www.whyville.net Aug 17, 2000 Weekly Issue

Duct Tape

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Duct Tape
Cyranojoe gets the low-down

   by cyranojoe
  Times Writer

Recently, I've heard a lot of questions about City Management's duct-taping policies. People are asking, "Why did I get taped?" "Why was I fined?" and even saying that they were punished for things they didn't do!

Could these accusations be true? And, hey, what ARE the rules, anyways?

I spoke with somebody from City Management about this, and here's what he said:

Q: Can you explain how City Management keeps track of the language in Whyville?
A: Sure, cyranojoe. Our purpose is to limit the amount of bad language Whyvillians have to deal with. Every time you chat at Whyville, it gets recorded. At the end of every day one of us reads through selected conversations to see if anything inappropriate was said. We try to catch people who use nasty words or racist or sexually offensive language, but we can't catch everything, so it helps if citizens make reports as well.

Q: So, if the crimes are mostly people with potty mouths, why do we have both duct tape and fines?
A: The main reason is that we were getting a lot of complaints about duct tape; folks who'd just made one mistake, not regular offenders, were getting duct taped for days at a time. We wanted something a little less harsh than silencing, but one that would still make people not want to curse. We settled on fines as something for the occasional curser, and silencing for folks who just won't stop cursing (or who don't have any money).

Q: What exactly are the punishments?
A: People who just curse once or twice in one day get fines, usually one or two days' worth of salary per word. If it's a fairly offensive phrase, the fine can be as much as 3 days' salary. For really offensive phrases and repeat offenders (3 or more), we start taping, usually starting with 2 days, and going up to as many as 7 days for one sentence. For each offense, we send a Y-mail to the person, explaining what the punishment is and what they said.

Q: When do you decide to banish somebody?
A: Banishment is a really extreme step. We don't like to do it much. Basically, if a person gets into what's called "cyber sex", we'll ban them immediately. Any kind of racist behavior or sexual harassment also earns banishment.

Q: And what about these accusations of innocent people getting punished?
A: Well, I have to admit that our workers are human, so they will make mistakes -- but only very VERY rarely! Most of the time, those people who think they were taped for something they didn't do probably had their passwords stolen, and were punished for something the other person said.

Q: But that sounds unfair. Why can't you punish the real culprit, the password stealer?
A: Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing the difference between you and the person who's stolen your password. You have to be held responsible for anything that happens in your account. The smart thing is just to use good passwords and to never give them out.

Q: That's definitely good advice. Do you have anything else to say?
A: Sure... when this article was first written, our system of duct-taping and fining was still very new; but even now, we are still experimenting with different ways of doing things. We'd like to know from the average Whyvillian what they think: should we change the fines? Change the amount of time people are muted? Would you rather be muted than fined? Remember, it's about making it very clear that we don't want inappropriate behavior in Whyville, without overdoing it so much that somebody who makes one or two mistakes will feel like leaving Whyville. If you can be a respectful, productive member of the community, we'd love to have you, no matter what your mistakes may have been in the past!

I originally had a BBS posting on this topic, for if you wanted to express your opinions, but it's defunct now, so chat it up in Whyville, write articles, and email city-management@whyville.net.




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