Because I just don’t think it’s a good idea.
Right now in the Authors’ Forum there are 1543 posts across 86 topics. There are around a dozen authors writing reviews (some of whom have already made it through the entire comp) and roughly half of the games have individual discussion threads. There are also threads about trends, and theory, and favourite moments, and tons of other stuff. I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say that there’s been more IF Comp activity there than there has been on the entire rest of the internet.
Now obviously not everything that’s posted in the private forum is fit for public consumption, but I’d say the majority of posts totally are. That energy could be going towards drawing in new readers and getting people to talk about the comp. As it stands we’re just sort of spinning our wheels and watching as this year passes by in relative silence.
I can’t speak for all authors – in fact I know for a fact there are some that disagree – but I think the muzzle rule hurts the comp more than it helps it.
I’ve been told the purpose of the rule is to stop people with large fanbases from having an unfair advantage, but that explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Like, if the worry is someone’s going to organize a vote brigade, why have a blanket ban? Why not just have a rule that’s specifically against organizing a vote brigade? And really, do any of the authors even have a large enough fanbase to actually influence the comp this way? It seems like a totally unlikely scenario to me. Also like doesn’t the five-game rule basically deal with this exact problem anyway?
When you take away our ability to talk about the games, you also take away our ability to speak constructively, and to effectively promote the competition. Like we don’t just want to talk about our own work. There are games that I’d love to recommend to people, or quote, or discuss in public. But I can’t and that kinda sucks for all the authors. We’d all benefit from more attention like that, not just the ones with the most twitter followers.
I don’t know, I can see how the rule might have made sense when y’all were like thirty people on a usenet group or whatever, but I just don’t think it makes sense today. It certainly doesn’t match anything I’ve seen outside the interactive fiction (Literally every single non-IF person I have told about the rule has been shocked to learn how restrictive the competition is.) Ultimately it feels kinda self-sabotaging and almost disrespectful. Like you have so little faith in the ability of the authors to post responsibly that you have to ban us from doing stuff that could genuinely help the competition grow. It bums me out, man. I don’t get it.