Just as a point of fact, this is not true, and has never been true. There are no formal mechanisms for mediation/discussion/appeal, but there are now and have always been informal mechanisms for all of that, because ifcomp is, at its heart, an idea dreamed up by one guy in 1995, participating in a community. Like all human endeavors involving a community, it cannot exist without the support of that community. Jacqueline does not and has not made decisions in a vacuum, and while she obviously has final say over the thing she is running by virtue of being the person running it, the fact that she does take community opinion into account when making decisions is one of the many things that grant her that authority in the first place. So an author could find a mediator, discuss things here or elsewhere or with Jacq directly, ask for an appeal with her or here, or anything else.
If you think that the comp has grown enough that it should have a more formal process for deciding on bans, that’s reasonable. You could give the comp a board that had to vote, maybe?
But as far as this thread goes, Sam’s game wasn’t banned, and is still in the comp. It’s still in every list that I can see. So that’s not even the issue. At first I assumed he was upset about some review of his game, but all the reviews I’ve seen have been generally positive, and Sam’s even replied ‘thanks’ to them. He made a single post here on a completely different non-IF-related topic that got moderated. Maybe he’s upset about that? That’s reasonable; getting moderated is unpleasant. It doesn’t have anything to do with the comp, though. And it doesn’t have anything to do with gatekeeping, either, so I’m pretty mystified, all told.
Seeing as how this thread is open again, I have some general comments.
1.) If Sam wants to take his ball and go home, I’m sure he has his reasons. I have stomped off with my own ball on occasions when I didn’t like the playing field. But I hope he reconsiders about his game. I’m sorry I didn’t get to play it and I wish you’d put it back in the comp, Sam.
2.) It never once for one minute occurred to me that IFComp was any sort of democracy, or that I should have any say at all in whether or not my entries are accepted. I have always understood that if I ran afoul of the rules, I’d be toast. I don’t think this is unfair. Jacq (and everybody there) does a lot of work so I can have fun, and I should abide by the house rules. They’re not difficult.
3.) I don’t even know what “elitist” means anymore, it’s thrown around so much. I see members of this forum that I consider “elite” in that they’re the IFOGs, I’m here because they set me on this path long ago, and they’re really smart coders and writers that kind of leave me in awe. But I don’t mean it pejoratively, and I don’t think they behave snootily-- in fact, it’s kind of amazing that people like that will help newcomers patiently-- the opposite of what I would consider elitist behavior.
4.) I like gatekeeping. IRL, I have a filthy mouth and I’m often aggressive about my opinions. I like it that we don’t really do that here. A lot of the people I like and respect here probably have very different opinions than I do, and if we met under different circumstances, there might be conflict. Instead, there’s accord over this lovely little gaming niche that builds bridges and allows me to be a less divisive person. And that is no small thing in this angry world. I need gatekeeping to keep me from being a dick.
That’s a real shame. I can’t understand how a forum with different channels, tags, etc, can’t sustain rewarding conversations even among a very disparate group.
I’ve become aware that there are different factions on this site. I’ve seen sometimes that the lifetime of an account may record a journey, ie: the trajectory of an individual’s attraction to, education in, elaboration of and sometimes disillusion with, Interactive Fiction. But since we all experience that journey, why not accomodate it?
I am sorry that I didn’t spar with Sam when the opportunity was there. It’s sad that chance has gone now.
I’m not sure what the protocol is for this, but when Sam agreed to his account to be deleted, I guess it means his contact details may disappear.
I’ll post down below with what he published as his email address. If that breaks any rules, I guess that single entry can be obscured without destroying this whole thread.
Just for reference, I have silenced Sam Ursu’s account for the time being since he publicly told another member to perform a recursively impossible act upon themselves earlier in this thread. The message is deleted of course. Sam definitively said he was out of here in the thread title, so this should line up with his wishes.
A baseball umpire was once asked what words would cause a player or manager to be ejected from the game. Was it “motherfucker”? Was it “cocksucker”?
“No,” he replied. “The magic word is you.”
I have to say that I’m a little bit sad that Sam has taken himself off in a huff, because, although he can be a rather confrontational person and has a tendency to voice strong opinions, he is (I can’t quite bring myself to use the past tense) an articulate and creative person with some interesting things to say. His loss leaves this small enclave of literary-minded gamers a little poorer. However, one of the essential skills in participating in this (and indeed, any) forum is having a few filters and not blurting out exactly what you think in public, particularly as it applies to specific individuals. If you do that, then I think it’s fair to be moderated. That’s not censorship, or silencing, or cancelling; it’s just keeping the conversation civil (if I saw moderation being applied to more general expressions of opinion then I’d be worried – but I don’t see any sign of that). Nor is it gatekeeping, although Sam clearly conflates the two in his post above, owing (I infer) to reactions to his own games.
I could say all of the above about the person mentioned by @mathbrush earlier in this thread, whose games I have played and enjoyed. It is, genuinely, a pity that some participants need to be moderated to the extent that they ultimately exclude themselves. But I believe a bit of light-touch moderation (and it is light-touch) is necessary. The alternative is a forum where anyone can say whatever they like about whomever they like, and my experience of such places is that they quickly devolve from a group of interested participants into an exclusive club of two or three members trading insults with one another, while everyone else goes off to find somewhere more congenial to play. I’m very glad there are some sensible mechanisms to prevent such a thing happening here, while remaining dismayed that a very few of the original and creative people who have been involved in this scene feel unable to contribute further because they can’t conduct themselves according to a few basic rules of civility.
Just because I think it’s important for people in the position to have their own voice: I joined this community only just over a year ago and have found it civil, intelligent, creative, supportive and most of all kind. I entered IFcomp with a basically aesthetically default Twine game that simultaneously tried something weird and experimental. It, and me, were welcomed with interest, enthusiasm, and kind curiosity. Internet communities aren’t really my thing, I’ve never really been a part of them and never really wanted to be, so maybe that disqualifies me from having an opinion. But even though I’m young (I was 24 when I joined this forum) and inexperienced and my games are weird, I feel like the people here have made me feel part of the community, which is not something I either expected or actively worked to achieve. And on a personal note, the closest thing I’ve personally seen to gatekeeping is the attitude some people have to aesthetically default choice based games (mostly Twine), but it was one of the ‘elites’ (to invoke Amanda’s use of the term) who very articulately and self reflectively brought that into a spotlight just last month which led to a wonderfully polite and civil conversation in which the only person who I think may have got a bit too carried away was me.
I’m not here much, and when I am it’s mostly for IF- or ectocomp, but being here always makes me feel warm and happy.
On a side note:
This I gotta see.
Holy dooley. I think I’ve stumbled into the wrong forum.
I didn’t know this forum was elitist and governed by gatekeepers and all those other things mentioned in the original post. Now I’m off to see what all the fuss is about. Wish me luck.
I would be banned if I talked here like I did to the man last week who told me how pretty I’d be if I just gave him a smile. He didn’t think I’d be pretty anymore at the end of the very brief conversation.
** Edit: As a tip to anyone in this situation, use every one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words and end the encounter by barking at the offender. They will think you are unhinged and they’ll leave. Also, carry a big hunting switchblade.
Whooee! I’m sure he deserved every last word.
Excellent! Fantastic finisher!
If I am ever obnoxious here, be assured that I am way more obnoxious elsewhere. This place has had a civilizing effect on me. The other forum where I hang out is less civil and more ban happy. What a jungle!
Since Sam suggested that he was through with IF, I’d just say that there is a lot of IF outside of here. I’m told—and I believe it—that the real action for non-parser games happens on tumblr and the like. Every comp, I see lots of names I’ve never seen before. The majority of Gold Machine’s visitors don’t come from here. Etc. It can feel like this forum is the totality of IF, but that really isn’t the case.
Unless you need Inform help, which this site completely rocks, but that was never his thing.
Not fitting in here doesn’t have to be the end of IF for anyone. I’ve adapted to the culture here because it’s important for me to be here, but that was my priority. Not everyone wants to do that, and it’s OK. While Sam and I didn’t seem to agree on a lot of points, he gave me helpful suggestions at Gold Machine, and I valued that a lot. I don’t think he was happy here, which, at the end of the day, is a good reason to be someplace else.
Ultimately, some stuff just doesn’t fly here. It’s that way for a reason, and it is what it is.
well, on censorship, some months ago I asked about where to put the fine narrative line between IF and AIF, and the healthy and frankly open debate speaks for itself.
Best regards from Italy,
I’m guessing he wasn’t looking very pretty at the end of said conversation, either!
EDIT: FWIW in a reverse of what appears to be the more typical dynamic, I am actually a slightly edgier person on this board than I am IRL (not that I am especially edgy).
I wish people could understand this, and this is probably the simplest way to put it.
To expound unnecessarily (as I often do) we don’t care if you vent about something generally. We’re all adults here, and you can even use bad language when appropriate! The line is when you target someone else with that language in a manner that they or others would feel the need to defend themselves against an attack. That starts arguments, that starts flamewars, that’s what we don’t want.
So many people want to cast us (mods and Staff) as some sort of shadowy Orwellian board of operatives wearing hooded robes and backlit deciding people’s fates and picking and choosing who we decide to censor and which people are “elites” we will elevate muahahaha. Honestly, “elites” have elevated themselves; none of us have the time to read every single post on here, which is why the flagging mechanism is so important - it’s up to the community to pinpoint and alert us when bad stuff happens. None of us get paid to be shadowy people backlit in robes - not speaking for other Staff, but I never received a robe. We aren’t on this forum 24-7 - it’s not even that busy to require that. But when we log in, we get red notifications to deal with flags and those are always the first thing I (and I must assume other mods and Staff) will deal with.
The reality is we’re on everyone’s side. Usually moderation behind the scenes is non-egregious “hey, someone took offense at this… we’d like you to change this part so we can unhide your post, let us know if you have questions.” Unfortunately we get those who are like “MUH FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS AND FREE SPEECH IF PEOPLE CAN’T HANDLE THE WAY I AM IT’S THEIR PROBLEM.” As I said with Sam I literally PM’d him “take out these three words and it’s good.” But straw+camel’s back=the once or twice yearly random user flameout we see. If that type of criticism sends a person flailing into oblivion, they probably shouldn’t be in the business or hobby of creating art and having it judged. Braces for inevitable PMs: “You shouldn’t be so discouraging to people about their writing! You are a horrible person and a gatekeeper! I quit the forum and…”
Our response is invariably “It’s not a free-speech problem, it’s a you being rude problem, and it’s easier to boot you out of this private website you do not pay for and agreed to abide by the CoC on sign up than it would be to defend your perceived “right” to sling crap at people here since we don’t want this to be a place where it’s okay to sling crap.”
Hushushsshhh, YOU EDGELORD!!!
As a relative newcomer, I’ll second this - I stumbled onto this community purely by accident after asking my friends to inundate IFDB with one-star reviews for my first game (I thought it would be funny to have the lowest rated game on the database). @cchennnn gently let me know I was being annoying & that the community & mods (who responded with bemusement) didn’t deserve trolling. And I certainly was being annoying, but because no real malice was detected, I wasn’t yelled at or banned. The civility I was shown when I really didn’t deserve it made me want to give everyone here the same courtesy as I began to interact more & created new games (with the community’s encouragement).
Sam originally got heated when other forum users expressed displeasure at the changes happening to Twitter, which I think is a useful analogue: that’s a place where overall civility has eroded recently (or free speech has been expanded, depending on your perspective). At the risk of complicating the discussion with identity politics, it’s hard to be a trans person there - there’s an unavoidable current events section curated by Twitter itself advertising articles about hate crimes & horrible rhetoric against people like me - things the site knows I can relate to & care about based on the content of my tweets. I also get plenty of DMs and mentions reminding me how despised I am. These things are protected by the first amendment in the United States (where I live), and I don’t wish for the people saying them to be whisked away to a government black site… At the same time, my enjoyment of the platform is diminished, and it’s reasonable for me and others to explore alternatives or even - gasp - complain about it!
The rules here seem pretty simple - don’t attack anyone, don’t be rude, keep it civil. Those rules have created an environment that has attracted a diverse group of intelligent and kind people. @A_Wthrmnstr seems to find the possibility of creating their own community absurd, and it is. Good luck trying. Free speech purism is an attractive ideology, but all the online communities ostensibly founded on it - Parler, Gab, Truth Social - are very ugly places filled with racism and antisemitism, and they still moderate for things they don’t like!
So, yeah, if you recognize that this forum is a remarkably respectful, creative, sapient place, but also want it to be more like that, I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding something.
I’ll toss my hat into the ring, for what it’s worth- and agree with this sentiment. I’ve spent a lot of time in various creative circles: from formal workshops to more casual hobbyist venues, and have found the culture around here quite warm and welcoming. The emphasis on constructive criticism and overall review culture around here is pretty incredible.
Some of the regulars on the board have been incredibly encouraging, and I’ve had lovely interactions: on both a craft [Amanda encouraging me to participate in competitions after my first SpringThing, Mike Russo’s wonderful reviews and his and Rovarsson’s appreciation of a perspective I offered in a review of my own(!)] and personal (Drew Cook and I speaking about our experiences with disability and mental health) level. It’s been awesome. There’s a reason I encourage my friends to join!