Warning: this post includes some topics that cannot be openly discussed on the main forums. Do what you want, but keep it here.
If you ignore this and end up with infractions, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The DDO community, like just about every game ever, has two distinct problems: harassment, and exploits. Both problems have the same solution: moderators and GMs investigate complaints and attempt to control abuse by warning, banning, or perma-banning offenders.
But it hasn’t worked. The game community gets smaller but the problems persist, and even in some ways, worsen.
Researchers hired by Riot Games may have figured out why: we are all trolls. Apparently. According to their tracking, the worst players were responsible for about 13% of negative events, but everyone else contributed the other 87%. “Inoffensive or even positive gamers were lashing out only occasionally, in isolated incidents—but their outbursts often snowballed through the community”. Banning the worst trolls wouldn’t be enough. Nothing less than community-wide reforms were needed.
In a Wired article published last week, some attempted reforms are detailed:
Strangely, something as simple as making PvP chat opt-in, rather than on by default, reduced negative chat by 30% and increased positive comments by 35%.
Another reform was to change the way that rules are enforced. Offending players were found to be very likely to offend again, especially players that were banned. Banning actually worsened the problem. Riot adopted a policy change that included emails specifying exactly why the player was banned; returning players behavior improved “measurably”.
This next paragraph is a direct quote from the article:
In another initiative by Riot’s player- behavior team, League of Legends launched a disciplinary system called the Tribunal, in which a jury of fellow players votes on reported instances of bad behavior. Empowered to issue everything from email warnings to longer-term bans, users have cast tens of millions of votes about the behavior of fellow players. When Riot asked its staff to audit the verdicts, it found that the staff unanimously agreed with users in nearly 80 percent of cases. And this system is not just punishing players; it’s rehabilitating them, elevating more than 280,000 censured gamers to good standing. Riot regularly receives apologies from players who have been through the Tribunal system, saying they hadn’t understood how offensive their behavior was until it was pointed out to them. Others have actually asked to be placed in a Restricted Chat Mode, which limits the number of messages they can send in games—forcing a choice to communicate with their teammates instead of harassing others.
In other words, let the players do the policing. Elsewhere in the article they address a public itemization of who was banned and why. Everyone knows. Nothing is hidden.
It is not about shaming those who are banned. According to the article, it is more about communicating the community morals. Once it became apparent that the community as a whole was in opposition to trolling, it declined.
Would any of this work in DDO?
Some of the ideas in the article seem like they would be directly attributable to DDO, but others not so much. While League of Legends may have “rehabilitated” 280,000 gamers, DDO would kill to have that many players left regardless of their game behavior.
A lot of the worst types of harassment enumerated in the article have never really been issues in DDO:
- We’ve always had an older player base. Harassment happens, and exploits, but DDO has never been filled with the preteen adolescent angst that roils the battle.net and LoL communities
- Turbine already sends emails to those who have been banned that specify the banning infraction. Not always clearly, but still, emails are sent
- The article is addressing harassers, while DDO has a major issue with exploiters which are not addressed at all
The DDO model has one very bad side effect: the people who are most in charge of promoting the game, the public faces of Turbine, are also charged with policing the game and forums. This dichotomy of purpose puts people like Jerry Snook, who loves the game and wants nothing more than to help it succeed (and is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met), in an awkward adversarial role were it is him versus parts of the player base.
That is structurally unsound, and entirely unfair to Jerry. It is also unfair and sometimes seems arbitrary to the players he has to whack-a-mole.
This adversarial relationship leads to weirdness like having an unofficial forum full of people who play the game and even promote it (in a weird and harassy way) but cannot be mentioned in the official forums: any link to the DDOVault in any forum post on DDO.com will result in infraction points, or worse.
That’s just weird, and unhealthy for the game.
When someone who had no previous infractions* can be permanently banned for placing an image (non-porn, non-hate, non-violent) in their signature, something is wrong. I’m not trying to stick up for the people who had the image; they put it there on purpose, trolling for trouble.
I’m just saying that this really seems like a symptom of an unhealthy relationship.
* This is one of the images that allegedly got posters perma-banned.
The players claim they had zero or few previous infractions,
but because discipline is secret, no one really knows.
It is important to mention that the DDOVault community promotes exploits and trollery. This is not good either.
There has to be a way to address some of this without placing the developers and the players in conflict against each other.
Would having a public list of bans and banned help? Would it help if we the players did the banning instead of moderators and GMs?
I don’t know, but I’m open to trying.
We have to try something, because if Riot Games is right, we are all the troll.
🙂 😀 🙂