Thoughts on Moderating

Banned someone the other day.

I do it quite often, actually, and though it seems almost petty to think about, I often remove someone’s ability to see a whole website more often than most people. I talk about moderating on and off, mostly because I am behind an NDA and get too much into details like the system we use or who gets what.

The identity of the guilty is generally a private thing, known only to those involved.

That’s okay, I prefer it that way. I prefer that no one has to know. At least once I’ve infracted someone I knew IRL without knowing it at the time.

At least once someone used my website to reach out to me to protest a ban.

If you are reading this and contemplating the same, I’ll save you some time – don’t. Just… just don’t.

Moderating is an interesting profession, all things considered. It certainly gives you an insight to human psychology that I think would even make most retail people blush. Sometimes someone gets back to you with such pure, unadulterated hate that even after more than a decade of life on the internet I pause and read it a second time to see if I got it the first.

I am digging through 117 pages of 25 PM threads each right now for a gem I hold closely.

“No one cares you stupid faggot. Kill yourself.”

What did I do or say to get this? I reminded him that the rules require users to bring up issues with the staff privately.

Over the years I’ve been told to suck a lot of dicks. Been called the n-word more times than I am comfortable with. “Faggot” is a popular one. Often users will offer to rape my significant other or allude that they’ll rape me. Few guess that I am married so they usually refer to a “girl friend”.

Racism and homophobia play key roles in the insults thrown at me, though a large portion of our user base (and certainly the more… colorful segments) are from eastern Europe where it seems those two are go-tos for insulting the powers that be.

A lot of people, a lot, reach for the “freeze peach” card. To them free speech is some universally guaranteed commandment over all other rights. It supersedes property. It supersedes national boundaries. It supersedes human dignity. This is the internet and god dammit they can call whoever they want an n-word and tell them to kill themselves and there is nothing we can legally do.

Other than ban them.

Apparently I am a wanted man in Latvia, or so some freeze peach homophobe would lead me to believe.

Anyway. I’m getting side-tracked with belly-aching. I banned a man the other day. I’m sure that’s the story you all want to hear. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes you feel bad. Sometimes you need to tell yourself that their sob stories are lies. That they stole it because they’re cheap. Because they don’t value the work of others. Because the truly hate the idea of both supporting your company as much as going without a game.

A certain level of cynicism is necessary when dealing with people on the internet because there is no way to validate any claim they make. I had one user go as far as to offer to send me [nude] pictures proving they were trans after they were infracted for insulting trans people.

A) That doesn’t undo your insults.

B) I can google trans before and after pics too.

You eventually just stop believing people. Everything becomes a cover. Everyone is lying. Everyone has some terrible seed of vile hatred inside them waiting for anonymity.

Everyone is ready to make a false equivalent.

“How is ‘Kebab’ racist? I can call a Frenchman a ‘baguette’.”

I don’t know, maybe because one comes from a video demanding genocide? I mean, if we’re going to get technical it’s because the rules say so? Perhaps that you rely so heavily on racist monikers should be something you should do some soul searching on instead of bitching to me for calling you out on it.

No one ever trolls, either, I find. I know because nearly every, single, poster I’ve infracted for trolling replies back within a day to tell me that they weren’t actually trolling and in fact it was the other guy who was doing all the trolling. They didn’t mean to suggest that they were mentally deficient and that their opinions were akin to the holocaust.

Honest.

Protip, wrestle with pigs for too long and bystanders will have trouble telling the difference.

Anyway, banning. I banned a man the other day for pirating. Sometimes it is well earned. Some go out in a blaze of glory, admitting that the stole everything and saying that they’d do it again too because we’re evil/libtards/gay/white guilters/whatever fascist bullshit catchphrase is on everyone’s tongue that week.

Those ones are easy.

Cathartic even.

This was a kid from Lithuania. Said he couldn’t afford the game and that it was hard to come by. The error he was having made it extremely obvious he had pirated it and then he admitted as much to the other users. So I banned him and swept it all under the rug.

Gone.

Poof.

Isn’t much left to talk about. But it made me think. Made me think of what we do and why. With nearly 3000 PM threads in my inbox I can only remember one “thank you”. One. That’s it. Lots of people telling to kill myself, or hoping that I or someone I love is raped. One thank you.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. Wonder what I get out of it all. I must get something out of it because I keep going back, keeping fighting our fight.

Maybe I just want to see a second “thank you”. Maybe I get a sick pleasure from the power and pain. Maybe it feeds a martyr complex. Maybe it fulfills my desire to feel like I’m doing a small part to combat the vile trolls that grow in the internet’s dark corners. It’s probably a combination of all that and some other little ticks that I can’t think of right now.

I have no desire to stop, really. In the end, in the end I enjoy the comradery with my fellow moderators. I enjoy thinking I am doing good. And yes, to a small extent, I enjoy the shrieking death throes of trolls, pirates, and fascists as they flail powerlessly at the keyboard. Calling me all number of horrible things. Threats and slurs are all they have in their arsenal.

 

It’s only weakness. An utter lack of agency to stop the inevitable. A refusal to lay in the bed one made.

In a sad, or perhaps glorious, way it makes me stronger. Makes me a better person.

Maybe that’s why I stick to it.

 

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