Discussing the “Ellitell”

Ellibereth has asked me to open a public discussion on my grievances with the ellitell, because he believes this is an important topic and he wants the opportunity to reply to it, which is hard when criticism of it happens in the middle of games and whatnot. I agree the topic is important and I’ve been thinking of the best way to tackle it for a while now.

The “Ellitell”, as I understand it, states that if a player is active in multiple ongoing games, but inactive in one game, the player is scum in that game. From an experience standpoint, I believe this tell has a decent degree of accuracy, and if used correctly with other evidence can become a very powerful tool to parse out alignments. I also believe that, regardless of how effective it is, this tell and other OOG reads do not belong in forum mafia games and should not be used.

I brought the argument to Elli that these reads are unfair, because a game of mafia should be restrained to places where any particular game is happening, and utilizing outside of game reads breaks the spirit and the integrity of it. Elli argued that fairness is ultimately subjective, and that seeking purity in a mafia game might go against the fun of playing it. He mentioned the idea that the purest form of forum mafia would be an anonymous game, where no players outside of it have access to it, and where the thread would be deleted right afterwards with just the summary of winning/losing team being readable, to avoid reading into players meta.

So let me tackle this in a different light. Mafia should be competitive, fair, and fun at the same time, and finding the right balance between these 3 to form rules around it is an indefinite work of adapting to how the community plays the game. When the community is finding a loophole in the “don’t talk about ongoing games” rule, to metadive players in real time, read their actual ongoing games and then draw a read from it, the rules need to change accordingly. The “Ellitell” can be the most or least effective way to read players in the world, but it’s not fun, it goes against the spirit of rules already set in place on Mafiascum for ongoing games, and makes ongoing games affect each other in undesirable ways. It’s a responsibility of the rule makers of that site to look at this and work around it so this type of read, at the very least, can’t be openly stated in game threads, for the same reasoning that forbids players from discussing ongoing games outside of their respective game threads.


You can’t have someone completely disregard their experiences with another player. I understand the rule for not discussing ongoing games and agree with it. Explaining meta on someone and telling people to look at the player themselves I don’t think breaks the rule. I’ve even myself have adjusted my play(tried) to match other games I’m in to try to manipulate thoughts about me. I guess I can agree for mafia to be in its purist form it would be annomous and private. The thing is it’s not. It’s most definitely a continuous community game in my opinion.

What an interesting question.

At what point does a players other games become acceptable Meta?
When the game finishes, or when the player is flipped in that game?

After all, if the players alignment has not been revealed in a game, then you are assessing their alignment in the game in the same way you are assessing their alignment in the game you are trying suss them out.

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I got in trouble with Fferyllt for doing this on my own behalf by the way.
Said sonething like, you just saw me mislynched, in such and such game.
The game was not over, but for me, once I was lynched and flipped, I thought it was.

So, for your meta argument, you can’t use games that are ongoing according to the rules.
You can’t say, such and such just spent hours on a towny argument in game ONE and aren’t saying anything in this Game.

You should get a warning from the GM.
If this is GM dependent, then should it be a desicion left to individual GMs or should there be an Over All Site Ruling?

You should talk about on going games at all.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have your own bias and opinions about an on going game. I’m not saying you go out of your way to to influence your opinion that way but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
You can’t say “go read player A’s on going game over here”
I think you could say go look at player A games and make your own opinion.

Well,Yes, but if a player is playing in as many games as Urist is indicating, will they not have, or soon have, enough completed games to be giving the same Meta?

In which case, it will not be long before you can say;-
In the snafuy game you posted up a storm as town.
In the, whose on first game, you posted nothing as scum.

I am calling you scum on that meta.
Which means, in the long term you have a tell you can use against them.
And it means that, it they are posting just for the sake of posting you can use the same meta as well.

Your snafuy posts were succinct and to the point.
Your whose on first posts were infrequent and did not have much content.

I guess I am saying, it is something that will work it self out over the long run.

I agree.
The point still stands. No discussion of on going games.
You can have your own thoughts about a player/something going on in a ongoing game but you talk talk to other players about it.

If this low-level so called “ellitell” is relevant and accurate to you, you suck at being scum. Seriously, being caught as scum because you’re inactive in that single game where you’re scum, and active in other games where you’re town? Then stop whining about it and start improving at the game. Literally this is the most basic thing I have ever heard. All that is needed to give the same level of attention and effort and activity as you do for your scum game as for your town game.

Take opportunities to improve instead of whining about “X strat is OP”, because, in this case, X is really, really NOT OP.

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Do you know why the “don’t talk about ongoing games” rule was made on mafiascum? As you are primarily a MU user I suppose it is worth to explain to you. It isn’t to protect the single player who is bad at being scum. Lol. It’s to protect the unflipped scumteam who might have some people unfairly cleared in the town or some people who are not dead yet unfairly caught as scum in that game which is being talked about. It especially sucks when games go on for months and then user Metal Sonic is accidentally unfairly caught in Game X because user Screenplay for example says in Game Y “user Vizzy just flipped scum in Game X, and he always distances from his partner”, and, indeed, truly, users Metal Sonic and Vizzy happened to be distancing exactly in Game X. That broke the game and is unfair.

It’s not to protect user Vizzy from acting really scummy in Game Y when they did the exact same lame tactic in Game X where he flipped scum too. That isn’t “unfair”, thats just being bad at the game.

I love you user UFO but please stop enabling bad players with bad arguments. I completely disagree with this thread.

tl;dr the “ellitell” is legal (make me a sonictell too) and is totally not broken and only gimps really really bad players so please stop making the 500-word essay equivalent of “ellitell OP pls ban”.

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Completely agree with this. You might as well complain about any meta. This tell is super easy to avoid, just post in the games where you’re scum you lazy potato.

Thanks for starting this topic!

I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a decent amount- my thoughts are a bit scattered atm, so I’ll just start with a few miscellaneous unorganized points.

  • At the core of this issue is that text mafia so far has been primarily played on forum software that’s more or less out of the box. A bunch of standards on what’s expected/normal is unconciously based around the limitations and features of forums.
  • For the purposes of this conversation I think it’s most productive for us all to think about what’s fun and unfun as players. It’s our team’s job to invent a platform that allows the fun things while discouraging the unfun.
  • In the short term, I think we’ll make 2 or 3 " reccomended ruleset templates" for hosts/players to use. If Tora doesn’t want to play in games where people use some set of techniques that’s fine - I think it’s reasonable for now for the players to make a gentleman’s agreement about not doing something before the game. These templates won’t be gospel - we just want to make people’s lives easier because thinking about rules isn’t easy.
  • In the long term what we conclude is fun/unfun is going to inform our app design. E.g. we can make it so players can only see ongoing games they’re in + completed games.

As a person who does not read mafia games for fun, only games I am in, this would not bother me.
There does seem to be a lot of people who read along with mafia games as a fun spectator sport.
Would NOT want to take that away from them.

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Also, apologies neymar and urist.
I used Urist as the reference when I meant neymar.

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On an unrelated note (this is in reaction to how I see people cite Ellitell in games, feel free to link to this in games if it comes up):

Ellitell became a thing in around 2012 because it worked for a suprising large amount of people on mafiascum then (people didn’t really think about cross-game behavior). Based on some haphazard work, it works for a smaller (though not insignifigant) percent of players nowadays.

Then and now, “correct” usage involves checking whether the target player exhibited the tell’s behavior in the past. I see a lot of people citing “example of person not posting in town game when in large of games” as a counterexample to the concept itself. That’s silly since the entire concept is probabilistic. (Like all tells, 'player is scum" really means “player is more likely scum than some point of reference”.) I did sometimes use it without due-diligence (I’m lazy) since it’s still better than rand, but if there was confidence in those cases it was likely feigned or for other reasons.

So yeah - the people who use it blindly shouldn’t be surprised when it’s wrong a decent amount. The people who see it wrong or go hunting for counterexamples are silly for thinking the entire concept is invalid because of that. One counterexample existing for a particular player doesn’t even make it an invalid consideration or said player. (There do exist players where it’s even a towntell though!) Last time I checked, in a vacuum, it was somewhere in the 40 percents, which is still better than rand.

And of course metal has a bee in her bonnet cause she is so gourgous.
But good on ya neymar for creating the thread!

I don’t think there are a lot of people who read along just for fun in the sense that it’s a small subset of already a relatively small group. Like how many players would actually be horrified if the spectator experience as is for forum mafia was taken away. Most people who /in for speccing don’t really read anything. :stuck_out_tongue:

My prediction for the future (and a lot of what we’re planning is based on this) is that a lot more people are going to be introduced to watching mafia through streamed video mafia - however they won’t be able to play regularly and they’ll gravitate to play some form of text. Video is better suited for not that many players/lots of viewers, while text is better suited for lots of players/not that many viewers.

I was just thinking of Zuzu and Pyx from MR.
Some of the older players do spectate by reading along.
But, as you say Ellie, the numbers are so small and there are so many other sites they can read along with.

I guess I am thinking of thingyman’s tournments. I guess they get more spectators because the players have home sites that like to barrack for them.

epic hack
to skirt around the “ongoing games rule” look for posting “elsewhere on site” or something
though this only really works with flaking not activity

btw i havent read any other parts of this thread other than the OP idk if its been mentioned