Friendly Neighborhood RUST Admins

Establishing and maintaining objectivity as a RUST Admin

There is much to be said for the ‘Good Admin,’ who is always fair and just in every situation. Though, what RUST admin is always fair and impartial? As humans, we all presumably have good days and bad days. We are creatures of habit, each with our preferences and biases. How, then, can we ever hope to live up to the objective standard? 

The harsh reality of community gaming for some is the realization that not every server owner falls into this ‘Good Admin’ category. More unfortunate still is that this realization doesn’t occur until hours or days after they’ve invested time and effort on a server with an administrative team that is less than objective.

No one likes to waste time playing in an uneven or unethical circumstance. Having the reputation of a server with bias or admin abuse allegations can outright destroy the community and create distrust within the game.

This guide details tips and tricks for remaining independent of the happenings of your server to maintain both:

  1. The authority required to govern a community
  2. The respect of those that are a part of it

Emotional Segregation  

It happens. Admins make friends (or are friendly) with people that play their servers. As humans, we naturally choose favorites in everything. We yearn for and are attracted to interaction with other people. As a result, we form opinions, predispositions, and biases.

RUST admins have the inherent capacity to access considerably more information (depending on utilized tools) than a standard player to make matters more complicated. Team chat, server history, chat history—very little player information is hidden from the attentive RUST admin. 

The temptation is always there to be extra helpful and friendly, to the point of skirting morality, for those with which we are closest. Even worse still is the inclination that ‘justice’ should sometimes be served to those that stand against these same friends in the game.

Many admins fall down these same rabbit holes, believing that quiet intervention on their part will bring about a more peaceful and prosperous community free of cheaters, racists, and other unsavory types. Unfortunately, what they create is just as bad—a culture of blatant administrative abuse.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Even if admin biases never spiral out of control to this degree within your community, the competitive nature of the vanilla RUST experience can make polite gestures, kind words, or shared experiences appear to those new to your server feel as though subtle abuse exists. There is no greater betrayal in RUST than the feeling that the admin team might be working against you with another player, and once that seed is planted, there is no killing it.

To mitigate these emotionally driven scenarios, and despite going against natural tendencies, it is essential to remain constantly vigilant regarding objectivity. All players, regardless of familiarity, should be treated with the same respect, consideration, and level of personal separation from the administrative team. Admins can take steps to ensure this transparency to alleviate concerns and provide an environment of trust between players and owners.

Clearcut Procedure

The first step is providing an objective, straight-shooting RUST experience through the carefully detailed procedure and utilization of said procedure. As detailed in our other administrative guides, a large part of this is proper RUST Etiquette. Rules, however, are often not enough.

In addition to knowing there are safeguards in place to defend the player experience, there should also be the feeling that things are truly impartial and that admins can be trusted and confided in when the situation requires it. Several ideas that can contribute positively to this sense are:

  • Approachability – admins shouldn’t be big scary rule enforcers. While being overly friendly can be damaging, being overly cold can be just as bad. Find the balance. Be personable.  
  • Proper communication channels – unless absolutely prudent (cheater confirmed on the server, the hardware on fire, ran out of cookie), players should not be sending admins direct messages at 2 AM or invoking the popular !admin command that most RCONs have prebuilt into their coding to get your attention. Discord ticketing systems or a simple help channel are considerably more appropriate and healthy for the admin team.
  • Adherence to rules regardless of rank – admins should demonstrate that no one is above the rule of law. Admins, moderators, and players alike found in breach of rules should be dealt with fairly and justly and handled in the same manner. 
  • No witch hunts – players crying ‘cheater’ or ‘abuse’ can kill a server faster than most actions. It is important to convey and establish that witch hunts and public allegations/comments are inappropriate and need to be instead reported to the admin team in private.
  • Policy regarding investigation rules – when a player report is received, it needs to be noted that admins will not discuss an investigation while it is taking place or after. Only those directly impacted should be informed of the outcome, and anonymity should be maintained for those reporting legitimate concerns. (false reporting should be addressed in official rules)
  • Disclosure and adherence to admin playing status – If you have administrators that actively play the server, you need to disclose this publicly via Discord and server description. Failure to do so will likely kill your community.

Picking your battles

Part of objectivity is knowing when intervention is necessary. Many situations presented to an admin team aren’t necessarily within the jurisdiction of admin intervention.

Occasionally there will be reports of behavior that doesn’t come close to skirting the bounds of rule-breaking or more closely fits the description of behavior-seeking on the reporter’s part. Knowing when to act and wait is critical in maintaining administrative sanity and public respect.

Additional situations that might constitute ‘watch and wait’ over direct intervention are:

  • Doorcamping – unless it is stated in the rules that this isn’t allowed, it is best to stay out of player-on-player discrepancies.
  • Griefing – as with door camping, players should be able to figure this out independently unless there is a rule.
  • Team Insiding – who players choose to trust in RUST is their business. It should never be the admin team’s.
  • Appropriate Trolling – this is RUST; we can’t change the game or nature of the game (unless we implement rules to change a portion)
  • RUST Being RUST – much like trolling, it is crucial (especially if running a community server) that we allow the game to be played as intended. Let players die to bears, fall down caves or drown and run back. Don’t show favoritism just because someone is new.

Administrative intervention should also be prohibited in instances where the admin is a personal friend of a party in a dispute—much in the same way that professionals recuse themselves from situations with implicit bias; when available, alternate admins should step in.

While this is by no means the end-all authoritative guide on the topic, this short synopsis will hopefully help guide RUST admins and owners in the right direction for many future wipes.

No Limit Llama's avatar

About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

View all posts by No Limit Llama →