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Lobby Help and Moderation


user1
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Hello everyone. I hope you're having a fine day.

I have a simple question to begin with.

Is anyone interested in helping to moderate the lobby chat?

If we have enough lobby helpers maybe we can actually have someone available 24/7.

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Some thoughts about the current state of lobby moderation:

Smurfing wasn't noticed (as much) as a problem in the past because I was actively preventing it. But it isn't obvious that it is a severe problem here or that smurfing intrinsically is a problem in general. There have been some interesting made points about this. In fact very very few people have problem with it enough to mention anything about it. I've seen numbers that suggest there might be as many players who think smurfing should be allowed as there are players who've indicated that it should not be allowed.

Only a handful of players have indicated smurfing as a problem to me personally (though it seems more than that have voiced it to others) while we have several thousand unique regular players. The vast majority of players are content and very much like the game and the lobby. That is a good thing.

This is including reports of toxicity or foul language in the chat. The reports we do receive are acted on even though the opposite is said. As I mentioned before we have thousands of players and thousands of new ones added constantly. Again, with very few reports from these players. It's not unreasonable to see it as at least somewhat successful. That's not saying there isn't room for improvement but it's good to have a balanced perspective.

Muting players is a great way to avoid possible hurt caused by the text people write in the chat while still allowing everyone to play the game. I introduced the automated muting of players because when I started as a moderator there was a big problem. 90% of swearing was not being addressed and then randomly someone would get kicked (or worse, banned). This was looking like actual moderator abuse. For me at the time I saw it as a valid criticism when it looks like everyone else can do it but if you irritate some moderator suddenly you're banned. That was indeed how it seemed. I think consistency is good.

I'm happy to see some players interested in helping to moderate the lobby chat. This is why I have enabled for some players to help out in this area while trying to minimize the potential for moderator abuse (intentional or otherwise). This way there can be an opportunity for those players to demonstrate their wisdom and they can possibly be eventually considered for the moderator status that enables them to ban players.

That said, the need for banning is extremely rare and because of that it's not actually important for those players to have that role. I think we have a healthy number of moderator/administrator types that are available for discussion about potentially banning some player.

Unfortunately one of the very first players we tried out as a lobby helper turned out to have quite negative results in multiple areas but I think that just highlights that we should have not just one person but many! I would like to see the number of lobby helpers be in the dozens. It could actually end up being possible to have someone there at all times who can address some issue in the chat. 

I have benefited by having the understanding that simply because someone has said a situation is a certain way, it doesn't necessarily mean it is so. I believe moderators and lobby helpers will benefit by having this understanding as well.

I probably have more meaningful thoughts but that can wait for now. I haven't yet touched on rated matches.

Please offer your thoughts on any of this. 

Cheers :)

 

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44 minutes ago, user1 said:

Some info:

I don't see any info.

some info is needed though: would moderation tools be accessible from the game or from some other software/interface? (I'm thinking about discord and discord bot)

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7 hours ago, alre said:

some info is needed though: would moderation tools be accessible from the game or from some other software/interface? (I'm thinking about discord and discord bot)

In the current state (I don't know about user1's current plans) You'd have to use a client like Gajim to do the moderation. The game's UI doesn't support banning right now. Maybe it can be added, but chances are one might need some C++ changes as well.

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Disclaimer: I don't frequent the normal lobby, so everything that I experience as problems regarding this topic is based upon the topics I've read here on the forums/ heard from other team members.

So just some general thoughts... in my experience moderation should be:

  1. based on clear rules that are known to everybody : rather self explanatory
  2. consistent It is important to have consistency to avoid unfair treatment and to not undermine the rules from point 1
  3. immediate : people learn better if the response to their behavior is immediate and not delayed + depending on the violation it is important to act quickly
  4. better safe than sorry : If one person gets muted unfairly, that's bad for them, but if a toxic person is is not moderated, that is bad for everyone in the lobby.

I would say point 1 is fulfilled in our case.

______

Point 2: To me it seems like there are some problems here with our current approach. While we require users to accept the terms when registering to the lobby, we don't enforce them consistently, which undermines the rules in general.

I personally don't care if people smurf or not, but since it is in our terms of service and we don't enforce it, I think it sets the expectation that the TOS are only a 'guideline' and can be disregarded in other places as well.

imo: We should either actually enforce this rule or remove it from the TOS.

_______

Point 3:  I guess this is the place where more mods would be very helpful. It is clear that no singular person or even a few persons can monitor a 24/7 lobby and react within a short time to violations. I would estimate that you would need around 10+ persons to get an good coverage around the whole day in the long term. So this:

On 16/08/2022 at 11:19 PM, user1 said:

I'm happy to see some players interested in helping to moderate the lobby chat. This is why I have enabled for some players to help out in this area while trying to minimize the potential for moderator abuse (intentional or otherwise)......I think that just highlights that we should have not just one person but many! I would like to see the number of lobby helpers be in the dozens.

sounds indeed very good to me. And also +1 for automatic muting.

_______

Point 4: Just my personal opinion, but I would rather have people coming to the forums and saying: "hey, I got muted/ banned from the lobby for an unfair reason, can you please unban me" vs people coming here and saying: "there is someone spamming xy toxic stuff and harassing other people in the lobby".

On 16/08/2022 at 11:19 PM, user1 said:

As I mentioned before we have thousands of players and thousands of new ones added constantly. Again, with very few reports from these players. It's not unreasonable to see it as at least somewhat successful. That's not saying there isn't room for improvement but it's good to have a balanced perspective.

It is certainly good that it works for the most part, but we also have to keep in mind that only a small percentage of people will report, even tho they are bothered and how easily one toxic person can ruin the mood and turn people away from using the lobby (or the game) altogether.

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On 17/08/2022 at 9:12 AM, go2die said:

my urgence to ban pen1s_collider 

I also don't want to see him but he is persistent, so I decided to quit the lobbt myself. The issue is, after we ban him, he can use another computer to register a new account and return. Your autoban function combined with mute is great. 

 

On 17/08/2022 at 9:12 AM, go2die said:

Kampot can be seen as vulgar name

To me, it can either mean a city in Cambodia or Russian cranberry jam:

image.thumb.jpeg.f74f0f5abee50dc8815e2ed8a43f04e4.jpeg

Nothing vulgar, definitely better than pen1s collider. 

How you talk while using the account is much more important than the name. The same letter combination can mean different things to people from different cultures and using different languages. For example, "pain" means agony in English but to a French person it means bread. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for this initiative.

On 16/08/2022 at 4:19 PM, user1 said:

Some thoughts about the current state of lobby moderation:

Smurfing wasn't noticed (as much) as a problem in the past because I was actively preventing it. But it isn't obvious that it is a severe problem here or that smurfing intrinsically is a problem in general. @Yekaterina/@Sevda has made points about this and I didn't see those points rebutted.

Thank you for your work. 

The point against smurfing is that it creates unbalanced games.  I didn't really see any rebuttal to that, other than an accusation that those who dislike games that are imbalanced due to smurfing have "ego" problems.

Is it a severe problem?  It's similar to dancing I guess.

On 16/08/2022 at 4:19 PM, user1 said:

I've seen numbers that suggest there might be as many players who think smurfing should be allowed as there are players who've indicated that it should not be allowed.

Was there a poll?

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since smirfing has explicitly been left out of the thread topic by @user1, and because fighting smurfing requires a different skillset than simple moderation anyway, I'm going to ignore it now.

moderating in chats is usually a pretty straightforward activity. in most online community the way this works is: users report violations, the moderators log in once in a while, see the reports, and decide how to act. moderating is particularly comfortable from smartphones, as mods can log in in any moment of spare time and quickly see if there are any reports, and swiftly act on those, greatly reducing the wait time for users. on some communities/apps more mods can see the same reports and act independently, so to provide independent confirmation.

I don't know xmpp really, but i've made some research and i didn't find any of this about xmpp. If you provided some practical indications on how this whole moderation thing is going to work, I think more people would be encouraged to step forward. it's all very unclear to me now, and I don't want to have to study an internet protocol by myself to make this work.

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On 16/08/2022 at 9:19 PM, user1 said:

I'm happy to see some players interested in helping to moderate the lobby chat. This is why I have enabled for some players to help out in this area while trying to minimize the potential for moderator abuse (intentional or otherwise). This way there can be an opportunity for those players to demonstrate their wisdom and they can possibly be eventually considered for the moderator status that enables them to ban players.

Okay, this is great. I've been thinking for a while that delegation of moderation duties to multiple people is necessary in order to improve the community atmosphere, by enforcement of the rules, in the lobby.

In order to provide guidance to the people who have volunteered to help with moderation, could you make a list of examples of conduct that should receive a kick and report for possible ban, and conduct that should not? Here is a suggestion.

Suggested list of example offenses that at minimum should receive a kick and definitely should be reported for possible ban

  • User's nickname or room name does not comply with ToU, e.g. has profanity, felony crime suggested, impersonates an admin, etc.
  • User says more than 3 swear words, possibly with modifications to bypass the profanity filter, in the span of 5 minutes
  • User says something insulting more than once in the span of 5 minutes
  • User is too young to sign up for a lobby account, based on the user's statement(s) about their age. Thirteen is the minimum age according to the Terms of Use
  • Probably many more examples can be listed

Question: Is the conduct of a user, while in a game listed by the lobby, covered by the Terms of Use? It's not lobby chat, it's in-game chat. I think that there is an argument to be made either way, as the network packets with potentially ToU-violating speech aren't flowing through a WFG server at that point, although there is authentication through the lobby in order to connect. Can the Terms of Use be clarified to make a statement on this issue, please?

Also, where should we report potentially bannable conduct? Do you want a PM, forum post with a mention of your name, or message via other communication system? Ideally there is a way to establish quick enforcement, but I know that those with banning admin capabilities are busy, which is probably why we're seeking more assistants.

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On 20/08/2022 at 11:17 AM, alre said:

I don't know xmpp really, but i've made some research and i didn't find any of this about xmpp. If you provided some practical indications on how this whole moderation thing is going to work, I think more people would be encouraged to step forward. it's all very unclear to me now, and I don't want to have to study an internet protocol by myself to make this work.

I don't think that it is necessary to study an Internet protocol like XMPP in order to implement an idea about adding a button that allows users to report misconduct in the lobby. EDIT: Knowledge of XMPP is necessary in order to add private messaging functionality to the 0ad lobby client. PM functionality is necessary in order to discretely inform an admin about the misconduct. However, if the user is eventually banned then I think that the concept of "no secret evidence" from the sixth amendment of the US Constitution should be applied. That is, if the only evidence that indicated a bannable offense was provided only by a witness, then it should not be kept secret, so that there is opportunity for the accused to effectively appeal in case of a false accusation.

In order to add a report interface, it would be necessary to study JavaScript and XML, since they are used by the user interface of 0ad. But, knowledge of C++ might be necessary as well in order to enable a lobby bot to notify an admin when a player clicks the report button.

Adding a report button for users to click would make lobby moderation slightly more efficient for moderators, because then moderators would not need to inspect every message. But, if no one is available at the time that the "Report" button is clicked, because there are only 1 or 2 lobby moderators, and they are not able to be interrupted most of the time due to their real-life responsibilities or else they are asleep during peak hours of certain time zones, then the main problem is a lack of staff with lobby moderation privileges. An additional problem is users who aren't motivated enough to report misconduct on the forum, an activity that would still be necessary at times, even if we had a large number of moderators.

Edited by Norse_Harold
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4 minutes ago, Norse_Harold said:

Adding a report button for users to click would make lobby moderation slightly more efficient for moderators

I wouldn't just say "slightly": a moderator would be able to spend virtually no time at all reading lobby conversations, but just the strict minimum, that is a lot more efficient. I was asking because I don't know the xmpp at all, and I've been a moderator on a software that had all this. I wanted to know what's there and what's not.

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41 minutes ago, alre said:

I wouldn't just say "slightly": a moderator would be able to spend virtually no time at all reading lobby conversations, but just the strict minimum, that is a lot more efficient.

This really depends on the exact nature of the offense and how much evidence is provided by the reporter. What if the key evidence is not present in the lobby chat log, because it occurred in-game? What if there was actually a fight between two users, both of them broke rules, and only one of them clicked the report button? What if the users need to be interviewed in order to sort out the story of what happened? Any report should be investigated in order to find out the truth instead of just operating like a robot and ignoring potential pitfalls.

Also, responsible moderators should be verifying the information in the report in order to prevent abuse of the report button feature for false accusations, and in order to verify that there is not duplicate punishment for a single offense.

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2 minutes ago, Norse_Harold said:

This really depends on the exact nature of the offense and how much evidence is provided by the reporter. What if the key evidence is not present in the lobby chat log, because it occurred in-game? What if there was actually a fight between two users, both of them broke rules, and only one of them clicked the report button? What if the users need to be interviewed in order to sort out the story of what happened? Any report should be investigated in order to find out the truth instead of just operating like a robot and ignoring potential pitfalls.

Also, responsible moderators should be verifying the information in the report in order to prevent abuse of the report button feature for false accusations.

still, it's a lot more efficient, you said it yourself:

2 hours ago, Norse_Harold said:

Also, where should we report potentially bannable conduct? Do you want a PM, forum post with a mention of your name, or message via other communication system? Ideally there is a way to establish quick enforcement, but I know that those with banning admin capabilities are busy, which is probably why we're seeking more assistants.

 

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2 hours ago, Norse_Harold said:
  • User's nickname or room name does not comply with ToU, e.g. has profanity, felony crime suggested, impersonates an admin, etc.
  • User says more than 3 swear words, possibly with modifications to bypass the profanity filter, in the span of 5 minutes
  • User says something insulting more than once in the span of 5 minutes

This is possible with human moderation, but a bot cannot achieve this because insults depend on the users' language and the context. For example, the bot wouldn't be able to pick up "your mom is a donkey" but might ban 2 Germans for talking about BBQ:  "BRATkartoffel", "BRATwurst". No one has ever been kicked for swearing in a language other than English, but many were kicked for unintentially typing something that's deemed unacceptable by the bot. Also how would you deal with names like "Varginclitorix", "pen1s_collider", "incel", "puddle_of_sperm"?

 

2 hours ago, Norse_Harold said:

Thirteen is the minimum age according to the Terms of Use

Not entirely sure why. I think this game is perfectly appropriate for anyone; young children can play the Pony Ascendant mod and no blood mod.

 

1 hour ago, Norse_Harold said:

In order to add a report interface, it would be necessary to study JavaScript and XML, since they are used by the user interface of 0ad. But, knowledge of C++ might be necessary as well in order to enable a lobby bot to notify an admin when a player clicks the report button.

Actually it's easy enough to add a button to the main page without compromising lobby functionality. I am working on the AlienGUI for A26 and it will have this feature. The intended way for it to work is to open a direct personal message to user1 in the player's default browser, through which the player can report. If Stan or User1 is willing to create another thread just to accomodate for reporting then that would be great as well. 

 

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44 minutes ago, alre said:

still, it's a lot more efficient, you said it yourself:

2 hours ago, Norse_Harold said:

Also, where should we report potentially bannable conduct? Do you want a PM, forum post with a mention of your name, or message via other communication system? Ideally there is a way to establish quick enforcement, but I know that those with banning admin capabilities are busy, which is probably why we're seeking more assistants.

 

In what part of this quote did I say "it's a lot more efficient." ?

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On 16/08/2022 at 9:19 PM, user1 said:

Only a handful of players have indicated smurfing as a problem to me personally (though it seems more than that have voiced it to others) while we have several thousand unique regular players. The vast majority of players are content and very much like the game and the lobby. That is a good thing.

Absence of (obvious) evidence is not evidence of absence. It's possible that the vast majority of users are apathetic about enforcing rules because rule infractions are so rampant. Think fragile state syndrome, despotism, etc.

I have noticed many times that users have complained about smurfing in text chat but not in the forum. Here are recent examples, either in lobby or in-game chat

About a week ago, in-game chat, Spanish translated to English:

(Anonymous): Deanhernandez is the smurf that f____s us

In April, 2022...

Norse_Harold: we're trying to find out who ProphetMuhammad (741) is a smurf of
ProphetMuhammad (741): ProphetMuhammad (741) is NOT a smurf

ProphetMuhammad was presumably relatively skilled, but claimed to be accurately rated at 741. The reason this is a problem is because it creates a significant imbalance in a team game. Then players feel like they wasted 20 to 50 minutes playing such a team game.

There are more examples, I'm sure. I haven't written them down.

I think that creation and enforcement of rules against smurfing can be done primarily by game hosters. Hosters should be asking every unfamiliar player what their skill level or rating is, somehow remembering their stated skill levels, and punishing users that have lied about their skill levels. I think that lobby moderators only need to be involved if there is evidence posted on the forum demonstrating behavior that is defined as a violation of the lobby terms.

I define a smurf as "a player who claims to have a significantly lower skill than the player's actual skill". I consider a player who tells the truth about their rating, despite being pseudonymous to NOT be a smurf. I think that some users are not careful about the terminology they use when describing a problem, and some people have used the word "smurf" to complain about duplicate accounts. It's a separate issue and shouldn't be called "smurfing" in my opinion.

 

Edited by Norse_Harold
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On 18/08/2022 at 5:17 PM, Emperior said:

Are there any rules? Expectation from the helper, such as hours per week or something? Does the player use same account or has access to new one where he does only help with lobby?

 

Lobby helpers are still subject to the TOS, TOU, and Privacy Policy. If someone wants to be a lobby helper, there's no need for them to make some weekly or hourly commitment. Just volunteer yourself and serve at your leisure. Lobby helpers can still use their current username. No need to have multiple accounts.

 

On 18/08/2022 at 5:07 PM, Philip the Swaggerless said:
On 16/08/2022 at 5:19 PM, user1 said:

I've seen numbers that suggest there might be as many players who think smurfing should be allowed as there are players who've indicated that it should not be allowed.

Was there a poll?

The assumption is it's reasonable to state that players who are creating multiple accounts are players who consider it ought to be allowed. And the number of players who've indicated that it should not be allowed are those that have mentioned it in chat or on the forums. This data exists already without a poll.

On 18/08/2022 at 5:07 PM, Philip the Swaggerless said:

The point against smurfing is that it creates unbalanced games.

One important point is that the host is deciding whether or not to permit a smurf to play. I think it seems like that's the moment whereupon much of the bothersome effect of smurfing is generated.

On 24/08/2022 at 11:53 AM, Norse_Harold said:

Question: Is the conduct of a user, while in a game listed by the lobby, covered by the Terms of Use? It's not lobby chat, it's in-game chat. I think that there is an argument to be made either way, as the network packets with potentially ToU-violating speech aren't flowing through a WFG server at that point, although there is authentication through the lobby in order to connect. Can the Terms of Use be clarified to make a statement on this issue, please?

Also, where should we report potentially bannable conduct? Do you want a PM, forum post with a mention of your name, or message via other communication system? Ideally there is a way to establish quick enforcement, but I know that those with banning admin capabilities are busy, which is probably why we're seeking more assistants.

The lobby helpers are intended to mute a player if the chat the player has produced is breaking the terms of use. This duty can be challenging for a simple keyword-based auto mute. The hope is that the lobby helpers will be able to handle the cases that are not addressed by the auto mute. 

The lobby helpers and lobby moderators moderate the lobby chat. While on the other hand, the services hosted by the players are moderated by those players. That is to say, each host moderates their own match.

If you'd like, you can report things directly to me in a forum PM; that's probably the best wayth to make sure it reaches me.

On 24/08/2022 at 3:40 PM, Norse_Harold said:

Absence of (obvious) evidence is not evidence of absence.

I didn't mean to imply that it's assumed there isn't some number of players who felt some way and didn't report it. I'm referring to the reports that are present in game (simple chat message in lobby) and in the forum. There are many (at least several) orders of magnitude greater number of players than there are players who have been affected enough by some thing to decide to mention it. That's what I was trying to say. It takes into consideration that there are more potential reports that were not made even though some number of players didn't like something and chose not to report it. I guess absence of evidence is also not evidence of a problem. I said it's a good thing if the majority of players like the game and the lobby.

ProphetMuhammad is a somewhat old player. If some host is using someone's rating or their self-professed rating as a gauge of the skill of some player it's very possible that host is making an error. The host could consider taking into consideration the opinions of the rest of the players in the game, and then balance can be decided consensually.

It's understood that many of the issues players face are because they don't like the way some host of a match runs it. Balance, allowing smurfs, allowing language, not banning some player, etc... Fortunately it's very easy now for most players to host their own match if that's their desire.  And it's easy for players to decide to join or decline to join some match for reasons they might have.

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, user1 said:

The lobby helpers and lobby moderators moderate the lobby chat. The services hosted by the players are moderated by those players. That is to say, each host moderates their own match.

Okay, thanks for the clarification. I think that the player base isn't aware of this policy. Ideally it would be stated in the terms that users read before connecting to the lobby.

I'll take this opportunity to announce again that I have rules for the games that I host, and most of the players who have joined my team games seem to like this.

13 hours ago, user1 said:

The assumption is it's reasonable to state that players who are creating multiple accounts are players who consider it ought to be allowed. And the number of players who've indicated that it should not be allowed are those that have mentioned it in chat or on the forums. This data exists already without a poll.

What we have is, in my opinion, a bad combination of zero-cost new account creation (no email address, no effort required) and infinite duplicate accounts allowed. Sevda/Yekaterina has multiple times suggested mitigations, such as establishing a primary account for each player, and allowing duplicate accounts that are tied to that account. That way, admins can identify who the primary user is. Others have suggested tasks that are necessary for new accounts to be allowed to join games, such as play several rated games, or complete a training mission. But, as it stands now, bans are completely ineffective on players who can change their IP addresses or use VPNs, and therefore player misconduct (verbal abuse, cheating, smurfing, griefing, ddosing, etc.) is very difficult to control.

I see several statements related to GDPR in the Privacy Policy. We can start collecting email addresses now, right?

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2 hours ago, Norse_Harold said:

 

I see several statements related to GDPR in the Privacy Policy. We can start collecting email addresses now, right?

Needs more rights because it's more personal data. Basically we need to justify their usage.

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53 minutes ago, Stan` said:

Needs more rights because it's more personal data. Basically we need to justify their usage.

How difficult or easy is it to justify the usage of an email address for an online account? Who is responsible in WFG for drafting this language?

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24 minutes ago, Norse_Harold said:

How difficult or easy is it to justify the usage of an email address for an online account? Who is responsible in WFG for drafting this language?

Depends on the audience, a lot of linux folk hate any kind of email registrations, also somehow means we have to send email, and a few email carriers consider our email spam. There is no one responsible nobody is a lawyer last time elexis took it on himself to do it. But he hasn't been active publicly in years.

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