At Something Awful, the mods were organically chosen by the administrators: they were part of the community, with the same sense of humor and priorities as the admins, but near and dear to the forum’s user base. “Because nobody knows your community better than the people who are in charge of cleaning up the community,” Kyanka told me.
The point is to make using the site as fair as possible. “Explaining why certain things happen,” he says, “but then also treating the crazy people as they deserve to be treated, which is poorly. ” By that he means the people who can do real damage to your site. “Those people need to have the proverbial heads on the pike around your site, so people know that they can’t get away with scamming people, they can’t get away with swatting people or things like that,” he says.
There was also the somewhat accidental discovery of a barrier to entry: every user who wants to post on Something Awful has to pay $10 to register an account, all because a user who kept getting banned and then registering new accounts to post things like triangles and magic 8 balls wouldn’t quit. “It was really funny, you know, seeing triangles and stuff, but we eventually had to ban triangle man,” said Kyanka. “I’m like, okay, fuck this.
Earlier this month, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, apologized to the LGBTQ community after the company didn’t take definitive action against the conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder, who had over the years been hurling a litany of homophobic slurs at Vox host Carlos Maza. (The Verge is a part of Vox Media, which owns Vox. ) There was a massive outcry from everyone from creators to employees at Google itself, some of whom even signed a petition protesting YouTube’s decision.
In Kyanka’s recollection, one of those people was Moot, aka Chris Poole, who’d post anime girls on the forum. “I didn’t want to spend my entire day looking up anime and finding the age or supposed age of anime drawings,” Kyanka said. “I just said, ‘You know what?
YouTube, for its part, does terminate a huge number of accounts for violating its policies — 2. 8 million last quarter alone, according to a recent transparency report. “Our Community Guidelines apply to all creators equally and we terminate millions of accounts each quarter for repeatedly violating our policies,” a YouTube spokesperson said.
YouTube’s problems with moderation are how I found myself on the phone with Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka, the founder of the notorious and notoriously influential blog and internet forum Something Awful.
Kyanka does, however, acknowledge that with scale comes bigger problems. “It all depends on the quality of the mods, the quality of the users,” he said. “More users basically online makes more problems. “More users basically online makes more problems.
Mike Reed’s guide to Flame Warriors, an artifact from that time, accurately summarizes the types of people in a forum, and it’s perhaps best in its depiction of admins, the original mods: “Admin is the janitor, the cop, the mayor, the judge and sometimes even the forum doctor who tends to Warriors injured in battle,” Reed wrote.
YouTube’s Steven Crowder problem is emblematic of the larger problem with the site: it can’t seem to follow or enforce its own rules, or even figure out what kind of site it is or should be.