A Manifesto on SMBX PoliticsThe history of SMBX is severely uncertain, with the bare minimal of way-back screenshots, our mistakes were doomed to be repeated. If perhaps an understanding of said past mistakes were to be recognised, SMBX may have continue to thrive.
The poor preservation of our history is more than likely to blame for the way things are, all our understandings of past staff team are based off memory and word-of-mouth. My reasons for making this manifesto is to give my own view and perspective of the community. For those who don’t know, I’ve been a part of the SMBX community since the beginning, was community leader from 2010-13, and have also been banned roughly 19 times. This is not an attempt to cause or stir drama, nor is it an attempt to alienate the community, it is merely my opinion and stance. I hope this gives a big insight into our history, our mistakes, and what we can do to fix things. I have tried to refrain from personal bias as much as possible, and have acknowledged my own wrong-doings in this manifesto. It wouldn’t be fair otherwise.
SMBX and politics have always existed, but has never been fully addressed to a point of utilising language. We know that leaders such as Kyasarin, CaptainTrek and Joey adapted a firm and strict stance, believing that SMBX members would strongly benefit from this. With an almost non-negotiable way of leadership, ‘high-ranking’ administrators have a dominant right over its community, despite maintaining no initial right to.
Leaders with mentalities such as myself, bikcmp, reghrhre, supermarioman, believed that all members should not be banned outside of general forum rules, and that no-one is above anyone else. To these individuals, the idea of running an overtly strict message board is ultimately pointless for it lacks ‘true importance’ in comparison to a user’s personal lives.
Essentially, it is the differentiating viewpoints on strictness, leadership, user permissions, attitude, and the ‘ideal community’.
Despite these beliefs, both systems are heavily flawed. This is something I simply cannot refuse to acknowledge, and bias must be put aside.
Chapter I: The Complicated History of SMBX Members
Chapter II: The Three Sides of SMBX
Chapter III: History of the Three Sides
Chapter IV: Why Staff Teams Fail
i. Age / Maturity / Poor Judgement
ii. Poor Co-operation
iii. The Rule System
Chapter VI: Solutions, and the Future
Chapter I: The Complicated History of SMBX Members
Most online communities have their faults, but rarely do they learn from these mistakes. SMBX’s society is riddled with problems, past and present. Members have always had strange stances on varying subjects which have never quite made sense. One of SMBX’s main features was its ability to merge multiple graphic styles together, which was pretty unique for its time, only to be dismissed as ‘clash’, seen as a negative thing. If you look into anything someone gives, one of these two things will happen.
The user’s work will get constructive criticism, but only if it’s negative it seems. This is not to ignore the positive comments, but I can hardly recall any of them going into great detail as to how they are great. A few positive remarks such as “this is cool” or “i like this part” isn’t constructive at all. This is also not to say that lengthy, positive reviews don’t exist, but they certainly are hard to find.
The user’s work is almost completely ignored, putting them off the community.
For whatever reason, the subjective stance on clashing is seen as objective. In 2012, everyone or everything was deemed biased if it didn’t sit with them well, which stemmed from a joke made during the community contents. Strange guidances like this exist which don’t really serve much purpose other than to limit its capabilities, and this is a reason why the community is so infamous.
Members also show little to no interest in staff decisions, despite many of these choices being a hindrance to them. SMBX politics wouldn’t exist without the user base, yet the overwhelming majority don’t seem to care for the decisions made for them until it’s done and is too late for change. A small sum of members do contribute, but rarely have fixed stances themselves, being easily influenced by two sides and at the same time being too young to grasp the meaning of what’s going on. This of course, does not apply to everyone. The community mentality is very easily misguided and changeable, which has often been seen as an opportunity for manipulation by many.
This is not to downplay the users in any way, but they play a far bigger role in how things are run than they seem to realise.
Chapter II: The Three Sides of SMBX
While it’s difficult to acknowledge everyone’s stance on how a community should work, mainly due to how different people are, there are two distinct sides that have existed since the original forums. Influences and personal experiences have given members, likewise with virtually any online community ever, differing views on the way things are run, and it’s not easy to document this mainly due to the poor preservation of history. For this reason, it’s easier to just focus on the three main ideologies that have existed in SMBX’s time. This would also save a ridiculous amount of your time reading this.
SMBX could be defined by three made-up terms that will hopefully now be recognised as legitimate labels for them.
The community should not be held under constant fear of punishment for minor wrong-doings. Rules should still be enforced, but not to a harsh degree.
COPPA was enforced.
This is considered a centrist stand-point.
The community should behave in an orderly fashion, otherwise punishments will be severe. This way, SMBX becomes a mature community.
The user base has very little say when it comes to big community changes.
Falling mainly in line with Redigit Rule.
Bans are rare, and users are given far more vocal access.
Generally speaking, Knux Rule has a limited forum rules setup, being under the belief that strict rules do not belong in this community bar some exceptions.
Users could not be banned for exceptional reasons outside the rules.
All of these systems may initially seem do-able, however all are highly flawed, and although unaware, the SMBX community is clearly still operating under Kyasarin Rule, occasionally shifting to Knux Rule. An interesting point to make is the centrist Redigit Rule system, AKA the one that actually worked, has never been implemented again.
Chapter III: History of the Three Sides
Prior to Kyasarin Rule, the SMBX community was a very neutral environment. Redigit, who was still very much involved with SMBX at the time, did not focus on his administrative duties as much as he did on his projects. The staff team, prior to Kyasarin and Luminous’ promotions, were notably lax. There were problems, like with all forums, but there was never lengthy discussions on how the place should be ran. It was a middle-ground system, making members feel at home but also making sure that everyone behaved. This could be defined as Redigit Rule.
Kyasarin’s tenure as a moderator stirred controversy rather quickly. Kyasarin came from the Revolver Games community and it would become apparent later on that Kyasarin, Luminous, JellyBones, and any other member from this site were trolls. Following Redigit’s departure to Haiti, Kyasarin and Luminous became the forum leaders. Luminous’s activity declined to a point where only Kyasarin and another staff member Kuribo, also partially inactive, would be the only ones working.
Kyasarin enforced a strict, harsh policy. Users were being banned for no legitimate reasons, and this is what caused the migration from the original forum over to Knux Forum. The poor documentation of our history has lead to strange romanticisation for the way Kyasarin believed the community should function, as indicated by members such as CaptainTrek and Joey, who believe this method of administration was highly effective. This of course does not account for the fact that the overbearing population of the community were greatly resentful towards Kyasarin’s mistreating of the forums. Being a member of the private Revolver Games myself, it became pretty obvious early on that this site took a great disliking to the SMBX community, and at times seemed to take great joy in essentially ‘bullying little kids’ as it was put back then.
Following the on-going legal troubles surrounding SMBX, and Redigit’s declining interest, the original forums shut in 2010. For a long period of time there was no official forum, just mines and a few smaller ones.
CaptainTrek took over as the community leader for the remainder of that year, continuing to operate under the now clearly flawed Kyasarin Rule. In what can only be described as an unbearable time for everyone, CaptainTrek (who, again, was romanticised) would quickly prove to be one of the most incompetent staff members the SMBX community had ever seen. Banning users for literally no reason and having public meltdowns in response to trolls.
Kyasarin and CaptainTrek were both highly influential members, there’s no doubt about it. But, they are also notorious. It is my firm belief that everything that is wrong with the moderation of the SMBX community today is almost entirely their fault. This will be explained furthermore.
I have never viewed the SMBX community as a place where a strict rule-set worked. For one, the majority of members at the time were aged 12-16. I was only 14 when I became the community leader myself. I abolished COPPA as well, because the law didn’t apply for the UK and there were some loopholes, so anyone under the age of 12 would be allowed to join and participate with community activities.
I thoroughly believed that nobody should be banned unless they break the simplistic rule system I had laid out. The general premise was; be nice. For a long time, this worked. Members were complementing my way of running things.
Truth is, I can’t deny the fact that this system was also flawed. By giving users far more freedom it would path the way for open-criticism, even if at times it wasn’t justified.
SORA is a particularly controversial part of this. The SORA team initially came across with the intention of bettering the community, and pointing out my errors. I can’t deny the fact that at times I was incredibly immature and childish. General silliness that was harmless was seen as a great threat to the way the forums were being run. Could they really trust me when I’m busy spamming Freeforums? Certainly doesn’t give a good impression.
Letting users criticise the staff essentially lead to anyone saying whatever they wanted, even if it was total nonsense. This is what brings me back to SORA, who had a clear vendetta against me personally, and this was obvious by most accounts. However, as to not contradict my own implemented rules, I allowed discussion and it lead to an absolute horror-show. This, on top of other outside-related issues, caused a great divide between myself and a good portion of the community - believing I was far too lenient and irresponsible for the job.
Reghrhre, who was now leading the NSMBX forums, agreed to attempt a merge. However, the after-effects of SORA and other controversies I never hid greatly damaged my credibility. This merge ended up not happening, the why and how of this will be explained later on.
in 2013, Joey had expressed interest in restoring the community to its glory days. I should point out that Joey wasn’t a member of the SMBX community until mid-2010, and never lived through the transition period of Redigit Rule to Kyasarin Rule.
And again, because of my decision to give users the right to discuss major forum decisions, Joey was able to become community leader.
The SMBX Council formed in late 2013 for the intended purpose of discussing and merging all the SMBX forums (three in total, two in which were practically identical).
This idea made a lot of sense at the time because myself, reghrhre and Cloud (of his SMBX sub-forums) were all very on-edge with one another. The truth is, all three of us believed in the same rule system, and strongly detested Kyasarin Rule, but we just didn’t get on well. This seemed highly beneficial at the time for everyone.
Joey was involved, and offered to host a new site. As he started to gain members, he started to change things. One particular change was the decision not to include Cloud as a prominent staff member, despite assurance that all the staff members would keep their administrative powers, and essentially ridding of him completely. Cloud eventually opted out but Reghrhre couldn’t by this point, and neither could I. On New Year’s Day, 2014, I deleted Joey’s forum in an attempt to undo his attempt at bringing back Kyasarin Rule, but failed and had virtually all my credibility by this point diminished.
Joey’s forums, especially in 2014-15, were entirely under the same rule system that was proven to be oppressive and unfair. Members were being banned once more for no reason other than personal preference (for instance, BTB was banned for a ridiculous amount of time purely based on the fact a moderator didn’t like him - this happened, wasn’t the only time, and still exists as evidence in the forum archives). The staff refused to listen to any user input whatsoever, including my minimal request of changing a single gif because of its seizure risk (that was a time).
Joey is now no longer as involved as he once was, and while many staff members have since shown a more relaxed view-point, there are still many issues present. I believe that Kyasarin Rule was reinforced, but has since been chipped away at slightly. The complicated ‘strict’ ideology is still very much present, which undeniably exists as a result of Kyasarin’s decision to change the community.
Chapter IV: Why Staff Teams Fail
In what can only be described as one of the most controversial topics within our community, discussing the issues of the staff team has almost never gone down well. Granted, there have been some notable exceptions to this rule, but the general attitude from the majority of team leaders is partially to blame (amongst other reasons) as to why SMBX remains in a strange cycle of repetition and lack of real effective change.
In this next part of the manifesto, I will be addressing past staff teams, why they didn’t work, what could have been done to make things better, and why it all matters.
To the current moderator team reading this; please do not see this as an attack on the current staff, as this mainly focuses on past teams, and constructive criticism should be allowed - I think we can all agree on that. I want to clarify that I have no personal vendettas with any of the staff, and the purpose of this documentation is to benefit the community.
I. Age / Maturity / Poor JudgementThe SMBX community is predominately made up of a younger audience, prior to Redigit’s ‘requirement’ to implement COPPA it became an apparent issue that anyone under the age of 12 wasn’t considered ‘mature’ enough to be on the boards. While this argument has weight to it, these judgements were passed on by members who, for the most part, were neither legal adults themselves. Although there is an obvious age gap between two generations, and while the older members are likely to behave or socialise better, they are still far too young to make serious judgement and to fully grasp the concept of running a community at their age.
Looking back, I used to think I was amongst the most adult-like forum leaders - I was the average age for admin, 14-15. Looking back, it’s quite clear that this was an issue. I certainly was not mature enough to be in charge of the community, and neither was anyone else within the same age category, i.e. most of the staff.
This presents two big problems, the first one being that SMBX has had a history of ‘kids running kids’ and second being that the staff are incapable of recognising this. SMBX forums under Kysasarin Rule were far too strict for a forum based on what is essentially a kid’s franchise. Users would complain about the high number of young folks despite the fact it was a forum rooted in the younger generation of gaming. Knux Rule attempted to tackle this, and found that this gave way for an poorly controlled environment. Should this mean users are better off babied and allowed to act silly? No, but the rules that apply on other online communities with a more mature user base don’t necessarily work here. Staff have quit mainly for the way the community is, and again, they didn’t take into consideration of the audience SMBX has acquired over the years.
The point I’m trying to make is no matter what the staff team do, whether that be enforcing stricter rules or purging, the SMBX community will always be populated by younger members. The older users get, the more likelier they are to move on to other things. The vast majority of members from 2009-13 are no longer here, and this is clearly to do with age.
Staff members also fall within the 13-18 category, but no matter how capable they think they are, they simply are not. At 14, you do not have good judgement. That is a fact of life. You are simply not clued up enough on the real world to fully grasp things. Members within this age category were too emotionally invested in their jobs, and started blurring the lines between an actual offence and personal issues. This issue is present a lot in teenage relationships.
I’m saying this as a 22-year old, and I will no doubt reflect on the age I am now in the future. The ideal solution here, in my opinion, is to put an age restriction on staff. I am not sure if this is a requirement now, but it makes sense. Anyone over the age of 18, ask yourself this; did you consider yourself mature enough at 14, only to realise that in fact, you weren’t?
I have brought this issue up before and I’ve received backlash for it, mainly by (surprise, surprise) users in their mid-teenage years.
I need to take into consideration that there are staff members well into their 20s that have acted just as ridiculous, but these types present a great difference between those and well-behaved staff members of the same age, and yet also present a great contrast between themselves and those who are much younger.
II. Poor Co-OperationThe staff, particularly those under Kysasarin Rule, have shown to be extremely hesitant to any change requested by its user base. While this doesn’t entirely relate to the current staff team as of March 2019, it was, for many years, a serious problem that caused a great disconnect between staff members, and could easily happen again if the wrong types are chosen.
The ultimate sadness in this is that poor co-operation has almost always been the main reason why the staff team has a revolving-door complex. Some staff members simply refuse to co-operate, or meet the middle ground, almost entirely due to ego or personal reasons (which plays back into the maturity argument above), and eventually turn a minor fault into a big mess, before finally ‘quitting’ the community only to return some time later. I have nothing to hide, I did this. Many, many users also did this.
Forum merges, staff changes, and other major concerns have always been dealt with by the staff themselves, and many times this has resulted in backlash. A more recent example was the private discussion in regards to moving to Reddit, to which the overwhelming majority of the user base disagreed to.
The problem here? Again, poor co-operation, and the disconnect between the user groups.
Let’s face it, staff members very quickly gain a superiority complex (third time; this is mainly an age-related matter), and begin dissociating themselves from the rest of the members. This has always been seen as a need to happen in order for control, but it just doesn’t work or make sense. Moderators, in principle, work, but the attitudes many possess (again, coupled with the way the community is and has always been) have always been proven to end up causing trouble (examples of this include; Joey, Myself, NameUser, Reghrhre, Kyasarin, Luminous, IRC staff). Should the moderator team be abolished? No, but how members interact should be heavily analysed and observed before decisions like moderator status are made. Users like Chad, who made himself a very likeable figure, ended up becoming an excellent choice for a staff member. Joey, NameUser and CaptainTrek were members heavily detested before they became staff members, and this resulted in horrific backlash. This issue of hiring staff members without thinking about it enough plays into the poor co-operation of staff members.
To clarify, this isn’t always an issue. Many current staff members are very down to earth and see themselves as equals amongst the user base. However, when the opposite happens, it’s pretty obvious to everyone including staff, but is rarely ever nipped in the bud.
Many in which, may I add, aren’t active enough to even be staff members. Valtteri never did anything as a moderator at Knux Forums, but the lack of appropriate staff resulted in limitations - and an uproar caused by Valtteri’s then-immaturity, and my then-immaturity, made everything worse.
This comes under another problem in itself, staff relationships. It is difficult to find good staff members, but we need to stop making the frequent error of putting two members, who hate each other, in staff positions. The same applies for hiring admins who have negative personal relationships with the user base. It has been noted that encourages staff to abuse their power (example; NameUser banning BTB for no concrete reason).
It’s no secret that I didn’t get on well with the Joey’s team throughout 2014-15. Any legitimate concern I had would be dismissed because of who I was (in fact, there’s a chance that this documentation won’t be around for long either). This is something that needs to be avoided again. The staff MUST push their personal conflicts aside - because it’s not fair on the user base. This also benefits everyone, because this kind of behaviour is illegal in the work place, lol.
The staff team need to fully adopt a neutral stance to *everything*, because it is so easy for bias to slip in when it comes to decision-making.
III. The Rule SystemThe forum rules system is one of the biggest blunders in SMBX’s entire history, and there are many reasons for this:
1. Some would argue that the forum rules are too strict for the type of community it is, and that the staff need to relax a bit.
2. Staff are guilty for breaking their own rules. There have been seemingly endless instances of this happening, most in which, again, goes entirely under the radar because of poor observation skills, mainly.
3. While mocking and bullying is taken seriously, inappropriate comments have become common-place, mainly due to the fact that the forum rules don’t actually clarify what is meant by this. It’s too vague, and the line is drawn seemingly by a staff member’s decision, despite far more comments deemed ‘inappropriate’ turning up everywhere.
4. Sexual content is regularly permitted on the site, despite this being against the rules. This is a rule that needs to be reinforced because it’s just not appropriate at all for a site like this.
5. The content rule also points out that illegal content isn’t allowed. Again, this is vague and, ironically, makes a mockery of the staff. Almost everything in a project, level, episode contains copyright materials which are being distributed illegally. Even the forum’s image-set has legal issues surrounding it - which in part, may be one of the reasons as to why the original forums got taken down. The staff have been made well-aware of this, yet nothing has been done about it. Granted, there isn’t an easy solution to this, but it’s just laughable more than anything else.
6. Joey’s points about how moderating should work regularly come across as problematic. For one, Joey thoroughly believes that SMBX should not be a democracy, and that there must be a power imbalance between moderators and members (just reading 4. Moderation in the forum rules thread should be enough to convince you that this Kyasarin Rule in effect). But why does he get to make this decision? ‘he owns the site’ is the likeliest response you’ll get, and that’s a fair enough point - but he doesn’t own the community and the people within it.
7. Backwards Moderating is a rule that only exists to hide the fact that staff members aren’t doing their job properly. There is also nothing inherently wrong with reminding fellow users about the forum rules - ‘cause that’s what they’re there for? In fact, it shouldn’t be happening in the first place. If users are doing more work than the actual moderators, then you’ve got a serious problem that doesn’t need to be written down for you.
8. One of the forum rules literally states that moderators don’t have to deal with users and their bans (justified or not) if they consider it a sensitive issues. This is nonsense, as a competent staff member should be able to deal with ALL matters, not selective ones.
9. In the Site Discussion rules topic, it quite clearly states that users are given very little to discuss regarding the state of the forum. Apparently, discussing staff actions and moderation is against the rules. If that’s the case, then how can anything be done at all? It’s already been proven time and time again that staff members do not hold the best judgement, and that they aren’t perfect themselves. Having incompetent teams totally excluded of constructive criticism (which is the ultimate irony considering the fact it’s also a forum rule) doesn’t help anything at all. Some staff members are completely oblivious to their faults (age and maturity point). If the user base can’t rationally debate topics such as their own staff team, then you’ve got another clear-as-day problem that doesn’t require an explanation.
For what it’s worth, I could be reading this all wrong, but the way the rules are written up makes little sense, and can be interoperated in many ways. Don’t get me wrong, forum rules are essential and without them there would be total chaos, but they really need to be looked at thoroughly.
In addition to all of this, many of these rules are broken on a daily basis, yet staff are strangely selective with who gets punished and who doesn’t.
Chapter V: Solutions, and the Future
It’s hard to see the SMBX community surviving without fixing the present issues. The problem with the forum activity clearly has nothing to do with SMBX itself, because it’s very much taken a complete U-Turn in recent years, from a dead project to so much potential. Remember, SMBX was very much finished in 2010 and yet its activity strived.
The solution isn’t simple, and there have been many ideas put forth. Some work, some don’t. I confess that it may take a long time before we ever reach the middle-ground again, if ever. Redigit Rule could come back, but then we’d have to ignore everything we’ve done for the past 7 years, which isn’t the solution either.
I do hope that SMBX continues, but without addressing the staff problems of the last 7-8 years, it has very little hope of staying. The information I’ve given will hopefully be taken into consideration and food-for-thought, but even then I have little hope. All my credibility as a user was stripped away, at first by SORA, and latter by simply not helping myself. If there is anything else that needs clarifying, then I shall do so.
Again, I really hope that staff do not see this as an attack. I only care about benefiting this community and making sure it has a chance of reviving itself. These problems presented in the manifesto are, as far as I’m concerned, overbearing and the main cause for all the departures and unwelcoming atmosphere. I also would like this thread to remain open for discussion, although within a civil manner. If the staff decide that this thread should be locked, which I think will only add to the list of problems, then at least allow this to exist as preservation.
'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.' - George Santatyana.