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And bias blinds you, as well

This is an informal response to this blogpost. None of the views expressed in these text represent the official view of the project in question.

I know that nothing is perfect and I've never claimed otherwise. But I'm going to outright state that the accusations presented in the blogpost I'm responding to are either completely false or grossly exaggerated.

Let's start with some history. Back in May 2011, I started a project called MineCommunity along with the author of the blogpost (let's call him person A). The project grew nicely and we worked on a city called Mainton. Everything was good for a few months and the map came along really well. Then there were a series of falling-outs between person A and the rest of the community, wherein the community almost unanimously voted to demote person A from project leader. Fortunately for the project, the server was hosted on a server ran by a third person, which means that this third person could and did revoke the access of person A in line with community consensus.

However, I was naive and let person A step back in the project a few times, and every time, the result was exactly the same. The community voted to oust him. However, in the fall of 2011, our host suddenly informed us that they were no longer able to provide hosting for the server, which means that the project kind of died. However, the map remained with a few people.

Towards the end of 2011, person A started a new project called TreeCraft. For whatever reason, I was somehow promoted to co-leader and we started yet another journey of minecrafting together. Again, person A showed he was unfit for leadership, as seen during incidents such as when he unilaterally imposed building restrictions and demoted me for disagreeing with these. However, I stayed around until around April of 2012, when another op on TreeCraft (let's call him person B) asked me to host a small Minecraft survival server. At that point, TreeCraft, which was being hosted on a home server, was lagging really badly, and to top it, person B and I got into a disagreement with person A about a case of stealing in the survival world. This all culminated in person A deciding to relocate the IRC channel of TreeCraft to another network without consulting the community first. Eventually, person B and I decided to just move out and śtart a fully-equipped project alongside TreeCraft.

This new project was called Shadow Empire. Led by person B and me, 90% of all TreeCraft players migrated to the new project. This eventually led to TreeCraft dying. Shadow Empire, on the other hand, was doing really well — the community was expanding and everything appeared to be well. However, person A decided he was not going to take this lightly and decided to resurrect TreeCraft. He was caught redhanded advertising his new project on Shadow Empire; something that obviously isn't allowed on any sensible server. When we told him to quit doing it, he told us we were infringing on his freedom of speech, which obviously isn't true, considering that phrase only applies to governments limiting their citizens' freedom of speech.

Not only did he advertise his server on SE, but he also managed to convince SE players and even an admin that I was blatantly misusing donations, which was of course not true, as donations didn't and still don't cover the expenses of SE. While I wish the project could be funded by donations, I sadly don't see this happening anytime in the near future. Anyway, the second coming of TreeCraft ended up in an internal struggle that killed the project. And this same resurrection happened a couple of times and always ended the same way.

Actual rant begin

Anyway, I came here to informally respond to the blogpost, not to re-tell history (I actually have IRC logs to back up all this). The claim that we stole the content from person A is outright false — while we indeed adopted the creative map (Mainton map) that had been around since MineCommunity times, that's certainly not stealing from person A. The community that built the map owned it, not one person, who even was kicked out a few times from said community.

Claiming that bias is the reason for person A skirting a permanent ban from Shadow Empire is rather... biased. The bans of person A have always been justified — advertising, spamming in all-caps, discrediting the administration, you name it. The fact that these violations were not a one-time thing, but rather a recurring thing, resulted in incrementally increasing ban lengths, which is quite a common phenomenon on the internet (take wikis, for example).

Let's jump to the summer of 2013. I was 2,500 kilometers from home, lying on a beach in Greece with little to no internet access, which means I really wasn't around when this whole suicide thing happened. I only got the full picture later on, when I was back home. Let's make it explicitly clear: I do not, under any circumstances, condone anyone telling others to kill themselves. However, considering I was not around when this happened, it was really hard to retroactively apply punishments when the rest of the staff team seems to have handled this case in my absence.

Suicide threats are another thing. While people threatening to commit suicide should be taken seriously, there is very little that can be done on IRC to suicidal persons. In addition, just like on the rest of the internet, discussing suicide on IRC can result in trolls and other people telling you to commit suicide, which is very harmful. This is why Shadow Empire adopted a policy to ban all discussion about suicide. In accordance, threatening to commit suicide resulted in removal from the channel. We found this to be the best approach to this issue.

Person A repeatedly had problems with person C. However, neither person really violated our rules, which means there was very little we could do about it. And we really cannot engage in PM issues either, which is why we simply told person A to use IRC's /ignore function. But no, person A decided to not use this due to some superficial reason and instead present himself as the victim. Eventually, this resulted in pressure building up, and eventually person A lashed out at everyone and everything. This, of course, resulted in yet another ban.

Person A was eventually unbanned yet again but also told that further violations would result in harsh punishments (think of it as parole). Once again person A failed to heed these instructions and was banned yet again (no, he was definitely not banned for one instance of WTF — that is a ridiculous claim). As for the "protest by fellow users", it really was a few users expressing concerns about one staff member. It was definitely not a community-wide uproar, and the staff team deemed the ban to be perfectly justified.

After one of these instances, person A decided to start a website and an IRC channel explicitly dedicated to boycotting us. The website was filled with ridiculous claims and overexaggerations, such as the project as a whole endorsing suicide (which is a really twisted thing). I went to freenode staff about this channel, and considering we have a staff member lurking in our IRC channel, they were able to deduce that the statements presented on the website were indeed overexaggerated. IIRC, person A eventually decided to take down this website of lies.

Accusing Shadow Empire of hacking your server is a rather far reach. We do not condone any sort of hacking of fellow projects and claiming we hacked your server is ridiculous. I really don't have any further comments about this.

I'm not saying Shadow Empire is perfect, nor is anyone else saying that. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but calling administrators dictators is neither productive nor constructive, which is why we will continue disallowing such defamatory comments. At no point was person A actually interested in improving the project, but rather undermining and splitting it. When you bring up a point and we "retaliate" with IRC logs, then we're doing it right. Arguing is about facts — and that's exactly what IRC logs are. Claiming that we can't argue is completely false and very "biased". When we ask you to give examples of your statements, you attack us. That's not how arguing works. An argument is a calm debate about something — these things involve facts and sensible arguments, not name-calling and shouting.

The fact that you come across arguments on the internet isn't unexpected at all. People are allowed to discuss your choice of OS and browser and whatever, and in return, you're allowed to ignore them if you don't want to respond. If an argument is in line with our rules, then we won't step in and quash it. But if you don't want to participate, that's fine — ignore them. Going all HULK SMASH because someone uses AdBlock isn't acceptable. Their choice.

I'm not even going to pretend that I understand your comment about this political thing. Care to elaborate? Probably not.

As I said above, comparing us to dictators isn't okay. Constructive criticism is allowed, but going all DAE think person B is literally Hitler (not an actual quote) is in no way productive. When we then provide IRC logs to prove otherwise, you think this is somehow wrong? We're not allowed to use facts in an argument?

How to debate successfully

Don't claim another project stole your map because they didn't. You don't own the map. The community does. When the community decides to move on, it's their choice. They worked on the map too.

Use actual facts. IRC logs work. When you make a claim and people refute it with facts, you're not supposed to get mad. For example, I remember a while back when person A claimed that the US totally sucks (wow not circlejerking at all huh), and other people refuted this, person A managed to escalate the debate into a huge clusterfuck instead of calmly arguing back. Not how the thing works.

I'm still unclear what this political comparison is about, so I'm going to need some explanations here.

The end

I hope this rant clears up the worst misconceptions and exaggerations in the blogpost. As I've said, I have IRC logs that back up everything I say here... you know, like actual facts in an argument.