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LennyLen

The new 'Disallowed topics' rule

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In that case, I'm one many would consider to be on the wrong side of history. When I saw the new rules, I flinched, honestly expecting religion would be among it - Christianity is something many believe is also "clear defined" in the wrong and on the wrong side of history.

There's always the question of intent. A discussion about how religion impacts factions in RPGs? By all means. An 'all Muslims are terrorists' thread? That one gets a pretty liberal application of the ban-hammer.

I'd like to apply the same exact same judgement to threads that deal with racism and sexism, but it turns out that a significant portion of our user base hasn't realised yet that accepting the viewpoints they hear in the media at face-value is leading them to espouse positions that are actively harmful. Hell, for the first 1/3 of the Anita/sexism thread, two of our moderators were solidly on the wrong side of the issue, at least up until a number of members called them on it.

Imagine arriving at this forum as a young woman, interested in making games, and the first thing you see is a group of highly-rated users and moderators declaring that we shouldn't do anything to fix sexism in the video game industry? That's hardly the sort of welcoming environment this site should be promoting.
 

However, I have seen some rather horrible and ban-worthy posts in threads like these come FROM moderators, so maybe a blanket ban on the subject is best.

That's the other side of moderation being a draining occupation. Moderators are, by and large, expected to maintain an even temper regardless of the content of a thread.

But moderators are only human, and there's a limit to how many times you can patiently explain the same point to some troll looking to score points with their reddit/twitter community, before you snap ohmy.png

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The biggest issue with this new rule that I see is that I was not aware of it at all prior to reading this topic.

 

Is there a way of giving announcements that you expect everybody to have read an "activity boost", so people who browse "active topics" rather than all the subforums (and maybe only pages 1 and 2 of "active topics", too) will get to see them?

 

The topic is pinned in "Lounge", granted. So for anyone browsing the Lounge, it will show on top. Thing is, some people (... me, for example) just don't do that.

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Is there a way of giving announcements that you expect everybody to have read an "activity boost", so people who browse "active topics" rather than all the subforums (and maybe only pages 1 and 2 of "active topics", too) will get to see them?

 

We can make "announcement" threads that show up pinned to the top of every forum (offhand I don't know how as I've never done it). I pinned jbadams' post to the lounge but didn't go any further than that because I thought it was only appropriate there (the lounge is the only forum where the discussions in question would have been appropriate anyway). It may be worth making it an announcement.

 

You do have another tool already in the forum software that may be useful: You can ban people from individual sub-forums.

 

 

I actually forgot about that. It only applies to the lounge though; as you note it's implemented as a group, not an independent restriction (and users can only be one group, so doing this removes their GDNet+ and/or Crossbones+, what-have-you membership and associated permission). Which is probably fine as it's a punishment, but getting them restored correctly is a bit of a chore. I think that's why we use it very sparingly (I've never used it at all).

Edited by Josh Petrie

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But moderators are only human, and there's a limit to how many times you can patiently explain the same point to some troll looking to score points with their reddit/twitter community, before you snap ohmy.png


I understand this, which is why I think this is necessary. It's rather difficult to expect the members to self-moderate on a topic where the moderators are fanning the flames. This takes the human aspect out of the equation.

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Fantastic, I was hoping for a discussion exactly like this one.  Thank you all for your opinions so far, and please keep them coming!
 
 
To clarify a couple of points:

  • This is intended to be a temporary measure, although we haven't set any particular duration.  We're hoping it's not something we have to do for long, but we (the moderators) need a break from these topics, and we think a break to cool off may also benefit the community; some members are currently entering these discussions primed and ready to argue thanks to previous discussions, and this isn't helping the matter.
  • I said that dealing with this can be draining for the moderators.  This isn't an issue of workload (on last count we had over 70 moderators!) or technical difficulty (it mostly amounts to typing messages and clicking buttons) but a human issue: our moderators are people too, and it can be difficult to try to maintain objectivity when making these sort of subjective calls, especially when some of us are personally engaged in the discussion or have strong feelings about the topic.  It's emotionally taxing to make decisions that involve censoring people, and it can be tough to find the right balance or appropriate action to take with some members who regularly contribute to on-topic discussions in valuable ways but happen to hold some reprehensible personal view.
  • We do recognise that discussions on these topics can be very valuable, and we do want to allow them in a way that will keep the community friendly, productive, and inclusive.  It is also not our intention to censor members of minority groups who wish to discuss their treatment in the industry, and we do recognise that this (temporary) policy unfortunately does that to some extent -- if you're a member of one of those groups we hope you'll be patient with us in the short term, and recognise that this is just a first step in allowing you to have a voice without some of the toxicity that has been cropping up recently -- these discussions will be allowed again in future, hopefully some time soon.
  • This is actually something we've done before, albeit a very (VERY!) long time ago, and it did work well then.
I have more to say on the matter, but I also have a 5 month old who needs a bottle, so I'll be back later.  Please keep your thoughts coming! smile.png

 

 
I don't have very much to say on the matter that hasn't already been mentioned by another poster...but I will say this:
 
I do not feel that this is an appropriate measure to take regarding this matter. It sends a very concerning message to members of your community when you take important conversation topics related to game development and the game industry (ex. Discrimination, Sexism, Racism, Foreign Employment, etc.) off the table for any period of time due to exasperation.
 
Unfortunately, these issues will continue to exist in the game industry and in game content whether they are discussed here or not. If we ever wish to see such things change, then we must at least be willing to have a friendly, self-moderated discussion regarding possible solutions moving forward.
 
To provide an alternative, I feel the appropriate measure would involve providing "guidelines" for such discussions rather than temporary "bans". For instance, a guideline could follow this syntax: "As opposed to verbally abusing another poster, address his or her point of view and provide your own in a friendly, nonabrasive manner". That is absolutely acceptable and doable, I believe.
 
Hypothetical Case Below: In short, I believe that it's better to engender friendly discussion as opposed to banning all discussion.
 [spoiler]Topic "French Fries are Amazing!"

Poster A: French fries are the best thing since sliced bread!

Poster B (prior to guidelines): No, they are NOT. You are an idiot for indulging in such a disgusting food!

Poster B (after guidelines): Well, not exactly. This study shows that it can lead to heart disease and other health issues. -insert link here- I would eat them in moderation![/spoiler]
 
I certainly hope that you understand that I do not wish to come across as insensitive in any manner to the stress involved in moderating a forum. If I continue to feel very strongly on the matter, I suppose that I can always begin another friendly discussion on different platform... Thank you for your time...

Edited by Onigiri Flash

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Perhaps it might be time to create a separate subforum that is focussed specifically on social issues and their relationship with the gaming industry. This would provide an appropriate area outside of the "social" content of the lounge forum. Policy defining the official viewpoint of the site could be posted at the top in a pinned locked thread as well the specific guidelines inherently needed to establish behaviours and provide direction to moderators within the confines of this subforum. It might also serve to to have threads created in this forum be accompanied by a default first post that warns potential viewers that the underlying subject material may contain materials that can be perceived as offensive by some and do not necessarily reflect the official viewpoint of the site.

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Again, the posting guidelines have always had this as a requirement: "Do not start a topic that condones illegal activities or activities that tend to incite flame wars, such as: drug use, killing, warez, theft, race, nationality, sex, and religion."

When these topics do appear from time to time, and when they are obviously inflammatory, the moderators and staff will remove the topics immediately.

Sometimes they start more carefully with mature discussion and continue with mature discussion, when that happens they are allowed to run their course. There are discussions that need to happen, but those are closely watched and usually carefully moderated. Usually these get some reminders to stay on subject, and eventually die on their own.


Unfortunately there have been a series of discussion on race, nationality, and sex that have not proceeded in a mature way. They range from petty bickering to severe personal attacks about beliefs. They started with mature and reasoned discussion, but quickly left the realm of quality debate and discussion. They turned abusive and aggressive. That isn't what the site is about.

Again, this is not a new rule. It is tighter enforcement of existing rules, but done with a bit more public visibility than normal.

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Perhaps it might be time to create a separate subforum that is focussed specifically on social issues and their relationship with the gaming industry. This would provide an appropriate area outside of the "social" content of the lounge forum. Policy defining the official viewpoint of the site could be posted at the top in a pinned locked thread as well the specific guidelines inherently needed to establish behaviours and provide direction to moderators within the confines of this subforum. It might also serve to to have threads created in this forum be accompanied by a default first post that warns potential viewers that the underlying subject material may contain materials that can be perceived as offensive by some and do not necessarily reflect the official viewpoint of the site.


This was tried on a marine aquarium hobby message board I'm a member of about a decade ago. It didn't work. You just cannot manage it and the result of the wars that went on spilled into the main forums. It sounded good, but was disastrous.

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Regarding Frob's comment: That may be how you intend to enforce the new rule, but it reads literally as :

 

(under problem topics):

Discrimination (most commonly racism and sexism)

 

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.

To anyone who isn't a moderator with access to how you intend to enforce the new rules, this states pretty clearly that the topics of discrimination, sexism and race are not to be discussed. I don't want to be repetitive regarding my early comments, but if this isn't your intention, this should probably be clarified. Again, if it's racism and sexism that you intend to be disallowed, why not just state that? The way the rule is stated now, you're sending a very different message to the community.

 

If you want to foster a welcoming environment, you may actually need to take a stand and enforce a welcoming environment.

Edited by Misantes

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Again, the posting guidelines have always had this as a requirement: "Do not start a topic that condones illegal activities or activities that tend to incite flame wars, such as: drug use, killing, warez, theft, race, nationality, sex, and religion."

...

Unfortunately there have been a series of discussion on race, nationality, and sex that have not proceeded in a mature way. They range from petty bickering to severe personal attacks about beliefs. They started with mature and reasoned discussion, but quickly left the realm of quality debate and discussion. They turned abusive and aggressive. That isn't what the site is about.

 

I don't think you understand why that line is problematic. mellow.png Nor have you considered my previous suggestion, which would explicitly alleviate the issue of abusive and aggressive commentary, as you describe. Is there a guideline for conduct regarding discussion of those issues specifically (one that engenders healthy discussion rather than forbidding all discussion)? That may be the source.

 

You should not simply tell people to avoid talking about certain topics because they "tend to incite flame wars". When you state such a thing in an official guideline, you are sharing a sentiment that your community is not yet mature or responsible enough to discuss certain topics in a friendly manner (which surely is not true of everyone, correct?). So...you have to ask yourself, why should newcomers seek any sort of advice from such a community?

 

The staff should revise this to the following: "be respectful of one another when discussing topics relating to XYZ". Let's attack the problem at its source and provide a more explicit outline of conduct. I feel that a [temporary] ban is a band-aid over a far more serious issue. The aforementioned revision will only benefit your community in the long run as it grows. happy.png

 

You are right--this site is not about abuse or aggression; this site is about game development. Allow individuals who are interested in resolving issues such as racism, sexism, diversity, etc. in game content and in the game industry at large to have a cordial conversation. Set new guidelines for these conversations. Remove the ban. Give warnings to those who are not supporting a healthy discussion. Allow those who are to continue to do so. We can discuss and find a resolution for these issues in exactly the same manner that we discuss resolutions for path-finding, mobile development, or rigging. This is a game design question. This is a world-building question. This is a story-writing question. This is a marketing question. This is about game development.

 

If we are not interested in discussing an issue, then are not interested in resolving it. So I ask that you revise the original guideline to support good-natured conversations that will make video gaming and video game development more accessible for everyone. Because that is ultimately the end goal (it is my end goal, anyway). I don't have all the answers. You don't have all the answers. Let's work together to find them!

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