically wasn't one.

Which leads me to the main point: the correspondence sent through Help does not constitute an official ruling on anything because, as I mentioned, that sort of thing requires a majority to approve or deny. I've avoided calling the first communication an appeal proper to avoid the implication that the hastily-written one-line request was the one shot we allowed and then denial might have something to do with its brevity, but from the point of view of staff granting or denying that request held the same weight and required the same process because the fate of a character was at stake either way. Even if it's blindingly obvious what should be done in a situation with these stakes, we still need enough 'aye's or 'nay's to go forward. How we operate behind closed doors is important to us, even if much of it never shows on the surface. Granting legitimacy to the initial communication would be an arbitrary betrayal of the structure in place to ensure overall fairness. If we get to pick and choose when our own rules apply to us, we may as well not have them.

So, there's still the question of what will happen going forward. Bluntly, it's very unlikely that the final ruling on the appeal will be overturned. The intention here is to follow the rules as written in regards to inactivity. We do recognize that a serious error in communication occurred, and that it's caused some grief. But the current staff team has voted that disregarding the rules in a major ruling like this is not an appropriate courtesy to extend. At the end of the day, we're looking to recognize the hiccup in communication, ensure that it doesn't happen again, and treat the terminal inactivity as terminal inactivity. To boil it all down to a metaphor, the bank made an error in your favor, but you don't get to keep the money.
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Zetsumodernista
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Has Ciel sent in something to the effect of a second appeal?

I don't have a strong stake in this, and I also lack very strong opinions on this subject, but here are my two cents:

(Toben and Ciel, forgive me for putting words in your mouth).

I think the crux of Toben's and Ciel's argument in favor of keeping the appeal are, roughly:

1. Regular handlers can't see the stuff that goes into staff decisions when that stuff takes place behind closed doors (as they should).
2. Because of this, there must be implicit trust among the handlers that there won't be any abuse and unfairness from staff.
3. For such trust to exist, staff must be absolutely forbidden from engaging in any behaviors that give staff an opportunity to do abusive/unfair things, regardless of whether staff engages in those behaviors for abusive/unfair ends.
4. This event constitutes such a behavior. There was no intent of abuse/unfairness in this situation: the appeal was granted erroneously, then rescinded for more or less legitimate, understandable reasons. However, the fact that staff can rescind appeals means that they more or less have the power to arbitrarily rescind appeals at any time. The fact that this particular rescinding was justified is immaterial; the system has been changed in such a way so as to make it susceptible to abuse/unfairness.
5. Also, Ciel is being punished for staff's mistake, which is blatantly unfair.

(Apologies also to Rattle for putting words in his mouth).

Rattle's argument, insofar as it engages with Toben's, is:

1. It is and ought to be clear to the common handler that, in this particular case, this appeal was granted erroneously. Erroneously granted appeals ought to be rescinded unless doing so has larger (bad) implications.
2. Because the erroneous nature of the appeal is apparent to the average handler in such a way that staff doesn't have to voluntarily disclose anything to explain why the appeal was granted erroneously (that phrase looks disgusting but whatev), staff can rescind the appeal without making the system susceptible to abuse/unfairness. Basically, we know why this rescinding is justified, even without staff explaining their reasoning. This means that staff still can't arbitrarily rescind appeals and pretend they're 'justified'. There is no moving of goalposts, no possibility of rescinding an appeal that was correctly granted, because staff is only capable of rescinding appeals in the particular case that it was a) granted erroneously, and b) clear to the general public that it was granted erroneously, regardless of how much info staff chooses to disclose.
3. If the appeal is not rescinded, this means that individual staffers from now on will have the power to arbitrarily and unilaterally grant appeals without staff discussion, and the remainder of staff won't be able to do anything about it. This is abusive and unfair in its own way.
4. Ciel is being punished for inactivity, not for staff messing up on granting the appeal.

I'm siding (weakly) with staff on this one. I think Toben's (and Ciel's, though I found his stuff harder to parse largely because he has an obvious stake in this matter and this kinda colors his stuff) concerns have been accounted for. That said, I'm of the opinion that this argument shouldn't be considered resolved until either Toben agrees that his concerns have been accounted for, or staff has agreed to grant the appeal again. Ciel as well, to an extent.
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MurderWeasel
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My thoughts:

First off, while sixteen minutes is quick, it is absolutely not unheard of. The inactivity system also works a little bit differently than most parts of staff work, unless something has changed since my time on staff without notification. It used to be that activity enforcement was delegated to certain staffers, and appeals were often handled by that small subcommittee, or required a simple majority (as in, waiting for everyone to be online/weigh in was not required, given that a notable chunk of staff never checked or responded to the list). At several points in V4, appeals were granted within minutes, and that was before the advent of staff Skype and Discord groups, which streamline communication immensely. There has never been any particular formula for drafting positive responses to appeals unless the appeal in question was a prickly issue, since it's not something that requires much PR oversight.

More than that, much of this requires pretty intimate knowledge of the staff team's inner workings. When it's staffers and ex-staffers chatting, that's fine. When it affects members, however, it is not.

You state that the PM was unofficial. I disagree. It was unauthorized, but it was sent from an official account in compliance with the official rules.

On that note, activity enforcement has always been a bit of a grey area. I don't particularly think that a dredging of all the little foibles and exceptions is necessary, but as the person who handled it most directly for the duration of V4 and V5 and who wrote the rules being cited, I think I have a pretty good understanding of them. Among other things, if we really want to get into closed-doors policy, the initial notification was a violation of the twenty-four-hours buffer period designed to account for timezone differences and specifically to neutralize complaints about being warned mid-post... a protocol placed in V4 after the granting of an appeal basically just like this one, and one which I believe I reminded staff about following the sending of an inaccurate terminal notification near the beginning of V6.

Failing to grant legitimacy to the communication is the arbitrary betrayal here, and not merely of procedure (which to any handler view was followed) but of site trust in the handling of such matters. Because, let me be clear, the rules as written have not been followed. The rules are that you reply to the PM to appeal, then staff replies to let you know how it shakes out. There is no rule involving rescinding an appeal. This is because it has never happened, in the history of the site.

If staff screwed up, it is on staff to eat that and fix the issue. It has always been.

I think a more apt metaphor here might be double jeopardy. If the jury lets you off, you can't be dragged back in just because they find more evidence later that you did it.





To Zetsu: Not exactly. My argument is this:

If an appeal is granted, it is granted. This is especially the case when the handler did everything correctly. There is nothing in the rules about rescinding appeals because it is so alien a concept nobody ever thought it might happen. There is no justification for rescinding an appeal short of handler deception. If the appeal itself was invalid, yeah, yank it. If it was merely mediocre, tough beans.

Every mistake in this process besides waiting too long to post rests on the shoulders of staff as a unit or a subsection of staff in particular. And a fair administration does not punish others for its mistakes.

More than that, in all cases it is admitted that a handler would have no way to know how the inner workings of the system play out. CHanging the rules and pulling the rug out from under someone is unacceptable.

To pull a recent example I became aware of not too long ago, now that all involved are dead:

In V6, an illegitimate Hero Card was played. By the adoption rules, a character may not be Heroed until three rolls have passed. In this case, since the characters in question had only been offered after the first rolls, that means there's no way three rolls could have passed post-adoption but pre-fourth rolls.

Now, this is clearly not on any of the handlers involved--the rule in question, IIRC, never needed invoking during V5 and was somewhat obscure (though it is actually what prevented Kaitlyn from being eligible to be saved by Swap the next time she was rolled). It's mostly on staff for forgetting to vet cards, but it's an understandable and fairly minor mistake. The question, however, becomes what should've been done were it caught before all involved were dead.

Were it caught during card time, the fix could be a pretty easy "Sorry, can't Hero yet." Were it caught after card time ended but before anyone died, things would get pricklier. Would staff revoke the Card (causing disruptions to deaths in planning)? If so, would they give an opportunity for someone else to Hero Kaitlyn? After all, the first Hero likely moved her off the lists of everyone else considering Heroing. What if a later handler who Heroed someone else would've instead saved Kaitlyn? It's a huge can of worms.

Now imagine the issue were discovered only after Oskar's death. What's the course of action then? How might rescinding the card work? Would Oskar come back to life? Would both characters have to die (making Oskar's death unrolled)? Would someone else get a chance to Hero instead?

I bring this up mostly to make the point that, once an error is introduced and a handler moves on with the understanding that everything has been dealt with, changing course is messy, complicated, and feels bad. The issue currently in question happens to be one where the damage is fairly limited in scope... but the inciting error, I feel, is much less understandable and ambiguous than the error regarding card usage. And yet, I struggle to imagine that staff's stance on the former would be anything other than lenience, assuming it was caught after the fact (much as this error was caught only after a post had been made, bringing the character back to active status).
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Among other things, if we really want to get into closed-doors policy, the initial notification was a violation of the twenty-four-hours buffer period designed to account for timezone differences and specifically to neutralize complaints about being warned mid-post... a protocol placed in V4 after the granting of an appeal basically just like this one, and one which I believe I reminded staff about following the sending of an inaccurate terminal notification near the beginning of V6.


This is the main thing, for me. If the original notification was sent erroneously (gah, that doesn't even look like a word anymore), then the appeal should be granted, no questions asked. Staff has to comply with appeals in cases where the original inactivity warning was mistakenly sent.
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