[Guide] How to Properly Admin a Server - What is an admin, what can they do, what constitutes abuse and how can you admin better?

Greetings everyone! Jediaelthewise here from RustHelper.com. I’ve seen many threads here on the face punch forums and the Rust subreddit with complaints about admin abuse and bad servers. I decided it would be good to create a simple guide explaining what an admin is and how you can do it properly on your server depending on the type of server you want to create. I believe some issues could be resolved just by having a better understanding and perspective of how to look at administration and setting a few rules for yourself. So without further ado:


What is an admin?

An administrator is one who is in charge of enforcing the rules of a server. He or she is given the power to act in certain ways to enforce these rules and make sure that they are followed. An admin is tasked with watching for violations and taking action when rules are broken.

What is a server owner?

A server owner is one who pays for and owns the server. In most cases, the owner and primary (sometimes only) admin are the same person. Someone who owns the server has full authority and say in what the server can be used for because they paid for it. At rust helper.com, our servers are owned by tastycrumpet and I (jediaelthewise) do a lot of the main administration. I may give suggestions but in the end, whatever tasty crumpet wants to do with the servers, I abide by because he is the owner.


What can an admin do?

An admin is capable of using server commands. See here for a full list. A few common ones are teleporting one player to another, changing time of day, giving items, kicking, banning and many others. In order to legitimately use these commands, an admin must login by the F1 console and use an rcon.login command with the correct password that is provided/set by the server console.

There are some mods such as /promote that allows you to promote people to admin without giving them this password. It is not the same password as the console side server controls. All commands can also be used from the server console without actually logging into the game.

Example of the server console on our multiplay server

If you install additional add ons, an admin would also have the ability to set and configure the settings of these as well. These sometimes are done in game via a command. Other add ons must be configured by JSON coding from the server console.

Example of configuration console side

Tip: Here is a good website to use to verify your JSON code to make sure it is marked up correctly. It has been especially helpful to me when working with the huge kit files for our creative server. http://jsonlint.com


Setting Expectations

As a server admin and host, you need to determine what kind of server you want to host. Is it a vanilla survival server? Are you hosting a creative server? Perhaps a roleplaying server? Just your own server you and your friends can experiment on?

None of these are ‘better’ or more correct than the other. If you own the server, you have full complete rights to decide what it should be. What we recommend is that you should develop a list of expectations beforehand so that you have a guide with which to work by. What I have done for our servers is written a full list of rules for both our creative and survival servers, which you can see here:

By creating a list of rules and expectations, you have something to refer to and abide by. You also tell your server community what kind of server you are hosting and what to expect.

You can choose not to do this at all, there is nothing wrong with that either. As I said, you own it, you may do with it as you please. If you choose to have no official rules, then the rules are what the owner says goes. However if you plan to host a community, you risk potentially disappointing people when their expectations don’t line up with yours and how you choose to enforce your rules.


What is admin abuse?

Abuse is violation of an expectation of conduct. Basically people will expect certain things from those who administrate and when those expectations are violated, you will likely be accused of abuse.

The reason we recommend setting a clear list of rules and goals is so that both you and your community understand what to expect.

True admin abuse is when you violate the rules you have communicated to your community. So for example, in our rules for our survival server, we purposefully limit our admin controls with oxmin to only ban, kick and teleport (for getting people unstuck). If we were to then spawn items, we have broken our own rules and have committed abuse. (Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say putting on god mode and just killing all your player isn’t abuse as well. I am just trying to make a point that without a set of expectations or rules laid out, it leaves more chance for admins doing things that violate your expectations.)

When there are no rules or laid out expectations, what the admin chooses to do is law and there it is not abuse for him to do as he pleases. If you join a server with no published or clear set of expectations, then you don’t have any true legitimate reason to accuse someone of admin abuse. Unless they clearly state that they will not do something and then violate the rule, whatever they say and do is entirely up to them. If you don’t like it, just move to another server.

Note on recruiting admins: By setting a list of rules and expectations, you create an expectation of conduct from all your admins. It is then easier for you to watch for abuse and create consistency among your admins. When bringing in new admins, you have them agree to your rules and that they commit to enforce them. If they break them, then you have clear justification and guidelines with which to make a decision because you have made them clear to both your admins and your community.


How can I admin my server better and grow my community?

Here are a few tips, some of which we’ve already covered:

  1. Decide from the start what kind of server you want to run - Figure out ahead of time what you want to accomplish and then plan around it. If you want to change things, give your community the courtesy of telling them what changes you are making and why.
  2. Establish a clear set of expectations and rules - This helps people to know how you plan on doing things and your reasons when you enforce the rules. If you want some examples, check out our server page on our website. Look up the rules on other servers.
  3. Abide by your own rules - Once you have settled on a set of rules and expectations, abide by them. Nothing will piss of your community more than saying one thing and then doing another thing. Consistency and integrity go a long way, not only in Rust but in life in general.

Optional/Additional suggestions

Here are some ideas to help you as an admin.

  1. Play the neutral party - Do you want to admin and play at the same time? Play the neutral party. Set up a market or a shop. Admining a server can take a lot of time and so you might not have the ability to play normally depending on how you set things up. By playing the neutral party, you can play while still interacting with everyone on your server.
  2. Restrict admin commands - This is something we do on our survival server so that our community has clear expectations of how we plan to do our job. If you want a survival server and play with your community, make a rule for yourself that you will spawn no items under any circumstances. Then tell your community that. It gives your players confidence and assurance that you will do your job correctly.

I hope this guide has been informative and helpful. If you have any other suggestions to go along with this, please feel free to share them. Tell me your stories of being an admin so that we can help each other provide better servers for the community. If you have any other good suggestions, I will add them to this guide. I will also host this guide on our website at www.RustHelper.com for future reference and will update it as I add more content to it.

Regards,

Jediaelthewise

Or just don’t give admin to people who lack common sense.

I disagree with part of your definition of admin abuse. You are right that a violation of that server’s own rules constitutes abuse, but even in a server with no rules, something like shooting people or raiding with godmode on is obviously abuse and violates the point of the game itself. Spawning items with no intention on using them on other people or their bases is not abuse, though. Basically, if an admin uses their powers to excell in PvP, it is abuse. If they want to excell in PvE or just build massive buildings, it is not abuse and probably the reason they got the server in the first place.

I can agree that these things are abusive things to do. My point just may be an overly technical one. I don’t mean to say that those things you mentioned are not abusive actions as well. I just get tired of people throwing out ‘admin abuse’ so often when sometimes it is simply because of a lack of clear expectations or guidelines.

I think servers where people do the kind of things you mention will deteriorate rapidly and really don’t need much addressing. If you encounter a server with those things, just leave. Nothing needs to really be said or done. I am just trying to lay down some better guidelines for those setting out or having some difficulty doing it well.

Perhaps a suggested set of guidelines including your points would be good as a template of recommended rules?

Tasty here, I wanted to add my points about dealing with hackers. It’s very hard to prove hacks, but the below items are how I personally handle it. These are guidelines and tips, capturing proof and performing the ban is obviously at the discretion of the administrator.


A game being released to the general public so early, means that there are often very easy ways to exploit the game. Hackers and Cheaters, are not people who nesesarily use a glitch in the game, but use external, third-party tools to change the game mechanics in a way that other players can not.

Rust is filled with Aim bots, ESP hacks to see where things are, flying hacks and just general nasty things which will make the game un-playable for your community. It is important to note, that there are also players that are just “really that good”. These are people that can easily pull off sequential head shots or other feats and unfortunately this may get then labelled as “hackers”.

In general to keep a happy community, avoid banning people when other players initially “call hacks”. You should always investigate. Make a point of having your admins record video, or stream video whenever they are playing, and urge your community members to do this too. You would be surprised how often you may just be running through a field and have someone fly straight up to you and kill you. If you have the video of this event, then it makes any disputes that much clearer.

Yourself and other admins should endeavor to follow some basic principles, these of course may change depending on your server rules. In general:

  • Record all of your gameplay.
  • Definitely record your use of admin tools, this can help if someone claims you are abusing.
  • Investigate claims of hacking, do not ban on a whim unless you are 100% positive, and have some sort of proof.
  • Teleport to the accused, and discuss it with them. More often than not the first 10 seconds of this talk will give you all the proof you need, for or against them.
  • Don’t play favorites. Just because you have a close friend calling hacks on a player, does not mean their complaints are any more valid than someone you don’t know. Hacking is black and white.

Also, an issue with a hacker being called out, is that they may immediately stop using the hacks, at least while the admins are sniffing around. Some basic investigation into the player can help you decide if you need to keep pursuing them. The items listed below, are by no means “proof” of hacking, but these can help you establish a picture of the player and help you determine whether you need to keep an eye on them in future.

  • Check their steam account for previous VAC bans. This is not an indicator that they are hacking your current game. People make mistakes. But it is at least some what of an indicator that maybe you should keep digging.]

  • Check their steam account age. People take pride in their Steam accounts. The older the account, the more of an incentive against risking a VAC ban. If the account is a day old, this is another indicator that you should look further into this. It’s incredibly easy to setup another steam account. Get another copy of the game cheaply by trading. Then wreak havoc without risking your main account.

  • Check their number of games and other games played. As above. If the account has no history, and the only game is Rust (plus some free to play. Hackers will often leave free games running to log hours to make their account look more legitimate). This is another indicator.

  • Check their friends list for any previously known hackers. In my experience, Hackers will group up in some cases, establish themselves on a server and run around abusing your community. You may ban 4 out of 5 of them, but one happened to not be online at that point. Often you don’t need to worry about this. Usually this left over person will log on, cause some mischief and then you will never see them again. They want to go to the next server to work in their pack.

  • Check their previous names. Often players will change their names regularly so they aren’t immediately spotted by other players. Sometimes they will even change their names to match your admins and players to impersonate them. This can be done in jest, but is also another indicator.

  • Is their profile private? A lot of legitimate players have their profile private, but it would also make sense for someone exploiting to hide their profile, so that most of the above indicators can’t be picked up. When a profile is private you can still check for VAC bans, check the account age, check their previous names. So don’t be afraid to look up on third part tools information about their account.

I can’t emphasize enough that the above points are NOT proof. These are indicators which help you make educated decisions.

The fallout from banning a hacker or group, can be devastating. Some people on your server may have befriended them, and leave with them. Make sure you stay professional, and don’t push it. If the hacker is very annoyed, this will likely result in a number of attacks against your server, such as a distributed denial of service, which will make the game unplayable for your community.

[editline]19th March 2014[/editline]

If only it were that easy. Even people with common sense get bored and destroy everything sometimes. Once they lose their incentive or perceived value, there’s no telling what will happen.