In most areas of the MUD, cyberspace is a public space. Like any public space, speech and actions affect others. Though the writing of MUD is produced at isolated computer terminals, the text goes out over data wires or phone lines to become part of a widely- read interactive web. As fictional environments, MUDs resemble traditional fantasy texts, in which readers explore a new world in their imagination, a world where anything is possible. An attitude of anything-goes is potentially dangerous in the public imaginative space of MUDs, however. System operators post reminders that just as in real life, actions on the computer network may have consequences:
You shouldn't do anything that you wouldn't do in real life, even if the world is a fantasy world. The important thing to remember is that it's the fantasy world of possibly hundreds of people, and not just yours in particular. There's a human being on the other side of each and every wire! ...People who treat others badly gradually build up bad reputations and eventually receive the NO FUN Stamp of Disapproval (FurryMUCK help file).
MUDers have been known to go too far in their expressiveness. Because it is not really you 'doing' the online actions (but your fictional persona) and because there are no victims in (physical) sight, players sometimes perform actions that are hurtful or offensive to other characters. As an online help manual points out in an etiquette section:
"Avoid 'power-playing' and 'violence.' Even though you may not think you are doing anyone any actual harm, many people get annoyed by it, and such activities may make you unpopular . . . wandering into the Park and spraying bullets at everyone there is strongly discouraged" (FurryMUCK Beginner's Guide).
Tumbl_weed [to Jorry]: you also have to be careful if
you have a smartass personality. Sometimes things don't
turn out the way you say them and someone gets
SatNam says, "Yeah, some people forget that the people
are real, and insult a lot of people."
SatNam says, "Yeah, some people forget that the people are real, and insult a lot of people."