Programming (AKA Building/Making Things)

1.0 How can I be a Mucker?
We welcome both experienced and neophyte Muckers. We ask only that (a) you help the general public, not just yourself, by writing useful programs of some social benefit or aid to building, and (b) that you abide by the spirit and letter of our Mucker policy.

If a program you would like to write or use falls into a “gray area” of these guidelines, please ask us for clarification. We may be able to suggest ways to accommodate your needs.

2.0 What does a Mucker do?

2.1 Learning to Program

Start by reading the MUF tutorial and the MUCK Manual, also the CHANGES files. Find them with the INFO command. If you need more help than this, we may be able to put you in touch with a Mucker willing to tutor you. If you write small programs to test something, or no longer need a program, please remember to clean up after yourself. A clean database is an efficient database, with less lag.

2.3 Public Programming

Whenever you write a program, and especially when a program is publicly accessible (Link_OK), please make sure it adheres to our guidelines:

1. It should be useful in some way, social or building.
2. It should not violate guidelines of privacy, respect, or honesty. (see section 3.0 of this policy)
3. It should not be wasteful– do not use more space or CPU time than is reasonable, or duplicate things that already exist.

If one of your programs meets the guidelines above, you may ask to have it made publicly available. Such a program must be set link_ok in order for other people to use it. A program that would be useful as a command for everyone may be installed as a global. On the MUCK, type `globals’ to see some commands available.

Many programs are already publicly available; type ‘programs’ for a list, then list these programs for more information, or go to the Programming Room off the Administrative Nexus and look through the files. If you are looking for a program that would be a modification of an existing one, you might find it more convenient to ask the programmer to change it appropriately.

3.0 Guidelines to Proper Programming Etiquette

3.1 Privacy

Players of Winter’s Oasis are entitled to privacy. If you couldn’t find something out by normal means or without the permission of the users involved, you should not find it out with a program.

***** Normal means does NOT include abuse of the powerful MPI command language. That means one does not use MPI to violate the Privacy of others, or attempt to manipulate or look at things or rooms you do not own. ****

However, when you use certain programs, it is understood that the program may store, relay, or use *reasonable* information for *reasonable* purposes. If you aren’t sure a program would fit this guideline, please ask.

(A) Bugs relay information to another person, room, or stores it for later reading, without your implicit consent.

Examples of legal programs:

1. Public programs such as page and spoof, which only use information for administrative purposes, and are documented as to this use.

2. Programs that broadcast messages for the purposes of “virtual reality” such as a program to let you be heard from a stage. However it is possible to disguise the use of such programs. This is unethical.

3. Bulletin boards, mailing systems, and other programs meant to record and display messages for the public. By entering messages into such a program, the user gives implicit consent that they be stored and displayed.

Examples of illegal programs:

1. Programs that duplicate “page”, “whisper”, “say”, or “pose” in order to record or relay information without the player’s knowledge.

(B) Scanners find information about other players, their properties, or belongings, that would not normally be available, and which the player does not wish revealed. This includes programs written in MPI.

Examples of legal programs:

1. A program that only shows you messages or properties which are set specifically for that program. E.G. a smell program might show you people’s smell messages, but it would be unethical to write programs to read people’s smell messages at a distance, without their consent.

2. Programs that show you information which you could obtain another way, e.g. a program to tell you which of a selected group of people are on the WHO list, or a program to tell you what exits go from rooms that you own. Owners can always examine anything they own.

3. In reasonable circumstances, programs may show you information such as which players are in another room if it is known to the people in this room that they may be observed. E.G. a transparent exit description for windows.

Examples of illegal programs (in MUF or MPI):

1. Programs that show you properties or messages on players, objects, and so forth that you do not own and could not normally find out.

2. Programs that reveal private exits in rooms without the permission of the room’s owner. (similarly, programs to locate players without their permission)

3.2 Respect

Certain programs may, while not invading a player’s privacy, harass that player, or make it possible to do so in a way that is undetectable.  Players are entitled to respect and dignity.

(a) Spoofers that allow a player to simulate another player’s actions. This would allow players to forge incriminating or insulting messages under that player’s name. Messages that could potentially be spoofed should be made apparent in some plain manner or changed to remove this danger.

(b) Markers are programs that change, add to, or remove player properties without their implicit permission.

Examples of legal programs:

1. Programs may set temporary properties, or properties that obviously belong to the program, and do not interfere with other programs or the user’s convenience. E.G. the page program sets a number of properties for records keeping.

2. Programs that explicitly give the user full knowledge of what changes are about to be made. E.G. role-playing systems and shape-shifting programs that modify your description.

3. Programs for building assistance, which change your properties and/or objects in an approved way.

Examples of illegal programs (in MUF or MPI):

1. Programs to overwrite another player’s descriptions, messages, etc. without their consent.

2. Programs meant to harass them by insulting, annoying, or otherwise inconveniencing them, e.g. programs to send a spoof message directly to a player without the player’s permission, or to whisper to all but one player.

3.3 Other Prohibited Programs (MUF or MPI)

Winter’s Oasis prohibits general teleporter programs that would allow players to invade private rooms or that are intended to violate virtual reality, e.g. encouraging people to teleport directly to a room, ignoring intervening areas. We also dislike programs that add pennies for no valid reason. Pennies are spent and used for things, and available at the Winter’s Oasis bank.

Teleporters may be allowed in limited cases, but only for very specific reasons and purposes. They must follow these restrictions:

1. Players must agree explicitly, or implicitly by entering a vehicle, following another player, being picked up by that player, etc. to be moved.

2. Programs to move players can only move players from or to rooms for which they have permission, and under such circumstances as are appropriate, e.g. a taxi might have stops in different rooms with the permissions of these rooms’ owners.

3. Such programs must be appropriate to the circumstances, the “virtual reality” of the situation in question, etc.

3.4 What Happens If I Make A Mistake?

There are three steps, depending on seriousness of the offense. Accidents and oversights happen; on the other hand, a deliberate infraction may well lose you your Mucker bit immediately. You will be informed of the reasons for any actions we take as regards you or your programs. If you misuse MPI, your MEEPER bit will be removed.

1. If you write a program considered abusive or forbidden, you will be talked to about why you need such a program.

(a) If the reasons are acceptable, the program may be allowed as is, or we may suggest how it can be modified to make it fit the guidelines.

(b) If the reasons are unacceptable or inadequate, you may be warned to remove the program, or else modify it so that it will be acceptable.

2. If you don’t comply with requests to modify or remove a program that is particularly abusive, then the program may be removed. Programs that may crash the server may also be confiscated or removed. You will be told how and why the program crashes the server.

3. If you repeatedly upload programs that were removed as abusive, or crash the server, or otherwise abuse your Mucker bit, then you may be deMuckered and offending programs will be removed. Violations with MPI will result in the loss of your BUILDER bit as well.

Appeals will be allowed under extenuating circumstances.

4.0 Program Libraries and Macros

4.1 Documentation

Please document your programs where possible, so that those who are meant to use them can do so. If programs are Link_OK, therefore publicly usable, you should put comments at the top. Public programs should also follow the convention of including a #help function.

We suggest that programs have comment headers describing the basic code (two or three lines to synopsizes the program’s purpose, how it should be used, and unusual things that users should know), naming the owner, and providing any copyrights you wish to include.

Please don’t complicate your code more than MUF normally reads; deliberately obfuscating your code beyond a capable Mucker’s ability to read is considered impolite. Macros should be commented, or else obvious from name or definition as to what they are intended to do.

4.2 Information Ownership

Many programs are set Link_OK so that they can be readily used. This does not mean that you are free to copy them to other systems, or for your own uses. Please ask the permission of the creator before you copy programs!

5.0 The Final Word

If you have any questions about this policy, MUCKing, or other related issues, please ask a knowledgeable player, Mucker, or Administrator. They may be able to offer you answers, suggest where you can look quickly and conveniently for information, or suggest how Mucker policy applies to your question.

In all disputes related to Mucker policy and programming on Winter’s Oasis, the judgment of the MUF Administrators is final, and supersedes the guidelines of this policy.

6.0 Mucker bit levels and getting your mucker bit.

There are 3 Mucker levels.

M1 – Starter, or Apprentice
M2 – Standard, or Journeyman
M3 – Special, or Master

When you ask for a Mucker bit on Winter’s Oasis, you will be set M1. This is where all Muckers will start. This gives you access to the @program and @edit commands and allows 75% of MUF functions. This is a safety feature to allow you to learn MUF without fear of damaging anything.

To get to Level M2, you should have written, tested, and debugged some useful programs and then ask the MUF Administrator or the Administrator’s assistants to look at them for programming style and usefulness. The Administrators may then grant you the M2 level. This allows 95% of MUF features to work.

Level M3 is needed only in very special programs that must directly manipulate sensitive data from the database. This level can only be granted by the MUF Administrators.

TO GET A Mucker BIT: Page or page #mail a wizard. Any wizard can give you an M1 bit. M2 and M3 bits are set by the MUF Administrator.