i-Novae's community management is a disaster #3

#1

Note: This is the 3rd version of this thread, despite never having been discussed before on these forums and Keith stating previously we were fine to discuss these things in the off-topic areas, he deleted the first and second versions. This third is being posted after i was requested to edit out “misinformation” “allegations of abuse” and “personal attacks”. I am editing out things that even vaguely approach the third item, there is no misinformation, keith is welcome to publically disagree and provide his own alternate facts, and allegations of abuse are the entire point.

So it’s been about a week since an I-Novae moderator decided to abuse their powers to kick a personal enemy after being goaded into it in a public channel. Following this they also started deleting other people’s messages, messages which broke no rules. This fact was admitted by the moderator themselves.

Since then, the person kicked by the off the rails moderator was voted to be permabanned by I-Novae, the moderator has gotten what they’ve wanted and are parading around that “there was no abuse”, solidifying the fact that this person hasnt learned, has no interest in learning and will never learn. Lets consolidate the facts, so there’s no room for ambiguity or rationalizations.

So how about we start by going through the list of mistakes.

  • keith publicly @'ing the entire community to announce cybercritic had been banned. There is no circumstance in which pinging everyone to celebrate banning someone is warranted.
  • Voting on whether to immediately permaban someone. Maybe you should play more forum wolf games to see why this obviously makes no sense. Since you did it though an explanation is warranted. By voting you diffuse responsibility in the outcome, encourage all the other failures in this list to happen since no one person has to actually think about it or make sure there’s been sufficient procedure or warning. especially in a company, once you start a vote then if someone domineering votes yes, everyone has to follow suit.
  • Permabans as the first ban
  • not immediately removing a moderator for abusing their powers and instead endorsing them and following their recommendations.
  • Not giving sufficient warning (1)
    None of this is acceptable behavior let alone community management.

(1) Of course, there is some limited debate. At first I-Novae was claiming there had been more than plenty warning given. Since then I-Novae has piecemeal admitted no real warning was given for the permaban. There had been no recent warnings, you can go back over a month in public chat without finding anything and no PM warning had ever been given. As i spoke to team members in turn it became clear they were all just pushing the responsibility for having giving warnings off to someone else, and settled on vague, diffused “sufficient warning was given”. Anyone can find their warnings in public channels and judge for themselves whether something from months ago was worth a ban given flavien has stated directly “critic wasn’t banned for this specific incident”, okay then why was he banned in response to this incident? When you need to rotate half-truths to rationalize, its time to stop.

This is an absolute disaster. I’ve been told twice that it would be handled later and both times now it’s turned out to be a straight up lie, instead just another appointment to make things worse. We understand a learning experience, but you aren’t learning, the many community members that have sent complaints about these actions have been noted, and said complaints stuffed in the trash.

So what now? Is it time to recover or keep making it worse? It’s all on you, if you keep making it worse then you can only expect your limited reputation to get associated with awful community management, thats just what happens when small indie games do this kind of shit.

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#2

I too think that critic could have at least been given a final warning, but you have to accept the fact that this isnt a public space, it’s the discord of a private company and they can and should have the right to ban anyone for any reason.
Fact of the matter is that the accusation that critic may have been a key factor in multiple people leaving the discord and abandoning the community/game can’t really be refuted with certainty. That alone is a valid reason for the company to ban someone.
How they did it is unfortunate, but I don’t suspect malice behind their handling of it, and it’s not like they banned him everywhere.

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#3

Of course they have the physical right to do whatever they want. Historically though we’ve had decent community management in the Infinity community, and now it’s getting so bad that even the old community manager is criticizing what they’re doing.

The community is one of the biggest assets to this kind of community. Am i now supposed to go out of my way to help advertise things when needed after keith has threatened to ban me for “misrepresenting facts”? Im more likely to do the opposite and spread a warning not to get involved here.

It just isn’t sane on any level. I don’t have much of a self-preservation instinct or obviously i wouldn’t be making these posts still, i just have very little interest in being a part of a community where the people running it are abusing their power to mess with people and generating alternate-facts.

They are treating the community as a liability rather than an asset, this has been a trend since keith joined up and the contribution system got canned. If you treat something as a liability thats what it becomes.

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#4

As a company, we have a red line, which is that if you keep costing us more players and being more harm and trouble than what you are contributing, then you are no longer welcome to our Discord server.

Critic was given plenty of warnings in the past, including a public one by Keith and a private one by Dan, months ago. We did not feel like we needed to warn him -again- after he was found at the heart of last week’s drama. Especially as he had been continuying his personnal attacks / mockery on a number of people, including some dev team members.

Constructive criticism has never been a problem in general, and is welcome, and he’s in fact, as far as I remember, the first person we’ve banned from Discord ( besides a few people blatently breaking the rules by posting spam / porn ), which should speak plenty about our patience levels.

As for making a public announcement, as he was a prominent member of the community, we felt that if we had sillently banned him, a number of people would have accused us of trying to keep it a secret, so we wanted to be as transparent as possible with our decision. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe not - to me if feels like case of “doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t”. Time will tell.

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#9

You don’t need to respond if you don’t want to flavien, but i want to clarify the important points.

Critic was related to the drama as a target, not an instigator or anything else. You said “critic wasn’t banned for this specific incident” but now say it was a result of the drama. Which is it, i keep getting told contradictory information… If he was, then he was banned for being told to fuck off by chee, who (you probably didnt see this in the logs) deleted his “fuck off” message, posted another message specifically intended to try to get critic banned by making it look like critic was talking to chee out of nowhere. He then deleted this too once i commented that i saw his original message.

he was then targetted by coach hours after that silly episode, entirely caused by chee, had ended. who started poking him and eventually kicked him, this was another case of abuse, being targetted directly over something that should never have been brought up. So now you’re saying you have banned someone for being targetted by other community members??? In what universe is that acceptable?

If not then there really was no recent trigger or event and yall just decided to can him months ago without telling anyone? Not great either.

He was not warned in private. Dan stated he was warned in public and they had a private conversation. Frankly with the building list of mistakes here this one item doesnt matter much but i dont see why the insistence on a point that is only true if you squint.

The community doesnt exist to serve the devs… if you feel like someone isn’t “contributing” thats not an excuse to ban them, maybe you’re spoiled by the help but let me clarify, anything you get from us is a donation, including our time and money. You arent entitled to any of it and saying you’ll ban people for not contributing doesnt make sense.

And even then critic has contributed more than probably half of the rest of the community combined with all his gameplay feedback but im quickly learning my feedback probably wasn’t valued much either despite it being critical to gameplay being playable right now. But maybe its just me who thinks that.

If you think critic has “cost players” sorry but i call foul, people who leave because of one person in the community wouldnt still be here anyways, they used their desire to leave to throw some petty shots at a personal grudge or whatever. Chee in the most recent drama was entirely the aggressor and hates discord to begin with, he had already left beforehand. He literally came back to the discord just to tell critic to fuck off and start this mess, does that sound like someone you need to worry about losing? its not that he just left your discord either. he left all discord servers.

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#10

Hi, what is there to argue about? The critic is not an adequate person. Master of insults. Mentioning that we would meet in the battle, he said that he was not playing and was not going to play this game! so what is he doing in this community? Discusses, criticizes the Players and their views, passing with insults to the individual.

#11

Can I confirm that deletion of messages has now been turned off on the Discord server? I also attempted to talk to Chee about something only for him to delete his messages and leave me looking as though I was talking to myself.

Unless you have a log of the baiting that was directed at critic and subsequently deleted then you were only acting on half the story. I’m surprised that you would be satisfied with that level of evidence for an immediate permanent ban of one of your developer tier supporter who contributed hundreds of dollars to you.

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#12

As someone who is totally outside of the drama:

  • Cyber isn’t necessarily a pleasant person, but banning someone for the wrong reason gives precedent for very bad community management, which will hurt everyone in the long run.
  • This could be easily cleared up by making sure that everything regarding the situation is public (discord audit logs, or actual logs if you run a logger bot*; the warnings given, the conversation that resulted in the final ban).
  • Honestly, it feels like both sides here got played by someone power tripping on the internet. Stop believing people on the internet. You have logs for a reason.

(*Run a good discord logger to save yourself the hassle in the future, if you are not already.)

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#13

Hi, this individual will constantly run an intrigue in a diologist. I think that conflict situations have been and will be. Since he is not going to take part in the project, and to mislead new participants, and even more so to insult the community members who are really worried about the fate of this project. He is a Troll, but not the guys who make their proposals for the development of the Game, even if not quite relevant. He cuts, operates with verbosity, passing on insults. CHEM is fueling hostility towards this community and the project as a whole. My guys looked at the screenshots of communication, and concluded. What there is nothing to do in Infinity. We must get rid of the Trolls.

#14

You forgot to capitalize my name.

#15

Untitled

#16

Smug much?

1 Like
#17

Discord gets some of the blame here. You can’t temp-ban on Discord, but you can use bots and roles to temporarily remove someone’s ability to chat on the server if they’re being problematic. I’ve suggested a bot that offers this functionality and strongly advise the dev team to spend the relatively small amount of time to set it up if they’re planning on continuing to run the Discord server.

I don’t think it’s that simple. Critic and Coach had a history of butting heads with each other before I transferred the server over to INS. Granting one moderator and leaving one as a regular pleb was bound to cause issues. I also think you’re undervaluing the contribution critic provided, financially and in terms of suggestion from years of community. Not to mention the provision of a server bot, which is really the only external integration with the game I’ve seen, and we’ve now sadly lost.

I’ve thought about this some more since our moderator catch up, but on reflection I think this is a problem that INovae’s lax approach to moderation brought on itself, along with a lack of investment in moderation tooling and community management. On the other hand, if I’d been told that INS would kick people who said things the developers thought were mean I probably wouldn’t have handed the server over without knowing more about your moderation plans.

In terms of how we move forward, I have some suggestions:

  1. INovae continues running the server, but you can’t and shouldn’t just rely on volunteer moderators. We don’t get paid and we have no contract with your company. The only mandate we got going forward was to use our best judgement and escalate when things were getting a bit out of hand. As far as I can tell, this entire episode was primarily caused by one moderator overreacting and escalating a situation that could have been defused. I don’t think members with a history of wading into day-long arguments are suitable choices for community moderators. INS should spend a bit of time investing in tools that give moderators better information to manage situations on the server, and we should have access to audit logs so that we can make sure no-one’s getting in other their heads.
  2. If INovae are concerned about reputational impact from occasionally disruptive members, another option is to just hand the Discord server back to the community. INS aren’t currently utilising the Discord server in a way that would really require ownership anyway (which pains me, but I digress). This model seemed to work fairly well before and could again.
  3. INS could just close the server down, but that wouldn’t bar community members just starting a new one, so would imply the second option. Also, INS would then have to implement some kind of in-game chat, so…
  4. Things stay as they are today. In which case I don’t think I can fairly keep moderating the server. Between the overall noise and alleged post deletions, there is no way to meaningfully moderate reactively on the server. Moderators also don’t currently see audit logs, which means it’s impossible to see if a fellow moderator is getting in too deep and we need to tell them to step back. I think it’s unrealistic to expect moderators acting as volunteers to keep our eyes glued to the server 24/7, but without doing that it means we’re likely to be forced to jump into action without all the necessary information.
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#18

I think this story of “Coach abused his powers” is blown a bit out of proportion. Sure, deleting messages was inappropriate, and we warned him not to do it again. However, if we look at his actions in the past months, it doesn’t seem like he’s been on a frenzy power madness:

Note that Discord does not allow us to see the contents of the deleted messages, but from our understanding, admitted by Coach himself, was that he shouldn’t have deleted that comment ( it didn’t break any rules ) and that it was a mistake that unfortunately put oil on the fire. It shouldn’t happen again; we’ve made it clear in our moderators meeting that we expect moderators to only act upon blatant rules breaking, and that edge cases should be escalated to us, especially when the line is blurry.

It is obvious that we do not want moderators to be arguing in public with other community members and using their powers to “silent” people they don’t like. If you witness any moderator behaving that way, you’re more than welcome to record a log / picture and to send us a complaint, so that we can demote that moderator.

I also quickly want to mention that Critic is only banned from the Discord server. He’s still welcome to post on these forums ( as long as it doesn’t degenerate into personal attacks, but strangely, I think he’s been pretty well behaved on the forums in general so far ) and he still has full access to the game.

1 Like
#19

I wasn’t actually just referring to Coach’s messages, but the alleged self-deletion of some messages that provoked the incident. Again, Discord frustratingly gives no meaningful way out of the box to validate this.

I would have thought that would start with not enlisting people with a track record of wading into arguments as moderators, regardless of whether you trust them to misuse their powers or not.

I don’t think that really helps the situation. When CIG had enough of Derek Smart, they blocked him completely, gave him his money back, and told him to go away. Obviously not suggesting that here, but it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to permanently ban a user from one form of communication with the community, the one that’s actually probably more important given the game lacks built-in voice communications, but leave his access elsewhere. I’m not a fan of permanent bans at the best of times, but this still doesn’t feel properly thought through.

#20

I think the big problem that people have is that we’re not clear what rule critic broke that caused him to be banned.

We’ve heard that he got under the people’s skin and was giving “sass” to a moderator.

Are you saying that he broke the rules because he made personal attacks or harassment?

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