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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 8:46 pm 
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Okay, time for me to dive in... (I didn't look at the Guilds forum much this weekend, and I missed a bunch of activity.)

My first reaction is the same as TNR's, and I really think that a lot of people are going to think the same: "I'm not going to sign that."

Or rather, "I have no reason to sign that." Speaking as a generic newcomer: Once I get involved in the Guild, involved in Writing, *and* interested in particular matters that need to be restricted, *then* I'd be motivated to sign agreements. But that's *later* -- and that means that the Guild website has to be engaging, lively, and vital *before* I get any magic passwords. If there's no community activity outside the locked door, nobody will ever be motivated to knock.

Tweek mentioned two concerns, which I think are right on target:

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...people need to know you can pull your weight, and thus be accountable if you do not. Not to mention projects that will be kept from the public until ready...


Both of those are concerns about membership in an Age creation project. About a *particular* Age, in fact -- the one which I've agreed to work on, the one whose secrets I am learning. They're *not* about "Guild membership" in a generic sense. A newcomer may or may not arrive with the intent of working on a particular Age.

I think that all the fuss about "contracts" will evaporate... well, be sharply reduced... if you detach it entirely from the front-page membership stuff. Instead, have a notice on the Eder Whatever forum saying "This forum is for development discussion of Eder Whatever. It is limited to developers and contributors of Eder Whatever. For access, please send a private message to Team Leader Whozis, including the following agreement: I agree not to disclose any (blah, blah) outside of the forum, without the permission of the team leaders."

And then another on the forum for Eder Exemplia, and so on. If you've got that, I don't see any need for a Guild-wide agreement.

(And yes, this is why I argued weeks ago that "producing Ages" should be deleted from the Guild's mission statement. No, I'm not going to be dogmatic about that. But the simplest way to avoid complaints about Guild secrecy to for the Guild to have no secrets.)

Further points:

By keeping the locked areas small and topical, you tend to push people to post general programming questions in the general (unrestricted) programming forum. That's good, because it spreads knowledge around as widely as possible. Same with other questions. You're not really spilling Age secrets if you ask "How do I make a good-looking waterfall?" Or "How do I make a door open when two buttons are pushed at the same time?"

(I am relying here on the experience of the text-adventure newsgroup. People *do* post open questions, even for in-development games that they would never leak spoilers for. You don't post the entire game source; just enough to set up the situation.)

This scheme assumes one forum (or forum group) per "Guild Age". That may be expensive, but I think it won't be. I'm assuming a sort of normal distribution: at any time, a few large Ages will be in development by a large groups, and many small Ages will be in development by small groups. (Or solo creators.) The latter don't need separate forums; they can just use email for internal planning. Their writing questions can go on the unrestricted forum.

(Although if there's a way to set up mini-forums for small creation groups, that'd be awesome. I don't have any problem with that; I just think it's not absolutely necessary for the Guild or the small groups to function.)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:12 pm 
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Other points...

I agree that this is not a "contract". A contract implies that you're willing to escalate to civil court if things get nasty. Are you? Say "no", please. :)

I used the term "agreement" above, which is all it is. The forum (*wherever* it winds up) is a privately-run service, and doesn't need to sue you for breach of contract in order to kick you off. (And, again, the whole situation is a lot less scary if it's simply a statement that the Eder Whatever team can boot you from the Eder Whatever forum if you disrupt the group's work.)

(And the forums adminstrators reserve the right to suspend your account for disrupting the forum as a whole. Every web forum has that, it's no surprise. As someone said, it's a checkbox in the account creation process... which means it doesn't even impinge on people while they're first approaching the group and reading forums.)

All the stuff about the departments (or skills) isn't a code of conduct. It's a welcome message. (I'd rather see a welcome message than a code of conduct any day.)

In Emor's version, the line "...and has little or nothing to do with egotism or selfish hoarding of information..." That's less convincing than nothing at all, I'm afraid. We'll be judged by our actions, which is why I'm arguing here.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:17 am 
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You bring up an interesting point: Would it be better to not have such a Code of Conduct for the Guild as a whole, and rather leave that up to the projects?

(obviously we need some form of Code of Conduct, even in the sense of what is acceptable and not acceptable on the forums; but could we make do without the specifics and leave those up to each project?)

What do people think?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:25 pm 
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Some of what went by in the "mission statement" thread amounted to a code of conduct: Don't violate Cyan's rules. Don't violate copyright law. Don't do anything that would harm the Uru system or an explorer's computer.

These are intentions, not restrictions. They're what the Guild is about, and if I saw a problem I'd explain it to the person responsible.

But I don't see any value in making the Guild responsible for *enforcing* these rules. It'd either be impossible, or require so much supervision that creation would grind to a halt.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:29 pm 
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Paradox: I think we need an overall code of conduct, because this is what people will see when they join the guild (either on the registration screen or elsewhere). But the nondisclosure stuff (your last two paragraphs) could be moved to a project-specific agreement.

Belford: you're right that the mission statement alludes to rules that need to be explicit somewhere, and the code of conduct seems like a good place to put them.

In August, during discussions with the Maintainers, we came up with the following legal restrictions on ages:
  • No portions of the age resembles any DRC-released age
  • No portions of the age resembles any explorer-created age (unless the other explorer consents to its use)
  • The age doesn't contain copyright or trademark protected content (names, images, sounds)
  • The age contains "ESRB Everyone"-compliant content
  • The Python code does not contain any exploits, which can be any of the following:
    • Compromises the gameplay of another age (e.g. by providing access not normally available)
    • Enabling an avatar with abilities beyond those already provided
    • Provides harmful data to the server
    • Places the client in a locked state

These are among the many things that the Writers and Maintainers will check in an Age before releasing it to the general public.

Last month I had sent this list to Cyan's legal team in a request that our preliminary guild be self-policing - meaning that we would not need to clear every age with Cyan before making it publicly available. The intent is for the Guild of Writers to not burden Cyan's legal team with umpteen requests. I had not yet received a reply, so we can only assume that we still need to run our concepts by Cyan before we begin work on them.

If nothing else, I believe we need to state the following in the code of conduct:

"You agree to request permission to distribute your age from Cyan before its public release."

It would make the most sense if you request permission while you're at the concept stage; otherwise, you would have spent all that work on the age only to have it shelved by Cyan's legal team.

Note: this would not prohibit people from working on any age they want in private. But if they intend to share it with someone, they'll need to clear it from Cyan first.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:42 pm 
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Robert The Rebuilder wrote:
No portions of the age resembles any DRC-released age


Define 'resemble'. If I make an autumn-y forest does that resemble Delin or the upper part of Tsogahl? If I make a rotating building does that resemble Gahreesen, or Mechanical? If Delin and Tsogal were fan-made Ages, would you consider them too similar to Kemo to be approved? I feel we need something a little more precise here.

Quote:
[*]The age contains "ESRB Everyone"-compliant content


I'd just stick to GameTap's "10+", since we're on GameTap.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:48 pm 
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Siding against the general code of conduct here. Looking at the first post here turned me off the Guuld again.

Leave it up to the projects.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:03 pm 
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Robert The Rebuilder wrote:
  • No portions of the age resembles any DRC-released age
  • No portions of the age resembles any explorer-created age (unless the other explorer consents to its use)
  • The age doesn't contain copyright or trademark protected content (names, images, sounds)

The third point makes the first two redundant if you replace "resembles" with "is a derivative work of", which I think would address Ian's concern.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 5:21 pm 
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"You agree to request permission to distribute your age from Cyan before its public release."

No, I don't agree to that. How many marker games would there be if you had to request permission to distribute them? Three. A fourth one coming along real soon, honest.

Cyan can't keep up -- certainly not with *concept proposals*, for zog's sake. Can you imagine how many proposals there are going to be? "Hi, I'm going to make a square platform to prove that Age Building is in our grasp." "We'll pass it to our legal team."

Not going to work.

Cyan should post guidelines, and then they can say that they'll pull anything which violates their rules. (Just like they can already do for messages or even player accounts.) But they don't have time to vet Ages. Not if Age creation is actually a success -- that is, popular.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:35 pm 
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But they don't have time to vet Ages. Not if Age creation is actually a success -- that is, popular.
It's 6 months for a Cyan age from design to release. We only see them when they get to the end of the pipeline. I do not believe that an age will ever get released to URU Live without Cyan having ok'd it first.

Neither Cyan nor GameTap could afford not to know what's being uploaded and shared in a global public space.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:00 pm 
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Robert The Rebuilder wrote:
[list][*]No portions of the age resembles any DRC-released age


Don't you mean *Cyan*-released age?

I think it would be useful to include something about IC/OOC standards in the welcome message (not necessarily the COC). I don't know how others feel, but I really don't want to deal with IC muckity-muck outside the game.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:10 pm 
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Robert The Rebuilder wrote:
If nothing else, I believe we need to state the following in the code of conduct:

"You agree to request permission to distribute your age from Cyan before its public release."


No. I don't think this should be in the code, not at least until we hear from Cyan about it.

Cyan is going to be responsible for how fan-ages get into the game, and whether it's a total free-for-all, or some pre-approved concept/proposal mechanism, for now it should remain out of the GoW's COC.

I also think it's worth making as stand as a community in favor of a minimal approach to regulation in this area. We're volunteers creating for a hobby, not writing grants for a funded public works project, for cryin' out loud!

Legal-this and thematically-appropriate-that, I don't care. Judgment is subjective over what is "right" for Uru, and the more restriction is involved, whether it's from the GoW or from Cyan, the more bureaucracy and bitterness there will be in the community (not to mention fewer interested parties).

Cyan's move toward having fan ages means that they must give up some control as to the content of the game. They must be expecting that, and we actually have a right to demand it, believe it or not. If we're going to commit all this time and effort to our projects, we should be given the right to distribute it. Any regulation or approval should come from our peers, the GoW (or maybe make it the exclusive province of the GoMa?), and should be no more than a light touch.

Besides, as long as our COC has provisions against ages that are "unsound" or exploitative (which is what the GoMa is for, anyway!), we don't need nor should we desire any kind of content approval mechanism.

The the point is, even if Cyan wants this kind of system, we should wait to hear from them before codifying it ourselves. If we line up and agree to ask for explicit approval before Cyan even comes up with it's own mechanism, then we've forfeited the right to ask for anything else when we all come to hate that system (and we will). :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:35 pm 
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"Neither Cyan nor GameTap could afford not to know what's being uploaded and shared in a global public space."

Except for KI messages, chat, marker games (which include text), all text uploaded to imagers, and postings on these web forums.

Those are handled by straightforward terms of service, and the promise that they'll deal with problems when they arise. It seems to work.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:22 pm 
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all text uploaded to imagers,
You have a point with that one, belford. I was thinking of in cavern where there's no direct moderation.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:58 pm 
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The Noble Robot wrote:
Robert The Rebuilder wrote:
If nothing else, I believe we need to state the following in the code of conduct:

"You agree to request permission to distribute your age from Cyan before its public release."


No. I don't think this should be in the code, not at least until we hear from Cyan about it.


We did hear from Cyan about it back in January 2006 - see this link. Highlights:

greydragon wrote:
Any fan created work will be addressed on a personal basis by our legal department. Please contact [email protected].

...

At this time I would refrain from releasing or modifying any data until stated from Cyan Worlds Inc. that it is all right to do so.


So, until we hear anything different from them in the meantime, greydragon's edict still stands: we must run our age concepts by Cyan before we release them.

belford: I agree it is a bottleneck, but until they give us permission to be a self-regulating entity, we have no choice.

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