Sanya Weathers Pleads for Community Managers to Stop Homophobia

Sanya Weathers is one of the more outspoken Community Managers in the game industry, and she has represented some of the more vocal gaming communities in the biz (DAoC anyone?).  On her personal blog, Sanya has posted an pledge for gaming CMs to stop homophobia on the forums they represent.

So, speaking of help: Help me, fellow mods and CMs. (And help me, players, by reporting and not responding when you see it.) We’ve got to stop tolerating homophobia in our communities. I’m not saying we have to go and get gay married. You don’t even have to support an agenda of any kind. All you have to do is say that you will not permit one of your customers to call another one of your customers a faggot.

 

Here is my pledge:

 

If you’re young and LGBT, I want you to know that gaming is getting better. In any community that I run, you will not be called names if you choose to be open about your identity and orientation. I will not allow the use of homophobic slurs, either at you or near you. I will not work for an employer who does not have my back on this. My forums are a safe place where you are not “other.” You are not alone. You are, always and forever, one of us.

(Source)

We are often quick to blame the players for the insults they sling at each other without thought of who they might be hurting.  But a big part of the responsibility should come down on the game companies who allow this kind of language to be used without repercussions.  If it no longer is okay for them to post homophobic slurs on official forums and blogs, players will learn to think twice about what they’re saying.

While Sanya’s pledge is very admirable, I’d like to extend this a bit further.  Gaming communities are overflowing with all sorts of hate speech, so why stop at anti-gay slurs?  Let’s do away with ableism (calling things ‘lame’), sexism (insulting the women within game communities), rape culture (no more using the word ‘rape’ as a euphemism for ‘pwn’), transphobia, and racism.  If we really want to make gaming communities inclusive, we need to quit allowing people to insult members of the community through stereotypes, slurs, and triggers.

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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14 Responses to Sanya Weathers Pleads for Community Managers to Stop Homophobia

  1. Thefremen says:

    Pretty cool stuff here! Hope she doesn’t get too much heat from the community.

  2. M. Caliban says:

    One of the nice parts of going to the BioWare Social forums is that homophobic comments toward other members isn’t allowed.

    • Norah says:

      Unfortunately the Bioware social forums only disallow direct slurs, not hateful posts in regular language (I’ve certainly seen more than enough very hateful homophobic posts that were deemed perfectly acceptable, ‘because they’re just expressing their honest feelings and they’re not swearing at anyone or targeting specific people’), and they only actively police certain slurs, often just pretending certain others aren’t there unless you actively report them (and then I still have no idea what they tell the users that use the words).

      It’s not a place where I feel comfortable reading or posting unless I absolutely have to.

      • Deviija says:

        That’s true. Direct slurs are not allowed, or posts that devolve into cursing and personal insults and nonsensical outrage and/or violence. But if someone can express their ‘opinion’ civilly, even if it is hateful (or wrapped in a civil disguise), then it is permitted. It’s that whole ‘opinion and the right to voice it’ deal. I rather shut down such posts immediately than to let them stand, but I know there are people out there that believe this is violating potential ‘discussion’ and ‘debate.’ It’s like the Doug TenNapel article on Gaygamer.net recently. His homophobic comments, dressed up as opinion, was the center of debate. Many people, like me, rather give no homophobe a stool to speak on, but many others out there deem it someone’s right to be as bigoted as they wish. Just expect consequences to what one says.

        I do think BSN is doing a better job at moderating now than it used to, especially with John Epler watching the forums.

        • JenniP says:

          I don’t think there is a single right thing for all forums to do. They have different purposes and priorities. I’d almost always expect a game company -owned forum to aim for high inclusiveness because it makes business sense – why drive anyone away from your products? OTOH a forum that makes intelligent discussion its highest priority will always discriminate.

  3. Rakaziel says:

    I agree with you. However, we need to start somewhere and first focusing on one target, in this case homophobia, and then picking the next makes it easier to keep an eye on the current target. This way it will take longer but there will be less complains from the community managers about the extra work, giving it ultimately a higher chance to yield results. Yes, it is lazy, but conceding to people’s lazyness tends to sell things.

    • Elbi says:

      Fortunately, software can help a lot when dealing with these issues. Most basic example: A word filter. As soon as the filter is set up, there’s a slim difference in extra work between filtering one word or more than one. Let’s say “1 hour of coming up with all the slurs one doesn’t want to see in one’s forum”?

      Now, of course, filters are crude and unpopular. What about auto-reports, probably into another folder (so user-reports are still replied to with higher priority)? There’s a ton of possibilities for software to work behind the curtain, easing the burden on CMs.

      Also: If adding an additional slur to your “Must talk to user if they use them”-list creates *so much* more work, you *really* need to do it. Because, obviously, the community is in a terrible shape.

    • A_Nonny_Moose says:

      “However, we need to start somewhere and first focusing on one target, in this case homophobia, and then picking the next makes it easier to keep an eye on the current target. ”

      No, now all -isms must be tackled all at one time, to avoid repeating the sins of the past.

      Many marginalized groups have rightly complained over the years that they’ve had to take a back seat to the activism of those with more privileged positions, having been told “just hold on and we’ll fix your problems later”, and they never did.

      As a Third Wave ally I’m All In on All Intersections. No one said it would be easy, but it’s the only right and fair thing to do.

  4. Kimadactyl says:

    I hate to nit pick, as this is fundamentally great, but does this mean if you’re old and LGBT you don’t matter? Wouldn’t normally pick up on it but in the UK 19/20 funding pots for LGBT people are for youth groups only, and it’s a huge issue with representation. Just be nice to have it acknowledged there’s older gays too!

  5. Deviija says:

    Thank you, Sanya Weathers. A start has to begin somewhere.

  6. shaed says:

    It bothers me that in the comments, the author explicitly describes opposition to ableist language as “reductio ad absurdum.”

  7. Jonathan says:

    This is fantastic. I absolutely abhor the casual use of “gay” and “faggot” as general insults. It’s sad, albeit interesting, how their are tiers of hate speech that people consider acceptable. I recently had to call out a couple of members of a community that I belong to for using “mongoloid” and “looks like a … with Down’s syndrome”. Not one other person commented or backed me up, instead I actually had to argue that they were just as offensive as racial slurs and was derided by several people for it.

    It’s something I’m particularly sensitive to due to my sister having the condition, but I was saddened to see “mongoloid” go by unmentioned in this day and age.

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