Giant Bomb News

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Letter from the Editor - 07/02/2014

Hey, hi. Let's talk for a sec, OK?

In the last few days there's been a lot of talk about what Giant Bomb is and isn't. What it stands for and what it won't stand for. A lot of people have made a lot of assumptions about what we do and how we act, and what we tolerate or even condone on our message boards and live chats. Most of this isn't new, but it's well past time to come out and say what this staff and this site stands for.

Giant Bomb is, by design, an inclusionary place. When we originally built the site back in 2008, it was originally thought of as a place where our audience could contribute in meaningful ways. Or, if they like, they can just sit back and enjoy our various productions. When I say "inclusionary," I mean exactly that. No person should be excluded from our site. The fact that some people have been resistant to people based on their gender, religion, race, creed, or anything else like that is not acceptable. Even less acceptable are people who make their exclusionary beliefs known (repeatedly and often aggressively) and then attempt to say that those viewpoints are valid and, thus, must be allowed for us to remain inclusionary. That is bad logic. That is a bullying tactic, and that style of intimidation will not be tolerated.

We moderate our live chats, message boards, and comment threads. And we do it rather viciously. Some things certainly do slip through the cracks and you may see some garbage on our site before we get to it. To those of you who help by reporting things to our moderation team, you have my thanks. We're certainly not perfect. When we launched the site, we launched it with one simple rule: "don't be a dick." This may have gotten by in an age when we were a fraction of our current size. These days, we've grown to a point where small community rules aren't enough. We'll be implementing new moderation policies and adjusting a few things behind-the-scenes to enhance our ability to moderate the boards. We'll have more to say about those policy changes as they come.

We felt the need to come forward and state our position after some individuals decided to speak out about how we're conducting business and were promptly attacked and abused on Twitter and other social media platforms. Whether one agrees with our critics or not, it certainly doesn't warrant the response they've received.

I feel absolutely horrible that people have been harassed for simply expressing their views about what we do.

The people attacking our critics do not represent our views and they never have, whether they're doing it in our name or not. I appreciate that people enjoy our work and that they often care enough about it to criticize it.

I would like to apologize to everyone that has seen any bit of unpleasantness this week, whether it is directly associated with our message boards or not. We will continue to work to make the site a better place for everyone to enjoy.

Thanks for using our site. It's been a very bumpy ride over these last couple of years and it just now feels like we're getting our feet underneath us and getting to a point where we can move forward. There's still a very active, wonderful, and beloved community at the core of this site, and their reputation has been tarnished alongside ours. We simply cannot and will not allow negative elements to ruin what we've built together.

-Jeff

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
1645 Comments
Edited by timmbot

I didn't realize how much ppl hated Yoshi until now. That being said, thank you Jeff and GB and the community, let's make this a fun place to be and not Yoshi Island

Posted by Brother_PipPop

<3

Posted by Dalai

Don't stop being awesome, Jeff. Well said.

Posted by conmulligan

@hellodanni: Yep. I think the premature rush to try and undermine any new moderation policies is really unhelpful.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Remember, folks, responding to sarcasm with sarcasm is frowned upon too. Be constructive and polite. Thanks!

Moderator
Posted by RetroVirus

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Edited by AngriGhandi

Damn right, Jeffreh!

Posted by Luxus

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Posted by Seanakin66

Forth now, and fear no darkness!

Posted by DrDarkStryfe

Today is July 2nd. Let's just hope that this is the last day of a pretty terrible year for the site, and those that produce the content that brought us all together.

Anyone who paid attention to the chat during the E3 livestreams, and the events of the last couple days, can see that change is needed. Rorie and the moderator group here has done a great job all of these years, and I have no problem with re-tooling to make the work of keeping things from getting out of control easier and more efficient.

Edited by MetalThrashingMatt

Well said, Jeff.

Edited by darkest4

Some people on both sides were being jerks and I don't think think one side was only offering constructive criticism and only getting hate in return, neither side should act like they are the sole victims here. Situation was not that black and white. The vocal minority issuing twitter death threats or other horrible things like that should simply be ignored and banned, but I think that was coming more from other sites than Giantbomb. I don't think that they represented Giantbomb as a whole at all but it's classy of Jeff to apologize for them anyway, it's a shame those are the ones that people always focus on and then use it to invalidate all the reasonable arguments being made by the majorities on both sides.

Anyways, clearly it's a complex issue, maybe one a silly video game website is not equipped to tackle. So I hope we can all just move on and be happy for Giantbomb and the new hires and trust in them.

Posted by Hadukinz

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Posted by ADAMWD

@duffyside: My first thought went to all the people in chat during E3 live shows insulting guests. Then, when the mods start saying to quit being jerks, those same people insist they should be allowed to verbally attack guests rather than just keeping quiet.

Posted by AimlessAJ

Thanks Jeff. Keep on keepin on, you beautiful man.

Posted by Clonedzero

@clonedzero said:

I just hope these rules dont screw over the community with overly strict rules and policies. I've seen many a forum and internet community forum because of over zealous moderation. So this sort of reaction has me a bit concerned, but if it becomes a problem, then well, hopefully people will speak up.

Making harsher and stricter rules for everyone to punish a few assholes just seems to be wasted energy with good intentions. Doesn't make it the right thing to do.

I mean you can already have your thread locked because a vaguely similar 3 year old dead thread exists, which you cant even find with the forums awful search functions. So yeah...

Bit concerned about this honestly.

I am honestly a little baffled by this stance. You're in someone else's space. Is it really that unreasonable that you would have to play by their rules or go play somewhere else?

People who post on forums tend to form deep attachments with them and start thinking of it as a thing that is *theirs* where they can say and do whatever they want and react harshly when they're told "no" and there becomes this "users vs mods" divide. This is not rational.

Oh they're fully allowed to do whatever they want. And i absolutely want everyone to feel welcome here just like Jeff and Rorie said. This is a fun and interesting place with great people is all.

I just wanna be able to jokingly call people who boil their hotdogs terrible terrible people who should be ashamed of themselves without being afraid of being modded. Thats all i want.

Posted by kalmia64

I appreciate the formal response. There are certainly changes that need to be made. All I can hope for now is for Samantha to return to writing when she is ready. It would be a tragedy to lose someone like her.

Also please keep in mind that teenagers are not the sole perpetrators. When I have been harassed online (like in a video game with voice chat) it has (more often than not) been grown men. So please do not dismiss this as youn'ins being stupid.

Posted by VehementAbyss

Thanks Jeff and crew for addressing this and for all your hard work.

Posted by Fawkes
@rorie said:

I'm going to say something here that I'll probably copy-paste as it continues to be brought up: it's perfectly valid to be concerned when we say that moderation policies are going to be updated. No one wants this place to turn into a no-fun zone, and that's not at all the intent. We haven't gone very far down the road of discussing specifics, so please don't freak out just yet. We'll have more to say on that stuff when the time comes.

Thanks Rorie. I'll try not to freak out.

Posted by Mister_Snig

@kbohls said:

This line really erks me. I agree that people should not give a damn about who a person is, but I can't help but feel that people who resisted Dan and Jason joining GB are breaking this. They (Dan and Jason) were told they weren't good enough simply because they were white males, what kind of bullshit is that? I have a hard time standing up for the equality segment of the community when they turn around and are rude simply because the new hires weren't women, Jewish, black or gay.

The hostility was not coming from that camp. Rorie, Jeff, Alex, and Patrick have stated that the criticism was a valid conversation to have. People who spoke out against that were the ones sending death/rape threats and hate speech.

Posted by GiantLizardKing

@timmbot: it's like Jeff said, it's their own fault for calling it the sequel to the best game ever made. There is a reason it wasn't called Citizen Kane 2: Duece Biggalo Male Jiggalo.

Posted by President_Barackbar

I hope those who are concerned about the future of moderation on the site consider the following: There's a not-so-fine line between constructive criticism and belligerently using hurtful language to "prove a point." I have no doubt that Giant Bomb will continue to allow and strongly encourage the former. After all, concise, carefully thought out, constructive criticism is what helps us all grow and improve. The latter serves no purpose other than to cause people to hate one another over political, ethical, racial, religious, or otherwise superfluous differences.

Yeah I think you are right overall. I have faith in the modding team here to use their powers to get rid of the really vile stuff while simultaneously making sure that they aren't weeding things out because they personally don't agree with them. That's like moderation 101 and they are all fine folks so I trust they'll do the right thing.

Posted by earthdogjon

You're a stand up dude, Jeff.

Posted by steelerzfan101

Honestly couldn't have said it any better. Thanks Jeff and let's go Giant Bomb!

Posted by Seikenfreak

Hmm. Obviously well said. Not exactly sure what the stricter policies will address because as far as I've seen the GB forum seems well moderated. But you can't control people using other things like Twitter which seems to be where the real problem is.

But what about the elephant in the room? The whole reason this discussion began months ago with the mention of new hires on the way. I was kind of hoping Jeff would come out and lay down some groundwork explaining what Giant Bomb is about and focused on and what they are not about.

Perhaps this will be discussed at a later date.

Posted by draky

I'm glad this post was made, it needed to be said that these people don't represent the GB community as a whole, and I hope it wasn't tarnished too bad by the horrible things said. Let's all work to keep Giant Bomb as awesome as it has been!

Posted by AV_Gamer

Let's try this AGAIN: While I understand some of the concerns people made about the new hires, the bottomline is that GB runs their site and can hire anyone they choose. If the people complaining don't like it, they can start their own video game website. That is the logical solution. I don't expect Jeff or anyone to run their website any differently than how they choose to do so, rather someone agrees or disagrees with said decisions.

Posted by Duffyside

@adamwd said:

@duffyside: My first thought went to all the people in chat during E3 live shows insulting guests. Then, when the mods start saying to quit being jerks, those same people insist they should be allowed to verbally attack guests rather than just keeping quiet.

Yep, you're right, I've definitely seen that.

Though Jeff's post comes in light of the recent events, so I guess my question was more specifically aimed towards that.

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

Well said Jeff. It's been really disappointing to see this site as a whole dragged down by horrible assholes attacking people. (I cannot believe some of the stuff I've seen today came from human beings.) Hopefully that stuff stays away, so the site can get back to normal.

Anyways, Dan and Jason seem like cool guys. Glad they've been brought on the Gb team! Really looking forward to the future.

Posted by ottoman673

Well said, but I'll just add this;

Aside from current issues and events, I feel a lot of individuals [including myself, at times] need to make proper strides to know how to discuss something that we may or may not mutually agree on. There are two very logical arguments and opinions in regards to diversity vs. who's best qualified for the job at hand, and we need to be able to discuss these things on both sides without becoming inflammatory towards each other, guests of the site, new hires, or persons commenting on practices the community has. Maddy Myers is just as entitled to her opinion that Giant Bomb shouldn't have hired white dudes as I am saying that I trust the GB guys to hire who they feel is best, regardless of race/sex/orientation/what have you; and we need to be able to facilitate these conversations as they come along without being complete shitheads to each other.

From both sides. Not just one or the other.

And @jeff, it doesn't matter if the site's population has quadrupled since inception: Don't be a dick still applies, and still should be the founding rule. Follow it, no problems are had.

Posted by Yelix

I'm really glad Jeff wrote this, but it's just the first step towards bringing back some good will to Giant Bomb. As someone who has been watching, reading, and listening to GB content since literally the first Bombcast (and a paying member since the day that went into effect), I can't deny that the criticism leveled against the site recently is justified.

Even though the white guys creating all the content on here are generally well-meaning, good dudes, they're still white guys. That doesn't do much to represent the video game industry as a whole, and after the last few days, I'm certain they know this. Unfortunately, they might not have any more of a hiring budget at this time, so bringing in full-time or even freelance talent from other demographics might not be possible. Still, what they can do is bring in more diverse podcast, live show, and quick look guests. It's not about filling quotas; it's about making sure as many different perspectives as possible are considered. If some people in this community don't like diversity, then shove diversity down their throats, if that's what it takes.

I love this site, and I just want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy and participate in its content.

Edited by Yodasdarkside

So sad that this should all happen so close to the anniversary of Ryan's passing, but as others have said, you have an direct eloquence that few can match, Mr. Gerstmann.

Posted by C0V3RT

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Edited by RazielCuts



Well said, @jeff. I've kinda been burying my head in the sand the past couple of days trying to avoid looking at it but its great you've officially come out and said something concrete on the site. (I saw you said something yesterday on twitter but yeah, good for a full post statement.)

Let's just all hang out, laugh and play games, yeah?

Posted by Deathpooky

Does that mean we can openly acknowledge our love for Yoshi's Island?

C'mon. Even inclusionary practices have their limit.

Posted by JackiJinx

I am very glad to see a public statement about the harassment. Thank you for saying something about it again, Jeff. Still, despite this being in the absolute right direction, I don’t think this will do too much as the discussion ought to be less concerned with generalities and more specific as to why people were being dicks in the first place: it’s the whole white boys club thing. Maybe you guys aren’t ready to talk about this topic yet, and that’s understandable, but it needs to be addressed or you are just singing with the choir, and a bunch of other dudes who think they’ve been singing perfectly for years when they’re really out of key.

So, white dudes. The only serious problem I'm seeing with this whole white dudes thing is perspective. I like the staff, and I think they do a great job, but yeah, let's acknowledge that, at the face of this site, it’s entirely white men. I'm a white woman, and that certainly means what these guys see aren't always going to be seeing the same things I see. I'm assuming these new two dudes are qualified and good, possibly even impressive. But that does accumulate to anything at all if nothing new is added to the fire in terms of content.

I suppose that's why Patrick was a bit more controversial when he was hired because he seriously did take a good portion of this site into a different direction based upon how he works and that helped change the audience a bit as well. So many people whined about him for the longest time, and undoubtedly some still do. The change was significant and worth having in the end because Patrick aided and aids the community to think in a different direction based upon what he's more openly has advocated for and experimented with in content.

All this is good, but he nor other GB staff members still cannot speak for both genders or all colors of people. It's just not possible. And frankly, I'd rather see more content with those kinds of perspectives.

I want to hear what it's like from someone that's both a game journalist and a black man or woman when games like Resident Evil 5 originally pop-up instead of needing to scour pages of forum discussion to hear such a perspective, shifting through pages of how people are saying racist or borderline racist remarks exalting exactly why such perspectives need to be more up front. Or when stuff like Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter campaign gets loads of hate, having to decide whether it's worth it to try and dig through the forums for those other women like myself and sympathizing men or just lay low for the next week or so in order to avoid getting angry reading how ridiculously naive, vindictive, or plain stupid a good portion of the outspoken are?

So again, I'm certain the two new hires are able to communicate well, able to write, able to do their jobs well. But are they able to cull a community's thoughts and help give this community, the gaming community, something it really deserves?

The staff can't deny, with the amount of people reacting on Twitter, that it isn't just one or two idiots talking out of their ass. It's a decent portion. Guys, it's okay to react, but be human about it.

Knowing how everything works though, this is probably a waste to type up. Doesn't matter how long I've been a follower of this site, it never does as based upon my identify, my thoughts are brushed into a minority pan. Doesn't matter how much I care to see things improve alongside many of this community and staff. This is almost always a forums only topic, and despite how important an issue staff and community is, there's little to no official talk from the staff. Yes, publicly telling people who are being straight out hateful that they don't represent the site is a statement, but what about the reason for the hate coming out in the first place? The whole "Giantbomb is just a bunch of white guys" thing. Let's talk about that, please! You've got to be joking yourselves if you think this statement or changing moderator policies is going to be the end of this kind of behavior.

Posted by BBQBram

VIDEOGAME JOURNALISM JUST GOT CRITIQUED

TOO HUMAN

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Posted by Brendan

@everettescott: I can't speak for the extreme elements but for the most part I think you're putting an unfair twist on the sentiment of the majority on the disappointed side of the fence. Most could see that Dan & Jason would be great hires, but they were simply hoping for a hypothetical situation where GB could have hired people who would have been great and also represent a more physically diverse community.

Posted by Scratch

Shame this shit had to happen this week. Glad about this official response.

Posted by fisk0

This is the right approach to handling the harassing parties; I've been a GB fan from (before) the start and I'm happy that you guys are directly calling out and working to address the hate that spews from what in my honest belief is a minority of the community. That's good, and I hope you guys keep at it.

That said, I'll admit to being a little disheartened by the (thus far) lack of directly addressing the criticism (which, as some of you have pointed out, is valid). I'm assuming it's still coming. Gaming in general has a pretty severe representation issue currently, and as Patrick explained in his post-E3-panel Tumblr post, it's something that needs to be addressed actively. More backgrounds and viewpoints would only serve to improve the site we all love so much, and I was myself a bit frustrated that we didn't get that in this recent hiring round. I'd love to hear a frank discussion from the top duders addressing the criticism that sparked all of this, and even more I'd love to see actual action.

I'll always love you guys, but as the site grows and expand, I'd love to see it grow *up* as well in a positive way. I'm not saying less stupid shenanigans, just... more diversity in the stupid shenainganers would be epic. Right now it's a boys' club, and when the industry is facing serious problems with sexism in games from all angles (Assassin's Creed girls are hard, today's segregated eSports bull, #1reasonwhy), it's hard to see that as anything but a detracting factor on the editorial viewpoint that the site can express.

You pretty much summed up my viewpoint on this whole thing in a much better way than I could've hope to do.

Posted by jocumo89

This letter is yet another reason why I love this site. You've got my full support on this one, Jeff. Giant Bomb is the best.

Posted by Prestige

Thanks, Jeff. This needed to addressed publicly, and with more than just a tweet.

Also, I've long believed that strong moderating was a necessary component for a good internet community.

Edited by IzunaDrop

Oh geez, did it get really bad? That's sad. Thanks for the update, Jeff.

When it comes to the forums, Wrestling thread is my jam, and I've had nothing but great times in there with the other bearers of the curse. As Hollows, we must all collect more souls, then get the ring with the crest of McMahon, allowing us to open that damn door that we found like 60 hours ago....

I need to finish Dark Souls II.

Posted by HelloDanni

Oh they're fully allowed to do whatever they want. And i absolutely want everyone to feel welcome here just like Jeff and Rorie said. This is a fun and interesting place with great people is all.

I just wanna be able to jokingly call people who boil their hotdogs terrible terrible people who should be ashamed of themselves without being afraid of being modded. Thats all i want.

Sorry, edited my original comment as it seemed a little too inflammatory. I think the forums can and will remain a fun and enjoyable place for everyone unless your fun and enjoyment stems from being hateful towards others. Those people may have less fun. But they probably boil their hot dogs, anyway.

Edited by bassguygt

Well stated, Jeff. Giant Bomb is the best!

Edited by EveretteScott
@yelix said:
If some people in this community don't like diversity, then shove diversity down their throats, if that's what it takes.

That's a very negative way to act. Diversity should happen naturally, not just be there because people say it 'should' be. Definitely not shoved anywhere.

Posted by Winsord

@mooncake said:

Also, didn't I hear that a lot of the harassment came from a men's rights subreddit or was that a rumour / moving the accusations away from GiantBomb?

Though I never found an MRA subreddit talking about the situation, many of the people who were making 'extreme' comments to people like Samantha Allen were self-proclaimed Men's Rights Activists on their Twitter profiles, who didn't seem to have any association with Giant Bomb directly. There was also at least one major thread on 4chan, with people from there also trying to stir up as much trouble as possible.

Although those people are the ones who at the very least made up the bulk of inappropriate comments to those affected, there were users from Giant Bomb that instigated the situation (I never recognized anyone from here making threats or abusive comments, but some people from here still did say some pretty heinous things). I don't think there's anything that can be done to stop the external forces, but there was probably still some curtailing that could have been done here earlier in this whole situation that may have alleviated things a little.

Posted by pyrodactyl

@trilogy said:

While I'm glad you got out there and actually said something yourself, Jeff, I can't say that I'm not at a little taken back by the lack of acknowledgement that this whole thing is a lot bigger than some shitheads on twitter. Look, I'm not exactly the biggest proponent of the whole diversity argument, but that argument has its validity, and the people making that argument really care about it. I've read a lot of their thoughts in last night's thread, and while I disagree with some of the fundamentals, its still something that should be properly addressed by the staff, in my opinion. Look, I personally don't care how you run your business or who you hire. If I'm not happy with the content on the site, I can always walk away. I'm not everyone, though, and I do feel that those people deserve something more than just, "hey those jerks don't represent us and we're gonna tighten down the hatches with moderation." It just sort of ignores the other part of the discussion. Please don't read this as trying to dwindle the impact that harassment can have, but it's not the only issue here.

I guess it just sort of comes off as tone deaf to me. I mean, of course you guys are inclusionary to all groups of people, and of course you're intolerant of dirtbags who aren't. I wouldn't want anything to do with the site if you weren't that way, and I've never once felt that you stood for anything other than the things you've stated here. I don't know, the only reason I'm bringing this up is because nobody else has yet. I'm probably asking for a shitstorm of people yelling at me, but whatever. I just wanted something more, is all.

I still love you guys.

It's not giant bomb's job to fix an industry wide problem. They do their fair share with Patrick's articles, talks and the like. Even this post from Jeff is helping in some way. Yes, it's kind of unfortunate that the most experienced and qualified people in this buisness are almost all white dudes but I feel like the guys are doing their fair share.

Edited by CabbageSensei
@av_gamer said:

Let's try this AGAIN: While I understand some of the concerns people made about the new hires, the bottomline is that GB runs their site and can hire anyone they choose. If the people complaining don't like it, they can start their own video game website. That is the logical solution. I don't expect Jeff or anyone to run their website any differently than how they choose to do so, rather someone agrees or disagrees with said decisions.

"Start your own website" is not the solution. Be reasonable. How many years did it take for Giant Bomb to get to its place in games media? And that was still with industry veterans like Jeff, Ryan, and Brad. How many years did it take the titans (Gamespot, Kotaku, Game Informer, etc) to become what they are today? It's not as simple as "start your own website" especially when the people who we're advocating for (women, minorities, LGBT) already don't have the money, clout, following. That's why opportunities from the titans of games media are needed.

EDIT: "it's" changed to "its"

Posted by indieslaw

@yelix said:

I'm really glad Jeff wrote this, but it's just the first step towards bringing back some good will to Giant Bomb. As someone who has been watching, reading, and listening to GB content since literally the first Bombcast (and a paying member since the day that went into effect), I can't deny that the criticism leveled against the site recently is justified.

...

I love this site, and I just want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy and participate in its content.

Same boat, same sentiments.

Also, as a member who wants more inclusivity for everyone, I'd appreciate some guidance about what I can do in the community to help improve things, beyond reporting posts.