This is a first-hand account of what when on in /r/Games from August 23rd and onward from the eyes of one of its moderators.
Since the last post went up quite a few things have happened. As expected some people got very angry at me, and as expected they’ve lashed out in every way possible. See the edit below. Anyway, this post will detail the events of August 23rd and onward. It hopefully won’t be as long as Part 1. For the first half we’ll be going mostly on IRC logs, but I will have to switch after a while for reasons that will become obvious. I recommend having the first article in your mind when reading this one as information reappears from there.
Since I’ve taken my sweet time in writing this, there may or may not be a Part 3. I’m really not certain. Let’s hope there’s no need.
As usual usernames will be shortened to the first letter or first few letters. I take no responsibility if you decide to go to the mod list and find out who’s who.
Edit: Due to a series of real world problems, including but not limited to the potential loss of employment due to semi-anonymous complaints made to my employer regarding personal opinions and affiliations of mine that are provably untrue, I haven’t had any time to work on this and I doubt I’ll be getting any time soon. In the event I do not end up losing my job for expressing my opinions on gaming and defending myself from slander, I will create a part 3 to this series of posts talking about what happened after these events. If I do end up getting fired then a very different post will appear here. You’ll know it when you see it. If you have any questions for me, ask me on twitter @XavierMendel or check this site’s “About” page to find other contact methods.
August 23rd started at 5:42 AM when I came on IRC. InternetAristocrat had put out a new video talking about more connections between various people. I asked N if he saw the video, and he replied that he had tried to and had gotten 5 minutes in. I stated that I thought the connections seemed pretty strong and that a lot of new evidence was gone over. N stated: “I got to the point where he started spouting false information and closed it.” This was regarding something about Cloudflare. I stated that I mostly cared about the journalist bits and that everything else was irrelevant (not really our job). He replied with: “If some of it is wrong, all of it is suspect. It shows he hasn’t done good research.” I replied with: “Yes, but if some of it is right then all of it is worth investigating. And some of it’s right. In fact since he’s mostly just talking about other people’s statements and whatnot, most of it’s right.” N then said that there were two possibilities: that either InternetAristocrat doesn’t do good research or that he’s intentionally misrepresenting the truth. This begins an argument.
I replied to him with: “I’m sorry to come out and say this but I really don’t trust your judgement on this. Ever since the beginning you’ve shown blind bias.” His first response was “No.” N then said that “My only bias is towards making sure each end of the argument is represented.” I replied with “You’ve been removing, banning, and reporting tons of people” and quoted him on times that he brought up banning entire threads full of people, making sure to note his ongoing count of people he got shadowbanned. He said “I haven’t banned anyone.”, that “They broke reddit’s rules.” I told him that we should think before we act, and that banning everyone blindly isn’t the answer. I then said: “You say you want both sides of the argument represented, but I don’t see that. Since the beginning you fought me when I wanted to give them a space to talk about it. That’s not equal representation.” He spammed “So we should stop enforcing reddit’s site wide rules, then?” a few times. I made him angrier when I answered with “We should enforce them logically, not shotgunning entire threads to inflate your ban total.” I told him to go watch the video and he apparently did.
I started making some plans. At the time everything was pretty simple and I’d come up with an idea to end the accusations against /r/Games while simultaneously making us look good. I started writing the thread to post later. This is when stuff went from bad to worse. N had been reading /pol/ and /v/ quite a lot for the past few days and then wasn’t an exception. At 7:51 AM he shared a picture of a PM he got talking about a link between him and Zoe Quinn. Someone had posted the mod log picture (remember that from part 1?) on /pol/ and they’d begun to target him. The picture was originally posted in #Games, a public IRC channel for /r/Games that we’d known for a while was being idled by 4chan users. A few minutes later, on the same /pol/ thread, I noticed a user claiming to have spoken to a mod and obtained information, though it wasn’t clear of which sub (either ours or /r/Gaming). They particularly were mad at N and F. I told N that I’d handle it and try to figure out what’s what. I mentioned trying to figure out where they got the info from, to which N’s first response was that it wasn’t him. I didn’t really care since I didn’t suspect that anyone on the team would’ve done it anyway.
We talked about information in the leak. I mentioned that they only seemed to know half of the story, like whoever was giving them information didn’t have all the facts. This is why I initially suspected an IRC op or perhaps the only non-mod who had access to the room, No. I kept looking around for answers until 9:00 AM. N posted one of the pics from the leak and claimed that it was me in them. His proof of this was that the mod log picture, which was shared publicly in #Games and then on 4chan, was the same picture that I took. We had just been discussing this an hour previously of course, but he didn’t seem to care. I mentioned that regardless of who did it or why since N was so vehemently naming me in it that I would temporarily stop being the PR person until it was resolved. I don’t like being accused of things and he knows that. I tend to just shut up when confronted with that sort of stuff. I figured if I shut up and tried to figure out who did it everything would be fine. It wasn’t.
At 9:26 AM, Fo joined the chat. We talked a bit about the leak and I was very upfront about N’s accusations against me. I suggested possible routes of determining who had done it, chief of which was asking the guy behind it. I decided to ask the question: “Who benefits?” When something happens you should always ask who benefits from the action. I asked that question and nobody was able to provide an answer. I’ve been asking that question ever since and I’ve yet to get an answer from any of them. I do have my answer now, though I had to provide it myself and could only do so when my head was at its clearest. I thought about it being a snoonet operator again. Some of them are mods of ShitRedditSays and really don’t like us (especially me) so I thought it was a possibility. None of us could figure out what possible gain there was for anyone to do it. We went through what users were here at the time but that was pointless. Almost every single person with access was in the room.
They asked about the images, the Dac image, the modlog implicating N, and the PM with Zoe. I admitted earlier to that fuckup but gave a full overview of how it happened for anyone who wasn’t there at the time. The situation showed that the images were taken without any involvement by me but I accepted the responsibility of it anyway because it was still technically my fault for creating the images in the first place. The others understood this and seemed to come to an agreement that it wasn’t me at least. Nalixor didn’t seem to agree. I talked about how I didn’t believe any mod did it and instead narrowed my search down to one particular IRC op, a ShitRedditSays mod who has had a lot of severe disagreements with us in the past. We talked about how tired we all were and I mentioned I just wanted to watch Godzilla (2014 version, watched it since, good movie) and eat something.
Nothing happened until 7:35 PM that night. Two comments were made in /r/Gaming that compiled information on what was deleted from /r/Games, along with pointing out names of those that had deleted threads. The comments have since been deleted. We briefly discussed making a statement but N and No were against it (though No isn’t a mod he has full access to the private IRC). Fo joined in at 8:35 PM after information of the leak had spread to the main #Games IRC. They talked about ways to get rid of the drama, everything from saying the leak is a fake to ignoring it. No weighed in with “don’t say it’s “fake”, it obviously is real information, disregarding the source”, which goes against what was said later. At 9:00 and beyond we started talking more about the leak. N asked a snoonet op, MF, about whether or not a snoonet op had spied in the room. He said they hadn’t. Thus it must’ve been one of us. Pi had stated somewhere that Zoe Quinn hadn’t messaged any of the /r/Games mods, but I replied that she did and that she had directly messaged him and I. He acknowledged this, which goes against what he said later. Pi briefly talked about discussing the situation with a private user while Del talked about Vivian James. Zoe Quinn started privately messaging N, but I didn’t get many details on that. Pi got back from talking to the user, saying that he could show that the leak didn’t come from an /r/Games mod. This goes against what he said later. Little else happened on August 23rd, so here’s going into August 24th. Today’s the day that shit went down.
Just after midnight, Pro joined in (he had been mostly absent through a lot of the drama). His first question was about No, a former mod who still idled in the mod IRC, and whether he was on break or something. Everyone else was asleep, except for D and N. Pro eventually left very early, leaving those two. Throughout about 5 AM, N and D talked about removing various content regarding The Fine Young Capitalists and discussed the hack of their tumblr. I was still sleeping at the time, immediately after that talk, when this happened:
Aug 24 06:29:07 -ModAboose/#Games-mods- D set flags -AORVefiorstv on xavier.
Aug 24 06:29:07 * ModAboose removes channel operator status from XavierMendel
Aug 24 06:29:36 * ModAboose sets ban on *!*@user/Xavier
Aug 24 06:29:51 * You have been kicked from #Games-mods by ModAboose ((D) No reason given)
**** ENDING LOGGING AT Sun Aug 24 06:29:51 2014
Aug 24 06:31:59 !flags XavierMendel -*
Aug 24 06:31:59 -ModAboose/#games- N set flags -AHORVefhiorstv on xavier.
Aug 24 06:31:59 * ModAboose removes channel operator status from XavierMendel
Aug 24 06:32:39 !kickban XavierMendel
Aug 24 06:32:39 * ModAboose sets ban on *!*@user/Xavier
Aug 24 06:32:39 * You have been kicked from #games by ModAboose ((N) No reason given)
**** ENDING LOGGING AT Sun Aug 24 06:32:39 2014
I didn’t notice until three hours later when I woke up. When I found out I was devastated. /r/Games had been my baby for nearly two years. I’d spent countless hours, late nights, dedicated weeks sitting in queues, replying to comments and messages, trying to get AMAs scheduled, writing guides and FAQs and wiki pages, and generally just improving the community. Where others were content to delete and ban and be done, I was doing all I could to make it the best gaming discussion board on the internet. That was my goal. I wanted it to be the best because I thought people deserved that, and I truly believed that I could make that happen. Even though that goal caused a lot of friction with other mods due to my silly ideas like transparency and accountability, I kept at it. One night, while I slept, it was all gone through the actions of one angry man. I’m not ashamed to say that I got depressed over this, or at least more so than usual. It’s difficult to explain to those living without depression, but even the smallest things can break you after such a long time.
It didn’t take long for that depression to be used as a weapon. Like I said I’m a big fan of transparency, so I had no problems talking about myself to those that asked. The other mods know everything about me, from who I am to where I live to who I work for to the names of my family. They know about my depression (and other assorted problems), they know what really gets to me, and they know how to exploit that. I put up my statement explaining my side of the story at about 10 AM and at 1:30 PM the exploitation started rolling in. I’m still not entirely comfortable reading it. Just going through all these PMs to get a timeline is pretty rough. I don’t have many people who I’d call friends, and those that I do have I care a lot about. Reading these messages is like losing those friends all over again.
I talked to Ph from 1PM to 2PM, which mostly consisted of asking him what I could do to prove that it wasn’t me. He demanded proof that I didn’t leak it, and proof of someone else having done so. This is obviously impossible for two reasons: (1) being that it’s impossible to prove that something didn’t happen and (2) because it’s impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to prove that someone else did it. I’d spent the last day or so trying to do that and got nowhere, so pulling this out of my ass just wasn’t going to happen. The conversation ended at 2PM when he told me not to come back.
At 3:30 PM I was told I’d been reported by the /r/Games mods to the snoonet ops for ban evasion, which is grounds for banning from the network. I mentioned that I’d woken up and logged in from a different client to find out what happened, which was enough for them to let me off with a warning despite the mods insisting I be banned. I heard from a few different snoonet ops that some of them really wanted me banned, some of them didn’t, and there may have been an argument over it. I’m not surprised, as at least one snoonet op has hated me for a long time (maybe it’s because they’re an SRS mod, who knows) and a couple others are friends/co-mods with Ph, who is himself a former op.
At 4:46 PM I made my first public reddit comment about it in /r/Drama, which became a battleground. The /r/Games mods had already been spreading shit since before I woke up, so I decided to start defending myself. The problem is, each time I make any move to clear my name they take it as a huge threat. I’m not so important that the army must be called each time I open my mouth, though it’s flattering that they feel the need to rally the troops every time I say a word. Truth fears no questions, so I don’t mind answering whatever people ask of me. They had some problems with it. Thus, the thread became a pointless argument where questions would be asked, I’d answer, ask some of mine, then get insults and anger back. Which is to be expected, but it still feels like I wasted a lot of time. For a good listing of everything I said, read back through my userpage. You’re gonna need to click a lot of “context” links. Sorry. Also you may find some crude humor and unrelated comments. Sorry again.
Very little else happened on the 24th besides what you see there. Lots of people got banned from various subreddits. One of the /r/Games mods, N, had a meltdown in #Games (the public IRC). He was angry that /r/Drama wasn’t agreeing with him and was pointing out holes in his arguments. Apparently some people got banned for asking questions in the channel, but I wasn’t around for that and only got that talk from another IRC regular. Him along with two users, who I’ll refer to as Ka and Iz, went off on a rant about how I must hate women and drove all the women away from /r/Games. Nearly every other user in the IRC had a problem with this thought (ignoring my efforts to increase gender diversity in the sub by organizing AMAs with female devs and industry veterans) and got banned. Such is life in /r/Games.
On the 25th, at 2AM, I was told that D (the admin) must be right about me because he can see my PMs which must prove it. I responded to this like any transparent person would: I posted my own inbox. Everything leading up to my ban is included. This was entirely ignored by the /r/Games mods as they continued to say that my inbox must certainly be incriminating. I don’t do anything shady so posting this information isn’t really a big deal for me. There’s nothing in there that incriminates me in anything they claim I did, so overwhelming transparency only helps. At least, it’d help if they acknowledged it.