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Subject: Censorship -- thinking about asking for my money back rss

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Chris Shaffer
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As you can see in this post, I was censored on the geek.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekforum.php3?action=viewthrea...

I'm seriously thinking about asking for my money back and finding other sites to use for game information.

Can the administration confirm that posts like mine will be censored in the future? If yes, I'll probably leave the site. If no, I believe I'm owed an apology.

Thanks.
Chris Shaffer (TheCat)
 
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Embark
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Hmm, this is an interesting situation. I can see your being upset about the censorship but at the same time, I can see the admins reluctance to let people discuss methods of blocking ads. This site doesn't pay for itself and in addition to contributions, ads are a big part of their means to generate monies. Realistically the admins can run the site however they want to, censoring anything they want to.

There may have been a more tactful way to approach the situation though.
 
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Lyman Hurd
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I am with Chris on this one. I am all for removing blatantly offensive material or ad hominem attacks, but basing editorial decisions on the commercial interetss of the geek seems to me a slippery slope.

What if Game Store X is a big buyer of ads and someone posts "I have just been screwed by Game Store X." i am not saying that they would, but do people think that this would be a justifiable reaosn to pull the post?

I thought of the ad blocking as an added courtesy much as when I join a museum and get a couple of free passes or join NPR and get a hat. In no way do I figure I am "buying" a hat!

At the time I found the post inoffensive as well as nothing any FireFox users does not already know, and removing it had the opposite effect of what was intended. Of course the efficacy of censorship is completely orthogonal to its justifiability (much like saying capital punishment does not do much to deter crime and torture leads to inaccurate information; both true and both irrelevant in light of the overwhelming moral arguments.)

 
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Jim Cote
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Embark wrote:
Hmm, this is an interesting situation. I can see your being upset about the censorship but at the same time, I can see the admins reluctance to let people discuss methods of blocking ads. This site doesn't pay for itself and in addition to contributions, ads are a big part of their means to generate monies. Realistically the admins can run the site however they want to, censoring anything they want to.


This is all true, but the Internet as a whole is public and free. If you piss off a large enough group of people, they will group together and help each other--in this case--figure out how to disable all ads on BGG for free, and BGG will not be able to censor that. This type of censorship only hurts the community.

Also, so you really think people are going to click on ads that piss them off? It is ineffective marketing, just like a telemarketer calling me. They will never get anything from me. They are wasting their time. They should be HAPPY to have my name on a "do not call" list.
 
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Chris Kice
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Wow - almost any discussion in the past of avatars, animated banners, or just the site in general included talk about Firefox and some of the add-ons available for managing how sites appear.

I have to go back now and see if they've been stripping those references out of the forums as well.

I'm not sure how to feel about this. I abhor censorship, but I also want the site to thrive. If BGG starts limiting editorial content based on what's profitable for the site, we won't be able to rely on reviews and ratings any longer.
 
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Jens Hoppe
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Embark wrote:
This site doesn't pay for itself and in addition to contributions, ads are a big part of their means to generate monies.


That's just it; when I support the Geek, I feel like I am contributing to the site, showing my appreciation, so to speak. I definitely do not feel I am "just" buying an expensive ad-blocker. In that light, why would having a free ad-blocker plugin to your browser make people not support BGG? I have the ad-blocker-that-must-not-be-mentioned installed, but that doesn't stop me from supporting.

I would really, really hate it if the garishness of the ads on the site (and it is really rather intolerable per default) is a ploy to force people to buy the ad-blocking ability. (And I choose to believe this is not so).
 
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Embark
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jens_hoppe wrote:
Embark wrote:
This site doesn't pay for itself and in addition to contributions, ads are a big part of their means to generate monies.


That's just it; when I support the Geek, I feel like I am contributing to the site, showing my appreciation, so to speak. I definitely do not feel I am "just" buying an expensive ad-blocker. In that light, why would having a free ad-blocker plugin to your browser make people not support BGG? I have the ad-blocker-that-must-not-be-mentioned installed, but that doesn't stop me from supporting.

I would really, really hate it if the garishness of the ads on the site (and it is really rather intolerable per default) is a ploy to force people to buy the ad-blocking ability. (And I choose to believe this is not so).



Well I am not really in a position to speak for anyone other than myself and anything I say at this point would be based on assumptions. So I will wait until someone steps in a bit more knowledgable than me.
 
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Andy Leighton
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Exactly my feelings Jens.

On the old site I didn't bother blocking the ads - they didn't get in the way. As soon as I saw the redesign I immediately blocked the ads as they did get in the way. As you will notice I haven't got a 06 supporter badge yet so I must also have the rather obvious named ad-blocking software.

 
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Greg Hinkle
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I don't get it.

This is not a blog. This is an enterprise on the part of the administrators. This is a money-generating site for them. One of them just quit his job so he could work on this site full-time.

This is not censorship. This is not your site. This is not your blog. This is THEIR site, and they have license to edit/delete/modify anything they like. This is because it's their site.

They could go crazy and edit everything and piss a whole lot of people off, but that would drive away users. If you feel wronged or slighted, it's your right to feel that way. That's your choice. But they did nothing wrong. In fact, it was downright nice of them to let you know why it was removed. If I got to a site selling something, and I post "Hey! you can buy what they're selling over on this site - and it's cheaper!" - is it censorship to have mods delete this post? Or is it a wise business move?
(Hint: it's the latter.)

There are massive senses of entitlement going on around this site right now (and not on the part of the owners), and it boggles my mind.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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I agree wholly with V. Uhhh.. Agnespoodle.
 
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Ken B.
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Yes, any Firefox user should know how to do it. However, I refrained from posting this info because I simply assumed that such discussion would be verboten, as well as undercut what the site owners were wanting to do with the site.

It is a little silly to start charging to block ads while simultaneously making them more intrusive...but this isn't my site, nor my call. And as far as charging you money for something that should be free, AOL has been doing this for years (and doing quite well for themselves). I don't see any "dirty pool" involved with that at all.
 
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Nairb Attobas
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I'm also one who despises censorship, but I've gotta agree with Agnes and Geosphere. The forums on BGG are among the least policed ones I've been on. Most others are vastly more restrictive on what can be said.

If we were out in the park discussing games, I'd be mad if someone came by and told me I couldn't say something, but the fact is that we're using someone else's website, and the owners can decide to do anything they want to our posts.

I had looked earlier today when I first saw this post, but I didn't notice a forums Terms of Service anywhere. If any mods see this, they might want to look into writing one up and/or making its location more obvious. If one doesn't exist, there should definitely be one written up. This way everyone will know what kinds of topics are disallowed, and that rules and regulations are clearly delineated so that any changes that need made to posts can be defended on a standardized basis.

Posting on BGG is a privelege, not a right.

The irony of the fact that one of the first fellows to support this idea (Agnespoodle) uses an avatar of a character who fights against totaltarianism does not escape me...
 
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Lyman Hurd
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agnespoodle wrote:
I don't get it.

...

There are massive senses of entitlement going on around this site right now (and not on the part of the owners), and it boggles my mind.


It is quite simple. The "product" in this case is the database and extended forum for the discussion of games and related topics. The desirability of this "forum" is proportional to the extent to which people find it desirable to frequent it.

I do not see why stating that a decision makes the site less desirable as a place to exchange ideas constitutes a sense of entitlement. Do they have the "right" to censor whatever they choose to, of course that is not being disputed. Has anyone said anything to the effect that they do not have a right to censor posts?

Does exercising this right indiscriminately make this a less desirable place to frequent? Some of us are trying to get that point across too.

 
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Chris Kice
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agnespoodle wrote:
is it censorship to have mods delete this post? Or is it a wise business move?


Look at it this way:

Scenario A - SuperGamerStore.com starts completely screwing up orders and is found to be a really bad place to do business. (Bad packing, crushed boxes, non-existent customer service, etc.) Many wronged customers try to post here and warn others so they can avoid the hassle. Unfortunately, they are a huge advertiser so the admins block all discussion about that store.

Scenario B - Hasbro starts pumping tons of money into ad dollars here at the Geek. In order to make a wise business move (in your words), they wipe out any rating below a "5" for any game published by them.

Yes, these are really extreme examples, but both currently happen elsewhere. There are many video gaming magazines and sites who skew editorial content based on the ad dollars spent by the game publishers. In the mainstream media, news content is driven by the parent companies of the stations and/or the advertisers. (If you've ever seen overly hyped or sexy news stories during February or November, then you've experienced sweeps - the time period twice a year when the ratings of news shows determine their ad rates for the following six months. That is ad dollars directly affecting "news" content.)

We've all gathered here at BGG because of the content. I know I don't purchase games any longer without checking in here to see if they are worth the money but if I can't trust the site to give me an honest, unbiased view of games, then the site has no value to me other than an on-line game collection database.

While the site is nowhere near that point right now, but deciding to edit content based strictly on "business" is the first step down the extremely short path to the scenarios above.

Edit: For the record, I don't disagree that this site is owned by someone and that it's their right to do whatever they want here. My point is that while they are free to do whatever they want, I'm free to do the same.

I don't shop at WalMart or Circuit City because I don't like the way they do business. Both are free to do business as they see fit, but I'm not required to shop there.

When a site is driven by member donations, how the members feel about the site is paramount to its success. No members = no donations = no site, plain and simple.
 
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Greg Hinkle
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lyman wrote:
It is quite simple. The "product" in this case is the database and extended forum for the discussion of games and related topics. The desirability of this "forum" is proportional to the extent to which people find it desirable to frequent it.


The product I was referring to was the option pay to disable ads/support the site. And I'd point out that most message boards are moderated (and yes, they should have an easily accesible TOS), and this one is amazingly permissive.

lyman wrote:
Does exercising this right indiscriminately make this a less desirable place to frequent? Some of us are trying to get that point across too.


If the nuking of the post was indiscriminate, I'd buy your point and would agree that something was off-kilter. But it was NOT indiscriminate, it was an intellegent business consideration, and the user was informed as such. If they're wontonly slashing posts, I'd agree that you and TheCat have a beef. But they're not.

 
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TheCat wrote:

I'm seriously thinking about asking for my money back and finding other sites to use for game information.



Oh stop being a baby. I was censored to for the same reason, who cares. It's a game forum. Lighten up and get over yourself. If you can't then, buh-bye!
 
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Greg Hinkle
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Nekura wrote:
We've all gathered here at BGG because of the content. I know I don't purchase games any longer without checking in here to see if they are worth the money but if I can't trust the site to give me an honest, unbiased view of games, then the site has no value to me other than an on-line game collection database.

While the site is nowhere near that point right now, but deciding to edit content based strictly on "business" is the first step down the extremely short path to the scenarios above.


(I really must be working.)

Right, it's nowhere near that point right now, and citing other examples doesn't mean that's going to happen here. And if it does? Many of us will leave. But why prophesy doom? Have we no faith in Aldie and Derk after what they've done for our hobby?

A little faith, people. A little patience. (My thoughts are crossing threads right here.)

I trust BGG. I'm a user. I have no ownership of the site. I spend an inordinate amount of time here because I love the site. I've made friends here. If they want to whack a post of mine because it's offensive or counter to other's experiences here or counter to their business model, I'm not going to cry censorship, I'm going to apologize.
 
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Chris Kice
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agnespoodle wrote:
I trust BGG. I'm a user. I have no ownership of the site. I spend an inordinate amount of time here because I love the site.


Wow - thanks for making my point! If you can't trust the content, then people will no longer trust the site and will no longer contribute.

Edited to remove unnecessary snarkiness

I was just trying to point out that deciding your business model will be to change any content that goes contrary to making money is not at all unheard of and that it easily leads to advertisers calling the shots.

In the past, the admins have been good about keeping the balance and I'm hoping it will stay that way. When there have been overly obtrusive banner ads, they've removed them forgoing the ad money in exchange for making their users happy. However, this is the first time I've seen them make the opposite decision, so I'm a little concerned.

Granted, I'm overly sensitive to this because one of my favorite video game magazines just lost me as a subscriber because they changed their policy of being unbiased reviewers. They used to buy games at retail and review them a'la Consumer Reports. Now, they have "insider access" and their objectivity went completely out the window. (Their cover stories all start with tales of being wisked away to the corporate headquarters of some game company or another and being spoonfed screenshots and quotes about how awesome their games are.)
 
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Tom "Snicker Daddy" Pancoast
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I agree that this is a very disturbing trend. And this is not the first time it has happened.

We are expected to follow the forum guidelines when we post and the moderators should be following the guidelines when they moderate. You could argue that the "otherwise seems inappropriate" bit at the end covers that, but there isn't and shouldn't be a "Don't say anything we won't like" guideline. I don't think deleting content just because they disagree with it is in the spirit of the posted guidelines.

Quote:
Please refrain from posting any of the following:
. . Personal attacks on individuals or groups of people.
. . Excessive profanity.
. . Ads or auctioning announcements (except for geekgold auctions or sales in Geekbay). If you would like to sell an item, please consider using the BGG Marketplace or buying a text or banner ad..
. . Repeatedly posting articles consisting primarily of links to your site. - If you have posted material on your site that you think would be of interest to the BGG members, we encourage you to repost it here.

When creating a new forum topic, place it in the most appropriate forum. If a discussion in one topic goes too far off-course, consider creating a new topic in the appropriate forum. In particular, try to keep discussions that are not related to games in the off-topic section of the forums.

If you feel that another user has posted something inappropriate, please contact a moderator, and they will take care of the problem. Do not confront the user directly in the forum, as that can exacerbate the problem.

The moderators may move, edit, lock, or delete anything that violates these guidelines or which otherwise seems inappropriate to them. In addition your posting priveleges may be suspended or terminated. Please, don't argue with them. If everyone is considerate of their fellow geeks, the moderators will have very little work to do.
 
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Ken B.
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Nekura wrote:
agnespoodle wrote:
I trust BGG. I'm a user. I have no ownership of the site. I spend an inordinate amount of time here because I love the site.


Wow - thanks for making my point! If you can't trust the content, then people will no longer trust the site and will no longer contribute.

BTW - Hasbro called. They'd like to advertise, but not before you apologize and change your rating of Monopoly from a 3 to a 6.




Good point, however consider this--certain entities in their respective media specialization areas eventually acrue a "critical mass" that makes them much less subjective to the whims of advertisers--because, quite simply, that media entity enjoys a great deal of leverage over its partners.


The best example I can think of is Electronic Gaming Monthly. It is one of the premiere gaming magazines (as far as readership is concerned). If you check their reviews, they are often lower on the whole than other magazines. You'll even see games savaged with terribly low ratings. Yet turn a few pages and you'll see that exact same "savaged" game with an ad. Are the advertisers happy that their game didn't get great ratings from the magazine? Nope. But since EGM enjoys a bit of power in that department, they will pony up the ad $$ just the same (if you don't buy ad space, someone else will...and all the eyeballs you want to see your ad are reading EGM).


Now look at other video game magazines...their ratings are typically higher on average, and you'll often see them blunt even the most unkind of ratings as much as possible. I've seen games with "terrible" reviews still get a 6.75 out of 10.


How does this relate to BGG? Glad you asked. The true "hobby" board game companies would be foolish not to advertise here. We are some of the most devoted fans of board games(and in turn, most willing to spend $$$ on board games). Even if Hasbro sees Monopoly is rated really badly here, that shouldn't stop them from advertising Vegas Showdown here (and as I recall, it didn't stop them at all).


BGG is rather unique, and if board game manufacturers want to catch our discriminating eyeballs, they'll advertise here. So I wouldn't worry too much about that becoming an issue. And even then, Derk and Aldie can point to the fact that it's their users, not them, who are rating the games badly and are therefore not responsible for the negative publicity or perception of the games in question.
 
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Jim Cote
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I would like to point out that BGG is not CNN.

CNN creates and publishes content. People who read their news are consumers of that news, and they get it for free.

On the other hand, BGG is almost completely built from the content supplied by its users. Those users also freely donate cash to support the site. It is a two-way relationship. BGG can do what it likes, but if they don't feel somewhat beholden to us, then there is a problem.
 
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Chris Kice
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franklincobb wrote:
How does this relate to BGG? Glad you asked. The true "hobby" board game companies would be foolish not to advertise here. We are some of the most devoted fans of board games(and in turn, most willing to spend $$$ on board games). Even if Hasbro sees Monopoly is rated really badly here, that shouldn't stop them from advertising Vegas Showdown here (and as I recall, it didn't stop them at all).


You make an excellent point. My only fear is that the "eyeballs" will dwindle if people feel like the site is hosted for the benefit of the ad dollars it will generate and not the community around it.

Case in point (and then I'll stop posting in this thread): I used to co-own a site for Chicago-area musicians. The site was originally designed to be for musicians to build a community and to help them introduce music fans to the wonderful and diverse independent music available here.

Our business model was that the site would be driven by ad dollars from clubs and bars who would advertise to the fans coming to the site. However, club and bar owners have a long history of screwing bands as much as humanly possible. Therefore, when the community started many discussions about what clubs to avoid due to their bad practices, we had a hell of a time trying to bring in more ad money. Without the ad money, the site folded. (In fact, without the ad money, we couldn't advertise ourselves meaning fewer hits meaning big advertisers who normally wouldn't care about content as you describe wouldn't even get near us.)

Again - I'm not saying BGG is guilty of this or that it will suffer the same fate. I was just pointing out that changing content for the sake of money can lead to all of these things and that it's my deepest hope that BGG doesn't change for the worse in the name of the almighty dollar.
 
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Quote:
but the Internet as a whole is public and free

Sooo not true. Bandwith costs don't pay themselves. It's us who have to pay them by viewing ads. It's nice when there are people who can pay all the expenses/support sites on their own, but life's not all nice and fluffy. I'm not even starting on this "public" thing. I have the right to choose who views my site and who says what using my web-service and you have no right to tell me with what I should put up.

I fully support censoring unprofitable posts. BGG is not free media, deal with it.

Oh, and by the way... Supporting BGG does not allow you to bee cocky.
 
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generalpf wrote:
From what I've seen, having used the web in various communities for ten years or so, once a site starts censoring things, it usually signals the beginning of the site's downfall.

I hope that's not the case here.


This is not the first time a post has been deleted. It is not like some new policy has been instated. As I've mentioned before, I've had posts deleted, and I simply post a note to all involved that the admins decided to delete it, that I support the decision and that we should move on.
 
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Andy Hunsucker
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I think you're making a big deal out of nothing actually. It isn't like they changed your game ratings, or removed files related to gaming. They deleted a forum post that related to the running of the site, not the content, that's it.

It's such a minor thing, I can't believe you've made two other forum posts about it.
 
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