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[Proposal] Evaluate and Reform the GM Ban Process

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Author
Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#1 - 2014-09-27 07:13:53 UTC
Before I begin, I'd like to address the GMs and CSM. I have the highest respect for the work you do and this post is not an attack on you. The post represents my honest opinions, free of metagaming, roleplay or trolling, to address what I see as a process issue for the community and for the GMs. I hope you will take it in the spirit intended and allow the thread to run its course.

To the community: I am well aware that the EULA/TOS gives CCP the right to ban any individual for any reason. I trust by the end of your reading you will see why this is not relevant to my post. I am quite happy to debate the post, but please refrain from using strawman arguments.

Background

The issue of bans has been highly visible lately. I do not wish to discuss any specific bans, nor am I campaigning on behalf of any individual or group. However I have observed a number of things about the process - such as is visible from the outside - which concern me as a fair-minded player, and this post constitutes a proposal to evaluate and reform the ban process itself.

I accept that the ban process is necessarily opaque. For any number of reasons, I can see why CCP would not wish to expose the inner workings or deliberations of their decision making process. As such, all we can do as a community is trust that CCP's internal ban process is fair, objective, proportional, evidence-driven and insulated from improper influence. Unfortunately, for the first time in over ten years of playing Eve, I have been given reason to doubt that this year.

As a manager IRL, I understand the importance of setting standards and evaluating people against those standards. I understand the need for a system of warnings before disciplinary action is taken; not because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do, especially in cases where there are no clear standards. Inconsistent and arbitrary discipline, the continual invention and revision of rules, ignorance of precedent, and nepotism/favouritism are extremely destructive to a working environment, and just as destructive to an online community. Should these traits creep into CCP's processes - and there is some worry that some may be - I am certain that CCP would share the community's concern.

Now you may argue that RL HRM has no bearing on spaceships, and accuse me of trying to space-lawyer. This really isn't the case. I am not talking about rights and obligations, I am talking about basic fairness and the benefit of the doubt. In that context, the things that destroy a workplace are the same things that destroy a community; and for that reason CCP's universal right-to-ban - while acknowledged - is not relevant to the discussion.

A Responsible Ban Process

I believe that a responsible ban process should have the following qualities:

- it should be incremental and proportional; i.e. offenders should be given a chance to correct their behaviour, warnings and temp bans should be the norm and permabans should only be used in the case of repeat, incorrigible, intentional offence;

- it should be consistent, objective and evidence-driven; i.e. GM and CCP precedent should be considered, evidence and only evidence (e.g. ignoring community/celebrity pressure) should form the basis of the decision, and guilt-by-association (including IP/hardware bans which affect family members) should be eliminated;

- it should be subject to internal review and include checks and balances; i.e. no single GM should be permitted to make a permaban decision, petitions regarding any ban should be escalated to a senior and different GM from the GM who issued the ban, and Internal Affairs should review the evidence on permabans for impropriety.

It would be very worthwhile for anyone interested in the issue to review the success achieved by Riot Games in this area, as covered on Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/fighting-online-harassment/ . Particularly the following:

Quote:
"If we remove all toxic players from the game, do we solve the player behavior problem? We don’t." ... Nothing less than community-wide reforms could succeed.


Quote:
The team also found that it’s important to enforce the rules in ways that people understand. When Riot’s team started its research, it noticed that the recidivism rate was disturbingly high; in fact, based on number of reports per day, some banned players were actually getting worse after their bans than they were before. At the time, players were informed of their suspension via emails that didn’t explain why the punishment had been meted out. So Riot decided to try a new system that specifically cited the offense. This led to a very different result: Now when banned players returned to the game, their bad behavior dropped measurably.


People fundamentally want to obey the rules and do not want to be banned. Skirting right up to the edge of the law is natural and something that each of us with a driving license does every day. If CCP is interested in reducing the need for bans, rather than simply banning their community into over-caution, there are some evidence-based lessons to be taken from the experience in the wider gaming community.

The debate has been had about the pros and cons of clearly describing the "lines", and CCP have made it clear that they do not intend to do so. However in the interest of reducing player uncertainty, on the understanding that Eve players come from widely differing cultural and moral backgrounds, and on the basis of the empirical evidence above, I believe it would be beneficial to publish (for example on the Eve Wiki) the precedents of circumstances leading to bans, so that players can self-educate on what is historically unacceptable and avoid that behaviour. Of course these precedents would probably need to be anonymised and generalised.

(continued)

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#2 - 2014-09-27 07:14:14 UTC
Proposal

TL;DR: The proposal to evaluate and reform the ban process is:

a) that the CSM work with CCP Internal Affairs to evaluate and, if necessary, reform the ban process to ensure that it is fair, incremental, objective, proportional, evidence-driven and insulated from improper influence; and that the CSM and CCP IA jointly release a statement once they believe that state is reached;

b) that any permabans which receive a petition after the reform be reviewed in line with the reformed ban process; and

c) that CCP help their community understand what is unacceptable behaviour by publishing anonymised and generalised details of offences that lead to bans.

Thank you for your time.

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#3 - 2014-09-27 07:14:26 UTC
reserved

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

Mike Azariah
The Scope
Gallente Federation
#4 - 2014-09-27 07:39:22 UTC
I know you are mainly focused on the 'harassment' bans and ignoring the RMT and Botting ones but in relation to those too much information will allow subsequent fiends to capitalize on the intel gathered by their predecessors.

In regards to a jury of two rather than one, a second opinion on permabans. Not bad. But what if they differ? A third to break the tie?

Are you willing to add a caveat that some infractions are so blatant that incremental banning just extends the time that the infraction takes place or adds to a the number of victims and so there does need to be a reasonable case load that are permabanned right off?

As a last thing. Up until now the CSM has been at arms length from Enforcement of Bans. Policy we might advise on if asked but for the most part that is not part of our raison d'etre. As 'private citizens' we may yell and scream and point fingers like any other player. That is our right. But we have no say in the enforcement or punishment although high profile cases may be swung past us more from the 'how will the community react' rather than us in powdered wigs yelling 'off with his head'.

m

Mike Azariah  ┬──┬ ¯|(ツ)

Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#5 - 2014-09-27 08:32:23 UTC
I wouldn't say that my focus is mainly on the harassment bans Mike, though certainly those are the cases that caused me the most recent concern. I can understand your point about RMT and botting details, and of course there is no expectation that details that aided future botters should be shared, but my focus is on helping people avoid fairly implemented bans so there is some value in logging some detail, even if it needs to be pretty vague for opsec.

Re tiebreakers, I would think that a 50/50 opinion on a ban strongly indicates that it needs further thought. But ultimately my concern is that permabans could be issued unilaterally. Anything > 1 is an improvement.

The problem with "blatant infractions" is that it is still a subjective judgement. As an effective "death penalty" for a player and all their accounts (and, as implemented, anyone on their IP address or shared hardware), I would think that in the case of a person with no previous warnings or temp bans for a related offence, and especially if the offence was unprecedented, a permaban would almost never be an appropriate first step; and certainly not if implemented unilaterally without impartial appeal.

I've no expectation that CSM would get involved in the assessment of bans. This is purely a question of process and policy, and it seems appropriate that the community's representatives simply put their heads together with CCP's impartial IA to assess and reform a process which potentially has significant impact on players.

Thanks for taking the time.

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

Dwissi
Miners Delight Reborn
#6 - 2014-09-27 11:23:16 UTC
Fair and square - i have never seen any other game that lets their player act as freely as they can act already in Eve.

The borders between 'accepted' behaviour and 'ban-able' actions might not be very obvious whitout digging into details - but i do not believe that there is a huge need for that actually. You mention different cultures and morales as an argument of your defense - its the individuals responsibility to adjust to the others and not the other way around. When i enter someone's home its up to me to act in a way that fits to my hosts expectation and not the other way around.

Testing borders is a typical behaviour of children and teenagers to learn and develop their character. In Eve we are dealing with a large group of adults being capable of testing on a completely different level. I do understand that CCPs policy is not a public one and wouldnt wish it any other way - giving those adults even more tools at hand will not improve anything.

Proud designer of glasses for geeky dovakins

Before someone complains again: grr everyone

Greed is the death of loyalty

Alekseyev Karrde
Noir.
The Network.
#7 - 2014-09-27 20:19:06 UTC
Blackhuey wrote:
I wouldn't say that my focus is mainly on the harassment bans Mike, though certainly those are the cases that caused me the most recent concern. I can understand your point about RMT and botting details, and of course there is no expectation that details that aided future botters should be shared, but my focus is on helping people avoid fairly implemented bans so there is some value in logging some detail, even if it needs to be pretty vague for opsec.

Re tiebreakers, I would think that a 50/50 opinion on a ban strongly indicates that it needs further thought. But ultimately my concern is that permabans could be issued unilaterally. Anything > 1 is an improvement.

The problem with "blatant infractions" is that it is still a subjective judgement. As an effective "death penalty" for a player and all their accounts (and, as implemented, anyone on their IP address or shared hardware), I would think that in the case of a person with no previous warnings or temp bans for a related offence, and especially if the offence was unprecedented, a permaban would almost never be an appropriate first step; and certainly not if implemented unilaterally without impartial appeal.

I've no expectation that CSM would get involved in the assessment of bans. This is purely a question of process and policy, and it seems appropriate that the community's representatives simply put their heads together with CCP's impartial IA to assess and reform a process which potentially has significant impact on players.

Well said

Alek the Kidnapper, Hero of the CSM

Steppa Musana
Doomheim
#8 - 2014-09-28 12:19:47 UTC
I'll add my support for the OP too.
If you review my posts, you will even see I very much so speak out against TS harassment and all forms of tear extraction. I think it takes a very sad individual to come onto a video game and attempt to upset another player for the purpose of their own entertainment. This means I have a problem with probably hundreds if not thousands of EVE players, and yet I agree with OP.

Why? Because CCP seems to be a very disorganized company.
Having submitted petitions on various things - from reimbursement to being doxxed when I was a new player - has really shown to me the completely arbitrary nature of how each problem is resolved.
Just recently I reported someone for using a homophobic slur in his bio. My petition was closed, and his bio was left unchanged for more than 2 weeks. I submitted the petition again, a different GM responded, and the players bio was changed within the day.

These sorts of occurrences have been reported by many players, where they submit the same petition on different characters and get completely different results based on the GM who's responded.

Arbitrary decision making is simply wrong, and yet it is the cornerstone of EVE customer service. The way to change that is to involve more GMs in the decision to ban players.

Lastly, there is the nature of second chances. If TheMittani can decide, while sober, to make a powerpoint presentation that completely humiliates a player, decide to fly that over to Iceland, decide to use his time on stage to present it, decide to tell players to help urge him to commit suicide... and get a one month ban.... there is very, very little anyone else can do that deserved a permaban on the first infraction. But hey, that's arbitrary decision making for ya. Roll

Hey guys.

Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#9 - 2014-09-28 13:37:27 UTC
Steppa Musana wrote:
I'll add my support for the OP too.


I appreciate the support Steppa. One thing: it's best if we avoid discussing specific bans as that would be a good excuse to lock the thread and I'd rather not have that happen.

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

voetius
Grundrisse
#10 - 2014-09-28 21:17:44 UTC
Blackhuey wrote:
Proposal

TL;DR: The proposal to evaluate and reform the ban process is:

a) that the CSM work with CCP Internal Affairs to evaluate and, if necessary, reform the ban process to ensure that it is fair, incremental, objective, proportional, evidence-driven and insulated from improper influence; and that the CSM and CCP IA jointly release a statement once they believe that state is reached;

*snip*

Thank you for your time.


I can't agree with this.

Although I think the CSM are a valuable asset to the game they are players and can be seen by people who dislike their corp or alliance or playstyle as being inherently biased although I think that is unfair and they should be judged on their merits. If CSM were to be involved in internal decisions on bans it would just create even more accusations of favouritism and I doubt any of the CSM would want to take that sort of responsibility anyhow.

Also, consider James' article on the recent bans on the mittani.com where he lists previous CSM delegates that have been banned themselves for one reason or another.
Blackhuey
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#11 - 2014-09-28 22:09:58 UTC
Voetius, could you re-read what you're disagreeing with? The proposal is for the CSM to review the ban *process*, and I explicitly said they should not be involved in specific bans where biases could come into play.

@blackhuey | soundcloud.com/blackhuey

DJ FunkyBacon
Rabid Ninja Space Monkey Inc.
Monkeys with Guns.
#12 - 2014-09-28 23:56:17 UTC
I've stated publicly on my show that the recent trend of instant perma bans for just about any offense lately seems to be harsh and a detachment from how things were previously. Perma bans should be reserved for habitual offenders and extreme cases, while temp bans used to help correct player behavior.

In short, I agree with your proposal, however the CSM is left out of the ban process for the most part, and I'm not sure how effective we'll be on this. I have been advocating for it though.

Radio Host, Blogger, Lowsec Resident, PvP Afficionado.

funkybacon.com - Blog

FunkyBacon on Twitter

Maccian
Soul Takers
Pen Is Out
#13 - 2014-09-29 02:08:55 UTC
100% support in reforming the banning policy/procedures. Having had one of my buddies banned out of the blue, there is definitely a problemAttention
Iain Cariaba
#14 - 2014-09-29 02:15:50 UTC
I've read the available articles about the most recent wave of permabans. Whether or not a permaban was too harsh or the right punishment is irrelevant when you consider the following.

In James 315's article published on TMC, it was stated that the appeals to the bans were summarily denied by the same person that issued the bans. This is what most concerned me, for not even in the screwed up buy-your-way-out-of-prison system the United States has does an appeal to a decision go before the same judge that issued said decision.
Alekseyev Karrde
Noir.
The Network.
#15 - 2014-09-29 02:42:40 UTC
DJ FunkyBacon wrote:
I've stated publicly on my show that the recent trend of instant perma bans for just about any offense lately seems to be harsh and a detachment from how things were previously. Perma bans should be reserved for habitual offenders and extreme cases, while temp bans used to help correct player behavior.

In short, I agree with your proposal, however the CSM is left out of the ban process for the most part, and I'm not sure how effective we'll be on this. I have been advocating for it though.

While not bans specifically, the CSM does have a history of representing community concerns related to the GM department and it's processes (petitions, internal communication, etc) directly to the GM staff at the summit.

Wouldn't be out of left field for you guys to play a role here.

Alek the Kidnapper, Hero of the CSM

Zion Maldor
Ministry of War
Amarr Empire
#16 - 2014-09-29 03:08:00 UTC
Agree there needs to be some reform in the Perma Ban process. There is a trend developing of just Insta-Perma-Ban Hammer and then ask questions later. This silliness needs to be addressed.

- Zion
Gfy Trextron
The Scope
Gallente Federation
#17 - 2014-09-29 03:51:35 UTC
Nice Post.

Good luck with it.

I may be a bit tired and jaded with my arguments for the past week+ that have resulted in only circular debates from people unable or unwilling to deal with it.

Step 1 for any reform would require CCP to treat this game as a business instead of a popularity contest, but I guess the evil that they have created rules the game now. It has been working well for them for 12 years so what do I know.

Right?
Kaarous Aldurald
Black Hydra Consortium.
#18 - 2014-09-29 10:32:55 UTC
DJ FunkyBacon wrote:
I've stated publicly on my show that the recent trend of instant perma bans for just about any offense lately seems to be harsh and a detachment from how things were previously. Perma bans should be reserved for habitual offenders and extreme cases, while temp bans used to help correct player behavior.

In short, I agree with your proposal, however the CSM is left out of the ban process for the most part, and I'm not sure how effective we'll be on this. I have been advocating for it though.


The "correcting player behavior" part is the most important bit.

How can anyone know if they are breaking the invisible rules unless they get a "hey, knock of XYZ" warning from a GM? A perma ban out of nowhere should never happen to anyone but a botter or an RMT'er, as those are actually spelled out as warranting a perma ban.

"Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws."

One of ours, ten of theirs.

Best Meltdown Ever.

Mallak Azaria
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#19 - 2014-09-29 12:38:46 UTC
Iain Cariaba wrote:
I've read the available articles about the most recent wave of permabans. Whether or not a permaban was too harsh or the right punishment is irrelevant when you consider the following.

In James 315's article published on TMC, it was stated that the appeals to the bans were summarily denied by the same person that issued the bans. This is what most concerned me, for not even in the screwed up buy-your-way-out-of-prison system the United States has does an appeal to a decision go before the same judge that issued said decision.


Ironically this is the same GM, who holds a leadership position within the GM team, that has made such declarations as "Telling people that your alt is you will get you banned". I'm honestly shocked that this individual still retains his leadership position when he is clearly unsuitable for the job. The fact that he personally reviews the appeals of unwarranted bans that he dished out in the first place should be another nail in the coffin.

This post was lovingly crafted by a member of the Goonwaffe Posting Cabal, proud member of the popular gay hookup site somethingawful.com, Spelling Bee, Grammar Gestapo & #1 Official Gevlon Goblin Fanclub member.

Benny Ohu
Chaotic Tranquility
#20 - 2014-09-29 13:20:09 UTC  |  Edited by: Benny Ohu
Alekseyev Karrde wrote:
DJ FunkyBacon wrote:
I've stated publicly on my show that the recent trend of instant perma bans for just about any offense lately seems to be harsh and a detachment from how things were previously. Perma bans should be reserved for habitual offenders and extreme cases, while temp bans used to help correct player behavior.

In short, I agree with your proposal, however the CSM is left out of the ban process for the most part, and I'm not sure how effective we'll be on this. I have been advocating for it though.

While not bans specifically, the CSM does have a history of representing community concerns related to the GM department and it's processes (petitions, internal communication, etc) directly to the GM staff at the summit.

Wouldn't be out of left field for you guys to play a role here.


malcanis on the erotica1 bans. i liked hearing this at the time:

Malcanis wrote:
CCP provided us with additional information, and went to considerable efforts to demonstrate to my personal and the CSM's general satisfaction that erotica1 was dealt with according to the existing terms of the TOS. This, you may recall, was the period during which "The CSM sat back and did nothing". We weren't talking to you guys because we were busy talking to CCP. And if you ever get elected to the CSM, you can read the NDA forum and see for yourself that I fought just as hard to make sure that ero1 got due process in there as I did out here.


ofc aleks was also csm then so i'll guess this is what he was on about?

i like the idea of csm being allowed a look into this whole deal. there's rumours that some people might've been banned that shouldn't've, there's talk that people aren't being told why they've been banned. it's impossible for me or other players to know what's true, but the csm has the nda, so i'd hope ccp is comfortable talking to them about this. i trust the csm as a group
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