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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

DriveThruRPG Bans All Future Titles Associated With Zak Smith

Oh boy. Its been a busy couple of days since Mandy Morbid accused Zak Smith of some fairly disturbing actions. You can read Mandy's post at the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/amandapatricianagy/posts/10215845527064252

Since that post went live a number of folks in the gaming industry have distanced themselves from interacting with Zak, professionally and personally, moving forward. 

Then this got posted today on the DriveThruRPG Blog:

https://oneblogshelf.blogspot.com/2019/02/drivethrurpg-responds-to-current.html
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
DriveThruRPG Responds to Current Industry News 
Thanks to everyone for your patience as we deliberated on the situation that has unfolded regarding Zak Smith (aka Zak Sabbath). At DriveThruRPG, we want to do our part to keep bad actors out of the roleplaying community, and we don’t want business relationships with such people. As such, you’d think there wouldn’t be much deliberation needed on our part. However, the situation posed a number of challenges for us to consider in terms of precedent and collateral impact on other parties. 
I have decided that we will not accept future titles for sale on DriveThruRPG (or our other marketplaces) if Zak is a contributor on the title. If any publisher has a title-in-process to which Zak is a contributor and this policy would impact you financially, then we’d ask that you please reach out to us via the publisher services link to have a dialogue about that title. 
For titles currently on our marketplace in which Zak is listed as a contributor, we have checked those publisher accounts, and none of these titles have us paying money directly to Zak. While it is likely that Zak does earn a royalty on some titles sold on DriveThruRPG, any such royalties would be paid directly by the publisher of the title, not by DriveThruRPG.  
Further, whatever royalty Zak might get from any publisher on our store is unlikely to be the entirety of what we pay that publisher. We do not feel it’s fair to penalize financially those who worked with Zak in the past, including both publishers and possibly other contributors earning income from these titles. Therefore, we expect publishers to make their own decision to continue selling these titles or not, presumably after consulting with all other contributors. 
For our part, we will be identifying all titles to which Zak contributed and diverting all of the revenue shares that DriveThruRPG might make from sales of these titles as a donation to RAINN (https://www.rainn.org/). 
I’ll try to pre-emptively answer other possible questions below.

When this happened, why did you not suspend sale of Zak’s titles while you deliberated? 
When we expect that it will take us a few days to deliberate on a title reported for offensive content, our policy is to temporarily suspend sales of that title. In this case, though, it was not the content of any particular title under discussion, and we did not find any titles where we directly paid Zak for ongoing sales during our deliberation. 
So DriveThruRPG is now banning certain creators? Will whoever the “outrage brigade” complains about next be banned as well? 
We all share a responsibility for the health of our hobby. Any demographic measure we’ve ever seen on the roleplaying hobby shows women are under-represented. Things won’t improve if people shirk the responsibility to make our hobby inclusive. 
Zak Smith has a long and well-documented history of behaviors antithetical to a healthy community. In light of recent allegations, which we find credible, we think our business and our hobby is better off without him, so we’re doing our part. 
We already have a small list of other bad actors in the industry with whom we refuse to do business: people who have repeatedly abused crowdfunding platforms for personal enrichment, who repeatedly engaged in IP violations, who have repeatedly treated our staff or customers in unacceptably unprofessional ways, and so on. If you repeatedly act like a jerk (or worse, a predator), we won’t wait for other people to complain about you. We’ll just quietly stop doing business with you.  
Why are you not banning his existing titles?
Because we don’t want to hurt other people who also contributed to those same titles just to diminish Zak. Banning those existing titles risks doing just that.  
Thanks,
Steve Wieck
President
OneBookShelf / DriveThruRPG



33 comments:

  1. Well, that's good reporting. Oh, and speaking of, looks like you've got another story here for me to post on.

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  2. Whether it's true or not, this sets a bad precedent. Someone can make an accusation against a creator and essentially unperson them?

    By the way, it seems true to me, the accusation. But it's only an accusation.

    And even if it is 110% true, what the hell does DriveThruRPG have to do with it?

    Very, very bad precedent.

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    1. Actually, it sets a very good precedent.

      It says "if you are a sexual predator, the gaming community doesn't need or want you. Go away."

      That's exactly the sort of message I like retailers sending.

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    2. Remember that you said that when they come for you.

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    3. Yes, Steven has had accusations as well, I heard.....you see how easy it is, Steven? These are 2 porn actors that got in a dispute. They are both publishers, one contessa and the other zak. You see contessa is a hate group of women that hate men. I am even a victim of Stacy's hateful remarks. So be careful everyone!

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    4. If he doesn't assault someone I bet they won't come for him. 😉

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    5. It's a private business, they can do what they want. In this case, they wanted to get rid of a stain on our niche of a niche.

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    6. Downsizing it to "porn actors in a dispute" is fairly condescending and shows your bias towards their profession. If it were two... say doctors, I assume you might believe the woman?

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    7. Is that true what is insinuated about Steven up above?

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    8. Ah, yes ... the ol' "but what if it was you falsely accused?" garbage defense.

      First off, Drivethru is involved because they're a major component in Zak making money from gaming. They are THE RPG digital storefont. In the world. That makes them an important voice in the gaming community. Them saying "we're not supporting this trash" sends a good and clear message.

      As for you, vivaldi0 ... is it that easy? I mean, with Zak there's multiple witnesses, a long chain of social media and private messages, emails, etc.

      Where is there any of that involving me? Oh, pray do go find it and make it public so that it can be put under the same degree of scrutiny as has been in play regarding Zak.

      Go ahead.

      I'll wait.

      (But I knew it wouldn't take long for some MRA apologist to come along. Way to fill the quota!)

      Oh, and for the record: I've actually been on the receiving end of false accusations. Not of anything like this, but of racism. I outted a scam artist 5 years ago, the news got wind of it, and it cost him an election. So he assumed a LOT of false names and spread all over social media that I was a pedophile, a member of the KKK, etc. It's come up in more than one job interview, during which I had to explain the whole long story and point to the original online content that proved I was telling the truth and was the victim of slander.

      So ... yeah. It's not like I'm talking out of my ass without knowing what it's actually like on the other side of False Accusation Street. It's not a hypothetical for me, but I've seen enough from Zak over the years not to doubt Mandy -- and the other women.

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    9. A long chain of social media and private...blah blah. The moral paladin you are, are you not? You are like the sparrow....shame! shame!....ding....shame! shame......Well, thank God you are not the high septon. Get off your high horse and come back to reality. I know it is hard for your kind. The self loathing type that punishes others for your guilt, but dishes out justice to feel better. Yah, grow up man. If I were 20 and said these things, it would be one thing. I am 52 and know when to call a spade a spade.

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    10. This sets a pretty good precedent, actually. You could be unaware that Zak's corrosive behavior has been problematic for a long time across more than a few forums online and venues in-person. These new revelations ain't all that new, albeit the severity of them merits special, fresh consideration. Mandy, Jennifer, and Hannah aren't making stray accusations geared to "unperson" an individual, rather they're casting more of many ostraka in the pot... and that chamber pot is overflowing. Leave Zak to the gong farmers. I'm sure he'll be able to put together a table for F.A.T.A.L. and won't be too lonely.

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  3. I will fully admit I did not waste too much time reading into all the back & forth allegations regarding Zak in the past, largely because what little I did read felt off. Based on my personal experiences in a different work life that was unfortunately rife with narcissistic manipulators I felt that there might be some crying foul and maybe even preemptive accusations in order for Zak to try and play the victim. Is this true and/or do I somehow feel vindicated in my feelings of the time?

    Absolutely not....I know I was interjecting my own bias and prejudices...

    After the second or third round of accusations, that I was aware of, I realized that to try and get a handle on the drama it would take me a month of Sundays reading walls or text online just to try to get a handle on maybe what was going on for real.

    I'm glad that others closer to the situation have managed to wade through things and have taken a firm stand. DTRPG doesn't need to do what they are doing....many companies wouldn't unless they could point to where it affected their bottom line. It appears to me that they understand that they are, like it or not, an important part of our shared community.

    "Zak Smith has a long and well-documented history of behaviors antithetical to a healthy community. In light of recent allegations, which we find credible, we think our business and our hobby is better off without him, so we’re doing our part."

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  4. I'm generally in favor of presumption of innocence, what with it being the cornerstone of justice and all... But since Zak is such a big fan of calling for the crucifixion of anyone accused of wrongthink, I'm glad to see him getting a taste of his own medicine.

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    1. Tried by the same court of public opinion he tries to unleash on others. Karma. Delicious karma.

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  5. I did a bit of investigation. This story is ripe with "Contessa.rocks", "porn stars and drama", "drugs", and "hateful feminists". I ran into Stacy Dellorfano as she was preparing to go to GaryCon as an activist and protest the convention. I responded to her letter and she wrote back with a few angry remarks, felt she lost the argument and blocked me and published my first comment. I was then blocked by all contessa.rocks personnel and then sent information about DriveThruRPG and Mandy's statement. I knew something was not going to be good, since I discovered Mandy is with the Contessa site (which is a site where they hate all straight white men. It became clear that Porn, drugs, and spiteful women were not a good mixture. So here I am posting my conclusion, which is really a girl that was in porn got angry at her porn boyfriend and now she felt she needed to go to a publisher that has both of their published materials online and try and oust zak from driveThru. I don't know zak and he sounds like douche, but it seems clear that driveThru didn't read between the lines and made a snap decision in favor of zak's competition that also publishes material on DriveThru. I hope this dude has a good lawyer.

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    1. I’m going to give an immediate rebuttal to the above comment (and I NEVER do such):

      I did a bit of investigation. This story is ripe with "Contessa.rocks", "porn stars and drama", "drugs", and "hateful feminists". (no mention of drugs anywhere that I saw, nor Contessa nor hateful feminists in Many’s FB post)

      I ran into Stacy Dellorfano as she was preparing to go to GaryCon as an activist and protest the convention. (where exactly did you meet her? In person? Online?)

      I responded to her letter and she wrote back with a few angry remarks, felt she lost the argument and blocked me and published my first comment. (this makes no sense – responded to what letter? She sent you a letter? Where did she publish your comment?)

      I was then blocked by all contessa.rocks personnel and then sent information about DriveThruRPG and Mandy's statement. (blocked where exactly? Contessa sent you information about DTRPG’s statement and Mandy’s statement – really?)

      I knew something was not going to be good, since I discovered Mandy is with the Contessa site (which is a site where they hate all straight white men. (Okay. Despite what Contessa recently posted, Zak was active with Contessa too)

      It became clear that Porn, drugs, and spiteful women were not a good mixture. (again, first time I’ve heard drugs in this narrative)

      So here I am posting my conclusion, which is really a girl that was in porn got angry at her porn boyfriend and now she felt she needed to go to a publisher that has both of their published materials online and try and oust zak from driveThru. (DTRPG is NOT a publisher. It is a storefront)

      I don't know zak and he sounds like douche, but it seems clear that driveThru didn't read between the lines and made a snap decision in favor of zak's competition that also publishes material on DriveThru. (I assure you, you do know Zak. You wouldn’t have taken the time to write this huge comment in defense of him if you didn’t)

      I hope this dude has a good lawyer. (I hope Zak has a good lawyer too)

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    2. Eric, Stacy run Contessa. Go to Stacy's facebook page where she also represents Contessa. You will understand then what I am saying.

      I met her online after her lengthy protest letter for GaryCon.

      I responded, meaning I commented on her GaryCon activist letter that was posted online.

      She posted the protest GaryCon letter online. Facebook may have removed it for hate speech.

      If you are allowed on her FB page, then you will see where she has posted my comment about her hate speech and hateful rhetoric toward straight white men. I was on there and able to see all her posts until she realized I could actually see them, then blocked me.

      When I saw Mandy's letter, I had no idea she was with contessa until I read further into it and started to connect the dots. It doesn't take a Sherlock to solve the relationship and the motivations of these women, at least from my perspective, which may be different than others.

      I do not know Zak and have never read any of his material. I simply recorded what transpired between myself and the President of Contessa. Zak does not look like your normal every day nice guy, to be honest, so I was not defending him in any way.

      I do not have proof about drugs, but anyone that knows strippers, porn stars, etc....knows what type of lifestyle the majority of them lead and that lifestyle is a very destructive one. Drugs and Alcohol are inevitable and make people do things they normally wouldn't do. This was obvious by the letter Mandy wrote, so it doesn't take Sherlock to figure that one out either.

      DTRPG IS a publisher. They are just a subsidiary of Onebookshelf, but feel free to correct me on that if I am wrong.

      I only took the time to write this, as we all notice the accusations that are being flung in every recess of society, even at the Supreme Court level. Many of us have probably run into an accusation that was false at some point as well. Good thing the whole "I believe her and me2 movement" wasn't around back then, or many people would be either out of a job or in jail.

      No need to warn me about d-bags in the world. I am 52 and know my way around them. I was in the music industry and toured the world. I did get to know many porn stars and strippers and this was just my personal observation. Take heed or don't. This kind of thing is only more likely to occur more often in the age we live in today.



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    3. vivaldi0, if Mandy made this up Zak has legal grounds to sue her for causing him loss of income. If she did not make it up (and I don't think she did) then it doesn't matter a bit who she is allied with.

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    4. OneBookShelf is indeed a publisher as well as the storefront.

      To be fair, though, publishing's not even remotely a blip on their overall business. By far, they are a retail storefront, print on demand facilitator, and distributor.

      And saying Mandy "needed to go to a publisher that has both of their published materials online and try and oust zak from driveThru" is a disingenuous description at best, most likely an assumption, or an a complete fabrication at worst.

      First off, you've no idea Mandy went to Drivethru. Given how big this is, I can't imagine it was public for more than an hour or two before gamers and other publishers were already prodding Drivethru's management to have Zak's products yanked.

      Second, OneBookShelf's (extremely limited) role as a publisher has no relevancy to anyone asking for Zak's products to get yanked. Such a request, no matter who was asking it, would be entirely limited to their retail operations.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. I am also a big fan of the LEGAL presumption of innocence - it just has nothing to do with the current situation.

    Members of a jury have to presume innocence, but others can make up their own minds as they please. If your employer thinks you're embezzling, they're not going to wait for a jury verdict to fire your ass. Similarly, if DTRPG feels Zak S. is an asshole (which frankly he has repeatedly demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt anyway) they can stop carrying his products if they wish.

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    1. People should not be sanctioned on accusations. That way lies madness. Haven't you been warned about the dangers of the Salem Witch Trial? That's about what's going on here.

      Again: I stopped interacting with Zak in about 2015 because he was clearly a scummy narcissistic psychopath.

      But that's not a crime.

      And it shouldn't be the basis for deplatforming someone.

      I would say, even if it's true DrivethruRPG is not in the position to judge who is and is not worthy of being allowed to be in business - and if they decide to shank their creators, they're the bad guy.

      I hope you feel the same way when someone who doesn't like you makes a "credible" accusation against you that harms your livelihood or reputation.

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    2. "People should not be sanctioned on accusations."

      It happens all the time. If your employer thinks you're embezzling, they'll fire you. If you work with children and you're accused of child abuse, you'll be fired. If your wife even suspects you're cheating, she can walk out the door. "Innocent until proven guilty" applies in court, not in other social interactions.

      "Haven't you been warned about the dangers of the Salem Witch Trial? That's about what's going on here."

      Equating one jackass being deplatformed by a hobby site with the judicial mass murder of 25 people is really pretty callous and gross.

      "Again: I stopped interacting with Zak in about 2015 because he was clearly a scummy narcissistic psychopath."

      Well said.

      "But that's not a crime."

      DTRPG never said they were deplatforming Zak S. because he committed a crime.

      "And it shouldn't be the basis for deplatforming someone."

      That's for the business owner to decide.

      "I would say, even if it's true DrivethruRPG is not in the position to judge who is and is not worthy of being allowed to be in business"

      DTRPG isn't deciding whether or not Zak S. will be "in business". They're simply stating they won't deal with his products in the future - which is their prerogative. If you want to support the "scummy narcissistic psychopath" that you clearly have so much sympathy for, you can start your own platform. Or just contribute to the grifter crowdfunding campaign Zak S. will probably start to exploit this situation.

      "I hope you feel the same way when someone who doesn't like you makes a 'credible' accusation against you that harms your livelihood or reputation."

      I'm not sitting around worrying about it.

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  8. As somewhat of a tangent, I hope this precedent of DTRPG no longer selling material from certain individuals is not a one time thing. Specifically, I want them to extend this to deadbeat Kickstarter campaigns that have failed to deliver by the max 5 years from the campaign's deliver date. They either deliver the product, or their revenue stream gets shut off.

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  9. Yes, it happens all the time, but so does libel. If you are responsible for libel, you pay a serious fine and compensation, also lost revenue and even potential lost revenue. So to jump on a bandwagon and assume no presumption of innocence, you may be held accountable for something even worse. I cannot stand the guy that is being accused. I cannot stand strippers and porn stars. I just don't align with their morals. Do not assume I am defending a douche bag, because I am not. I am defending the presumption of innocence, which is not only to be held in court, but also in our society, unless YOU yourself want to be drug into court over a libel case, which looks like this is going to happen in Zak's favor. The story is never one sided. Please stop playing the moral police and step back before you judge. I already let everyone know my dealings with Mandy's inner circle and it wasn't pretty.

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    1. The angry mob here is more dangerous than the psycho they’re after.

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    2. it will not happen in Zak's favor. No lawyer is going to take this on a percentage, they will want cash up front. Significant cash up front, cause libel is hard to prove. Tell Zak I said "Hi" and he shoukldnt bother to unblock me as G plus is closing down anyway ;)

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    3. As for OBS / DTRPG they are a private company and can do as they will. They could have removed Zak based on his online / social media harassment of others and it would still be legal. I may not agree with their decision, but they are totally in their rights to do so.

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    4. "I am defending the presumption of innocence, which is not only to be held in court, but also in our society"

      You are dead wrong about this. The presumption of innocence is a legal doctrine only. If someone is accused of something, the First Amendment says you can express an opinion about their guilt or lack thereof - based on all the facts, half the facts, or no facts at all. An opinion isn't "libel".

      After O.J. Simpson was acquitted, a slew of lawyers wrote books saying he was actually guilty. None of them were sued. If someone can write a book saying someone who was acquitted in court, supposedly beyond a reasonable doubt, is actually guilty - none of the rest of us have to worry about agreeing with Mandy that Zak S. is an asshole.

      Nor does DTRPG have to worry about being sued for libel(?) because they made a business decision not to support Zak S. in the future. That's their prerogative, and they could do that for any reason, or no reason at all. They don't owe Zak S. a platform, and isn't "libelous" to deny him one.

      Delete

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