A post on the official subreddit yesterday has re-engaged the ongoing rift between the PWE community team and the playerbase. In a lengthy thread (deleted comments on ceddit) “JanneMoonmist”, a widely respected longtime player and theorycrafter, posted a trail of evidence that accuses “zebular” and other mods of abusing power and inappropriate behavior towards community members. It’s worth going through the full post, but the main points include:
- Unnecessarily inciting conversations before and behind the scenes, which ultimately lead to bans and suspensions.
- Editing posts without properly tagging it.
- Spreading wrong or uninformed information and removing posts on the other side of arguments.
The post quickly developed into what is probably the most upvoted topic in recent memory. The amount of comments also tops what we usually see on the subreddit. This all leads to the conclusion that the community is pushing for a change in the moderation team, something that we as a site also have been sporadically supporting in the past.
There’s more stuff going on
Unfortunately that’s not the only incident that happened in the last weeks. The subreddit tried to force a guild to release an unwanted player and as the leader failed to comply, removed said guild from their directory. Granted, the persons in question have rich history and the initial complaint might have been justified. Leveraging your power in that way however is irritating.
Speaking of reddit: ManicGypsy started participating in the SoapboxBanhammer subreddit that apparently lets users live their bantasies online. She actively trolls Neverwinter players and our site there. Although we don’t mind that too much and the subreddit itself is pretty hilarious and funny if you think about it, it’s at least unfortunate given the context.
The most disturbing issue however happened on Twitch. Some users, including a PWE mod, created clips that seemed to serve the purpose of getting the streamer banned from the game. We could not verify the intent and the evidence is gone now, but I had a true “what the fuck” moment when finding out.
It’s no longer working
All that leads to the conclusion that the relationship between the mods and their community is beyond broken. I’ll admit this site, its users and me personally did contribute a lot to we’re at right now, but at this point it doesn’t even matter how we got there. It just can’t continue this way, it’s no longer working. The mods simply have grown too much history with certain players, and long have fallen from grace with large parts of the community. I don’t think this is reversible, we currently just incite each other with no solution in sight.
It’s pretty telling that with Teddy and TripsOfThrymr the latest additions to the PWE team are active participants in our discord and seem to have a more open-minded approach while older mods continue to further isolate themselves. You can also no longer dismiss this with the internet being the internet. Yes, people like to complain more than giving credit, but it’s not the full story of what’s currently happening. There are real concerns that need to be answered.
What a change would do
A change in the moderation ranks would indeed help to get a fresh start for everyone involved. Moderating the forum is a thankless task anyway, and currently even worse. I could imagine that mods might even feel relieved leaving the job behind. The community meawhile can build on new mods that better represent them. It is a major ongoing complaint that the current team does not come from the core of the playerbase. We haven’t heard of most guys before they get introduced, and rarely see them ingame. The mods largely recruit themselves from a very limited pool of players they trust.
How could you prevent this from happening again?
The one question we have to answer though is how you want to prevent this from happening again. Who says the next set of mods won’t eventually clash with the community as well and become the zebulars of their generation?
Well first of all, and I’m not getting tired of repeating this, transparency. Any conversation with the mod team is shared among all members, including Community Manager Julia. Plus threads never get deleted, only removed from view. While this indicates that the system is well set up for supervision, I personally don’t get the sense that anyone is actually controlling what the mods do. Granted, I can’t judge how they operate behind the scenes, but I know for a fact that some official complaints sent to Julia and Andy never got answered. This can create the impression that the mods largely act on their own without ramifications. Somebody from PWE or Cryptic has to go over complaints and exchanges on a weekly basis.
The community also should have a say who is going to become the next mod. If you feel the risk of some jerks getting voted into the moderator ranks is too high, PWE and Crpytic could pre-select candidates.
This is the most important bullet. A moderator shouldn’t be empowered forever. The job is a mess, and you are pretty much guaranteed to clash with the community because of the way the rules are set up. So yeah, make it a year or so and then let’s re-elect. This not only protects moderators themselves, but also makes it possible to constantly adjust to the changing needs and challenges of the playerbase.
PWE rules of conduct
It might be difficult to find mods on a regular basis. Again: The job is thankless and comes with little incentive other than getting yelled at (and green Mounts every now and then). If you run into trouble at some point however, you might want to change the job description or the rules the mods have to enforce. A lot of anger towards moderation can directly be credited to a very restrictive rule set, some of them make no sense whatsoever. So the challenge of finding mods is also a test whether the PWE rules of conduct are actually practicable, or need a revision.
I personally think this could indeed change things for the better. Mods should be part of the community and not be isolated or, as it is currently, even work against them. The reddit thread by Janne is only one of many complaints, but the community’s reactions undeniably show that something has to happen.
What’s your opinion on the community mods? Do you feel they are doing a decent enough job or feel misrepresented as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board.
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