Thursday, January 22, 2015

Every Day Vaughn’s Shuffling

This morning saw a spate of reactions to the rule changes on Vaughn last night from confusion to support for having a way to host banned casters. To review, if a user hosts someone who is ‘permabanned’ on Vaughnlive on a skype call during a cast, that user will be ‘shuffled’ to the back of the top bar. This seems to be in response to a certain French Canadian skyping with a banned Vaughn user during his cast, and receiving a one week…two weeks…might be up to a month and a half now ban. Unfortunately much of the feedback to Vaughn, sought thru Facebook, amounts to personal expressions of support rather than anything dealing with the changes themselves, which creates a false sense of the true reaction of the user community.

First, not sure why anyone would bother being mad about the changes on Vaughnlive, they would have to have been mad about something else first. And granted, the staff there seems to deal with some daily drama from problem users. So while it is not always understandable the way they interact with their users (labeling groups of people who don’t agree with them as ‘haters’, Mark saying he ‘doesn’t give a shit’ what users think), their overall frustration is somewhat understandable. Understandable, but not condonable since Vaughnsoft is ostensibly a business, maybe take a vacation, switch up roles, or something else to ease the level of stress. Their head admin’s style of a high level of interactivity combined with inconsistent enforcement approaches unchecked because of a mixed business/personal relationship may have invited some of this, but let’s accept that there would be some level of drama in the user base of a casting web site even if it was run perfectly.

To say one doesn’t give a shit what users think is also somewhat ‘tough talk’, in the sense that Vaughn has gone thru distinct periods of “take it or leave it”, “oops I mean please come back, all users are unbanned”, and now back to take it or leave it apparently. That approach is at Mark Vaughn’s discretion, obviously they can operate the site at their discretion within the confines of applicable law where Vaughnsoft is registered. What they cannot do is cause users not to form their own opinion, or invite a reaction by casting discussion of the rule changes, but then attempt to refuse to receive feedback.

Lost in all of this is that this shuffling casts based on skype calls with banned users is a problematic approach.

Say you have a caster with a call in show, like the EastCoastVegas show, who is not 'plugged in' to knowing who banned casters are (since that is the defense, that everyone 'knows' who is banned even if they do not and that this is only “a handful of users”). Further that caster with a show publishes a skype number to call in.  That show, according to last night's changes, will be 'shuffled' to the back of the top bar without warning. The only way the user would find out whether the site was having technical problems, or that specific action was taken against their cast, is to contact technical support. And occasionally contacting technical support seems to make matters worse.

But it is just shuffled you say? You're right, it's not a big deal. It is however, a devised punishment or disincentive from having banned users on a skype call. A number of people cast in order to develop popular casts, burying the advertisement of the cast in the top bar is an attempt to dissuade users from hosting banned casters.

Further there is no clear way to avoid the disincentive. Someone suggested that a caster would be told by chatters that a user is banned. First, according to the cast last night that wouldn't work, because a caster will be 'shuffled' without consultation, stated eloquently if somewhat quizzically as "no one is wiping asses" or something like that. Second, a caster cannot reasonably depend on what the chatters in a channel are saying. Finally what if the number of banned users changes in the future based on site usage? Why implement a rule or process that does not scale, or that depends on only having around four banned users?

These objections was raised during the cast last night. Unfortunately it was met with responses that “a caster is responsible for potential TOS violations of anyone on their cast”. That statement in of itself is fine, the caster can terminate a skype call if the site’s terms of service are being violated by the caller. Of course the actual terms of service are a somewhat boiler plate legal document, so ostensibly what’s being referenced is this “list of rules”:

- No hate speech
- No sexually explicit content
- No illegal activity
- No disrespect of Staff / Crew / Tech

The rule set has the positive of being short and to the point if somewhat vague at times, especially the amorphous “disrespect of staff” which has gotten plenty of print in this and other blogs over the years.

So, in summary, in our hypothetical above a user hosts an open skype call, and does not have administrative access to Vaughnlive so he has no way to check which users are ‘permabanned’ (as opposed to temporarily banned, chat banned, and whatever other bans have been invented while writing this piece). When a list was suggested, ala the ‘Jail list’ in Battlecam, Mark and his administrator vehemently objected to that approach. That is also understandable, Mark has oft sought to be distinctly different than Battlecam and thus it would be unlikely he would adopt that site’s practices.

But then how does a caster know who is banned, so he or she can avoid taking the call that will ‘shuffle’ them on cam? The response: ‘everybody knows who is banned’. The Shoutbox, a proxy for ‘power users’ of casting sites, couldn’t come up with a complete list of permanently banned users. So there appears to be little transparency and consistency here, the chief complaint against Vaughn administration, the complaint Vaughn staff themselves are sick of hearing and via that frustration tune it out, and thus a negative spiral continues.


Anonymous said...

Nice write up whoever guest 373 is. Even though I didn't read all that, most get the idea the Vaughns do not come across as professional. If they are doing things for the community they need to listen to what the community wants.

To say he does not give a shit is coming from someone with a piss poor attitude.

Mark said last night it wasn't his responsibility to let everyone know who is not allowed on the site or too bad if you don't know who is perma banned from the site. So whose responsibility is it? I was really shocked when he mentioned these two comments. The site does need a list put somewhere on the site something to what Battlecam (sticky notes) has of perma banned users. They could put it in the tech corner channel.

Anonymous said...

Mark actually cried while reading this, the truth hurts doesn't it Mark and Scuntty ?!?

Anonymous said...

The Incest King & Queen can't publish a list of banned users; it would be too long to read.