Administrative Ban: Vac

HEM

,,,,,,,,
Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
All,

It brings me no pleasure to announce that the administrative team has made the decision to ban user “Vac” from our forum for a period of nine (9) months, and from our Discord property indefinitely.

There’s a bit to unpack here, but I believe it is important to explicitly explain why this action is happening now. Europeia has received public criticism over the last year or so for allowing Vac to remain a part of our community. Each time that criticism has been levied, I have made a public appeal for information that would create a demand for administrative action. While we did receive testimony, nothing was sufficient to justify administrative action.

When considering whether administrators need to step in, we have one test, and one test only: has this member put members of our community in danger, and/or are they likely do so in the future? To reach that level, it’s not enough for someone to be a jerk, or even to have an anger problem.

Additionally, in a political game, there are many opportunities for people to feel uncomfortable, or even hurt. To the extent that that behavior remains in political gameplay, it is rarely actionable. For example: there’s a reason why Europeia still has a RP law against blackmail. Threatening to fire a Deputy Minister if they don’t vote for you is not administratively actionable. Threatening to post someone’s Facebook URL in a public chat, or threatening violence against someone if they don’t vote for you, absolutely is. In a game where social OOC chat often intertwines with political gameplay, this can be a hard distinction to parse, but it is essential to do so. There are many players who “play a tough game” but do absolutely nothing that could merit administrative action.

Getting this right is critical, and we only have to look to last year’s Nationstates World Fair to understand the huge ramifications of going with your gut instead of the evidence and getting something wrong.

Roughly 10 days ago, the Europeian Administrative team received a dossier on Vac compiled by an outside party. Based on follow-up interviews with individuals featured in that dossier, we believe the preponderance of evidence suggests Vac’s actions rise to the level of administrative action.

SUMMARY:

Vac has an extensive history of unhealthy relationships with Nationstates players, almost all of whom are female. Our topline concerns are,
  • Controlling and manipulative behavior that makes players feel unsafe
  • Suggesting using OOC blackmail to control others’ behaviors
Other concerns, that due to lack of evidence or scale may not rise to the level of administrative action but remain aggravating and extremely alarming factors are,
  • Verbal degradation of female players
  • Extreme difficulty maintaining self-control
  • Attempts to “cover his tracks” that could be intentional
Vac has a history of very troubling relationships with female players. The ease at which he moves IC relationships to OOC relationships, the degree of control he seeks over those individuals, is concerning on its face, but the extent to which it suggests he struggles to differentiate between RL and NS is alarming. Vac is also extremely accustomed to issuing threats or blackmail to players. Some fully IC (not actionable), some OOC (actionable), and some that blur the lines.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of these allegations, giving any further details would very likely reveal compromising information about the victims. Please be assured that the administrative team has investigated allegations thoroughly and we have enough verifiable evidence to reach the conclusion we have.

CONCLUSION:​

It is due to all the above factors in aggregate that the administrative team has decided that Vac has put our members in danger in the past and have issued an administrative ban.

There are some who reasonably will wonder why Vac’s forum sanction is not indefinite like the majority of our bans. Without discussing details of the case, it very difficult to explain where that distinction lay. While we are very comfortable punishing Vac for his actions in the past, the nature of the evidence is such that it was difficult to establish an administrative consensus on the threat he poses going forward.

ADDENDUM:

There is a slight addendum to this announcement, however, which is not likely to be terribly popular in some circles. It is in regards to the dossier on Vac that was referenced at the start of this announcement.

This dossier serves as a clear case study in why we, the administrators of Europeia, strongly strongly caution against any “independent” investigations into players, by random players. Firstly, the dossier itself was, from a clarity point of view, extremely low quality. Navigating the various arguments and logs in the document was very cumbersome, and as the document went on, it devolved into a random assortment of logs without context of explanation. Secondly, an overwhelming majority of the dossier’s content was either (1) repeat logs copy and pasted multiple times through the document; (2) non-actionable RP content; (3) group logs discussing various offenses or rumors, but not logs of the offenses itself (hearsay).

Indeed, the dossier quality was so low that it’s existence and presentation actually initially robbed the inquiry into Vac of credibility inside the administrative team. The extent to which the dossier was useful was only in how it introduced our team to other victims that we could then independently talk to. This investigation would’ve gone infinitely more smoothly if the players behind the dossier had simply introduced us to new victims they became aware of, which we’ve been urging players to do for the last few years, in order to avoid situations like this.

These independent investigations are problematic because there’s no guarantee those involved have the experience or knowledge to conduct them correctly, and that it is very likely that those involved in the “independent” investigations have a personal stake in the matter that will cloud their judgement. That is to say, investigations undertaken by a “random” assortment of players probably isn’t random—people are usually spurred to such action because they were directly impacted, or a friend was. This does not lead to objective investigations or fact-finding. When people who are involved in the alleged incidents take it upon themselves to conduct fact-finding, there’s an extent to which it “taints” all the evidence they later present, particularly when that evidence is based on testimony from other players and not hard evidence.

While administrative investigations across Nationstates are not perfect, having administrative teams take the lead on major behavioral issues allows for a system of accountability. For instance, using the NSWF as an example again, The North Pacific’s administrative team has been forced to be accountable for the mistake that they made in regards to the Imki kerfuffle. There’s much less accountability for third-party organizations, or just ad-hoc groups of people.

We are not saying this to try to be jerks — and we understand the good intentions those who compiled the dossier had — but there is a true danger in having propagating independent inquires across this game. We appreciate that there are people who care about our communities and want our region to be a safe place to play. But they missed the mark here, and it’s important to be said.

/s/
HEM
Lethen
Darcness
NES



 

Pierce

The Last Vice President
Having witnessed some of the manipulative behavior and blackmailing and heard from other victims about his behavior, I'd say this is long overdue. Thank you, admin team
 

Aramor

New member
This kind of behavior is disgusting and inexcusable - I'll echo everybody else by also saying thanks for being transparent about both the transgressions and the investigation.
 

Ervald

“I love to be directed. They can trust me and go.”
Citizen
Vac's behavior was utterly disgusting and this ban is absolutely needed. Thank you, admins, for being transparent about the investigation and protecting this region.
 

Deepest House

Vice Chancellor
Citizen
The safety of our community is always the number one priority. I am thankful the Admins were able to conduct a thorough investigation that will ensure our community is protected now and in the future.

Once again, this is an example of why we have the best Admin team in NS.
 

Le Libertie

Deputy Minister
Citizen
Once again, thank you for the excellent work you do, admins. It's been clear to me through this and personal experience with Vac that the correct decision was made.
 

Calvin Coolidge

Spellcaster
President
Deputy Minister
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Discord Moderator
Thank you for your work, admin team, very important and high quality, as always.
 

HEM

,,,,,,,,
Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
As always, no case is truly closed. If people have evidence they'd like to pass on, it will be reviewed and sanctions may be appropriately reviewed.
 

GraVandius

Part Time Troll
Senator
Deputy Minister
Citizen
I'm not surprised that this behavior was reflected in an IC domain. I am intensely disappointed and disgusted by the OOC behavior that apparently took place. I applaud the admin team for their efforts.
 

Ark

New member
First of all, finally. I’ve been listening to people complaining about Vac’s presence here (and in the NS community) for some time. I think that this post does a good job of explaining what Vac did without giving so much information that it violated the privacy of the victims. For that I say good job to the admin team. I’m not sure what exactly was meant with the latter half, aside from a rather condescending “let the big boys handle it” from the admin team to the victims and those that tried to help, by putting together eveidence that they had to dig out for the umpteenth time that it had to be provided to a regional admin team. That said, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m hopeful that the ban will dissuade Vac from ever doing such a thing again in the future.
 

HEM

,,,,,,,,
Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
Ark said:
First of all, finally. I’ve been listening to people complaining about Vac’s presence here (and in the NS community) for some time. I think that this post does a good job of explaining what Vac did without giving so much information that it violated the privacy of the victims. For that I say good job to the admin team.
I'm tempted to not get into it, but since I know you are saying something that a not-insignificant number of people are thinking, I want to respond briefly.

Firstly, as we noted in the first few paragraphs, we are aware that people weren't happy with Vac's presence here. We've always been torn on whether (1) there was some huge damning piece of evidence out there that we just didn't have or (2) the people who were the angriest were the most connected with the situation and had a different idea of what's actionable than we did.

At the end of the day, it was probably a mixture of both.

The only thing I can reiterate is that we can only act if people step forward and provide evidence. We can't act on rumors, or people's guts, or the collective opinions of gameplay. Again, as I stated above, the NSWF taught us what happens when a few people might find someone's behavior actionable but don't let the accusations go through a scrutinous process that is based around evidence.

I’m not sure what exactly was meant with the latter half, aside from a rather condescending “let the big boys handle it” from the admin team to the victims and those that tried to help, by putting together eveidence that they had to dig out for the umpteenth time that it had to be provided to a regional admin team. That said, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m hopeful that the ban will dissuade Vac from ever doing such a thing again in the future.

The dossier was not helpful, and that's why we strongly discourage anyone from doing something like that again.
 

Nick Powell

New member
Thank you for keeping us safe. Noting the use of info, i think itll be important to reevaluate my relationship with the NS community and my willingness to share OOC info. The situations i seem to find myself in with these types of people warrants a long hard look at the people in the community and my willingness to let things fly.

Thanks again for your work.
 
I want to thank and give a good round of applause to the admins for their strong action in relation to Vac. Having served under Vac in KoGB I can attest to the fact of his mean attitude. That alone wasn’t much but I can only imagine what he has done to others. The behavior is disgusting and should be met with strong, firm action.
 
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