• Member Since 1st Apr, 2014
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HappyMuffin


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  • 314 weeks
    Steam ought to curate its platform.

    It's been like 2 years, huh? Well I had a thought that I need to spell out, again more for myself than for anyone else, but which is nuanced and complicated enough that I need to write it down, and that other people might just want to see. And I just so happen to have a blog with my random ramblings in it. So here we go again.

    Man I should really catch up on ponies.

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    0 comments · 306 views
  • 428 weeks
    A thing happened.

    I had a new experience today. I'm not sure if its good or bad, but I want to write it down, so here I am.

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    1 comments · 346 views
  • 449 weeks
    I'm a burly dude with a spoon...

    and I just got hit with a shovel. This is more for me than for anyone else, just to remind me about a thought I had.

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    0 comments · 355 views
  • 461 weeks
    List of General Spells for Most Combat Situations

    So blogs are a thing here. I doubt this will be a regular thing but I've been thinking about this thing for a while and figured I should put it somewhere, in case someone else wanted to think about it too.

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    0 comments · 280 views
Jun
16th
2018

Steam ought to curate its platform. · 11:05am Jun 16th, 2018

It's been like 2 years, huh? Well I had a thought that I need to spell out, again more for myself than for anyone else, but which is nuanced and complicated enough that I need to write it down, and that other people might just want to see. And I just so happen to have a blog with my random ramblings in it. So here we go again.

Man I should really catch up on ponies.

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Okay, so here's the background. The large companies upon which the social internet at large is built restrict what can be said on their platforms. Generally what happens is someone says something that offends a bunch of people, and the bunch of people complain to the company and threaten to quit the platform, and the company pacifies them by banning that someone. Everyone else sees that they can be banned for saying that thing and so they don't say that thing, or else say that thing somewhere where the offended people won't hear them. Generally speaking. Stuff is complicated.

I think this kind of thing is bad because: 1) it means that people who's views are reprehensible will discuss their views while being ignored by all the people who could convince their audience that they are wrong. 2) It punishes innocent people when the offended group of people is offended unreasonably. And most importantly 3) It removes dissenting opinions from a conversation which, even if wrong, can still be valuable for determining what is true.

There's a game distribution platform called Steam. At the end of May, the page for a game's pre-release was put on Steam. In it you can play either as a school shooter, or as SWAT personnel attempting to stop said school shooter. Additionally it's a bad game, and it's creator was "a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation". As you might expect given the frequency of school shootings in the US, it was a bit controversial. Steam has since removed the game and released a statement that it will not allow games on it's platform that are either unlawful or are "obvious trolling". It seems like it will try to allow any game that can reach above that incredibly low bar.

Finally, I just watched a couple videos by a games journalist and critic, Jim Sterling, on the topic. He made the argument that if Steam didn't curate their games better, we could see new government regulation related to games, citing the creation of the ESRB and the moral panic of the 90s.
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I found his video convincing. Initially, I saw the latest controversy as a proxy for all the social media banning that I am opposed to, and supported Steam for at least posturing like they would stand against offended mobs, and protect the games on it's platform, so long as their creators weren't idiots. I felt that if anybody could weather the media backlash it would be steam, given that it's primary user base, ie. gamers, tend to not really care about media bs and outrage. And I still do. But as I watched Jim's videos and saw that we would be fighting not only the outraged masses, but also the might of the government... well I'd still give us even odds, given how mainstream gaming is and how neither party involved would have more bribesdonations to throw around, but still. This might actually be a problem.

Well okay, not really. Congress can't do anything right now, and probably not for the foreseeable future because our election system is broken and terrible and restricting games isn't a political win for either party so there's no actual danger. But no. Why is all the social media banning stuff a thing anyway? We got the 1st amendment, right? Everybody ought to be able to say whatever as long as it doesn't actually hurt people.

Here's the problem. There is no public space on the internet.

We feel like Twitter and Facebook and Reddit, are all public forums where all ideas and beliefs and whatever should be shared like people used to do in the town square. But Twitter and Facebook and Reddit are all privately owned. They aren't actually a public forum. They're a private building where the owners can evict anybody they want for whatever reason. And if people leave because of some jerk being a jerk then they're loosing money.

Because of the structure of capitalism, these social media companies can't do what we need them to do. I'm not saying down with the government or that the proletariat must begin their glorious revolution or whatever. All I'm saying that if we care about freedom of speech, we need a state-run, social media platform. I don't want some 1984 Minitrue bs so we're going to need everything about it as transparent as possible and your account cannot be associated with your SSN or birth certificate or whatever, but if we don't do this, our culture is just going to keep breaking.

As for Steam (and Twitter and the rest) the place for corporate innovation is to do what they are doing, but more so. They can curate their platforms, and allow for a better experience (and probably make some really terrible filter bubbles but whatever, I literally just thought of this). We can have a public publisher that will put anything and everything online for anyone to see (so long as its not illegal, trolling would actually be fine) even, and especially the terrible, horrible games or your crazy uncle's blog, and also all the stuff that everybody else wants to put there. And all the actual companies can focus on having "good" stuff, whatever that means to them.

That's why Steam and the rest ought to curate their user generated content. Because they ought to not be our public spaces online.

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