IF Community

I’ve been thinking about something IceCreamJonsey posted a while back: “The tribalism I’ve seen in this community that has meant a lot to me over the years makes me sad.”

Call me an idealist, but I’d like to think it’s possible for people to disagree without disrespecting each other, without personal attacks, without knee-jerk assumptions about the other person being stupid, evil, ignorant, ill-intentioned, etc.

It seems to me humanity can’t get terribly far when it’s as polarized and fractured as it is right now. And maybe the rifts we’ve seen in the IF community are reflections of the rifts in society as a whole. However that may be, it occurs to me to wonder: what can we do–even if it’s small–to improve relations in the IF community? I would guess that some people feel too bitter about past events to want to explore possibilities in this direction, but for those who are interested in such a goal: any ideas?

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Well, I had a pretty big reply here, then I realised most of it wasn’t any use. I pared it down to the following:

If people are sensible and are neither quick to offend nor to take offense - and if, when offense is made, people behave like adults and accept that they’re not going to change people’s heads but they can at least make peace with each other - then theoretically everything would be fine.

Good luck with that utopia, though (yeah, I’m the cynical sort). Personally, I think the “quick to offend” were the ones who actually precipitated this in the first place. Mind you, if you ask me whether we didn’t have offensive people, hell yes we did. Very unpleasant, some of them. They were dealt with with appropriate responses… the sort of responses you can’t really apply to the ones quick to offend.

So now people just don’t talk about a bunch of stuff, and every time some topics are brought up - or even if a thread quickly gains pages - everyone holds their breath and sees whether the shit is going to hit the fan. I don’t think this is right.

(yes, this is the pared down version)

EDIT - BTW, a way to improve relations might be to stop all this bickering about Choice VS Parser. Choice people feel under-represented (no shit? You’re all newcomers in a community built around Infocom-style games) and parser people feel threatened (right, because quick and dirty, low quality parser games were never a thing, and because there is absolutely no way that a choice game can ever appeal to a parser IFer). It’s stupid. If people would just concentrate on making games and stop bitching about it, especially during the Comp, everyone would be happier.

EDIT 2 - And I couldn’t say the above in Intfiction because someone would be quick to point out that, in fact, RAIF used to BE for hypertext fiction and it was hijacked by parser-lovers. So the whole community that had been built in RAIF would suddenly be less valid than the newcomer choice people; on the basis of this argument they’d ignore the theories, the growth, the experiments, the consolidation that truly made RAIF a parser-based place of discussion regardless of its origins.

EDIT 3 - The above would be like modern-day Romans marching across the old Roman Empire, saying “This used to be ours”, and expect people to let them back in charge. Heck, the Nation of Islam is doing the exact same thing. There has to come a point where someone says “Stop. You’re not entitled to what you think you’re entitled”, and in the case of the Nation of Islam, drop a bomb on them so they can stop bombing everyone else.

EDIT 4 - I can’t pare my posts worth a damn.


[quote=“PeterPiers, post:2, topic:250, full:true”]
Good luck with that utopia, though[/quote]
Heh. I’m not expecting a utopia. But I suspect things could be better than they are now.

[quote=“PeterPiers, post:2, topic:250, full:true”]
EDIT - BTW, a way to improve relations might be to stop all this bickering about Choice VS Parser.[/quote]

Yeah, and I’ve seen the suggestion elsewhere–which I agree with–that if people know they don’t like a certain kind of game…don’t play those games. Playing a game you don’t like, that you knew you weren’t going to like, and giving it a low rating and/or a sarcastic review on IFDB, doesn’t really accomplish much except to make you unhappy and to make other people unhappy.


A valuable lesson I’ve learned: “if you having nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

I never fully, 100% agreed with it though, and have since modified it to “if you have nothing constructive to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Whether I always manage to follow this rule is another matter, but if everyone were to at least try, maybe that’s all that it would take?

This is a good discussion to have. I find myself eye-rolling at when people say certain things, but overall I’m willing to say, they’re a net positive for me and I’m a net positive for them, I hope. And I hope they do the same for me if I go off on a tangent.

One problem I’ve seen is that people take stances I agree with, but they do it in such a way I don’t want to support it vocally. Maybe it’s for show. And I know there are things I want to look at/into, but I can be a bit intimidated by it. Maybe I see a name I mistrust and back off.

Fortunately it’s all still fresh for me. I enjoy meeting new people and trading new ideas and saying, how can we do things better? I’ve met a lot of people through IFComp that I really like, big names or not. And I wish others could have the experience I have had.

But I can understand why people get fatigued with everything. It just seems we can focus on academic details and rather win arguments than win friends.

And I do think we need to be welcoming to more casual fans. I thought there was a high barrier to entry for judging or whatever–and I’m very lucky Wade Clarke pulled me along and said “I NEED YOU TO TEST LEADLIGHT HERE.” And I had fun and realized I was pretty good at it, and at finding bugs, and that I could learn quickly from Aaron Reed’s book and write something I forgot that I hoped I could.

Maybe some people just want to see cool stuff. I’d like them to come and to stay, and I want to value them, even if they don’t “get” my games.

I’ve been out of the loop lately, and haven’t been a regular participant on intfiction.org for a long time… is there something recent that precipitated this? Are people still bitter about the stuff that led up to the code of conduct?

I can’t speak for BG…but I’ll note I’ve been there off & on but I feel bad as it’s usually just to ask for testing.

The thing is, I think there’s no wrong time to try to reconnect or sort things out. And I’d like to think I enjoy here, intfiction and euphoria (where I can zone out the conversations I don’t like, and yes, there are a few, but there are enough people I like.)

It’s just that there are a lot of smart people and if we could leave some of our hang ups at the door we could get so much done. And I think–well, this happens in the world in general.

I’m more sad that the code of conduct seems to have chased people away than anything. Fortunately there’s twitter, etc., where people still communicate. But it does feel like there should be more.

Not as far as I can tell. The parser/CYOA thing cropped up during the Comp, and possibly a couple of times since, but things seem stable and smooth.

Also particularly silent, but that may just be my perception.

Now, in all fairness - overall, things don’t seem bad, and I don’t feel that the CoC has chased people away. I do feel that some people have been targeted, and that’s just plain ugly. The IF community has been reduced to exactly that - a group of people talking about IF, and whatever isn’t IF isn’t discussed because it’s possible that it’ll offend someone.

Well, it’s not just that. I think lots of people are tired from the whole thing and prefer this status quo of silence so as to avoid any more ugliness - people from BOTH sides.

I remember the thread I re-opened about racism. I liked that thread. Things got heated but never insulting, and some people got educated (it didn’t change my perceptions, but broadened them a bit). I can’t imagine a thread like that lasting five posts now. It’s not that it’d be locked, the mods are good people - it’s that hardly anyone would venture to reply, and just have it die away.

Then again, it’s good to have a rest period, if that’s what people need.

There’ve been a few “CYOA vs. parser” threads at intfiction but they didn’t get too contentious. I was thinking more of some obnoxious reviews that’ve shown up on IFDB, and stuff that gets said at the Euphoria chat.

[quote=“AndrewS, post:7, topic:250, full:true”]
I’m more sad that the code of conduct seems to have chased people away than anything.[/quote]

I can’t speak for anyone else, but it wasn’t the code of conduct that made me hesitant to post about anything of substance at intfiction.org.

To be honest, I don’t think the CoC really made a blind bit of difference to the forum. Most people who visit there are likely to be unaware of it (who ever reads the terms and conditions before joining a forum?) and those that are probably won’t change the way they post because of it.

All I really took from the whole mess are that some people just love to complain to high heaven about things and once they find something to get their teeth into, they won’t let it go.


[quote=“Davidw, post:12, topic:250, full:true”]
All I really took from the whole mess are that some people just love to complain to high heaven about things and once they find something to get their teeth into, they won’t let it go.[/quote]

Among other things, I took from the whole thing that (1) there was a culture clash going on that was more extreme than I had realized, and people were talking past each other, and (2) I really appreciate it when people (on any side of an issue) sincerely try to understand points of view besides their own–taking those perspectives seriously rather than just ridiculing and dismissing them. I figure if I want someone else to consider my POV, it’s only fair for me to to the same.

(That said, I didn’t mean to get caught up in rehashing what came before, so much–I’m sure everyone else is as tired of that subject as I am.)

I just read it now, because it came up in conversation at IntFiction.

Reading it now, it seems… pfffff. If it were followed rigorously, everyone would be walking on eggshells all the time and constantly apologising for having offended everyone by saying “Good morning” when in fact, for some people, it’s late afternoon in their timezone.


If it was followed rigorously, no one would be able to post on IntFiction full stop. Every post would be analysed meticulously and then deleted on the vague off chance that someone, somewhere might possibly conceivably find it offensive. If they had the same kind of nonsense on IFDB, no one would be able to upload games there because there’s always a chance, even with the most inoffensive harmless game imaginable, that someone would find something offensive about it.

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I’ve been thinking exactly this for the past hour or so.

Well, the COC does have the word “reasonable” in there:

Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, hate speech, violence, and don’t advocate for any of these things.

So it’s left to the discretion of the mods what constitutes a reasonable complaint. From what I can see, they’ve done a good job of being fair about it.

The CoC also says:

“These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even
the appearance of any of these things.”

I read the list, and sure, taken individually every point is sensible. Reading them one after the after is downright stifling, though. Then that bit I quoted is a rather incredible exclamation mark on the whole thing.

BTW, an incident occurred quite a while back which involved a forum member making a joke about a Python sketch that another forum member took as being supportive of physical abuse towards women. I won’t go into details, I referenced it once and one of the people present in the discussion called me out for passive-aggression, which was fair enough given the context in which I brought it up, but I think I can bring it up now as an example of the various shadings of the word “reasonable”.

In that incident, and in every similar incident since, the forum piles up on the perceived aggressor. Heck, someone once used the word “shemale” completely unaware of its derogatory and inflammatory connotations and everything stopped just to tell that someone how rotten a person they were. It was a while before it was realised that quite a number of people simply had no idea of the weight of the word.

That actually had a positive outcome; a thread dealing with this, and with the intent of educating people so they wouldn’t throw offensive names around without knowing, was soon created and had a lot of discussion.

Which is why I believe speaking out is the best course of action. The CoC encourages people to shut up and report people not shutting up. That doesn’t help anyone.

EDIT - The big question is:

Who is IntFiction.org for?

I feel like the answer should be “everyone”, but that’s not the reality I see.

Everything’s fine as long as everyone keeps stum about all but certain topics. I don’t like that system. There’s a line between keeping a safe, civil place and stifling discussion, and it’s a line that’s mostly about the posters, not the mods.

But hey! “Who is IntFiction for”, right? If it’s exclusively for people who have been looking for a “safe place” (a phrase which seems to be defined mostly as a refuge or shelter, free from harm or risk - a strange environment for an artform to grow in!), who agree on toning down on anything that might be construed as offensive, and who have zero interest in discussing what might be happening in the world as it happens… who will only go there to discuss gaming and IF and who are also prohibited of showing their displeasure at the way that there’s so much effort going into making new choice-IF tools instead of perfecting the existing parser-IF scene… then I’d just be happier if they were more honest about it.

On a tangent:
I do like this place we have here, which is a lot more straightforward, but I do wish there was more activity sometimes. For one thing, it’s easy for me to say “we don’t have the drama they have over there because we speak our mind and argue instead of stifling discussion”, but in fact there just isn’t enough activity here for that to be tested.

When there is, it tends to be about GamerGate or the CoC or rants like my own about people being too touchy sometimes. And… well, I know that’s the whole reason this place exists, but I just wish it would all move on from there. IntFiction included.

EDIT 2: I mean…

When you disagree with a decision that someone has made in their game,
feel free to express that disagreement. However, if they continue with
their design choices, stop arguing.

I appreciate the underlying sentiment here, but this tone is extremely off-putting.

Apologize. If you make other people uncomfortable on our forums,
especially by mistake, apologize, or say nothing.

What’s next, potty training?

You know, I don’t think I’d ever bothered to read the CoC in detail now that it’s all blown over. Now that I have, it really seems silly. Good intentions all around, which is always what makes it hard to argue against. Argue against the CoC, it seems, and you’re arguing against civility and politeness. Well, no. I argue against it because I’m arguing against policing of emotions and reactions. We don’t need that policing, and the proof of it is, we never have until the one incident which caused this schism.

Said incident, BTW, mostly precipitated by a non-habitual forum member… oh, to hell with it. Precipitated by Porpentine who threw sexism accusations in the infamous “IF is dead” thread, which was only about the old “choice IF VS parser IF” debacle.

Porpentine didn’t actually come back to the forums after managing that feat, except to say “Well, I made parser games too, and they never got the same reception. Where’s that so-called love for parser?”. So, who’s disruptive again? Who started this whole mess again?

I miss the times of Pudlo and Andreas! (not the posters themselves, David, don’t worry) Back then, there were four ways you dealt with situations like this:

  • You argued constructively, which didn’t always work but showed good faith;
  • You mocked them and got some entertainment out of it;
  • You kept silent and it just died away;
  • People got banned after proving to be way too much.

I still think that was the best way.

FINAL EDIT - This amount of output from myself surprises me. I guess I’m more passionate about this than I thought. The timing is weirdly right, what with RealNC’s recent post and the replies to it.

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There’s something troubling me and I have to ask.

Darkiss was the subject of some attention in a review because the PC, a vampire, employed gypsies (in a single sentence only, in an object’s description) as evil servants, perpetuating a stereotype and being totally conforming to its genre trappings. The discussion caused the author to replace the word “gypsies” with “minions”.

At the time I thought the author had been bullied into changing what HE thought was right to what OTHERS thought was right, and that this was symptomatic of an overall trend (so it riled me up). I think it’s the author’s own business to do the game he wants to make. Yes, the reviewer had good intentions, because the reviewer thought the game would be made better if this bit were changed, and it would make the prose more enjoyable, and so on, and my reaction is “Then you go ahead and write that game, because this one here was written to conform to genre traditions”.

Here’s the thing, though…

…how am I being different from that reviewer when, in the recent thread “Rewind”, I bombard the author with criticism and suggestions that stem from his decision to use a homebrew parser rather than conform to the tools we all mostly use? I think the game would be better… I think it would be more enjoyable… and I’m bullying him into making the game I think he should make.

It’s clear in my head why all the suggestions I make are good and proper and should be implemented… and then I remembered that Darkiss review…

Honestly, what is the difference between these two situations? There can’t be a double-standard - it’s not possible for that reviewer to be wrong when he did that and for me to be right when I do this.

[quote=“PeterPiers, post:18, topic:250, full:true”]
In that incident, and in every similar incident since, the forum piles up on the perceived aggressor. [/quote]

This is an advantage of the private reporting, even if you’re looking at it from the perspective of someone who disagrees with complaints made. At least with the private reporting, the person making the report can say (in a private message) “I think this is whatever-ist”, and let the mods deal with it, instead of people piling onto the poster saying “This is whatever-ist” or “You’re whatever-ist” or “That promotes violence against women” and having it explode.

Of course, you are free to disagree.

Said incident, BTW, mostly precipitated by a non-habitual forum member

I really don’t think it’s fair to blame that whole mess on Porpentine. I also don’t want to argue about it, because I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by it.

I actually don’t, you’re quite right. That’s the best thing about this system - the private reporting, that is. I can’t imagine a way in which the mods could then intervene which might not make the situation worse (the old “why wasn’t it told to me by the person offended so we could discuss it?” thing). But it hasn’t come up, so you’re quite right, it’s a net gain in that way.

Mind you: “This is whatever-ist” is one thing, it’s name-calling, it begs further name-calling… but “That promotes violence against women” is good ground for discussion; it begs the question “How?” or “Why?”, and bam, you have people talking about it instead of shouting at one another.

EDIT - Mind you, the piling-up still occurs. And since the reporting is invisible, people may not even realise they’re out of line if the mods don’t say anything. Ah well, can’t have everything, I suppose.

It’s certainly my perception of the incident. Sure, she was just the straw that broke the already-overloaded camel’s back, and it would probably have happened anyway the way things were shaping, it would have just been someone else… regardless, the clear turning point in the thread, in which things really escalate and some people start scratching their heads wondering what the heck just happened, in my perception and with all the subjectivity that entails, is her contribution - and, more importantly, the number of people coming to her agreement. Completely out of the blue.

We’ll agree to disagree. Enough time may have passed, and even if this isn’t the time or the place for it, I think there might indeed be something to be gained. We can look coolly at past events and see exactly what caused what. In that way we learn from history instead of making past mistakes all over again. That thread and the CoC thread encapsulate a point where tempers broke loose completely, where people took sides or were standing in the middle wondering what all the commotion was all about. Incidents like that are not to be locked away; if enough time has passed, they should be dissected to understand what really happened.

This is especially important if you are looking for ideas on what we can do to improve relations in the IF community. :wink: It’s important to understand what current relations are like, and what brought them about. Hey, it’s what created this forum here in the first place. There’s a very direct cause-and-effect relationship, hard to ignore.

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