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Disclosure: Jakker situation regarding Ursidae

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Sedgistan
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Disclosure: Jakker situation regarding Ursidae

Postby Sedgistan » Wed May 25, 2022 1:03 pm

I need to preface this post by making clear that it is not regarding the circumstances of Jakker’s removal from the Moderator team and NationStates site, which as per that thread we cannot provide further information of. As such please do not post in this thread on that matter.

In late April 2020 I was contacted by a couple of players regarding the nation Ursidae; as later became public, this was a nation operated by the player Karputsk while spying on The Black Hawks. As part of this discussion, concerns were raised that Jakker (then a Forum Moderator, and a senior member of The Black Hawks) had been able to discern that Ursidae was Karputsk by use of his Mod powers.

This concern seemed sufficient for me to raise it privately amongst the Admins and Senior Game Mods of the time (note: I was a regular Game Mod at this point). This was investigated by the Admins, who determined that Jakker had used his Forum Moderator powers to look up the IP of this post by the nation ‘Lmaoofl’ (a known puppet of Karputsk) at April 27th 2020 17:43 UTC; this lookup displayed the other nations that had posted from the IP, which included Ursidae. Jakker would therefore have known from this that Ursidae was likely operated by Karputsk.

This was then followed up internally by the Admins and Senior Game Mods. Jakker was contacted for an explanation of what had happened; he said that he had looked up the IP of the post out of personal curiosity, and he had done this after The Black Hawks’ leadership had already determined that Ursidae was operated by Karputsk. He said that he did not tell anyone about this information, and apologised for looking up the IP of the post.

We did not previously have logging of forumside IP lookups aside from server logs (which require an admin to lookup, and are not stored indefinitely). Within a couple of weeks, the Admin team had implemented a much improved logging system to ensure indefinite recording of forumside IP lookups by Moderators and accountability.

Why is this being disclosed now? Personally speaking, I would have preferred for this to have been disclosed at the time, as transparency on this kind of situation is valuable for ensuring trust in the integrity of the Moderator team. This is particularly the case for Moderators involved in the invader/defender aspect of gameplay, where it is vital to know that staff do not use Moderator powers for in-game benefit.

While the intent was to follow this up further at the time, other events overtook this, and with the most important matters dealt with (it being made clear to Jakker that his action was not appropriate, and should not be repeated, and the logging implemented) further follow-up just didn’t happen. It’s been in the back of my mind to follow up, and I asked recently to do so, and was given the go-ahead. Bringing it up so long after the event might have felt like throwing a colleague under the bus, but with Jakker’s removal, that is no longer a concern.

What I want to be clear on is that we cannot provide any definitive comment on whether Jakker’s explanation is an accurate reflection of events. I also have to make clear that this is not meant, in any way, to cast aspersions on The Black Hawks, or suggest that they acted in any way inappropriately.

I want to keep this thread open for reasonable questions.
Last edited by Sedgistan on Wed May 25, 2022 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Universe World
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Postby The Universe World » Wed May 25, 2022 1:12 pm

Thank you for telling us about this, Sedgistan. This is very important and good to know.
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Bormiar
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Postby Bormiar » Wed May 25, 2022 1:21 pm

How long ago was Ursidae? (edit: I was confusing Karp / Ursidae with Nuca and his puppet unforunately)

Also, great job :clap: .
Last edited by Bormiar on Wed May 25, 2022 1:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Spode humbLed minions
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Postby Spode humbLed minions » Wed May 25, 2022 1:34 pm

Within a couple of weeks, the Admin team had implemented a much improved logging system to ensure indefinite recording of forumside IP lookups by Moderators and accountability.

I'm glad that this lead to an improved system for tracking potential abuses of the tools of the trade that moderators need- It's somewhat concerning that there was a period of time where moderators could perform IP checks of players without those actions being properly archived. Not much to say beyond that methinks.
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Malphe II
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Postby Malphe II » Wed May 25, 2022 1:52 pm

The transparency is appreciated.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Wed May 25, 2022 1:53 pm

I got my years wrong in my post: corrected 2021 to 2020.

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Quebecshire
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Postby Quebecshire » Wed May 25, 2022 1:58 pm

Sedgistan wrote:I got my years wrong in my post: corrected 2021 to 2020.

Thank you, was a little confused there!

As others have said, the transparency is appreciated. Good to see steps were taken to prevent such issues from repeating.
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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Wed May 25, 2022 2:36 pm

Hi,

In case it matters to anyone, I can confirm the following:

-Ursidae had been under suspicion for months prior to April 27, by several council members (just without sufficient evidence for us to call a valued member a spy). Including an exact date for initial suspicions is difficult because much of the discussion occurred in DM's with Jakker, whose account has since been nuked off Discord, making it very difficult to search, but suspicions within Council chat trace back to at least 1/11/2020 (over 3 months prior). On that date, it was mentioned that a council member "still" had suspicions about Ursidae (referencing an earlier convo I'm struggling to find), who we initially suspected might be Numero, before we later pivoted towards suspecting Karp. Factors included behavior, speech/slang use, general activity patterns, simultaneous forum activity, and activity with relation to clearly leaked ops.

-I've reviewed old Council logs for certainty: at no point on or after the 27th did Jakker or anyone else disclose this information to Council. At 22:16 Monday April 27, 2020 UTC, another (now-former) member of council re-raised concerns Ursidae was a spy and probably Karp, and the most Jakker did was agree with that but state there was no solid proof yet, then did not comment further. It would be my educated guess at this point that Jakker likely had privately encouraged this member to re-raise the issue after confirming it for himself, but without saying why.

-The evidence Council ultimately chose to act upon as confirmation was discovered on April 29th. The exact same image of a pet had been posted by both Karp and Ursidae, and Karp/Ursidae was given the boot that same day (and informed that it was for being caught as a spy). I personally noticed that identical image, after several days of renewed digging for something tangible to connect the two. I would be happy to confirm this to Karp by showing screenshots, but I'm not otherwise going to repost his photos publicly without permission.

Edit: I have since, indeed, confirmed this to Karp personally.

...he had done this after The Black Hawks’ leadership had already determined that Ursidae was operated by Karputsk.

-Per the above, this is therefore a half-truth at best. While there was reasonable confidence that Ursidae was likely a spy and Karp, there was specifically agreement among Council on the 27th of no sufficient evidence to confirm that, prior to the new evidence emerging on the 29th.

Abuse of backend access to the site for gameplay purposes is absolutely inexcusable, inappropriate, and unacceptable. Had Council been aware that Jakker had done so, we would have immediately reported it to admin as a clear abuse of moderator access. Any information Jakker gleaned, as well as the fact he did it at all, was not shared with us. I'm glad preventative and accountability measures have since been added to the site as a result of this.

-Council Advisor and General Souls, on behalf of Council
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Wed May 25, 2022 5:35 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Wymondham
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Postby Wymondham » Wed May 25, 2022 2:46 pm

Sedgistan wrote:While the intent was to follow this up further at the time, other events overtook this, and with the most important matters dealt with (it being made clear to Jakker that his action was not appropriate, and should not be repeated, and the logging implemented) further follow-up just didn’t happen. It’s been in the back of my mind to follow up, and I asked recently to do so, and was given the go-ahead. Bringing it up so long after the event might have felt like throwing a colleague under the bus, but with Jakker’s removal, that is no longer a concern.


While I completely understand why this may have fallen on the back burner; would the moderation team be able to give an undertaking that should a similar event occur in the future, it would be disclosed publicly and promptly?
Last edited by Wymondham on Wed May 25, 2022 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Wed May 25, 2022 2:52 pm

It's late here, so I'll address questions tomorrow. Thanks for that info, Souls, appreciate the insight you've given.

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Numero Capitan
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Postby Numero Capitan » Wed May 25, 2022 2:54 pm

Thanks Sedge, I’m pleased this has been addressed publicly even if late.

Good that there are better measures in place but have got to question why Jakker’s explanation of it being a random act of personal interest (looking up the crucial information that they would have needed to expose a spy) was treated as an acceptable explanation.

Intelligence agents are a crucial part of protecting regions from the fate of the Mystical Council and others and people put hours (and in this case years) of effort into building up the trust they need to access raider command channels. The success or otherwise of defender spies can change the landscape in r/d - which members of the moderator team are well aware of. This was all occurring at a time when I was actively flagging up the continual bad faith actions of Jakker on site and off site, and he was (we now learn) simultaneously being exposed for this behind the scenes without any public acknowledgement or action whilst actively involved in r/d leadership and actively destroying regions (Liberty Nations Alliance for one) at that time. I find it baffling that Jakker’s position as a moderator was apparently considered incommutable at the time and there were no individual consequences for his actions.

I’m yet to hear another plausible explanation for how Karputsk’s operation may have been uncovered (and there may well be one) but it would be a great shame if Jakker’s abuse of his moderator abilities was the pivotal factor. Either way, the fact that admin had clear evidence that it may have been should have been reason enough for a temporary suspension of his involvement on site staff as a moderator with access to that data. He should have then been reassessed for suitability as a forum moderator as if he wasn’t an incumbent candidate.

To the casual observers, pertinent reminder that if some of us are jumping up and down onsite telling you raiders are being insincere with their words on the forums, keep in mind that maybe we’re seeing what they’re saying behind closed doors offsite but can’t outright say it (without exposing a long term intelligence operation). Case in point - the Asia thread linked by sedge above where raiders were falling over themselves onsite to tell everyone they would never destroy Asia, whilst Souls was begging for permission to do it on chats we had full access to.
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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Wed May 25, 2022 3:28 pm

Numero Capitan wrote:I’m yet to hear another plausible explanation for how Karputsk’s operation may have been uncovered (and there may well be one) but it would be a great shame if Jakker’s abuse of his moderator abilities was the pivotal factor. Either way, the fact that admin had clear evidence that it may have been should have been reason enough for a temporary suspension of his involvement on site staff as a moderator with access to that data. He should have then been reassessed for suitability as a forum moderator as if he wasn’t an incumbent candidate.


As I posted above, Ursus has been suspect for many months prior. Initially suspecting you, actually, due to country of residence and activity patterns. A few other names were tossed out, including to my memory Karp as another currently-less-active old blood defender, but I unfortunately and having trouble finding a message to match that memory. As I said before, Jakker getting nuked off discord complicates things. We also held Council VC's occasionally, which wont have a paper trail.

Usually when we suspect an experienced spy, one of the first goals is "who do we think it is?" - it's a lot easier to connect the dots when you have a suspicion of what both of the 2 dots being connected are. Here's photos of it being raised for at least the second time on the 11th of January:
Image
Image
Image

I was the member most responsible for counter-espionage, and repeatedly looked for any proof to confirm that, to no avail, and generally to dis-proof. Thus the issues was repeatedly raised, dismissed, and raised again for months.

Around the Asia lib, there was some WA activity that pointed at Karp. This is what was specifically cited to re-open the investigation and aim it wholly at Karp. The ex-council member who pointed at that will have to check and confirm from their own DM's, if possible, how much and when Jakker may have led them in that direction - but as far as the rest of Council was concerned, that was the basis it was re-raised on. WA activity. That then led into some discovery of matching speech patterns etc, which eventually led to catching the pet photos. Feel free to ask Karp to confirm the back half of that - I've disclosed some photos to him thereof.

Here you can see where that ex-council member puts forward a timeline providing strong circumstantial evidence towards Karp, then Jakker seems to indicate some prior private discussion leading to that timeline being posted. This is a few hours after the time Sedge mentions. His message here was his most substantial comment; further investigation was done by me and the rest of council.
Image

I do agree that the Staff reaction to this probably should have been stronger than it was; They also could have attempted to confirm with someone other than Jakker himself the claim that he was confirming something already known. As I said above, I think that claim should probably be called a lie.

You could stand to avoid random ad hominin jabs and gameplay-focused attacks in discussion of this.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Wed May 25, 2022 3:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Wymondham
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Postby Wymondham » Wed May 25, 2022 3:50 pm

Numero Capitan wrote:Good that there are better measures in place but have got to question why Jakker’s explanation of it being a random act of personal interest (looking up the crucial information that they would have needed to expose a spy) was treated as an acceptable explanation.

While I endorse precisely 0% of anything else in Nuca's post, I do feel that this part is worth highlighting and is worthy of an answer from the moderation team.
Last edited by Wymondham on Wed May 25, 2022 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Frattastan IV
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Postby Frattastan IV » Wed May 25, 2022 4:20 pm

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:-I've reviewed old Council logs for certainty: at no point on or after the 27th did Jakker or anyone else disclose this information to Council. At 22:16 Monday April 27, 2020 UTC, another (now-former) member of council re-raised concerns Ursidae was a spy and probably Karp, and the most Jakker did was agree with that but state there was no solid proof yet, then did not comment further. It would be my educated guess, at this point, that Jakker likely privately encouraged this member to re-raise the issue after confirming it for himself, but without saying why.


From our perspective, while Ursus had been generally suspected for a few months (with plenty of Nuca jokes - but that kind of 'gut feeling' is very common with newcomers and rising talents), and there had been a known leak during the attempt on Anarchy which put him on a shortlist, things precipitated very quickly after Lmaoofl's forum post on April 27. To us that seemed to be the first time that the Karp-Ursus possibility was considered, which eventually allowed to collect enough circumstantial evidence to ban him two days later. The Lmaoofl post was brought up in the nest, with Jakker mentioning that it was Karp (after some confusion, with a few people assuming it was a nation of mine - although I believe this happened several hours after the Council talk that you mention). The diplomatic assignment to Europeia, which we assumed was a bogus thing to get an IP match, came about 24 hours after the concerns that you mention were raised.

So, there definitely was the feeling that someone had just put Karp's name on the table around the same time as the forum post, which allowed you to put together a decent case once you were on the right track. As you said, it's a lot easier to connect the dots once you have an idea to start from. While Lmaoofl is a known alt of Karp (if a bit obscure, in the forum topic even Mall thought it was Nuca at first), as far as I could tell there was little awareness that he had intel experience, or that anyone from the RRA might do espionage, so the Karp connection felt a bit sudden. If you say it was brought up earlier as a serious possibility then of course that would lessen chances that Jakker had a decisive hand in this.

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:https://i.imgur.com/DPD3U0f.png


I don't remember Karp's WA switching, but the proposition that TRR's discord could offer some important insight sounds like a bit of a stretch. :P
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Postby Pterodaxtyl » Wed May 25, 2022 4:36 pm

Frattastan IV wrote:The Lmaoofl post was brought up in the nest, with Jakker mentioning that it was Karp (after some confusion, with a few people assuming it was a nation of mine - although I believe this happened several hours after the Council talk that you mention).

I'm confused as to why this is relevant honestly? It had been speculated for some time ahead of that. I don't know why a one off mention of a nation, correcting who the owner is would be relevant to the investigation or prompt any of it.
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Ever-Wandering Souls
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Postby Ever-Wandering Souls » Wed May 25, 2022 4:46 pm

Frattastan IV wrote:From our perspective, while Ursus had been generally suspected for a few months (with plenty of Nuca jokes - but that kind of 'gut feeling' is very common with newcomers and rising talents), and there had been a known leak during the attempt on Anarchy which put him on a shortlist, things precipitated very quickly after Lmaoofl's forum post on April 27. To us that seemed to be the first time that the Karp-Ursus possibility was considered, which eventually allowed to collect enough circumstantial evidence to ban him two days later. The Lmaoofl post was brought up in the nest, with Jakker mentioning that it was Karp (after some confusion, with a few people assuming it was a nation of mine - although I believe this happened several hours after the Council talk that you mention). The diplomatic assignment to Europeia, which we assumed was a bogus thing to get an IP match, came about 24 hours after the concerns that you mention were raised.

So, there definitely was the feeling that someone had just put Karp's name on the table around the same time as the forum post, which allowed you to put together a decent case once you were on the right track. As you said, it's a lot easier to connect the dots once you have an idea to start from. While Lmaoofl is a known alt of Karp (if a bit obscure, in the forum topic even Mall thought it was Nuca at first), as far as I could tell there was little awareness that he had intel experience, or that anyone from the RRA might do espionage, so the Karp connection felt a bit sudden. If you say it was brought up earlier as a serious possibility then of course that would lessen chances that Jakker had a decisive hand in this.

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:https://i.imgur.com/DPD3U0f.png


I don't remember Karp's WA switching, but the proposition that TRR's discord could offer some important insight sounds like a bit of a stretch. :P


Hi Fratt. As I understand things, as as Sedge said -

Jakker had used his Forum Moderator powers to look up the IP of this post by the nation ‘Lmaoofl’ (a known puppet of Karputsk) at April 27th 2020 17:43 UTC; this lookup displayed the other nations that had posted from the IP, which included Ursidae. Jakker would therefore have known from this that Ursidae was likely operated by Karputsk.


Lmaoofl was an open puppet of /Karp/, with previous posts signed off as such. The thing to be connected is Lmaoofl = Ursidae; Jakker apparently established this illicitly, but there were other indicating factors actually expressed to council. As I posted a bit of, one example would be WA activity, such as:

1 day 11 hours ago: Sir BearBear resigned from the World Assembly.
11 hours ago: Lmaoofl was admitted to the World Assembly.

Which is close enough to be suspicious when you're grasping at straws after 3+ months of investigating, but not solid in and of itself.

As above, the timeline has this publicly-sourced reason for suspicious being re-raised after Jakker's illicit activity. I think it's entirely likely, as I said, that Jakker illicitly confirmed this for himself, and then used that to guide the other council member towards public proof, without their knowledge. I doubt that former member knew anything was up, and looking for similar WA activity is a common and basic method, so to everyone else it just reads as "hey, good catch."

If you want to question whether someone would have made this catch that set us down the Karp path more confidently than ever before on their own...well, we'll never know. It is the kind of thing I look for. It is the kind of thing I or others have spotted before. In this case, no one had, or really had a chance to, spot it before Jakker apparently abused his position.

In the end, that WA pattern led the ex-council member to checking for the mentioned "timeline" of other activity. You think it's stretch, but that was valuable - when two players repeatedly go on vacations at the same times, or log into the respective offsite forums within minutes of each other, that quickly establishes a notable pattern.

That pattern, then, was real borderline circumstantial evidence, but still no 100% evidence...and from there, yeah, we hoped Euro might flag the account as a duplicate IP via their own security if dispatched their as an ambassador, and I kept digging for other 100% connections, resulting in finding the pet photos that were matching.

I'm blowing half our counterespionage strategies here, which sucks, but it's necessary =P

tl;dr - if you want to question the "legitimacy" of the rest of council catching Karp, the actual influence of Jakker would appear to be using his illicitly gained info to make an otherwise-possible-but-not-guaranteed connection in public WA activity, that then perfectly legitimately snowballed into a solid case via work by various members of Council. We may or may not have caught that WA activity connection without Jakker's likely direction, because that sort of thing *is* something we check (especially around ops, especially when we suspected Ursidae was a plant for months, especially when there's a resignation prior to a lib attempt like that, especially if you draw attention to the dirty puppet you switched to from your spy within 12h by forum posting with it), and Karp got lazy switching like that and bringing attention to a puppet he put WA on in his name on the forums - but such things are also certainly often missed.
Last edited by Ever-Wandering Souls on Wed May 25, 2022 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Alicorns (Equestria) wrote:Let them stay, no need to badmouth them...From our view a bunch of nations just came in, seized the delegate position, and changed a few superficial things...we play NationStates differently...there's really no reason for us to be butthurt.
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The color or what?..

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Frattastan IV
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Postby Frattastan IV » Wed May 25, 2022 5:19 pm

Wymondham wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:While the intent was to follow this up further at the time, other events overtook this, and with the most important matters dealt with (it being made clear to Jakker that his action was not appropriate, and should not be repeated, and the logging implemented) further follow-up just didn’t happen. It’s been in the back of my mind to follow up, and I asked recently to do so, and was given the go-ahead. Bringing it up so long after the event might have felt like throwing a colleague under the bus, but with Jakker’s removal, that is no longer a concern.


While I completely understand why this may have fallen on the back burner; would the moderation team be able to give an undertaking that should a similar event occur in the future, it would be disclosed publicly and promptly?


If the explanation for their behaviour is accepted, then the staff is stating that the mod in question has done nothing wrong. If nothing wrong happened, disclosing the information only serves to harm the mod's reputation and credibility ("so yeah, Jakker looked up Ursus's IP but don't worry, it was just a coincidence and he's an upstanding mod, this post is just to confirm that fact"), or create pressure to take a different decision from the original one.

Really, the problem is more that the explanation was accepted too easily, or that the staff believed that further investigation would be unlikely to yield results.

Pterodaxtyl wrote:
Frattastan IV wrote:The Lmaoofl post was brought up in the nest, with Jakker mentioning that it was Karp (after some confusion, with a few people assuming it was a nation of mine - although I believe this happened several hours after the Council talk that you mention).

I'm confused as to why this is relevant honestly? It had been speculated for some time ahead of that. I don't know why a one off mention of a nation, correcting who the owner is would be relevant to the investigation or prompt any of it.


It was speculated for some time ahead that Ursus was a spy (generically). This can limit his opportunities, but on its own it's not enough to establish a clear case that he is a spy (since typically you'd either need to prove that he is a specific someone, or that he is the only person who could have done a specific leak). Speculation that Ursus was Karp only started after the Lmaaofl's forum post and Jakker's lookup.

I don't think Jakker would've brought it up in the nest first thing, obviously. To us it just established a rough timeline of when Karp would've been considered as a possibility (among possible defenders with intel experience), which didn't appear to be the case until then.

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:Lmaoofl was an open puppet of /Karp/, with previous posts signed off as such.


Yes, it's an open alt. But I don't think that "the nation that was used to spy once in 2009" is an obvious piece of knowledge to most players today, requiring at least a cursory search (which Jakker had done, along with a bit more - this was how Karp assumed a posteriori that abuse of power may be involved).

Ever-Wandering Souls wrote:1 day 11 hours ago: Sir BearBear resigned from the World Assembly.
11 hours ago: Lmaoofl was admitted to the World Assembly.

Which is close enough to be suspicious when you're grasping at straws after 3+ months of investigating, but not solid in and of itself.


fwiw, I do believe that he would've been caught eventually and no one is questioning your good faith, or TBH Council's ability to eventually catch him.

But I don't think that a single instance of a 24-hour gap (or somewhere between 23 and 25 hours) in WA activity can be considered as a useful hint to start from, given the number of equally valid options to explore. Especially if the resignations happened around update I very much doubt that no other defender was admitted within the next hour, or after 8 or 12 hours, or around the time Ursus came online again, and so on.

The real hard part of the investigation wasn't looking for login times or whatnot, it was having the right idea in the first place.
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RiderSyl
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Postby RiderSyl » Wed May 25, 2022 5:28 pm

so, to TL;DR this...

Jakker's modly IP check and the knowledge it gained him allowed him to "nudge" TBH in the right direction on who a spy was without explicitly telling them what he knew, Souls speaking for TBH says that the spy would've been caught anyway, and assorted defenders are pushing back on that

right?
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Frattastan IV
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Postby Frattastan IV » Wed May 25, 2022 5:33 pm

RiderSyl wrote:so, to TL;DR this...

Jakker's modly IP check and the knowledge it gained him allowed him to "nudge" TBH in the right direction on who a spy was without explicitly telling them what he knew, Souls speaking for TBH says that the spy would've been caught anyway, and assorted defenders are pushing back on that

right?


Yes.
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Draganisia wrote:Also it seems the next war could be NPO fighting directly against Pacifica.

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RiderSyl
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Postby RiderSyl » Wed May 25, 2022 5:50 pm

Well, regardless of whether Souls is right or not that the spy would've been inevitably caught without Jakker's "help", I can sympathize with anyone that feels like they were cheated here.

If I was an active defender during Karp's op and read this topic now, the idea Karp would have been caught anyway wouldn't really help me feel any better because the way Karp was caught is what would be bothering me.
Last edited by RiderSyl on Wed May 25, 2022 5:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Quebecshire
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Postby Quebecshire » Wed May 25, 2022 5:55 pm

I am inclined to agree with Syl on this. I would furthermore like to add that it doesn't (or if it does, minimally so) matter if Karp would have been caught inevitably. If Karp had been caught 2 months later, who's to say the two further months wouldn't have been relevant to his mission, depending on happenings?

Ultimately, the how matters a lot here, regardless of inevitability or lack thereof, and it's really disappointing that this went down this way. To be clear, I don't think TBH Council knew or was involved, but to me it seems exceedingly clear that Jakker used his knowledge to nudge and hint Council in the right direction. The acceleration of the timeline along lends extreme credence to that.

I look forward to hearing more from the mod team on this (and thank you again for disclosing this, Sedge), and otherwise largely agree with what NuCa and Fratt have posted.
Last edited by Quebecshire on Wed May 25, 2022 7:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Fachumonn
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Postby Fachumonn » Wed May 25, 2022 6:01 pm

I didn't know Forum Mods could do that... Transparency appreciated!
Last edited by Fachumonn on Wed May 25, 2022 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Bears Armed
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Postby Bears Armed » Wed May 25, 2022 6:01 pm

Just to clarify, in case anybody wondered, there is absolutely no connection -- either OOC or IC -- between that 'Ursus'/'Ursidae'/'Sir BearBear' and my 'Bears' or 'Ursines'.
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Refuge Isle
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Postby Refuge Isle » Wed May 25, 2022 8:58 pm

Bears Armed wrote:Just to clarify, in case anybody wondered, there is absolutely no connection -- either OOC or IC -- between that 'Ursus'/'Ursidae'/'Sir BearBear' and my 'Bears' or 'Ursines'.

thank you BA, this alleviates many fears

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu May 26, 2022 2:02 am

I think there's two questions being asked of me regarding this:

Wymondham wrote:While I completely understand why this may have fallen on the back burner; would the moderation team be able to give an undertaking that should a similar event occur in the future, it would be disclosed publicly and promptly?

I cannot give you a 100% guarantee of that, mainly because I don't think an identical situation is likely to come up; I cannot anticipate what happens in the future and there may be some differences in circumstances that mean that public disclosure (or immediate disclosure) is not appropriate. However, the key things to note are that we did (albeit eventually) disclose this situation, so we are open to doing so, and it's provided some useful insight for staff on the potential veracity of Jakker's explanation. So from that, in the highly unlikely circumstance that an identical situation came up again, I would expect that we would want to disclose it publicly and in a more prompt fashion, both for the sake of player trust in the team, and also because it could aid in our assessment of the situation.

The other question being:
Numero Capitan wrote:Good that there are better measures in place but have got to question why Jakker’s explanation of it being a random act of personal interest (looking up the crucial information that they would have needed to expose a spy) was treated as an acceptable explanation.

In short: Moderators perform a vital task for the site, putting in a significant amount of work with no real reward, and like any person, we can and do make mistakes - we would not generally throw someone under the bus for what could be a single, good faith error of judgement.

Being a Moderator active in gameplay is extremely hard to balance. Back in my very early days as a Forum Mod, I was at one time inadvertently given information related to a puppet identity that put me in a very tricky position with my gameplay activities; it was not too dissimilar a situation to Jakker's, albeit I hadn't looked up the info. Nowadays, I look up puppet identities regularly - I think it's likely I checked out the identity of Lmaoofl at the time too - because I find it useful from a Moderation standpoint to know what's going on in a thread; but then I have withdrawn myself from any sort of Gameplay involvement so it doesn't cause me any difficulties.

A year or so back, a couple of Senior Issues Editors were given limited mod powers to manage some issues threads; at the time I explained that they shouldn't use the "lookup" button, and why, that it was logged, and to let me know if it happened by mistake. Within a week I'd had a half dozen panicked TGs from them saying they'd clicked the button accidentally when meaning to click quote (it's very easy to do, and this is a limit of our current forum software) and hoping they weren't going to get in trouble for it.

The point I'm getting at is that Jakker could have told us that he'd misclicked on the button by accident, and that explanation would have been plausible - it happens, and he like others has probably misclicked on that button many times. He went further and admitted it was for personal curiosity, and realised it was inappropriate, and apologised. I think we are all looking back on that with hindsight of what happened since, and are inclined not to believe him, but the context was different at the time.

Another relevant example - many people might remember back in 2015 when Kryozerkia screwed up and intervened to reverse an invasion of her region, Zhaucauozian Friendship. This was a serious and clear mis-use of mod powers for gameplay advantage. It's seven years ago, and she retired a few years after that, so I think it's fine for me to now say that at the time I felt she should have been stood down from the team. The majority of other staff members disagreed, and she stayed on, and with the benefit of hindsight, I'm now inclined to agree with them -- Kryo had put many years of incredibly hard work (mostly behind the scenes) into the role, had made one serious mistake - but owned up, admitted it and apologised; she didn't deserve to be permanently removed for that, even at the risk of some reputational damage to the team for retaining her.

In summary, two main points: I know that no-one would be inclined to give Jakker the benefit of the doubt now (and I'm in that camp too), but that's because of what has happened since. At the time, while his actions were still wrong and we couldn't be sure he was honest, it was felt appropriate to give him the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, if we had disclosed this much closer to the time (as I would expect us to do in future) then the other information that has come to light (primarily from Souls; Jakker should have avoided discussions on player identities, and certainly should have recused himself from any involvement in the Ursidae discussion after the IP lookup) would have cast doubt on Jakker's explanation, and potentially led to the Mod/Admin team taking different action. So I would say we have learned from this.

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