Hey everyone I just wanted to give an update on the whole issue of Discord moderators given that some of you were asking about the removal of @Topperfalkon yesterday. The crux of the issue for us is that we made it clear, or at least we thought we did, during our last moderator meeting a month or 2 ago that moderators were considered representatives of the company even though they are unpaid. In exchange for this they were given a direct line to us. If, at any point, any one of them had an issue or a question we pledged to be immediately available to them as best we could, even via voice if necessary.
A problem arises when we have moderators, in their capacity as representatives of the company, who openly advocate against the company - particularly if they make little to no attempt to reach out to us directly beforehand. This was the case for @Lomsor and to a lesser extent @Topperfalkon. After speaking with all of our moderators it became evident to us that they were not entirely comfortable with the expectation of being a representative of the company. It seemed to us that they, as members of the community, felt like they were caught between a rock and a hard place when a dispute arises between the company and members of the community they consider their friends.
To that end, we’ve decided it’s best if we just remove all community moderators. This is not punitive, we aren’t mad at anyone, we recognize our moderators are longstanding community members with significant knowledge that’s helpful to players both old and new, and we simply want to eliminate the potential for conflict of interest. For that reason we will also be creating a new role, Senior Community Member (we’re open to alternative name suggestions), which all of our moderators, including @Topperfalkon, will receive. This role will not have the authority to kick anyone or anything else. The only expectation will be for them to do what they’ve already been doing by being constructive and helpful members of our community - which we want to highlight.
Lastly, if members of the community think there is someone else who should receive the Discord title of Senior Community Member you can send a proposal to us or post one here. Acceptance will be at our discretion and we may or may not provide a reason for why any one candidate is accepted or rejected.
We hope this alleviates some of the concerns with moderators that have been expressed by both us and various community members over the last few months and, as always, we appreciate feedback.
Not a bad solution. I think most people can live with that.
What irks me personally is this:
I am very sorry you have this perception. I am pretty sure that I can speak for everybody who signed the letter that none of us ever wanted, did or intended to advocate against Inovae. The fact that you feel this way is a bit insulting to be honest.
The people that signed this letter have pledged their own hard earned money because we believe(d) in the project, have spend countless hours promoting and sharing the game and generally wished you guys all the best in the past, we specifically worded the letter as not to give the impression that we are against the project and that we want to see it be successful. The letter is meant to urge you to implement changes that will help you.
The root of the issue is less about the content of the letter itself ( which we are still discussing internally and we’ll be addressing more of its points later on ) than the way it was delivered, as a surprise public post, while the moderators, as Keith said, had a direct line to us to address or relay their / the community’s concerns, and did not exert it. After talking to Lomsor, it became appearent to us that they weren’t comfortable with this half-in half-out role, which is why we’re disbanding the moderators and looking for better ways to communicate and manage the community.
This is a fairly good idea, the role of being a “moderator” in a discord as small as ours is mostly down to using the “talking to people” method of moderation and usage of the mod tools should be very rare anyways. This with the addition of the bot so that people can be timed out instead of permabanned without correct escalation and warning are good first steps forward. However, we’re still yet to correct past mistakes in that area.
Down the road a community manager is still required, because someone other than the game devs should be the one dealing with mod tools to minimize interest conflicts and the sheer amount of mistakes dealing with this.
Some alternative name suggestions to “senior”, since it doesnt seem like seniority is the criteria being used and that’s confusing. I dont think you are likely to put @critic in this position for example, despite having seniority. “Trusted” “Helper” “Community leader”, other good options.
This isn’t true though, since we’re trying to keep people honest, you’ve been reached out to by both of those people multiple times.
I’ve seen a few people advocate against the company, but those instances have been relatively rare and Lomsor and Topper’s actions havent even like approached the boundary of advocating against the “company” itself. Sending you a letter asking for improvements is not advocacy against you nor was topper’s forum post. One of the root problems with communication that you seem to be having is that you see people trying to help with the public letter as an attack, even after you’ve been ignoring this same feedback sent privately for over a month! You lose the right to be offended that something is “public” after ignoring many in private for that long.
Furthermore, the community here does not exist to pander to a company that behaves in an abusive fashion. If people complain it’s not because we want to shut the company down it’s obviously because we want to behaviors to be reformed, to be able to resume supporting you.
You should be pleased that you have such a principled community that people will go out of their way to act as a check and balance for community related decisions. In many respects Inovae has acted as if it’s impossible that it could be wrong, or could have ever been wrong. This is something that should change going forward. Its not like any dev gets things right the first try, but pretending it’s impossible for decisions made to ever be wrong just makes no sense no matter who you are.
Inovae has received repeated deliveries of community concerns by both the moderators and other signers of that letter, be honest. If that has not been the case then you should correct my incorrect impression.
In fact what happened was that repeated attempts to reach out were met with stonewalling, no progress at all on the issues and no intention to improve the community mismanagement was relayed along those private channels. Personally, what i received in response was acknowledgement that the original drama that started was handled badly, this implies that there were indeed mistakes to correct. But despite that, what followed this a series of refusals to do even a single thing to correct it, and then THAT was followed by multiple direct lies from multiple in the staff trying to justify those decisions. I think part of this was that your internal communication was suffering as well, but why not just compromise off the bat. Or at least trust the people that have been with you over a decade enough to actually look into what they are saying. There was no trust, no attempt.
At every step in this now very extended drama, i have personally provided exact and detailed rationale for what went wrong where, solutions to the situation as it evolved, and advice for how to avoid the same thing repeating itself. Many others have also provided their insight. All of this was rather blatantly ignored in favor of just saying “discussion over” after throwing a mess in our laps and leaving. I am glad there is finally something being done but ask yourselves, was any of this neccasarry? You are only now doing things that were requested all along. Why did we need to do something as silly as change our nicknames to critic and state our issues in the discord? Why is that what made the difference?
Thanks for taking the time to formulate a follow up to the “community moderator” role.
There hasn’t been much actual moderation done in Discord by myself, I have kept an eye open and tried to help as much as possible. Much more wasn’t really necessary or the problem was bigger then moderation alone could have handled.
The only times I personally had to use the power was to kick and delete porn postings and the offender. Which happened, I think, two or three times.
A bit more then a month ago there was a communication from I-Novae to the community moderators that entailed two things primarily:
It has been communicated to us that I-Novae is expecting us to represent the company. I interpreted it as such that when I engage in discussions on the Discord I should refrain from partaking in overly aggressive criticism as well as that my actions there are somewhat “more official” then if not being “a green”.
The other thing that was communicated is that we should escalate moderation concerns to I-Novae earlier and that we can contact them in case there’s anything critical (read “Big”) where it would be better for them to directly intervene.
After yesterdays talk it became apparent that there was a misunderstanding or miscommunication on both of these things.
Firstly it appears that I-Novae cares a lot about the representation issue and that’s ok, if they feel uncomfortable with the arrangement I am glad we were able to adjust it now for the better.
For the second part I didn’t feel like the underlying issues that the open letter try to tackle were even related to the direct link we had on discord, neither did I think that it would have been the right way of communicating them in such a manner.
The way the letter was delivered was in flux and it was decided to make it an open letter in the hope for it to have the highest chance of having a positive outcome.
I want to make clear though that this kind of stance is voluntary from the side of I-Novae, community moderators do not necessarily have to be representing the company.
“Mere” community members also hold power over the public image of I-Novae or the game. It wasn’t specifically transferred from I-Novae, still, the next step up is something in between, especially as it sits between community and developer.
Keith means the specific special link to them, pinging and DM that is handled prioritised, as opposed to general posting or mentioning. In fact I did not utilise it as I thought it was primarily for moderation issues.
We have tried to resolve the issues we see with the usual approach. Well written forum Posts or Discord discussion. Both didn’t resolve the issues so another approach was searched for.
I’m back to the forums and all this happens, just read everything and still need to formulate an opinion…
But let me try to be a devil’s advocate here:
See this from INS point of view now. They open to the community giving mods huge direct channel of communication with the team. They go back heads down on working on the game. Weeks are passing. Instead of using DMs, they see concern public post and then see released to the public an open letter (which in the eyes of the general public is never a good thing if released by senior members of the mod community, whatever then content of the said letter is, and can be misinterpreted by a magazine to be anything). How must they feel?
It also kinda justifies why there were not responding to a public post, they have entrusted mods with dealing with this and were ‘waiting’ for mods to reach to them for anything they can’t handle or want clarification on… The ‘open letter’ must have been first a ‘closed letter’ sent in DMs.
This all seems like one big misunderstanding (from both sides as described by Lomsor and Devs)…
Generally speaking, seniority is never a criteria for being a senior in a said professional role. A senior developer is not someone who simply codes for 10 years, you must have developed soft and hard skills in the professional role to be considered senior.
‘No’ what? Are you completely ignoring/refusing INS point of view, the second paragraph of my reply or removing context from it? They gave an ‘open’ direct message/voice channel to the mods. Mods who were considered representatives of the company. As representatives of the company ‘threads concerning the issues’ must have been addressed the DMs way first. Please elaborate in the context of INS point of view on the situation.
For your information: The letter was not created by the mods, it was created and supported by multiple community members, one of them also happened to be a mod.
And mods beeing “company representatives” is not something that excludes them from voicing their opinion and concerns anyway.
The issues of the letter were talked about multiple times beforehand, in the forum and discord. They never got a real response which triggered them to do the letter as a last resort.
You just don’t have all the information. Please stop regurgitating what the devs said without knowing what happenend before.
Lomsor, and Topper to some extent, have been acting as community representatives first, and company representatives second. We were already on the verge of disbanding moderators following critic’s ban, but this open letter thing simply comforted us into thinking that it was time to try something new.
As for the content of the letter, yes these issues have been mentionned or discussed multiple times in the previous months or years ( although some things were a surprise, such as the “corporate speech” or the “you haven’t been communicating as well since the KS”, which we frankly disagreed with, considering we were in the dark ages in terms of pre-KS comm and have published something like 150 updates since then. But if anything I do agree our communication has become less clear / focused since the EA ).
What has never been clear to us is their priority. If you take the bot for example, I’ll fully admit that we’ve under-estimated its importance to the community. Lomsor and Topper explicitely mentioned it in our meeting two months ago, and we said that we’d investigate it, but we quickly added that in terms of priorities it wasn’t exactly high on our list, so it woulld take some time. We never received, as far as I know, a private message or a voice call / meeting inquiry to let us know that the community was growing impatient about the bot - and as a consequence, we did not prioritize it.
Prioritization of issues is certainly something we might have faulted on before - or still are today -, but I’d like to remind everybody that Keith has a full time job, is in lockdown in a house with his parents, a wife and two screaming babies, while I am the only one working on the game full-time, crunching all the time on patches. So it’s not like we want to ignore the community, it’s because frankly, our attention bandwidth is limited.
The devs multi troll accounts for damage control is what you are responding to probably, don’t bother. The devs have bit the hands that feed them and shot themselves in the foot hard on this one just sit back and watch.
Everyone that signed that letter should make a game. It would be out before this one.
I’ve been pushing you for years about priorities and owning your mistakes, it got me banned and now you are saying you haven’t been pushed hard enough to add a bot, a trivial task that got completed in a few hours. Would have been really nice if I got the same liberties before my ban, like sending me a DM and having a civil conversation before perma banning me.
We have had civil conversations about your behavior before, and we have given you plenty of occasions to comply. Your refusal to take our warnings seriously, and your lack of respect for our authority, is what got you banned.
Well, you turned out to just be having a miscommunication about whether or not critic was warned in private, this lead to you repeatedly lying despite being asked to double check many times. When i provided a direct and very clear quotation from hutchings you just jumped to the conclusion that it was ME that was lying by taking the comment out of context and went on the attack, when you didn’t even bother to confirm it…
The lesson here is that you need to consider the possibility that you are wrong about a lot more, including the extent, frequency and even content of these “civil conversations”, because it should be apparent to you by now that a lot of other people think you are. You do not have all the information loaded into your brain, you are not some perfect machine and we don’t expect you to be, but we do expect you to actually check when someone says you are making an incorrect recollection.
If you don’t have time for actually checking, the move is to pull back a punishment everyone thinks is unjust then say “Okay, going forward we will document, escalate and warn correctly”. If the person is actually a problem it should be easy for you to find future examples. Even if you were right originally, if they stop being a problem after you pull back then you win there too! It’s easy and it’s a win for everyone.
Very few game developers come to work, twirl their evil mustache and say “ahah! I don’t like this user, i will ban them!”. Instead, what typically happens is that there is a vague report they did something wrong. Maybe there was a grain of truth but it was exaggerated, maybe one team member said they just didn’t like what someone wrote, and another team member interpreted it as some kind of attack. Maybe another user blamed someone for something with no evidence. Maybe it plainly didn’t happen. If you do not like that person there is a well documented inherent bias to just believing whatever you hear that’s negative, it’s called confirmation bias.
If this goes on for long enough, one just assumes all those things were true and then just says yeah we’ve had enough. It is at this point that due diligence is required. Looking back into the logs, making sure rule violations really occurred, checking for proper escalation and communication. If that doesn’t happen, what happens is person gets banned for being disliked.
That is rather exactly what happened in this situation, with the extra stipulation that you didn’t even provide a false reason for months, and now that we got a reason it’s an invented post-facto with reasons that don’t even violate the rules…