Precedent with regards to 'intent to cheat'

In light of the recent disqualification from this year's SPL, I wanted to make a thread discussing how punishments are to be given out in situations in which cheating hasn't occurred, but a disqualification or tourban may be needed to keep the tournament's integrity intact. The only other situation (to my knowledge) that took place under the current set of tds was this one, in which the end result was the same: a one-tournament disqualification to preemptively stop any fishy business from happening.

What I am coming to the tournament directors with is a desire to have these kinds of instances more firm in how they should be approached in the future. Be it that if there is any established intent to cheat, should the method of approach be a single tournament DQ to stop it from happening, a full tourban of a few months-one year, or just a case-by-case punishment decided by the tour directors at the time? Even the last option is better than what we seem to have now, since it seems as though cases like this are decided by the reaction the tds/hosts, which is fair, but there is nothing presently stating that this will be the case in future instances.

Also, I'd like to raise the question of whether or not it should be punishable to admit/allude to cheating after a tournament has ended. There have been a few instances of reports to the TD team about people "bragging" or just generally discussing their cheating in past tournaments and going unpunished because of a lack of evidence. I'd like to think that if we will be doing what we can to proactively stop cheating that we should be able to retroactively do the same. Leaving people free who would go as far as to talk openly and seriously about their rule-breaking can only serve to influence other players to do the same.
 

Aurella

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Lax was never officially a manager; I'm confused on how his SPL XI ban applies under the current rules. If his words were truly taken at face value then the official Ruiner's management would've been punished too. Since that isnt happening, there's no reason to keep Lax punished under the current rule-set just for talking out of his ass.

 
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Lax was never officially a manager; I'm confused on how his SPL XI ban applies under the current rules. If his words were truly taken at face value then the official Ruiner's management would've been punished too. Since that isnt happening, there's no reason to keep Lax punished under the current rule-set just for talking out of his ass.

Lax was a manager during Snake and tried to do something similar there too with his old friend ChlorineDrinker. One could say he was lucky he only now got punished when he tried to push it over the edge again. I also think it is just correct to have signedup but not yet picked managers handled as if they were managers already, since if they wanna be one they should act accordingly and also such situations can be handled properly.


Also, I'd like to raise the question of whether or not it should be punishable to admit/allude to cheating after a tournament has ended. There have been a few instances of reports to the TD team about people "bragging" or just generally discussing their cheating in past tournaments and going unpunished because of a lack of evidence. I'd like to think that if we will be doing what we can to proactively stop cheating that we should be able to retroactively do the same. Leaving people free who would go as far as to talk openly and seriously about their rule-breaking can only serve to influence other players to do the same.
you mean like this post? Where undisputed mocked the entire tournament community openly admitting to ghosting and calling it "team effort" in italic thinking we are all too dumb to get it and feeling safe because of, like you said, no evidence?
I certainly do think that should be very punishable. This can become a dangerous thing when quotes are taken out of context or someome is just trolling, but thats what we have the TD team for, to investigate and bring up the truth (lol).
 

Genesis7

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I think the TD team should be able to act on a case-by-case basis, I think that the TD team should be able to act with the absence of blatant hard evidence. Ghosting isn’t slowing down, it is routinely ruining our tournaments and any semblance of competitiveness this site hopes to maintain. I couldn’t agree with pasy more, people who openly shirk the rules, but are able to do it because “no evidence you can’t catch me”, should still be investigated and given punishments, even if they aren’t full tourbans like lax or undisputed. This is such a widespread issue now that the TD team has to start acting proactively.

And to newer players who see top players ghosting and acting like its cool or saying it should be legal on Discord or smogtours (not lax, but others), please take a step back and realize just how pathetic it really is. Ghosting truly defeats any purpose of playing this game and ruins tournaments for everyone. Props to the TD team for taking a harder stance and keep doing it please.
 

ABR

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If you know me at all you know I try to maintain objectivity and consistency whenever possible but there are some enticing qualities to such a proposal.

The slippery slope is admittedly dangerous. Using anything less than hard evidence would grant TDs new powers and require the utmost precision and care to be used responsibly. We gain the ability to lessen cheating in our tournaments at the cost of subjectivity. So is this trade worth it?

It could be. At the end of the day these are tournaments and those directing them are responsible for their maintenance. Part of that maintenance is upholding the rules and ensuring fair play. If the TDs are trusted to act accurately and cautiously then the potential benefits are undeniable.

For a more real life comparison, modern court systems only require a jury to be convinced. Evidence is a key component in convincing jurors but proof not a requirement in and of itself. Going back to Smogon, it’s possible that we can lessen the threshold from “need proof of action” to “need enough evidence to convince the TD team beyond a reasonable doubt.“

All that being said, I absolutely understand the hesitation in granting such a power but if the community were to trust the TDs I believe in us to handle the responsibility accordingly.
 
I haven't really posted in here before, but this is something I feel strongly about so here goes

I think that the culture of normalizing ghosting on our site is ridiculous and against every idea of competition we stand for. I almost wholeheartedly agree with Genesis's post and agree with pasy's take on the "subtle" ghosting references. I think that it's important to appreciate where we are now compared to where we were 3 or 4 years ago, though. Cheating in tournaments (especially smaller ones) used to be rampant. The whole Style fiasco from 2015 was still pretty fresh in everyone's memory around 2016, when Mazar singlehandedly destroyed two successive tournaments (Slam IV and SPL 8) by creating a false "reformed" persona. He abused people's newfound faith in him after Slam and used it to cheat in SPL; only this time, he was more of a solo act in how he operated (most of his team was unaware of what was really going on). This was a wake-up call, really, which led us to implementing /ionext and having increased awareness about new ways of cheating such as bots. If shakeitup has talked to you bragging about how SPL 5 was the best tour ever because "LOLOLO sharks ghosted and we won a trophy bop," you probably know that a lot of cheating has gone unpunished simply due to the nature of how hard it was to punish people due to the regulations at that time. It could feel like there was no rule of law and that you could ghost simply because it was hard to catch and even if you DID get caught, the standards for being ghosted were incredibly high: you had to pretty much tell another person exactly what to do and there had to be a clear implication you were telling them to do it, as opposed to a meme suggestion (very common in smogtours at the time) or a simple "you COULD chomper here."

I think how we think about ghosting has improved greatly as a result of the changes that were made a few years ago. I think the TDs have massively improved our tournament culture in the sense that indications of cheating, even when prominent players with clout do it, is punished instead of looking the other way. I think it's good that they are proactive on checking more subtle ways of undermining our system . If you tell someone you're ghosting, it's likelier you're ghosting than if you don't tell someone you're ghosting! The reforms that were put in place to redefine what ghosting is objectively helps massively because there's far less ambiguity. Players now know exactly what would constitute ghosting, and if they violate it they are knowingly doing it; even if they don't, the information is more easily accessible and ignorance of the rule isn't a great defense for breaking it anyway. The state of ghosting in this community and its perception has definitely improved imo because it's easier to speak out against, simply because people know it's likelier TDs will take action now. I won't say that I agree with all TD decisions in recent history regarding this, but the way the current TD team has handled dissent is better, and these threads seem to have more purpose than they used to, at least in my personal opinion.

This isn't to say that our culture is perfect or we don't need any change at all, though; what Genesis said about top players acting like ghosting is "cool" is pretty important to me because it could encourage apathy especially in the crop of new players that look up to these players. We should be telling these players ghosting is absolutely unacceptable, and it's much easier to do if you can say "see? great players NEVER ghost." Unfortunately, that isn't something any of us can say. There is a reason ghosting isn't seen unfavorably by some players, despite knowing the consequences. If you're bragging about ghosting in some random tour 6 months ago in smogtours, and some new player sees that, the impression you get is that ghosting is illegal, but it's still "alright." If you just make friends that ghost, you'd probably get away with it. This isn't really something I think is acceptable to me or most people that try to play this game with some respect for a competitive ideal. If I win, it shoud be because I played better or built better (or perhaps got lucky, heh my bad). It shouldn't be because I searched every game on PS to see if my current SPL opponent was testing, found out exactly what team it is, and sent that to my teammate under the guise of having seen him "use it on ladder." Or perhaps one of the various other cheating scenarios Mazar employed. The reality is that while he was playing during SPL 8, it could seem like he was a great player, and it did seem that way to many (heard a lot of the "Mazar GOAT oml" stuff from prominent players during that time). It could appear to even established people in the community like he just outprepped his opponents and played better than them, and his opponents were salty they lost to him (seems reasonable enough). Knowing the reality one wouldn't think that now, but winning builds respect pretty much like nothing else and Mazar knew this. I really hope we don't get another Mazar, and I don't think we will (because his level of cheating even in that time, as well as his methods, were simply exceptional), but Mazar was someone who an opportunity to cheat in tournaments across the site and took it, and recognizing that is important imo.

Regarding TD purview itself, I think tourbanning shouldn't be a punishment reserved only for ghosting; if you are undermining smogon tournament integrity through not just ghosting, but perhaps facilitating ghosting as a player, there are lighter punishments that can be taken, but most people don't care about a single infraction (it's actually pretty hard to get banned on here, even though infractions are given out more fairly). The only real action you can take is a tourban or a ban from a specific tournament, and I think the recent case of lax being banned for SPL is a good idea in that I'm not sure it's perfect, but I think it leads us in the right direction. I think the grounds for an actual tourban should require a much greater burden of evidence, though, and we should be careful in how we try to expand the tournament directors' ability to combat the ghosting situation. The issue is far more than just punishment though, we as a community need to be mindful of what ghosting does to undermine the very competitive nature of this game and the fact that it is a cancer to our culture.
 
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