Wednesday 9 September 2015

Offensive Content Policy: A Follow Up

For those that do not know me, my name is Meredith Gerber and I am the RPG Publisher Relations Representative for DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. I volunteered to write this blog as a follow up from last week.

The feedback we have received from both customers and publishers has been appreciated and has helped us shape our new policy. We want to thank you for the time and energy you have taken to reach out to us. Those that have spoken with us in the past know we are always happy to talk to customers, publishers, and partners to have a professional dialogue about concerns.

When having discussions about these types of situations, it’s always important to remember that being professional and kind in feedback will create better dialogue. It’s very difficult to continue a conversation and figure out the message when hateful words are said out of anger and spite. If you do not agree with someone, take a moment to step back and breathe before stating your opinion. There is also nothing wrong with walking away from a conversation if it's going around in circles with no conclusion in sight. 

Of course, we are all humans and will engage in miscommunication and misunderstanding. I have spoken without thinking a few times in my life (and will do so in the future because I am only human) and all I can do is apologize for my words and actions and try to be better next time. Whether you agree or disagree with someone, remember that there is a human on the other side of that conversation that does have emotions and feelings like you do.

In this industry, we should all try to continue to speak to one another with respect and try to gain understanding of someone's words and ideas. While we might not all agree, it’s vital for members of the gaming industry to remember we’re all here to make and play games together.

I believe that going forward, we all should follow the words of Bill S. Preston, Esq. who simply reminds us to “Be excellent to each other”.

With that said, I wanted to take a moment to go over a few frequently asked questions we have received since last week's blog post from my C.E.O., Steve Wieck.

What is the process for flagging offensive titles?
Step 1: Customer reports a product.
Step 2: A human being at OneBookShelf does a cursory review to determine if the title should be temporarily suspended from sale or not. Either way the product is put in queue for review.
Step 3: A more thorough review of the product in completed. If deemed not offensive the product is whitelisted. If deemed potentially offensive then...
Step 4: We have expanded internal review and discussion with publisher possibly resulting in publisher retraction of the title or banning of the title.

Will a title be turned off automatically if it is flagged?
No, just because a title is flagged as offensive, it will not be automatically turned off. Only the administrators of the site can toggle the title to private. This process will send alerts to our staff for quick review. If our staff sees a product that is problematic, they will temporarily suspend it for further review.

Will you be giving scrutiny to certain topics?
We're going to give extra scrutiny to products that include rape, real world racial violence, torture, sexism, homophobia, and crimes against children. However, we will also be reviewing products reported for other reasons as needed.

How will you conduct this process with old titles on your site?
If a product is flagged as offensive with this new policy, we will be treating it no differently than a brand new title.

Who will review the offensive titles list?
Steve Wieck, C.E.O., who has the final say on titles marked as offensive.
Scott Holden, Marketing and Development
Matt McElroy, Director of Publishing and Marketing
Meredith Gerber, RPG Publisher Relations
Other OneBookShelf staff as deemed helpful for particular products.

Thank you,
Meredith Gerber
RPG Publisher Relations Representative

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