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Why are D&D discussions so angry?

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big dummy

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Why is it that any time any discussion about D&D comes up which could even remotely somehow be construed as some kind of criticism of D&D as-is, a select few of the forum regulars swoop down with such venomous, vicious spiteful attacks to shut it down?

I've been on every kind of forum, I currently spend time on historical, technical, and even political forums. On some of these, peoples entire professional reputations can be at stake based on the credibility of say an article they wrote which is under discussion. And yet, while you can always get the odd forum crazy and find a certain amount of intractibility in discussions, no other forum I know of is anywhere near as vicious as an RPG forum. I can honestly say that the RPG forums, especially any D&D forum, are both the most vicious and the most utterly intractable and cynical in terms of peoples positions.

Anyone who knows these forums knows that unless you are ready for a big fight, to avoid a WIDE swath of subjects, or else face the near certainty that your thread will be hijacked (as mine recently was) into a completely off-topic diatribe of insults and vicious demands to "love it or leave it" until the temperature of the "debate" inevitably gets hot enough that the moderators shut the thread down, which is exactly what the attackers want from the start.

The net result is a de-facto censorship. This is in many ways a great forum, but there cannot be any rational discussion about anything real about D&D in here in terms of improving it in any way or addressing anything but techincal or balance problems. Anything else will instantly turn into an all-or-nothing debate about D&D.


Why does a role playing game bring out such intense feelings of hostility? What is it about D&D that makes people to devote hours to willing to insult and ridicule complete strangers? What is the ultimate effect of this self-censorship and passive aggression on the game itself?

BD
 

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Turanil

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Ah, tell me about fanboys! :D

I remember a review I wrote about a rpg book, and that provoked the ire of one of the author's fanboys... ::Rolleyes::
 

Odhanan

First Post
Well I'm on the other side of the fence. I do not stand people who are rude when posting on a forum. No matter what side of the argument they're on.

Forums are not bars or cell phones people! We have the time to write things in our posts and then edit them so that they express what we mean. Therefore, people who are rude when writing do so deliberately, either by being lazy and not re-reading themselves, or searching for a fight. No excuses.

People who want good, meaningful debates can do so by being respectful, constructive, and argumenting their point of view in a friendly rather than spiteful manner. Maybe some people need to be banned to learn the lesson, but that'd be better to show how smart they are by learning it before it comes to it.

Cheeky remarks, veiled insults, pretention and so on and so forth are just not excusable for people writing and pretending to be smart. Moderators are perfectly right to act the way they do here, IMO. They are doing an outstanding job on this board, in my opinion.

I remember a review I wrote about a rpg book, and that provoked the ire of one of the author's fanboys...
I guess you're talking about your review of Beyond Countless Doorways. See. That kind of remark is typically the kind of cheeky comment that spawns flamewars. You're not demonstrating anything smart by pouring oil on the fire, Turanil.
 
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takasi

First Post
I just wanted to add that I think there should be a little more Forgotten Realms and Eberron material in Dungeon.
 

Crothian

First Post
It is angry becomes of the medium, the message boards. What people type is read as being rude as many times the words are. The typer rarely seems to realize that their jokes don't translate over this medium, even if the use a smiley. Also, there are plenty of rude people that do drive byes on RPG boards to piss people off. Sometimes it is hard to tell the good posters from the bad.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Speaking from the six years I've spent here, let me be the first to say that the way the initial question is posed has a huge impact on the tone of the discussion.

If the original poster appears to have an agenda or insults people's opinions when posing a question, I can almost guarantee that the thread will go south within half a page. The same question (even a negative one!) asked from a more neutral view does a lot better.

I think of EN World as a party at Morrus' house. I won't pick a fight with someone when we're both guests, so I won't pick a fight with other posters; I may disagree with someone, but that's as far as it goes. The rules of conduct in polite society still stand, so no matter what I may think of someone personally I can still share the space with them.

Some people, though, forget that they're a guest in someone else's house. They treat EN World as if everyone else is a guest in their house -- and that way lies madness.
 

big dummy

First Post
Odhanan said:
Cheeky remarks, veiled insults, pretention and so on and so forth are just not excusable for people writing and pretending to be smart. Moderators are perfectly right to act the way they do here, IMO. They are doing an outstanding job on this board, in my opinion.

I'm not sure what you mean by veiled insults and all that (is that a veiled reference to me somehow?) but I am not faulting the moderators really. The moderators have to shut down debates which get out of hand, because they will just get worse and worse (RPG forums on usenet being an excellent example!!)

I just think that the system is being manipulated by some of the more aggressive posters. If thats what y'all like here, so be it. I've just noticed the pattern.

BD
 

Crothian

First Post
big dummy said:
I just think that the system is being manipulated by some of the more aggressive posters. If thats what y'all like here, so be it. I've just noticed the pattern.

I don't think people like it, but a few posters do enough to make people mad without crossing the line. As long as the agressive posters are allowed to do as they do, it will go on. So, report those posts you feel goes over the line and are rude.
 

Odhanan

First Post
Just to be clear, big dummy: I'm not targeting you. I'm just expressing an opinion based on many instances of threads that crashed into some form or another of petty debates and firestorms of insults and "who has the biggest" rather constructive exchanges of opposite points of view. And it is possible.

Another example is the "debate within the debate within the debate". This kind of arguments somehow nearly always comes down to exchanging definitions of the dictionary and nitpicking about the meaning of this quote or another, that the other poster meant something else 5 posts ago therefore "he's inconsistent" and so on and so forth. That's not constructive either. That's just "wanting to be right", i.e. pride.
 

big dummy

First Post
Odhanan said:
Just to be clear, big dummy: I'm not targeting you. I'm just expressing an opinion based on many instances of threads that crashed into some form or another of petty debates and firestorms of insults and "who has the biggest" rather constructive exchanges of opposite points of view. And it is possible.

Another example is the "debate within the debate within the debate". This kind of arguments somehow nearly always comes down to exchanging definitions of the dictionary and nitpicking about the meaning of this quote or another, that the other poster meant something else 5 posts ago therefore "he's inconsistent" and so on and so forth. That's not constructive either. That's just "wanting to be right", i.e. pride.

Ok I recognize all that, it comes up in all forums. But do any of you recognize the trend of even moderately proposed threads being attacked and derailed into fights of this sort because their subject[ /i] is some kind of D&D reform?


BD
 
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mhacdebhandia

Explorer
big dummy said:
I'm not sure what you mean by veiled insults and all that (is that a veiled reference to me somehow?) but I am not faulting the moderators really. The moderators have to shut down debates which get out of hand, because they will just get worse and worse (RPG forums on usenet being an excellent example!!)
rec.games.frp.dnd is great!

It's just a shame it, like most USENET groups, isn't very populated. Of course, alt.games.whitewolf is even worse off.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
People here are very passionate about the hobby.

With passion comes emotion that sometimes doesn't get tempered well in this medium.
 

Odhanan

First Post
But do any of you recognize the trend of even moderately proposed threads being attacked and derailed into fights of this sort because their subject is some kind of D&D reform?
I'm sure this may happen, but I don't have any specific example coming to my mind. I somehow dread to ask for specific examples, because that would look a lot like finger-pointing.

So can this happen? Sure. But on the other hand, how do you differenciate a constructive debate about one or the other aspect of D&D from a thread that just says 'my hat of d02 know no limit' ? That's the role of the original poster IMO. To write things intelligently enough so as to not present pure opinionated condemnations that would just spawn flamewars but invite fair discussion on the topic. And accepting that many people will not have the same opinion in return.

We are all part of the problem. The solution is not to point the finger at each other and accuse this or that one of wrong-doing, but to acknowledge that we all have our part in how ENWorld feels like in the end. We just need to each do our part and take our responsabilities.
 

Vocenoctum

First Post
Crothian said:
I don't think people like it, but a few posters do enough to make people mad without crossing the line. As long as the agressive posters are allowed to do as they do, it will go on. So, report those posts you feel goes over the line and are rude.

Every board has it's cliques, ENWorld included. There's plenty of times I've seen board regulars push the line, and some publishers can jump the line whenever they feel like it. It's not a huge thing for me, just an accepted part of the internet.

I mean, I've had my post edited when defending my actions when I was called a troll, while the original statement calling me a troll was left intact. :)

Big Dummy, I doubt they're intentionally trying to dump the thread with flames, usually they're just so uptight and righteous that they consider it their duty to make sure everyone knows how wrong everyone but them is. :)
 

Andor

First Post
big dummy said:
I'm not sure what you mean by veiled insults and all that (is that a veiled reference to me somehow?) but I am not faulting the moderators really. The moderators have to shut down debates which get out of hand, because they will just get worse and worse (RPG forums on usenet being an excellent example!!)

I just think that the system is being manipulated by some of the more aggressive posters. If thats what y'all like here, so be it. I've just noticed the pattern.

BD

Speaking of which, perhaps it's not your intent, but when I read your posts your tone comes across as that of someone with a chip on their shoulder the size of a wedding cake. Prinicpally this is because you seem to state things which are a matter of perception and opinion as though they were facts as basic and obvious as 'things fall down' or 'the sun rises in the east'. It is tantamout to daring someone contradict you, and begins the conversation from an adversarial position. If you use some qualifiers in your opinions it softens the tone of the post and leaves more room for discussion, rather than arguement, or at least that's how I find it. Just my 2¢.
 

takasi said:
I just wanted to add that I think there should be a little more Forgotten Realms and Eberron material in Dungeon.
I Disagree :D ;)

big dummy said:
Why does a role playing game bring out such intense feelings of hostility?
Like many such things (politics/religion), people are very passionate about their gaming. If they believe their way is the "right" way of doing things, then they will criticize the near-sightedness of others who cannot see with their clarity. Who is right and who is wrong becomes a matter of affirming ones beliefs in a public forum. However, I really like Piratecat's perspective on the matter. This place is not really a public forum; it's Morrus's place where we are guests. I like it here! :D Morrus is a fantastic host.

big dummy said:
What is it about D&D that makes people to devote hours to willing to insult and ridicule complete strangers?
I think this just comes down to manners. However, I think it's worth mentioning a spectacular piece of recent moderation, that perhaps some could learn from. In a recent thread, a poster who had had their thread closed started up a new thread with the purpose of inflaming the board. It was an obvious piece of trolling which people called out as such. However, the moderator said the following:

Why don't we drop the discussion on whether or not this is a "troll".

Either speak to the premise and content of the OP (or some reasonable tangent it suggests) and leave the speculation and accusations out of this or don't post to it.

If the thread has merit it will continue, if it serves no purpose it will drop away soon enough.

This means everyone. Thanks.

(and thank you el-remmen).

And so the criticisms dropped away as did the thread. Not posting is better than posting something that will just heat up a thread. It's difficult when sometimes a poster can be so one-eyed, so inflammatory and so ridiculous in the sanctity of their opinions but in the end, I think el-remmen has pulled the right rein and shown the simple result that the civility of not saying anything actually works.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

jester47

First Post
takasi said:
I just wanted to add that I think there should be a little more Forgotten Realms and Eberron material in Dungeon.

Now, this was funny. :) I hope it was meant to be!
 

Turanil

First Post
Odhanan said:
I guess you're talking about your review of Beyond Countless Doorways. See. That kind of remark is typically the kind of cheeky comment that spawns flamewars. You're not demonstrating anything smart by pouring oil on the fire, Turanil.
Who is pouring oil on the fire?! I didn't mention what review and where, so people wouldn't have bothered to google the Internet for it. But now that you've guessed this is that one... :p :p

big dummy said:
Why is it that any time any discussion about D&D comes up which could even remotely somehow be construed as some kind of criticism of D&D as-is, a select few of the forum regulars swoop down with such venomous, vicious spiteful attacks to shut it down?
Mmmmh... I don't know why, but I suddenly feel the urge of beginning a thread on the merits of a heavy houseruled version of C&C being better than a lite houseruled version of D&D 3.5, which is incidentally better than will be 4.0 anyway. :lol:
 
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Crothain hit upon the most important reason that discussions go south... "What people type is read as being rude... "

Alot of the inflamatory posts result from someone misreading a post and assuming something that is not.

The rest of the inflamatory posts come from when the two sides are arguing completely different points and no-one notices :)

But, lets take an example... the OP..that way we don't derail into other debates..

Your starting sentence
big dummy said:
Why is it that any time any discussion about D&D comes up which could even remotely somehow be construed as some kind of criticism of D&D as-is, a select few of the forum regulars swoop down with such venomous, vicious spiteful attacks to shut it down?

Check join date and post count of poster. The perception could easily be created that the poster has walked into the party, bumped into one non-freindly conversation, and decided to stereotype everyone at the party based on that one encounter.

Add to that potential perception a phrase that can appear to be a veiled insult to forum regulars

Result, about mid first page you have a mild flamewar with vieled insults on both sides of the discussion.

How can people avoid this.. well, it depends.
- If the flamewar is a fly-by poster who is just here to tweak you... ignore the poster and report them
- If the flamewar is someone actually attempting to debate, sit back and rethink your assumptions. Tactfully post a 'we are getting off track, lets recap what we are really talking about' and get about destroying the false perceptions and assumptions.

Both of these methods involve you, as the poster, taking a step back from your position to think that maybe your perceptions/assumptions are wrong.


Yes, EnWorld has some regulars that get a bit more, umm, aggressive and appear to get away with it. Why? More than likely because their posts were not reported. I know I have been involved in a couple threads that got over the line....waaay over the line :heh:
The thread did not get closed, nor did anyone get banned..but the thread also closed itself out with an agreement to disagree.

As DaveMage pointed out {while I was rereading this post for accuracy}, passion leads to emotional post content.

I do not beleive anyone is intentionally derailing a thread in order to get it killed. Its much easier to wait the couple hours it takes for the thread to drop off page one ;)

I do beleive that taking the time to rethink your position and being aware that other folks should be able to disagree with you will go a long way to mitigating the issue you see.

So, to wrap it up, the inital post tends to set the tone. Think before you type..and re-read before hitting submit. Understand that this is the internet, so keep your flame-retardant sleepwear on just in case.
Don't take it personal.... {If need be, use a screen name that reminds you of that.. a practice I think both of us ascribe to :) }
 

frankthedm

First Post
big dummy said:
Why is it that any time any discussion about D&D comes up which could even remotely somehow be construed as some kind of criticism of D&D as-is, a select few of the forum regulars swoop down with such venomous, vicious spiteful attacks to shut it down?
Because it seems to me ENworld Mods are more willing to close threads than to temporary ban / close accounts of those who willfully try to derail those threads. :\
 

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