Just wanted to say thank you to all three of you. Your reassurances made me feel a lot better, and I think I understand the points that people were trying to make a lot better now than I did before.
Thank you, Mary, for pointing out what I would guess the crux of the matter is. I agree with you. And at the same time, as moderator, I’ve been ever-so-slightly privy to the incredibly weird stuff that a lot Forum users don’t see and that must be really annoying to staff. So I get the frustratation that led to this thread, coming off the heels of the “Dark Themes” thread.
I am on board with the notion of “let’s listen to each other and not shout ill-informed demands at staff” that Jason and Mary noted. But I also feel so bad that @Avery_Moore was used to illustrate something out of proportion to what was said. There might be deep background here that I’m unaware of, but that’s my impression as someone who reads most threads. Avery, I thought your most recent post responded in a measured way to a really hard situation.
In the end, what I see is an initial post with 22 “likes” and Avery’s post with 27 “likes” with almost no overlap. This is making people take sides, and that is not what I want from this community. I would rather people flag troubling posts for moderation rather than have them referred to this thread. That’s what we tell people to do, at any rate.
I very nearly didn’t make this post. I write for CoG, and I volunteer for CoG, and I authentically like the people who make CoG happen, and I don’t want to piss them off. But the taking sides that I feel happening, and the clamming up in response to it (I know we’re in the Plaza so some people can’t reply, but still) makes me feel like things are escalating. I just don’t like it. This may be the moderator in me, but consider this a call for moderation.
I’m less concerned about sides being taken: I’m sure that happens all the time, about everything controversial here. Forum users have their friends here and, I think to be pretty blunt, staff members don’t. So I don’t actually pay attention to likes, though I try to give them out when I want to acknowledge I’ve read someone’s comment. My likes aren’t uniformly “upvotes” or whatever.
Anyway, all of this, including reviewing a lot of my posting history here in order to come up with examples (to contextualize this stuff better for @Avery_Moore) makes me wonder whether there’s really any benefit to staff participating on the forum. I’d argue that Jason is not the “leader” or “head” of the community. We’re a team of 7. Not all of us are here regularly, but that’s because being here is not really part of the day to day work of editing and publishing games. We don’t have a community manager. Maybe if we did, things would be different. But as it is: if some of the staff post here, answer questions, engage, none of us can be said to be speaking for the entire company. And I’m a little tired of that, too–we are different and we don’t always agree with each other.
Of the editorial staff I can say that we do have a fair amount of leeway and divergence in the kinds of games we publish. Maybe customers aren’t aware of that. A Jason game, a Mary game, a Rebecca game: they’re different. We bring different things to the table. Rebecca edited 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact; I edited Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate; Jason edited Choice of Magics. Those were all remarkably different and remarkably popular games. I edited Fielder’s Choice, Rebecca edited The Martian Job, and Jason edited Gilded Rails. Those were not particularly popular games this year.
So feel free to ignore what Jason’s talking about:
but don’t do it because he’s the one saying it. I see it all the time, too, and Jason doesn’t usually comment on the same topics as me. And let’s leave aside “negative conjecture” and talk about “micro-aggressive opining.” We get a lot of suggestions from members here, and they really are often phrased as demands rather than “Have you considered…”
And that is 100% a thing people here do. I’m not going to call out examples because I don’t want to make anyone the subject of them, but that is something that happens. “COG should do X” “It’s terrible that COG won’t do Y.” If you really want to engage and not have it be about you then feel free to ask and open up a conversation rather than demanding.
I can imagine. Writer’s get that a lot too. Not just about controversial topics either. I had one guy literally tell me, “I found the personality of one of your character’s annoying. His personality should be more like (random character from TV show I’ve never heard of.) Change it.”
Even if people aren’t concerned with “micro-aggressive opining”, they should consider that the people they’re talking to will almost always respond more positively to their requests if they phrase it as, “Are you doing A?”, “I really hope you do B,” or “I personally think that you should try do avoid C.” Instead of just, “You should do D,” or, “Don’t ever do E.”
Being a Better Internet/Forum Citizen is a very big, and frankly I think, an important issue in our current culture. These issues creep into every corner of the internet and has created a lot of ugliness that can also affect people offline and their mental health.
It is difficult because often it starts very simply. No matter how carefully you write and check your wording, it is still very very easy to misunderstand tone when put into text. Phrasing, tone, sarcasm jokes, tons of things can be misconstrued and misunderstood. And you lack so many of the real world context clues. You not only need to take this into account when writing, but also when reading.
So, given all of this, while it is hard, I really appreciate the attempt here to make the internet a better place.
Not really on topic… But I just want to point out that when people do this it’s probably not because they’ve read the rules and misunderstood them, but far more likely because they haven’t read the rules at all. (I’ve been told by many sources that asking “when is the next update coming out” is against the rules, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen the list of rules where this is specified.)
It’s here in the FAQ, to clarify, specifically:
(Image reads: Don’t ask when a game will be updated or released. Usually the author doesn’t know.)
Damn, Avery, what happened to my siren-like words about escalation and moderation?
That… Was certainly escalating yes.
Quite honestly, I intended to “escalate” the situation. Frankly, the fact that Jason hasn’t responded to my previous comment worries me. I think that this entire thread has been very, very damaging to the community and I think that Jason has a responsibility to set the record straight and reassure the members of his community that they won’t get in trouble just for disagreeing with him.
Give a guy a chance to respond, though, before taking it to the next level. It is Sunday and pre New Years and people go away.
I really want to say to slow your roll but I am not 100% sure that is used correctly and I am embarrassed to ask my kids.
… That’s very fair. I did just jump to the conclusion that Jason read my comment and chose not to respond. It is entirely possible that he simply hasn’t read it yet.
I understand that you don’t like me escalating the situation, and I will actually consider deleting my comment if you think that it’s for the best… But (considering the circumstances) I personally think it can be very beneficial to the community if they can see that a member of the community can publicly criticize Jason’s comments without getting into trouble for doing so.
Up till now I have been very, very, VERY careful with what I have said, and tip-toed around the issue because I didn’t feel safe expressing my real opinion. I don’t think that, “I have to be REALLY careful what I say around the boss” is a healthy mind-set for members of a forum-community to have.
It’s totally your call on deleting your comment–I leave that to you.
I’m not Jason and obviously I can’t speak for him, but I feel pretty confident that he would agree that reasonable and well-informed and civilized criticism is not only ok, it’s essential. I mean, that’s sort of what we are doing here in the WIP threads, so why would we expect any less when it comes to other stuff? And, look, if you can’t disagree with someone in a civil way, then a forum is a useless place. I do not speak for the company at all but disagreeing with each other in a civil way is what we all need to strive for. I have days of class where I do nothing but teach students how to do that in seminar.
The problem is when stuff comes out of a place of being ill-informed and unreasonable. It happens a lot. Like, a lot-a lot. Sometimes people don’t know when they are ill-informed and unreasonable. I do not speak of Avery here, but people in general making ill-informed demands.
For some reason, though, this is something that many people on the forum think. And it’s frankly annoying. So drop it. I’ve told other people to drop it, in fact, it was part of that thread about our beta process I quoted earlier. People are for some reason unduly intimidated by the staff. In the case I mentioned because they saw our beta process as literally being about “weeding out” bad beta testers. Which I and Jason both unequivocally stated it is not.
I don’t know what it takes to convince people that…I just don’t care that much about drama on the forum, but I assure you I don’t. I have other things to do like edit games and develop pitches, help my authors with their beta testing, wrangle production sidework, etc, etc, etc.
Poking Jason to respond is definitely escalating. You’re mad because you don’t like how he’s said what he’s saying? All I can see in your comments is “Don’t talk to us like that or tell us our unsolicited opinions are an act of violence, you’re a bad community leader.”
So I ask you:
If the anxieties you are exorcising amount to: a) I could be banned forum or b) “Jason” who seems to metonymically stand in for the company in your/everyone’s (?) mind, isn’t going to publish my Hosted Game because I said or did something he didn’t like.
So feel free to wax anxietic about it: a) If a person gets banned from the forum it’s probably for racist, homophobic, or transphobic remarks not this kind of thing b) we’ve literally never not published someone on Hosted Games, AFAIK.
I will put myself as example. I have committed many mistakes with years in the way of handle my commentaries and feedback. I have never wanted affect people but I did. Being sincere should be temperated with be empathetic and supportive and not demand or try to force people to follow your unwanted advice.
I am learning to try be positive and encourage people to do what they want and make them happy and still being sincere. Also trying not be grumpy and escalate further the hostility I am seeing lately in the forum.
Seriously I think all of us have to reflexionate about our own behaviour instead focus in others and what they do
Thank you, and I want to say that I have done my very best to stay reasonable and civilized (I may have failed miserably, but I can promise you I tried.) As far as being “well informed”, I have to say that I am definitely very informed on all of the opinions regarding this thread, not just the messages in this forum. People have said things to me that they would not say here and some of it is… “worrying” to say the very least. I have tried to express everything that they have said in the most civil and respectful way possible.
Just to be clear, I am not speaking about you personally, I have always found you to be extremely helpful and professional, but I think that it is unfair to say “People are unduly intimidated by the staff.” Granted, it’s possible. People are always going to be slightly intimidated by people in a higher position of power than them. Still, it is also important that people consider the possibility that… How can I put it… That the level of intimidation is not “unduly”.
If a person finds that a lot of people are intimidated by them, they should ask themselves, “Why are so many people intimidated by me? Am I doing something that causes people to be intimidated by me? What can I do to try and stop people from being intimidated by me.”
And what I saw from Jason before was, “I do not want to hear your unsolicited opinions. You are a bad community member.” Sometimes people can take things in a way that they are not intended to be taken if they are not phrased correctly.
I understand that I may have phrased this very badly. I am not a perfect person and I do not think my comments are perfect. I understand that by poking Jason, I was singling him out, which is exactly what you defended me from earlier (which I really appreciate by the way.) I understand that my comment may be received negatively, but I brought up a subject that I thought was extremely important in the most respectful way I could think of.
If you (or anybody else) has any advice of how I can change my statement, so that it comes across less aggressively and more respectfully, I would certainly appreciate your advice and change my comment to make it seem less volatile and more helpful and constructive. I really don’t want it to come across as aggressive, and am doing my very best not to come across that way. (In fact, it would probably have been a good idea to run this by you first before I posted it and asked, “what is the best way to phrase since so that it will have a positive effect on the community”. Wish I’d thought of that now.)
Believe it or not, this is exactly the point that I’m trying to make. What I am saying is that there are people in the community who do not understand this, and there is a reason they do not understand this. Certain comments have made it appear to people that this isn’t the case. The staff members have the opportunity to rectify that, (which you are doing right now and I appreciate it.)
Then maybe we can close this exchange (I mean between us, not this post, necessarily) for the time being by saying that the kind of rumormongering that goes on here, on the Discord, on other sites, in DMs, and in emails to us is more or less what Jason (and I) am talking about. That’s what the negative conjecture stuff is. Maybe you don’t like how Jason phrased things, or that your negative conjectures were the examples he chose, but …I can’t share some of the stuff we see privately, and you did your thing publically.
Let me be completely clear: I have literally had people try to tell me my job (and linked to a public example of it), and then expect me to thank them for it. Is it aggressive to refer to this as people shoving their ass in my face and demanding I kiss it? Sure, that’s an aggressive way to say that. It’s also a perfect analogy for what I and others on staff experience.
That said, and I will reiterate: I and others on staff aren’t interested and don’t hold vendettas or grudges against anyone in our community. It just…doesn’t work like that. Every forum member’s behavior here will always speak for itself to us, whether good or bad.
I’m a person. We all are. I do not know how many times I’ve asked people here to reach out when they have a problem and shown time and again how willing I am to make our customers happy. All I can do if people are intimidated is emphasize time and again why they need not be.
However, I would also ask members (intimidated or otherwise):
How many businesses they frequent that provide a free online community for them?
How many businesses they frequent allow unprecedented access and transparency about almost every issue and decision related to the business and are available almost 24/7 for support and to answer questions?
How many businesses do you regularly frequent where you know the name of even one staff person, let alone the founders?
If one of us has something to say about the interactions we’ve experienced here being problematic you could just sit with it for a minute instead of immediately reacting.
Mary, with all due respect, that last bit kinda reads a little as if you are saying
‘behold what we are doing for you and shut up’ Oó
I read it as “let’s talk together and listen to each other as if we were fellow human beings.”
I think the issue here might stem from personal experience. I had to deal with a few too many people growing up that would pull the ‘i’m the authority, you shut up’ or ‘i go out of my way to do the bare minimum for you, so be grateful’.
That left marks.
I trust mary to not be of that kind, but if you have people who experienced more of the half-empty glass than the half-full one, things get a different meaning and that’s from where troubles grow.