“This is an invasion of my privacy.” - Dystopia Rising group oversight

“This is an invasion of my privacy.”

Yesterday an announcement went out saying that if you have a multi-game in character faction or group within the Dystopia Rising LARP network that either functions as an in-character medium for conversation or is based on the network and has the Dystopia Rising name as the header, that a Director from some chapter needs to be involved in the group. Some people have seen this as an invasion of privacy, some people think its “offensive because it treats players like children”, and others have no opinions on it (or are from SoCal and already have this in place).

First let me state why this is on a blog instead of a giant post to the entire network as a whole. The first reason is that many people won't actually read a publication that is long enough to actually properly explain the thought process behind a decision or a rule. Explanations for simple decisions, when explained in steps, often require a lot of words and examples to be provided. In addition to the length of such a post, many people actually don't care about the "why" a rule is made but instead focus on how it directly influences their lives.

Now, let’s start with the background as to why this was brought into play. Over the past few years there has been a recurring scenario that Directors dealt with that came packaged in many different degrees of urgency. This scenario is where two or more members of the DR LARP Network community would come to their Directors to mediate, engage, or punish individuals within the larger community based on interactions that happened in mediums and formats that arguably have very little to do with game or were in groups that added the Dystopia Rising name to the group without actually working with staff for use of the name.

Seems a little foggy of an area? That is understandable. The issue that Directors face in regards to this is the sort of argument that you would have in a philosophy course in college instead of deal with when managing a community. The abstract issue is “oversight and application of community standards verses right to privacy”.

But let’s take this out of the abstract and give examples of what we are talking about.

Actual examples from the past year (just a small section of many).

A) A large IC group tells its members (new and old) that if there is an issue they need to come to their group leaders instead of going to the DR community leaders. This includes if any member is accused of cheating, breaking the community guideline, and in multiple instances with multiple groups there were issues where players went to “leaders” of their in-character group to address real world issues well outside the scope of an in character group. Issues like addressing the fact that other members s of this in-character group were actively sexually harassing them. In this last instance, Directors of the social community were not involved until years after the players left the DR community feeling that the “DR Community had let them down” because they thought the leadership of their IC social group were also leaders in the DR community.

B) Directors have been asked to ban players from Dystopia Rising Network events based on interactions that people have had during the ending of their personal relationships, citing that arguments were happening in “Dystopia Rising” groups… which were again private groups that weren’t overseen by Dystopia Rising.

C) Community members have come to Directors to be punitive or ban other players from the Dystopia Rising Network based on social, political, or hate based groups and organizations outside of Dystopia Rising. As two examples: Directors were asked to mediate between two players who were arguing about the use of the confederate flag in a social media group that had the Dystopia Rising name (but again wasn’t actually overseen by anyone in Dystopia Rising). The second instance involved players going to Directors to mediate and settle a pro-life and pro-choice argument that had gotten incredibly heated between members in the community in a group using the Dystopia Rising name but without any actual involvement from the Dystopia Rising community leaders.

As it stands right now there are two issues that need addressing. The first is the existence of IC groups that involve large numbers of members that appear to be a real world authority to some players, and the second issue is grey area of “what is and is not a part of Dystopia Rising” when it comes to community guidelines and engagement.

Your Directors don’t want to tell you how to live your lives. Your Directors want to run a community that has a game that people come together to enjoy, and there is nothing sweeter to a Director than being able to leave an event without needing to put out dozens of vaguely tangentially related issues. And as much as your Directors would love for everyone to get along, the fact is that with larger social groups it becomes more likely that a conflict of philosophy or a clash of personality is going to cause arguments between people.

So there needs to be a division between what is, and is not, communications that are part of the overview of your Directors.

To answer this, if an OOC public group wants to use the name “Dystopia Rising” in its title then that group needs to have a Director from somewhere in the group. That Director is then going to “unfollow” the group and then only engage the group when mediation is needed. If there is an IC posting group that spans across multiple networks, there needs to be a Director from somewhere in the group so that the members of that group know who they can go to if there is a community, safety, or health issue that needs addressing.

If a group is not an IC cross-network posting group, and does not list itself as a “Dystopia Rising” group, but still involves a number of people from within the Dystopia Rising community then there is no need to add a Director to the group. That group in question is a private group that is overseen by people who happen to be a part of the Dystopia Rising community, but isn’t a part of the oversight of the Dystopia Rising community guidelines.

What does this end up really meaning?

Groups that are based on in character groups that go cross network need a Director available in the group because IC posts and engagement actually are a part of the community management and oversight guideline that Directors have as a responsibility.

Community groups that list themselves as “Dystopia Rising” need to have a Director in them since that group is presenting itself to the world as a representative of the Dystopia Rising community and members within that group are held to the community guidelines.

Community groups that do not list themselves as Dystopia Rising, are not an In Character group that crosses the network, don’t need a Director in them. This also means that these groups are not held to the standards of the community guideline and will not be overseen by Directors.

The response that I have seen the most in regards to this is “my OOC friends across the network are all part of this group and we chat OOC and have private conversations… but they also are part of the IC communications as well.” The suggestion I would give is to just make an IC and OOC group listing for this and make it very clear that communications happening in the IC group are under the DR Network standards and that stuff in the OOC group are completely for social engagement between friends.

The second response I have seen has been in regard to groups such as trans and LGTBQ groups. These groups have multiple options as well. If the group wants to list itself as a public resource with the name “Dystopia Rising” in the title and show itself as a resource for the community, there are any number of Directors that are willing to be put into the group. If the group does not want to have a Director involved in the group and wants anonymity or self-definition outside the oversite of Directors, National, or any sort of “official” capacity then the group just needs to not list itself as the “Dystopia Rising (fill in sub-definition)” group. This will allow the group to operate with complete and total self-definition, can exist outside of the oversite of the Dystopia Rising Network, and has the abilities to make decisions and share information and make guidelines as is appropriate for that groups members. This also lets the members of these groups know that while these groups are made up of people who happen to also be members of the Dystopia Rising community as a whole, that joining these groups does not assign the restrictions or protective oversight related to being a DR group.

In short, this actually changes very little other than giving a clear definition of boundaries and more transparency in regards to “what is and is not within the purview of the DR community”. Want to do IC communications for a group or IC org that spans across multiple chapters? Then get a Director involved to ensure that these groups are doing right by its members and that players have a clear “person of authority to go to”.  Want to shoot the shit with your friends, join some rant/bashing group, or do something that really isn’t under the purview of Dystopia Rising? Then don’t list it as a Dystopia Rising group to the world.