Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering

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  • This is a twit longer recently made by an ETF2L AC admin and I think it deserves a good amount of discussion here as well

    The Tweet

    The Twitlonger

  • A new post/thread like this comes up every year it seems, but as she wrote, nothing has really changed each time. The reason being that there are next to no consequences on the TF2 platforms for engaging in harassment or hateful behavior, particularly in places like TFTV and ETF2L. As one example: there are multiple people that have been banned for harassment on RGL that are some of the most active posters on TFTV forums/discord. That’s a bad sign, and only leads to the perpetuation of harassment culture. If you are a person that brings harm to the community, you should be removed from the community through bans across the board from forums, leagues, pugs, etc. Sure that will not stop all off-platform behavior but it’s at least some deterrent. Trust me when I say that a lot of these kids are quite attached to competitive TF2 and would feel these consequences.

    That being said, I do think RGL has been one of the only organizations that has been willing to put their foot down on this. It could always be better, but I don’t think any other organization has even come close. Some try to perpetuate a narrative that RGL is harming the community through a more hands-on approach, but it just doesn’t prove true when you look at the statistics and feedback collected through surveys. Always remember that often the most vocal critics are the exact people that engage in harmful behavior, so their motives to resist are clear, and almost a sign that you’re on the right path. It is the mostly-silent majority that are the real community of RGL. In a large part, I hope that these forums may help to bring some of those people forward once they know that they can actually engage in welcoming and constructive discussions here. This is how the culture changes, by opening the door to drowning out the negativity.

    Competitive TF2 is a small community, and needs to be moderated more along the lines of a private club than as a public utility. We should be willing to shed the worst parts of the community that are dragging us down so that we can thrive in an environment that is wholesome, constructive, welcoming, competitive/game-focused, etc. We should be willing to lose a corrupted veteran in order to make way for a positive newcomer. In the long run, this will bear the greatest change. We’ve already seen how efforts to make TF2 more accessible have led to the great growth of RGL over the past year. For the sake of the competitive TF2 community RGL must stay committed to this goal.

  • Yeah. I pretty much agree with all of this. It’s a little old but Tag had a great video about this topic a little wile ago. There hasn’t ever been any real precedent set for completely cutting people off.

  • I definitely think rgl is signficantly better at dealing with toxic shizz than ugc and etf2l in my xp so far

    Also I just realised I know her, she is super nice! (and I too had some very toxic experiences in EU tho of course it happens on both continents)

    It would be cool if higher ups at RGL could collaberate with higher ups in other leagues/forums on bans and things

  • As someone who’s new to the competitive scene in TF2 it’s sad to say that this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of stuff like this happening in the competitive scene. In the pub setting it’s perpetuated that there are a lot of toxic people in competitive and harassment is normal. But after this read, and seeing the community for myself, they’re right. RGL is the only exception at the moment, which leads to a bunch of threads being mad that RGL doesn’t tolerate player misconduct like how other leagues turn a blind eye or give a slap on the wrist. Which makes me really appreciate RGL and that I started with it, I’ve only had to deal with a low amount of toxicity and the majority of experiences have been positive. The issue right now is that RGL isn’t totally independent from the rest of the community (yet), where most discussions are still mostly done on Tftv and pugging is out of RGL’s control as well (because of tf2center and other smaller pug communities)l. So players who get banned or in trouble for violating the rules can continue to play and spread the toxicity like a weed to the rest of the community through other means. The community is small, but it always seems like you can just go somewhere else if you can’t play somewhere at the moment. For example (in the current ruleset) if you’re a European that gets decent ping to the US you can play in RGL, ETF2L, and UGC (on top of pugging/community input on tftv/etc) so if you get banned/suspended from one, you can just play in another. As for the root of the issue, the tf2 scene did a really bad job of cracking down on harassment/toxicity for years of the scene to my understanding, and those years led to it being normalized to the point where people see anything that’s regulated as too far. I’m really hoping that RGL can continue the path it’s on, because if it does there are going to be (and already are) new players that now have the new standards as the norm, rather than the norm being stuff like the twitter post above.

  • I completely agree with Amaterasu in what they stated. RGL is doing a much better job than other leagues in this respect (banning system, etc) however, taking into account the way the other leagues operate, that isn’t much of a baseline. There is so much room for improvement concerning this, and I very much echo b4nny’s point that “Competitive TF2 is a small community, and needs to be moderated more along the lines of a private club than as a public utility.” RGL can literally be run however the admins want, since it runs completely outside of the actual game. What this means is that RGL can easily take a harder stance against those who make the community an unbearable place (notice how I said community, and not specifically ingame). As much as I’d like to see cross-league mirrored bans (or even game bans), I somehow don’t see this as a possibility due to ETF2L, UGC, and TFTV’s cumulative track records. The way many other (and larger) esports leagues operate, players can get banned from things they do outside of the game and its environment, and I see this as perfectly okay. Why should it be okay for a player to be 100% toxic out of the game, and when ingame, they skate around the rules so they are not banned? Usually this goes hand-in-hand with those in the higher divisions, as I’m sure RGL is scared that they will decrease the overall size of the divisions if they actually banned every player that needed to be banned. This is a multifaceted issue, and I as every other competitive tf2 player is affected by consistent inaction and this sort of ‘grey zone’ that allows for toxicity to perpetuate within our community. I love this game and I love this community, and we shouldn’t hold ourselves back from making it the best place it can be ^_^

  • @tide said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    The way many other (and larger) esports leagues operate, players can get banned from things they do outside of the game and its environment, and I see this as perfectly okay. Why should it be okay for a player to be 100% toxic out of the game, and when ingame, they skate around the rules so they are not banned? Usually, this goes hand-in-hand with those in the higher divisions, as I’m sure RGL is scared that they will decrease the overall size of the divisions if they actually banned every player that needed to be banned. This is a multifaceted issue, and I as every other competitive tf2 player is affected by consistent inaction and this sort of ‘grey zone’ that allows for toxicity to perpetuate within our community. I love this game and I love this community, and we shouldn’t hold ourselves back from making it the best place it can be ^_^

    RGL is not scared about the decrease in the size of the divisions at all. If players are violating the rules that are laid out in the rulebook, then they will receive a punishment. It does not matter if you are a top-level or a community member. The league receives over 15+ misconduct reports a week. Having the volunteer admins to have to go through every single report, come to a conclusion, and issue the appropriate action can take a toll on these staff members. This is an important detail to consider since it is not only the staff’s job to do so but the players as well. Players that see harassment occurring around them and allow it to occur are allowing this behavior to perpetuate and become normalized. Change can only occur if everyone helps.

    Furthermore, RGL does not believe it is fair to police the words and actions of players in a private setting and therefore will not apply much scrutiny to these reports unless we suspect a genuine intent to harm or threaten another player. We have made this clear in our rules and have continued to enforce these guidelines. Gossip in private Discords, being spammed in private Steam messages, or in-game “trash talk” are all examples that do not constitute harassment. In particular, in-game banter is a part of every competitive activity and has always existed. Players cross this line when they resort to personal attacks.

    If you do see harassment occurring, then you are always welcome to use our report system, Steam reports, or the Discord Trusty & Safety report system. Ultimately, issues like these can not be properly addressed if they are not reported. In my personal opinion, I believe RGL is doing the best that they can to address harassment in our community. As stands, the league has drawn a line in which they wish to deal with these issues. If anything, you tend to have a larger vocal minority of players that believe RGL is overstepping their boundaries by penalizing players for using slurs in scrims. The league and player base believes this is not acceptable, so it has continued to be enforced. It is essentially a tug between two sides because you will always have one side of the spectrum that believes the league should be laxer with enforcement and the other side believes that there should be more enforcement.

    In the end, the topic of harassment in the community can only be addressed if all leagues, organizations, and players work together to speak up against it and not allow it to occur. RGL can always do its part to improve on how it deals with moderation. The league, as well as any other leagues, will never be perfect with this. That being said, the goal of a more welcoming and respectful community is an integral part of the league and is something that we want to continue.

  • @exa said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    from making it the best place it can be ^_^

    Alrighty, again what you said makes it seem like you need more volunteers, and I’d be more than happy to volunteer or do anything I can to help 🙂

  • Going to throw it out there that half the people bitching about racism and trans/homophobia are just wolves in sheep’s clothing. A ton of discords with top level players are full of the n word and slurs, and they’re also the same people who are “getting harassed.” racism.JPG racism2.JPG

    It’s pretty obvious racism, slurs, and harassment are bad, but you all fake as fuck for doing it in private then complaining in front of others because it happened in a match or scrim. No shots at anyone posting above; I’m making a generalization. It’s about a hundred different people with half belonging to “marginalized communities,” so I’d say it’s accurate. Those pics aren’t from “”“toxic”"" communities and are only highlander players.

    Also…
    “Furthermore, RGL does not believe it is fair to police the words and actions of players in a private setting”
    Lol

  • @norfnorf said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    Also…
    “Furthermore, RGL does not believe it is fair to police the words and actions of players in a private setting”
    Lol

    If you’re going to quote my sentence, then you should quote the entire sentence – not part of it and leaving the rest of the context out.

    “Furthermore, RGL does not believe it is fair to police the words and actions of players in a private setting and therefore will not apply much scrutiny to these reports unless we suspect a genuine intent to harm or threaten another player.”

  • Even if I may have different wishes as far as condemning egregious off-platform behavior, I would certainly far rather RGL continue its current stance of eliminating that kind of behavior from official spaces than just throw up its hands and go “WELP whatever, people are assholes, who cares, toodleoo”.

  • @norfnorf I feel like this is missing the point of the thread’s topic. If there is stalking, threats, doxxing etc. – that is, actual harassment directed toward some individual – happening in those discords, then it absolutely should be banworthy. I believe, and I hope the league admins agree, that repeating The Funny Word in a private, non-league setting does not necessarily constitute harassment on its own.

    RGL has a different rule that bans Funny Words in public scrims and matches, but that rule should be debated on its own merits instead of being conflated with anti-harassment rules.

    The key ethical difference is that, if your teammates or discord buddies don’t think your Funny Word usage is very funny, then they can choose to stop associating with you. The other team in your match can’t really do that – RGL’s schedule has commanded them to play in the same server as you – so having a minimum standard for politeness is more justified in that space.

  • @Iso My comment was in response to some replies about general toxicity and less so towards someone getting death threats or whatever.

    Also, you know what I do when someone harasses me, is annoying, or says shit I don’t want to listen to? I block or mute them and then move on. I don’t cry about being bullied online. I can post a pretty detailed tutorial on how to mute or block someone who says mean things to you. Unless someone is straight up spamming you on 10 accounts, how can you ever get inconvenienced by something a person says to you online when you can control everything you see. 🤷🏻♂

  • @norfnorf I personally do not care at all about whether someone I’m playing with is “toxic” in the sense of making off-color jokes. I think “harassment” was meant in this thread in a more specific sense, closer to Ameratsu’s post (which did make light of “death threats or whatever”)

    I recently rang for an amateur HL team’s scrim, and one of their players very carefully asked in vc to check whether anyone was “streaming, easily offended, or an RGL admin” (lol) before he yelled a lot of things that would get him banned very quickly if he had said them publicly. I didn’t think he was very entertaining (I’ve seen funnier and more creative profanities before), but I had no desire to report him, and I think “the silent majority” wouldn’t give a shit either.

    It was a strange interaction, but I can see how some may find this a better state of affairs than certain other leagues’ laissez-faire chat shitposting, even if extremists on both sides find it unsatisfying (one side can’t sleep at night knowing that thoughtcriminals can still breathe the same air as them, and the other feels frustrated that their epic comedy is prematurely deemed unfit for public broadcast).

  • @norfnorf there’s certainly a lot to unpack here in regards to your comment. your reductionist way of thinking in saying that blocking/muting solves everything is rather ignorant, in that it does not solve the problem, it only provides a temporary fix. The root of the problem is that the toxicity/harassment is happening initially, and that shouldn’t happen period. Explaining away the problems with “racism, slurs, and harassment” and saying that it happens in other private discords, meaning that it is okay in those enviroments is an awful argument.

  • @tide If a gamer says a slur in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

    This might boggle your mind to hear, but some people legitimately do not mind playing with “”“toxic”"" players who banter using politically incorrect words. Who, exactly, is being harassed if these players keep it amongst themselves?

  • @tide I agree! The “mute” don’t report mentality is both selfish and lazy! If you report then other people don’t have to deal with the bullshit either 😜

  • @Iso said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    @tide If a gamer says a slur in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

    This might boggle your mind to hear, but some people legitimately do not mind playing with “”“toxic”"" players who banter using politically incorrect words. Who, exactly, is being harassed if these players keep it amongst themselves?

    Which is why RGL does not ban people if they are not reported by someone who took part in the match/scrim. We have no auto-ban policy. So your statement of why ban someone if no one is offended, is how the policy works right now.

    Also here is the article that breaks down the survey we posted earlier this year asking if players wanted us to continue the way we moderate in RGL. The majority of players affirm the policies we use to moderate our league.

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  • @LiaRein said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    @tide I agree! The “mute” don’t report mentality is both selfish and lazy! If you report then other people don’t have to deal with the bullshit either 😜

    Quick thought experiment: suppose that you were the ringer in this amateur scrim

    I recently rang for an amateur HL team’s scrim, and one of their players very carefully asked in vc to check whether anyone was “streaming, easily offended, or an RGL admin” (lol) before he yelled a lot of things that would get him banned very quickly if he had said them publicly.

    What would you do?

    • a) Ignore it and play anyway, because you don’t really pay much mind to such things
    • b) Respond to the question by asking him not to, because you don’t want to hear it
    • c) Leave their team discord, let them find a different ringer if they want to be like that
    • d) Say nothing in response to the question, but record the scrim for evidence and report him to the admins, bringing justice to remove this deplorable from Our Community once and for all

    Myself and the 7 other people in that scrim* all chose option (a). I still respect anyone who needs to choose (b) or even (c), but the people who would choose (d) frighten me, because they believe that the job of a moderator is to remove bad people, and not to encourage good actions.

    Swinging the banhammer too freely doesn’t just lower the number of players, it makes the entire remaining community more divisive and less trusting of each other – the remaining players will see their friends get banned over misunderstandings (per human nature, there inevitably will be misunderstandings) and act excessively guarded, which sucks away fun for everyone in a positive feedback loop.

    * for what it’s worth, some of them also had no loyalties to that team – they used 3 different ringers for the scrim, but such is life in amateur highlander (I don’t know whether the offensive gamer was also a ringer)

  • @norfnorf said in Competitive TF2, Harassment, and Volunteering:

    I honestly pity those who are unintelligent enough to not mute someone being rude to them and instead cry to the admins and make their lives more complicated.

    For RGL pugs and the RGL discord I genuinely want people to “make my life more complicated” with reports. I obviously can’t speak for other departments but part of combating this sort of thing is knowing what’s going on, and evidence of behaviour. Reports exist for a reason, and the ability to act on them is important for various reasons, including fighting the kind harassment listed in the OP.

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