Over the last several months we have seen several staff members either step down completely or step back from server presence. So, for the sake of transparency, we wish to acknowledge the following departures that have occurred since the last time I posted:
Frumple is on leave indefinitely
As of July 16, 2021, Frumple has taken a leave of absence that he expects to last at least one month (and potentially longer). While he is away, I have invoked the Head Admin responsibilities and will be processing many of his duties in his absence, including moderator veto statuses and final decisions over sanction appeals. I will not be taking over financial or legal responsibilities, so if you have questions about a supporter contribution, rest assured it will still be answered or processed in due course (though may take longer than usual).
Frumple has asked that he only be contacted in an emergency, and even then that such contact should route through myself or another admin whenever possible. If you have something that you need to bring to his attention, please let me know and I will pass it along if it’s necessary to do so.
Frumple’s post in #announcements goes into this decision in a bit more detail, so please read it carefully. I will be discussing some of the operational details at the August GSM, especially for near-term items like re-enabling command blocks. Otherwise, I intend to keep things running as best I can with as few changes as necessary. Please do reach out with any questions, concerns, or feedback.
unjinz suspended for inactivity
Back in May, I announced that we had initiated inactivity review proceedings against two moderators. unjinz was one of the moderators we approached; the other has returned to active status. We do not anticipate any further inactivity-related suspensions at this time.
As always, we are grateful to the contributions that unjinz made during his nearly four-year tenure on staff, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.
daltdisneyland, kyyl_, VickiTori_, and Vulpicula have stepped down
Between mid-June and mid-July, four moderators (daltdisneyland, kyyl_, VickiTori_, and Vulpicula) have each independently stepped down from their positions. Each of them posted (or shared with us) a resignation letter, which is posted in #announcements in Discord.
These four moderators had a combined 1,787 days of service (nearly 5 years), plus plenty of time as members before then. Each of them built a significant presence on the server in one way or another during their service, either by building a Premier-ranked city, hosting events, having strong camaraderie with the community, or some combination of the three. We are grateful for all of the contributions these moderators made to the community.
As of right now I don’t know whether or not we will promote any of our seven (!!) candidates at the August GSM. I will, however, say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to submit nominations.
The Ranks page should be up to date with our current voting procedures. For this GSM:
- A majority “Yes” vote (in this case, 5 out of 9) is needed for a candidate to pass.
- A candidate can be blocked with “No” votes from three staff members or 21%, whichever is larger. In this case, three “No” votes is enough to block a promotion.
- Staff will vote in a random order for the initial ballot, and have an opportunity to change their minds during the discussion afterwards.
- A candidate who is approved at the meeting will take office after the meeting is over.
The GSM will begin at 19:00 UTC on Sunday, and we currently expect the moderator candidates to begin being considered at approximately 19:45.
Looking ahead to future months’ nomination cycles (the September cycle is now open):
- Some of the nominations we received this month were borderline or firmly lackluster in quality. Please carefully review the recommendations on the Ranks page for information on what we are looking for. Through a combination of any evidence or testimony you’re submitting, plus your own personal arguments, we should get an understanding of why you are bringing a particular candidate forward. We do not require hard evidence in every nomination, though we do expect some effort to be included. We can generally tell when you’re nominating someone “just to see what happens”, or because you think someone else will also nominate them.
- Re-submitting nominations verbatim generally isn’t a good idea. While we don’t have any direct policies prohibiting this, we would prefer seeing new nominations if your candidate doesn’t get considered or promoted. Some notes on this one in particular:
- It’s perfectly okay to submit the same direct evidence in successive nominations for the same person. Please don’t submit the same “witness testimony” evidence repeatedly.
- If a candidate was considered but not promoted, generally we will ask for a new nomination, or at the very least new arguments on the same evidence.
- There is a fine line between acceptable collaboration/coordination and unacceptable bandwagoning. It’s generally okay to talk with others about who you’re considering nominating, or get some ideas of candidates from others. We did, however, see some behavior this time around that suggested some of the candidates were nominated simply to bring someone above the two-nomination threshold and get them considered, and not because of genuine support for the candidate. In general, it’s best to collaborate on a list of candidates before writing and submitting nominations.
- Candidates need to stay out of the process until they are asked to confirm their candidacy. If you nominate someone, it’s okay to tell them that you have filed a nomination. However, because the list of nominations can change (up or down) at any time, please do not keep track of who has received how many nominations. We did remove some nominations after they were submitted, which could have affected some candidates’ listings. It’s always better to assume that a candidate does not yet have two nominations until the list is published.
- Please be sure to check the member list for preemptive declines and veto statuses. While I have not changed any veto statuses in the last month, that may change in the future, and I may only post them to the member list.
We’ll see you this weekend for the GSM. Stay safe, everyone!
In addition to the May 2021 ISM, the administrators also held an Administrative Staff Meeting, which produced a few results of its own that we would like to share. The admins accepted one ban appeal, and made the following decisions on other items:
Inactivity proceedings initiated
Admins periodically review the activity levels of staff members, and we have recently noticed that a few moderators have either already crossed or are near our thresholds of “inactivity”. Because of this, we are initiating inactivity review proceedings with two moderators, and will monitor a few others over the coming month to determine if we need to expand our review.
For those who are fairly new, “initiating inactivity review proceedings” is a fancy way to say that the admins will be discussing activity status with the involved moderators one-on-one and determining what the likelihood is of that moderator to return to active status. Just because we have initiated proceedings does not mean that a specific moderator will be suspended for inactivity.
However, we are letting everyone know now so that if our conversations lead us to issue a suspension or for a moderator to step down for inactivity, that no one is caught off guard. We certainly don’t like to reduce our numbers (especially leading up to the busy summer season), but we do need to ensure that the players with access to staff tools are continuing to serve the community first and foremost, and active status is a critical component of that.
Speaking of moderators…
Reviewing the nomination process again
Ever since we first used the new moderator promotion process six months ago, we’ve been continuously making changes to have a better experience for everyone involved. We have regularly heard feedback from members that the requirements to submit a nomination are fairly high, and while we don’t want to lower our standards when it comes to the voting phase, we do want to make it easier for nominations to be considered.
We don’t have any specifics at this time, and any changes we make would take effect for the July GSM. However, we do recognize that this is a burdensome process (especially with regards to the collection of supporting evidence), and we are open to any suggestions or feedback that anyone is willing to share. If you have any recommendations, please let an admin know.
If you have a nomination you’ve been working on, the deadline to submit it for consideration at the next GSM is 7:00 pm UTC on Sunday, June 6 (a little over a week from now). We are in fairly high need of new moderators, especially for individuals outside of the Americas, so please send in nominations if you have them.
Yoshi has stepped down
Yesterday (unrelated to the ASM), MinecraftYoshi26 announced, and the remainder of the admins accepted, his resignation from the staff team effective immediately. Yoshi has stepped down so that he can spend time preparing to enter the workforce and pursuing other endeavors. Yoshi’s in-game rank has been set to Governor for his towns of Hummingbird Islands and Itokani. His resignation announcement is available in #announcements in Discord.
Yoshi has been with the server since the beginning and has instituted some of our most popular community events. From The Amazing Race to the MRTvision Screenshot Contests to spontaneous games of Bootleg Telephone, Yoshi has made some truly incredible contributions to the community, something that we are incredibly grateful for. While we certainly hope that other members and staff will bring similar large events to the server in the future, there is something special about the events that Yoshi has conducted that we don’t think anyone will be able to replicate to the same style, degree, and scale that Yoshi has while he has been on staff. We can’t thank Yoshi enough for everything that he has done for us, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.
As a result of Yoshi’s departure (and the recent departures of godzilltrain and megascatterbomb), the admins are considering retiring the concept of “titled” positions, with the exception of Head Administrator. The Special Events Coordinator title will not be assigned to anyone at this time, partially because we hope that special events are run by a diverse group of members in the future.
Upcoming meeting schedule
We are making two adjustments to the meeting schedule:
- The July GSM will be happening this year, and will occur on July 10.
- The July ISM has been moved forward one week to Saturday, July 24.
Staff meetings in June and August are not affected and will occur on their usual dates.
We are excited to announce two housekeeping updates, based on the January GSM items, subsequent testing, and some agenda items for the February GSM:
- Our first post-Zeta full-world Dynmap render is complete! Thank you to Mega and Frumple for testing this out and running it locally, to save us time and allowing WorldEdits and the like to continue. The map has been rendered based on a snapshot from January 10, so any changes made to the world since then will need to be rendered again, however we now have a full 3D render in addition to the flat render.
- We are changing the GSM and ISM agenda release schedule. We have posted links to the February GSM and January ISM agendas in Discord. Going forward we will release agendas as soon as they open for submissions. Note that this does not impact moderator nominations: those are still due at 19:00 UTC seven days before a GSM, and we’ll publish those when all candidates have confirmed or declined their interest in the position.
For those who are considering nominating someone for Moderator, please submit nominations for the February GSM by 19:00 UTC on February 7. Several players have preemptively declined the position or been vetoed in previous cycles; those names are in a pinned message in #nominations-general in Discord or in the master member list.
The final staff meeting of the year is now behind us, so let’s take a look at what happened.
New Moderator and updates to the voting procedures
At the end of the last GSM we made some tweaks to the voting procedures for new moderator candidates. Specifically, a candidate will be promoted if at least two-thirds of the cast votes are “Yes”, and the candidate is not vetoed by Frumple. Staff must be prepared to defend any vote, but especially if voting “Neutral”. Note that a veto is different than a “No” vote; Frumple can vote “No” without vetoing a candidate completely.
With those changes taking effect at this GSM, we had two candidates:
- Needn_NL, who we also reviewed back in November, was not promoted as the final vote tally was 5-5-0 (5 Yes, 5 Neutral, 0 No).
- Skelezomperman was promoted with a final vote tally of 9-1-0.
Skele’s term has now begun and he will be learning the ropes over the coming weeks, so please be patient as he gets settled to the new position. Additionally, even though the Trustee Meetings are not an official server activity, they are a beloved component of GSM days for many members, and according to Trustee Law Skele will identify and announce a replacement presiding officer for the January GSM. Congratulations to Skele and welcome aboard!
- We discussed a proposal to post project approvals in #notifications like we do with rank changes and asset transfers. We decided against this as we think this would cause too much confusion, especially with airports. Project coordinators are free to continue posting news in #media-announcements or through the existing media and wiki channels as they always have.
- We discussed a proposal to increase the “4K” rule to 6,000 blocks, but ultimately decided not to adjust the rule. Having the limit where it is provides good accountability on projects. We did make improvements to this procedure a couple months ago to limit the chance of a waiver request being delayed, and there is still no time limit when construction has to be completed.
- The “Franchise Rules” section of the rules page has been relabeled as “Private Commercial Property Rules” to better align with how the rules are applied.
- We are updating our policies surrounding asset transfers when a player is indefinitely or permanently banned, to give them an opportunity to express their wishes on asset ownership before releasing assets to the community for IAT claims. Effective immediately:
- A player who is indefinitely or permanently banned has 14 days from the date the ban is issued to email staff a list of transfer instructions for any assets they held. This is commonly called a “will” and may list desired new owners for towns and companies. In-game money cannot be transferred. Transfer instructions should be sent to the all-staff (staff@) email, not just to admins.
- Deputy mayors can immediately assume control of their respective towns through the existing Deputy Mayor Succession process. This request can be overridden if the banned player submits transfer instructions within the 14-day period after the ban is issued. As such, deputy mayors are advised to either hold off on succeeding mayorship, or at the very least waiting to start any significant projects, until the 14-day submission period has expired or they have been explicitly named as the town’s new mayor.
- If an indefinitely or permanently banned player does not submit any transfer instructions at all within two weeks of the ban being issued, or only submits instructions for some of their assets within the two-week period, any remaining assets (except for Old World towns) will become eligible for IAT.
- Players who are temporarily banned, either by request or due to accumulating three warnings, are not subject to this policy, even if their temporary ban is longer than two weeks.
- Posting a will on the wiki is not an official submission in and of itself, however if it’s up to date, a banned player can simply state that the will on the wiki is accurate and should be executed (or, even better, simply copy and paste the text of the will into the email sent to staff).
- TL;DR: Indefinitely and permanently banned players have two weeks from their ban date to email staff a will (wiki pages don’t count). After that, anything not stated in the will becomes eligible for IAT as usual. Deputy Mayors can immediately take control of towns as usual, but can be overridden by a valid will.
- We received a request to add a sub-clause under General Rule 11 (the “Belligerent Dissent” rule) or Most Important Rule 3 which would state that conversations must be taken to private messages upon request. We don’t think this is appropriate and instead urge members to contact staff if an argument is getting heated in chat or if you’re unsure about a situation. Please resist your natural urge to insert yourself into heated arguments – if you’re a bystander, your best bet is to contact staff, especially if you’re not trained in conflict resolution or de-escalation. Several staff members do have professional conflict resolution training, so please let us know how we can help.
The only transport project we reviewed was a request to update signage on the A90. This was approved without objections.
We received four event proposals this time around.
- Funding for the MRT Winter Games 2020/2021 in Dand has been approved in full pending final confirmation of dates and times.
- Funding for a new game show, Lingo, run by autobus22, has been approved in full. (Reminder to Auto and others: as you plan your events, it’s really helpful to have a note at the end of your proposals that states the maximum budget for the event – it’s okay if you give out less!)
- The AviOff Building Competition, submitted by noahrebl, has been approved with reduced funding: all prizes will be 10% of their original proposals. This funding is held until we receive, by email, a copy of the judging criteria (ideally the exact text that will be given to judges) and a final confirmation of the date and time.
- The Winter Olympics has been denied funding due to concerns over lack of communication with the host city and a history of last-minute planning at previous Olympics (this proposal was received 6 minutes before the cutoff time for the GSM). airplane320 may resubmit this event at a future meeting, provided the proposal is submitted jointly with the host city and its mayor (in this case, Vulpicula), and the event is planned out completely before submission.
We received three IAT requests and approved all of them, though each with different notes.
The IAT of Dandenong (C2) to EliteNeon was approved in full; Sese has volunteered to assist in land regeneration and integrating the town into nearby Benion.
The IAT of FreeAir has been approved in principle, though owing to the complex nature of FreeAir’s ownership structure, we are doing this in a two-step process. EliteNeon has assumed ownership of the airline, but is not cleared to merge it into Clipper just yet. Anyone else who wishes to make an ownership claim to FreeAir, and has evidence to back up their claim, should contact staff by 19:00 UTC on Thursday, January 7 (the agenda submission cutoff for the January GSM). If no such claims are received, Elite will be free to merge the airlines at that point. However, if claims are received, we will process those at the January GSM.
Finally, the town of Chalxior (L1-L2, ZN33-ZN34) has been transferred to kyyl_, voiding a Deputy Mayor Succession claim lodged by ModernArt during the meeting. This is an unusual decision, so I’ll go into our reasoning – while Modern’s Deputy Mayor Succession claim would have normally taken priority, we decided to void it for three main reasons:
- Late submission: Modern’s objection to the IAT was received well over an hour after the GSM had started, when we normally expect IAT objections and other comments to be received by the standard start time of 19:00 UTC. Modern has stated he has been experiencing technical issues with his devices, which we acknowledge is frustrating, however he had repeatedly been on the Minecraft server and has regularly had an “online” Discord status in recent weeks, especially after the agenda was published.
- False claims in email: Modern’s email claimed that kyyl_ had made no attempt to contact ModernArt to privately come to an arrangement after an Inactive Town Bypass proposal was denied at the November ISM, and that Modern had never been notified of kyyl_’s intention to do work in the area. Both of these claims were disproven with evidence submitted by kyyl_ in the original IAT request, and left us with the sense that the claim was submitted solely to block kyyl_ from receiving the town rather than an honest request.
- History of inactivity and abandoning towns: Modern has a long history of receiving or starting towns, and then either becoming inactive or abandoning the town. As Chalxior is a key transport hub (with the start of the Lakeshore Line and the main gateway to the northern portions of Wards 1, 2, 8, and 9), we preferred ensuring that the town’s mayor is an active member, so that even though kyyl_ has indicated changes to the town itself will be very minimal, transport connections can still be made and given proper oversight.
Please check the Events Calendar for information regarding community events over the holidays. While there is currently nothing official planned, there are a lot of member-organized events happening between now and the end of the year.
While they will look different this year, we know that the holidays are an important time of year for a lot of members and staff, so there is no December ISM (it would have been held on Sunday, December 27). The next staff meeting will be a General Staff Meeting on Saturday, January 9, with moderator nominations due at 19:00 UTC on Saturday, January 2.
Have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
Winter is coming! (…Well, for those in the Northern Hemisphere. And it honestly feels like it’s been winter for about 15 years at this point. And good lord why does it get dark so early?) As another month has come to a close, let’s round up what we discussed at the Infrastructure Staff Meeting on November 26. Apologies that these results are so delayed!
We had eleven transport projects to review this time around. Eleven. Y’all were busy. So here’s what we talked about and what’s been cleared.
- Modifications to the northeast corner of the A0
- The B42 from East New Brazil to Marisol
- The B209 from Encinitas to San Diego and Solana Beach
- An inactive town bypass at Lawrenceville
- The CentraLink Metro E Line in Central City (I have taken over administration of this project to ensure that stations are being built with high-quality interiors)
- Phase One of the A360 Zeta Ring Road
- The B288 from Malosa to Tulipsburg
- A BluRail inactive town bypass at Bearainstein
- A proposed addition/extension to the B22 was partially approved: while the previously-set conditions were met, we have concerns about terraforming along the existing road. We have partially approved joining the islands together in Ottia Islands and signing the segment as the B22.
- An inactive town bypass that would have allowed the A1 to tunnel under Chalxior was denied as the town currently does not have a mayor. This can be re-proposed once ownership is settled.
- The B84 from Las Playas to Ardaman was denied as frogggggg already has an active B-road project that we’d like to see finished first, the terraforming issues mentioned in the B22 project, and the road is going to an unranked town (generally this last point isn’t an issue on its own, though).
- Prize amounts for the MRT Video Contest were adjusted downwards to account for a slightly smaller participant pool.
- Prize amounts for the MRT Transit Awards, organized by PtldKnight and Skelezomperman, were increased and approved.
- LondonThameslink has been approved and received funding to hold another Pub Quiz.
- A spleef tournament in Rockham was approved with full funding.
- The MRT Taiga Line extension to the Lakeshore Line was approved, on the condition that the future T59 station will require an IAT, but will not be regenerated.
- Holiday ranks are now active and will remain so until December 31. They are:
- Guest: Mistletoe
- Member: Snow
- Citizen: Icicle
- Trustee: Bauble
- Councillor: Tinsel
- Mayor: Present
- Senator: Wreath
- Governor: Holly
- Premier: Star
- Moderator: Nutcracker
- Administrator: Candy Cane
- Owner: Socc
The next GSM is on Sunday, December 13, with topics due at 19:00 UTC on December 11. As there is no Infrastructure Staff Meeting in December, this is the final full-staff meeting of the year. The next meeting after this one will be a General meeting on Saturday, January 9, so if you have events or projects you’d like reviewed, please submit them sooner than later.