Monday, June 18, 2007

All the usual flap

It's that time of year again, when summer vacation is either near or here, and folks seem to be possessed of a fresh energy, just looking for ways to expend it.

Cue forums and their use.

While by no means is summer the only time when folks frequent them, many do seem to see an influx of users who now have more time on their hands, and a lot of pent-up energy to expend. Not all of them make wise choices in just how to go about that.

The past week or so there's been a number of issues crop up on the NationStates forums from this sort of thing that have given me pause, and offered an interesting insight to how various users think. It's also been interesting to see how the responses differ when a 'popular' vs 'unpopular' player is involved.

One was about ex-nation Hataria - a player who's come to have a well-earned reputation as being more trouble than he's worth to rp with in most cases. I can't count the number of threads in Moderation that have been posted by him whining, or by others complaining about him over the past while. He finally crossed the line, so it's been said, by threatening to sue Jolt or the NationStates folks, or whoever for not bending to his whims, and got his nation deleted - while still being allowed to create others and continue participating.

Now, as I said, the reputation was warranted. Still, throughout all of this there have been individual players, and groups of players, who've gone out of their way to bait and prod at every given opportunity, knowing how he'd react, and knowing he'd pretty much dug himself a hole with the Mods as it was, along with pretty much everyone else but the few who'd chosen to still try and put up with him.

They've been smacked for this behaviour before, but this time around, it seemed like they got away with more than they should have, all things considered. Granted, the Mods shut down the ridiculous landgrabbing that seems to result in some sectors when a nation goes inactive or is deleted, and a strong statement was made about any continuance of such gloating, but unless I missed it, I didn't see any real punishments for anyone other than Hataria this go 'round, which was unfortunate.

While it's one thing to object to ridiculous things when you're trying to interact with someone, it had turned into a constant posting by Hataria claiming whatever he liked, and by all accounts, disregarding negatives that had happened in previous threads, or just moving on and starting over without what his detractors claimed 'enough damage done', and then everyone and their dog jumping all over him for it. It was a vicious circle, with neither side willing to back down. He was determined to do what he liked, and they were determined not to let him.

On a free-form role-playing site, that can result in problems, considering no one is obligated to acknowledge anything anyone else does or doesn't do. Granted, there's the usual etiquette to be considered, one supposed, but there are no hard rules saying anyone has to adhere to anything but the overall rules laid out by the folks who own the boards to begin with. What the problem was here was a player who insisted on being problematic, but didn't want to deal with any consequences, and a group of others who insisted in turning it into a witch-hunt. I guess we'll see what comes of it after this - though damn, do I have to laugh at the idea of anyone suing over the loss of an account on a free forum site where the rules, and FAQ issues stating what rights players do and do not have are clearly laid out. (Not many, folks - it's free, and it isn't that hard to keep your nose clean enough to keep participating.)

Another less 'big and showy' one was Smunkeeville getting forum-banned not once, but twice in relatively quick succession over two entirely unrelated incidents. The unfortunate thing there was the player getting caught up in a heated discussion, and forgetting to keep herself out of the danger zone concerning posts while arguing passionately against someone who by all accounts richly deserved to get smacked.

It's another common problem, especially when players are discussing things that are either important to them, emotionally-charged topics, or all the usual controversial bits that tend to both draw a crowd, and bring out the worst in even the best of folks when the heat gets turned up. What's unfortunate is that generally well-behaved players have now and then gotten too caught up in either arguing their case, or 'pwning the troll' as the case may be, and have ended up in trouble on account of it. It's probably the main reason I rarely post on the General forum - I know my temperament, I know how cutting I can be when really riled up, and I know that it would all catch up with me eventually, and I'd be the one finding myself on the wrong side of a judgment call due to a number of the things that get discussed at length, repeatedly, and many of the personalities who tend to be rather involved in them who I know I'd end up clashing with.

Discretion being the better part and all that - I'd rather not lose the nation I've been having so much fun rp'ing with for the past what, 4 years now? Which brings me to the next bit concerning a somewhat controversial poster who's spent a lot of time on the boards, and who's supporters are up in arms over them losing their posting privs permanently.

Drunk Commies Deleted earned himself a Delete-on-Sight when he once again posted that he wished a group of people would be raped by AIDS-positive folks in front of their kids. He also posted an image that was found to be out of bounds, and unfortunately, a lot of players supporting him have seemed to be focusing on that more than the comments - for which he has been warned about before, specifically, saying that he was on his last chance.

This player has blown through several nation accounts, having 4 to 5 deleted for various infractions, piled up a number of warnings, and has been unofficially slapped on the hand numerous times. In spite of all of this, and the fact that he had been warned, and warned, and warned again, he has people arguing that the Moderators were too harsh. Mind, if this were some n00b off the street, no one would have cared, and some of these same people would probably have cheered.

Appeals for leniency have been many:
  • "But he's been here so long."
  • "But I liked his posts."
  • "But it's been two whole years since his last deletion."
  • "But the forum won't be the same without him."
  • "But other people ..."
  • "But you guys just don't like him."
  • "But if we don't have someone stirring things up, it won't be as fun here."
  • "But this one movie had something like that in it, and it's PG-13 ..."
  • "But I don't like your rules anyway, so he shouldn't have to stick to them."
As I posted elsewhere, I'm sorry so many players are losing a poster they had fun with - that's never a happy thing. What I'm not sorry for is the Moderators upholding their decisions, and keeping the site as evenly-moderated as a varied group of volunteers is able.

We all have choices. We're all able to choose what we post, and take a moment to consider it before we hit that send button. The rules are out there for anyone to see, and a good lot of them are just plain common sense. When a line gets crossed, and it gets called, there's going to be consequences. No one can honestly say this player wasn't warned previously about it, and those claiming he must have 'forgotten', have got to be kidding themselves.

By what's been said this guy is 32 years old. I can't help but think that by then, SOME measure of accountability for one's actions is to be expected. Not so, according to the many apologists who've been coming forward, pleading for clemency on his behalf. Obviously, it's the Moderator's fault for not being nice enough, or patient enough, or some other such load of hooey, according to them. Then again, there seems to be about as many or more players saying DCD got what he asked for when he chose to post what he did, again.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather not see the forums and their moderation guided by popularity, or whim, or to never know where I stand in regards to what I can and can't post. Now some will argue they still don't know, but I've found a majority of those seem to enjoy pushing the line and seeing just how far they can go before getting spanked for it, so take it as you will.

Debating doesn't need to involve personal attacks. It doesn't require name-calling, or an overabundance of foul-mouthed expletives, or all those fun fallacies that I've seen far too many try to get out of a meaningful debate either with, or on account of (right or wrong). It doesn't call for masses of image-spam, or off-topic bullshittery, or loads of insults couched just the right way so as to avoid official reprisals. Some folks get that. Some don't. Given the nature of the forums, I don't think we're ever going to see a time come where moderation isn't required - it's the nature of it, and people overall.

What would be nice to see more of is players willing to take their lumps when they've stepped out of line, and own up to their mistakes when they've been made (and not mistaken). Yes, it happens, and my respect for those players has gone up on account of it. All the same, I'm not going to hold my breath.

It tends to be human nature to want to 'take the piss' out of those who one disagrees with, or dislikes, and it seems the younger crowd overall finds it all too easy to do with little regard or expectation of consequences due.

All the same, here's to hoping things calm down, at least for a while that way. It's never fun to see more players get into trouble arguing over someone else's deletion or ban.


Blogger SpaceGhoti said...

Hey, I'm alive!

I see your posting has been about as active as mine. Although, I confess I've been a tad more active in LiveJournal. Political activism has had my attention for a while.

I'm sorry that I let my nation account go; it came as something of a shock to realize I hadn't logged in for too long, but in retrospect it's for the best. I no longer have the impetus to maintain the nation, so it's best to simply close this chapter in my life.

Hope all is well with you and yours, and that you're surviving the heat!

July 31, 2007 10:50 AM  
Blogger Allanea said...

Frankly, I regard the whole idea of debating the decisions of mods [on any site] silly.

It rarely ever sways a decision, and frasnkly the mods have the right to do what they want with Max's site because he's appointed them and he owns the site.

That is basically why I don't use 'unjustly deleted' tags on my sig or anything like that. What's the point?

November 04, 2007 3:55 PM  
Blogger SpaceGhoti said...

Um...maybe because you never have a leg to stand on?

November 08, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Nathicana said...

I've been remiss ... obviously I haven't had enough to rant about or some such foolishness. >_>

Dammit boy - that's you spaceghoti - you've been missed! Get your ass back online sometime and say hi to the gang!

Or if you ever have the time or inclination, we can titillate them with another steamy shower scene or the like. *grins impishly* There haven't been enough steamy scenes since you've been gone. NS is lacking. No need to revitalize the nation, just irc it and I'll post it for the both of us. ;)

Of course, since it's been so long since I posted here, it's no longer the heat I'm surviving, but the bitter cold, over which I shall again bitch loudly. -30F is ungodly cold, I don't care who you are. It is unnatural, and whoever is in charge of the weather this year should be sacked.

February 23, 2008 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This call to power person seems to be right on the money.

January 22, 2011 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat has always been 'tough but fair'. Like I said, Melkor has let things get personal before, but that has been noticed. Most of the other mods have been fine. I haven't agreed with everything they do, but that's not the point. Generally the other mods don't make totally ridiculous rulings and then back them up with hyperbole, deflection, and thread locks to avoid further conversation. That is basically all DLN does, however.

Wasn't there a rule that if you want to be a mod, you probably won't be? DLN went around for years acting like a mod while pulling a Eutrusca like 'smiley' (in the form of a signature stating she wasn't a mod) to get away with it. She desperately wanted to be a mod and eventually she got her wish.

She has never demonstrated an ability to be a fair, balanced, or consistent moderator however. Her rulings have always been childish and poorly backed up. Frankly, this should be reviewed, and she should either be mentored by a more capable moderator (or the team), or she should be removed.

So no. The system isn't broken. Just one moderator is.

November 22, 2011 5:13 PM  

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