I knew that eventually the day would come when I would have to do something about a fellow administrator. I just didn’t know that person would be Cadet Newb. Honestly, this is sort of hard to write because I’m still sort of staggered. However, I will try to explain things as best I can in a roughly chronological order – the survey we received indicated that the Administration team has been opaque about our decision process and our rulings, so I’ll try to explain some of these decisions and rulings as we go along.
Vincent has been with us since the beginning of the website, into its formation, and has been both a popular community figure and a good friend to all of us. He’s positively contributed in huge ways to the setting, to the community, and has been a good shoulder for most of the community to cry upon at need. He was one of a five-admin team, all equals in vote and practice, with three exceptions; I control the finances and the discord, Gunsight controls the Website and the Forum and web development, and Kim manages the Administrative chat and promotes the wiki, and has the distinction of the only Admin who’s never threatened to quit. All of us trust her implicitly.
So the ‘real power’ so to speak of the administrative team is roughly split so that no one person holds all the authority, all the time. We tend to have specialities. Tony and Cadet typically handle community moderatorship, assisted by and helping tend the chat mods, and they also tend(ed) to be the most active members of the administrative staff. Kim is our most reliable person. James has a heart like an elephant. And me? Well, I have to sit down and write this sort of thing.
Some of you may have noticed last week that Cadet was moved to an inactive status in the Administration, and here’s why.
Following a confrontation with Brianna/Yoshi (a mod), about porting in a certain type of weapon to our wiki, he and Tony got into an argument, with Gunsight in attendance. Yoshi had been stepped on all day – lost her temper – left the discord chat. According to Gunsight, when Yoshi had left, Cadet started screaming.
Yoshi and Tony managed to work our their differences fairly quickly; Yoshi had been ‘stepped on’ (talked over) all day, and Tony had stepped on that landmine. However, CadetNewb continued for hours in the Administrative chat room, inconsolable, calling Tony;
1) A “beast”
2) An “animal”
3) Unfit as an admin.
4) A bully.
5) A “damned snake”
And several other insults along the lines in similar vein, including accusing him of gaining pleasure off bullying members of the website and the channel.
The rest of the administration and I tried to calm them down, and in Tony’s case, we succeeded. He stepped back and let it go, to let the three of us (Kim, myself, James) handle it. Fairly, we understand that CadetNewb is often under pressure. He cracks, very quietly, in this exact way, about every six months. This is perhaps the third time this has happened; it may sound strange to hear the Admin team works this way, but, we’re all unique individuals. Quite often we get upset with each other. The important thing for us is that we are a team, and that we keep working for the good of the website in good faith.
This time, we couldn’t get him to calm down. He blocked Tony and adamantly refused to do anything vaguely related to talking him – and he just continued on. So, as the website HR and the business’s local Agent (that sounds so spylike but for clarification, I am the registering party for a legal Partnership in Hawaii) I went investigating.
I found out the above information from talking to the people who were involved with it and who witnessed it. What I discovered was that, while yes, Tony was abrasive, no, Yoshi didn’t blame him for it. Tony apologized, Yoshi accepted the apology – said he’d been under a lot of stress that day. All of this took about fifteen minutes.
However, we found that we couldn’t calm Cadet down. He couldn’t stand Tony. He hated Tony. How could we allow Tony to be an Admin? How could we allow him to destroy the playerbase? He didn’t trust us – couldn’t trust us. We were incompetent. We were uncaring. And so on. When we asked, we were cited references from months ago, from years ago – and we started wondering where this was coming from.
Puzzled at just what to do – fairly, and in all honesty, we all understand Tony’s bedside manner isn’t the best – we placed Cadet on an administrative leave to give us some time and space to really ascertain what was going on here. He had been holding down the fort for the last couple of months, and he really did deserve a break on top of it; to us, this looked a lot like overwork. The idea was to give him time to cool down and come back to the table.
Obviously, he did not cool down.
Rather than taking time off for himself, CadetNewb began to canvas individual administrators. His demands went from “do something about Tony” to “fire Tony,” then, variously, to “Why aren’t you banning Tony?!” He refused to allow any of us to reason with him – would not accept any other argument. In private conversations with more than one administrator he made it very clear to us that we could give him no proof of trust or competency, except to ban Tony. When each of the Admins encouraged him to calm down, he moved on to the Mods. He attempted to convince Yoshi to demand we fire Tony.
Meanwhile, at the same time, the Administrative team took the issue quite seriously. It is true that we’ve been opaque, and, Tony has admitted quietly that he has broken a few of our standard operating procedures in the past, and so between the four of us, we decided to pursue further education and that we needed to be more in touch with the Playerbase. Fairly, none of us are psychological counselors (I’m more of a spiritual advisor myself) and none of us are quite equipped to handle most of the personality disorders that commonly crop up online – we’re not a therapy group. However, we decided, we do owe it to our members to receive and promote both awareness and generalized leadership training, among the administration and moderators. Also, we needed to see what people really thought. So we decided two things:
1) We would seek professional training via free business/community management courses online. (Kim knows a good site for this)
2) We would create an open survey to ascertain parts of the website where we could improve upon, and parts of the community we could improve upon.
Having been already aware that Tony’s general tone was a cause of concern – it certainly didn’t surprise us when we received complaints among the other generalized issues and concerns shared with us in the survey. Kim, always very adroit with these data management things, created a question-and-answer channel to answer some of the more technical concerns or questions, and began to summarize and compile the results so that they could be reviewed after a week or two. This was going very well. Yes, Cadet had to go on leave, but it seemed to us that we were adequately moving forward in a positive direction. At this point I was fairly convinced that, like all the other times, Cadet would cool off with time and space and video games. It was a pretty standard break that he took poorly as his removal from the admin team, which wasn’t something any of us could convince him out of.
Then, a user sent a screenshot to one of the Admins (Kim) showing Edto, who has been Banned twice for similar behavior, attempting to convince a user (anonymous in this case to protect him from potential reprisals) to go complain about Tony in the survey. This was very transparent (we’d seen this before) and the action taken was pretty straightforward.
Individual admins are empowered to take immediate corrective action. So I did. I sent Edto a warning. He blatantly denied having done this and asked for the name of the person who turned him in. I wouldn’t tell him. It became a discussion about how we were closing ranks around Tony and protecting him from rightful justice. I left this alone for now and after some discussion in the Admin chat, posted a news bulletin warning people of the behavior. Another admin kicked him from the channel shortly prior to this, for the same reason, unrelated to my action, to provide damage control.
These accusations sounded kind of familiar to me – we’d just heard Cadet spew exceptionally similar vitriol repeatedly - so I investigated further, asked around, and then Gunsight and I, in the interest of widening our network of information regarding this, decided to fully brief the Moderators in the channel. We got some immediate results in the form of more logs, more conversations, and more experiences from the Mods and people who had reported things to them. Edto and Cadet had been misrepresenting the situation to the community – claiming Kim was the deciding vote to ban Tony – and calling for everyone to go out and complain about him in the new survey.
Great. Suddenly the Survey, which wasn’t a vote but an effort to genuinely improve ourselves, became at least partially useless. And even if I discard the survey because of tampering, they just get to say we’re not listening to all the Tony complaints. Catch 22. Good job Edto and Cadet.
So let me address this now – Tony himself is very aware of the complaints. So is the rest of the administration. And we do take these complaints very seriously. Many of the discussions regarding this have been behind closed doors outside of the community eye, but Tony has been confronted numerous times about his tone. In nearly all cases, he has both listened to reason, and gone behind himself to fix these little errors and it is my personal, observational opinion, that he is not only getting better with his bedside manner, but that he has the genuine good of the community at heart. He takes exception to people like Edto. And it seems, for very good reasons.
Every time I’ve investigated claims against Tony, within the last six or seven months, I have either found no substantial butthurt, or I’ve discovered that the people he’s gone off on are talking about things from almost a year ago. I’ve begun to view him as a weathercock. He pings off of problematic people. The guy’s a former cop, a former marine, and yes, he takes no shit. But every time he’s been angry, he’s calmed in about fifteen minutes – every time he and I have fought (and we do fight), we end up hashing out a solution between the fury, and shaking hands on it afterwards. Like adults.
During this investigation the most disturbing for me personally were the logs from the private channel run by CadetNewb. They contained some very specific phrases – “who’s the narc?” “they can’t do anything, just use their stuff and stay off the forum” “Oh hey they’re trying to silence us”, accompanied by Edto claiming that “doctoring logs is easy and fun” – and so on.
This was a staggering discovery for all of us. While we had been generally aware he was individually trying to convince us of these things, we became suddenly, very painfully aware that he was actively attempting to undermine the administrative procedure and throw down with us. We knew he hated Tony’s guts very well, we had just been desperately hoping he’d snap out of it and come back to the table to talk it out. But, inside his channel, we found several people who had been previously banned or were under suspicion for toxic behavior casually talking about undermining the website and shit talking the Admin team.
Aha. So this is where it was coming from.
Typically in my experience people don’t go kaboom for no reason – and here is the reason. CadetNewb, I think, got trapped in an echo chamber. God damn it. Fuck.
We had trusted him, not only to run a plot, but to manage his people well, and we discovered that instead, there was this. To say that this was hurtful and harmful to both we, his friends, and to the community, is the grossest understatement I can make. He accused us of betraying his trust – and he had just decided to take a big steaming shit on ours.
We voted immediately with the administrators on hand. Edto got Banned. Edto now has the distinction of being the *first permanent Ban ever*, for repeated attempts to actively undermine the community. He will never return for any reason. CadetNewb was put into consideration for not only dismissal from the Administrative team, but a ban himself. And yes, we are considering further administrative action against the collection of formerly banned players that has been encouraging Cadet to betray the trust of the Admins, the Mods, and the Community, in a plain-stated and very clear vendetta against Tony.
I gave Cadet a come to Jesus moment, and he laughed at me.
He chose to resign rather than face the Administrative vote.
And that brings us to current.