Ask Massively: The mobile site and trolly trollersons


Welcome back to Ask Massively, that corner of the site where we take a stab at answering random questions you deposit in our inboxes and comments. Hey guys, we have a cave troll, checkit.

soundersfc.tid wrote: I have a question or two about the commenting system. Do you think there will ever be a way to flag offensive comments through the mobile version of the site? And speaking of offensive comments, what metric does Massively use when considering permanent bans on commenters?

Long-time mobile viewers will know that our mobile site is... well, it's a thing. A thing that doesn't get a whole lot of love from the technical staff, unfortunately. We were thrilled that the new comment system works so well on mobile, but you're right: It has some deficiencies, which is a bummer because according to our site analytics, a lot of you surf from your favorite hand-held gadgets.


It's a bit annoying for the moderators, too, as our only option in the mobilized version of the site is to go all Cybermen and "DELETE DELETE DELETE" -- a very tempting option on many occasions but not always the right one. For example, we normally have a lovely "bozo" option that hides a comment from everyone but the offender so that he isn't tempted to keep reposting it after a deletion.

I have no ETA for additional mobile features at all, but we'll be jumping for joy when and if they arrive. (I just got a new tablet myself, and I'd loooove to be able to properly read and moderate the comments from the comfort of my loo sofa.)

So about that cave troll.

Our code of conduct asks that everyone keep it clean and avoid trolling and flamebaiting and spamming and attacking each other and linking to illegal crap. It's a pretty simple policy, but it's not exactly hard science. If it were, we'd just hire some Cybermen to mod the site for us so we could play more video games. Instead, we have to rely on the judgment of the three human moderators (at least I think Jef is human -- I've never actually met him IRL, so).

Sometimes people break the rules but in a totally innocuous way, like some of the comments in the image above. Technically, this conversation is off-topic. But it's harmless and actually pretty funny, and we're not trying to be killjoys here, after all.

And sometimes people skirt the rules by intentionally antagonizing everyone with inappropriate but otherwise legit comments -- for example, telling a bunch of folks whose game is being shut down that the game sucked anyway and they should move on with their lives. These things may be true and may only border on flamebaiting/trolling depending on your point of view, but they are unwelcome nonetheless.

I don't usually whip out the banhammer for anything less than the dirtiest of the dirty words, flagrant spammers, insults on the writers, and repeat offenders who are upsetting everyone and creating endless work for our staff on Saturday night (again, when we'd rather be playing video games). But the other moderators have different thresholds for abuse and different buttons to push, and there are other factors to consider as well. If I feel too close to a conversation, I try to let another mod clean it up. Or if the commenters have already "handled" a troll with their comments and likes, then deleting the troll would only confuse readers who come by later.

I much prefer a hands-off approach and cat-herding-by-peer-pressure, but every once in a while, the banhammer gets a good workout.

What should you play? Where is the MMO industry headed? How does Massively operate? Has Lord British lost his marbles? Why is there no edit button? Should "monoclegate" be hyphenated? Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce submits to your interrogations right here in Ask Massively every Thursday. Drop your questions in the comments below or ping us at Just ask!