Proposal: A special IF Comp prize for autoblocked authors

This morning I had a brief conversation on Twitter (screenshotted below), regarding the IF Competition organizer’s endorsement of ggautoblocker.

If you’re unfamiliar with this tool, a brief summary is that it allows its users to outsource the maintenance of their block list to a central repository: when new account names are added to the central list, those accounts are automatically blocked by everyone who subscribes to the autoblocker. That central list, in turn, is automatically updated based on who the accounts are following, essentially building a “web of distrust”.

I haven’t engaged in any of the abusive behavior that this tool is purported to guard against, but because of whose comments I choose to read, I’ve been blocked by such organizations as Raspberry Pi and OSCON, as have thousands of others, many of whom are game developers. Now, the organizer of the annual IF Competition is encouraging his readers to do the same. Besides the potential for direct harm to those users (block counts are a signal in Twitter’s account locking algorithms), this also slowly eliminates their voices from the community.

Since this may have the effect of depressing interest in the IF Comp among those developers, and making it more difficult for those developers to build interest in their games, I propose a countermeasure: a special prize to be distributed among the top entrants whose primary Twitter accounts are blocked by ggautoblocker.

Although I don’t want to distract from the aim of the Comp, I do want to send the message that a stance on the gaming controversies of the day (and subsequent placement on the block list) should not affect whether one is part of the IF in-crowd, so I’m prepared to offer a cash prize comparable to the top tier of the general prize pool (currently ~$250 USD), with additional smaller prizes for the next few lower-placing entries.

For comparison, this year there’s a special cash prize for the top 40 games, and last year there were special cash prizes for the top parser-based and non-parser-based games. Lest this be seen as a reward for people with specific views, note that anyone can join the ranks of the autoblocked and become eligible for the prize simply by following a few of the accounts the tool uses to generate its list.

Your thoughts?

I’m really disappointed.

Disclosure: I’ve muted several prominent anti-Gamergaters on Twitter. I have a quick hook. They take their points too darn far. But I’ve never blocked anyone. Blocking should be a personal, anti-harrassment step against specific activities. Because Twitter autoflags too many blocks, this sort of app is a power grab. Maybe nobody’s getting doxxed, but they are getting marginalized. And it’s not the Red Scare, but people are on that list for prior associations.

Also if I remember, it was because people who questioned’s support of Porpentine’s accusations against Merk (“Oh Merk you’re a nice guy, what a nice life story too” scraps aside once he was out the door) that this forum was set up. Well, it was one reason.

I’m disappointed. From what I know of Jason, he thinks things out a lot better than this, usually. Internet harassment is a serious thing, and we need to take steps against it. But Randi Harper’s autoblocker goes too far.

I want to avoid politics, but I say this as someone whose first ever political donation was to Paul Wellstone, and it’s one I don’t regret. So politically I should be aligned with anti-GG. But the autoblocker is, simply, awful.

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Yep…that’s pretty disappointing. Not just that he re-tweeted that, but the blatant dismissal of Jesse’s inquiry. I had to check to see if I was on the auto-blocker (I’m not)…but it’s pretty sad that I had to go check because you can’t be sure. The pure lack of inclusiveness from a sub-section of the community that demands inclusiveness is quite ironic, but not unexpected sadly.

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That was my first worry too–and I’ve checked before. And I really have no reason to be banned. I know I worried about it when I was talking to Laroquod on twitter, because I know he got the hammer. Even though I don’t correspond with these people.

(BTW, about politics–I love games being a safe haven from them. But when someone I agree with expresses their point cringingly, um, yeah.)

The problem with this award is that it could be inflammatory and promote a deliberate legitimately hurtful troll entry that wasn’t even trying to win, which wouldn’t be cool. But I think people deserve recognition for non-Social Progress games, and I have to admit I’m struggling beyond due diligence about rendering characters that, well, probably thing ggautoblocker is a good idea and how to deal with them.

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If the goal is–at least partially–to work against insularity, what about offering a prize to a newcomer? Maybe the highest-ranking game from an author who’s never entered IF Comp before (or who’s never entered any comp before)?

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I like this a lot! It creates some issues with anonymous entrants, because they might be previous authors, so they’d have to be on their honor here. But anonymous winners would deserve that credit.

I also think another good idea for an award would be, best placing for author who previously placed in the bottom half. Or who has never been in the top half–yet.

If there wasn’t any, perhaps we could designate an award for the biggest jump. The author’s comp-score could be defined as

(entries - placement) / (entries-1)

And thus the biggest jumper would be the author with the biggest (this year’s comp-score) - (maximum of previous years’ comp-score)

I’m boycotting the IF comp. Permanently. I’d like to say that it’s because of this ggautoblocker, but I had already made this decision because of the incredibly unfair way I was treated over at merely for pointing out that GamerGaters do not hate interactive fiction and that that was a bullshit narrative.

Most of the leading members of are also organisers/leading-lights of IFcomp and are also people I have already identified as having no interest in speaking the truth or in preserving a place in society for people who would speak the truth. I have no respect for these politically correct martinets. Why would I submit my name (or more importantly, my actual work) to their pet contest?

I’ve considered the IFcomp to be tainted by political machinations for quite a while. This simply confirms it.

My thoughts on this are: I’ve now blocked Jason McIntosh. And if the day ever comes that Jason wishes not to be blocked by me, on any online service, he should know in advance what the answer will be: “Nah.”

I’m not going to let certain people get in the way of me submitting something I want to do to IFComp. Or to revise my games. I forget if I discussed my public disapproval of one competitor’s conduct, as well as my disillusionment with a certain judge who writes reviews and does a lot of double-speaking. Neither one of these people has really been called on their actions.

Unfortunately, the community is small enough that these can be figured out. But I’m not going to worry about what they have to say & let that get in the way, especially since (in the judge’s case) the criticism said more about them than me, though some of the critique did help despite being weighted wrong. And in the competitor’s case, it also showed a side of them I felt guilty guessing at. In both cases, I passed off a few red flags as just natural human self-contradiction. It was more than that, and I didn’t do any great research to find it.

So it’s been an exercise in not caring what people think, and it’s been fun to be in the author forums. I met people I really like and respect, and it helped me focus on improving things that much more.

That said, I don’t blame you for not wanting to associate. It can just be a few people, sometimes, that ruin things or grab the talking stick. That happened with IFMud.

The big problem I see is that too many people put an emphasis on being exciting–or making a huge point–over being welcoming and understanding and patient. And people get hurt that way.

There is no central IF ‘community’ anymore. That word betokens a certain welcoming nature to all viewpoints and walks of life. But that’s not what we have. What we have is an elitist clique that enjoys exacting political compliance and allegiance in exchange for access to the promotional gears and works built by what used to be the ‘community’ and which this clique has commandeered. Things like the main comp organiser recommending a blockbot with no regard to the fact that devs in the ‘community’ have been unfairly placed on it, just proves that out conclusively.

The solution to a problem like this is not to go along to get along. It is to take the gears that they are blackmailing us politically for access to, out of their hands. Jason doesn’t deserve to organise the IFcomp, if he’s going to recommend blocking devs he disagrees with politically. Those works need to be taken out of his hands. And since that doesn’t seem possible, alternate works need to be devised and supported so that they grow with time whereas the IFcomp withers and dies. The sooner this starts, the better, because every month not doing it now is just extra month we’ll have to do it later.

What happened with IFmud?

BTW I’m tweeting this thread. I’m not ‘back’ on Twitter, but if there’s anything my account is still there for, it’s this. And I want to say a sincere ‘thank you’ to Jason McIntosh for reminding me how politically motivated are the ‘arbiters’ in #IntFic and thus, why I joined #GamerGate in the first place. I had quit about a month ago over not agreeing with GG’s chosen ‘reps’ (which I still don’t, and I especially don’t approve of any ‘reps’ having been chosen in the first place), but I can still cooperate on individual anticensorship goals without technically being ‘pro’ the way Mark Kern (@Grummz) used to do.

Does the slippery slope that this seems to indicate mean that in the future, certain games may disqualified because the author is on a “blocked” list? Or am I thinking too hard about the conspiracy angle?

What it has already done though is discourage people from contributing on the forums or releasing their games through a comp where maximum exposure would occur, whom may have a lot to offer IntFic. I for one have backed off of my usage, limiting it mostly to announcing Trizbort releases and replying to those few that are not part of that clique. I’d much rather post here where I feel much more welcome or directly to those few people I still converse with. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has faded into the background somewhat if not completely.

I only wandered back to because my google search turned up their pages and I wanted to add to the solution set in those threads for the good of the ‘community’ regardless of the fact that we may politically disagree, seeing as I stand to also benefit from the same solution set. Y’know, the way ordinary, sane, reasonable people used to do things, before it was considered cool to recommend blocking 1000s based on guilt-by-association with one’s political foes, and to feel no responsibility to answer for one’s own actions while tarring others based on not-even-their-own actions.

As for the slippery slope, well, I’m not sure I want to think about where it ends, but I know where we appear to be on it: in a spot where the IFcomp organiser can apparently recommend to all of his followers (!) that they block Intfic devs (!) he disagrees with politically. And then when called on it, skip away scot-free with a ‘delete’ button and a single dismissive word. That’s not going to convince his followers that he regrets this recommendation. The damage is done.

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Slippery slope arguments are tricky, but they’re not irrelevant. When I start thinking of one, I do what I can to push back. I realize I need to push back. In this case, Vaporware did, and good things happened.

Intfiction seems better than before, but I don’t want to go back heavy-duty just now. It can answer technical questions just fine, but for the subjective stuff, I can’t quite.

It’s good @PeterPiers is posting a lot there despite the hit-job (and based on something I noticed accidentally, someone who hadn’t been there in months logged in specifically to shoot him down) and if people like it there, great! If they’re able to make it a place where someone can’t waltz in every couple months, then yes.

But I don’t regard it as a primary source of support, and I’m glad it’s not the only one. Good moderators, which it has, won’t change that. I have too many other resources. I think it’s good to have them. Maybe in some ways we’re branching out from the shadow of what one malcontent called “The Old Ones.” But I also know a lot of nice people have been chased away. People who’d, say, be willing to judge if they didn’t have a contest entry.

Re: Judging. I don’t think I’ll want to vote on the games or support or promote IFcomp in any way. I may play and review a smattering of them — after all, isn’t that what it’s really supposed to be about? I wouldn’t boycott the games themselves. That would be daft.

Oh, wow. I had no idea. This is seriously ugly. I’d thought this kind of shit was done with. That McIntosh screencap is… gah.

It’s a good thing this place exists. I sometimes wish it saw a little more activity, but heck, what activity it does see is the good stuff.

EDIT - I mean, Jesus, it’d be bad enough if it were just anyone he was doing this to, but this is vaporware. Guncho, ZILF, FyreVM, if that isn’t someone worth having in an IF circle then I’d like to know who is!

Portuguese expression: “Gosto de estar bem com Deus e com o Diabo”. I like to be on speaking terms with God and the Devil both. Or, “agradar a Gregos e Troianos”. To please Greeks and Trojans alike.

It’s not a bad place to be. It is a place to treat very carefully if you’re not going to be fully sanitized. That gets wearying, but I’m a loudmouth and I like to have my say. Plus, I like to discuss things, I often learn a lot from that, and I’m damned if I’m going to stop bringing some topics up because some people think it’s an eyesore.

It’s shameful the way vaporware gets treated over there. Mostly ignored, just because he’s often being the voice of the opposition. Never mind the fact that he’s making reasonable arguments and is open to discussion…

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Very nice. I hope I remember it. And yes, when you need to speak up or ask a question, it’s a great place to be.

I can be timid about discussing things so I’m glad other people go ahead of me and do the dirty work I’m not brave enough to.

Hmm. Maybe, if the number of places awarded is too high relative to the number of eligible authors. If it only awarded one place, presumably everyone who entered because of it would want to write the best game they could.

It’s less about insularity and more about ideological monoculture. Like, I’m not worried that there aren’t any newcomers – there are, every comp, and especially lately with the rise of choice-based IF – I’m worried that comers old and new are being excluded over political disagreements.

You’re too kind!

Did Jason give any other reason for this than that simple “nah”? It seems pretty irresponsible of the IFComp organiser to act like this and not to at least provide a better explanation for his actions.

Has anyone thought about posting that screenshot on Intfiction and asking for an explanation? It’s pretty easy for him to ignore such a thing when it’s only on Twitter but a lot harder when it’s right there on a forum for everyone to see.