For reference, the behavior in question has been described as follows:
a roleplayer uses situations, settings, or NPCs in a way that would drastically change the way the world works, making it impossible for other characters to rationally be unaware of what happened in that part of the world, or not to become involved, whether their player actually wants to or not.
I’ll be discussing this behavior as “altering” the environment or creating "alterations."
Given this description of the behavior, this thread revealed that there are a variety of ways that people handle the alteration of the game’s environment during RP. I don’t think that there is a perfect method that will resolve or reconcile all of the concerns in every single instance. This situation may simply be one that must be navigated on an individual basis between the parties or groups involved.
To that end, Jalsihr and Twinflame made some excellent points in their posts and Jalsihr’s handling of this issue largely coincides with how I’ve resolved situations when confronted with environmental alterations that might stretch beyond my character’s (or my personal) willingness to believe or be involved in. There are a few general guidelines that I try to keep in mind when interacting with others through stories or RP and I think they’re also applicable to the scenario where alterations are made to an in-game environment.
First, communication is extremely important. We are all creating individual and collaborative stories in a shared (and static) environment. Naturally, this gives us an excellent opportunity to collaborate with others but it also gives rise to the difficulty of combining hundreds of different perspectives into something that resembles a cohesive server RP. As with RP in general, I think it’s important to remember that just because we all play together doesn’t mean that we have to accept each and every thing that everyone else does to the shared environment without question. There may be actions that you don’t believe would realistically happen, that strikes you as unfair, or that you don’t want to be a part of despite the fact that your character would be involved with. If so, bring it up privately with the goal of working together to resolve the discrepancy. Most RPers tend to be pretty reasonable, especially if you use all the communication tools that have been expounded on throughout history: discuss your concerns, try to understand the other person’s perspective, figure out if there’s a way to accommodate all parties involved, etc. An open mind and a willingness to flexibly discuss alternatives is always helpful.
Second, remember that flexibility and a certain amount of ‘suspension of disbelief’ is important. This ties in with the communication between parties. I think that it’s unrealistic to expect that certain calamities won’t take place from time to time that might alter how we perceive that environment. Can anyone be forced to accept those alterations? Absolutely not. At the same time, is it fair to force someone not to make those alterations simply because there’s not a consensus that the alteration actually occurred? Again, absolutely not. This may be especially true when a significant number of people follow a certain storyline and it’s something to consider when assessing how to deal with alterations. Thom makes a good point that a burdensome and impractical bureaucracy would be required if we’re going to require everyone to adhere to a certain rigid perception of the static in-game environment. Not everyone is going to agree on all environmental alterations. Some people really may want to blow up Northshire Abbey and some people may be completely and utterly opposed to the believability of that occurring for various reasons. Given the way the original post was framed, this scenario seems to be the crux of the issue at hand. So…
Third, be willing to move on in one way or another. If communication has failed, if parties simply want do their own thing, and if flexibility isn’t necessarily an option, then just move on as best you can. There are various ways that you can handle opposing storylines or RP that your character doesn’t believe, while still including some semblance of recognition for what the other person is doing. For example: You can pretend it was nothing but a greatly exaggerated rumor; you can pretend that you think the other person is utterly crazy; you can ascribe the action to nothing but “gossip;” you can have unnamed NPCs handle the situation; you can say the area in question has an alternate reality or time shift; you can put your character in a coma while it happened and he/she can’t remember any of it and construction happened so quickly that there was no sign it occurred. Finally, if there’s absolutely no way to get around anything, then just ignore it (although I think that solution applies more in a situation when someone takes control of your character rather than the environment). Like Julilee said:
Either collaborate, or squint and soft-focus. Work it out, or walk around the plot holes. There is no other possible way to deal with a free-form roleplaying community.
These are all just examples but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little creativity to resolve a discrepancy. It’s not the ideal solution, but I think it’s a decent one given all of the factors involved. Just make sure you're not resorting to this method right away; trying to work things out and approaching RP flexibly seems to be the better approach to start with. Things are happening throughout the real world that are dealt with in the same way — conflicting stories with various beliefs about what really happened or which version of ‘reality’ is the true version. It takes effort to work together, to be open-minded, and to be flexible in group settings. But I think it’s important so that the people who are having fun can continue to do so, and those who don’t want to be involved, don’t have to force themselves unhappily into a story or absolutely recognize events/environmental alterations that would be counter to their RP. Again, this also happens in reality.
In the end, I think we all need to remember that there aren’t really hard and fast rules to dealing with one another. The in-game environment is just a setting — a guideline for the world in which RP takes place. It may not be wrong to alter it or impose certain understandings on the environment for the sake of RP. At the same time, it’s always helpful to gather information on how others view and deal with situations when they arise so that, if warranted, we can modify our own reactions to environmental alterations in the future.