By Alex Kierkegaard / November 8, 2011
There has long been a need for a place where people can discuss Insomnia's views without fear of shunning/locking/banning, and this need was clearly not being fulfilled by Insomnia's own forums (and with good reason), and certainly not by anyone else's. To so much as allude to an Insomnia article anywhere on the internet today will get you treated like a pariah, if not outright banned and ostracized — not to speak of attempting to start a discussion with Insomnia in mind, or — the horror! — a direct link to one of our articles. On NeoGAF, rllmuk and forums of this size any mention of Insomnia is guaranteed to generate at least a couple of pages, if not more, of heckling and peanut-throwing, and serious discussion for more than a couple of posts is out of the question. On Shmups, HG101, Select Button, Racketboy and GameSpite (among perhaps also other places I am not aware of) there are widely-known guidelines, either written or unwritten, that links to Insomnia are forbidden, and any thread in which the site is mentioned despite that is guaranteed a quick lock if not outright deletion. Specialty forums like the Steam forums, Battle.net, or, even worse, forums dedicated to a single series or game, are filled with barely human cretins who are too dense to maintain a train of thought for more than a couple of posts anyway, so any attempt at discussing Insomnia, even if not met with outright hostility, will be futile anyway, and small specialist forums like Postback, Gamengai, and the like, while frequented by much more experienced and thoughtful gamers than all the trashy ones, are also frequented by people who would rather go on for pages about some obscure subpar title from 1987 that no one in their right minds could possibly care about than discuss any serious issue actually worth discussing (including the masterpieces of the artform, or even simply contemporary good games, since they are not obscure enough to warrant any attention from the expert hipsters, who are a million times better than garden variety hipsters, but still hipsters).
Which brings us to today's grand opening of the Casual forum to guest-posting. The Casual forum has up to now been used as a repository for all the trash that was too amusing to delete from the rest of the forums, but today its function will be greatly expanded. It is now possible to start threads (including polls) and reply to them (though without attachments) as a guest, meaning as eponymously or anonymously as one likes. The simplest way to think of it is as a section of 4chan — /insomnia/, perhaps, or /ins/ for short. The exact same posting guidelines that obtain over there are also in effect here, and I and the other staff members vow to do our best to adhere to 4chan's extremely high moderation standards.
Another way this change will benefit the site is by acting as a pressure relief valve of sorts, rendering the atmosphere a little more relaxed even in the main forums. Much of my annoyance, and many of the bans, that have been generated in the main forums over the years have been due to the fact that I have felt obliged to answer every post made there. If a post was stupid, or even merely ignorant at times, and I didn't feel like expending the energy in replying to it, or simply bloating the thread with superfluous explanations, I really didn't have much of a choice other than to ban its author, in order to avoid other such posts coming from him or her in future. Try to see this issue from my perspective for a moment, to realize how reasonable it is. If I leave the post unanswered, my forum now (meaning my site) has acquired a dumb or ignorant post, which new readers browsing it may come across, resulting in the lowering of the site's worth in their eyes (something which would not be at all unreasonable, for this is partly what it means to have a site of lower worth: that the ratio of good to bad posts is low). If, on the other hand, I delete the post it will appear to many of those who read it before I had a chance to delete it as if I am "scared" of answering it, as if the moron (or merely ignoramus) who posted it had "touched a weak nerve" or some shit. The best option would therefore be to reply to the post AND ban the user, to ensure that he doesn't get a chance to create such a tiresome, annoying dilemma for me again — an option which, though the best as far as maintaining the quality of my site was concerned, was also the most energy-demanding and bad-atmosphere inducing (because I would be obliged to reply to the stupid/ignorant post, AND also ban someone, while perhaps also venting my frustration at the dilemma he was forcing me to face by also throwing a few curses and insults his way as well).
All of this is done away with now, since I will henceforth be able to throw (or if the post is not stupid but merely ignorant, simply move) the offending post into the Casual forum, so that someone else can perhaps deal with it if he has the time and feels like it, while my main forums remain awesome and squeaky clean — and all with no need for unplesantries and bannings. (Though note that, if the post was absolutely retarded, or disrespectful and so on, the user will still be getting banned... i.e. this new way of doing things will help with previous grey-area issues, but not with outright red-flag ones). Moreover, not only am I preventing people from thinking that the idiot/ignoramus has touched a "weak nerve", but I am doing the exact opposite by moving his comments from a subscriber-exclusive area to a public one.
What else is there to say about this? The Casual subforum is in the games section of the forums, so threads should overwhelmingly deal with games, game criticism and game theory, but since there is a significant crossover on this site into philosophy (equality, subhumans, the slave game, and the like) it's okay if there's the occasional thread about non-game issues, or even about non-games lol, but keep the ratio at something like 10 to 1 if you don't want your thread to be deleted.
Current subscribers are encouraged to post with their accounts, though be aware that if you prove yourself a retard in there you WILL be banned also in the main forums (though note that "banning" on Insomnia 3.0 means "removal of posting privileges", and nothing more. In the case of guests, on the other hand, banning means IP ban, exactly as on 4chan).
Also, to make this clear right from the start, it is of course perfectly fine if subscribers wish to discuss in the Casual forum, either with guests or between them, whatever they have read in subscriber-exclusive content on the main site. You can of course quote us, or summarize our articles in your own words, or even copy-paste a few paragraphs here or there, as long as you refrain from copy-pasting entire articles.
Lastly, I personally will never post there (apart from a few posts made before guest-posting was allowed, and if I end up moving over any discussions from the main forums which include posts by me), and if the other staff members are willing to help in getting done what passes for moderation on 4chan, I might not even read what goes on in there most of the time. If I want to comment on something said in the Casual forum, I will do so in the appropriate thread on the main forums, where my reply will not be immediately buried under several pages of practically worthless chatter by people who would rather talk than think, and where both I and future readers will be able to easily find it if we need it in the months and years to come. (As an aside, subscribers might want to make sure to remove the Casual forum from displaying results when running a forum search, if they want to get the clean and lean results which my main forum moderation policy is, among other things, intended to facilitate).
So, I think this is everything. If I've neglected something, start a thread and tell me, and if I think of something, I'll post it in the Casual guidelines thread and/or update this article accordingly. I am hopeful that this move will prove very beneficial to the site and very valuable to at least some of our readers, and perhaps on occasion even to us, and by no means intend this to be a complete and utter trash heap. Decent stuff can be sometimes found even inside trash heaps, after all — and this litte heap of ours already contains at least one such thing that I am aware of. So ganbatte ne! Let's try this little experiment and see what happens.
P.S. A word of warning to subscribers: do not carry over bad habits acquired in the Casual forum to the main forums. In there you can do whatever the hell you want, for example, with punctuation, but if you fail to separate paragraphs correctly and use appropriate punctuation, capitalization, etc. on the main forums you'll still be instabanned. And keep the good stuff that you have, that you know you have, such as news and game commentary, or good theory questions and the like, for the main forums — where you are sure to receive replies, and engender quality discussion between you, me and the other experts.