Anyways, let’s get started. If you are reading this post, odds are you already know, or have some inkling into what is going on within the site. Judging by the large number of messages that have been sent to the admins and moderators it is almost as if everyone on site already knows, but just in case you don’t I will go ahead and start from the beginning.
The staff were unbelievably disappointed to discover in the most recent polls that a number of members on the site were using the system to cheat, and more importantly to influence the forum and public magazine. Honestly, though we suspected it might be the case (which is why we were watching), we were disappointed to learn our suspicions were confirmed in a number of cases. Suffice to say, before we ever started the votes the admin team agreed cheating is not acceptable in any form, and everyone caught would be given a warning. Which goes into the next section I want to talk about.
That being said, let me make it clear everyone caught cheating was given a WARNING. Which was the ONLY result of cheating. No one was banned for cheating. Period. Since it is already public knowledge, as it seems, people have discovered that a well-liked member on site was banned. This is in fact true, but that is the only bit of truth that we have discovered. The reason for their ban was because their number of warnings AFTER cheating hit the CoC guidelines requirement for a temporary ban, again NOT because they were cheating. The following fallout from that ban, while expected somewhat, was shocking to say the least.
The Messages we have gotten show that a number of new members of site were contacted in hope of getting them to leave, AND a number of veteran members were messaged being told the person in question was being banned for cheating and they felt that this was not fair. So, we have decided to clear the air for everyone. The Ban in question was TEMPORARY, and again came from the number of warnings, not the action in the most recent warning.
The Misinformation being shared is ridiculous, whether it is intentional or accidental that is the number one thing that I am hoping anyone who reads this understands. Note, although I can not go into detail without sharing admin information, we know those which accounts cheated without a shadow of a doubt. To share some of that information we are able to see the votes they made, the IP of their recent login, and the changes in their voting numbers. For EVERYONE that was caught cheating we noticed these numbers increase in correlation to their recent login, and the increase in vote count. Meaning, we can confirm that these players have made a vote on their characters at the times in question. Now, I will admit that does not count in the fact that someone could have been hacked, or that they do not remember making a vote. HOWEVER, that does not mean we can accept that as fact or proof, we have to follow the data and apply the same standards to EVERYONE on site unless proof comes to show the opposite is the case.
For most of the members messaged about cheating, we got no response or an acceptance and promise that it would not happen again after their warning. If they wish to share that info below, that is up to them, however warnings on site are of a personal nature, and as far as Admins are concerned should not be shared so that is all I have to say about that.
Now that that is done and said, and hopefully clear though please PM an admin if there are still issues it is time for the next subject I wish to cover. Why? Why do all of this. It is just a magazine poll on a RP site. I completely agree, when taking ONLY that info in mind. So, I will tell you all some new info. Some of you might remember a suggestion that was made some time ago asking about on-site contests and polls. This suggestion requested that some contests allow for the player base to vote for the winner. While that suggestion got various responses, many of which agreed, and many of which did not I actually liked the idea. *Spoiler Alert*: we have a contest coming up that might or might not have had a player vote. However, with the rewards that are at stake for contests we HAD to make sure the system was safe and that the suggestion was correct and people would be honest. Sadly, that was not the case and since the stakes for an on-site magazine were far less than what would come from a contest, we can ONLY assume that the number of players who cheated would have been worse for the contest. As such, we cracked down on cheating and have decided all votes will be public until further notice.
So, this is why we are looking, and why things were done in such a way. I hate that it has to be the case, but surely it makes sense why we have to be careful as staff.
Now, I am going to take off my staff hat and talk as a person. I personally am saddened, and disheartened by what was said about me by someone I considered to be a friend. Someone who knows quite a bit about me, and then went to members threatening to ‘spill the tea’. This betrayal honestly hurt me because all we had done was uphold the same rules to ALL members on site. Even those we have considered to be close to. Now, while I can understand why some can feel the ban was unfair I personally, having banned quite a few members on site, can say it is surprising how many people take personal feelings into account when upholding rules. While we have been accused of playing favorites in the past, I feel we always try to uphold the same standard to all members, and had we let the person in question off with just a warning we would be doing the very thing we are being accused of. Which as a person is unacceptable?
As a player, I would feel unbelievably cheated with the info that has come to light. The first vote was tied purely because of the cheat which caused a second vote. Meaning, the players given a chance to be featured were all cheated from what they worked for. In addition to that, the second vote was manipulated again by this cheating. Perhaps it is just me, but as a player who has never been featured, I would be quite saddened to learn that my chance was lessened and harmed by cheating, and I think the public vote made it apparent how much influence cheating had on the outcome.
I hope this has helped to clarify some of what is going on. I hate that it has to happen, and that I felt necessary to open a suggestion in such a way but I felt it was needed to clear the air.