For a long, long while, I’ve stayed away from these forums. I only came back a couple of days ago when I got a link from a player in the game. I had a look at a post, and then I thought I might try to get re-involved.
The reason I stayed away for a long, long while?
When the forums were initially launched I was quite optimistically enthusiastic, especially because CCP seemed to be keen on encouraging open and honest discussion on basically anything related to the game. And for a while, I was quite active.
I became very disillusioned in 2018 however by some fairly harsh and overreactive moderation and by CCP’s seemingly indifferent attitude to a discussion, despite the fact that they’d previously stated, several times, that they wanted open debate to happen on the forums.
This isn’t quoted text but I’ve formatted it like this to emphasise that what I’m writing in the three paragraphs below is NOT to open up the debate again (about the thing that I’m about to mention), but merely to offer some context to the paragraph immediately above this.
Specifically, and to explain my disillusionment, but NOT to open up the debate again - and this is important because otherwise, they’ll just shut this thread down too:
in 2018 I saw a post (not one of mine and not from anyone I knew in or out of game) about offensive and misogynistic pilot names. I thought they made some valid points and I contributed to the discussion, along with another 81 posts from others.
A moderator then told the original poster if they didn’t like offensive and misogynistic pilot names, rather than discuss whether this was okay openly on the forum, they should ‘file a support ticket’ and they then summarily shut down the discussion and more, removed the post from the listings so that, without a link, you can’t even find it.
I then made a supportive post, partially to support the original poster who I thought had been treated fairly badly after making some pretty reasonable points. This thread was also shut down summarily by the same mod and again with the same high and mighty, indifferent and dismissive attitude.
As a result of all this, none of us will ever know if CCP did anything about the important issues raised (because of course support tickets actions are never revealed) no further discussion is possible because the debate has been shut down, and the issue gets well and truly kicked into the proverbial long grass.
After all this, and feeling quite depressed by the whole debacle I deleted my browser forum bookmarks and I just stopped participating, which is a pity if CCP really wants them to be here for all players, but it is what it is.
At that time I literally couldn’t see the point of being involved in sterile discussions that avoid difficult issues, and especially if all the promises by CCP that the forums were a place for open discussions were essentially worthless.
I haven’t visited the forums since then until I was given that in-game link.
Which brings us to this post.
Yesterday, a disabled person posted something on the forums about the way that the CSM is run.
In the post, they talked about issues related to disability (and also race), and the way that as it is, a potential exists for the CSM to be institutionally prejudiced, by virtue of the fact that the way that it runs at the moment might potentially exclude certain people from full participation.
It wasn’t the greatest post in the world, and they were quite angry, but it did raise valid and discussion-worthy points. However, rather than actually deal with these in a positive or productive way that might actually change things for the better, a moderator simply shut down the discussion.
When the original poster pointed out in a follow-up post that the reasons that they raised the issue was that they were disabled, along with some other points, after allowing people to mock them for a while (which is a rather depressing feature of the selectively hands-off moderation on these forums) rather than deal with relevant and discussion-worthy issues that had been raised, a moderator simply shut down the discussion, again.
The moderator then also, and this is partially why I was motivated to post this, implied that if they tried to further discuss the issue any further they might get banned.
I’m not sure how the original poster feels (and just to be clear and for the record, I don’t know this person in-game or out) but to me, it felt aggressive and given that this was towards a disabled person quite upsetting. For the record, and for transparency, I am a disabled person myself. Again this has fed into why I am posting this.
I am NOT trying to reopen the debate here, but I do think it is worth considering how moderation happens.
To be clear, I am NOT accusing all CCP moderators of being biased. I have no evidence that this is the case, and aside of this, in the absence of any empirical evidence, making a statement like this would be unjust and unfair to a group of people who do a difficult and complicated job.
Having said this, to me, it does feel, sometimes, that there is an issue with the way that some things in the game are seemingly shut down rapidly without any discussion and other things are allowed to flourish with very little intervention from CCP.
The rules cited by CCP in terms of what can and can’t happen on these forums are:
“The purpose of the EVE Online forums is to provide a platform for exchange of ideas, and a venue for the discussion of EVE Online. Occasionally there will be conflicts that arise when people voice opinions. Forum users are expected to courteous when disagreeing with others.”
In both, the instances mentioned above, people were being polite and they were discussing issues that directly relate to the game, the development of the game and/or to people playing the game.
In the latter example, as I explained, the poster was mocked (in both their posts) by others, yet seemingly nothing was said about this despite the fact that CCP says in it’s own rules that it expects people to be ‘courteous’.
CCP also says:
Negative feedback can be very useful to further improve EVE Online if it is presented in a civil and factual manner. All users are encouraged to honestly express their feelings regarding EVE Online and how it can be improved. Posts that are non-constructive, insulting or in breach of the rules will be deleted regardless of how valid the ideas behind them may be. Users are also reminded that posting with a lack of content also constitutes non-constructive posting.
While I understand that reading negative and non-constructive posts is difficult, (and for the record, insults are really not on) I think the moderators and CCP are missing a trick here.
What’s important when things get discussed is not effectively silencing debate because someone is ‘non-constructive’ (“Posts that are non-constructive … will be deleted regardless of how valid the ideas behind them may be.”) but responding to the core of what is being discussed.
Deleting posts “…regardless of how valid the ideas behind them may be” just misses any opportunity to positively respond to a possibly negative situation and improve things.
No one wins in this situation.
CCP and the moderators end up looking officious, heavy-handed and censorial, the issue at hand doesn’t get discussed and/or dealt with and people on all sides just end up feeling frustrated and angry about the situation, which then festers.
For what it’s worth, I’m disabled, I’m on the autistic spectrum and I have special needs. It has taken me a long while to get to a point where I can confidently and articulately express myself and make a point. Not everyone is as lucky as me.
Part of the reason that some people might write ‘non-constructive’ posts might relate to how they feel about the issue and/or to their own abilities to convey their thoughts into words and/or also because they may have tried to do this previously and have been rebuffed by others here, elsewhere online, and in real life.
Ignoring this reality, shutting down discussion and simply posting a whole bunch of text relating to the forum rules and regs helps no one and takes these forums and CCP and the players nowhere.