An Open Letter to The Escapist Community

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TopazFusion:

Sassafrass:

General Twinkletoes:
Wow. Haven't been here for years. I used to really love this place until it went to shit around gamergate. What ever happened to TopazFusion? I remember he got especially targeted around then.

I'm sure that now you've mentioned his name, someone will come and tell you what happened. :p

Seems people can't even mention my name anymore without something bad happening. Apparently I'm this site's equivalent of Lord Voldemort.

Whatev's, I'll roll with it.

what

wha-

wh-

Curse the fact that I have to leave for two midterms today!

trollnystan:
snip

I remember that dancing Turian! Welcome back.

On a separate note:

Take TopazFusion's return to Off Topic, people. Not here.

image

TopazFusion:
...

image

I can say with utter sincerity that this thread is the most fun the Escapist has been in at least a year.

So if the site gets bought by anyone what are the chances of the forum software being open-sourced? The badge system is like half the reason I initially signed up and I want to put it inside other code.

Murlin:
So if the site gets bought by anyone what are the chances of the forum software being open-sourced? The badge system is like half the reason I initially signed up and I want to put it inside other code.

Depends on who buys it and how their tech team is. As I understand it, a lot of this forum was hand-crafted by the beautiful and post-employment tech team of yore, so how well anyone else can understand it depends a lot on how the bits were bought and brought out. I wouldn't think it would be super confusing, but Kross has always been wily. Perhaps it's actually written entirely in binary.

TopazFusion:

Sassafrass:

General Twinkletoes:
Wow. Haven't been here for years. I used to really love this place until it went to shit around gamergate. What ever happened to TopazFusion? I remember he got especially targeted around then.

I'm sure that now you've mentioned his name, someone will come and tell you what happened. :p

Seems people can't even mention my name anymore without something bad happening. Apparently I'm this site's equivalent of Lord Voldemort.

Whatev's, I'll roll with it.

Hurray, the ultimate evil has returned! Good to see you back dude! :D

IceForce:

TopazFusion:

Sassafrass:

I'm sure that now you've mentioned his name, someone will come and tell you what happened. :p

Seems people can't even mention my name anymore without something bad happening. Apparently I'm this site's equivalent of Lord Voldemort.

Whatev's, I'll roll with it.

image

Okay, that's pretty funny.

NewClassic:

Murlin:
So if the site gets bought by anyone what are the chances of the forum software being open-sourced? The badge system is like half the reason I initially signed up and I want to put it inside other code.

Depends on who buys it and how their tech team is. As I understand it, a lot of this forum was hand-crafted by the beautiful and post-employment tech team of yore, so how well anyone else can understand it depends a lot on how the bits were bought and brought out. I wouldn't think it would be super confusing, but Kross has always been wily. Perhaps it's actually written entirely in binary.

I hope for everyone's sake that it's not something written in pre-2010 PHP with dependencies and requirements up the wazoo.

TopazFusion:

Sassafrass:

General Twinkletoes:
Wow. Haven't been here for years. I used to really love this place until it went to shit around gamergate. What ever happened to TopazFusion? I remember he got especially targeted around then.

I'm sure that now you've mentioned his name, someone will come and tell you what happened. :p

Seems people can't even mention my name anymore without something bad happening. Apparently I'm this site's equivalent of Lord Voldemort.

Whatev's, I'll roll with it.

I like your avatar.

NewClassic:

Murlin:
So if the site gets bought by anyone what are the chances of the forum software being open-sourced? The badge system is like half the reason I initially signed up and I want to put it inside other code.

Depends on who buys it and how their tech team is. As I understand it, a lot of this forum was hand-crafted by the beautiful and post-employment tech team of yore, so how well anyone else can understand it depends a lot on how the bits were bought and brought out. I wouldn't think it would be super confusing, but Kross has always been wily. Perhaps it's actually written entirely in binary.

I can promise you, if you combined this forum's coding with the KnowYourMeme.com forum's coding, whoever owned that code would be able to craft the single most powerful forum on the Internet without question; provided the rules don't suck like ours do.

Caramel Frappe:

Susan Arendt:
Snip

Hey, it's good to see you again. While we're at it ...

... Never really got to apologize, so might as well do it now. Remember way back when in 2011, I sent you an e-mail of an article about how female gamers only got into gaming because of their boyfriends? Honestly, I have no idea why I even made that topic ... it was poorly researched, biased, and pretty sexist overall (even though I didn't think poorly of women, it was still gross). I wanted to thank you for getting on me because it taught me not to submit things without thinking things through. Over the years, i've matured as a human being and gained so much insight on how things really work, and here I am as a Staff Member for this website.

Not sure if this was the place to address my apology, but might as well try. Thanks for doing what you could for our community and regardless of what comes of it in the future, it's cool knowing you came to visit us and remind us of the good days.

Ohhh, yes, I remember that one very clearly. I can still quote some of it. I'm very glad to hear that you've learned some stuff, and also that you realize what that pitch was...really not good. Because, DAMN, son.

<3

Susan Arendt:

Caramel Frappe:

Susan Arendt:
Snip

Hey, it's good to see you again. While we're at it ...

... Never really got to apologize, so might as well do it now. Remember way back when in 2011, I sent you an e-mail of an article about how female gamers only got into gaming because of their boyfriends? Honestly, I have no idea why I even made that topic ... it was poorly researched, biased, and pretty sexist overall (even though I didn't think poorly of women, it was still gross). I wanted to thank you for getting on me because it taught me not to submit things without thinking things through. Over the years, i've matured as a human being and gained so much insight on how things really work, and here I am as a Staff Member for this website.

Not sure if this was the place to address my apology, but might as well try. Thanks for doing what you could for our community and regardless of what comes of it in the future, it's cool knowing you came to visit us and remind us of the good days.

Ohhh, yes, I remember that one very clearly. I can still quote some of it. I'm very glad to hear that you've learned some stuff, and also that you realize what that pitch was...really not good. Because, DAMN, son.

<3

Now I really gotta see this submission LOL

Susan Arendt:

Caramel Frappe:

Susan Arendt:
Snip

Hey, it's good to see you again. While we're at it ...

... Never really got to apologize, so might as well do it now. Remember way back when in 2011, I sent you an e-mail of an article about how female gamers only got into gaming because of their boyfriends? Honestly, I have no idea why I even made that topic ... it was poorly researched, biased, and pretty sexist overall (even though I didn't think poorly of women, it was still gross). I wanted to thank you for getting on me because it taught me not to submit things without thinking things through. Over the years, i've matured as a human being and gained so much insight on how things really work, and here I am as a Staff Member for this website.

Not sure if this was the place to address my apology, but might as well try. Thanks for doing what you could for our community and regardless of what comes of it in the future, it's cool knowing you came to visit us and remind us of the good days.

Ohhh, yes, I remember that one very clearly. I can still quote some of it. I'm very glad to hear that you've learned some stuff, and also that you realize what that pitch was...really not good. Because, DAMN, son.

<3

Alright, alright ... don't rub it in. I already said sorry and all, no need to make me feel bad over something so many years ago.

Fappy:
Now I really gotta see this submission LOL

I'm pretty sure at this point you and Susan just want to see me suffer.

Oh man, the Escapist is likely going down? I remember that place. Had some fun times there! Why I dare say I rather adored the site back in the day. Whyever did I leave, to begin with, I wonder? I seem to have forgotten-

*Signs in for the first time in years and begins reading through comment thread*

...Oh.

Right.

If you're going to wiggle your hammer in Wynn's direction for posting private chat messages why are we welcoming back a user who did it multiple times leading to the collapse of one of the the most popular user groups, which no doubt lead to the loss of a lot of regular users?

Wait, what the actual hell?

Just when I think this thread couldn't get any more gobsmacking, it does.

Exley97:
This has me wondering how hard the truly hardcore GGers were working behind the scenes to get folks like myself banned from the site. Can you break the "Flag for Review" button with overuse?

It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

Exley97:

Fappy:
I remember that thread actually scared a few users away from the this site permanently. They didn't feel comfortable having hostile strangers on another site smack talking them. The fear of being doxxed back then was real.

Yeah...I won't lie -- I was a little concerned about being on that thread, and others like it. And I think that was by design, frankly.

But I'm happy to report I never got any strange phone calls or emails, let alone Swatted. Still here, arguing insincerely as ever.

It came to my attention (by way of an 8chan thread) that there were a number of people trying to dig up 'dirt' on me, and they were going through my entire post history on this site to find whatever they could.
Given this account is quite a few years old and has a considerable number of posts, I didn't want that to happen. Not least of all because in my early years on this site I was a bit young and naive and made a bit too much personal information public.

That's why I had my post history purged. It was a privacy measure, that's all. And given that - around that same time - my GMail account had multiple failed login attempts on it and multiple password recovery tickets that I never requested, I don't regret mothballing this account for a moment.

TopazFusion:

Exley97:
This has me wondering how hard the truly hardcore GGers were working behind the scenes to get folks like myself banned from the site. Can you break the "Flag for Review" button with overuse?

It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

The fact that you even have this link proves that you had access to things you should not have had access to.

SolidState:

TopazFusion:

Exley97:
This has me wondering how hard the truly hardcore GGers were working behind the scenes to get folks like myself banned from the site. Can you break the "Flag for Review" button with overuse?

It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

The fact that you even have this link proves that you had access to things you should not have had access to.

It proves nothing. I found that via a simple online search.

I did a number of searches like that, mainly to see what the hell people were saying about me behind my back.

Johnlives:
If you're going to wiggle your hammer in Wynn's direction for posting private chat messages why are we welcoming back a user who did it multiple times leading to the collapse of one of the the most popular user groups, which no doubt lead to the loss of a lot of regular users?

Yeah, I'm not exactly into having this conversation myself but I have to ask why this is apparently cool. Houseman was, what, vaguely annoying and eventually banned for it, but he can never return and will be forever rebanned. And yet we're welcoming back a person who abused his position of power into the same position of power? Is this actually okay? I don't even have a horse in this race, but I'm trying to figure out what logic made this a smart move for anybody.

EvilRoy:

Johnlives:
If you're going to wiggle your hammer in Wynn's direction for posting private chat messages why are we welcoming back a user who did it multiple times leading to the collapse of one of the the most popular user groups, which no doubt lead to the loss of a lot of regular users?

Yeah, I'm not exactly into having this conversation myself but I have to ask why this is apparently cool. Houseman was, what, vaguely annoying and eventually banned for it, but he can never return and will be forever rebanned. And yet we're welcoming back a person who abused his position of power into the same position of power? Is this actually okay? I don't even have a horse in this race, but I'm trying to figure out what logic made this a smart move for anybody.

The hypocrisy of this situation is fucking real.

On the same day an ex-moderator makes their return and debut, private chat logs are leaked showing that there was not only an oversteppping of authority, but also a cover up.

You couldn't make this shit up if you tried.

Well, you know what they say about a picture saying a thousand words.

SolidState:
The hypocrisy of this situation is fucking real.

On the same day an ex-moderator makes their return and debut, private chat logs are leaked showing that there was not only an oversteppping of authority, but also a cover up.

You couldn't make this shit up if you tried.

So, from what I understand... A person who apparently abused their powers in the past was removed the position has now returned and was given said position back. I guess people can learn from their mistakes, but this is curious.

Now we have another chat log leak similar to what said above mod did, and probably still has their position (But very well might not in time, we don't know). At the same time, we're seemingly not dropping the hammer on the mod or user that leaked these images (could be planned for all I know).

I think I got everything. Is a statement gonna be made about the two above points? I am rather curious as to what's going on here

Elvis Starburst:

SolidState:
The hypocrisy of this situation is fucking real.

On the same day an ex-moderator makes their return and debut, private chat logs are leaked showing that there was not only an oversteppping of authority, but also a cover up.

You couldn't make this shit up if you tried.

So, from what I understand... A person who apparently abused their powers in the past was removed the position has now returned and was given said position back. I guess people can learn from their mistakes, but this is curious.

Now we have another chat log leak similar to what said above mod did, and probably still has their position (But very well might not in time, we don't know). At the same time, we're seemingly not dropping the hammer on the mod or user that leaked these images (could be planned for all I know).

I think I got everything. Is a statement gonna be made about the two above points? I am rather curious as to what's going on here

And to think, I often get called paranoid whenever I talk about moderation issues.

It's not paranoia if it's true.

EvilRoy:

Johnlives:
If you're going to wiggle your hammer in Wynn's direction for posting private chat messages why are we welcoming back a user who did it multiple times leading to the collapse of one of the the most popular user groups, which no doubt lead to the loss of a lot of regular users?

Yeah, I'm not exactly into having this conversation myself but I have to ask why this is apparently cool. Houseman was, what, vaguely annoying and eventually banned for it, but he can never return and will be forever rebanned. And yet we're welcoming back a person who abused his position of power into the same position of power? Is this actually okay? I don't even have a horse in this race, but I'm trying to figure out what logic made this a smart move for anybody.

Look I started to question the Escapists' decision in certain things when a user who spent a good paragraph or two in the religion and politics forum cooking up a legtimatly serious 'Final Solution' tier post about how to alleviate the problems that ails the Middle East and was met with a justly ban.
Only to be UNBANNED because they complained about it on Twitter to their equally horrid fanbase.

Meanwhile some beloved members of this forum (whether I agreed with them or not.) could never come back through an appeal even if their final offense was posting an image react.
I think ban forgiveness like this also didn't help with keeping the community stable.

Susan Arendt:
Then we clean the FUCK out of this place. Scorched earth, motherfuckers. I honestly don't understand why you're not already doing that. If this is YOUR site now, then make the community you WANT.

Err... what's this implying? We have forum areas individuals might not appreciate, but those areas are cordoned off and have massive flashing warning signs around them. Nobody forces one to go into R&P, most people can't even access the Wild West. GID is an odd one that I wouldn't personally miss, but some people love it.

The rules seem relatively fair and unonerous. Say what you like about the mods, I've never seen anything that I thought was completely out of order (although I did hibernate through GamerGate, fortunately).

I mean, what I'm getting at is - are you implying a restructuring of the forums, a mass ban on users you personally don't feel belong in your new utopia, or what?

TopazFusion:
It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

Whoa. Hold up. I just saw my name!

...

Huh. Turns out I'm part of the grand conspiracy! Apparently. Do I get a badge or something?

I legit didn't know that that traffic stats post had fucked with people's heads quite so severely. Gotta say though, I enjoy reading my own old posts to a downright indecent degree. Fuck I'm good at this game when I try.

Oh hey, and there's all the gators telling me how the Escapist totally isn't failing and hemorrhaging content and is actually just in a transitional period. Yeah, how's that working out for ya lads?

I had forgotten how bad their reading comprehension was though. Jesus Christ.

Ahhh, good times, good times.

PS. Who is Mr Whitaker?

Zhukov:

TopazFusion:
It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

Whoa. Hold up. I just saw my name!

...

Huh. Turns out I'm part of the grand conspiracy! Apparently. Do I get a badge or something?

I legit didn't know that that post had fucked with people's heads quite so severely. Gotta say, I enjoy reading my own old posts to a downright indecent degree. Fuck I'm good at this game when I try.

Oh hey, and there's all the gators teling me how the Escapist totally isn't failing and hemorrhaging content and is actually just in a transitional period. Yeah, how's that working out for ya lads?

I had forgotten how bad their reading comprehension was though. Jesus Christ.

Ahhh, good times, good times.

I enjoyed reading that. I didn't know being friends with the mods was such an offence.
Better not let them know I speak to three of them more or less every day then.

EDIT: also didn't know how seriously people took moderation. Like...christ dudes, it's a website. If we put this much effort into worrying about other things, the world would be a better place.

Zhukov:

TopazFusion:
It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

Whoa. Hold up. I just saw my name!

...

Huh. Turns out I'm part of the grand conspiracy! Apparently. Do I get a badge or something?

It's particularly impressive, given that you weren't ever really an active poster in the group chat.

shrekfan246:

Zhukov:

TopazFusion:
It went further than that. Not only was there a push to get certain users banned, but there were efforts to get certain moderators removed from their positions too; letters written, etc. Mainly about myself, but I know other mods were targeted too.

Whoa. Hold up. I just saw my name!

...

Huh. Turns out I'm part of the grand conspiracy! Apparently. Do I get a badge or something?

It's particularly impressive, given that you weren't ever really an active poster in the group chat.

I know, right?

I actually joined to try and get away from the GG shitstorm. A futile effort as it turned out, but that was the intent.

Even suggested that we maybe tone down the GG ridicule a bit because echo chambers are crappy. Although I didn't really push because I was new and didn't have any clout.

Zhukov:

shrekfan246:

Zhukov:

Whoa. Hold up. I just saw my name!

...

Huh. Turns out I'm part of the grand conspiracy! Apparently. Do I get a badge or something?

It's particularly impressive, given that you weren't ever really an active poster in the group chat.

I know, right?

I actually joined to try and get away from the GG shitstorm. A futile effort as it turned out, but that was the intent.

Even suggested that we maybe tone down the GG ridicule a bit because echo chambers are crappy. Although I didn't really push because I was new and didn't have any clout.

Nah, it was a fair point to make, and several of us did make several concerted attempts to get it toned down. For my part, though, even as sick of it as I got, I still couldn't always just ignore it if somebody else brought it up, because it was the biggest thing happening to this website for quite a while and it significantly impacted the lives of many people I knew and was friends with on this website.

Also, frankly, some of the conspiracy theories were, as evidenced by the above, fucking hilarious.

People are more active in looking into the posting history of their casual website's mod team than they are the beliefs and activities of the politicians they vote for in local office.

The original intent of this thread was to discuss the future direction of the site via the possibility of gracious members offering community content or finding alternatives, not to speculate about the moderation aspects of running a community. As the Community Manager has asked to take such conversations outside of this thread, please take those topics there or to PMs if you wish. You can PM the mods directly off of the list on the CoC or come into the Moderation Team's group.

Preferably, EscapeGoat or NewClassic would still be open to talking about what can be done with content (long term contributions or one off articles) so please do review the pitching guidelines. You may comment about your time on the site, content you would like to see/make or just state a thought on the current affairs. If you want to talk about mod team decisions, someone made a thread.

Warnings for off-topic conversations will be considered after this post.

I know you mods and staff have basically no contact with Defy, but it will be interesting (as in the Chinese Interesting times saying) seeing which of the three (so far I think?) roads the site will take.
Defy owned but Community driven, Old Guard/Susan Arendt owned or Enthusiast Gaming Owned.

What is your own personal speculations?

I think it depends on whether Zero Punctuation is tied into The Escapist itself or Defy.
If The Escapist then Defy will never let it go! ^^

Coming to this thread late, but very saddened by this news. Having the chance to write for The Escapist was a dream come true for me, and becoming the head streamer for Escapist's Twitch channel likewise. (Obligatory plug, we're at https://www.twitch.tv/escapistmagazine) Even knowing it was coming for a while, it still hurts to see it made official.

I don't have much to say on what if anything should be done to try and revitalize the site (well, definitely not a fan of the bring back Susan Arendt option, but I like my job and wouldn't survive a "scorched earth, motherfuckers" policy, so I'm biased), but I wish you the best.

I can speculate from my own perspective.

Vendor-Lazarus:
Defy owned but Community driven,

Most likely, running the place on auto-pilot (volunteers being the auto-pilot) until the return on ZP traffic no longer outstrips the payments to Yahtzee. That's what I think is going on here, it just doesn't make sense otherwise to strip out all the innards and make the place a ghost town unless it was to only retain Yahtzee's contract. That's just my guess.

Old Guard/Susan Arendt owned

Possible but she said herself on twitter that this place wouldn't make money. Hence why she would broker no qualms about a different style of community managing than we currently have. I don't know if it would be worth her time in terms of being a platform for people because the almighty dollar would still be hard to produce to pay people and I share in everyone's disdain in asking people to work for free (unless its a grass-root effort like it currently is).

I don't know what it would take to get the profitability turned around and I don't think Susan (and other former contributors) should be expected to front the capital for that by themselves alone. So barring an unknown private benefactor who's hands off, giving Susan and company the go-ahead to rebuild as they see it, I don't see it happening. Lord knows I'd like that to happen, I miss the Susan era and her Podcats.

Enthusiast Gaming Owned.

I mean, its technically possible for a large community effort to get the site's keys by generating a mass of cash. Then who would run the Tech? Who would administer? Who would own the site beyond a vague 'collective'? A hierarchy would have to be set down at the ground level, have a smart plan to use the platform and have answers to the business problems of running this place I don't have.

Would Yahtzee's contract be retained in such a hand over? I speculate this as least likely because it would take a nice sum of money to be stirred up to buy out a site which may very well end up costing the person (and a person will have to take responsibility under some company heading they create) a lot of time, money and effort. I would wager people would rather spend their money on direct patreon/paypal payments to writers/content creators hosting their stuff here than gamble it in some unstable pot to bid for the ownership. Also not everyone will be able to be a controlling interest in the site after its bought by group effort so sore feelings would be inevitable that way.

Just my musings.

EDIT: Oh, I see you were referring to what Menashe said in the thread in Off Topic.

Hmmm.

Well, I dunno about the odds of it happening but it couldn't hurt I suppose.

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