A Story of How One Person Can Ruin The Whole
There has always been drama involving the AudioGame.net forums, this is obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time on the website. Some people have questioned the community and the moderation blaming one or both for the issues. This blog post will be a two part series covering the moderation and the community. First I’ll be taking a deeper dive into the moderation habits of the team as a whole, with specific focus on what is the cause of the constant problems. This will be a long post but well worth the time to read it. I believe many questions will be answered, and something’s will be cleared up, even one person’s name will be cleared once and for all.
Background & What Brought Me Here
There have been moderation choices through the years of the forum that have been questionable. Some have been minor, others have been complete character assassinations on one person. I’ve spent hours and hours researching and interviewing users and moderators of the forums trying to find answers and explanations for the unfair moderation practices. The one thing I ask of all readers is to set aside personal biases you have of users or moderators, both positive and negative. In order to write this blog post I have had to set aside how I felt about people, both those I am friends with and those I really do not like. More about this in the disclaimers section. If you come into this tainted with feelings about one person or moderator then you will ignore the blatant abuse of power and unshakable proof this post will lay out for everyone. Set aside personal feelings and just read this with fresh eyes, hopefully you will see what I have seen after doing the same.
This post will not be covering one person or one incident. The banning of Iron Cross is what got me interested in writing a blog post, but it quickly turned into looking up past moderation decisions. That then led to looking up the moderation decisions of one person in particular. It was not intentional, just that every major issue over the past couple years were all done by one person. Again this was not my intent, but it would be wrong to ignore everything as it continued to add up and show one thing over and over again.
There is a pattern that seems to hold true through all the examples I found over the past two years of moderation posts. Some of these could be seen as harmless, Some as dishonest and shameful, but one specifically stands out as disgusting and hurtful towards a person who did not deserve it based on all the evidence. I have interviewed moderators who wished to go unnamed, and they have shone more light on this situation that makes it all the worse. This post is not my opinions, but my gathering of all the situations I’ve found and tying them together to show everyone what I have come to see. My opinions will be in this post yes, but only after the evidence is laid out as objectively as I can.
I honestly did go into this objectively, but the more I read and the more I found out the harder it was to stay that way. My thoughts will be in this post, but I did not hold these opinions when I started down this road. When I started I expected something small, not what this has turned into.
People in this post
He is the head audio games forum mod. I have had nothing but a good relationship with him in the past both on the forums and in games we both played. I have no malice towards him nor any reason to dislike him from our past interactions. I have defended him in personal arguments I’ve had with other forum members.
On this blog he is Brandon cross, a contributor. I will not be defending him personally, nor will I be defending or disputing actions taken against him in the past. I will however be covering the punishment as well as what finally triggered it. I talked to Brandon to get more information about his banning for this post.
He is a longtime friend, again I will not be defending his actions nor will I be disputing that something should have been done based on his actions on the forums. I will be talking about how it conflicts with rules, and how it became personal for a moderator. I talked to Jimmy to get more information about the circumstances around his banning from the forums.
Walter Van Wyck:
I am not friends with Walter, nor do I like him very much. We did a podcast together years ago but that was as far as it went. I would have never called him a friend, and I chose to stop talking to him based on my own reasons. To sum it up, we just do not have meshing personalities and I’m personally not a fan of him.
I knew him from Survive the Wild, but that is really about it. We have talked on Skype some but to call us good friends or something similar would be a stretch. We might send 3 Skype messages every month on the high side.
Best Audio Gamer:
I had no idea who this was until very recently. He is someone who plays core-exiles and someone I am in a skype group with. He is also in my core-exiles guild but that is as far as it goes. I do not believe I have ever had a private conversation with him in my life.
I use to talk to her under different names on Survive the Wild, and I also have had skype conversations with her. Again I chose to stop talking to her based on my own decision and for my own reasons. I haven’t held any malice towards her because of it however and just chose on my own for non-forum related reasons to stop talking to her over two years ago. I did talk to her while doing research for this post to try and get some questions answered about a moderation incident I’ll be covering.
I know Kai from swamp both from playing the game and from beta testing the game together. We have only voice chatted once and that was a group conversation with myself, other testers and Aprone. Outside of Swamp we have sent a handful of Twitter direct messages back and forth. I did talk to Kai about a moderation incident for this blog post.
I was a game master of Survive the Wild for around two years. I was in constant contact with Sam during that time. Since I left the game we have not talked as much but we are still randomly in contact. In the past I have disagreed with his stance on the forums and the moderation there. I did talk to him during the research process for this blog post to clear up some questions I had about one of the moderation situations.
Anyone else mentioned in this post:
I don’t believe I have any sort of friendship or relationship with anyone else who is mentioned in this post. I could be wrong however if they go by different names, but if we were friends at some point I believe I would be fully aware of who they are. I have tried very hard to remove myself from any conflicts and to be as open and honest as possible to make sure this is not read as me defending one person or attacking another. If anything the opposite is true, the more I researched the more I was in shock at what I found, and how what I originally thought was completely incorrect.
The Specific Problems & Situations
As I said above this post is going to be long. I do not want to cut anything out as everything collectively shows the whole picture as it should be seen. Removing parts to shorten it would detract from the overall message and wouldn’t show everyone what they need to know to make up their own mind. Below I’ll be going through some specific situations and forum moderation choices with links for everyone to see for themselves how it was handled. I will try to go from least important to the most important points and layout the circumstances for those who aren’t aware of the individual situations. If any one of these is viewed individually it would appear to not be an issue, but collectively they tell a story that is hard to ignore.
The Normal Rules & the Hidden Rules
This is important to lay out right away. Everyone who created an ag.net forum account agreed to the rules located here. However there are hidden rules I would guess most people never even knew about. I have been on the forums for over half a decade now and never knew the site FAQ was a place for a second set of rules. Keep in mind this is not a set of rules made by the site admins, but one posted by Dark, one no one agreed to when they signed up for an account. This is very abnormal as a FAQ section is not a place for rules, but a place for frequently asked questions, I would guess no one would go to a FAQ for site rules on any site. You can check out the list of FAQ here.
I only bring this up to illustrate that there is a long list of rules most people may not know about. I did not know about them until October 12, 2018. They are enforced as if everyone agreed to them, even though this is not the case. After talking to another forum moderator, there are even suspicions that rules have been made up after the fact then Dark edited the FAQ post to justify his actions. Since no one sees these as rules, it is impossible to confirm this so it is just put here as something to think about as you read the rest of this blog post. No matter what you take from this section, everyone should be able to agree there should only be one list of forum rules. One list which is public and linked clearly for everyone to follow, having it in two locations is at best confusing, and at worst a very shady way to moderate the users.
I have heard many complaints about different warnings given out that people felt were unjustified. I found a couple of these but one which was a soft warning seemed to sum just about everything up. This is based on a moderator’s personal feelings on the topic, not what was actually being said. This is clearly unjustified in my opinion, and also in the opinion of an anonymous forum moderator I interviewed for this section.
Link to the thread in question:
Christianity or Islam (Page 2)
Posts in question:
The soft warning was given in post number 48 by Dark in response to Cocoa’s post in number 41.
Cocoa used a comparison of the electric chair to the cross. This was deemed offensive by the forum Moderator though it quite literally crossed no boundaries’ nor violated any rules in the actual rules or the hidden FAQ rules. It seems to be based on a Moderators personal opinion. The topic is quite reasonable and there is no attacking going on by Cocoa as all will see if they read all of his replies. I do not know Dark’s religious beliefs, and they don’t matter that much. What does matter is how a moderator here is using personal beliefs to moderate a topic that did not need any moderation. Maybe someone was offended and reported the post, this is possible but not a reason for an unjustified warning. I can point you to FAQ number 10 where it states that swearing is okay, just not personal attacks. Other “rules” in the FAQ repeat the same thing.
Now this specific situation isn’t that bad, but it still shows something that is questionable. We the users have a reasonable expectation for the moderators to govern the forums based on the rules, not based on their personal feelings. This becomes more of an issue with the other situations below.
The Mob Mentality
Doing a simple search for “mob mentality” on the ag.net forums brings up 11 results. 5 of which are Dark’s posts. Two of which are him closing down a topic due to what he calls the mob mentality. If you look closer at these you’ll find it is not a mob mentality, but rather someone disagreeing with him in a civil way. The question then has to be asked, why is a forum moderator shutting down topics because a group of people disagree with him? This happens to normal users all the time with no actions taken, but if it is a moderator named Dark you are not allowed to disagree with them?
This is not an old habit either, just recently multiple topics were closed down for the exact same reasons, though the term mob mentality wasn’t used directly. A group of users was disagreeing with a decision Dark made and he shut down the topic so they had no voice to disagree with him. There was not insulting, there was not personal attacks, instead he claimed he did it to prevent such a thing from happening. This is not normal moderator actions, if it was then every red spot topic would be closed before anyone ever replied on it. The only difference here is people specifically disagreeing with Dark, the one who does not like others to disagree with him, as a result he closes the topic.
A warning to all who play Survive the Wild. (Page 5)
Note on the above link:
There will be more information on this specific post and the situation surrounding it farther down, Dark did in deed act out of personal feelings here and choose friendship over being a moderator. Both completely ignoring and disregarding the developer’s information, and the independent information from another fellow moderator who investigated it.
joke, moderation, or lynching? (Page 4)
Note on the above link:
Dark simply closes down the topic because people are disagreeing with him. There is no other way to see it. As stated above, closing a topic as a preemptive strike against a flame war to come doesn’t hold value as a reason, any red spot topic becomes that and everyone knows it. There are also other topics one can tell by the title alone will become out of hand, but it is always left to play out. The only difference here is multiple users disagreeing with Dark, and he has the power to close a topic.
This is what I found after some searching and reading years of moderation posts. These weren’t that hard to find, and I am sure there are other situations out there where Dark did the same thing. Just showing three posts over a relatively short period of time should suggest something. No matter what the reasoning is in the moderation post, they all have something in common, people disagreeing with dark. It is easy to see he views disagreement with his moderation decisions as personal attacks, and uses this to justify closing topics so the conversation cannot continue. All users are justified in expecting this to never happen on the forums. The moderators are not higher ranking humans and are not granted extra privileges against disagreement on the forums, but at least one of them uses personal reasons for their moderation decisions. Using the term mob mentality is a shallow excuse in my opinion. It may work on one topic, but when it happens on three different occasions all for the same reason then it is clear to anyone reading it what the true motives are. I show these just to illustrate how personal feelings do play a part in moderation decisions, and to say they don’t is simply ignoring the proof laid out above.
Piracy & Cracks
The forums has a 0 tolerance policy on the posting of audio game cracks, most people know and understand the reasoning behind this decision. In the FAQ under rule/questions 11, 12, and 32 they go more in-depth on this topic. In rules 11 and 12 they specifically say no audio or accessible game crack sharing is allowed, the below is from rule/question 12
For all of these reasons, audiogames.net is totally, utterly and absolutely against all theft of accessible games, and anyone found asking for, giving
out, or in any way associated with game piracy will very likely be banned from the forum.
Then from rule 32
Broadly speaking posting links to download music, audiobooks or other material without paying is out on the forum since it risks getting us into legal
trouble, however note as there is some ambiguity in several cases (such as audio described films, while its something we’re generally not in favour of,
it probably wouldn’t earn an instant ban the way stealing audiogames would, we are a games forum after all.
Now armed with the information above, there is another example of a potentially questionable decision made by a moderator on the forum. This involves the user JimmyDub and the moderators Nocturnus and Dark. Jimmy seemed to be fed up with something on the forums or with life, and did make a stupid decision, there is no questioning that. I even believe he probably should have been banned for a temporary amount of time. However he made one mistake which I will go over in the conclusion to this section.
Why Must People Crack Games (Page 4)
In the above link Jimmy does act like an ass, but one thing to note he mentions the pirate bay and kick ass torrents. These are two sites not associated with audio games or audio game cracks. Since the rules specifically mention audio games, and don’t even say sharing cracks of non-accessible games, music, movies, or other things will result in an instant ban it does make sense he received a warning about it from Nocturnus in post 86, however it also stated…
Kindly take such statements elsewhere or remain
entirely silent on this matter! should you insist with carrying on in this manner and or we find other evidence that suggests you are in fact, distributing
illegal audiogame copies you will be banned indefinitely from this forum! Yes, this is a warning!
This is a perfectly acceptable warning, and if he was indeed sharing cracked audio games it would be a justified action. However the bit that is a bit odd is telling him to keep silent if he disagreed with the forum’s stance, meaning he could not even voice his opinion on a topic specifically about people’s opinions on the matter. Whether you agree or disagree, telling him to essentially agree or shut the fuck up is a bit overboard. Then in post 98 Nocturnus replies to a post by shotgunshell saying if he knew JimmyDub had already posted “really stupid” things in the past he would of banned him outright. Nowhere in any rules is there something against someone saying stupid things on the forums.
It all continues on page 5 where jimmy is an ass hat and doubles down, but not about audio games.
He once again in number 112posts what I assume is a removed link for the pirate bay, stupid yes, but audio game cracks, no. As a result Dark comes and gives him a life time ban in post 114. I think most people could see a ban happening, but a lifetime ban, that is the questionable part.
What happened here in short was someone making questionable decisions and probably deserving of a temporary ban. The biggest mistake Jimmy made was directly confronting the Moderators and because of that Dark saw it as a personal attack and responded to it with a permanent lifetime ban from the forums. This doesn’t even take into effect the gray area of the forums where people talk about illegal copyrighted audio described movies being shared between users on the forums. This is against the law, but morally okay with the moderators on the forums. This is a situation of someone deserving a misdemeanor and being given a felony because it was seen as a personal attack. Even after the first warning specifically stated audio game cracks, and the pirate bay is not a site for audio games. This is bound to happen when the moderators tread in the murky waters of what is moral, and when one in particular is so aggressive when confronted personally as an individual or as a moderator.
What Is An Insult?
For many this might be quite easy to figure out, but when you go on the forums this is a much more difficult question to answer. In general it is pretty easy to spot out a personal attack or insult, even if we are to ignore how easy it is to confuse disagreeing as a personal attack as Dark has done in the above examples. This happened once again with the most recent situation involving Iron Cross AKA Brandon Cross and Dark’s response to it.
The actual post in question is number 69 on moderation, or lynching? (Page 3).
The short of it is after being nice and talking in circles for a handful of posts Iron Cross finally said,
…What I do want is for you to stop the god damn blindie excuse shit, that’s all I want. I don’t know why you keep skating around the point, refusing to acknowledge it…
As a response Dark posted in number 70 that the topic was closed and moderation was pending, then after some time opened it back up after banning Iron Cross for three months. As a result everyone was saying there was no reason for the ban, and as stated above in the mob mentality section dark ended up closing the topic presumably because everyone was disagreeing with him. Again there was no other reason in either the rules or the FAQ for closing the topic.
On page 4 of the topic dark states it was for the following reasons.
…Iron Cross’ ban from the forum, its nothing to do with this particular debate actually, just with Iron cross’ reaction to it, and his cumulative reaction to many other situations in the past.
Remember the rules on this forum, disagree with the issue not the person and you will be fine.
That was the first red flag, he wasn’t banned for anything he did in this particular debate? What could he be banned for then? It seemed odd seeing someone banned for not doing anything, but that was the exact wording used, “… its nothing to do with this particular debate actually…”. If that is the case then how can you ban someone for something they didn’t do?? Wouldn’t there need to be a piece of straw that broke the camel’s back?
Just about everyone knows Brandon is an ass, that is not an argument anyone would take up, but that isn’t the issue here, the issue is that he was banned for three months without a reason, just for stuff he had done in the past. Everyone should be asking why he wasn’t banned in the past then, and why the sudden move.
Others had the same questions on the topic, but Dark did what he always does and closed it so no one could question his actions. This should come as no surprise, if you are counting this is the third example of Dark doing this when confronted with people questioning his decisions, but it isn’t the last example in this post.
Then later Dark made his own thread in the site and forum feedback section to explain the banning.
Mod announcement, Ironcross banned from the forum for three months (Page 1)
In post number 1 Dark says Iron Cross’s actions had become too much and a ban was necessary. He also states it was after a discussion of the moderators, but after I talked to an anonymous Forum moderator it was anything but conclusive. Dark wanted him banned, but it was not unanimous, in fact dark made the decision before any moderators could voice their opinions. The moderation team had decided that Iron Cross was on his last warning, but not that his recent comments were worthy of a ban. After Iron Cross was already banned one moderator disagreed while others kept silent. Dark vetoed the one who disagreed as he is the head mod and kept the three month ban in place. He then posted the moderation team as a whole decided this punishment, when it was in reality only Dark who made the decision. This same problem pops up in the last situation of this blog post, only with much worse consequences.
Post number 1 is too long to include here, but there are a few things noticeable in it.
First Dark uses two examples to illustrate his point that don’t apply, Iron Cross didn’t attack or insult anyone.
Then notice we are back to talking about the mob, this is his favorite metaphor as you’ve seen above.
Finally a call for us to all band together because we are a minority. Though this is a true statement, it is a transparent attempt to bring people together and to push everyone past disagreeing over the reasons and actions Dark took.
AS you can see in the following posts this didn’t work very well. It is filled with people who don’t even really like Iron Cross standing up for him and asking Dark what his reasoning was. The first notable one was in post number 8 when Dark then said it was because of the wording “blindy excuse shit”. This was the given reason, even though Dark had already said it was not for that reason in that previous topic when Iron Cross got banned, so what one is it? Was there no reason, or did Iron Cross get banned for saying something that didn’t break any rules? Could it be seen as crude and abrasive yes, is Iron Cross an ass yes, but did it warrant a ban no.
Then in post 17 Dark once again uses a false comparison to advance his point, even though this example has 0 comparison to the current situation. Iron Cross did not call someone an idiot, he did not call someone a name, and he was reacting to a generalized way of acting and thinking, not calling an individual a name or insulting them at all. This is pretty transparent for what it is, an attempt to stretch reality into something that fits the actions Dark took on his own.
In post 34 Aprone who is another forum moderator comes into the discussion to try and settle down the conversation, but it just causes more questions.
…There are multiple posts where people are saying things like “what Ironcross said in that post shouldn’t deserve a ban”. By itself, and if said by a person with a clean record, then no of course not. We are specifically talking about a person who has been given many warnings, and has been spoken with in emails about his behavior. If people want to Pretend that this single post caused a spotless member of the community to receive a ban, just so they can complain about said ban, then clearly you aren’t trying to have an honest discussion here…
Aprone is missing one very important thing here. He is openly admitting that because of Iron Cross’s past he was treated more harshly than others. What Iron Cross said doesn’t actually matter, even if it didn’t break any rules. This really has to make one wonder if breaking the rules actually matters, or if there is just nothing you can do if the moderators don’t like you.
Aprone continues in post 34
…Shotgunshell (and others), there is no point trying to show how you may have “crossed the same line” that Ironcross did. Get yourself a dozen warnings for personal attacks, and then you may see the same results. You can’t compare the punishments of 2 people if they don’t have the same history…
The important thing Aprone is missing is not that Iron Cross deserved the ban once he did break a forum rule, but that he did not break any forum rules in the first place. Dark even said this in his previous post. If Iron Cross was not banned for something he did, then why was he banned? No one can blame those who were disagreeing with this decision as it didn’t make any sense to anyone following it.
It should come to no surprise Dark closed this topic, it was filled with people disagreeing with his decisions and that is not allowed on the forums. That is pretty clear in the very weak excuse for closing it in post number 41 on page 2. It really is becoming quite apparent that any topic with people disagreeing with Dark will result in the topic being closed, this is the fourth example now.
I can only speculate that Dark has something personal against Iron Cross, there is no other reasonable explanation for what happened. First he was banned for something he did not say, then banned for something he did say but which didn’t violate the rules. Thankfully not all moderators were in favor of this happening, and it does say a lot for the moderation team as a whole. Even though they explained what was wrong with the decision it didn’t matter because Dark is the head moderator and though he asked for opinions, he went with what he personally wanted. This can be backed up more with the next section where you can see how punishment is handed out and how it is not based on anything specific, but rather whatever the individual moderator wants to do.
Unfair User Punishment?
This is similar to the above section and will use the Iron Cross example as a comparison. He was banned for three months under the reasoning of personal attacks/insulting. This might be ignorable or something to glance over if it hadn’t just recently happened to another person who was only banned for 6 weeks, half the time Iron Cross received. This does bring up more questions of why Iron Cross was banned for three months and another was banned for half the time for the same reason? The links are below then I’ll give my thoughts on this decision, and the major issues surrounding it.
the life in world: my first game! (Page 3)
The post where Dark bans Best Audio Gamer is number 62.
The main difference with these two banning’s is the circumstances around it, at least that is what anyone disagreeing will say. I completely agree, but this brings up major issues in multiple ways. If Iron Cross was punished for having made too many mistakes in the past, why did the mods allow it to happen so many times in the first place? This brings up the problem of not only unfair punishment, but unfair amounts of warnings. As for it being unfair punishment, the moderators, specifically Dark in this situation decides how many warnings to give out, then based on his decision to give out extra warnings then he decides on a longer punishment. There is so much wrong with this way of moderation it isn’t even funny, the mods can back you into a corner of their own making then stick you in that corner for however long they please with no justification.
Best Audio Gamer was given 6 weeks for the same thing Iron Cross did plus more with the constant going off topic, this simply does not add up. Why would someone get a longer ban for doing less, and simply because the moderators chose to warn them for longer instead of banning or handling it earlier? I don’t think there is an answer to this, and even if there was it wouldn’t answer anything. This is just simply wrong, there isn’t a nice way to sugar coat it, just an improper way to moderate users of a forum.
It doesn’t matter what you did, you will get banned for however long a mod chooses. Since dark decided this on his own it seems rather unfair to clump all the mods into the same group however. Dark decided 3 months for both Iron Cross and 6 weeks for Best Audio Gamer, there is nothing fair about this. If Iron Cross received more warnings in the past with no action taken by Dark or other moderators then that is the mods fault, not the users. There seems to be no set way of handing out bans, but this should come as no surprise to anyone with all the above examples taken into account.
Unfair Moderator Punishment?
If you read all the above comments by Dark then you can see there really is no set in stone definition for what he considers insulting or personal attacks. There is one thing that he can use to help him decide. This would be his own moderation posts. It is quite easy to see some stuff he posts as directly insulting to the users of the forum. AT worst it is insulting, at best it is being pompous and talking down to the users, as if he thinks he’s better than they are. I have no doubt either of these would result in him giving a warning to the user who said it.
sam tupy. the ultimate server hacker and computer screwer (Page 3)
In post number 55 you can see the following…
…still if people will be childish, then we must treat people like children and now head master Dark will hand out punishments to all the other naughty little kiddies.!…
This sentence in particular is quite degrading to the users, no matter how they were acting he is going against his own advice and adding to the negativity in the topic. He also under moderation is simply telling people how they should act, again talking down to everyone like he is the only adult on the forum. Patting people on the head for being good while slapping the wrist of those who were naughty. If I was talked to this way on the forums or off the forums I would tell the person writing it to go drink a big glass of shut the hell up and get over them self, but that’s just me. This isn’t the only time he compares the users to children however.
The below is from Lets Talk Casually About Jaws and NVDA (Page 3)
@Orko, Firstly in post 45 you mention Amir, who did not say anything about you. Secondly, please stop with this passive aggressive “I am leaving this thread”
OInly three people in this thread have actually made comments about your opinions which might be construed as negative, and shotgunshell’s is very mild
While you have been misinterpreted as I said above, starting banging the “everyone is against me!” drumb will not help the situation at all, indeed it
strikes me more as the response of a sulky teenager than an intelligent adult.
If someone has made insulting remarks, there is the report link, but also bare in mind not everyone who disagrees with you is out to get you.
Now can we all step back for a few seconds and really look at that post. Dark calls someone a sulking teenager who is not intelligent, then right under says there is the report link for insulting remarks? On top of that while under the moderation tag he is telling someone how to act even though they are breaking 0 rules. People can be passive aggressive all they want, and that does actually fall under the forum’s freedom of speech rule. However as Dark is in the mode of thinking he is above the user in question, it makes it okay in his mind to talk down to them as if he is the only adult on the forum once again. He is so blinded to thinking this way he doesn’t even realize he is insulting a user of the forums which would get 100% of the other users warned, or in the case of Iron Cross banned.
It is okay for a moderator to insult users under the moderator tag, but not okay for a user to say anything that might be construed as offensive by any means. This is not only unjust and unfair, it is simply wrong on every level. Dark does a very good job at really Toeing the line, but it doesn’t matter much because who is going to warn the head moderator of the forums? We’ve already seen that what the other moderators decide doesn’t matter when Dark has his mind set to something in the first Iron Cross section, but the next bit takes this to a whole new level. The next section was a side note in my original digging into the forums, but after talking to an anonymous forum moderator it has become something that is really upsetting and quite disgusting.
In my opinion this is the worst thing that has ever happened on the ag.net forums. Someone with help from a moderator used the platform of the forums to do their best to completely destroy a well-known user of the forums and audio game player. The accusations were not based in truths, or even half-truths, but instead were completely made up fabrications to ruin another person’s online life. There is nothing to say about this except that it is disgusting, unacceptable, and completely disheartening now that I know what actually happened. To know a moderator of the forums willingly ignored independent evidence from another well-known moderator to back up their friend which resulted in the banning and destroying of an innocent user’s online life; this is just completely uncalled for. I hope this last section can at least clear this black mark from the ag.net forums, and lay it to rest putting blame where it deserves to go once and for all. I am getting ahead of myself however, and I’ll lay out the situation as it happened then sum it up as I have with the above situations.
The topic in question:
A warning to all who play Survive the Wild. (Page 1)
The above is the start of the topic, I will be summing it up some, but it is also good to read the posts so you really get an idea of how this went down, and the role Dark played in this situation. I personally place most of the blame for this situation on the shoulders of Dark, without his actions this would be an unfounded accusation which would have been proven as a lie by another moderator if Dark did not ignore them and choose his friend ship with Lori instead.
I talked about this specific topic with a long time forum moderator who wanted to keep their name out of the blog post, but one who realized how wrong this whole situation was. I will be referring to the information they gave me through this section, and they saw all this unfold first hand from a moderator’s perspective. Anything I mention about the moderation or previously unknown parts to this were told to me by this anonymous forum moderator. If they wish to release their name that is a decision they can make on their own, but for the time I promised to keep their name confidential and I will honor that promise until told otherwise.
Summary of the posts and the timeline:
In post number 1 Lori starts the topic accusing Walter of abuse, bullying, manipulation, and cyber stalking towards female players on STW both on game and on Skype. Later this will include death threats.
In post number 14 Dark comes in and gives some more information. He tells everyone he was the one who encouraged her to start this topic. He then adds the following,
…Lori is a long standing and reliable member of this community who has been around for quite some time and generally is not inclined to make up such allegations against others on a whim…
Still in post 14 he then lays out the foundation for ignoring logs by saying,
…computer evidence in the form of textfiles is easy to change)…
AT this point no moderation decisions are made, Dark just asks everyone to stay calm and respectful.
In post 20 Dark makes another reply warning someone about sexist remarks, then repeats somethings from before.
The first thing of note is Dark repeating how Lori is trustworthy, and how he encouraged her to create the topic.
…As I said, lori has been a long standing member of the community and I’m quite aware she doesn’t accuse people of this out of the blue, indeed I encouraged her to speak out about this precisely so that others will be better able to keep themselves safe…
Then Dark adds in how he can’t do anything to Walter because it did not happen on the forums.
…As I said, I will not take any action against Walter on this forum sinse this forum is all I’m responsable for and to my knolidge he has not behaved badly on here thus far…
The next post by dark comes at number 32 on page 2
The section of this post which is important is the third paragraph.
…This isn’t really something that can btracked e with log files sinse logs can be falsified fairly easily. Were such accusations made of an audiogames.net mod, I’d likely temporarily remove their mod status and possibly temporarily ban them while I questioned both parties and investigated the affair, and sute my actions accordingly while attempting to remain impartial…
Again, he is saying that logs cannot be trusted because they can be edited and falsified, this is the second time this has been brought up. The third time he states that Lori is trustworthy, and that he is the one who encouraged her to create the post is in the next quote from the end of post number 32.
…What Sam or other stw admins do is their business, however as I said previously, I encouraged Lori to speak up about this precisely because! these sorts of behaviours thrive on secrecy, and people should be made aware of what has happened, particularly because as I said previously, Lori has never made such accusations before and has been a long standing community member (Look at her date of forum registration , and also bare in mind she was on the audeasy list before she made her forum account).
Note: Sam Tupy made a couple posts letting everyone know he was looking into what happened, and getting to the bottom of it. It is also important to note that at the time Sam and Walter weren’t good friends, so he was able to be more impartial than Dark who was already long-time friends with Lori at this point.
The next post to take note of is post number 41 by Lori. Though this post is too large to post here, you’ll notice she is doubling down on the accusations by saying things like.
…from my and others experiences of him he is as has been stated by others than me, a power hungry, cold and calculating person who gets kicks out of manipulating people whom he believes to be weaker than himself…
This is then followed up a few lines later with Lori saying in the same post
…Also, when he feels he can’t get a grip on a situation anymore, that’s when he turns on the emotional sob stories, which I’m heartly sick of, and just talking to someone like him who has no real compassion or human feelings isn’t enough, he has to be the centre of attention, and woe betide you if you don’t do things his way…
In post 42 Sam Tupy continues trying to stay reasonable and trying to get to the bottom of the story, this is followed by Dark’s reply.
In post number 42 Dark makes a final call and decides on his own to Ban Walter. This was indeed on his own as I will explain after the timeline is laid out. I will post the entirety of Dark’s post number 43 below as it is quite important. Notice he is saying that other forum members came forward and said the same thing Lori had been saying about Walter.
I have now recieved two private accounts of Water’s behaviour, both of which tally, and one of which was by someone who is too afraid to actively speak out in public, afraid of actual physical harm or blackmail or worse. This is now a matter of the safety of members of this community, and for that reason Walter has been banned.
yes, Walter denies these allegations, but based on the facts I’ve heard a decision must be made and the safety of members of this community is my concern.
Sam as admin of survive the wild is welcome to do as he sees fit, but I would recommend that people steer clear of Walter as an actively dangerous person who preys on emotionally vulnerable people.
I am fairly sure complaints will be recieved about this, however as I said, member safety is my primary concern here, and I would recommend Sam make it his as well, whatever supposedly helpful things Walter has done in the past sinse as Ironcross says, most nasty people are very able to chalm what they want out of others.
This is then followed by Lori thanking dark and others, and Sam asking for the logs from Lori so he has the evidence to justify taking actions on STW against Walter. Then dark states that it is up to Lori to Give Sam the logs, and how he didn’t take any of this lightly. Sam then replies to Dark saying he completely understands what Dark did, and if he doesn’t get logs he can’t take any action on STW.
The next very important post is number 65 on page 3.
In this post dark says some really interesting things that you need to take note of. First is near the bottom of his post where he says.
…I would only consider removing Walter’s ban if I were convinced Walter is not a danger to the members of this forum, and given what I have heard from several accounts that does not seem likely, particularly sinse just because someone is a nice person in public doesn’t stop them from doing very nasty things to others in private, (most psychopaths are known to be extremely charming).
Remember the above paragraph, because another forum moderator completely detached from everyone involved did give dark this exact proof, there will be a lot more on this after the timeline.
Next Dark talks about the others who came forward again, and once again states how logs do not matter in this situation.
To everyone who is talking about logs and such. this issue of Walter’s behaviour goes a bit beyond Survive the wild, which is exactly why I took the action I did. No, I don’t usually react like this, but neither do I usualy hear several people describing this kind of thing, behaviour which could see Walter up on criminal charges were he in the Uk…
Then in post number 79 on page 4 Dark reaffirms his position and asks people to express their anger in a better way as it is hurtful to others. He then says the following.
…I have been told things in confidence by Lori and others, and my decision was based on those confidences, which of course I can’t share for obvious reasons. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly.
If people don’t like that decision, well that’s up to them, however…
With the above quote it is important to realize that Dark was also keeping all this information from the other forum moderators. He was acting on his own, not allowing anyone else to be let in on figuring out what actually happened.
The next very important post is number 86 from Sam Tupy. This particular post is way too long and way too tied together to post quotes from, but you can read it yourself and see what Sam found out from his own looking into the situation. I’ll post the key points below.
She said it took 5 minutes to upload a .txt file with just a handful of lines in it which was suspicious but not that bad.
Sam found that the logs Lori sent him were edited. She inserted a false and damning PM into one that did not actually get sent because it didn’t have a time stamp.
Sam then points out the second logs Lori sent him are incorrect. They were from skype but they had no time stamps, Walter’s name was spelled wrong in multiple different ways, and some messages started with the text “from skype” while others didn’t.
Lori then sends Sam the first log again, but this time the whole chat log not the cut out section, and the damning PM in question is not in the log this time.
Then Sam tried to match the hashed computer ID of Lori and her friend which was Alondra. The one Lori mentioned in her first post, the computer IDs were a match meaning that Alondra was Lori, they used the same pc. Alondra did not live in England as Lori claimed.
Then finally Sam tried to find the other Skype accounts Lori said Walter made to harass her, but they didn’t exist. Not on Walter’s PC history, or anywhere on Skype when Sam tried searching for contacts.
That is the summary of what Sam posted, but it was always tainted by one thing. The argument that Sam and Walter were friends so Sam was trying to defend him at the Cost of Lori. This has always made Sam’s proof questionable, and is the main reason why I am spending so much time on this. Until now there was no more information, that was until I talked to an anonymous forum moderator who has shed a lot more light on the whole situation.
After this post from Sam there are other posts where he replies to others on the forum about what he found, and how if there is Justice to be given out that it should be done to the right person. Also asking people how they would feel if this was done to them if they had done nothing wrong.
The next post of interest is number 103 on page 5.
Sam writes how Lori contacted him and said her friend from England, Alondra had committed suicide because of this whole situation, though there is nothing else to confirm or deny it at this point, more on that after this timeline.
This is followed up by Dark replying to others on the topic. There are a few things to note in his replies.
From post 106.
Well I will say in fairness Lori claims the logs have been changed, also bare in mind some of this (particularly the stuff with Lori’s friend), was via skype anyway and is on the accouts of several testamoniesI’ve recived from a number of people…
Also from post 106
… (whatever happened to compassion?), indeed the fact that the first reaction from people at the report of abuse is “oooh someone must be lying because this person is a good admin” and not sympathy for someone in distress makes me ashamed to be a part of this community, sinse whatever the truth of who did what to whom it’s an extremely stressful situation all around, and the fact that people respond with condemnation and bitching is just plane disgusting…
Yes I can agree it is disgusting how Dark lied and ruined a person’s online persona, but more on that later.
From post 113.
… I’ll also say that “this lori person” as blind wizard put it is someone who’s been a valuable member of this community for actually far longer than Walter, not only is this the first time she’s made such accusations, but she’s also been backed up by another source, which is proof enough for me…
From post 116.
I believe Lori because I have known her to be trustworthy, and because her story has been confirmed, and because she’d shared this information with me in several ways, and the belief that all of these methods wcompromised as well as that of the person who confirmed Lori’s story quite independently is stretching credulity…
In post 117 Sam responds
Hi dark. I completely understand what you are saying and I can’t just change any decision. I also thought I could very well trust lori, until this happened. Reguardless of the logs, and anyone, isn’t it kind of creapy that the night I tell her all of this her friend from england took an overdose of something and is now dead? If this person exists, who is she? That’s what I feel is most concerning just to me now, is this friends very sudden, and very brushed off death. I’m not trying to get annoying with this hole thing and if I am please tell me and i’ll be quiet hahaha, but really I think this random death is quite concerning in my opinion.
Finally in post 118 Dark has the final word and closes the topic.
@Sam, I’m afraid I find that more than a little insensative, sinse whatever the case this is a loaded situation and throwing around imprications won’t help anyone.
your free to act as you wish, however harshness probably will just make matters worse in this case.
For this reason I’m going to close this topic sinse what has been said has been said, and further acid comments won’t help anyone.
On a general level, I will say I’m truly ashamed of this community, of the instant assumption to “blaime the victim” and begin mud slinging and condemnning especially when said victim has come forward with at least part of the truth. It’s not really surprising that people prefer to contact myself privately when met with these sorts of accusationns and suspicions.
This sort of mob mentality and nastiness is truly disgusting, and makes crimes such as those commited here all the easier by isolating the very people most at risk, and not treating anyone with the compassion or sensativity they deserve.
Here’s hoping there is an end to this, and I very much hope for the sake of other victims that nobody else in this community suffers this sort of abuse if this is the kind of reception they receive!
Notice the mob mentality phrase is used here again, this is one of Dark’s favorite things to use. Again it is disgusting yes, but not for the reasons Dark says. It is disgusting because Dark was given completely independent information he ignored because he is long-time friends with Lori and that is more important than an innocent person’s reputation.
Summary and extra information:
When I first started researching this moderation topic this was going to just be a passing note about how Dark closes down topics after people disagree with him. However after tracking down a forum moderator who was willing to talk to me about this specific moderation decision, this topic came up and the new information was too much to ignore. I’ll lay out some of it below.
At first Dark told the other moderators there was only one other person who had come forward, Lori and one of her friends.
In post 106 Dark only refers to one friend who came forward. Then in post 113 he says, ” I’ve had two accounts from two different people both corroborating,and both also detailing the abuse of another,…”. The two people would be Lori and a friend, this is nothing new. In post 116 Dark then refers again to one person that confirmed Lori’s story, person In the singular. However if you go back to post 79 Dark says, “… To Ishen and Nibar, your quite free to be angry with my decision and question it, but your comments towards Lori and the others who have come forward…”. This suggests at least 3 people came forward.
\An independent forum moderator checked the other person who came forward and found out it was actually Lori, not another person verifying what Lori claimed, instead it was Lori pretending to be someone else. The other forum mod told this to all the forum mods, but dark would not let it affect any decisions he had made.
After it was proven there was not a second person Dark claimed there were others who came forward. However he refused to give the names of the others to the forum moderators so they could also be checked. Dark couldn’t even keep it straight how many people came forward.
*Check edited note below*. I was told by a forum moderator the belief was that Dark made up the other people who came forward. And he was doing this to give fake proof that what Lori said was true. Fake Proof which was impossible to confirm because it did not exist. It was something he made up to give her story credibility after the first person was proven to be Lori herself.
Edited Note from October 15, 2018 at 7:30 PM Eastern
It has been Confirmed that one person did come forward with a report to dark. However this report was from issues the reporter had from the previous year(2015) which involved specific relationship problems. Not good but still common relationship issues which stopped once the relationship had ended. The reporter did not think sending the report would result in a justification for a ban. They have specifically said that if they knew it would be used as means to ban Walter from the forums they would not have sent it to dark in the first place.
Another forum moderator did their own investigation and found that indeed the logs Lori sent them were edited. Remember Dark said Lori claimed they were edited by Sam in post number 106, but this is clearly now proven as a lie because a forum moderator was sent logs by Lori that were also clearly edited. The formatting was wrong, there were misspellings in people’s names, and timestamps were randomly missing. It was very easy to claim Sam was friends with Walter and accuse him of editing the logs, but a fellow moderator trying to get the truth would have no reason what so ever to lie or edit logs after they had been sent. Dark was told of this information as well, and he refused to listen to anything about it, instead blindly saying Lori is right and having no interest in anything or anyone who said otherwise.
Lori gave the email of her friend she claimed committed suaside to a forum mod other than Dark and it was checked, but shortly after sending it she claimed it was a mistake and sent a new email address. When this new email address was checked the forum mod found that it wasn’t real, it didn’t exist. Lori then claimed that because she was ded the email provider deleted the email. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that this isn’t how email providers work, especially not just a couple days after someone’s death. Lori then gave excuses for why the first email shouldn’t be used, and the forum mod didn’t bother with the first one already realizing it was all lies.
Dark was fully aware of everything stated above, and he still refused to do anything about it. He had been friends with Lori outside the forums for years, When I talked to Lori before writing this post she confirmed as much, she also claimed sam only defended walter because they were friends. She also lied to me and stated that she had not been contacted by any other forum moderators even though I know for a fact that she was. You can view our skype conversation on this page.
This was a long section, but it was of the most importance that all the information was given out. If I have come across too hard I apologize for that as it wasn’t my intentions up until now. Now if I come across as too harsh I still apologize, but do realize it is not an accident this time.
Personal Thoughts and Conclusion
What dark did is disgusting and shameful on too many levels to list. He openly without any remorce completely destroyed a person who was an Admin on a game, who had their own website, and who was liked by many in the audio game community. He did this based on the lies of one person, lies he was confronted with and chose to ignore. This gives truth to the phrase. “it isn’t what you know, but who you know.” Every time as I researched this blog post I saw Dark talking down to the users, saying he was the only responsible adult, how people should be more friendly. His posts are filled with these platitudes which he cannot follow himself, but which he uses as a shield to hide from the things he has done in the past. No one on the forums has ever sstooped as low as Dark on the forums, no one has ever attempted to knowingly ruin another person’s life based on known lies, no one can come close to the black spot this puts on the forum moderators at no fault of theirs. I don’t know if the webmasters of the forums will see this post, but I hope they do. Every user of the forums should see this and understand that the forums may be a toxic place, but nnot for the reasons they originally thought. To knowingly ignore the blatent proof other moderators gave him because he simply wanted to be on the side of his friend, his friend who another moderator proved was lying is unacceptable, and it should not be allowed to go un punished. I don’t know what will happen with Dark after everyone reads this post, but at the very least everyone should know what has happened, his history, his habbits of not dealing with people who disagree with him, his ability to act drunk on power, talk down to others, and to attempt to destroy another’s life are unacceptable for me personally.
The forums have always been a place known for drama, but next to this it all seems pretty small and insignificant. This is the only place for audio gamers to go to talk, debate, and to argue. There is not a second place, there is just the one, and now knowing this one place has a history of such crooked and shady moderation ruins it for me personally, and I would expect for others as well. Who is to say this won’t happen again, who is to say another one of Dark’s friends won’t lie about someone else to ruin another’s life. Even if it doesn’t go that far no one can disagree with the all powerful head mmoderator, if that happens your voice is taken away and you cannot defend nor continue your discussions or objections. Thankfully this is my blog, not one moderated by someone crooked, and I personally have a place to post the truth where I can’t be shut up. Not everyone is this lucky however, and not everyone has another place to go, that is why this is so disgusting. After all Dark’s talk about making the forums a nice friendly place for everyone to talk about games, by his own actions it is anything but that now. He has turned something which was once good into something which no one can trust.
My hope is that this post gets shared around enough to right the wrongs that have been done in the past. The damage cannot be completely undone, but something can be done to at least fix it. What happens to Dark, I honestly don’t give a shit. It would be nice if something was done, but my hopes of that are slim. AT least this post can clear the name of one person who was drug through the mud for no reason, and people can make their own opinions of him, not opinions based on outrageous lies.
Personally I already don’t go on the forums much, a decision I made based on the community, but now the community doesn’t seem so bad. Now I have no interest because of the moderation habbits of one person. One person in power can completely ruin something, and that is the case for the forums now. I have nothing against other forum moderators, I mentioned Nocturnus earlier, but that was just a warning he gave out. Also Aprone’s post I quoted even seemed like more of a moderation attempt, even if it didn’t make much sense. With reviewing as much as I did these where the only two questionable posts I found by Aprone and Nocturnus, I cannot say the same about Dark. When I dove into this I was looking for overall moderation history. We’ve all heard people talk about the bad moderation on the forums. The interesting thing was as I talked to more people, and read more posts all the issues pointed to Dark, no other moderators.
I hope this post has helped some people better understand how the forums work, and allows them to make their own decisions if it is worth spending time there. I know for many they don’t have anywhere else to post and talk with fellow audio game players. For this reason I do hope this is shared around enough so the proper people see it and can make up their own mind and take actions. As far as I’m concerned everything taken together is just too much for me to get past. The forums are a good place to post about new BSG sections, but as for using it to communicate with others, that ship has sailed.
If anyone thinks I’m taking this all too serious just ask yourself what you would do if any of this was done to you. Not just if you were in Walter’s place, but in the place of anyone who has been on the wrong end of Dark. Imagine how the other moderators feel not wanting to say anything and fracturing the moderation team. This is quite literally the one and only place for audio gamers, without this there would be no way for everyone from all over the world to communicate. This isn’t a small site a handful of people use, there are hundreds probably thousands of people registered who are effected by this. It is easy to shrug and move on, but what if it was you. I have thought of this and it is terrifying. If I was waltered how much that would effect the years of time I have put into BSG and everything else. What does this do to those who have actually been victimized by someone in the community, how they feel knowing all this was done based on lies while nothing has been done for them because they aren’t friends with the right people. This isn’t a little problem, it is a problem for everyone who uses the audio games forums and for the community as a whole.
I’ll leave everyone with one final thought. Dark used his platform to lie and ruin another person. I hope this is some sort of karma where a different platform is being used to let everyone know about the truth. It has been a long time coming, but at least the truth is finally out and everyone can see the moderation Team for what they are. A group of people actually trying to moderate the forums the best they can, and one person giving them all a bad name.
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