In my opinion, AFKing should be allowed on the server, for two main reasons - lag reduction, and as a design goal for farms.

Currently, nearly everyone on the server has a centralized base design, where they have a single base with many farms inside of it that run basically the entire time that area is loaded.

The alternative to this is a decentralized farm setup, where each farm is in a different location, so that only one farm is loaded at a time. This is much more lag efficient than a centralized setup, as much less is loaded and running at one time. Consider iPhoenix’s new gold farm, which (although being very lag-efficient for its size) can significantly impact people’s frames and the server’s speed. When people build away from their bases, it is fine for them to make large farms, as the farm will not be loaded all the time they are at their base. Large farms/furnace arrays/automated storage systems inside of people’s bases are appealing to individual players at first but are terrible for the server as a whole.

In my opinion, the fact that most players choose the laggier centralized setups is a direct consequence of the anti-AFK rule. Because most players have a limited amount of time to play, they try to maximize the amount of time that each farm is loaded. For each new farm they want to build, they can either put it in an area of their base that’s already loaded often and run it in the background while they do other things in-game, or they can put it far away, and wait around doing nothing each time they want to use the farm. The former option is much less tedious, which is why most players choose the laggier centralized setup.

Allowing AFKing would remove this incentive by making the use of farms in a decentralized setup far less tedious. Rather than having to sit around doing nothing while your farm does its thing, you can AFK instead and do something else IRL. For things like mob farms and sugarcane farms that run without player input, this is basically analogous to building your farm in your base and then doing something else in-game in the area, except without causing extra lag.


For farms that don’t require player input, AFKing serves as an alternative to having many farms running at once. But for farm types that do require players to break blocks or use items (like tree farms, chorus fruit farms, ice farms, or quarries), allowing AFKing creates the extremely interesting challenge of designing an AFK-able farm for these items.

Farms exist to make getting certain items faster or less tedious, at the expense of the time and materials required to design and build them. For items that don’t directly need player interaction to get, like most plants and mob drops, the main goal is to create a farm that can be left on its own, and then to make it as fast as possible for the chosen scale.

When AFKing is allowed, the goal is similar with farms that do need player interaction (for example, placing a sapling in a tree farm or silk touch mining an ice block) - you want to design a farm that can be run with no player input except for buttons constantly being held down. For most farms, this is an extremely interesting design challenge, as it’s not trivial to automatically remove a tree to make room for the AFK player to place another or to ensure that your shovel won’t wear out when gathering snow, or your axe won’t wear down when breaking logs.

When AFKing isn’t allowed, this extra challenge is removed - sure, you could still build a complicated farm that allows you to just hold down right click to plant a huge field of nether wart, but because you still have to stare at the screen the entire time that you’re doing so with our current rules, there’s no real benefit to doing that over just mindlessly walking back and forth planting it.



If AFKing is allowed, I think that there should be some guidelines about when and where it’s acceptable to AFK for long periods of time.
Firstly, AFKing in laggy areas that would have an unnecessary performance impact on the server, like centralized bases, shouldn’t be allowed. This would further incentivize lag-efficient decentralized farm setups.
AFK players should also be considerate of the mob caps of other players - people shouldn’t AFK for long periods of time in an area that’s not lit up, which would slow other players’ mob farms to a crawl.
Players should also avoid AFKing during “peak hours” of the server when having more people online might affect the server’s performance.



Here are a few of the most common reasons I’ve heard for not allowing AFK:

“We want our players to actually play, not just AFK all the time”
I don’t think that anyone is going to use AFKing as a substitute for actually playing the game. The main reason that you would want to AFK is to reduce the amount of time you spend collecting items or doing repetitive tasks. I think that most of our players would spend the extra time doing other, more interesting things on the server, and only leave their client AFK during the times when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to play, such as during the night or during school/work.

“Wouldn’t having a lot of players online make the game laggy?”
I imagine that most players would AFK during the off-peak hours when there aren’t many people online. I also don’t think that players will AFK every single day, but more likely infrequently when they need the output of a particular farm. So, I don’t think that actual players would be majorly affected by AFK players. Combine that with the lag improvements from decentralized farms and the fact that if you’re AFKing at a farm for longer, it doesn’t need to be as large, and AFKing will almost definitely have a net positive effect on TPS.

“AFKing is just a challenge you have to work around, like any other”
While it’s true that not allowing AFKing does pose a challenge that needs to be solved when building farms, the solution is usually either “make the farm larger (increasing lag),” “do more tedious tasks manually,” or “load the farm more often (increasing lag).” I personally don’t think that these solutions are particularly interesting, compared to the creative solutions required to make a farm AFKable that become irrelevant when AFKing is not allowed.

“If players can AFK, they’ll just build small farms and AFK at them longer instead of building larger farms”
This is in my opinion the most relevant concern about permitting AFKing. It’s true that you’ll get the same number of items with a farm that runs at half speed for twice as long, and that for some players and farm types, it’s easier to AFK for twice as long as to build a farm that’s twice as fast. I don’t think this is necessarily always a bad thing, though - we're already trying to get players to reduce the scale of their farms in some cases to prevent lag. Additionally, most players who like building large farms for the challenge of it will build them anyway, and then just run them infrequently to prevent unnecessary server load.

Since I guess this is becoming a series of opinion posts now, check out the rest here: Fabric | Litematica | AFKing
  
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