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Old 6 Days Ago   #261
glaber
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I thought this topic was about mystic.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #262
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The title does suggest that. But the topic developed in a way that it ultimately became about the rot (barely) hidden underneath the surface of the SRB2 community, of which Mystic is just the most prominent example, and although I'm not a moderator I'm pretty confident the new leadership isn't gonna try to steer it away from this kind of reckoning.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #263
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glaber View Post
I thought this topic was about mystic.
This topic was never exclusively about Mystic, and I think that was self-evident from the contents of the OP.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #264
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I just looked up what grooming means. And now I get why Ash is so upset, I'm very sorry.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #265
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Originally Posted by CobaltBW View Post
This topic was never exclusively about Mystic, and I think that was self-evident from the contents of the OP.
Yep, can confirm. The thread was originally about where the game is headed given the major staffing changes, conversation became more about Mystic's history of being a jerk so I renamed it, now the conversation became more about the whole of this community's past of being infested with such behaviour, don't know if renaming it again is needed.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #266
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moderation team has already gone down the shitter i'll tell you that now

(lollolman received an infraction for this post: No trolling.)
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Old 6 Days Ago   #267
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Originally Posted by lollolman View Post
moderation team has already gone down the shitter i'll tell you that now
new mod team has been nothing but excellent from my POV, lol

and i'm not just simping, trust me.

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I just looked up what grooming means. And now I get why Ash is so upset, I'm very sorry.
you have nothing to apologize for. but thanks.

it's tough for a lot of folks; it's a pervasive problem on the internet that we all have a responsibility to look out for. a core aspect of this is listening to and believing victims—i don't consider myself to be one (because it runs counter to my self-image and personal pride), but technically speaking, i am one. definitely. and considering the conduct of Prime, Rob, and Mystic, it's no wonder why my and over a handful of others' warnings were ignored, here.

the willingness of the new crew to take victims seriously about this and other issues is one of many reasons i'm confident this place is in good hands.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #268
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I'm happy that the behavior of Mystic, Rob, and Prime got handled with after all these years. Sonic Robo Blast 2 may actually go in a great direction that we cannot predict that otherwise would have been impossible, which I feel really optimistic about.


Also, sorry for my inappropriate behavior that happened years ago here on the message boards.

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Old 5 Days Ago   #269
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Alright, it's time to make my post. Really, it needed to wait a few more days, but it's apparent that it cannot wait. I really put my foot in my mouth with my posts earlier in this thread. I made them while I was at a rest stop on the road, and really should have given more time and thought to make sure that what I typed was really what I wanted to say. I'm in the middle of a cross-country road trip to take one of my daughters to see a specialist at a hospital for a condition that she will likely have to live the rest of her life with. Combined with some childcare/extended family issues on this trip, it's making it a lot more stressful than it should be.

I had wanted to go deeper into the 'Genesis of Mystic' and how he came to be involved with SRB2, but a summary probably better serves the purpose right now. I will offer this one humorous tidbit... his very first map had about 50 Boss 1 Eggmen and a crapload of broken sectors.. it was supposed to be an edit of Meadow Match, but sure didn't look it! Yes, even the mighty Mystic started out as a noob.
The crux of it all is that Mystic was always cold and logical, but not the giant bully he developed into, along with a lot of other things I discovered only long after I left. I have met him in person many times... both before I left while we were working together, AND a few times after I left. Our working meetups were just that, work. One time we met up at Gettysburg College and I coded while he designed and we both tested CTF in a single day. This was around Demo 3 time. He was very good at testing and taking the reigns on multiplayer modes. That's where I found value with him on the dev side.

Sonikku and I had no desire for community management, it just wasn't our thing. We're both big introverts. It's cool to talk with people, but when moderation is needed, it was the last thing we wanted to be dealing with...it is a literal full-time job. Mystic really jumped at this chance to manage the forums for us. In many cases, community-run things overtook official-run things... ever wonder why #srb2fun is not called #srb2? There actually used to be an #srb2, and #srb2fun was the 'community' IRC channel. Eventually it got so popular it took over.

And so we ran like this for a few years... Mystic running all of the community stuff, while we could focus on just making the game. Fans started to build other things, like a wiki, with folks like DarkWarrior and HotDog003 making large contributions. Mystic was largely the only person who crossed over between community to dev -- with his dev aspects focused solely on multiplayer components. It's a very well known public running gag that it was my opinion that Mystic made some of the worst single player levels. Mystic onboarded a few moderators and brought more people on to moderate things like IRC.

Keep in mind most of this reflection is about up to and including 2006.

In 2007, I took about a six-month break from SRB2. I'm not sure anybody noticed. This is the time when I worked on my own engine project that eventually went on to power Roly Poly Putt. I was facing severe SRB2 burnout.. but had made significant progress toward a post-1.09.4 version. The development team structure had to change into something more conducive to 'crunch time'. The fact that I knew in 2008 that I was going to get married accentuated this. This is when what is considered to be the modern devteam 'Sky Sanctuary' was created, along with heavy use of a secret subforum and #srb2dev IRC channel. While this structure is reflective of modern commercial game development houses, in hindsight it was a poor long-lasting organizational choice because it effectively took game contributors from community members to some kind of fraternal status.

I know the next question you're probably wondering... 'why in the world did SSN leave Mystic in charge?'. I know a lot of other people don't see it this way, but with v2.0.4, I considered the game FINISHED. It was an end product I was happy with, and went completely from the start to a credit sequence. I had ZERO expectations for the game to continue development, and in some ways, it was confirmed with the long release cycles of 2.1 and 2.2. I was simply looking for someone who had deep and lasting experience with the project, and that I knew wasn't going to go anywhere. Mystic still lives in the same place he did when we were in our teens. To say some of his personality, habits, and life is static is a bit of an understatement. With him, I thought that at worst it would create a slow decline and folding of the project, and at best he'd eventually pass it on to a group much more capable (which is what we are going through now, except by force).

Hearing all of these testimonies and stories in this thread of how Mystic treated people is not entirely new to me, as I stated above, but I wasn't aware that the problem went much deeper and darker. I always tried to balance out his negativity by giving lots of encouragement to newbies and maintaining a positive vibe, at least the times when I was around. We all start somewhere, and we all have mentors and people that come before us.

Ever wonder why it says 'PUBLISHED BY - a 28.8 dialup modem' in the credits? It's because that only until the LAST YEAR of my tenure in SRB2, did I have anything other than a 28.8k dialup modem. This limited me severely to community participation - those during my time probably remember the constant impostors in netgames saying they were me. It was well-known that my official edict was 'I don't play netgames, so if you see someone saying they are me, it is fake'. This just encouraged me more to leave the community management dealings to folks like Mystic. In the case of JTE, believe it or not, I have NEVER PLAYED SRB2JTE, despite it being all the rage at the time it came out. I wasn't about to run a program on my computer called 'The Supervirus', and what I did see of his behavior in the channel of being your typical arrogant narcisstic programmer did not appeal to me at all. I wrote him off very quickly, and did not pay attention to him. Nobody came to me either about any of his predatory behavior, as Mystic was the face of the IRC and MB and people would have gone to him first.

I didn't even know what was going on with him, until it was made publicly known whenever it was and Rob made a full announcement on Discord that 'some member' was banned forever due to predatory actions. When I left SRB2 in 2009, I truly left. I had no dev FTP access, no code access, no IRC/discord dev access, with my only remaining permission being able to view the rarely-posted-to Sky Sanctuary subforum. I have a wife and countless kids now, and there is nothing in SRB2 that makes me who I am now. I pop back in now and then solely to wave to a few folks, and maybe offer a few words of encouragement. Think of me as like a retired sports star, like Terry Bradshaw, except I don't even provide commentary (except here...)

If I had known what was going on with JTE and others, I would have IMMEDIATELY pushed for his removal, even overriding any objections from Mystic (however, I don't think he would object, but I am talking about the Mystic I knew before I left). I saw this kind of predatory behavior bubbling up in other areas of the Sonic community -- PACHUKA of Sonic CulT being one of the high profile cases. I didn't want this kind of behavior seeping over into SRB2, and I also didn't see any evidence of it during the times when my phone line wouldn't disconnect. With me not being an IRC gnome, my main source for community reflection was the MB.

I will recount one interesting moment that happened post-retirement, when Spazzo discovered that Mystic was hiding a porn forum on the messageboard. I discussed this quite a bit with Mystic in private with how distressing it was, but at that point his response essentially was 'TLDR; I'm in charge now'. Due to this, Spazzo and I both requested that our real names be removed from the credits, which is why you don't see them there even to today. In addition to me 'truly leaving' as mentioned above, the community atmosphere at the time was in no way conducive to me being able to do anything more about it.

Seeing all these accounts of people talking about being bullied by Mystic when they were just young children makes me really sad. I knew he could be a jerk now and then, but I really didn't realize how truly widespread or severe it was in many cases. None of you deserves that sort of treatment and I hope that through being able to talk about your experiences on this thread, the community can finally get all this gunk out of the pipes.

If, back when I was around, something was brought to my attention and I didn't act on it, I apologize to whomever it hurt. Growing up, I personally had to deal with being targeted by sexual predators, many whom I didn't realize were just that until looking back on the situation as an adult. I even had a mentor that I really looked up to in the Doom community try to cyber with me once, making a very awkward situation and changing my perspective on him forever. I don't just sympathize, but I emphathize, and I will regret any moment where I did not take appropriate action to protect others for the rest of my life; because when I hear stories like that, it makes me think of my own experiences.

I think it's also worth mentioning the influence Mystic's behavior had on so many community members. I alluded to this earlier in a post about Ash, but the purpose isn't to single him out - the pattern repeats itself with A Cat, Velocity, Spazzo, and so many others. The way Mystic initially treated them spawned the carnage that followed. On the flip side, you had many people who looked up to and 'hero-worshipped' Mystic - Rob, Prime, and several others past and present. I've met a few of them IRL and I can tell you with a lot of certainty that these people are not anything like Mystic, and likely subconsciously 'adopted the culture', or 'drank the kool-aid' to gain his favor and become part of the club.

If it's your thing, please pray for Mystic. Having known him personally for so long makes me know that he needs it. Do not worry about him returning, or spreading misery to some other corner of the Internet -- that is not his style. But he needs to figure out what he's doing next like you will never know. You know how at school they say the bully does what he does because his own life is miserable? I'll leave it at that.

As for the future, I'm glad this is all over, and I am excited about what the future holds. You've probably heard me say this already, but projects like this have always been about learning and having fun, and everyone should be able to do so in a safe environment. Unfortunately our world is not perfect, but we can certainly try.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #270
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Originally Posted by SSNTails View Post
I will recount one interesting moment that happened post-retirement, when Spazzo discovered that Mystic was hiding a porn forum on the messageboard. I discussed this quite a bit with Mystic in private with how distressing it was, but at that point his response essentially was 'TLDR; I'm in charge now'. Due to this, Spazzo and I both requested that our real names be removed from the credits, which is why you don't see them there even to today. In addition to me 'truly leaving' as mentioned above, the community atmosphere at the time was in no way conducive to me being able to do anything more about it.
Why the actual fuck would he do something like that? Like yeah it's private, but it was still on the mb of a game that has *tons* of children playing it? Like, keep that shit to yourself, man. Disgusting. Did he ever give any actual reasoning to having something like that there or was he just all power abuse-y and gave literally 0 explanation?
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Old 5 Days Ago   #271
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I doubt there was any reason for the secret subforum existing besides being another "cool kids club" produced by rampant elitism and tastelessness. Of course, the intent behind it doesn't actually matter because the forum is full of minors so hosting anything of the sort in the same space is just asking for trouble. In fact, I remember hearing about a user who was a minor at the time being invited to that subforum, which goes to show the utter lack of responsibility from the old administration. Fortunately, I believe the subforum was deleted several years ago thanks to whistleblowing efforts.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #272
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Yeah, I'm genuinely appalled and disgusted that was a thing at any point here. It is utterly irresponsible to have that sort of content, even hidden, on a site that welcomes minors. Between being a controlling and oppressive presence here and on the discord server, making trans members uncomfortable with his ignorance on harmful language, and the news (to me, anyway) that he allowed a hidden subforum for posting porn, I don't want to see Mystic anywhere again.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #273
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Well this is... Honestly very shocking to see all this.

I mean seeing Mystic from a distance I could definitely see he was a pretty hard boiler and even see more of his petty side with things like his insistence on things in SRB2 or even the SMS release, but I have to wonder how all this sort of stuff just developed within him.

The stuff with the t-slur, the control over content released as mods, how this caused a lot of oppressive and indecent people to develop and just wondering how the hell did he think having a private porn thread was fine on a forum for a fan game that kids even play?

I can't say I've known him or many of the other people that have done some of this bad stuff but this year I definitely know how awful and manipulative people like this can be. I feel pretty glad that my general interaction with the community has generally been minimal from the final demo days to now but I feel awful for those that had to suffer.

Though that being said I do think the way things seem to be heading now does seem more inviting and welcoming to others. And hopefully nothing truly narcissistic can rise to that caliber again.

Last edited by Gray21oh; 5 Days Ago at 07:14 AM. Reason: whoopsies, kinda fell asleep typing a thing
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Old 5 Days Ago   #274
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSNTails View Post
I will recount one interesting moment that happened post-retirement, when Spazzo discovered that Mystic was hiding a porn forum on the messageboard. I discussed this quite a bit with Mystic in private with how distressing it was, but at that point his response essentially was 'TLDR; I'm in charge now'. Due to this, Spazzo and I both requested that our real names be removed from the credits, which is why you don't see them there even to today. In addition to me 'truly leaving' as mentioned above, the community atmosphere at the time was in no way conducive to me being able to do anything more about it.
says a lot. wow. disgusting. there's not really much I can say beyond I'm sorry you encountered a similar kind of abuse in the Doom community. I just wish you had done more about the warning signs that were presented to you.

in an effort to bridge the gap of understanding, please try to imagine if your own children had encountered this, or were at the receiving end of any of what was shared in this thread (including your own experience with that Doom person).

this is what users here were forced to deal with for a very, very long time. no help from anyone; just adult bullies. they had to suffer in silence for *years*, and only now do some of them have a chance for closure. if you can truly empathize with them as you say, please do not reprimand these victims for their behavior or accuse them of acting maliciously based on their feelings.

being completely hands-off is seen as complicity nowadays—horribly irresponsible, but you admitted you weren't equipped to deal with this, so it's understandable how it was handled. thankfully, he is gone, and people can find their peace. hopefully, you can come to terms with what had happened and truly forgive yourself (as many are willing to forgive you), and discover your own peace with them.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #275
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I loaded up the MB today and saw "Mystic removal discussion". Say what??

See, my usual trip to the forums is to take a cursory glance at the Levels subforum and them move on my merry way. Today I got bored and decided to poke around some other subforums. I'm floored. Mystic banned??

Before I go into my own story, I'd like to say that I can already tell that something very different is going on here. I scrolled to the bottom of the first page, in awe that:
1. No posts had been deleted by moderators
2. The thread hadn't been locked before the bottom
3. Holy shit this thing is 14 pages long, he's really gone isn't he??

I think the old argument for that kind of strict control was that otherwise we would devolve into pointless flame wars, and I'll be honest, reading through some parts of this thread made me think we were teetering on the edge of a very deep, very dark cliff - the depths of which go straight to hell. And then something amazing keeps happening. People keep their cool. People apologize, or agreed to disagree.People acknowledge that dealing with a problem is a better strategy than not dealing with it.

Changes are afoot. I'm scared but I'm hopeful. And I'm proud of us all.

---
Onto my story...

I know I was never a super prominent member of the community. But the community was a prominent part of my life - still is. This forum has influenced me deeply and in ways I probably still don't comprehend. I think this is what sets us apart from our sibling community, the Doom community: that most of us came here so young. We were impressionable. That's what makes this topic so important. Lots of these stories have come from time when we were children. This shit sticks with you.

Mystic and the rest of the mods were role models for me, plain and simple. In a lot of ways, the narcissistic and elitist attitude was a blessing for my younger self. I didn't have a lot going for me in childhood but this was a great place to practice inflating my ego. I guess it was a little more than that. It's like the idea where you have to narrow yourself before you can broaden as a person; well, these forums were the funnel that narrowed and molded my mind into the basics of effective communication. Really! Thinking before I said something, being ready to backup what I say, saying things concisely and clearly - these were all things that were pounded into my brain here. You ignored them at your own peril.

But for the ability to get good scores on my essays in school, and some trivial respect I had from my tiny group of friends, I traded in a fundamental lack of self-awareness: that being a bottomless well of criticism doesn't make anybody like you, and it doesn't make you better than anybody else. I think that's a lesson that many smart young people learn eventually (though looking at Mystic, maybe not), and I'll admit it's taken me many years.

I didn't deal with Mystic directly, and certainly not in the ways a lot of the other users here have. However, I did get highly wrapped up in the corrosive poisonous perfectionism that the adults of this forum demanded from kids.

I've changed a lot since then. I sincerely believe that praise and encouragement is a better tool than criticism in all aspects and I try to reflect that when I give people feedback. I participated in the bullying and piling on, and have since tried to apologize to the people I aimed my "constructive criticism" at, though I don't think that term meant much at all back then.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #276
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You know, I don't have a lot experience with Mystic myself because I haven't really interacted with them that much but he did sound a bit like the kind of person too anxious or trigger-happy, I remember him jumping at me for posting an unfunny meme prior to the creation of junkbox channel, the funny thing is that a lot of people were posting similar things at that time, It was a joke, not the funniest or most clever joke but a joke nonetheless, he replied with a condescending type of comment along the lines of "only funny memes are allowed here" and followed with an aggressive attitude, granted that's probably why junkbox was created so yeah kind of understandable, I apologized and moved on, I kind of just distanced myself from them afterwards and only really visited the server for quick peeks every now and then.

Good to see things lightning up and the atmosphere getting more comfy, still though I don't know If I'll ever be able to look at Mystic Realm the same way after all the weirdness I saw in this thread, just the idea of playing it makes me feel uncomfortable.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #277
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hello random internet stranger; i'm not sure i remember you but it's very strange to be back.
I forgot to address this, but maybe you remember me back in the day as Whackjood. I actually changed my username just a few days before this thread opened up, for reasons that are irrelevant to the discussion at hand. But that's how I knew you, we were both kids on the message board at the same time and I happeneded to remember you and was excited to see an old face return :,)

Anyway, on topic. While reading and thinking over this thread. I've had a few things on my mind regarding what has happened and what we can do to move forward and make a better community.

Everything regarding JTE: This is the most important part of the thread to me. Grooming a child is an extremely serious crime and even if JTE has been banned now, the fact it happened without moderator intervention in the first place is a problem. Everything else discussed in this thread has wound up being minor in comparison to this for me, Sapheros' similar crime was met with an immediate perma-ban (for EXTREMELY good reason) and I'll use that as a point of reference. I only became aware of JTE's status as a groomer shortly before they were banned as somebody came forward to admit they had been sent sexually explicit material as a child by JTE in the past in the private judge channel on the Official Discord Server. Once this information was out there, the moderator and admin team (which, to be clear, as a judge I am not a part of) at the time appeared to get to work immediately, confirmed it was indeed the case, and delivered a permanent ban to JTE and for that, I give them full credit. And to my knowledge, based on the responses of Rob and Prime who were involved in this conversation at the time, they didn't know JTE had been involved in sending explicit material to underage users in the past until that moment either. And given how quickly they were willing to ban Sapheros for the same offense, and then banning JTE with the same swiftness once they found out, I fully believe that they didn't know about this until that moment as a result.

While I was young and clueless at the time when JTE must have done this. Now as someone with at least a modicum of responsibility in the community, I am so sorry that this is how things turned out. They shouldn't have been allowed to lurk this community for as long as they did, and the fact that they did confirms that people either weren't willing to come forward to admit what had happened (which is very understandable, I don't want to recount my personal non-SRB2 experiences but I've dealt with inappropriate approaches when I was underage too. Nothing relating to this community though. But I fully understand how scary it can be to come out to an authority figure about these things.) or a more concerning possibility that someone did come forward and they weren't taken seriously enough at the time. But without confirmation, I don't want to make any assumptions of wilful negligence without evidence because that's an extremely serious matter when a predator is involved.

It's very nice to act like everything is better forever in the wake of these staff changes. But we need to feel like we can hold board staff accountable in the future in case this happens again. I seriously doubt we're ever going to get another case as dramatic or impactful as this, but considering this game and its community has lasted for over 20 years and will probably last for a very long time still, it seems inevitable that in time a moderator or admin may cause trouble, perhaps even just by accident. But if somebody does do something serious and deeply troubling again, the moderator and administration team must be seen as approachable so these matters can be addressed before they fester like this. And that's something we can maintain only through some consistent work and making sure we don't fall into the same traps of being deeply cynical or complacent in the face of bad moderation if it were to come up once more.

This wound up being quite a lot to write out, but despite all of this and cautions for the future. My statement on the first page still stands. I'm confident that if anything does go wrong, we can deal with it.
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I'm pretty positive for the future of this game still!

I think things will turn out alright.
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Last edited by MellowJacket; 5 Days Ago at 08:22 AM. Reason: Removing an inappropriate question from my post. On reflection asking about the porn forum was not suitable in this context
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Old 5 Days Ago   #278
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Originally Posted by MellowJacket View Post
It's very nice to act like everything is better forever in the wake of these staff changes. But we need to feel like we can hold board staff accountable in the future in case this happens again. I seriously doubt we're ever going to get another case as dramatic or impactful as this, but considering this game and its community has lasted for over 20 years and will probably last for a very long time still, it seems inevitable that in time a moderator or admin may cause trouble, perhaps even just by accident. But if somebody does do something serious and deeply troubling again, the moderator and administration team must be seen as approachable so these matters can be addressed before they fester like this. And that's something we can maintain only through some consistent work and making sure we don't fall into the same traps of being deeply cynical or complacent in the face of bad moderation if it were to come up once more.
I have a suggestion. Why not simply approach moderation more democratically? Perhaps there are term limits from now on, like, once a year or something. Perhaps there could be a nominating thread and then an election process through a Poll thread.

For example, I think Unknownlight said a few pages back, he's been on the forum since 2007. He's done good work for the game — his post on Era was basically something a PR person would do if this were an official game; there's a few people on the forum besides me who learned about the game from that post and then became the enthusiasts we are today. I would nominate him to be someone that could be a Moderator for X amount of time, if he were up to it. His posts are always thoughtful and respectful. And, nominating & electing would also encourage people to be better community members, because there's a reward for it. People notice.

A system like that might've saved Mystic & Rob from their worst tendencies. The absoluteness of their power is the root problem. SRB2 is a community game. The community should come first, always. I think most would agree SRB is a game "for the community, by the community" and the attitude of the former leaders was very much in opposition to that.

I think that would help as well since Moderation can be such a "full time job" to make it more like... jury duty or serving on a local community council or something.


(Edit-- So maybe it's like, the current moderation team is in place from Now until July 2021 when an election process will occur. To test the new system, perhaps maybe X amount of new moderators (1-3 maybe?) are added to the team in the next few weeks, with the same term ending date).

Last edited by Moose the Fat Cat; 5 Days Ago at 08:59 AM.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #279
SeventhSentinel
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Sad but not surprising to see people floored that this thread isn't locked. As far as I'm concerned this can stay open for as long as it needs to be, so long as it doesn't devolve into dogpiling or heated debate. I'm sure the rest of the staff feels the same.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #280
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At this point I'm not sure what to feel about anyone implicated in this situation anymore. On the one hand there was clearly too much ignorance of misconduct, on the other hand I was largely complacent with the moderation style until the SMS incident. Clearly I was incredibly wrong looking back.

I just don't know how to process this situation at this point, maybe I need a break from the community.
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