A note on "tyranny," kindness, and the reality of user self-sufficiency


#1

I’m gonna jump in and go double-meta: a post about a post about the community. And some other things I’d like to share about what I do at Choice of Games which I hope will illuminate a bit why the user in the tyranny thread is both a) nothing to be surprised about and b) something we should all be nice about.

About that thread:

  1. I think our forum rules and the reasons behind them are very sound, but it’s fair to say they are not always intuitive to new users, even when they have read them. There may be a better way to organize the rules such that when people do read them, the salient points and background on how things work here is better highlighted for new users. That’s something I’ll be looking at in the next week or so, and that the rest of the team will review when I have some conclusions about how we might re-organize the rules.

  2. We have a rule about not piling-on, especially w/r/t civility, and while there was perhaps a little repetition in the replies on tyranny, I was very glad to see people say things to the OP like “hey, you’re still very welcome to be here.” We are generally a very kind and open community, and it’s encouraging to me to see that. A+ work.

Now I want to double down on saying: Let’s Be Nice to New Users, In Particular Cases Like This One. Here’s why.

  1. The ingenuity, willingness to help, and general forthrightness of the forum is imperative for Choice of Games to function, at least from my perspective. I know and trust that the users here can help when I can’t/it’s not my job to help with someone’s specific need or question.

  2. Many people do not search first, this is a fact of life, more common than ants at a picnic, and it is not confined to this forum.

I will share that my lived reality is answering Google-able questions I receive at the support email every day. I answer these questions as fully as I can and I am happy to. In the past I was surprised that folks think it’s better? easier? I don’t know? to email me than to use Google, but it happens so often I accept that it’s just how things are. I have done troubleshooting for people who don’t know how to use their device, or have a technical issue that has nothing to do with a game. Why? Well, they didn’t Google it, they asked me, so I make a good faith effort to help.

Since August of 2015–my Gmail search function shows–6 different people interested in writing for Choice of Games have emailed me to ask the question “What is a CV?” Our page https://www.choiceofgames.com/looking-for-writers/ says interested writers should start by sending us their CV. If someone’s first impulse after reading that page is to email me to ask what a CV is, rather than taking the chance that a two-second Google search will clear up their confusion, I don’t want to know that about them. This led me to create a separate page, What is a CV?, because I honestly and genuinely felt bad about judging people who ask me this question. I consider myself a pretty non-judgmental person in general and when obstacles to maintaining that quality arise, I want to work around it. Hopefully, now that this page exists, no one in the future will ask.

All of which is to say: Patience. Kindness. Not judging. Be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove is basically the driving philosophy of how I interact with strangers on the internet.

tl/dr: Thank you guys for helping and being as nice as possible. Please be nice. We’re going to review how the rules are laid out so new users better understand them. Try not to be surprised when someone didn’t search the forum for an answer before posting because I encounter people every day who do not use Google. It’s mystifying, but it’s real. When I encounter it, I am nice, and I work to prevent having to encounter it. And thank you mods, who continue to do very excellent work keeping the forum tidy, and explaining the rules when necessary.


#2

Something that might help is clarifying the rule about bumping old threads.

I’ve seen more than one back and forth lately where people post new threads about something there’s already a thread for because they didn’t want to post on an old thread and are confused why people are telling them off.

Even if I were to search for something and find a topic that was similar to what I’m looking for, if the last reply is six months ago I’m probably going to make a new thread.

I mean that’s old habit from forums with different layouts, but if you’re looking to clarify some rules, that’s one I would suggest looking at.

It wasn’t super clear to me at first.


#3

Feel free to email me suggestions for wording/edits and I’ll incorporate them to my review.


#4

@Mary_Duffy I totally agree with you! :blush: I really felt like he was being more attacked, then he was being taught (don’t hate me for saying this, I still luv u guys) …I mean yes…he might have been in the wrong for stating it like that, but come on we are trying to teach him, not make him feel bad enough to just leave the forum all together.

Anyways idk if anyone else agrees with my thoughts, I kinda just splashed what I was thinking.


#5

One thing I’d consider implementing is a “rule” or practice that any thread opened to complain about a moderator’s action should be flagged and temporarily hidden until a moderator or administrator reviews the thread.

In our current case, a click-bait word that was deliberately chosen to provoke did just that in the title. If this particular thread was flagged by the initial respondents, a more unified and less mob-like “teachable moment” could have been created.

Tyranny is such a provocative word that I don’t blame any reaction to it but if hidden right away until reviewed by a true moderator and first responded by such, then the perceived “mob” could have been avoided.

Also, something I’ve seen in other communities - any moderator action was only questioned through private message or email. Any thread publically calling into question a moderator’s decision or action was closed as a rule to discussion.


#6

The forum search function and Google exist for a reason. People should be firmly directed to them. None of us are here to remedy a person being lazy.

That said, if a person indicates they used the search/google but either got nothing back or discovered they weren’t searching on quite the right terms at Google, I don’t mind jumping in and assisting.

However those that clearly made no effort to help themselves, I have no time for and will bounce them right back at a forum/google search.


#7

I sympathize, in that you’re not on the forum to google things for people, but I question whether it’s laziness or naivete. And reiterate that we want to be nice when we direct people to the search box.

  • Checks inbox * *Finds three emails asking Google-able questions * *Answers them all * *Rides a rocket directly into the sun *

#8

Also in defense of why I think people ask you what a CV is, there’s so many acronyms with multiple meanings that googling “CV” is no promise that you come up with the correct answer specific to what is being asked.

It’s some times better to ask and be sure, rather than try to figure it out yourself and be totally wrong.

When I changed professional fields there were several words and terms that no longer meant the same thing and caused me a lot of confusion. I probably annoyed some co-workers asking stupid questions, but I can also guarantee that would have been more annoyed had I not asked and spent weeks doing something totally off-base.

Have you considered making a FAQ with some of the more obviously “google-able” questions you get that you can just refer people to?

On a side note, in my experience working with ESL speakers even when I knew they knew the right answer they would often ask again just to be sure they weren’t misunderstanding.

I don’t know how many people who ask obvious questions may not have English as a first language, but when I took the time to answer obvious questions for them I almost always got nice follow-up emails thanking me for it. While English Google probably turns up the right answer to most questions, Spanish Google might not.

Thank you for all that you do. (: I know answering emails can feel like such a tough job but your work really matters!


#9

Google “What is a CV” or just “CV” and the first page alone is only relevant answers. People who asked were native English speakers or fluent in English. But hey, maybe you’re right? . . . Except the google results for google.fr and google.es, just the first two I tried, also gave me the correct answer as the first result.

We have an FAQ. It could stand to be updated.

I’m not saying my job is tough, I’m saying people asking googleable questions on the forum is to be expected; it’s not going away, so we need to be aware that that’s the reality, especially in cases like the original thread in question–please everyone be patient and kind to new users. Yes, let them know where the search button is, do it nicely.

I shared the example of What Is a CV because it’s a patent example of what I’m talking about, a fair example, I think. An unfair example would be someone googling “How do I romance X character in Y game” because there’s probably not a google result for it. Although . . . nevermind. https://www.google.com/#q=how+do+i+get+a+mate+in+choice+of+the+dragon


#10

I’m one of those weird native English speakers who did not know what a CV was - it was always called a resume and work history until I started dealing with Euros and started encountering CV while corresponding with them. So I empathize with everything @Mary_Duffy is saying.

Also, for some, the “magnifying glass” may not be an obvious symbol for search for some of us. Over the years, I’ve seen so many forum layouts and mock-ups that I rarely take anything for granted.

We as a community are lucky to have a wonderful home.


#11

One can be firm but friendly. In a few cases, it may well be naivete, but most of the time its people either not reading the screen they are staring at or not being bothered to search first.

Even I will sometimes post things along the lines of “I’ve not googled yet, but does anyone…”

Anyway, my opinion is that we should be encouraging people to help themselves first and assist when their efforts don’t bear fruit.


#12

I don’t know if this is already included in account creation, since I made mine before the switch to discourse, but could you make reading the rules function like a terms of use agreement that you have to check “I agree” before your account is created?


#13

As it stands, you’re awarded a badge when you read the rules. So you can see, in general, who hasn’t read the rules. But as a caveat–I read the rules for the first time probably on the day I started at CoG, and then signed up for the forum. So I read the rules but my badge didn’t get awarded until I re-read some items and spent a certain amount of time on the rules page.


#14

Well then you’re always going to have deal with the new users first mistake as if it was a freebie. “I didn’t know there were any rules or where to find them.” If you make it part of the terms of use there are no excuses.


#15

The reason i posted the thread in the first place was essentially that i felt the approach taken by the community and the mod was …i suppose high handed and self justified would have been more appropriate terms to describe my feelings on the subject.

The responses to it didnt really cause me to abandon the forum but i did feel it was rather pointless to respond so i didnt bother.

The counfusing thing is that i have seen people become enraged both when old threads are brought up by a new poster ((there was a term used for it that i forget(( and when a new poster opens up an entirely new thread about a subject covered in a older thread. So really its not necessarily allways the resonable
Clear cut environment many users seem to fanatically insist it is.

That being said my reaction was fueld by extreme annoyance that at least partially clouded my reason.

@Zolataya

While ill be the first to agree that the mentioned post was hastily constructed , im not sure what your talking about is anything other than blatant tyranny and suppression of dissent for the sake of convenience.

I mean just slamming any dissent that publicly questions the actions of a authority member is arguably a form of tyranny.

Hiding the dissent so no one other than those being called into question can see is again another form of tyranny or at least authoritarian censorship.

@Mary_Duffy

I suppose i was debating the validity of certain rules as well as certain moderators actions and way of doing buisness, rather than being ignorant of their existence.

Still , you get chastised for digging out old posts besides the fact that its absurd to expect people to dig through what can be thousands of posts and days of time only to come out at the end still lacking a definitive answer.

At the same time i do understand where the mods and forum members are coming from .


#16

First of all, nobody is “enraged” by this kind of stuff, more like mildly annoyed. Secondly, people only call it out when the thread is either a WIP or has for some reason become obsolete.

Because, as others have explained, it clutters the forum.

Nobody is fanatical for insisting that you use the search function before opening entirely new threads that clutter the forum.

Nobody expects you to look through "thousands of posts. All it would have taken is a cursory glance at the search bar and you have found the proper threads for your questions.


#17

@Jaskn_King The don’t post on old threads only applies to WIPs.


#18

This is frankly ridiculous.


#19

All i can tell you is that you have obviously had a different experience than i have with some of the forum members, and that you mis understood at some level most of what i said.

Ill sit here and debate this with you on the condition that you try and realize that im not here to troll , that what im doing isnt really trolling its expressing a opinion some people cant understand and/or dont agree with , perhaps im using langauge thats too inflammatory , however that shouldnt invalidate the point that there are contradictory rules here and sometimes they dont make alot of sense.

“Just look it up” cant be the response to every inquiry and issue brought to the table.

I really dont want to start a hostile debate. And besides i actually have a intrest in becoming a member of the forum without being considered the neighborhood troll and having people avoid otherwise perfectly decent threads just because i started it.

So, i apologize if ive offended.

@TheTrueKing
Which is why i started a new thread about the WIP. And it resulted in a conflict with a perfectly reasonable mod and a few enraged forum members.


#21

No worries, I’m aware you are a troll and I’m sure my fellow forum members are as well. Also, apologies if I came off as hostile, I’ll admit I was a bit annoyed when I was typing that and I shouldn’t have been so once again, sorry.

Back to the subject at hand, what part do you think I have misunderstood? Your main point seems to be that some users will attack others for both starting new threads and reviving old ones and that there is a unreasonable expectation that users pour through the search results to get answers for their questions.

I’m also interested in a civil discussion and so if I have misunderstood some part of your point please let me know.