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An open response to an open letter - Dear Samantha Allen:

For reader reference, Samantha's letter is here.  Read it first.

Ms. Allen, I'm a front page comment moderator here at Destructoid and, while your letter may have been more directly addressing Dale North, I'm one of the people that you'd have do the grunt work in cleaning up the community.  I found your letter persuasive to say the least, and after having subsequently spoken to some trans* folk who feel rejected by this community in particular, I feel called to action.  I love this community and I know we can do better than this.  When someone says they avoid the site because of the way they've been treated by the community, that stings, and I don't want to have to hear that ever again.

I can promise you that I will delete and if necessary ban users for using hateful speech when I see it.  That's an easy promise to make because nearly all of us can agree on that. Hate speech has no place on an video game blog, and it's already expressly forbidden by the site's code of conduct.  No big revolution there.  That's not what we're talking about though, is it?  What we're talking about reducing is exclusionary and offensive statements, and that gets a lot more complicated.  I will NOT, Ms. Allen, under any circumstances, become the thought police here on Destructoid.  That is not my job and should it ever become my job, I'd quit.  While you're absolutely right that we're not a public park and "free speech" does not apply here, I will not use what little power I have to enforce an opinion.

Here's what I mean by that - as we discuss issues of gender and race and faith quite frequently on the site, ignorant opinions are going to be expressed.  I dislike them and will call them out for what they are when I see them, but I will not delete them or ban for them.  However, when I see that someone is obviously just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk (your "I like my games like I like my women" remark, for example) I will take action.  Being wrong is not a bannable offense.  Being an asshole is.  

The obvious problem is that the line between being wrong and being an asshole is often blurry and I won't always get it right.  That's where the illustrious Mr. Andy Dixon, our Community Manager here at Destructoid, comes in.  I don't envy him this task but it will likely fall to him to make the policy I follow and to resolve the conflicts that arise in the grey areas.  He's a good man with a good heart and a desire to improve this community, so I believe you're in good hands there.  If there's anyone I'd trust with a task this huge, it's him.  

In conclusion, Ms. Allen, I want to reiterate that I'm an ally.  Being a moderator here is not a paid position.  It's not a particularly glamorous position and it's certainly nothing my mother would be proud of, but it is something I take seriously.  I will do my part to make Destructoid a safe place for you and Jill and Laura, who I spoke with recently about this, and everyone else.  I remain conflicted about how far I'm willing to go, however, and I need help deciding where the line is.  We need a dialog about that, and I have some personal reflection to do.  

Thank you for reading.

Brian, aka Tristrix.
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About Tristrixone of us since 11:53 AM on 01.30.2011