Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media

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  • A discussion arose in the discord server about RGL’s policy on hate speech. To give context, RGL’s current rules:

    ANY use of slurs either in in-game chat or found on named items during scrims and matches, whether directed or undirected, is STRICTLY prohibited.*

    1st offense will be a 2-week ban (3 weeks for Invite)
    Any further offenses will lead to increasingly longer ban lengths

    Some examples of what harassment is:

    Verbal abuse, offensive behavior, or hate speech made towards a player (through any medium) that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened
    Threatening to dox or harm another player
    Stalking
    Circumventing another player’s block over Steam/Discord/other social media

    Some examples of what harassment is NOT:

    In-game “trash talk” (ex: being called bad) (note that excessive toxicity/”trash talk” may still fall under the rules outlined in [1002.1] - Sportsmanship and Spirit)
    Being spammed in private messages - If someone is bothering you, just block them.
    Gossip in private Discords

    To put it bluntly, the top levels of RGL is filled with players who actively spew hate speech, whether by spoken word, or on Discord servers (specifically not the RGL discord). I’m personally of the opinion that RGL should accept reports of these actions and subsequently punish such players for promoting/using hate speech. In addition, I believe RGL should tighten the punishment from being timed bans, to being permanent bans.

    Firstly, allowing players who are actively known by players in the community to use hate speech is incredibly damaging to the image of RGL. RGL understands this and institutes their current rules (as given above). However, their stance on not “policing” the private discords or other media options players use still indirectly harms RGL’s image. In particular, there are a couple of private servers that come to mind that are filled with only RGL players where hate speech is used flippantly. My particular stance is that RGL should allow players to report these instances (with screenshots or voice recordings only) and punish the accused accordingly. RGL does not need a section of their community being thinly veiled wolves in sheep clothing. RGL does not need players who are “perfect saints” in matches and scrims, but are openly abusive to entire swathes of humanity everywhere else.

    Arguments have been made that players should be allowed to have free speech, however there is a common misconception with this argument: You are totally able to say the n-word, for instance. However, there are consequences that can occur by doing so. RGL can punish offenders to the maximum of their ability, a permanent ban, if they so choose and it is not infringing on your right to free speech.

    In reality, I can find no reason personally that RGL does not adopt a “once and done” ban system for hate speech, and I see no reason that players cannot report hatespeech/harassment against an entire race/sexual orientation/gender from a player outside of the RGL platform. If the argument is that there is not enough staff, I will gladly dedicate as much time and effort as I humanly can to assist in bettering the league.

    Feel free to discuss, I will likely answer any opposition to my reasonings.

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  • People have expressed concerns with the ability to rehabilitate offenders and reintegrate them into the community.

    1. I agree that rehabilitation and education are extremely important goals. They are important to me personally as well as in principle.
    2. However, limiting harm done in the here and now is also extremely important, regardless of whether the harmdoer will or won’t eventually be rehabilitated in the future.

    To this end, a possible alternate proposal is that rather than a first strike permaban, the first strike be an indefinite ban with a minimum duration.

    • thus, the banned player does have a chance to demonstrate whether they have ceased the harmful behavior once the term is up
    • but, if they do not show change, they will remain banned
    • and if further harms are perpetrated, the more permanent penalty may be enacted

    It has also been pointed out that the league does not have the resources to “police private Discords”.

    • however, neither does it have the resources to “police” every scrim and match
    • the system is based on player reports anyway

    Finally:
    It is known that moderation can be an extremely tasking duty with serious effects on mental health.

    • What can be done to support the mental well-being of the staff who are tasked with going through reports?
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  • Reminder to follow the forum rules and not spam in our threads. We will be handing out bans.

  • @Ampy said in Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media:

    Firstly, allowing players who are actively known by players in the community to use hate speech is incredibly damaging to the image of RGL. RGL understands this and institutes their current rules (as given above). However, their stance on not “policing” the private discords or other media options players use still indirectly harms RGL’s image.

    honestly im gonna sound dumb as shit here (4 hours of sleep lowe me) but how does a player’s actions damage the image of the league? im not arguing with u i just want to educate myself here.

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  • RGL already has a pretty fluid practice for taking action against players with context being of lesser importance. I don’t think increasing their domain to private channels would be popular or result in any actual good outcome. None of what you are advocating for would lead to anything positive and just lead to some extreme policing against every player at the cost of RGL admins ditching their day job to look at reports all day that could just be solved by not associating with whoever it is being reported.

    Anyways, Some examples of what harassment is NOT:
    Being spammed in private messages - If someone is bothering you, just block them.
    Gossip in private Discords

  • @vryktion I can testify to knowing at least one person who has quit comp due to toxicity and slur-slinging in team Discords, including some from Invite players who were acting as mentors.

    It comes down to a choice of – do you want to make a space that is welcoming toward people who enjoy partaking in hate speech and casual racism and so on, or do you want to make a space that is welcoming toward everybody else? Because one or the other will be pushed out, whether by quitting, being banned, or changing their behavior (for better or for worse).

    I am sure there can be debate and discussion over the degree of these effects and the most effective countermeasures, but that they exist is undeniable.

  • @vryktion said in Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media:

    @Ampy said in Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media:

    Firstly, allowing players who are actively known by players in the community to use hate speech is incredibly damaging to the image of RGL. RGL understands this and institutes their current rules (as given above). However, their stance on not “policing” the private discords or other media options players use still indirectly harms RGL’s image.

    honestly im gonna sound dumb as shit here (4 hours of sleep lowe me) but how does a player’s actions damage the image of the league? im not arguing with u i just want to educate myself here.

    Acknowledging that someone is bigoted but being unwilling to take a stance since it didn’t occur in RGL-regulated services is a form of complicity.

  • @vryktion

    Let me give a hypothetical.

    Let’s say I am hypothetically a flaming racist. I have been this way for years, even before TF2. I may or may not have posts on twitter, facebook, or discord in this instance that state openly racist/anti-lgbtq friendly words or phrases.

    However, whenever I am playing an RGL match, or scrim, I am the perfect angel. No one would know otherwise if that was the end of it.

    BUT! Players from RGL gather in a separate discord, for instance, for pugs to practice in. Inside this server, I spew my racist/anti-lgbtq friendly words and phrases. Outsiders to the community see me, a potentially prominent TF2 player, being openly racist/anti-lgbtq, and begin to associate RGL with the same. It promotes the idea that RGL is not actually a safe haven against this threat, but just a thin veil. Players inside the community are turned away from the league because the community is only inches away from the hate speech.


    @BMPD

    I am specifically asking for harsher punishments (instead of just the weeks that increase each time to instead be permanent), and for players to be able to report such harassment to the staff. I will counter your argument by stating that my proposed solutions would create an influx of report/bans in the short term (as RGL would need to catch up to the issue and deal with more reports coming in due to what has been said already by players in the community), but it is a necessary evil that I think RGL should be prepared and willing to accept.

  • pretty sure rgl extending their rules into private discord servers would result in an extremely toxic environment for everyone. if someone you play with says a no no word that you dont like, block/dont play with them.

    it would also would be really unreasonable to enforce. are you going to expect every rgl player to be on guard duty for all of their peers and to turn them in if they say a funny word? yeah idk

  • @shia-wno

    I would love to just block/not play with them. However, the higher in the league you go, the more prevalent this issue has become and as such makes it infinitely harder to be apart of a team without such players. By purging the problem children, eventually this would not be an issue at all.

    I don’t expect every RGL player to “be on guard”. I expect every RGL player to go about their daily lives and, if hate speech occurs, to report it and move on.

  • @Ampy if alot of top players say the funny word = they all get banned = pro matches arent fun to watch = league dies

    simplified but you get my drift. you could also just ignore it. im pretty sure most people including myself dont mean what i say whenever i say some funny stuff in a private call with my friends

  • @shia-wno said in Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media:

    pretty sure rgl extending their rules into private discord servers would result in an extremely toxic environment for everyone.

    I am interested in hearing how this creates a more toxic environment if you don’t mind explaining.

    @shia-wno said in Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media:

    it would also would be really unreasonable to enforce. are you going to expect every rgl player to be on guard duty for all of their peers and to turn them in if they say a funny word? yeah idk

    I don’t think the point is to get RGL to delete racism forever. Racist people will always exist. Anti-LGBT people will always exist. The point is if you can determine for sure that someone is being bigoted outside of official RGL-regulated services, why would you keep that person in the community? This is a pretty normal expectation in FGC communities and other game communities.

  • @Ampy i don’t agree, you should not ban someone from the rgl league just because they used the nword once in a private chat or because they used some slurs OUTSIDE of RGL discord, forums, Scrims, official or anything related, you basically say that a player that used the nword once is banned from the league? That’s ridiculous, RGL moderators should not be in the teams discords or groupchat, it will take lots of moderators and time, and also, is just impossible to have a moderator in all teams, as well, this looks very BLM vibes and LGBTQ vibes, i have nothing against them, it’s just that is ridiculous to ban someone because of something that happened outside of RGL

  • imo this extends too far into the privacy of players. when people sign up for rgl they don’t want to be monitored 24/7 ingame and on their own time. by allowing players to report things said in private discords it just creates a hellhole for player privacy because what if its a friend discord with non-tf2 players in it?

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