Greedy Goblin

Friday, February 4, 2011

In secrecy lies sociality

The Pug update: the ninja-raid problem was settled, yesterday we raided together, forming one raid. Valiona oneshotted as she should be.

Some people don't understand why I was so disturbed that someone organized a raid secretly, why was my instant reaction is "he is a disruptive troll" and why was I quick to hotfix the rules, making sure that it can never-ever happen again. Other people merely considered him "clever" or "loophole-abuser" but clearly as a technical nuisance instead of a theoretical threat to The PuG. Simply they believe that he might cheated but only to bend a zero-sum situation to his side: 10 people could raid, he made sure that he is one of them. While his actions might harmed some, any alternative action would have harmed some as only 10 can go to a 10-men raid.

As I wrote "common sense" is not a good guidance as it is merely the blind following of the social subroutines planted in your brain. You must be able to properly prove even the "obvious". It took some time while I could formulate why I consider secrecy a serious threat. It is similar, but not the same as the reason why any democratic country consider freedom of press and public jury sessions necessary for the upkeep of democracy. These allow the people to learn about the actions of the government and the juries, therefore allowing them to do something if they don't like what they see.

So in first iteration we could say that secrecy allows the raid organizer to do injustice and get away with it as no one figures it out, while if he acts openly, people can stand up against his injustice. This is wrong at two points: at first, "injustice" is largely a social construct just like "common sense". Many consider gold bid "unjust" and /roll just. Secondly and more importantly, the raid leaders are not democratically elected (besides raiders voting with their feet). So, unlike in the case of a democratic country, the people can do nothing when they find "injustice" just whine. So why bother?

The answer is that I don't believe in "evil" just in "stupid". No one wakes up one day and say "let's harm someone". People harm each other when one of them wrongfully believe that the other is "evil" or when believes that the easiest and sustainable way of getting resources is taking from the other. I don't think that anyone, even infamous political figures would have performed violence if they were properly aware of the facts. I also believe that the main reason people are unaware of the (otherwise obvious) facts is that the primitive social subroutines offer them bad answers to such questions (like different people are evil or if he doesn't like me, he is plotting against me...).

Secrecy leaves the person alone with his own social nonsense, letting them take over him. Openness on the other hand allow other people to warn him about his own social nonsense. While he is still not forced to change his mind, other opinions are offered, and unless he is a moron, he will listen to reason.

For example my "gut reaction" to the ninja raid was "he is plotting to destroy the guild, he is a hater from the blog". It was obviously fueled by the social subroutines: "competitors are evil" and "sudden changes are dangerous" and maybe even "if his raid fares better than mine, I may never be able to lead raids". When I shared this "revelation" about him with others, they instantly told that this person was in the guild long-long ago and did a lot to make it work. Unless hacked, it's unlikely that he turned into a troll. Also they told that he did not explicitly broke the letter of the rules, he merely used the loophole that I was unaware of invisible events on the guild calendar, or I would have banned them by the start. They also told that "malicious intent" is not a scientific term and even if we all agree that he acted maliciously it is still just social nonsense. The only thing matters is that he did not break the written rules.

These people have no power over me, I don't need their vote to /gkick anyone. But they still stopped me gkicking the raid-ninja simply by showing that it would contradict the ideas I speak about and would fit only into the very social schemes that I want to defeat (in myself too). So I did the logical thing and fixed the loophole in the rules and let him finish his raid unharmed. Valiona handled the rest.

The reason why no raid leader can exclude anyone without openly rejecting him is to disallow him to decide using social nonsense. Even formulating his reason helps him to battle his subroutines, but the feedback of the excluded person and others are even more valuable. It allows him to outgrow the social nonsense in his head.

Simple example: X is subconsciously sexist, exclude girls. If he does it secretly he fully believes that he excluded simply bad players. On the other hand if he exclude a girl openly, he must formulate his problems like "you have low DPS". However this claim can be defeated by linking recounts and the testimonies of other people seen her doing good. If evidence is provided that Y does better than Z, X must include her or he contradicts himself who stated that the problem is low DPS. Even if he doesn't reach the psychologically correct conclusion "I wanted Y out because she is a girl" and defends his schemes by "I made a honest mistake, mixing her up with W who really suck", he now raids with a girl, seeing her good performance first hand. If he reaches just to "all girls suck except Y" he already made a step to get away from sexism.

The social nonsense is inside everyone. The light of publicity helps fighting it off by calling the logical brains of other people into the battle.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that secrecy is social nonsense. People think "Oh! I was invited to a secret raid, I feel so special." I've seen too many raid leaders proud of being able to snipe raiders from larger raids by inviting secretly, for exactly this reason. I suspect it's behind a LOT of guild drama.

Anonymous said...

For the same reason, you must announce if you post an auction more cheaply than someone else. Failure to do so and a quick sale would mean the original lister cannot see what you have done and you might continue to listed your item for the wrong price, ruining the market and losing money for everyone.

Andru said...

I quite agree with that. It's quite obvious to me, really.

Going public, however, has the drawback of not only opening your idea to the challenge of rational peer review, but also to irrational, social peer pressure.

If an idea is progressive but against mainstream common sense, or morality or some other such nonsense, it will get shot down.

For example, Galileo Galilei. He got persecuted because his ideas were progressive and anti-established Church dogma. Obviously, scientific fact cannot be held secret, but it's similar.

Rational but 'unethical' (not unlawful!) actions have higher probability of getting denounced by the masses.

Anonymous said...

@ Dobablo

Your point is invalid.
Everyone can see the auctions on the AH. As a matter of fact you cannot post an auction secretly, and that would be incredibly stupid to do so.

Ðesolate said...

Open discussion is alway the way you go when you do something in a rational way. Every scientific debate works that way. Religion, politic and ethics are normally discussed in a social "I don't have to prove anything" kind.

Since we abandon religion, politics and ethics from our inguildactivities we abandon their argumentations and behaviour. Building up cliques or expell anyone from any activities by non-performance issues is usually avoided this way.
I have seen many discussions on casual in the pug. but never seen any serious conflict. In the friendly social guild it is quite common to get trivial drama.

Riptor said...

I am like you completely oblivious to the capabilities of the ingame Calendar. The “hidden” event would be when I invite certain people specifically and only those invited can see the event. Now after the change one would have to invite openly (everybody) and go through everybody that accepts the invitation? Isn’t that counterproductive if a Raidleader in the PuG has to put even more effort in organizing his raid than a rl in a hc Guild?
I have for some time organized a Random Raid with a Guildmate of mine. We raided one day a week and used wws Logs. So after every raid we sat together for 30 Minutes, loaded the Logs, talked about the raid and then went through the performance in the Logs in order to assemble the Raid for the next week. Everybody in the Raid knew that they would get next weeks invite approximately one hour after the raid. If they didn’t get on that meant they were out. If they wanted to know why they could of course ask us, work on that and maybe get another try a couple of weeks later if someone couldn’t come along.
For us as Raidleaders this was worth the effort as we only had do put in 1 to 1.5 hours of “work” and got a 5 hour raid with Hardmode capable people out of it. With your restriction that would not be possible in the PUG as every Raid would have to be done openly and the designated Raidleader would have for example tell every warlock week after week that he rather takes the on that also has a Demo Spec as off and also knows how to play it… Or that it’s the Shadow that knows it’s his/her job to dispel Blackout and not the Healers’ that just gets the Spot if available. I was under the impression that in the PUG one could pick his Group based sole on skill and availability rather than mass invite very living body regardless of capability.

Ðesolate said...

@Riptor: Specs can be written in the guild comentary. If there is no spec listed, his bad. 10 minutes work, you need more? Don't set up raids or use the right tools.

Someone fails at his spec? Replace him.
If you decide that you pick X because he performs better than Y, that's fine if it is a fact.
If you pick X because he has enchanted / gemmed his gear and Y not, that's fine.
If you decide to pick X because frost supports the meleespeedbuff you need to round up your raid and he has specced the needed interrupt and Y does only provide a already given raidbuff, that's fine.
If you pick X because Y is a dick or because you "think" frost does less dps than unholy, your raidmember will choose to go with someone who decides on facts.

I think you will never have it that easy when you have to explain anyone in a hc raid guild that X comes and Y doesn't. Had that drama countless times watched it, lived it and hate it. Due to bigger egos in hc guilds you can have a lot of drama.

And why do you have to make your desicions secretly when you choose the better performing player?

Ayonel said...

I would correct one point: common sense is not a social construct. Common sense is what allows me to easily see the most straightforward solution to a given problem, and it does not require outside information or opinion. It is common only because many, if not most, people, have achieved consensus over so many basic life problems.

Other people may agree or disagree with respect to whether someone has common sense, and we do seem to be breeding a whole lot of people without common sense, but I think this is mostly because people are so far removed from the real world on a daily basis that their actions have no consequences, hence there is no feedback loop informing their poor decisions and allowing them to improve.

jouissance said...

The argument you are making "people are not evil per se, they just have no (full) knowledge", is Socrates' argument from the "Republic". As such it can be criticized by the same questions-arguments: that even the "facts" people assume are forming that knowledge are highly ideological, and succumb to person's own view/feeling/idea what those "facts" might even be. In other words, even the highly rational simply dismiss anything and everything they are not prepared to see as facts as either myths, social constructs, backward opinions, or quite simply as lies.

I come from one of those countries you mentioned in passing, where leaders "performed violence". It is actually a neighborhood country to yours, Serbia. Violence was performed towards both citizens inside and outside the country. I would not use "evil" to describe that, since evil is basically a religious construct and I do not subscribe to those simplifications.

But I wouldn't say they were "stupid" either. They (just) worked under the assumption that their own financial and political interests trumped the interests of everyone else. Isn't that a highly rational assumption? It is not like they dint have the opportunity to hear otherwise: opposition, NGOs, individuals, the international community all presented different points of view for years - but making huge amounts of money on human trafficking, drugs, arms and oil smuggling while maintaining political power was simply a stronger incentive. One of the proofs I can offer in this small space is that every year the situation and violations became worse - it started as a political "terror" and ended in wars, civil unrest and finally a kind of civil uprising that put an end to it.

My point is: there is a third option besides "stupid" and "evil" - the "rational usurpers". It comes down to the argument of defining freedom: is it absolute or is it "negative", ie: is my freedom only limited by Other's same kind of freedom.

Having said all this, I find two things particularly interesting in your post:
1. your honesty, admitting your fears about being replaced, the paranoia and aversion to disruption, is highly admirable.
2. you used the Socratic method of coming towards an acceptable solution for your community, (ironically even after committing a Socratic fallacy): talking with others and listening to arguments from other points of view.


Kallixta said...

Gevlon has stated before: Raid Leaders are offering a service in selecting who goes on a raid. The feedback supplied is one measure of how good he or she is doing that job. Performance is another. Public feedback is important to the applicants. I suggest the more information in that feedback, the better. It shows what is need to improve.

When a Raid Leader has to put more effort into preparation, the applicants should see the results. Seeing the effort in the feedback demonstrates whether they're really putting in that effort or just selecting the names they recognize as being in their clique.

This feedback goes a long way to defeating rumors of secret agreements, a common reason for guild drama.

Anonymous said...


No, common sense is a social construct. It's not only that, it's the basest form of informally fallacious argumentation, a derivative of appeal to popularity.

Whenever someone supports their point with 'common sense', they have no argument. Simple.

Not all common sense is bad. But such not-bad common sense has an easily identifiable argument behind it.

For example, it's common sense that you don't go sleeping on the railroad tracks. However, when the question is asked "Why not?", the reply should be readily available.

However, when "Why?" is asked, and there's no satisfactory answer except "Duh, common sense." then sorry. If common sense is not backed up by reasoning, then it's a social construct of moronicness.

Anonymous said...

I have been a follower of your blog for some time and for the first time I felt inclined to comment on your latest post (how very social of me... ).

I've been a member of your guild and reader of your blog and I hold the opinion that many of your thoughts and ideas are interesting, namely your concepts around being a-social. However there have been sometimes where I feel that instead of being a-social, you where in fact just being anti-social, which is, in my humble opinion, just another form of being social.

Your reactions as seen yesterday seems very much like one of those cases where you acted social/with emotion and not with the necessary detachment that you often advocate.

Your post today (as I see it) hints at that and for that you deserve that much respect. It is easy to make a mistake but it is much more important to review and recognized the mistake and react to that.

We are almost always our own worst enemy.

Riptor said...

@Desolate: But does an anti social have to give everybody an equal chance. I just wanted to state that from the /2, by definition a genuine PUG, I have seen the creation of a Group capable of far more than the average 4-5 Bosses. Even without the very competitive nature of hc Raiders there is in every pve environment some sort of picking order. By forcing every raid to be openly announced to everybody that manages to correctly ask Gevlon (or an Officer) for an Guildinvite and then stick to the rules, I find this process undermined. Is it by the new rules actually forbidden to just invite the cream of the crops because such an invitation remains hidden? Say you have a Group of 6 above average Players. Do you force them to raid with Players below their skill Level and in some way even boost them?
@ Gevlon: I mentioned that concern in one of your early posts about the PUG. To me, the goblinish thing to do is to start open raids and gradually sort out the really good players as they promise the highest success rate. If for example you have the best Warlock you have absolutely now need for the others in the raid. The same goes for all Slots. For an above average 10 Man Raid you need around 12 or 13 Players. To me for example the PUG sounds like a perfect breeding ground for such a dedicated group of good players that have very limited timeframes (due to whatever reasons). Why would you suppress such a development?

Btw: I would love to hear your thoughts on guild harvesting. A Guildmate of mine started one such Guild with the Start of Cataclysm and is raking anywhere between 1500 and 5000g a week for doing absolutely nothing.

Caidai said...

Will be returning to play soon, have been moving home. Continue the great work, this blog is often an inspiration at times in regards to objective thinking.

Ayonal said...


Right, but the nature of common sense is that it relates to decisions and observations that "common" people would typically agree to, and that don't require special knowledge or experience.

While I admit a brief reading of the philosophy behind it exposes my view as quite limited(practical application) I think that common sense as a social construct would in and of itself undermine actual 'common sense' which should, by definition, arise spontaneously and not require an explicit agreement among a group of people what it is.

I agree with your last point; however, if you tell me to drink cyanide, and when i question you your response is that it's common sense, that simply betrays that you are intentionally misusing the term, or you think I'm pretty stupid.

It seems that in a vacuum, common sense is obvious(to me, anyway), but in a crowd it's like pornography: i can't explain it, but I know it when i see it, and we may not agree on what it is.

csdx said...

"People harm each other when one of them wrongfully believe that the other is "evil" or when believes that the easiest and sustainable way of getting resources is taking from

The thing is that that's not necessarily wrong. The idea of 'sustainable' is different for people. Sometimes that means indefinately, or just a lifetime, or sometimes just long enough to skip town and move on somewhere else. If by harming others you can get ahead long enough to make it worthwhile, wouldn't even complete information and rationality dictate that it's the most approrpiate course of action. Say you get to be a dictator for 50 years, but spend the last 5 years of your life in jail, I think there are people who would make that tradeoff as a rational choice.
The sentiment in comic form:

Kurt said...


The lack of information causing people to list items too cheaply comes from the fact that people cannot place buy orders on the AH, only sell orders, which is not relevant to raiding. This fact has been discussed often in the comments here. You're probably just trolling, though.

Bristal said...

Let me propose another effect of "secrecy": assuming that a player is M&S based on very limited information.

A few lines of chat, scanning gear at a particular point in time, performance in a single boss fight, etc.

You are only aware of a tiny bit of information about this person, very likely the real story is "secret" and unavailable to you, unless you dig. Similar to this situation.

It's great that the offending raid leader had defenders to clarify the real story to you, and prevent you from jumping to wrong conclusions.

Too bad all the players you proclaim to be M&S don't have that opportunity.

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting post from Gevlon. Others have described him as a cynic or misanthrope, but the exact opposite seems to be true here: Gevlon believes anybody can be reasoned out of bad beliefs and into good ones.

The subsequent discussion of the raidleader biased against women helps to explain why Gevlon feels this way, too. I'm not sure I'm convinced, though, since it has been my (unoriginal) observation that you can't reason somebody out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.

Ðesolate said...

@riptor: You are free to choose your raids. Nobody forces you. So why do you need secret anything?

If you want to set up an hc raid, you set up an hc raid. Everyone who is not good enough can and will not be invited or kicked afer a few trys. I don't see for what you need any secret inguild elite.

Anyway you can build up your secret elite raids, but they are simply not protected by the rules. That's all. Oh yes and you must not announce them in /g.

Two questions:
Why do you speak of boosting anyone?
Why do you speak of being forced to do anything?
What you are talking about are social drama problems. If you had any issues about the guildraid-performance speak it up (no names required just say yes). I think if that is a problem it should be discussed.

Anonymous said...

I am confused by one thing in this story. There is no such thing as the "guild calendar" in WoW, and therefore you can't make invisible events in it. You either make a guild event in your calendar, which is visible to all your guild members, or a private event to which you can invite whoever you choose to, from any guild. If you use the latter, you are clearly forming a non-guild group, and you posted about those before. So what loophole did the ninja leader abuse? I think he just simply broke the rules when he used LFM in guild chat.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Transparency is good in democratic societies, and I think it is probably good for guilds as well, so I like this move.