Let's talk about what it means to be a community organizer, and the things we need to keep in mind on our side of the desk. Before we get into this, there is a core concept that I need to to burn deep into your mind. I am going to bring it up many times through this blog post, so its probably best that you get it now.
"We Are Not Incentivised Socially Or Financially To Be Mean Or Remove People"
I put it in quotes because I'm going to say it again a lot in this post and also I am hoping to one day be a bumper sticker luminary. What we want is for our players to be happy. If it was ever our goal to make people angry or sad then not only would we be shitty people but pretty unsuccessful in the business of entertainment. A perfect situation for event runners is to run an event, have everyone love it, go home, we do some book keeping, and then we have nothing more to address because everyone is treating one another perfectly.
I often say that I go into every complaint or concern hoping that I am wrong because then all I have to do is apologize and give that person what they want. SO much easier! It's when there are deeper reasons for why that person can't get what they want that issues arise. Sometimes it takes time and patience to fully explain our reasoning, and sometimes for other reasons there are things we need to leave out, but as long as everyone is listening and reasonable I am always willing to try.
That's a major life philosophy of mine and the reason for this post. With understanding comes harmony, and the only way to get understanding is to actually explain yourself. With transparency and understanding in mind here are a few things most people might not know, or might have never considered:
If you are bothered or concerned about something
we may not know it.
If something happens to you and you tell your friends, your parents, your priest and post it on your personal Facebook wall then come to the next event if we didn't make a change, then most likely it's because we didn't know. Your friends didn't tell us, your parents and us have never met, I don't even know what faith you follow and with hundreds and hundreds of people at our events the odds of us seeing a random post on your wall at a time I have the ability to do something about it is super slim.
Maybe you told a Marshal. That's great! We work to make our Marshals as diverse in race, gender social structure and whatever else we can think of so that there will hopefully always be at least one person you feel comfortable talking to...but maybe you passed it onto them and they got distracted and didn't pass it onto us.
It's not perfect I know. But that's why we list every Director's email's as well as feedback forms that you can fill out and even do so anonymously if you feel it necessary.
Tell us. Then we can help.
If your friend tells you they got in trouble for no reason,
they just aren't telling you the reason.
I'm going to quote myself again here:
"We Are Not Incentivised Socially Or Financially To Be Mean Or Remove People."
So if your friend gets a corrective action and tells you it was for no reason or for some reason that seems completely unfair, good odds they aren't passing on the whole story. Why would we go through all the social rocks and pitch forks of telling someone they are no longer welcome because we are bored or just feel like it? A lot of consideration goes into every corrective action if for no other reason than they are awkward and upsetting conversations to have, and who likes awkward and upsetting conversations? I sure as hell don't!
I do however totally understand why they would do this. Having awkward and difficult conversations is not fun, so why would they want to have one with every person who asks why they can't be at game explaining that shitty thing they did. It's much easier to find some reason that you are the victim and avoid it all together. Sometimes we even convince themselves of these things which I will be honest always makes me sad.
So let me take this opportunity to explain our side of the desk a little to everyone. Here are 3 points that you might not be aware of:
We Don't Have 100% Word for Word Specific Criteria
For Corrective Actions.
You might think "Then how can I know what will get me in trouble?!?!". A very reasonable concern. We do have a community blueprint which points out the kinds of behaviour that we don't want at game (ie sexism, violence, sexual assault or harassment...), but it is also open ended because humans find new ways to be cruel to one another every day.
Now let me just quote myself again here: "We Are Not Incentivised Socially Or Financially To Be Mean Or Remove People"
Well then must be a reason for why it's open ended, that isn't just to blindly kull happy gamers right?
Correct! The reason is that we don't ever want to have a toxic, or dangerous person attend our events due to a technicality. We are gamers, and the only thing a gamer loves more than rules is poking holes in rules. So how would you feel knowing that there was a player at a game who sexually assaulted another player at game, but because of the wording of our corrective action system that allowed them to say "Well Technically..." our hands were tied and they were welcome back?
I for sure know how I would feel.
The more specific we get the less ability we have to do what we need to do to keep our community safe and positive. I can tell you that many times a Director comes to me with a new situation we need to deal with it is a surprising and new situation. Now sure we could then add more specifics to our corrective actions system to cover that new thing, but that means all the people who find a new and creative way to be shitty to their fellow players will get away with it the first time it comes up.
We Don't Air Dirty Laundry
What this means is that if you do something that get's you in trouble, that is between you and the Directors involved. We don't share these things publicly. So if you have heard the reasons for why someone is no longer allowed at game, what you have heard was their side, not ours.
Why don't we do this? Well several reasons actually:
Imagine a scenario (Sadly one that is too often a real), where we are told that someone was sexually assaulted. Now imagine that we take our time gathering research, seeing screen shots, photos, testimonies...and find that this is something very real. First what we do is tell them to go to the police. We are not real authority's just people who can remove problems from our safer space.
Now imagine how you would feel if you were the victim and we came out and told the world what happened. We would be pretty shitty people for doing that wouldn't we? I think so.
Now imagine if we told the person being removed as well? Now here is a situation I am sadly all too familiar with where I am looking at a mountain of evidence in one tab, and in the next I have a player saying they were removed for no reason. Now as much as I want to tell them I just can't. We have even had people who wanted to know who it was that accused them because it could have been several people who they assaulted. Is this really information I should be sharing with this person?
As much as I want to fully inform everyone of our reasoning and leave everyone with a deeper understanding sometimes I can't pass that info along. They will just have to trust me when I say that I have my reasoning, or trash talk me in public. And I can tell you from experience I am perfectly fine taking that public beating if I know I am protecting a victim.
- For Your Sake
We honestly hope that every person we need to suspend or even remove permanently will learn from this and become a better person for it. We evil overlords who run DR are actually a group of hippy vegans who live in a communal house with solar panels and low flush toilets who require that anyone who wants to run a franchise to do work with charities. It might sound stupid to some but we actually want to make the world a better place than we left it, and building positive community is how we do that.
So we know that if we come out and tell the public what got someone in trouble it will put a stigma on that person they will have to live with. This will make it much harder for them to overcome than just the original issue. The court of public opinion can be cruel and we don't want random people condemning anyone.
Also we understand that everyone needs to be the hero in their own story, so if we come out and say that someone did something wrong we are basically forcing their hand, making them defensive and push back against the ideas we wanted them to honestly consider. We want people to have the ability to just take a break or walk away, and if people ask where they have been they can just say 'I haven't been able to make game".
- Its Nobody Else's Business
Simply put nobody else needs to know. This doesn't involve some gamer on the other side of the country no mater how much they demand to know.
We aren't here to trash talk we are just here to make game run smooth. Maybe that means you or your friend can't come to games anymore but it doesn't meant that in the process everyone get's to hear and see all the problems that lead up to this. That's between us, and a police officer or lawyer if asked.
All Bans Are Reviewed
This is a thing that I have been hearing a lot, that there should be a council of elders who reviews every dismissal from on high to remove any chance of funny business.
That's a great idea!
Thanks! It's one we already had a while back. We have been doing this and in most cases it is quite effective. We have people who are not involved in the day to day of the players issues listen to the Directors who are involved in the day to day of this players issues and each one checks and balances the other. The Directors discuss potential bans with each other so that the full National Director Team (all 20 to 30 something of them) can help with perspective.
Sometimes the uninvolved party doesn't know all the history that has gone into a situation so it is super valuable to have the local Directors views and advice. Other times the local Directors are too close to the situation and the removed perspective tempers the decision. Other times however it is clear cut and all parties know what needs to be done. It's actually been very effective, and come to a lot of good decisions.
You all didn't know this just like you probably also don't know that Directors have to submit their dates to us every year so we can make sure they don't conflict with each others or multi-chapter events. No harm in you all knowing this but there's a lot of stuff we do that we don't make known because you shouldn't care how the vegan sausage is made. You should just care that we have fun event's with fun plots where you get to wear silly hats and talk to your friends as if they are fake people. Our system of corrective review doesn't really help that.
So in the end I know that despite me attempting to explain people will still do terrible things to each other and then tell their friends that they are the innocent heros and we are evil over lords who want to crush the spirits of gamers because....actually never understood the reason we are evil but I'm sure there is one.
Regardless we understand why people need to react the way they do to our corrective actions. And we understand that based off the one sided 2nd information people will react the way they do. And with that knowledge we are very happy with how our policies work.
Sure this way people might thing that we are evil assholes but I would rather someone think that I'm an evil asshole than actually be an evil asshole. While the reactions may be regrettable I wouldn't change the results on our end.