But there's a problem. They want to make things better without actually changing the fundamental situation. Its like the Titanic crew looking for iceberg-avoiding advice, just as long as you don't suggest they actually change course, or even slow down.
In the thread, they ended up getting hordes of posts from the usual suspects, the fawning pseudo-activists admirers of the Modclique celebrities, that were praising how everything was just fine as it is. Meanwhile, anyone who posted anything more radical than "we might want to change the colour scheme" was seen as a hostile force. Anyone who suggested the REAL problem: that the fundamental culture of RPGnet is flawed and has been flawed for years, and that the Moderation policies and the very people chosen to moderate are to blame, were (predictably) banned for committing the stupidity of actually believing they meant what they said. Eventually, Cessna closed the thread.
More apt than the Titanic comparison is the comparison to getting involved in a failing business, which is what RPGnet is gradually becoming. You actually see this in the gaming hobby with a lot of FLGSes: people who start a gaming store thinking they're going to somehow make serious bank while getting to shoot the shit about games with their buddies, open and close whenever they feel like, and get to bring in only the merchandise they like or only be inviting to the 'right people'. Then they start to tank, and try to solve it by upping their credit card debt, bringing in more GURPS products, or whatever it is they were already doing, only moreso. They double down. And as things get worse, they often double-down again; and then they go broke. All because while they say they want to save their business, what they really want is not to have a business, but their own little kingdom from their dreams; they're willing to do anything they need to that they actually want to do, rather than having to deviate from their personal fantasy. They'd rather fail.
And that's exactly what happened here. So after closing the "what can we do to make rpgnet better" thread, what did the Modclique do? They doubled down.
They opened a new thread, started by one mod (Darren) presenting an essay by another mod (Wyzard) where they make clear RPGnet's stance on feminism. I quote:
"If you do not have a working knowledge of what derailing and sea-lioning is, if you don't know what privilege is, if you don't grasp how subaltern narratives are excluded from the discourse and the experiences of marginalized groups are made invisible, then I heartily encourage you to LOOK UP THOSE THINGS before you post in a thread about women or sexism or GBLT issues or racism or anything like that, because YOU ARE DRAMATICALLY INCREASING THE LIKELIHOOD THAT YOU WILL GET RED TEXT IF YOU WALK IN AND START TALKING WITHOUT A GROUNDING IN THE BASIC REALITIES OF THE SITUATION."
Is this really a suggestion? Well, after 3 solid pages or so of almost constant "congratulations"/"I totally agree"/"the modclique is so awesome" posts by the usual suspects that you see in any 'trouble tickets' thread so as to make clear that they are accepting the officially mandated thought-control and that any dissent will be dogpiled on, we end up getting some people questioning whether the tone of this statement doesn't seem distasteful, like something out of totalitarian 're-education' thinking. The response is "yes, what we want is literally to re-educate people". Or to quote directly "yeah, a certain amount of feminism is mandatory".
This comes coupled with the plan that "We are literally going to have a Tangency thread where people can come to get educated on this stuff".
Of course, one particularly
Oh, and the guy who posted the truth? He got threadbanned. I'm surprised he didn't just get a general ban, as several others did in the first thread.
So tragedy has evolved into farce now. Note that when I say "death spiral", I'm not suggesting that rpgnet is going to disappear tomorrow. It will keep being a thing for a while, some sort of thing, maybe for quite a while. But its relevance (or rather, it's reward-vs-risk ratio) has already vanished with designers: in the "what can we do to make things better thread", many of the modclique and their bootlickers expressed shock and anger at Dan Davenport pointing out the factual truth that he has often had RPG-design celebrities turn him down when he was trying to get them to do interviews on his (great) "#rpgnet-chat IRC channel in the (mistaken) assumption that it was connected to the RPGnet forum (it's not). It's losing more and more of its regular-gamer audience at an ever faster pace too: the same modclique-and-lickspittles were equally bothered by the suggestion that people are now afraid to post actual-play accounts on the rpg forums for fear of using the wrong word by accident (from a constantly-changing list of words) and getting banned for it.
But they'll still have Tangency. Which is really what they are now. That will be their rump: the hangout for barely-gaming, ex-gaming or non-gaming Tumblr-Feminists Fashionable-College-Progressives and Twitter Pseudo-activists to have their 'safe space' to create a reality-bubble around. The only "Rpg" they'll really be involved with is the fantasy-world they've created in that forum where they're perfect and right and wonderful and everyone who disagrees with them even a little are just evil people who don't belong in the hobby (and if you don't like them, personally, or the asshole things they do, it must mean that you "hate" the causes or minorities they claim to represent).
One final sad irony to the Feminist-Re-education-Manifesto Thread: in the early part of the thread, people praise and defend the idea that any demand for 'proof' to back up pseudo-activist claims would be a clear case of "sea-lioning" (a supposed tactic of 'demanding proof' as a rhetorical-weapon of the patriarchy against minorities' personal-anecdotes, which should never actually be questioned or require proof, as a recent Rolling Stone article proved so well..). Several of the Modclique jumped in about how totally AWFUL "sealioning" is and that it should never be permitted on rpgnet.
A few pages later, one poster responded to claims that everyone on RPGnet gets a fair shake by pointing out how not very long ago, he'd reported several people who were demeaning, downplaying and even attacking a post he made (in a Tangency thread about sexual assault) about his traumatic personal story of being a survivor of male-rape, and how he'd received a notice back from the moderator staff saying that "this mockery was regrettable, but a necessary price to pay to give women the tools they needed to mock and dismiss bad men", and how this directly proved that rpgnet is not a place where 'everyone is welcome' equally, but where they literally reserve special privileges for women that they don't for men; where if his name had been "Roberta" and not "robert" the people attacking his personal anecdote would have been banned, but because he's "robert" they're allowed to carry on with impunity.
The response from the moderators? In fact, from the two instigators of the "Feminist Re-Education" Policy?
Darren McClennan: "Can you please link to the thread where this happened?"
The Wyzard: "Do you think it would be possible for you to track down some of the statements and stuff you are complaining of, put the links together, and either post them or send them to some member of the mod staff?"
(he also says that while he 'thinks' that this poster hasn't just "hallucinate" it, the mods have no memory or record of such an event)
That's right: THEY FUCKING SEA-LIONED HIM. In that thread. After several pages of talking about how awful a tactic 'sea-lioning' is. The mods, not just any mods but the ones who posted the manifesto which included sea-lioning in its list of crimes had the unmitigated hypocrisy to make the first two IMMEDIATE responses (within 15 minutes of his post and both mods' post being one minute after the other) to his story about having had his story of sexual assault minimized and mocked and having the mods tell him nothing would be done about it because of his gender be to demand that he prove it.
So there we are. The band is playing with the water up to their knees, and plan to play on.
Meanwhile, theRPGsite is getting more new posters than ever. We've banned less people in the last 9 years than tangency has in the last 9 weeks, you can call the mods wrong to their face (or goat-fuckers, if you really want) without fear of being punished for it, and most importantly, we overwhelmingly spend our time talking about RPGs. All kinds: OSR stuff, sure, but also 5e D&D, Mutant: Year Zero, the 40K RPGs, Star Wars d6, the WoD games, we even have a forum for Storygames.
Also, unlike RPGnet, we at theRPGsite don't discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender or gender identity.
So if RPGnet has disappointed you, please come check theRPGsite out!
Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia