Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What The Tavern Being a Neutral Ground Means

So, there was a bit of a dust up yesterday due to Sunday night's post here at The Tavern. It had nothing to do with the topic - protecting our children - and quickly devolved thanks to a handful of people into "how dare you link to that site!' drama.

The story that was circulating this weekend was from said "offending site."

It was suggested I should have googled for other stories detailing pedophiles preying on children in the gaming hobby instead of sourcing the one that was making its way through social media over the weekend. This story was the current one, and thus the one linked.

It was also suggested I could have simply screenshot the story and have posted it without link or attribution because "they didn't want to make the site money by visiting it". Not only is that unethical, but if I were to do so for a site like, oh, i dunno - ENWorld - screenshot stories instead of linking when referring to something they've shared, there would be an uproar and rightfully so.

The Tavern is a Neutral Ground. I don't take a political stand. I am about a apolitical a gaming blogger as you will find (it might sneak in on police related topics and for that I apologize. I do acknowledge my own biases.) It is not, however, a safe space. I can not guarentee someone's sensibilities will not be offended. I can not foresee reactions.

We all live our lives with our own biases. Being a Neutral Ground, The Tavern asks that you leave your biases at the door if at all possible. If you can't, at least acknowledge to yourself that you have them. Gaming is our bond and our strength.

No one at The Tavern, especially me, has the intention of offending any of our fellow gamers. I ask that you not read intent where there was none.


  1. I thought I posted a comment on that one on Sunday... considering I didn't see any other comments at that time, maybe I didn't. I think one should always err on the side of caution when we talk about protecting children. Being a daddy and a social worker who works with abused and traumatized kids, I would say "good for you!" Be well!

  2. But if I may paraphrase the musical "1776", "I agree that the site is everybody's site, but I tell ya, John, with pride, the site leans a little on the side, of the White Box, the White Box of the Frog Gods..."


  3. Obviously I agree with your position. As this blog is popular and often goes into potentially controversial topics, I was wondering if it might be best to have comment moderation, to stop bad actors spamming threads the way one guy did on that one.

  4. From my days of being editor-in-chief of my college newspaper: So long as I was getting hate mail from both sides, I figured we must be approximately in the middle where we should be. That's not a perfect metric, but it is one you can take some comfort in.

  5. I think it says alot about how things are in today's world when we can't really have a frank and open discussion about anything

  6. Well said Erik. I think the point about being neutral is not the same as safe. Sharing ideas should never be safe. Respectful sharing of idea is great.

    I like that - in general - the tavern stays away from politics. But anyone who has some passion for political ideas can not keep them from coloring their world view.

  7. Well said and Thank You for posting the article.

    You took pains to explain from the beginning where you were coming from and why you were doing so. I appreciated the stand you took in doing so and the stand you took in the comments.

    I read here everyday but I rarely ever comment. But, as someone who was victimized between the age of 8 and 12, and had no one looking out for me, I appreciate your effort wholeheartedly. I found myself irrationally angry that something like your post couldn’t even address such a serious subject and not be made into a political diatribe by a certain commenter.

    Keep making fun content Erik, and I’ll keep coming back. And keep fighting the good fight too: it means more than you probably realize.

  8. I appreciate what you do Erik. Although I made a few comments there, truth was that the article and links were a hidden landmine. I actually stumbled in to the nightmare of two warring...factions?.....via youtube a couple months ago in cojunction with some meltdown with a cosplayer and it's been a nightmare trip down the rabbit hole ever since. I think your cogent discussion did, indeed, get obfuscated by all the crapstorm politics behind the card game/cosplay hobby and its factions. Or something.

  9. I personally hope that the Tenkar and site admins will err deeply on the side of caution when it comes to their own rule: "The personal lives of individual gamers that do not relate to the hobby".

    I personally think this rule has been violated when for example Frank Mentzer's alleged private messages were made a topic of discussion - by the blog itself, though to be fair as a reshare. The rule was instituted after, IIRC, so it's hard to abide by rules not there yet, but I hope it will guide Tenkar's actions in the future, since I got the impression that sharing that "reveal" was not so much seen as a mistake but maybe only the controversy it stirred...?

    It's obviously just my opinion but I think that "that do not relate to the hobby" should be dropped altogether. It's a loophole, an unnecessary one, I find. Conventions, blogs, newsletters, etc - there's plenty of public stuff to discuss already. If they offer no "scoops," so be it. I think a "neutral ground" needs clear rules and nothing is resolved by admin staff removing posts they deem inappropriate as long as site staff actions themselves cause debate.

    As regards "triggering" - as long as the rules are clear and fair and for all, I don't mind any properly vetted content. Yes, this implies that I hold admin staff to a higher standard than other users. They can, after all, moderate users and are known to the community.

    1. I appreciate your concern and maybe we should define the restriction better going forward.

      The thing with the Frank mess - and even Frank said I handled it fairly - is that I had screenshot evidence - confirmed by DF mods - that the conversation happened. It was breaking elsewhere - It wasn't hearsay or he she / she said - I had the evidence. Frank did not deny the evidence, but maintained it wasn't him - it was a hack. And it wasn't done to scoop - if it was, it would have broken at The Tavern. I had the screenshots but was unwilling to share without confirmation of their accuracy and validity.

      The story that followed with Frank - and others - was very much he said / she said and that was a rabbit hole we were not going to go down at The Tavern. The FB Community has over 2k members. We are not staffed, moderator-wise, for the shitstorm that would have followed.

      Additionally, unsupported accusations can lead to threats of legal action. The nickels and dime The Tavern raises via affiliate sales would be gone in a second if threats became a legal action - frivolous or not. I'd like to avoid a Tenkar's Tavern Legal Defense Fund GoFundme ;)

      For the most part, the FB community does an amazing job of "policing themselves" - Our moderators' touch is light and that is by desire. If we get to the point where we wield the Ban Hammer as proficiently and prolifically as ENWorld and RPGNet, we've lost the battle.

      In case you haven't noticed, I RARELY delete comments here or at the FB Community, even of those that argue with me directly. Even those that go dangerously off topic. Generally, I'll close a discussion to further comments before mass deletions, and banning is something reserved for repeat offenders.

      Clearer rules? We can work on that :)

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  11. we are not going to get into a discussion of progressive / conservative issues and who has the moral high ground - this is not the place for such

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