Out of Game Influence and You: A Reminder

Sup MU, and other communities that may have visited for the Championships. I hope this large post doesn't put anyone off!

This is a general reminder and a informational primer (for those who aren't aware) about MU's strict stance on Out of Game Information, specifically with regard to ongoing games. This reminder isn't calling anyone out in particular, it's because we've noticed a general uptick in the amount of times we've seen this behaviour in the last few months.

The vast majority of the time, people bringing OGI into games do so without bad intent. That's why we tend to moderate it lightly - because most of the time, the person doing it is just trying to be helpful, supply information, make a read on something they believe in. However, damage to game integrity is damage to game integrity, no matter how well-intentioned, and the best solution is everyone understanding the rules in the first place.

*(Also reminding people about every small circumstance that isn't really well-defined anywhere until now makes us feels like bad guys and it makes you feel bad and nobody really wins.)

Out of Game Information as defined in the Rules

As a reminder, this is the post in the rules about Out of Game Influence.

Quote Originally Posted by Newcomb (#9)
Out Of Game Information (OGI)

Mafia, as a game, can only work when the players inside the game abide by a certain kind of fiction. It's not roleplaying, not exactly, but the idea that a mafia game exists inside its own little bubble is what prevents games from degenerating into rampant angleshooting, prevents games from spilling over into other games, and lets us call each other liars without making it a personal attack.

Game integrity being paramount to healthy, fair games, MU places the highest priority on preserving it.

Here's the Spirit of the Game version of OGI, and the reasons we're against OGI influencing a game:

The spirit of the rule regarding OGI is essentially this: no one should ever post anything that isn't about the game that a second player could reasonably make an alignment read based on.

Frequently, it's the second-order effects that OGI has on the game that are so disruptive. Even if you personally see nothing wrong / nothing alignment indicative about asking the game host a question in the thread, or commenting on a player's online activity elsewhere, or making a read based on what someone who's in another game is doing in your game, it's the catastrophic ripple effect that discussing these things in the game thread has on game integrity that's the problem. Players can and will read into your OGI comments, and players will read into those comments, and so on, and suddenly the game is no longer self-contained, no longer actually about the game.

To be clear: Sometimes OGI will influence a read of yours. It happens to everyone. "Man, Person X is posting up a storm in this other game, but is a complete lurker here. Wonder if they randed wolf." That kind of thinking is bound to happen sometimes; it's unavoidable to a certain extent. What is completely unacceptable is publicly bringing up that read in the game thread.

Here's the short version, the quick and dirty "how should I act in a game" version: For the purposes of a game of mafia, everything outside the bubble should be treated (publicly) as if it doesn't exist.

  • What a player is or isn't doing online (outside of the game), anywhere, doesn't exist.
  • The game host doesn't exist. (All communication with / about mods should be done privately)
  • Reports don't exist (if you need to report something, just do it, don't mention it publicly and do not threaten to report someone.) Similarly, infractions and warnings don't exist. If you get one, handle it privately, don't mention it in the game thread.

The exceptions to "the bubble" are a player's previous mafia history / mannerisms / preferences (everything generally covered under the term "meta") excluding ongoing games, and a player alluding to their own real-life status in the context of thread activity levels.

For example, saying you're going to bed, or going to miss the first 24 hours of a day for RL reasons, or that your cat is on fire, are perfectly acceptable statements. (Though MU strongly encourages you to expeditiously assist your cat instead of posting about it in a mafia game.)

When you make such a statement, however, it is required to be alignment agnostic. No one should be able to plausibly read anything about your alignment into anything you say about your RL status.

Respect the bubble. Game integrity is an ideal that only works if everyone in the game actively works to maintain it.
OGI and Ongoing Games in Other Mafia Games

So what does this mean about ongoing games?

If you are in a game you may not use behaviour in that game to give a read on another ongoing game. You can't, it will raise questions about your alignment in that game, or who the wolfteam is in that game.

Yeah. That's the simple part.

For example, a post like this:

[Person A] is in [Other Ongoing Game] and is acting differently compared to the one we're in. I believe this means that he is a [villager/wolf/town/mafia/goodie/baddie/anti town miller survivor] as opposed to that game.
is not allowed. This is the simple application of "don't talk about ongoing games" that I'm sure you're all aware of.

Let's go into further detail and list some more situations where this rule applies.

[Person A] was in [Other Ongoing Game] and flipped [villager/wolf/town/mafia/goodie/baddie/Texas]. Given their similar behaviour in that game I think they are the same alignment.
I think a common misunderstanding is that it's OK to say this because that person has already flipped. It is not. If you want to know some reasons as to why, they include:
  • drawing attention to someone's play, even if their personal play is done, in an ongoing game, may draw attention to their interactions with unflipped players which could indicate their alignment.
  • people will angleshoot a read on you making this read as you being town. If you are in both ongoing games, it will make it very clear logically that you are town or attempting to get a townread; either way it's an angleshoot using out of game material. And that's considerably gamebreaking.

[Person A] is different the time I played with them last.
This is contextually OGI. In general you shouldn't assume that the game you played with them last ignores any ongoing games. And if you can't back up this read later with examples it's going to be really obvious you're talking about an ongoing game. So, even obliquely mentioning the game will still cause people to look into games you're vaguely referencing and you're going to get the same issues as the above.

I can't talk about this because it references an ongoing game.
Even talking about ongoing games is going to invite eyes on your ongoing game and will make people give reads that they can't expand upon because they're about ongoing games yeah I think you get the point. The fact that you haven't specified what you're talking about won't stop people looking for comparisons between the two games. So yeah, no-go.

I can talk about this ongoing game, it's mechanically locked and we're just waiting for a moderator to get online, so whatever.
In general officially wait until the end of the game before doing anything. There can be things behind the scenes that might have impact and you don't have all the info. Just wait a few more hours for the game mod to call the game.

[Person A] is acting strangely. You have caught them on this same read in another ongoing game.
This is not OGI. So long as you do not mention the italics you can try and read someone on the same lines. Just don't mention the other game.

I'm multigaming/in three other mafia games/pulling a Voxxicus/just subbed into another game.
A month or so ago, this was allowed as a trial run. We trialled it. As moderators, we decided it didn't work. This is no longer allowed.

As a final message, please note this section of the rules.

To be clear: Sometimes OGI will influence a read of yours. It happens to everyone. "Man, Person X is posting up a storm in this other game, but is a complete lurker here. Wonder if they randed wolf." That kind of thinking is bound to happen sometimes; it's unavoidable to a certain extent. What is completely unacceptable is publicly bringing up that read in the game thread.
There is no problem with thinking of a read. However you can't use that to push someone in an unrelated game or mention it. You can be biased, but you can't explicitly reference that bias in the thread.


Ongoing Games Discussion Outside of Mafia

Let's talk about a few things about how mafia can make you feel. Mafia can be an emotional, heated game. If it's like that for you, you shouldn't feel ashamed. Generally, that means you're invested in the game and you care about the outcome. Hence, you shouldn't need to regulate your emotions that may occur because of a mafia game in fear of breaking any OGI rules. In general, emotions can be caused by many different things that don't necessarily have to be because of a mafia game, so people reading into that is generally bunk anyways and I don't think anyone actually thinks about that.

What can be a problem is referencing certain events that may have happened in mafia. Several examples can include:
I don't know how to boggle help. (Posted in MU general while in a Boggle event in a mash)
Don't ever lynch a cop claim wtf? unsaid: people in a game you died in are lynching a cop claim
People who selfvote suck and should be banned. not mentioned: someone just self-voted in your game
All of these are problems because they directly reference events in an ongoing game. If you're the one posting it you may be influencing the players in the game, especially if you're posting it in a public area. Either that, or your frustration outside of the game that shouldn't be faked (because you're not in the game and you shouldn't be policing your behaviour for alignment tells outside of the game) is going to let someone get an OGI read on you. Both of these are problems.

But wait, you say. You really do want selfvoters to be banned they're anti-town! ie; the points you want to bring up are important and relevant for mafia in general. The best thing to do is to wait for the game to end.

This part of OGI is even stricter than the others because you shouldn't be posting indirect comments on things. In a game you can be biased privately and let that colour a read, since nobody will be aware why you're pushing someone. Outside of a game people will expect some reasoning, and they'll make their own assumptions.

tl;dr (again):

Don't talk about ongoing games
Don't reference ongoing games
Don't even say anything about anything about ongoing games
ongoing games bad
don't reference them for any reason
out of game information out of game information out of game information
ogi ogi ogi


9. Do Not Discuss Substitutions, Concessions, Reports, or Infractions During Play

These topics are forbidden to discuss during play, as it may cause people to infer alignment in a manner that has nothing to do with actual game play.

9a. Substitutions: Noting that a player X has subbed for player Y is fine. Noting when that occurred is fine. Discussing why someone has been subbed out, announcing you will sub out, telling someone to sub out, public speculation as to someone's alignment based on the substitution itself, all forbidden. Think what you will about this person's alignment, at your own risk. But using the substitution as reasoning is disallowed. It's bad for the game.

To be clear, you can talk about the player who was subbed out. You can say that they were subbed out. You can say when they subbed out. You can say why the player that subbed out was scummy based on what they did or didn't do while they were a player. All that's being (not) discussed here is speculation as to why they subbed out. That's all the rule forbids. If you can be careful and stick to the legal stuff, you'll be fine. It's a very limited rule. The word "sub" is not lava, you can touch it. You don't get penalized for saying that a player was subbed in or out. Just don't discuss why they were subbed out. The "why" is what is ruled out. Think what you will, speculate internally. Just remember, the part that is illegal is "why they subbed out." It's not part of the game.
The following is not allowed:

I'm subbing out.
I hate you all, I might sub out if [ultimatum]
I think he subbed out cause he randed wolf
He subbed out cause he didn't like any of you
He subbed out cause he broke the rules
You suck. Sub out.
The following IS allowed:

This person had bad posts before they subbed out:
I hate subs, game's ruined
Cause the player before me subbed out I have to read most of the game
In general, if you ask to sub out, you should cease posting unless the game moderator tells you not to (maybe they don't have a sub etc).


9c. Infractions, bans, and reports: Do not discuss these in game threads. They are not part of the game. It's also inappropriate to bring up the fact that you will report, are reporting, or have reported someone for their behavior. Just report it, don't make it a topic of conversation. If someone got an infraction or a ban, if they wish to discuss it they can discuss it with the moderation team, it's not a topic for public debate and hearings. Appeals, which are rare and require a good reason to even be considered, do not go in the feedback section, in the discord chat, or anywhere on MU boards. Those discussions will be handled in private. Taunting or flaming people for having reported them or having triggered an infraction or a ban will not be tolerated. Making a mistake and mentioning that you've reported or will report someone will be talked to at minimum.
Reports are NOT OK to talk about in a game. People shouldn't read into you pressing the report button cause that's not part of the game. It's wildly inappropriate anyways and if you need to report someone, just press the report button.

This also applies to OGI reports. If you see something that's OGI, just report it. Don't draw attention to it, and that's what you're going to do if you talk about it. When we see something that's a breach of game integrity, the corrective action that we have to do is going to depend on the amount of attention that's brought to the possible breach. Imagine a tear in a shirt, and you keep picking at it, making the tear larger. That's essentially what talking about OGI becomes, and the corrective action hosts have to do gets more complicated as people openly notice it and move the gamestate to a place where OGI is talked about over actual mafia play.

If you got a moderator message during the game, about the game, it obviously feels bad, and it's... understandable if you want to talk about it. However, this is also Out of Game Influence and we don't want people reading into your moderator messages in the game (especially if we had to do something that took into account your alignment, or players could try and read your moderator message as part of the gamestate), so don't talk about it until the game's over publicly.


...should be handled by the Game Host privately.

Don't talk about getting the mafia to concede in the thread, you get into angly stuff including, but not limited to, whether asking for the mafia team to concede is villagery.

If you really think X should've conceded if they were scum, just move them up. Say they would try harder if they were scum. Lotta other things you can do, but don't talk about concessions.

Last Words

This is a guide, and not extensive. This covers a significant amount of the trouble issues that the moderation team seems commonly that may be unique to Mafia Universe in order to have good mafia games, but not all of it. OGI is a wide field. Maybe this gets updated with more problem areas in the future.

As is, this is primarily an informational post, and we hope less issues with OGI happen in the future.