Moderation and Forum Norms

Right, and some are just informative: I stuck a note on an account the other day saying something along the lines of “I think this account is a bot, but I’m not 100% sure”. I’d rather not assume incorrectly, and ban a legitimate user, so was erring on the side of caution. But the note is now there to help guide any further moderation decisions should any future behaviour further support (or disprove) my thinking.


FWIW, we weren’t doing notes in 2017. :slight_smile: This is news to me too.

Sounds like a helpful system.


It was just a example, but i understand why the system is there now :slight_smile:

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Just saw that James Shaw is pulling the Relics series from HG. I hope he reconsiders… but I also think the fact that he’s cross enough to make the announcement ought to be a wake-up call.

There’s no reason that a small game company has to have this adversarial a relationship with its online communities, catching up a growing number of authors in the process.

I was a CoG mod years ago. I know it’s a tough gig with constant judgment calls, and anyone who does it for the long haul (as the staff in particular have to do) is going to get some degree of burnout from the steady flow of people being jerks. Malin’s words from earlier in this thread are always worth remembering.

I’m also aware that online moderation culture has broadly moved away from the way we did it a decade ago. The idea that good ideas drive out bad ones, so we should take the time to respond to people who are wrong but not obviously trolling, now seems naive. Staff (for whom this is a tiny fraction of their job responsibility) and mods (volunteer forum members) get too tired to keep up more intensive engagement with “problem users” or explaining and justifying moderation decisions. The CoG forums are hardly the only online space where silencing posts, shutting down conversations, and banning people have moved from being a last resort to a frequent one.

But I think the new content moderation consensus is also breaking down, as its forum management tactics poison communities. The normalization of authoritarian tactics doesn’t produce safe spaces or healthy conversation. Reemphasizing transparency, de-escalation, and diplomacy would go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary blowups like this. I hope we can see that shift, whatever James ultimately decides.


Jeez, all it would take for this to be averted is not being a dick who can’t accept any non-positive opinion. Surprise, people don’t like you shutting them up under the pretense of caring about the author. Author didn’t even visit the bloody thread, she / he / they can certainly do it without whiteknighting from the staff itself.

Besides, if I were mad about my book being trashed, I’d come into the thread myself. No need to bloody white knight someone who doesn’t seem to care much about the reception - they certainly didn’t mind critique of Rent-a-Vice.


It’s not a pretense, @vera, and if you weren’t so pissed off I think you might be able to see that. Seems clear to me that @Mary_Duffy cares about both the author and the work.

There’s been a lot of toxic, assholish behavior in the response to the SotS nomination. I’m not writing to defend that, still less to critique Natalia for not diving into a corner of the internet that doesn’t like his work.

But a standard playbook designed to be used against trolls is now being used too widely and alienating too many non-troll forum members. It’s time for a rethink.


All I asked for was that if people don’t have anything nice to say for them to please not do it in this thread to prevent a fight that’ll end with actual moderation being done.

There were no suspensions that happened from it and a singular warning saying it wasn’t even directed at them and more a blanket request to please not fight in an announcement thread over a game.

It has been agreed that there needs to be a rethink in the process of announcing games and we’re working on ways to allow for feedback, critiques, and the like to be done on its own specific thread.

The issue is that ultimately there is this lingering feeling of distrust that I don’t have the capability of solving by myself. I can’t make people realize that most of the time when I step in nothing happens to anyone except for a formerly flashing background. People get aggrieved and then they go to their friends and rage about how unfair it is and then you can’t fix that.


Toxic? It didn’t seem that bad to me and reactions were mostly reasonable. Calling any negative opinion toxic isn’t really a way to go.


This is a really insightful comment.


I’m glad this discussion is happening. A few months ago, I was considering starting a new topic and title it something like “A Case For No Moderation” as I do believe that this (or any other forum) does not need people censoring and “protecting” users from mean letters on a screen.

Most of us, (if not all of us) here on the forum are adults; we don’t need other people (people whom we didn’t get to elect for such a position) to coddle us and hide opinions we don’t like from us, and I say that as both an author and a user. If somebody is being obnoxious or hateful, I can easily ignore them or tell them to fuck off. I don’t need “anti-troll” measures or silencing of “wrong” opinions.

Anyway, I don’t expect my opinion to change anything, of course, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to share it! :blush:


I’m sympathetic to your position here, but I do think it’s worth noting that creating what you could term “positivity only” threads tends to create the impression that you are putting a thumb on the scale in favor of CoG’s buisness interests over open discourse. I assume the reverse (a hate thread targetted at an author with no positivity allowed) rightly would be prohibited.

I don’t think any of the mods here have bad intentions at all, and I totally see where they are coming from.

I think that when you are both the biggest publisher and biggest forum for discussing a genre, you incur a (difficult and unfair, but real!) obligation to go above and beyond to be seen as neutral, and not trying to skew discourse.

Edit: Mary reposted another comment of mine addressing the same issue in more detail, sorry for the redundency, it wasnt posted when I was writing this.


I’m overall not feeling qualified to get in on this debate but I want to note that this, the forum, is not a public space. CoG/HG/HC, these are private companies and by joining and participating in their forums, we users are agreeing to abide by their rules and their moderators while we’re in here. I understand the debate going on is about whether those rules are reasonable, but it isn’t fair to the situation to call into question the right of the moderation team to be the ones in charge.


It is not my duty to help promote any form of narrative. I mean, I’m personally on the left on a lot of issues but I frankly don’t care if you’re a conservative. If you’re being a jerk and you’re a leftist who breaks forum norms you’re getting your flagged post approved. Just as much as on the right.

People aren’t all the same what works for @Rustem_Khafizov and @vera won’t work for others. I can’t assume that people will always be okay with a post basically implying they have the intelligence of a six year old.

Especially if they have friends on this forum who will rise to defend them and start an argument and it escalates.

Most of the worst tensions rise when others step in to defend their friends, published authors they like, or aspiring authors. It’s why the first line of defense is the flag function because I can’t be everywhere at once. If you go and have an implicit agreement in your thread as the WIP author to not flag and handle things in-house than that’s something I can’t really stop.

However, if someone is consistently attacking others or an author it has to be handled and usually it isn’t handled harshly.

We don’t name and shame people on this forum for why we ban if we do. You get a sentence or a couple more at most. If you really earned a ban, chances are the post that got them suspended forever is deleted so even if you want to be a sleuth and read their activity to see what happened you most likely can’t.

Proper discourse where people disagree with each other and do it and even if they get heated is fine. Nobody will get banned for vehemently disagreeing with people. What gets people in trouble is if the attack gets personal or it’s clear they’re arguing to just argue or bait out disagreements.

We all know what those posts are like.


Reduplication is fine! Also, I may have been misreading your first comment. I didn’t realize you were arguing for “neutrality.” I do think that the exact source of these kinds of conflicts is people’s refusal to acknowledge that the forum is run as part of a business.

I think the disagreement here is that viewing this as a space which is or should be by default “neutral” isn’t how the company views it. It’s a free (to users, of course…we uh, pay a lot of money for it) platform to discuss games.

But really, I would argue that there isn’t any online space, moderated or not that is “neutral,” and constantly calling out the owners and moderators of this platform for “bias” is like calling me biased because I love my mom and not your mom.



Please don’t take things that people post in anger on the internet as factual or true.

I’ll reopen this thread in a few days.