Code of Conduct / Community Standards

Maga, I don’t disagree. I don’t know what to expect.

I think you’d make a great mod too. If anyone else has any other ideas of people who could be good to put on a team for reviewing reported posts, do let us mods know. We may need more mods, especially if any decide to step down.

Merk, I hope I haven’t made you feel unwelcome here; that was never my intent. I apologize for my part in bringing you to this decision.

(Maybe take a few days off before doing anything drastic?)

I’ve been watching this thread and the other one (yes, that one) from afar for the past couple of days. I’ve seen a lot of people (many of whom I really like and count as friends) struggling with trying to understand why and how things blew up. There’s a bigger contextual framework at play here, which finally was brought to light and after that things were a touch better. A touch. Sometimes, even when we’re pretty sure we understand why what we did had the effect that it did, trying to explain your good intentions just makes it worse, even though you really did have good intentions and just didn’t know the larger picture. Sometimes it’s better to move on. And yet that thread kept going. And the argument has kept going. And it’s an old argument. One I addressed in the rules of IntroComp years ago, because it is so not a new argument.

But enough of rehashing the IF is Dead thread.

I made a statement off-forum today that some of you may have read. I said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen intfic or its predecessor as a safe space for rational conversation.” First of all, it was a bit over-harsh and I misspoke slightly. I meant to say, “I’ve rarely ever seen intfic or its predecessor as a safe space for rational conversation.” I wanted to clarify this, because it’s a vague enough statement that some might think I was painting with a broader (or thinner) brush than was intended.

Simply put: this place often devolves into unnecessary drama. Fights over interpreters or platforms or OS-specific games or design approaches or why you shouldn’t homebuild or why people who create things for free are somehow obligated to do things as if you’re their paying customer, or, or, or… it (just feels as if it) is rarely about the love of games. The craft, the playing, the appreciation, the thoughtful critique for the sake of improving our work. How can I know that when I’m so rarely here? Because I hear my friends complain about it. I hear them getting frustrated. Sometimes I see them really stressed out about interactions here. Sometimes bordering on physical queasiness. I simply don’t have the bandwidth to self-administer that sort of stress.

That’s the reason I dip into the place once or twice a year, when I need to, to let you all know that IntroComp is happening. And why I’m not around the rest of the time.

If a CoC would make the place better, I might be more inclined to visit. That might be the case for a lot of people. The Choice of Games forum rules of engagement appear quite solid. Thanks, Dan, for weighing in and sharing those as a model so that this group need not invent the wheel.

Merk, I think it would be a shame for you to fully step away. I get you not wanting to be a moderator/admin; I do that in other realms and it’s difficult and not always fun and somewhat draining (though it can be rewarding as well). It does require having a really solid finger on the pulse of what’s happening. But this place is a lot better than its predecessor, and if you walk away it might fall apart. Please consider at least continuing to be the tech brain and solicit the assistance of others for moderating. Hopefully a CoC will allow for the community to do a better job of self-moderation, once it has a clear set of rules — though I think having some thoughtful, inclusive moderators will still be necessary.

Just the situation in general.

One thing I can promise is that I’m not going to do anything drastic. I’ll host the forum as long as it takes to find a willing home (hosting is pretty much all I’ve done over the past few years anyway). I’m just dismayed that what I felt was a legitimate concern – false accusations are also a problem – was construed as being dismissive of complaints. I’m dismayed that defending against it is construed as ignoring the underlying problem. I’m dismayed that a forum built on the principle of speaking freely with minimal moderation now needs extensive rules. I’m dismayed that even saying that much feels like I’m digging myself a bigger hole.

But that’s me as the guy who sometimes posts here. Me as host/admin will do what it takes to bring things in line with what the community wants and needs. But ultimately, because of this discrepancy, I know I’m not the right person to keep doing this. This isn’t an exit from the community for me (well, I guess that depends on how these things work out in practice), but rather a willingness to hand things off to a host/admin better suited to the role.

I replied a minute ago without seeing this. Sorry for a double-post.

I’ll sleep on it. I certainly don’t want to hand things off only to make things worse. My thinking was more that it can be better in more understanding hands. At a minimum, I’d like to shift admin duties to an appropriate volunteer, and just be a regular member. My fears about thought-policing and eggshell-walking may very well turn out to be unfounded. I just think I’d rather see it play out – long-term, anyway – from a non-authoritative position.

I’ve posted a call for volunteers; at least for additional moderators. We can worry about admin/hosting after this is all established.

I can completely appreciate that, and didn’t post to make you feel obligated, but mostly to thank you for what you’ve done and what you’re trying to do.

I think you hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head there.

Some cents:

  • Pointing out that something is misogynistic is not a personal attack. “You f****** miosgynist piece of s***” might be a personal attack, but “That is misogynistic”, put however bluntly, is just not a personal attack.

  • Conversations about misogyny, racism, oppression are always crunchy and painful for a lot of the participants on both sides. It costs a lot to call something out as misogynistic. It takes energy and it’s scary. It hurts if something you’ve done has been called misogynistic, and it’s hard to listen when you’re feeling defensive (you should though). Trying to make all such conversations smooth and nice is just about impossible; sometimes conversations have to be painful. Politeness is sometimes the enemy of progress.

  • Racism and sexism are not the same thing, but this skit on Reverse Racism is required viewing (and also funny):

  • Here is a short piece on how to deal with being called out: There’s a lot of advice on the internet for this sort of thing because this conversation happens so often (which is in itself exhausting).

  • Here is a speculative piece on “calling in” as a way of interacting with oppression, which is not intended as an alternative to calling out but something to think about running alongside: … countable/

  • Any code of conduct needs to be way more about protecting people from oppressive behaviour and enabling them to speak up about it than it needs to be about defending people from false accusations because: (a) the former happens way more often, and (b)the former is much bigger and scarier and more important.

  • Being scared to speak in case you’re called misogynistic is just not a free speech issue. That’s silly. That’s not how the world works right now. It’s also not how free speech works.

  • Codes of conduct are really important. But I think what they’re best at doing is protecting people from abuse and oppression, rather than from rudeness and offense. I don’t think there’s a politically neutral code of conduct. I think they generally involve taking a stance. The language of “Safer Spaces” ( is imbued with radical justice politics, for good reason. The language of most message board codes of conduct is imbued with the general dominant liberalism of our time.

  • False equivalence is a really dangerous thing that leads to all sorts of oppression and exclusion.

  • Still though, “Don’t abuse, don’t harrass, there are moderators and they will do XYZ” is a pretty good place to start.

Oh, and on this thread and the IF Is Dead thread, I think it’s worth saying that, as someone who has seen versions of this argument play out over and over again in a lot of different internet spaces, this has been the most calm, restrained and civil version of this argument I’ve ever seen. That’s not to downplay the hurt and fear that people are feeling – this conversation is always painful, aye – but to point out that through both moderation and all individuals holding themselves back (for good or for ill), this has been way, way less difficult than it could have been. Which also in another way makes it harder because there’s been little to no egregious awfulness, just a lot of really crunchy and difficult situations.

As an outsider to this scene, someone who is not a regular poster and who has few ties to the “traditional” IF community, I am fascinated by the insight into interactive fiction that everyone around here has. Normally I don’t hang out in forums because I find people spend more time arguing and posturing than having actual conversations, and I’m relieved to find out that’s not the case here. I’m so glad to find the interactive fiction community is so welcoming and friendly and full of insights about the competition and the artform. Why, I’m surprised this is still a niche hobby–you would think everyone would want to hang out in this forum! I wish I had signed up earlier because this seems like a really keen community you folks got here.

Just to say that I agree 100% with Merk’s points. Moderation also implies “being moderate”. On both sides of the fence. And, yes, whether you like it or not (and I don’t want to get into the discussion whether this is the case on this forum): Call-outs of perceived racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination are being used as weapons to badmouth people or end an unwelcome discussion. It’s the way the world is. Also, thanks to Andrew for his excellent example of “reverse sexism” where perceived minorities routinely just take the right to talk badly about everybody else. This, too, is a horrible way to behave. Being disciminated against does not give anyone the right to do the same thing to others. Just because I’m a man, “white”, “nerd” or whatever other label you might want to apply to me does not make me (or anyone else) “fair game” to insult – individually or as part of a group!

If this is not meant to be ironic (which I hope with all my heart), this is the kind of post that fill myself with happiness. It’s just a drop in the ocean, maybe, but not to be overlooked.

A house hospitality is usually defined by who its owner is. And I think an exceptional human being like Merk, who put himself in the lines to defend his view of what’s not good or bad, right or wrong, but simply equal for all beings and the least intimidating for all - while ALWAYS being polite, apologizing and fair - deserves to be awarded of his own merits.

A house hospitality, though, is defined also by whom said owner invites at the dinner. So, the least we could do is try and be as understanding, positive and good-willing as he is.

It happens that not everybody thinks this is the worst place in the world. I’m happy. From now on, it can only get better.

Now, off reviewing this bloody IFComp.

This describes myself perfectly, also. I’ve been hovering around the fringes of IF for a long time, have had Inform 7 installed for years but not quite got around to using it in anger (and it’s the same story with the Android version too), picked up a lot of good advice from many experienced and insightful people here (merely by lurking: look at my post count!) and see it as a valuable resource. I really, REALLY don’t want that to change.

@Jamespking If the post IS intended to be ironic (which I doubt), my agreeing with it certainly is not. :slight_smile:

Nobody volunteered, so here’s a starting point based directly on Choice of Games:

It has already been suggested that it needs to cover even more than it already does. In particular, (a) explicitly condemn and prohibit hate group recruitment in the Code of Conduct, and (b) put additional focus on inviting and encouraging Twine authors because this represents minority groups.

From here, I’m leaving it up to the community to fill in the gaps and finalize this Code of Conduct. Once that’s done, I’ll add the “IF” header logo, maybe some styling, post it as a sticky, etc. And from there, it can be linked to when signing up (I think), etc.

After sleeping on what I said yesterday, I do feel like it’s the right decision to turn over hosting/admin to somebody else. For me personally, this is going way too far in the other direction, rather than the middle ground I hoped it would be. I can totally see myself tripping over some of these policies – unintentionally, but nonetheless – and this is directly opposite of what the forum started out to be. It needs to be in the hands of somebody who is 100% on the same page as the community as a whole.

I agree about rgoodness’s post.

I also enjoyed seeing this post of yours, because I hope there are others lurking to help make the forum more useful.

I don’t know if there’s room for a coding-based code of conduct, or for a code of conduct for a sub-board, but having written a few games, I can still be tentative asking for help. I bet a lot of newbies wonder if their problem is really worth asking.

So I wonder if a few positive rules might help here. Stuff that, yeah, is relatively obvious, but lets people know what they can expect e.g.

  1. do a search or two in the Inform IDE documentation, then the board, before reporting.
  2. consider what a tester might do. If you say “I should try…” that’s a good idea but don’t sweat over it
  3. reduce something to as small of a base case as you can. Post the code.
  4. check the “notify me when a reply is posted” box, if only so you can say thanks for the solution. A little thanks goes a long way. (I forgot to the first few times I posted, and I felt bad letting it slip. I want the people who help to know their help doesn’t go in a vacuum.
  5. don’t feel you need to be too experienced to reply to a question. In fact, anyone relatively new who does so frees up time for people higher up the programming chain to do their cool stuff.

I hope this sort of thing would do nothing to discourage posters who’ve already been a big help, and I hope it would open things up to people on the fence about posting.

What exactly is the Code of Conduct going to change? Unless I’ve missed it, there’s never been any overt racism / sexism / homophobia on this forum. The nearest we’ve come to such a thing is IF is Dead thread and that was fairly mild compared to the debates I’ve seen on some forums (nobody threatened to murder anyone or anything similar). Admittedly I’m not the most sensitive person in the world when it comes to such issues, but this smacks a little of overreacting.

Put another way: if the Code of Conduct had always been in force here, what difference would it have made to the IF is Dead thread?

It puts it in the forefront of people’s minds now when posting or replying. It refreshes the idea to those who already post that way. And people like me need some reminders at times. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this forum. It is very much appreciated.
Thank you for the preliminary work on the CoC. This is a great launching point.
Thank you for recognizing and honoring your own desire to vacate the position. It is a sad but understandable and graceful departure.
And thank you for recognizing the need to include protections for oppressed groups, even without understanding the need yourself.

The thread could have been locked after the very first post.

I should hope not. I’d hate to see this community devolve to the stage where every time someone posts a message someone else objects to, the thread gets locked.