The Game Store

By Bay Posted Thursday Jul 20, 2023

Filed under: Epilogue 134 comments

I’ve taken a year to think about this, because it’s a huge topic with too much nuance for one person.

Guys, it’s time I tell you.

I disagreed with my dad’s moderation style.

My dad was a centrist socially, to the point where it was a point of contention between us. I watched what it did to his site, and his friendships, and his life, and I grew my own opinions.

He was a people-pleaser at his core and he wasn’t one for disagreements or conflict, to the point of his detriment. He was untreated for a lot of mental health problems for the entirety of his life, and would often be the first to say he was at the mercy of ‘caveman brain’.

I will always wish I had gotten to meet him medicated.

He was too busy fighting his own demons to discern anything further than ‘aggression’ and ‘not-aggression’. He couldn’t think about the complexities of what people were saying, and if it was hateful or not. As long as they were calm and not saying anything that triggered him it was fine.

He had some trauma (I’ll never know entirely what) that centered around feminists. The topic made his blood boil, and he could go on forever ranting about man-hating bitches. I don’t think the guy that ranted that stuff was fully my dad. I think that was scared, unmedicated, caveman brain talking. Without saying too much, I’ve got a family member with the exact same symptoms my dad had when I was growing up, who, in the last few years got medicated for the ADHD, bipolar cocktail that runs in our family. Guys, it’s night and day. The paranoia, the anger, the weird triggers and lash-outs, the massively disordered sleeping…just a whole new person. A person who looks back on their behavior and is able to fully see it for the first time. Someone reasonable, and thoughtful, and capable of rational thought in tense situations.

This shit makes me weep. I will forever wonder if I ever really got to meet my dad.

I always said that in my dad’s quest to raise anything but feminists, he guaranteed I’d be one. Although ‘man-hating’ I am not.

When I was eleven, a man tried to follow me home. I took a few sharp turns and hid in a used car lot until he was gone. I was scared, and a kid. When I told my dad, expecting comfort and anger on my behalf (his usual mix). I instead got reprimanded for making assumptions, and interrogated on why I ‘thought’ this man was following me.

I think he had a little voice in the back of his head telling him that everything and everyone thought he was a predator. He wasn’t defending the man who tried to follow his eleven year old home, he was defending himself. But either way it clouded his judgement, so his automatic response wasn’t to protect his kid, it was to defend a stranger. That taught me everything I needed to know about his lessons that feminists were bad. My dad wasn’t infallible, and he was too angry to see things as they were. He chanted ‘not all men’ like it was some sort of nervous tick whenever anyone said anything to the negative, to the point where he couldn’t listen properly because he was too busy being on the defense.

So, moderation.

This has taken a lot of thinking, as I said, because my dad’s legacy is something I want to keep. His moderation style was something he was willing to lose friends to, that’s a pretty big deal. I was friends with the Spoiler Warning crew too. That…sucked. They still cared about him, but had to step away for everyone’s sakes, that situation isn’t good for anyone.

His moderation style meant everything to him, and is a core of how he ran this place, but it’s also…not good for my mental health. The two points of maintaining the site are his legacy and my mental health, so those are sort of…at odds. I’d like to think he’d want his kid to do what was best for them, but honestly, I have no idea… His track record was  mixed on that regard, and mostly had to do with how well he was sleeping.

I think his particular brand of neurodivergence made the idea of moderating with anything other than hard rules feel gross. He didn’t like ‘squishy’ rules, he liked ‘don’t cuss people out’. Unfortunately, ‘don’t cuss people out’ doesn’t cover things like rampant sexism, manipulative types, and ‘oh honey’ language. Moderation is more than being a machine and just flagging cuss words. I am a human being, and I am capable of spotting little digs and rude language more complex than ‘go fuck yourself’. So I’m going to use that skill.

It’s not ‘being a police state’ to kick people out of your bar for being disorderly. This site is not the government. And freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences in a private environment. If you’re a sexist tool at work, you can get fired. It would be a ‘freedom of speech’ issue if you could then be arrested, but being fired is just a natural consequence.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

Think of TwentySided as a gaming store. If you’re a jackass, I maintain the right to give you a gentle warning. If you react to that gentle warning…like a jackass, you will be asked to leave. But, in the back is the old zone where you can say whatever you like, provided you’re not cursing anyone out.

Any of Dad’s content will keep his moderation rules. (With a little note that you can’t be just reading one of my posts, and then going to say what you really think on one of his. That would get gross really fast. Keep the topic relevant to the old content.)

I hope that this combination keeps his legacy, without sacrificing my well-being. I lived in deep west Texas long enough to know you can tell someone to go fuck themselves without ever uttering a rude word. Don’t make me go back there.


From The Archives:

134 thoughts on “The Game Store

  1. Husr says:

    I always knew that Shamus had stances I disagreed with in that realm, especially after reading some of the oldest posts here from before he nailed down his usual tone, but hearing that blistering rants against women were a regular occurrence is still really disappointing. I can only imagine how much harder dealing with that dissonance was as his child.

    You’re making the right decision here. Letting people who don’t see you as a person sit at your metaphorical table is not something you owe anyone. I hope this new approach makes your life easier.

    1. Octal says:

      Yeah… ditto.

    2. kincajou says:

      Same from me.

      I can’t say i was ever completely happy with Shamus’ moderation style but is worked for him.

      This being your shop now, i am not shocked to play by your rules, as you chose to define them, and not his ones. I guess they may align more with my personal preferences but well see….

      In any case it is normal in my opinion that you work this site such that it doesn’t cause you mental anguish and becomes a place where it is pleasing for you to create (in whatever form that may be) and interact with people.

    3. Steve C says:

      I read this on Thursday when there was just one comment and decided to wait until there were more replies. Partially to collect my own thoughts, and partially to read more comments first. In particular any reply correcting or confirming “blistering rants against women”. That wasn’t commented on, so I can only infer Shamus was a misogynist too?

      If someone said one of the regular contributors here was a feminist hating misogynist, I *never* would have guessed it was Shamus. I respect him less for having those kinds of views, but in balance I respect him even more for never once bringing that into this space. I would have never stuck around if those kinds of anti (or pro) rants were a thing here. I have high respect for anyone who has issues like that, yet still has the integrity to hold themselves to the same standards they expect of others.

      1. PPX14 says:

        I think Bay was describing rants against a particular type of feminism, and Husr was translating that into “rants against women” without it necessarily meaning misogynist rants against all women – just strong opinions on certain views. Which might also not be to your taste, but I don’t think Husr’s comment was in reference to anything beyond what Bay had mentioned in the main article.

        1. Steve C says:

          I cannot agree with that interpretation at all. It is natural and expected to correct a slight against a loved one when they are tarred with too wide a brush. Especially if it is due to an honest mistake or poor word choice and that loved one is not in a position to defend themselves. Doubly so when it is highlighted to be clarified and corrected if wrong.

  2. Penn says:

    Thank ou for opening up and being transparent about this, both what he was like and why and how you intend to proceed. I really appreciate it, and I hope that moderating hasn’t been too bad so far.

  3. Tuck says:

    Your dad’s approach to moderation had my full support, because it’s what worked for him in keeping the site going (no matter how many times I saw a nasty comment that I thought should’ve received a caution or deletion).

    In the same way, you have my full support. Keep it up!

  4. Wow. I’m honestly surprised that Shamus tolerated me on his site! I am very much a feminist and have made many comments on this site defending feminist views.

    Now I’m also sad to know this piece of information about him, and to realize that perhaps we were not experiencing the “real” Shamus.

    1. Henson says:

      Everyone hides part of themselves from other people. That doesn’t mean the parts they show aren’t real.

      Honestly, I think this highlights the strength of Shamus’s moderation style: that even though he may have had very strong convictions on this topic, he didn’t let it get in the way of other people sharing their own perspectives.

    2. MrGuy says:

      I do think that was the “real” Shamus, to the extent that “real” and “with possibly untreated mental health issues” go together.

      Whatever his personal view may have been, whether he disagreed with you or not, Shamus’ core view was that your opinion, civilly presented, was welcome. A strong reflection of the “no politics” rule was a belief that Shamus believed that his own politics were equally irrelevant to the community he wanted to build.

      In some ways, I find that noble – in a world where most of the internet is people picking side and throwing grenades at the “other,” this site was unique in allowing people to discuss certain ideas that would be hopelessly impossible most other places. We all knew the rules and where the line was. It was refreshing that “unpopular” wasn’t synonymous with “unwelcome,” and I’m sure in at least a few cases it changed some minds to have a dialogue about ideas rather than be reprimanded for them.

      On the other hand, I’m with Bay on that his style was a little too hands off on content. I frankly agreed with the Spoiler Warning crew on leaving when That Incident happened and Shamus’ core style wouldn’t let him shut it down.

      One of my very last interactions with Shamus on this site was a rare time I knowingly crossed his line. Someone said something really offensive to some people, and even Shamus knew he was trolling. I let him have it – as civilly as I could but admittedly not very. Shamus chastised me for the reaction and said he was hoping everyone would have left the obvious troll alone, and locked the thread. Honestly, it pissed me off that he knew something didn’t belong, wouldn’t take it down, and got more mad at the reaction than the troll. It pissed me off so much that I left the site for a few weeks, and when I came back he was gone.

      Do your thing, Bay. You can honor his legacy in whatever way makes sense for you. Thanks for being upfront about it.

      1. Zaxares says:

        In some ways, I too understand the kind of mixed admiration and displeasure you had with Shamus’s moderation style. There is a definite harm that can be done by not removing poisonous and hateful views (especially when it includes active calls to violence or prejudice against others) and leaving it where it can influence others. On the other hand, I also admired his “history must be preserved, warts and all” approach. He didn’t believe in hiding away or burying the uglier side of things, although he would take steps to stop it getting out of hand. It’s not too dissimilar from the debate over removing Confederate monuments from Southern cities, for example. On the one hand, yes, it can glorify hateful views and ideals and ensure that they constantly take root in new generations. On the other hand, if you hide it away completely, it also means that future generations will never learn the lessons of the past. (This is what Japan does. Their education curriculum glosses over a lot of the terrible things the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces did during WWII, to the point where many younger Japanese have no idea that atrocities like the R*pe of Nanking or the Death Railway of Burma ever happened.)

        Ultimately though, it was Shamus’s ship to run, and now it is Bay’s ship to run. I fully support the new moderation style (I believe in not completely suppressing discussion about ugly topics, but they need to be handled with sensitivity and maturity, within civil discourse), and although some of today’s revelations about the hidden side of Shamus were unexpected, I nevertheless still hold nothing but fondness for him and the years I spent on this site. :)

      2. Oh, god. I had the same thing happen. I pretty much stopped commenting after that, although I still read regularly.

    3. Scerro says:

      From my perspective, “Feminism” is an insanely loaded term to the point that it’s worthless. Without follow up questions it’s more or less the same as saying “I like Women.” It’s ambiguous, and the opinions only get more radical with the internet in the mix.

      Shamus couldn’t stop to figure out those topics without becoming a social commentary focused site, the ban on politics worked well. The site stayed focused on programming, games, and other media. It drove away people, but it also protected the core audience from Shamus – and he knew it.

      Think of it like Shamus’ Neighbor John, but Shamus. He learned a lot from in his Autoblography ( ) but he also learned that later on his Neighbor John had an awful aspect to him too. Still doesn’t invalidate the good times.

    4. Galad says:

      I’m thinking that, those comments defending feminist views – you’ve always made them tactfully enough, that someone with an aversion to that kind of view can at least say in his mind “let’s agree to disagree” and not feel forced to take some action. It’s well possible also, that Shamus respected you enough to give you a bit more leeway.

  5. Olivier FAURE says:

    It’s not ‘being a police state’ to kick people out of your bar for being disorderly. This site is not the government. And freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences in a private environment. If you’re a sexist tool at work, you can get fired. It would be a ‘freedom of speech’ issue if you could then be arrested, but being fired is just a natural consequence.

    The whole “freedom of speech” thing is hard to put boundaries on, but I definitely think these are the wrong boundaries. To be candid, I think those specific boundaries are mostly promoted by some progressive groups, mostly on the assumption that they’ll always be on the good side of these “consequences in a private environment”. On the other hand, if we lived in a time where people could still get fired for saying things that are too communist-y (even without getting arrested), I think we’d all agree there’s a freedom of speech problem.

    That’s not a dig on your new moderation policy, though. I think it’s completely right and I get where you’re coming from. Coming to terms with political disagreements with your dad is hard, especially like this.

    1. Doran says:

      Agreed, full support the moderation policy.

      This site and pages is not the only place for discussion if people want, there are many third party social media sites out there that don’t put people in the tricky place of being both contributor and curator.

      I wonder if people think “well if someone forbid me from discussing x on their property I could just step outside and discuss it there, but there isn’t an easy way to do so without posting a link and being obvious you are discussing elsewhere”

      I wonder if initiatives such as the Fediverse will help with this, by making so you still just need one account to comment, but there’s clear seperation between different “properties”

      At the end of the day though unlike the real world, internet conversation is more of a billboard than audio, so people are working to host the “air” we speak through.

    2. MrGuy says:

      I think there’s two separate things that get unhelpfully conflated on the internet. A desire to build a space that’s open and welcoming to all. And a desire to be on “the right side”.

      Back in my day, before I was old enough to have a lawn for you dang kids to get offa, we had Usenet. And Usenet was a cesspool. It was a sea of trolls and misogyny. There were some topic specific groups that were mostly ok, but it was still an awful lot of (for example) “OMG a girl on the internet!” at its most tame, and would go downhill from there. It wasn’t limited to misogyny- there were huge protracted flame wars on almost any political topic.

      Now, the trolls were bad in two ways. Their message was abhorrent, of course. But also was their purpose. They were there to pick fights. I genuinely think many of the Usenet trolls didn’t even really care about the hurtful things they were saying (some clearly did). They were in the debate club trying to win an argument from a ridiculous starting position.

      The Usenet troll gave rise to its opposite. The White Knight. The white night took it as their mission to battle the trolls. They’d respond to a “girls don’t belong on the internet” troll with a diatribe on women’s rights and demanding people “get educated.”

      Here’s the thing. The white knights might have been on (in most cases) a more defensible side than the trolls. But in another way, they were just as bad. Because they were equally spoiling for the fight, and relished the diatribes and the argument. The core of the white knight ethos was to get offended on someone else’s behalf and aggressively defend them. Whether or not they could speak for themselves. Whether or not they were offended. They’d decided they were the defenders, and like an over militarized swat team they were looking for something to defend. They treated women, and gay people, and racial minorities as much like objects as the trolls in many cases – territory to fight over, not people.

      Trolls and white knights haven’t gone away by any stretch of the imagination, though I hear the “white knight” label a lot less these days. And they’re still fighting.

      The problem is that people have lost track of the difference between “which side of an issue you are on?” and “are you here to actually discuss, or are you just here for the fight?”

      There really are some people who get the unhelpful Social Justice Warrior tag who are more in it for the fight than anything else. They’re looking for something to be offended about because they like to feel superior. They want to win an argument, so they want to start an argument. There are analogous people on the other side who equally looking to start a fight.

      A major problem with trolls and white knights is when they drown out the conversation and make it hard to have civil discourse. When “Hey, I know you meant it as a joke, but I don’t think that ‘Adam and Steve’ remark was appropriate” draws a “Shut it, SJW. Free speech, woo!” response. Polite disagreement turns into character assassination really fast. Everyone feels entitled to assume the person they’re responding to has a deep-seated agenda of “winning the internet.”

      It’s easy to assume that everyone on the other side is an asshole wanting to pick a fight, and respond in kind. It’s also wrong and unhelpful.

      This is why we can’t have nice things.
      I’m sure I was going somewhere with this at the top of the post.

      1. Lino says:

        I’m reminded of a quote by Amos Oz – a Jew born is Israel in 1939 whose most famous book is How to Cure a Fanatic. It’s on my reading list, but I once heard a really nice quote from it that pretty much summarizes what you’re talking about:

        … The essence of fanaticism lies in the desire to force other people to change – the common inclination to improve your neighbor, mend your spouse, engineer your child, or straighten up your brother, rather than let them be. The fanatic is a most unselfish creature. The fanatic is a great altruist.

        In fact, often the fanatic is more interested in you than in himself. He wants to save your soul, he wants to redeem you, he wants to liberate you from sin, from error, from smoking, from your faith or from your faithlessness, he wants to improve your eating habits, or to cure you of your drinking or voting habits. The fanatic cares a great deal for you; he is always either falling on your neck because he truly loves you or else he is at your throat in case you prove to be irredeemable. And, in any case, topographically speaking, falling on your neck and being at your throat are almost the same gesture.

        As for the topic of moderation itself, I really appreciated the moderation style Shamus had and I completely agree with Olivier FAURE. I don’t know why they don’t just make a separate website and just keep this one as an archive. I remember them saying how they plan on locking the old articles in the future in the name of easier moderation. All of this keeping different mod styles across different articles seems like lot of extra work – if you want to change the way the community is run, you might as well migrate it so there’s a clear demarcation line.

        I mean, imagine you’re a new user six months from now. You’ve just discovered this site from one of Shamus’ older articles (very likely since those are the posts that still rank on Google). You comment on that post and your comment stays up. Then, you comment on a new post and you get a warning. You don’t know about the new moderation rules because this post has been buried by all the new ones. Wouldn’t that be weird? Also, the sheer disparity between the new posts and the old could also become jarring at some point in the near future.

        I think all of this could be solved by making a new website and just leaving this one as an archive (just make snapshots of all the pages) and have the top post on here and the home page linking to the new site.

    3. Bay says:

      Honestly? I was living somewhere where people could and did get fired for being too ‘communist-y’, it wasn’t good, but it was their right to do and withheld by the court where I lived. I stand by my assessment. Although I fully understand where someone might disagree, and maybe even should. Nuance is a mess. But I didn’t put that definition there to defend my decision, I put it there to make clear my personal stance since it effects how I moderate.

    4. eba says:

      Here’s the problem with freedom of speech. Most of the free speech radicals are just lying. They are liars. They lie. THey don’t want free speech, but they also don’t believe in the sanctity of language. They use free speech advocacy to demand they get to be loud public bigots because being loud bigots is their goal. Not free speech. And then, when this goal is achieved, they censor their opponents.

      Twitter is the biggest use case on the world of this. Musk gets in, unbans most of the banned bigots, starts censoring certain topics he hates, like trans rights. Or supporting Ukraine.

      1. DTec says:

        This is exactly the kind of post that I expect to survive the revamped “no fuck you’s (subtle or unsubtle)” policy. I held my tongue for several days in the hopes that my expectation would be revealed as biased and unwarranted, but it’s unfortunately pattern-matching to nearly every other experience I’ve had in every forum or discussion group over the last decade. And it’s not the only example that’s cropped up on this page. I understand it, and also lament it.

        Your ‘opponents’ are liars; insincere; bigoted; bad-faith; radicalized; GooberGrapers, so on and so forth. There’s even a driveby against Musk for some reason, and I’m not sure what it contributes. And hey, this is totally normal. I’m sure that a spleen venting from me from another direction would come off as similarly uncharitable and obnoxious. While Shamus’ ‘no politics’ would never be able to fully stamp out any discussion even tangentially related to it (after all, ‘we live in a society’ and we are all exposed or affected by it in ways big and small), it did at least bar people like you and I from ever going head-to-head and mucking up this place for everybody else, and kept us honoring a commitment to keep our focus and discussion almost squarely on the topic; whether it was programming, gaming, or music. I now expect soapboxing like this to go mostly unchallenged, and any protestations in opposition to be given a sterner look.

        Which is fine, I guess. It’s not my blog, it’s not a democracy, and I’m not in a position to make any pleas, let alone demands. I realize that mod styles like Shamus’ were truly unique and exceptional, and I can’t expect everybody to follow in his steps; hell, not even myself despite the idealism and affection I attach to the model. But truly, this entire blog post and thread have left me feeling like a sad dinosaur. There are other places I could go, but they are winnowing by the day, and many of those alternatives are NOT the places I’d like to frequent.

        I do wish the site well, even if I admittedly chafe at some of the comments here. This site was a daily read for me. An oasis of good gaming commentary that avoided the moralistic assumptions of most ubiquitous game news outlets, and also the craptastic Disqus-tier dregs that crop up around them. Where else was I – for example – going to read an eloquent and much-deserved fisking of Wolfenstein 2 without falling into the usual Culture War crap? I’m not saying current 20sided is slipping in either direction, but the temperature has changed, and my experiences have given a decent (if scribbly) map of what usually follows.

        As a consequence, the site may no longer be special to me. But I hope it is for others. And since I know I’m bringing my own baggage here, I hope this isn’t coming across as accusatory or disrespectful to Bay.

        1. Steve C says:

          What a well written post DTec. What I wanted to write but better. I feel exactly the same way on all points. Especially the last one.

  6. Matt` says:

    I’m reminded of Scott Alexander, who blogs with so much care and nuance and empathy on difficult/complex topics, and yet clearly has some trauma from online social justice feminists.

    Talks about receiving a consensus that “gross nerds” was an easy punchline and punching bag, and thus living in abject fear of ever expressing overt romantic interest in anyone. Because if you lack the social skill to know when an advance is welcome, and lack the flexible approach to social rules to know when they flex/bend, the only remaining safe strategy to avoid any possibility of being thought of as a creep is to keep it all to yourself.

    Anyway. My understanding of moderation is that it’s (a) very necessary, because well kept gardens die by pacifism, (b) requires discretion, because as you say there will always be ways to subtly dig at people without saying a specific rude word, and (c) will always inevitably result in people thinking (or at least saying) that they’re being censored for their opinion rather than their rudeness – no matter what you do.

    They see one example of a parallel person who was rude with the opposite opinion and didn’t get moderated (maybe you didn’t see it, maybe it was less severely rude, maybe there were other nuances), and cry bias. They don’t see the other comments you remove, from any/all sides of whatever relevant divide, to get a true statistical sense of anything.

    So yeah. I support the notion of moderation that uses the full extent of your ability to spot subtle rudeness.

      1. Syal says:

        For complaining about Scott’s writing, Elizabeth Sandifer employs every technique she complains about and then several more on top.

        1. djw says:

          No kidding, that was execrable.

      2. djw says:

        Hmm, that seems exactly like the sort of thing I’d expect from Scott Alexander. Open minded and willing to listen to people from other intellectual silos… Very much unlike the people in those links.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Talks about receiving a consensus that “gross nerds” was an easy punchline and punching bag, and thus living in abject fear of ever expressing overt romantic interest in anyone. Because if you lack the social skill to know when an advance is welcome, and lack the flexible approach to social rules to know when they flex/bend, the only remaining safe strategy to avoid any possibility of being thought of as a creep is to keep it all to yourself.

      At the risk of derailing things and getting overly philosophical, things are a bit more complicated than that. For the most part, we learn and are expected to learn social rules through immersion, where we live in the world and just pick them up automatically. I think that this relies heavily on what at least used to be called “simulation theory”, where we learn things by placing ourselves in the other person’s situation and then reading out how things are supposed to work from that. The thing is that there are a number of people for whom “simulation” doesn’t work, and so they rely on theorizing about it, using “theory theory”, which means that they come up with rules for how to approach those situations (autistics are the biggest group that is known to do this). Now, of course, rules aren’t great at nuance, but it turns out that “theory theory” can handle nuance for the most part by adopting extra rules or an explicit algorithm of things to work through.

      But this works if they can try things, find out that it doesn’t work, and adjust accordingly, which means that the consequences of failure are very important. If all that happens when you make a social faux pas is that your friends mock you a little bit, that’s fine, but if you get socially shunned, that’s not that great. And since a lot of these people are both very analytic and have often been socially shunned by getting things wrong, they tend to worry about getting things wrong a lot, especially if the consequences are or at least could be bad, and they don’t understand the nuances enough to know when they are going to face less consequences. Add in potentially losing a job because one runs afoul of sexual harassment rules and the consequences they face for getting things wrong could be quite severe, and they aren’t confident that they won’t get things wrong.

      So the attitude of “They should just learn social nuance” is a bit facetious. What we have is a situation where things are set up to work best with abilities they don’t have, the way people learn these things are ways that they can’t really learn, they are personally more concerned with failure than most other people are, most people can’t explain how to go about figuring out that social nuance, and the consequences can be quite severe. Given all of this, “I’m just not going to try” seems like it might be the best solution for them.

      How much of this can be blamed on feminists directly is an entirely different debate, of course. But for people who are socially anxious, socially avoidant, or even just a bit shy, it’s not as simple as having them just learn to take social nuances into account.

      1. Bay says:

        I’m actually pretty validated by your addition here. I think most people upon reading this post came away with the idea that I would just be shaming people with ‘bad’ ideas right out the gate, as though on some sort of high horse. I’m a human being, so of course I can’t speak for all the time, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case.

        I never saw the inside of a school, or got to be part of any social ‘group’. I’ve never had a job for longer than a few months because of my physical disabilities, and I have my dads same cocktail of neurodivergence. He writes at one point during his autobiography that while he was working at McDonalds things just…clicked. He learned how to reliably make people laugh. I read that part and get legitimately jealous. I have pissed off every social group you can think of on one side or the other ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just last week I was asking a question in my ethical polyamory group -stating that I didn’t know the answer and looking for help- and got ripped apart by two hundred people angry I used the word ‘rules’ instead of ‘boundary’. Rules are apparently for children, and it’s a word not appropriate for talking about partners. I was using them interchangeably…not with ill will. I removed myself from the situation -by deleting the post- and got ripped apart for that too. I want very bad to do better than my dad did, so I try to take the notes with me when I go. Rules aren’t for partners, okay. I wish they’d said it in a gentler way, but it’s the internet.

        My ‘rules’ here are that I reserve the right to remove people if I need to. I don’t know how my dad managed this site with all of the opinions on it and the often times hurtful or assumption-making commentary on things he held dear, I’m drowning. I have no idea where the lines are, or what the triggers are going to be. To me, the ‘politics’ most people are thinking of aren’t even politics to me. I’m gay, and I’m disabled, and I’m an assigned-female-at-birth person. I’m not jumping on a bandwagon or anything. Just…respect my perspective as the person I am, and don’t think any of it can change, and we should get along? I don’t know, I’m flying blind in a thunder storm and there’s a chimp with a milkshake in the cockpit.

        1. PPX14 says:

          The added layer of difficulty with the sort of situation you described then being the element of working out when to take negative reactions with a pinch of salt and understand when it might be the issues of the other people at play, more than your own having actually made what might reasonably be understood as a faux pas or insult. The old question of whether a negative situation arose because one made a mistake or because the other person was not mature enough to respond well – is it my own awkwardness or does the negative response to the awkwardness also really imply an awkwardness on behalf of the respondent. A genuinely socially adept person makes the other person feel at ease, so in my opinion the people who chastise social minor faux pas are almost inherently themselves not particularly socially adept. By which I mean, gosh sorry to hear you faced that backlash – as an outsider that sounds quite mean and unnecessary! I think half of the internet seems to be people raging over the meaning of words. Don’t mention “overrated” on r/PatientGamers or the wars will begin :D

          I certainly empathise with the mindset of your father and what Matt` describes above – but I don’t remember feeling like it ever came into play on the site, for better or worse – for my part as a moderately frequent to occasional visitor to this site I don’t remember really seeing too much in the way of argument, the occasional one that Shamus or Paul would come in and shut down perhaps, sometimes in a way that seemed unfair or premature, sometimes in a way that seemed ranty, sometimes in the nuanced way that you intend – when things became heated, but never in a way that particularly mattered once the next post came along. Presumably because I wasn’t ever in the argument and haven’t worked out how to get an inbox for replies so rely on scouring past posts’ comments to investigate if I have a reply.

          In fact your post made me wonder if something had happened to instigate this. I didn’t know about whatever it is that happened with Spoiler Warning. As long as the content is interesting and the conversations remain civil it sounds like I won’t be noticing much change :)

          My first reaction was one of wondering how your political spectrum difference would manifest in terms of what opinions you would consider to be acceptable – it sounded as if you thought there had been rampant unacceptable views in the comments. And made me wonder if the no-politics rule still stands, or what you consider to be politics that fall within that rule – as you say, the definition when it pertains to matters personal identity can be quite wildly different – e.g. your post itself sounds either very political, or not at all.

          You certainly achieved one key blog goal in this post anyway – it was interesting to read! :D

        2. Steve C says:

          The ‘rules’ vs ‘boundary’ is a good example of my concerns about moderation here. You (Bay) should not have been treated that way. It was wrong on multiple levels. That’s the kind of moderation policy I object to and do not accept. I’m concerned because my interpretation of this post/thread is that this site is going the same way. A perception which may or may not be correct and I should clarify:

          That group condemned an individual for a purely semantic reason. To the point they felt had to delete the offending post in order to avoid the stigma of the group. And it still wasn’t enough. They got censured for that too. No part of that is ok with me. And I like discussions about formal semantics!

          It smacks of doubleplus-newspeak when emotional semantics and word police are forced to the forefront. It stops being about ideas and discussion. It starts being about tribes and sides. I don’t mean in regards to aggression and confrontation. I mean the in-group VS the out-group. Deliberately dividing rather than working to bring together.

          IE the reason why Bay was crapped on and made to feel unwelcome wasn’t due to ‘rules’ or ‘boundaries’. It was a whistle word to who to include and who to attack. Who’s in and who’s out. The reasoning behind the words used may be valid. Explaining the nuance is valid. Invoking an emotional response in someone for not already knowing that nuance and conforming to the group is not valid. That group could have stated the semantics in a way that was informative and helpful. Not saying it in a gentler way was its own purpose.

          That was an example of a group moderating an individual — censoring and censuring them. Admins/moderators need not be involved. A person was made to be unwelcome. As opposed to moderating to make an idea unwelcome. It wasn’t even an opposing idea. It was just word. That’s not ok.

          1. Bay says:

            Lovely. But as I am the one who gave that example and who have made several comments dissuading ‘mob’ behavior thus far, (even when I agreed with the sentiment) I find your multiple comments on this post a bit condescending. I was using the example to explain that was not how I was intending to moderate like that, but you seem to be explaining my own experience back to me. I’m sorry you don’t agree with the ‘side’ I moderate from, but I am still my fathers child. I am still leaving more than one comment I disagree with in the hopes of remaining at least a little unbiased. How I intend to moderate is to give a gentle warning(Like this one!), and if that warning is taken with distain, to remove the person from my space. I am directly disapproving and correcting ‘get the pitchfork’ mindsets, and trying to be honest and explain what behavior is not acceptable.

      2. PPX14 says:

        Thank you for describing this, I found it quite helpful / cathartic / insightful, as did my SO who struggles with this sort of thing.

  7. Mersadeon says:

    I wholeheartedly support this. I was alienated by the break with Spoiler Warning, but was glad that at least it seems to have broken off without the airing of dirty laundry. The reason I stayed was because of the community, even if I deeply disagreed with the moderation. I think your approach is exactly what modern communities need – otherwise, people will rules-lawyer conversations into a toxic shape. I was honestly surprised that his moderation style even managed to keep most gamergaters quiet (though the comment section of Spoiler Warning’s departure was… christ, that was a creepshow), but in order to truly moderate a community, you gotta go beyond surface tone.

    At the end of the day, supposedly “value-neutral rules” *do* have values, and they enforce them harshly while pretending not to. I’d much rather have openly stated values. And from what I’ve seen, I like the values you have, so this will be a better place than before in my book.

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    I lived in deep west Texas long enough to know you can tell someone to go fuck themselves without ever uttering a rude word.

    I really wish more moderators understood this. I’ve seen and participated in so many conversations where there’s a very clear aggressive party who constantly gets away with insulting, belittling and otherwise offending the others because they don’t use cuss words and the offended parties eventually get so sick of it all that they inevitably use them, so they’re the ones who get their comments deleted and their accounts banned.

    I’ll never understand this approach to moderation. At that point why not use bots, since they’re going to do as bad of a job anyway? That being said, I always thought Shamus, while having clear moderation issues, never went this bad. He could pick up offending comments that weren’t using strong language, though it is clear sometimes they slipped past him, which suggest he was, as you say, only really caring if he personally was offended by them.

    It’s always though when you have a loving relationship with family but there are still some very obvious values dissonance between you. I love my parents, but it wasn’t until I moved out of their house that I realized just how much I was being poisoned by some of their beliefs. They are good people, but very stubborn in certain ways, and it’s only when you’re on your own and you’re not constantly drinking from that well that you start seeing things from a different perspective and realize some of those “values” are really just prejudices in disguise. Best thing you can do is recognize those issues and try to do better.

    1. Fizban says:

      I’ve seen and participated in so many conversations where there’s a very clear aggressive party who constantly gets away with insulting, belittling and otherwise offending the others because they don’t use cuss words and the offended parties eventually get so sick of it all that they inevitably use them, so they’re the ones who get their comments deleted and their accounts banned.

      I used to hang out the GitP forums, and hoo boy did their moderation policy fall into this so much of the time. Simultaneously draconian and permissive, seemingly falling on one particular side far too often as interpreted by whichever mods (or total lack of mods), so many giant 50 page threads of just constantly sniping back and forth just an inch from the official line. Eventually most of the bad actors did push far enough to get themselves banned, but it took quite a while. Only got dinged myself once (after the wars died down even), and it was on a nearly one-word technicality- but also hurt enough that what little desire I had to try and keep hanging out there when most of the forum was always against me just kinda sapped away.

      As for moderation here- I kinda already thought we were doing it this way? Could have sworn there was already a post directly stating that Bay’s politics/etc did not match Shamus’s, and I just expected there would be a shift in the wind already. Which I’m fully on board for of course.

      1. Bay says:

        We were already doing this, but as I’ve found in my year here and decade on the internet. For some people things are obvious, for others, not so much. It’s all about perspective. It’s easy to get condescending I think, since you have to spell things out when working with a crowd, but since everyone comes from different backgrounds, it’s best to just be clear and say every little thing to avoid miscommunication.

        1. Scerro says:

          “everyone comes from different backgrounds, it’s best to just be clear and say every little thing to avoid miscommunication.”

          I could write A LOT on my personal experiences on that.

          I still have poor writing habits because of arguing with people on forums in my teenage years. My writing overexplains because I tried to avoid miscommunication. That backfired somewhat, and I catch myself deleting “I think” and various other meaningless but conversation tempering wording from my writing to this day.

          Communication is so difficult. My internet friend communication spans multiple US cultural regions, and I’m surprised I don’t offend more of them…

  9. Noah Gibbs says:

    Solid. Sounds like a good approach that works for you. More to the point, enforcing somebody else’s moderation policy when they’re not doing the work is sheer misery, and you’re carrying plenty as-is.

    I appreciate what you’re doing here. And part of that is that you’re trying to keep it sustainable for yourself. Good.

  10. MikhailBorg says:

    I support your decision on this. I stuck around with Shamus because I greatly respected his as a creator, but I think he made some poor decisions about moderating. I’ve had to kick some people out of groups I ran, and I hated it, but they were fouling up the place and I felt I had a responsibility to the rest of my little community. I think your choice will work better in the long run.

  11. CrushU says:

    Online moderation is Very Hard. I always felt his approach was to keep it as simple as possible, which works in that respect, but has issues in other ways.

    Your way is Harder, more Work, but more Useful, in my opinion.

    I’ve got a couple personal anecdotes about online moderation… One community that I moderate had someone who always looked for a fight, and after being warned repeatedly, we finally just banned them. And there was much rejoicing. They were always relatively ‘civil’ and not actively being ‘rude’. I consider this sort of thing to be ‘toxicity’ more than ‘rudeness’.

    The other is about my partner getting banned off a neighborhood Facebook page… It was clear that the people moderating the page did not have online moderation experience and the issue still hasn’t been resolved… But it’s a neighborhood Facebook page, which should tell you everything you need to know. The community is new construction, built last two years or so, in a relatively progressive area, so it’s actually really nice people who are pleasant… But there’s a couple of people who don’t understand what ‘microaggressions’ actually are/mean, and the moderators aren’t able to identify it, insisting on a ‘politeness’ policy, even though there’s obvious ‘red flag’ phrases, such as ‘We don’t tolerate disrespect’… Ah well.

    I support what you’re doing here, of course. :)

  12. HauntedAuto says:

    This is very powerful to hear. A good lesson for everyone to know and understand. Good people are human, and pedestals dehumanize us all. Thank you for being so candid with this. And thank you for your stance on the site moving forward.

  13. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    You seem to feel that changing the moderation stance would betray his memory, but from what he wrote his style wasn’t a core value of his, as “in everyone should do like me”, he said that it’s the only style that he could handle. So you absolutely do you.

  14. LizTheWhiz says:

    I’m always gonna be grateful that Twentysided was the place I grew up on the internet: for a young man coming of age in the era of GamerGate, it was a safe spot to not end up radicalized into…well, you know.

    But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize the limits of that system (particularly surrounding the Spoiler Warning stuff), and I appreciate this direction a lot.

  15. Syal says:

    So… how different is the new policy than the moderation post from back when?

    1. Speaking as someone who was around when Shamus made that post, and knowing some of the conversations that went into why he made an entire post about it, my own take is that Shamus was being a bit myopic or disingenuous in his view of the comments on his blog. I’m guessing mostly myopic; as Bay said there were things that triggered him, but his primary problem with a commenter was when he perceived an aggressive stance, especially against long-time visitors. To that end, Shamus would tolerate, as was mentioned above, someone telling someone else, or an entire group or demographic, to **** off and go right to hell…as long as they didn’t say it in a particularly aggressive way. I can’t do that without showing emotion, but a lot of long-time commenters were very good at doing exactly that. My understanding of what Bay is talking about as a difference going forward is that on any new-content post, that won’t be tolerated anymore.

  16. djw says:

    I had (and still have) a great deal of respect for Shamus moderation style.

    Nevertheless, you have to find your own voice, and that is going to include finding your own moderation style.

    I’ll miss the old days, but that’s just part of getting old.

  17. evileeyore says:

    I’ve never had a problem with your Dad’s moderation. We’ll see how my old fashioned ideas about freedom of speech hold up under the new regime. I already know I have a knee-jerk “just walk away and never look back” reaction to being told I’m not allowed to say things while someone else gets to have the floor with applause from the mods team…

    1. EBA says:

      And what do you want to say with your freedom of speech?

      1. Bay says:

        Hey, I get where you’re coming from and agree to an extent, but Evileeyore was expressing a feeling in a mature way. Let’s not go out of our way to find bigots here, they’re plenty loud on their own. My moderation style is to give a boundary when someone crosses and line, and then let them either double down, or back up and think about it. I’m not here to create a lynch mob. Evil was expressing something entirely reasonable. To jump on that in an aggressive way would be to prove that feeling right.

  18. Misamoto says:

    As an anecdote, me and my wife have a very small blog (around 500 subscribers), and sometimes people show up there, who say… I dunno, weird stuff. And when we tell them to stop they get all philosophical on freedom of speech, and at that point we ban them. Because fuck them. As a reason I learned to say “Because I can”, since they’ll never stop arguing anyway.

  19. Storm says:

    You’ve my full support on this one Bay, Shamus’ approach to moderation was something I didn’t really agree with. Like most of his opinions I didn’t agree with, I could understand his reasoning and see where he was coming from, but I still didn’t agree with it. On the one hand there is something almost noble about wanting a space where politics aren’t welcome and everyone can take part in a discussion as long as it’s civil, but as someone whose simple existence is politicized and used as a talking point, I don’t really have the luxury of stepping away and being non-political, especially as time goes on.

    I do think your take on moderation is a good one, it’s similar to one used in the better online spaces I’m in – it still preserves the capacity for nuance, and the understanding that sometimes people have off days and just need to step away for a bit, while not tolerating people deliberately toeing the line and making everyone else’s lives miserable so long as they don’t break composure first.

    And I think it’s a good thing you’re doing this for yourself too, I have to imagine running this site at all is some level of stressful, and I don’t think you should uphold traditions that make that experience even harder just for the sake of it being how things have been done.

  20. CJK says:

    I suspect most of us that are still here agree with you, Bay – Shamus’ approach was OK until it wasn’t, and by the time of the break with Spoiler Warning it was really showing the strain. You speak with a different voice, and anyone who is still around sees something in it.

    There are those who feel strongly that the Spoiler Warning years were “lost”, those who have continued to lurk in both places (hi!), and probably some who left here forever, and I don’t think there’s any reconciling that now. Just be you, and do what’s good for you.

  21. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish says:

    The community Shamus built died along with him – evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of people didn’t stick around. That death is also evident from the fact that we haven’t really had any of the deep, interesting discussions we used to have back when he was alive – the ones on The Last Jedi and This Game is Bad for You are particular favourites of mine, for example.

    So as sad as I am about the changes here, for me it just cements the feeling that this isn’t Twenty Sided anymore, except in name only.

    You may like that, and that’s fine, but I won’t be joining you. The only reason I’m writing this under a different name is because I don’t want my comments deleted for having a different opinion (the people following the comments on RSS probably know what I’m talking about – they didn’t delete all that guy’s comments, but they did delete the one they didn’t have a good argument against).

    I will always have fond memories of this community. It was the only place where you could have a civil, enriching conversation about all kinds of different topics. A far cry from the rest of the giant echo chamber the Internet has become, that simply can’t tolerate someone having the “wrong” opinion.

    All that being said, I wish you all the best.

    And thank you, Shamus, for being there when I needed you most and showing me that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Rest in peace, my friend!

    1. Bay says:

      I didn’t ‘not have a good argument against him’ I just gave him a warning and wasn’t willing to leave up hurtful garbage once a boundary has been set -and ignored-. This is my passed fathers website. My father who I loved dearly and miss every day. I am trying to make room for everyone else who miss him, but I refuse to be hurt beyond the inevitable in keeping this place. To do so would be self detrimental and do no good for everyone. Thank you for stepping away.

    2. Scerro says:

      “The community Shamus built died along with him – evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of people didn’t stick around.”

      I’ll actually argue that a lot more of it is here than you think. The problem is current content is infrequent and doesn’t mesh with what Shamus created – coding, story deep dive analysis, technical commentary on relevant news. There’s some D&D, but I’d argue that Shamus was tangentially a D&D site at best.

      Personally, as long as there’s well articulated fresh perspectives presented in a civil manner, I’ll hang around a good bit longer.

    3. eba says:

      What opinion are you afraid of expressing here?

      I suspect it is something worthy of being shown the door.

      1. Bay says:

        You’re right on this one, not gonna lie, but again. I don’t need more moderators right now. If you really feel like something is a problem I haven’t noticed, point it out to me! But commenting after I’ve already said something feels like beating a dead horse, and again, inciting an argument when we don’t need one.

    4. krellen says:

      Funny you bring up The Last Jedi conversation as a “good” one, since that was the final straw that broke my camel back.

      I support Bay, FWIW.

  22. Olivier FAURE says:

    A quick note: as far as moderation guidelines that focus on the “soft” intent behind what people say, and not just hard rules about which words are allowed, I think HackerNews’ are pretty good:

  23. Olivier FAURE says:

    When I was eleven, a man tried to follow me home. I took a few sharp turns and hid in a used car lot until he was gone. I was scared, and a kid. When I told my dad, expecting comfort and anger on my behalf (his usual mix). I instead got reprimanded for making assumptions, and interrogated on why I ‘thought’ this man was following me.

    I wanted to react earlier, but didn’t find the time to put my thoughts into words.

    That’s really rough.

    I was mugged once and got back to my home in tears. My dad was the one I first saw, and he comforted me; I remember being a bit annoyed that his political opinions seeped in slightly. I can only imagine how devastated I would have been if he’d prioritized soapboxing about his opinions over looking out for me.

    More recently, I had a rough spell and complained about a bunch of life stuff at a bar, including a lack of romantic success. A woman caught the end of that and called me an incel and left, even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t say anything negative about any woman or women in general, and she wasn’t especially interested in discussing the subject any further. That still feels like a bit of a punch in the gut.

    Point is, I know how it feels to get to a vulnerable place and share something that’s hard for you, only for someone to ignore you and just rant about how their political opinions prove that you don’t have any problems.

    I try very hard not to do that; if someone talks to me about something that hurt them (which does happen a bit, actually) like eg street harassment, I always make sure to bury any general opinion I have about what is or isn’t street harassment or what should be acceptable in society, and always assume that, yes, it was that bad, and the person saying it is legitimately hurt. Oftentimes if you encourage the person to talk they will give you all the details that confirm that it was that bad, so you don’t achieve anything by showing skepticism.

    Show compassion, people.

    1. PPX14 says:

      Gosh that sounds awful – “incel” seems to have become the latest term to be used to be mean to a lot of sad and lonely people but this time also un/intentionally conflate them with some presumably even lonelier but aggressive misanthropic oddballs on the internet. Alongside virgin, nerd, neckbeard, etc.

      It’s difficult isn’t it, I do myself end up soapboxing about those sort of things in the way that you allude to, and indeed when my girlfriend says that someone followed her, partly as Bay indicates, because I resent the impact the fear of coming across that way has had on my own social capabilities and/or success.

      But the key I think on this website is why is any of this coming up? This post from Bay worries me because I always saw this site as a fun place to read about Mass Effect and other interesting games and insights / critique on game design and story construction – not as a political / social debating arena. This post alone seems to almost break the no-politics rule and have incited a lot of political discourse, my own comment included.

  24. Cozzer says:

    That was an interesting and moving read.

    No matter how many times I witness it, it’s always surprising how three-dimensional people can be. Of all the people I’ve pseudo-known by reading their creative output on the Internet, Shamus was the one who I could almost picture in my head as a real person. It was something in his writing style, I think, probably not something he calculated, that made me feel like I wasn’t witnessing an “Internet persona”.

    And yet, with few words you’ve added a whole other layer to him, that I couldn’t have imagined and yet fits.

    I have no idea where I was going with this, I just wanted to comment because this post made me feel things and I wanted to share it, even if I’m just a rando who rarely comments.

    Regarding the moderation style, do what you feel is right and good luck! I would say my stance is closer to yours than Shamus, but my ACTUAL stance is “I would lose patience with Internet people and burn down my whole site in 2 days”, so I don’t have much real-life experience about how moderating works.

  25. Pax says:

    I understand and support your changes. Like others said, Shamus’ moderation style was fine, until it wasn’t. In a just world where everyone could be depended on to be civil, thoughtful, and willing to let disagreements be, it would’ve been fine forever probably, but this is the world and internet we’ve got.

    Like someone else also said, thought, I think maybe this was the best he could do. It’s like when somebody calls Democracy one of the worst forms of government on Earth, but also the best one we’ve got (now how much you agree with that is a separate conversation of course). Sometimes you could see those dark edges of his underlying a post here or there, especially when it came to moderating concerns, but he also did a good job keeping his own political opinions under wraps for the most part. Unlike a lot of people, he was able to abide by his own rules, and there’s something noble about that, I think.

  26. krumpet says:

    I did my best to read the post twice, and then all the comments following it, before writing my own comment.

    I only knew Shamus from what he posted on this site. I followed it closely for a number of years, more closely during some periods than others, but enough that I feel I got a good sense of who he was.

    You must necessarily have known him much better than I ever could have, since you got to live with him for any number of years as well as personally know a lot of people who also knew Shamus in person, AS WELL AS having had access and motivation to read this entire site; which, again, in my case was the only point of contact. And yet the manner in which you describe him today is very hard to reconcile with the person who shared so many of his thoughts on this website for more than a decade and a half.

    To be very clear, I’m not saying you’re wrong, as that would be statistically improbable, and also nonsense; two people can know a (third) person in completely different ways, and that’s not necessarily just subjective, since humans also tend to present themselves differently in different contexts. I’m also not saying I don’t believe you, though I’m mindful of how, again, my only point of contact with you is this website and the manner in which you’ve chosen to post. And perhaps one might even say you’re trying harder to express who you are (or, trying less hard to conceal it, depending on which way we slice it) than the previous owner of this website, but the medium and thus the inherent limitations remain the same.

    In moments like these, I’m reminded of V in “V for Vendetta”‘s penultimate act, which was to hand his … power of decision over to the next generation. He was of the opinion that the system he had fought to bring down was also the one that made him, and thus he was inextricably a part of it; to remove it completely also meant the removal of himself. (I have several issues with this line of reasoning, but those don’t really fit here)

    I’m of an age with Shamus, more or less. I already feel too old for this world. More than anything else, the currently popular belief that words can cause harm seems to me to ensure that any dialogue, no matter how carefully or gently entered into, will always be at risk of being declared harmful. So very little about what today’s young people believe makes sense to me, and now, we also can’t even properly talk about it.

    You mentioned that you think your father would have wanted his kids to do what was best for them, and I must admit, I also thought that supporting them and any effort of theirs might have been what he would have wanted. But it’s no secret that he left some big shoes to fill in terms of the content, and I think, with this post, you’ve made a clear and clean break from the past which also provides a good and meaningful point for disembarking.

    Good luck with the future of your site. I shall continue to mourn the one that was, and the man who made it, somewhere else.

  27. BlueHorus says:

    I’m interested to see what will change. I think there was a lot to be said for Shamus’ moderation style, but it wasn’t – of course it wasn’t, no moderation can be – perfect. And as other have pointed out, it’s not his site anymore. So let’s see what it brings.

  28. evileeyore says:

    When I was eleven, a man tried to follow me home. I took a few sharp turns and hid in a used car lot until he was gone. I was scared, and a kid. When I told my dad, expecting comfort and anger on my behalf (his usual mix). I instead got reprimanded for making assumptions, and interrogated on why I ‘thought’ this man was following me.

    I think he had a little voice in the back of his head telling him that everything and everyone thought he was a predator.

    It sounds like you never asked him why. That’s sad. This is why people should never let these questions sit, it’s clearly had an impact and sat, festering and creating a sore spot for years. Take some time, think about your Mom, and if you have questions like this, creating assumptions that linger, just ask, get the real, or as close to real as possible answers.

    1. Bay says:

      I think my perspective is very different from yours. There were a lot of moments like that when I was growing up, and attempting to communicate about them lead to anger and lash-outs when they were on sore subjects. Unfortunately, ‘just talk about it’ doesn’t work with a volatile parent with unchecked mental health problems. I understand where you’re coming from, and I think your hearts in a good place of wishing you understood, and I understood. I’m right there with you.

      But the way you’ve suggested it shifts the blame (intentionally or not) onto the person wronged, and inadvertently blames me for the hurt. That’s very clearly not your intent, but either way it stings.

      The cruel truth of it is that I don’t know, my mom doesn’t know, and likely he didn’t know himself. I’m sorry I can’t offer closure.

    2. Syal says:

      just ask, get the real, or as close to real as possible answers.

      Going to say I highly dislike this advice. I’ve got some traumas in my past, and if people try to bring them up it makes me want to stab them. Don’t touch touchy subjects, folks.

      1. Bay says:

        You’re right, and thank you for the support, but I already corrected it.

  29. Viorel Apopei says:

    I lived in deep west Texas long enough to know you can tell someone to go fuck themselves without ever uttering a rude word

    Well bless your heart!
    I’m joking, I’m Eastern European and someone from Texas once told me about this

  30. EBA says:

    I do have a question.

    Have you reached out the the spoiler warning people since? I mean they are still doing their thing and are still cool people (From what I can see).

    1. Bay says:

      I’ve spoken to a majority of the old crew since dad died, mostly to let them know what happened so they didn’t find out through his site. I was intending to ask if they’d like a slot here, or to participate in some of our planned content, if the reception here was good. They did all really care about my dad, but I’ve been slow to work up to it because I don’t want to incite a mob. It’s a complicated situation. We’re barely floating as it is since the Patreon dropped by half in the last year. If a whole bunch of people storm out without anything to take it’s place, I won’t be able to afford to keep this place going.

      1. Steve C says:

        I continued following the Spoiler Warning crew separately after the split. Right up until a week after Shamus’ funeral. I was waiting for them to say something about it. Anything. They all stayed completely silent. With only a one word swear from Mumbles.

        I stopped following them after that. I lost all respect for them. They previously publicly stated that there was no ill-will. That they had a disagreement that couldn’t be resolved and went their separate ways. I thought there was likely bad blood there, but I take people’s statement of their feelings at face value. Even if I suspect otherwise.

        I could have respected it if they (or even one) stated there was bad blood and didn’t want to get into it. Or some other honest narrative. It didn’t need to be anything substantive– Just honest. Or if not honest, then a continuation of a respectful PR-like statement after Shamus passed. Even an insincere “RIP” from them would have at least been acknowledgement.

        The Spoiler Warning crew’s actions did not match their statements. By staying silent they let their true feelings be known while still being somewhat manipulative about it. The time for them to share that they did all really care about Shamus was either after they split or after Shamus died. They may have cared at one point, but that point wasn’t a year ago. I cannot believe anything they might say about Shamus now. My trust in their integrity died with Shamus.

        1. Bay says:

          Let me assure you, they grieved plenty in private. Consider if they -had- made a statement, how it might have looked to some. To say nothing until he died, and then ‘benefitted’ at all from his passing could have been just as bad. Take care not to think you know online personalities from how they present online. This situation was an all-round no win scenario. The spoiler warning crew where the only people I knew who reached out to me after he died. I lost friends over the loss of my dad, people who didn’t check in or care, they are not some of them.

          1. DraGun says:

            Consider if they -had- made a statement, how it might have looked to some. To say nothing until he died, and then ‘benefitted’ at all from his passing could have been just as bad.

            The only people who would have an issue with it are the haters who would have an issue with Spoiler Warning regardless of what they do. On the other hand, as a public figure, it’s considered common decency to acknowledge the death of people who have had an impact on your development as one.

            And, maybe apart from Chris, all of them benefitted greatly from Shamus’ audience. The least they could have done was acknowledge it in some small, minuscule way. Just a tweet along the lines of “Shamus Young died today. I know we may have had our differences in the past, but we had some great times as well.” They could have then tweeted some more so the tweet was buried on their timeline, so they wouldn’t have to look at it. Or something. What they did left a really bad taste in my mouth.

            1. RCN says:

              Or maybe it would be to invite a problem that could spill out to his kids.

              Sometimes it is better to allow some unknown people on the internet to hate you and assume whatever they want about you than to paint a potential target on the backs of third parties you’d rather protect.

              I was also startled by the radio silence. But I’ve come to understand I’d hate for anyone to potentially reach out to some ex-friends of mine after my passing since having a daughter. I’d really hate to have them be part of her life. And I’ve made a specific request to her legal guardian in the case of my passing to avoid them if they end up having to raise her.

            2. krellen says:

              FWIW, they *did* comment, via Discord, that they were not commenting.

            3. DTec says:

              I have to concur with your take. I honestly never really understood what the fuss was that made the SW crew leave, or what kinds of comments here made people some subset of the audience uncomfortable to stop posting. I’m sure there were things posted and then removed by Shamus that escaped my notice. But as a daily reader, most of the comment here seemed… fine? Contentious sometimes for sure, but usually as a result of somebody kicking something up and another deciding to join in. Nothing hateful or disrespectful was really tolerated. Of course, I’ve had over 20 years of forum exposure to form hardened jade armor, and I can’t speak to anybody else’s standards of what’s ‘tolerable’.

              The SW crews departure and following behavior certainly engendered judgments from me, and nothing positive. I kind of wince seeing ‘tears’ shed over their loss.

              1. PPX14 says:

                From what I’ve seen over the last few years of being here, and reading back to that SW thing, I’d agree.

              2. Syal says:

                This post has the worst comment I can remember, as well as Mumbles summarizing several prior instances.

                That’s actually a lot longer before Mumbles left than I’d thought.

      2. Ramsus says:

        I’m glad to hear this.

        I only very rarely post and even more rarely have gone through and read more than a few comments. So I never had much perception of the benefits or faults of the moderation policy. The first time that it mattered to me personally was when the Spoiler Warning crew left. At that point the announcement itself told me all I needed to know and I saw no benefit to digging through for the ugly details.
        (Heck, I may have commented roughly as much since Shamus’ passing as I did in my entire time following the blog while he was still with us.)

        I continued to read the blog and I continued to watch Spoiler Warning (and still do both), because they’re both kinds of content that I don’t otherwise experience. So it did sadden me a bit when they didn’t make any kind of public statement after he passed. But I just figured either they did so privately or things had gotten so bad between him and them that it would have just been painful for them to do so or something along those lines.

        Curious as I might have been about the subject, I’m glad EBA asked and you chose to answer, because I never would have. I wouldn’t have felt my curiosity was worth potentially making anyone feel bad.

        As for the idea of inviting them to do stuff here. I honestly have no idea. I’ve got no idea how other members of the community would feel. I have no idea how they themselves would feel. All I can really comment on is that the only one of them that has their own blog I ever knew about, Rutskarn, has basically not touched it in ages. *shrug*

        As for the moderation policy, I fully support you doing what works and feels right for you. If I respected your dad doing the same even though I knew I likely wouldn’t agree with all his politics and beliefs, I see no reason not to give you that same respect.
        My only real comment is I think it’s probably not worth the effort to try and keep two different sets of rules in place for moderating. Seems like it would be too much extra work on your part and given the comments here, it’s likely pretty much anyone who would have a strong desire to maintain the old style is either going to accept the change or leave.
        (One of the earlier comments also had the good point that anyone who misses this particular post won’t even understand why.)

      3. Sec says:

        I’m late to the thread, but felt the need to chime in here with a few thoughts I had. Sorry if they feel unorganized.
        I’ve been a sporadic reader in the past, mostly for the programming & IT posts – I haven’t had any issues with his moderating style & found the comments often interesting, and simply stopped reading when I didn’t like them.
        Reading your statements about rants from him in your private life, I feel like his moderation policy did a good job of shielding this site from this part of himself.

        I can echo the sentiment in other comments – It felt really strange that the spoiler warning crew did not acknowledge his death at all. Made me really sad and feel like there was far more bad blood than was originally stated.

        I’ve kept my patreon up for old time’s sake, because it felt like you could use the support. I plan to keep it up for a while, even if I rarely ever read this blog anymore.

        I do support your decision to moderate how YOU see fit – anything else wouldn’t be healthy in my opinion.

  31. PhoenixUltima says:

    I would just like to point out that the very last thing Shamus wrote on this site was a fictional design doc/elevator pitch for a game where an evil conspiracy controls society by making everyone fight each other. This shit haunted him all the way through the end. :(

  32. Steve C says:

    Shamus wrote in his moderation post 10yrs ago:

    “The problem isn’t that they broke the rules regarding saying hateful things, the problem is that they wanted to say something hateful in the first place.”

    Apparently that directly applied to Shamus. He was one of the people who wanted to say something hateful in the first place.

    It’s important to note to everyone who could not accept Shamus’ moderation style and left, or stayed while disliking it- there was no alternative. Shamus himself would have been one of the people banned by the moderation style that they would have approved of. The opposite would have happened. Shamus’ private rants gone public would have forced everyone away and banned those who wanted the change they believed in. Maybe a new audience would have shown up. But it definitely would not have been the people here now.

    It should come as no surprise then that I especially liked and highly appreciated Shamus’ moderation style. On multiple levels. Agreeing/disagreeing with a moderation style feels like the wrong framing. Approve/disapprove, like/dislike, accept/leave, seems more appropriate. It was what it was. Going forward, it will be what it will be. In the same way that Shamus’ style was the only thing possible for Shamus, Bae’s style is the only thing possible for Bae. It feels wrong to agree or disagree with limits of what someone is capable of. Someone’s best may not be acceptable, but if its their best, its their best.

    1. Steve C says:

      That said, what do think about this formal change in moderation for myself?

      I originally came to this site in 2006 for DMotR. I’m pretty sure it was tail end of Moria. So it is fitting that this is an anniversary of a kind. However I stayed for the comments and the discussions. I distinctly remember telling some of my friends “Hey, check out for DMotR! But read the comments, especially on the non-comic posts. They are great! High quality and insightful.” I was more impressed by the discussions and comments than anything else on the site.

      Even the stuff I disagreed with (sometimes vehemently) I could respect it in a way. I remember one comment thread that was so alien and wrong to my way of thinking that it brought me up short. I couldn’t even describe to myself what exactly I didn’t like.

      There was value to me in that opposing perspective even though I didn’t like the instigating sentiments. The value being I had to think long and hard what my own ideas on the subject before I could even consider communicating them. Allowing me to figure out something I felt very strongly about, while strangely never even considered. Situations like that was only possible because of the diverse opinions and people that frequented the site. I wanted ideas and perspectives that forced me think.

      Love/hate a comment. There was always some interesting discussion. Either some thread to read or contribute to. Not to argue with people. But to consider my own thoughts and feelings about a complex and nuanced issue. Much like this post, the comments here, and this new information about Shamus.

      In the past year I’ve not seen those kinds of comments. Good or bad. I’ve been lurking but I’ve had nothing interesting to add. I made one post in the past year and forgot the email address I use for my icon for this post. Ironically its the comments on this page that has most felt like the old site. There’s sentiments expressed that I agree with. And ones I do not. With insightful thought provoking ones from both of those categories. Sadly I believe both will be rarer given the people stating they are leaving. Plus self-censorship of those who stay. Something which I already found myself doing lest expressing disapproval offend when it is not intended.

      It feels like yet another ending. Like I said in my other post, a change the only thing possible going forward. Agreeing or disagreeing has nothing to do with it. It simply is. Feels sad though.

      1. Daimbert says:

        In the past year I’ve not seen those kinds of comments. Good or bad. I’ve been lurking but I’ve had nothing interesting to add. I made one post in the past year and forgot the email address I use for my icon for this post. Ironically its the comments on this page that has most felt like the old site. There’s sentiments expressed that I agree with. And ones I do not. With insightful thought provoking ones from both of those categories. Sadly I believe both will be rarer given the people stating they are leaving. Plus self-censorship of those who stay. Something which I already found myself doing lest expressing disapproval offend when it is not intended.

        I could have sworn that there was another comment saying this but can’t find it, so forgive me if I’m repeating something some else said, but I think that the reason we aren’t getting those sorts of discussions anymore is less the people leaving or that people have been self-censoring or will self-censor, but more that the types of posts that have been posted here now are not ones that lend itself to those sorts of deep discussions. So it’s more the current content than anything with the community or the rules. Whether that will change with more content providers or if things will stay lighter is something that we’ll find out as things go on.

        And to be fair, I commented long ago that there’s really no one who could do the sorts of deep dives that Shamus did, so things were going to change. That would likely mean that the comments won’t be that involved either, for good or ill.

    2. Steve C says:

      Oops. “Bay” not “Bae”. Sorry about that.

      1. Bay says:

        It’s fine, everyone does it. ‘Bae’ in the meme sense wasn’t quite a thing when I chose my name. By the time it was…well, too late.

  33. RCN says:

    This is you site now. Rule how you feel is best FOR YOU.

    I believe your father would want that. Whether he knew it or not. I know good people who went into the “feminists bad” wormhole. But I know a lot of assholes who just needed a justification to jump head-first into it. My country voted a man as openly misogynistic and homophobic as Bolsonaro into the presidency, specifically aping the US, so I also have an experience with it (though to be fair he had to be aided by having the US government help my government’s conservative wing of congress and the judiciary having his main and more popular opponent arrested DURING the presidential run, and THIS led to about a third of the potential voters to simply not bother voting in 2018).

    I was also more neutral and would rather keep my opinions to myself than lose ostensible friends. That was until Bolsonaro was elected and the pandemic hit. Both these events taught me that hard way that some friendships are toxic and barely friends at all. I’ve cut off half a dozen people from my life and while I miss the good times I had with them I certainly don’t miss the things I had to nod-along and chuckle off to not trigger them. And now that I have a daughter, I’m extremely glad I did so.

    Though I have to ask if you ever got in touch with the Spoiler Warning crew after Shamus’ passing. I think they’d be glad to get beck in touch with you. Though this probably was already brought up in this discussion. Disregard if so.

  34. Shu says:

    I’m mostly a lurker and don’t comment much, so have never really had to deal with moderation. I only occasionally read the comments, I rarely have time for the kind of discussions that (used to?) pop up on here. The last Spoiler Warning was one I did read closely, just to try and figure out what had happened, and it was the first time I realized the moderation style. It was certainly unique and I could see where it was coming from, but clearly a lot of people were hurt by what was being said and perhaps some sort of comment from on high could’ve cooled things down. Alas it is what it is and we all lost something great.

    Which is just a long way of saying that I agree with you deciding to be a little more hands on. Whatever helps your mental health.

  35. Daimbert says:

    Because of the way the new schedule works out, I didn’t check in here until the weekend, and then was too busy to give a comment on this the care it deserved.

    For personal blogs and sites like this, my view is that moderation basically boils down to “Don’t tick off the owner”. It’s different for organizations that have a lot of people and a lot of different attitudes and need to provide access to the views of people who are impacted by what they do, but on a personal site people keep them going for their own reasons and pretty much have to moderate and do pretty much everything in a way that makes them want to keep the site going. So there isn’t really an issue of “free speech” here. So personal site owners moderate as they see fit. Now, how they choose to moderate may say something about them, but as long as they are okay with people getting that impression from them and it’s the way they want to do it that’s all fine. So I’m okay with moderation however you want to do it.

    Now, on what you’ve discussed about Shamus, one thing that I got from reading the Autoblography was that Shamus was keenly aware of how people who have different opinions or act differently can have their intentions misconstrued and be shunned because of that, and I see that as a main driver behind his moderation policy and a lot of the other things he said and issues he had, because he himself was treated that way when he was younger. On top of that, for moderation as he himself said he knew people on both sides and the common trend — even seen in the comments here — to view someone who disagrees with you as being “bad” really bothered him. It’s important to recall that the biggest element of his moderation policy was not actually being civil, but was to avoid talking about issues that were controversial — hence, the politics ban — and when things got too heated he didn’t ban one person but just shut things down completely. A big part of that, then, was to avoid for the most part calling out people or specific people for causing the issues, because that was always complicated. In line with what you said about being able to be insulting without being overly aggressive, Shamus himself commented once wrt moderation that it’s really difficult to figure that out, so he didn’t want to bother trying, and that’s a view that I quite respected.

    If I have any fear with the reintroduction of politics and with a moderation style that is more willing to target individuals instead of discussions, it is that it will end up with the sorts of issues that we see everywhere else, with all of the normal tricks being used to avoid triggering you and views that are more in line with yours getting more leeway than ones that don’t, at least in part based on an idea that the views that disagree with yours imply something about the person that they may not actually imply. But, again, on a personal site one aims for the commentariat that they want and which makes things fun for them and those who don’t like it are always free to find someplace that suits them better. That was true for Shamus’ style and will be true for yours as well.

  36. PPX14 says:

    Hopefully this will not have to come up too much. My first feeling was of concern and partly wonder at why this is needed, and part of that will be that I’d have assumed that taking the nuance of tone into account was already being implemented to some degree, so your mentioning it make it (rightly or wrongly) sound to me that there might be a significantly more stringent imposition made on comments – but moreover my concern was the mention of different political and social opinions, because I hadn’t thought of the content of this site to be such that incited that sort of debate, it almost makes it sound like the site is to become “political” and those who do not agree with a benchmark of decency which respects a specific political bent exclusively, will be asked to leave – which again makes me think wait I thought we were here to read about / discuss games.

    For my tenure I have seen this as an interesting place to read about games and where people discuss games, rather than a particularly argumentative place. I think your own style of writing and description of personal experiences / morals in your work thus far falling into a more ostensibly “political” space potentially invites this (I appreciate that it’s not nice at all to feel that you are considered political just by your existence.)

    But it sounds like all in all you’re just going from a “don’t be a massive prick” to a “don’t be a prick” stance.

    Just be careful that you don’t generate too much mentally-taxing work for yourself!

  37. PPX14 says:

    Interesting – reading back to the Spoiler Warning / DL incident (is DL still around? There were some key ones I’d see all the time, DL, someone else with a similar name I’ve forgotten, Jennifer Snow, Lino, BlueHorus, Syal etc.) To be honest I thought Chris was the one who ended up out of line with his exasperated tone and rant, due to getting het up and emotional in the debate. In the absence of context DL might have seemed out of line but it seemed quite obvious what he was getting at, he saw the characters in one way, Chris saw them in another, and they disagreed, and DL used an ill-advised adjective and managed to misrepresent what he actually meant. Henson stepped in with his framing of the two talking at crossed purposes, and Shamus agreed with that point. I agree with Shamus’ take there, but it’s a shame that people got so upset about the conversation. Seemed the kind of thing that is very intense at the time but the next day can be stepped back from and we move onto the next post. And a difficult position where had it been two random commenters he might have shut it down earlier, but with it being a content creator being the one getting riled up, it would have been difficult to step in without making it seem like he was telling off a “colleague”.

    If your intention is to nip such overwrought discourse in the bud when it seems to have become unconstructive, then fair enough. If your intent is to avoid controversial topics that result in that sort of conversation, I think you’d need to be very selective about the games you cover and their content (Life is Strange! No wonder!)

    If your intention is to step in to moderate when arguments arise and try to keep them civil by pointing out where they have become unconstructive, fair enough – it is so saddening when people end up angry due to talking at cross purposes, or drag out an argument when they have already isolated the crux of their disagreement which cannot be reconciled.

    If your intention is to remove / censure opinions such as that which DL gave, because you consider them alone to be the right or wrong, and the inciting issue, then I can see why people would have an issue with the change that you propose. Even if he had meant what some people had incorrectly thought he was saying (where he meant that one could see why the actions would happen, even if one didn’t agree with the actions, and therefore see the humanity in the perpetrator, but sounded to some that he thought the actions “justifiable” as he put it), it’s an interesting debate with some precedent though very unpalatable, that pertains to the game and characters being discussed. Some people find that troubling, and some people (such as your father perhaps) find people finding that troubling and shutting it down without interrogating the viewpoint sufficiently, and presuming the person with the viewpoint to be acting in bad faith or to be inherently reprehensible as a result, to itself be troubling. At the end of the day perhaps one shouldn’t play a game about heavy themes and have a comments section if one doesn’t want discussion of those heavy themes. In that regard I respect Shamus’ approach. The potentially incongruous part of his system is the delineation of what constitutes “political”, and is therefore in/outside the realm of acceptable discussion, I believe.

    Edit: And perhaps that’s why your actions are now required – if you have relaxed the no-politics rule, then naturally the moderation of intense arguments needs to step up to deal with the resulting discourse.

    1. kincajou says:

      To answer, in part, your question about DL.

      DL hasn’t been around in a while. At one point (well before shamus’ departure but after the SW incident) DL stopped commenting. As far as i know, no one really had an explanation and the best that could be hoped was that their life was in a place where they didn’t feel the inclination or need to comment on this website any longer.

      It’s the bizarre thing of internet connections, sometimes people just disappear and we’ll never know why

      1. PPX14 says:

        Thanks for that, interesting. I suppose for all we know he just got tired of the moniker and changed to something else! Echo was another that I remember now. Most of the others I mentioned seem to be here in the comments above.

    2. Syal says:

      You’re missing some context if you’re only reading that one post’s comment section. There was a prior long-running criticism of Mumbles over the previous season(s), that ended with a wall-of-text rant at her and her deciding to leave the show. Feels like Chris may have been projecting Mumbles into that exchange.

      1. Bay says:

        Just adding to this thread. Here is a topic I will be blacklisting. That encounter was before I joined the ranks any any opinion I have on it is an asshole opinion, not a earned opinion, as is true of most everyone here. I cannot effectively moderate given I wasn’t there, and my only earned thoughts on the matter was that Mumbles treatment by this community -and my dad- are entirely unacceptable.

  38. PPX14 says:

    I know this is an old post and I’ve already taken more than my allotted proportion of comments here but I do have a genuine question about the “oh honey” thing mentioned. Presumably it means a condescending tone? I ask because it’s that particular phrase I’ve noticed a few times exclusively amongst a particular group of people. It’s the nerdy people I’ve come across through D&D, or whose comments I’ve read on the internet – the ones online presumably American, and the ones in real life British but immersed in American internet culture to the extent that they use a lot of the terminology and even have hints of an American accent. And there is a fair amount of “oh honey”, “my sweet summer child”, “yeah… that’s not how ___ works”, “sorry to break it to you but ___”, (which frustrates me because it makes self-deprecating wit, inquisitiveness, jocular faux-ignorance, and understated sarcasm all quite difficult if people act like you’re just a moron in response haha) which makes it sound like either they seek to bolster their own egos by sounding condescending all the time, or that they know a lot of very dim people to whom they need to explain things a lot. And so often it betrays their own lack of knowledge in a subject. One gem was “that’s not how tiramisu works” when I mentioned the idea of it thickening a little extra when left for days in the fridge, or “that’s not how thermodynamics works” from an English teacher, to an engineer. One of my 30-second top-of-head theories has been that in the absence of physical or competitive prowess, amongst the nerdier people, by which to feel empowered, they tend (obviously) towards gaining knowledge (hence the typical array of “useless” knowledge about fauna and various eclectic topics) and then use circumstances in which they feel superior by that knowledge to even feel more powerful (and indirectly or directly put others down.) A nerdy version of the thick-necked bloke who pitches his voice a couple of octaves down and acts laddishly in company. Not exactly groundbreaking I know. It’s just that mention of “oh honey” that made me think of it again – it was prevalent in one group I joined to the extent, and with some of my friends that it was quite tiring, making me think agh why are these nerds so condescending all the time, they don’t even know what they’re talking about, give it a rest! I’ve not come across it outside of the nerd peoples to the same degree really, beyond that idea of the man in the olden days being patronising to a woman.

    Edit: come to think of it I can imagine the rest of the co-optional podcast (other than TB, ish) speaking like that. Is it a popular American thing? It makes me think of a bossy young girl, in a British context – like Hermione.

    1. Lino says:

      Obligatory Average Redditor TikTok. Check out his channel. He’s got a lot more of them. THEY’RE ALL insufferable! And I absolutely love it!

      1. PPX14 says:

        Haha!! Brilliant! Took me until the second watch to notice his t-shirt too :D

    2. Daimbert says:

      A lot of them are actually pop culture references and weren’t really meant to be as condescending as they can be used. I don’t know where “Oh, honey” came from, but “Sweet summer child” is from “Game of Thrones” referencing the Stark motto of “Winter is coming” by talking about how people born and raised “in the summer” of the good times can be a bit naive in thinking that these times will go on forever, and “That’s not how (blank) works” is from something else and is a common meme as well. So a lot of them are just somewhat attempts at humour that fall a bit flat if you don’t get the original context.

      1. PPX14 says:

        I see! This is memes! The sheer volume of references in the pre-existing TTRPG group I joined for a one-off campaign (my cousin invited me to join a group of his uni friends) was overwhelming. A lot of Simpsons references that I didn’t get even though I’ve seen plenty. Every session almost everything they said to each other was a reference, I thought they were coming up with jokes or had a thousand group in-jokes I didn’t understand, but it was all references!

      2. Storm says:

        In my experience, a lot of those memes have been fading from popularity in the circles I’ve been in recently, precisely because they come across as so condescending, even to someone who is aware of the original context. Plus people unaware of the original uses and using them as intentionally condescending remarks poisoning the well even further.

        I just imagine different groups are seeing them at different phases of the meme lifecycle.

      3. krellen says:

        While “Sweet Summer Child” was used in Game of Thrones, its origin is much, much, much older.

  39. Mako says:

    Hey. Just wanted to say I used to post here (although extremely infrequently) since around 2015 or so, and I still visit the blog once in a blue moon. I very much agree with the changes in moderation you describe. Thank you for keeping the site alive, Bay, and please, remember to do what is best for your well-being.

  40. Caska says:

    I’m not a fan. I don’t know what happened on Spoiler Warning, but I’ve personally never seen comments having rampant sexism, manipulation and ‘oh honey’-isms on this site. I assumed the no-politics rule and the ” Be nice, don’t post angry, and enjoy yourself” rules kept them out.

    I think Shamus made a really strong case for not having politics on the site. My favourite was about how there were a million other websites where you could discuss politics, and that a lot of discussions would bend towards political topics, and take focus away from the actual point of discussion.

    Would it be possible to isolate political posts in a ‘Politics’ category, and only allowing political discussions on that? I think it’s a good middle ground and it would allow you to have political discussions without affecting the rest of the site.

    1. Bay says:

      It didn’t keep them out. And the reason I have lifted the ‘no politics’ is not because I intend to make strictly political posts, but because what I am is, to many, political by my very nature. By lifting the ban I can ensure I don’t have regular readership that thinks of me as ‘less than’. What the people here aren’t seeing is the hate mail and threats I have been getting. Hence this post in the first place.

      1. RCN says:

        I was fearing something of this nature.

        So sorry you have to deal with it, even though you probably expected it to some extent. I can only hope it was less than you expected (but at any rate more than is in any way acceptable).

        Hope you can ignore the haters to keep your mental health.

  41. Ebola Belle says:

    Not to dredge up a slightly-aged post, but I feel compelled to share:

    I’ve been following this site since I was fourteen – seventeen years of refreshing my Twenty Sided tab every morning. Shamus’ moderation style mostly made sense to me, I liked reading the discussions.

    But because of who I am (genderqueer), this is the first time I’ve felt comfortable commenting. I didn’t wanna risk a bad interaction on one of my favourite sites.

    I’m appalled people have been unpleasant about who you are, Bay. Please know at least some of your audience is enthusiastic about the direction you’ve been taking things. This was a Gen X nerd site, and I loved it for that; now it’s Gen Z(?) nerd site, and I love it in a new way.

    1. PPX14 says:

      Welcome to the comments! :) Seventeen years! :O I think seventeen years ago my main internet remit was Wikipedia, ArmorGames, and haha.

    2. krumpet says:

      I would like to try, if you’d allow it, to understand what you mean by that, at least a little better than I feel I do presently.

      It feels worth mentioning that I’ve already posted on this thread expressing very little enthusiasm for the future of this site, so I fully expect my points of view to be received in the least charitable way possible, but I rather suspect the confluence of all these circumstances would have made that happen anyway, and if so it’s a better plan, at least in my opinion, to just show one’s hand early (in the sense that I expect it facilitates communication, even if that communication only serves to determine there should be no more of it). I’m also very much aware that this is the type of subject which might be considered very sensitive, perhaps even too sensitive to discuss. So in broaching a highly sensitive subject on a site the owners of which might conceivably already hold me in low regard, I acknowledge there’s every reason to believe our conversation might be short-lived. In fact, there’s every reason to believe it’ll be interrupted before it can even get going. And that’s probably what will happen. But then again, if it’s really true that one cannot enter into a discussion in expressly good faith, even after confessing all one’s priors, then, much like I tried to express above, it would have happened sooner or later anyway, and as before I hold to the notion that inevitable outcomes are sometimes best reached with as much haste as can be mustered, as per the “let’s get it over with” school of thought.

      With all of THAT out of the way … I confess to not understanding very well at all what you meant. I, too, have been following this site for probably almost as long as you, and I’ve been a great fan of it, even though this is only my second comment. But nothing about my identity held me back from commenting before (I just didn’t feel I had anything useful to add), and I don’t quite understand why you would have felt held back by yours, unless you meant you specifically wanted to discuss your identity here; which it isn’t apparent to me that you would have wanted to, since you point out that your enjoyment of the site came from what it was (a Gen X nerd site!), not what it wasn’t. (You’ve pointed out you also enjoy what it’s become, but that came later and you could hardly have been expecting it?) To hopefully help illustrate what I mean; I don’t think Shamus was genderqueer, from what I was able to glean through his many years of writing, but I don’t see how it would have changed anything whether he was or wasn’t. It seems to me that Bay has made it a point to make their identity more prominent than Shamus ever did his, but if I’ve continued to make frequent visits to this site, it’s been because I was hoping to keep reading interesting video game analysis and the ensuing discussions in the comments. I’ve not decided to sign on to read about adventures in genderqueer identity. (And please understand me correctly; maybe that would make for wonderful reading, but I feel as though it would have also become a completely different website along the way, and while there’d be absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s not intuitive to me that the audience and readership would automatically overlap or be identical) (Also, not that it has anything to do with anything, but while it’s a completely different thing from what Shamus used to write, I’ve been really enjoying the Sims 4 Overthinking pieces, completely without giving any thought to who the author is and whether any of their other opinions match up with my own)

      So I guess, if I’m trying to formulate a question for you to answer, in addition to commenting on what I’ve said so far, it’d be something like: what about being genderqueer made you feel you were at risk of having a bad interaction on one of your favourite sites? To take our present interaction as an example, we’re only having it because your brought up being genderqueer. If you’re finding it unpleasant (I would hope you aren’t!), then wouldn’t that have been brought about more as a result of your overture than mine? (BTW, I haven’t said anything about whether I’m also genderqueer, but here, too, I can’t say I’m able to see how that would add to or subtract from anything about the interaction we could be having)

      Anyway; here’s hoping this comment finds you well, and if you do decide to respond, great! Provided, of course, we even make it that far.

      1. PPX14 says:

        I’ve been wondering if religion is a useful analogy in some of these conversations. It occurs to me that Shamus mentioned once or twice that he was religious, and obviously religion is an extremely important, personal, and identity-based part of who people are, for many people – but he also included that as a disallowed topic. I wonder how that aligns with the sentiments discussed in this thread as they pertain to gender identity and sexuality. Either in as much as it implies that topics of queerness could be feasibly treated in a similar way to avoid unhealthy argument and offence, but that people with those identities might feel marginalised or find difficulty in engaging, as a result – as Ebola Belle has mentioned – or indeed the converse, that if relaxing the politics rule and opening of the floor to conversation previously restricted or assumed to be so has a net positive effect, might the same positive effect be seen with regards to religion and religious people who might themselves have been feeling similar.

        But our being allowed to instigate this sort of conversation / debate, as a result of the scope for debate having been widened, may be what Bay has indicated she might need to come down on, if that conversation is deemed irrelevant to the gaming discourse. As you said – the key content has been gaming discussion and technology.

        E.g. (hypothesising) – the rules are relaxed in order to allow people to more easily express how a game made them feel including with regard to their own personal identity which some may be consider a political statement, or with regard to their own personal politics, broadening the debate and making some people feel more included, including the new content creators. But the moderation will therefore become more active, because the rules haven’t been relaxed for us to be able to ask people what might be considered personal questions or make philosophical musings as they pertain to commenters’ identities – as you and I have.

        We may be thinking a bit too hard about it!

        1. Bay says:

          Nail on the head! (Although my pronouns are they/them JSYK)

          1. PPX14 says:

            Drat, blind of me, apologies! And thanks for the response, and kudos on the way you’re handling things :)

      2. Bay says:

        Hey! Gentle correction here. We…do not need to consistently dig at my moderation style? The conversation at hand seems…fine? Ish? But you seem to be making a show of being reasonable(?), which is confusing, and unnecessary. Just have your conversation, and if it goes too far I’ll do exactly this, and let you know.

      3. Bay says:

        Although, it also goes without saying that Ebola Belle doesn’t owe an explanation of ‘why’ they felt how they felt. Either way, they felt it, and that’s valid on it’s own. But you knew that already :)

      4. Ebola Belle says:

        You do make some very good points here! I can’t say I was as clear as I should’ve been.

        It’s completely possible to discuss gaming without involving one’s identity. However, one has to scrub that identity off first. The amount of time required to do that vs the risk of not scrubbing well enough vs the enjoyment gained by engaging in the discussions didn’t make sense for me. I didn’t view it as a problem with this site or anyone on it, just an interaction between the desired culture here and the way my brain works. I made absolutely sure I stayed on the right side of the line by not engaging at all. Despite that, I highly valued the exposure to viewpoints that sometimes differed from my own.

        I specifically brought up my own queerness to show solidarity for Bay in the face of some hostility they said they’ve been facing. In the future, I’ll probably post under another handle so I’m not “out.” I will do my best scrub my identity from my opinions – I really just wanna talk about gaming! But I wanted to share with Bay and the team that they are building a supportive community, they are encouraging people to participate. I would be very sad if hostility and moderation concerns caused them to stop writing that Sims 4 piece we’re both enjoying so much.

        1. Charlie Jubilee says:

          Identity and interest go together. I am a nonbinary pansexual, and my life will influence the way I feel about a game or piece of media. Don’t scrub yourself clean of your identity. Participate as who you are!

    3. There have several people over the years in similar situations re: the comments at Twentysided. It is good to see some of those visitors now feeling comfortable joining the discussion.

  42. Abnaxis says:

    Is there a way to easily search for one’s own post history in the comments? I have complex thoughts on this subject that I’m having a lot of trouble expressing without examples of threads I’ve been a part of, and I was hoping to be able to link them.

    1. Bay says:

      I can on the client side but I don’t think there’s a way to do it on user side.

    2. Bay says:

      I went to see if I could grab links to threads for you but no such luck, I can tell you what posts you’ve commented on but that’s about it.

    3. PhoenixUltima says:

      You can just search for your username on google with the format “username” (without the quote marks) and that should bring them all up. I do that for my posts whenever I’m feeling nostalgic.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Oooh, I can even add some keywords to the search to narrow down on the subject matter I remember commenting about. That’s a really good idea, thanks!

        Also, holy cow I made a lot of comments. Finding a particular one of my comments is like trying to find a Googlewhack

  43. neothoron says:


    I have not been here for some time (I remember I stopped visiting shortly after the Spoiler Warning divorce).

    I have not taken the time to read all the comments, so I am sure that I will repeat things that others have said.

    That post, writing about Shamus, cannot have been easy to write. I am sorry for your loss of who he was, and of who he could have been.

    I also did not agree with Shamus’ moderation policy. I could write more but there is no need to – you obviously have a better grasp of its issues than I do. As such, for what it is worth, I wholeheartedly support this change of moderation policy.

    Also, seeing who you are, what you are doing here, and how you are doing it, it makes me think that this site and community are in very good hands. I will try to stick around here, at least for a while.

    Do not take s*** from anyone. Take care of yourself, and of your loved ones.

    “See you around, kid.” :)

  44. Taellosse says:

    I have very little of substance to add, but I wanted to be counted, for whatever it might be worth, among the ranks of very-long-time regulars in support of these adjustments, Bay.

    My direct involvement in comment threads has always been highly variable, but I’ve at least read virtually everything your father wrote here since I first discovered TwentySided, early in the original run of DMotR (I skipped many of the videos, both of Spoiler Warning and later, when the game was either far outside my interest or a game I wanted to play but hadn’t yet. I still read whatever he wrote to accompany most of those videos, though, and listened to virtually all the Diecast episodes, too). I’m roughly a decade younger than Shamus, but he and I had a fair amount of overlap in many of our formative experiences. His point of view made a lot of sense to me most of the time, and even when I didn’t agree with him, I often understood where he was coming from (though my awareness of his views on large swathes of contentious matters are hazy at best, given his active avoidance of those topics. Given what you’ve suggested about some of those views here, and my extrapolations from various hints over the years, there were many more differences within that uncharted territory, however).

    I’m sorry to learn how some of his blind spots negatively impacted you while growing up, Bay. I’m even more saddened that you’ve been burdened by active hostility from members of his audience that shared some of his deficits. I support your revisions to the moderation policy, and I truly hope it puts that sort of nastiness to rest.

  45. WWWebb says:

    Wooo… talking about talking!!! One of the internet’s favorite things! After reading about talking, my takeaways are…
    1) People seem to have lot of feelings about talking. The possibility of having your talking taken away really gets the feelz all riled up. Feelz aren’t all bad … but they can be.
    2) Two people can read the exact same thing and come away with completely different feelz. This is mostly because the readers are a) likely coming from very different places and b) they probably have no idea where the writer was coming from.
    3) People’s opinions change. They might not even notice it themselves. Don’t assume something written 15 years ago means anything at all about that person today. Hell… don’t assume that someone’s opinion at the top of this post is the same as their opinion by the time they’ve read all the way to the bottom.
    4) People <sarcasm> love </sarcasm> being told about their own opinion.
    5) Goto 1

  46. WWWebb says:

    Blach…. now that that taste is out of my mouth, I can comment on what I really wanted to talk about …. money. Moderation policies aren’t just for tiny sites like this (see Facebook, X, Mastodon, BlueSky, Parler, Threads, etc. etc. etc.).

    I always wondered about how money affected the moderation around here. Back when banner ads were a thing, having a lot of cuss words in the comments could lose you ad revenue. Later on, having a bunch of nastiness in the comments could drive people away from the Patreon.

    …and that’s only the DIRECT money. Google search rankings can also be affected by stuff in the comments. Let too many crazies into the comments section and Google will start sending more of them.

    I know Shamus occasionally commented on the time-cost and emotional-cost of moderation. I can’t remember if he ever discussed the $$-cost (or revenue) of moderation. Would the site have gotten more or less traffic if it didn’t have a comments section? When forums were (briefly?) a thing, I hoped he would move all the discussion to a separate forums page.

    On the other hand… after reading most of the posts above, it’s clear that a lot of people stuck around (and supported the site) BECAUSE of the comments section. It all makes me wonder about how much comments are worth (revenue-wise) and if it is greater than the costs. The answer has probably changed repeatedly over the life of this site.

    1. Bay says:

      It’s hard to tell right now. I think my dad could have given a good answer, given his years and years running it. What I can tell you is, that so far it’s $14. $14 left the Patreon in the days after this post went live. But $700 has bled from it since dad died, that’s undoubtedly due to people preferring his writing and being here for him, but little bits could easily have been here and there due to how I’ve been moderating, until I get more specs, I’ll call the cost about $15 loss a month.

  47. Alex says:

    Thank you for writing this. The “Diecast” was a once in a hundred years the stars align combination of personalities and it was as its best when they all were present. Spoiler Warning will never again be what it was with your Dad still on the show. Unfortunately is was not meant to last and some people in this community still seem to think that your Dad was somehow wronged by the event, something he himself denied, IIRC. I hope your openness will help these old wounds to heal.

    I still listen to every new Spoiler Warning episode close to its release. Part of me wishes that the cast would have acknowledged your Father’s passing in some way. But I respect their decision to keep their feelings, whatever they might have been, private.

  48. pseudonym says:

    This site has been a big part of my reading from 2017 until Shamus’ passing. At some point I overcame my commenting anxiety and I have been regularly commenting since that point. The pleasant community was the reason I kept commenting.

    At some point I disagreed with one of Shamus’ moderation decisions so I commented on his moderation comment to stand up for the person he told off. Unfortunately that was my last interaction with him through the comment system and shortly after that he passed away. Thank you for giving some additional context to this interaction.

    For what its worth, I fully support your decision. It is your site now. It should make you feel happy to work on it. I’ve been following the site a bit after Shamus’ passing and I like how this is going. Suddenly there are more people who are writing articles. There is actually a lot more stuff to follow. I also see a lot of commenters I haven’t seen before, which means a lot of people are (re)finding their home here now. The sims overthinking article is excellent and the other two series that recently sprung up also seem really interesting.

    This comment is very late to the party, but given the subject I wanted to take my time for it. As a rule people who think negatively about a decision are more inclined to react as they have a bigger stake. On top of that it is also the case that most people record negative comments better than positive ones. So I’ll just add my positive comment in the hope to counteract that a bit.

    So do what you do and I hope you are really enjoying yourself doing it.

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