I would like to throw my hat in to the proverbial ring as a fellow moderator as well. Keep in mind, I am not against Dark, I have also had the chance to meet him in person, once. But I do wish to put some points here about what I've experienced, and then below that, I would like to actually try to explain my own stance as a moderator and how I approach it.
I also hope that Dark will not close this topic, I think this discussion is very important. There's also no flame war here it's been very civil so far.
Firstly, I was the one who managed to convince Dark to, basically, futureproof the database for any Steam game that might become fully accessible, and I did this by adding it to the Choice of Games entry at least for now. It's not abot adding stuff like Mortal Kombat it's about adding Steam games that can be fully played from start to finish with accessible menus and all. The discussion was around 10 posts long, and took me going quite in-depth explaining things until he was convinced. Even Sendermen had to get involved, and it was him that came up with the final decision, based on the fact that I explained about audiogames.net's original vision, but also allowing the slightly newer, more accessible vision to take effect.
Secondly, I haven't really responded to the Ironcross situation on the mod list, but I was the one who mentioned about contacting Ironcross in private, because I remember him saying he had a dark sense of humour. I now am wondering if I should have been the one to actually take that initiative instead and actually contact him myself. Unfortunately, I was away, several hours from my home with no access to a proper keyboard to type, for an event at the time when the messages ended up getting sent to him and the mod list. While I can't guarantee being able to do much better, I do wonder if I might have been able to make some slightly different points to Dark.
I now wish to put some info here on how I approach moderating. I wasn't going to, but it might shed some light.
The first thing is I've not issued any full on member bans, only spambots. I've done a few warnings though. Part of this is actually because I have not been told how the "expiry date" of the ban field works. I don't know if it's uK or US date format, I don't know if it requires dashes or slashes or anything about that section. I feel like, with this lack of information, I can't do my job properly. I want to learn about this, not because I am about to start to use it like nuts, but in case the situation arrises, the very same reason I am learning martial arts in my offline life, it's made me less of an aggressive person and someone who does not want to take any action unless absolutely necessary.
Which leads me to another point.
Clones vs cracks. I think part of this is because we're moderators, not coders. I will put something here.
When Desafio Mortal returned, I started a discussion on the mod list as a heads up that a topic had been started, before any drama kicked off. Do you know what happened? Absolutely no moderator, at all, got back to me. I was effectively left to fend for myself for the topic.
Then, once the flame wars started, I then started a second discussion. Dark was the main one who got back to me, and so it went back and fourth. Yet, I sort of felt like the only one watching the topic, and I felt like it was the only thing I could do, and here's why:
Proof. I had none that it was stolen code. Yes it used similar sounds. But what was worse, was I couldn't even test the game myself. It would not load. So, I literally had no way of even trying to evaluate the situation fully, I wanted to test it out myself and then perhaps help come to a decision.
The only quote unquote proof I was getting was from someone who had previously been warned, possibly even banned. For some reason, it felt like more of a red flag, I could not trust this person. Needless to say I was write. Next thing you know, that person then admits to typing a command to clear the game/clone's server. This absolutely made me realize that I was right in my instincts. If you are going to prove that a game or piece of software is wrong, it is my belief to do this in a constructive way, let people have their fun until such proof is gained, yet the way this was gained was to effectively either restart, or possibly crash, a game.
As things started to pile up, I genuinely did not know what to do. Here I was, caught between something I could not even try out myself, someone who had done some sort of command that did who knows what to that game's server, and that person being the only one giving me proof, and the rest of the community asking to simply close a topic. Furthermore, we had no thoughts from the original developer of the project that was being cloned, funny that. So I sent my thoughts to the mod list. simply saying that I wasn't sure what to do. It was Dark who made the final decision, closing the topic.
I wish to lay out my own thoughts bare bones here.
I'm not a coder, perhaps this might invalidate my point. But we're moderators, not coders, surely.
Many games use similar sound assets. If we started to ban a game just because it used the same sounds then where will it end.
What happens if we start banning games for being too similar, what sort of reputation will we gain? What if a developer who developed a clone, comes back within a couple of years with a completely new project, accept, they don't want to post it to the audiogames forum because all we did was close their topics when they tried to bring some sort of new game onto the scene, however good or bad. Surely, it should be the community who can decide what is a good or bad game.
The problem is we now are still of the belief that Desafio Mortale used code that shouldn't really have got out in the first place. The problem with that, and, say, Zombie Arena, the clear difference is that Zombie Arena is an open sourced project. I do not feel like we should close topics just because a game is similar because this time, that code has been distributed for the reason to let people use it.
Now, it is different to cracks. Regarding the cracking topics, I wonder if someone should only be banned in those if they actually distribute cracks. I also wonder if asking for cracks should be grounds for a banning or not, I wonder if that's harsh after all they might be a new person. But also, cracks are more logical than a game that may or may not have stolen code or sounds. It's more clear cut a sort of yes or no situation and is fairly easy to determine.
Lastly, Audio description: I still do not know how to feel. I will say this though: if governments and agencies are starting to ramp down on piracy, then perhaps we might need to take a stand, and here's why.
If a particularly strict company finds us, they might ask us to take down the entire site, not just the topics or offending links. That will put a gigantic history at risk. I am talking over a decades worth of blind community discussions. So, I will put it like this:
If it's between taking a link to a movie for some short enjoyment time, or keeping the entire history of the audiogames website, keeping it as a place that can be used, then, I know exactly what option I'd take: the second one: I'd rather preserve our forum and allow it to exist. I've had a long time to think about this, and I am thinking it might be the best way to go. We may have to remove audio described content. The only thing is, what about the harder to find stuff? Well, will that truly matter if if we end up being taken down? I might not necessarily like it, and in fact I've thought about ways we might or might not be able to get around it, but now I don't know if it's worth the risk.
I hope this gives some people some thoughts on how I personally approach things. Also hailing from the UK like Dark, I take slightly different approaches, but I do wonder if I'm maybe too soft sometimes. Yet, I've always felt like this forum needs freedom of speech to rule, and I don't think we should be ruled by an iron fist. I, also, do not think that Dark is a full on iron fist either, although lately he has closed topics and I do wonder if he was too hasty in those decisions. I will, once again, say I do not have anything against dark. I also do *not* want to overthrow him really, although I do wonder what will happen. I certainly do *not* believe he should leave the forum because I do find his contributions quite valuable and sometimes fairly amusing.