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Interview with the Tech Modling
My Nation

Gregory Rubin
salusa@nationstates.net
PGP: 0x0604DF3E
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Other contact information available upon request.

Interview with SalusaSecondus

Originally posted on June 4th, 2005: http://s10.invisionfree.com/NetworkRadio/index.php?showtopic=148


Yasmin Lane: You started out in the NationStates staff as tech modling, how did you get that position?

My story with NS is really one of being the exception to the rules. I got the position because I asked for it. You might remember that in June of 2003 there were some players who were able to get custom pretitles. (Back then, only moderators could.) By this time I was already friends with some of the moderators so I asked them if I could look into it. I got permission and figured out the problem and sent a recommendation on to [violet]. While doing this I noticed some interesting things about how NS worked and so I got permission from the Mods to poke around a bit deeper to check security. Over the next month I developed several other exploits including the only known "hacks" of NationStates. I finally was able to steal nations both individually (and in mass). I sent all of this information on to [violet] (as well as possible patches) and asked to be brought onto the team so that I could work more closely with the staff on security problems (and to act as a technical adviser to the less technical staff).
(Note: To anyone who wants to try something similar to this on NationStates (please don't, the position is filled) or other sites, notice that I ALWAYS ASKED PERMISSION FIRST! If you do any of what I did without asking permission, you are asking for the FBI to come knocking on your door for hacking.)
YL: How were the reactions to this?
Happy. Excited. I had the chance to explore and practice my skills.

YL: Later you were promoted to Game Administrator, was this a big change for you?
Yes and no. Ironically, the promotion to Game Administrator came with no new powers. I already had the powers of a Game Moderator (even if that wasn't public knowledge) and I wouldn't be getting the full powers of administrator until we moved to Jolt. So, it was really a change in how the players viewed me more than anything else. It was very exciting though. It was both an acknowledgment of the amount of work that I did on the game and a bestowing of freedom. With the authority of Administrator, I could work harder to subtly shape the game through my actions, posts, and discussions (both with players and mods) because I was secure in my position and didn't need to worry as much about stepping on peoples toes. This is the most important part of being an admin (in my opinion). I can do more first and ask permission (or forgiveness) later. This means that I can react more quickly to problems and that I can shape the game and its interactions as I see fit (and more than 90% of the time both Max & [violet] are in agreement with me).

YL: The picture with the mask has become your trademark, could you tell us more about it? Is it really you, how did you come up with it?
I originally joined the team as a security consultant (though this wasn't public knowledge). This meant that I wanted to preserve some degree of mystery about me. It makes it more difficult to sidestep my investigations, rulings, thought processes, etc. So, I selected the name of the Imperial prison planet (from Dune) which is the home of the galaxy's second fiercest warriors (the Sardukar) and I used a masked photo of myself as my avatar. I happen to enjoy masks and that was one from my freshman (or sophomore) year Masquerade Ball at my college. I just used it a bunch and it naturally became my trademark.

I'm thinking about using it more again to resurrect it.

YL: You got placed in the top 3 of one of the categories in the mod olympics, any reason you became more active in modding?
I was out of school and the mods needed someone to pick up a bit of the slack then because the others were busy. I also wasn't doing any coding/admin work at the time as that workload was low.

YL: What do you see as your biggest achievement?
The successful migration to and integration with Jolt. The primary breakdown of the workload (though there was some working across fields) was: [violet] maintained the existing server, I managed the setup of the Jolt server, and Max kept an eye of everything (a lot of this had to do with Time Zones). So I really was one of the primary forces in making the move to Jolt work properly. It was a lot of work, but I'm very proud of how it turned out. I'm still amazed that we got the game up and running on our first try.

YL: Any bloopers you would like to share?
Yeah. Remember a long time ago when about half of the regions lost their delegates (including Francos Spain)? That was me making a typo. The worst part was that was without admin powers (I've since patched that problem). Another one of my favorites was right after I finished tweaking the daily update (to make it much faster) and the rankings were reversed because I got confused to the sort order.

YL: What situation you had to deal with in NationStates amazed you the most?
That's a really tough one. I've been amazed in so many different ways: "Wow! That's great!"; "Can people really be that dumb?!"; "Can people really be that mean and nasty?!". So much stuff has happened with people doing stupid things and with people building great things in the game and off the game.

I think that the best might have been within the first 8 hours of my modlingship. I had no powers then (something that we all made very clear) and I jokingly said to someone that if they called me "Second Salad" then I would carry out lots of malicious tests on their nation. I was immediately accused by another player of abusing my powers and threatening someone. That really amazed me.

YL: Anything else you would like to add?
Not really except a "Thank you" to all of the players and "Remember to buy Max's books!" I've seen lots of people asking how they can donate to NationStates. Buy his books. He gets money, you get a good read. (I enjoy "Jennifer Government" and love "Syrup"). It's win-win situation. If you want to donate more, then just buy them as gifts for friends. And remember, "Company" is coming out soon, so be sure to get a copy of that.

YL: Thanks for you time!
Not a problem.

Interview policy: I'm pretty much willing to be interviewed by anyone provided that I think that the questions are interesting enough. If you run a news service (be it real life, or NationStates) and wish to interview me, please email me at Salusa@nationstates.net and ask permission. If I have the time, I'll grant it and send you instructions. -- SalusaSecondus