Home | Manuals | Wizard Manual | Operators and Owners

Operators and Owners

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Like most text-based chat systems and Internet MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions), The Palace software allows you to assign special powers to a select group of trusted users, making them "virtual authority figures" on your site. In Palace parlance, these individuals are known as operators and owners. This chapter has the following sections: * The Palace user hierarchy * Palace operators * Palace owners * Personal styles

The Palace user hierarchy

Among the users of any given Palace there are four User Classes which are defined by the capabilities granted them (either by the software itself or by the local Palace owners). These user classes effectively form a four-tiered model of Palace citizenry.

From the bottom up:

  • Guests are generally new users of The Palace software. Guests possess only a limited set of user capabilities; they are unable to change their names or avatars, they may not manipulate props or use the painting tools, and they lack other advanced capabilities as well. All guests are called "Guest," followed by a currently-unique ID number (e.g., "Guest 23"). This number is set by the server upon login to any Palace site, and cannot be changed directly.

  • Members are registered users of The Palace software (note that registration is free). They possess the full set of user capabilities as described in The Palace client manuals.

  • Operators are members who have been given special powers by Palace owners. Most people become operators by impressing the owners of a given Palace with their responsibility and maturity; others by their mastery of Iptscrae. Operators have the ability to enter authoring mode, allowing them to change the properties of all rooms, doors and spots in the Palace where their rank was granted (the local operator password is determined by the local Palace owners, so a password for one site will not work at another).

  • Owners are members who possess the full suite of powers in the Palace site. The owner(s) of a Palace site are generally the original creators of the site, or have been granted their owner status by the site's original creators. Like the operator password, the owner password is effective only in the Palace where it was granted.

Palace operators

Operators are members who have been entrusted with special powers and responsibilities on one or another Palace server (including their own). They can create and destroy rooms, edit scripts, disconnect unruly users, and generally manage the place.

The operator's role is an interesting mixture of "host" and "security officer." Some lean more toward the design angle of the job, concentrating on creating new rooms and room-level scripts, while others prefer the social angle, and spend their time hanging out in The Palace, keeping things moving, interesting, and within community standards. Although the guidelines they'll follow are up to the local Palace owner to establish, it is important to remember that all operators are pretty powerful folks, who could potentially do as much harm to your site as good. For this basic reason, operator status is not to be taken lightly.

All operators may enter operator mode using The Palace client. While in operator mode, all operators can:

  • Edit scripts on the server

  • Create and destroy rooms, doors and spots

  • Change room settings, pictures and permissions

  • Broadcast messages throughout the entire Palace Site

  • Communicate directly with all operators on the site
In addition to the functions provided via The Palace client interface, all operators have access to a set of special operator commands. For a list of these commands, see Operator and Owner Commands.

Palace owners

Above the level of operators are the owners of your Palace. Owners possess all the powers of operators, plus an additional set of ultra-powerful owner commands. Besides possessing the ability to permanently ban users from the site, owners can remotely change the site's passwords and permissions (maximum number of users allowed, guests allowed, killing allowed, etc.), or even bring the Palace site down via the client interface. Owner commands are so powerful, and their potential for misuse is so great, that it is extremely rare to encounter a owner who is not also the initial creator of the site.

In character and function, Palace owners tend to be similar to the design operators - they are primarily concerned with creating, maintaining, running and evolving their Palace sites. Like operators, Palace owners also possess a special set of commands that are covered in this document.

NOTE: The person who establishes the server and sets up the Server Preferences is the first default owner of that Palace site. In setting up the site, this person will need to create the operator and owner passwords; these passwords will then be required for anyone (including themselves) to become operators or owners.

Personal styles

Operator duty provides a firm set of rules for progressing the goals of the site and defending the users from attack or disaster. Obviously, in the event of a "situation" (for example, abusive guests, indecent props, serious scripting errors or other emergencies), all operators on your staff should be familiar with your site's guidelines and recommended procedures. Their responses to emergency situations should always be consistent with your site's policies. They should also be able to handle these operations effectively as a team. Provided all operators follow the site guidelines and stay in close contact, they can always shift roles to "cover each other" as the situation requires.

There are many types of operator; too many to enumerate here, since each individual (hopefully) brings his or her own best qualities to the job. People with advanced knowledge of Iptscrae will gravitate naturally toward script creation, those with people-skills will tend to take on "host" roles, and others will discover a real talent for online security procedures. In general, operators are free to pursue their online interests like any other Palace user; they can chat, animate, play games, and do whatever everyone else does at your site. In fact, a casual visitor might not realize there are any operators present at all!

This freedom to define your own role as a operator (within reason) is one of the things that makes Palace sites so unique: there's always room for personal style. But above the level of personality, it can still be said that most operators fall into one of two broad categories: they are either design operators or social operators. (It is very rare to find someone who truly excels in both of these categories.) It turns out that these two categories can be further divided into two, yielding four basic operator styles: Artists, Programmers, Hosts and Security. Although these terms are used primarily for description's sake, they are useful in understanding the variety of roles that operators can play. The following section describes the differences between these four basic styles, and why you should care.


Design operators

Design operators like to focus on the "physical" and "mechanical" aspects of the site; they tend to be graphic artists or computer programmers in "real life," and are therefore attracted to those aspects of The Palace which allow them to flex their artistic and intellectual muscles. For these types, The Palace is a huge blank slate waiting for them to create a masterpiece on it. Although their innate talents make them important members of the site team (at least during the initial development phase), they are generally more interested in creating new things than with hanging around looking at old ones. Depending on the nature and complexity of your site, it may or may not be necessary to retain these individuals after your Palace opens to the public: occasional maintenance or regularly-scheduled "upgrades" may be the best route to take.

Design operators can be divided into Artists and Programmers. It is extremely rare to find both of these skills in the same person, since each is a highly specialized occupation in its own right.


The artist

The artist type will enjoy making props and room backgrounds of all sorts. High-quality original art is certainly a desirable feature for any Palace site; therefore this type is usually a valuable addition to the site team, especially during the design (pre-launch) phase.

If you're this type of operator (or if you have one on your staff), consider reading up on Iptscrae commands that deal with Spots, in the section Authoring (for more information see the Spot Commands section of the Iptscrae Language Guide). This "minimum dose" of the programming language will allow you to create more complex visual effects and animations, without getting too deep into the technical aspects. In fact, although fixing things permanently into place requires a small amount of scripting, new graphics can be added, removed, manipulated and frame-flipped without ever opening the Scripting window, so you can be sure to get your code right the first time. Choice projects for this type include props and animated avatars. Other projects that require scripting are prop dispensers, automated dressing rooms, and various types of spot animation.


The programmer

The programmer is another unique type that should be encouraged to do what he or she does best, which is coding. The programmer mindset is always looking for tricky ways to do more and more complicated things, and this generally works fine if they're given the time and space they need to solve the problem. However, this need for mental isolation, almost by definition, makes social activity somewhat less important for this type. That means they're generally not the people to call when there's an emotional scene or a touchy diplomatic situation.

Since they are always attempting to "do the impossible," programmers (especially new ones) might sometimes end up creating effects that are unintended, buggy, or disruptive to the flow of the site. Coding is often done in an iterative process, moving back and forth between the server and the text editor, and the script tends to pass through a lot of "wrong" stages before it reaches the "right" one. Because of this, new room scripts should be created and tested off-line, or during non-public hours. It's a good idea for these operators to download and own their own Palace server, and use this server locally for testing script revisions without affecting the public server. Once the room is finished, tested and approved by the Palace owners, it can be inserted into the server script as a whole.

Although Iptscrae is nowhere near as vast and arcane as many programming languages, its peculiar syntax and use of reverse polish notation makes the true Iptscrae operator a pretty rare breed. If you're one of these, you're a member of a select group in Palace society, and you know it. Unfortunately this can often go to your head; programmers are notorious for taking control of projects, feeling that only they can "get the job done." As true as this might be in some situations, it's usually bad for the integrity of the team. In addition, due to your intelligence and technical knowledge, you can often expect others to understand more than they do. To be a truly effective operator, you should try to temper your expectations, both of yourself and others. Remember that running a successful Palace site is a team effort; if you support others in their weaker areas, they'll support you in yours.


Social operators

Social operators are just what they sound like: they are chiefly concerned with human-to-human interaction, either via direct communication or Internet-based networking tools. This type prefers to hang out on the site in real-time, focusing their energies on dealing directly with people and events; they are the people your users will come to recognize as "operators" when they visit your site. Accordingly, while Social operators are not vital personnel during the design and construction of your Palace, it's advisable to have at least one of them around whenever your site goes online.

Like Design operators, Social operators fall into two main groups: they are usually either Hosts or Security. These styles may often be found in the same person.


The host

Hosts are the most visible operators on a site; they are the party-throwers, the event planners, and the conversation-starters of the group. A good Palace host is much like a good party host in real life: they should have a natural way with people; they should be understanding and tolerant of alternative views, and have a good sense of humor. They should be helpful and considerate, especially with new members and young users. They should also have a very clear understanding of the goals of the site as determined by the Palace owner(s), since the hosts are the ones who will be around most often to ensure that these goals are being served.

People who would make good hosts are fairly easy to spot, since even before they are officially recognized, they tend to spend a lot of time explaining the software to people and helping others find their way around. One way to determine who would be a good host is to ask your users to vote for the member "most likely to be a good operator." Since hosts are the most visible and socially-oriented of the four basic operator types, the majority of users will identify "good operators" with good "host" qualities.

If you're this type of person, you're a natural choice to be an operator. You probably spend a lot of time helping people on The Palace already; having a title would just make it "official." To stay on top of your game, you should be familiar with the section Operator commands. You might also want to check out The Iptscrae Language Guide; especially the section on Cyborg Commands.


The security officer

Viewed by rambunctious users as the host's "evil twin," the security officer type is a natural "guardian" who doesn't mind stepping in and getting directly involved when things get ugly or confrontational. They should be responsible, practical, assertive when necessary, and fast on their "virtual feet." Like Security Officers in real life, this type knows where the big guns are, and isn't afraid to use them. Unfortunately (and again, just like in real life), they may tend to perceive situations as being more dangerous than they really are, if only to justify bringing out their coolest defensive weaponry. Still, all other things being equal, they are probably the single most important operator type to have around once your site goes public -- just in case.

If this describes your operating style, you need to do more than read some documents -- you need to train with them. You should be familiar with all the Operator commands, especially the "targetable" ones. Whether or not you're already familiar with these commands, you might want to get a few of your friends online once in a while and use them as targets (set the death penalty for 2 minutes so they can come back quickly). The goal of this exercise is simply to sharpen your response time, test out the various commands and see how to use them to best suit the needs of your site. You should also download The Iptscrae Language Guide and get familiar with editing the Cyborg.IPT file: your job will be a lot easier with a few homemade Iptscrae tools in your security toolkit.

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:

  • email Email to a friend
  • print Print version
  • Plain text Plain text
No tags for this article
Rate this article