Guide to Faxes
Foreword: Knowing BB Code is not so much a bonus as it is a requirement.
So, you've decided to fax Central Command and hope for the best. Well then, here are some pointers on how to do so properly.
What are faxes?
Faxes are paper-based communications sent from any fax machine on the station to either another fax machine or Central Command. You write on a piece of paper, stick it into a fax machine, select your desired destination, and BAM! You're done.
They are usually reserved for official communiqués, be they CoC orders, departmental audits, staff complaints or even demotion/arrest orders. For the purpose of this guide, we're assuming you are faxing Central Command.
For starters, here's where you can find a fax machine:
- The NanoTrasen Representative's office;
- The Magistrate's office;
- The Internal Affairs office
In addition, only members of Command and the IAAs can actually use the fax machines. Everyone else is locked out of them by default. As you can see, access to them is quite limited, as it should be. Faxes carry with them a heavy aura of authority and finality, and a well written fax can make or break someone's entire shift. The sole "exception" to this level of access would be the fax machine in the IA office, which often sees more interdepartmental activity.
However, you want to know how to properly fax Central Command. Well, it's time for a little OOC note.
Every fax you send to Central Command is seen by Administrators, ranked Game Admin or above. These faxes are listed in the Fax Panel, along with the title, time it was sent, the person who sent it, and a nifty little "Reply" button. We can also see interdepartmental faxes, but those are beyond our jurisdiction. As such, when you fax Central Command, you are faxing the Administrators, and when you receive a response from Central Command, that's our word in it.
What does this mean ICly, however? Well, Central Command (or the NAS Trurl if you want to be technical about it) is the main hub of activity that the NSS Cyberiad (the station you're on) is associated with. They handle several other stations in the systems around them, and handle all the administrative burden associated with that (NAS stands for NanoTrasen Administrative Station). When you fax Central Command, you are essentially calling upon the highest IC authority you can muster. It's the equivalent of someone in the US faxing Barack Obama (or whoever's President when you read this). Central Command's decision on something is final, and should be treated as such. Disobeying a direct order from Central Command effectively means you're not only fired, you're persona non grata for the rest of the shift.
Central Command communications, as was noted already, can make or break someone's entire shift. Comdoms can be demoted, great people can be promoted, and even certain dignitary job promotion restrictions can be circumvented if so required/desired. Whenever there's a stalemate in Command, Central Command faxes break it. Whenever the Magistrate is being ignored for no good reason, Central Command shouts louder. Whenever the Representative finds a severe breach of SOP, Central Command raises their eyebrow.
What I'm trying to get across here is that Central Command is not a toy, nor a tool, and should not be treated as such. "I'ma fax CC" should never be used as a threat, and demanding things from CC should not (normally) be done. But more on that later. For now...
Yes, this is important enough to warrant its own section.
The title you give your fax is the first thing we look at when we open the Fax Panel, and appears on our chat box whenever you send a fax over to Central Command. Here's a couple of things that should not be in your fax's title:
- all lowercase letters;
- CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL;
- Incredibly winding, pointless diatribes that seek to explain everything that could possibly be explained but just end up being ignored because of how text parsing works;
- "FUCKING SHTICURITY!!!" or any variation thereof;
You get the point. Keep your fax's title as short and concise as possible, so that we can get an idea of what's going to be in there before even opening it.
Go take a look at the very first sentence in this article.
BB Code denotes everything that can be used to format your text, just like in Microsoft Word or Wordpad. A few examples:
- [hr] creates a neat little horizontal line that can be used to separate blocks of text;
- [logo] creates a NanoTrasen logo;
- [large] lets you shout in writing;
- [b]insert bold text here[/b]
And many more. BB Code is quick to learn, if not to type, and it really adds flavour and substance to your faxes.
Why is this important, you ask? Well, bluntly put, your chances of getting a proper response go up the more formatted your fax is. Remember when I said you faxing Central Command would be like a US citizen faxing Barrack Obama? Well, what do you think would happen if Barack Obama received a piece of paper that wasn't signed, or stamped, and contained this message:
"Cant open Obamacare, please send IT."
A response, if it even existed, would most likely be them telling you to take your time to write a proper message. If you fax Central Command, it is expected that you're doing so with utmost professionalism, and that involves not sending a wall of text with absolutely no formatting whatsoever, no signature and no stamp.
The importance of signatures and stamps cannot be overstated. Why? Well, Central Command is not omniscient. Even though the Administrators can see (or find out) everything going on in the round, Central Command cannot. Faxing Central Command should not be like sending an Ahelp. Do not assume that Central Command "just knows". If you send us a fax with no signature and no stamp, how are we to know someone didn't just break into your office and faxed Central? Having a piece of paper signed and stamped by you tells us that you did, indeed, send the fax (or that someone at least is really good at forgeries), and you'll actually get a proper response.
As for the formatting itself, well, simply put, it's easier on the eyes, and it's prettier. Having to sit and stare at a gigantic wall of text that just keeps going without any sort of formatting whatsoever is painful, boring, and just looks sloppy. If you're taking the time to fax Central Command, take the time to make your faxes look official, and not a hastily scribbled note at the end of an exam.
Now we reach the crux of the matter. What you're actually telling Central Command.
Now, as stated before, faxes are supposed to be official communiqués, and are expected to be permeated with the utmost professionalism. This is because Central Command, in all their power, expects some level of sanity from the people they give fax machines to.
What does this mean? Well, consider the following: you're aboard a futuristic space station that can, among other things, create physics-defying handbags, harness electrical power from a contained black hole, craft heavily armed military mechs, and have clown VS mime showdowns.
Should you really be faxing Central Command to ask us to sentence a clown who slipped an officer?
Don't get me wrong, there are legitimate grievances to be had regarding IC behaviour. However, Central Command, being the final authority on pretty much anything, should only be contacted about important stuff and, most importantly, stuff that cannot be fixed ICly. This includes any situation where the relevant Head of Staff is ignoring SOP/Space Law and is refusing to actually address issues, forcing you to go over their head. If the situation can be handled internally, it should be. Speak to people, have reasonable discourses with them, and try and solve the situation then and there. If that fails, then get the fax machine.
In addition, for all that is holy, do not fax Central Command about Minor/Medium/Major sentences, or just absolutely inane complaints, like the clown slipping people. If you have access to a fax machine, you are expected to know Space Law. Not to mention, what do you expect us to do? Set the timer for you?
This goes for pretty much every complaint or investigation handled by whoever writes the fax. Central Command should only be contacted over staff complaints if:
- The complaint is actually valid;
- You have reasonable evidence backing it up;
- Assuming a and b, the relevant Head of Staff isn't listening to you
Should all three conditions be met, a fax to Central Command would be the best course of action. If, however, the relevant Head of Staff is willing to cooperate with you, keep it internally. It adds to the overall level of RP and actually lets you do something against bad behaviour.
That said, sanity please. If you complain about Security manhandling prisoners when there's an active, hostile cult on the station, it's Code Red and there's an ERT on the field, you're most likely getting ignored/slammed down hard. Context is paramount.
When it comes to departmental audits or other similar investigations, having a detailed description of how every Department is doing will go miles towards grabbing attention to your message, will increase the chances of you getting a reply, and will generally make you feel incredibly useful. That said, don't go overboard and write a small novel detailing every last thing every last crewmember is doing. Keep it concise, keep it to the point, and note important details (such as a particularly good/bad crewmember) if needed.
Oh boy, here we go. Most of this section will be OOC, and directed at the players, not the characters.
First off, respect. Central Command is not a toy, nor is it a tool. Central Command is not your stick to wield, and is not your weapon for when you want to comdom around and try and pretend you have authority you do not have. Central Command is, for all intents and purposes, your boss.
What I mean by this is that you shouldn't go around threatening to send faxes whenever you want to boss around people, or when you want to throw your weight around. This goes double for the IAAs and the Representative, who have no actual authority and are merely there as advisors/investigators. "I'MA GO FAX CC AND DEMOTE U" is a shitty attitude to have, and will most likely get you stonewalled by Central Command if you actually make good on your threats.
Do not make demands of Central Command. Do not fax us demanding to demote someone, or to promote someone else. You may suggest doing so, amidst a well detailed report with reasonable evidence and information to back up your suggestion. But never demand it. You wouldn't walk up to your boss and yell out "I want you to fire Jenkins this instant, he smells funny!", would you?
As for the tone, we do not expect you to remain detached and clinical (this isn't the SCP Foundation, after all, despite what the level of gruesomeness might imply), but we expect you to remain professional and formal. Don't speak to Central Command like you would to a coworker, but rather how you would speak with a company rep, or with Internal Affairs at an actual office. You won't get slammed in the face if you talk to Central Command like a schoolyard friend, but you most certainly will receive a poignant reminder of what's expected of you.
Do not keep sending the same fax over and over every few minutes in order to "bump" it. If you sent a fax that never got answered to, either the Administrators believed it wasn't worth a response, or they missed it (which is entirely possible, the fax notification on the chat box is hilariously easy to miss). A quick Ahelp fixes that, but please don't keep bwoinking us with "REPLY TO FAX PLOX" every few seconds.
Lastly, and to finish off this guide on a high note, no butts. Never fax butts. It is a time honoured tradition to BSA anyone who faxes butts to Central Command, and we do so love the sound of explosions. OF course, the less epic but equally funny method is to turn the sinner into a cluwne. Further faxes will result in increased punishment and even death.