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Author Topic: Moderating question (split from Bad Taste)  (Read 2176 times)
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: June 14, 2004, 01:23:33 PM »

Quote from: Doctor Xero

As to how I would deal with those postings which I find offensive . . .

Well, I'll ask this to Ron Edwards or Clinton R. Nixon (or any other administrators I may have accidentally left out) : what would you do if a member of The Forge chose to post a work-in-progress RPG based on the film Birth of a Nation, in which players acted out a glorified Ku Klux Klan rescuing a beleaguered South from the recently-emancipated former slaves?


I'm not an administrator, but would like to say my piece anyway. Any kind of censorship is abusive, and even more so is the kind that's based on no more than some kind of good taste.

Truth is precious because it's persistent, not because of any other quality. If lies were somehow concordant with fact and the world, they'd be truth. That's the only distinction. Truth is not truth because it's beautiful or because you or I agree with it, only because it's true.

Therefore: limiting free speech in any way is detrimental to pursuing truth, because the matter at hand (and by implication it's converse) is left bereft of chance to be tested. If you claim a truth, be ready to defend it and hear the opposition, because if your truth breaks before it's opposite, what kind of truth can it be? Truth is persistent and unbreakable, because it cannot be disproven.

Therefore: although a given moderator can certainly limit what issues are considered within his purview, he certainly won't further any intellectual goals. He won't even help the people offended by the subject matter, as either they are left bereft of a chance to hear the truth (if they are wrong), or the offending party is left in darkness and driven away (if they are wrong). In either case truth is left unspoken and untested, and will wither away.

Therefore: if I were a moderator, I'd take the above example game in stride. If I started to repress any opinions I don't agree with nobody ever could become wiser than me, and certainly I myself would never meet any additional wisdom. It's stunting my own growth to close away new ideas.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2004, 08:41:20 PM »

Hello,

Eero, at the risk of veering this thread into a Site Discussion topic (and I'll do some splitting if people wanna run with me in this direction), I direct you to My game idea thread, which understandably led a ton of people to send me semi-hysterical emails and private messages.

You can see my moderation of the thread, and I'll also reveal that I very sternly told most of the emailers and private-messagers to quit hyperventilating and deal with the thread exactly as they'd deal with any other - if they wanted to help, do so, and if not, then don't participate.

I greatly admire the folks who went on to participate in the thread, because, bluntly, they called the guy's bluff. In my opinion, he was trolling, happily anticipating 88 pages of posts of baffled and angry protests and wrangling among responders - and he got exactly what the Forge does best: hard questions about how the game plays and does what it does.

If he had been any kind of game designer at all, he'd've had answers for us. He didn't, and thus, he wasn't. The Forge community demonstrated its considerable power in that thread not by cracking down on "unacceptable" content (and believe me, speaking for myself as a simple person, his content was abominable), but simply by putting all the cards on the table and not taking the sucker bait.

Best,
Ron
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2004, 11:30:15 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Eero, at the risk of veering this thread into a Site Discussion topic (and I'll do some splitting if people wanna run with me in this direction), I direct you to My game idea thread, which understandably led a ton of people to send me semi-hysterical emails and private messages.


That's what I'd expect of an enlightened dictator, really. I did not mean to imply that I have any problems with how you run the site.

Therefore, I'm at loss about where this discussion should actually be going next. As the good doctor said and as I've intimated a couple of times, the original question is kind of a non-issue as long as there is no proper context. I can certainly talk about, for example, "how do I make my game non-offensive to mainstream and artistically significant at the same time" or other similar topics, but there's nothing to be said about good or bad taste in general. Sirogit: tell us more about the cultural context you want to handle good taste in, so we can maybe make some ground rules about what's offensive. Then we can answer the question of "can I use offensive material in my games?" which you posited at the start.
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Doctor Xero
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2004, 07:29:15 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
You can see my moderation of the thread, and I'll also reveal that I very sternly told most of the emailers and private-messagers to quit hyperventilating and deal with the thread exactly as they'd deal with any other - if they wanted to help, do so, and if not, then don't participate.

At the risk of sounding close to trolling, I have to ask : why then has there been no concern apropos the "hyperventilation" over alleged gender differences in various threads (on both sides -- I will not pretend I was not one of the posters who occasionally became vexed)?

I guess I'm just confused that people simply asked game design questions about a game with a +1 corruption for "cuacasians" yet argue scientific and scholarly studies (and far too much anecdotal "evidence") about a game claiming greater realism with a -1 intelligence -1 empathy for males and a +1 wisdom for females.

If this question can't be answered without accidental incendiary repercussions, please ignore.  Thanks.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2004, 10:48:56 AM »

Hello,

The above posts were split from Thoughts on poor taste, and you might have to check out a couple of the posts remaining there to see where these came from - it wasn't possible to split fully.

I'll start by saying that I agree with Eero's comments on censorship and discourse in full. That's exactly what I try to go by as content moderator, and I hope that the racist-game thread I referenced demonstrates this approach. I also agree with Doc Xero's points in general in the parent thread about bad taste and similar issues.

Now, Doc X, about the gender stuff, I regard most of the threads we've had at the Forge about gender this-and-that to be among the dumbest, most worthless ever in the site's history. Not due to the topic (hell, I sell a whole game supplement on the topic), but rather due to my observation that nearly everyone who participates has an ego-based agenda. They don't want to present a point about gender dynamics or characteristics; they want to be appreciated by others for making that particular point.

I suggest that in discussing gender issues, people are nearly always engaging in actual gender interactions as a kind of matrix for the discussion. It's like a bunch of college students discussing sexual contact in a late-night dorm room discussion; ostensibly, they are raising points to one another and comparing those points, but all of this is going on in a complex dance of who, eventually, is going to get to fuck whom, and when.

Except that in the case of gender-issues discussions on-line, the crucial variable is not opportunity, but rather self-perceived esteem. Who can be the most "aware"? Who can be the free-thinking iconoclast? Who can "tell it like it is" and be soooo not-PC? Who can take (and hold) the moral high ground? Who can be appreciated for what? It's a struggle over who gets to play certain roles, assessed in part by how well other people feed back expected responses to attempts to play those roles.

So in the recent spate of threads about this, what happened? I moderated it severely.

"What," you say? "I didn't see any." Well, on the one hand, you might simply have missed my posts in this regard. There weren't many of them, but I do think the timing-limit I set on posting was pretty significant. I even shut down a person publicly in the forums, bluntly limiting his right to post, which isn't something I do often.On the other, you didn't see any of the private messages I slung here and there, some of which had a positive effect and some of which didn't. Most of the people who I consider to have posted emotionally didn't get any messages about it, as I decided they would be too defensive to receive any moderation anyway.

Also, rumors to the contrary, I don't try actually to control the content of threads. In some cases, I just let things flare for a while, in a kind of "Oh, let'em get it out of their systems" way, especially for issues in which moderator-posts like "Hey! Settle down!" are automatically construed as taking a side. When people are that fired up, moderating isn't really possible - I have the choice to shut it down or to let it boil for a while.

Anyway, there's your answer. I did, as it happens, moderate those threads.

Best,
Ron
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