The Daily Grind: How can we solve Reddit’s gaming ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem?

    
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In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.

When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.

On Reddit, the volunteer, unpaid mods may care a little, but they don’t own it, and it’s hard to blame them when they won’t stick around long enough to put up with the abuse or the lack of support from Reddit execs. That’s why it’s a bit weird to see the player backlash against, for example, studio interference with moderation of subreddits, be it with Ashes of Creation, WildStar, or Black Desert. We instinctively think Reddit should be kept safe from studio manipulation and yet the very thing that makes it safe for criticism also makes it safe for toxicity, which wrecks the games at least as much as overzealous studio mods would.

How would you solve the Reddit gaming problem? What’s the right solution for MMORPG studios in particular in gathering their communities for constructive rather than toxic discussion?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

 

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Tithian

I don’t know what subreddits you frequent, but those on my list are full of helpful people posting guides, news updates, threads for newbies/questions, social groups threads etc. There is a bit of a circlejerk problem with Reddit, due to how downvotes work, but it’s a common theme for every sub, not just gaming. And in a lot of subs it’s not even that big of a deal, usually with the informative stuff being propped up, along with some memes.

“Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace”

Gross exaggeration IMO, and one that can easily be turned to serve the narrative that “if it’s coming from Reddit, it must be toxic, ignore it”.

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imayb1

I think China’s social media policy is the wrong way to go…
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/chinese-government-social-credit-score-privacy-invasion

Reddit isn’t perfect and neither are any other forums. Regulation is a sticky, subjective subject. I’d rather err on the side of free speech than on the side of social media credits and punishments meted out by government.

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Kip Braunstader

i said something in the last guild wars thread but it was deleted (i guess i should not have made fun of trump)…we can only control what we ourselves write and say and mostly if we are careful and respectful and not to hasty conversations can stay constructive…we have to choose to not be toxic or to feed a dumpster fire more fuel…i can not think of a way that the internet (or reddit) can be regulated. but let every thread stay on topic when it unravels its done..
then the the asshats can make their own thread and spit venom at each other

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Would the whole ArenaNet drama happened if the whole fiasco was posted on the official Guild Wars 2 forums instead of Reddit?

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Leiloni

Of course not. You get moderated on that forum for even thinking something negative. I quit visiting that forum years ago after getting moderated constantly for things I couldn’t even understand.

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Arktouros

I think I’m still on warning status cause I had a guy who was following me post to post trying to twist anything I said into a forum violation even though he was on his second account because his original was banned (which itself was a forum moderation lol)

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Bango on Laurelin

The only reddit community that I know of that fits this description is /r/Bless and that mmo is in a very unique situation and so has attracted the ghouls and rubber neckers. Reddit is fantastic in that the communities are not at the whim of the community managers and their cabals of cheerleaders – indeed I’d rather live in the cesspit of reddit than the artificial and sterile environments of mmo official forums.

Veldan
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Veldan

A forum doesn’t have to be sterile though, see for example the Path of Exile forums. You can say pretty much anything there, but it will still be forum style discussion threads, no upvote amplified drama.

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Rees Racer

I only use (or comment on) Reddit for the various tips, strategies, class guides, etc, for the titles I like to play.

The first real toxicity I witnessed regarding game forums was for WoW…more than a decade ago. Since, I’ve just avoided them, much like I do the myriad opinion pieces disguised as “news” worldwide.

Cognitive Dissonance and confirmation bias are both very real and increasingly widespread, much to the detriment of civilised behaviour…everywhere. This sort of business is only resolved (with respect to gaming) by associating with a like-minded community that chooses to engage in a more enlightened demeanour.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

I think you must use a different Reddit to me. I have yet to find any MMO reddit that’s other than helpful, informative and well-mannered. Compared to the official forums of almost every MMO I have ever played, the equivalent Reddit is a huge improvement.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Some people are pointing out the bigger picture here and it has nothing to do with gaming. Technology has allowed humans to co-op and accelerate the social engineering and thought process of primordial rationalization. We are on the verge of a new enlightenment and conflict is in the way. We’ll be lucky to be alive to see the fruits social progress but rest assured, we are in the middle of it’s struggle.

You may not like my beliefs but that’s what makes society advance. Diversity and advancement of proven beliefs. The end of religion, the monetary system and government as its instated today. Equilibrium of population and nurturing of human, animal and environmental conservation. Our survival is dependant on how quickly we can evolve these ideals.

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Avaera

I don’t have a solution, but I wanted to say that I think one of the key underlying problems is how important popularity is right now. Any system that is driven by simple popularity (Reddit up/downvotes, Facebook likes, popular music/movies, western democracy, etc) is susceptible to abuse and distortion of reality because what is *attention-grabbing* is completely different to what is *valuable*. The collective mob is rarely wise, and is usually driven by the lagging moral ‘centre’ of society, rather than the minority at the leading edge.

I wish there was a way to measure and highlight what changed the most hearts and minds away from a rigidly held conviction, what most engaged our empathy and compassion, and what taught us something true that we didn’t know before. *That* would be a Reddit worth Redditing, rather than just what a whole bunch of people think is normal and acceptable behaviour, because they are popular for making waves.

Alex Js.
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Alex Js.

Also, sorry for mentioning this and correct me if I’m wrong, but I got the impression from your post that you believe that developers having total control over subreddit would try to “tamp down on toxicity” there… Yet on the current Ashes of Creation subreddit, which is now in full control of the developers, I see a certain post by user named “MassevelyCorrupt”, who is basically now trying to organize a brigading against certain site with his/her post ;-) And the developers still haven’t removed it.

Soo yea, just because the developers take full control over subreddit doesn’t mean they will try and remove the toxicity there, especially if such toxicity is beneficial to them ;-)