[MUD-Dev] Criminalize Community Volunteers?

Dave Rickey daver at mythicgames.com
Thu Sep 7 10:20:50 CEST 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: Madrona Tree <madronatree at hotmail.com>
>I think anyone who is given powers above and beyond a 'regular player' in
>order to solve customer problems (I've fallen and I can't get up!) and/or
>adding content (decorating player taverns) or being the 'first line of
>defense' in deciding who should get punished and when and how much are
>working for the company.
>I believe that companies should encourage and support the first scenario,
>and let paid employees of the company deal with the second.
    There was a *lot* of resistance to the notion of giving the volunteers
any powers at all, I had some serious shouting matches arguing for it when I
was with Verant, and I'm sure there were a few at OSI.  The trump card was
that without powers like the ability to /zone and /summon, they couldn't do
anything to help people.  What you seem to be saying is that it's okay to
have volunteers, as long as we never empower them to actually help anyone.
>I still think that companies can have good customer support without hiring
>volunteers.  My phone company doesn't hire volunteers, and their customer
>service is probably better than UO's.  Course, I also think that UO's
>customer base is probably a little more easily dissatisfied with customer
>service than my phone companies.

    About half the time if someone petitions in an online game, they're
already pissed off about something.  That puts the CS relationship on the
wrong foot right from the start, so I'd say that's an accurate statement.
>Realize, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I'm
>positive there are good volunteers out there, cause I know some former
>counselors, and a couple of guides ... and they're good folks.  But in all
>the time I played UO, I never once saw a counselor.  [I'll admit I saw
>guides more often than in UO, but probably because I paged more in EQ than
>in UO.  :P]  I've talked to people who I trust who say that a lot of them
>are, well, slackers (and not in a good way).  I think it would be a lot
>easier for Origin to say, "You know what?  You're fired" to a paid employee
>than to a volunteer -- and then get one who wasn't a slacker.  I understand
>what they're thinking: it's free, right?  Even if it's crap, it's still
>*free* crap.
    It's a large pool, you keep sifting long enough, and you start with a
good solid core, eventually the lazy and power-mad get weeded out.  I never
noticed any resistance to saying "you're out of here" to a Guide while I was
at Verant.  And it was the Guide leadership that was saying it.
>Sure they could, you'd just have to pay them OT.
>Is the "20% do 80%" because of hours worked or efficiency of guiding?
    Pareto principle, 20% *always* do 80% of the work in any field of human
activity.  That 20% is going way above and beyond, if you want an example
take the original crew of Elders on EQ (of which Josh was one).  Each one of
those people put in 60+ hours a week for the first few months organizing the
program, one of them was not only offered a paying job, she was offered Jeff
Butler's job.  Probably either one of the others could have had my job if
they wanted it.  These were highly paid professionals in their own right.
It wasn't just the hours, but their effectiveness, however.

    Paid CS positions for these games draw two types of people: Those that
are looking at it as a way to get into the games business, an entry-level
"pay your dues" kind of job (like Testing has always been for
single-player), and those that if they weren't working there would be asking
"Do you want fries with that?"  Increase the total number of positions, you
aren't going to be getting any more of the first category.  Increasing the
number of paid CS staff is not going to automatically improve CS.  And
because those "above and beyond" types can no longer be allowed to volunteer
extra time, it will probably reduce it.

--Dave Rickey

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