Posted By Geoff T. about 2 years, 11 months ago
UPDATE: Having contacted the recently reinstated v_ware on the BioWare forums, the full truth about this situation has finally come to light. It turns out that he did not post under the alias of “CorkonianCowboy,” as I suspected. Rather, he posted in that thread some time after google saved the cache. In the post in question, v_ware says he “just quoted [CorkonianCowboy] and called him a douche!” v_ware suspects that CorkonianCowboy must have then hit the report button, at which point the EA central moderators were alerted and the banhammer was swiftly brought down.
At the same time, CorkonianCowboy also sent v_ware the following private message:
6:07 AM 2011-03-09
looking at some of the posts youve read you have seen the spoiler ive mentioned yet you have a problem with me calling the mods out on it . Keep the picture and paste it on your mirror. But i suppose who can blame you as you are from Belgium.
This exposes another rather serious flaw in the way that EA at large moderates its forums: they don’t seem to check the context of reported posts. Admittedly, this is a problem for many sites, and mods often simply don’t have the time to check the context of every single post that gets reported, but when your system has the potential to “glitch” and lock players out of games that they have already paid for, you’d better be extra-careful when handing down bans.
v_ware seemed somewhat distraught at the revelation, as “[he] thought [he] did something wrong and admitted to it. But now it seems they have banned [him] for no reason.” Still, he ultimately seems content with being unbanned and having received a formal apology from the Senior Director of EA customer support.
And really, this reserved attitude strikes me as coming from a very healthy perspective. Yes, he got delayed in being able to play his brand-new game, and yes, it turns out he did nothing wrong in the first place, but it was ultimately a mistake on the part of EA, and not some kind of malicious attack on a paying customer. As long as they take steps to correct this problem in the future, there’s no reason to attack or defame them over it.
The internet exploded yesterday with outrage over the banning of a BioWare forum member, who lost the ability to register his copy of Dragon Age 2 during his 72 hour suspension. The user reported through an alt-account that he had been banned for badmouthing EA, asking if BioWare had “sold [their] souls to the EA Devil.”
The free-speech-brigade over at Reddit immediately leaped to vware’s defense, accusing EA of censoring their detractors, and myriad gaming blogs and news sites swiftly followed suit. Many are now calling for a mass “boycott” of EA’s products, which is apparently code for “pirate all of their games and don’t feel guilty about it.”
Now, I’m as opposed to censorship as the next liberally-minded guy, and regardless of what else might be going on, it’s not cool to revoke (or in this case delay) a guy’s access to games he’s paid for when you ban him from your forums. That said, I’m never one to trust the mob mentality of the internet, as in general, the great hive-mind is quick to anger and slow at checking facts.
With that in mind, I did a little digging (by which I mean I Googled the quote from vware’s forum post) and came across what appears to be a cache of the original post.
In case the cache is updated, I took the liberty of screencapping the two most relevant posts in the thread:
It’s clear from these posts that the user was NOT banned for “complaining,” as the original poster on Reddit so eloquently put it. Rather, he was banned for directly and repeatedly insulting the moderators of the forum, calling them, among other things, “****ing fools.” [sic] Now, I’m not going to call the guy out on this, as in his original post he was forthright in saying he deserved his banning, but I am going to call out the people of the internet for blowing this way out of proportion and accusing EA of Orwellian censorship without first taking the time to check the rest of the story.
For the record, I do think it’s ridiculous to give the mods of forums (or anyone, for that matter) this kind of power. There should be a line drawn between taking away a user’s posting abilities and making it impossible for them to play games that they have paid for. The moderator who responded to vware’s post also did not help matters by calling the locking of play privileges an “added incentive to follow the rules.” This is certainly stupid, and something that EA and BioWare should fix posthaste, but at the same time, it’s not an example of them being “evil” or censoring dissenters.
It’s overreacting like this that makes the threat of boycotts and petitions from gamers virtually meaningless, which in turn makes them pretty much powerless when it comes to changing things that are actually important. We as a community need to pick our battles a little more carefully in the future, and put the research in to find out the truth behind the issues BEFORE working ourselves into a frenzy.