SOTF Activity Rules

MW's Private Rank
Joined: February 18th, 2009, 7:01 am

August 27th, 2012, 4:25 am #1

Welcome to SOTF! As a site, we do not have too many rules, but one of the most important in-game rules regards activity and inactivity. The rules related to these concepts will be outlined here.

We expect a certain level of activity from our handlers. At a minimum, we require a single post every two weeks (fourteen days), unless we have been notified that a handler is Away during this time. Away handlers receive fourteen days plus the duration of their time Away (within the restrictions listed in the Away thread). We require this minimum because of the way the game functions. Rolls to determine character deaths are conducted approximately every two weeks. It is not fair to the members who put great amounts of effort into their posts for characters who have almost no actual writing to make it further in the game solely because of luck.

Also for these reasons, "placeholder" posts will no longer count as posts for the purposes of the activity system. More than that, they will not count as posts even after being edited to include content, as staff are not notified of edits and do not have time to constantly dig through older threads. From here on out, to count, any post must be sufficiently detailed and complete to a. allow activity in the thread to continue unimpeded, b. allow other handlers/readers to understand what is happening, and c. prove that it's not just been tossed out as an attempt to dodge inactivity.

Because of the varying natures of threads and posts and writing styles, the staff will not be setting concrete rules here. We assume that everyone is capable of figuring out when a post is clearly just a stalling tactic. Situations will be judged case by case, however, if you feel that a post in your thread is problematic, please notify a staff member so that the staff may review it.

Inactivity is measured from the exact moment a post goes up. After fourteen days (or 336 hours) have passed without a post, a character is considered inactive. In practice, it is very rare for inactivity to be enforced the minute it comes into effect, but, by the rules, such things may occur.

When a character becomes inactive, the handler will be notified. Each handler is entitled to one single activity warning per version. This warning will take the form of a message from the staff notifying the handler that one or more of their characters are inactive. After a handler receives a warning, they immediately enter a one week grace period in which none of their characters will be considered inactive, allowing them to catch up on posts. There are, however, some penalties for even a single instance of inactivity. A handler who has received an inactivity warning becomes ineligible to participate in the official adoption system for the remainder of the version unless they have no remaining characters. They may, however, still be given characters by other handlers outside the system, though they will be subject to all the usual caveats in doing so.

A second instance of inactivity, however, bears much more severe consequences. First off, it bars a handler from adopting during the next version as well as the current one. More than that, a character who becomes inactive after their handler has been warned is considered terminally inactive or irredeemably inactive (the terms are synonymous). This means that the handler has, by not posting, forfeited their rights to the character. At this point, the staff team will dispose of the character in one of two ways.

The first possibility is adoption. In the early stages of the game, after registrations have closed, inactive characters are given to new handlers or handlers without full rosters to write. If a character is given up for adoption, they become the sole property of their new handler, to do with as they please.

The second option is inactive kills. After a certain point in the game, or if the character is deemed too problematic for adoption by the staff, they will be killed off anonymously by the staff. This may take the form of an accident, a fight, or basically anything else. Once a character has been declared terminally inactive, and once the staff have decided to kill the character, the initial handler has no further role in the proceedings. They will not be allowed to write the death themselves or control its direction in any fashion. If the character is already in a scene which is supposed to lead to their death, the staff may make an effort to carry on with the plan, but this is not their responsibility and the character may be killed in another fashion if it is more convenient.

A handler is always welcome to appeal notification of inactivity. Such appeals must occur within three days. During these three days, characters will not be auctioned for adoption, killed off, etc.

Appeals will definitely be granted for the following reasons:
  • Staff error: Should an erroneous inactivity notification be sent, it will immediately be reversed and the handler will not be penalized in any fashion.
Please note that, as always, missing the appeal deadline will make you ineligible for an appeal even in the case of staff error unless you are correctly and completely listed as Away during the time in which the notification is sent.

Appeals will probably be granted for the following reasons:
  • Serious and unforeseen real life circumstance: Should some sort of disaster befall you, your appeal will most likely be granted. Real life always comes first, and the staff understands and respects this.
  • Technical failure: Should your technology fail without warning, preventing you from accessing the site, you probably have valid grounds to appeal.
Note that it is far preferable for you to, if at all possible, post as Away in the above circumstances. Appeals are a last recourse, and by relying on them you may lose a character due to missing the appeal deadline. Also, multiple appeals will be viewed with increasing skepticism, so it is in your interests to not have a history of them. Finally, note that staff will do a bit of research in these instances. Specifically, if you have often been logged into the site/chat, or have been posting at all, during the time immediately preceding your notification, the staff will be much less likely to grant your appeal given that that means you had plenty of time and ability to mark yourself as Away.

Appeals will not be granted for the following reasons:
  • Failure to realize inactivity: Inactivity always occurs after fourteen days without a post. No staff member has the authority to grant extensions on activity under any circumstances. This means that it should not be difficult to track when you owe a post.
  • Delays caused by other handlers: As above, inactivity kicks in when it does. Violating post order for activity reasons is valid and highly recommended.
  • Repeat offenses: Staff will be, at the very least, skeptical of multiple appeals on any grounds aside from staff error. In all cases, it is far better to mark yourself as Away, as doing so allows other handlers to plan around your absence.
Inactivity sweeps may occur at any time. During large parts of V4, they occurred roughly daily. It bears repeating that no circumstances excuse inactivity. Staff will sometimes exercise leniency should it be noted that inactivity was caused due to waiting on another handler, but this is not official policy and is absolutely not something which should be counted on. Similarly, staff will sometimes give slight leniency to characters who are already rolled. Once again,this is not official policy and should not be expected.

If an appeal is granted, a handler will receive forty-eight hours from the moment of granting to post. Away posts made during this period will not be honored. It will likely prove advantageous to prepare a post even as the appeal is being processed, though you should never post until your appeal has been granted. The only exception is in the case of staff error; should that occur, the handler will be allotted forty-eight hours or their actual remaining time, whichever is greater.

That's the basic activity system. There is, however, one case in which the rules change drastically: Endgame.

Endgame is the time during which the final handful of characters face off. In V1-3, it contained four characters, while V4 had five. Inactivity for endgame will be handled a little differently. Specifically, once it becomes a handler's turn to post, they have six days to get a post up. If they fail to do so, their character gets declared terminally inactive and is inactive killed. There are no activity warnings in Endgame. It doesn't matter if an inactive character was supposed to win; inactivity will be enforced. Being Away is still allowed, but will be very closely scrutinized and must be announced at least three days in advance for all incidents except emergencies, as the staff hopes to avoid huge delays caused by handlers being gone for long stretches of time. If a handler will be gone for a very lengthy duration, the staff reserves the right to ask them to select a handler to take responsibility for their character in their absence.

If a handler has no interest in being in endgame, or if they do not feel that they can keep up with the posting regime, they can opt out before the final pre-Endgame rolls by sending Help a PM stating that they are doing so. The staff will count those characters as automatically rolled, then roll down to the final four (or five, or whatever is being done for the version) from whoever remains.

Please note that six days is the absolute maximum. Really, it should take much less time than that. Bookkeeping is going to be very strict on this; handlers can and will get busted if they stray over 144 hours at all.

Finally, there are rules regarding the punctuality of the start of Endgame. Endgame should be a time of excitement and activity. Unfortunately, historically Endgames have sometimes gotten bogged down in the planning stages. There are many reasons for this, and the staff understands the necessity of some planning, but at a certain point things just need to get started. It makes no sense to spend months trying to reach an accord on the winner when everyone really wants to take it to rolls.

As such, there will henceforth be a time limit of one month after the death of the final pre-Endgame character for determining a winner. If a winner is not determined in that time, then the game will go to rolls.

There will also be a deadline for starting the Endgame thread. That deadline will be one week after a winner is determined. This is because activity is not enforced until the thread begins, and it's not really good for the climaxes of games to take ages to get rolling.

Revised for clarity on 8/17/13