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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
Posted by Cerberus3Dog

Man, I miss Jeff's writing. He has a way of writing that's "down to earth" and speaks with authority without slamming it in your face. I'm looking forward to see what these changes are going to be.

Posted by BlackSymbiote

@zombiepie: Are anchovies crunchy? I've never had them. What about the bones?!

Posted by pyrodactyl

@cabbagesensei said:
@pyrodactyl said:

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.

Giant Bomb could certainly help. The actions of one "small" website can be the spark for more widespread change. And again words are great, but actions have a bigger impact.

Count me in as someone who'd rather Giant Bomb were part of the solution and not part of the problem.

I'm not sure what solution you're refering to though. Giant Bomb's success is based on the chemistry between the staff members. They needed to rebuild to core group at the SF office to keep that unique energy going with only 3 people making content there before the hires. To get more diversity and more serious talk you need a healthy website. They'll get to that part when they have enough wiggle room for new hires. For now, let Polygon serve as an exemple: video game websites aren't kept afloat by high minded ideals alone.

Posted by Marokai

@amethystrush said:

@xolare said:

@mister_snig said:

they hired known quantities who were straight white males

...Really? That's what people got pissed over?

There was disappointment. Is that such a terrible sentiment? Is it so alien or somehow absurd?

Disappointment is fair to feel for a number of reasons. Everyone's allowed to feel. Where it steps over the line is to somehow imply that hiring them was offensive or that it's indicative of a form of implicit racism or sexism of some kind, and not just coincidental. Most people, the vast majority of people in fact, were not crossing that line. But a few certainly have and it has not been helpful.

If they hired a woman, and comments were made to the effect of "Pff, they only hired her because she's a woman and they wanted to fill a quota." they would be moderated, and rightly so. Comments like "GB just continuing to be the same boys club and refusing to diversify because they don't care enough about us." is an equal misrepresentation and derails conversations. Again, most people did not get offensive, but some people have. Unfortunately that minority opinion has become a caricature.

Posted by cmpLtNOOb

While I agree with some statements here about potential diversity for the site in the future, I can't fault any of the staff for not commenting about it with this statement or during the whole clusterfuck that was the last two days. I mean, have you ever read anything on the internet about this issue that managed to stay civil? I'm happy to hear from the staff about their thoughts on it, but I'll be patient and wait for something thoughtful rather than reactionary.

Posted by DystopiaX
@smcn said:

I understand why you would want to offload this stuff onto the community. But the abuse that Samantha Allen, Maddy Myers, Leigh Alexander, Zoe Quinn, and many others have received--regardless of whether it came from "legitimate" members of the Giant Bomb community or not--is the end result of a decision you made.

I'm sure GB will continue to produce profitable content. But the message sent with this hire is quite clear, and isn't something you can fix with forum moderation.

I don't understand this argument. I think that they made the hires based on the best people they found, and while those guys turned out to be white men I don't think that it sends a message at all. The games industry is predominantly white and male, it stands to reason that most of the people who applied for the job were white and male. As long as the hires were made with the intent on bringing the best available people for the job I don't think any racism/sexism occurred- as long as the GB guys didn't go out and give preferential treatment to the new hires because of their race/gender/sexuality- and I don't think they did- I can't see how the hires were discriminatory in any way. I think it would be great if the site hired minorities/women but without seeing the applications and whatnot it would be hard for anyone in the community to really say if any that applied "deserved" to get the job over the people who actually were. I don't think that the GB guys had an obligation to hire women or minorities just because of who they were or to give them preferential treatment when picking out people for the job.

Posted by Curufinwe

@plasticstars: I agree. Some of the comments on twitter about Giant Bomb from people like Leigh Alexander were borderline defamatory.

Edited by KingRingtail85

I can't count the number of hours I spend on this site being entertained and informed. I am a better/more informed gamer because of Giant Bomb and I am happy to be a part of a kick ass community. There will always be bad apples but we True Duders shall stand together!

Posted by AmethystRush

@amethystrush said:

There was disappointment. Is that such a terrible sentiment? Is it so alien or somehow absurd?

Yes, yes it is. People got hired. People that I assume applied and/or wanted the job. This is somehow a bad thing to others.

Can you clarify or enumerate more on your opinion? I apologize for the inconvenience.

Edited by EveretteScott

It would really help if people looked at issues holistically (lack of representation in games media) instead of individual instances (Giant Bombs recent hires) before they dismiss the issue.

The problem is people treating this as a negative in the first place. Going out of your way to choose someone 'diverse' over a 'white male' is just as bad as choosing it the other way around. Also either way there would be people complaining. Which is only what the internet is used for now apparently.

Posted by Hailinel

@zombiepie: Are anchovies crunchy? I've never had them. What about the bones?!

They aren't crunchy, but man are they salty. Delicious on a pizza, though!

Posted by Jack_Lafayette

Thanks for taking the time to write this, Jeff. It can be hard to be reflective in this day and age, and harder still to act on what you see. Good to know you guys aren't content with stagnation.

Posted by flyingace16021

Thanks, Jeff. Means a lot to hear that.

Posted by rangers517

@xolare said:

@mister_snig said:

they hired known quantities who were straight white males

...Really? That's what people got pissed over?

There was disappointment. Is that such a terrible sentiment? Is it so alien or somehow absurd?

Yes. If someone finds out a site desperately in need of new people finally got to make some hires and one of their first thoughts is "I hope they don't hire a white guy," they should probably take a long look at themselves and what they're saying.

Posted by honeycut1

Well said! Thanks for posting this.

Posted by Stinky51012

Why you gotta be so rude?

Posted by CabbageSensei
@conmulligan said:
@cabbagesensei said:
@pyrodactyl said:

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.

Giant Bomb could certainly help. The actions of one "small" website can be the spark for more widespread change. And again words are great, but actions have a bigger impact.

Count me in as someone who'd rather Giant Bomb were part of the solution and not part of the problem.

I'm not sure what solution you're refering to though. Giant Bomb's success is based on the chemistry between the staff members. They needed to rebuild to core group at the SF office to keep that unique energy going with only 3 people making content there before the hires. To get more diversity and more serious talk you need a healthy website. They'll get to that part when they have enough wiggle room for new hires. For now, let Polygon serve as an exemple: video game websites aren't kept afloat by high minded ideals alone.

But I don't follow Polygon, I follow Giant Bomb. And honestly I don't understand the chemistry reasoning. What exactly do people mean by this? To me this just sounds like "if we hired a (qualified, experienced) woman, we would lose the chemistry."

I have said this before, but Giant Bomb is still understaffed, right? We can all agree with that. So if the next hires are judged upon this so-called "chemistry" issue, are we still not allowed to call it out?

Edited by Dooley

I am just as concerned as the rest of you about all these policy changes and possible censorship. However I remain optimistic because I have faith in these guys to do it right. Everything is going to be fine.

Posted by egg_zoo_bear_ant_will91

@jackijinx: Not brushing your thoughts into a minority pan, over here! Do you think having all white straight men at the helm attracts a misogynistic community then? Women on the Bombcast sound good. When was there last a woman on the podcast? And not an E3 special? I guess the guys talk attraction occasionally, and they wouldn't if a woman was among them.

Posted by Lolzhacked

Very well said Jeff. I feel bad that so many lame people are out there using the name of the site in such ways as to hurt people.

Posted by Sbaitso

I'm really glad to see them getting out there on this issue this quickly. And while I'd like to also see some response to the criticisms of the site itself as well and the reaction some of our community has had to the hiring outcomes, I think this is a really good first step. Thank you for being proactive on this issue. Not only through this message but through your response yesterday on twitter as well.

Posted by Rorie

@dooley said:

I am just as concerned as the rest of you about all these policy changes and possible censorship. However I remain optimistic because I have faith in these guys to do it right. Everything is going to be fine.

Quote from before: 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.

Staff
Posted by GoombahMIke

Love you guys. Keep it up.

Posted by crimsonlordofwar

I will say this, having to been completely unaware of the issues being discussed (by large apparently), I too noticed the lack of "change" if you will during one of the quicklooks and frankly, I'm not one to care about such a notion(to the point that one may find it appalling). However, the fact that it did cross my mind imo does say something. That said, I don't want them to adjust the way they handle things in a way that seems like a Barny episode, but to do it genuinely(IE suddenly hiring a Filipino transsexual lesbian PC gamer with a missing leg who listens country music).

Posted by Ladnar

Thank you Jeff, Rorie and all. Totally agree that their views do not reflect mine. Love GB community and hate to see its reputation tarnished. Will try to be around more to spread the good vibes.

Posted by magicwalnuts

It's pretty good to hear you changing your moderation policies. I've always thought this community was too big, too often the assholes would slip through.

Posted by HelloDanni

I cant imagine why someone who actually liked you guys, and this site, would act that way. In such opposition to the rest of the community and what the site is

Right?! I am so confused every time I watch a live show and accidentally leave the chat up for a few minutes and see the some of the stuff that gets said. Like, we're at GiantBomb. Considering how they conduct themselves, I don't know how you can be a GiantBomb fan and also a hateful butthead that thinks it is okay to be a terrible human. This place, of all places, I expect better of us.

Posted by BlackSymbiote

@nasar7: Reminds me of when someone has a favorite restaurant, and one time they get sick from something not fresh in the food, and then they never want to go back. Just the way the human brain works sometimes I guess.

Posted by StingingVelvet

Good words Jeff. Glad to read them.

This site can maintain its style and still be a welcoming place for everyone at the same time. Let's prove it!

Posted by Mercury45

Jeff, I may not agree with all your opinions on video games, but stuff like this shows that - much more importantly - there's no doubting you're a stand-up guy. Thanks for saying something.

Posted by AmethystRush

@marokai said:

@amethystrush said:

@xolare said:

@mister_snig said:

they hired known quantities who were straight white males

...Really? That's what people got pissed over?

There was disappointment. Is that such a terrible sentiment? Is it so alien or somehow absurd?

Disappointment is fair to feel for a number of reasons. Everyone's allowed to feel. Where it steps over the line is to somehow imply that hiring them was offensive or that it's indicative of a form of implicit racism or sexism of some kind, and not just coincidental. Most people, the vast majority of people in fact, were not crossing that line. But a few certainly have and it has not been helpful.

If they hired a woman, and comments were made to the effect of "Pff, they only hired her because she's a woman and they wanted to fill a quota." they would be moderated, and rightly so. Comments like "GB just continuing to be the same boys club and refusing to diversify because they don't care enough about us." is an equal misrepresentation and derails conversations. Again, most people did not get offensive, but some people have. Unfortunately that minority opinion has become a caricature.

I do believe criticizing Giant Bomb for the appearance of a kind institutionalized sexism is a worthy critique, and a conversation most certainly worth having. I would never resort to personal attacks. If this makes you uncomfortable I apologize.

Posted by OllieSpace

I don't think you can say you promote inclusion when your hiring practices are exclusionary. Your sexist and racist in a passive sense; Giantbomb staff doesn't represent the demographic make up of the area in which you work (49.17% female, over 50% non white http://sanfrancisco.areaconnect.com/statistics.htm) or the demographic of gamer's as a whole (42% female http://www.theesa.com/facts/gameplayer.asp)

I cant see how Giantbomb can make any critiques on company practices such as Ubisoft's sexist comments from E3 when your site itself is making sexist decisions.

many people have cited that experience was needed in these new roles, which implies women journalist dont have experience which is insane as Maddy Myers states she has been "doing games journalism since 2007. Six years of which was full-time pay by a print media outlet" (http://k8monstrscloset.com/2014/07/01/the-internet-reacts-to-giantbombs-new-white-male-hire/) and has shown her capability on patrick's dumptrucks and her many appearances on various podcasts

you had the ability to become more 'inclusionary' and to broaden you viewer base instead you've become more exclusionary and made people like myself more disillusioned with what the site stands for. I'm going to let my membership lapse if nothing changes when it runs out. As I feel Samantha Allen is right "You're maintaining a homogeneous games criticism that's as boring as it is exclusionary"

Posted by CabbageSensei

@cabbagesensei said:

It would really help if people looked at issues holistically (lack of representation in games media) instead of individual instances (Giant Bombs recent hires) before they dismiss the issue.

The problem is people treating this as a negative in the first place. Going out of your way to choose someone 'diverse' over a 'white male' is just as bad as choosing it the other way around. Also either way there would be people complaining. Which is only what the internet is used for now apparently.

No, no it is not bad the other way around. We've had this song and dance before @everettescott, and you just can't ignore centuries of racial, gender, LGBT discrimination before you can say that it's "going out of your way."

And before we fall back on the "people would still be complaining" excuse, you have to do it before you can say "See, we did it and people still complain!"

Posted by brotherinarms

My sword!

Posted by jimmyfenix
Edited by darkfiber

Well said Jeff. I've been hanging around here forever, but don't really post at all. But I just wanted to chime in to say that you are the man and you speak the truth. You have my axe! (It's a LotR thing... you wouldn't understand)

Posted by Krevee

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Posted by CornBREDX

The conversation that's been ongoing around these new hires the past few days has been gross and I have been attempting to stay out of it. It's bad enough people try to bully me a lot of the time I write anything differing- it seems- around this site anymore.

I don't really want to be a part of the conversation surrounding the new hires as it's been mean spirited often with the mask of open debate; when really people just want to be right or have the last word. Making a comment to state an opinion is not an open call to join in a debate- a lot on this site lately seem to think it is.

I write this comment, though, because of the steps Giantbomb will be taking to incite new rules for moderation. I believe the rules will intend to be as inclusive as possible and more openly define what they perceive to be "acting like a dick." I only wish to ask that these rules do not prey upon constructive criticism- even the people in this very comment section who I cant stand to read have the right to their opinion when they express it respectfully. I am often open minded so I see most debates from more sides than just mine- which often comes off as differing opinion.

I feel a lot of the time a difference in cultures and life experiences make the things I say- for example- on the boards here seem like I'm being mean when that isn't my intent or even my feelings on whatever topic is at hand. Peoples perceptions of my words come from their own places of understanding and I try to not condone or continue even unintentional trolling behavior (such as the very common circle jerk debates that surround most forums, as well as bullish attitudes towards differing opinions).

This is a passionate community and I don't want to see that passion run dry. At the same time there are those that go beyond passion into abject cruelty with the want- need even- to be right about the topic at hand. Merely expressing a differing opinion should not be subject to harassment or even moderation. Just because you state an opinion on a forum doesn't mean- nor should it mean- you have to research the internet all day to state what you think on a topic at any given time. Stating an opinion doesn't mean you want to be right- it merely implies you have thoughts on a topic at a given time and you wish to express it.

I personally do not feel Giantbomb has the responsibility to change or do anything it's community suggests. I think they should continue on doing what they have done, because that's why we're here in the first place. The Giantbomb community, as viewers, needs to change- as people. I suppose it's a responsibility on an individual level to ask why they even have such entitlement.

I will continue to speak my mind as respectfully as I know how (sometimes being short and possibly curt but remaining respectful and constructive) and I only hope my way of writing does not become considered "being a dick" by the new rules.

Damn I wrote a lot. Anyone who reads this is too kind- I suspect most will only read enough to be insulted, but I have hope that it isn't taken that way. I had some feelings on the topic and I wanted to get it out.

I'm done now. =)

Posted by dotdashdotdash

@prestige said:

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.

I would argue that the complete opposite is true. If the community requires strong moderation, then pretty much by definition it's not a very good community (otherwise it wouldn't need much moderating). Perhaps we have different definitions of "strong moderating." Mods need to have a strong presence, no doubt. But if they need to constantly ban users, wipe posts, put out fires in multiple threads constantly.... yeah, I would say that's pretty much an indictment of the community as a whole. Or a sign of an overzealous moderator. Or both.

Now, if you want to argue that once a site becomes big enough that moderation becomes necessary simply due to its size, I would absolutely agree with that. But then the whole "good" thing usually starts to disintegrate.

This isn't at all a comment on GB's community in particular, btw. More an observation of internet communities in general. I'm pretty much a content consumer here and haven't really participated in the community until.... well, until today really.

Posted by Evolkimchi

Well stated Jeff.

Edited by Marokai

@amethystrush: Don't worry duder, it's difficult to make me feel uncomfortable. I get what you're saying and do think that Jeff should speak out more about the hiring choices and the hiring process itself so we got more insight into the process and people weren't inferring so much themselves.

I just feel like, if it's dickish to say "They only hired/would only women because they're bleeding hearts who wanted to fill a quota" it's similarly not very productive to a conversation for people to heavily imply that Giant Bomb is a racist or sexist outfit because they coincidentally made the decision to hire two white dudes. We shouldn't start impugning their motives either way without good reason. I think it's more than fair to wish for diversity in the staff, and to be disappointed if that's not provided, but some (few, but some) have outright insulted, or been equally pithy and sarcastic at GB for the hiring choices. That brings the conversation down just as much.

Edited by EveretteScott

@cabbagesensei said:

No, no it is not bad the other way around. We've had this song and dance before @everettescott, and you just can't ignore centuries of racial, gender, LGBT discrimination before you can say that it's "going out of your way."

Well that's where we disagree and probably will end this discussion between us. I think it is bad. "Oh im sorry this thing happened in the past, we will choose you over everyone else just because you're sexual preference here/insert race here/gender here. That makes everything better now. Do you feel better *pats on the head*". No, that's not ok. You treat everyone with the same respect and worth as anyone else.

Edited by Rorie

To quote myself from earlier: 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.

I write this comment, though, because of the steps Giantbomb will be taking to incite new rules for moderation. I believe the rules will intend to be as inclusive as possible and more openly define what they perceive to be "acting like a dick." I only wish to ask that these rules do not prey upon constructive criticism- even the people in this very comment section who I cant stand to read have the right to their opinion when they express it respectfully. I am often open minded so I see most debates from more sides than just mine- which often comes off as differing opinion.

Staff
Posted by russman588

@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.

Maddy Myers, one of the people "complaining" is the Assistant Editor at Paste Magazine. She also co-hosts two podcasts.

Samantha Allen, one of the "complainers" writes for Paste Games, The Daily Dot, The Border House and contributes to Polygon on occasion. She also co-hosts a podcast.

Anyone else you point to will have similar projects going on, I'm sure. The people you're referring to have started or joined their own website. It's not like a bunch of people who do no work in the industry suddenly started tweeting about this.

Edited by cloudymusic

Thanks for writing this. I hope you guys will also address the elephant in the room, but if you think this isn't the right time for it, then that's fine. I just hope that talk does happen soon, and that the people involved in the hiring decisions have a hand in crafting that message.

Posted by Plasticstars

@curufinwe: I was kind of trying to point out the issue with the new hires and how it's kind of fucked up that GB tries to pretend it's inclusive and then goes on to hire two more people to keep providing the same viewpoint that we've had for six years, but okay.

And on the topic of Leigh, did she say some nasty things? Yeah dude. She did. And during (and after) the E3 livestreams that she was on I saw a constant stream of shit directed at her not because she was drunk and annoying, which she was, but because she was a woman. And it didn't just happen with Leigh.

Posted by The_Interrupter

I love this website. That hasn't changed and will not.

Thanks, Jeff.

Posted by Excast

It's kind of a bummer this even had to be said. The vast majority of Giant Bomb, as with the Internet as a whole, is just fine. But it is that less than 1% that makes a lot of noise and is completely vile that tends to get all of the attention. I'm not sure if anything can ever really change that.

Edited by Strife777

While I disagreed with the critics and the way they were responding, I also disagree with insult and harassment. It's not a good way to make a debate and I'm glad you guys are filtering out the "garbage", so to speak.

Thanks for getting a word out, you always have my full support.