A Letter to the Moderation, and a Defense of Wynn.

Armadox

Mandatory Madness!
Aug 31, 2010
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Change. Change can either challenge us or threaten us. It is by which all things must eventually fall. This site is at the apex of change, and with it a means to finally settle by which way this site will be in it's final days. The Escapist is an old girl, one who we've seen in conditions unmatched by her peers, and drug through the mud in ways we was unable to even fathom.

I speak of change, of the nature of the Escapist because I am leery. I am leery to the way things are heading. For a while I have stood up and tried to gather people to listen to a vision of the Escapist I would wish her to have taken hold in her fading years. One of community contributions, of art and discussion. And... and I do not see that as having been what happened.

I'd like to talk about that, and in that I would like to make a defense of Epyc Wynn. An idea I personally would never have thought I'd have done in any other time then the one we are now in. First I'd like to say a few words to the dead dream I had for the Escapist.

I pushed for an elected CM, because I felt it would be a boon to get the suggestions and complaints of the forum goers to a controlled source who would be able to pass them to staff, finally having a connection between the people and the power. I pushed to elect a Cm who could help start a community outreach program. And in the end, when one was declared, suddenly and without discussion. It was the one mod with who the majority disapproved of. Who had a scandal of abusing their power, even of banning dissenting voices. I do not think Basement Cat should hold that seat. I do not think Basement Cat would be unbiased enough to gather the opinion of the community, nor the leadership to be fair to all sides. I do not believe in Basement Cat.

The well of content is dry. Of here it could have been different. I spoke of a community drive. Of having membership donate something. Anything. To have someone filter things out and let those who wanted to take the wheel and water the growth of the forum and content. It didn't have to be much, it didn't have to be all at once, but I have seen great beauty spring from the membership here. I know the members who could do great things. The comic artist, and poets, and storytellers.

Community additions was not made public. It was not given the ability to take ideas from all. A paltry fistful from safe bets, requested in the background and posted to mixed reviews. This was not what I hoped for. This was not the culture of this forum feeding the nature of the site.

The community manager, who needs community support just to fill the front page is silent. I do not see what I have asked for ever coming to pass in these times. Part of it is due I feel to the new dark cloud that has formed over the site through the last few days: The changes in powers, the uncertainty of the rules, and the banning of Epyc Wynn.

Starting with the changes in power, we have Basement Cat, who has had numerous accusations settles against abuses of power. Accusations of banning outright those like American Tanker, of which did get over turned through civil unrest. The reinstating of Topaz, who was removed from power once before for the same abuses that we stand here leery of today, and who's only defense for this decision was that they lived in the right timezone. Not of character or merit, but merely location. The removal of Katherine, who by her own words have been in the background the whole time, and who was given no official reason for this ousting. I would like to know why this happened.

And then we have Bluegate, who was banished for leaking to a member ahead of those on high the plans to cripple him. What he did was taken as treason, though it was the same as what Topaz did before him. Leaking mod chat should have consequences, but the actions of the staff have us concerned as to how we will see the running of the community from here on, and although I do not take Bluegate a martyr, I do take it as a moment of transparency that we have not gotten for quite some time. I had to lash out at Frappe to even get an up-date not that long ago. Because we're not receiving the why of things just the actions taken after, and that has lead to many speaking out on the way of things. And I have a feeling that those who have been leaving comments to the staff have seen those comments erased rather then condensed into the problems we actually have with what is happening.

It is at this point where I would like to talk about Epyc Wynn. Wynn was by all accounts a blusterous rabble-rouser. A person who held in poor regard the methods and membership of the moderation team, and who we all could agree spent much time creating trouble for the forum in the past. And in the past his antics has got him warned for this behavior. We all agree that Wynn deserved these warnings. And we all agree that left alone, Epyc Wynn would eventually be the end of Epyc Wynn.

But for some time, he had been loud but harmless. His dissenting nature against the mods within a reasonable measure, and as such even had warnings removed like any other member. He was, for all intent and purpose an at risk member who was close to ban. Epyc Wynn might have deserved a ban for antics previous, and had he gotten that ban then no one would have batted an eye. Now is not then, and Wynn should have been in no position to lose his membership anymore then anyone else who has spoken out against the mods lately.

What they did to Epyc Wynn was insidious. He had gotten a reprieve, a warning was removed setting him off the cliff. Then they stripped away his pubclub, something that has never happened before in recent times. Had they banned Wynn outright I am sure we would not be talking about this now. He'd have merely been one in many who broke rules and got wrecked for it. But Wynn wasn't breaking rules. Wynn got warnings removed. Wynn wasn't merely banned, they took away his pubclub membership, and dragged him into public where they could ban him for causing a scene. Is this what we have to look forward to, staff depubbing undesirable members from the WW so that the situation could arise to mass ban them? If so I want to hear it from the staff themselves. I want the rules to reflect this new draconian measure. If not then what happened to Wynn was a farce, and like Tanker I request that he be reinstated. He'll eventually screw himself, he can't help it, but this isn't the way things have been done. This wasn't right.

The rules are there to keep fair the membership, and what happened to Wynn was not fair. No one else has had their pubclub removed as a means of control. The mods did not all agree with this decision either. Many stay out of public for that very reason, staying to the quarantine zone. Are you stripping the pubclub from Saelune next? Zontar? CM? Fox? Iceforce? If the answer is no, then how dare you use it against Wynn. Where is the fairness?

We don't know what the rules are, who is enforcing what, and how this will effect the landscape of the site, but there are already concerns. Concerns that some will be singled out quickly to remove those who would speak out the loudest against the current changes. Some that feel that this will be unfair to the community. Some that think that mod transparency will not be withheld. There are concerns, and with what has already been seen, I think those concerns are founded more in fact then mere resistance to change.

I think. I think we are being threatened with change. That whatever rules that are now in vogue needs to quickly be written down, set in stone, and followed fairly and transparently. I think that needs to be the first task of those who have moved into positions of control, because right now we don't trust you. We don't trust that there will be fairness in how things will be applied. But it's easy to regain that trust.

This might be the last time there will be a change in guard for this site. We should pay them close attention in the coming months, as this is a public forum. A place for everyone. By the end, I'm curious who would be left.
 

Bobular

New member
Oct 7, 2009
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Whilst I wouldn't class myself as anti-mod as some people openly do, I do think the mods and the staff need to see that there are problems some times with decisions taken and and the way some things are handled.

I wasn't really on the forums when the whole Topaz thing happened, but if its true that they were de-modded for posting private conversations then bringing them back at the same time as getting rid of a different mod for the same thing shows a terrible lack of judgement and a tone deafness that will do the community no favours.

I personally think the idea of an elected community manager is probably a good one in theory, but it must be implemented correctly, we wouldn't want to see a group of people just voting for their friend and giving that group the ability to dictate who gets to say what here and who's voice can be ignored. There is a balance that must be struck.

About Wynn though, I wouldn't defend him. I think that he took the piss too much, we should all know that if we keep pushing too much but just manage to stick within the rules as written constantly and consistently then we should expect the hammer to hit us eventually. I don't see the removal of Wynn's Pub Club as being an extreme punishment, I see it as being lenient in not going for the full ban.

What should be taken away from this thread and the many threads like it recently is that the community is worried about potential corruption in the mods/staff and need to be reassured that there isn't going to be cases of what happened to Wynn, deservedly in my mind, happening to someone else who isn't as bad as he was. Once you have used that weapon once it becomes easier and easier for you to resort to using that weapon again. The Mods need to make sure that next time that the Wild West has a mega call out thread a mod doesn't decide that they've had enough of this shit and just remove their Pub Club to stop it. They need to make sure that the mods don't start handing out bans to people the don't agree with as an alternative to arguing.

They need to make sure that there is no corruption in their ranks and the community can see there is no corruption. I'm not saying that every time a mod talks to another mod that it must be shown to everyone for them to judge, but simple communication with the community would help massively, instead of us all just waking up to a whole host of changes to the mod line up, announce it before hand and let people voice any concerns. If a major decision has been made, it may be a good idea to announce it and explain what has happened and why it has happened, what was your thought trail that lead to this outcome.
 

Saltyk

Sane among the insane.
Sep 12, 2010
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I?m mixed.

On one hand, I have no sympathy for Wynn. Guy was an annoying idiot who kept screaming about his memes (which no one else cared for). He was a nuisance.

However, I am wary of the mods being able to remove Pub Club from people. You can argue that Wynn didn?t pay for it, and it was a privilege to even have it. One that you can further argue, he abused and lost the right to. Yet, no one even knew this was a possibility. We should probably get an update on what one can do to lose Pub Club status, if this is to be a potential form of discipline for the Wild West.
 

Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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I think my chief problem is that the rules aren't clear, and they don't feel like they're being followed.

Wynn had a health bar infraction removed. But then they banned him anyway, despite not having a full bar. I've seen this with tanker before. And while the user was clearly a troll, we've seen it with Amy rose. The issue isn't that these people were disciplined. They all deserved it. The issue is that we don't know by what standards a user can be banned, despite being multiple infractions away from said ban. It feels completely arbitrary.

The same goes for pub club removal. I'm actually fine with this as a form of punishment. The membership is a gift, not a right, for most users. *However,* I also believe that there should be a set of very clear guidelines that dictate under what circumstances it is to be removed.

If the mods want to change the rules, then so be it. However, and this is very important: they need to have extremely clear rules, and they need abide by them at all times. Yes, rules can get in the way. Yes, users can find a way to manipulate or skirt the rules, which I'm sure is annoying to mods and users alike. But this is preferable to a obfuscated system in which users are handed unusual punishments for unclear crimes. I believe we need transparency, and I believe we need clear rules with clear punishments that agreed upon and then followed by the moderation team.
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

New member
Oct 1, 2009
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The storm raged on, unabated and unfettered, it ferociously tore into anything it could take hold off. It raged and it screamed and it caused havoc. But for all its' raging and all its' commotion the storm could not escape one thing. For try as it might it could never escape those porcelain walls that encroached it on all sides. And even as it roared aloud its' most mighty fury and poured out all its' rage, the breakfast guests outside of its' enamel prison noticed it not. Such was the curse of the storm in the tea cup.
 

n0e

Eternally Lurking
Feb 28, 2014
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Saltyk said:
However, I am wary of the mods being able to remove Pub Club from people. You can argue that Wynn didn?t pay for it, and it was a privilege to even have it.
Mods can't see it, but staff can see if a PubClub membership was paid for or not and anything else regarding its status. Even if he did pay for it (I have no idea), that doesn't grant him immunity to be a dullard towards a community and its staff. He's a crybaby who, if he didn't get his way, went crying up the rope to my former boss and even higher. Why? Because it worked. Now, his support line is gone. Those who defended him on site are no longer around to bail he and his antics out once again. If he loses his pubclub, it's because he deserved to.

I'll admit, I toyed with him a bit and thought maybe, without his backup, he'd settle down. Instead, he lashed more at the current guys running things than anything I've had to deal with and he, deservingly, got bit back because of it.

He was poison. Sure, he was harmless then, but now he's trying to make some sort of statement and is completely volatile towards the administration. He's become toxic, and now must be removed.
 

n0e

Eternally Lurking
Feb 28, 2014
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Fox12 said:
I think my chief problem is that the rules aren't clear, and they don't feel like they're being followed.
lolwut? If you use common sense, they're as concrete as one can get in terms of how to act and not act. They're a long-form version of "don't be a dick". This is the only community I've ever seen that looks at simple forum rules like they were written by a constitutional lawyer written in nothing but "legalese".

Wynn had a health bar infraction removed. But then they banned him anyway, despite not having a full bar. I've seen this with tanker before. And while the user was clearly a troll, we've seen it with Amy rose. The issue isn't that these people were disciplined. They all deserved it. The issue is that we don't know by what standards a user can be banned, despite being multiple infractions away from said ban. It feels completely arbitrary.
Ultimately, the staff can ban anyone they want to for any reason. This has always been the case on any website, not just this one. This community forum isn't public property and your right to view it can be revoked for any reason at any time.

If you're curious where THAT is located then take a look at the Defy Media Terms of Use [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/content/termsofuse]:

End User shall not post or transmit through the Site any material which violates or infringes in any way upon the rights of others, which is unlawful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise objectionable, which encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, gives rise to civil liability or otherwise violates any law, or which, without DEFY MEDIA's express prior approval, contains advertising or any solicitation with respect to products or services.
End User understands and agrees that DEFY MEDIA may, but is in no way obligated to, review the Site and/or any User Content and may delete or remove (without notice) any User Content in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason, including User Content that in the sole judgment of DEFY MEDIA violates this Terms or Use, or which might be considered offensive, illegal, or that might violate the rights, harm, or threaten the safety of users or others. End User is solely responsible, at End User sole cost and expense, for creating any backup copies or replacing any User Content End User Posts on the Site.
"user content", in this instance, can apply to anything written on the forums, including the user account itself.
 

Baffle

Elite Member
Apr 6, 2020
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Armadox said:
But Wynn wasn't breaking rules. Wynn got warnings removed. Wynn wasn't merely banned, they took away his pubclub membership, and dragged him into public where they could ban him for causing a scene.
I don't much care what does on in the Wild West, it sounds like a complete dump (like Oxford, Cambridge, or Hull), but to suggest the Wynn was dragged into public rather than trying to grab the spotlight over and over again is ... well, it's wrong.

Children should be seen and not heard. Though I'm going to the pub because it's Halloween and I don't want to see, hear or be robbed by children.
 

Silvanus

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n0e said:
End User shall not post or transmit through the Site any material which violates or infringes in any way upon the rights of others, which is unlawful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise objectionable [...]
Such as referring to people as "poison"?
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

Alleged Feather-Rustler
Jun 5, 2013
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I feel like I'm missing something. What did he do that's so terrible and who cares and wasn't he banned like 2 years ago?
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
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Maybe I'll miss his incredibly hilarious "teh evil mods" conspiracy theories and rants. Or maybe not, as he liked to moderate Wild West itself with annoying autoplay music.
 

Secondhand Revenant

Recycle, Reduce, Redead
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Silvanus said:
n0e said:
End User shall not post or transmit through the Site any material which violates or infringes in any way upon the rights of others, which is unlawful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise objectionable [...]
Such as referring to people as "poison"?
The banned probably don't get the same considerations
 

Bobular

New member
Oct 7, 2009
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n0e said:
Ultimately, the staff can ban anyone they want to for any reason. This has always been the case on any website, not just this one. This community forum isn't public property and your right to view it can be revoked for any reason at any time.
They can. Doesn't mean they should, the community won't last long if the mods just start chopping of heads as they please.
 

Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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n0e said:
Fox12 said:
I think my chief problem is that the rules aren't clear, and they don't feel like they're being followed.
lolwut? If you use common sense, they're as concrete as one can get in terms of how to act and not act. They're a long-form version of "don't be a dick". This is the only community I've ever seen that looks at simple forum rules like they were written by a constitutional lawyer written in nothing but "legalese".

Wynn had a health bar infraction removed. But then they banned him anyway, despite not having a full bar. I've seen this with tanker before. And while the user was clearly a troll, we've seen it with Amy rose. The issue isn't that these people were disciplined. They all deserved it. The issue is that we don't know by what standards a user can be banned, despite being multiple infractions away from said ban. It feels completely arbitrary.
Ultimately, the staff can ban anyone they want to for any reason. This has always been the case on any website, not just this one. This community forum isn't public property and your right to view it can be revoked for any reason at any time.

If you're curious where THAT is located then take a look at the Defy Media Terms of Use [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/content/termsofuse]:

End User shall not post or transmit through the Site any material which violates or infringes in any way upon the rights of others, which is unlawful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise objectionable, which encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, gives rise to civil liability or otherwise violates any law, or which, without DEFY MEDIA's express prior approval, contains advertising or any solicitation with respect to products or services.
End User understands and agrees that DEFY MEDIA may, but is in no way obligated to, review the Site and/or any User Content and may delete or remove (without notice) any User Content in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason, including User Content that in the sole judgment of DEFY MEDIA violates this Terms or Use, or which might be considered offensive, illegal, or that might violate the rights, harm, or threaten the safety of users or others. End User is solely responsible, at End User sole cost and expense, for creating any backup copies or replacing any User Content End User Posts on the Site.
"user content", in this instance, can apply to anything written on the forums, including the user account itself.
There are rules governing the removal of pub club membership? I find that difficult to believe, as the handing out of mass pub club memberships was unprecedented

And a policy of "the mods can ban anyone, any time, for any reason" is, in my opinion, unhealthy for the forum as a whole. I would venture that your experiance as a mod has, perhaps, had a negative result on your view of the community.
 

Canadamus Prime

Robot in Disguise
Jun 17, 2009
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I couldn't be bothered to read all that, I only got as far as "elections" However I will say the same thing I brought up on Wynn's declaration. The Escapist is not some sort of nation, it is a privately owned and operated website. It doesn't have a constitution guaranteeing you anything, it has a Code of Conduct which YOU are expected to follow. It is not a democracy and we does't need elections. It has a staff of volunteers trying to hold the site together and all this whining isn't helping.
 

FalloutJack

Bah weep grah nah neep ninny bom
Nov 20, 2008
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All this over what essentialy boils down to an agreement not to be a repeated jackass, and he was being a repeated jackass.

Let it go.
 

lacktheknack

Je suis joined jewels.
Jan 19, 2009
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That's a whole lot of words in which absolutely nothing new is said.

I still think that "the usual suspects" should be forced to moderate a forum and face their own doppelgangers, though. It's all well and good to denounce people with roles you've never had facing trappings and roadblocks you've never faced, but your going to get pushback from those who have.
 

Fat Hippo

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n0e said:
Ultimately, the staff can ban anyone they want to for any reason. This has always been the case on any website, not just this one. This community forum isn't public property and your right to view it can be revoked for any reason at any time.
The question has never been whether they can, but whether they should. In the past, users have almost always been banned for specific posts, and not their entire posting history. Saying something along the lines of "Maybe this specific post wasn't that bad, but he was poison overall" sets a new precedent which conflicts with this forum's understanding of how the rules are applied. This logically creates a feeling of apprehension, as it theoretically allows for the banning of things done far in the past, without any specific causal argumentation for why one person deserves a ban over another.

This is a fundamental question which needs to be answered for any set of rules, or they become arbitrary, and therefore more or less useless. At that point "Don't be a dick" might as well be all have you left, but there's a good reason we tend to be more specific when defining acceptable and unacceptable behavior in any social space, particularly ones with many members who are bound to disagree on what a dick actually is.