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Member Since 25 Sep 2002
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Topics I've Started

DRAFT: Rules for controversial topics

06 September 2015 - 12:28 AM

Note: This is a work-in-progress that does not yet reflect the current rules of the site.  Feedback is welcome and encouraged.


As per the pinned "disallowed topics" thread and the discussion which followed, we're looking to implement some new rules and guidelines so that we can allow discussion of controversial topics to occur in a productive way and without fostering a toxic atmosphere or becoming a platform for hate-speech.


The following is a draft of some new guidelines intended to be posted and enforced, and we would love the community's feedback before making anything official:




Welcome to GameDev.net, one of the largest and most active online communities for video game developers!  We have a diverse community and recognise that this can sometimes result in misunderstanding and conflict, especially when controversial topics such as politics, discrimination, and similar are discussed.


We want to foster a welcoming and inclusive community where such matters can be discussed productively, and ask that the following guidelines be kept in mind when discussing such topics on our site.


Note that these guidelines are intended for use in controversial topics and do not necessarily apply to purely technical discussions.  Most people know a topic is controversial when they post, and we expect you to use reasonable judgement.



This is a welcoming community, and discrimination will not be tolerated.

Our industry has traditionally been dominated by white males, and expanding that demographic can only help to enrich the experiences offered to players.


We welcome members of different backgrounds and believe that a more diverse community will provide different views and experiences to therefore offer a better overall knowledge-base that can better serve the wider community.  Personal details such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. should not be used to judge the value of a person's contribution, and insults based upon the above are not to be tolerated.



A diverse conversation is more interesting and productive.  Do not encourage one-sided discussions.

Please ensure you're making a real contribution and adding something new to the conversation.  We can only have an enlightening discussion when different points of view are allowed, and this can't happen if the majority of posts represent a single point of view.  If, after writing your post you find that you are just posting to agree with others and have not added anything significant to the conversation, please considering revising or cancelling your post.


If too many posts espousing a single point of view are posted without waiting for alternative views to be represented some posts may be edited or removed to improve the balance of the conversation.



Unverified claims are unproductive and should be avoided.  Check and cite sources for any statistics.

Meaningful conversation can be disrupted when made-up or poorly estimated data is introduced.  If you're posting a statistic or comparison do a quick search to verify that you're really correct and consider citing reliable sources in your post so that the information can easily be verified.  Remember to also share any relevant context for your information, as something that is true in a limited environment may not necessarily match the experiences of other members.



Text lacks tone and context.

Remember that written text does not always convey the tone and intended mood of the writer.


Try to make your own writing as clear as possible and avoid potentially problematic devices such as sarcasm.  When reading comments from other members, try to assume the best rather than the worst; if your default reaction is to take offence and otherwise productive conversation is more likely to go off-track.

An open letter to 'xoxos'/Nora Leader.

10 August 2015 - 05:33 PM

Before I start:


This is not something we are going to make a habit of, but in this case another open letter in the style of the one posted about 'Graelig' seems warranted, as xoxos has been banned after multiple warnings and prior suspensions but has made a habit of publicly posting on social media and elsewhere with complaints stating that his punishments were for reasons other than the actual reasons given by our moderators.  This letter will therefore clearly address the actual reasons for the warnings/suspensions and eventual ban to avoid any confusion.


As with the letter to Graelig this discussion is to be kept strictly on-topic, and off-topic responses may be removed without further notice.


Remember if you decide to look into the posting history for yourself that some content has been hidden from public view and that behaviour via private message and on our Facebook page has also been taken into account.



An open letter to 'xoxos':


Unfortunately this open letter is to explain the reasons you have been permanently banned from this site; you've been quite vocal about the fact that you consider our community and particularly some of our moderation decisions to be unfair, and so we're trying something different by laying it all out publicly for everyone to see.


Since May this year you have had four formal warnings recorded by three different moderators, and have been spoken to informally within topics numerous times both before and after that both by other moderators and by other concerned members of our community.  The officially recorded warnings cite abusive behaviour, topic bumping, excessive off-topic posting, and ignoring moderator instruction.


It's not just our moderators persecuting you as you have suggested, you have been repeatedly reported by numerous other members for your behaviour, and a lot of the moderation you have experienced has been in response to reports.


You have some unusual programming habits such as using older hardware and software and a preference for one- and two-letter variable names, and after both your suspension and ban took to our Facebook page suggesting that these were the reasons for your punishment.  This is not and has never been the case.



Your first formal warning and suspension was for insulting other members and continuously 'bumping' your own topics (that is, replying to yourself to promote your post in the forum listing) several times in a row after only a few hours, which you had been warned about informally several times previously and had been mentioned by several other members who were annoyed by the behaviour.  You responded to the moderator who issued this warning with a private message telling him to "suck a dick bro" (for which you did not receive any additional punishment -- it's not unusual for suspended members to vent at the moderator).  In your very next topic right after your suspension was lifted you acknowledged this (showing that you understood the instruction) but still continued to bump the topic four times within an hour.


You were given an additional warning and suspension for this and told that it would be a final chance, and then took to our Facebook page *under the name "Nora Leader" for anyone who wants to snoop) to complain that you were banned because of your unusual views, and when challenged on this ended up declaring that it was all a conspiracy against you and that our moderators "are clearly masons".



Since your return from that suspension your behaviour has generally been better (with an exception I'll get to in a moment) and to my knowledge you have avoided insulting other members or bumping your topics.  Unfortunately you have included an off-topic comment in basically every post since then, essentially "looking for a fight" -- here's a brief selection of them taken from the warning you were issued:

and then baby jesus has to cry a lot and probably get banned from the forum.

i imagine phantom will want to remove this post and ban me

now go ahead and nuke me

really excited about this opportunity to not fit in and be difficult and awkward

These comments were off-topic, inflammatory, and risked derailing discussions -- which actually started to happen in at least one of the topics -- so I very clearly explained this and asked you to stop, noting that this was a final warning.  The one specifically calling out phantom is particular ironic given that he hadn't been a moderator any more for around a week at the time of posting and had been defending you as having reformed your behaviour shortly before stepping down -- hardly the behaviour of "a mason" who is persecuting you.


Shortly after the time-stamp shows that you read the private message sent with the above warning, you made this post violating the instruction as well as an off-topic complaint about it in the "disallowed topics" discussion and continued to drag this discussion off-topic.  Several members made reports about these posts, and you were then banned (by a different moderator) with the following explanation:

You were previous warned, just yesterday, about including irrelevant digs at other users and moderators in your posts and you have continued to do so. You were warned continuing to do so would result in a ban, and consequently, you are now banned.


You then took to our Facebook page again to make three off-topic responses to a post there claiming that you had been banned "because a mod doesn't like my defense of using short variable names" -- which I think we were pretty clear was not the reason for your ban.


Thanks to your apparent habit of trying to play martyr posting fictitious reasons for your bans another open letter seems warranted.



From our perspective you have been given plenty of chances, and we have been very clear about what has been expected of you and why you were punished.  All that has been expected of you was to obey some very simple rules and instructions that are common to most online communities, as well as some common etiquette.  You were given many chances and have not only continued to intentionally disobey our rules, but have made a habit of trying to make us look bad by claiming you were punished for others reasons.  Enough is enough, and unfortunately you have to go.



Responding to this post:
Any responses to this post are to be kept strictly on topic, and the subject of this post is the behaviour of the member xoxos and responses from our moderators.  For any other subjects (comments of the behaviour of other members, moderation in general, or feedback on the posting of this open letter, etc.) please start a new topic in this forum.  If you think there is a systemic problem with moderation please start a new topic and provide specific examples, not just an unsubstantiated complaint like several that have been made off-hand by xoxos.
While you're welcome to comment, this is not a place for "dumping on" xoxos.  We still expect the normal site rules to be followed, and insults, bullying, etc. will not be tolerated.

New rules: disallowed topics (UPDATED August 12)

01 August 2015 - 12:32 AM

Hey guys,


We've had recurring problems with a couple of topics and have decided we need to address the issue.  We will therefore be temporarily banning discussion of these topics until we can figure out how to allow them without some of the problems and toxicity that has been occurring.  We have started to discuss these issues HERE, and your thoughts are welcome and encouraged.



To be clear we're very proud of the community we have here, and we think the overwhelming majority of members handle themselves very well even in sensitive or potentially inflammatory discussions.  Unfortunately not everyone is always able to uphold these standards, and even some of our very positive and helpful members sometimes end up dragged into unproductive arguments.  This is annoying for all of our wonderful community members who just want to have friendly discussions, can reflect badly on the community to outsiders, and is draining for our volunteer moderators to deal with.



The problem topics:

  • GamerGate
  • Discrimination (most commonly racism and sexism)
  • Foreign employment, work visas, etc. (Specifically, complaints about jobs going to foreigners.  Genuine on-topic questions about working overseas are of course welcome.)


Although not specifically disallowed, please remember that discussions of religion or politics are also always potentially problematic and do your best to keep such discussions civil and on-track.  Please respect the view-points of others and try to back up any potentially questionable claims with links from reputable sources.  If you're posting just to abuse or belittle someone a moderator will step in and take action.


The new rules:

  • No new discussions are to be started focussed solely on these topics.  Any such discussions may be closed or removed without further notice.
    • Exception: discussions of fictitious examples are of course allowed in the Game Design and Writing For Games forums.  If the topic derails to real life issues posts may have to be edited or removed.
    • Exception: discussions from individuals affected by discrimination are welcome in the Game Industry Job Advice forum.  Please endeavour to keep any replies to such discussions on-topic and respectful.  Anything offensive may be subject to edits or removal. 
  • Existing open discussions on these topics will be allowed to continue but will be subject to close moderation.  Any posts that are considered inflammatory or which drift away from the topic of discussion may be edited (in the case that the post contains other good/relevant content) or removed without further notice.
  • These topics should not be brought up in unrelated discussions, and again offending posts may be edited or removed without further notice.


If you see an post that you think breaks these guidelines, please report it for moderation and try to refrain from responding in kind.



Let's keep this a fun and friendly community for everyone, and hopefully if we don't have to heavily moderate offending posts these rules can be relaxed again soon! smile.png

An open letter to 'Graelig'.

10 July 2015 - 10:14 PM

Before I start:


We're trying something a bit different here.  In the past we have always considered moderation decisions to be a private rather than public matter and handled everything in house with no publicly available explanation.  Unfortunately because of the number of our efforts to give people multiple chances they often end up spouting a lot of complaints about the site before being removed, and then often go on to repeat those complaints in other online communities, and due to the lack of public information some of these complaints may be believed by outsiders even though they're not really accurate.


This topic is to be kept strictly on point, and at the bottom of the post I'll add some guidelines for what is and isn't acceptable as a response; please read the topic (and especially those guidelines) in full before responding, as off-topic replies may be removed without further notice.  We would like to allow the community a fair chance to comment, but if we have to do too much clean-up the topic will be closed.


Remember that in some cases posts may have been hidden from public view, and that behaviour via private message and any other channels of communication are also taken into account, so just looking through a member's posting history may not show you everything that moderation decisions have been based upon.



An open letter to 'Graelig':


Unfortunately this open letter is to explain the reasons we are permanently banning you from the site; you've been quite vocal about the fact that you consider our community and particularly some of our moderation decisions to be unfair, and so we're trying something different by laying it all out publicly for everyone to see.


Since early June this year you have been issued with five separate official warnings via our system, and in addition have also been spoken to informally a number of times about your behaviour.  The official warnings issued cite insulting/abusive/loaded language, offensive behaviour, and ignoring moderator instruction.


You have stated on a couple of occasions that you have not insulted other members, and whilst it is true that your wording usually specifically avoids insulting any particular individual your phrasing is often broadly insulting or dismissive of all other members as a whole.  To provide one recent specific example, in your topic "your thoughts on the value of profilers and debuggers" you present your own strongly worded view-point and then finish off the post by asking "anyone else feel the same? Or is it only pod people left these days?"  The implication that either people agree with your point of view or are group-thinking "pod people" is broadly insulting to those that disagree and is not a productive start to an adult conversation.  Your posts are littered with similar examples where you dismiss dissenting opinions as "stupid" or "idiotic".


You have stated that we have punished you for posting unpopular (but supposedly completely truthful) opinions; that is not the case, but rather that you have been warned for the insulting and offensive way in which you word many of these posts.  Dissenting opinions are welcome here as long as they are properly presented, and furthermore your repeated suggestions that your posts are to be taken as 100% accurate again does not invite productive conversation or allow for the fact that you are sometimes wrong.  It's ok to be wrong occasionally, and you have been demonstrably so in at least a couple of cases.


You have claimed that we are unfairly punishing you whilst allowing others to bully you with impunity, but in order to allow you a fair chance we have removed inflammatory replies from other users in multiple topics (including for example this one), and issued warnings to a number of those users where appropriate.  We (the moderators) are not simply stalking your posts looking for any slip-up to punish, but are responding to reports from offended or concerned community members, many of whom have called for you to be removed earlier.  Looking through the first few pages of our reporting system I see no less than 25 reports concerning your posts, made by at least 10 different community members, and I can recall numerous reports before those.


On multiple occasions you have brought up off-topic disagreements from previous discussions, as if trying to play martyr rather than actually addressing the posts you are replying to on their merits, and in many cases we have removed these posts so as to avoid having to close otherwise productive discussions and to give you an additional chance to participate constructively.



From our perspective, we have been bending over backwards to give you a fair chance:

  • You have been issued with multiple warnings, both formal and informal.
  • You have been suspended from the site three times, with the hope that your behaviour would improve.
  • You have been reported over and over again by many other members calling for you to be banned but have been allowed to stay in the name of a "fair chance".
  • We have removed posts and warned other members for harassing you, and removed some of your own off-topic posts that would otherwise likely have resulted in an earlier ban.
  • One of our moderators even self-censored by removing an unseen reply in which they snapped at you unfairly.
  • Our community has down-voted you to an abysmal -825 reputation.  No doubt some of this is people "jumping on the bandwagon", but you don't get a score that low without genuinely and seriously rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. 


Unfortunately, enough is enough -- our moderators are getting weary from giving you an additional chances, and numerous community members who have been long term valuable contributors to the site are growing sick of reporting and responding to your content -- it is obvious your behaviour is not going to change and that you will continue to be disruptive here, so it's time for you to go.





Responding to this post:


Any responses to this post are to be kept strictly on topic, and the subject of this post is the behaviour of the member Graelig and responses from our moderators.  For any other subjects (comments of the behaviour of other members, moderation in general, or feedback on the posting of this open letter, etc.) please start a new topic in this forum.  If you think there is a systemic problem with moderation please start a new topic and provide specific examples, not just an unsubstantiated complaint like several that have been made off-hand by Graelig.


While you're welcome to comment, this is not a place for "dumping on" Graelig.  We still expect the normal site rules to be followed, and insults, bullying, etc. will not be tolerated.