The Reddit Moderation Ambivalence

Reddit by design is a platform that moderates and regulates itself. Users can use the vote system to promote topics that they feel contribute to a sub or a topic and demote those that do not belong. It’s a system that aims at max power for the users, and little to those owning a sub. Because of that MMORPG subs have largely taken the role of antagonists to company-owned and regulated official forums, where sometimes even the slightest criticism gets removed. Players can still go to the game’s sub and freely voice their frustration there. I think it’s important to have such independent environments for an honest discussion about games.

But there are obvious downsides to the system. The case of Jessica Price vs. Guild Wars 2 shows how the toxicity of Reddit can completely cripple its benefits. In that particular instance, moderation would have been able to step in and prevent this mess. Neverwinter has a studio-controlled and moderated sub and while I’ve always been an advocate against it, the GW2 disaster definitely presents the flip side. Imho Bree from MOP said it best in her own take on the issue:

We instinctively think Reddit should be kept safe from studio manipulation and yet the very thing that makes it safe for criticism also makes it safe for toxicity, which wrecks the games at least as much as overzealous studio mods would.

What’s Worse?

There’s indeed some ambivalence involved, and it essentially becomes a question of the lesser evil. Do you want studio/mod control for a non-toxic environment or a “free speech” approach with the downside of trolls and hatred? I still believe in the latter, because there’s just so little value in having a sub that largely allows the same discussion as official forums. Because if that’s the case, you’re much better off posting in the official one. And if a discussion gets banned, chance is that the same thread will get trashed on the other platform as well. Alternatives are important, and for now I’m willing to accept the struggles that come with it.

But if the hate culture in the internet continues to trend in the wrong direction, there’s a compelling case to be made against it. Reddit can indeed defeat its own purpose if enough people are willing to post and upvote toxicity, drama, and trolling. And when no meaningful game talk can take place any longer, users might ironically call for moderation to help out. That’s by the way also what the Neverwinter sub claims happened to it. When the current owner took it over, they had to implement some basic rules because the whole thing was just a pure hellhole. So there you go.

I think it’s an interesting dilemma that gets increasingly more complicated to resolve. Neverwinter by the way is not the only game with a sub under studio control or studio alignment. Ashes of Creation or Black Desert are other examples.


That’s my take, what’s yours? Is Reddit fine or has the toxicity already taken over too much of the platform? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit our message board!

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j0Shi

j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

5 thoughts on “The Reddit Moderation Ambivalence

  • September 12, 2018 at 8:00 am
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    The thing is, that the toxicity has existed since the before the internet, just the internet gave them a larger platform to be noticed. From trolls doing it for laughs to just downright angry people expressing that anger negatively and a bunch of other motivations. The other part, true freedom is anarchy. With these two things in mind, it really depends on the individual tastes. The truth I think is what people want is a forum free of studio control, but moderated by the community. Not through flame wars and such, causing most of the toxicity, but by ignoring the toxicity as soon as it appears and/or the community moderators on the forums actually removing it. This allows people to express opinions not wanted on the official forums and have safe environment. I think the lack of community moderating themselves and community leaders not moderating the forum correctly is where these things fail. Change that and you’ll find that utopia.

    Reply
  • September 12, 2018 at 10:42 am
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    Ideally a sub-reddit would have level-headed moderators, but games rarely have the luxury of such things as players generally move on to the next game that grabs their interest. Rare is it to see “community leaders” that stick with a game for years. … The movement of players and the changing tides of reddit itself leave it a less than perfect ground for establishing stable discourse.

    The good thing is that reddit is only a small part of a game’s community.
    Independent blogs, forums, discords, and other channels are arguably far for influential to players.

    The work independent players put into harboring love for a game usually far outshines anything a game company or ‘official’ forum can do. The people that curate those independent platforms and share knowledge are the real community leaders.

    I say ‘good job’ to the Unblogged team. Neverwinter would be a bleaker place without you.

    Reply
  • September 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm
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    I don’t know, from what I’ve seen so far, Price got sacked for being a prick.

    It’s not very difficult to moderate a forum to remove trolls and flames without censoring all negative criticism of the game, as used to happen constantly on the NW forums. It’s a shame that the Reddit NW forum is not independent and moderated by players, rather than delusional, “official volunteer” moderator wannabees.

    😡

    Reply
  • September 12, 2018 at 2:40 pm
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    The toxicity and continuous negative attitudes of the majority of the most vocal has left me at point that I don’t want to even open discord, reddit, fb groups.

    Case in point the upcoming AI expansion. For the past 6 months a lot of community around NW have called for a change. Change professions, change dungeons, etc.

    Now with the upcoming mod we know some of those are changing, we know from the interviews old dungeons are coming back, we know major issues are being addressed. We don’t know how yet, what exactly is changing what’s staying, what is going to be amazing versus what’s going to be broken.

    That’s hasn’t stopped those same ones calling for change to already start throwing shade on the expansion, those who support it, or even those show enthusiasm for its release.

    I love the time I spend in game, in chat with friends or random gamers met along the way. But more and more I won’t read threads about it. The animosity that some have for whatever reason bleeds into almost every conversation I read . That anger goes well beyond the professional side of a business transaction and quickly descends into the personal side of outright cyber intimidation tactics. Making it very difficult to extract the useful and valuable ideas from those that do nothing but hurt us as players.

    I know trolls will be around as long as there are bridges. I know full well that hate speech and bullying was around long before there was a computer much less the internet. But that doesn’t mean we as a community should accept, condone or encourage the behavior. For at same time as long as there have been trolls there have been knights to fight them, and as long as there has been hate speech there have been those brave enough to stand up against it.

    Reply
  • September 20, 2018 at 10:55 am
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    Independent Moderation with sensible rules against flaming and trolling is all we need.

    Reddit should allow constructive criticism of PWE, Cryptic and the official forum moderation.

    And, obviously, the Reddit Moderators should not simultaneously be forum moderators.

    “I don’t work for Cryptic/PWE” is the anemic defense repeated by these moderators.

    But the conflict of interest is glaringly obvious.

    Moreover, so long as Cryptic criticism is censored, The Company is content to let the lame-duck sycophantic moderators abuse their power.

    I see someone’s trying to fire up the NW-Un Reddit again. Hope that takes off, players switch subs and leave Manic alone in her Cryptic propoganda echochamber.

    Reply

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