As you probably know, I was recently elected by our staff team to be a Head of Staff for Paradise.
You may not know exactly what a Head of Staff (henceforth: "Headmin") does, or what my plans are in particular.
This thread is going to explain those things.
First, what does a headmin do?
Headmins have a few responsibilities beyond those of a normal Game Admin:
Co-ordination and management of all branches of the staff team
Handling Admin Complaints
Enforcing staff policy and admin guidelines
Moderating interpersonal conflicts, as needed
Managing certain back-end things, such as our Patreon
Voting on the acceptance/rejection of PRs submitted to our Github (IE: changes to the game's code, features, sprites, etc)
Representing Paradise to other SS13 servers
Handling anything that doesn't get handled by other people, eventually, for whatever reason
Like any Paradise headmin, I will be doing these things, as they are inherent to the position.
That said, most staff (including me) who run for election as headmin also have a specific platform that they run for election on.
My platform was:
I know those sound a bit vague.
So, let me give you some concrete examples of what I intend to do.
First, let's take PR voting.
Yes, headmins vote on PR acceptance. But I plan to do more than simply vote.
I consider every PR author that contributes to our codebase to be valuable - part of the team that makes our server awesome. I want to encourage PR authors and grow the number of people who contribute to our codebase.
As such, I will be following a set of best practices, designed to ensure PR authors feel valued, and treated fairly. My hope is this will encourage quality contributions over time.
I will not be voting against any PR, any author's work, without first explaining exactly why, clearly and directly, on the PR itself. If my issue with the PR is fixable, I will explain how it can be fixed, and give the PR author some time to fix it, or at least respond, before I consider voting against the PR. In essence I want to be sure PR authors know they are getting a fair shake, that they never feel like they're being left in the dark, and they never feel like they need to guess what they need to do in order to get their PRs merged. If I consider a PR idea totally unviable, to the point it cannot be fixed, I will aim to say so as early as possible, so that the author doesn't invest more time into it under the false impression it has good chances of being merged. More generally, when I comment on PRs, I will aim to be very clear about who I'm speaking for, and what I mean. I will also make myself available to any PR author who has questions. While I recognize that this will give PR authors direct feedback they're not used to getting, ultimately I think (and as a PR author myself, I believe I have good reason to think) they will quickly appreciate it and be encouraged by it. I have also be encouraging other headmins and maintainers to follow these best practices. More generally, I want a more constructive, informative atmosphere on our github and I am working with everyone involved, especially the maints and other headmins, to achieve this. As part of this effort, I have already appointed someone to be responsible for helping to moderate Github, and discourage toxic comments there.
Second, let's take accountability.
I have already promised to put myself up for re-election in 6 months by the staff team, so, if they don't think I'm doing a good job after that time, they can boot me out and get someone else in.
Accountability is for everyone, though, not just me. This includes admins, players, and even visitors who don't play here.
If someone has an issue with an admin's conduct, they need to explain the issue in our Admin Complaints forum.
It is against the rules to discuss bans and other punishments in our discord server, and for the sake of eliminating toxicity, holding admins accountable under our guidelines, and holding players accountable under our Discord rules, I will be enforcing this rule, and pushing admins more generally to do the same. Consider this your forewarning that under my plan, complaining about being banned in our Discord will not be tolerated like it has before. This also applies to in-game LOOC, deadchat, OOC and similar. This is not a new rule - such talk has been against the rules for a long time. What is new is that I will be enforcing the already-written rule, and encouraging all other admins to do so as well.
Third, let's talk about better communication.
One of the long-standing issues we have as a server, with our elected leadership, multiple branches of staff, etc, has historically been a lack of unified vision for the future of the server.
Obviously, this is an enormous topic to tackle, and progress on it is going to require lots of work, and not just by me. It is the sort of thing that will require lots of discussion over a period of time.
Still, I am already taking steps to move us in this direction.
The first change you may notice is the creation of a #changes-wanted channel on Github. This channel is the new central repository for lists, posted by headmins and maints, of all features/PRs/etc they want implemented for the server. There are many benefits to this, such as helping PR authors choose a PR topic that's more likely to get merged, triggering healthy debate on server direction, etc. Ultimately though, this is just a first step towards what I really want for the server: a more general development roadmap. I know we're a volunteer project, a 2D spaceman game, and we're never going to be as organized/detailed in our future development goals as a professional game company is. Still, I don't think its unrealistic for us to take basic steps, like agreeing a list of long-term goals, trying to make progress towards them, and tracking that progress. This discord channel is the first step in that direction.
I hope I've given you a sense of what I'm about as a head of staff.
Obviously, the changes I want to make will require that I work closely with the rest of the staff team.
My hope, though, is that I can push the server in the right direction. That I can get people pushing together in the same direction more effectively.
And, if not, well, the staff can always vote me out again in 6 months.
Here's to the future!