Improbable Island Message of the Day (MoTD)
Missing Stairs, polls, permalinks
It's been a very hard month for me and the mods. As you might remember from our Missing Stair MotD
we said that if people had their own knowledge of missing stairs, now would be a great time to bring them forward, and you did. We've been exhaustively poring over chats, emails, screenshots, distractions and incident logs, and we've made three additional bans. They are Cross Deathend, Geminus, and Pharas.
I told Cross Deathend back in 2016 that if I ever got another report of him aggressively pressuring people for sex roleplay, he'd be out on his arse. He stopped on the Island, but chatlogs from several players showed he'd moved his aggression onto Discord instead, and Distractions showed him luring people there. He was in several abusive and emotionally manipulative relationships both on-Island and off. Confirmed alts include Crissy, Dream Weaver, The Tailor, Static Carckz, Ladanra Avel, Infernum, Fientheeb, Exoteeny. At one point he had scores of others, but they seem to have expired.
Geminus has littered the mod log with minor incidents since 2013, but calmed down considerably after being threatened with a ban. We thought the problem solved, but several incidents were brought to our attention which had flown under the radar (Discord again). After looking through the logs we saw that Geminus had definitely not learned any lessons about boundaries or consent and was making many players feel unsafe, so we decided to issue a ban. Known alts include Crystal Geminus, Acrum, The Bard, Sapphire Geminus, Seared Memory of Werns, Executioner Durmo, He Who Sold the World The AEI, Constrained Ashipu, Isis the IAS, The Behemoth, Project TARTARUS, Blossoming Spring, The Morphling, The Ulcir, The Spaceman, Joseph Kindley, Bunsy, Carena, A man, Voyage Home, Servius Vitruvius, Drunken Dwarf Rhorrin Stonebreaker, Cobblepotted Chazro, Ablazed in Terror, Red Beryl, Clara Fiye, Cool Cat Leonard OMalley, Swearing Meatbag Called Kurtis Johnson, Captain on Deck, Tatius Kopis, Melissa, Geoffrey Gray, A Creature From The Jungle, Rookie Bring Back the Bubble, Sigma Omicron.
Pharas' case was more subtle. Following the Missing Stair MotD regarding Frey, I got emails from several players concerning him, and leads to follow up with people who had left the island in part because of his behaviour. The recurring theme was one of gaslighting
. The abuse was subtle, often building up over months or years, but seen from the outside the pattern was clear - begin with kindness, flattery and support (especially in public areas, which made him quite popular), move to Discord (surprise) then start pressuring to take things further. He handles "no" rather badly, first asking for clear boundaries, then finding loopholes in those boundaries, then blaming the woman setting them for not being clear enough, working in a subtle jab here and there in order to undermine confidence. Players noted that his behaviour changed dramatically after I posted the Missing Stair MotD, suddenly reverting back to friendly and welcoming - Pharas suspected he may have ended up under investigation. Having seen many conversations in which I pointed out that nobody had ever been banned for providing feedback (a myth that was part of the "Mod Fear" phase, see point seven in the Missing Stair MotD
), he sent me a long email about his own problems with the game, knowing that banning someone after they provide critical feedback would be a Bad Look. He was right, but allowing someone with a history of gaslighting to remain on the game because of a fear of blowback is an even worse
look. Known alts are Vodka Peach Schnapps, Thick-Skinned Denealus, Discord, Tiberius.
Other names have come up and we're looking into them. Thank you dearly to everyone who came forward. The second part of this will be to raise the Island's general consciousness about common manipulation tactics, so that future problems can be noticed sooner, and I'm working on a player safety guide and updated Code of Conduct on my non-coding days (days of Island work lately have been divided equally between coding and social stuff).
Because of the nature of these sorts of behaviour, it's possible and expected that some people are surprised, shocked even, or have fond memories of those we've banned today. This is how abuse goes under the radar in communities - because some abusive players are well-liked by those they're not abusing, it can make those they hurt feel hesitant to come forward, and the cycle continues. Remarkably few people are straight-up arseholes to everyone they meet - my job would be a lot easier if that were the case. If you feel tempted to leap to their defence or say "Well, they were never problematic with me,
" please first consider that there might well be someone watching the chat who's trying to work up the nerve to tell us about some other well-regarded abuser, and that we never decide on bans lightly and without multiple sources of evidence.
In nicer news, we're doing our first proper ranked-choice what-should-I-do-this-week survey! I'm really excited about this - it's already turning up some surprises. Some of the options I put into the first poll not really expecting them to be popular are actually doing really well. So far the range of votes isn't terribly huge - as the vote stands right now, the least popular option has 74% of the votes of the most popular option. Next time I'll toss in a couple of stinkers to soak up the zeroes.
I've also added a permalink entry to each MotD, so that you or I can link to them individually - look up next to the date in any MotD to see it. I've no idea how we went twelve years without that, but here we are.
Next week I hope to have some neat features for you - in the meantime, thanks once again to everyone who came forward, and to my awesome mods.
Hang in there,