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The Rheingold Test

In 1993, Howard Rheingold explained the new phenomenon of online communities to a skeptical public. To convince people that online communities are really communities, he told powerful stories of members of the California BBS The WELL supporting one another not just with words, but with their time and money. For example, WELL members sent books to a bibliophile who lost his library in a fire, and helped with medical evacuation for a member who became seriously ill while traveling.

I offer this definition:
An online group where members offer one another material support passes “the Rheingold Test.”

I’ve written before that it’s silly to argue about what “is a community.” We have different mental models for “community,” and online interaction can be like and unlike face-to-face groups in nuanced ways. But I will argue that when a group passes The Rheingold Test, something special is happening.

Each spring when I teach CS 6470 Design of Online Communities, I’m surprised by the groups my students discover that pass the Rheingold Test. Years ago, master’s student Vanessa Rood Weatherly observed members of the Mini Cooper brand community sending flowers to a member whose daughter had a miscarriage. It’s not what you’d immediately expect from a group of people brought together by a car brand. In our increasingly secular society, people are looking for a sense of belonging—and finding it in affinity groups.

This term, my students’ research projects found two more sites that pass the test when I wouldn’t have expected it. The first is Vampire Freaks, a site for Goth enthusiasts. In the press, Vampire Freaks is notorious for a few incidents where members have posted about violent acts and then gone ahead and committed them. But those incidents don’t characterize daily activity on the large and active site. Just like the Goth kids at your high school stuck together and would do anything for one another, the members of Vampire Freaks support one another in times of trouble. One member comments:

“I’ve helped quite a few of my friends [on Vampire Freaks] through a lot of hard times… family issues, losing parents, losing children, drug problems even. And just being there as someone that’s supportive, instead of putting them down. Even offering a place for people to come stay if they needed somewhere… I’ve had friends off this website that have actually stayed at my house… because they were traveling and didn’t have money for a hotel. So I’d known them for a few years and figured, it’s a weekend, I’ll be up anyways. Let them stay there and hang out.”

Grad students Drew Carrington, John Dugan, and Lauren Winston were so moved by the support they saw on the site that they called their paper “VampireFreaks: Prepare to be Assimilated into a Loving and Supportive Community.”

The second surprising example from this term is the subreddit Kotaku in Action (KIA), a place for supporters of GamerGate. Although the popular press portrays GamerGate as a movement of misogynist internet trolls, the truth is that the group is made up of a complex combination of members.  KIA includes many sincere (and polite) civil libertarians, people tired of excesses of political correctness, and people tired of the deteriorating quality of journalism and angry about the real-world impact of biased reporting. People who identify as GamerGaters also include people who dox people they disagree with (posting personal information online), send anonymous death and rape threats, and worse. (Those things are not allowed on the KIA subreddit, and moderation rules prevent them.) It’s a complicated new kind of social movement with its own internal dynamics. I’ll be writing a lot about them, but for now I just want to note that they have a strong sense of group identity, and help one another when in need. Posts on KIA show members donating money to a member in financial crisis, and one who needed unexpected major dental work. They also banded together to raise money for a charity that helps male abuse survivors. They are not a viper’s nest (though there are some vipers in the nest). And they care about one another in the classic way.

When a site passes The Rheingold Test, it means there is something interesting happening there—that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Do you know a site that passes the test? Leave me a comment.

 

Notes/Clarifications:

  • “GamerGate” is a social movement centered around a Twitter hash tag among other things. GamerGate and the KIA subreddit are not the same thing.
  • Doxxing and threats have definitely occurred, but were sent by anonymous people. Whether or not those were “by people who affiliate with GamerGate” is disputable.
Categories: social computing
  1. April 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Wow, that’s some toxic waters to be swimming in. I’m sure Klan members support each other, too. But “interesting” is a particularly loose criterion for something about which we ought to be exercising careful judgment.

    Gamergate is an umbrella for hate, misogyny, assault, death threats, rape threats, and a mountain of slanders directed at women for having the temerity to have opinions and at supporters of those targets for having the temerity to stand with the victims. It’s “interesting” in the same way that a highway pile-up is “interesting” or a plane crash is “interesting.”

    Personal bias: friends of mine have been targets of GG. Relatives of my friends are still regularly targeted. You can’t put enough daylight between yourself and this cesspit of vile behaviors. That there are some members who don’t engage in the full range of vileness is doubtless true. But when you put on the hood, you stand with those who defined what the hood means.

    This isn’t abstract social anthropology. This is providing legitimacy for a hate group. I find myself surprised.

    • W. Smith
      April 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Alan,

      Your emotive chastisement implies a dim view of our ability to assess a complex presentations of social identity, structure, behavior, and group dynamics.

      The coded speech you’re using is, in of itself, common among the subculture that seems to have defined itself relative to (and in opposition of) GamerGate, of which the behavior, values, and incentives would be an interesting area of study in their own right.

      For instance, with the emergence of platforms like Patreon, there appears to be a direct, significant financial incentive to your framing; the individuals that self-identify as the primary targets of GamerGate earn anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000/mo in direct Patreon donations.

      That raises some interesting sociological questions, and indicates a much more complex narrative worthy of study — especially in terms of understanding how both the explicit and coded language you’re using seems designed explicitly to divert any such study.

    • hguderian
      April 29, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Several years in and you jokers still claim Gamergate to be a hate group, while providing no evidence. And ignore all the evidence contrary. For instance there were people offering Mewtwo and other goods to pose as Gamergaters: http://blogjob.com/oneangrygamer/2015/04/mewtwo-dlc-codes-used-as-bribe-to-tarnish-gamergate/

      I know, bringing evidence requires 20 seconds of work. Several years into Gamergate you’d think someone would’ve done it by now.

    • Lenneth
      April 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      meanwhile in the real world.

    • April 29, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Do you have any legitimate proof of these “threats/doxings/etc.”? If not, then you are a lying troll

    • howdoilogin
      April 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      You forgot about the part where GG members totally and really stalked and harassed and doxed and murdered innocent women who just wanted to play/make video games.

      What? Evidence? I don’t need evidence to support my claim, this is the 1500s, guilt comes before innocence and evidence is triggering Patriarchy.

    • Takubooru
      April 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Alan,

      For the sake of comparison, what are your thoughts on Islam? Given that the actions of its extremists are far more egregious than even the worst accusations pointed at GamerGate, would you say that your logic dictates that Islam has become an umbrella for suicide bombing, ritual beheadings and mass murder?

      Or would you say “not all Muslims”?

    • thothmrm
      April 30, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Then we can call feminism the same as their are many among the group who have and continue to spread hate, threats, dox, and so on. I’m sure that you’ll jump to agree,

    • DwarfGate
      April 30, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Airport’s Law in effect right here.

  2. April 29, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Alan, our empirical results from months of data collection indicate that the name “GamerGate” is used by a complex coalition of people some of whom fit your description perfectly, but many of whom are nice, polite, respectful people with a legitimate point of view. We interviewed someone who got fired from his job just for saying, “gee, someone else got fired for having politically incorrect views. Aren’t those views his own business, since they don’t relate to his work?” Wow, that’s interesting and complicated…..

    • April 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Yep, I get it. Some people – either through ignorance or willful blindness – associate themselves with an organization (or its label) that has an ongoingly threatening and hostile set of behaviors. There are also mafia members who give money to schools, and people associated with the Medeillin Cartel funded nunneries. That doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the organizations involved.

      I tend to lose my scientific objectivity when people want to be identified with a label founded and maintained by people who send my friends death threats, who reply to their tweets with promises to rape them, or wishes that they be assaulted and harmed.

      Each of the benevolent behaviors you identify have existed since before GG, continue to exist outside of GG, and can be discussed without providing a veneer of legitimacy by highlighting the fact that they don’t all kick puppies or threaten to rape women. But they associate with an organization and leadership that does.

      • April 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

        I’m sorry that happened to your friends. I wouldn’t dream of being able to convince you otherwise, your views appear firmly cemented. But I just want you to know that most of us do not support such vile behavior, we report it and condemn it whenever we find it. And we feel for anyone who is legitimately a victim. We just wanted to reject the corrupt cycle of games journalists taking bribes for review scores or helping out their personal friends with publicity. And we hate con artists who profit hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from the removal of games and game content they find objectionable. That’s all. And here we are.

      • April 29, 2016 at 4:58 pm

        Infinite spews of doubt, victim-blaming, and personal distancing. The pattern is as old as debate itself. Let’s assume for the moment that you are as you say, and are not in fact involved in these activities. You still choose to align yourself with an organization identified with it, associated with its promotion, and so on.

        Whatever your concerns about journalism (game or otherwise) there are fora and ways to address those concerns that don’t involve associating oneself with hate groups.

      • W. Smith
        April 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

        Alan,

        What I find most intriguing here is that you yourself are ascribing (a priori) traits to the “GamerGate” label, and then applying moral judgement of those traits.

        This comes across as a silencing strategy.

      • Docsmurf
        April 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        ” Yep, I get it. Some people – either through ignorance or willful blindness – associate themselves with an organization (or its label) that has an ongoing threatening and hostile set of behaviors. ”

        I’m going to stop you right there. #gamergate get’s a bad rap as a direct result of the sex scandal that lit it’s fire. The doxxing harassment and threats we’re part of a coordinated 4chan effort known as the quinspiracy. #gamergate arose as a direct result of gaming publications taking a dump on their own audience because a a few trolls and doxxers on /pol/ and /v/. There we’re 14 coordinated articles dropped on the same day, That circling of the wagons for a single unknown indie developer set off the alarm bells in the heads of Gamers around the world. So we started digging. #gamergate became about exposing corruption and collusion in the video gaming industry and it’s surrounding press as a result of their strange reactions to the quinspiracy.

        As a result of over a year and a half of digging #gamergate has successfully exposed doxens if not hundreds of archived easy to access examples of the publications and writers of the gamers are dead articles unethical behavior in reviewing games of their lovers, roommates, and Friends. undisclosed affiliate links, backroom deals, and google groups of supposed competitors colluding to shape narratives. All of this without every once being fairly analyzed.

        Because #gamergate happened in such close proximity to the doxxing an harassing of zoey and others as a result of the zeo post and the quinspiracy the publications that came under fire from gamergate used accusations of sexism, hatred, misogyny, and death threats to shield themselves and their platforms from criticism. Everything i have just said is extensively archived and available for anyone to view. People just choose to believe the lie.

        You OP are the one who is willfully ignorant and i won’t allow you to slander and defame people standing up for their hobby unchallenged.

      • April 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        Alans arguing from bad faith hes fairly close to john Scalzi and Zoe qinns. He has no interest in being unbaised

      • mysidestheyaregone
        April 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

        To realize what kind of trolling we’ve had to deal with during the last 2 years you just need to read Alan’s comments. Their mistake was to think that such behaviour would silence us; as gamers and redditors we instead rose to the challenge and retaliated with funny gifs.

      • SockDjinni
        April 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm

        “that has an ongoingly threatening and hostile set of behaviors.”

        Ongoing?

        Alright, point to me one recent instance in the past month where members of the KotakuInAction subreddit were guilty of “hate, misogyny, assault, death threats, rape threats, or a mountain of slanders directed at women” or who were “threatening or hostile”. With specific link to any post or comment on KotakuInAction, or any circumstantial evidence tying any real life behavior to a particular account. Feel free to grab the most convincing example possible.

        We’ll compare and contrast the severity of this particular incident (feel free to grab multiple from the last month for context) with the claim that the 63rd most active subreddit on the site, with ~60k members & ~600k unique page views per month, is an “umbrella” for such “ongoing” toxic behaviors – rather than, you know, an active discussion community doing perfectly normal & legal things that you have unfairly targeted and castigated with your emotional diatribe.

        Because as an active visitor and poster on KotakuInAction… I’m just not seeing all of these “ongoing” death threats, assaults, misogyny, threats, and slander. And as a member of such a community, your characterization of it, along with the rest of your ilk, looks a lot like a “mountain of slander” to me.

      • Caught Bystander
        April 29, 2016 at 5:35 pm

        Just so you know, Alan, if everyone in Gamergate is a monster or part of a hate group, so are you.

        I’m non-binary non-hetero individual, and I was threatened and harassed by those like you when I tried to defend my friend. She’s a disabled women, who spoke up when Gamergate first started because she’d experienced first hand the issues these people have had with journalists. And no one cared or would listen to her, until Gamergate happened. Consequently, people like you harassed, threatened, demeaned, dehumanized and erased her, because obviously anyone even somewhat associated or involved “deserves” that.

        She’d done nothing but express her opinion publicly and done no one any harm. I’d done nothing but speak up for a friend. You and your ilk are so sure of your self-righteousness (and so secure within your patriarchal attitudes and belief in self serving structures and systems), you have the gall to define which groups are moral and then demand everyone associate only with those that meet your approval. As if those approaches or structures have ever lent a voice or real help to minorities in need like my friend and myself.

        I don’t agree with everything people within Gamergate do, or believe, and I know there’s an element out there that does dox, threaten, etc (and that element most closely mirrors your own attitude). But, the majority are a diverse and public group, who have been welcoming and willing to listen and actually help. And I’d take their sometimes fumbling genuineness over pretentious fake allies like yourself any day.

      • April 29, 2016 at 6:07 pm

        The fact that you believe in a GG leadership is kind of telling. I mean if you spent a week hanging out with us you would realize how ludicrous that idea is. Understand that this is a group of people who agree with at best a handful of ideas. I’ve seen at least a dozen attempts to form a leadership and they all crash and burn like broken airplanes before they get off of the ground.

        I get it some people were mean to people you know. Anyone can use a hashtag. The internet is full of assholes. Assholes love it when they have an easy target to blame for their behavior. Just take a deep breath and consider that you got upset at a hashtag. That you think said mean things to your friends on the internet. Not a group whos members have apparently (I’m not Goth so I am going off of Bruckman’s description because she seems honest and well-researched) actually committed acts of violence in the real world.

        I don’t hope to talk you out of your misconception. I’d just suggest you come hang out with us for a little while. It is really easy to think that ‘those people’ are dangerous, especially if someone you know got mugged by one of ‘those people’. But if you invite them over for dinner. Or go out with them for a drink. You figure out really fast that the guy who mugged your friend was just an asshole and not part of some conspiracy. You even learn something or make new friends along the way. It makes you a happier person.

      • April 29, 2016 at 6:19 pm

        “I tend to lose my scientific objectivity when people want to be identified with a label founded and maintained by people who send my friends death threats, who reply to their tweets with promises to rape them, or wishes that they be assaulted and harmed.”

        Can you provide any proof of these claims? A link to some of the tweets in question? Because your given word isn’t evidence.

      • howdoilogin
        April 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

        That’s impossible. That would assume you had scientific objectivity in the first place.

      • GGTorchwood
        April 29, 2016 at 10:38 pm

        Alan, If you truly believed Gamergate was as dangerous as you claim to be, I somehow doubt you would be poking such a dangerous beast with a profile linked directly to your name, address, work history (by the way, your resume says you started in 20013, may want to fix that.). You would instead be far more likely to have a safety net of anonymity the way myself and most other pro-GG persons do, after several of us were targeted for swatting or by attempts on our employment. You obviously don’t have that kind of worry.

        What this indicates is that you KNOW that ‘standing up against gamergate’ involved little to no risk to the ‘victims.’ In fact, these ‘victims’ put forth the contradictory narratives that ‘gamergate is evil and dangerous’ and ‘look how ludicrous and ineffective gamergate is’. This is the same out-group misrepresentation that many cults use for their imagined enemies, to show that you desperately need the Cult, in this case anti-GG, or ‘Social Justice(tm)’, while keeping a low bar for the Cult to hurdle to ‘overcome’ it.

      • Anomaly.
        April 30, 2016 at 12:08 am

        You must really dislike muslims then.

        And feminists, you must entirely loathe them. I mean, after all, who would wear the feminist hood along side the same people who threatened and harassed Sir Tim Hunt and his wife after a (feminist) reporter intentionally misrepresented what he said? Obviously, given the harassment and death threats he received, equality is just a moniker feminists use so they can harass and threaten people they don’t like. Obviously you find it deplorable that rather than call for reasoned response and an end to his harassment, there were feminists ignoring it and calling for him to resign amidst the harassment he was receiving, because you’re a logically consistent person right? Or do you only apply the guilt by association fallacy when it’s convenient to you?

        I’d continue explaining why you’re both factually and logically wrong, but I sense that no amount of reason is going to cut through the fog of smug condescension and douchebaggery you surround yourself with.

        Also, fyi, your passing comparison of a group that committed racially motivated murder on a regular basis with a group of people who haven’t murdered or been violent towards anyone, minority or otherwise is more than casually racist. It’s outright racist. Next time you remove your head far enough from your ass to expose your mouth with the intent of making said comparison, do everyone and yourself a favor, just stick it right back up there to keep from sounding like a racist asshole.

        Maybe you think your last name makes your comparison somehow acceptable.

        It doesn’t.

        To be fair, you probably intended that comparison to make people stop and think. And it does! It makes me stop and think about what a complete jackass you must be to minimize the KKK and trivialize the people they murdered so you can virtue signal to your scumbag friends.

      • April 30, 2016 at 11:49 am

        So by that logic, its ok to treat all muslims as terrorists? We were all affected by 9/11 afterall.

      • April 30, 2016 at 7:38 pm

        The fact that you don’t (and can’t) cite any evidence for your accusations speaks volumes. None of what you claim actually happened. Provide some evidence or GTFO.

    • HInglet
      April 29, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Creepy scum like Alan Wexelblat desperately don’t want anyone to challenge the media’s Narrative.

      Seeing nutcases like him spouting incoherent rage is like the days of the False Memory panics of the 1980s where in retrospect the stories that were believed in the press are laughable in retrospect that anyone believed they were true.

      One can only laugh at the insanity of people claiming that a group of male, female, white, black, straight, gay, trans, disabled who are working on cleaning up the disastrous state of gaming journalism are secretly meeting to send death threats to random people on the internet.

      It should set off alarm bells whenever people desperately attempt to stop people from questioning a Narrative.

  3. April 29, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Kudos for a fair and accurate assessment. It is too rare these days. As for the “some vipers in the nest” I obviously can’t disagree entirely. Any large sample of people, compounded by the fact that it’s the internet -means it’s probably true. Still. It’s hard not to be somewhat suspicious that at least some of these are not the purported victims in disguise. Wu caught posting against herself while accidentally on the same account. Q actually attempting to obstruct someone from obtaining the identities of her harassers. And the fact that in all my months, in all of hundreds of people I follow related to this, I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen the awful death threats, the alleged harassment. Anyways I do recognize my own bias, so I certainly must concede there are probably some vipers in the nest. But I can’t help be suspicious.

  4. April 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I haven’t seen any puppies kicked or rape threatened.

  5. Uncle Able
    April 29, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Kia actually has a specific rule against dox posts. While I cannot say nobody in the broader GG community ever does so (the bar for entry is non-existent) Kia specifically has a rule against it. I like your Rheingold test but I think GG shows a very different pattern than your other examples. Sure when Tyler was trying to get back on his feet we raised a grand or so to help him out. But the vast majority of GG’s charity does not go to members. The last time someone tallied it up we’d spent 160k on random charities totally unaffiliated with the revolt. The pattern is more like Rotarians or Shriners. We’ll help a friend in need but most of the time it’s just general charities. Like cancer, women in the 3rd world at one point we adopted a Sea lion from the WWE because we thought it was funny.
    I think that that kind of behavior is just good for you. At this point if there is no charity drive I end up donating to someone every paycheck because I discovered I just like my life better when I do.

  6. psymin
    April 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    An interesting way to look at online communities. Thanks for the insight.

    More groups that pass this test include: GG in general (flowers for Christina Hoff Somers when her husband passed away, donations to anti-bulling efforts, etc)

    and Voat (a refuge for GGers after they realized that Reddit was unwelcoming)
    https://voat.co/v/gaming/comments/805872/3991757

  7. April 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    I wonder how low or high “The Rheingold Test” is as a bar. I would argue that in the early days of The WELL it definitely seemed like a much higher bar than it is today. I think this is partly because of how much “regular” activity has moved online as well as the greatly reduced barriers for engaging in the kinds of material support that define the “The Rheingold Test” in the first place. So, providing material support to someone you’ve only met online is only a few clicks away and could be considered comparable in effort to, say, dropping a few dollars in a buskers hat while walking to work. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that members of a variety of online communities aren’t supportive of each other or that these relationships aren’t meaningful or significant. I just think that the “bar” suggested by “The Rheingold Test” has moved and we might need to take that into consideration as well.

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      Thank you for engaging with the actual main content of the post.🙂
      In many cases it’s just about the affordances of the site–ie it’s hard to have a barn raising on YikYak just cause of how it works. But to me the material support means something, but I’m just waving my hands vigorously here. I suppose the softest version of the claim is, “People naturally like to help one another in times of trouble. If that doesn’t happen on a particular site, it may not be working well.”

  8. william
    April 29, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Hello. The only criticism I have is the label of “libertarian” which I find too narrow. Given the international left, right, moderate, apolitical opinions of GG supporters the only libertarian value that I have found us to agree unanimously upon is “game developers should be free to make whatever games they want without receiving unfair, politically-correct, charged criticism.”

    Also possibly helpful too is remembering that most gamers are kids at heart, and it is this childishness (seen very clearly in GG’s silliness) that has allowed for the community of very disconnected people to gel–though loosely–even with the non-gamer supporters.

    (PS. a note on the cruel GG trolls: While GG has harmless trolls and annoying trolls, without some of them “normies” like myself would not have been able to penetrate an obscure culture (that is a small subset of the international gaming community) to figure out what the hell is going on. What they and the mean ones have in common though is that they are difficult to spot for someone unaccustomed to the worlds they navigate. Additionally, some of the mean ones did not start off being nasty. Their motives seem to be a mix of a desire for influence and creating drama for their own amusement. Most supporters are not fascinated by them as there are so many nice people to talk or listen to.)

  9. JTMurdock
    April 29, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    Any group with more then 2 members will have someone that does things the rest disagree with. The actions of a few should not spoil it for everyone, and should not cover the entire message. Individuals within Gamergate and Social Justice Warriors get lumped together with others they wouldn’t otherwise want anything to do with. Pedophiles, harassers, money grubbing people just waving the flag of whatever cause just to make a quick dollar, it doesn’t matter. Within any large group you will have people obscure the good with their own actions, and it’s a shame that that is honestly a fact of life. A good person should not have to answer for the crimes of someone else.

    The over all message of Gamergate is that censorship because someone doesn’t like the message is bad, that journalists need to be help accountable when they screw up, and facts are facts and opinions are opinions and one should not be pushed over the other.

    The over all message of Social Justice Warriors if that diversity is good, that there is a serious lack of representation of various groups in nearly all walks of life, and people’s opinions need to be considered.

    Both groups have individuals within each that are responsible for a lot of the same harassment. Doxing, brigading, silencing, threatening, and outright destroying of careers. These individuals should not taint the overall agreed upon message. Diversity IS a good thing but so is journalists being held accountable for their actions. People’s opinions do matter but opinions are not facts, opinions are made up based on facts.

    Now, there is a third group in all of this: Trolls. People that play both sides or distort the message of one side, taking things way too far. These people should not be confused for either group. These are people that don’t care either way and just want to see things go to hell because they get some thrill seeing things burn. And these people are something both sides should actively look for and either get under control or bring to light. At the end of the day you need to police your own. Because if you don’t, your message gets tainted. Your entire group looks bad because a small portion want to take things too far.

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Spot on!
      I think you could write our paper for us.🙂

      • The Colour Of Heartache
        May 1, 2016 at 5:30 pm

        My personal definition of SJW is something close to The Ends Justify the Means – with qualifiers about the ends being left wing / progressive in nature.

        That said, urban dictionary’s top post for SJW uses william’s definition – so if either of us are right, it’s him.

    • william
      April 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      If I may add, I think some additional distinctions are necessary. SJWs are often incorrectly–and sometimes dishonestly–conflated to people who express progressive values. They are not. SJWs pay lip service to these in order to make themselves look good. (I say lip service because how them treat people like the minorities they are supposedly fighting for if them step out of line is just disgusting.) These people are well known to those following GG closely.

      SJWs are also distinct from well-meaning but obnoxious people who have swallowed the narrative. (When they knowingly lie to help bolster the narrative is when they begin to cross over into SJW territory.) People who had been seduced by the idealism of “Social Justice” but do not yet see how inherently flawed it is are not necessarily SJWs. (Remember “Social Justice” is very different from the simple, benign pairing of “social” and “justice”.)

      On the subject of trolls, in the GG scandal there are three affiliations: GG trolls, antiGG trolls and third party trolls. I already spoke about the GG trolls in a previous comment. With respect to the cruel ones, I would add that while some tolerate them for reasons(?), once they are unmasked they tend to be shunned. On KIA this involves downvoting or banning. We do actively try to police our own. Among antiGG some of their trolls are given the biggest platforms, most frequently by the press who claim to be “so concerned about harassment.” Yeah…. Most of the noxious third party trolls come from places many of us never knew existed. It has been ridiculously unreasonable for the press to demand that what they are doing be stopped before GG’s concerns can be heard. (GG has and is trying though, thanklessly.)

      One more thing. Probably the most important but forgotten actor in this mess is the press, particularly the mainstream. If it was not for their lack of due diligence GG would not have exploded or continue to grow. If it were not for their biased reporting, harassment by antiGG and third party trolls targeting GG supporters would not have been enabled and celebrated. And third party trolls would not be enjoying harassing antiGG folks, which would then be blamed on the many innocent people in the gaming community and GG. Two birds, one stone: maximum profit for minimum targets when the intention is to make people upset. As much as the media wishes to claim tire fire and turn the page, they shoulder much of the blame for enabling the barbs and harassment thrown around. They have been the worst actors in this mess because there is an expectation to their conduct and responsibility.

      • April 30, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Your definition of SJW is interesting, william. Do you think most people share it? I imagine some folks are more inclined to apply the label more broadly–but I like your formulation. Is it fair to say you mean people who say “the ends justify the means”?

      • The Colour Of Heartache
        May 1, 2016 at 5:31 pm

        My personal definition of SJW is something close to The Ends Justify the Means – with qualifiers about the ends being left wing / progressive in nature.

        That said, urban dictionary’s top post for SJW uses william’s definition – so if either of us are right, it’s him.

        (Sorry about the double post, I’m finding it hard to know which reply to click with the variable length comment boxes)

      • william
        May 2, 2016 at 7:58 am

        @Bruckman. It depends on the individual and who they have interacted with. As for numbers I am not sure. The people most likely to attribute the pejorative “SJW” to all liberal progressives tend to lean conservative.

        While GG did not invent the term SJW, they definitely popularized it. Also GG is the first time liberals have had a taste of their bile and hypocrisy on a large scale. Conservatives have been dealing with their nonsense for a much longer time. Because of the bias that exists in the press that long predates GG, it is not at all unreasonable for them to believe all progressives think like this since the media had dehumanised conservatives much the same way it has treated GG supporters. The press parroted the extremist SJW ideology uncritically for years. The number of liberal journalists who prior to GG had spoken out against this inflammatory and cancerous rhetoric can probably be counted on one hand. (Their numbers have not increased by much. To be fair some of them just do not know and some are too lazy to look. But the bias is main reason for the growing disconnect.)

        Early on in GG and for much of last year there were many conversations on KIA where conservatives expressed relief that not all liberals behaved like SJWs. Additionally liberals in a similar tone thanked goodness that there were so many conservatives that were not the caricatures they had read about. Many foreigners who have some familiarity with American politics have been watching with concern and horror. This is why GG had been an eye-opening experience for many. This is also why it is not quite accurate to condense its supporters under the label “libertarian”.

        “Ends justify the means” is fair but I would add “people obsessed with appearing to be on the right side of history so the ends justify the means.” They have said this themselves: “No bad tactics, just bad targets.”

      • william
        May 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

        Should also have added that liberals do have a tendency to label someone they disagree with as stupid or wrong because racist/sexist/blah blah blah. (Similar to the conservative habit of applying lazy/moocher/naive to people who do not agree with their views.) Since these labels (racist, sexist, etc.) are the favorite weapon of SJWs, the false conclusion that their extremism represent liberal thought is based on real observations.

  10. Platypus
    April 29, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Amy, (sorry for my english, it’s not my native language)

    You say:
    “People who identify as GamerGaters also include people who dox people they disagree with (posting personal information online), send anonymous death and rape threats, and worse. (Those things are not allowed on the KIA subreddit, and moderation rules prevent them.) ”

    Maybe it’s factually true (do you have data or evidence of that?) but I really dislike the way you wrote this quote.

    Would you wrote something like:

    “Football supporters also include hooligans”
    or
    “People in peaceful manifestations alson include violent people”
    or
    “Muslim community also include terrorists”?

    In France, we have currently a movment similar to the spanish Indignados, and similar in its organization to GamerGate: no leader. It begins to have violence caused by “third party trolls”, but even politics agree to say these violent people have nothing to do with the movment.

    (I’m pretty sure if you look into the “My Little Pony” fanbase community, you will find some rotten apples too)

    Most people agree that we should avoid confusion between a minority of bad people in a larger peaceful group. But when it comes to GamerGate, it’s all “Damn you Gamergate, bunch of hateful mysoginistic evil harassers !!!” all over the medias.

    Even if your GG description is quite fair, the way you wrote that quote suggests (even unintentionally) that bad behaviors are a part of GamerGate identity. It suggest the narrative in the media is, in part, true. Sorry, but rotten apples don’t represent anyone except themselves.

    Thanks anyway for trying to do an unbiaised work!

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      I was trying to be more balanced, but I see what you’re getting at…. Thanks for the thoughts!

  11. April 30, 2016 at 2:49 am

    As someone who’s been deep into this event since it began, I just have to say good luck. It was a fascinating mess by the end of the first month; now it’s gloriously convoluted.

    And even commenting on the thing gets the sharks circling. Don’t matter what side you’re on, or none at all, it’s a homing tornado – you’re going to experience some shit just for saying anything.

    Welcome to the ride. It never ends.

  12. April 30, 2016 at 11:46 am

    “KIA includes many sincere (and polite) civil libertarians, people tired of excesses of political correctness, and people tired of the deteriorating quality of journalism and angry about the real-world impact of biased reporting”

    Holy crap someone who treats us as human beings and not as boogeymen worse than nazis/isis/kkk/ebola/deatheaters/skynet (we’ve been compared to all of them)

    Thank you

  13. May 2, 2016 at 11:59 am

    It’s great to see a name for this property! I’ve been rattling around the internet since 1994 (and BBSes before that), and material support has definitely been a part of the communities I’d call by that name. Some examples that come to mind (in perhaps more detail than necessary):

    * The sysop of a BBS I frequented, who was an avid herpetologist, chaperoned my high school’s science club to a reptile show. (The only way any of us knew him was through his BBS.) He also helped me move, and he and his wife often arranged group dinners with other users of the board. (This was back when long distance calling was expensive, so most users of the same BBS were in the same area code. Using a store-and-forward protocol called FidoNet, boards could “echo” messages to one another, usually dialing each other up in the middle of the night when rates were lower. So you’d talk with people all over the country or even the world, depending on what “echoed” groups (known as “echos”) your local board carried traffic for, but most boards had active non-echoed groups as well and a lot of offline social activity grew out of initial online interaction coupled with local proximity.)
    * Members of another BBS I frequented, which was focused on scifi and fantasy roleplaying games, met up several times a year at gaming conventions to play on teams together, as well as supporting one another through the ups and downs of day-to-day life.
    * Not all IRC channels pass the Rheingold test, but I have definitely been on ones that did, as early as 1994.
    * In a very real sense it is correct to describe the hacker community as an emergently organised effort to keep passing the Rheingold test.

    • May 2, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      FidoNet…wow…memory lane there for me.🙂

  14. August 11, 2016 at 10:57 am

    e-NABLE members send material support (3D-printed prosthetics components) to each other, and are organized to send 3D-printed prosthetics to non-members, for free.

    I’d call that the connectedhumanitarians test.

  15. Anonymous
    August 18, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Fetish communities, particularly role play ones can be this way, i.e. transgendered ones donate for surgeries or breast cancer members. Many are like dating sites too. Certain manga scanlation communities can sometimes give money to one another to get things shared or translated.

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