Concerns about moderation conduct

General discussions about the Particracy Classic including role-play planning and suggestions.

Re: Concerns about moderation conduct

Postby jellybean » Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:48 pm

Thank you for responding, Chitin.

ChitinKal wrote:While I cannot go too deep into the details of Aquinas’ ban as per section 1.3 of the game rules, I can assure everyone that he has not been banned for being an “annoyance” to Moderation. Frankly, if so-called “annoying” people were to be booted from the game, we’d have a much smaller and much less interesting community, and in all likelihood I personally would have been thrown out a long time ago.

ChitinKal wrote:One of the major issues I’ve seen brought up in this thread is more and more backlash to section 1.3. While I understand the original intention of this rule to be in place in order to curtail gossip and drama (which is definitely something the community as a whole needs to take incredibly seriously), I get the concern with the rule that it makes Moderation less accountable. Personally, I think my job would be a lot easier if I could be straight with y’all whenever we issue a sanction instead of having to undergo the all-too familiar community meltdown that’s becoming increasingly characteristic of this game. Vesica and I have been talking since I joined the Moderation team about implementing a series of rule changes and opening up a discussion within the community in order to see these implemented, and no doubt this discussion would give us the chance to decide the future of section 1.3.

As I have pointed out above, the game rules explicitly give Moderation "the discretion to make exceptions in special circumstances, and also to make amendments to the rules as deemed appropriate." If you do not think that this situation merits an exception, that's your prerogative, but I wish you would say so. I will again say that I think insisting on adhering to rule 1.3 gives the impression that you don't want to disclose the reason for Aquinas' ban, which is troubling.

I am glad to hear that Aquinas has not been banned for being an annoyance. Will he be told the reason that he was banned? My understanding is that Aquinas himself has not been given any reason for his ban. Is this incorrect?

ChitinKal wrote:As for the edits and deletes, I’ve discussed with the team the circumstances and content of the messages in question, and we came to the conclusion that the deletions were overzealous and wrong on our part. While message deletions can in extreme circumstances be justified, editing the messages of other players has always been verboten and will continue to be so. Going forward, Moderation will not be deleting messages in this manner, because as Jellybeans pointed out, it can be malicious and (in my opinion) makes our job more difficult by removing what can be vital information to explain a situation.

Thank you - I am glad to hear it.

ChitinKal wrote:As Kubrick put it, Vesica and I are seen as “absent mods.” While I reject this characterization of us (given that, for the most part, at least one of us is always present and we are usually quick to address requests and reports the day of, or at the latest a day or two behind, and I’ve heard that there have been previous Mod teams who would be absent for many days or weeks at a time), I can understand frustration when we’re at those periods when we are a few days late. As quite a few of you have mentioned, we are both real people with lives who sometimes get busy. Whether this is regular things (like family, school, or work) or irregular pressing matters (such as yesterday as I had to take a family member to the emergency room and wait there with them for a good portion of the day), we cannot dedicate every waking hour of our days to patrolling the forum or being active on Discord. Nobody can.

To be clear, this is not my own complaint. I completely understand not being available around the clock, and I'm sure all of us wish we had more free time. I hope your family member is okay.
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Re: Concerns about moderation conduct

Postby Curzon » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:09 pm

This is Aquinas.

On 27 April I was ragebanned by Vesica without reasonable cause and completely without explanation. The sorry fiasco generated considerable concern in our small community of active RPers. Instead of being accountable or attempting to put the situation right, the Moderators carcrashed the game, with Vesica deserting his responsibilities entirely, leaving Chitin to carry out Moderation's functions only partially and intermittently, leading to the dire situation Classic finds itself in now.

As those who have followed this community will be aware, one of the Moderators, Vesica, had been behaving inappropriately and on some occasions really quite aggressively towards me for a while. There is a discussion of some of this here, for example. In the period leading up to my being banned, I had attempted to contact the other Moderator, Chitin, a number of times, in order to address these problems. Regrettably, Chitin ignored message after message, until as we all saw, the situation eventually spiralled out of hand.

The incident on Discord which led to me being banned began with Auditorii, Alaskan and Jack making a false allegation that I, along with Rob, had bullied Might when he joined Rob's private Discord server. I was in fact not even on Rob's server when Might was there, and had nothing at all to do with whatever that incident may have been. Both Rob and Might later confirmed this.

Auditorii then described me as "cancer", a remark I found offensive and hurtful, all the more so because Auditorii (along with both Mods, and others) was aware that I lost my mother to cancer not so long ago. After stating my objection to this comment, I was banned from the server. I then logged in to the forum, and lodged my complaint about both Auditorii's comment and the fact I had been banned from the server for objecting to it. In response to this, my statement about Auditorii's insult and the server ban was edited out of my message, and my forum account and my in-game account in Malivia were both banned.

I discovered later that, whilst my objections to the "cancer" insult had been removed from both the forum and the server, the "cancer" insult itself had been left standing, unremoved and unchallenged. This left me feeling sad and hurt. I queried the Moderators as to why this was handled in such an insensitive way, but there was not even the basic courtesy of a response.

It has been suggested to me by some others that the work I have done on challenging plagiarism in our community has been a factor in why I was banned. Whether this is true, I am not able to say. I can report that Vesica became hostile towards me during a private discussion about the plagiarism issue on 20 April, only a week before I was banned. He appeared to resent me expecting Moderation to deal with my plagiarism reports. There has been a vocal pro-plagiarism lobby in this community, and I do not doubt there are a few who would have been pleased to see the back of me on those grounds. A prominent member of this community and recent Moderator, jamescfm, who previously spoke out strongly against plagiarism and indeed suspended several of the plagiarists when he was Moderator, became extraordinarily hostile towards me after I began exposing plagiarism on the Wikia, denouncing me for doing so and even saying he regretted introducing a rule to prohibit plagiarism in the first place. It turned out, he admitted to me, that he had performed some plagiarism of his own on the Wikia, and now that I appeared to be examining Wikia plagiarism, he was furious at the prospect of the scandal that would erupt if that was exposed.

Nevertheless, however many people there were who resented the work I did on tackling plagiarism, and however influential they may have been behind the scenes, the fact remains that all I ever did with my plagiarism reports was to report something that was an offence under the Game Rules. There are a variety of views amongst the community here about how plagiarism should be dealt with in Classic, and I am aware of that...but again, all I did was report something that was (and is) against the rules. That surely should not be grounds to punish someone.

It is noteworthy, by the way, that since I was banned, the most recent plagiarism reports I posted have not been responded to by the Moderators.

On the day I was banned, 27 April, I messaged Chitin on Discord requesting an explanation for the ban, and also for an explanation of the terms of the ban (ie. for all I knew, in the absence of any communication, it could have been anything between a 48 hour timeout and a permaban). There was no response. I also attempted to contact Vesica, although it appeared he had blocked me.

On 29 April I messaged Chitin again on Discord, requesting a response. There was no answer.

On 1 May I emailed Moderation at their official email address. No response.

On 4 May I messaged Chitin on Discord again. Again, no response.

On 13 May I chased Chitin again on Discord. This time he finally responded, and said he would be fine for me to return to the game under a different username. I told him I was not happy with this, as I wished to return to the game as Aquinas, rather than under a pseudonym which would create unnecessary suspiciousness, but which people would probably eventually figure out anyway due to similarities in writing style etc. However, if he was insistent on this condition, then I asked him to at least remove the IP ban imposed on my Aquinas account, since this was making it impossible to access the forum using my home internet connection. Even if I was to rejoin the game under a pseudonym, the IP ban would need to be lifted, in order for me to be able to access the forum. That is unless, for example, I was going to use a proxy server or a VPN, which we are not supposed to do under the rules, and which I did not want to do. Or unless I was only going to post on the forum when I was away from home (as I am right now, as it happens), which would naturally be somewhat awkward and inconvenient.

There was no response to this from Chitin. I sent him messages on Discord on 15 May, 17 May and 22 May, chasing him for a response. Again, no reply.

On 31 May I rejoined the game in Luthori, under the username Curzon. On doing so, I messaged the in-game Moderation account, informing them of my return, and again repeating my request that I should be allowed to return as Aquinas, or failing that, that at least the forum IP ban should be lifted. There was no reply to this, although the in-game messaging system did show the message had been opened.

I sent further messages to Chitin, on Discord, on 2 June, 3 June and 5 June, again chasing a response. And again, there has been absolutely no reply, although Chitin has been active during this time, and could be observed chatting casually to others on the server, for example.

If the issue had been, say, that he wanted more time to consider things, or he needed time to figure out how to lift the IP ban, then I would have been understanding of that, if he had been courteous enough to send even the briefest message acknowledging my query and letting me know the situation. However, the fact he has basically been ghosting me, all of this time...and that this was in fact going on even in the period before I was banned, when I had been trying to resolve the problems with Vesica... this leaves a poor impression on me.

In terms of RP activity, Particracy Classic is struggling to survive. There are a few people here right now who are, valiantly in my view, trying to do what they can to keep things going and to revive the game. I applaud what you are doing. I care about this game as well. I have personally invested a significant amount of time and effort in to it, over a number of years. Even after all of the problems I have endured from a small number of individuals, I have still been willing to attempt a return, and to try to play my part in helping to revive Classic.

However...when I reflect on how ridiculously and unnecessarily awkward Moderation is making this for me, and how rudely I am getting treated... even I, diehard that I am, am becoming inclined to throw in the towel.

Geoffrey Howe once used a cricketing metaphor about sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only to discover their bats have been broken by the team captain before the first balls have been bowled. I hope this is not to be the fate of the remaining Classic community.
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