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  #11  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 05:55 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

You'll find some, if not all, details here : http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=45498

The most relevant part imho is the breaking of the forum's own rules. Indeed, it's not a democracy here and everyone should know better than breaking the rules. I mean everyone. Including its moderators as their utmost reponsiblity is to ensure those rules are law, hard as steel.
You know what happens in real life when the police baffle the rights of a prisoner, as guilty as can be? He gets released because of it, regardless of his faults.

If Sombre was indeed that foul-mouthed, he rightly deserved a temporary ban...which he never got. As some have pointed in the above thread they couldn't have made more damage to the forum's integrity by breaking their own rules.

There are weeks that start with a sad, grey and rainy day and this is one of them.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 07:04 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdonj View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edi View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoBits View Post
I can understand banning someone if necessary, but I can't understand not even allowing a discussion of the specifics of it.

I mean, how do I know if it was warranted in this case, if no one can share information on it? Hm, perhaps I just answered my own question...
Had it only been discussion of the specifics, but most of those threads that have been moved were out and out spam as well as people essentially picking fights with other people who didn't catch the innuendo right off the bat.
That is an interesting, if blatantly untrue misrepresentation of the particular thread being referenced. While it is true that people got uppity in that thread, it was actually the people who didn't get it who seemed to be aiming to start a fight (and who were a bit rude to the OP, I might add). Of course, then certain freedom fighters leapt eagerly into said fight. But they did not start it.

The characterization of the rest of it as spam is a reasonable one. I wouldn't have said that though! Bad, bad idea.
I was asleep when that thread happened and I skimmed it when I logged in. The impression I got was that people who missed the innuendo took it as a serious discussion and got mocked for it and told they don't have a clue. When they asked what it was about then, more mockery. At that point it's hard to blame them for getting riled, since it is a rather unreasonable expectation that everyone follows everything that is happening on the board religiously all the time.

The post you quoted reflects that impression. I do not intentionally try to misrepresent anyone or anything, so apologies if I did give the wrong impression.

As far as more information, I need to hear from Annette before I say anything else. Her comments in the thread Kheldron linked were a bit on the terse side and rather clear on how much information would be provided:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annette View Post
Absolutely, the details of the violations have not, and will not, be posted. And you're right,many assumptions have been made. I know the majority of those interested don't understand why we took the action we did, but I'm not going to share details that would help you decide whether you agree or disagree. It is what it is.
So I would rather keep extra trouble to a minimum and doing something without getting permission first is going to be precisely the wrong thing to do.

Rest assured that the situation is not being ignored.
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  #13  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 08:43 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edi View Post
Rest assured that the situation is not being ignored.
Glad to hear it. We're somberly waiting for for a happy ending.
  #14  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Edit: Eh actually I just read why he got banned.
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Last edited by Foodstamp; May 3rd, 2010 at 09:23 AM..
  #15  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 09:59 AM

Maerlande Maerlande is offline
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Well, as the one of the biggest instigators of the spam and probably the biggest I find the permanent ban of Sombre to be a bizarre, arbitrary and poorly considered move on the part of the moderation team.

Here's my view on the issue. This board is here to help sell games and make shrapnel money. Pure and simple. This section, Dominions 3, is here to sell the game Dominions 3.

This is a fine goal and suitable for a corporation or any business. I would do exactly the same if it was my game.

People like Sombre help sell this game for Shrapnel. Just like I do. How do we do that? Sombre does massive amounts of free work building mods that freshen the game and keep it interesting long after it's normal shelf life is over. Modding communities keep games going.

I work very hard to support, guide, and coach new players. I help with the wiki. I spend hours daily coaching new players on IRC. I sponsor games for new players. Players new to these boards PM me for help who don't even know me. Does this help Shrapnel? Of course it does.

Shrapnel needs to maintain some order on this forum. They own it and have the right to control it. It's thiers. They have a set of rules. But IF you publish rules you better follow them. Otherwise you just end up looking like arbitrary poofters. If you don't want to follow your own rules, don't post them. Just act in an opaque manner so no one knows where they stand.

I've been banned. It was short but fair. I lost my temper and was excessively rude to another player. So I learned. I'm not stupid. I love this place and the friends I've made here and Sombre is one of the best of them.

I also push the boundaries of the rules a lot. I love making funny posts. I also like teasing people about their fixations. Will I get more bannings? Hopefully not. Will I get more warnings or infractions? Probably. Does this mean I am not adding to the monetary value of this forum? No it does not. I add value.

Shrapnel: I don't have very much money so I don't spend a lot of money in your store. But I do buy your games. I am your customer. Listen to me. Sombre belongs here. He's a huge part of this community and permanently banning him is bad business. If we can't convince you just based on the morals and rights of the situation, stick with the business logic. Sombre is good for business.

Regards,
Maer
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:01 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

For what its worth, Sombre has been totally forthright about his end of the situation via IRC, including direct quotations of PMs. So protecting Sombre's privacy seems to be a moot point.

I'm not sure moderators or administrators should be able to claim privacy for decisions made in an official capacity, since those decisions should be open to scrutiny.

No assumptions have been made as to the sequence of events by those of us who talked to Sombre - we got them right from the horse's mouth as it were. The only thing uncertain is what the people on the administrative end were thinking at each step of the process. If those details aren't going to be shared then I think people are rightfully upset because a permanent ban seems to be without just cause from the evidence available, based on the forum's own rules. And while Sombre's stature as one of the primary contributors of new content makes us care quite a bit more than if he were some wet-behind-the-ears poster, the lack of sufficient apparent cause should be worrying regardless of who it is.

Based on the events as they are known to me, should I have been acting in an administrative capacity, I might have temp banned him. I probably wouldn't even have done that. The initial penalty seems to have covered the only real offense he committed. His lack of concern over what amounts to a slap on the wrist from a forum that is at best related to an elective luxury activity should be somewhat expected -- if that lack of concern led to more disruptive behavior than that behavior should have been punished as appropriate. Punishing thoughtcrime seems a bit Orwellian even for a 'privately-owned forum'.
  #17  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Maer,

I greatly appreciate your productive post. You are correct - while these forums are not a profit center for Shrapnel Games, they do exist as a sales tool. Two very important components of the tool are our customers who contribute valuable content and our moderators who volunteer their time to help us maintain a peaceful, productive environment. Without their unpaid help, Shrapnel Games would have a difficult time keeping these forums open for our customers' use.

We all understand that tempers will flare and posts will be made that violate the rules we've put in place. And we appreciate cooperation when a moderator must step in to calm things down. The problem in this situation, and the reason I exercised our right to escalate beyond our infraction system, is that Sombre indicated to us that he did not intend to honor our requests to follow the standards we expect of all our users and that he would ignore future private messages asking him to refrain from using personal attacks. Would a temporary ban change his mind? So we're faced with the question, do we allow one user to post in a manner that we would not tolerate from anyone else?
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annette View Post
Maer,

I greatly appreciate your productive post. You are correct - while these forums are not a profit center for Shrapnel Games, they do exist as a sales tool. Two very important components of the tool are our customers who contribute valuable content and our moderators who volunteer their time to help us maintain a peaceful, productive environment. Without their unpaid help, Shrapnel Games would have a difficult time keeping these forums open for our customers' use.

We all understand that tempers will flare and posts will be made that violate the rules we've put in place. And we appreciate cooperation when a moderator must step in to calm things down. The problem in this situation, and the reason I exercised our right to escalate beyond our infraction system, is that Sombre indicated to us that he did not intend to honor our requests to follow the standards we expect of all our users and that he would ignore future private messages asking him to refrain from using personal attacks. Would a temporary ban change his mind? So we're faced with the question, do we allow one user to post in a manner that we would not tolerate from anyone else?
But why not follow your own set of rules? Just let him ignore the rules. Get banned 3 times -> permaban. Just ignore that he doesn't care. Follow your own set of guidelines.

Now he was permabanned for saying he didn't care. And a huge ****storm went down on the forum.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:55 AM

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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Still I say it's bad PR to ban him and not provide ANY information - letting rumours and speculation run rampant, then closing those threads as well.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:56 AM

Peter Ebbesen Peter Ebbesen is offline
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Default Re: Night of the Long Knives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirrelloid View Post
I'm not sure moderators or administrators should be able to claim privacy for decisions made in an official capacity, since those decisions should be open to scrutiny.
If this were a public discussion forum, you would have a point.

However, it is not. It is a private forum for a commercial entity with very clear rules. As most other moderated commercial forums, it bans public discussion and second-guessing of moderator actions as that sort of discussion very seldom provides any sort of benefit to the company or to customers as a whole but do take up a lot of moderator time, keeps grievances going (self-perpetuating and escalating in the worst cases), and gives a bad impression to new forum members.

As is, you may not feel sure that this is the right way for things to work, but you don't have a say.

We are essentially in a private club with clearly stated rules and your choice is to accept the rules (even if you disagree with them) or to get out of the club.

Attempted rules-lawyering of the "I don't think A warrants action B" or "surely their own rules prohibit this because they say that A=>C (if we ignore the anti-rules-lawyering clause in the rules that says that these are guidelines* and the management retains the right to do as it sees fit**)" is futile in any well moderated forum. EDIT: And in case anybody is in doubt; The REASON that it is futile is because the management does not ignore its own anti-rules-lawyering clauses or its retained right to do as it sees fit to better serve the cause for which the forums exist.

* point #1 in the banning section, "but may be tailored on a case by case basis"
** point #7 in the banning section "A permanent ban can be applied for any reason if the Admins determine it is warranted to promote the harmony of the community"


If somebody's response to moderator actions taken against him for violating the rules is to categorically reject changing his actions to avoid doing so in the future, he is likely to be kicked out of the club (for some time or forever), no matter how valuable other members consider him to be; Being popular does not exempt one from following the club rules.

How relevant is my last paragraph to the case on hand with the user Sombre? I neither know, nor care. What I do know is that the forum rules state explicitly how you are supposed to deal with disagreeing with forum moderation: sending a PM or email to the relevant moderator or administrator.


And yes... I too have valued Sombre's positive contributions to this community but I value a well-moderated forum even more. My views on game forum moderation are shaped by experiences ranging from Blizzard's WoW forums (the cesspit of civilized discourse) and Paradox' strategy forums (at the opposite end of the spectrum). The Shrapnel Games' forums definitely belong in the higher end where the signal-to-noise ratio is high and most violations of the forum rules are done when tempers occasionally flare rather than as par for the course - and I really, really, really, hope it stays that way.
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