By Anni Simpson on November 17, 2014 at 3:29pm
What do we as gamers do when something goes wrong with a game we were looking forward to? Take to the networks and complain, of course. And last weekend, that’s exactly what “WoW” fans did to vent their frustrations at unplayable lag, five-digit server queues, frequent disconnects, “character not found” errors, and DDoS attacks to make the entire thing worse.
So it wasn’t really a surprise when /r/wow on reddit.com became saturated with jokes about the problems, including screenshots of easy-to-complete quests hailed as achievements and images of their individual server queues. However, moderator nightsmoke exacerbated the problem when his frustration reached a boiling point and made the entire subreddit private, effectively preventing anyone but the moderators from accessing it. He did this twice yesterday before admins removed him manually and restored privileges to the other mods, who lost their status so nitesmoke could keep the subreddit down.
What do we as gamers do when we detect fascism in the community? Here’s where things go really wrong and really right all at the same time, and it speaks to larger problems in the community. Two things occurred at the same time:
- Redditors took to two new communities: /r/worldofwarcraft and /r/realwow. Moderators of /r/realwow conceded amicably to /r/worldofwarcraft, crowning it as the new official subreddit for “World of Warcraft.”
- People are riled. They complain back and forth on social media, harassing one another to the point even Zaryhm weighed in on the situation. Eventually, nightsmoke was doxxed and harassed at work with complaints about what was happening to the subreddit.
Unfortunately, doxxing isn’t anything new to the community. Famous cases include actress Felicia Day, "Fez" developer Phil Fish, and BioWare senior writer Jennifer Hepler. Gamergate participants on both sides of the debate were doxed and harassed left and right until the whole issue became an illegible, frothing cesspool.
Reddit top moderator aphoneix snatched the reins back from nitesmoke both in an effort to restore the community, as well as to reign in the harassment that took place against him:
I know you all now hate me because I made the sub private for a while. But your behavior has been over the line. Call me names, send me nasty PMs, doxx me. But what's with the word “fag”? [sic] Like I have been called that so much. I thought this community was at least a little better than that. If you want to continue to PM me hate, that's fine, but when talking about me in threads, please chill out with the homophobic language. nitesmoke in a message to aphoneix
The original message was down, but the content is essentially the same: the admins, who typically don’t intervene directly, chose to in order to preserve the community, prevent intolerable behavior from an out-of-control moderator. However, that behavior doesn’t excuse equally inflammatory behavior in retaliation, including but not limited to homophobic slurs in the community.
Player Theory spoke briefly with aphoneix about the incident and what’s going to happen to /r/wow moving forward:
Player Theory: What was the situation down at /r/worldofwarcraft while /r/wow was still struggling with its internal drama? When did you guys know that an alternative was going to be necessary?
aphoneix: The situation down at /r/worldofwarcraft was pretty chill. It's actually a subreddit that two of us had for quite a long time, but we pointed it at /r/wow since we felt /r/wow was the superior subreddit. We didn't ever know that an alternative was going to be necessary, but we wanted to be prepared in case it was an issue.
PT: How does /r/worldofwarcraft plan on being different than /r/wow in terms of moderation?
AP: /r/worldofwarcraft will likely go back to a dark subreddit with the return of /r/wow.
PT: How do you see yourselves as moderators dealing with huge problems with the game in the future like the lag and queue issue of the past couple of days? A game like "World of Warcraft" is too big and expansive to not face criticism like this again in the future.
AP: We plan to continue to allow people to be critical of Blizzard. Critique is important, and we don't plan on stifling it. This has been the stance in /r/wow for as long as I remember. We give short shrift to posts that are needlessly aggressive or awful, though; valid criticism can be couched in terms that aren't offensive or argumentative and we definitely want to foster that. /r/wow is a place to both celebrate World of Warcraft and to point out problems and frustrations.
PT: Does /r/worldofwarcraft plan on continuing as an alternative community (as /r/realwow had done), or do you plan to support the flock to /r/wow now that administration has stepped in and removed nitesmoke?
AP: /r/worldofwarcraft will probably go back to being a "dark" community. /r/wow is going to try to embrace this change and we've made one of the moderators from /r/realWoW a moderator as well, to help our team grow. As I'm now the lead moderator of /r/wow, I'll be supporting the rush to /r/wow.
PT: Has being a moderator of a major subreddit hindered your ability to hit level 100? Or are you there already?
AP: I have not yet hit level 100, but that's due to a number of factors; I have three kids and a wife that need attention too!
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