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The Way of Moderation has ended (page 566)

Posted Apr 28, '12 at 3:46pm



11,104 posts


You know that when a chapter title is Strop's trite phrase, it has to be important. So with that, read on!


It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

"To begin with, what is the Way of Moderation?"

"I beg your pardon?"

Seated in the witness chair, Strop scratched his neck, tugging at the fabric of his ninja suit. Where the court used to sit, the administrators had magicked in a new courthouse, along with a new courtyard that they had "borrowed" from somewhere... else. It didn't exactly fit the old aesthetic standards, and one could even have said that it didn't exactly fit, period. It wasn't as if the original one could have been built in the three days since the end of the great battle anyway. But none of that mattered when from the inside, nobody could tell the difference. It was a somewhat more low-key affair, the walls and desks plainer, the stands less haughty. Strop almost missed the gravitas and atmosphere of the old one, but sitting where he was now, he didn't have the luxury of nostalgia. From the gallery, he recognised all the contestants of the tournament, from the wannabes that signed up and didn't even show up, to the ones that put up a good fight, to the who's who of the aspirants, including those who had returned to defend AG in its most desperate hour, the likes of Frank and Pixel, and Manta (and his merry men), Chill, The Bullman, and of course the grand finalists Crimson and Leon (surprisingly even he had turned up to see what all the fuss was about). King "Since Beta" Ryan was, of course, transcribing. And with him being the sole exception as his nose was buried in parchment, everybody else was staring directly at Strop. Including his interrogators, the administration of Armor Games, headed by Dan himself.

"In this instance, we mean the Way of Moderation, the Tournament."

"Ah, right." Strop tugged at his suit again. This time there were no fancy ties, no Strop-on doppelgangers, and almost certainly no crazy disruptions to proceedings. It was just him, uncomfortable questions and awkward answers. Nonetheless this one was open-ended enough, and a good place to start, so, having taken a breath, he began. "The Way of Moderation Tournament was a tournament designed to identify citizens of Armor Land who were willing and possessing of the qualities to become a moderator."

"Who was consulted in the making of the decision to hold such a tournament?"

"At the point the plan for the tournament was conceived, it was Her Highness the Queen, Carlie, presiding over a meeting with the present moderators, including myself, Moderator Ubertuna, Moderator Moe, Moderator Flipski, Moderator Nemo, Moderator Zophia, and Moderator Devoidless."

"Why was the tournament founded in this instance?"

"Ordinarily the Moderators are selected by the Wheel of Moderation. However in this instance the Wheel of Moderation was not operational, and there was nobody capable of repairing it. Most importantly, it was a time in which we had become aware as a team that the land of Armor Games required an additional member to the Moderation team."

"And why did the Moderation team decide that they required an additional member?" Dan's face remained absolutely neutral as he asked the question, though Strop wasn't sure there wasn't at least a little tension that played underneath its surface. Or maybe he was just reading into things.

"We were finding it difficult to adequately cover all the duties of a Moderator. In particular the incidence of citizens disrupting the peace had risen to the point where we could no longer deal with all of them in a timely fashion. Complaints were stacking up, spam was also building up and particularly in the wilderness it was running rampant."

"Okay then." The developers sitting at the magistrate's bench beside Dan were all writing notes and passing them to each other. Strop tilted his head, not sure what to make of it all. But so far, things didn't seem to be going too badly at all. Very suspicious.

"We've now established the premise upon with the Way of Moderation Tournament was founded. Could you now proceed to tell us about the structure of the tournament?"

Strop pondered this for a moment, as the events of the past year came flooding back. The grand plans, the infectious enthusiasm, the wanton destruction and, admittedly, the schadenfreude... all of it seeming as folly, and probably going to sound incredibly stupid, but burning ears and cheeks and all, he had his duty to fulfill to the bitter end. So here he went:

"The tournament was designed to identify one most suitable candidate to nominate for moderation, so it was structured in elimination stages. Each stage was designed to test the mettle and aptitudes of each candidate, and failure to participate in any stage was registered as a withdrawal from the tournament. Once the tournament reached a sufficiently small pool of remaining candidates, they were interviewed, and a final eight were selected, and the structure from that point were rounds of peer-versus-peer action."

"So I see." At this point one of the developers handed Dan a stack of paper, which he perused. "This is a list of the activities for each round... and I'm told underneath this is an inventory of the, uh, collateral damage from each round, as compiled from a series of reports as kept by a certain citizen by the name of Cenere. Would you mind looking over it and commenting?"

The anticipated hand-gripping-the-gullet sensation hit Strop in force. This was the beginning of everything this session was supposed to do, and once he started, like falling down a mountain, there was no stopping until he had reached the very bottom. Shakily, he grasped the paper and looked over it. Yes, it was all dutifully recorded in slightly chaotic cursive, but the words were still all so clear.

"Yes, this is indeed an accurate record of the events of the Way of Moderation Tournament."

"The activities include such things as 'Dodgeball', 'Steeplechase', and a... rap battle. And I also see that Cenere has included a written account of his concerns about the damages to both property and person alike. This does raise concerns with the administration that the activities undertaken as part of the tournament had a significant amount of risk built into them. Would you care to comment?"

Strop took a deep breath, reining in the temptation to utter a few choice curses. He wondered why, in the clear light of day, he couldn't remember any of Cen's protests or warnings. It might have been something to do with the fact that as soon as he so much as sniffed paperwork, he promptly foisted it on Cen. He had after all done his time as the mule of the moderators... this thought made him frown to himself a little, in thought.

"Moderator Strop? Any comment?"

Strop jerked back to the present. "Oh! Well yes, yes I would. I acknowledge that there was risk involved in the activities. In the planning of each event I was hoping to give every candidate a broad exposure to the city at large, as well as a broad range of tasks... um... to demonstrate the, uh, versatility required of a moderator, as well as to test their familiarity with the whole of the city. After all, a moderator's duties extend throughout the entire lands, and many users are known to frequent just a small section of the community. And I will add that Armor City is a vibrant community with many different people and views and many things happening so... often plans had to be altered to adapt to suit circumstances... versatility. You know."

"Fair enough, but, a rap battle?"

Strop rubbed his head. "Well that was going to be a night of general song and dance, but there was a double-booking and the decorater had already... done up the place, so I had to, uh, go with the flow."

"Very well." Dan made a little note on his pad, making Strop cringe. Was Dan not a fan of rap battles? If he recalled correctly Queen Carlie thought the idea was fun...

"I guess the question I'm asking, and I'm sure many of the citizens are also asking, is for some kind of explanation as to how exactly the activities you subj- I mean you set for the candidates relates to assessing one's ability to be a moderator."

Strop ticked another item off on his mental bingo card of "Awkward Questions That Needed To Be Asked in the Inquiry". Then he chewed his lip. Then he decided he might as well attempt to answer the question. "I know it's not appropriate to answer a question with a question, but bear with me: would you find it permissible to give a user who was not a moderator a banhammer of their own and see how they did clearing spam?"

"No, I wouldn't," Dan replied.

"For that reason I had to think of, uh, very indirect modes of testing the various abilities I thought were related to the tasks typical of a moderator."

"This may be true, but it seems that many of the initial tasks are highly agility oriented, which may reflect how you perform your moderator duties but, shall I say, appears to be a trait unique to you as a moderator."

"Indeed. That's due to the fact the task of planning the events fell to me. And since I was the assessor, I had to pick tasks that I was familiar with. But the tasks themselves weren't assessed by the outcome, so much as the attitude, the manner in which they were performed."

He was met with a round of blank stares. "I was looking for character and commitment." He offered. More blank stares. With a hint of desperation, he added, "You have to consider that this was an event that was the subject of most of the conversation of the city for several months! The events had to have spectacle, flair... in every circumstance the way to keep the public order is to keep the public happy, and to keep the public happy we must keep them entertained. I will admit that this did lead to some risk taking, and it did lead to a degree of, uh, spontanaeity, but I had everything planned according to the balance of all factors."

"Fair enough," Dan said, flicking through some more notes, "Though it seems that not every... in fact most of the other moderators didn't agree with your approach."

"Not to make this sound like a blame game, but we did have our differences. In fact three of the moderators actively opposed the idea of a tournament and after they were outvoted they acted to obstruct the proceedings. I would not say that they were there to disrupt the peace of AG itself, so much as act on what they thought was in best interests... but the outcome was that far more damage was done than would have otherwise occured."

"I shall be calling the moderators in question to give an account later on, so that we may have a complete picture, so that will be enough on that topic. Although I note," and Dan fixed Strop with a slight glare, "That Armor Castle seems to prominently feature among the damages inventory several times throughout the report, including one instance early in the tournament when it was completely demolished by a wayward banhammer swing."

"But your Highness," Strop spluttered, "that instance wasn't really a result of the activities of the Tournament! There were extenuating circumstances, and I hasten to add, that wayward swing should only have affected my own room, if not for the, um, ageing foundations of the castle, but I digress..." His splutterings died down as he realised he was only digging a deeper hole for himself.

Fortunately, Dan saw fit to ignore the irrelevant parts of his rambling. "I acknowledge that incident was one of several involving the eventual instigator of the attempted revolt and sacking of Armor Games, the former citizen known as Klaus. Now is as good a time as any, so could you describe your relationship with Klaus?"

Strop had to stop himself from automatically disclaiming that it was entirely platonic, and 'no homo'. "I won't deny that Klaus was, and in some ways still is a friend. I'm sure this view is in fact shared by many members of the moderation team and public alike. He was likeable and funny, if always controversial."

A surreptitious glance informed Strop that he hadn't been imagining it all this time, for there were several subtle nods from the gallery. He turned back to the administration and sighed a little. "We were closest in the early days, when everything seemed fresh and possibilities endless. Klaus spent most of his time spinning business in the Freemarket. I guess where we differed was that he wanted to make it big. He wanted to get rich, he wanted power, and when neither was forthcoming, the whole concept of AG's economy soured on him. That's why he ordered the nuking of the Freemarket, and stormed the bank."

"He wanted to destroy the economy?" Dan asked.

"Yes. Klaus explicitly said so, denouncing it as the source of much of the problems of this land."

At this the gallery positively bristled, but nobody spoke, nobody would dare speak out of turn in the presence of AG's most powerful.

"Do you agree with Klaus' views?"

Strop blinked, not expecting this digression. "It's true that the status having a lot of AP confers has been identified as a specific motive for organised criminal activity. And less organised criminal activity."

"Well, we shall have to review that," Dan said, making a note, and leaving the question of what he meant by that on everybody's lips, yet unspoken. "But back to the topic... where did it all go wrong? Would you know?"

"Despite the differences in motive, like many, Klaus' primary concern was thinking of ways to improve Armor City. And like many, he shared frustrations at the limited means by which to do so, for there's only so much we can do with the..." and at this Strop almost trailed off at the realisation of what he was implying, " and infrastructure available to us."

"Interesting," Dan said, one hand stroking his soul patch. "Do you have any specific details?"

"The moderators have submitted a written report on those, which you may have. But with regards to the users, their main issues were to do with backward technology. We, how do I put this, we're stuck in the medieval period and I'm not sure how sustainable it is at this point given the rate of population growth..."

"It is true that this town was started as a much, much smaller project. And as a result of that there are many inefficiencies and the system basically needs a complete overhaul." Dan gestured to the developers flanking him. "Infrastructure is precisely the reason why we're building an entirely new city, though we'll of course endeavour to fix the problems we have in this current city. But we can talk about that more later. We've established at least a motive for the conflict that disrupted the community, as well as identifying an underlying issue with the community at large, so let's move onto the most pressing questions for today's inquiry. Namely, what is the Way of Moderation?"

The question slugged Strop like a blow to the solar plexus. It had been on his bingo list but it was one he really hoped he wasn't asked. At least not in this context. But he might as well not sugar-coat the truth. "Where do I start?"

"You start from the beginning, of course." Dan was spectacularly unhelpful as he was deadpan.

"Well, I uh... to be honest with you the Way of Moderation is a gag line."

"Go on."

"It's the line I use when citizens ask me 'how do I become a moderator', and I would ask them 'Do you follow the Way of Moderation?'. Because asking how to become a moderator is the clearest indication that one doesn't have what it takes to be a mod. I know it sounds like a cruel joke, but to me there's a truth, one that loses its value when it's explained."

"Humour us, Moderator Strop. We're interested in what you have to say."

"Very well," Strop wiped his brow and adjusted his ninja hood. "It's very much like the Wheel of Moderation, I don't know how it works but its function is infallible. In a similar way a moderator knows they can be one, and it is in their nature. They do not have to mold themselves or strive to change their natures, for they've reached the point where they can take on that task. And that's what marks them out from those who speak of moderation and being a moderator, that they don't talk about how they could or should be one. They just know that they are at a point where they could be one at that very moment and nothing would change except the possession of a banhammer."

"You make a true observation," Dan mused, "But nonetheless the correlation between characteristics of a moderator and this behaviour still seems very nebulous. I'm interested in knowing what characteristics you were looking for."

"What I was looking for? Obviously one who has sound judgement, and is willing to exercise it as a commitment to the community. One who can juggle lawfulness and notions of the greater good and act accordingly. Conflict management. Staying calm in the worst of situations, having resilience and persistence. Being able to quickly identify issues and address them to minimise risk and damages." Strop felt strangely nauseous, like the anticipation of having to vomit, the dread lingered somewhere between his stomach and his throat.

Dan finished shuffling his papers, so he stacked them neatly on the desk and pushed them aside. Then he looked directly at Strop. "Now that you've laid those standards, I want you to answer these next questions honestly, Moderator Strop. Do you believe your actions over the past year upheld those standards? Do you believe your actions over the past year reflected your Way of Moderation?"

Strop hung his head. Silence followed for several seconds.

"No." He finally answered.

"In what way?"

"My decisions did not reflect sound judgement. I got caught up in a task and in the panic I lost sight of the greater good. When conflicts arose I only made them worse by ignoring them. It was only in the worst of times when it was too late, that we were able to work as a team to restore things, but up until then I made unilateral decisions with no regard to safety. For all these things I take full responsibility."

Thus Strop's fall from the Way of Moderation was complete. Or rather, it perhaps had been completed a long time ago, but he had only gotten around to admitting it, in full and formal capacity, now.

"Very well. We shall take that into consideration in our deliberations. The other question we have is... the result of the tournament. Did you identify any candidate whom you would consider to become a moderator, based on everything that has been said and done?"

Strop cast his eyes over the gallery, full of said candidates, who were intently staring at him. Many of them had rekindled in them that hungry look moderators avoided like the plague. Others still looked weary, as if they couldn't care less. And many of the finalists themselves were absent, which, for some reason, didn't surprise Strop.

He shook his head. "Honestly your Highness, I don't know. I really don't. I'll have to review everything, hold another round of interviews before relasing official feedback."

"Hmm." Dan McNeely furrowed his brow, as if trying to process absolutely everything that had been said and read in the inquest, and not quite being able to add it up. "I just have one final question for you." Here, he spread his hands, palms up. "Given what you said about the Way of Moderation, it just seemed to me that a tournament would have been the least effective way of actually finding a candidate for moderation. So all I ask is... why?"

Strop was dumbfounded. He racked his brains for an explanation, tried to remember the content of the conversation many months ago in that dark underground room. He swore he could remember somebody else asking him that but by that time it was already well underway so he swept the question aside. Rationalisations about public spectacles and generating interest formed and fizzled before they gained any substance. Counter-accusations directed at the administration were banished before they even made it from his brain to his mouth. In the end, he had but one thing left to say, and so he said it.

" seemed like a good idea at the time."


This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several hours, before they present their findings.


Posted Apr 28, '12 at 4:12pm



14,025 posts


It was very well done, Strop. I know I just told you, but it has got to be said publicly as well. I think, personally, that this was one of, if not the best of the chapters. Or segments or text pieces, whatever you might want to call them.. In the entire three years of the WoM.
Well done.

And thank goodness it is soon over.


Posted Apr 28, '12 at 5:13pm



6,889 posts

and to keep the public happy we must keep them entertained.

So said Octavius, First Citizen of the Roman Empire.

Well done.

I concur.

Posted Apr 28, '12 at 10:41pm



4,437 posts

This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several hours, before they present their findings.

In which case they announce the Way of Moderation Tournament 2! Run by Strop and Cenere!


Posted May 1, '12 at 8:40am



3,847 posts

that this was one of, if not the best of the chapters.

Yep. I think it was the best chapter. No pics though...I like the pics.
And thank goodness it is soon over.

As someone that has not done anything in WoM, well I have read all of it but that doesn't really count, I will be sad to see that it is over. But I bet it is a lot of work and that everyone that as written for it has better things to do.
In which case they announce the Way of Moderation Tournament 2!

Well, kingryan might not have anything better to do. Since now he will have nothing to not update in the archive.

Posted May 10, '12 at 2:50am



4,437 posts

This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several weeks, before they present their findings.

Posted May 10, '12 at 5:25pm



6,889 posts

I forget that the WoM runs on AMW time.


Posted May 11, '12 at 1:46am



14,025 posts


The WoM currently runs on "Holy crap, people are dying around me, Cen do something!" "I would, but I am buried in books and have become a babysitter!"-time.
Which, considering the email replies is the general time people are running on, sans the people dying part.

We would apologize, but we don't have time.


Posted May 11, '12 at 4:57pm



6,889 posts

We would apologize, but we don't have time.

Well played sir. Well played. *slow clap*

Posted May 12, '12 at 9:53am



11,104 posts


Ah yeah. About that. Sorry about that?

I just finished my six day working week, so like, yeah. Also apparently I had the worst run of luck the dermatology department has ever had in a single week. If you're interested, look up Steven Johnson Syndrome (and therefore Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), and Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms. And my dermatology registrar was on annual leave, so yeah.

Some serious **** going down on my watch, yo.

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