I was avoiding having to do this because I don’t want to impede on other people’s freedom – especially on non-ShanniiWrites platforms.
ShanniiWrites has always been a place where people could get a fresh start and know that they would only be judged for the things that they say and do here on ShanniiWrites-owned platforms, i.e. the Forums, the Website, the Discord server and the social media.
We are still committed to that stance. No one will be punished for expressing grievances on the Episode Forums because you are under no obligation to follow the rules that I ask you to follow here when you’re elsewhere on the internet.
When you sign up for the ShanniiWrites Forums, you agree to follow the rules we set out when you are using our services. Episode is not one of our services, so it does not count. I cannot punish you for things you do elsewhere on the internet.
While I reserve the right to remove people from the ShanniiWrites Forums if I believe that they are a detriment to our Forums, I will not exercise this power unless I absolutely have to. Basically, if they are doing something morally or legally disgusting and using the Forums to help them cultivate an image or fanbase for that bad behaviour.
However, this is not the case this time.
There is one exception: I have asked the staff to not get involved, as you are directly responsible for our image. If you decide not to listen to me on this and you destroy our reputation, Deluge will remove you from the staff team immediately.
Now, I need to talk about this whole trolling thing, why I don’t condone what’s been happening and when it stopped being funny.
Trolling is a neutral force. Trolling can either be good or bad. You can troll in a way that lifts people up and makes them laugh (we have a good few people on the Forums here who do that), or you can troll in a way that harasses and causes distress to people who really don’t deserve it.
You can troll as a protest to an oppressor, or you can take your frustration towards that oppressor out on other people who aren’t oppressing you.
You can attack the system or you can attack the people within the system.
If you’re insisting on trolling, which side are you going to be on?
I hope it’s not the bad one.
Trolling as Protest
When this trolling thing first started, I originally overlooked it. It seemed harmless. I can’t do anything because nothing bad has happened on the ShanniiWrites platforms and I’m not going to white knight for a company that caused me mental distress and turmoil. I am under no legal or moral obligation to look out for Episode in this case.
Originally, I thought that the users involved were going against the bad practices of Episode: using their freedom of speech to protest the fact that Episode silences them. I thought they were using trolling as a way to show Episode that it needed to change its practices and become a better company.
While I don’t think that works, I thought it was an innocent movement that would be aimed at the ideas that Episode present and criticising it as a company.
This is understandable. Episode doesn’t listen to us. It bans and persecutes us for very little and it made sense to me that some people felt as though they needed to make a stand.
Personally, I think the best stand anyone could make against Episode is to show Episode that they are replaceable. You’ve all joined my little revolution and it has done a lot to stir up Episode’s fears, even though I never intended to make the Forums a rival to Episode and they were the ones who turned us into rivals. Personally, I think that it works better when you protest like that. However, I can’t stop people from deciding that they need to find other ways to act in protest to what Episode has done.
That’s not what happened, though.
I’ve seen blatant harassment of Nick in particular (the moderator on Episode) and I have seen people using the name of the ShanniiWrites Forums in a way that I really don’t like.
So, Episode is not a person. It cannot be harassed. Criticising Episode’s practices – even in a way that might be seen as irritating or trolling – is not a bad thing. Criticise a company. Only idiots think Episode has feelings you can hurt. It doesn’t.
But when it comes to attacking mods and starting threads directed at them in particular, they are people (that isn’t up for debate in this case) and doing that to them can cause them serious mental distress. You are harassing them when you target them particular by @ing them over and over or making threads about them constantly.
I do not condone harassment whatsoever.
Associating the ShanniiWrites Forums
I do not want to be associated with the trolling whatsoever. I don’t think it works. I think the best way to make Episode realise they’re being evil is to make us succeed instead. I am unhappy with the way I’ve seen some harassment and abusive language being thrown around and it makes me super uncomfortable.
While I don’t think trolling is inherently bad or evil and I can’t do anything about what you do on other sites, I’m not happy with how this turned out.
Not only did you kinda abuse a bunch of people on the Episode Forums, but you brought me into it. I wasn’t involved in this and I hate that the name of the Forums is being brought down as a result. I thought this was going to be innocent. If I had any clue how it would turn out, I wouldn’t have kept my mouth shut.
It has always been my intention to stay on my Forums, criticise Episode’s bad practices and watch it burn from the sidelines. I want this place to be the sanctuary that people come to in order to escape the fire, not the ones who started this bloody fire in the first place.
Episode does enough evil stuff on its own. We don’t need to do anything but watch and be there for the people it chews up and spits out. Criticise its practices? Sure! Give people a safe place where they can complain about the things on the Episode Forums that upset them? Definitely! But not be the ones that people complain about.
Why? Well, I’m not here to make a bloody faceless corporation. The ShanniiWrites Forums mean the world to me because the people on it were there for me when Episode dumped me and crapped all over the hard work and love I’d put into their platform since 2015. I know there will always be more people who are victims of Episode’s abuse and I want them to feel as loved and backed up as I was.
Abusing and harassing people doesn’t do that.
Episode’s Own Rule – Don’t Feed the Trolls
However, I will say this: I have no sympathy for the people who came on the trolling posts to complain about the trolling.
If it hurt their feelings, they didn’t need to open the thread.
If they opened the thread, they didn’t need to keep reading when it upset them.
If they read, they didn’t need to comment.
If they commented, they didn’t need to continue an argument.
They aren’t innocent victims here.
Episode has a rule against feeding the trolls. They all broke the rule and tried to shut other people down who were expressing their opinions. They were backseat modding (another rule that Episode has) by telling people to stop and engaging in the argument rather than just flagging the trolling and moving on with their lives.
Frankly, I kinda find it disgusting that Episode isn’t being consistent with its own rules there by silencing the people who were backseat modding and feeding the trolls. They silenced me for a lot less than that when I was on the Episode Forums. It just goes to show that they have favourites.
It is not harassment or abuse if you choose to criticise someone and tell them to leave or that you’re sick of them, and they respond. So, I will not pretend that the people who came on the obvious trolling threads are victims. If they didn’t want to get an answer to their post, they shouldn’t have provoked the trolls. They shouldn’t have *broken the Episode rules by feeding the trolls.
But responding with abusive messages is disgusting, too. No one had the moral high ground and I am so sad that we got caught up in this. I’m so sad that whenever something happens with a user of these Forums – Forums that have over 500 users – I get blamed for it! I am not responsible for the actions of my users!
Why We Can’t Punish People
Now, as I said, we can’t punish people for trolling on Episode.
That is for Episode to deal with.
The ShanniiWrites Forums have always been a place where people can get fresh starts. A place where you will only get judged for what you do on our platform. If I started punishing people for trolling on Episode and being negative, I would be breaking the rules and the spirit of the ShanniiWrites Forums.
The only things I can do are:
Remove any staff who has been found to be harassing or abusing anyone on the Episode Forums. You are responsible for our image and I picked you all because I thought you were mature and you could handle it. If you can’t tell the line between innocent trolling and harassing and abusing people, you are causing our name to go down in the mud. Plus, if you can’t make that distinction, then how can I trust you to deal with things appropriately on our forums?
Publicly say that I will not condone any of the actions taken during the trolling. Obviously that’s what I’m trying to do in this post.
That is all I can do and that is all I will do.
Please feel free to ask me any questions below.
However, please don’t ask me why I’m not dealing with negativity or any of that bull. I don’t break my own rules and I am not a tyrant. They didn’t break any of the rules on the ShanniiWrites Platforms.