I recently had something handed over to me by one of our site managers over the holiday weekend (Labor Day for you non-Yank readers). This was a specific concern regarding conflicts a contributor to the site may have in connection to him moderating a board on Reddit while also writing for SuperNerdLand.
For a bit of detail and history, the writer in question is our Magic the Gathering writer Pory. Pory is a moderator on a subreddit on Reddit called /r/KotakuInAction. KotakuInAction is one of the many boards across the internet that users can post and discuss items relevant to the consumer revolt born of GamerGate as well as general gaming news.
When Pory first talked with us about contributing to the site, his moderatorship was disclosed and SuperNerdLand staff came up with a set of extra layers of recusal and disclosure for Pory. We also made him to agree to recusing himself within boards he moderates in regards to touching items related to our site or those of competing sites.
This was all was disclosed originally by Pory on his Twitter bio and pinned to his timeline, and contained:
“1) I will immediately disclose any biases I have in material that I am covering at the beginning of an article. In addition, I will excuse myself from writing any article that I feel I am unable to cover neutrally.
2) I will not post articles written by myself, or other writers for SuperNerdLand, to forums where I am a moderator.
3) I will not cover #GamerGate, reddit, or any forums where I am a moderator in articles that I write.
4) If an article written by a SuperNerdLand writer is posted in a forum that I moderate, I will abstain from any moderating decisions regarding the thread/article.”
And after this weekend we both agreed to add for clarification:
“5) If an article written by a competitive site to SuperNerdLand is posted in a forum that I moderate, I will abstain from any moderating decisions regarding the thread/article
6) Forums that I moderate require the use of archives for linking to sites deemed by the community to be undeserving of pagehits. If the list of sites that we use requires modification, I will abstain from any decisions regarding it.”
As an extra layer of disclosure, KotakuInAction’s moderation logs can be freely accessed here. As an organization, staff here agreed — and still does agree — that these levels or recusal and disclosure will block conflicts from coming up. We do not feel that moderation of discussion forums or image boards precludes the ability to contribute to the site. In Pory’s case, he is pretty much locked to covering a Magic the Gathering and Technology beat.
On the site side of SuperNerdLand, we followed our already posted Disclosure Policy; specifically under the second section named “Coverage of Events and Issues.” Relevant to our decision of disclosure and recusal with Pory:
“…our content producers and editors are required to disclose any connections to a subject so our audience can keep these in mind. When a producer or editor feels they cannot check their biases to work a story objectively, then they are to recuse themselves.”
Additional to the recusal policy made for Pory, we labeled Pory as a moderator on Reddit in his profile and author bio on site.
This all may not have been made clear enough, though. As such, we have updated our Disclosure Policy to include an “Extra Disclosure/Recusal” section that includes Pory’s recusal and disclosure guidelines, as well as a link to the reddit moderator history for KotakuInAction. This section will also be used in the future if any extra caveats to our Disclosure Policy need to be made for individual contributors.
As mentioned at the start, a user on Twitter contacted one of our site managers expressing concern about this situation. Whether a reader of our site, or not, we take all concerns with equal consideration.
In re-addressing the situation of our contributor, Pory, we feel that between the open actions our site takes, the transparency of the of being able to track moderator actions in KotakuInAction, and the levels of recusal in place, that issues with conflicts are mitigated. Not just that, but staff of SuperNerdLand and any interested parties can actually look into moderation logs to ensure that the Reddit side of the equation is being adhered to.
If there ever was a case of a contributor “gaming” or abusing any forum, image board, or subreddit that they had moderation of for benefit or detriment of any site, they would be removed from SuperNerdLand post haste as soon as we became aware. Additionally we would recommend for their removal from whatever forum, image board, or subreddit that they were connected to.
We are here to foster new content creators and celebrate new outlets, developers, artists, writers, etc. It may be way more apparent to those of us on the inside, but it doesn’t matter if a piece of content we have gets five or five thousand views. We deliberately do not run any ads, affiliate networks, or referral networks on this site specifically because this site is a passion project built to give people the confidence in their own creation skills and to honor other creators.
For us, this site isn’t a race to get the most views on a item, isn’t to line pockets by selling you out to advertisers, and isn’t inflate egos.
This site is about encouraging people to express their views and ideas, and to help foster an atmosphere where everyone feels free to create what they want.
In the end, I think that is what we are all fighting for in our own ways.
We appreciate all concerns, and we hope to keep an open dialog with our audience at all times. I don’t want this to be the final word on the subject. I encourage our audience to offer their thoughts.
Not just on this but with all things! Leave a comment below, or discuss it on our forums. You can even email me @ j.bray (at) supernerdland (.) com!
Until next posting, stay awesome out there everyone!