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BANNEDFEST 2014 Nontroversy

What the ToS doesn’t say — or does it?

I. BANNEDFEST 2014: How the Grinch stole Christmas ornaments

From the beginning to the end of the recent Winterfest competition, ornaments appeared on every page of the game.

No formal rules were stated about how ornaments could (or could not) be collected. The directions were vague; with the implied goal being to collect as many possible in exchange for an unspecified reward at Christmastime.

However, after the fruits of the most recent celebration were cashed in, players watched as the accounts of multiple “Ornament Dons” and State Dons were terminated. Meanwhile, a handful of former victims were boosted.

Numerous bans were reportedly issued for offences such as scripting, auto-refreshing, or even manually refreshing pages to gather ornaments.

I spoke to Mika, who said:
“I don't think we have any rules for the ornament hunt specifically but they'd still be subject to the same rules as every other feature — don't knowingly abuse it. If you find a bug, let us know and don't touch it anymore; don't pass around information about a bug to let others abuse it etc. Basically, if you're knowingly mistreating something then you're in the wrong…,”
Mika said

II. Refreshments Forbidden: Scripting, auto-refreshing, and reloading pages by hand

According to Head Moderator:
“Refreshing is not allowed on pages that allow you to repeat actions, though these are mostly altered to prevent this from happening already. The ornament hunt was an exception to that.”
Mika said

On the other hand, Mikaalso indicated that it is not against the rules for an owner to manually refresh pages in order to watch his or her casino profits. ModeratorSky had this to add about gathering ornaments:

[quote=Sky]“Looking at it from the abstract, I would say that if someone wanted to waste their time repeatedly pressing the F5 button to speed up the process of collecting ornaments then that is something that is an option available to every player, and so would not be scripting. It's just being sad.”

The Terms of Service dictate that one may not use an auto-refresher, script or any application of that nature in order to gain an advantage; however, it makes no statements regarding the manual refreshing of pages, despite the fact that several community members, including Moderator Caboose, seem to believe that manually refreshing pages has “never been allowed.”

Rules should be specified before or as a given event begins; new rules should not be created after-the-fact, nor should unwritten rules be retroactively enforced with the ban-hammer.

III. Beyond Bootlegging: What else is prohibited in the world of interpretation?

When approached for an interview regarding these discrepancies in the rules, Caboose was quick to the draw in the Terms of Service, citing the rules as needing to be followed.

He expressed that end-users are expressly disallowed from
“us(ing) errors in the system (this is the game and hardware) to benefit from it. This is considered cheating. Using any devices and/or programs including, but not limited to, auto-refreshers, to gain an unfair advantage is cheating and a ban will result without warning. All bugs should be reported to an administrator as soon as discovered.”
Caboose said

Caboose also drew attention to the amorphous offence of “making attempts/actions to reduce the quality of the service as a whole,” for which a player can be “banned despite an investigation.”

“Sometimes we have to rely on the good old fashioned ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck,’”
Caboose said

Yes, it would seem it is still a duck...

“This is quite a vague statement that allows us to target people such as The Family or The Syndicate, who it is believed act purely out of malice against other players to ruin their experience. That rule gives us the right to say ‘What you're doing is prickish, stop it or we're coming for you". It's basically writing down what shouldn't even need to be said amongst civilized humans,”
Sky said
explained Sky.

In other words, any given Bootlegger could be terminated indiscriminately if the Elite Guard ultimately interprets his or her actions to be of malicious intentions.

Thank you for the article, a most interesting read! We need other articles just like it for our Buzz; just BM JestObserving or Nontroversy to send your articles anonymously.