TMC: Corruption in the Community

Corruption in the Community
by Cloic October 23, 2002

What Happened?

I ask, what happened? How could the mudding community I knew in the early 90’s fall so far? Well, I believe there are a few explanations for these questions, some of which I also may have contributed to unknowingly. Perhaps you contributed yourself, we all did in one way or another. By doing nothing, you helped to create this community we all have to share, by doing something, we may have hurt her beyond repair.

A few names are glorious and brilliant in the glowing lights of stardom within the realm of MUD’s. Particularly names such as Michael Seifert, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt, Russ Taylor, Mitchell M. Tse aka Hatchet, Michael Chastain aka Furey, Michael Quan aka Kahn, and KaVir. Famous names, looked at in awe by some, contempt and jealousy by others. These are some of the very people that created the worlds thousands upon thousands of humans play in, work in, and in general find their virtual release of pressure from the real world that weighs so much at times. They give credit where it is due, and have already provided us all with software free of charge and continue to this day. There is however, a darker side to every moon, correct? That is what I’m going to write about, and let others draw from what I say. I just hope what I have to say doesn’t harm our community to a further extent.

Back in about 1993, about the same time as the merc 1.0 release, I discovered the world of MUDs. It was a wholly united realm, everyone was completely absorbed in this alternate reality, that they could change the ebb and flow of gameplay, that there are so many ways to play the game itself. Coders were NOT wandering minstrels, wandering to and fro looking for temporary work upon which they might glean a hint of coding experience upon which to build a tiny reputation in the corner somewhere. No, coders were the elite of the elite, by god, if you were a coder, you WERE god. The gods of old were trusting, generous, helpful, and they actually knew their stuff. The gods of new are frivilous, full of zeal, unmerciful, untrusting, and they think that they *are* gods. Well, I don’t know how these images got so skewed in the years since, but it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G, wrong. To stay on the subject, I have to look at builders as well. Builders are seen as the downtrodden beasts who labor beneath the yoke that the coders have crafted. Building is a position that offers no glory, no world wide reputation, and there is virtually a neverending supply of them. However, it is the builders whom give the worlds form, direction, and substance. It is the coders that give it a wireframe, it’s first breath of air, and nurtures the codebase to say, do, see, hear, smile, and best of all, to lol. You see, the mudding community is split, it is split in several directions where at one time there was but one huge effort for the mutual benefit of furthering the codebases in all parameters. We used to cooperate. What happened?

There is a darker side involved with license infringement, code theft, not giving credit for snippets, a vastly larger market of MUDs (competition in general), builders who can’t build, coders who can’t code, and manners forgotten. I will not discuss specific parties nor individuals nor go into detail about each and every one. I will say that this did exist before, just not so blatantly, without remorse or respect. It was more confined, but now it seems it’s spreading like wildfire. What can we do? To this we can contribute some of the blame to those who flame these people on boards and in chat rooms. It would NOT spread if it was not talked about, then someone wouldn’t get it in their head, “You can do that? I’m going to find out how.” And subsequently, in most of those flames you describe how the person got away with what evil treachery they did, thus, inviting another toddler of our community to take a spill down the stairs. Flaming is a thankless job, and for a reason.

We need to get back on track, educate these people coming into our muds about the community and how everyone benefits from it. Education in the community will stop alot of these ignorant things from happening, I say ignorant because it’s from a lack of knowledge that such things are done, whether moral knowledge or technical knowledge, it’s still ignorance. Toleration should be learned on our part, we are the 2nd generation in the mudding community (some of us first gen, old farts :), should we not take the bar up another notch from where our counterparts got it? KaVir is giving it a hell of a try, but it’s hard I understand when so many people are just hanging on the bar while you’re trying to pick it up. It is possible, if we all lift together. Maybe the old diku team will grace us with another release if we pull together, show the old trust, kindness, and effort some of us used to know. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy floating in the stagnant pool that is growing.

To finish, I’d just like to say that what’s done is done, what’s broken can be repaired, what’s old can be made new again, the ignorant can be taught, and we can have a new generation of codebases, better ones yet, if we just try. Nobody can take away the fact that we are all bound together in one way or another, cooperate and swim in unison, or drown.

Corruption in the Community – copyright © 2002 by Cloic – All rights reserved.

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