As longtime readers of the site know, I’ve been tough on NeoGAF since the beginning. It’s a hive of scum and villainy, with virtually no redeeming qualities. They’re also pretentious as fuck, and think that the place is some kind of Mecca of video gaming discussion. Wrong on both counts. So, when I was afforded the opportunity to interview some of the mods from NeoFAG (one of the original subreddits that Reddit’s Ellen Pao dropped the ax on last week), I leapt at the chance. After the jump, we’ll have a intro by the mods, and then the full interview will commence.
There’s 5 of us total which includes the founders and 3 other mods. The original sub “neogaf_sucks” was banned in July of 2014 for supposed doxing. It started with two members of NeoGAF actually. The first NeoGAF member, amir0x, posted a donation page where he scammed NeoGAF members out of thousands of dollars to buy drugs instead of helping his sick mother. The other NeoGAF member also set up a donation page asking for $75,000 in order to be able to go on a submarine tour of the Titanic and to write a book of her experience. Through posting their donation pages and having a laugh, I guess that was somehow doxxing and therefore the sub “neogaf_sucks” got banned. How it’s considered doxxing posting a publicly available donation page is beyond me.
After the banning, /r/NeoFag was created. We chose the name for the sub simply by switching around the last few characters and it so happened that it also spelled out “fag”. We did a lot of parody/satire and followed every rule. We rarely ever linked to or discussed another sub and when we did it was using an archive link. We never used real names unless they were a “known” person like Tyler Malka, who owns NeoGAF. When NeoGAF members had linked to their social media or personal info, it was always screenshotted and then names or any identifying info was removed.
The story going around is that we posted a picture of a 16-year-old transgender and didn’t remove it when notified by Reddit admins. We never saw a picture like that and would have removed it immediately on our own if we had seen it. We also never received any notification from the Reddit admins as, again, the picture would have been immediately removed because we learned how fast shit can turn when “neofag_sucks” was banned.
We also don’t underestimate just how delusional and mentally unstable many members of NeoGAF are, which is why if such a message did indeed come, it would have been taken with the utmost seriousness and handled properly. If this supposed “picture” was so important and needed to be removed, why didn’t the admins just delete it? They routinely delete posts off the front page of Reddit that don’t fit their narrative.
Was there ever a point you guys liked NeoGAF?
Yes, back when it was just GAF (Gaming Age Forums), and there was a lighthearted, humorous atmosphere not drowned in political correctness, and it felt like a genuine gaming community. After becoming NeoGAF during I believe 2006 — when Tyler Malka took over — the place started to transform into a more politically correct environment. However, it still had its moments and retained a decent amount of its identity until around 2008-2009ish, when NeoGAF became more involved with the “social justice” narrative. Power mods such as Dragona began censoring any perceived sexism, homophobia, or racism, even if the user’s intent was satirical or lighthearted. A good example of this is Dragona banning someone for merely making a joke about women drivers, which was a recurring theme.
If yes, then when did the decline start? To what, or who, would you attribute it to?
As mentioned, the noticeable decline began around 2008 and was due to a small number of SJWs assuming moderator status. Tone policing became more prevalent in addition to outright censorship. The word “faggot” was banned around this time, if not before. (In previous iterations of GAF, this word was commonly used.) 2010 is when the social justice narrative finally overpowered any dissenting voices due to a small but extremely dedicated number of users who expressed self-righteous outrage over anything that could be construed as bigotry. This is also the time when feminism took an iron-clad grip over the forum, with users such as Devolution and RiskyChris using the prototypical tactics you see in NeoGAF and other progressive hugboxes today: ban-baiting (enticing a user to defend his “problematic” language and subsequently get banned), dog-piling, suppression (“you are a bigot, therefore I don’t have to explain myself to you”), and constant whining and appeals to biased moderators. The NeoGAF of 2015 is completely unrecognizable.
What the biggest current problem with the place?
Tyler Malka, the owner, naturally. But as indicated by this dialogue, all kinds of forces are at play. Still, Tyler has taken a hands-off approach to his site while moderators he personally selected are free to enforce their bizarre radical leftist politics on the community and ban anyone who dissents, no matter how slightly, or how trivial the issue is. Because of this, the few recognizable members from the old GAF and NeoGAF are either too afraid to speak their minds or have long lost the will to participate. Meanwhile, NeoGAF’s status as a “safe space” for “marginalized” groups has attracted them by the dozens, if not hundreds. So, at NeoGAF, one sees an inordinate number of gays, transgenders and other fringe groups, which — even if you subscribe to the notion that these voices need to be heard — creates a distorted version of reality where the average Joe is actually the outsider. On a forum supposedly dedicated to video games! It is an atmosphere of eggshells, where the ordinary poster is petrified of saying anything that goes outside CorrectThought due to the inevitable and swift dog-piling followed by a ban. Despite this hard, authoritarian sway to the left, it is easy to see that most users don’t buy into the forced narrative individually but instead think everyone else does and therefore do so because of peer pressure and false consensus. This is another way in which the hivemind is reinforced.
These issues are not to ignore Tyler Malka’s own personal transgressions. This guy expressed markedly different sentiment regarding the SJW agenda in years past, in addition to his own actions of questionable morality, such as groping a woman without consent during a trip abroad. The site’s role as Tyler’s method of generating what was and may still be sizable income should also be called into question, as it is no coincidence NeoGAF became a safer, more sanitized place for certain groups around the time it became financially profitable. This Reddit post explains the financial interest in establishing hugboxes: http://i.imgur.com/AYaR6GU.png.
How about Reddit? Do you think it’s going to survive this latest round of censorship?
Reddit did what we expected it to do when we first created NeoFAG, so it was no surprise to us when we were banned. What is bothersome is the reason were banned – “harassment of community members” — only applied to NeoGAF, if you consider archiving topics, mean-spirited-but-satirical commentary, and calling out bullshit as harassment. So, in essence, we were the only notable “hate” sub that was banned for harassment that didn’t even apply to Reddit. Reddit also lied in its PR feed to the Washington Post about warning us. None of the moderators received a single warning from Reddit for anything we had ever done. Above all, they banned us to send a message about things to come with the “new”, Pao style Reddit. They needed to make examples. Many like-minded and friendly subs are still thriving. Obviously we don’t intend to express ire towards those subs, but merely point out the strategic nature of the recent bans.
It’s possible Reddit will actually thrive due to this latest purge, as it is trying to follow a model of business that NeoGAF of all places uses. By sanitizing IncorrectThought and shadowbanning “problematic” users, Reddit creates a safe space for its target demographic: young, low-status men often of the outcast/nerd variety who base their identities around vague ideals and catchphrases like “equality” and “social justice”. These are the same people who shamelessly bought Kony2012 merchandise a few years ago, who fill the coffers of obvious televangelist-style cultural critics and opportunists, and who will buy comically marked-up T-shirts with feminist slogans all because of a Reddit ad.
That said, Pao has demonstrated her incompetence several times in her short reign, all of it exacerbated by the unforeseen (to her) blowback from the recent bans and her hilariously inept handling of Reddit’s own interface. And of course, we all know about the shitstorms she’s been at the center of. This is all to be expected of someone whose only qualification seems to be “I fucked the boss.” There’s also the question of larger entities’ respective stakes in Reddit. So, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if Reddit crashes, and word of their unprofitability already persists. Maybe a more competent CEO will at least allow them to reap profit from their latest policy.
Is Voat up to the task of replacing them? They’ve kinda dropped the ball this week (although not all their fault).
As of today, Voat is absolutely not up to the task of replacing Reddit. They have a fraction of the user base, and even that amount has completely overwhelmed their resources. These issues will likely improve, but the long-term prognosis of Voat in regards to free speech is probably similar to Reddit’s. Remember, Reddit up to around 2012 was a staunch defender of free speech.
What are your plans going forward? New homes, etc.
We are settling into Voat (site down) and 8chan. Our purpose will not change, but the methods of execution may. That purpose more or less is to discuss NeoGAF freely and have a good laugh while doing it. A lot of what we do is parody, and satirical, and the fairies can’t even handle that. At best they emulate people who actually know how to laugh at themselves. Anyways, both 8chan and Voat have advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to us to figure out how to best utilize them. We have a significant amount of our material backed up, and it shouldn’t be any more than a minor inconvenience to return to full functionality. We are fortunate and thankful to have faithful members of all backgrounds and beliefs who will stick with us through this setback.
Do you have any words for GamerGate, or the community here at TheRalphRetort.com?
Personally speaking, I was a supporter of GamerGate in its beginning. I thought InternetAristocrat was the best at uncovering the corruption and hitting the issue at its core. Since then, I’ve come to realize a portion of GamerGate behaves in the same manner as their opposition. I’ve also noticed a lot of GamerGate supporters attempted to tone-police NeoFAG, even if they admit to agreeing with its purpose. Above all else, NeoFAG is about free speech, and we will never compromise our expression just to appear less mean or threatening to people who are unable to handle criticism or harsh language, and aren’t looking to play nice at all besides. We’ve never directly associated ourselves with GamerGate, but I think we all agree that censorship, nepotism, and unscrupulous agenda-pushing are abhorrent.
In my time reading the comments section of TheRalphRetort.com, I’ve generally been pleased with the awareness of the user base and their colorful language. Many are savvy to the ways of NeoGAF et al.
I agree with that last part about our commenters 100%. I’ll be back later this evening with more. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this interview.