Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hey everyone. Hi. Hello. What’s up. :)

So it’s been a while. Trust me, I know. I’ve been busy, but I mean, in a year and a half, how busy do you have to be to not post even once? Well, with each passing minute the guilt grows and makes it harder. Working more-than-full-time probably doesn’t help, either! I’m writing these sentences after a robust glass of wine and will almost certainly take several attempts to finally post this. (Update: accurate) I have some maintenance plans for FUoS that I’m sloooowly working on, and I won’t be considering further posts until that work is complete. Making the move to Tumblr from WordPress is a soul-sucking endeavour, lemme tell ya. Here’s the best part: it’s an unknown-amount of work, which makes it suuuuuper motivating! Ugh. Any suggestions for pushing oneself to do something that is so incredibly boring for an indefinite amount of time is appreciated.

GTFO The Movie

FUoS plays a small role in the documentary film GTFO by Shannon Sun-Higginson. (Available on iTunes, Vimeo, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, and Vudu.)  GTFO started filming shortly after the Cross Assault incident over three years ago, and grew to examine more than just that one instance. We’re proud of the involvement in the film, and we’re proud of what has changed since FUoS started. We’re relieved that everybody now recognizes the fact that the software and websites we use are under human control and can be used to protect, rather than harm. In the non-gaming space, Facebook has been coming to grips with harassment on its service.  Reddit is banning subreddits that specifically harass others. Google announced just recently that they’ll be removing revenge porn from search results. Twitter has been making many changes to its safety features lately.

Riot Games’ Player Behavior Team, in particular, is leading the charge in game culture for finding ways to maintain the sanctity of Free Speech and Anonymity while preserving the safety of those targeted by particularly vicious individuals. MicroSoft introduced the Smart Match system with the Xbox One launch. Valve introduced Overwatch for CS:GO. I am hopeful that more companies will follow in Riot’s footsteps by transparently reporting on the effectiveness of their systems. These companies shouldn’t work on social problems as a proprietary concern — they should learn from one another, like the academics who staff them. That’s not to say that Clash of Clans would need the same kind of solutions as Gears of War, only that knowledge-sharing on successes and failures is a net gain for all of us. While Facebook and Twitter have been partnering with groups like Crash Override Network (see also: Online Abuse Prevention Initiative) who specialize in understanding online abuse, we haven’t yet heard of game companies taking similarly active steps. The game industry is changing, for the better, but there is a long way to go.

I could go on about Riot’s work in particular for days, but here are some small examples of what they have learned about the nature of online interactions. I am choosing these examples for the ways that they specifically run counter to our “common sense” understanding about toxic online behaviour. The staff on Riot’s PB team are basically the (much more scientifically rigorous) MythBusters, except for troll behaviour, and it’s awesome.


I put together a spreadsheet a while ago to gather together some of the efforts out there to understand and curb harassment and abuse in online games. (Lyte himself filled out the Riot sections of it immediately after seeing it. He’s so great, haha.) I wanted to give a quantified sense of how we, as a whole, are changing how we collectively think about navigating online spaces. Seeing one story here and there about policy changes is one thing, but I want to establish right here and now the idea that our online world now includes safety policies, protective measures, and active human-powered community management as basic requirements. Feel free to email or DM me (gtz) with any further entries. I’m not really sure the best way to convey the information, but for now, it lives in that spreadsheet.

Take note, developers: If you build any kind of software that allows users to interact with one another, omission of such features is a choice you have made. The expectation on every major online platform involves anti-abuse. It is now as fundamental of a feature as pressing a button to select a menu item. This is where we’re at, this is what your users expect — or they will leave. Take a look at many of the above-mentioned companies as examples of trying to fix a broken community that has hurt people, as opposed to establishing a positive and safe experience from the start.

Finally. Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse is the former Director of Xbox LIVE Policy and Enforcement (head Banhammer) at Microsoft. Recently, he fell into a deep coma. He has since awoken, and immediately demanded an iPad, but otherwise has a long recovery process ahead of him. There is a YouCaring funding page set up to assist with family expenses while he recovers. Stepto has always been a kind, caring, friendly and understanding person to us. He reached out to FUoS at the very beginning and made sure to establish that he didn’t have a problem with our silly little dick-joke failblog (my words). He is a good man to everyone who has met him, and we hope his recovery goes well. Any donations you can spare to help him and his family can be directed at his YouCaring donation page. Get well, Stepto. We’re rootin’ for you getting that iPad real soon, buddy. <3

  • Anonymous

    Alternate title:
    GTFO FUoS lmao

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    No mention of being featured on John Oliver? I came here from there and I’m now hooked Love your blog!!!!

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    How to motivate oneself to do super boring, limits unknown work: Get someone else to do it for you. :)

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    Lawl you only posted because you were on Oliver’s show and have yet to post since nor will you in the future. Anyhow nice attention grab it makes me want to stick a eggPLANT in your vag and eat it.. or punch it can’t decide.

  • Donovan Vaught

    I just want to say that when I went to the google play page for GTFO the movie I was immediately APPALLED at these two stupid fucking comments from dude-bros complaining. One of them (I SHIT YOU NOT) actually said and I quote “Girls just like “certain races” out there will always find away to make it about them!!” please continue to do good and show that these kind of opinions are horrible.

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