First, I'd like to thank one and all for your patience and understanding during these tumultuous last few weeks. We've been facing a situation that has never been seen here before, and it is safe to say that few of us have carried ourselves in a way which covers us in glory. Nevertheless, here we are, and it is high time to try and make some headway on a solution that will work for everyone. We all have some vested interest in this community, after all. Below, you will find the conclusions we have come to regarding Dark, the mod team as a whole, Lori/Walter and that whole sordid business, as well as our plans for the future. I apologize in advance, because this is going to be a long post.
You may find it suspect that the newest member of the team is yet again speaking for the majority. Rest assured that the following post has been vetted for accuracy, fairness and intent by the mailing list, and we are in agreement here. I am wordy by nature, and in one specific instance I am a relatively impartial observer who walked in late. If and when I switch back and forth between "we" and "I", please take it in the way it is intended rather than being hypercritical and assuming the worst. Open minds and a willingness to listen are absolutely vital in cases like these.
Now, onward ho!
By now, it should come as no surprise to any of you that Walter's banning has been determined to have been performed in error. Nothing can entirely undo the harm that has been done to his character and his reputation for this mistake, and so we offer a full and unconditional apology for our behaviour as a team in the processing of this case. We will be putting in place more internal protocols to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again (see further below for details). We have done wrong here, and want to do whatever we can to make right, if that is still possible.
It should also come as no surprise to you that Dark has, until his resignation, been the longest-standing member of this staff team, having been called upon hundreds if not thousands of times to handle the day-to-day concerns that go along with being an audiogames.net administrator. This mostly positive track record has, of late, come under fire, and that scrutiny is not without merit. While we actively repudiate much of the character assassination to be found in SmokeJ's blog post, there are nevertheless some troubling aspects to the issue of Walter and Lori which have come to light. To wit, Dark's investigation was not nearly thorough enough (by his own admission, I should add), which resulted in more weight being given to the supposed victim's testimony than it actually warranted. There is some reason for this, given the nature of the alligations, but care must still be exercised, especially when the consequences might be grave. It has also recently been divulged to us that the team was given information undermining the validity of Turtlepower's own commentary - which was a large part of the corroborating evidence Dark used in the prosecution of Walter - and that, with this knowledge in hand, they should have, at the very least, re-examined Lori's testimony in light of the details they received. The moderation team does not recollect having been given this info, but admits that personal circumstances and the inherently finicky nature of mailing lists might have played some part here. We have concluded that although there was almost certainly no malice on behalf of Dark or any of the rest of the team and no particular animosity toward Walter, Dark's individual circumstances might have made him an innately bad candidate to preside over such dealings in the first place. As a result, Dark made a very bad decision, and was passively supported by the team at that time, for which Dark has apologized and for which he has paid by resigning from his position.
Given that Dark voluntarily stepped down, we did not feel it necessary or helpful in any way to "fire" him. His tenure, and the majority of his record, suggested to us that, despite his error in this matter, he deserved to depart with his dignity intact. Moreover, to directly countermand what Dark had done fragments the team even further, at a time when we can ill-afford to do so. At the end of the day, we are all now painfully aware of what transpired, and our choice to maintain a cohesive front represents a desire to project solidarity, and not an intention to sweep the whole mess away without a backward glance. no single person should engage in this sort of investigation without external validation from at least one other member of the team, and this self-check will ensure that this sort of thing will never happen again. I believe it is important here to remember the bigger picture without letting it dominate the conversation. we promise you that transparency within the team going forward is a high priority. Secrets were not kept out of malice or spite, but lines of communication were broken by multiple people for reasons I can frankly only guess at. It is useless to chase this line of inquiry further, and unfair to put all of the heat on Dark. The harm has been done, the affected parties have been addressed, and the problematic behaviour has been first identified and then publicly displayed for all to see.
On that note, I would also like to take a moment here and add a personal note. Please, please, please...if you have evidence that proves that something we have said or done is in factual error, or if you yourself have said something you now wish to retract - possibly because you once felt pressured to help a friend, and now realize you should not have done so - I urge you to come to us privately to discuss the matter. If nothing is done after you talk to one of us, feel free to get in touch with everyone else. I will absolutely not lay Walter's fate at Turtlepower's feet, but there is no doubt in my mind that if Turtlepower's admission of her own complicity had been more widely recognized by the moderator team somehow, it would have significantly impacted deliberations in Walter's favour. I cannot personally speak to why this case was so convoluted, and am not prepared to speculate. What I can tell you, however, is that going forward, we intend to be far more transparent on all fronts, so this sort of confusion is extremely unlikely to dog us further.
Have you noticed how often I'm citing transparency? That should tell you how deeply upset this situation has made me, and how troublesome the whole issue has been for the team. We must be better, and we will be. it is as simple as that.
Plans for the future
This situation has unearthed the need for change in a way that is more urgent than we had realized, and we are going to make every effort to invoke that change for the betterment of the community as a whole. Here are a few of our plans.
1. As we are able, we're going to rewrite the rules, changing the language and ultimately clarifying things in a way that will let users see said rules before they attempt to sign up. Someone pointed out to me that a person should not be held to standards they didn't agree to, and I wholeheartedly support this. We are dealing with two forum owners who are extremely difficult to connect with, however, so we are asking for your patience in this matter. We are doing everything we can to make it happen.
2. Some of you have expressed confusion and unrest about the way warnings and bans are being doled out. We are at work on a more formalized warning system which should make rules and consequences both easier to understand and simpler to deal with. It needs to be said that this does not mean that just because you think a ban is unfair, it will be undone. It does not mean we must cave to pressure, and does not mean you are apt to agree with every single instance of punishment you see. That said, we will make every effort to be transparent and forthright about the entire process, particularly to the party or parties to whom it pertains in the first place. No one will be punished without knowing why they merited it. That is a solemn promise you can count upon.
3. We are going to ask for something from you who read. We are human. We are not perfect. We will occasionally make judgment calls. We are volunteers who are taking time and expending resources to try and ensure that this community, as a whole, rolls along smoothly. You may not agree with everything we say or do, but we deserve and require some trust in order to do our job effectively. Lately, it has been very difficult to speak about certain situations because a guilty-till-proven-innocent mentality appears to have reigned supreme among most dissenters, ensuring that most of us are feeling attacked, assailed and otherwise victimized almost by default. This is not fair, and it is not productive, and it is, in fact, the reason why more extreme and distasteful measures were temporarily put in place to limit the damage. We had no desire to hurt the community by so doing, but recognize that our chosen actions did represent an intolerable state of affairs. We would like to apologize for this occurrence. There may be times in future where we decide to end a particular topic because it gets out of hand. This is our purview as the staff team, and we would dearly appreciate a little more courtesy when this occurs; we do not do it lightly, and we certainly do not do it because we fear your words or the erosion of what little power we do hold. We do it because we honestly believe that more harm than good is being generated by the topic, so it is, in essence, a plea for you to take a moment and realize that there may be a legitimate reason for us to have stepped in. Some of you are absolutely dauntless in your defense of right to free speech, and we respect that tenacity and ferocity both; nevertheless, we would appreciate a bit of faith when these instances do crop up...faith that we are not trying to abuse you or shut you down, and that we are trying to act in the greater good of the community. An echo chamber, by its nature, is not good for a community, and neither is loud, repetitive claims that all amount to virtually the same thing.
I think sometimes, every single one of us would do well to pause a moment, and ask ourselves whether what we're saying really and truly needs to be said. Remember that big picture I cited? Here it is again.
On a personal note, I look forward to being a productive member of this team, and to ensuring that we're only going to move upward from here. The last little while has been something of a blight on this community's record, and I want to make every effort to make whole what has been so badly fragmented. I've had the right intentions, but I recognize that I've been complicit in a lot of the damage, especially in the past couple of days. For that, you have my unconditional apology, as well as a promise to do better in the future if given leeway to do so. I can assure you that I do not simply gulp down what I have been told, and am not here to simply spout the "party line" in anyone's defense or upon anyone's behalf. I began with a much more favourable view of Dark's actions, as well as those of the team as a whole, but as more evidence came to light - evidence I had no way of knowing about and no reason to believe existed at all, I should add - I began to comprehend that there was more to this than I realized at first. I am more than capable of admitting when I am in error, and while I do not and will not utterly reverse my prior stance by any means, I perceive more of why some of you were so incensed by what you were seeing. I am divulging this particular detail so that you realize that I am not as rigid as I appear, and so you understand that I try to be objective wherever possible. I feel that I was unintentionally mislead regarding certain details - no surprise, this whole situation was a titanic tangle - and I bear no ill will toward anyone on the team for this. It's what comes of stepping in late and all.
So here we are. It is our sincere hope, as a team, that this message has begun the process of allaying some of your doubts, questions and outright misgivings. We will do better if given the chance. We, as a community and not just a team of moderators and administrators, need to do better. So I urge the community, one and all, to rise above our behaviour of late. Let's put this nasty situation to bed at long last. Let's rest with the knowledge that truth has finally prevailed, and without the added spice of further rancour or character assassination. Let's give this time to settle, and time to percolate throughout the various pockets of the community. Let's take a little time to see if the current configuration of moderators and administrators can, in fact, live up to the promises we have made. Let's take time, also, to see if the forum is willing to own and make good on some of its own complicity in these matters/.
I think we can do it. How about you?
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1