Editor's Note: The Dick Tax

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PROBLEM:

I play WOW (a bit too much D:)

When I'm on my rogue and I get a holy priest in healing a dungeon, I WILL inspect them - there spec is usually wrong, and there rotation horrid (still getting gear and therefore in normals) when I try and help them by telling them there rotation is wrong or their spec has points wasted I get screamed at.. Even after I tell them I have my own priest ;-;

So - even though I start with good intentions so that this healer will heal many more groups efficiently and not drag a team behind, I get called an ignorant ass hole and ignored. See how this problem could come up with this "dick tax"?

MaxPowers666:

Santa216:
I don't see the harm, really, as long as they do not corrupt their Steam with a half-baked system. And again, this would not be a Valve thing to do.

The obvious harm is that they piss off half their customer base who then go shopping elseware. Enacting a plan like this is a surefire way to help your competition, you know what I actually think they should do this.

You know, I kind of agree with this.

Also, on the topic of this week's theme, I'm kind of sad there isn't a column illustrated with Mother Thereza eating a baby.

Also your homework for today is to post 'Mother Thereza eating a baby', in context, somewhere on the net, or to slip it into conversation. Get to it.

BrotherRool:
People are more likely to be douches because there are no consequences. Valve would introduce consequence.

Communities online are far smaller than their potential source. A lot of those people are nice. Nice communities (which tend to be more profitable for everyone) have nice people in them. So if you dissuade the bad people from joining them they remain a nice community. What's more, by the definition of the restriction, the bad people joining them negatively affects the worth of the community and thus if you remove them, has a positive effect on the community.

What's more if the bad people pay more and join anyway, the status quo is the same, except that the nice people pay less. As you said "people don't change" so the bad people won't get worse (unless you want to propose that you're reasoning wasn't logically cohesive :D)

I feel your argument is invalid

If a community treats you poorly stating you deserve it because your bad and you can:
A) Rise to the challenge and prove them wrong (hard to do)
B) Prove them right and troll them back (revenge)

Basically its going to have to be a delicate system. If the game tells someone they are bad they are in fact likely to react. People do change the face they show someone. If you charge a dick more to be in your community then a good person don't be surprised if they act like they own the place.

warcraft4life:
PROBLEM:

I play WOW (a bit too much D:)

When I'm on my rogue and I get a holy priest in healing a dungeon, I WILL inspect them - there spec is usually wrong, and there rotation horrid (still getting gear and therefore in normals) when I try and help them by telling them there rotation is wrong or their spec has points wasted I get screamed at.. Even after I tell them I have my own priest ;-;

So - even though I start with good intentions so that this healer will heal many more groups efficiently and not drag a team behind, I get called an ignorant ass hole and ignored. See how this problem could come up with this "dick tax"?

Right as isn't that the issue. Maybe he really want advice but he doesn't want some dude in a random to tell him whats what. You could come off as a dick in the first IM and he closes his think hole after that. There will always be miscommunications out there.

"The industry has this broken model, which is one price for everyone," says Newell. "That's actually a bug, and it's something that we want to solve through our philosophy."

No, Gabe, you morbidly obese orca with legs. Just no.

Remove the assholes and after a time the definition will change to include those who are just mildly annoying or voice an opinion that doesn't jive with the general consensus. A true elitist's environment, filled with what will essentially be elitist pricks. Never mind the whole "charge those we deem to be assholes more" thing, this is just a piss poor idea.

mcnally86:

warcraft4life:
PROBLEM:

I play WOW (a bit too much D:)

When I'm on my rogue and I get a holy priest in healing a dungeon, I WILL inspect them - there spec is usually wrong, and there rotation horrid (still getting gear and therefore in normals) when I try and help them by telling them there rotation is wrong or their spec has points wasted I get screamed at.. Even after I tell them I have my own priest ;-;

So - even though I start with good intentions so that this healer will heal many more groups efficiently and not drag a team behind, I get called an ignorant ass hole and ignored. See how this problem could come up with this "dick tax"?

Right as isn't that the issue. Maybe he really want advice but he doesn't want some dude in a random to tell him whats what. You could come off as a dick in the first IM and he closes his think hole after that. There will always be miscommunications out there.

But, why should I have to lose out on stuff (or pay more) because people don't want to listen to actual advice? I usually open with; "you've got a few wasted points in your spec, armoury [my priests name] for a better holy spec"

FFS you can find similar specs via. google ;-;

Chronologist:
So, people who are popular get freebies, while people who are unpopular or infamous pay more money for the service? That's like a restaurant that charges you money if you don't tip them well enough. Ludicrous.

For the sake of argument, more like a restaurant that charges you more if you have a history of pissing off other costumers and causing a scene.

"The industry has this broken model, which is one price for everyone," says Newell. "That's actually a bug, and it's something that we want to solve through our philosophy."

Pull your head out of your arse Gabe. All you're going to do is piss off at least half of your customer base with this moronic idea that one price for everyone is broken.

"Oh noes, somebody save me from the dickish players because I'm too fucking stupid to just join another game or mute them."

warcraft4life:

mcnally86:

warcraft4life:
PROBLEM:

I play WOW (a bit too much D:)

When I'm on my rogue and I get a holy priest in healing a dungeon, I WILL inspect them - there spec is usually wrong, and there rotation horrid (still getting gear and therefore in normals) when I try and help them by telling them there rotation is wrong or their spec has points wasted I get screamed at.. Even after I tell them I have my own priest ;-;

So - even though I start with good intentions so that this healer will heal many more groups efficiently and not drag a team behind, I get called an ignorant ass hole and ignored. See how this problem could come up with this "dick tax"?

Right as isn't that the issue. Maybe he really want advice but he doesn't want some dude in a random to tell him whats what. You could come off as a dick in the first IM and he closes his think hole after that. There will always be miscommunications out there.

But, why should I have to lose out on stuff (or pay more) because people don't want to listen to actual advice? I usually open with; "you've got a few wasted points in your spec, armoury [my priests name] for a better holy spec"

FFS you can find similar specs via. google ;-;

I was agreeing with you but you proved my point. It easy to mistype/misinterpret something. Why should you have to pay more for that?

Well expressed, but I would have approached it a bit differantly.

To be honest I don't think there are that many people who are just outright dicks. It comes down to differances in point of view, philsophy, and well.. existance. Two people can hate each other for perfectly valid and irresolvable reasons.

The problem with this system is that it works under the assumption that there is a litmus test to who the good people and the bad people are. In the end there isn't one, all that exists is of course Gabe's own opinion as to what's positive and negative, and his system then comes down to him saying "I want to run STEAM like my own personal empire, reward those I like, and torment those I don't", which makes him just another tyrant, there is no great plan involved here, just base egomania for him looking for a way of discarding any kind of neutrality and professionalism in the guise of a social experiment.

To take a big issue for example. Like it or not the population is pretty much divided 50-50 on issues like homosexuality, which actually consists of a number of related but seperate issues, but the point isn't the arguement itself, but merely that it exists. Let's say Gabe decides that anyone who is "Homophobic" by saying they don't like gays or whatever, is by definition going in the bad people bin. The term "Homophobic" in of itself a loaded term designed to trivialize the other side, by implying they are in some way flawed or in fear of what they don't like, and thus inherantly breeds conflict and tends to prevent serious discourse of the subject when used, leading to the issue continue to endure... and well it isn't about the arguement. The point is that Gabe is making a personal jugement on who is a dick if he was to do that. He's a tyrant, charging people extra money, to play games, because he doesn't like their politics, forget that he pretty much just set himself in opposition to what is honestly about 50% of the population right there. A guy who doesn't like gays might be a great guy, get along with just about everyone, and be a positive influance on the games, but he's in the dick column, because Gabe put him there.

The point being, that such a system cannot be used unless there is some fairly impartial way of administrating it, and human nature being what it is, there isn't one. It all comes down to establishing a cult of personality which winds up having nothing to do with the games themselves or what is good for the community.

It's sort of like how a guy from India and a guy from Pakistan could go at it for hours about their cultural conflict, who wronged who, who is right and who is wrong, those god or gods can beat whom up, and whatever else. They both think themselves to be right, and the other guy to be wrong.

Neutrality, or rather I should say professionalism, evolved in business specifically to avoid these kinds of issues. Especially seeing if Gabe DOES do something like this, he's probably going to cut his business down substantially as few people are going to pay extra for a product from him, when they can buy it froma competitor that maintains neutrality for less. He's also liable to get himself sued back to the stone age, since if he started charging people extra money to use programs they already own on STEAM, well I don't think that will end well for him.

It's true what they say- The devils in the details. Good thing Russ Pitts spotted them and is keeping a bead on the buggers.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the idea, although I think they should perhaps focus on punishing outlandishly dickish behaviour first rather than turning the place into a sterile, Orwellian future....

Good lord, what does that mean for disagreements?

Thyunda:
Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

And if myself and my 100+ friends and clan members decide to down vote you because we don't like you?

mcnally86:

If a community treats you poorly stating you deserve it because your bad and you can:
A) Rise to the challenge and prove them wrong (hard to do)
B) Prove them right and troll them back (revenge)

Basically its going to have to be a delicate system. If the game tells someone they are bad they are in fact likely to react. People do change the face they show someone. If you charge a dick more to be in your community then a good person don't be surprised if they act like they own the place.

Oh you're completely right, I just enjoyed constructing an argument that either the editor had to accept, or challenge and admit his argument was entirely invalid.

But I think revenge trolling would only last a certain amount of time. Money is precious to people and having to pay ever more for your right to make other people miserable would get old very soon. In schools, if say not tucking your shirt in, or taunting someone else, gets detention, at first you do everything to subvert it and then you get fed up of detentions and find some other way to troll.

In honesty though, I think Valve are more subtle. The example of how nice people pay less is that they get paid for hats. Not "you are a nice person, only pay this much". Valve would find a way which isn't "you are a troll you pay more" but means that in the long run. That ruins the challenge part. It may even just be if you get reported they;ll decrease the amount of drops you get for a time. Effectively costing more, but in a subtler way. Not very subtle though, I'm not Valve, I suspect they are somewhat cleverer than me

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:
Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

And if myself and my 100+ friends and clan members decide to down vote you because we don't like you?

Then that is why it needs to be properly moderated. For example, the system on the Escapist appears to be that if you get reported, you get a warning regardless of circumstance. Where this new system is concerned, there would have to be a better way of telling whether or not the defendant has actually committed all of these wrongs to get reported so many times. Maybe the game can discount floods of reports coming from people on each other's friends lists or clans, so at most, your 100+ friends and clan members would have a very limited number of reports they can dish out on one person.

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:
Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

And if myself and my 100+ friends and clan members decide to down vote you because we don't like you?

Then that is why it needs to be properly moderated. For example, the system on the Escapist appears to be that if you get reported, you get a warning regardless of circumstance. Where this new system is concerned, there would have to be a better way of telling whether or not the defendant has actually committed all of these wrongs to get reported so many times. Maybe the game can discount floods of reports coming from people on each other's friends lists or clans, so at most, your 100+ friends and clan members would have a very limited number of reports they can dish out on one person.

So we disband the clan, delete each other from our friends list and report you a hundred times over a month. Hell, I was part of a Steam clan whose entire point of existing was to find players we didn't like and report them, spam them and make their lives online shitty. What happens? We get away with it because only one person at a time has an issue with us and anyone we target gets to pay more for all their games.

Sound fair?

Make a system like this and trolls will troll. Troll damn hard.

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

And if myself and my 100+ friends and clan members decide to down vote you because we don't like you?

Then that is why it needs to be properly moderated. For example, the system on the Escapist appears to be that if you get reported, you get a warning regardless of circumstance. Where this new system is concerned, there would have to be a better way of telling whether or not the defendant has actually committed all of these wrongs to get reported so many times. Maybe the game can discount floods of reports coming from people on each other's friends lists or clans, so at most, your 100+ friends and clan members would have a very limited number of reports they can dish out on one person.

So we disband the clan, delete each other from our friends list and report you a hundred times over a month. Hell, I was part of a Steam clan whose entire point of existing was to find players we didn't like and report them, spam them and make their lives online shitty. What happens? We get away with it because only one person at a time has an issue with us and anyone we target gets to pay more for all their games.

Sound fair?

Make a system like this and trolls will troll. Troll damn hard.

Then if the same people are filing loads of reports, then THEY need to be investigated themselves. If there are so many reports coming from the same users for different targets every now and then, something is wrong with those doing the reports.

Also, what kind of person joins clans to report people you didn't like? That is a really dickish thing to do...

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:

Then that is why it needs to be properly moderated. For example, the system on the Escapist appears to be that if you get reported, you get a warning regardless of circumstance. Where this new system is concerned, there would have to be a better way of telling whether or not the defendant has actually committed all of these wrongs to get reported so many times. Maybe the game can discount floods of reports coming from people on each other's friends lists or clans, so at most, your 100+ friends and clan members would have a very limited number of reports they can dish out on one person.

So we disband the clan, delete each other from our friends list and report you a hundred times over a month. Hell, I was part of a Steam clan whose entire point of existing was to find players we didn't like and report them, spam them and make their lives online shitty. What happens? We get away with it because only one person at a time has an issue with us and anyone we target gets to pay more for all their games.

Sound fair?

Make a system like this and trolls will troll. Troll damn hard.

Then if the same people are filing loads of reports, then THEY need to be investigated themselves. If there are so many reports coming from the same users for different targets every now and then, something is wrong with those doing the reports.

Also, what kind of person joins clans to report people you didn't like? That is a really dickish thing to do...

So people who are active in reporting others for the right reasons will get the same treatment as those who cheat the system? And where is all this research time coming from? Do you volunteer your own time to sift through the millions of reports? I'm sure the people who work for Valve are busy programing and making sure their services don't blow up.

Yes. There are dicks out there. Dicks who will ruin your day and make you pay more for a game. You will appeal it. That takes time. Valve will get around to looking into your appeal after you send them a message a hundred times. Maybe a week latter they get back to you. Maybe they decide you were cheated and undo the damage. Sounds like fun!

Troll paradise. I can hear the forum rage now...

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

So we disband the clan, delete each other from our friends list and report you a hundred times over a month. Hell, I was part of a Steam clan whose entire point of existing was to find players we didn't like and report them, spam them and make their lives online shitty. What happens? We get away with it because only one person at a time has an issue with us and anyone we target gets to pay more for all their games.

Sound fair?

Make a system like this and trolls will troll. Troll damn hard.

Then if the same people are filing loads of reports, then THEY need to be investigated themselves. If there are so many reports coming from the same users for different targets every now and then, something is wrong with those doing the reports.

Also, what kind of person joins clans to report people you didn't like? That is a really dickish thing to do...

So people who are active in reporting others for the right reasons will get the same treatment as those who cheat the system? And where is all this research time coming from? Do you volunteer your own time to sift through the millions of reports? I'm sure the people who work for Valve are busy programing and making sure their services don't blow up.

Yes. There are dicks out there. Dicks who will ruin your day and make you pay more for a game. You will appeal it. That takes time. Valve will get around to looking into your appeal after you send them a message a hundred times. Maybe a week latter they get back to you. Maybe they decide you were cheated and undo the damage. Sounds like fun!

Troll paradise. I can hear the forum rage now...

Well, if you can bring me examples of these Internet vigilantes who dish out reports at the same rate as you and your friends did, I would love to meet them because they're clearly Batman.
Besides, it's a fairly simple task to track the amount of reports coming from users, and it's fairly easy to have said program notify moderators when the same group of users are firing out multiple reports over a length of time. Especially if they're rarely in the same game or community area as the people they're reporting.

In my opinion, Mr. Newell's intent has been largely mischaracterized by many Escapists, begining with, and including Russ Pitts. If I might borrow your words T?

Therumancer:
The point being, that such a system cannot be used unless there is some fairly impartial way of administrating it, and human nature being what it is, there isn't one. It all comes down to establishing a cult of personality which winds up having nothing to do with the games themselves or what is good for the community.

This is my opinion: Mister Newell is proposing a system by which a person's (online) actions will have consequences. I can't see anything inherently wrong with that idea.

Being a server administrator is an exercise in being perpetually jarateed off. There are always clearly stated server rules. There are always hordes of people who join the server without reading the rules, and proceed to play in whatever idiotic way they please. The admin actually does have multiple tools at his disposal. Gentle warning, 5 minute ban (my all time favorite - its longer than the attention span of most jerks), multi-day ban, permanent ban. For a single server, this is perfectly adequate.

With the explosion of online play, there just aren't enough administrators around to monitor all the automated servers. So the idiots that got kicked off the good servers go play somewhere else. And usually that somewhere else is where you happen to be playing. So joining a server for a little entertainment turns into a boot to the head. Gabe is proposing that there should be an inescapable, and tangible punishment for these jerks, that's all.

So how do you do this in a realistic way? Its not enough to have server rules. Its not enough to have vote kick. Its not enough to have vote bans. Somehow those votes never succeed anyway. It would be useful for the offender to get a 'I am a gigantic dick' label, so that everyone else on the server could properly identify him and vote him off or leave... but lets face it, it never takes very long to figure out. Not to mention that the jerk would complain that he's been unfairly singled out.

Now some manner of punishment is just and proper - but its even better if being a dick put certain benefits or rewards out of your reach. Punitive tax? I'm fine with that. Everybody else gets a free game? Eh, well what if its a game that I didn't want to play? I can see the attempt at positive reinforcement here, but its a bit vague for my liking. What good is a free pony if I only eat cats? So lets leave implementation for the future and look at the mechanism.

Gabe is suggesting that the multiple (automated) server system gets a new 'administrative tool.' It does not need to be a popularity contest in any way, shape, or form. This does not need to be anything more than a two tier system; people with a small number of 'dick votes', and people with a large number of 'dick votes.' There is some concern about 'gaming the system,' but I submit that its entirely possible to work the design to prevent that. Let's assume that I'm a dick [(might actually be true, but you'll never know!)] and I want to make it look like I'm not a dick. So while I'm playing, I'll randomly throw some poor schmuck a 'dick vote.' On the other hand, I can't help but be a jerk, and my entire team gives me 'dick votes.' Its no problem at all for an intelligently written algorithm to figure out that I'm the real dick on that server; while considering the 'dick votes' I cast to be dubious. See? No cult of personality, just 1's and 0's.

Mr. Pitts - and some others - have gotten the strange idea that this sort of system is based on influencing people to change their behavior. Or the expectation that penalties will introduce some incentive for people to change. These people have all completely missed the point. There is zero probability that jerks will begin to read the server rules, or adhere to them. The point is that if you cannot behave, you will be hit right where it hurts. Can't afford to play here anymore? Aw... that's so sad that I can't stop smiling.

Can such a system be misapplied or administered whimsically? Possibly, but just like developing new games, I would rather that new ideas be tried, than nothing new be done at all.

Frag on!

Edit: I've just realized that I referred to Mr. Newell as 'Gabe.' I apologize to Mr Newell for my unwarranted familiarity. It's OK to read his mind, but not to call him 'Gabe' until after the first date.

KarlMonster:

Gabe is suggesting that the multiple (automated) server system gets a new 'administrative tool.' It does not need to be a popularity contest in any way, shape, or form. This does not need to be anything more than a two tier system; people with a small number of 'dick votes', and people with a large number of 'dick votes.' There is some concern about 'gaming the system,' but I submit that its entirely possible to work the design to prevent that. Let's assume that I'm a dick [(might actually be true, but you'll never know!)] and I want to make it look like I'm not a dick. So while I'm playing, I'll randomly throw some poor schmuck a 'dick vote.' On the other hand, I can't help but be a jerk, and my entire team gives me 'dick votes.' Its no problem at all for an intelligently written algorithm to figure out that I'm the real dick on that server; while considering the 'dick votes' I cast to be dubious. See? No cult of personality, just 1's and 0's.

.

What your suggesting is even worse that what I am saying however.

Let me put this into context, one of the reasons why I do not use XBL much anymore is because when I was playing Soul Calibur IV I noticed a trend where whenever I would beat someone, they would automatically flag me with an "unsportsmanlike conduct" report. In compstitive ranked matches this seems to be the usual state of affairs because people don't want to run into someone who beat them again. I was so annoyed by this affecting my rating (stars) that despite not dealing with many people via XBL to begin with I decided to stop playing. Please note I do not have a mic, and was not "trash talking anyone".

Under this system I would be charged more money to play competitive fighting games.

I'll go one further, and outside of my paticular problem, to a bigger issue in the fighting game community: Playing to win vs. playing for fun. Now in general when most people get into random XBL matches they are playing to win, however some people get all upset when players use tactics like turtling or specific move combos because they are "cheap". There are huge, painful, drawn out arguements about this kind of thing. Since you don't know everyone online to begin with, what could be considered a dick move by one player, might just be playing to win by another, the old "hey, it's not MY fault your not good enough to counter it" (and lets be honest, even the cheapest moves and tactics can be countered, it just takes work and more game knowlege than most people expect or possess). If your playing competitivly, and trying to go up the rankings, or get your 15 streak achievement or whatever, is there anything fundementally wrong with using the most effective tactics possible? Should everyone be expected to hold back, or ask permission to throw down with all their accumulated fighting game skill?

The point that I'm getting at here is that just because someone calls someone else a "dick" does not mean that it's true, and an automated system is incapable of determining that. In many cases like fighting games, people scream "dick" because they just got their win streak broken or dropped in the rankings and only want to pwn scrubs to get it back up.

In the end the problem with this system is there is no real fair way to implement it. You either have to rely on an automated system which is going to by it's nature be unworkable for the kinds of reasons I mentioned above. Not to mention the simple fact that people will be able to threaten each other with the "bombing" of their reputation which in this case goes beyond the loss of stars (I got mine back up almost to 5 eventually) into an actual, tangible, financial threat. OR you have to rely on a system that is basically a cult of personality with a handfull of empowered enforcers playing god in their own personal little kingdoms, playing games and not being charged extra becomes a matter of not falling prey to the ruling class.

The very fact that there is no way of doing it fairly is exactly why professional neutrality exists. If Gabe occasionally wants to give free product to people he likes, more power to him, but I oppose the idea of people having to pay more money for the same services as everyone else because they happened to get his goat at some point.

I suppose in theory some massive bureaucracy could be established the overrules even the company head, which has a complicated system of investigations, appeals, and other things to make sure each and every case is gone over with a fine toothed comb and someone is proven a dick beyond a reasonable doubt. You know "trial before a jury of the accused's peers" with special attention being paid to things like political leanings. However no company could afford to pay for such a thing, and the costs would probably outweigh the benefits... and again we're left with professional neutrality being the way to go. The same price for everyone. Maybe Gabe might choose to reward people, but nobody is being punished for being a "dick" since it's generally subjective, and branding someone with computer flags is both inaccurate and too easily abused.

The idea of computer moderated impartiality sounds great until you upset a FPS Clan that gets the whole 6th grade class to vote you a dick because you beat them in a match... Well guess who now pays 50% more for services. Ditto for the crap I mentioned with fighting games, or heck, someone who just flat out says "do I what I want or my friends and I blackball you".

Neutrality, God Emperor Gabe (apologies to Gabe, I keep saying this, but I can't get that Critical Miss strip out of my mind), or an easily exploited computer.... hmmmm given all the viable options I think I'll opt for professionalism and neutrality.

You know, I'm not sure if this has been stated prior in nearly a hundred posts for which I haven't the patience or alertness...but I honestly don't see this as a bad thing.

Perhaps charging poorly-received players (and let's not mistake that for what it isn't, a bad sport is a bad sport but good sports may be poorly received by given communities for one reason or another and end up with a bad rep anyway) additional for games and services is a ham-fisted solution with ample opportunity for abuse by the community, but at least it's a kernel of an idea for leveling consequences for (intentionally) bad play and a lack of sportsmanship. Moreover, hitting people in the wallet isn't going to be incentive to change the way a player acts, it's just going to drive them to other services or games in which they can actively be dicks without consequences.

I suggested once (in WoW of all places in the context of random dungeon finders) a weighted rating system. Players can anonymously "like" or "dislike" a given player, which raises or lowers their overall reputation. The degree to which that reputation is affected is dependent upon the comparative rep of the opining player to the opined player, similar to a ladder system; a low-rep player "disliking" a high-rep player will not affect the higher-rep player's score much, where that high-rep player "disliking" a low-rep player will significantly affect his. The rub is that to "like" or "dislike" a player comes with a rep tax (with disliking costing more rep than liking), which curtails abuse of the system or handing out ratings for the heck of it. Moreover, players' rep progresses towards a neutral position on a monthly basis, making sure players don't fall into a downward or upward reputation spiral and incentivizes active play to preserve a high rep, or taking a break to "forget and forgive" a bad rep.

Now, to have meaning that system or something like it would have to have rewards or penalties. I would suggest in-game rewards, like perks or extra weapons, or penalties rather than out-of-game, like charging players more. Assuming 0 is the neutral point, for example falling into the negatives locks out cheaper, more skill-less weapons; while going high-positive unlocks high-skill, high-power weapons or other assorted goodies.

An example: let's take MW2. XxXBlUnTMaSTuH420 has an initial rep of 0, neutral. He enters a lobby and starts trash-talking, spewing slurs, and being a general jackass while running around with the lamest class possible. Half the lobby gets tired of his stupidity and dislikes him, which dumps him into the negatives. His first penalty? grenade launchers are locked and he can no longer noob tube it up. He keeps it up over the course of several games and continues racking up the negative rep, other stuff is systemically locked until all he can do is run around with an M4A1, M9, semtex, flashbangs, marathon, lightweight, steady aim and copycat. Good luck with that uberleet K/D ratio now, jackass.

Now where this is nice is with unified services like Steam, rep can be connected to account rather than game. So, let's say BlUnT gets tired of mucking around with his humiliatingly-awful MW2 class he screwed himself into and goes over to TF2. Since he has such a negative rep already, he discovers he no longer gets to wear hats, and can only use each classes' default weapons. Probably should have learned his lesson over in MW2, and hope he can salvage his rep by playing Medic (since everybody loves a medic!). So he does, and gets a couple high-rep players to uprate him...which puts him back in the ballgame in terms of being able to play the way he wants.

You know, I'm pretty sure this is mainly an off the cuff comment. The interview was quite conversational, and people took this one line and made that the whole interview. It's sounds like it's an example of something Newell would like to fix, with a comment made as a proposed solution - charging extra for voice chat - and admittingly this doesn't sound very good. However, a complete VAC ban, which is the case now for hackers, seems quite overzealous.

In practice, though, they already have a negative profit for hat makers (they've paid them quite a bit more than the hatmakers paid for TF2). They're looking for ways to reward mappers now, too (using a "stamp" system - if you're a fan of a map, rather than buy it, you buy a stamp which goes back to the mapper) but so far it's been difficult to implement. They've also added a coaching system to further give accolades to good players as well as a Coaching achievement in Portal 2 Co-op.

TF2 is their experiment ground for this sort of thing.

Eacaraxe:

Now where this is nice is with unified services like Steam, rep can be connected to account rather than game. So, let's say BlUnT gets tired of mucking around with his humiliatingly-awful MW2 class he screwed himself into and goes over to TF2. Since he has such a negative rep already, he discovers he no longer gets to wear hats, and can only use each classes' default weapons. Probably should have learned his lesson over in MW2, and hope he can salvage his rep by playing Medic (since everybody loves a medic!). So he does, and gets a couple high-rep players to uprate him...which puts him back in the ballgame in terms of being able to play the way he wants.

This sounds like a positive aspect of gamification, yet it's still behavior modification. Along these lines - rewarding good behavior is one thing (something gamification mechanics do in spades), but there's a reason that they stop short of punishment. It makes the experience less enjoyable for the player, and few games can actually afford to say "screw that player" - they need everyone to keep coming back.

On the other hand - multiplayer games live and die by their community. This weekend's a free COD Black Ops weekend, and if players try this game out and get yelled at, they aren't going to purchase the game. In other words, some games cannot afford to have that problem player.

However, trash talk is an inherent part of multiplayer gaming culture (one of my least favorite, personally), just like competitive sports, and it doesn't do the game any favors to halt it completely. Some people feel they earned the right to yell "I OWNED YOU!", and they have. There are times though where players push it too far - especially racist, sexist, homophobic harassment, etc.

I'm not a fan of overly punishing the player, but slowly locking down select features could help. A reddit style "upvote" "downvote" system (one vote per person per player), or logging how many times a player's been kicked for a game should be enough (They should include a pulldown list for a "reason" though) I've been kicked for idling afk too long, and that's sort of a dick thing to do).

Not to say this won't be abused, because gamers like to game the system as much as possible, but it's something to consider.

jmarquiso:
This sounds like a positive aspect of gamification, yet it's still behavior modification. Along these lines - rewarding good behavior is one thing (something gamification mechanics do in spades), but there's a reason that they stop short of punishment. It makes the experience less enjoyable for the player, and few games can actually afford to say "screw that player" - they need everyone to keep coming back.

[...]

Not to say this won't be abused, because gamers like to game the system as much as possible, but it's something to consider.

Not to sound like some kind of internet fascist, but nowadays I'm strongly in favor of behavior modification through negative reinforcement. If a player is being punished through reputation-based mechanics, the fault should be only theirs as a result of doing something to merit that bad reputation. The gaming community had been self-regulatory for years, and that's been diluted through increasing popularity of games. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and admit the carrot is insufficient, and bring out the stick.

Now, this doesn't preclude the possibility of localized variants or community solutions: for example, a dedicated server that excludes rules on rep-based unlocks, but requires a minimum rep to join. Matchmaking services that allow players to designate what rep of player they want to play with. Servers, that if a player with an extremely low rep joins, they must play with some humiliating models or skins.

All the same, going back to my original post, the idea of a "rep tax" and basing reputation on a ladder system is intended to curtail abuse, while granting "trusted" players with a good reputation more of an opinion on a player than someone with a low reputation, whose opinion cannot necessarily be trustworthy. Players will want to preserve their own rep above affect others', so if they're lowering their own rep by upvoting or downvoting someone else they're going to do it when its truly warranted, rather than retribution for simply losing to them or disapproving of trash-talking. If the taxation ends up creating a zero-sum game between players of equal reputation, then a single group of players can't abuse the system by continually upvoting each other.

Forgive me for not using the quote feature, this is easier:

"... whenever I would beat someone, they would automatically flag me with an 'unsportsmanlike conduct' report."

I completely sympathize, and I intended to cover that possibility in my post, but my trains of thought have so many stops that sometimes I forget where I'm going. It's entirely feasible for an automated system to discover that 'total # player losses' = 'total # of dick votes'. However, its much more likely that those guys were giving out 'Unsportsmanlike' as if it were Halloween; to both those that beat him, and those that lost to him. So 'total # dick votes' would be a number approaching 'total # of games played'. That's a big warning sign in neon lights.

A good system should make it difficult/costly to issue a 'dick vote.' I would happily accept a system where it cost ME something to report someone else - providing my feedback had weight.

Again, regardless of its implementation, its more important that SOMETHING be tried. If only because gamers do not deserve to have to face a whole new wave of crappy behavior in opponents with each new game that is released.

A best case would be something like E-bay's seller rating. Why should I bother playing someone with a zero rating?

And full disclosure: I gave up on my Counter-Strike clan because our rules prohibited groundless accusations of cheating. I fully supported that rule, and I still do - but we had kids in our clan that were cheating, and I couldn't prove it. [Well, OK - and they just wouldn't shut up on alltalk! Note that unrestrained chatter doesn't make them dicks, since it was technically their server too.]

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