Digital Extremes could be looking at some steep community unrest if things don’t get resolved quickly regarding a North American chat moderator for Warframe who has taken the reigns of authority and utilized it to abuse censorship within the community.
The mod’s handle is -Misan-, a truncated version of the original handle, FriendzoningMisandrist. The mod has a Tumblr blog that’s used to discuss various topics, including moderating policies for Warframe. In a post published back in March, 2018, FriendzoningMisandrist and another moderator (known in the Warframe community as Telluric) talk about the words that have been filtered from the chat in the game, with the second mod writing…
“[…] we’ve finally gotten to where the bot now issues an auto-ban on any user who uses any phrases like “nezha is a tr*p”, while obviously not having the asterisk in there, cuz people are seriously gross.
“i’ve been seeing a lot of people complaining about it, and i mean a LOT of people. we’re not online all the time to watch the chats, so the bot being there to ban users who think they can get away with being a transphobic piece of shit are now being dealt with. the ban can last anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on what you’ve said, or the number of times you’ve had issues with being bot-banned.
“obviously this is just something small, but keeping transphobic slurs out of region chat, especially the aforementioned one, is really important to my girlfriend and i, and it’s important to the staff as well. we’re still working on creating new filters and trigger phrases, but so far, what i’ve mentioned above has been working really well, since all i’ve seen are angry users. i hope they stay that way.
“we’re still working on careful and selective phrasing for the bot so that we can talk about being gay without the word triggering the bot, because as it stands right now, it’s an auto-kick for using the word gay, usually because people use it in a derogatory context. we want to change that, and we’re trying hard. please be patient with us. [sic]”
Some of the users over on the Warframe sub-reddit were perturbed at not being able to use the word “gay” in chat because the chat moderators deemed that people shouldn’t be allowed to use certain words negatively, therefore they aren’t allowed to use certain words at all.
Many gamers in the thread voiced their protest against the chat moderators and the filters in place. One particular gamer going by the handle of fwyrl explained that the only thing these filters are doing is stifling conversation among Warframe players, writing…
“Typing “gay” in any context is an instant ban? This is not ok. Gay is not a slur, and it hasn’t been for quite a while. In addition, despite that they recognize that this rule is an issue for anyone who’s actually gay being unable to talk about it (or even mention AGayGuyPlays by name), instead of removing the rule until they get the context filter working (I have my doubts that this is even possible – even humans are unable to tell if any given use of the word gay is for sure offensive or not), they leave it in to ban users from chat with no warning for something they recognize is not an issue.
“[…] The entire chat filter idea is misguided. It will never stop players from being offensive. It’s simply not possible to do without removing all interaction between players. However, it can readily introduce a lot of collateral damage and community backlash while stifling real conversations, and not making a dent in the issues it’s trying to solve.”
Nevertheless, the moderating duo who despise a lot of the Warframe community still have more words and phrases and forms of communication that they want censored. FriendzoningMisandrist wrote in a follow-up post on Tumblr…
“Just want to add to this that I’m a chat moderator as well, and I’m in frequent contact with certain staff helping to improve the filter. Recently helped get casual mentions of the word r*pe added to the filter.
“If anyone encounters problematic speech in the game and has suggestions for the filter, feel free to let me know as well – I’d like to see Warframe be welcoming to as many people as possible.”
Essentially the heavy-handed policing of speech is being used to curtail the ways people talk both in public chat and stream chat. In fact, some of the filters even carried over into how players were allowed to name their own personal loadouts. However, during a hotfix Digital Extremes did ease up on the profanity filters in the loadout section so you can create your own custom weapon loadouts and name them whatever you want.
A lot of the Warframe community were excited about being able to use whatever kind of wording they wanted for the loadouts, but still expressed concern about the chat moderator censorship still pervasive in the game.
The sub-reddit post essentially turns into a petition to have FriendzoningMisandrist removed from the chat moderating position. Even though they were forced to change their handle to -Misan-, as displayed on the Warframe chat moderators page, many gamers posted out that had the genders been reversed and the person was named ThotbegoneMisogynist or anything with “Misogynist” as a suffix, they likely never would have been given a position as a chat moderator.
That’s not to mention that the goal of censoring the community for anything that FriendzoningMisandrist and Telluric found to be remotely offensive dates back to July, 2015, where in a forum post titled “Really Disappointed”, Telluric attempted to leverage the forum community to pull an apology out of Digital Extremes because the community used the chat to joke about some of the Warframes’ boobs and gender.
“I left the Devstream early today, due to a horrible nauseous feeling thanks to a huge chunk of Warframe players making transphobic comments in regards to Equinox. I am so disgusted to realise that I play the same game as these people. I’ve identified as transgender for over 11 years now, and to see people making nasty comments and jokes about people like myself, it really is hurtful, even if you don’t see it that way. I seriously don’t even know what to say. It is so hurtful, and you guys don’t even realize what you’re saying, or even care about how it affects people.
“You might not see it as offensive, but if you’re not transgender, you honestly can’t know what it is to feel like this. Your entire gender identity made into a disgusting, twisted joke, and the worst part is, people think it’s hilarious.
“Many, many thanks and applause to the stream chat mods, for deleting a lot of comments, and another big thank you to Rebecca for not letting Steve get away with calling Caitlyn Jenner by her old name. It was disgusting, insulting, and not at all funny in the slightest.
“I’ve been so so excited for Equinox, almost as excited as I was for Limbo, but I feel like with all these transphobic and demeaning comments, as well as “needs more boobs” on a wonderfully androgynous Warframe, is derogatory and makes me sick to my stomach.”
Telluric and FriendzoningMisandrist have been corralling all kinds of words, phrases and discussion that they don’t approve of into a censorship box. The community is easily becoming restless with the overly-sensitive behavior of the chat moderators, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before Digital Extremes has to make a choice of whether they keep the chat moderators or risk losing their fanbase.
(Thanks for the news tip brave Tenno)