Threads now and then

CapnZapp

Legend
Umbran wrote a moderator message in the recently closed Prostitution thread: "I do not know how that thread managed to survive 20 years ago"

I want to be clear I have zero issues with the moderator action, but would like to adress the (implied) question.

First off, I don't know and don't remember if the policy has changed since then, but that could be an obvious answer.

But regardless, the more general answer, I think, is that role-playing discussions have become dramatically more judging and moralistic over time, particularly in the last five or seven years or so. The opportunity to discuss role-playing events and features that could offend someone has been severely curtailed lately.

It could be a combination of both.

I'm basically trying to say I have no problem whatsoever to understand why this thread managed to survive in 2002.

Again, I am not contesting or complaining against the thread's closure in any way. I fully understand why this topic is unacceptable in today's polarized and accusatory discussion climate. I'm not defending the fact it remained open back then. I just thought it odd someone wouldn't associate the different fate of such a thread now and then to the shift in what's considered acceptable to discuss in public.

Thank you for reading. I have no questions and need no official reply; this is intended as merely a neutral comment.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But regardless, the more general answer, I think, is that role-playing discussions have become dramatically more judging and moralistic over time, particularly in the last five or seven years or so.

There are some topics on which that may be the case. I don't think that particular thread fits the bill, however. I don't think that there's been a period in my lifetime in which strangers discussing the cost of a prostitute's services in front of minors would have been considered okay.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
There are some topics on which that may be the case. I don't think that particular thread fits the bill, however. I don't think that there's been a period in my lifetime in which strangers discussing the cost of a prostitute's services in front of minors would have been considered okay.

Well, maybe that should be a topic for self-examination. I mean that honestly. Assuming people are not using vulgar language, why is the existence of sex work (which in some places is a perfectly legal occupation) something that cannot be discussed for fear that minors might overhear it?

I'm not saying that this attitude is wrong, just ... well, it's interesting. We regularly discuss killing, including the killing of other intelligent beings. In one thread I just saw, people mentioned how shows like Critical Role normalize the ability to discuss the "finishing move" (a FATALITY in Mortal Kombat terms) you might apply. We discuss the ethics of of torture in a fantasy world. There are topics about slavery (thankfully, not pro-slavery). There are innumerable "adult" topics that are discussed. Heck, there are a LOT (a lot!) of indie RPGs that address sex, gender, sexuality, and romance in nuanced and interesting ways. I am glad (GLAAD!) that my thread in June about Pride Month and a history of representation in TTRPGs wasn't shut down. because it referenced mature subject matter.

I think that we often give a pass to some things (like violence) and look askance at others (like sex) not because it is some type of universal norm, but because of the way we have been indocrinated. This doesn't mean that the thread in question was a good, or bad, but given that we just had the debate about how we shouldn't demonize sex work or sex workers in a prior thread dealing with the controversy over some people's practices involving paying their contractors, perhaps we should all wonder why we can easily discuss critical hits, and severing limbs, and killing captives, but turn squeamish when basic biology is discussed.

Or not. YMMV.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Well, maybe that should be a topic for self-examination. I mean that honestly. Assuming people are not using vulgar language, why is the existence of sex work (which in some places is a perfectly legal occupation) something that cannot be discussed for fear that minors might overhear it?

Pointing out that it is perfectly legal in some places, but ragingly illegal everywhere else, and that the places in which it is legal are highly stigmatized, is a nice bit of rhetorical dodging, but it doesn't fly. The severely limited legality is a cue that society, in general, isn't comfortable with it.

And, by the way, it isn't just that minors "might overhear it". They may well be active participants in the conversation.

So, now, in essence you've just walked up to a random 13-year-old on the street, and started chatting them up about prostitutes, and how much getting a good time on Saturday night is going to cost you. Mom and Dad are not going to be happy with you when they find out. You are, at that point, in a space where a jury would probably not convict them of assault if you got a face full of pepper spray, or your nose broken for your trouble.

Thus, no, there will be no discussion of the cost of sexytime on this website. Moralizing about the social injustice of how violence is glorified and sex is vilified in our culture does not change the fact that the site exists within that context, and we have to live with it.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Pointing out that it is perfectly legal in some places, but ragingly illegal everywhere else, and that the places in which it is legal are highly stigmatized, is a nice bit of rhetorical dodging, but it doesn't fly. The severely limited legality is a cue that society, in general, isn't comfortable with it.

Strangely, other things are illegal as well.

Murder.
Graverobbing.
Discussing how to "finish" your opponent so as to maximize your fun while them.

I am quite sure that I am comfortable discussing the legalities of issues, or, for that matter, why we are much more comfortable discussing things that have always been regarding as malum in se than malum prohibitum.

So that's not rhetorical dodging- as I wrote about, at length (in the part you did not acknowledge), it is more that people should probably do some self-examination as to why this topic is highly stigmatized, why some people aren't comfortable with it, and why that lack of comfort most likely leads to the continued stigmatization which has an adverse effect on the people that are in the industry.

Or to put it in a more pithy way- we seem fine discussing stealing and murder, yet we aren't comfortable acknowledging that people have sex.

And, by the way, it isn't just that minors "might overhear it". They may well be active participants in the conversation.

So, now, in essence you've just walked up to a random 13-year-old on the street, and started chatting them up about prostitutes, and how much getting a good time on Saturday night is going to cost you. Mom and Dad are not going to be happy with you when they find out. You are, at that point, in a space where a jury would probably not convict them of assault if you got a face full of pepper spray, or your nose broken for your trouble.

I assume you will be lecturing me (and others) about how hypothetical juries will react to hypothetical crimes involving hypothetical fact patterns in hypothetical jurisdictions?
Excellent.

When you're analogizing a post asking for some self-interrogation about how our society treats sex and violence to a justification to have people violently attack others with the assumption of jury nullification ... you are probably stretching the essence of "in essence ..." don't you think?

In all seriousness, if we are unable to acknowledge that topics that are covered in mainstream papers, using identical language, cannot be discussed- then maybe there are slightly different issues going on?

Or is the test what a thirteen year old (assumedly, American) would not be comfortable hearing? That there exists people who have sex. And that some of them do this for money?

I am sure that this will be shocking to many in that age group!

Thus, no, there will be no discussion of the cost of sexytime on this website. Moralizing about the social injustice of how violence is glorified and sex is vilified in our culture does not change the fact that the site exists within that context, and we have to live with it.

I am not arguing with the moderation decision- I never was in that thread. Just noting the hypocrisy of our society, and lamenting that we have normalized violence and demonized sex, and that actions like this (that it is fine for 13 year olds to gleefully discuss violence, but not even be aware of the existence of sex) is part of the problem.

It would seem that the moderation of adult topics (as opposed to adult language) is very ... inconsistent. As I wrote, I am glad that when I have needed to detail adult subject matter before, the thread doesn't get shut down. But it seems more like the thread was shut because the subject matter and tone (from that time) is more embarrassing than from a privileged distinction being made.
 

For what my opinion's worth, it's a complicated subject and one that stretches out far beyond just RPGs.

I wouldn't say that it's become more judgmental and moralistic - I think things have shifted dramatically in fantasy as a whole. We are more likely to question microaggressions, implicit biases, and injustices perpetrated through our fictions. Just look at A Song of Ice and Fire (and Grimdark in general); there's a thread of rampant misogyny that runs throughout the series, which at the time was "look how edgy this grim realism in" and now is met with "perpetrating violence against women in fiction as shorthand to show how dark and dangerous your world is lazy writing." I really wonder how Winds of Winter will be received if it maintains that same tone and ever comes out now, but that's a different conversation

It's how if you look at the Lord of the Rings movies (which I love) and how no one at the time thought that maybe having the only dark skinned characters in the movie be the uruk-hai isn't a great look. Compare that to the diversity shown in the Rings of Power trailers.

But regardless, the more general answer, I think, is that role-playing discussions have become dramatically more judging and moralistic over time, particularly in the last five or seven years or so. The opportunity to discuss role-playing events and features that could offend someone has been severely curtailed lately.
 

It would seem that the moderation of adult topics (as opposed to adult language) is very ... inconsistent. As I wrote, I am glad that when I have needed to detail adult subject matter before, the thread doesn't get shut down. But it seems more like the thread was shut because the subject matter and tone (from that time) is more embarrassing than from a privileged distinction being made.

Preface everything I have to say in this thread with "I am not a mod, I'm just sharing my experiences as a user". Yeah, moderation of adult topics has changed drastically over time, with many shifts back and forth. There was a time when any mention of rape whatsoever was taboo (even in the context of trigger warnings or being against it), and times when more explicit discussions have been allowed. This doesn't just apply to sex, BTW, it's the same way for many things. Did you know Morrus once did an experiment where political discussion was expressly allowed in the Off Topic forum?

I think what you're describing here is that moderation on ENWorld has always been reactionary. This is not a critique; it's a logistic necessity based on the size of the community, the size of the mod team, and the reality of living in a changing society. This has a couple of important effects to consider.

First, it means that the mods are more concerned with doing the right thing than being perfectly consistent. I believe Morrus has posted about this specific stance before. It makes a lot of sense when you think about the scale of ENWorld, but goes against the ingrained sense of "justice" some people (especially my fellow Americans, IMNSHO) have when two similar threads or posts are handled differently.

Second, it means that threads and posts are sometimes modded based on activity in other threads. In this case, we only recently got off the topic of Satine Phoenix, where discussion of her history with sex work quickly became a heated topic. I'd posit that the longer we go without a hot thread being modded for offensive discussion of sex work, the easier it will be to have a mature conversation that references the topic (or the infamous Random Harlot Table) with respect, and without being shut down.

YMMV.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
How does one finish the song? (@Snarf Zagyg do you do requests? Or is this one's source material a bit limited?)

"The tone police, they live inside of my thread."

Cheap Trick is a little limited, but I'll give it the ol' Zagyg try.

The tone police, they live inside of the thread
The tone police, "Calm down" fills me with dread
The tone police, they're coming to mansplain to me, oh no

You know that some topics make me weep
And sometimes my anger will shatter
But when I talk there always comes that creep
The one that says, "Relax. Tone matters."

'Cause they're waiting for me
They're looking for me
Every single thread they're driving me insane
The men that tell me how to express my pain

The tone police, they live inside of the thread
(Live inside of the thread)
The tone police, "Calm down" fills me with dread
("Calm down" fills me with dread)
The dream police, they're coming to mansplain to me, oh no

Well, I can't say what's right
'Cause they're listening to me
And when I express myself
Bet they will lecture me tonight, tonight

'Cause they're waiting for me
They're looking for me
Every single thread they're driving me insane
The men that tell me how to express my pain

I try to write, they reply to me, they won't let me alone
They don't get paid to take vacations or let me alone
They provoke me, I try not to be snide, they won't let me alone
They persecute me, they're the judge and jury of my tone all in one

'Cause they're waiting for me
They're looking for me
Every single thread they're driving me insane
The men that tell me how to express my pain


The tone police, they live inside of the thread
The tone police, "Calm down" fills me with dread
The tone police, they're coming to mansplain to me

The tone police
The tone police
The tone police
The tone police
The tone police
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Preface everything I have to say in this thread with "I am not a mod, I'm just sharing my experiences as a user".

I don't disagree with any of what you wrote; I have previously written that I appreciate the moderation here, and I think that it lends itself to a genuinely admirable signal to noise ratio.

I am making a more general observation about the disparate treatment of sex (and related issues) as compared to other adult topics. Not just here, but in general. The reason this is so pernicious is that, in my view, it tends to be negatively reinforcing.

Cultures that have issues around sexuality, tend to have ... issues around sexuality. Especially when they celebrate and glorify violence. Again. I find it remarkable and disheartening that we can so casually discuss violence, and yet the mere mention that there are people who might be involved in sex work causes an excess of pearl clutching (not to mention analogies that ... glorify violence! I mean ... wow).

Look, if I was going to critique the actual moderation decision, I would simply say that it was likely a reaction to the juvenile manner in which the topic was discussed, which was much more "20 years ago" than reflecting current values. Almost like it was ... 13 year olds discussing it, who lived in a culture where the topic was subject to shame and sniggering.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think what you're describing here is that moderation on ENWorld has always been reactionary. This is not a critique; it's a logistic necessity based on the size of the community, the size of the mod team, and the reality of living in a changing society. This has a couple of important effects to consider.

First, it means that the mods are more concerned with doing the right thing than being perfectly consistent.

There was, a while back now, an instance in which someone came in with a novel approach to making people uncomfortable, one we actually hadn't seen before. The Rules didn't really preclude it. Morrus wasn't around, so I couldn't ask him how he wanted it handled.

I chose to remain consistent with the rules we had, rather than to make new precedent. The result was some folks getting away with saying a bunch of really hurtful things, and my defending their right to do so. It felt horrible, and I have no doubt that several people lost respect for me - I know a couple of users left the site over it. I am not proud of that moment, and I have been sorry for it ever since.

So, yes, sometimes consistency is in conflict with being on the right side of an issue. And these days, when they are in conflict, I try to err on the side of right action, instead of consistent action.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
^^ Almost the exact reason I quit as a supermod on a site years back. You're trying to be consistent in the name of honesty and honor right on an issue where you so wish you didn't have to be consistent, but all these forum members around you interpret it as plain villainy. Not good for the blood pressure.
 

Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
Or in other words:
Someone:
this make it SOOOO very complex and case by case
The Matrix World GIF by HBO Max
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
I think that we often give a pass to some things (like violence) and look askance at others (like sex) not because it is some type of universal norm, but because of the way we have been indocrinated. This doesn't mean that the thread in question was a good, or bad, but given that we just had the debate about how we shouldn't demonize sex work or sex workers in a prior thread dealing with the controversy over some people's practices involving paying their contractors, perhaps we should all wonder why we can easily discuss critical hits, and severing limbs, and killing captives, but turn squeamish when basic biology is discussed.

Or not. YMMV.

Of course it's not an universal norm. I wouldn't use the term "indoctrinated" to describe a cultural heritage but it's logical that the first reflex to assess something is to refer to one's social views. Mods aren't living in a void, they are applying their society's views when there are clashes of views over what is acceptable.

In Gulliver's travel, Johnathan Swift described the bloody civil war between the one who opened their egg by the big end and those who opened their eggs starting with the narrow end. Readers certainly did'nt have a problem or a strong personal views on egg-opening... yet it was divisive for the Lilliput society. There are many kind of eggs and violence is certainly one of them. Some societies will have no problem with children exposition to violence and other will have, resulting in widely changing film rating, from "all audience" to "16+" for the same movie. Both sides will think their cultural heritage and societal choices are "just" and "right", while in fact they generally are just "theirs". Same with sex. There is a prostitute character in Oliver Twist and it's a children classic in some places...

We might have been collectively led to believe that a "global society" emerged but I think it's limited to the least important things (we can all name the main cellphone brands and know what to expect in a fast-food franchise). Cultures are still very distinctive when it comes to more serious topics.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
That thing where you realize that what you posted in this thread might look like a reaction to this thread... but you hadn't actually caught up reading enough to know that.
 

Belen

Adventurer
There was, a while back now, an instance in which someone came in with a novel approach to making people uncomfortable, one we actually hadn't seen before. The Rules didn't really preclude it. Morrus wasn't around, so I couldn't ask him how he wanted it handled.

I chose to remain consistent with the rules we had, rather than to make new precedent. The result was some folks getting away with saying a bunch of really hurtful things, and my defending their right to do so. It felt horrible, and I have no doubt that several people lost respect for me - I know a couple of users left the site over it. I am not proud of that moment, and I have been sorry for it ever since.

So, yes, sometimes consistency is in conflict with being on the right side of an issue. And these days, when they are in conflict, I try to err on the side of right action, instead of consistent action.
Umbran wrote a moderator message in the recently closed Prostitution thread: "I do not know how that thread managed to survive 20 years ago"

I want to be clear I have zero issues with the moderator action, but would like to adress the (implied) question.

First off, I don't know and don't remember if the policy has changed since then, but that could be an obvious answer.

But regardless, the more general answer, I think, is that role-playing discussions have become dramatically more judging and moralistic over time, particularly in the last five or seven years or so. The opportunity to discuss role-playing events and features that could offend someone has been severely curtailed lately.

It could be a combination of both.

I'm basically trying to say I have no problem whatsoever to understand why this thread managed to survive in 2002.

Again, I am not contesting or complaining against the thread's closure in any way. I fully understand why this topic is unacceptable in today's polarized and accusatory discussion climate. I'm not defending the fact it remained open back then. I just thought it odd someone wouldn't associate the different fate of such a thread now and then to the shift in what's considered acceptable to discuss in public.

Thank you for reading. I have no questions and need no official reply; this is intended as merely a neutral comment.
Heh, the folks that post these days could not have handled the old Eric Noah or ENWorld crowds. :p
 



Belen

Adventurer
So very much has changed for my perspective to change since 2002. I’m always trying to be open minded and kind and that leads to introspection and personal growth if your honest with yourself and grew up in 80s and 90s in the middle of the corn belt.

Sure. It is great to be both open-minded and introspective; however, I have no patience for coddling people. If you are triggered easily, then it is not my responsibility to worry about their reaction. That said, it is best to be courteous and talk as if you would to someone in person.

However, if someone is the type of person that cannot handle different opinions or needs to dictate the terms of the conversation by conforming to their personal parameters, then they should not hang out in forums.

The whole movement to "my truth" or personal truth in order to create your own narrow view of the world is troubling.
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top