History of the MRT Server/Documents
This page contains text for linked documents.
Frumple's Statement on the State of the MRT Community
Date: October 4, 2020
This is a very serious announcement regarding the state of the server and the community, so please read everything carefully.
In the past month, a select group of staff members have been reaching out to numerous MRT members to get their opinions on the server, the community, the staff, and how the server is run. We particularly focused on members who are not as active anymore, and may have chosen not to play on the server as much or at all because of systemic problems they perceive with the server. One of these problems that we are already aware of is the notion of the "Mumble crowd", where others feel that those who frequent Mumble get special treatment in moderator selection and staff requests, and they feel excluded from that social circle in general.
During our investigation, we also uncovered some very serious complaints towards certain staff members. While a lot of the complaints do not have any concrete evidence, as many of them are based on voicechat interactions with those staff members in Mumble, the fact that many people are saying the same thing about certain staff members is something that cannot be ignored. And, we do in fact have evidence for specific breaches of conduct that these staff members have done, and we will be taking punitive action shortly. The admins and I have just held an emergency Administrative Staff Meeting today to discuss these complaints and what next steps we will take.
Over the next day or so, you will be seeing several announcements of certain staff being demoted. Warnings will also be given to certain members who were complicit in some of the actions that these staff members took. I'd like to make it very clear that cal76's recent demotion is completely separate and not related at all to any of these demotions. We are not going to suppress or censor discussion about these situations, but please keep your discussions civil, and free of any baseless speculation. If you have any questions or concerns, we will try our best to answer them either publicly or privately, but please be patient while we work through all the details.
Once all demotions and warnings have been made official, I will be publishing a GSM proposal for a brand-new "Open Moderator Nomination Process" that I hope will address many of the concerns brought up by members. I have to warn everyone that this proposed process is not perfect by any means, and in many ways trades our current set of issues for another slew of problems. It is possibly going to be the most controversial and radical proposal in a long while, perhaps in the history of the server. The new process will be up for public debate in the coming week up to the October GSM next Sunday, and hopefully will be implemented by the November GSM. Please keep an eye on your #announcements and #forum channels when this proposal is released.
Overall, it is very unfortunate that these issues were not brought up to my or the staff's attention earlier, and I do take some of the blame for it for not reaching out and listening to these disenfranchised members earlier. I do sincerely apologize for this. The reasons why this situation came to be are complicated: a common theme I've seen is that a lot of people do not feel comfortable at all bringing up these issues because they fear retribution from staff, or exclusion from a social group. I know that by simply telling these individuals that they can always bring up these concerns with myself or the admins is not going to convince everyone, but I'm hoping that our actions in the next few hours will resonate more. While the removal of certain "toxic" staff members may help with this, there are also wider systemic problems in our community that need to be addressed. Reforming the moderator nomination process is a big first step towards this, but there may be other steps needed depending on what happens next. I am aware that even with these steps taken, it may not convince all of those on the "outside" to ever return to the server, and I am also aware that some members may feel these punishments to be too harsh and decide to reduce their time on the server or leave entirely. Everyone is free to make their own decisions about this, but I ask that before you do, make sure that you are informed of the whole picture and have as much information and other perspectives as possible, and please ask questions to other members and staff if something is still unclear.
I will, however, make it clear right now of two things that will NOT be changing with the server:
First, the Mumble Server will remain online for the foreseeable future and is not at risk of shutting down. I say this to not only those who have been worried about this happening, but also to those who think shutting down the server will solve most of the problems, which is a notion that I do not agree with. There is value in having both Mumble and Discord available as voicechat options on the server. Mumble can act as a backup voicechat server in the event when Discord goes down or becomes unreliable, and that has definitely happened several times before. Also, keep in mind that because their computers are not powerful enough or are configured in a strange way, many people cannot run either Mumble or Discord reliably, especially if they are running Minecraft alongside it.
The social group within Mumble, however, will be greatly affected by these changes, and hopefully for the better. Unfortunately, the formation of "cliques" and other types of seemingly exclusive social groups is a common and natural occurrence in any community, and it's impossible to get rid of every semblance of it. That said, that shouldn't stop us from trying to ensure as many as people as possible feel included and welcome. With these changes, I would encourage the "Mumble crowd" to be more mindful of what they say and do to new people who try out the Mumble server. At the same time, I also invite those who have been on the "outside" to come back to the server and visit the Mumble server if they are comfortable with it, and to least try to have an actual dialogue with others on the server.
Second, WorldEdit powers will never be given to non-staff. This was a very common complaint that we received, but I think people are not understanding the reasons why we don't allow this. I would invite those people to please read this FAQ entry on the MRT website, which I wrote at least a year ago: https://www.minecartrapidtransit.net/faq/#Why_are_WorldEdits_restricted_only_to_staff
If you still do not understand after reading this, then I will try to explain. I strongly believe that to ensure people don't abuse their W/E powers, they should always be reminded that they have a responsibility to others, not just in providing W/E for those others, but also with helping out with other tasks. If I were to give W/E powers without this responsibility, I can see it being much more likely for players to abuse them intentionally, or taking not as much care in their actions by accident. W/E mistakes are always bound to happen, and many staff have done so. If we were to open W/E to more people, that would increase the likelihood and frequency of mistakes, and cleaning up those mistakes more often is not something I would want to subject the staff or the server to. Likewise, I am also not interested in implementing any sort of "W/E application" or "W/E test" to gain such powers, as that still won't decrease the possibility of accidental W/E mistakes.
I feel I also have to remind people again that there have been many cases in the server's history where W/E mistakes caused catastrophic server crashes, or permanent damage to regions of the world. Even our block-logging plugin CoreProtect is not 100% guaranteed to catch all changes made by W/E, so giving more W/E is simply not a risk that I'm willing to take for the longevity of the server, even with low block limits as some members have suggested. If you still do not agree with this, then you're free to do so, but my position will not change on this subject.
Without a doubt, this is going to be one of the most tumultuous times in the server's long history, probably ever since "colafest" back in 2014. It may also feel at times that the server and community is "imploding" and about to end. However, I do believe that these actions are in the best interests for the long-term longevity of this community, and to ensure that truly as many as people as possible feel included and welcome in it. I am confident that this community in its 8 long years will endure this situation, as it has done with many others in the past. We do want everyone to understand what's going on and to understand the justifications for our actions today, so if you have any questions or concerns, I would encourage you to please do reach out to an admin or myself, and we'll try our best to address them.
I would also like to sincerely thank the staff and community members who facilitated these conversations and provided invaluable feedback to us. This process has been long, difficult, and emotionally draining, and while this is not our preferred method of receiving feedback and complaints, what we have heard has been incredibly heartfelt and genuine. I hope that with these announcements and the actions that we’ll be taking in the coming days, we can begin to address some of the biggest complaints we’ve heard, and that going forward we can collectively make our community a more welcoming and thriving place.
Owner of the Minecart Rapid Transit Server
“The directing of a picture involves coming out of your individual loneliness and taking a controlling part in putting together a small world. A picture is made. You put a frame around it and move on. And one day you die. That is all there is to it.” –John Huston
This wasn’t a movie. And I wasn’t the director. Clearly. The latter, however, could not be more true. So, this is goodbye.
I joined the MRT in September of 2013, just like any guest looking for an airport. And now, seven years later at twenty, I’ve spent more than a third of my life on here. I’ve made some of my best friends on here, coming out of my individual loneliness in a way that I simply could not in the “real” world. I will always be uniquely thankful to the people who helped put this small world together.
Admittedly I’ve probably done some of the work I am least proud of and, conversely, some of the work that I am most proud of during my time here. But now, I find myself being judged for neither of these extremes. Instead, I am being judged for that which I did not do, and thus cannot defend. To those for whom my demotion and departure is a celebration, I really do hope that this will bring you peace, as I assure you it brings me none.
And, to those who have made the decision to demote me, I hope that you afford yourselves the same judgement with which you have applied to me. Of course, your skeletons are no longer of concern to me. You, and you alone must live with your decisions.
To Vulpicula, who instigated this witch hunt: I do not believe that you set out on this path with the intent to bring down the community that I have enjoyed being part of all these years. However, I find it difficult to separate intent from the reality of where I find myself, saying goodbye to a community that I have been part of for seven years and donated my time to for four of those.
Lastly, to those who still call me a friend, thank you. I do not wish for this to be the end, but it’s time to move on. If you still feel you have a place here, the last thing I would want to do is take that away from you. While I don’t foresee a bright future for the server, I’m sure that you’ll make the most of it. And if one day, you find yourself staring back at a similar letter which you have authored, I’ll be here for you.
I am resigning tonight based on a number of factors:
- a. The demotions that occurred today have been quite taxing on my mental health due to many of them being some of my close friends.
- b. Because of the above point, my interest in the MRT is draining and it is no longer enjoyable to spend my time on this server.
- c. I feel that the server is not going down the right direction and is nearing the end of its useful life.
- d. The community’s reaction to the demotions no longer makes me feel safe if I make a mistake in the future as a staff member.
- e. I do not feel that I can really contribute much to the server anymore after today.
- f. I feel that this is the best decision that I can make at this time based on all of the above factors.
At the start of my time as Member on the server, I thought that everything was going to be OK. It was a really nice server when I first joined, but as time progressed, it became less and less enjoyable for me on the server, but I didn’t leave due to some of my closest friends being here for me. To me, they’re like my second family. To see many of them get demoted today, really disheartens me. I really thought I belonged on this server. Now I no longer feel welcome here.
I may pop on from time to time to say hi, but this is not a guarantee. BluTransit will remain, but no more expansion will occur. Tranquil Forest and Albany will be transferred to Moj1014. I will be keeping the rest of my assets. I will still be available on Discord at hvt2011#9425. I hope the server will still function with less staff.
This is the last stop of this train. Please stand clear of the closing doors. Thank you for riding BluRail. Thank you for flying BluAir.
To the MRT Community:
On August 8, 2013, I joined the MRT server for the first time. In the seven years since then, the server has been an integral part of my life. I eventually mustered the courage to join the Mumble server, and thanks to that I have built friendships to last me a lifetime. Though my activity has waxed and waned over the years, the server has never been far from my mind. Whenever I needed a place to turn to when I felt like I had nowhere else to go, the MRT and the so-called “Mumble crowd” in particular were there to welcome me with open arms and a chance to escape for a little while. If not for the friends I met through Mumble, I don’t know if I would even be alive to write this letter.
For around about six years now, I’ve had the honor and privilege of being a Moderator for this community which has been such a crucial piece of my life. I was hoping this day would never come, but I no longer see any alternative.
I hereby resign from my position as Moderator, effective immediately.
Initially, I was debating whether or not I should resign, but the response of the community in the past several hours has been, frankly, appalling. It has left a sour taste in my mouth which has led me to this point. I want to stand up for my friends, but I believe doing so would be a wasted effort. It is clear to me that most people have already made up their minds. I have made up my mind as well. I vehemently disagree with every single demotion which occurred yesterday, in part because I firmly believe the “evidence” which the investigation found that resulted in the demotions was nothing more than conjecture and hearsay. Consequently, it is my perception that, as of yesterday, my friends and I are no longer welcome in this community. I cannot in good conscience continue to serve a community in which I feel unwelcome and where my friends and I have come under fire because of the people with whom we choose to associate and the platform in which we communicate.
To all of the people who are celebrating the events of last night as some sort of “victory” for the server, congratulations. You won, but at a heavy cost. You’ve both eliminated the so-called “Mumble crowd” and driven several of the most critical anchors of this community away in one fell swoop. I wish you the best of luck in picking up the pieces from this. You’re going to need it. I cannot say for certain how active I will be going forward, but I do plan to remain in the MRT Discord and come on the server from time to time.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Hey guys, it’s me Corn. I’m making this letter to announce my hiatus from the server. I don’t have to mention the events that have taken place these past couple days. I’m going to be taking a break from the server, for around a month. I need to quote basically all of JPH’s final paragraph from his letter for this next part, so i’ve copied it over to here: To all of the people who are celebrating the events of last night as some sort of “victory” for the server, congratulations. You won, but at a heavy cost. You’ve both eliminated the so-called “Mumble crowd” and driven several of the most critical anchors of this community away in one fell swoop. I wish you the best of luck in picking up the pieces from this. You’re going to need it.
I no longer feel welcome on this server. Now that all of my friend group is gone, I need to take a month to let things blow over. I honestly don’t know how my future here is going to go.
For everyone waiting on a project I'm in charge of (for example, my zeta canal, the B58 south extension, Neptune Heli Shuttles), I’d like to apologize that I won’t get around to it within this month. All AstroSlurps I’ve been working on are cancelled for now. If you have an unfinished AstroSlurp plot somewhere (godz and mega, this is mainly for you), feel free to remove it if you want something actually finished in that space.
Please remember that this isn’t me quitting the server forever. I just need to take a break. I might pop on discord in text chat only sometimes, but until November, this is goodbye.
A Statement from Vulpicula
Hiyo folks. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, this has been one of the most tumultuous times in server history. Many are emotionally drained, and scared for the future of the server, staff included.
Kastle, and others, have placed the blame solely on my feet, a claim which is perhaps not wholly inaccurate. Yes, it was me who was the driving factor of this investigation, and yes it was me who started the whole thing. Many have complaints regarding the way the investigation was done, and how the evidence was found, and I can understand that. Some of what has been found sounds hard to believe, and with staff not presenting said evidence to the public it becomes even harder to consider.
This is not without reason, though, and I’ll get into that later on.
First up, the investigation itself, and how it started. For months I had been hearing of a massive divide in the community, along with large quantities of complaints. Even I myself had found myself in a spot where I was feeling increasingly isolated from the rest of the staff team, and even wider parts of the community, and hearing these complaints and feeling utterly powerless to stop it was one of the reasons for my drop in activity over the summer. That is, prior to my laptop shitting itself at least. Eventually, I cracked, and in an unrelated conversation to Frumple I leaked many of the complaints and concerns I had been hearing, both about recent nominations, the ‘mumble crowd’ and many others.
The reason I had not come forward is for much the same reason many others had kept it to themselves. I was afraid of not being taken seriously, or even being reprimanded for voicing such concerns. I was very much surprised when this wasn’t the case, and I thank Frumple dearly for being so open. What happened next was a conversation with staff at large, with present members including Kastle, Echo, and really most of the active staff team who was awake at that time. Some preliminary findings were shared, highlighting the split in the community, and the fact that many have complaints but are for one reason or another, afraid to share it, much like I was.
At the time I had no idea quite what I would uncover. I had assumed most of what I would get were complaints, but was secretly hoping I would find nothing of note. After all, if nothing is found to suggest a problem, then I can take it easy and relax knowing many concerns are unfounded. As many of you now know, this was not the case.
Over the span of the next few weeks I partook in finding this for weeks, refining my methods and questions as I went along. Big thanks to the other staff members who helped me with this, such as with refining the questions I was asking to make them more neutral, and gathering information/talking with folks. I am aware that the questions being asked are of concern to some, so I will address those later down in this long, rather rambly statement.
The Questions, and Method:
...for the many people I interviewed, I asked roughly a similar set of questions, each one with a purpose. These questions have now been leaked, so it’s probably fine for me to go over each one and explain why I asked, along with the results each one got.
A. Do you know of anyone who might have left or is playing less due to the actions of staff, or other issues with how the server is run?
This was the first of the questions. This allowed me to try and chart out how many people had left due to perceived issues, and to potentially contact them to ask for more information. This allowed me to form a network of people I could interview.
Answers to this one boiled into generally three categories. Saying they didn’t know anyone, citing a few members who were now banned, or citing various inactive members, or semi-active members.
AB. Does your perspective of the ‘Mumble Crowd’ affect how much you play on the server, or how you feel about the server?
I am aware that for many, the idea of asking such a pointed question might risk compromising the entire investigation, yet it was not asked without reason. The complaints I had been hearing prior to starting this investigation largely involved issues with the mumble crowd. This question was asked to try and assess that rift, and its potential harm to the community.
I got a wide variety of answers, ranging from folks who didn’t know what I was talking about, to those laughing at me for even asking the question, to those who said the mumble crowd was genuinely beneficial for their time on the server. Another answer, one that came up worryingly often, were members who felt excluded as a result, and had stopped playing entirely due to their perception of this clique.
I assure you that none of the actions taken on Sunday were a result of AB. Question AB was largely to gather information and assess possible reforms and ways forward. Again, no actions, demotions, warnings, were taken as a result of AB. Please keep this in mind.
B. Do you know anyone who I could possibly talk to, to try and get information and opinions?
This one’s… self explanatory. It was to help me find who else I should contact, allowing me to expand my reach of individuals, and to also try to gauge which circles members were in.
C: If you could change anything on the server to fix the issues you feel it has, what would it be, how would you change it, and why?
...admittedly this was my favourite question to ask. A wide variety of suggestions were given, ranging from the uh… many suggestions regarding giving worldedit to members, to complaints about tacobot breaking (and suggesting a new music bot. These suggestions were showcased shortly before we got Rhythm, wink wink), to issues with the politics channel. I still need to go over these and sort them out, but it has for obvious reasons taken a lesser priority.
D. Are there any staff members you have issues with, and why?
...this question, and answers to it, is where large amounts of the actions taken came from. Members were asked to reply honestly, and name names if possible, and many names came up repeatedly, with the reasoning as to why.
When an accusation was made, I asked the accuser to back it up with evidence. In many cases this wasn’t possible, as in the case of the many complaints regarding Kastle’s rudeness, it happened in mumble. The determination for how to act upon that was made not as a result of direct evidence, but of the dozens of complaints lodged by many different members, to the point where it became hard to ignore or dismiss as mere perspective.
Yet, in some cases, evidence was provided. Discord screenshots of wrongdoing. All of the most severe actions taken were as a result of this evidence. I vehemently refute the idea of these actions being taken on mere hearsay or conjecture. Solid evidence was found, and that solid evidence was examined by the administrators for well over an hour.
In the case of Echohue’s demotion involving asking for nominations, the proof provided was a discord DM, sent by Echohue, to another user, in which Echohue asked for the user to nominate him.
Direct pictures of a chatlog was taken, where a member’s private information was being shared (such as pictures and other things I’m not going to share info about). It was inferred based on a past history, and statements made in the conversation, that Kastle was at the very least aware of this, if not outright complicit.
...as I have stated, I vehemently push back against the idea of any of these decisions being made lightly, or without evidence. Decisions with as much weight as these are not cast about like mere feathers in the wind.
How was this investigation conducted?
...admittedly this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, so I’d imagine there’s definitely going to be flaws in my handling of it. Generally I followed a similar pattern with each person I interviewed.
One, I told them about what I was doing, and then made a promise of anonymity, stating that their username will not be attached to anything they say, and that any personal information or things that can identify them shall be scrubbed. This promised anonymity is why very little of the evidence or statements collected are public, as this would compromise the promise I had made to these individuals should they be identified. With the investigation dealing with such sensitive matters, an individual who is identified could be subject to harassment or worse.
Two, I sent them the questions, and waited patiently for their reply. While the format I received the questions in varied greatly, with some choosing to have a conversation, and others choosing to write the questions one by one, it all generally went the same way. I got answers to the questions, and jotted them down.
Three, I asked them to elaborate more on specific things. As I said earlier, when they made an accusation, or commented on something, I would often probe for more information or evidence. Sometimes this probing would be done immediately, and other times it would be done a few days later.
With the information collected, and personal information redacted, I’d move onto the next individual.
Oftentimes I got pieces of evidence that stood out as being off, and in those cases I probed more, and searched around, looking to see if what I had received was the whole story or not. In some cases it was, and in others I had reason to suspect I was missing key evidence or information. In the case of the latter, what I had received was binned due to these issues.
Responses that I considered to be unreliable were also binned, such as replies I got that pointed to some ‘grand mumble conspiracy where yoshi was running the mumble crowd.’
In many cases I also got replies that stated folks didn’t have issues with how things were being run, and didn’t have much to say. These responses were pleasant to receive, and the person was jotted down as saying everything’s fine, at which point I thanked them and moved onto the next person.
...I understand that for many I’m the last person they want to hear from right now, and I can understand that. While I didn’t wish for this chaos, it was merely the result of what I had found. Don’t shoot the messenger, and all that. This whole investigation consisted of me asking questions and sending those answers to the admin team, or trying to link incidents together to get a more complete picture of what we were hearing.
Some have accused me of doing this only to further my own position on the server, and to that I again, deny. This investigation was done out of a moral sense of trying to make things better. I love this community, and want to improve it for everyone. Hearing that folks are being driven off, harassed, or generally feel unwelcome for one reason or another is something I wished to rectify, or at the very least give them a voice. Right now I have no drive to climb higher, and as Frumple has mentioned, I am actively pondering my resignation. I’ve done my part, and I’m unsure if there’s much else I can do without causing further chaos.
Like many others, I’m definitely rattled about the whole situation. Seeing a community I’ve called home for over five years face this is a first for me, and I feel awful both as a community member, and as the staff member who drove this investigation from start to finish. Many are fearing for the end in this community, to which I say please remain calm. We’ve weathered through storms in the past, and even with the most violent of weather events, the sun will always shine afterwards. The question as a community we have to face is what we wish for the sun to shine upon. What changes do we wish to make to fix the MRT, and improve the experience for everyone? What sort of community does the server wish to become? This is not something the staff team, or Frumple, can decide, as it’s up to the wider player base as a whole to chart out a new course for the future. I hope that course leads to a brighter place.
Over the next few days expect to see a drop in my activity. Out of a desire to give people space, and recognizing that folks are certainly not happy with me, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus. I hope to return for the GSM, but depending on how the atmosphere is that may not happen.
...if you’ve got further questions, or just wish to yell at me or demand my resignation, feel free to reach out to my discord. While I may not be posting on the discord server, I’ll still be checking my DMs.
Addendum to the recent events by Skele (Not a resignation)
I would like to add a couple things that are probably too long for a Discord message. Firstly, I do not think the MRT community as a whole is at fault for anything which came to light in the past week. We still need to treat each other as nicely as possible, understand each other, and work to improve ourselves. However, if you are a rank and file member who is watching this latest drama unfold, please do not blame yourself or hold yourself responsible for this. This is not your fault.
Secondly, I want to defend Vulpicula’s character here in regards to his political viewpoints. To provide some context, anyone who frequents #politics knows that my political opinions and Vulpicula’s are not the same. I have debated him quite frequently on the issues brought up on Frumple’s letter, possibly more than anyone else has in that channel, and I have even gotten frustrated at times. I am also a person of color, so I have a personal investment in this issue. However, I have never felt that Vulpicula has ever expressed any racist, sexist, homophobic, or other discriminatory viewpoints or behaviors. I think that some of his politics if implemented would not have the best outcome, but that does not mean he is racist. Not only that, but he has outright reached out to me at times after the debates to make sure that I understood that he didn’t hate me and that he understood where I was coming from. So I can also testify that I have not felt that he “didn’t understand the other viewpoint,” when in fact he did try reaching out to me both publicly and privately.
Thirdly, I want to talk about the letter. There’s a lot to go through with the letter in response to Vulpicula and I do not feel like discussing the entire thing here, nor do I want to bring up any “patterns” at this moment because the purpose of this message from me is not to browbeat Frumple especially when he has already separated from the community for a significant period of time at this point. I would like to discuss the 8th page, under “The Community.” I want to preface this section by saying that I am not ungrateful for the server, nor do I think that Frumple has not done a lot for the server. He has, and I am truly grateful for his role in the server being a part of my life for so long. But spending an entire page discussing the community “not empathizing with him” and “expecting him to do everything perfectly” and how he “doesn’t feel appreciated” doesn’t just rub me the wrong way; it comes across to me as an obvious diversionary tactic. I want to point out that in real life, it is common for people to get others to ignore their own issues by claiming that they do not receive enough care in return for what they do; this part of the letter reminded me exactly of that. I find it very inappropriate for this to be done in a “response” to something that drove one of my friends away from the community permanently and wounded him deeply mentally and emotionally. Furthermore, it is also inappropriate that it was done in a letter given from a position of power to people who are, for the most part, significantly younger than him. (To be clear, I don’t think this was done purposefully to “divert,” but this is definitely the effect that it has.)
So if you’re a rank-and-file member reading this, I want you to refer back to #1. None of this is your fault, and you should not feel responsible for any of this. What he has done for us all is amazing, but just because he has done that does not mean that he is free from criticism, especially when his actions have caused real harm to real people.