PDA

View Full Version : Have you had problems with the RPGnet boards?



Caledonian
2004-07-31, 08:14 PM
And I don't mean software issues.

I've recently been treated really, really badly by an administrator there. And in talking to some other people, it seems that individual has a reputation for being a power-mad, irrational, and generally unreasonable admin who deletes what he dislikes and bans people on a whim.

Has anyone else had similar experiences? What about different ones? Do you think the RPGnet forums are run well?

KingofQueens
2004-08-01, 03:15 AM
I have never been to the RPGnet boards, but that is a difficult problem. Have you tried contacting any of the other mods?

Caledonian
2004-08-01, 10:12 AM
This guy is the administrator - he outranks all of the other mods.

It seems he has personal control over almost everything. The moderators can close and move threads -- anything else, he handles.

Someone else posted to this same question I asked on another board.
[name deleted], it sounds like you don't know the full history of events at rpg.net... it's a long and sordid tale, one I won't bore you with here, but let's just say you (and [name deleted]) DEFINITELY aren't the first to be banned without warning, for having done nothing against the rules. Same thing happened to me several months ago, and I learned there is absolutely nothing that will be done about it. Let me enlighten you a bit on the players:

[name deleted] and the other mods: Generally not too bad, but they have little or no power or influence. They are able to move or close down threads, and that's it. Anything else gets moved up the chain.

[name deleted]: Runs the place like his personal fiefdom. He bans people at will, for no reason or a trumped up one. He often lies about why they were banned afterwards, to superficially cover his ass, and will say things like "They were given dozens of warnings, which they ignored" when in fact they were never warned at all. It isn't done to appease [company deleted], who don't seem to care about how the board is run, but the forum posters. [name deleted] asked why you were banned, and so [name deleted] came up with his lie about you being some other former troll. I doubt he was really confused, he just needed some excuse and it popped into his head. He thought you and [name deleted] had been IP banned and thus would have no way to contradict him. He has become more and more brazen recently, banning people for fun and then asking them "why should I let you back in?"

[name deleted]: Seems like a nice guy, but seems deathly afraid of contradicting [name deleted]. I pushed for a "hearing of my case" with [name deleted], and after 2 months of constant prodding, he finally gave me his decision: I had done absolutely nothing wrong, and plenty of others had done the same thing before (posting a made-up news story like "the Onion", which is often linked to on rpg.net's Tangency forum... I provided at least a 8 such other stories on the boards which received no moderation). However, [name deleted] had assured him I was a "troublemaker" on the boards, so he upheld the ban anyway! (In nearly 6000 posts over 2 1/2 years, I'd only received 1 mod warning. I was a constant contributer of game reviews, house rules, artwork in the Freelancer's section, and numerous discussions of RPGs, etc... some "troublemaker"... ) You can try to go through him, but chances are, you'll get loooong delays and no satisfaction in the end, even if he agrees you didn't break any rules.


And the real reason [name deleted] banned you the 2nd time was, IMHO, not because he confused you with someone else, but because you said
Originally Posted by [name deleted]
Clear and objective rules help a great deal. Rules like "don't be a jerk" aren't very useful, particularly when they're used as an excuse to eliminate anything and everything the moderators don't like.
[name deleted] even quoted this very sentence when he banned you, so there was no confusion at all. He didn't like your general criticism (it hit too close to home for him), and so, you were banned...

WampaX
2004-08-01, 10:54 AM
Are their services superior to other boards?

If not, why stay there and get hassled by "the man"?

If they are, you might try to form some type of sting operation by way of having one of the site owners (if you can talk to them) create a dummy account and test out some of the claims of bannination that are going on. Unless of course the Message board head mod is the site owner . . . then I'd just move elsewhere.

Caledonian
2004-08-01, 11:05 AM
I don't want to stay any more.

But I'm sick of gamers getting pushed around by the idiots who run some of the boards out there... I'm sick of gaming companies that treat their guests like dirt because they're offering a "free service" and don't believe they'll sir up any illwill or lose business by doing so.

Here: I'll post the letter I sent. I'll remove all of the names first.

Caledonian
2004-08-01, 11:06 AM
To whom it may concern:

I am a reader and user of the [blank] website and its associated forums. I recently had some experiences at this site that I feel the [website] administration and [company]. should be aware of, as I believe these experiences reflect upon both organizations. I refer to the interactions I had with two members of the [website] staff: the moderator known as "[moderator]" and the administrator known as "[administrator]". The first behaved very professionally, and was in all ways an exemplary moderator. The second was rude, condescending, careless, and arrogant; more importantly, he failed repeatedly to give me contact information for his supervisors when I asked for it, instead trying to apologize in a private medium which forum rules prohibit from being reposted. I think it would help if I related the events in question.

When I decided to stop being a lurker and register at the forums, I first read through the posted rules and Frequently Asked Questions. I had heard about the uproar caused by unregistered posters pretending to be another unregistered poster known for his trollish behavior called [trollish], and that someone had made an account named Real_[trollish] similarly pretending to be him. I thought it was amusing that anyone could confuse that account with the genuine article, and I further thought it would be amusing to make an account that explicitly claimed not to be connected to [trollish], so I registered as Unreal_[trollish]. I don't claim this was a wise decision in hindsight, but it didn't conflict with any of [website]'s posted rules.

After only a few posts, I found the account was closed. Since unregistered users can't access moderator email addresses, I posted a message requesting that the banning be reviewed and for my account name to be changed if it was found unacceptable, or at least for my email address to be salvaged. [moderator] responded, denying my request. He suggested that I should create a new name with a new address and register again. I took this suggestion and re-registered. Then I posted to my previous thread to ensure that [moderator] and the other moderators who know who I was; this was done both as a courtesy to them and because I wished it to be clear that I wasn't attempting to hide the account. [moderator] indicated that there was no problem with this: "no harm, no foul". I stated that I didn't believe a name alone (barring things like vulgarities) would really indicate someone's intention towards the boards. [administrator] posted, asking why I should be permitted to be a poster and why he should "bother with me", as I had created what he called a "parody account" as one of my first actions.

I responded to both [moderator]'s and [administrator]'s posts. First, I stated that I wasn't suggesting that board policy be changed, but that the written rules didn't really reflect what the board policy really was. To [administrator], I stated that I was trying to be polite and not a troublesome member of the boards, and that I didn't appreciate his hostility. [moderator] granted that the rules were somewhat ambiguous, and said that he would see if they couldn't be "tightened up" in the ongoing process of revising them. He also suggested that I give [administrator] the benefit of the doubt. I expressed my belief that the people in charge of messageboards should be held to at least the same standards, if not higher, than normal posters. [moderator] noted that the conversation was beginning to enter dangerous territory and suggested that the matter be dropped. I concurred, and considered the matter closed.

In all, it was a frustrating but productive exchange. I doubt that [moderator] agreed with me personally, but he was diplomatic and responsive to my inquiries. I thought he was quite patient and understanding, given the circumstances, and I consider his behavior in that thread to be a prime example of how a moderator should behave. In contrast, [administrator]'s first interaction was dismissive, curt, and combative. [moderator] made me want to try to cooperate with him and explain my position, while [administrator] did little but annoy and offend me.

I decided to let the whole matter go and let my annoyance die away. I spent a few days browsing the registered-only forums and making occasional posts. Then suddenly I found my new account closed and my IP address banned, and I couldn't even read the boards to find out why. There was no explanation sent in my email, so I accessed another computer with a different IP. In a thread I had responded to, I found [administrator] sarcastically thanking me for reminding him of my existence and stating that he had banned me. Another poster inquired as to why I had been banned, and [administrator stated that I was "[banned poster]", a poster who had been banned previously for posting links to a "vampyre" board. I'd never heard of [banned poster] or visited vampire-themed boards, much less posted links to them. But I had no way to contradict this claim or tell the moderators that my identity had been mistaken, as I couldn't even post as an NPC from my home computer.

I post on several different gaming-related messageboards, and as I was recounting this banning on another, the person who used the name "[banned poster]" responded. Everyone on the boards there thought it was quite amusing that I could be mistaken for him -- not only are our IP addresses totally different, his is a static address from [southern state] and mine was a static address from [northern state]. In addition, our posting styles are completely different. In fact, this poster maintained another account at [website], with the same IP address, that had gone completely unnoticed: "[nickname]".

I then posted as an NPC, pointing out that I had no connection with the poster whom I had been accused of being. [nickname] was classy enough to post to the thread, stating that he had been [banned poster] and that I was being confused with his former incarnation. (He was later banned again for this action -- I find it ironic that a troll demonstrated ten times more consideration for others and concern for fairness than administrator [administrator].) It seems no attempt had been made to determine who I actually was, no warnings of any kind had been given, and no effort was given to actually looking for the previously banned troll.

[administrator], as he stated, "felt no pressing need to straighten anything out" -- he wasn't concerned that he made a mistake, and didn't feel that he needed to correct anything, or even apologize. Not that I particularly wanted his apology by this point, as I made perfectly clear. I was tired of being treated poorly by a representative of [website], and I asked for contact information for his supervisor and the supervisor of his supervisor.

That is not what I received. [administrator] ignored my request for the information, and instead sent me an email. Forum rules clearly state that emails cannot be reposted without the consent of the involved parties, so no one else at the boards would ever be able to see what he said. He offered to forget about the whole matter and reinstate my account, then said "I apologize".

The problem here is that there was no matter for [administrator] to forget about. I had done nothing even remotely wrong since establishing my new account with moderator permission. He made the error, then demanded to know why he should be bothered to fix the error. And he had not given me the information I had requested, information which any employee who deals with the public should provide at the first request! I had to ask three times over a period of approximately two and a half hours before the information was forthcoming.

As the FAQ of the board points out, posters are guests of [website] and indirectly of [company]. We are obligated to follow the rules established. But that obligation goes both ways -- [website] and [company] are our hosts, and their representatives are responsible for dealing with their guests. I do NOT consider the behavior of adminstrator [administrator] to be an appropriate manner for a host, even when dealing with troublesome guests, and particularly not when a guest has been falsely accused of making trouble!

I am not complaining about the first banning, or even the second one, although I consider the manner in which the second banning was carried out to be sloppy and grossly incompetent. I was invited to participate in the [website] forums not once, but twice -- again after the first account was closed. I was given moderator permission to create another account, and avoided breaking even the principles which [website] hadn't placed in their posted rules.

I am complaining about the way in which a board administrator felt himself above the need to make rational, reasonable, and most importantly *correct* decisions. I am complaining about the dismissive and arrogant manner with which I was responded to, and which vanished only when I began to threaten to contact those in charge of the administrators. I am *outraged* that I was not given contact information in a timely manner! No one dissatisfied with an employee of your organizations should have to ask twice for such information, much less three times!

In addition to sending copies of this email to several supervisors at [website] and [company], I will be sending hardcopies to the same; I expect them to arrive in a few days. I am also recounting my experiences with the representatives of [website] and [company] at the websites I frequent -- I believe it is important that gamers understand how your organizations believe their guests should be treated.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Caledonian
2004-08-02, 09:56 PM
Well, they responded. They didn't actually address any of the issues I brought up, and just told me that I was banned from their boards and their websites.

It's too bad I didn't actually ask to be unbanned... >:(

Caledonian
2004-08-03, 12:27 AM
Well, I sent this:


Thank you for your prompt response.

I am disheartened by the news that I will be permanetly banned from [website]. However, I was not asking to be reinstated or for [administrator]'s actions to be reversed. I am disappointed that the substance of my previous message seems to have been completely ignored, the issues I was drawing attention do not seem to have been dealt with in your reply. In fact, I don't believe a single complaint has been addressed.

The issused I wish to be addressed are, specifically:

*Is it the policy of [website] and [company] that employees may refuse to give out contact information for their superiors when asked to do so by a user?

*Did [moderator] violate the Terms of Service when he suggested I create another account, and again when he explicitly gave me permission to post with that account? I don't wish to cause trouble for him, but I would like to know whether his instructions were compatible with board policy.

*How might a mistaken banning be brought to the attention of the moderators without posting as a guest? My experiences with the [website] boards indicate that it's not possible to contact the moderators without an account, as their email addresses and other contact information does not seem to be accessible otherwise. Is there a method of contact that I missed? If not, what method of resolving such a matter does [company] suggest?

*What is [website] and [company]'s policy regarding false statements made about users of their services by their employees?

*Do the [website] staff and [company] believe it is appropriate to ban users arbitrarily?

Finally, I would like to examine the Terms of Service for [website]. How can I go about examining the TOS without "making use of the online resources at either [website] or [company]"?

I look forward to having my questions answered.

And this is what I got back:


[Caledonian]

I'm really sorry if our customer support people weren't clear. I will be.

* You are not welcome to use the services at [company] or [website].
* This decision is final, and we're not going to split hairs over it.
* This will be the final email sent by me, any of my employees, or any of my volunteers on the topic.

I hope you find an RPG site that better suits your needs.

[vice president]
Vice President
[company]
[website]

Caledonian
2004-08-03, 12:32 AM
Well, so much for that.
Bah. :P I have a bad taste in my mouth now.

I should go have some fruit pie. Ummm, pie...

Starbuck_II
2004-08-03, 12:32 AM
Well, they responded. *They didn't actually address any of the issues I brought up, and just told me that I was banned from their boards and their websites.

It's too bad I didn't actually ask to be unbanned... >:(
But you were already banned so they didn't do anything, right? ???


Caledonian]

I'm really sorry if our customer support people weren't clear. I will be.

* You are not welcome to use the services at [company] or [website].
* This decision is final, and we're not going to split hairs over it.
* This will be the final email sent by me, any of my employees, or any of my volunteers on the topic.

I hope you find an RPG site that better suits your needs.

[vice president]
Vice President
[company]


I'd send them another email just to see if they will respond ;D
Maybe they won't split hairs because they are bald :P
He has volunteers?

Caledonian
2004-08-03, 12:40 AM
Well, I don't think so. Technically I don't think they could really stop me from using a different IP and creating a new account anyway, but I don't even want to go back, so it's not an issue. Plus that'd be really rude, and I try not to be rude on purpose (I do it enough by accident as it is...).

Here's what they sent back from customer service and that I already responded to above:

[Caledonian],

Thank you for all your letters. We've received the copies sent to [various addresses] and have also been forwarded the copy sent to [another address].

We've reviewed your case, and found that you have multiply violated the Terms of Service of [website], including impersonating another [website] user and several times posting to [website] during a ban period, as recently as this weekend after your most recent account, [name] was banned.

Irrespective of anything else, continuing to violate the [website] TOS by posting as a Guest during a banning period is an offense that usually results in a permanent ban.

[administrator] is the head forum administrator at [website], and thus has the final say, but it will be our recommendation to him that your banning be permanent.

Please consider yourself entirely banned from [website] and sister-site [company] unless you hear otherwise from [administrator]. Please do not attempt to create additional forum accounts, post to the message boards, or otherwise make use of the online resources at either [website] or [company]

We're sorry that [website] was not a good fit for you.

We understand that additional copies of this letter are in the mail, but we do not plan to make further responses to this same letter.

[company] CE
So as far as I can tell, their administrator can choose to ban anyone for any reason. (I'd posted to a discussion about what standards moderators should try to enforde on messageboards and said that vague rules like "don't be a jerk" aren't very helpful when moderators use it as an excuse to get rid of anything they don't like... and he quoted that in the post where he banned me for the second time, so I think he took it personally.)

And you can't contact anyone without having an account and being logged in, 'cause the board won't let you view any email addresses. And you can't post with another account or as an unregistered poster to point out any mistakes, because that's a bannable offense, so even if they had no reason to ban you in the beginning they have one later.

Like I said, I have a bad taste in my mouth now.

Starbuck_II
2004-08-03, 01:01 AM
Does it actually say you can't post asa guest when you are banned or is it just considered "common sense/"?

I mean, is it in the rules or just what they expect?

I would make another character and pretend to be your freind: and ask for a reason. If they ban you oh well, really distreatment of power isn't right.
Though i must admit you kinda did sound like a impersonation with unreal & real being so close.\

I bet if you apologized for having a name "similar" to someone else they would act nicer. (because you didn't impersonate, you hada similar name in reality)
If you don't want to up to you.

But I've never heard of a rule that says you can't post as a guest when banned.

Caledonian
2004-08-03, 01:11 AM
I can't tell what the rules say, because my IP address was banned. I can't even see the boards.

I suppose I could go find another computer and check, but by now I don't really see the point.

agoodbadhabit
2010-04-07, 10:59 AM
I'm with you.

I was a member of rpg.net for 11 years. I saw it go from a site in which folks of all stripes could get together to exchange ideas (and yes, scrap over them occasionally) to one at which you had to toe the moderator-party line in order to stay in their good graces.

Though I'd never even had a mod action, I was perma-banned in late '09. I had PMd a mod (though he wasn't posting as a mod) over the me-too gravedancing he was doing in Trouble Tickets; then *BAM* I was banned for alleged PAs via PM.

Nice thing about that? rpg.net refuses to disclose PMs, so basically the mods have a fail-safe way to ban folks with whom they don't agree. They can say you said pretty much anything, and there's no way for the general user base to know otherwise. Very Kafkaesque...

Up to that point I'd had some unpleasant exchanges with Nina, Future Villain Bond, and Darren (all wearing their non-mod hats) in various sex-positive threads, and a couple of times with Cessna over his one-true-way crap. I repeat, though, that I'd never been sanctioned, or even red-texted.

I let it go as no longer being worth it, but then they banned my brother-in-law for alleged sockpuppetry. He never referred to me, but (unfortunately for him) he did speak his mind when the blue-noses came out in Tangency. He'd been a member for around four years; pretty long-term for a sockpuppet indeed! Granted he'd not posted for a bit over a year before his ban, but then again he was overseas doing his chosen duty.

None of his appeals were even answered.

This led me to ghost through their Trouble Tickets forum from time to time. I was stunned at the number of posters they've been banning, especially long-term ones. Every purge has its victims, though.

In any case, the current crop of mods are bent on establishing a homogeneous site on which only those with their values are allowed to post. Sad, especially in light of what rpg.net was, but whatever. Their site seems to be dying off, because who wants to talk to themselves (or a reasonable simulacra thereof) all day?

Roland St. Jude
2010-04-07, 12:27 PM
Sheriff of Moddingham: Welcome to the Playground. The discussion you're attempting to join was five and half years ago. Please review the Forum Rules on Thread Necromancy.