NeoGAF plays a surprisingly important role in today’s gaming industry. While some might consider it “just a forum”, it’s the most popular of its kind by a significant margin where more than 114 million posts have been published since 1999. Its prestige has gone as far as to earn the attention of game developers, many of whom use the forum to regularly share information and their opinion.
Despite this, NeoGAF’s administrative team has long held a reputation for being biased, particularly in favor of progressive ideology and Sony products.
This point, while widely controversial, has been argued many times over the years. Screenshots of ban messages, proof of its lead administrative staff working with Sony, a tendency to promote Sony-related threads, and a growing disproportion of representation of diverse perspectives has suggested that there has been at least some level of moderation bias.
This week, NeoGAF owner Tyler “Evilore” Malka shed valuable insight on this topic within a reply to the forum thread titled “When the Left Turns on Its Own (NYT Opinion)“, where he openly identified that at least one member of NeoGAF’s moderation staff has misconducted himself. Though this has negatively impacted the reputation of the forum, he argues that going forward he will be encouraging healthier discussion along with a greater tolerance for opinions that may be unpopular among NeoGAF’s population.
NeoGAF has an official PS4 dynamic theme.
In his response, Evilore shares how he believes discussion should be encouraged from various perspectives instead of being shut down with by those “unwilling to have a conversation with anyone about issues, repeating the same talking points in every thread to each other in a self-righteous echo-chamber”. He went as far as to say that “people were driven out, character assassinated, labeled traitor for not sounding angry enough, or for not being entirely on board with ostracizing someone else for the same reasons.”.
His points were primarily pointed toward the off-topic sub-forum, where political discourse takes precedence. Though, his points are relevant in the case of NeoGAF’s gaming forum, which account for more than 80% of participation on the forum.
The most important point made by Evilore was in regards to an ex-moderator, who he argues was “secretly banning hundreds of members totally outside of any justifiable grounds”. While no name was given, the former moderator in question is likely Bish, a head administrator who earned a reputation for being ban happy. Although Bish long held the belief that he was simply enforcing NeoGAF’s policies, thousands of affected users have argued otherwise.
Interestingly enough, Bish lost his administrator privileges in December of last year. No explanation has been given since the event, and many regular forum-goers have been perplexed by the move.
Users who have called out the mod bias have been banned.
Potential NeoGAF administrator bias has been a point of discussion among gamers for many years, especially in the case of conservatives and Xbox enthusiasts who have found that their preferences are overwhelmingly unpopular on the site. Users who have expressed these unpopular opinions have found themselves ganged up on by other users, and often banned.
But it appears that the administrative team is making changes for the better, something desperately needed to drive healthier discussion on the forums. Evilore has been watching the trend, and hasn’t been open about his perspective until this week.
Evilore ended his post with the following:
“This is why we talk about things. This is why diversity of background/ethnicity/orientation/culture is important within an environment like a campus or a message board: not just as an outcome better representing the diversity of the population it’s pulling its membership body from, but critically for the diversity of perspective that results from that intense microcosm you’ve built, and the insight and nuance of thought it can bring to each participant when they share an appropriately moderated space and each have a fair voice.”
NeoGAF’s new efforts are welcomed, though damage has been already done; many users who have been banned have no intention of returning, and those sharing similar beliefs are apprehensive about posting. But even then, time is the great equalizer.