Is Mike Mearls Happy Hour still a thing?

the Jester

Legend
Apparently a consultant back in 2014 was taken on despite warnings of domestic violence, sexual assault and abusive online behaviour. When face with this MM asked for information and many who had dealings with the consultant emailed Mike on their personal experiences with the consultant. Apparently Mike took the view that things were exaggerated or made up only after forwarding the emails to the consultant. Mike of late made a statement that the consultant was only a play tester and that WotC has stopped dealing with him. The consultant known as Zak S has a credit in the PHB as a consultant which is separate to play testers mentioned. Many were upset with Mike trying to low key his part in this and for him failing to take any personal responsibility. His twitter account with the message and the responses is probably more enlightening.
My understanding is that the allegation that he forwarded the emails to Zak S is not actually supported by anything. All I've seen is a screen cap of Mearls asking for evidence of the allegations.

Let's not join a witch hunt without some kind of actual reason, guys.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
My understanding is that the allegation that he forwarded the emails to Zak S is not actually supported by anything. All I've seen is a screen cap of Mearls asking for evidence of the allegations.

Let's not join a witch hunt without some kind of actual reason, guys.
It was more that he dismissed those people who contacted him (as he asked) as a “lynch mob”. Turns out they weren’t. Add a couple of other really badly thought-through tweets, and a refusal to apologise for them, and I’m not surprised he’s staying out of the limelight for now.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It was more that he dismissed those people who contacted him (as he asked) as a “lynch mob”. Turns out they weren’t. Add a couple of other really badly thought-through tweets, and a refusal to apologise for them, and I’m not surprised he’s staying out of the limelight for now.
It really bothers me that he won’t just apologize. So what if he was acting in good faith, or didn’t mean to hurt anyone, or was blinded by liking the guy? Satine Pheonix was blinded by being friends with the guy, too, but she immediately tweeted out a message of support for Mandy when the news broke.

Mike’s actions hurt people, it’s that simple. I don’t get why people are so reluctant to apologize when they’ve hurt people.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
Funny thing, he DID apologize. To one of the affected people. In person. And had a long conversation.

We just didn’t see it because it was a personal apology to the person called out and affected and not some boilerplate public show apology.
 

Gradine

Archivist
Funny thing, he DID apologize. To one of the affected people. In person. And had a long conversation.

We just didn’t see it because it was a personal apology to the person called out and affected and not some boilerplate public show apology.
Which would more than sufficient if his actions had only hurt that one person.

They didn't, so it isn't.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Which would more than sufficient if his actions had only hurt that one person.

They didn't, so it isn't.
Maybe he did this to more than this one person. I think there are many people who are not personally affected by MM's action and only speculating what really happened and stating it as facts. He is neither oblieged to apologize to them nor is it a good way to apologize to the people who actually were hurt by his actions.
So I am happy that he is still in and apologizes to the right persons. If there was the list of email accounts he sent forward he is doing a good job going there and tell them he is sorry face to face.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
Which would more than sufficient if his actions had only hurt that one person.

They didn't, so it isn't.
Who?

Okay, mistakes were made. WotC dun goofed when they has notorious trolls and asshats Zak S and the RPG Pundit involved in testing the game. That was a failure of researching people and doing background checks. But after the community pointed out they were asshats, WotC didn't work with them again.
Foolish, but no one was "hurt". (And better than a lot of companies who worked and hired those people long afterward.)

There's the rumour that Mearls shared emails including senders with Zak. But that was never proven. I've never seen any evidence of that. Not a single screenshot.
It's not so much a rumour as a conspiracy theory.
It was suspected because Zak brigaded some of the people who spoke out. But since these were already people ZS and the Pundit had fought with previously there's a simpler answer: they just made educated guesses as to who complained and targeted past victims.

We can't hold Mearls responsible for their actions. The only person he hurt was the person he insulted by name in the Google+ post. And he apologized to them personally.

Anything else is just the community asking him to jump through a hoop and dance for them. A show of contrition and public humiliation until we deem he has sufficiently been "punished".
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Who?

Okay, mistakes were made. WotC dun goofed when they has notorious trolls and asshats Zak S and the RPG Pundit involved in testing the game. That was a failure of researching people and doing background checks. But after the community pointed out they were asshats, WotC didn't work with them again.
Foolish, but no one was "hurt". (And better than a lot of companies who worked and hired those people long afterward.)

There's the rumour that Mearls shared emails including senders with Zak. But that was never proven. I've never seen any evidence of that. Not a single screenshot.
It's not so much a rumour as a conspiracy theory.
It was suspected because Zak brigaded some of the people who spoke out. But since these were already people ZS and the Pundit had fought with previously there's a simpler answer: they just made educated guesses as to who complained and targeted past victims.

We can't hold Mearls responsible for their actions. The only person he hurt was the person he insulted by name in the Google+ post. And he apologized to them personally.

Anything else is just the community asking him to jump through a hoop and dance for them. A show of contrition and public humiliation until we deem he has sufficiently been "punished".
I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s just staying quiet for a bit. Don’t panic.
 

Gradine

Archivist
Who?

Okay, mistakes were made. WotC dun goofed when they has notorious trolls and asshats Zak S and the RPG Pundit involved in testing the game. That was a failure of researching people and doing background checks. But after the community pointed out they were asshats, WotC didn't work with them again.
Foolish, but no one was "hurt". (And better than a lot of companies who worked and hired those people long afterward.)
And if that was what had happened, we wouldn't be here. Specifically, when the community pointed out they were asshats before 5e was published, Mearls deliberately dismissed those community members as trolls just looking to "form a lynch mob".

The community tried to warn Wizards and Mearls specifically denigrated and dismissed them.

And when Mearls stood with Zak against those trying to shine a light on his harassment, he, personally, made it that much more difficult for those voices to taken seriously within the community at large, to the extent that Zak still remained a respected, if not controversial, member of the industry for at least another 4-5 years before a credible enough voice broke that dam.

And Mearls has not taken responsibility nor has he apologized for these statements. This is why he needs to make a public mea culpa; because his actions harmed the community as a whole, and especially survivors of harassment and intimate partner violence within the community.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
And if that was what had happened, we wouldn't be here. Specifically, when the community pointed out they were asshats before 5e was published, Mearls deliberately dismissed those community members as trolls just looking to "form a lynch mob".
You're misremembering.
The community only pointed out the asshats AFTER 5e was published. It was because of the credits that the community members contacted Mearls. It was noticed after the Basic Rules were published, but this was well after the PHB would have been sent to the printers.

Yes, Mearls *privately* dismissed those comments. That was a mistake. But we don't know what happened after. It was enough that they stopped working with Zak S. WotC didn't issue a statement, but it was an open secret they had cut ties.

But as a major company, WotC and it's staff couldn't issue a statement accusing a private individual in the industry of a crime without some pretty airtight and fantastic proof. Or they'd be vulnerable to a major libel lawsuit.
There's a reason the first statement after Mandy Morbid accused Zak of rape and abuse was so vague.

And when Mearls stood with Zak against those trying to shine a light on his harassment, he, personally, made it that much more difficult for those voices to taken seriously within the community at large, to the extent that Zak still remained a respected, if not controversial, member of the industry for at least another 4-5 years before a credible enough voice broke that dam.
It wouldn't have made a difference.
People knew. And people believed. But the companies that worked with Zak would have kept working with him. There's no way they weren't contacted or told of the abuse. They didn't care and chose to keep employing him. A harsh written smackdown from Mike Mearls would have done NOTHING.
Heck, the publishers of Lamentations of the Flame Princess only reluctantly stopped working with him due to public pressure. The author of the Facebook post was much more saddened they couldn't work with Zak than sympathetic that someone was assaulted.

Those who knew still knew and were very vocal. It was enough for a walk out of the ENnies in 2015.
But that didn't stop Zak winning multiple ENnies in 2016 and again last year. (Awards he still has.)

And Mearls has not taken responsibility nor has he apologized for these statements. This is why he needs to make a public mea culpa; because his actions harmed the community as a whole, and especially survivors of harassment and intimate partner violence within the community.
So... he owes the community an apology?
Because people who did not believe the victims, and would not have believed him anyway, continued to hire a serial abuser and troll?

That'd just be an empty gesture. Shallow virtue signalling.
It's easy to apologize to a faceless mob.
It's hard to sit down with someone you wronged, have a conversation with them, and apologize to their face. And he already did that.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s just staying quiet for a bit. Don’t panic.
I was brigaded on Twitter once. It made me suicidal and drive me from gaming for months.
Other people have killed themselves over online bullying.

Hopefully he’ll be fine. But it is a serious issue.
 

Gradine

Archivist
You're misremembering.
The community only pointed out the asshats AFTER 5e was published. It was because of the credits that the community members contacted Mearls. It was noticed after the Basic Rules were published, but this was well after the PHB would have been sent to the printers.

Yes, Mearls *privately* dismissed those comments. That was a mistake. But we don't know what happened after. It was enough that they stopped working with Zak S. WotC didn't issue a statement, but it was an open secret they had cut ties.

But as a major company, WotC and it's staff couldn't issue a statement accusing a private individual in the industry of a crime without some pretty airtight and fantastic proof. Or they'd be vulnerable to a major libel lawsuit.
There's a reason the first statement after Mandy Morbid accused Zak of rape and abuse was so vague.
I will admit I could be wrong about the timeline, and I can understand that there are legal ramifications behind concrete statements, particularly as they relate to the company's products. That said, neither Mearls nor Crawford, probably the two biggest public faces in D&D, are exactly apolitical actors. They have not shied away from making other public statements that might be considered controversial in some circles.

As to what Mearls said in "private" (note to anyone working within a large enough institution to require a public face: internal written communications are never actually truly private), the words were not just regrettable but actively harmful. And they're certainly public now.

It wouldn't have made a difference.
People knew. And people believed. But the companies that worked with Zak would have kept working with him. There's no way they weren't contacted or told of the abuse. They didn't care and chose to keep employing him. A harsh written smackdown from Mike Mearls would have done NOTHING.
Heck, the publishers of Lamentations of the Flame Princess only reluctantly stopped working with him due to public pressure. The author of the Facebook post was much more saddened they couldn't work with Zak than sympathetic that someone was assaulted.

Those who knew still knew and were very vocal. It was enough for a walk out of the ENnies in 2015.
But that didn't stop Zak winning multiple ENnies in 2016 and again last year. (Awards he still has.)
I think you underestimate the power and influence that WotC and D&D have over the community and industry at large. An unequivocal statement from the world's most popular role-playing game would have certainly moved the conversation forward. Maybe not all the way, but it would definitely have added considerable grease to the tracks.

I also want to recognize that there are forces in the community and industry that are much more sympathetic to Zak and other outed harassers and abusers than they are to those they've hurt. This is why public pressure is actually important.


So... he owes the community an apology?
Because people who did not believe the victims, and would not have believed him anyway, continued to hire a serial abuser and troll?
No, because he directly attacked the credibility of the victims, thereby making it easier for more people to refuse to believe them, and also making it easier for more actively bad actors to attack and continue to harass them without facing significant consequences.

These things do not happen in a vacuum, and there are ramifications

That'd just be an empty gesture. Shallow virtue signalling.
Public Service Announcement: Virtue Signalling is not a real thing. It's a made up term to disparage the motivations of individuals rather than having to actually address and confront the value of the beliefs being espoused. I also think it's one of those verboten terms on this very forum, for just this reason, but I might be mis-remembering that.

It's easy to apologize to a faceless mob.
It's hard to sit down with someone you wronged, have a conversation with them, and apologize to their face. And he already did that.
That I will give you. And that's to his credit.

It's just still not enough.
 
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Gradine

Archivist
I was brigaded on Twitter once. It made me suicidal and drive me from gaming for months.
Other people have killed themselves over online bullying.

Hopefully he’ll be fine. But it is a serious issue.
There are bad actors on all sides, and I'm truly sorry to have heard you have to go through this. Both my partner and I have had to deal with online harassment and bullying, though I'm sure not nearly to that extent, so I can understand at least a taste of how traumatizing an experience that can be for a person.

It must be said, however, that public demands for accountability =/= bullying.

I'm not saying that Mearls isn't facing the latter, given how public an individual he is and how polarizing this issue is, it's almost a guarantee that he has and still is. Which is absolutely shameful. But it's also inappropriate to lump the former in with that.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I was brigaded on Twitter once. It made me suicidal and drive me from gaming for months.
Other people have killed themselves over online bullying.

Hopefully he’ll be fine. But it is a serious issue.
I feel sorry for anyone eing harassed on twitter.
I am very sad that twitter or forums are used to for that cause. Also when it is done by people who might think they are on the right side. What you can read on mike's twitter account actually sounds like a lynch mob.
I wish people who only have second hand knowledge at best would stay out of these concersations. Those posts distract from the facts and make actual first hand information harder to find and the might actually get overlooked in the noise.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Public Service Announcement: Virtue Signalling is not a real thing. It's a made up term to disparage the motivations of individuals rather than having to actually address and confront the value of the beliefs being espoused. I also think it's one of those verboten terms on this very forum, but just this reason, but I might be mis-remembering that.
Correct. It’s a derogatory term (along with”SJW”, etc), designed specifically to deride, dismiss, and exclude inclusive speech*, and as such is not allowed here.




*Google Popper’s Theorem before anybody wittily comments on that sentence.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
I will admit I could be wrong about the timeline, and I can understand that there are legal ramifications behind concrete statements, particularly as they relate to the company's products. That said, neither Mearls nor Crawford, probably the two biggest public faces in D&D, are exactly apolitical actors. They have not shied away from making other public statements that might be considered controversial in some circles.
I don't disagree. And I was one of the people shouting and @-ing Mearls to actually apologize.

Which I regret now, as that contributed to him leaving Twitter (and likely dropping from the Heroes of the Vale game), retreating from the community. Which isn't good for the game. We were spoiled by having such great access to one of the heads of the game and being able to directly interact with person in charge of the RPG. And that was really good for all involved.
But now that's over.

And, really, when a group gets together to drive someone off social media... that group is always the bad guy. Yeah, Mearls should probably apologize more. But we also owe him an apology for attacking him to apologize. Two wrongs and all...

I think you underestimate the power and influence that WotC and D&D have over the community and industry at large. An unequivocal statement from the world's most popular role-playing game would have certainly moved the conversation forward. Maybe not all the way, but it would definitely have added considerable grease to the tracks.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Being the "bad boy" WotC isn't brave enough to work with might have even opened doors. As they say, all press is good press.

I also want to recognize that there are forces in the community and industry that are much more sympathetic to Zak and other outed harassers and abusers than they are to those they've hurt. This is why public pressure is actually important.
Again, I agree.
But apologizing after the fact doesn't change anything or fix anything. It's just a pat on the head and a cookie. Especially after that much pressure: we'd never know if he was actually apologizing because he was sorry or just to silence his detractors.
(I deal with that all the time with my 8yo son. If I force an apology from him, he seldom really means it. He's just adding a lie onto whatever action prompted the apology.)

The actual good move was actions taken: not hiring Zak again and removing his name from the PHB (finally). Anything else is just words.

No, because he directly attacked the credibility of the victims, thereby making it easier for more people to refuse to believe them, and also making it easier for more actively bad actors to attack and continue to harass them without facing significant consequences.

These things do not happen in a vacuum, and there are ramifications
Which is certainly something that has been much more obvious now, after the 2017 scandal of Harvey Weinstein in 2017 and the resulting #MeToo movement. (Although this issue was growing in attention prior to that. One and Two and Three.

But was slightly less apparently in 2014.
And WotC had other issues at that time. I think they just wanted to let that controversy die quickly and focus on getting their new edition out. They really just wanted to focus attention on the game they had just spent two years playtesting and was their last chance to keep D&D alive.

Plus, it's not the job of WotC to go around condemning and shaming every D&D troll on the internet. Or to denounce everyone they used to work with who later turned out to be an asshat. (Otherwise we should be calling for the statement from WotC on Bill Webb, Frank Mentzer, or Chris Hardwick.)

Public Service Announcement: Virtue Signalling is not a real thing. It's a made up term to disparage the motivations of individuals rather than having to actually address and confront the value of the beliefs being espoused. I also think it's one of those verboten terms on this very forum, but just this reason, but I might be mis-remembering that.
It's not a term I used lightly. Because it can be a pejorative.
There's some pretty basic psychology involved:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory#Human_honest_signals

But people do choose what they want their public face to be. And people (including me) do make displays of piety or political affiliation. The post solely made for praise from like minded individuals. Be it a wicked burn of the President or something that "owns the libs". It's basically a form of slacktivism.

At this point, a big conspicuous apology would just feels like one of those press conferences where some politician comes out to apologize for some scandal:
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/p1ifbk/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-shame-parade
 

Gradine

Archivist
At this point, a big conspicuous apology would just feels like one of those press conferences where some politician comes out to apologize for some scandal:
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/p1ifbk/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-shame-parade
I think what I'm talking about is more (or at least different) than a big public "sorry". What I'm looking for, personally at least, I can't speak for anyone else, is an acknowledgment of the harm caused. Just... take responsibility for it. That's all. "Look, I said this thing, I did this thing, and it was wrong. I have heard the pain that my actions have caused, and I am sorry for it." That's really all it takes. Any other fol-de-rol about the importance of taking survivors at face value and supporting them, of rooting out those within the industry (if not hobby) who perpetrate violence against others, etc.; that stuff'd be nice, and maybe there are some who would insist on all of that as well, but I think the vast majority of the people who are looking for more would be more than satisfied with him acknowledging his public statements in defense of Zak (and particularly his public-adjacent statements denigrating those who were trying to warn everyone else about Zak).

A cursory read of the responses to his last tweet makes this, I think, plainly obvious. Dozens of comments in and I've seen one ad hominem insult, a few references to more egregious events I haven't been able to verify, and a whole bunch of people simply saying that this statement wasn't enough, and they were expecting more from Mearls, personally.

Hell, if all he did was come out and say "Look, I'd love to say more, personally, about all this, but legal has my hands tied" I think that would satisfy the bulk of them.
 

Hussar

Legend
Gradine said:
Hell, if all he did was come out and say "Look, I'd love to say more, personally, about all this, but legal has my hands tied" I think that would satisfy the bulk of them.
Yeah, you don't do that. Not when you want job security. Piddling on the legal department at a major corporation is not conducive to long term job security. You keep your mouth shut and your head down. Because, even a statement like that, means that there is an opening for engagement. That he actually has "more to say" but, The Man isn't letting him. It's a total cop out, for one, since the easy criticism is to say, "prove it! Where's your NDA?" or something to that effect and every armchair lawyer in the world weighing in on the issue. Which then spirals into a flame fest of competing free speech rights pundits waxing on and on about whether or not they can actually hand him a gag order.

Satisfying the bulk of them is not the goal here.
 

Gradine

Archivist
Yeah, you don't do that. Not when you want job security. Piddling on the legal department at a major corporation is not conducive to long term job security. You keep your mouth shut and your head down. Because, even a statement like that, means that there is an opening for engagement. That he actually has "more to say" but, The Man isn't letting him. It's a total cop out, for one, since the easy criticism is to say, "prove it! Where's your NDA?" or something to that effect and every armchair lawyer in the world weighing in on the issue. Which then spirals into a flame fest of competing free speech rights pundits waxing on and on about whether or not they can actually hand him a gag order.

Satisfying the bulk of them is not the goal here.
This is exactly how the folks at Polygon responded to all the crap that went down with Nick Robinson went down, and he was an actual employee, not a mere consultant playtester. Everyone was basically satisfied.

And yes, satisfying folks who've been harmed and wronged by this is actually kind of the point here.
 

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