Cheating – Really!?!

If there’s one thing that I – and everyone else who enjoy online Diplomacy – find difficult to understand it’s cheating.

The thing with online Diplomacy is that there are no prizes of any sort. There’s nothing to be gained from cheating except – assuming you’re smart enough to cheat and win a game – moving up the ratings. It tells you something that most cheats aren’t smart enough to win when they do it.

What’s the motivation?

Why, then, cheat?

Well, you know, I think for a lot of cheats it’s probably that they can. Nothing more than that.

Some of it’s down to ignorance, not really knowing the rules of the site, the House Rules. This, though, comes down to wilful ignorance.

Ignorance? Wilful ignorance

Both Playdiplomacy and webDiplomacy give you the basic rules when you sign up for the site and you have to accept them. Playdip’s rules have a tab on the home page with a link to the full rules which are on the site’s forum. WebDip’s rules are a little more difficult to find – they’re under the Help tab. Not sure why they don’t have their own tab…

I used to enforce the rules on a site. I once came across a couple of players who were clearly working as a team in their games. This is known as metagaming – bringing something from outside the game you’re playing into the game, in this case they’re relationship. They were entering games with a pre-arranged alliance.

When I confronted them, I was told that they didn’t think they were breaking the rules. “It’s about teaming up.”

I pointed out what the rules were; they wouldn’t accept them. So I banned them from the site. Their reaction? “We’re lawyers. If you don’t pay back the membership we’ve paid for, then we’ll see you in court.”

For some reason I kept them banned. The site’s rules make it very clear that paying for membership doesn’t exclude you from being banned. I was shocked that there was no follow-up.

Because I can

What it comes down to is that most people cheat because they can… and probably because they think they can get away with it.

Most of the people who cheat just want to win. That in itself is very sad: the only person who is going to be impressed with your cheating is you. Not even your mum, sorry.

And, you know what, the sites have the tech to track your cheating, whatever type of cheating it might be.

Common forms of cheating

There are a number of ways you could cheat in an online Diplomacy game. The two main types of cheating, however, are multi-accounting and metagaming.

Metagaming

Because I’ve mentioned it above, I’ll start with this: bringing something from outside the game you’re playing into the game you’re playing.

On Playdip there are nine ways metagaming can happen, and a possible other way if you consider communicating outside the game as metagaming.

  • Pre-game alliances: This is when you enter a game having agreed with another player that you will be allied and you’ll work together.
  • Entering a game to ally with another player: This is very much the same as described above, except it’s when you replace a player who has left a game and do so to work with another player in the game.
  • Coaching/teaching: When you coach a player in a Rank or No Rank game.1
  • All players in the game should be treated equally: This means that you’re not allowed to play in a way that favours another player in the game simply because of your relationship with them, ie not deliberately favouring family or friends.
  • Persistent alliances/Team-play: You’re not allowed to regularly ally with other players, across a high proportion of your games.
  • Cross-game interaction: You’re not allowed to:
    • Form alliances across games, such as: “We’re working together in that game, let’s work together in this game.”
    • Exchange favours across games, such as: “I’ll help in this game if you help me in that game.”
    • Join a game, at any point, with the objective of targeting a specific player.
    • Threatening to target a player because of what’s happened in past or current games.
    • Threatening to target a player in future games.
  • Cross-game information changing: You’re not allowed to:
    • Share info across current games, such as telling a player to look what another is doing in another specific game.
    • Share ‘secret’ information across games, which means giving info about what a player has sent in player-to-player messages from one game in another.
    • Refer a player to another specific game for any reason.
  • Threatening to report cheating: This is when a player tries to influence the way another plays in a game by using blackmail.
  • Hijacking a game: Entering a game as a replacement to deliberately disrupt it.

The idea is that, as far as possible, each game of Diplomacy should stand alone.

Multi-accounting

This is when players operate more than one account in a game. This should be obvious to everyone, who can think. Playdip extends this to getting or giving access to another player’s account in the same game.

Allied with this rule Playdip doesn’t allow a player to substitute for another if they share any active games; not operating team or shared accounts, and not creating an account to get back into a game you’ve been eliminated from, surrendered from or been removed from.

Playdip also only allows members to operate only one active account, preventing people from using two or more accounts at the same time.

Well, THAT’S excessive!

Hmm. Well, you’re entitled to your opinion but your opinion doesn’t matter.

I actually don’t think any of these rules are excessive. All of what has been mentioned above is reasonable. If you’re playing a game of Diplomacy then you should expect that the game isn’t going to be spoiled by unfair play.

What it boils down to is that the site – whichever site – is entitled to run its own rules. If you want to play on that site, you follow those rules. You don’t know them? Find them – and you accepted the very basic forms of the rules when you signed-up. (I’m not sure in webDip does the same thing, but Playdip certainly sends a link to the site rules with the verified email.)

You don’t like them? Play on a different site. Just a bit of a warning – webDip’s rules are very similar to Playdip’s:

  • No multi-accounting.
  • No metagaming – in fact, they’re tighter. On webDip you’re not allowed to play any ‘public’ game with anyone you know (presumably deliberately, as they include anonymous games in their portfolio); on Playdip you can play with people you know in a Rank or No Rank game but you have to play fairly.
  • They don’t allow players to message outside of the game’s mechanisms.
  • They don’t allow players to blackmail others by threatening to report them.
  • You can’t account-sit (the equivalent of Playdip’s substituting) if you share a game with someone.

So, if you don’t like these rules, good luck finding somewhere else to play. You can certainly find other sites to play, and apps are available, but – guess what? – they have similar rules!

On Playdip you have the option of playing games that aren’t open to the general site membership and these games are designed to allow players to play games with fewer rules. WebDip have provide Private games for this. Play those games.

If you’ve cheated in an online game, there’s something pretty sad about you, frankly. What do you get from it? Nothing. Grow up.

  1. Playdiplomacy has four types of game. Rank games are games which are scored; No Rank games aren’t scored but still have the same rules as Rank games; Friends games are designed to be played by people who know each other without having to worry about the rules; Schools games are specifically designed to allow teachers to use Playdip in the classroom.

Published by Mal Arky

I'm a Diplomacy nut... if you haven't guessed. I write about the game Diplomacy, mainly as played online on websites, such as Playdiplomacy, webDiplomacy and Backstabbr. I write books on Diplomacy, too. First one to be published soon!

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