The foolishness of the crowd
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 February 2014, 2:54 am
Steam introduced a new system which lets gamers "tag" Steam games. So you could for example tag games as being "trading-card" or "tactical shooter" or whatever else you think would be a helpful description of the game, enabling other people to find the games they like more easily. Alternatively you could tag a game with spoilers, insults, or racist remarks. Guess which one actually happened.

Of course much of that can be explained by the G.I.F.T.. If somebody is anonymous and doesn't need to fear any consequences, then he can express even a mild annoyance he might have with a game in the most extreme terms. And if a big company decides to give him a big audience for even his vilest thoughts, that actively encourages him to write all sorts of offensive stuff. The more offensive, the better, because it attracts an even bigger audience.

Part of the problem is that the internet is full of opportunities to express your opinion. And most people don't want to spend all day writing what they think about a product on dozens of different sites. So while a game might sell a million copies, only a few hundred people will bother giving it a review score or tag on any given site. That makes those "user reviews" and tag systems extremely vulnerable to attacks by small groups. A single person with good writing skills on a popular gaming forum can organize a review attack on a game for any minor perceived failing or just for fun.

Now Valve probably imagined that by allowing users to tag games on Steam, they had found a cheaper solution than to hire some people to give tags to games. I think they are wrong. Sooner or later they will be forced to introduce a system of reporting for inappropriate tags and tag moderation. Which in the end probably takes up more man-hours than coming up with their own tagging system. The internet is an evil place full of jerks and idiots. You just can't give them uncontrolled freedom of expression.
Tobold's Blog



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