RFC: Improving The Mana Drain



  • RFC: Improving The Mana Drain

    Or, Better Living through Stricter Posting Standards

    Preface

    Why I’m posting this

    Or, Something is rotten in The Mana Drain

    In the past months, I have noticed a marked decrease in the overall post quality on this forum. This decrease has taken the form of low effort posts, poorly reasoned arguments, and, personal attacks.

    These personal attacks are by far the most alarming. I worry that we have lost sight of why we are here. The person who introduced me to gaming, Will Pagani, founder of Asgard Games and developer at Privateer Press frequently remarks,

    Remember: The object of the game is to win. But the point of the game is to have fun.

    I believe that all of us play Vintage primarily to have fun. While winning certainly is fun, it is not our primary goal. Vintage has a dramatically higher cost of entry and dramatically lower prize pool. This means that, even if one wanted to, one could never “live the dream” or “go infinite” by playing Vintage. I believe that Vintage is special in this respect as the need to win is therefore diminished.

    How I’ve come up with these proposed rules

    I’ve looked over the rules from The Source and the TMD archive. I’ve added in some observations of the application of unwritten rules (ie, mod actions that occur when a post doesn’t explicitly violate any written rule). And I’ve added a bit of my own opinion both about the problems I observe here on TMD and what my ideal Magic forum might look like.

    Proposed Rules

    Or, I came to The Mana Drain to post deliberately.

    ...the main goal of TMD is to be that "medical journal" of Vintage where ideas and decks are thought-out and criticized at the highest level.

    - Dante, on the old TMD

    A. Posting decks

    1. No post shall consist of only a decklist.
    • An exception shall be made for posts made in response to a request for a decklist that has been previously discussed. IE, In a thread about a particular deck or card, a user may post a decklist without further comment if that user has previously discussed the deck without posting the list and the list has been requested by another user.
    1. A deck’s thread may be locked and directed to a new thread if a suitably high quality primer has been written for that deck.
    • Rules regarding primers TBD
    1. Card choices shall be addressed.
    • Any non-obvious card choice shall have reasons listed for choosing that card, including other cards considered for that slot.
    • Obvious card choices may be grouped together. But a decklist shall not be expressed solely through obvious choices. EG, Moxen and mana-producing lands may be listed as "Mana producers." But Oath of Druids, Forbidden Orchard, Griselbrand, Yawgmoth's Will, and Memory's Journey may not be listed as one large "Oath Combo" grouping.
    1. Any post containing a decklist for a deck not already present in the metagame must answer the following:
    • Why play this deck over alternatives?
    • How does this deck match up against other decks present in the metagame?
    • An exception to this rule is made when the context of the decklist is an illustration of an idea.
      • EG: A spoiler post may include a potential decklist for that card.
      • EG: A discussion of a potential changes to the banned and restricted list may include a decklist to illustrate how a deck may change post-restriction.

    B. Single Card Discussion (SCD)

    1. An SCD thread shall begin with an English-language image of the card and the card's full oracle text.
    • If multiple printings of a card exist, the image used shall be of a printing whose text most closely matches the current oracle text of the card.
    • The resolution of the image shall meet or exceed the resolution of the scan/picture available on Gatherer.
      • At the time of this writing, that resolution is 233 x 310 pixels.
      • Users are encouraged to use the scans from MagicCards.info, which have a resolution of 312 x 445, a 92% increase.
    • For recently spoiled cards, a best effort shall be made. The original poster shall be expected to update their post when a suitably high-quality image becomes available.
    1. SCD opening posts shall answer at minimum the following:
    • What deck or archetype is this card being considered for?
      • If this card creates a new deck or archetype, a decklist shall be included.
    • What card(s) does this card replace and why is this card better than the card(s) it is replacing?
    • What changes to the metagame have made this card an option?
      • In the case of spoilers, this may be omitted as the change may be assumed to be, "This card was printed."

    C. Respect Each Other

    Or, Don't be a dick.

    1. Users shall make a best-effort attempt to partake in a dialectic; not a debate.
    • Debate means you are trying to win; dialectic means you are using disagreement to discover what is true.
    1. Users shall be honest.
    1. Users shall not flame other users.
    • Flame baiting shall be considered the same as flaming.
    • Users shall not reply to baiting or flaming with more flaming.
      • Users shall report flaming.
    1. Users shall not make ad hominem attacks. Criticize plays, analysis, or logic but not each other.
    2. Users shall not state anything as a fact unless they truly believe it to be so.
    • This includes opinions. A fact is something that is demonstrably true.
    • Users shall not be criticized stating that they are unsure of whether something is a fact.
    • Users are encouraged to reference the Comprehensive Rules, the Magic Tournament Rules, the Infraction Procedure Guide, and the Magic Rules Chat before making statements regarding rules or policies.
    1. Users shall not encourage violence of any kind against any person or group.
    2. Users shall refrain from obscene, graphic, or otherwise offensive topics or words. This includes but is not limited to the following. Whether something violates this rule is not up for debate or discussion with moderators and/or admins. Only the I know it when I see it test is required for a moderator or admin to determine that something violates this rule.
    • Profane or vulgar language
    • Racism
    • Sexism
    • Anything related to any individual or group's sexual orientation or gender identity

    D. General Posting Quality

    1. Users shall make a best-effort attempt to use proper English grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
    2. Users shall use paragraph breaks to to separate thoughts and avoid run-on sentences.
    1. Users shall not derail threads with off topic posts.
    2. Shorthand card names reduce readability and increase confusion, especially for newer players. Shorthand card names shall be used sparingly. Shorthand card names shall not be used if the card being referred to is not immediately obvious.
    • An exception shall be made in cases where only one card that could match that abbreviation is relevant to the current discussion.
      • Example: A decklist contains Jace, the Mind Sculptor and no other Jace planeswalker cards. "Jace" shall be assumed to be referring Jace, the Mind Sculptor as it is the only Jace being discussed.
    • Examples of acceptable shorthand: Ruby, Sea, Workshop, Snapcaster, Chalice, "5 Moxen" for Mox Ruby, Underground Sea, Mishra's Workshop, Snapcaster Mage, Chalice of the Void, and all five Alpha/Beta/Unlimited Moxen
    • Examples of unacceptable shorthand: Jace, Lili, Jace 2.0, Seal, Lighting Bolt Machine

    E. Reserved thread content

    Users shall not discuss the following outside of threads specifically intended for their dicussion:

    1. Reprints, including The Official Reprint Policy aka "The Reserved List"
    • This includes discussion regarding satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a reprint or lack of reprint of a non-reserved card.
    1. The Banned and Restricted List, except as it relates to:
    • Recent changes and how they affect the topic at hand
    • Preparing for possible future changes EG, If an update is scheduled shortly before a tournament, players may wish to discuss and practice with possible post-restriction decks.
    1. Proxies, playtest cards, counterfeits, and related matters
    2. Prices or availability of cards, except as it affects the likelihood of a card or deck being played.
    3. Problems or complaints about Magic: The Gathering Online, except as it affects the likelihood of a card or deck being played.
    4. Any other document or action taken by Wizards of the Coast or another group unless directly relevant to the conversation at hand. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • The Vintage Super League
    • Policies of Tournament Organizers


  • I would honestly stop using the mana drain completely if these "posting standards" were put into place. I don't have to spend my time on this website by any means and neither does anyone else, be grateful for the traffic. If you put me in a position where i'm expected to act like a fucking robot, it would make me not want to be apart of this place. We're all fucking adults here, I don't think flaming is an issue. If you can't handle it, go away and come back when you have thicker skin. Flames ARE warranted sometimes. In terms of sharing vintage information, be thankful someone is willing to post any information at all. We don't have to share a thing. Don't get all nitpicky because you don't like their grammar, format or whether or not it has some duplicate information bits that are partially found somewhere else. Rather than force users to follow guidelines for sharing this information, just be thankful you have people willing to share it in the first place. We can easily keep this information to ourselves and have an advantage over those that aren't in the know. If you don't like how it is written, or what is written, scroll past and ignore it. No one is forcing you to read it, just be thankful the information is available in the first place. We literally don't have to contribute a thing here. Just be grateful people are willing to come by and visit in the first place. This isn't a safe-space, we're all adults here, if you don't like something, move along. If you can't handle a little flaming, grow thicker skin or put your big boy shorts on. It's that simple.



  • @HouseOfCards said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    If you can't handle a little flaming, grow thicker skin or put your big boy shorts on. It's that simple.

    This is how you shrink a community.

    Edit: And by this, I mean being openly hostile. Our community is small enough. Why are we so unwelcoming?



  • I agree with the original post that something is off with the discussions lately, @HouseOfCards post as a good point in case : ). Flaming is not adult behavior, that's something adolescents do. I do, however, agree with @HouseOfCards that the proposed rules seem too rigorous and would probably mean nobody would post anymore. So a good initiative @thecravenone but maybe a bit less strict with the rules?



  • @kistrand "something is off"-What an arbitrary thing to say. As if people are supposed to post in a way to appease you or something. It sounds self-centered if you ask me. Have you considered maybe people are so incredibly frustrated with the state of vintage? Things haven't changed for over a year. It's a 2.5/3 deck format when it comes to large tournaments. I spent thousands to play a format in which I would think has the most diversity when it comes to actual playable options/creativity given that vintage has the largest cardpool. I come to learn that it is the exact opposite. I also come to learn DCI/WOTC don't give a fuck about the vintage community and also suck at their JOB in balancing the format. This gives me SOOOOOOOOOO much confidence as a "shareholder". WOTC/DCI is essentially responsible for the animosity/lashback from the community. Of course we are going to pour out how we feel on public forums that were created for the sole purpose of discussion of this format.
    Flaming plays an extremely minute role in shrinking the community. I would say the staleness of this format, the pricetag for the cards and the cardsharks who try to rip others off/convince others to sell their collections are the largest contributing factors. Also, You are stretching the definition of adult inserting your own ideology. Just because people don't behave the way you want them to doesn't mean you have to label them either. It's almost as if you are acting like a hypocrite with that subtle flame LOL. It's not like people are flaming for no reason, or at least from what I have seen over the last month or so.


  • Administrators

    Make no mistake, there is no policy change I could make that would not result in people quitting the site. There are already tons of people who refuse to use the site unless I make specific changes. (Though usually people have issues with the community in ways that policy changes are difficult to control)

    I quite like a lot of the rules in the original post. I think some of the decklist/single card discussion rules are a bit over-specific and exclude some good posts, but for the most part I would love it if people on the site did all of those things. Unfortunately I don't think that could happen without aggressive moderation, and ultimately lots of bannings, and even if it could, it would still alienate people. TMD has such a long history in vintage (one that predates me) that I feel a responsibility not to take it away from anyone who wants to talk about vintage ... but ultimately that's probably hurting the site.

    TMD serves many masters, possibly to the detriment of most potential users. There is no correct set of rules, policies, subfora ... there are just decisions that make the site better or worse for different audiences. It's not at all clear to me that a wider audience is better, and there are many groups that want to use the site who are directly opposed in what they want to get out of it. I've been in a state of analysis paralysis on this subject for quite some time now (decisiveness might not be my strong suit).

    The site has definitely migrated from both my vision for it, and what would make the site most engaging for me as a player. Honestly I'm entirely unsure about next steps.


  • TMD Supporter

    I think that the main issue is that direct, personal attacks, of the kind that were more strictly moderated on the previous iteration of the Mana Drain, are not really as curbed as they should be. I don't think there are any problems with people talking about Banned and Restricted List or Reserved List or any other sensitive topic. I think the problem is when people make angry personal attacks on people. That's when things can really spiral out of control. If the site could simply implement a rule prohibiting that, and then enforce it, I don't think the site would be as off-putting to some people.



  • @Brass-Man I understand that it is hard to do much about how things are. I just miss the really good deck primers by the great players and subsequent discussions, I used to learn so much from just reading through those. Now most of those people aren't on the site anymore, and I'm guessing some of them were among those you refer to who don't use the site anymore. Of course we need a place to discuss the state of the format, including restrictions and DCI reasoning behind them, but now it feels like every single thing on the site derails into the same discussion over and over again.



  • These forums would be a better place if I couldn't access it via the IP address because work has the actual URL blocked.



  • @kistrand That is exactly what animosity does. It spreads. WOTC/DCI is responsible for it. If they had made the right calls on restrictions over the last 2-3 years, none of it would be present today, or at least not even close to the degree that we are experiencing.



  • @Brass-Man I think a huge issue is that the web, itself, has fundamentally changed in gigantic ways -- especially in how people interact with each other.

    Coming to TMD is "effort" for many people. They have to step outside of their aggregated social media platforms that everything else lives in and log into a site that's designed to discuss a single topic.

    A lot of people are just going to join a FB group on the topic because they're already on FB. There's already A LOT of momentum working against people coming here (and any other similar forum sites).

    With that all in mind, you want to do what you can to make this a welcoming place for those that are going to put the effort into visiting and contributing. At the same time, you don't want to create barriers for anyone, as it's probably easier to stop coming here than to deal with an annoyance (perceived or otherwise) due to a new policy, etc. And oftentimes, those two goals are in opposition.

    So I can understand the paralysis -- because any change will absolutely alienate people and probably cause some to leave while doing nothing will ultimately have the same effect for different reasons. I wish I could offer a silver bullet suggestion to solve them, but I guess the best I can say is that I understand why this is so difficult.



  • At at minimum, the OP could be relabeled as "posting guidelines." Give a simple preface: "We kindly ask posters to adhere to the following posting guidelines which will be mostly self-enforced or community-referenced only." Or some such verbiage.



  • I agree it is important for the OP's on a given thread to put in effort consummate to the level of responses they would like to receive. We must also understand that this is the internet and just know that "haters gonna hate". It is just important to make your best "treat others they way you want to be treated" effort and MOVE ON.

    I have generally agreed with the laissez faire moderation approach on the new Drain, and it is fully up to the community to up the content quality. If we have reached the point where that peaks at redundant B&R blabbering and Spoiler Season (which is now year round), then no amount of moderation will solve that.



  • Here are the rules I would propose:

    1. treat each other with respect

    2. No decklist-only posts. If you are starting a post you are a starting a discussion. Not hoping somebody else starts it for you.

    That's about it.



  • @HouseOfCards said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    If you can't handle it, go away and come back when you have thicker skin.

    Well, this is why posting quality has gone down. People who didn't want to deal with the flaming went away and make high quality posts elsewhere. You got what you wanted, I guess.



  • @Hrishi Hey, i'm only taking after those who tell me to stfu or go away anytime i bring up valid complaints/suggestions for the B&R list that would drastically improve the game. I've been told to quit vintage and move onto a different format twice this week and it is only Monday. One is acceptable but the other isn't? On a similar note, it's not like i'm being openly hostile either. Someone flames me, I flame them back. Someone throws insults at me in response to a thorough analysis/explanation and theory crafting, I'll hurl one back. I don't mind going tit for tat, it is only fair.
    Let me be forward with you, open hostility directed at someone and flaming when it is justified are two very different things.



  • @HouseOfCards They are both not acceptable. I mean, your original post says "we are all adults here". Surely some self-control is not too much to ask for, then? I don't think flaming of any kind should be acceptable. This is, after all, a forums to talk about our hobby. Naturally, people are passionate and sometimes that leads to certain posts, but in general I think that assuming people have enough self-control to not be nasty isn't too much to ask for?



  • @Hrishi If someone wants to take a dig and insult someone else directly, they open themself up to be insulted. This is typically how people operate in the real world. If you guys wanna police people that initiate direct open hostility towards other users or insult other users/take digs at other users subtly in their posts, go for it. If you guys do, Make sure the discipline is directed at the person who initiates it and not at who retaliates. I personally don't believe in the philosophy of 2 wrongs don't make a right, I believe in retaliation and standing up for myself. It seems to be the only way to not be perceived as a push over. Turning the other cheek just provides more incentive for the "predator" to continue what they are doing without any consequences to their public image. Retaliate and beat them at their own game and you've just made them look like an idiot in front of everyone on a public outlet. To me that is a bigger consequence than a ban or warning. All in all, I don't care if people want to insult or flame within reason.



  • This post is deleted!


  • I had planned to write an afterword on this regarding the reaction I expected. Thankfully, HouseOfCards has stepped in with exactly what I had come to expect from TMD.

    @HouseOfCards said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    I would honestly stop using the mana drain completely if these "posting standards" were put into place.

    I've taken the time to review your posts. You have my stamp of approval to leave at any time. (STATFACTS! 17% of your posts are the fantastically useful posts in this very thread!)

    @HouseOfCards said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    Flaming plays an extremely minute role in shrinking the community.

    Why are we promoting any negative behavior!?

    When people see us playing Vintage and get excited about it, I tell them to look for my tournament annoucement post here on The Mana Drain. How many people have been turned off by seeing the negativity surrounding the format? Even if it doesn't shrink the community (though it should be pointed out that you've admitted it does, though only to a small degree), it certainly doesn't help to grow the community.

    @HouseOfCards said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    On a similar note, it's not like i'm being openly hostile either. Someone flames me, I flame them back. Someone throws insults at me in response to a thorough analysis/explanation and theory crafting, I'll hurl one back. I don't mind going tit for tat, it is only fair.

    This is demonstrably untrue. In response to my request for comments regarding increase posting standards, none of which mentions or is targetted at you (I didn't know you existed before you replied) you say

    come back when you have thicker skin

    Don't get all nitpicky

    grow thicker skin

    put your big boy shorts on

    As well as instructing me to be thankful for your exceedingly high quality posts four separate times.


    @Brass-Man said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    The site has definitely migrated from both my vision for it, and what would make the site most engaging for me as a player. Honestly I'm entirely unsure about next steps.

    It's really sad to hear that we've reached this state.


    @bmemike said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    @Brass-Man I think a huge issue is that the web, itself, has fundamentally changed in gigantic ways -- especially in how people interact with each other.

    Coming to TMD is "effort" for many people. They have to step outside of their aggregated social media platforms that everything else lives in and log into a site that's designed to discuss a single topic.

    A lot of people are just going to join a FB group on the topic because they're already on FB. There's already A LOT of momentum working against people coming here (and any other similar forum sites).

    I have a rant about this that is unrelated to Magic for when we hang out.

    @bmemike said in RFC: Improving The Mana Drain:

    With that all in mind, you want to do what you can to make this a welcoming place for those that are going to put the effort into visiting and contributing. At the same time, you don't want to create barriers for anyone, as it's probably easier to stop coming here than to deal with an annoyance (perceived or otherwise) due to a new policy, etc. And oftentimes, those two goals are in opposition.

    So I can understand the paralysis -- because any change will absolutely alienate people and probably cause some to leave while doing nothing will ultimately have the same effect for different reasons. I wish I could offer a silver bullet suggestion to solve them, but I guess the best I can say is that I understand why this is so difficult.

    For what it's worth, both The Source and The Mana Drain have reached the point that I consider the hostility to be its own barrier. I don't read anything but the pimp thread on The Source. I rarely reply to a thread that I didn't create on TMD, unless I'm a very early poster.


Log in to reply
 

WAF/WHF

Looks like your connection to The Mana Drain was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.