Toxicity is a real problem in some of the class Discords. Earlier this week I posted an article that tried to shed some light on it. But since I posted some statistics in aggregate, lumping in the good Discords with the bad, many Discord moderators got really upset.
I understand why they were upset: they want to distance themselves as far as possible from these toxic people and it isn’t fair to be associated with this bad behavior. Because of this, I took down the original article and stats and publicly apologized to those people. It wasn’t fair to lump them together, implying that everyone was engaging in poor behavior, instead of just a small group.
That outrage is encouraging – most people don’t want this toxicity.
Regardless of the poor execution of my first article, the toxicity is there. The problem that prompted the article still exists. So I’m going to try again to write this article.
Why me? Why is AMR posting this?
I’m making this post as a commentary on the state of the community right now. There is a small group of toxic people poisoning the perception of what otherwise is a great resource for WoW players. In fact, it extends well beyond this community – it is affecting people (and even game developers) across all games. This is hurting our gaming community and we wanted to add our voice to say, “We don’t like it either.”
To quote the director of Twitch.tv, who recently spoke out about this topic: “This is about the leaders of the industry setting a good example that we shouldn’t allow or tolerate this, and we should fight against it, and set proper examples.”
How bad are some of these channels – are you overreacting?
In this article, you will see quotes with racial slurs and homophobic remarks. I have blocked out names and icons, replaced with their Discord rank (moderator or expert), as well as identified if someone is a “Regular.” A Regular is defined as one of the handful of people in the ‘in-crowd’ who account for 75% of daily messages in the spec channels (on average). Anyone labeled as a “user” either just dropped in or has very little participation.
I’m sharing some examples that focus on channel admins and moderators. It might look like I’m targeting these people, but they are the ones that need to stop doing these things, not engaging in it. Admins and Moderators are setting an example and others follow their lead to fit in.
Let’s start with some examples from just this week, from an admin in the Demon Hunter Discord – The Fel Hammer.
If you didn’t notice the un-masked part of the names in that example, look again. Some Discord users love to change their names and avatars to be offensive or harass people.
Even people who randomly drop in to ask questions aren’t immune:
The “Regulars,” aka the ‘in crowd’ consist of a very small group of people who make up about 75% of the chatter in a channel. Some of them use no shortage of these slurs too – again, even to random people dropping in to ask questions.
That user had asked several questions over the previous couple of weeks. He hasn’t asked a questions since. Could be coincidence – hard to say since it has only been a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, it is very common to attack ‘other’ podcasters, youtubers, guidewriters, and anyone who has put themselves out there in an effort to help players. Even when they aren’t using toxic slurs to do it, it is a giant problem. Have you ever wondered why it seems there are less and less viewpoints out there? Because if you disagree, you are a target.
The second example here, from Tankchat, shows how this toxicity crosses channels. This is an expert in another class Discord, but he is heavily moderated in that channel. He doesn’t have to behave in other ones though – which is quite common from this small group of toxic people.
There was a lot of talk from people who were upset about how I presented the first infographic, and I agreed that the good parts of Discord got associated with the small group poisoning the well.
But the worst part is that it gave the small toxic group an opportunity to grandstand (and spread more hate).
For example, one person berated me on the disservice I did by lumping good ones in with the bad. He then started projecting ulterior motives on me. Don’t let these people fool you – moments later he lets this go unmoderated in his channel.
In case you are thinking maybe he just missed it – nope, he says this kind of stuff himself (he is labeled as the “Misdirector”).
Not just a problem with Discord
This behavior spreads and if it spreads enough it becomes normal. But a lot of people are addressing it, from other Discord moderators to giant gaming companies. As a very recent example, an official Overwatch player used a homophobic slur after a match. Blizzard suspended him and fined him $2,000. These players are also big streamers and the director of Twitch.tv (djWHEAT) acknowledged this problem as well.
Update: recently, Twitch decided to take an even stronger stance against this problem. For a while now, Twitch has been pretty proactive in making sure Twitch streamers are following the community guidelines. However, they found that in order to not get banned on Twitch, they’d take the harassment to other social media. That lead to Twitch’s latest policy: if a streamer is harassing other people across other platforms (like Twitter), that is cause for punishment on the Twitch platform.
So what do we do?
This comment on Reddit brings up an interesting question.
What do we do with the knowledgeable player who contributes to these Discords, but does so in a toxic way?
I’m willing to bet that a toxic person will continue to contribute, even if moderated. It only gets out of control if we let them, or if they happen to be the moderators and admins.
I believe that as a community, we can solve this problem without preventing anyone from contributing.
Want to try out one of the class Discords?
Like I’ve said, not all of them are toxic (most aren’t). Some of them have really great moderation and really good discussions. Each channel within the class Discords have their own moderation team, and team of experts.
If you are new to Discord or want a refresher on how to use them or what you might find in them, here’s a guide hosted on the Ravendholdt website.
Update: Reactions from the web
A lot of people are trying to defend their own behaviors that have been called out here, or behaviors from their friends. Claiming these were cherry picked, taken out of context, or just a joke. Yes, they were picked on purpose, as stated earlier, to be from class Discord admins and moderators. I think most of these examples speak for themselves and if there is any missing backstory, it is still not okay to say these things.
Also, not unexpectedly, people are trying to misdirect this issue publicly on Twitter and on Discord. Within 10 minutes, someone photoshopped this, trying to make me look bad, and started sharing it around different channels. This is disappointing and frankly, not acceptable. (It is also why people don’t usually speak out about this).