I understand the desire for player privacy, but isn’t it impossible to administrate a community when you don’t have a verifiable record of what’s going on in that community? I can’t imagine running a MUSH without logs of what happens on the MUSH, of course I shouldn’t ever share them, or even read them without a good reason to, but without logs how can I ever know if policies have really been broken, or if anything illegal is going on on the server I own and am responsible for?
It’s true, Ares puts a high value on player privacy.
However, Ares has a robust set of reporting tools that enable players to report incidents occurring in scenes, chat, or pages/PMs. These reports generate a staff job and automatically include a verified log of the conversation. No more they-said/they-said finger wagging, as one might find on traditional MUs. These tools cover the most common form of policy violations that you might need to police out of private conversations.
I understand that some game-runners feel the need to proactively monitor for policy violations even when they have not been reported by anyone. We could have a philosophical discussion about that, but suffice it to say that Ares does not support this use case. If their only offense is saying something in a private scene/conversation, then the onus is on someone else (a party to the conversation) to report it.
There are no legal/responsibility issues here that I am aware of. A restaurant owner isn’t obliged to wiretap every table just to make sure that people aren’t hatching criminal conspiracies over brunch. In fact, they might be on perilous legal ground in some jurisdictions if they did so. Likewise, a game owner is under no obligation to sift through conversations just in case somebody is breaking a rule.
Also bear in mind that you can exercise your authority in other ways. If you get a credible report that Bob and Harry were RPing about drug use and your game has a prohibition against that, you can always demand they turn over their private logs for review (by adding a staffer to the scene). You have to weigh that against the potential that they’ll quit in protest feeling that you’re unreasonably invading their privacy, but at least they have the choice. That’s still better than snooping around private conversation logs without anyone’s knowledge, IMHO.
Setting Ares aside, all traffic to the server can be logged at the server (linux) level if you are so inclined.
We’re coming up on a year at GH, and there has never been a moment that I felt like being able to read unposted scenes or someone’s private conversations was problematic.
We’ve had problem players - some where warnings were issued, a few that were banned. But at no point were we “missing evidence” for want of logged commands. Players provided us chat transcripts using the built-in commands, and we were able to act from there.
Well, if the players can cause a verifiable log to be generated, that’s a lot better than nothing. I don’t actually feel the need to comb through logs without any good reason to be worried, but I do worry that I’ll be lacking the crucial information regarding an incident and have no recourse. Of course, anyone can tamper with their private logs before sending them to you, so I wouldn’t trust that. I also worry that some people may have a delayed reaction to what’s happening and not use the reporting tools at the right time, or not know exactly what to do with them when an incident arises. Good player education could help with that.
Of course, in the case of everything being logged, there’d be a big “Everything on this server is logged” warning during the account creation process, so it wouldn’t be without prior knowledge. I wouldn’t forego that, I’m not trying to trick people.
Not knowing what to do is a valid concern, because these tools are new to most folks. I suggest games highlight the tools in their policy files.
The timing shouldn’t be an issue, unless we’re talking weeks going by. Pages and unshared scenes are kept for several weeks by default, and channels have a generous recall buffer.
Glad the reporting tools are working out for you!
Similarly, I’ve been running MUSHes for almost thirty years () and I’ve never had the need to enable SUSPECT logging or server-side logging. There are a few cases where it might have been handy to go back and verify a reported offense, but the utility never outweighed the down-sides of recording everyone, at least for me.
I’m not passing value judgements on anyone who disagrees - I understand, and ultimately it’s you guys who are responsible for your games. Do what you feel is necessary. Core Ares just will never support those kind of monitoring features.
At the very least, I think this conversation has brought my fears down from “there’s no way I can do this” to “I’ll keep experimenting with it”, so a big thank you to you both.