Site Update 9/9: Addressing a Concern of Conflicts

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!

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a fo­cus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­ph­er with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Editor-in-Chief and do-er of tech things at SuperNerdLand

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