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Anonymous

Really problematic member who is deeply rooted in the community

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So I've got a massive problem with a long term member.

 

I recently told them I have been burned out from RP. I've been posting daily for some years, and simply can't anymore. I need a break. Also started a new job which means my focus is on that right now.

 

I told them that I will be stepping back from RPing for the foreseeable future (but still doing admin duties). That was last week.

 

About two days after that, I started getting contacted by them at every given opportunity. They would DM me on Discord, and if I don't reply, they spam me on Steam. I get home from work to emoji spamming that never occured before. This is not a coincidence. I know exactly what they're doing - trying to push me to get involved again. They have done it when I have taken breaks in the past, and they're doing it again now.

 

The tipping point was last night. They asked me to join a new thread in DM. Considering I'd told them where I'm at not two days prior, my response reinforced that:

"Sorry man, I've explained where I'm at right now and as I said before that isn't going to change overnight. I can't join another thread as I'm at my limit"

 

Their reply to me:

"I get it, you just don't care."

 

That's one of several such responses. I just stop replying whenever they say this kind of stuff, and they flounder around, posting several more messages as they realise how rude they sounded.

 

I know that talking to this person will not change. It's happened many times before. I explain my situation, and they are receptive and understanding at the time, telling me 'take all the time you need'. Then less than a few days later, this behaviour emerges.

 

The problem is, this is a deeply rooted member. Their partner is on the site, and 90% of people RP with them on the site. No members seem to have a problem with this person. There was one instance where this person was making racist jokes, so I gave them a warning (privately). It somehow got back to the core member base, who thought I had lost my mind and treated them unfairly. It seems I am the only one bothered by their low key racism, intolerance, passive-aggressiveness, etc.

 

Want another example? This one is vile. Me and another member mentioned how we had a good Australia Day (national holiday), and how it was good to see the indigenous flag and support of the movement growing. Problem member says "oh yes because the aboriginals had such a great time murdering and cannibalising each other before colonials arrived". Kept going on about how the aboriginals were primitives and were better off when Europeans came to make them civilised. We had a very new member who, turns out, was aboriginal. They DMed me saying they are leaving because of this crap. I immediately went to public chat and told problem member "Stop it right now, change the subject. We have an indigenous member here who is leaving because of this discussion." Guess what? The problem member's partner came onto the chat and said "Well that's an overreaction". This is the type of stuff I have to deal with. Not only problem member, but orbiters who fully support all their racist views and see no problem with them.

 

I'm just ... over this person. I needed to turn somewhere to air these troubles. All I've done is taken a step back from involvement in RP, and this person is starting up their dramatics again and reminding me they are way out of control.

 

And there doesn't seem to be a thing I can do about it. I've utterly failed as an admin by allowing this type of environment to breed.

 

TLDR:
Long term member is passive-aggressive at me because I have to step back from RP. No way out because rest of member base has no problem with them, and they're cemented in the community.

 

Have issued warnings to them before, only to be met with hostility from not only them but those they are friends with. I get ganged up on if I tell them to knock it off.

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Yeouch.

 

So, it looks like this kind of racism has been normalized and become a part of social bonding on your site. At this point ... what that means is that A. you're going to lose any PoC who might be interested, and some of us are going to assume you're alright with the status quo by our own necessary vetting processes, or B. you're going to lose the people that thrive in this sort of environment, which may well mean you're starting essentially from scratch. Sometimes the foundations we start on don't hold up against what's built on them.

 

In my first adminning experience, I got handed down a site with these kind of problems. While banning took care of some of it - the damage was already done. We were already That sort of place, and what happened instead was the bullying just got lower-key in its racism and sexism.

 

I was known as 'the janitor' after I left, rather than a less plausibly deniable racist nickname. I failed. I hope you'll succeed.

 

I'm not sure if there's a good solution here in practice, aside from taking what you learned and keeping it from getting this bad next place. If you find a way that does go farther? I am all ears.

Edited by Somniac
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By Wit & Whitby

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I'm going to agree with Jaxx and Somniac here--it's time to take out the trash, even if it means you might be starting from scratch. Racism is one of those problems that have to be nipped in the bud, otherwise it festers like an infected wound and we all know what happens if that is left untreated. Clean it up, do it quickly, and decide from there whether or not you wish to rebuild.

 

If you do, don't make the same mistake. Excise the problem before it gets out of hand, and don't let the activity of a few control the quality of your atmosphere.


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It's really not easy to make a decision that you feel will negatively affect your site. But here is the thing; you have said that you have needed to repeatedly step away from rp, your hobby, and not involve yourself on your site. Ultimately, this is a person who is hurting you. They are controlling and manipulating you to the point of utter exhaustion, you just can't face them, their behaviour or the support they appear to have cultivated. 

 

Step 1: Ban them

Step 2: (do it as close to the above as possible), issue a public statement explaining and possibly reiternating the behaviours you want to see on your site and those which are utterly unacceptable

Step 3: announce a new event/species/bonus - basically whatever your site would consider a yummy 

 

Make it clear that what is happening is not negative, this is a new start, positive beginning, wonderful opportunity and use those words. Will you lose the people who are close too/orbit this person? Well, yes, you may well do that. But has as been said before, do you want them on your site in the first place? It's clearly not a place you want to be and I guarantee for all those who leave there will be at least a few who are incredibly happy to be free of this toxicity - often you see a spike in activity from these people as they finally feel like they can breathe. 

 

Remember this, it's your site and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you making the rules, and also just making it clear how you want things to happen. Think of it like this, were these person(s) in your home, would you have tolerate that kind of behaviour and let them stay to eat your food, watch your wide screen and take advantage of you for this long? Or would you have told them exactly where to sling their hook a while back?

 

It won't be easy and it won't be fun. It may even be the case that you need to rebrand your site, new name/skin etc. to help remove any lingering taint that this person has left. 

 

Whatever you and whatever does end up happening, I hope this will be the start of something far more positive for your future along with your site. And remember this, nothing is ever as bad as it seems. You always have choices and this, the rping and the writing, it's supposed to be fun. Both for you and the others involved. But not for someone to abuse your good nature in this way. 

 

Good Luck!

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Making a public statement outlining your stance and thoughts on the problematic things happening would be especially important I feel, as well as tightening your rules on tolerance and respect towards others. Go full one strike and you're out, or add some sort of warning system, and stick to it.

 

If behaviours do not change, people complain or try to gaslight you into thinking you are crazy, coldly show them the door and do not think twice about it. I know most of us want to avoid confrontation and stirring the pot, but because people who hold disgusting views generally have no trouble being inflammatory, trying to act reasonable and nice with them just let's them run free. They need to be shut down instantly. Being intolerant of intolerance is not wrong, and in my opinion requires no justification or explanations. 

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It sounds like this is a member that has gotten away with misbehavior and more for a long time without any consequences. Rules must be enforced, and misbehavior stopped and punished. You are the admin, not them. When you don't stop the behavior the first time they think they can get away with it again, and again, and won't take you seriously. I'm sorry but this member has seriously disrespected you on multiple occasions and your reaction, from your initial post, as really been nothing. You've basically told this member that they can do this and you won't do anything. You have to lay down the ground rules, and  tell them if they don't comply what the consequences will be, and then follow through if they repeat. 

 

I know confrontation is hard, and our members are important. You are their friend and fellow writer. But you are also the admin. And admin comes first. This behavior is actually hurting your RPG and driving other members away. YOu shouldn't have to deal with that sort of toxicity. Toxic people destroy RPGs. You're lucky it hasn't destroyed yours yet, but it sounds like its going to if you don't put a stop to it now.

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My two cents:

 

If you don't value this person as a writer:

Ban them. If your other writers are only sticking around because they're loyal to a toxic person, you don't want them anyway.

 

If you do value their writing:

Be honest with them, and take control. It sounds like this person thinks rules don't apply to them, and that needs to change. This may be a good time to re-write your site rules, and alert everyone to changes that have been made. There are certain people, and I think your person may be one of them, that think that because they are a main writer on a site, they are invaluable, and untouchable, and that makes them equal to an admin. If you're not ready to ban them forever, issue them a warning that they will take seriously: ban them for a week, tell them why, and then release the ban. They will either rage quit and never come back, or return in a more respectful capacity. If they go back to their old habits, you can ban them permanently without losing sleep over whether or not you gave them a fair chance.

 

At the end of the day, it's your site, and if people want to play on it, they should respect you, and the rules they signed up for. If they can't do that, they can play somewhere else. 

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Definitely going to agree with what a lot of the others have stated here. You need to make the best decision for you and your vision of the site. I like Somniac inherited a site once upon a time where there had been extensive behavior problems. From two members (one of which was at one time an admin) bullying other people and taking over other peoples plots/want ads to suit their own storytelling (even though they rarely ever actually posted anything more than a comm). To the site creator bullying other members who had taken their want ads and not being around nearly as much and not fawning over their pairing as much as she would have liked. All of this really created this negative vibe and reputation for a site that initially I had really liked. I had tried to help out and squash things as they happened but then I was the bad guy. When the creator left the site and left it to me I inherited this member base of people who were just all so negative and toxic. Sure they posted, but anyone who came along 'x' out quickly and those who tried were run out of the chat. I tried my best to be the positive one and to set/lead by example however by that point, it was too little too late I had found. After putting a lot of work into it and trying to rebuild and rebrand it, I just couldn't do it. It left a bad taste in even my own mouth.

 

I hope you don't get to the point where it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Where you grow to dislike something you've built. No one should ever have the ability to do that. Stand strong. Stand firm. Lay out your expectations. Let them know that you have expectations and if they can't meet them then you wish them the best in their future endevours. If you believe in what you have built, don't let someone else dictate the way that it goes or the atmosphere that is created. Writers come and go. You may go through a lull for a minute when this person leaves but from the sounds of it, sure they are great for activity but are they really a great person for your site?


Platinum and Pearls

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I’m going to quote what one of the Initiative staff has said before:

There is being laid back and there is cosplaying a doormat.

 

Now the reason why I’m saying that is that right now you’re entire site is walking all over you.

 

There are many possible solutions to this problem but the top most priority is you need to remind this player that they are not an admin and their continued disrespect of you and the site has gotten out of hand.

 

You can apologize to them, if you want, for having overlooked it before and looking the other way and explain that it was because the confrontation from their cyber bullying tactics were too stressful but you’ve reached a tipping point. They either need to stop (list the behaviors and make sure to include group cyber bullying when disciplined) or else the next step will be to remove them from the site. Add in that you understand the other players are their friend but that is no reason to attack you, the admin, when you enforce the rules on them or any other player.

 

This will be hard to bounce back from and if you need to you may need to temporarily shut down your site for a “revamp” while you take your break from RP so you can come back refreshed and ready to restart if the worst should happen.

 

Good luck!

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I will be super blunt here, in a few points.

 

1- You're not running the site, this person is. And you're letting it happen.

 

2- No need for warnings as a way to inform them, they know the shit they're pulling. If it's part of your process, okay.

 

3- Once you ban, do not let them back in. They're not going to learn a lesson and become better because they got a temp ban. Ban and keep them out.

 

4- Be on the look out, because if this person is that popular and has that much of a hold over the site, they're not gonna leave well enough alone. Hope it doesn't come to it, but be prepared to ban at the very least their partner too. Maybe some more people will have to go. Be fair, but firm.

 

If that means you'll have to start your community from scratch... you'll have a healthier one in which this kind of manipulation isn't the norm.

 

Good luck!

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Shady McShaderson

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We've (myself and fellow admins) have only ever had two really terrible member cases and both of those times... they were firmly cemented in the community. Once they're there, it IS difficult to handle the situation in the way you probably would if they were still relatively new to the community. One in particular case is incredibly similar to what you describe and I ended up with half a site after me with pitchforks and flaming torches because of a singular individual disliking the fact myself and another admin needn't have a discussion to be on the same page since we've worked together for about eight years now. They didn't like the word 'no' and I became the villain in their tall tale. 

Anyway, so what to do? From experience, in hindsight, I wish I'd banned them on the spot the moment trouble started arising rather than letting it gooooo on and on in the hopes they'd run out of steam. Ban them. If they are so entwined in your community, trust me, they won't run out of steam and the problem will grow and grow and grow until you're practically ostracized from your own board - especially if you don't have a strong, reliable, beautiful staff team backing you. And the more they are involved, the less frightened they are of punishment because... they have a whole hoard of people backing them and they will be well aware of that fact. Especially in your current circumstance since you are stepping away from the RP aspect and ALOT of roleplayers, unfortunately, measure their respect for an admin from how active that admin is in writing. -eyeroll- 

Will you lose a lot of people by banning that person? Probably, but also, maybe not. Some people usually cotton on that that person was a toxic element of the environment they originally loved and removing it can be a bit of a wake up call for the rest. Like I said in the beginning, kinda been there, done that, and for weeks after the fact, I had members appearing after hiatuses apologising and telling me the lies that were going on behind my back. But of course, there's also the zealots that clear out and will quite passionately colour you and yours a horrible colour for the sake of status with the original problematic fool. Those people, whether once lovely members or not, you don't need nor want and you MUST cut your losses with them. Members come and members go no matter the circumstances and as someone has already said, you need to cut away the rot in order to let the rest thrive. 

 

Take back control of your site. You run it the way you want to, not the way a loud-mouthed member wants you to run it. The actions you take will also solidify your position as admin and that you're more than capable of maintaining the site whether you're actively writing or not. Admins need time out on occasion. We're human too. And if members don't like your decision, -gestures to the door-, there's nothing stopping them from finding another board that will entertain racist conversations. 

As for the initial ban, like someone has said, be completely transparent with the community. There's no need to be confidential and mysterious about it especially for such a predominant member of your community. You banned them due to XYZ. Because you've lost members. Because of the atmosphere it was creating throughout the site. You won't endorse it, and you expect your community to be positive, blah blah blah. You get the drill. 

Take control, honey. 

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"widows, ghosts, lovers sit and sing in the dark, arched marrow of me."
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