Open Discussion about Gauntlet Community Issues

I understand the original intention of the thread was not to talk about why people have left. I understand that you are unhappy with what happened in this thread. I understand the desire to start a new, clean, thread to re-ask for help.

What I don’t understand is where, or when, you are going to setup a thread where people can ask questions and share information. As @Lauren, pointed out this is the second time on the forums where the conversation has been shutdown, but there were quite a few shutdown in the Slack too.

This is a great sentiment, but, to me, it feels like this reason is being used, yet again, to silence those hurt and those trying to speak up about the hurt they have received.

This! To me, if I don’t get an answer to when this discussion will happen, that lack of discussion is itself an answer. An answer I don’t like, but honestly expect at this point.

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@RedMagus77 I definitely felt that some of Jason’s comments in this thread to be out of line, although I would not have gone so far as to call them character assassination. His comments did present a clear example of a DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Accuser), which the moderators should have picked up and flagged. Jason is not the victim here, after all.

Regarding him using his cancer to shut people up: I can only give my petty example, which clearly contradicts his statement. I’m sure others could provide more documentation if they felt it would be taken seriously.

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This is a lot of why we got where we are. Framing the issues raised like this is disingenuous at best.

I’m incredibly disappointed with the decisions that have been made here. I don’t have high hopes for good responses to questions that have been asked here, but I guess I’ll have to wait for that.

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First of all, I want to validate all the concerns expressed here. It is extremely important to the mod team that people voice their opinions about what has been going on, both on the Forums and in the Gauntlet more broadly here, and do so safely. We failed to live up to our expressed commitment to providing an explanation for recent changes and a space to discuss the recent issues in a timely manner, and we have not been effective in channeling the recent discussion into a thread intended for this conversation, so that anybody reading the forums knows to look at it, as opposed to one intended for a different purpose. What follows is an explanation for why this happened, and is not intended to serve as an excuse. We should have done better.

Historically, as some of you know, the mod team has moved pretty slowly. We discussed issues over several days, built consensus and collaborated to address the relatively small number of issues that came up in the forums. We never waited for every mod to weigh in, but generally wanted to get opinions from two or three other people before making a decision, at least if it involved something bigger than changing which category a post went in. With close to half the prior number of mods remaining, this process was slowed substantially. The amount of time necessary for each of us to spend on the forums to properly moderate them went up substantially, but none of us actually had more time in our schedule. This made our slow, consensus building method obsolete, as it often took multiple days to have a brief conversation. One of us should probably have just posted something, in hindsight. We have not adapted well to these changed circumstances. I apologize to those who were hurt because I wasn’t available to live up to my responsibilities as a mod.

The mod team is really doing our damnedest to make this a place where conversation about the recent events, both on the forums and in the Gauntlet at large, can happen. I realize that no one, especially those of you who have been wronged and shut down recently, have any reason to believe me when I say this. I hope we can demonstrate our commitment starting now. I’m happy to respond to whatever comes next, but in the interests of transparency, I’m not going to be able to check back into the forums for another 20-24 hours. I do not know the availability of the rest of the team. I am going to suggest that we not lock this thread yet, but beyond that I cannot say what next steps will be. We are trying to move faster, and I hope that we can create a solution and a space where people can be heard.

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There’s consensus to walk back the locking down of this thread, so it’ll remain open for posting and conversation.

To be honest, a lot of us are at a loss on how to handle this. We don’t want what happened up above, we don’t want to cover up what happened, but to be honest, I’m scared on how to react to any of this since it happened. So, I’m sorry for fucking up, and I’m sorry but I know i’m gonna fuck up going forward as well. No one owes me no forgiveness or patience, nor belief that I’ll do my best. If you give it, I’m thankful, if you don’t, I understand, you’ve been burned too many times.

I’m gonna try and keep an eye on this, start flagging people for personal attacks, and try to nip that DARVO stuff in the bud. The rest of the team will do their best as well, but there’s a lot of confusion, and honestly, that’s why we would love some help, even if it’s just flagging and tagging and giving us an explanation on what we’re missing.
Thank you for your patience with us.

Edit: To make it explicit and clear, since the conversation is here already, yes, this thread is for:
this thread is where people can ask and talk about:

  1. Why folks stepped down from positions
  2. Why folks stopped supporting the Gauntlet
  3. Ask questions, and get responses, for past incidents and actions
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I guess this is still absent. Nobody wants to force people to explain themselves if they don’t want to, of course, but it all seems a bit ambiguous for someone who only is on the forum (and not the slack, where it seems a lot of this went down). Right now everything is talking about the reaction, the handling…but what actually happened that made all of the mods quit?

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We did make a public statement, but it was in the other thread.

for ease of access, I’ll copy/paste it here as well

In late June, the person responsible for the day-to-day running of the Gauntlet community spaces abused his power over a personal dispute and has since then stepped down from those responsibilities as well as stepping away from the community side of the Gauntlet entirely - namely, Slack and the gaming calendar - and hand the reigns over to Lowell. For more information, see these posts:
https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/blog/these-games-i-love-part-two
Gauntlet Changes

Since Lowell has taken over, the Gauntlet Care Committee was formed and has been working to form a more concrete and agreed-upon Code of Conduct and while it’s been slow, issues are being addressed and worked through.

On November 9th, Shane locked down the forums into read-only mode and made a post (The Future of the Forums) indicating his desire to step away from the Gauntlet over decisions made by “the management of the Gauntlet”.

Given that Shane set the forums up and was responsible for many of the resources required to maintain the forums, stepping away from the Gauntlet was a process that would include transitioning maintenance of the forums off to someone else. The lockdown of the forums came as a surprise as Shane didn’t let anyone know ahead of time that this was his plan. Shane provided a backup of the forums which was then used to set up a new environment for the forums to run in. That process was completed on November 10th.

In addition, we have had individuals decide to leave the message board for their own reasons. In the case of these moderator/admin team of these forums, the departures included Shane & Joao (formerly admins) as well as Cass (formerly a moderator). Yoshi has also stepped down from the moderator team though he has indicated that he’ll still be around as a member of the forums.

Despite any disagreements or anything that’s happened, the moderator team would like to thank Shane, Joao, Cass, Yoshi, and for everything they’ve done in service of getting these forums up and maintaining them as a place for high quality discussion of TTRPGs and LARP play and design.

As the first sentence of the Gauntlet Inclusivity Policy states, “The Gauntlet strives to create an inclusive, safe, fun and engaging community for gamers of all kinds.” That is still the goal of the remaining mod team and we’re dedicated to uphold those values. The only change anyone should notice from here on out is maybe a few new faces on the mod team.

We would now like to open this up for discussion and feedback. We want to stress that anything posted in this thread should still follow all guidelines (https://forums.gauntlet-rpg.com/faq) - we ask that you please be civil and constructive in your feedback. If you have any feedback that you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, we encourage you to send a message directly to the mod team.

In the interest of transparency, I’m going to be busy with work and other commitments for at least the next 24 hours, if not 48, so I may not respond as quick as requested. There’s been a request for a title change as well but I’m not sure what to change it to, and am soliciting feedback from the mods & from the requestor

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I know I’m posting a lot here…I’m not like, deeply invested in controversy, I guess I’m just in a lot of online spaces. I did read the announcement posted, but it doesn’t really say much? It basically says that the community side of gauntlet was handed over, then all of a sudden most of the mods decided to quit at the same time. If the problem person gave up power, why would all the mods quit? What happened in the meantime? Someone alluded to a feeling that someone was excluded from a Gauntlet space out of spite? I don’t know. I’m just saying that the statement posted doesn’t really fundamentally answer the question: why did all of the mods quit en masse? But maybe that’s because you want to let them make their own statements.

Again, I’m not trying to agitate here, just pointing out what seems to be a consistent hole in the statement and perhaps why things continue to circle around. I had 0 idea there were any issues going on until the mods quit mysteriously.

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First off I’d like to extend an apology for not fulfilling my responsibility as one of the few mods left here. While still a member of the Gauntlet throughout the year, I have mostly been on hiatus away from the community and gaming in general since the spring, during which the events involving the community occurred.

Upon reading this thread a couple of days ago, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of emotion from some of the posts and feared I would post the wrong things or make the wrong decisions as a moderator. That fear led me to do nothing, which of course is the wrong thing to do in such a thread and placed more pressure on other moderators.

In the past, when we had more active moderators, mod discussions and decisions occurred quickly. But with the few mods remaining, we have been slow to answer the questions presented here as Jesse mentioned in his post. I will attempt to answer your questions to the best of my ability (this is coming from me personally and not with consensus from the other mods).

Why did many mods quit en mass? & Why did people stop supporting the Gauntlet?

This question is one in same as the mods were also members of the Gauntlet. The answers to this are individualized for each person that left so I will not attempt to assume the exact reasoning for each person but many of those individuals have posted in this thread why they left the Gauntlet. I can say that it all stems from the same events - Jason’s abuse of power and the GCC’s response to the situation (in which many did not agree with).

Shane was the main administrator of these forums and for the most part handled the majority of moderating duties throughout that period (once again showing my lack responsibility as a mod). Shane leaving suddenly left a giant hole in the moderation of the forums since he was shouldering most of the load and left the remaining mods scrambling. This in essence made it seem that moderators suddenly left as the issues from Slack suddenly appeared on the forums, but what happened is a lot of Gauntlet members left en mass and some of them were also moderators here.

Once again, I apologize for my absence and being a poor mod. I am open to feedback on this post.

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Okay first off, this isn’t quite true. Joao left several months ago. I stepped down in early November. Cass coordinated with Shane and they stepped down about a week later. The announcement of everyone stepping down came at once, but each of us stepped down for our own reasons at different times. Our individual reasons might overlap, but it was not some coordinated mass quitting.

I won’t speak for anyone else, only myself. I left because I was frustrated, angry, and exhausted. You did not ask for the inciting incidents or the frustrations, but I am going to expand a little here as I feel it helps explain why I left. Many of the hurtful actions were not directed at me. The ones that did directly affect me were:

  1. Being lied to about the other hurtful actions
  2. Being present in a culture of silence

I was on the Gauntlet Community Care team. I used to be part of the Leadership team (when it still existed). I was a forum moderator. I ran Gauntlet Games Now event. I was deeply involved in the Gauntlet. I wanted it to be the best it could be. I felt like I did a lot to try to make it a better place, a place I wanted to be, a place I was proud of.

I no longer want to support the Gauntlet. I don’t want to make the sole proprietor LLC or the brand more valuable. I don’t want to contribute my time, labor, or money to it. I didn’t quit being a forum moderator, I quit supporting the Gauntlet.

That is a totally valid place to be. Most of the discussions were deliberately kept out of the general public. Some were not, but you had to know the right people and be in the right place to see the conversations that did happen in the public. They were not happening here, on the forums.

I am open for more conversation, either here or over direct messages. Some of the bigger splashier incidents are not mine to tell, I will try to only give you superficially what happened from my perspective.

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I’m not on the forums anymore but this thread was brought to my attention.

Yoshi’s statement captures most of my own feelings. I’ll try to keep an eye on forum DMs for the next week in case anyone has specific questions.

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Thank you for sharing. It’s all very disappointing on the side of the Gauntlet. I think on the whole people respected all the mods that stepped down, thus the sense that things must have been pretty not great. Thanks for the job you (and others) did as a mod

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As a follow up, here is a more detailed post on why I stopped supporting the Gauntlet.

I ultimately left and stopped supporting the Gauntlet because I was angry, frustrated, and exhausted. I was proud to be a member of The Gauntlet. I felt like I contributed a lot to make it a better place. Seeing many people, many marginalized people, speak up about concerns only to be dismissed and gaslit for months was frustrating and anger inducing. I was exhausted from putting energy in trying to make the changes I wanted to see… and seeing few, if any, results.

There were many hurtful actions

  • Blocking good faith criticisms on Twitter as bad faith engagements
  • Using Slack admin power to remove someone from Slack over a personal disagreement
  • Using the blog to attack another person
  • Lying to the community about what happened with hurtful actions
  • Lying to the community about who was running the Gauntlet Twitter account
  • Promises of leaving a space, then coming back, sometimes as a different persona
  • Us vs. Them attitude, we’re the best everyone else isn’t as good as us
  • “Subtweeting” both on Twitter and in the Gauntlet Slack, especially in a channel expressly designed for being safe where you could be vulnerable
  • Dismissing, gaslighting, and silencing folx, often marginalized folx, when they brought up concerns
  • Fostering an environment of silence, where it did not feel safe to bring up legitimate concerns
  • Swearing and abuse in direct messages
  • Not financially compensating or under compensating those who contribute, especially to projects being sold

Above, I intentionally focused on the actions and not the people, because it was not just one person. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. These are things I observed or was made aware of by people I trust, there very well could be more, this is just my perspective.

For me this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t want to make the sole proprietor LLC or the brand more valuable. I don’t want to contribute my time, labor, or money to it. That might seem like a small and petty thing to leave over, especially considering all the other hurtful actions, but like I said it was the final straw, everything else also weighed heavily on me.

I have the privilege to have multiple gaming events still in my life. And if I wanted to, I am positive I can arrange more gaming events outside the structure of the Gauntlet. I have multiple places I can talk about games and game related discussions outside the Gauntlet. Those were the two primary enticements to me, with my privilege to be able to do those elsewhere, I don’t need to support the Gauntlet.

I totally understand that for some people the Gauntlet is still a good place for them to be able to play games and have discussions around games. I hold no ill will towards any who need or want to stay for these reasons. I would still love to talk with you and play games with you. I totally welcome you to find me and reach out to me outside of the Gauntlet structure.

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Thanks Yoshi! This makes a lot more sense after your explanation. As an only forum level contributor I finally have an idea of what kind of situation we have here. It is much appreciated.

For those of us on the outside, it felt bizarre. Shane was one my primary contacts on here (more of my likes than anyone else). Then, Nov.9, bam, this cool little forum I found a few months ago was frozen for day after a brief announcement from Shane.

Then, the next day it was back… with no info about it except that a bunch of admins quit en masse unexpectedly and without warning shutdown the forum (although it is now shown to be attrition for weeks). Then, an online row broke out on this thread…of which, I for one, could not figure out how that fight was related to the sudden shutdown in Nov.

Thanks for clearing this up…for me at least.

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If the original request is still open, I’d volunteer to be a moderator, despite not really engaging with this community up until recently. I’m happy to discuss whatever “street cred” y’all need me to discuss :slight_smile:

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You should probably check the other thread, Moderation Team Volunteer Request & Response to Requests for More Information, out. Until the mods update the title on the thread here, I can totally understand the confusion. This thread now, has turned into a Q&A and information dump of:

  • Why the moderators stopped being mods
  • Why many folks have and are leaving the Gauntlet
  • Some additional details on what events have taken place

If you have a additional thoughts on what the thread should be renamed, I’m sure the remaining moderators would love to hear those suggestions (but maybe not as part of this thread)

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If I may ask, who are the current members of the Gauntlet Care Team? Who has stepped down from that team in recent months, and have any replacements been selected?

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The Gauntlet Community Care team (GCC) currently has the following members (as of last I knew): Current members: Lowell Francis, Sabine Voelkel, Gerrit Reininghaus, Mathias Belger, Darold Ross, Tyler Lominack

I (Yoshi), Lauren, and Enne have all stepped down. I am not aware of anyone else stepping down as of right now.

There were some internal discussions on the Basecamp for selecting additional members, but it had stalled out with other tasks taking more focus. When I left some names had been suggested, but no one had been approached yet. As of right now the only members were those from the earlier formation when Lowell took over as Community Manager.

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Dear Jason, I DMed you in case you don’t get this, but I am very sorry to hear about your illness.

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Cross posting from the Slack because Slack deleting messages is part of the problem.

I was on this bandwagon because I believed in it and now I can’t anymore. I am amongst the marginalized folx whose harm is ACTUALLY being erased here. Read: those in power aren’t being erased, that’s propaganda and further adds to real erasure. I legit never got a fucking ounce of recognition or restitution when Jason continually escalated a social media war with Ross Cowman in some fucked up ways over my game Wolf Run AND IGNORED MY WISH NOT TO. This was well over a year ago, and as you new folx may have picked up, it’s only gotten worse. Now you know. :sparkles:

I’m sorry this community’s promise was shattered. Despite all the negativity, there’s a lot to be learned here, and I’m taking it forward.

Find & make spaces (pluaral) you can believe in and have a voice in. Don’t be a pillar for a hierarchy that can’t hold a bad actor accountable just because he insists upon you that HE owns the community & production YOU worked to help succeed. Fuck capitalism, love y’all, you’re amazing and deserve the best :sparkling_heart: I know some of you won’t like what I’m saying here, and I may be burning bridges, but this is a long time coming and I stand completely with the others who have left.

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