Beware: whatever you say in the forest can travel into town. That’s the unspoken warning content creators and website owners have to deal with regarding N4G, the gaming news aggregator that allows gaming websites both big and small to submit content to a global gaming audience.
If you’re a website owner who says something off-site about N4G that the admins don’t like, you can end up being permanently banned and your website can end up being permanently banned.
This was revealed by the current site’s administrator Christopher, previously going by the handle of Cgoodno, who made it known that they can ban any user and any site for any reason at all. It is stated in their terms of service that they reserve the right to do so.
HipHopGamer was one of the most infamous perma-bans that took place on the site, but there have been other smaller sites as well. Recently One Angry Gamer joined the list following the publication of the article about one of their administrators being caught in what appeared to be a conflict of interest; since he appeared to be circumventing some of N4G’s unspoken rules to push content from a site he runs. The article was never submitted to N4G, but just by existing it was enough to warrant being permanently banned from the aggregator.
According to Christopher the ban occurred due to “slander” and rule breaking, stating…
“You were banned because you when you don’t follow rules [sic], instead of talking to us here, you create an article that slanders N4G, it’s moderators, and does nothing but show a desire to not communicate with us directly on the issues you may have but instead to turn it into controversy while in turn encouraging hatred towards N4G and its moderators.”
I asked Christopher which instances included slander, but he couldn’t list any. He did state that the Delta Six example in the previous article was failed because time expired and not because of a moderator, but the article never stated that it failed because of a moderator. He also stated that the article slandered N4G staff for failing an article about YouTube’s Content ID policies, because they don’t allow linking directly to YouTube. However, his claim is false given that the article that was failed was not sourced from YouTube but from iRobotGaming, as pictured below.
When I brought up these issues about the inconsistent moderation, Christopher did not provide an answer.
I explicitly asked Christopher which rules were broken for him to enact a permanent ban, but he failed to cite them. Instead he stated that…
“All of that from not following rules that every other person here is beholden to, and some that are just obvious (really, you think we’ve been okay with posting spoilers in the title and descriptions?).”
In regards to the spoiler rule… several users, including myself, were actually not entirely aware of the spoiler rule because as mentioned in the previous article it’s not in the N4G guidelines or rules. Reddit requests that users put spoiler tags in posts if they contain spoilers; other forums and community sites usually request users do the same.
N4G doesn’t have a spoiler tag or a spoiler option for submitting posts and no stated rules about this feature in their guidelines. The actual article in question is in regards to Cortana no longer being naked.
I asked Christopher about the spoiler rule and where was it stated on the site as a “beholden” rule? He didn’t address this.
Christopher was also asked why was it okay for another administrator to post up an article with spoilers in the title and in the description regarding Jill being in Resident Evil 5 — an article that the admin submitted and approved from a website he runs.
Christopher did not address this apparent conflict of interest, either.
Having rules is a good thing, especially regarding spoilers, but if there’s nothing on the site regarding these rules or they’re made up on the fly then how are users supposed to know? Christopher does not address this either.
According to Christopher articles about N4G’s staff, moderation and administrator conflicts of interest should not be published off-site, at all.
According to Christopher the issues should only be discussed, in private, on N4G using the ticket system. I tried reaching out to him months ago regarding these issues by privately messaging him to discuss this to avoid any articles needing to be published, but he declined to comment, and instead ordered me to use the ticket system. He states…
“You did not do that [use the ticket system]. So, no, you didn’t try talking to me at all.
“And, I never said that I had nothing to say to you. I said exactly that I won’t answer the question you specifically asked me. I did not say “don’t ever talk to me again” or “don’t ever contact me”. I even, as quoted above, informed you on how to contact us on issues with moderation.“
After using the ticket system to ask Christopher about these issues I was permanently banned from the site again, as pictured below.
Christopher stated that he had no intentions of “debating” the issues or discussing them through the ticket system, writing…
“I don’t intend to get into a debate here. Especially since you’ll just use it to create another one of your articles. I’ve answered why you were banned. You’re going to have to accept that.”
“You have issues with N4G, that’s fine. But you refuse to contact us when you have an issue with a submission or specific moderator and instead run to make a post on your site.”
“So, you are banned and your site is banned for being unable to communicate with us properly and promoting slander. Simple as that. I hope one day in the future you learn to actually communicate with people rather than rush to your site to make a new controversy post.”
As mentioned in the previous article, when I tried reaching out to some of the moderators I was told either that they would not discuss the issues or would not provide a comment, or they ignored the questions altogether.
I have been in discussion with some of the users and before being banned again from the site, one of the users was displeased with the way things have been going on N4G. Considering that users who say things about the site can be permanently banned or have their website permanently banned, their name won’t be listed. However, it was stated…
“They are pricks, the way things are run on here are ridiculous.
“There was this one mod who was really nice but after he started helping me he was told off and said that he wasn’t allowed to interfere with decisions made by other mods. He’s silent now and is hardly online.
“[…] I can’t say about Jamie [Davey] but Chris usually ignores any facts presented at him…I tried to point something out once with facts and you know what he basically said in the end….”because I can” “
One of the moderators that the user mentions expressed having issues with the way the moderation on the site was run and how the admins address issues on the site. These comments were made many months ago back when the first article was published about N4G censoring corruption happening within the gaming industry. However, he was unwilling to go on record for fear of being de-modded or having some future projects blacklisted from the site. Shortly after the article was published he was no longer a mod for N4G.
On April 3rd, 2015, administrator Cathlin Sentz, always well-regarded and respected amongst the community, announced via a blog post on N4G that she was no longer going to be working on the site due to family obligations.
Unfortunately, various website owners have expressed displeasure with the way things have gone with the news aggregation site, especially in the past year. As mentioned in the previous article, some websites are more heavily moderated than others, and will have content failed for one reason or another — even if the content doesn’t actually break the listed rules on the site.
Previously, Christopher mentioned that he has no control over updating the site’s guidelines; but then the question becomes: who does have that authority?
Christopher had put the onus on HAVAMedia’s CEO, Vegard Aure, stating that he’s the one in charge of site changes and guidelines across all of HAVAMedia’s content, saying on January 18th, 2015…
“I wish we had a much better guideline in that regard. The problem is we can’t update that. It’s a generic template used across all of Hava’s sites.
“But, regardless of that limitation, we try our best to make policies when needed to prevent the site from becoming something it wasn’t intended to be.”
However Aure actually responded to an e-mail inquiry about N4G’s policies and guidelines and stated that the people who actually have control over N4G’s policies and guidelines are the N4G administration staff, stating…
“We have a team in place for operating N4G and we do put our full trust in their ability to make the right dissensions on matters like these. Our team is daily faced with many decisions that will no matter what they choose to do get negative reaction from some members of the community.”
Obviously, someone is lying about how much control they have over N4G’s policies and guidelines.
One gaming website owner has to go back and forth with the moderation staff each and every day over articles that are failed for one reason or another, even when they don’t break the rules. According to the website owner – who will not be named to avoid them being perma-banned from N4G – it was stated…
“I deal with this shit every day.”
“It’s unfortunate that there’s no real way for the community to address their entire team. I think the ball’s in their court at this point.”
According to Christopher, he has no plans to address the community about this and has no plans to lift the ban on One Angry Gamer, he also has no plans to further discuss this.
It’s an unfortunate state of affairs for small and mid-tier websites trying to cover content, especially for indie games and obscure news that could easily go missed in the vast space of the internet. N4G does provide a great way to allow websites of all sizes to submit all sorts of gaming related content that could get buried otherwise.
It’s a real disservice to the gaming community that this is the largest aggregator out there when thought-policing, disingenuous moderation and administrators not above lying to ban users and websites are all common place in the way the site is run.
Hopefully GameWires.com and VideoGamezNetwork.com can continue to grow and rival the likes of N4G to provide gamers and content creators with a viable alternative for exposing content to a wider audience.
If you have any instances where you were unfairly banned from N4G or articles were failed for disingenuous reasons, feel free to reach out or leave a comment below to explain your case.
(Main image courtesy of The Rebel Tomboy)