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Top 10 Worst Things About N4G

Well then, I was initially not going to post this blog after certain events occurred, but given the AMA in the forums, I think an updated version of this blog is necessary. Please do not refer to the previous blog as that will help no one. Thanks. I also encourage you to visit that AMA in the forums here.

Here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Worst Things About N4G.

Number 1: The prevalence of these terrible lists.

Told you you'd be seeing some irony. Yes, I'm using a list like this to moan about lists like this. I understand that there isn't literally news every single day to talk about in the gaming industry, but list articles are the second laziest form of "journalism" about gaming. Top 5 Sexiest Women in Games, Top 10 Best Butts in Games, Top 7 Best Boobs in Games; most of these lists seem like they're written by a confused teenager with more time on their hands than is good for them and yet they consistently get high spots on the front page. ENOUGH!

Number 2: Developer Twitter Reaction Articles.

This here is the LAZIEST form of gaming "journalism" there is. Top Number Lists at least require SOME thought put into them, these "articles" don't. A case study in Copy Pasta, every "gaming journalist" or "enthusiast blogger" that simply copies and pastes developer reactions taken from their twitter accounts and tries to make an article out of them doesn't deserve to waste precious bandwidth. What's worse is that because it's the twitter accounts of developers, these submissions use loopholes to get around submission rules. I've seen direct links to Twitter posted on this site just because it's a developer or executive twitter account. Sorry, but I don't need to know Hideo Kojima's reaction to a ham sandwich thanks.

Number 3: Ridiculous Screenshot and Comparison Articles.

Why is it that when some game gets an update, or multiplatform releases occur, that we need to have "articles" talking about how such and such game's "beautifuL" and "breathtaking" graphics will leave us "speechless" or get to hear about how one pixel in ____'s version of *insert multiplatform game here* is more detailed? This is especially bad with frickin' Driveclub lately. Just play the damn game and judge for yourself if you like the graphics. What do you care if one version has better graphics than the other if you only have ONE console? The other version's graphics don't impact you at all. Fluff pieces at their finest that routinely get approved here.

Number 4: The Lazy Members Who Don't Have Any Quality Concerns About Submission.

The submission process was designed to act as a filter for this site. Ideally members would look at pending news and decided whether it was worthy to be seen on the site proper. What actually ends up happening is people approving articles either because they fit a certain agenda, or because they don't technically break any rules. BE MORE SELECTIVE!! How many times do we hear complaints about Kotaku, yet Kotaku articles are always submitted and always approved? There is a "Lame" option in the report section for a reason. USE IT!

Number 5: The Completely Useless Site Voting Feature.

Speaking of Kraptaku, I have heard it from good authority that Kotaku is downvoted far more than it is upvoted on this site. There is a voting feature underneath the clickout link to any article where you are asked "Do you Like this site" and asked about "Story Quality." This feature is pointless. It doesn't work at all. We're told it's supposed to be yet another filter. That if enough people downvote a site, no articles from that site will show up on the front page. Doesn't happen at all. We still see Kraptaku articles all the time. All that actually happens is you'll see some stars in the site's ranking. Kraptaku has the highest amount of stars and younger sites have a hyphen indicating nothing. Stars don't mean anything to us regular members. And there have long been rumours that HAVA Media plays favourites with sites like Kraptaku and no amount of downvotes will ever make them go away.

Number 6: Business Deals.

While it's a fact of life that the internet is essentially a big business, and site owners will always try to make money, the business deals that happen here are figuratively criminal. The results of these business dealings are things like Super Users who are not mods but have most of the privileges of mods. Blog posts and article submissions that circumvent all submission guidelines and are insta-approved by the most recently available mod or admin and pushed to the top, and very likely heavily moderated comment sections. We all have to submit to several rules just to post anything here, but the truth is is all you have to do is pay HAVA Media some cash and rules don't apply to you. What's worse is that most of the time these business deals actually suck, such as the time there was a company posting alleged "deals" on games in the form of blogs only the deals were awful and for old games. But I guess that's another area where quality doesn't matter and there's nothing users can do about it. Just try reporting an article or a blog belonging to a "business partner" and see how far you get.

Number 7: The Ignore Feature

In theory this feature sounds great. Don't want to hear from a member that's stalking you in comments and being a right @#$% all the time? Just Ignore them and you should never see what they say again. In practice it only half works. A person on your ignore list has their comment hidden in a still expandable manner similar to when a comment is marked as Off Topic or Trolling. Only Spam or Offensive posts are permanently hidden. Also, when someone on your ignore list makes a direct reply to one of your comments, you get a notification. Because you want to see that Xx$onyPonySlayer9273xX just replied to your comment right? That's why you put him on your ignore list, so you can be notified when he comments to you. RIGHT?!

Number 8: Moderation.

Ah, you probably guessed this was coming and thought I'd save it for last didn't you? Nope. Anyway, this point actually deserves a series of blogs, and the me that I was a year ago might have written said series, but I'll just stick to a subset of points in one overall point. The moderation on this site is abysmal. Now, I will say that being a site moderator for any site is definitely not an enviable task, and certainly not an easy one. You have to deal with irate people all day every day, are forced into acquiescing to business deals, and worst of all you don't even get paid for any of it. That sucks, no doubt. However, there are still many issues that need to be addressed about moderation, so here are a subset of points in the overall moderation point.

A) Mods are volunteers who can easily not be prepared to handle the task. Mods are chosen from site members who have been very active, positively, in the community across all aspects. They are asked if they would like to be a moderator of the site based on their interaction on the site and can choose to say yay or nay. The problem with this is that there is no preparation for the deluge of feedback moderators get, and this causes many situations in which a moderator can allow their own emotions to influence how they moderate. Ideally, a moderator should be able to set aside their personal feelings in the interest of simply following the site rules and enforcing them, even when challenged. In reality, many users have stories where they follow the channels to discuss restriction, are emotional themselves (because who wouldn't be when feeling unfairly treated), and leave with heavier punishment than when they started. There's a saying that should apply to everyone online. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Sure it sucks to be bombarded with anger, but if you volunteered to be a cop without maybe fully understanding what you'd be getting into, then either consider leaving the position or try to maintain some manner of discipline.

B) The Immense Subjectivity of Moderation.

When you use variable definitions for things like trolling, moderation will always appear to be inconsistent. Personally speaking, I'd say that the best way to moderate a comment is to find what is objectively true about it and go from there. If you can't immediately tell that a person is trolling and so you fall back on their past comments, then what you're doing is presupposing negativity with little to no evidence. This is especially a problem for people who express genuinely positive sentiments about something (say, a new feature on PS4), but because they were good at trolling before their comment gets marked as trolling with the reason that they knew what they were doing and were purposely trying to poke a hornet's nest. Tone and intent online are not always easy to express. The default position should not be to punish and in actuality be a victim of Poe's Law. A lot of the time, a simple warning can go a long way with members.

C) Rule #10

N4G Site Terms Of Use Rule #10 is as follows.

"10. Termination Or Suspension Of Access To The Website
NewsBoiler has the right to terminate and/or suspend your ability to access the Website or any portion thereof, for any or no reason, without notice."

When you take the volunteer nature of moderation, prone to being victim to emotion; and you add subjectivity to the mix, then the result is an abuse of this specific rule. It's the "we have the right to do whatever we want" rule. Basically it means that a mod can punish you for any reason, or no reason at all completely outside the bounds of the other Terms of Use rules or submission guidelines. It is this rule that cause most members to become irate and agitated as they believe they have followed the rules of the site only to be met still with some form of punishment, and this rule is quoted. This was never more true than when all the Gamergate hoopla made it's way on to this site. While the use of a catch all rule is pretty much necessary, as it is meant to be able to punish people who make the kinds of offensive remarks and spam submissions not covered by the other rules because, quite frankly, they couldn't be; this rule should ideally only be used as sparingly as possible and only when absolutely necessary. When this rule is invoked to basically remove freedom of expression, one shouldn't be surprised when members then stop caring about other rules and the site in general devolves. The ToU itself is standard fare, even Rule #10, but when you read Rule #10 it's clear that it was created to deal with problems that required an impossible level of foresight and shouldn't be expected to be meticulously written out. But it's been used to fail submissions, restrict members, and generally makes everyone feel like they should be on edge about what they do here because at any moment Rule #10 will hammer them.

There's just way too much to talk about with regards to moderation that really should be addressed in the AMA. But remember, criticism doesn't have to be personal. Keep it clean and ask the right questions.

Number 9: Clone Stories

I can't tell you how disinterested in Uncharted 4 I am, and this is only made worse by how, very recently, there could be 3 stories about Uncharted (often about the same stuff being reported by other sites with some small differences) at the top of the front page among 5 total stories. This happens way too often. Hell, some submissions are actually from site owners who will take apart interviews and tweets and make multiple stories about them. It feels like Naruto filler to compensate for the lack of news.

Number 10: The Heat System

This feature is just pure chaos. It's responsible for stories being "Hot" in both the "Today" sections and the "Now" sections, making the total number of possible unique stories less than the 10 that there should be. I understand that this is really nitpicky of me, but it's MY Top 10 things list so that's my prerogative. The heat feature has also been broken before, and can be controlled by mods to push certain stories to the front. This can be beneficial during conferences that have keynote speeches being livecast, but it also means we get to suffer through more business deal crap.

Honorable Mention: The Character Limit

I have had numerous occasions where the alleged 4000 character limit is actually significantly less than that. It gets to be a problem sometimes when I write my novels here.

And so there it is, my Top 10 Worst Things About N4G list. I'm missing a few, and I would have LOVED to expand on Number 8 some more, but I already explained why I won't be and blogs only allow for 15,000 character.

Sound off in the comments below and list off what would be on your list. Remember, just keep it clean. Criticism doesn't have to be personal and it won't break the rules if you don't make it so. Have a good day all.

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Hoffmann1920d ago

What I just don't understand is a problem here since around November 2015 I think.

Why can't people reply to a comment written just 10 minutes before?

This change crippled a lot of conversations and its still not fixed.

5.Its indeed a bit weird I think that certain sites are still not blocked. Be it the example of Kotaku, the clickbait experts from Gamingbolt or websites with 10 pages for a cosplay articles which has 2 year old photos and does not credit the cosplayers or their photographers in any form.

Christopher1920d ago (Edited 1920d ago )

***Why can't people reply to a comment written just 10 minutes before? ***

This is new to me.

Which site are you using, old or bet?

Can you give me an instance of where this happened to you?

Edit @below: Ah, okay, that's not a timer or anything. You can only reply to the first two tiers of comments, not the third tier. That's a design choice by the developers. So, the reason people use @nickname is because when you reply to that third tier (like your comment I'm replying to now), you can't reply directly to that or get notifications on it.

So, that's not "time" based, but "tier" based. That is something I've 'feedbacked' with the developers on in the past.

Hoffmann1920d ago (Edited 1920d ago )

The old one, and you can see the problem happens to many in just every longer comment section when they start to write @Christopher (as example) because they got a reply but were not able to answer the commenter directly so they add a @nickname to show they meant that specific person but had to reply to either themselfes or an earlier comment they replied to in the first place.

Here is a super recent example from today:

Look how the people that replied to my comment are still replying to my old comment but talk to the other commenters.

Either everyone else there is using the old webdesign as well or the problem is part of the new one as well.

mikeslemonade1920d ago

One thing I can think of is the search function. About 10 times so far since I've been a user since 2006, I can't find thestory via the search function and I remember the title of the news story.

TheColbertinator1920d ago

No Nasim. No Open Zone. Bring it back for the lolz

Christopher1920d ago

I do miss the Open Zone. It was such a good tool for giving people their place to troll while freeing us up from moderation. But, it doesn't look like that will be coming back.

TheColbertinator1920d ago

I miss it greatly but realized its not coming back. Now the only trolls we get are instabanned or stealth trolls

cl19831919d ago

While it's not the main page we do have a "new" open zone in the forums

TheColbertinator1919d ago

Pffft that's just fanboyism. I want trolling that N4G is famous for.

Fullmetalevolust1920d ago

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece and I have to agree with some of the points you've brought up.
And as flawed N4G is in some places, it excels in others.
It took a major set to express what you did and I respect that :)

Gazondaily1920d ago

Great blog and spot on comments.

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