Information Funneling

Discussion in 'General' started by Vismal, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Vismal

    Vismal Gold Member

    ((Just a heads up that I have no intention of sowing dissension, but it was brought to my attention, and I opted to make the thread so that we can all discuss it openly.
    Keep in mind that any opinions you have regarding this should be made with respect to any and all parties that may or may not be involved.
    Keep in mind that we have a lot of different agents from different nationalities that may participate in this discussion, so keep the language clear and concise to avoid confusion.
    If you are unclear of what someone is saying, don't be afraid to mention how *you* are understanding a situation, as it may be different from one person to another, and may help mend possible bridges.))

    Information funneling: I mean information that was given to a few individuals and is being held up before given to the community. (Whatever the reason may be, it still is being funneled.)
    I can understand the need of the concept, especially when there's potentially dangerous information in the hands of an agent(s).
    What I want to prevent, is the elitism that came about from the End of Days, where information and progress was being funneled by only a select group of individuals, as it made other people feel not as involved. I know some of you feel strongly towards this, as it was mentioned in the MMORPG forums previously, and that steps were taken initially to prevent such a situation from occurring within TBW PARG.
    We need to ensure we are keeping the air of community and involvement to the maximum of our abilities.
    That said, I'm just bringing this to attention, as we currently have a mission where there was a time-sensitive piece of information that could only be given to 1 particular agent, and the community chose it's representative.
    It's hard for me to word this without creating a philosophical/ethical rift in mindsets between the purposed parties, but I would like to perhaps suggest improvements to allow community involvement and clarify situations reports for those that may misconstrue that information is only being handled by a select group, instead of relegated by the chosen Point of Contact of the community.

    Now, for my input: I agree that events were handled appropriately as far as I could see, but could have been make clearer, for those that may have been confused by the long pauses between info relegating. IRC chat is a nightmare to deal with and anyone (and I do mean anyone) will want to select a calmer media to process info. I think new info should be put into a static media, like the forums. That way everyone sees the information at the same time, and the weight of the input by the community isn't swayed between one group or another. Preventing cliques/elitism/information funneling/whatever people want to call it these days, politically correct or not.

    Leaving the floor open to discuss this sensitive topic. Moderator, please assist if need be.
    5 people like this.
  2. Vismal

    Vismal Gold Member

    (I also want to point out that I saw first hand that this was the case, back in EoD when I got the physical package, and at the Starbucks, trying to scan/post it to imgur, I was pointed to a group of a select few individuals, that wanted the information and invited me into their fold. It was a closed group, so I felt good about joining them, but I didn't want to leave the 12K people in chatango alone, so I did post it at both places, and started formulating another post on TSW forums at the time. In retrospect, I should have posted on forums first at the time, then given link to chatango/closed-IRC afterwards, to allow for maximum visibility first and foremost. But that was another situation...still applicable though)
    3 people like this.
  3. Ruke Unlimited

    Ruke Unlimited Senior Agent

    I'll take the reply on this, since I seem to be the center of the storm, so to speak.

    I'm much more active in chat than I am on the forums, to that end it didn't really occur to me to post the info I received from Phoenix here. I naturally assumed that it would be added by a third party or to a common google.doc. That was my failing and I appologize. My exchanges can be seen at and at

    This mission required a single agent to become the lead in negotiations, and because I had already been in contact with the concierge and was going to be available today, I was selected. When we became aware of an additional account, Zerosh was selected to take charge of that account for the same reasons. Aside from specific account details on the second account, which would be useless to everyone except Zerosh (unless someone was trying to sabotage the mission), all information was shared as soon as it was received. The second account was not discussed beforehand, as we believed there to be only one agent acting in this mission until the moment we received the information.

    After the decision to let Zerosh run the second account was made, we discussed decisions in private to try and come up with a strategy before presenting it to the group at large. The reasons for doing this was simply to make quick, concise decisions as well as to avoid any group-think that may have hindered our ability to fulfill the mission at hand. At this time, we are waiting. There is nothing else to do. However, when it comes time to make a decision, we will come up with a strategy and present it to the community and modify our plans based on the input we receive. We are committed, first and foremost, to achieving the objective.

    While there may have been some confusion, there has been no information funneling with the exception of the specific details of the second account, which again need not be known by anyone except the agent assigned to deal with that account. Please rest assured that information will be released as it is received as long as it does not put the mission in jeopardy.
  4. Ruke Unlimited

    Ruke Unlimited Senior Agent

  5. Vismal

    Vismal Gold Member

    Exactly Ruke, I understand the decision that was made to withhold the sensitive info.
    The reason I'm posting this is because I was made aware of the issue by a few parties, and I opted to be the "neutral" party to start discussing it.

    Fuzzy things that may have lead to the confusion/sense of abandon:
    It wasn't very clear that who was the 2nd selected individual, or that the community elected that party for the 2nd account holder (Zerosh as you mentioned). Only that you were confiding with Zerosh about the information together. That was felt as excluding people by some people.
    It may seem that information was made aware to certain individuals before the rest had access to it (the funneling part), so that should have been clearer that if that wasn't the case, that it wasn't the case. People may have felt excluded.

    We're pitching this ARG as a community driven game, so we want to have the max involvement of the community, even if it's to ask the community if it's alright to restrain the information for a few minutes while it gets sorted out, on a poll/forum. We want to involve people, not have them feel like sideline nobodies that don't have an impact on the events unfolding you know? It's hard for me to express this from the other side of the coin, but, I don't know how else to put it.
  6. Zargh

    Zargh Moderator

    As the initiant of all this, i take it.

    There are two big things that went completely wrong, in my opinion.

    First: "When we became aware of an additional account, Zerosh was selected to take charge of that account for the same reasons."
    Who became aware? Who is "We"? Definiately not the whole participating IRC community. Here it starts, some decide for all. Wrong in my humble opinion. Wrong way of communcation. You left some behind, for what reason ever.

    Second: The selection itself. There is no problem in using someone to help you, Ruke. There is a problem in not explaining your decision to all, only to some. Another failure in communication in my opinion. You left some behind, again.

    I understand that it is important to decide. Decide fast. But, there are still enough tools to do all this, even in IRC. Muting the channel comes in mind... But deciding things without any information to all who participate will have the risk of making some feel like a useless one.

    Communication is difficult. I know. But this here was not needed. It could have done better.
  7. Zargh

    Zargh Moderator

    Oh, and one thing that hitted me personally, just asking if i understood it the right way. This is from the IRC chanel:

    19:45:25 [email protected] - Everything else, EVERYTHING has been kept open. It's just REALLY hard to keep everything together.
    19:45:25 riningear And this is all coming from someone who only joined Friday night.

    So, i assume the "someone who only joined Friday night" was me? So, whats wrong with that? Is it that someone who wasnt there all the time before isnt worth getting involved? Getting informed? If that is the attidue i have to expect in the future, i think i don't want to be a part of this community... But maybe i am wrong because i don't speak your language? Could be...but i doubt it...
  8. Vismal

    Vismal Gold Member

    I think riningear was aluding to him/her joining Friday night, and not you Zargh. This may be a language barrier issue. Again, clarification may be needed to make sure.
  9. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    I think ringingear was refering to himself as having only just joined this friday, not you. :)

    (Sorry for the slight derailment, felt that was worth addressing first.)

    I know I'm late to the party, so to speak, so please bear with me if anything I say isn't taking into consideration the entirety of the "issue".
    I do, however, believe I am aware of what the central topic is in regards to the issue, so I'll venture commenting on it regardless:
    Lastly, please keep in mind that I am talking as a fellow player, and not in any way in the capacity of a Moderator; these are my personal thoughts on the matter, not what will or should be done.

    I agree that the main cause of this issue, is a result of things getting "lost in translation" - or the information flood, as things would have it. And as such, it is the circumstances that are to blame, not any action taken or not taken by any individual nor group.

    While one possible approach would be to relegate all "Point of Contact" information via forums - say, by a locked thread being updated by the contact - there is an alternate option available, that would allow for concurrent distribution of information, as soon as it became available, while also removing the risk of that information getting lost either in the flood of the chat, or become unavailable to agents who, for some reason or other, join the chat later - and thus can't see the relevant information.
    I feel this may be necessary, because some players are partial to Forums, while others prefer IRC - and in the grand scheme of things, if both platforms are not attended to, the "circumstances" needed to produce this issue, will still be there.

    In the future, when a Point of Contact is needed, might I propose that a dedicated channel is set up with the specific intent of funneling the information; a muted channel, where only the elected Contact(s) can speak.
    When new relevant information becomes available, the Contact can then share them with the entire (muted) channel (which should hopefully be a mirror of the main channel in every other respect), and the participants can then discuss the information in the main channel.
    Meanwhile, as significant progress is made on the matter, the topic of that channel could be updated to include the latest piece(s) of crucial info, allowing those who are just joining to quickly get an overview of where things are, and hopefully an idea of where things might be going.

    Likewise, if another party is ever needed alongside the "primary" Contact, that person could be, for example, Voiced (+) or Opped (@) in the muted channel, after that person has been chosen in the "Main Channel".

    So, to give an example:
    Agent A is chosen as Contact.
    Agent A creates (or joins) Muted-Channel/Locked-Thread, Muted-Channel/Locked-Thread name/url is added to Main-Channel/Thread topic.
    Agent A now has a place where the information they share is not carried away by the flood of chatter (Muted-Channel/Locked-Thread), and all remaining Agents can see this information, and use the Main-Channel/Thread to comment and discuss the information relayed by Agent A.
    This creates a two-channel system, where one is dedicated to discussing the out-going information (decisions made by all Agents), and one dedicated to relaying the incoming information (results of those decisions).

    On a sidenote, might I suggest we also cut back on the amounts of Ops and Voices in general?
    This is in no way meant as a criticism of the current ones(!), but I can see how, for someone new to the community, seeing a disparity in IRC-channel status, would automatically give them a notion of there being an actual disparity in agent status.
    Even a solitary Bot keeping watch would be sufficient, I feel.

    *retreats back underneath his rock*
    4 people like this.
  10. Anashel

    Anashel Puppet Master Staff Member

    I have to say you did pretty well. The same test was done in past ARG and we saw the community crash under pressure (time based) + the chaos of choosing 1 leader. (Just recall the "Do not betray your secret society code") They never manage to agree and it was a cluster****. I think game mechanics and UI should help, but overall you acted quite well on a test that most communities would have normally failed to pass. IMHO.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2014
    9 people like this.
  11. Ruke Unlimited

    Ruke Unlimited Senior Agent

    Zargh, go back and read the chat logs. When I received information about the second account I posted it in chat (which you were a part of) and asked for someone to take control of the account. Zerosh had already established communication with both Phoenix and Barbizon, and was going to be available all day, so he was the natural choice. It wasn't a matter of "who am I friends with" (I've hardly spoken to Zerosh before this incident, tbh), but a matter of "who's the best person to get the job done". In this case, it was Zerosh.

    As far as who is "we". I received an email from Phoenix, and posted it in chat - sans account details. They only sent an email to one person (me) and I put the contents in chat for all to see, again sans account details. This wasn't a mission where we needed every person to try and take the lead. This was a mission with a specific point of contact who relayed information as it was received, and decisions as they were made.

    I opted to speak to Zerosh, alone, on the side, rather than in main chat simply because the alternative was to have main chat muted so that we wouldn't get lost in information flood and group-think. I stand by that decision for the simple fact that I was still able to listen to everyones input while forming my own decisions.
    2 people like this.
  12. nikel

    nikel Lab 1852 - Neurals

    I agree that this issue stems from there being one point of contact, augmented by the fast moving IRC chat. If I understood what happened today correctly, then I did not actually witness information funneling. From my logs, other responses omitted:

    I don't see any other information withheld, Phoenix offered our point of contact a second account. Ruke then chose a second person and we discussed in the IRC possible avenues or uses for the second account.
  13. Zargh

    Zargh Moderator

    I do not have chat logs, i am not logging it. If there is a way for me to read them, someone please tell me how to do so...
    As far as i remember, FIRST you asked for someone who is available for second bidding, THEN you told in chat that you got infos about a second account AFTER you got asked why you need a second bidder. If this is wrong in chronolgy, i apologize. I can't proof it. But, if i am right, i think it was not ok to handle it this way. If this all will lead to loose my reputation and sympathy i maybe had here, i will take it. I will feel sad, but i am not willing to change my mind. Communication is all. Do not give anyone the feeling he or she is not involved. Even if it is done by misunderstandings or language barreers...this can be solved.
  14. Bats

    Bats Division 93: Covert Grammatical Ops Battalion

    I think there are basically two separate problems at issue here...

    One is the almost complete breakdown in communication at the end (although, really, things kinda went off the rails around the time we cracked the pigpen and everyone started jumping to make their own contact with Barbizon) - I don't have an easy solution for that at the moment, so I'm going to leave it for now.

    The other is that those of us on IRC kinda fell down on the job at the end (actually, at a number of points) when it came to keeping the forums up to date on details & new developments. On this point I'm at fault too - and it ties into concerns I've had since D66 about fragmentation of the community between the forums and irc - so I'm going to ramble aimlessly on the topic for a bit.

    The forums are essential - for new agents trying to catch up, for agents trying to catch up on changes after being away for a couple hours, and - which is often forgotten until too late - for agents from the future (wooo... timey wimey!) trying to recall just wtf actually happened during this operation because in TBW Season 5 we're being stalked by a vengeful Gwen. IRC is great for discussion, but, even for those of us who can sit on our asses in #division66 all day long, we need somewhere static and (reasonably) organized to use as a repository for information, otherwise we're stuck explaining the same damn thing to someone new every five minutes... but more than that, a large segment of slacker agents simply can't afford that sort of time investment, or, due to language or a wide variety of other reasons, find it hard to follow the conversation there. It's also important to remember that there are also many, many more agents on the forums than ever show up on IRC - the quiet ones are easy to forget about, but can't be disregarded.

    IRC is also vitally important - especially when frantically scrambling to crack a new puzzle, the forums just seem too damn slow to keep pace with the flow of ideas - but it's ephemeral. Even with decent logging (and now that this chaos is over, I'll try to finish getting that bot online so we actually have reliable logs again), IRC happens firmly in the moment. It's a nightmare to try using it as a reference for information or solutions previously discovered, or for options that've already been tried. It also has a dangerous tendency to become cliquish in a hurry - the people who're constantly there begin to feel like they're - or like we are - a special and especially dedicated corps (well, we kinda are - and that's a good thing) who don't really need to keep anyone else in the loop (...and that's not a good thing), and who start to exclude newcomers (...and that's just plain dangerous for the game).

    I feel like it would be better if we could adjust our perceptions and look at the forums as the center of the community and of missions - because, for the long-term health of the game, it really has to be - with IRC as an auxiliary communication channel, rather than focusing on IRC, with the forums left as something that maybe we'll worry about later... if there's time... and there isn't anything good on TV... and we haven't already forgotten half the important details... Unfortunately perceptions don't tend to respond well to deliberate and rational adjustment, so I'll leave it to someone else to try coming up with practical suggestions.

    7 people like this.
  15. Bink

    Bink Senior Agent

    Both are absolutely essential. I think it could have gone better had the final few updates been posted on the forums. Then people could catch up and join the IRC with what was going on at the moment. ARGs themselves are time sensitive when they are community based and you have to realize that it will probably be solved or things will be found before you even blink. The leader(s) won't always be the select few that have a foothold in the community at this point, but this is just getting started and at this point the leader has to have the tools and knowledge of what's going on. i.e. i didn't even know that there was a phoenix much less had an e-mail to contact.
    2 people like this.
  16. Ruke Unlimited

    Ruke Unlimited Senior Agent

    sorry, i tend to forget that not everyone logs the last 10,000 lines of text in chat... You can view the logs here:
    Edit: alternate to chat logs... had to edit some for size.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2014
  17. Zodiac

    Zodiac Senior Agent

    I agree with Bats completelly. I often have not the time for the IRC. So the forum ist the place where I try to catch up. I am also trying to summarize and spread things here in the forum or in my blog to give other people the chance to catch up. So in my opinion the forum should be always the information center number 1.

    My 50 cents,
  18. TheChosenOne

    TheChosenOne Active Agent

    I have to agree with Zodiac here. Real life and school are keeping me very busy right now, so I don't really have a lot of time to come join you guys in irc (which sucks). So for me the forums is pretty much my only source of information. ;)
    2 people like this.
  19. Sonne

    Sonne Division-79

    For the most part I think we did OK. There was often quite a lot of confusion on IRC when messages were received by one person (confusion in my head included). Now imagine it multiplied to 2000 agents. There will need to be info-funnels. Heck, many of us are signing up for orange or yellow and paying extra pledges to get 'communications'. Info-funnels are a necessary part of some stories.

    What we need to try to avoid is that those info-funnels become info-filters. The way I figure it, by the time a lot of rules get applied to how messages are handled, they might as well all be posted on a public medium and there's nothing special about them.

    We're all adult enough here to accept some individual responsibility about fairness when we become info-funnels. I agree with Vismal's OP suggestion about "when you get a message, put it on forums". This allows some discretion about a sensitive message that really should be filtered, but then plan on your decisions being reviewed in detail. This would also solve what was bothering me about the info-funnel thing, when it gets posted to forums it becomes permanent instead of scrolling off the top of IRC when I'm not looking.

    There will be situations when the bullets are flying and we can't stop to discuss options or hold an election. At those times, a leader needs to emerge and agents need to feel comfortable about following the lead. This means that agents should not be acting on behalf of the agency without some measure of authority, wait for the leader to emerge. In the recent case, messages to Phoenix, Barbizon and Headquarters may have had irreversible consequences, consequences everybody would bear (and especially Msika) for the actions of a few eager agents acting alone.

    I think we did fairly well for not having this discussion previously, it was quite hectic.
  20. Zargh

    Zargh Moderator


    Is there an image of an old stupid man in your folders? Then take it, look at it and say to yourself: This is Zargh, the old grumpy man who completely went into the wrong direction when it came to understand stress situation behaviour...

    In other words: i apologize. Sorry for being that offensive. After analyzing all infos and talking to different persons (thx, u know whom i am talking about) i can only say sorry. But also i can blame it on the tool. IRC in that case. This leads me to one thing i beg for: let us find a way to avoid this, to avoid Zargh runnning around and thinking the whole world is in conspiracy mode against him, and let us try to handle this all in a better way.

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