NeoGAF Reopens, Users Revolt

Following a weekend of strife that led to mass mod resignations and the forums going offline for days, popular gaming community NeoGAF has reopened this evening. And it's a mess.

Much of the turmoil has centred around allegations of sexual misconduct against NeoGAF's owner, Tyler "Evilore" Malka, who upon getting the site back online issued a lengthy statement about the matter.

His words have done little for many NeoGAF members, however. The site reopened at 10pm, and within minutes users began spamming the forums with topics lambasting Malka and his statement, which began with "It's not true, the individual making the accusation isn't credible, the story doesn't reconcile logically with the facts, and there's plenty of evidence and witnesses to corroborate that."

These screengrabs were all taken within minutes of the site coming back online:

Almost every thread on the site is referencing the allegations, and while attempts are being made to moderate, new threads are popping up faster than they can be closed down. Twitter accounts designed to publicise new threads, for example, look like this:

Even those threads which appear to be centred around video games are often anything but:

Comments inside those threads not being locked down are just as angry. Here is just a few replies down from Malka's statement:

Those mods remaining after the mass resignations over the weekend have also made an announcement, saying that the site's controversial "Off-Topic" forums would be temporarily closed down, and when reopened would bar all discussion of politics.

The future of NeoGAF will be a return to what many of us have come here for, a place where we can gather together and enjoy our shared hobby of video games. For a short time, Off-Topic Discussion and Off-Topic Community will be closed so that we can rediscover that. We'll be starting with a clean slate when they come back. However, the focus will be on the many other hobbies we may have like TV, movies, anime, writing, music, etc. Political and social discourse will not be allowed in the new Off-Topic. Those types of discussions greatly added to the harsh and unwelcoming atmosphere of Off-Topic, which pushed many users away.

Moderation will also see changes. Over the years, moderators changed from simply people who made sure discussion stay civil into personalities. It's because of that, many were targeted for harassment and other things. This shouldn't be happening to them. We've taken action to protect these people by making moderation anonymous. There will be no more red-names that single them out nor will there be a list of who is one.

Meanwhile, Malka's full statement is below:

Hi.

An allegation of sexual misconduct has been made against me by an ex. It's not true, the individual making the accusation isn't credible, the story doesn't reconcile logically with the facts, and there's plenty of evidence and witnesses to corroborate that. It will be a process.

All allegations of this nature are serious, of course. I first got word of it on Wednesday when a screenshot of a Facebook post was handed to Voat. I immediately talked with my mod team about the contents of the screenshot and clarified that it was baseless and explained some of the details concerning my former associations with her, and tried to ensure any concerns from the team were addressed fully and transparently to everyone's satisfaction. On Thursday I heard that she had deleted the accusation from Facebook, and wasn't entirely sure how to proceed from there or how this would all play out in the public space at that point. Then, Friday morning, the screenshot made its way to NeoGAF and chaos ensued.

I was in the process of writing a statement that entire day to address formally address the allegation, but the community had erupted in a flash that morning. While the moderation team was trying to restore the peace, accusations and threats concerning the screenshot started shifting to them as well by association with me, and I was asked by my team to do something to fix things and get the heat off of all of them at least. I was beyond exhausted by that point, though, stretched too thin in the time since the post had first appeared and seeing unprecedented events unfold on NeoGAF. I was slow and weak. I failed to handle it quickly enough and let the team down. Before I could finish a statement and get it out there, understandably some mods hit their emotional limit, expressed concerns about the community coming after them, and decided to leave. A few people resigned, and many more quickly followed for similar reasons, citing stress and harassment. The site started breaking under load spikes leading up to the first resignations, too, and then flatlined altogether, so issuing a statement at that time on NeoGAF itself became impossible for the time being, and my attention shifted toward the moderation team's future.

Since that whole mess, lasting from Friday morning through Saturday, before we formally went offline for maintenance and repair and restructure, we've just been trying to figure out the best course of action for NeoGAF going forward. And as stories began being published by various outlets, I issued some comments to the press, since everything coming out was proving to be sensationalised, opportunist, and unprofessional.

We've all become increasingly stressed and weary this year in ways even I'm not accustomed to by now, and discussions on heated news, political issues, and social issues on the off-topic side of the site have become areas no one has wanted to moderate in the open for fear of backlash or just general exposure to the inevitable toxicity. I've gone in there myself to take the heat, since it's very much my responsibility to do so before anyone else's, but there's been little headway, mostly just more anger and resentment and a lot of bans. I don't think this necessarily reflects on our community; more so the tone of the entire internet this year with regards to heated issues.

That's all going to inform the way forward for NeoGAF as we refocus on what the main goals are supposed to be for the site. The mod team will talk about more specifics on what that will entail below.

One last thing. The NeoGAF mod team is here for this community; all of you. You have no obligations to respect me or believe anything I say about my personal life one way or another, but if you're going to be here and participate on NeoGAF, respect the mod team by following the rules and behaving. The team is diminished at the moment and the folks who stuck around care very much about this community and its future. Be considerate of them. That's non-negotiable.

Thanks.

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Comments

    Gee it's a terrible time to be in the public eye. It's all trial by internet users now. Don't know the dude and don't know if the allegations are true but they are just allegations at the moment.

    Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Why is that concept so hard these days?

    Last edited 24/10/17 4:58 pm

        Trial by Social Media is the new norm. Even if you're innocent, your life is still destroyed for years to come.

        Imagine a potential employer googling your name and seeing thousands of people calling you a rapist. Even if it isn't true, why would they risk it?

          No smoke without fire, friendo.
          In my experience, you don't get the tarred with a sex crime brush unless you're predispostioned towards being a rapey prick.

        Not sure if you're agreeing with the pictures you posted or just supplying evidence of why things the way they are.

        Either way I just can't support a campaign that suggests that if someone (anyone) tells us someone is guilty of something, we automatically believe that person and hang the accused perpetrator before an investigation takes place.

        It just flies in the face of everything I believe in.

          Definitely the latter by the way. It's the typical lynch mob mentality that has ruined people's lives for years and years before any of us were an itch in our daddy's crotch.

        But of course these ideas don't just erupt from a vacuum - they're very much in response to the poor outcomes actual, real victims get from the legal system.

        I'm not saying that it's OK to simply "listen & believe [and then condemn]", but when you start to see the issues that have led a lot of loud progressive voices to champion "listen and believe" it makes a little more sense.

        I'm not sure what the answer is, it's a complex issue with bad actors on both sides, and well meaning people too. But if we don't evaluate historical issues we'll never grasp how we ended up here, and most definitely won't ever be able to find something that sort of looks like consensus and appropriate, measured action moving forward.

          They don't erupt from a vacuum? Then obviously you have to think of motive.

          A person accuses someone of sexual assault at a time that it's the popular thing to do I.e., Harvey Weinstein and just because they made the accusation that means it's fact?

          People are ruining lives off of comments on social media and pursuing witch hunts. There was a time when someone had to be proven guilty to face consequences but this isn't that time anymore. You can get away with the suggestion that someone acted inappropriately without any evidence and ruin their lives without any consequence to yourself.

          I'd love to see the justice system run by these people and see how it turns out.

            I provided some pretty clear guidance as to what I think is motivating more strident support for women who believe they have been sexually assaulted. I don't think the majority of people making these claims have much in their mind but justice or protecting other people.

            Doesn't mean I'm entirely comfortable assuming guilt based on word alone, but (again) if you look at how women have been treated by society and the legal system historically when they come forward, then this starts to make a lot more sense.

              (Whixh is somewhat ironic - if the legal system treated victims of sexual assault with a shred of fairness or decorum trial by social media for sexual assault and the need to 'callout' peers may not be so strong.

              I've no idea how "they'd run the legal system", but let's not pretend it's actually effective now in handling cases of rape or sexual assault.)

        I would say it's internet outrage culture. The conservatives are just as quick to leap onto a condemnation bandwagon as the progressives. This is what twitter rewards and has fostered in terms of internet culture. Those who can be the most outraged and ridiculous get the most attention.

          Bingo!!
          Access to outrage and controversy at the click of a button. Kill a dragon, raise a banner, make and stand and make your voice heard...without having to follow through or actually do anything.
          Do absolutely nothing and wear it proudly upon yourself.

          Couple that with this beautiful post truth era we find ourselves in and you can cherry pick anything you want from the bounty of information strewn across the Internet, or at least the oceans of misinformation.

          You like the red team? Here's why blue team are Nazi!!
          You prefer the blue team? Did you know the red team are Nazi?!
          Doesn't matter, pick a side and fight Nazi!!

      At some point we're going to have to acknowledge how untenable a position it is to simultaneously believe that a) sexual assault is bad and b) we should continue to uncritically support the systems that have enabled it.

    They're right though, you know.

    Bernie would have won.

      It's kinda sad that, given just how narrow the electoral college was, that some people don't seem to realise just how long the republican party has been campaigning against Hilary (hint, it Started before Bill was inaugurated ), and just how much they seem to be underestimating the potential sexism of the sorts of voters that would have been undecided during that election.

      It was quite the show wasn't it.

      Burnie was there to frame a window, that's exactly what he ended up doing.
      I just can't figure out if he knew he was doing it, I want to believe but it's American politics at the end of the day.

    Malka isn't going to let the community take over, which means the forums are essentially fucked.

      Like most tyrannical dictators, They dont like giving up their power voluntarily. I said this in the previous article but the only way this site can be save is if Malka gives up complete control of the site to a group of moderators trusted by the community. The only reason people are revolting against the site is because of him, Remove him from the site people have no reason to revolt against it.

        What defines trust to you though? That they call the sky blue? You're basically asking for a team to agree with you regardless of what position that might be because otherwise they're untrustworthy. Trust is subjective, you should ask for honesty.

          That only applies at an individual level, djbear is talking about the collective trust of the community. Factoring the trust of multiple people diminishes the effects of personal bias.

    After decades of data collection on the current systems relating to sexual assaults, allegations, legal and criminal recourse, and social perceptions we see a number of consistent trends that have developed.

    The number of false sexual assault allegations are of a minuscule order, the current law enforcement and legal systems do not adequately support victims of sexual assault, the power dynamic both legally and socially is heavily weighted towards the alleged perpetrator; all of which leads to society excoriating victims and further compounding their trauma.

    We run into a large problem when we hold all of this up to the legal tenet of a presumption of innocence: for it to hold true an individual must be charged. Consider that a) few sexual assaults are reported, and b) of those reported substantially fewer ever make it to the point where the presumption of innocence is legally revelant.
    How then, in a legal sense, do we address this? If we push for more victims to make reports we are stymied by b), no to mention that there are strong social barriers in place for an individual to make a report.

    Step to the side for a second and we can look at the presumption of innocence colloquially. Social and cultural structures constantly interact to undermine our ability to process a colloquial presumption of innocence. With regard to sexual assault we have to combat the social cause and effect mentality which has bred a structural violence where alleged victims are believed to hold responsibility for the actions of the alleged perpetrator; we must reconcile the difficulty of proving an assault occurred - the contradiction of requiring evidence or proof for an action that is often not expected to produce any. Cultural stereotypes raise the threshold at which victims are able to safely disclose assault. Belief systems work against victims and can be used to mask the activities of perpetrators.
    On a social level there is rarely a strict adherence to the presumption of innocence, we as individuals aren't often geared towards that frame of thinking, what we see instead is a perfunctory nod to its existence.

    However, none of this is to imply that the presumption of innocence isn't a legal tenet worth preserving. Instead, we must examine those underlying issues.

    One of the methods we can use, and the one that also gains the most scrutiny, is to develop the habit where we believe victims. At its purest, believing a victim entails listening to their account, taking it seriously, and holding it to be authentic. There is no addendum that says you should pick up a pitchfork and pursue the alleged perpetrator. Neither is there an inherent contravention of the presumption of innocence at a legal level; though perhaps there may be socially at an individualistic level.
    What this change seeks to do is shift the existing structures that persecute victims and protect perpetrators.

    This is all just a tiny glimpse on the issue, there is so much more to what is an innately complex subject. If there something to take from it, it would be that we need to re-evaluate our understanding and motives as individuals, societies, and cultures with regard to how we process and address sexual assault - do we want to stand by existing systems that are inadequately structured towards supporting sexual assault victims, or do we want advocate for constructive changes that help create a more robust and responsive set of systems?

    The first thing we can do is to start listening in earnest.

      You have to uphold the requirement of proof otherwise it undermines every single aspect of law. To suggest otherwise, especially in only certain circumstances is entirety undermining. You're basically speaking on morality without considering how it would impact on reality. It's so short sighted that it's concerning it isn't considered in these arguments.

        I get the feeling you didn't read the whole way through:However, none of this is to imply that the presumption of innocence isn't a legal tenet worth preserving. Instead, we must examine those underlying issues.Take particular note of how the first and second sentences in that quote relate.

      The presumption of innocence is important, and the burden to prove a crime is essential to that presumption. It does mean that crimes without evidence often go unpunished, but that's the deliberate choice made in the design of our justice system - that it's better for a guilty person to walk free than an innocent person to be unjustly punished. It's not perfect, but neither is the alternative.

      That doesn't mean everyone should assume an allegation is false until proven otherwise, that's incredibly harmful. It's better to just not assume at all. People have a hard time reconciling that we can support a victim, help get them back on their feet and give them the confidence to access the justice system without passing any judgement on the accused. That decision is for the court to make, with full consideration of the evidence. We're usually not in a position to do that ourselves, either for or against.

        When talking about burden of proof we should recognise two separate concepts: the legal concept, and the social concept that determines whether an account is believed.

        Legally, the burden of proof is an integral part of the process - I want to be clear on that - but it is relative, not absolute. It shifts according to whether a matter is civil or criminal, and has weight. That means it is possible to change the threshold of the burden of proof - an act that has been rapidly clearer for some time now when we are confronted with the abysmal responses to and outcomes of sexual assault dealt with by the legal system.

        The social concept is less rigid, and is informed by a plethora of sources: family, friends, social networks, media, etc. The dynamics that determine social and individual responses to sexual assault are highly complex and highly individualistic. While it may be possible to alter the threshold for an individual's burden of proof it would be ineffective to champion this change when compared to social or legal change.

        I consider both when I discuss sexual assault. Presumption of innocence and burden of proof must be understood to have situational meanings and effects. Considering both is a necessity because so very few assaults proceed to the point where the legal concept has relevance. That speaks to the core underlying issue: is the system effective when the outcomes for victims and survivors are so woeful? Absolutely not. And when a system is not good, you examine what can be changed to make it better. All of these conversations revolve around and come back to the question of how we can make it better.

        We don't have to change or erode the concepts of presumption of innocence and burden of proof to increase the efficacy or suitability of the system.

          On the legal side, within their respective scopes the burden of proof doesn't change. For all civil matters it's the balance of probabilities, for all criminal matters it's beyond reasonable doubt. Certainly on the criminal side that burden isn't intended to be malleable because of the philosophy I mentioned earlier of trying to avoid punishing innocents. That burden can't be changed for any crime without disrupting the essence of its purpose.

          Yes, crimes like rape are difficult to prosecute because proof is hard to come by. Yes, it sucks. I'd love for things to be done to improve the process, but I don't believe changing the burden would be appropriate.

          I maintain that support for a person doesn't require belief or disbelief - if you encounter someone lying on the ground who says someone ran past and pushed them over, you can stop to help them up and get them some water and help them call the police if they want to without committing to the belief that it did happen that way, and certainly without assuming they're lying and are probably embarrassed because they tripped over by themselves.

          In my opinion the problem we have today isn't that victims aren't believed, but that they're specifically disbelieved. There was a story recently of a rape victim who went to the police station to report being raped by her boyfriend but the police brushed it off and didn't want to log the case. Other stories end up in the media where everyone passes their own ill-informed judgement or in the Trump cases the victims were sent death threats. In a community I help moderate, the story of the Dutch prime minister mentioning that a minister groped her breasts in the 80s was mentioned and someone in chat said "it's just a feminist bitching for attention, probably didn't even happen".

          These aren't just not believing the victim, they're specifically believing the victim is lying. These people weren't given the support they needed, neither from the authorities nor the general public. If you can appreciate how harmful taking their accused's side is to a victim, you can surely also appreciate how harmful taking the accuser's side is to an innocent person.

          Taking sides, believing one side over the other, is what causes harm in this problem, remaining neutral generates the least harm. Fortunately we don't need to take sides to support someone and help them get what they need. Support, not belief, is the kind of thing I think is needed and something we need to do more of. Not taking sides but staying neutral, compassionate and receptive.

          A quick addendum that burden of proof has an inverse relationship to false claims. While the burden is high false claims are low (as is the case with criminal cases like rape), but in civil cases where the burden is low false claims rates are considerably higher. It may seem like a trivial thing to change the burden of proof for a crime, but it can't be assumed that false claim rates would remain the same. This is part of what I was alluding to in saying that the burden can't be changed without disrupting its purpose, being to ensure that only the guilty are punished.

        Your argument is sound but you almost make it sound as though punishing an abuser is a cathartic revenge, part of helping the victim get back on their feet. In truth, it has very little to do with that and almost everything to do from stopping the perp from doing it to anybody else. No matter how much support you give to a victim of sexual abuse, horrible emotional (when not physical too) and psychological scars will remain, likely for life.

        Preventing more victims is paramount. Allowing a perp to walk away scot-free is pretty much an encouragement to do it again as a lack of consequence has been demonstrated.

          I don't consider punishment of the perpetrator as part of helping the victim at all, that would go against the point I've been making that you can help the victim without passing judgement.

          Preventing additional crimes is the main goal of the justice system, more important than punishment. But it's important that before any sanction is undertaken the person being sanctioned must actually be a perpetrator and not an innocent person, an evaluation done by the courts. Punishing an innocent person not only doesn't prevent more victims, it creates more of them - both the innocent person unjustly punished, and those the actual perpetrator is likely to create in the future.

          Being compassionate throughout, improving access to the justice system, and easing the stress involved on victims testifying (and being cross-examined) without impairing the rights of the accused to defend themselves are all important changes that can be made to improve the process without interfering with its essential mechanisms like criminal burden of proof.

            All that is true (especially the part about the system needing improvement) but what until then? What about harassment that falls just out of the rather extreme definitions that are pursuable by law? What about the millions of cases where there's simply not enough evidence and there will never be because it is simply not possible to dedicate all the investigative strength that would be given to, say, a murder case?

            As a man myself, I don't want innocent men becoming victims either, but given the undeniable fact that the cases of real rape are overwhelmingly more abundant than fake reports, I really cannot feel comfortable joining my voice to those that tell women to please shut up when they are bravely reporting rape, harassment, and abuse, even if my intentions are the best.

              The problem is a difficult one and I don't have a solution. I know the system isn't perfect and I don't want anyone to feel like justice is beyond their reach before it's even been tried. It's not that I have a better solution to offer, but that I worry some changes proposed in good faith (particularly around the burden of proof) would make things collectively worse.

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