The thought never even crossed my mind to create a set of community guidelines. I am acutely aware of the gaming community’s capacity to bully people of colour, trans, gay, and pretty much anybody except for white males. But the gaming and nerdy community are very distasteful when there are differing opinions involved. Also, I may want to get friends to write and create for this site, and they are definitely not all straight white males. It is understandable why community guidelines are necessary, so in my final cut, I will include two bullet points that say “respect opinions,” and “do not make any inflammatory comments about race, politics, or any other controversial issues unless the article at hand is about a serious matter.” I wish I were able to moderate YouTube comments effectively, but those will perpetually be vitriolic. And trust me, I won’t talk about Gamergate. I was around in 2014 when it was going on, and it was the oddest, freakiest movement that just perfectly fit a year for video games that was underwhelming, bizarre, and uneventful. I will try my hardest to stay away from current events and issues, and I hope my community will follow suit.
Trolls, too, are no stranger to video game culture, as I know many people in my personal life who can be classified as a troll. However, they do not push it to the extent shown in Joel Stein’s article. Their trolling would just be light teasing within a video game, nothing as serious as doxxing and death threats. That is why I am so hesitant about showing my face to others. I have seen the power of hate in Gamergate, and what people do to defile faces like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn. I don’t want a part of any of that. Yet, if this website does become a brand, then my face will be attached to it. I will likely become a “cuck” simply for discouraging hate speech. But, if I become just another piece for 4chan and “professional atheists” to talk about, then I will look at it as an opportunity for more attention and revenue.
What I was not able to grasp until Jon Ronson’s speech on internet trolling is the psychology behind it all. I knew people did it, but what was the reason behind all of it? Well, now I know people like the thrill of it. Trolling can take the form of bullying as well. Like what happened with Justine, herd mentality overtook reason and people turned on her with false information and misinterpretations of a joke. Some people see trolling as a form of dominance. “Look at this person grovel before me!” It’s a gross instinct, but it is a side of humanity. What I also found interesting is most of these trolls are just regular people. I know this is not a good idea, but I do read Facebook comments. They are full of regular average joe’s spewing ignorant hate speech. The scary part is I don’t know if it is misinformation that forms their opinions, or it is their genuine belief. I think that people on Facebook are better behaved because there is a personal picture of themselves attached to everything they write. If one says something troll-ish on Reddit or 4chan, then they are most likely in the clear because they have little personal information tied to them. I feel that my site may become toxic because comments are usually not linked to a personal identity. Anybody can say whatever they want on my site. Thankfully, I have to approve of the comment before it is posted online forever.
I didn’t like the Ghostbusters 2016 trailer, and I knew there would be backlash against it, but perhaps I had too much faith in people to not dox and leak nude pictures of Leslie Jones. It’s sad that overreactions like this consistently happen. What struck me the most about this article is the quote at the end about the desire to shift public opinions on race and hate speech by altering daily interactions. That quote caused me to contemplate even including a community guidelines page, as changing that instinct to attack and hate is ingrained in internet culture. Altering the offensive nature of internet comments will likely take years of cultural shifting to change. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to mitigate my comments. Having people read a set of rules and monitored comments works fairly well for Book Riot, so why would it not work for me? If a reader knows that there are some imposed rules, hate could be reduced. A potential reduction is better than doing simply nothing at all and allowing hate to spread. Even Reddit, which prides itself on free speech has moderators to remove comments that don’t meet their guidelines.
My community guidelines format is totally stolen from Book Riot, but I want it to be succinct and easy for anybody to read, so here they are:
This site doesn’t have many rules to abide by, so if you follow these on your comments, then you will be perfectly fine!
- Don’t reference serious topics unrelated to nerdy culture unless the subject matter of the post pertains to it. For example, do not discuss issues such as Black Lives Matter, or Racism, or any other geopolitical issue unless the article is about a piece of media that offers an interpretation, perspective, or a reference to it.
- Don’t bring racist or homophobic speech to the comment section. This site is meant as a place to escape reality, not be reminded of it.
- Linking to other content is fine, only if that content is related to the article at hand.
- Don’t be cruel to others, and have empathy.