N4G’s Conflict Of Interest, Moderation Woes Prove Troublesome For Users

N4G has always been a hotbed of controversy surrounding gamers, gamer culture and fanboy wars. The news aggregator  was supposed to be a site dedicated for all things gaming, with news submitted and curated by the community and overseen by a moderation staff. However, as times have gone on the staff have been inconsistent in their duties, some have exploited their positions to fail articles they don’t agree with, and others bend the rules or create their own to maintain whatever agenda fits their whim.

There have been a number of links shared from various gaming publications explaining how inconsistent and sometimes unprofessional the N4G moderators can be in regards to content curation.

To avoid creating unneeded animosity between website publishers and the N4G administration staff, some of the real names of the individuals who shared the links and some correspondence between N4G staff won’t be named. However, they did provide plenty of links and examples upon request, showing vastly inconsistent moderation from the staff regarding what gets allowed, what doesn’t, what gets re-approved and what gets instantly failed.

Now take note that not every moderator on N4G is bad at their job and not every moderator abuses their position.

Nevertheless, one of the most egregious moderators on the staff is cl1983. He’s been mentioned previously in other articles about N4G failing in one capacity or another when it comes to fair moderation.

In one case he failed an article posted as a rumor by VGChartz, citing that the content was “old”. Before the article could be approved fully, cl1983 failed it, stating…

“We know the xb1 numbers already and they #’s from from the 360 at the same time already.”

User Spectator1 one disagreed with the auto-failing of the article, stating…

“Not a duplicate and not identical content – XO numbers were in the other article but the comaprison with X360 was not at all. When I spoke to the Admin Christopher yesterday he allowed the USA one that you deleted through because it DID include new content. Same rule should apply to these.”

I reached out to Spectator1 to ask if the moderators at N4G frequently auto-fail articles from VGChartz, and Spectator1 replied, stating…

“Yeah [cl1983] always does it – its the same mod. The other mods don’t have a problem with my submissions.

 

“His actions have been overturned several times when I’ve appealed to the admins. Annoying that I have to do that to get them published, but at least there’s something I can do about it.“

Not every website owner, publisher or content creator can do something about it, though. Back on July 4th, 2014 there was an article by The Tech Zealot submitted to N4G as an opinion piece. It was auto-failed by cl1983. His reason for failing it after it received 3 out of 10 votes from the community to approve it? Well, he states…

“This isn’t an opinion piece, it’s a recap of things that have happened and then askeds for others opinions.“

Actually, it’s a 363 word editorial covering the very factual instance of Sony beating Microsoft in sales; it finishes on the statement that Microsoft is too far behind in sales to pose a threat to Sony. It’s not an article just asking for users’ opinions.

The article was not reinstated and the community was not given an opportunity to voice their opinion as to whether or not it should have stayed failed.

For those of you unfamiliar, N4G requires 10 community votes – from basic users – before an article can be approved. If an article is not approved for any reason within two days of being in the pending system, it’s automatically failed. Users can report articles for a variety of reasons, ranging from grammar mistakes to wrong citations to just being lame. If an article is reported, sometimes the submitter has the option of making the changes and re-submitting for approval. Moderators have the ability to auto-approve or auto-fail an article, completely bypassing the community approval process.

It’s interesting because we’ve seen many moderators across various gaming websites enacting extreme policing on content that they don’t agree with. In fact, Reddit’s /r/Games moderators recently came under fire for not allowing the community to talk about John Bain, better known as TotalBiscuit, having to battle against cancer. The issue was brought up on Kotaku In Action where the /r/Games moderators made the excuse that TotalBiscuit wasn’t a developer, therefore a thread shouldn’t be allowed on /r/Games.

NeoGaf has also often enacted a lockdown on topics as well as regularly partake in thought policing. This also recently included instant-banning users for expressing positive interest in the game Omega Labyrinth. Why did they ban users for liking the game? Well, the mods labeled it as a pedo-bait game.

But previously, N4G came under extremely heavy fire due to instituting measures that protected various gaming websites from being called out for corruption, this included attempting to cover-up a case involving a clear-cut conflict of interest between the staff at PC Gamer and Ubisoft. After a lot of hoopla the N4G administrators partially overturned aspects of the measure they put into place concerning corruption and exposing unethical behavior by gaming journalists.

The excuse for the measure was that discussing corruption and ethics in games journalism was #GamerGate related, and therefore not allowed on N4G.

At least in the cases of articles submitted in relation to #GamerGate there were reasons given why the articles were failed. In some cases users have no idea why an article is automatically failed. An article about XCOM 2 supporting mods was failed after users approved it to appear on N4G, and for no reason at all the mod failed it.

In other cases an article can be failed because it may not have enough info, even when the website details every bit of available info about the product in their article, like iRobotGaming’s piece about the Delta Six Sniper Rifle.

Another article from iRobotGaming covering the content ID issues surrounding YouTube Gaming was failed because it wasn’t “gaming related”. According to moderator Lt. Skittles…

“Not really gaming related, yes a majority of the people complaining about it right now are people who review games, or let’s plays.”

So Let’s Plays aren’t gaming related? And reviewing games isn’t gaming related?

Unsurprisingly, moderator cl1983 backed up Lt. Skittles, agreeing that the discussion surrounding the YouTube Gaming content ID issue was not gaming related.

Keep in mind that there’s nothing in the N4G guidelines about not being able to do articles surrounding policies of Let’s Plays on YouTube and Twitch.

And speaking of policies… one of the biggest issues surrounding N4G’s administrators stance on prohibiting #GamerGate content was that there was nothing amended in the site’s policies regarding the measure. It was all handed out in a blog post that most average users would never see.

Just recently some Halo 5 articles were failed for containing spoilers. According to Christopher, the N4G administrator…

“Spoilers in title and description are not allowed.“

However, there’s nothing in the N4G news guidelines that states spoilers aren’t allowed or must be tagged, etc., etc. You can read the most recent archived rendition of the N4G News Guidelines, which was saved just today on October 28th, 2015, and there’s nothing in there about how to submit articles that may contain spoilers.

In one case an article was in pending for nearly 24 hours and no mod mentioned anything about the title or description containing spoilers and it was only failed after it was approved, so no changes or modifications could be made.

I attempted to reach out to Christopher to ask about N4G’s moderating policies and how they establish requirements for users to become a moderator and what policies they have in place for moderators to abide by. However, Christopher declined to answer any questions, stating…

“Sorry, I will not answer such questions since you have a history of publicly maligning me as well as N4G. I see no reason to inform you on this information, what benefit it would be to you, or why you would even need to know any such specifics.

 

“If you have an issue with a moderator, like any other issue on the site, submit a ticket from here: https://n4g.com/tickets/ I, or if appropriate for a moderator to handle, will review the ticket and handle it as necessary.”

I had also reached out previously to another administrator named Cat, but the only thing she linked me to was the outdated N4G guidelines.

That certainly didn’t answer any of the questions surrounding why moderators and administrators are able to dictate what content gets through without even letting the community attempt to curate, such as moderator Emelio Estevez auto-failing content from the website GameSkinny, stating…

“Anyone can sign up and write for GameSkinny, therefore it’s considered a personal blog and opinion pieces are not allowed.“

Technically, according to the rules personal blogs are allowed if they’re by a professional. As noted on the N4G Guidelines…

“The opinion piece should be well written and be of interest to the community. Personal blogs do not qualify as a legit source for opinion pieces unless the author is an industry professional.”

At one point they would also auto-fail submissions from Forbes for the same reason. I reached out to the submitter of the GameSkinny article, Pozzle, and asked if they had this problem before when submitting content from GameSkinny. According to Pozzle…

“I’ve submitted Gameskinny articles to N4g in the past and they seemed to get through fine back then. It only seems to be recently that they’ve been getting auto-failed. I tried submitting a few last week and they were all failed within minutes. Though I’m not sure why the sudden change”

While Christopher, Cat and some of the other moderators were unwilling to discuss the moderator practices and policies, one moderator was willing to discuss how they were promoted to the position, stating…

“Publicly, I’d typically act kind of chill, silly, or dull between forums and main site, sometimes trying to find small mistakes in Cat’s contest submissions. Privately, I’d sometimes bring up site improvements I’d like to see with Cat and others. Just doing the same old same old until I was just asked out of the blue if I was interested in being a mod on here. I thought “now’s my chance to make user LostDjinn my footstool” so of course I said yes!”

I also inquired as to whether or not N4G had any rules in place to reprimand or de-mod someone from their position if they repeatedly stepped out of line or broke any of the modding rules. According to the moderator, it was stated…

”As far as specific rules to get de-modded, I can’t really recall aside from a hypothetical case of one disregarding N4G TOU/Guidelines (comments/harassment part in particular). There’s also some level of participation needed on their part. I don’t want that to sound like some kind of quota, just an understanding that with power comes responsibility. Gotta try to keep active and spend at least some of your time moderating comments, submissions, etc. Can’t just hold the title and the vast majority of your activity is just submissions and comments like when you had the Contributor title.”

However, some people do spend an inordinate amount of time submitting more than moderating. Such as JamieReleases.

If you check his N4G profile he has more than 3,600 article submissions as of the writing of this article. He’s also an N4G network administrator. If you check his profile you’ll notice the submissions are from the website Game Watcher and previous to that, many of the submissions were from Strategy Informer.

One site owner commented that this appeared to be a conflict of interest, stating…

“[…] the thing about JamieSI is that he either runs or writes for StrategyInformer and is a mod at N4G. Isn’t that a HUGE conflict of interest, especially since he’s able to push other articles out before they gain any traction?”

Well, it’s true. N4G’s network administrator is Jamie Davey, and he’s also the managing editor at Strategy Informer, which is now known as Game Watcher. Jamie Davey previously went by the N4G handle JamieSI and now goes by the handle JamieReleases.

Given that Jamie is an administrator at the site it gives him special privileges over other users, especially when submitting content to N4G. And yes, the administrator can submit content from their own website.

Now, just to clear something up: working at N4G and submitting content from Strategy Informer/Game Watcher in itself isn’t bad, but the fact that Jamie Davey can bend the rules, bury other articles and promote his own articles is what creates a conflict of interest.

Remember how Christopher failed the Halo 5 articles for containing spoilers?

Well, Jamie Davey was able to spoil that Jill Valentine was in Resident Evil 5, and did so with the spoiler being in the headline and in the article description, even though others aren’t allowed to do the same thing.

User Trevor Phillips even calls Jamie out on this, stating…

“JamieSl why on earth did u post a spoiler dont do that again geese in this site we dont post spoilers just articles and etc”

What’s more is that N4G administrator Jamie Davey approved his own article, as evidenced in the screenshot below.

Administrators at N4G also have the power of 10 approvals, so they can auto-approve anything. In this case, Jamie auto-approved his own spoiler article to beat the competition to the punch, even breaking an un-cited spoiler rule of N4G in the process.

A couple of months ago I did attempt to reach out to Jamie, but I didn’t receive any response from him.

An owner of another gaming website discussed how frustrating it is that their site is being penalized thanks to the star system but the administrator can promote his own website for his own benefit, saying…

“[Our site] is rated at 1 and a half stars, and has always been rated as such on N4G. Our articles that aren’t news or image posts have no hope of hitting the front page, ever. I reached out to N4G awhile back about it and they said to be patient because a “new system” was coming into place that would reset ratings. That was 3 years ago.”

PlayStation Lifestyle also drilled into N4G a few years ago, mostly for problems of quality control but they didn’t really touch on the subject of moderatation.

YouTuber HipHopGamer did a rant on N4G that spans more than 40 minutes, discussing how he ended up getting the runaround as to why exactly he was banned from the site and how he was never given any clear answers about aspects of the ban. Of course, keep in mind that HipHopGamer has been a very controversial figure in the world of gaming news so you can decide for yourself how you feel about the decisions N4G enacted against him.

Even still, users were frustrated with the fact that websites like Polygon and Kotaku are able to maintain their star ratings and that the sites can’t be hidden or downvoted from making the front page. It was explained by N4G’s staff that the people who like Kotaku and Polygon simply outweigh the users on N4G who don’t like the sites and that the supporters keep the sites voted up.

In the end, users tolerate N4G because there aren’t any other large-scale gaming aggregators around. After sites like Digg imploded and Reddit started locking down content and thought-policing its users, a lot of gamers had to settle for N4G as a default. Gaming websites are beholden to using N4G to get the word out about their content and gamers themselves are forced to rely on it to get the latest news about new and hotly anticipated games from a single source.

On the upside, there are a few up-and-coming aggregators looking to get turn things around and remove the corruption and politics from getting gaming news out to the public. GameWires has been doing a great job of establishing page rank and building a some social media presence, while Video Gamez Network is also working hard to grow its user base as well.

However, until N4G cleans up its act or other gaming aggregators grow larger, both content creators and gamers alike will have to deal with the inconsistent moderation and uncouth behavior from some of the staff at N4G.

About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Contact.

25 thoughts on “N4G’s Conflict Of Interest, Moderation Woes Prove Troublesome For Users

  1. Reminds me of the Jim Morrison quote: “Whoever controls the media controls the mind”

    N4G is largely a portal for news stories, so if some SJW types get mod positions and shut down the stories they don’t like, they can keep their narrative as the sole one. Same goes for console fanboys hating accurate sales figures and such.

    The thing is long term this sort of behaviour means their end is near.

  2. another funny thing about N4G is that since last year they came up with this new “unspoken” rule where you can’t complain about the website or its staff in any way or form, and this includes not be able to discuss it with other users in the forum nor in the comment section either. If you have any complaints then you have to do it through the ticket system privately, but to this date I know of no one that has received an answer to the complaints they sent through it.

    N4G has always been a fanboy den anyway because they profit from it. People like idiots fighting over consoles every single day of the week non-stop.

    1. they came up with this new “unspoken” rule where you can’t complain about the website or its staff in any way or form

      I used the ticket system to contact Cat and she just gave the boilerplate link to their guidelines. I tried private messaging Christopher and he gave the response quoted above.

      You’re right insofar that they have no intentions of actually addressing community concerns.

      Right now Gamewires.com keeps it simple and easy and avoids all of the drama that comes with N4G.

  3. A news aggregator dictated by, and caters to, fanboys that are about as smart as a sack of hammers? What could possibly go wrong?

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  4. I finally got sick of my posts being flagged for various (incorrectly mind you) infractions, yet I see later ones popped up by the “in” crowd over there which sail through the approval process. Gamewires is so much better in that regard … everyone sick of n4g should give it a shot!

    https://gamewires.com/

  5. cl1983 is notorious for being a piece of shit.

    And get a load of the disgusting, SJW, scumbag, admin Christopher(need to log in to view)

    https://n4g.com/news/1652991/women-in-gaming-a-qanda-with-frank-lee-on-gamergate/pen#c-10063489

    https://i64.tinypic.com/2e1aigx.jpg

    “Wow. Just… wow. You obviously don’t understand how many people have
    to live day by day, what they have to put up with, and how good the
    white man has it and will have it for centuries to come”

    1. Funny thing about that, later on before he decided to ban ALL gamergate articles he stated how he was netural on the subject and wasn’t a SJW

      That site obviously had something going on during that, they still allow Kotaku and Polygon up despite their bullshit lying

      They said we can decide who we see on the site but they even admitted a while back that the article voting is pointless, it’s basically an illusion to give off the impression we have a choice

  6. Emilio seems to not like us at all. At https://attackongaming.com we usually do joke scores and as long as they’re not too long, they get added into N4G’s score box successfully. Now, we’d sent in and had approved dozens of these kinds of reviews, some of which had site admin approvals on them. But, Emilio, for whatever reason, doesn’t like us and has removed op-eds, news articles, reviews and more from us before. He took this opportunity to take down an already approved review.

    Fortunately, after showing him multiple Approved reviews of similar nature, I was able to get him to fold on it. But then he went back and removed all of our joke scores from the score boxes.

    So, half-win?

    This isn’t the only issue we’ve had with moderation. We’ve had a few GG articles removed (often with full community approvals too). We’ve pretty much given up on N4G because of the crappy mods. I only do some opinion pieces that I know will be approved, and reviews on there.

    edit: Animeshinbun is pretty good still though. And Cat is a top admin.

    1. Fortunately, after showing him multiple Approved reviews of similar
      nature, I was able to get him to fold on it. But then he went back and
      removed all of our joke scores from the score boxes.

      Well at least something is better than nothing, so yeah it’s a half-win.

      We’ve had a few GG articles removed (often with full community approvals too).

      They won’t admit it but they really don’t like GG and the fight for better ethics in games journalism.

      We’ve pretty much given up on N4G because of the crappy mods. I only do some opinion pieces that I know will be approved, and reviews on there.

      I just stopped with the opinion pieces altogether being submitted to N4G. It was just a draining waste of time arguing with the mods over things. Even articles addressing consumer concerns were articles I eventually stopped submitting as well because they would get failed for silly reasons.

      It was like walking a tightrope trying not to get auto-failed, which is really silly given that it’s supposed to be community curated. I understand maintaining quality control but failing stuff before people even get a chance to look it is just silly.

      I think the thing that frustrated me, personally, were all the lies and equivocation. Christopher and cl1983 making excuses or creating rules on the fly just so they could auto-fail or maintain an article staying failed.

      Content creators shouldn’t be thought-policed when submitting to an aggregator — modifying the headline or body of the content to suit N4G’s standards. That’s ludicrous. I don’t ever remembering doing that for Digg or even Reddit… it was just basically submitting stuff and letting the community decide if they liked the content or not. If not? Then it failed. If they do? Then it succeeds.

      The whole thing of trying to cater content to their nebulous rules is just petty and showcases certain mods power-tripping on thought policing content.

      1. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I will add that you can get infractions if you approve something that doesn’t meet community standards later as well.

        It’s just too haphazard a site; they didn’t used to be this bad. I wonder if there are any other, better, news aggregators? There are a few for anime, but, gaming ones don’t seem to get as much traffic.

      2. As some others have mentioned, https://www.Gamewires.com and https://www.VideoGameznetwork.com are two alternatives but they’re still pretty low on the totem pole and need a lot more support and traffic before they can be considered viable alternatives.

        N4G can easily drive 10k hits to a site if it hits about 1k degrees so maybe I’ll shill for the new aggregators on KiA or the /r/NeoGaming thread.

        Also if you haven’t already, /r/NeoGaming is specifically designed for new, up-and-coming gaming websites. So feel free to submit your stuff there. They have about 6k subscribers and growing.

  7. Gaming industry as a whole is very dishonest. It the only industry where thiefs have a higher honesty value. From the bottom to the top it pure skulduggery.

    1. Indeed and it’s not just the big boys, quite a few developers I’ve liked have gone indie and then massively abused kickstarter in the way that would make EA or Ubisoft proud. Keiji Inafune probably being the biggest turd floating at the top of the septic tank of corrupted indie game developers.

  8. “I see no reason to inform you on this information, what benefit it would be to you, or why you would even need to know any such specifics.”
    lol, what a writer.

  9. Narcissists always flock to positions of power. Think back to any gaming or niche forum you’ve ever been a part of. Now try to remember the mods, how they acted, how they overstepped, and how dissent was always squashed.

    These people do not like different-thought.

    This N4G thing seems even more corrupt, with the self promotion. Also there are cases where the community approved (majority) and one person steps in to deny. Or even majority of mods approve and still veto by a single overbearing mod.

  10. Chris is an arsehole, he was never liked much as a user, never liked as a mod, never liked as an Admin and now he’s the Network Manager. He then complaints when someone points out something which hasn’t been taking care off despite people waiting patiently as “Oh but I just do this in my own time, I have a wife, a kid, a job” etc and yet when you ask to volunteer he goes on like it’s some exclusive club and they’ll “keep you in mind” which means “No…hell I’ve already forgotten about it”.

    There was a mod during the GamerGate crises when articles first started to be taken off for “not being gaming related” at the time Cat was away so Chris being the Admin defended the decision despite the fact it was Gaming related. ONLY WHEN the GG issue calmed down they decided to block all GG articles but even if you post something today anti GG articles get further then ones defending them.

    Chris is a fucking arsehole and needs to be replaced off the site along with some of the other mods like Emilio and cl1983

    The power has went to their heads and the only reason they are mostly all in power still is because they all know one another. They’ll never get more mods who they don’t like despite being on the site more then them.

    I don’t know why Cat ever let him become a mod in the first place

  11. Christopher and co are hypocrites

    Follow the site rules they tell you but when it suits them they decide to tweak them and bend what they can to suit their agenda.

  12. Great article and some very deep detective work. Can’t believe that N4G would allow mods/admins who also run or write for gaming websites who submit their content at N4G. That’s a HUGE conflict of interest, like you said.

  13. I know that this is a really old post, but cl1983 LOVES to kill off posts that he doesn’t like on a personal level. I’ve seen it happen to us and others many times in the past…In the matter of fact, the guy is just looking for a reason to kill your post (s) off. His having a power trip each time he does it, so I bet.

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