Critical Role Critical Role's Matt Mercer On Civility

Critical Role's Matt Mercer posted about behaviour within the Critical Role fanbase. It very much reflects conversations we've had here on EN World about the RPG fanbase as a whole, and the D&D fanbase specifically. Whether you're talking about Critical Role specifically, or your thoughts about any tabletop gaming rule or product, I'm sure you understand what Matt is talking about.

"I want to, first off, express our appreciation for this community. [Both Reddit,] and overall. While talk does get thrown around regarding "toxicity", I can be confident in saying this is a serious minority, and the term doesn't aptly apply to most situations. For the most part, everyone has been thoughtful and as invested as we are (Well, maybe not Twitch-Chat, but such is the nature of the beast, hehe). Regardless, I wanted to let you know that the positive majority never goes unheard, and every smiling statement or message only brings us joy. Thank you guys.

I want to discuss and clarify that discussion is always promoted and appreciated! Differing opinions make for interesting discussion, and disagreements on our game, plays, and ideas are part of that discussion. Every D&D game is different, and every play style is different. We aren't going to tailor our game to fit the audience's wishes or expectation, nor would we ask you to alter your home game to match our play style. There will be differing ideas, and that's both healthy and encouraged!

I would ask that people that feel the need to "defend" or shoot down counter-opinions to our game's play or story to restrain from furthering any conflict or downvoting based on disagreement. You can offer your counter to theirs, but do so with civility and as a way to continue the conversation, not demonize.

Example: Preferred Response - "I don't agree with you, necessarily. Here are my thoughts on the topic, and why I enjoyed this element, or agreed with how it was handled."
Unwanted Response - "It's their game, shut up. 'Your fun is wrong'." down-vote

When you DO present a disagreement with our game, please do so from a constructive stand point. There are many ways to convey your thoughts without seemingly unnecessary vitriol or intensity.
Example: Preferred Response - "I probably wouldn't have done it that way, were it my game. I get the reasoning, but my instinct would have been this maneuver instead."

Unwanted Response - "I really hate this character because they do this, when they SHOULD do this. Its so stupid."

I myself firmly believe in transparency and honesty as much as possible, and we genuinely keep ourselves open to the community as a whole as best we can. I feel a genuine kinship and patronly responsibility to this corner of the internet we've created together. I want to facilitate a good place not only for you folks to talk and enjoy, but for us to be able to engage when we are able without feeling threatened or ridiculed. I am aware the internet comes with its share of negativity, and I fully accept those elements as given. However, that won't stop me from trying to improve this space in any way I can. Civility and mutual appreciation of the tabletop gaming culture (and our little place in it) is the hallmark of this community, and I wish to keep it that way.

My players and myself are people with very hectic lives. CR has become a second (or third) career for all of us, and while the joy and excitement we derive from our game far outweighs any downside, it does have its downsides. We have our stresses, our off-nights, and our bouts of confusion/forgotten rules and abilities. Our own personal lives, like anyone's, can be fraught with challenges and low points, and that can affect us within our game as well (even should we wish it otherwise). We are prone to mistakes, inconsistency, and failure time to time... and that's kind of the beauty of Roleplaying games is it allows a safe space to do all of that and learn from it. I only ask that you fight the knee-jerk judgement on anything in our game to consider the unknown elements, and write your thoughts from a place of genuine intent to banter, share varying ideas and thoughts, and present your own perspective in a way that is respectful of the cast, and your fellow community members.
Much love to you all, and let's all be the best geeks we can. <3

-Mercer"
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Jeremy E Grenemyer

Feisty
Supporter
Never seen or heard the show.

Mercer's advice is useful as a polite reminder that we're all in this together, and that some modes of behavior are more useful than others.
 



Staffan

Legend
I'm hearing a lot of people say that they listen to the show rather than watch it... I've been considering doing this as well but I was wondering if you miss anything by not watching the show. Do the visual components add a lot to the show, or do you not really lose out on anything by just listening?

You would lose out on some bits, like Grog being petrified and Travis holding the same silly thumbs-up pose and grin for something like ten minutes while the rest of the party fight the ones who petrified him.

Dear Matt Mercer

Welcome to the Internet!

Now get over it!

Why? Is there a particular reason why people should be more rude to one another on the Internet than in person? Or should we perhaps try to work toward more politeness on the Internet, in order to raise the level of discourse?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I will never understand why people insist it's the anonymity of the internet that somehow goads people into acting this way.

As someone who sees hundreds of people a day: They act just as bad in "meatspace", if not worse.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I will never understand why people insist it's the anonymity of the internet that somehow goads people into acting this way.

As someone who sees hundreds of people a day: They act just as bad in "meatspace", if not worse.

As do I. Not saying that there are not rude people in "meatspace". But I am saying that the lack of repercussions and social interaction on the internet frees them up to be more plentiful and worse.

Nobody has called me stupid to my face in years. (granted they may have thought it)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I will never understand why people insist it's the anonymity of the internet that somehow goads people into acting this way.

As someone who sees hundreds of people a day: They act just as bad in "meatspace", if not worse.

That's just empirically not true. The prevalence of online abusive behaviour is a *very* real problem. People are abusive in real life, but far more are abusive online in ways they wouldn't dream of behaving face to face - and we're talking people in their thousands, not the occasional isolated incident.

The thousands of people who heaped horrid abuse on Leslie Jones would absolutely not do so to her face in such numbers.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
That's just empirically not true. The prevalence of online abusive behaviour is a *very* real problem. People are abusive in real life, but far more are abusive online in ways they wouldn't dream of behaving face to face - and we're talking people in their thousands, not the occasional isolated incident.

The thousands of people who heaped horrid abuse on Leslie Jones would absolutely not do so to her face in such numbers.

The ability to easily "pile on" is something unique to the internet. I used to think anonymity was the problem but the behavior in Facebook comments seems just as ugly.

Having a grown up (i.e. Moderators) supervise the conversation seems to be the most effective. The community you've fostered here is a testament to that!
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
I will never understand why people insist it's the anonymity of the internet that somehow goads people into acting this way.

As someone who sees hundreds of people a day: They act just as bad in "meatspace", if not worse.

This is such a completely opposite view point from what I've experienced in the "real world" I almost feel like you're just pulling my leg. I know that's not the case, so I'm not criticizing your opinion, I just don't share it... not by a long shot.

Anecdotal as it might be, in my line of work I've frequently had instances where my office staff are treated abysmally over the phone when fielding calls from our customers. Yelling, swearing, and just generally poor behavior is thrown their way. Yet, when I show up at the customers door? At worst I get to deal with people offering an even-keeled complaint... but more often than not it's all smiles and pleasantries because they don't have it in them to be that rude to someone's face. And that's just the barely passable "anonymity" of the telephone.

If we jump here, to the great and powerful Internet, it becomes even easier to be a rude and inconsiderate piece of filth because the repercussions are so minimal as to be a joke. If I were to treat you like garbage here, what's the blowback? A warning? A ban? I'm just shaking in my boots! Just about every form of "punishment" that might be sent my way can be ignored or sidestepped with little effort. And unfortunately with no real way to punish poor behavior people will act out under the cover of anonymity...

... until we all wise-up and remember that the people we're dealing with online are just that: people .

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's something that'll ever happen, I'm not some wide-eyed optimist, but it still doesn't hurt to try.
 

Corpsetaker

First Post
This is such a completely opposite view point from what I've experienced in the "real world" I almost feel like you're just pulling my leg. I know that's not the case, so I'm not criticizing your opinion, I just don't share it... not by a long shot.

Actually, "real life" is a lot worse because you could end up shot, stabbed, beat up, or worse.
 

Corpsetaker

First Post
The thousands of people who heaped horrid abuse on Leslie Jones would absolutely not do so to her face in such numbers.

You would be surprised.

Not naming any names here but look who got people out in the millions when a certain individual took an important office in a greatly influential country. Not to mention all the lunatics that came out of the woodwork.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
You would be surprised.

Not naming any names here but look who got people out in the millions when a certain individual took an important office in a greatly influential country. Not to mention all the lunatics that came out of the woodwork.

I literally just asked somebody a few posts back to keep politics off the board. In case you were unclear, that means everybody.
 

This is such a completely opposite view point from what I've experienced in the "real world" I almost feel like you're just pulling my leg. I know that's not the case, so I'm not criticizing your opinion, I just don't share it... not by a long shot.

Anecdotal as it might be, in my line of work I've frequently had instances where my office staff are treated abysmally over the phone when fielding calls from our customers. Yelling, swearing, and just generally poor behavior is thrown their way. Yet, when I show up at the customers door? At worst I get to deal with people offering an even-keeled complaint... but more often than not it's all smiles and pleasantries because they don't have it in them to be that rude to someone's face. And that's just the barely passable "anonymity" of the telephone.

If we jump here, to the great and powerful Internet, it becomes even easier to be a rude and inconsiderate piece of filth because the repercussions are so minimal as to be a joke. If I were to treat you like garbage here, what's the blowback? A warning? A ban? I'm just shaking in my boots! Just about every form of "punishment" that might be sent my way can be ignored or sidestepped with little effort. And unfortunately with no real way to punish poor behavior people will act out under the cover of anonymity...

... until we all wise-up and remember that the people we're dealing with online are just that: people .

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's something that'll ever happen, I'm not some wide-eyed optimist, but it still doesn't hurt to try.
Having worked in a couple call centers, this sure sounds familiar...
 


robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
If we jump here, to the great and powerful Internet, it becomes even easier to be a rude and inconsiderate piece of filth because the repercussions are so minimal as to be a joke. If I were to treat you like garbage here, what's the blowback? A warning? A ban? I'm just shaking in my boots! Just about every form of "punishment" that might be sent my way can be ignored or sidestepped with little effort. And unfortunately with no real way to punish poor behavior people will act out under the cover of anonymity...

And yet the policing by moderators here does have a positive effect on the level of discourse. I think the fact that the discourse on the internet is generally unpoliced is a major factor. Mob rule does not make for a civilized society or community. It might be entertaining in the way that Roman circuses were but it's not particularly healthy. And as Twitter is finding out, it can be a hindrance to gaining and retaining users.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
In fact I think being told off by a mod is a form of public shaming that acts as a deterrent to the rest of us to engage in similar behavior. So it's not the threat of punishment, but the threat of shame for being publicly rebuked by a community authority figure that does the trick IMHO.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
From our POV here at EN World, moderation is not punishment. Mods aren't police officers or judges; they can't take away anybody's property or liberty. They're bouncers. It's just peacekeeping. Nobody gets banned as a punishment, just like nobody gets refused entry to a nightclub as a punishment; they get banned because that makes the site a better place to be and more conducive to the atmosphere we foster here. When you ask a troublemaker to leave your party, you're not punishing them - you're just keeping the peace at your party.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
From our POV here at EN World, moderation is not punishment. Mods aren't police officers or judges; they can't take away anybody's property or liberty. They're bouncers. It's just peacekeeping. Nobody gets banned as a punishment, just like nobody gets refused entry to a nightclub as a punishment; they get banned because that makes the site a better place to be and more conducive to the atmosphere we foster here. When you ask a troublemaker to leave your party, you're not punishing them - you're just keeping the peace at your party.

If that was directed at me, I meant policing in the sense of monitoring behavior and providing correction when needed as you've done in this thread already...?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If that was directed at me, I meant policing in the sense of monitoring behavior and providing correction when needed as you've done in this thread already...?

It wasn't directed at anybody in particular. The conversation had just drifted into how moderation tends to work. I figured our perspective might be of interest to some.
 

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