Blacklists: Are They Really Necessary?

This column was originally written by an anonymous source on The eFed Truth, which no longer seems to be active. It is here for archival purposes.

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Drama. Unfortunately, it’s as common to the game of e-wrestling as your typical roleplay. Sometimes the drama is so huge that roleplayers leave feds and feds shut down. Occasionally, the drama is so severe that disgraceful nonsense like say, an entire fed’s pathetic soap opera being all over the place on resource sites, occurs. Ultimately, any type of drama, no matter which fed you go to, or which resource site you use, leads to someone being permanently unwelcome in a community, or “blacklisted”, or “no longer welcome” or anything along those lines. The point is, drama leads to, on some occasions, a blacklisting of a particular person. Before I get into the gist of this column, let me be fair and point out the pros for blacklists.

 

The Pros

  • They’re good for warning other feds and handlers about troublemakers
  • They’re good for warning other feds and handlers about people that steal from others in this hobby
  • They’re good for letting a possible member of a resource site or a fed know that the administrators enforce the rules and will not take insufferable immaturity
  • They’re good for keeping members in check and for educating them what not to do in a community.
  • They’re good at making sure that drama in the game is kept to its lowest possible minimum.

 

I have no doubt that those are some good reasons why feds and communities should have blacklists. However, blacklists have their own cons. Say you own a fed and you blacklisted someone who had went on a massive flaming spree all over the boards. Fast forward say, three years later, and people see him on the blacklist and what he did three years prior. In a situation like that, it gives off the impression that the fed, the staff and the handlers are still holding on to the drama that occurred. I understand that drama happens and that often times the drama leads to a grudge between two or more parties. But, remember, it’s a game. You can only hold on to a grudge for so long. There was an ewScene QOTD recently that even states that holding a grudge gets you nowhere in this hobby. (Paraphrasing, but that’s the main gist of it) Is it logical to let everybody know about what someone did years ago and still drag that person through the mud? From the perspective of educating a new member of what will get you in trouble, yes. But from the perspective of a new member who would rather be above and beyond whatever happened, no.

 

Blacklists have unintended consequences that affect both the fed and the blacklisted individual.

 

The fed will look like they promote drama to a group of e-fedders that want to have fun and don’t care about whether someone or not started a massive public flamewar three years ago. As for the blacklisted individual, it’s entirely possible that in those three years since that flamewar that got him blacklisted from one fed, he’s matured, grown up and proven that he deserves a second chance yet, because of a blacklist, a fed commits a case of what a RoughKut thread refers to as “pre-emptive banning” and doesn’t let the person be in their fed. In my opinion, denying someone a spot in your fed because of something he did years ago is wrong. It also makes the owner of the fed, in this particular situation, look like he doesn’t think for himself. At the end of the day, is it fair to deny someone who wants to prove he learned his lesson a spot in your fed when you don’t know the person and they’ve never done anything wrong to you personally? I think not. There are some exceptions to this, which I’ll get to in a bit.

 

I understand that drama happens and feds and communities get so disgusted with someone that they’re no longer welcome. I’m not saying “don’t hold the guy accountable”. The best way to handle this, in most cases, is ban the guy’s IP address, ban the guy’s e-mail address, and just move on. Note that I said MOST cases. As I said in the previous paragraph, there are some exceptions.

 

Let me put it to you this way. If the person in question did something like cause a public flamewar, or lie to you about their status and then bolt to another fed, spam another fed on your website, play politics, etc. (The common stuff that troublemakers do), a blacklist isn’t necessary. As stated previously, ban the guy and move on. It’s the simplest, most effective way to deal with a troublemaker. If they come around and start more drama, repeat the same thing. The truth is, common troublemaker stuff is not “blacklist worthy”, even if they keep doing it. At that point, just ignore the person and they’ll go away.

 

However, for advanced stuff that troublemakers do, a blacklist IS necessary. I’m talking about things like roleplaying theft, layout theft, results theft, forum hackings, DOS attacks, and excessive posting of inappropriate material (I consider this ADVANCED because posting excessive pornography, for example, can get a fed deleted by the forum host). If a troublemaker has done any of this, blacklisting them and spreading the word to other feds and warning them is necessary.

 

To sum up my opinions of blacklists: Blacklists are necessary, but ONLY in extreme cases like theft or hacking.

 

Otherwise, just ban the troublemaker and move on. There’s no need whatsoever to make a public display because then you’ll stoop to a level that’s just as bad as the troublemaker’s.

 

Remember, a fed is only as good as its handlers, and the way a fed handles situations of drama and troublemakers goes a long way toward how prospective members see your community. You want your fed or community to be seen in a positive light, otherwise you won’t get members. That’s a truth we can all agree on.

  • David Tyrrell

    Blacklists sound so racist. Can’t we all just get along?

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