Welcome to Bootleggershhhh, the online mafia game where the omertá is not just limited to you and your crew, but any bad words or criticism towards the mods is also punished severely. At least, that is what bootleggers may just have become, after last week's (forum)update forbidding “harassment of mods”. A ruling that to the mods, seems very open to interpretation. With the first bans regarding this new rule already having been dashed out, let's talk about it in this opinion article that may well end up getting me silenced, too.
“Not everybody is going to like you”, a saying at the center of various well known quotes. Often celebrities say it's the haters that hit them hardest, wanting to please everybody they are hurt when they realize their inability to. Much the same can be said for the staff at bootleggers, you will not be liked by everybody. Some people might be insultive, or critical of your ways. And it just happens those people always seem to scream the hardest(quoted from Nerdcubed). It is very understandable that this is undesired, and you might feel unappreciated. The solution in this new ruling however, is... not quite satisfying, I would say. The new ruling does not solve the dismay, rather it only masks the problem. People will still think what they want, but they won't voice it.
This fear of posting gets strengthened by the confusion as to when something is harassment, and who decides it is. Critical posts have been marked as harassment, even though there was no intention to harass by the posters. In an interview with TMM he addressed this issue as follows: “If the staff wants to enforce this rule, they should at least give a clear definition of the word: "harassment". They have a different view/interpretation of this word than I do, which makes me insecure about replying at all. This leads to censorship and I don't think that's the intention of this rule.”. More of this insecurity to post was confirmed by Plutocracy, who claimed: “ It's truly a dark day on Bootleggers when criticizing a moderator’s actions may end up with being banned for "harassment".. I personally share the ideas of these 2 players, and although on the forums my posts regarding this fear may have been a bit sarcastic or satirical, the fact remains that a certain level of hesitation has crept into pressing that Add! button for me aswel.
The result of people being afraid to post should be all too obvious: you create a gap between the leadership of this game and it's community, a gap previously not there. This begs to offer the question: Are the moderators there to feel better about themselves, or are they there for the community, to create a better game/gaming experience? I rather hope it is the latter. Limiting criticism and free speech then, is not the most ideal way of working towards a better gaming experience for your playerbase. It is the criticism in which, even if it's insulting and you have to “read between the lines”, you can get the most out of in order to improve the game for the better. So rather than making people afraid to criticize you. You should applaud their criticism and be happy they are helping you make your work better. Even when some of the critical posts may hurt, that does not make them untrue. If these complaints are taken serious and you address them properly. You’ll see that soon they will be a lot less insulting and appreciation for what you are doing will skyrocket. Sure, you’ll still have some people disliking you because that’s just how life is, but you will have the majority being glad you are around.
In conclusion: Just ignore the harassment, read between the lines to find what bothers the person and work towards improving this. Try gaining a player’s respect, rather than shutting them up. Plutocracy worded this quite aptly in the interview I had with him, he said the following: “ At the end of the day, it's a mafia game. The staff members need to have thick skin. They should be able to take criticism all day long. We've seen that in the past as well. But with the introduction of this rule criticism will get marked as harassment quicker and quicker as long as the regulation is in place.”.
I'd like to end this article with one of the best known variations of the not everybody will like you quote mentioned earlier in this article: