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I'm a game developer working on a fairly well known MMORPG in where I live. Recently, I've accidentally discovered that our DBA is banning players and forging player chat logs on his accord. For what reason, I do not know why.

The thing is, I don't have any conclusive evidence to present, and I've only started working here 3 months ago. On the other hand, the DBA has been here for 8 years so there's no question who they will believe if I ever brought it up to HR. To make the matters worse, the higher ups often speak pretty highly of him, so I have a feeling he's close to being indispensable.

For the past few months, we've also been getting complaints about players being banned for things they have not said so I have a hunch our DBA has been doing this for sometime, but it could be a coincidence. Regardless, I'm pretty bothered by this because who knows what this person could possibly do.

How should I handle this situation?

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    How do you know he is doing this if you don't have proof? – jmac Dec 10 '13 at 2:33
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    If you have a good DB/process setup, there should be logs for changes made to the DB from outside of the game. If not, this seems like a fine time to ask why this common practice is not implemented. – Telastyn Dec 10 '13 at 2:51
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    What's your question? How to report the person? Whether to do anything? It's not clear what you are actually trying to accomplish here other than looking for just soliciting opinions on what to do. – enderland Dec 10 '13 at 4:05
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    Do you have a short length rubber hose, 10 feet of rope, and a wet towel? (just kidding) You need to decide what you want to do or understand about this problem. We can help you accomplish your goal but you have to tell us where the goal posts are. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 10 '13 at 14:38
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    There's no substitute for evidence. Cross-reference logs and backups, if possible, or try to somehow catch him in the act. You are free to run wild here. It would also be useful to know how you first because aware of this. – rath Dec 25 '13 at 0:31
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You don't need to have proof, you're just reporting what you noticed. You can hedge your statements by saying this is just what you saw and you don't know what it means, but you felt you should report it. What your employer does with the information is up to them.

Most gaming companies are very strict on employees interfering with games in any way. Usually people do this for personal gain, so it is a weird situation, but doesn't make it ok.

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    Maybe he spotted the spooks: bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25310774 – Meredith Poor Dec 10 '13 at 8:02
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    Absolutely disagree with this answer. Making a claim that a coworker is doing something against company policy without any concrete proof can easily look like random accusations and can lead to your boss and coworker(s) distrusting you. At the very least mention the problem but do not use the coworkers name. – CincinnatiProgrammer Dec 10 '13 at 18:52
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    @PaulBrown, you're welcome to disagree. It's a free world. Your disagreement doesn't change my opinion, but thank you for sharing yours. – Samuel Neff Dec 11 '13 at 4:14
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    Perhaps the OP could mention that something odd is going on without pointing any fingers, leaving the subsequent investigation (if there is one) to determine who's responsible. – Keith Thompson Dec 11 '13 at 22:50
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    I agree with @PaulBrown this may get your reputation worse. – F0G Dec 23 '13 at 5:45
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How should I handle this situation?

My advice is, report to your direct manager that

Recently, I've accidentally discovered that our DBA is banning players and forging player chat logs on his accord.

And tell him that you don't have any conclusive evidence to present. This is only something you observed. In other words, tell him everything you know and that's it. Don't do anything more than that.

By reporting this to your direct manager, you fulfill the responsibility of being an employee of the company. The next thing you do is wait a few weeks.

If it was simply your misunderstanding, your manager will let you know. If the company takes action about that DBA, you will know it.

If nothing happens, you need to sit down and think about what you want to do next. There is a possibility that the management is aware of the DBA's doing even before you noticed it. In that case, it's more than the problem with the DBA. It's something else. You need to decide if you want to be the whistle blower (escalate the matter to HR or high level management) or just quit the job and go to work somewhere else. I don't have enough information to give you further advices.

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  • If nothing happens, you should ask your immediate superior if the issue has been resolved or you need to do anything more? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 23 '13 at 23:50
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen Thanks for the comment. I thought about this. The OP works for a gaming company. What he suspects the DBA is doing is a serious issue. Any competent manager will not ignore it. I think reporting it once is enough. If the manager choses to ignore it, there is a serious problem with the manager or the company. It's up to the OP to think about what to do next. Again, I don't have enough info to provide further advice. – scaaahu Dec 24 '13 at 2:31
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I would recommend not to say anything. You have been there for 3 months and you could not have an accurate level of the political landscape there. Given your account there could be other factors. Such as management asking him to do so or at worst management is aware and lets him because he is talented.

There is no glory in bringing somebody down. It is something that must happen at some point given the proper circumstances, but it is a situation that never ends out with everyone happy.

Please don't think I am saying ignore this. Until you have more things under your feet (mostly time) start recording. Saying you suspect something is one thing having a paper trail is another.

Preparation is another thing and should be part of your job anyways. Backup logs would likely show if he is posting in the past (assuming that it is more difficult to get banned) he would need several offences. Learn the backup schedule. Learn the chat system, see why this is possible. At the very worst you educated yourself about the system.

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