MUsings

Trolls Just Never Learn

A bit of entertaining stupidity arrived by email earlier today. It seems the bottom feeders over at WORA renewed their fascination with Blood of Dragons and, as usual, a few particularly spectacular trolls have surfaced with more and more amusing claims.

Before I get into addressing some of those, however, lets just clear one thing up for those who doubt that we actually have approval for Blood of Dragons from George R.R. Martin and/or imagine that we only have some kind of very superficial connection to him. The situation, in brief, is that since contacting GRRM in 1998 to ask for permission to run Blood of Dragons, our connection to him has changed from “just” fans running a site to helping with fact-checking of the last two novels and finally to actually collaborating with him on a book. We take the restrictions he asked for when he first approved Blood of Dragons very seriously not only because we respect an author’s right to his intellectual property but because he is also a colleague and a friend.

These restrictions are actually at the root of the latest WORA spectacle, where an unauthorized A Song of Ice and Fire MUSH is trying to argue that it is fine for former Blood of Dragons players to take their Blood of Dragons characters and reuse them on this MUSH. I invite you to take a look at our Copyright and our License. You cannot get onto the game with a character without typing I HAVE READ AND ACCEPT THE USER AGREEMENT, meaning that players do accept the contents of those files as a condition for playing on the game.

To be more specific, we are not trying to enforce that someone can’t create a character with exactly the same persona and a highly similar background to what they had on Blood of Dragons. You cannot copyright an idea, after all. But the specific material written for Blood of Dragons—description, background, etc—cannot be reused unless all details that identify it as A Song of Ice and Fire are removed. They also cannot reuse, in whole or in part, the family trees that we have created for Blood of Dragons. Keep in mind that wholly “original” characters happen very, very rarely on Blood of Dragons; just about everyone takes up a character that we already created the basic template for. Yes, they are very bare bones to start with, but they are still our creations. So the person arguing that the characters being ported to this other game weren’t roster characters is entirely misinformed since there’s actually only a single character CGed on the game that started out as an original character rather than as a character from our pre-created family trees. For those unfamiliar with the game, those family trees are our roster, since the CDB (Character Database) is built from those.

(It should, I hope, be perfectly clear to everyone that if someone came to Blood of Dragons and took up a previously played character—that is, one already fully CGed—they most definitely cannot reuse any part of that character elsewhere since they did not create it in the first place.)

Now, to discuss some of the trolls:

One poster claims that when she met GRRM 11 years ago (so 2002 or 2003, I would guess), he told her (on the topic of MU*s) that “I’d really like one of those for my books.” This doesn’t sound very plausible to my ears given that he approved our game in 1998 (so why would he say some years later that he’d “like one of those” when he knew there was one being made?) and only after consulting with agents, lawyers etc and placing some fairly stringent requirements on us to feel comfortable with the situation. The posters guess that we probably struck up a similar conversation with him at a meeting is also incorrect; we emailed him and had a response after about 6 months or so, after he had looked into the matter thoroughly. The relevant part of his approval email is quoted in our FAQ. I suppose some people might still assume that its just made up, but then I’d like to direct your attention back to the beginning—with the connection that we do have to GRRM, do you really think we’d lie about that?

Then, of course, we have our number #1 fan, repeating the same nonsense that I already addressed before, which all stems from his ego being oh so hurt because he didn’t get to play a Kingsguard. He added a few more made-up details this time, such as claiming that Balerion is playing Prince Aemon (a Feature character). As with any Feature (that is, canon character) they are never used as regular PCs, they are just run on a highly temporary basis by Staff when needed. But oh no, he claims he was literally told that “Well, George R.R. Martin said that only we can play features because we know how to play them better.” Now, unlike this marvel of a person I am unable to recall exact quotes from conversations held a number of years back, but what he most likely was told was something along the lines of “Our agreement with George R.R. Martin included not allowing players to use canon characters, but staff can use them on a limited basis to allow players to interact with them. But no one will have a canon character as their PC.”

As usual, anyone who actually has any questions about this can email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Or why not log onto Blood of Dragons and page Nymeria or Balerion.

Comments
. I did log into the game,…

I did log into the game, and I did ask questions, and even praised parts of the game on WORA. I don’t understand how participating in the negative feedback loop helps your case, instead of heading on to the positive.

Posted on Feb 06 2014 at 23:32 CET by Thenomain
. Indeed, you logged into…

Indeed, you logged into the game and asked questions. Questions that had half of the Greeters on-line paging me and/or noting on the Greeter channel that this guest seemed to be trolling (pretending not to know the answers to questions before you pose them, just to see how they are answered, tends to come across as a pretty obvious strategy), especially as you moved on from anything game specific and somewhat relevant to discussing game philosophy in general. I think you may have a communication problem given how your efforts were perceived by those on-line. Then again, I don’t really buy that you weren’t intending to troll, so I suppose that did come across as it was intended after all.

By your last statement here I presume you mean that I should simply ignore what is being said on WORA or elsewhere. I have never understood why anyone should be encouraged to let personal attacks and misinformation stand unopposed. Especially the latter and if you look at the post you are commenting on you’ll see that other than the opening paragraph, it is focused entirely on clearing up some apparent misunderstandings about the game and answering the claims of a habitual liar.

Does that do any good? I have no idea and I don’t really care. But if anyone would happen to be interested, the information is now out there. That is what I care about.

Posted on Feb 07 2014 at 05:59 CET by Linda
. If people on the game…

If people on the game thought I was a troll, then they were wrong, and its an unfortunate lack of communications. One greeter did come to me, and we did have a good conversation about the game and Mu* game theory. Nobody else did.

I find it most notable that you yourself didn’t come to me—I was on the game for quite some time—and instead felt to post here about the evils of, well, a very, very niche group of people who, outside that niche, don’t much matter. They are typical day-to-day folk, some of whom are very intelligent for their reasoning and discussing of the things they don’t like without being vitrolic or unable to see the other side of a disagreement. I’d like to consider myself one of them.

For anyone who wishes to talk to me about my own experiences on the game, or this kind of game, please do. I’m on gmail, with the username that I’m using here. I’ve been around quite some very long time.

Posted on Feb 08 2014 at 16:59 CET by Thenomain
. It seems as if you are…

It seems as if you are under the impression that most of the players on the game are unaware of the conflict between us and WORA when in fact most of those that aren’t new to MUSHing (we get a lot of those due to the current popularity of the setting) are quite aware. Given this, it did not take people much time to conclude that you were there to ask questions and report back on your findings to WORA rather than to ask questions as a person interested in playing the game.

As for why I did not enter the conversation until much later, that is because I was working in another window. I looked in on the game and saw a lot of talking on the Guest channel, so I asked on our Greeter channel if I was needed. That is when the first person told me that the guest seemed to be a troll from WORA. After reviewing what had been said, I have to say I thought that looked like a very reasonable conclusion. I saw no reason to engage you privately when you had chosen the Guest channel as your medium, and do note that my previous post here encouraged players with questions about any of these situations to log onto the game and page myself or Balerion with their questions. Sure, if you want to know how players experience the game, you have to ask players, but your questions were largely about game policies, and we make those. Players can tell you what a specific policy is on the game but they cannot answers questions about the reasons behind the policies.

In particular, asking other players—even Greeters—about their feelings regarding other ASoIaF games is kind of a moot point. I am sure there are some who don’t agree with us (or with GRRM) on such matters as unapproved ASoIaF games and they can do so all they want in private. But on the game, as on westeros.org as a whole, we want to respect GRRM’s wishes and players who disagree can keep that to themselves.

Finally, I am not quite sure why you find it notable that I would post here about your visit or any other comments I might have about WORA. This is my personal site, after all, and people tend to post all sorts of things on their personal blogs. And, as I said before, I like my version of events to be posted somewhere. I suppose you can call it a matter of principle for me.

(P.S Unless you have actually played on the game—which I do not believe that you have—I am not sure what sort of experiences you could talk about. I am also not sure what “this kind of game” is supposed to mean in this context, even if I have also been around a very long time.)

Posted on Feb 09 2014 at 04:55 CET by Linda
. As an outsider to all of…

As an outsider to all of this, who stumbled upon it through third parties, I’m just going to point out that that your “I HAVE READ AND ACCEPT THE USER AGREEMENT” can’t actually be enforced, as it isn’t a proper Digital Signature (which is defined separately in many countries and even their states and provinces - Sweden, for instance, requires that anything used for Digital Signatures be properly certified, matching very specific criteria), as they have to be based on more than IP, which can be altered, changed, or used by multiple people (which, do note, is disallowed to be used for digital signatures by Swedish law, as one criteria for them is that it “can be satisfactorily protected by the legitimate signatory against use
or access by others.”). You can only internally enforce any such regulations… which would solely be banning the party in question. Anything else is based solely on the individual’s consent.

Posted on Apr 23 2014 at 05:37 CET by Adam
. A distinction is clearly…

A distinction is clearly made between Electronic Signatures and Digital Signatures and while it is absolutely correct that a Digital Signature requires quite precise conditions to be fulfilled, Electronic Signatures can be much more varied in their nature but have still been held as valid.

For example, forum clickwrap agreements (such as the kind where the user agrees that they are over 13 years old) have have held up in court. In other cases it has been noted that even signing your name at the end of an email can be considered an Electronic Signature (this is considered valid for the purpose of submitting a DMCA).

Thus I see no immediate reason to think that this kind of agreement would not hold up in court, where that to become an issue.

Posted on Apr 27 2014 at 03:08 CET by Linda
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