NeoGAF Owner Admits Identity Politics, Authoritarian Left Hostility, and Unfair Moderation Ruined its Community

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Anyone that browsed the online gaming forum NeoGAF during its more recent years and eventual collapse generally found the community had done a number of things to turn away large numbers of users. Now, we’ve learned that the issues faced by the community and its moderation team were more noticed than we thought.

NeoGAF owner Tyler Malka actually confirmed (via KotakuinAction) the once popular internet gaming forum had a big problem with identity politics, noting that “every identity of person seemed to trend toward hostile tribalism over time,” forming a “huge rift” between the community and its moderation team.

Malka also said that individual mods “had their own agendas they were furthering,” noting that he “failed to course correct it all.” Surprisingly, Malka went on to say that eventually nothing was “progressive enough” and he became the enemy to a subset of the trans community on the site, as well as a subset of every minority community on the site.

Furthermore, Malka said that he “took that all in and tried to navigate it, tried to understand people’s positions,” but unfortunately “nothing was good enough and a ton of people lashed out” at him “any time” he said anything. Coming from this, it makes sense when he confessed that he was “completely miserable every moment I was on GAF” last year.

He went on to say that he “tried to turn things around” but he was dealing with “rough personal issues all year and was only just starting to pull myself out of that when I got #metooed (falsely) out of nowhere. It was overwhelming and scary. It got mainstream media attention.”

Things only got worse from there, according to Malka.

“The community had become a powderkeg of polarized, authoritarian left hostility that seemed to revel in setting this place on fire from within and throw me onto a pyre the moment they found out about that BS allegation,” he said. “Almost all the mods immediately bailed, we got DDoSed for like two straight days, and by the time we were back up we barely had any mod coverage and I was deeply hurt by what the community was saying about me and could barely engage with it.”

After the fallout of NeoGAF and the subsequent launch of ResetEra by its refugees, Malka took a step back to address personal concerns and figure out where to go from there. He pointed out that the trans community within the site isn’t to blame. He now has a good outlook on the entire thing, saying “everything that happened” eventually “became an opportunity to actually course correct this place like I couldn’t when it was at its peak.”

Malka said now the hope is to “actually talk about things again, and use this place for escapism from the shitty real world,” rather than “some insane asylum where you’re driven out for ‘normalizing!!11’ if you don’t hate everything and want to die.”

The GAF owner did reveal that his overall goal with running an internet forum should “trend toward not giving a damn what anyone claims to be in terms of identity, just the content of what they have to say and the evidence supporting it.” He said when you become a “protected class” and wield power by “announcing that you’re a person of color or a woman or trans or whatever it may be,” that sort of power is “going to be taken advantage of on a platform like this. And it was.”

Finally, Malka said that he “never wanted that outcome.” He wanted everyone “to be able to come on here and not deal with what I felt was a massive dissonance between how we typically engage with each other on the internet vs how we do IRL.” Malka also said they’re going to go through the bans handed out by former moderators and unban users who were unjustly banned.

My take: Sadly, ResetEra is more or less the same type of echo chamber you found at NeoGAF during its peak, as most of the users who fled to the former over the latter were the ones taking advantage of those sorts of identity politics. I was a frequent GAF user over five years ago and was generally sad to see what became of its community and staff.

How do you feel about the fallout surrounding NeoGAF? The current state of things? If ResetEra is anything other than a renamed GAF community? Sound off in the comments below.

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.