Forums  /  Speedrunning  /  Can a mod ever overrule the community?
  emeraldaly

(first off, I dunno if this should go in Talk, Speedrunning, or The Site, since it's kind of all three. If it roasts anyone's tomatoes to have it here, my sincere apologies)

As to the topic. I used to think the answer was a definite no, but I've had an experience that makes me question that and want to seek others' thoughts.

Small community. I'm the only active mod, with a substantially less active supermod. Only one truly active runner, but I am around, as is another previously active runner. So essentially, there's three of us.

The active runner makes a series of suggestions that I dis...to say I disagree with them is a soft sell. They're not just bad decisions, they're wrong decisions (in short: modifying game files for nonessential reasons and arbitrarily changing previously verified times).

Each step of the way, it's a 2-1 "vote" against me so I go along with it, because I've always thought that's what mods should do. (The active runner is now a mod -- and it's all but literally his board now anyway -- so I demodded myself and have no intention of returning. It's not sour grapes, it's more....this is a terrible board I really don't want anything to do with)

It is my fervently held, conscientious belief that permanent harm has been done to the board. It's sure killed my interest in a game I once loved (and again, nothing about this is personal -- if these changes were made by different people to a board for a game I ran but didn't mod I'd feel just as disgusted). And all over a series of 2-1 votes.

It'll never be something I'd do on a whim. It would take something like this where I feel like the game's very long-term viability is at stake (i.e. I feel like the game had potential to attract new runners before but not now). Is this, or anything, a basis for which a mod can overrule the community? Or is even a 2-1 majority vote sacrosanct?

I'm not just looking for people to agree with me (and to be frank, I'd love it if we could avoid comments on the specific example as much as possible). Just tell me what you think about a mod wielding authority.

Alayan likes this. 
  Krayzar

Ultimately, IMHO, it's up to the community. If the majority of the community wants something, it's your job to implement it as a mod, no matter how bizarre. Only thing you can do to counter act this kind of thing is to cultivate and expand a real community around the game, despite the odd choices, and hope that others speak out and have a say. If you feel you can't do that, then yeah, maybe leaving the community and abdicating mod is a good choice.

Now there's one possible exception... When the community has members that are found to be cheating and try to oppose stricter rules on emulation, macros, ect. Obviously cheaters don't get a say.

emeraldaly likes this. 
  theripper999

Well isn't a mod part of the community? So you would really be pushing your opinion through.
Also If its such a small game too just make runs the way you like and just put them up somewhere like SDA, or your favorite video hosting site. SDA definitely would not have your situation since they are quite strict with having the original hardware, non-modified software, specific timings, etc.

emeraldaly likes this. 
  emeraldaly

Thanks for your input, guys. I think this will go down as a learning experience for me, but I'm not exactly sure what the lesson is just yet.

 
  Komrade

I've had a case where a game I run (and mod) was only ever really touched by me and one other guy (who just did a few runs). So it's basically been me for years. Out of nowhere, two runners suddenly crop up, start submitting "runs" and making suggestions for categories, rules, etc. They immediately turn to the "well, it's up to the COMMUNITY, right?" As if these newcomers should suddenly be making decisions when their ideas for categories was collecting health drops for said game. Really dumb shit. Furthermore, those runners dropped off immediately after submitting their runs, and twisting my arm to cave in (which I didn't do).

So, did I make the right decision? I think so. Never mind the fact that I'm 99% sure the two runners was actually just one person trying to work one over on the leaderboard. Had I just said yes it would have been even more of a memeboard.

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  emeraldaly

I appreciate that perspective. Something to keep in mind in future, I think. There was, with absolute certainty, no sock puppetry happening in this case. My own "claim" to the board wasn't so very deep either (I ran the game for maybe 6 months? And I was modded just because the supermod was -- and is -- highly inactive, so someone had to verify runs). But I could see it being an issue.

 
  Komrade

On the other end I found myself in a situation recently where myself and two other mods were butting heads over version differences, rules, etc. I was essentially voted out of decision making, 2 to 1 (or they just thought I was cool with it). So it was enough for me. The issues with the board would just keep cropping up in the future and I'd probably never have a say, so I just removed myself as mod. Doesn't mean I've stopped running the game of course.

emeraldaly likes this. 
  emeraldaly

Yeah I think people are quick to characterise handing over the sword as "taking your ball and going home" or somesuch. When really, it's just "I'm not the best choice to mod what this board is now" (though in my case, I don't wish to run the game anymore either).

 
  ShikenNuggets

In a perfect world, the community always wins, and for larger games that usually works out alright. In reality (specifically for smaller games)... it's not that simple. Sometimes the "community" (AKA the one random person) is just wrong (now, that line of thinking is dangerously arrogant, so be very careful about that). Or worse, they just have their own agenda in mind and don't care about what's best for the leaderboard or for the community. I've seen people go to communities and suggest things like disabling run verification or removing the video requirement, who clearly didn't know/care about the ramifications of those decisions and just wanted to be able to post runs whenever or however they wanted.

I think as a moderator on a small game you have to do what's best for the community (past, present and future), not necessarily just what one or two guys think they want. I'd sooner resign than damage the integrity or future viability of a leaderboard I moderate, or invalidate tons of existing runs for no real reason, etc, on a 2-1 vote.

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  Liv

As someone who has been on the receiving end of dumb suggestions that were almost a 50/50 by the community such as locking RNG in-game using cheat engine / scripts, allowing macros to make stuff easier, looking into the game's RAM to easier determine RNG related events easier, you learn over time that 'majority vote' isn't always the best way to handle things. If it's something reasonable? Sure. But people suggest dumb ideas sometimes, and I'd like to say Mods should be cautious and use a logical approach to situations over just bowing to the whims of anyone simply because they rallied enough people behind them and their silly suggestion.

But I've always kind of found the 'more people rallied = can get any changes you want, no matter how illogical' approach kind of bad, only because I can't really think of any decision that happened that way involving the games I run that didn't then result in issues down the line, or wasn't incredibly silly.

I think the biggest thing to be careful (and to be able to discern the difference between) of is "what does the community actually want?" - and "is this person using the community and / or "community" argument as a means to simply get what they want."

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  Krayzar

I think that's really the problem there. Brand new folks who jump in and start trying to change all the rules without a run or with no intention to continue to run after the first probably shouldn't be considered a part of the community yet.

And obviously, some suggestions like willfully trying to circumvent parts of the game or manipulate code via outside tools are not only against the spirit of speedrunning, it also leaves some players who are unwilling or unable to use these tools out. One thing I believe strongly in is to weigh on the side of accessibility for most.

I guess it comes down to how the mods define community though.

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  emeraldaly

Yeah, I'm on board with using words like "wrong" very rarely but I feel like modifying game files is one of those things that merits it. Not that I have standing in that community, but even the universally-beloved HRH Mod for BioShock Infinite would leave me uneasy (and even then, they eventually made it a separate category). The active runner in my scenario truly believes what he suggested (and got) to be in the best interests of the board. It just isn't. I understand that that could sound arrogant, but this is one of those truly exceptional times I would stand by saying it.

ShikenNuggets likes this. 
  Diewott1

Well, not always something the majority wants is the best thing to do.

 
  Drakodan

I don't subscribe to "The community is always right and it's your job to implement their will". What if the the community wants to implement policies that are just fundamentally opposed to universally accepted rules of speedrunning, such as using a password to skip to the final stage?

Moderators are trusted to be leaders as much as anything else, and sometimes leaders must make executive decisions. It's of course true that a mod shouldn't just be a tyrant running things as they see fit, and so the obvious problem comes with determining when is an appropriate time to exercise your power. In this specific instance, from what you've described you sound totally justified in shutting down a misguided direction that others want to go on, there's nothing wrong with veto'ing an idea when you have a solid basis for doing so.

I'd also like to add that prioritising the desires of the "community" is a fundamentally flawed concept because the people who constitute a "community" are in constant flux. If my game has 5 individual runners with their own opinions and I model the boards based on what they want, what happens in a couple of years' time when those 5 people have moved on, and have been replaced with 5 different people? Suddenly, the boards don't reflect what those people want and the cycle starts anew, with individuals wanting changes to meet their specific preferences.

My interest as a moderator is not to appease specific people, but to create the most fair, equitable and objective leaderboard for EVERYBODY who may use the board in the future, insofar as I'm able to achieve that.

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  TalicZealot

I don't see moderators as necessarily a part of the same hierarchy we are talking about. Mods manage the leaderboard and resources connected to that, just like they would a forum or a discord server. The community structure to me is neither a democracy nor a tyranny, but a hierarchy based on experience and knowledge. Often the top 'class' overlaps with the moderators or some of them, but the title of moderator itself doesn't provide anything exclusive on its own other than extra responsibilities and the respect they potentially gain from doing that.