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Friday, 4 September 2015

Steve Wieck at OBS Won't Listen, So This is how WE Have to Stop Him

I tried, well beyond the call of courtesy, to speak with Mr. Wieck about the choices he was making, in selling his site over to the would-be censors, the pseudoactivists of the hobby who demand the RPGnow and DrivethruRPG should have to appease their growing demands that anything they personally find offensive be censored, and be censored immediately.  He has made it clear that he has no interest in reasoning with anyone who supports freedom of speech, and everything I've seen indicates to me that he is determined to go forward with a policy whereby anyone who claims offense will be able to have a product IMMEDIATELY pulled from OBS' shelves at the click of a button. This is a move that will assure considerable profit-damages to many publishers, particular Old School publishers who will be a target of the D&D-hating pseudoactivist mob. But more importantly, it will create a climate of fear: with no rules as to what constitutes "offense", with the possibility that ANY publisher's product could be taken down for no good reason at all with no defense permitted and not even any judgment until after the fact, the environment this will create will be exactly the one the psuedo-activists want: one where people will be terrified of writing or publishing any kind of game that could be even the slightest bit controversial, or potentially catch the ire of the censorious mob.

So, with all reasonable means to a solution apparently ineffectual, ALL of us must dedicate ourselves now to a more rigourous measure to fighting this move to censor the biggest marketplace in our hobby.  It's time we created a climate of fear, for any would-be censors out there.


There are three steps I propose that anyone who opposes this kind of censorship will need to take in order to fight back:

1. Publishers: Everyone who is an RPG publisher and who is afraid of being targetted by censors, or who values free speech even if they don't think they'd be hit (but if you don't think you'd be a potential target, you're being naive: these people went after Monte Cook, remember?) must follow Ben Franklin's old adage: "We must hang together, or else we will hang separtely".
We need to form a Solidarity Coalition.  In a post in response to this situation, James Raggi already publicly stated that if a single product of his was banned, he would pull his entire catalog from OBS. This is a good and noble gesture, but even a publisher as significant as LotFP, alone, would not stop OBS from implementing a pro-censorship policy.
What we need to do is to be signatories to a promise, coming together as a group, where if any of the products of ANY of those publishers who have signed to this coalition is censored, then ALL the undersigned publishers will pull ALL of their product from OBS.   Any one publisher won't scare OBS, but imagine if he loses all the OSR and quite a few other publishers in one foul swoop.  We must create a situation of assured destruction, where the cost of censorship of any single product will be too great to risk.

2. Businessmen: One or a group of people, whether publishers or otherwise, need to take advantage of this situation by getting ready to potentially launch a competitor site to OBS.  If OBS suddenly sees 20-30 of its hottest publishers drop it like a rancid turd, there would be a golden opportunity for someone to pick up the slack in the name of free speech, and create a PDF-sales site that would have everything OBS has plus a large number of publishers that OBS no longer gets to have because they decided to like banning books.

3. Everyone else: there's two things you could do. First, make it clear to OBS and Mr. Wieck that if they implement a pro-censorship policy you will refuse to purchase any further products on their site. You can contact them at custserv@onebookshelf.com, or stevew@onebookshelf.com

Second, you could think hard about just how easily offended you are.  If the policy that any offense will get a product taken down should happen to go through, I'm sure this means that, in fairness, Mr. Wieck WANTS you to be offended. So if a game or its author is offensive to you, if you can think of a reason (and really, if you think just a little, I'm sure you could find THOUSANDS of causes for offense), then you should go ahead and look at every game you can on OBS' shelves and click the "Report" button on any of those which you feel have offended you.  Maybe you're offended at the thought of malicious hats. Or maybe the notion of a world of darkness full of vampires is triggering to you.  Or heck, maybe you find the presence of overtly supernatural elements and the lack of a "chaotic Atheist" alignment in Wizards of the Coasts' products to be deeply offensive to your values.

The point is that if OBS wants to create a safe space, you should go out of your way to try to help them in that erstwhile quest to use the reporting function to purify the site of any and every product you can imagine holds offense to you. Of course, pay particular attention to those that might get missed by the other people already dedicated to the quest of telling everyone else what is best for them, and also to those really big publishers that bring in a lot of money, because I'm certain Mr. Wieck wouldn't want to be a hypocrite and make them feel that they would be immune to this policy.


So there you are: this is the response.  Up until now, a tiny tiny gang of complete assholes have managed to manipulate the hobby and push an agenda of censorship, blackballing and thought control because they operate as a mob, and the other side does not unite. We must now UNITE, and work together, if we want to make sure that they do not undo the hobby you love piece by piece.

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking:  Ben Wade Canadian + Dunhill Early Morning

37 comments:

  1. Let me get this right. He's proposing that a *single* complaint is going to be enough to get a product pulled pending review?

    So it's not just brigading that will disappear a product from the site?

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    1. It's not completely vlear, but I gave him a chance to clarify and he refused, so we must assume the worst. It wouldn't really matter if it was one or forty though, would it?

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    2. It is completely clear. Steve stated that a single complaint WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY PULL A PRODUCT OFF THE STORE.

      All it does is put it in a list of "to be reviewed" items.... but Pundit being his own version of a "outrage brigade" is going on a fact-free tirade because his business is also selling outrage on his blog.

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    3. http://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-follow-up-to-my-letter-to-steve-wieck.html

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    4. At the time this blog entry was written, Wieck had not yet clarified just how many complaints will get a product pulled. In fact, he still hasn't really clarified it, but now we do know its more than one.
      Well, hooray! Clearly that makes it all better, right?! Because the fact that 3 or 5 or 10 or 50 pieces of human shit can get a book censored instead of just one is a HUGE improvement, right??

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    5. On whose side are you going to be when they ban the first book under the new policy, you cunt??

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  2. http://www.drivethrucomics.com/browse.php?filters=41220_0_0_0
    The guy sells adult comics on his site. There is no consistency with his policy. He pulled a gamer gate game last year, but continued selling this other stuff.
    My personal preference is for people to be able to sell anything. If the site wants to put a label on it fine. Otherwise just let people decide for themselves. I do not need shrieking puritanical moral arbiters telling me what I can and cannot read or what I can and cannot play. That is MY choice!

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  3. ... we will see whether OSB's future Offensive Content Policy will lead to the exclusion of controversial games or not. At the moment I can imagine titles like Blue Rose to be badly hurt.

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  4. Some insightful thoughts concerning the issues "the hobby" faced recently, can be found at David Chart's blog (Ars Magica 5 Line Editor, WFRP2 Author): http://www.davidchart.com/

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  5. How strange. I know a religious guy who told me flat out that he thinks all ALL RPG's are Satanic. (Granted, he probably can't name one other than D&D, but regardless, that's what he said.) I'm sure he'd find every product to be offensive.

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  6. I'll comment on the policy itself another time (it's a lot longer), but the point about the Solidarity Pledge does need to be addressed.

    In the United States, by antitrust laws, competitors in a specific industry cannot come together as a group and publicly make an agreement like this. Ergo, if they even make an agreement like this, OBS could sue for potential loss of sales - even if the publishers don't pull anything.

    The only way it could work is if the publishers declare, on their own, that they will pull their products from OBS if any competitor is censored away - and even then, if a bunch of publishers say this, OBS could still go after them for making a de facto antitrust agreement.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. How much would he lose, really? He gets the money, plus probably some punitive damages. The two biggest names in the industry, Paizo and WotC, won't leave OBS over this; WotC is too big to care and Paizo is run by the SJWs - Jessica Price is one of the biggest supporters of the SJW brigade and has said that this new policy doesn't go far enough.

      And we're not even considering the federal government getting involved.

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    4. I'm not a lawyer but I don't think the anti-trust laws would apply.

      A group of publishers have been fighting with Amazon to force higher prices on ebooks and they are clearly colluding but monopoly is never seriously brought up because in all cases there are other outlets for sales.

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    5. Yup. The very same stupid statement the pro-censorship side drag out every time ("you can still always sell the book somewhere else") would in this case make it NOT an anti-trust violation.

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  8. I like the way you think. I've already announced that I will be flagging any product that uses the word "she" to refer to the entire human race, since I believe that to be extremely sexist and matriarchal. ("Hir" seems to be a thing nowadays too, and frankly it's even more disgustingly sexist and misanthropist, so I'll be flagging that shit too....) So, Wizards, and all you other PC writers out there, stand by to be banned!

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    1. I used "She" for my Witch book and we did the same thing at Eden for the Buffy book. So be ready to click on my books. Though my understanding is it will take more than a single click/vote to remove a product.

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    2. It takes a review by a human being... so even a thousand clicks does not automatically remove a book.

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    3. IT IS STILL FUCKING CENSORSHIP.

      I love how you want to focus on technical details to avoid the central problem: a group of people who complain loudly enough can BAN A BOOK and end the career of people they want out of the hobby for their social-engineering purposes.

      You missed your true calling, Marty; you'd have made one hell of a Soviet model citizen.

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  9. Where were you when Hasbro blew their top and demanded several titles be pulled down? You are defending a vile piece of work written by a piece of work who wrote a D20 modern dungeon set in an abortion clinic. You're up in arms over a literal steaming pile that was uploaded badly and tagged badly. Of course people were going to complain!

    But of course, you don't seem to care that anyone who hasn't opted in to see what's tagged as mature saw that.

    You and your supporter's mothers and significant others must be so proud. If you have one. Grow up, grognards.

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    1. If we removed everything that somebody considered "a vile piece of work" we would no longer have The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Complain all you want, just remember when somebody objects to something you do, that the only people who go to bat for you is grognards like us.

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    2. I'm not defending that guy. I'm defending all the other guys that the Swine will try to censor, ban, and ruin, using that guy as a cheap excuse

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  10. Interesting stuff. Why not create an OSR-owned competitor to OBS, except it only takes 15% royalties from authors, instead of 30?

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    1. Because of the lack of technical knowhow (programming, creating a plattform), assets required (servers, bureau), business knowledge (laws, official requirements, business plan) and free time?

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  12. A couple of points reading all the comments above.

    - Paizo does not sell any products on OneBookshelf, they use their own stores and are in competition with OneBookShelf on a number of items.
    - The communications I have read from Steve and others at OBS indicate they are well away that people will try to game the system and they are working out how to keep that from happening.
    - There are other places that sell pdfs. John Reyst's d20pfsrd.com/swsrd.com is one example.

    I am still of the frame of mind of "wait and see" I am not willing to make decisions on so little real information.

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    1. RE: Bellow. Thanks Steve. I stand corrected.

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  13. We actually do work with Paizo and sell card products for them on our DriveThruCards site. We do not sell their RPGs. We do sort of compete with them on PDF sales of RPGs, but like the great majority of gaming companies we all get along and just have fun being in the games business. We spend our energy trying to improve the hobby, not compete with Paizo on PDF sales. I think their actions show they do the same.

    We will release a follow-up blog post later this week clarifying some issues. For example, no book will be suspended from sale without a human being at OneBookShelf doing a cursory review of the title to see if there are really signs of a potential problem or not. Suspended titles will then get a thorough review as quickly as possible to determine its long term status.

    We have yet to ever ban an RPG title. I think "wait and see" is sound advice rather than knee jerk reactions.




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    1. I would rather use the boy scout motto: "be prepared". Because thus far you've said NOTHING that reassures me. In fact, you seem to be going out of your way to say that no game will be safe.
      I sent you a list of titles. Tell me which of those titles, all known and popular RPG titles from significant figures in the OSR or hobby as a whole, will be safe from censorship. Then I may feel at least somewhat reassured.

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    2. Well....if the policy is not firmly in place yet how can he tell you which titles would affected by a policy that doesn't exist in it's final form yet?
      If he is reading over your list how can he make the policy?

      Personally. I'd rather Steve work on the policy (that is going to happen in any circumstance) than participate in some Gedankenexperiment to satisfy idle curiosity.

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    3. It isn't idle curiosity. It is specifically policy-making. I'm sending the message to Mr. Wieck that if his policy can't guarantee the safety of products as accepted by the mainstream of regular gaming as those on my list, then there's going to be massive trouble. I'm not just asking because I'm an eager beaver, I'm asking specifically to make him think twice about his policy plans.

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  14. Speaking as a publisher (of NUELOW Games), the draft policy I've seen today satisfied my major concerns. (For the record, I wouldn't join a mob of self-righteous internet crusaders, be it made up of my fellow publishers or of would-be morality police.)

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  15. See my blog entry for today (september 10) for my response to this. If Wieck couldn't bring himself to say that Monte Cook's current games will be safe from banning, pretty much no game is.

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