What is Mediation on XMR?
Mediation is a process to help resolve interpersonal issues that might come up in our community. Here on X-Men: rEvolution, we strive to create a non-hierarchical community where players have equal say in how our game is run -- from the administrative structure to the stories we choose to tell. This includes conflict resolution -- we do not have designated staff who are the final say on conflicts, so we need to work them out ourselves.
When players have a conflict, we strongly encourage them to first attempt to talk to each other and work it out between themselves. Sometimes, that doesn't resolve the issue. If players have an issue that cannot be resolved by direct communication, mediation might help them find an acceptable outcome.
What mediation is (and isn't)
Mediation does not have to only be for big or hostile issues -- people have used it to work out everything from confusion over powers in a scene to channel misunderstandings to hurtful interpersonal communications. Mediation should be used for any game-related conflicts, disagreements, miscommunications that they have not otherwise been able to resolve. This can mean things that happen in a scene e.g., disagreements about whether something is powerplay, or what a character could feasibly know, or complicated power interactions. This can also mean things that happen out of character, e.g. communication on channel or how players treat each other.
Please keep in mind that mediation is not fact-finding, punishment, or therapy. It is a facilitated conversation to try and help players understand each other and find a mutually tolerable resolution so that we can all continue having fun telling stories together.
Someone requested mediation with me, do I have to participate?
Not at all! Mediation is a tool we offer to players to help resolve conflicts. It is not a punishment and it is not an obligation. On this server we encourage all players to be open to feedback and communication about each others' needs, so we strongly encourage players to try what methods work for them to respectfully resolve disagreements.
Mediation didn't work -- now what?
Not every mediation conversation will end in a workable resolution. Sometimes we might not find people who are suited and able to mediate. Sometimes you might not arrive at an answer you like. Sometimes you might arrive at an agreement, but then someone doesn't follow through with what was decided. Sometimes people show up to mediation but are unwilling or unable to really engage. Sometimes someone might not have the time or energy or desire to participate in the first place. We have no staff and no hierarchy here, so at the end of the day it is up to players to figure out ways to resolve or live with their disagreements.
If you have a conflict with another player that has not been successfully addressed by regular dialogue or by mediation, consider the severity of the issue causing the conflict and what impact it is having on you and other players. Minor conflicts can often be resolved when the parties give each other a little space, but sometimes it's necessary to live with disagreements, and always necessary to treat each other with respect. However, if you feel another player's actions are continuing to cause harm after mediation has been attempted and must be addressed, you can propose banning them on #v-srs-game-bsns. Note that only those with the 'Member' role may propose a ban.
How does mediation work?
The mediation process
- A player on the game makes a request for mediation. Use the #help channel if you need to make a mediation request.
- Someone (this can be the player requesting mediation if they are a Member, or any Member who sees the request, if not) pings @Member on #v-srs-game-bsns to solicit volunteers for mediation.
- Members who feel they are able to do so can volunteer to help mediate. We do not have a fixed number of people required for mediation, and mediations may take place with one or more mediators if all parties agree to proceed. However, we have found that for complex or emotional mediation situations, it is ideal to have a team of mediators, which allows for second opinions/perspectives on how to proceed and switching off of facilitation.
- Once acceptable mediator(s) have been found, the mediators have the responsibility for setting up the conversation.
- This involves talking to each player about scheduling preferences as well as determining what format of conversation works best (for example, does everyone want to set a time to get together and talk things through in the same channel? Would people prefer not to talk directly to each other at all and have mediators act as intermediary for the conversation? Would people prefer an asychronous conversation? etc.)
- If a mediation topic is very involved or involves a large number of people, it can be helpful for mediators to have individual conversations ahead of time with participants to clarify each person's needs & expectations.
- Once everyone knows when and how the conversation will happen, mediators are also responsible for setting up any channels, if necessary, and setting the ground rules for the space. We have some standard community norms that we expect all players to abide by for any mediation, but in addition, it is helpful on a case-by-case basis to check in about if the participants or mediators have additional norms that would help them participate in the space. Mediators should make sure everyone is on the same page about conduct before proceeding.
- Mediators should then facilitate a conversation between the impacted players, with a goal of helping those players come to a mutual understanding about the issue and determining acceptable course of action moving forward.
- If a conversation takes longer than expected, mediators should discuss with impacted players to determine a way to proceed. Sometimes this may look like pausing a conversation and agreeing on a time to resume; it may mean switching from a sychronous to an asychronous conversation, etc.
- At the conclusion of mediation, mediators should update the #mediation-logs channel with an overview using the template there.
Things to consider when requesting mediation
Not every conflict needs mediation. Emotions can run high during conflicts, and sometimes it may help to just take a break from the situation and revisit it in a calmer state of mind. If what you need is just to vent or process, do so privately, with a friend. If you feel able to do so without causing harm to yourself or the party(ies) in conflict, try addressing the issue with them directly. Consider the context of the disagreement, who it affects, and whether it will continue to have negative impact if not resolved. If the conflict comes down to a personal disagreement, it might be worth letting go of it and moving on. No one here is required to always agree with and get along with everyone else, so long as we treat each other with respect, you may find that some rifts mend themselves in time. If you do feel the conflict requires mediation, think through what relevant information you might provide and what kind of resolution you would like before making a request.
- We do not have "mediators" as a standing role on game. When mediation is requested, anyone with the "Member" role may volunteer to help facilitate that mediation.
- All parties involved have full discretion over whether they are comfortable working together. This means that a person who is requesting mediation does not have to work with a mediator just because they have volunteered -- please speak up if you are not comfortable with a mediator for any reason! Additionally, mediators should be comfortable working with each other, and should speak up if they would like to request a change on mediation team. Please do not take it as an insult if someone expresses that you might not be a good fit for mediation -- it is important that everyone in a mediation be comfortable with the proceedings, and sometimes people's approaches to mediation or communication styles just don't jive!
- If you are thinking about volunteering to be a mediator, please consider:
- Perspective: We're all human here, and on top of that a fairly small game community, so none of us will truly be "impartial observers". But, before entering into mediation, do an honest self-evaluation about whether you can approach this specific topic without your own opinions and experiences unfairly coloring how you choose to mediate.
- Time commitment: Sometimes mediations have been very short and sometimes they have been very involved. Sometimes they have happened at a scheduled block of time, and sometimes they have happened asynchronously over a longer time span. It is up to the parties involved to decide on what makes sense in terms of scheduling. If mediation is happening in a real-time conversation, mediators should commit to being fully present and available -- please do not treat it like app review or an RP scene, where long delays and distractions are common and accepted. Volunteering for mediation should not have to mean "I will drop everything immediately and do this" but it SHOULD mean "I will agree to a time in the near future where I attempt to free myself of distraction so that I can give serious attention to this issue." Mediators should probably be willing to both take point on arranging a time when everyone involved can be present, and, be willing to be fully present themselves during that time period. If mediation is happening asychronously, mediators should do their best to check in on the conversation in a timely fashion and give mindful consideration to their responses.
- Knowledge: Mediators should have a solid understanding of our server/game structure, community atmosphere, and be generally aware of IC goings on. This does not mean you have to have read every log and know every character in great detail before volunteering for mediation, but you should feel comfortable recognizing what is and isn't standard practice on game, both in terms of out-of-character conduct and in-character occurrences.
Standard Mediation Norms
- If you are lead in conversation, be present. This is not a scene or an app review, where long delays and very asynchronous engagement are fine; this is a potentially very emotional and frustrating conversation for the people involved. Obviously participants can and should take breaks/step back when things are upsetting; as mediators we should commit to being here, as free of distractions as we can be, and fully ready to have this conversation promptly and without bringing our own emotions into it. If at any time we can't do that -- whether it's because we are having too much frustration, or whether we have offline distractions making us slow and not able to be here, we should be honest about that and get someone else to take point in discussion.
- Don't tell people how to talk or think about this issue. Our job isn't to tell people how they should feel or what are the correct ways to express it, our job is to help people come to a productive place where they feel comfortable moving forward. This can mean helping understand each other's perspective, helping figure out changes in behavior/structure/approaches that will minimize this friction in future, etc, but it should never mean telling people they are incorrect in what they are feeling. It can mean helping people determine what might and might not be productive ways to express those feelings; try to be mindful of the distinction.
- If working with more than one mediator, be prepared to listen to the rest of the facilitation team and incorporate each other's feedback -- we have a team in the first place because multiple perspectives can be helpful, here.
- If you need time to think through your next steps or to have a long sidebar with facilitation team, let people in mediation know to give us a moment so they aren't just waiting indefinitely without response.
- Commit to trying your best to approach mediation conversations both assuming and acting in good faith. This means approaching the conversation as if all parties involved want to have a respectful discussion and work towards an acceptable resolution. If you are unable to do that, please take a pause and return to the conversation when you are able to engage productively.
- Be prepared to consider the other people's point of view. This means also considering whether you may have incorrectly assumed things, misunderstood their statements, not had full information about their perspective.
- Be prepared to constructively express your perspective and your needs.
- Be open to understanding the other people's perspectives and needs.
- Be ready to help brainstorm solutions -- something might seem acceptable to others but not feel good to you at all! While compromise is often involved, we want it to be one that everyone involved can live with comfortably and enjoyably in this community, which requires proactive communication.
For All Participants
- Remember that mediation is not therapy and mediators are not equipped to solve personal emotional issues. Mediation can often be a time of high emotions, and that is fine, but it is never acceptable to take frustrations or hostility out on either the mediators or other mediatees. If you are in a state where you are unable to express yourself without attacking someone present, take a step back until you can engage respectfully.
- If at any time anyone involved is not comfortable, need to step back, need to take a break, need something about our approach and norms to change, be proactive about letting us know what your needs are.
- Unless everyone involved explicitly agrees that it is okay to do so, specifics of what mediatees said in mediation should not be discussed with anyone on server outside of the mediation group. We understand that people here have varying levels of acquaintance and some people may be personal friends outside the boundaries of RP, and it is not reasonable to expect nobody to discuss their own feelings and experiences, but things other mediatees said in mediation should not be reshared.
- Before beginning meditation, make sure all parties involved (mediators and mediatees both) have been assigned the @Mediation role.
- Use #mediation-setup to figure out what kind of mediation is needed & how to structure it.
- Set up at least one new channel per mediation conversation.
- Members can be added to channels by individual @s and, for members, adding their Name Roles: please do this for both mediation channels and mediation team discussion channels.
- PLEASE double check the permissions for every channel made in this section: by default they will be visible to everyone with @Member and @Mediation roles. This needs to be Manually overridden Each Time for privacy maintenance.
- Use the log commands in DNA ?log start at the beginning of each channel and ?log oocend at the close of conversation.
- After at least one person from the mediation team has confirmed they have stored the conversation, please remove the channel and update
mediation-logs with a summary of the mediation.
- As a courtesy, members being mediated between should Remove the Wizard role for the duration of the mediation, for the privacy of the mediation team if they want their own chat and for the other parties.