This is not directly rpg-related; rather, it's some musing and questions about forum communities and such. First, a little bit of context about what brought this about:
I've been corresponding with Zak Smith
about life, the universe and everything, and along the way Zak has been illuminating me about his recent Internet fights with various people. The history of these disagreements is long and convoluted, but it is all intimately tied with the Story Games forums, Zak tells me, starting in 2010 and evolving ever since.
I'll paraphrase Zak a bit here, so as to get to the point of the matter: the way Zak tells it, he believes that Story Games the forum, and story games hobbyists (insofar as there is a specific community of such) promulgate a poisonous social system that encourages lying and coddles insanity. The reason is a combination of wrong-headed moderation principles and government that enables evil people to abuse power in unjust ways.
The substance of these accusations lies in the fact that Zak has for several years been fighting with many people who used to frequent Story Games, and self-identify as storygamers, over matters that seem to me like a mix of personal grudges and liberal issues of cultural policy, with an emphasis on the former, perhaps. His lists of enemy personnel have many names I don't recognize myself, but there are also a bunch of people who used to hang out at SG before G+ became the go-to place for the cool kids. The argument is that Story Games is responsible for encouraging this clique of anti-Zak people to form, and for providing them with the wrong-headed intellectual tools they've used to wage their war against him.
To be specific, the kinds of social behaviours that Zak specifically recognizes as originating at Story Games are things like attacking outsiders with low social capital freely; tone-policing and generally moderating outsiders while giving insiders a free pass for bad behavior; biased thinking prone to pile on minority views and following opinion-leaders; never admitting to any bias or social gaming; cutting off and preventing any conversations about important issues. He says that these types of intellectual vices are prevalent at Story Games, and his enemies have clearly adopted their behavior patterns here, and basically persist in attacking him because the entire culture of SG is a poisonous morass that legitimizes their behavior. This makes the whole edifice worthless, as it is an environment in which significant rpg discussion can hardly flourish, and where all people with talent or intellectual integrity leave rather than get tainted by the social mores of the place.
Now, I'm not the most Internet-connected person when it comes to this sort of social networks drama; I wouldn't even know about Zak's fights were it not for friends occasionally sending me links to particularly passionate opinion pieces promulgating around the matter. However, I am an occasional participant here at SG (maybe even one of the more visible ones nowadays, with the forum being perceptibly slower than a few years ago), so I am interested in this rather extreme view Zak has formed of the forums. I also don't believe in hiding from the truth, so I felt it appropriate to ask the rest of you generally for your wisdom on this: does Story Games have a taint of injustice to it, and if so, could we improve upon it?
(I'll clarify that the above question might seem like an ironical one, made in jest, because it seems to paint such a negative picture of a forum on which I participate regularly myself. I do intend it in earnest, however, because I think that Zak has argued his case with me in good faith, and it is possible for people to be selectively blind to the injustice and vice that they take as a given in their environment. I also don't know much about this whole fight Zak has been having with storygamers, so for all I know Zak could just barely be right in the substance of his accusation.)
Specifically, I'm looking for information and informed opinions on the following questions: does Story Games suffer from intellectual conceit; does SG discriminate against outsider viewpoints on core orthodoxy issues - does SG even have an orthodoxy, and on what; have people in the wider Internet been using SG-originating ideas and values to rally people to evil purposes; does the SG moderation staff collude with somebody about something (do we even still have a moderation staff, for that matter - it's been so peaceful lately I'm not sure); does SG moderation selectively encourage libel; does the SG leadership have an active position on e.g. Zak Smith, and do they act upon it somehow. General experiences with related matters are also welcome to provide context for these ideas, although I don't really look forward to reading through a million pages of G+ flame war discussion if that can be avoided.
Please note that I do not want to talk about how awful Zak is or isn't, per se - I understand that many people have strong opinions about him, and I cannot prevent you from discussing him (particularly as it might pertain to self-examination of SG community behavior), but my actual focus here is more on us than him, so to speak: I'm interested in whether Story Games as a community indeed has had an influence on the discussion environment, and whether we, or the moderation staff, or somebody else, has some responsibility in events such as these. Considering the way Internet is becoming a part of our lives, where does communal responsibility come into play, and is Story Games culpable in abetting a fight outside the forums? I don't expect the answer to be a resounding yes, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't act better - is there room for improvement in the social responsibility of the SG community, or are we doing well in being good Internet citizens? On my own part I can only say that this forum itself has seemed like a rather chill place lately, as many old-timers have left for G+, but that's pretty much as far as my eye reaches. Perhaps more could be said with better knowledge of the issues involved?
Also, I understand that my question here isn't overall very well-formed. That's mostly because I don't know quite precisely what it is that I am asking. I guess that the core question is whether anybody here has ever wondered about these issues, and what conclusions did they come to. To me this entire idea of SG having a communal responsibility for events occurring elsewhere is a new one, so I haven't pondered upon it before.