Well...Let's Talk About This

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
20,355
Reaction score
48,986
I'm not here to call for his banning, either temporarily or permanently-- I am only here to support Justin's argument that refusing to address trolls personally, censuring people for responding to their bullshit, and closing down discussions they've disrupted is rewarding their behavior, particular that last one when shutting down any and all discussion of topics they don't like is the motivation for their behavior.

Allowing people to disrupt conversations with impunity until everyone leaves or you shut the whole thread down isn't anti-censorship; it's just delegating the act of censorship to your least reasonable members.

My concern here-- and you're right, I'm not privy to what's going on backstage-- is that a person or a group of people who do not like certain topics within the gaming community, such as safety tools or optimization or the moral content of certain settings, will be able to effectively shut those conversations down by consistently showing up loud and angry (or "angry") and turning them into clusterfucks that you then shut down. More or less with impunity, because of your admirable desire to moderate with as light a hand as possible.
I mean, come on. Fate has elements about it that make it harder to grok than GURPS (or Traveller or any game not so strongly and abstractly narrative. THIS is controversial. That is where they’re going to the mattresses, the hill they’re gonna die on, despite Fate being famous for the number of people that don’t get it (all new players, god I still can’t even fathom that one). At a local FLGS, Fate’s literally known as ”the game no one gets”. Shit, at this point, it seems like they object no matter how ridiculous because they can, and they know it will stick. Just keep repeating the same lie until it becomes the truth.

Politics is a de jur ban, but there are other emerging, effective, de facto topic bans here. If they were in the open, that would be one thing. That they’re hidden, however, is increasingly hard to take. Outnumbered, eh no worries. Outnumbered and outgunned, that’s Tuesday. Tilt the Rules of Engagement to favor those...maybe I’m getting too old.

A lot of people have expressed this concern over the last few months, and I'm not going to hunt down every quote, but I think it's time we discussed the problem thoroughly.

The TL;DR for folks is the belief that certain topcs at The Pub are consistently "shut down" by certain posters showing up and causing drama or otherwise derailing the conversation any time those topics come up, effectively creating a form of crowd-driven censorship.

The question is: how do the Mods address that? Is this a valid concern or is it just something one has to put up with in regards to free speech?
 

chuckdee

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
1,345
Reaction score
2,127
If you don't feed the trolls they can't eat your thread.
/end thread.

This is almost literally what I was going to post. Yeah, there's the 'don't be a dick', but there's also 'if someone is a dick, don't give them space in your head.' There's no need to reply, no need to even answer. Just... don't. It's difficult, and it can be unfair- but it's less Draconian than the alternative, IMO. And less trouble for the mods than to have to deal with such a fuzzy line.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,451
Reaction score
6,738
Unfortunately, sometimes the trolls feed each other in these parts.
There's also the ignore function if someone is really harshing your mellow. This is also probably where a gentle nudge from the mods should keep things in order and mostly does. I don't have any issues with the moderating here. A certain level of thread goonery is part of forum life and moderating won't fix it short of going the route of Big Purple, which I don't think anyone wants. Civility and restraint are really the only two tools needed here.
 

SavAce

Legendary Member
Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
146
Reaction score
391
I dunno what there is to be done from a Mod perspective. I do think that some behavior others see as troll-ish is not necessarily intended to be, but can nonetheless be frustrating. An example I think I've seen a few times goes something like this: "Here is a thread about a thing, I'd like to talk about this thing" Someone replying asks for clarification on the definition of the thing. The question, though... is this person asking for clarification on the definition of the thing because they want to get on the same page as the OP and get to talking about the thing? Or, do they enjoy debating the definitions of things as an entertaining activity in itself, or think it leads to a rewarding end? If it is the latter, and posters end up replying and going all in on the latter "let's talk definitions" tangent, then I can see how that is a frustrating derail for an OP, as their topic never get discussed in the thread they created to talk about it, it get hung up in this preliminary "let's talk about definitions" hell that may go on for pages. As a forum poster, I think it's a polite thing to try to check yourself on.
 

Bunch

E-Rocker is a goose.
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
8,931
Reaction score
14,375
I dunno what there is to be done from a Mod perspective. I do think that some behavior others see as troll-ish is not necessarily intended to be, but can nonetheless be frustrating. An example I think I've seen a few times goes something like this: "Here is a thread about a thing, I'd like to talk about this thing" Someone replying asks for clarification on the definition of the thing. The question, though... is this person asking for clarification on the definition of the thing because they want to get on the same page as the OP and get to talking about the thing? Or, do they enjoy debating the definitions of things as an entertaining activity in itself, or think it leads to a rewarding end? If it is the latter, and posters end up replying and going all in on the latter "let's talk definitions" tangent, then I can see how that is a frustrating derail for an OP, as their topic never get discussed in the thread they created to talk about it, it get hung up in this preliminary "let's talk about definitions" hell that may go on for pages. As a forum poster, I think it's a polite thing to try to check yourself on.
That's a solvable problem though by just saying I don't want a long dice into that and go take it to another thread if you want to.
 

Bunch

E-Rocker is a goose.
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
8,931
Reaction score
14,375
At some point I would hope people seeing whole threads developing just to address how disruptive their conversation style is would adjust how they behave here. It's really no different than saying please don't tell in church or don't interrupt the judge. Know where you are, what the roughly expected behavior is and abide by it.
 

Black Leaf

Whey Faced Poltroon
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
6,060
I think there's two separate issues being discussed here that have been wrapped into one.

1. Are there some posters who get so sensitive on certain topics it derails subjects in a way that leads to them not being discussed?

2. Are there some posters who get so aggro on certain topics it derails subjects in a way that leads to them not being discussed?

Both can be possible; the two aren't mutually exclusive.

As a general point, I think at least part of the issue is that we have both posters who prefer a friendly discussion and those who prefer rigorous debate. It would be good if we could somehow cater to both, although I'm not sure how.
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
3,035
Reaction score
4,593
To what extent is the assumption of bad faith the problem? That is to say, is the root of the problem the tendency to see bad faith in the things others say and then overreact? I think that's the heart of rpg.net's problem. The assumption of bad faith on the part of the poster is pretty much implict in the rules and moderation policies.
 

Silverlion

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
1,606
Reaction score
2,187
Ignore function and not engaging is your friend. Seriously. I don't know it needs a mod action, personally. If becomes a consistent poster that shows up to argue the same point with the same user wherever then maybe something needs to be done I still suggest using ignore.

But if it's repeated and consistent, then the report function at least allows mods to take a look at the pattern and make a decision. Though if you're not using the ignore function, or just honestly ignoring their posts, then it might need to be suggested to the problem (via the mods) to use those tools to the person being followed.

I don't think I have anyone ignored by function (not sure), but I also just don't post sometimes because I know with some people it's a waste of time.
 

Baulderstone

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
6,871
Reaction score
17,715
As a general point, I think at least part of the issue is that we have both posters who prefer a friendly discussion and those who prefer rigorous debate. It would be good if we could somehow cater to both, although I'm not sure how.
Personally, I find the rigorous debate tiresome when it comes to RPG discussion. I like talking about RPGs online, but it's because I like to hear the opinions of a wide range of GMs. It seems like most "debate threads" are dominated by people with already-formed opinions battling for supremacy, rather than having an interesting conversation and sharing ideas.
 

Stumpydave

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
176
Reaction score
436
I'm of an age now where I find the need to have my say or to be seen as the "voice of the one and only truth" has long gone. I figure let free speech take threads where they will, but if a pattern exists where those posters will derail said thread with no other outcome than a repetition of the same decade old arguments, thats when mods should take action.
 
Last edited:

chuckdee

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
1,345
Reaction score
2,127
As a general point, I think at least part of the issue is that we have both posters who prefer a friendly discussion and those who prefer rigorous debate. It would be good if we could somehow cater to both, although I'm not sure how.
I think that goes back to self policing based on your own tolerance. I like it more laid back, so when it goes aggro, I just try to withdraw. Just not worth it, man. Of course, that has the problem of leading to a divided forum where like congregates towards like. Not ideal, but again, not worth it to me to unravel that.
 
Last edited:

chuckdee

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
1,345
Reaction score
2,127
Ignore function and not engaging is your friend.
I agree with that second one, but the first creates a really strange dynamic in my opinion, which is the reason I never use it. You post, the ignored poster quotes your post, distorting it, etc, you don't respond, and others around you that don't have the poster ignored now have a different view of you and your posts than you do.
 

Ladybird

TRAHR
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
3,160
Reaction score
7,219
I think "crowd" is a strong word when it's a few posters with extremely strong views or grudges - some from here, some dragged arduously but enthusiastically over the internet for twenty years - over particular topics; and so when there's a topic they have a strong opinion on, they charge in, but they also can't be discussed with because the posters they're actually engaging with are on another forum, in the past.

I'm not sure that anyone is too sensitive, more than some posters have a hair trigger, or too much forum scar tissue as someone pointed out. Now, I don't mind when people disagree with me about something in a game or to do with gaming - it's just a bloody game, we aren't at each other's tables, we're just chatting - but there's a certain level of hostility beyond which the discussion isn't inherently fun any more and we're not going to learn anything from each other, so why bother?
 

Black Leaf

Whey Faced Poltroon
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
6,060
Personally, I find the rigorous debate tiresome when it comes to RPG discussion. I like talking about RPGs online, but it's because I like to hear the opinions of a wide range of GMs. It seems like most "debate threads" are dominated by people with already-formed opinions battling for supremacy, rather than having an interesting conversation and sharing ideas.
It can be, but it doesn't have to. Sorry to single you out Rob, but Rob Conley and I have had debates about stuff before that have been entirely animosity free and in my view productive.
 

spittingimage

hawwwk-ptui
Joined
Sep 21, 2018
Messages
1,461
Reaction score
3,273
I'm of an age now where I find the need to have my say or to be seen as the "voice of the one and only truth" has long gone. I figure let free speech take threads where, they will but if a pattern exists where those posters will derail said thread with no other outcome than a repetition of the same decade old arguments, thats when mods should take action.
I'm a roleplaying relativist. What works at your table and what works at mine might be completely different, but they both work.

Maybe we need a jousting forum where people can be directed to take their disagreements so the original thread can proceed without hot feelings?
 

Black Leaf

Whey Faced Poltroon
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
6,060
Maybe we need a jousting forum where people can be directed to take their disagreements so the original thread can proceed without hot feelings?

I did suggest that ages ago with little support, although that may have had something to do with the fact ZS was on the forum of the time.

I still think it could work but it would need some careful rules about stuff like the fact you can't start threads attacking people who don't want to participate.
 

Baulderstone

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
6,871
Reaction score
17,715
It can be, but it doesn't have to. Sorry to single you out Rob, but Rob Conley and I have had debates about stuff before that have been entirely animosity free and in my view productive.
I am definitely overstating my case. There is a lot of healthy, productive debate here too. But I think both you and robertsconley robertsconley are people who can have strong opinions while also being happy to coexist with people that don't share them.

The best kind of a debate comes from a genuine attempt to learn something, while too many online debates involve people who feel they already know everything.
I did suggest that ages ago with little support, although that may have had something to do with the fact ZS was on the forum of the time.

I still think it could work but it would need some careful rules about stuff like the fact you can't start threads attacking people who don't want to participate.
My big issue is that you can't really isolate anything on a forum. You can put two posters in a Thunderdome thread to fight, but all that heat they build-up there will still be there when they cross paths in another thread.
 

Bunch

E-Rocker is a goose.
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
8,931
Reaction score
14,375
I did suggest that ages ago with little support, although that may have had something to do with the fact ZS was on the forum of the time.

I still think it could work but it would need some careful rules about stuff like the fact you can't start threads attacking people who don't want to participate.
It's an idea but if you do it then you are signing all the mods up for more heavy moderation because it will spill over into other threads. Look we have one rule here which is no politics and some people can't follow that.
 

Black Leaf

Whey Faced Poltroon
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
6,060
My big issue is that you can't really isolate anything on a forum. You can put two posters in a Thunderdome thread to fight, but all that heat they build-up there will still be there when they cross paths in another thread.
Just to clarify, this isn't a call for a thunderdome or flame forum. (Those are never productive). In fact, I'd suggest a hardline "play the ball not the man" rule.

What I'm trying to do with the suggestion is more along the lines of finding a space for what Tenbones talks about here:

I *like* hot exchanges of ideas. To me, when people in good faith are going hard on ideas and not being personal about it, it's a great thing. That's how we test our ideas on either side of the topic. For me it has *nothing* to do with proving I'm right at all. I get zero value from that. I'm wanting to improve my methods by testing them.

So definitely not putting people in it; in fact it would have to be entirely voluntary to work without the heat you're talking about.

Look we have one rule here which is no politics and some people can't follow that.

This absolutely wouldn't be an exception to that rule.

What it would mean is that if people want to argue heated but non personalised topics (like the idea one playstyle is objectively superior) they could do so and people that don't want that could stay well clear. It's those two camps I'm trying to balance rather than people linedancing on politics.
 

Bunch

E-Rocker is a goose.
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
8,931
Reaction score
14,375
What it would mean is that if people want to argue heated but non personalised topics (like the idea one playstyle is objectively superior) they could do so and people that don't want that could stay well clear. It's those two camps I'm trying to balance rather than people linedancing on politics.
Uh yeah maybe just a bad example but having a heated thread on whether some play style is objectively better is just as crazy to me as discussing which 90's supermodel is the hottest. You can have it but why? You know there's no actual objectively true answer when you walk in the door.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
20,355
Reaction score
48,986
I assume if we have a garbage dump thread we wouldn't bother moderating it at all.
 

Bunch

E-Rocker is a goose.
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
8,931
Reaction score
14,375
I assume if we have a garbage dump thread we wouldn't bother moderating it at all.
Yeah well that's going to not be an option I'm betting as once someone realizes they can get away with anything they will. My suggestion is let the folks who want a thunderstone forum start one and see how many people show up. That seems to be how this place started. The difference is most of the people here seem to have fled the various other thunderdomes.

My 2 cents.
 

RandallS

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2017
Messages
49
Reaction score
88
Maybe we need a jousting forum where people can be directed to take their disagreements so the original thread can proceed without hot feelings?

This can actually work. During the 1990s, I was an assistant Sysop on GEnie's Huge Science Fiction Roundtables. The ones where all the SF/F authors hung out at the time. We had a "forum" called "Radioactive" where overheated discussions (or the messages that were overheated) were moved. People who wanted to argue less politely or whatever could continue there while everyone else could just stay the hell out of that forum to avoid the "radioactivity". Topics that staff knew would turn radioactive were often started there or moved there almost immediately.

This forum wasn't much extra work on the staff because all we watched for were personal attacks (note: actual personal attacks, not arguments that people who personally identify with their position assumed were personal attacks) and legal issues that could get the network in trouble. Here, you'd hopefully want to add "no politics' enforcement as the "no politics" rule makes one of the few RPG forum sites I actually read anymore.

I been running online forums since the days of Fidonet echos and while I would not recommend this for most boards, it worked well for the SFRTs and given the similarity I see between the type of membership and moderation style there and here I think it might actually work here as well.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
3,028
Reaction score
6,767
Honestly, I find this happens in two situations:

1. When people start telling people what they are REALLY doing when playing the games they play. As in, person 1 has experience in a system/play style. Person 2 who doesn't like that playstyle and has played it very little comes in to tell them how it REALLY works and that all their experience is false. Then if the people who have experience try to say "hey no, that isn't how that works" it devolves. But in all honesty I can't blame anyone from trying to explain how their games actually work at the table. I'm cool with Rob posting a 800 word on how GURPS works for him, and I'm cool with hawkeye posting 800 words on how he finds BitD works for him. I feel the accusations though tend to be that the latter is "derailing" but the former is not.

2. When a subject gets adjacent to something that could be perceived as political or "culture wars". Example, the X-Card type threads.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
3,028
Reaction score
6,767
(Also, I include the latest GURPS vs Fate thing as #1. Same thing from the other side (saying how it really plays). Fate is structurally different. I don't think it is so structurally different that it is any harder to teach or learn (in fact I think Fate is easier to learn), but I do think that narrative rules are different from what people like Rob/Tristram/etc do, and while I think there are generally more similarities than differences, but saying it isn't different is weird to me. That said, I find it is pretty intuitive to a lot of players and not nearly as difficult to grasp as people are saying).
 

Kilted Rob

Where's your troosers?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
654
Reaction score
1,922
If a serious thread is taking place and people are responding in good faith and someone comes in and proceeds to engage in bad faith and generally shit all over the thread I see no problem with banning them from the thread right then and there, no warnings, no strikes.. Do it enough times maybe they will figure out how to act like a grown-ass adult instead of playing a game of “lets push buttons and limits to make the mods spell out every little limit” instead of acting like a responsible individual.

I want to stress that I am not referring to rigorous and or intense discussion, but the very blatant acting in bad faith even when others are engaging in the discussion calmly and with good faith.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
20,355
Reaction score
48,986
If a serious thread is taking place and people are responding in good faith and someone comes in and proceeds to engage in bad faith and generally shit all over the thread I see no problem with banning them from the thread right then and there, no warnings, no strikes.. Do it enough times maybe they will figure out how to act like a grown-ass adult instead of playing a game of “lets push buttons and limits to make the mods spell out every little limit” instead of acting like a responsible individual.

I want to stress that I am not referring to rigorous and or intense discussion, but the very blatant acting in bad faith even when others are engaging in the discussion calmly and with good faith.

The issue is really identifying this as a mod, and not coming across as constantly reading the worste possible interpretation into posts.
 

Kilted Rob

Where's your troosers?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
654
Reaction score
1,922
The issue is really identifying this as a mod, and not coming across as constantly reading the worste possible interpretation into posts.
True, but there have been instances of bad faith engagement that were obvious. There is a noticeable difference between strongly arguing/defending a position and flat-out mocking and disruption.
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
3,035
Reaction score
4,593
Maybe instead of a garbage dump forum we need a trash compactor that deletes anything more than 24 hours old. That way it's impossible to follow the debate from the beginning.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,451
Reaction score
6,738
Maybe instead of a threadban they have to wear a title like Pink Neon Fuckstick or Triple Dipped Dipshit under their avvy for an amount of time appropriate to the infraction. Wear that asshole hat with pride!

Or we could be constructive adults but that's way less fun.
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top