Content warnings on IFDB

You will be amazed at how quickly your generation’s time will come…

Karma is a stern taskmaster.

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I know I know I know, and I said so! Would prefer to split it off of this thread but I actually do want to drill into the question of “are authority-friendly or otherwise insulated walled gardens Better, for some definition of Better, at attracting and retaining youth interest?” because I think you’re saying that they are and I’m sure you have good reasons for that, but I’m not sure that’s true.

(Rough analog: what is Better at developing Youth enthusiasm for the underpinnings of technology:

  • Scratch, a comparatively walled garden in which there are lots of bumpers to keep you from making a hideous unrecoverable mistake, or
  • A Raspberry Pi, one of the leading mainstream/mass-produced options for “here is a computing device which you can address at the bare metal level if you wish. Here are a bunch of input/output pins that you can query if you know what you’re doing, or fry if you don’t.” {sub Arduino devices if you prefer, I’m not picky.}

Both achieve goals and are not direct substitutes for the other, yes, and I’m not sure there’s an obvious winner. If someone wants to take this up or has a pointer to a place where this kind of thing has been hashed out, I’d like to read it.)

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It’s only Better in the fact that it’s more likely to be allowed in a school or strict parental setting. The idea is that by creating a “safe zone” for kids, teachers and parents can feel confident in recommending the site to children and start the interest early. From there the kids can migrate to the actual IFDB site and experience the rest of the content whenever they’re ready.

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I should clarify that I think this isn’t now my current point of view, significantly based on this discussion and other discussions I’ve been having elsewhere.

I initially modeled my “content warning” ideas based on my ideas for what to do with authors who could be banned from IFDB for vote manipulation and/or harassment. (Currently we can only prevent the the author from logging in to IFDB, but that doesn’t really solve a problem if they’re sockpuppetting/brigading to upvote their game, but where it’s hard to prove that any individual vote is inappropriate.) In that case, I’d definitely want some visibility restrictions, like not showing up in top lists, search, etc.

But I’ve now come around to the idea that I do want adult-oriented high-quality games to appear on the IFDB home page; I especially wouldn’t want to rule out popular, important adult-oriented Twine games.

Part of the problem here is that my own intuitions are in conflict. I think I don’t want to see Sexual Service Act on the home page, but a gooey game like With Those We Love Alive (2014 XYZZY nominee for best game) does deserve a place on the home page.

Those early bug reports don’t reflect my current attitude, which is conflicted at best. They still make sense to keep in the suggestion tracker as points of discussion, but, as I keep saying, we haven’t finished deciding anything yet.

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It could be worth asking the education committee (or anyone else) how schools work with other sites. Like do they have proxy servers which automatically switch to the kids mode of youtube? A separate curated kids site could be worthwhile even with some level of visibility restrictions on the main side.

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Until 2018 I worked part-time as a technician in the Media Studies department of a local High School. Access to YouTube was blocked on the school network. This made our jobs very difficult, because many of the things that were on the Media Studies syllabus were unavailable for the students to watch. One of my jobs when I got home was to download a list of videos on my private computer for the teachers to show the next day. The school policy was that if there was any risk at all to the students, the website would be blocked, and I’m fairly sure that most British schools have a similar policy. Not terribly helpful I know, but that was the reality at my school.

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My experience as well. Overkill without question.

In addition, I had more than one student that could figure out how to bypass the filters.

I also had a talented math student in Florida that was into hacking. He argued that since he was minor, they wouldn’t do anything if caught.

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I have some experience in the schools-video space. Until the start of this year I worked for the company that delivers Enhance TV in Australia.

As per J J Guest and fos1’s posts, video is the thing that schools most want but that is the most fraught to deliver. Youtube is considered to be totally unreliable by educators for safety reasons. There’s no curation, exploitative material can appear without warning, there are deceptive videos, it’s full of ads, the technical quality of videos is all over the place and videos you do like aren’t guaranteed to stay up. Kid-mode isn’t trustable either. Plus it’s not the place where you can generally find, say, that great science program that screened last night, or last night’s news from each of the free to air channels.

In Australia, the desire to avoid Youtube leads schools to consider one of the paid curated services (e.g. Enhance TV, Clickview). The question then becomes: does the school feel the value of paying for one of these licences (per year) is worth it? You may have some teachers who don’t think acquiring access to that many videos may be worth it; there’s a bit of generational-ness in this. Enhance TV is non-profit and so sold itself to the part of the market that was uhm-ing and ah-ing for cost reasons.

Anyway, what they do get with these services is overall unlimited access to pretty much every even-potentially-microscopically-educationally-relevant program that’s been on free-to-air, going back years and years - including everything that was on last night - and very finely graded ability to control student access to any and all of it by many means. This tends to be a huge headache-reducer for schools.

So in the video space anyway, schools have certainly adopted and appreciated a version of video that’s totally curated and easily permission-controlled by staff.

On a related IF side note, when I was setting up Six for a school, their main thing was they appreciated that I was able to “seal off” a copy - i.e. no external resources or links, and they were able to host the game on their own computer.

-Wade

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Communism/Soapmaking

As a spry young zennial, I have no thoughts on either creeping mortality or soap-making.

I do, however, have a lot of experience lying about my age online to see pornographic content. Which is to say: some kids are going to get past this stuff no matter what you do. It is an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of the internet age.

I don’t think the goal should be to create a fool-proof method to prevent children from accessing adult content, but rather to create a method to prevent children from unintentionally accessing adult content, as well as a method to allow parents and teachers to monitor what their children are playing.

That is why I worry about the effectiveness of a kids.ifdb.org. Any kid looking into interactive fiction innocently or otherwise on the internet is going to find mostly links to the regular IFDB. For this reason I think changes have to apply to the regular version of IFDB as well, which makes a kids.ifdb.org kind of extraneous.

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I mentioned it before, but the idea behind the kids subdomain is for networks that whitelist sites instead of blacklisting. Basically nothing is allowed except specifically approved sites. So they won’t be able to google and find links leading to the adult versions because their network already disallows that.

There’s not much you do can for kids that are outside of a filtered environment though. The age gate is easily bypassed. The only thing you can do is have the site identify itself as having potentially adult content so that if the child is using a browser that is put into child mode, it won’t display it or will throw a warning. But that’s only if the child is using a browser in that mode.

It’s just not possible to parent everyone’s children, and I don’t think we should even try. All we can do is provide options for them.

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Thank you for spelling it out, I didn’t fully connect “the strategy is to create a thing and then advertise that thing to the whitelist-managing authorities in the hopes of being whitelisted.”

I have no experience handicapping the chances of success wriggling one’s way into those whitelists, but a separate (as in additional, not replacement-for-the-Prime) subdomain (or whatever) experience sounds reasonable if “get whitelisted” is the strategy. I kept getting distracted by the “no one should ever accidentally see Bad” camp.

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Hate to bump this exhausting thread, but I remembered this specific post when I saw that Mathbrush has been being given review copies of Choice games to splash on the front page.

Somebody obviously feels the IFDB is reasonable to use as a marketing platform, and mods have apparently been taking actions against other authors who were asking their fans to go and give them reviews, so this is being taken as a real possibility that should be guarded against.

If Choice games are going to be the exception however it’s…not a great look, but then not a surprising one either.

I’d be happy to make my reviews less conspicuous if several people feel the same way. I’ve long felt that my big lead over the next reviewers and my persistent image on the front page ‘top reviewers’ bar has been an unfair hurdle for others.

It’s very easy to hide my reviews from the front page, and I have done so before for dozens of reviews at a time. You just ‘embargo’ the review, and then ‘unembargo’ it after a few days.

My Choice of Games reviews get few upvotes and, I assume, few looks from the IFDB itself (I imagine most people say, ‘oh, another Mathbrush review’; I’m noted for quantity, not quality), but more traffic from Twitter and links on the CoG forums.

So I’d be happy to hide reviews from the front page. However, I don’t believe any one person should make policy, and in all my actions as moderator I’ve tried to make sure to get the inputs of others first. So if you can build a consensus, I’m happy to do it!

Edit: But you better make it quick! I’ve got another one coming tonight and tomorrow and I only have about 14 total left to do.

Editedit: forgot an important word

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I like your reviews, and I think the constant feed of your content makes IFDB a more vibrant and lively place to look for IF stories. Thank you for the effort you put into creating an exhaustive record of your IF journey. I think we should be encouraging more people to be active, not punishing the people who are.

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(This seems like it could be the start of a new thread/topic? It doesn’t really have anything to do with content warnings.)

We gave @mathbrush review copies with no strings attached. (Speaking for myself, I was curious to learn what patterns he’d discover in our most/least successful games.) We made it clear that he could review the games on IFDB and Steam, but he doesn’t have to do anything at all with them.

For comparison, Google Analytics says that choiceofgames.com welcomed 126 visitors from IFDB in February 2021. In February 2020, before we sent review copies to Mathbrush, there were 166 visitors.

Hanon is right: appearing on the IFDB home page is not an effective promotional tool.

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If being gifted a $7 game for review is enough to sway Mathbrush’s opinion of the game, I may have overestimated his scruples. or budget. or both. :sweat_smile:

I also don’t really think it matters if Mathbrush has a bazillion reviews. I don’t see why it should be intimidating or an unfair hurdle. It’s not a contest, is it? Given that choice between the two, I’d rather have a single person review all of the games than have none of the games reviewed.

and mods have apparently been taking actions against other authors who were asking their fans to go and give them reviews

This part hasn’t been acknowledged by the responses though. What’s up with that? You’re not allowed to review a friend’s game? Doesn’t that mean that anyone in friendly contact with others on this board shouldn’t review games?

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The new code of conduct has the following prohibition:

Ratings and reviews are expected to be made in good faith. Ratings and reviews that are judged by moderators not to be in good faith may be removed.

The following are prohibited:

  • Maintaining multiple accounts to support or denigrate specific games, authors, or users (“sockpuppeting”)
  • Using ratings for anything other than an evaluation of the game’s contents (“bad-faith ratings”)
  • Encouraging others to break the above rules

Rating a game of a friend is just fine unless there is significant evidence that you’re giving them 5 stars just to boost their rating. Proving something like that would be really, really hard; like, if your friend publicly wrote, ‘Hey, my games need more ratings, everyone come and rate my games. I’m watching!’ and then a dozen people give him 5 star ratings for every game he’s ever written, then sure, that’s pretty good evidence. But outside of that, it would probably be impossible to prove, and nothing would happen.

A bigger issue would be downvoting every single game by a prolific author (edit: I say prolific because it’d be hard to tell if they only had one or two games) in a short period of time (which has resulted in a ban) or issuing low ratings and explicitly saying “I’m giving you this low rating because you were mean to me.”

The IF community is so small that preventing people from reviewing friends would basically result in nothing ever happening.

Edit: As a final note, the IFDB tech team are working hard to make everything reversible. If you think anyone was dealt with unfairly, please contact us.

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Thanks for the clarification. Those rules seem just fine to me. :+1:

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6 posts were split to a new topic: IFDB Feedback