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An Open Letter To N4G

I’ve been gaming as long as I can remember, and at one point I even decided that I wanted to make games. Instead, through an act of pure happenstance, I created and began running a videogame website. In retrospect I did this way too late and way after the gaming journalism bubble had already solidified into the calcified shell that is known as the battle between the major sites vs the not-so-major sites.

As one of the not-so-major sites, N4G has been a valuable way for us to get our content out into the world But lately I’m finding that for small sites like ours, the obstacles being put in the way of generating content are really making N4G less palatable as a content aggregator.

Over the past couple of years moderation has become extremely inconsistent, to the extent that I don’t believe many of the moderators are actually reading the content of the stories they are flagging and make arbitrary decisions much of the time. I understand that you don’t want it to become the WorldStarHipHop of videogame news, but consistency in the moderation would remove some of that Wild West feeling.

Recently, we posted a commentary article about a Kotaku piece, sourcing our site as the main source (for the commentary), and Kotaku as a secondary source. Plenty of N4G articles are allowed to publish in this format; ours was not. When we questioned the moderator about this inconsistency, my writer and I were banned for three days. This sort of arbitrary behavior is rampant, right down to the comments that moderators sometimes provide along with failed articles. A moderator recently flagged a piece from one of my writers with a single phrase: “Just lame.”

I’m fine with a site making its own rules—hell we have our own over at The SpawnPointBlog but we do our best to be nuanced in our approach and reasonable while looking at the circumstances presented. Of late it seems like a level of “Too big to fail” has taken over at your site, in which N4G has lost regard for content providers. This is unfortunate not only because it discourages lesser-known content providers from bothering with the process, but also because that weariness means that readers lose out on other valuable perspectives.

So: Dear N4G Head Honchos, here are three small steps you can take to make things better:

  1. Allow site owners to cite their own site as the main link (especially on opinion pieces) and let them add the sourced site as an alternate link. You can then moderate that story properly and flag writers if they don’t source properly.
  2. Hire some moderators, don’t crowd source them. The amount of traffic that your six websites are pulling must make you some money. Why not make it rain on some of the people who have been good stewards for your site. It hopefully would lead to more consistent moderation, moderators who actually read the stories they’re moderating, and less trolling. Good moderation leads to good content, which leads to happy content creators and more readers for you.
  3. Give content creators better tools to escalate moderator disputes. Content creators have few ways to actually escalate an issue past a mod if they feel like a story has been unjustly failed or flagged.  Being able to upload screenshots to document exchanges with moderators would help keep things even and fair, which will ultimately also lead to happy content creators and happier readers.

 

I want readers to know this isn’t a piss and moan fest; this is about fairness. This is about letting the small guys have a chance against the Omega Supremes of gaming journalism. It’s about giving diverse voices a platform to share stories that won’t be on major sites. To make sure this continues to happen, you’ll have to fix your front door—because right now it’s broken.

Kahlief Adams

Kahlief was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. As an avid technophile and lover of all things video games. He set his career path in the direction of a life making games until he found out his arch nemesis, “Math,” had other plans in store. So instead of making the next Tetris he found himself writing and talking about games on his website The Spawn Point Blog and Spawn On Me. Check out what I'm blabbering about over @kahjahkins on Twitter. PSN = KAHJAH1 XBL=KAHJAHKINS

21 Comments
  • Well said, brother. I’m happy you let the boiling blood inside you (and Cicero and I) calm down before writing. N4G could be such an amazing place for smaller sites but they don’t seem to understand journalism at this point. I hope it changes. Not only for us, but for the hundred of other small sites out there.

    August 19, 2014 at 5:37 am
  • Ibrahim Chhaya
    Reply

    Well written! This happened to my site and I just last night. Apparently the moderator was “losing his patience” because I wouldn’t accept to put my site as the credit URL since it made no sense. The post went to 120 degrees and I didn’t get a single click.

    August 19, 2014 at 10:17 am
    • Cicero Holmes
      Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Ibrahim! This is exactly what happened to us. Why spend the time crafting a piece that’s different from the source material if people are only going to redirected to the source? It’s crazy!

      August 19, 2014 at 10:31 am
    • Ibrahim, we feel your pain! Properly sourcing material and writing your own story is one of the major tenets of journalism. Every voice should be heard. As long as we are doing our job as writers and speaking with our own voice, there is no need to steer someone to only one article out there. Keep it up man. Fight the good fight with us!

      August 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm
  • Austin Wood
    Reply

    It’s no secret that N4G is managed by idiots.

    August 19, 2014 at 10:21 am
    • Cicero Holmes
      Reply

      Thanks Austin. Our hope is that it isn’t run by idiots but that maybe they need to remember that.

      August 19, 2014 at 10:32 am
  • Tom Souter
    Reply

    Completely agree with this. We’ve been luckier with the moderators than it seems you have but the number of links with zero interesting comment getting high ratings just because they’re from bigger sites is annoying. Loads of genuinely interesting and unique takes get basically ignored or moderated out just because there’s some kind of slight stylistic error in their submission.

    August 19, 2014 at 10:25 am
  • Well written, it’s just a pity that immature trolls govern N4G.

    August 19, 2014 at 10:43 am
    • Sak Hus
      Reply

      ONe motherfuker emilio banned my a/c. I was arguing with another member and that guy had 10 bubbs and i had 8. There was no trolling just argument but next day i got warning and went to single bubble and the other guy still had 10 bubbs (he’s no mod). The other guy ws pro sony. I guess the mods are mostly sony knob hobbing idiots.

      I dont frequent it anymore, no need that POS admined site.

      August 19, 2014 at 11:26 am
      • Cicero Holmes
        Reply

        We really don’t care about a person’s gaming fandom. We just want fairness when it comes to proper distribution of our work. It’s not easy creating a piece and we want the ability to have others read the fruit of our labors.

        It sucks that we’ve all had these sorts of issues with this site that we all depend on for visibility. Hopefully, they respond positively to the outpouring of individuals like you and the others that have responded to this letter.

        THANKS!

        August 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm
        • Sak Hus
          Reply

          Better setup a new aggregator site yourself mate. people would jump there quick. Most people are sick of bias on n4g (not 4 gamers)

          August 19, 2014 at 12:50 pm
          • Ibrahim Chhaya

            That gives me an idea…

            August 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm
      • og_dinkis
        Reply

        Seriously. I’m on that site everyday. I like it cause theirs lots of news but damn its so pro Sony and everyone that is has a ton of bubbles. I hope they get there shit together cause IV been looking at other site as of late cause I can’t stand it anymore. Thanks guys for the discussion

        August 20, 2014 at 9:20 am
    • Cicero Holmes
      Reply

      Thanks! Now that you know that we exist, hopefully you’ll return to us for news and such.

      August 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm
  • ChatWraithUpsilon
    Reply

    Yeah, I’m pretty sick of seeing clickbait in the hottest categories.

    August 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm
  • There’s always GameWires.com 😉

    June 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm

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