Being Better Internet/Forum Citizens

I don’t really understand that logic because CoG and HG set their own guidelines. If there’s something inparticular that they don’t want to see in their games then they have every right to edit their guidelines.

I think it’s perfectly fine for CoG to make an announcement saying, “We have decided that we no longer wish to publish games that contain certain distressing subjects, and as a result of that we are updating our Hosted Games guidelines to specify that such content is no longer allowed.” I personally would be disappointed if this happened, and I might even stop writing for HG altogether, depending on what the updated guidelines were, but I’d still respect that the company has every right to set their own guidelines as they see fit.

What I don’t think would be acceptable is if a game was submitted to HG that followed their guidelines 100% and they responded by saying, “This game is completely acceptable according to our own guidelines, but we’re still deciding not to publish it because of certain topics that might be considered distressing… We’re still going to keep our guidelines the way they are, though. Authors just have to guess what content we consider acceptable and what content we don’t.” Obviously, I don’t think HG would ever do that, because they’re extremely professional.


@avery_moore I would ask that you not make disingenuous arguments like this. These sorts of hypotheticals are extremely destructive to online communities.

Most people don’t read posts very closely. They skim them. Maybe they’re not native English speakers. Maybe their brain just glitches. But you’re heavily implying that we would do something like this, and then you disavow such a supposition in the final sentence.

This is how misunderstandings start. This is how rumors start. This is how people get EXTREMELY confused about what we have said and what we haven’t said.

If you don’t think we’d do something, then why put forth such a possibility? Why muddy the discussion with something you think is expressly deeply unlikely? Stick to what has happened or what is happening. It will help elevate your online discourse.


I’m certainly not trying to imply on any level that CoG or HG would ever do this. The reason I brought this up is because @Eiwynn seemed to be suggesting that they should do this under certain circumstances. I am saying that they shouldn’t, and that they don’t.


Really? I assumed that somebody has to read through a game first to check that the content is suitable. I mean, otherwise, a writer could just submit a game that contains nothing but grossly offensive content, make up the names of a dozen testers, submit it to HG and have it published.

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Again, you misunderstand my point. This isn’t about what you think. This is about other people reading your words and taking them in the wrong direction.

If you think Eiwynn is wrong, say that she’s wrong. Or better, ask her to clarify her position. Don’t argue a position which you specifically disagree with at length and then disavow it.

As I said in my last post, many people will misunderstand such a paragraph, and that misunderstanding sparks rumors and innuendo. Not doing this sort of thing will make you a better citizen of online communities.


As jason has clarified a few posts above, they do read stuff. I was misunderstanding things/misinformed


I don’t really understand how it could be misinterpreted when I clearly state that;

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@jasonstevanhill is saying that you shouldn’t spend paragraphs and paragraphs outlining a process that doesn’t happen and which you disagree with anyway. You do say you know they would “never do this” but it’s one sentence (the last one) versus several paragraphs of negative conjecture. As Jason says, people could easily skim and miss that last one sentence and take the rest as confusing—would they or would they not do this? Do they or do they not?

For what it’s worth, I think the company has any right whatsoever to reject any game they like, whether or not it abides by the stated guidelines: we do not have a right to be published, and they are not contractually obligated to spend resources on us to do anything whatsoever. It’s like a restaurant that reserves the right to turn any customer away for whatever reason: it’s a private business. To state that they’re “too professional” to ever do this feels underhanded.


(This is from @Dae-kalina, who’s been here a while but doesn’t have ‘regular’ status):

Interpretation is not a precise art. Guidelines and rules exist for a reason, but also you must remember beyond what HG/COG have as the primary publisher, there is still the third-party publishers–Google, Apple, and Steam. So understanding their guidelines and what will be and won’t be permitted on each of those is also essential to comprehend prior to writing a game.

Editing the guidelines is a potential solution, but the fact of it is, that’s an action that would occur after the rejection–until someone calls attention to the potential issue via flagging or speaking to an employee of the company itself, most of the ones who can make the final call aren’t playing these games until submitted.

As for a point made in your previous post about how you don’t understand how you could be misunderstood: Primacy, recency, and cognitive load.

People best recollect the first and last piece of information they read, typically. And especially with longer posts, people skim–it’s too heavy a cognitive load which is why breaking up information, such as making a page_break in a game is so essential. Most of your post was counter to the point you were trying to make, according to you, but again, your words do not exist in a void.

Here, and with interactive fiction in general, you aren’t the audience. You may be part of it, but the audience is larger than you and stating ‘that’s not my intention’ is not enough. Listen to the critique you receive, and try to understand how the perception of your words changes from when you write them to when others consume them. Ultimately you may have an intention, such as an author with their works, but if people aren’t comprehending, usually the burden of proof lies with the author. If your point is not making it across as intended, then you should revise. Also see games as a service if you’re interested in further discussion on the subject.

Dishonest or malicious intent isn’t the point. I don’t think that anyone was suggesting that. The point, again, is perception. How your words are perceived. And Jason is correct. Sticking to the events being discussed, being concise, and not deviating with lengthy discourse on a point you don’t even support are all ways to do this.


This is another example of (presumably unintentional) destructive behavior.

I understand that you don’t intend for people to misconstrue you.

However, people misconstrue things all the time. You have misconstrued things here. We very clearly state on the HG submission page: 4. Your game will be reviewed for content, and when that review is complete, you will receive a contract for your game.

I don’t know how we could be misinterpreted, but not only did Meeps misinterpret that statement, but you found it necessary to offer your negative conjecture to further muddy the waters.

I understand that you think you’re blameless in this, because you didn’t intend to be misunderstood. But, as said above, comprehension isn’t perfect. And as @rinari posted, cognitive load is something that you should consider when posting on online communities.

By opining about whether or not we review HGs before publication, you’re helping to bury the post that set the record straight, while offering nothing substantive in exchange. That’s actively destructive behavior.

Now, you may wonder why I’m pressing you in particular on this, when other people do it all the time. Consider it a sign of hope and/or respect. I think this is a concept that you are capable of grasping and that you could take a step forward in your value to the community by doing so.

As a rule of thumb, don’t offer negative conjecture in online forums–and probably in real life too. In both instances in this thread, it’s added nothing to the conversation, while potentially confusing bystanders.


That is exactly the problem with basing things on perception, everyone perceives things differently. I read the same argument that you and jasonstevanhill did and all three of us read it differently.

I come from academia, so lengthy discourse is not considered a negative thing. In fact, an argument of 4 paragraphs, of which one discusses an opposing viewpoint, is hardly considered excessive or “unintentional destructive behavior.”


Not really anything more to say, other than that I’ve decided to stop following this topic because I don’t really have any more thoughts on the matter that I haven’t shared already, and I think it’s pointless trying to justify myself to people accusing my posts of being “destructive behaviour” when I completely and utterly fail to see how they can be interpreted that way in any way shape or form.


(The above is text that @Rinari has put up from @Dae-kalina.)

So, in responding to that, I think that it’s a perfectly good piece of constructive criticism to be used between academics or between administrator and employee, but it’s not good for everyday people, especially people who don’t work for you. Normal, everyday folks do not have that sort of specialized training and cannot be expected to adhere to those kinds of standards.

Criticism regarding “psychic damage” also falls under specialized training. You can’t expect normal everyday folks to know what the heck is going on when someone uses that phrase.


I wanted to pull this thread out of the Dark Themes thread. So…voila.

There are a number of destructive (as opposed to constructive) behaviors that are quite common on internet fora generally that I want to identify and encourage everyone to try and refrain from committing.

  1. Negative Conjecture.

  2. Premature/Unconstructive Opining.

  3. Micro-aggressive Opining.

Negative Conjecture is the act of expounding about some (typically unpleasant) hypothetical. “Wouldn’t it be terrible if we got into a nuclear war with Russia tomorrow?”

Negative Conjecture is the rhetorical structure of a lot of “Fake News” and “Doom Blogs”: put an idea out into the world without regard to its veracity.

Now, as someone pointed out, arguing a counterpoint in an academic paper is valued. But online fora are not academic papers, and the discourse here does not rise to that of an academic paper. We’re better than public comments sections :grin:, yes, but we’re nowhere near the level of academic discourse. A key part of the art of rhetoric is understanding the context, venue, and audience of your speech.

Negative Conjecture is destructive to online communities because, as I said further up in this thread, readers of this (and other) fora are not precise readers. If you spend 90% of your post articulating a hypothetical point, and then disavow it, a significant portion of the readers of that post will misconstrue your point. Your intention doesn’t matter.

(If you don’t believe me, look at all the people that post in the beta threads asking for what my email address is. Or the people that make posts asking “when is the next update coming out” for WIP threads.)

This old thread about the release of the omnibus app was full of negative conjecture, and it annoyed the f*ck out of me at the time. People kept talking about how we were going to do DRM, and how horrible that was going to be, and how we were going to lose our user base…when we never said anything about DRM. Instead, people got worked into a tizzy over these hypothetical conjectures that had no basis in fact. Or how people who had purchased stand-alone iOS apps were going to have to re-purchase games in the omnibus. Or half-a-dozen things that had no basis in fact.

(@MeltingPenguins, I think this might have been the context of what I was DMing you about.)

Moreover, I would ask, what is the purpose behind negative conjecture? If you find yourself talking about a possible future–especially in the context of what COG/HG will or won’t do–I would suggest stopping and asking why you’re spending time articulating a point and what evidence you have for such a situation. Are you contributing to the discourse by offering your opinion? Are you just talking to be heard? Are you exorcising your anxieties?

Premature and Unconstructive Opining is the act of, for example, offering an opinion/comment before reading to the end of a thread. Before you comment on a thread, I would strongly suggest reading to the end of that thread to make sure your point hasn’t already been made, or that your point hasn’t already been proven wrong.

Again, in the context of online fora, people are not precise readers. If three or four posts articulate one side of an argument, and only one takes the other side, but said other side is the correct/accurate one, a casual reader can very easily come away from the conversation believing the incorrect side because the preponderance of the verbiage was on that side.

Micro-aggressive Opinions are trickier. One of the great metaphors for opinions is that “opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.” Opinions, especially unsolicited opinions, can be micro-aggressions. This happens all the time in case of, for example, parenting. People give parents, especially of young children, their unsolicited opinions all the time. This compounds the difficulties of being a parent, because these micro-aggressions are an act of violence. They represent the speaker trying to exert their will onto the world/another person, which can be radically demoralizing, especially when they’re trying to exert their will onto a small child.

Now, I recognize that this is a forum about creative endeavors. Threads about WIPs and published games are, implicitly if not explicitly, soliciting opinions from the community. And, in that case, sharing your opinion is wanted and valued. But in many instances—both online and in the real world—your opinion is not being solicited, and offering your unsolicited opinion is not helpful, it’s a micro-aggression.

If you want to give your opinion, but you don’t want to be micro-aggressive, the best way to do that is to ask a question. For example, someone my post in a thread, “Hey, COG, have you tried using FB analytics to narrow down a demographic to serve ads to?” That’s an interesting question. We may or may not respond, but you’re giving us the choice to do so. This is a great rhetorical device, because it invites dialogue between you and your interlocutor. More, it gives you the opportunity to refine your opinion through listening to the answer t your question and it gives you the opportunity to make your opinion more relevant to your interlocutor, before you offer your thoughts. And, really, what’s the point of an opinion? Is it to improve the condition of your interlocutor, or is it to engage in the act of offering it? Because if it’s about engaging in the act of offering it, then it’s about you, and not about the interlocutor.

But saying, “Well, I think that COG should use FB analytics to narrow down a demographic and serve ads to them to boost downloads. Why haven’t you done that? I deserve an answer to my question. It was a simple question, why can’t you be bothered to give it an answer?” This is like you showing someone else your asshole and demanding that it be kissed. And, I’m sorry, but a lot of people don’t like kissing assholes.

(No judgement if that’s your thing, mind you.)

Which brings me to my final, summary point: empathy. I think this is a key thing lacking from most online discourse, and is the crux of my rebuttal to @Carlos.R: you don’t have to be a specialized clinician or psychologist to try and consider what the impact of your words might be on another person. That’s the glory of asymmetrical communication: you have time to consider your words. Think about whether what you’re saying is about them, or about you. If it’s about you, does it really help the interlocutor to hear those words? Or is it just about aggrandizing your ego? Are you adding to the discourse, or are you “just offering your opinion?”

Because I’ve had enough of people sticking their assholes in my face and demanding that they be kissed.

I will probably keep this thread largely locked, and use it to identify instances of these behaviors, as a way to try elevate the level of discourse on this forum.

If I call you out, please try not to take it as a crushing blow; and I will try to use mine own empathy to be constructive in my criticism. But the best way to be instructive is to give solid examples of misbehaviors, and calling those moments out as they happen is the best way to do that.

If you want to nominate a moment for discussion here, please feel free to link a comment to me in a DM.


This seems largely true to me. I’d point to this negative speculation as something that I feel like I’m frequently countering here in many small and large ways… including the incredibly frustrating thread about Gilded Rails where I repeated over and over that “we used a sensitivity reader” and “non-native English speakers/non-Americans don’t have an understanding of nuance here” though ultimately even white Americans refused to countenance that “Negro” isn’t racist. Until black people told them it wasn’t.


I just wanted to say a brief thank you, since you managed to articulate a lot of things I haven’t had words for in a clear and concise manner. Now I know why I have been so bothered by certain things I’ve read in here, and I am just glad that I didn’t leap in and add to the discourse.


I muted the last thread, but decided to respond to this one because it came up in my feed that the thread had been split into another topic titled “Being Better Internet/Forum Citizens”. I’ve got to say that I do feel personally quite upset by this thread because it feels like you are putting me up on a pedestal as an example to the community of what a “Bad Forum Citizen” is. (That may not have been your intention, but that’s certainly how it comes across to me.)

I find this particularly important since a lot of your comment focuses on the topic of “micro-aggression” and specifically says,

I guess the point I want to make is that I would like you to consider the possibility that some of your own comments could be considered “micro-aggressive”. In fact, I’d say that it’s more important for you to consider this than anybody, because you are the head of the community and other people are going to follow your example.


Don’t feel upset, i am sure Jason never meant to specifically refer to anyone … problem with the word in text is that… we won’t be able to intepret the actual meaning without talking to each other face to face , because we won’t be able to hear the tone of the speech… misunderstanding could happen …

Perhaps we could view this like a discussion among friends in a coffe shop ? Where we argue but with no ill intention :slight_smile:


I really don’t think Jason wanted to say anything like “you’re a bad forum citizen.” Instead, he’s pointing to something that many forum users do, frankly all the time: which is–negatively speculate about what the company will or won’t do. Maybe the example he picked here, which was your comment, wasn’t the best example. And certainly calling out examples makes the people responsible for them feel singled out. So let’s not single anyone out.

My overall experience interacting on the forum has often led to interactions I find really strange. Let me begin by digressing and preface this by saying: this is my job. It’s a job in the gaming industry, which I guess to outsiders seems like I do “fun” for work. But work is work. Whatever your job is–it’s a thing you have to do and do well in order to put food on the table.

So: my experience here is often people attempting to borrow trouble. People like to theorize about stuff, stuff that relates to my job, and it…just doesn’t do any good.

Forumgoers often pose extreme counterfactuals that just have zero basis in reality. It happens a lot. Read the threads I’ve excerpted from above. No one wants to make an example of you, personally, or shut you down, but saying “COG might do this or if they did that,” people constantly characterizing us and making guesses about things that people know nothing about, rumor mongering that goes on behind the scenes “Jason will do this,” “CoG won’t publish my game because I said/did X or Y” …let me say that we have bigger worries than some kind of personal vendetta against anyone on the forum. The most we try to do is keep things here civil. Maybe I’m a little bitter, but you know, it would be great if everyone could stop assuming the worst–I think the example of the “Oh noes they’re going to do DRMs with the Omnibus” is probably a better example than your comments about HG, but…I’m sorry, they’re in the same vein.

And we’ve published 99.999999% of everything submitted to Hosted Games. Period.


Last night I thought a thread like this would be a good idea and here it is. We should use this as a possibility to share tips to help our discussions here in this forum. I will share some of my thoughts and experiences with you and I hope others will follow, so everyone might find something useful for them.
But first @Avery_Moore I really do not think, this was made against you, I can of course understand that you feel offended, but please don’t. Ithink it was not meant this way it is like @Eric_knight said, most disputes only are the reuslt of not being able to see or hear the other person. The missing of gestures and tones in writing is a real disadvantage. So we should share tips to avoid someone to be singled out or feeling bad after reading a text.

So I want to start with giving my piece of maybe helpful tips to anybody who might read them:

State your argument in the first sentence of the paragraph.
like @jasonstevanhill stated there are people who do not read every text word by word. I must admit, I am such a person. English is not my first languege, and while I understand most things there are little words and meanings I just can not grasp because they have another meaning than I expected. I had this especially in the discussion about the wayhaven chronicles, where the word angst was used witch had a slightly different meaning than our german Angst. Because of that, and because I’m quite lazy sometimes I might only scan a long text to determine if it is important for me to read it. So catching the meaning in the first sentence is quite a good thing for me.

Explain your argument in the first sentence in a way, your ten year old neighbour would understand. So you can make clear, that mostly everyone understand what you are trying to say. It is always a good thing to remind yourself that other people are different. Some might be not fluent in english, understand things different because of a different culture or just are not as clever as you are. So making clear what you want to say, is a really important thing.

Do not answer directly after a post has offended you.
You might feel quite calm, but there might be an aggressiveness in your writing that you are not aware of. Take a few minutes to order your thoughts or take a short time to relax. After you feel a little better you can post in a more objective way.

Summarize what you think the person you are answering to means.
That comes in handy when you feel a discussion is running in circles. This way you can check if you understood each other really and can agree to disagree or if there is a misunderstanding which could be cleared.

If you want to criticize someone, make that person a compliment before doing so. It helps to remind yourself that on the other side is a real person with feelings. It shows that you mean well and took some time before jumping in the discourse. And it greatly helps to keep conversation in a polite and nice way.

Do use more “I-sentences”, it’s better to say: “I think about this differently” than “you are wrong”. It sounds a lot less accusing that way. Also you make yourself and your feelings clearer when you concentrate on what comment do to you, than saying to someone what he meant( or what you understand from it).

So that was my piece of mind, would be cool if other user would share tips they have. Have a nice day.