Current forum rules and admin guidelines.

In light of my stepping down as acting admin, it seems prudent to explain the rules and guidelines that I was operating under so that future admins will be able to know how things used to work (or not work, as the case may be).


The old "don't be a dick" concept that this forum launched with, while popular, was shown not to work in multiple forum discussions time after time. There were no ways to police people that did not understand this golden rule, plus a lack of clarity on what "being a dick" consisted of meant that disputes were common. As such, a warning system was put into place in order to attempt to both allow policing of behavior deemed unacceptable, and provide means for forum members to recover from mistakes without being permanently ostracised.
  • Warnings are given when a user engages in unacceptable behavior on the forums, PMs or online discourse related to forum membership (Skype chats, FB groups and other things run by MGSA) - phyiscal interactions are immediately referred to law.
  • A warning contains an explanation of the unacceptable behavior and how to avoid future warnings.
  • A warning lasts for 2 weeks before expiring.
  • On receiving a warning, if a user has 3 active warnings or has amassed 6 warnings in total over 6 months, that user is banned for a period no less than 1 month. The user must be informed of the ban.
Here is a spreadsheet with all the warnings issued since the system was started.

Lacking a built in system for the forum to handle warnings, I PMed users their warning notifications. This also meant that often discussions could be had about the context of the warning and often incidents were de-escalated this way. Posts immediately containing sexist, racist or discriminatory content were deleted.

Lacking a concrete rule document (I was waiting on the IESA/MGSA switch to occur to begin the process of drafting one, depending on the mandate provided), I referred to user discussions for guidance and ended up with the following warnable offenses:
  • Insulting or attacking someone personally.
  • Posting sexist, racist or discriminatory content, participating in hate-speech or defending said actions.
  • Getting multiple reports via the post reporting system - this was seen as a way for the forum as a whole to indicate unacceptable behavior.
I experimented with posting notifications of warnings in threads where the discussions occurred. This did not seem to escalate hostilities, it may have calmed things down by making consequences more visible, but there was not enough evidence to form a solid conclusion.

*Note that insults or attacks against me were very rarely warned, or even acted on previous to the warning system existing. This was to attempt to avoid accusations of using admin powers to silence disagreement with my personal views. For reference, this accusation was constantly made anyway, and the community culture became "Don't be a dick, unless you're a dick to @dislekcia". I would not recommend a similar course of action to future admins - treat all personal attacks as important.

Other concerns:


Spam is a factor on this forum and something that moves in waves. There are several automated systems that need to be checked to make sure they're not flagging things incorrectly (I checked them twice a week). There is also an onus on the administrator to stay abreast of new posts on the forum to make sure they're not spam and delete inappropriate new posts.

Thankfully most spam is relatively easy to identify, often googling the post contents will show up the same comment on multiple international forums. Checking for IP location when a brand new company-style post appears also helps identify spam. For the purposes of the board being MakeGames South Africa, international company posts are generally considered spam unless they engage very specifically, especially if a random game or service was being advertised.

Spam accounts are banned and all their content deleted.

Job posts

MGSA is not a jobs board. The forum software has no support for it and supplying people with jobs is not a concern that the MGSA committee considered important. The idea of allowing job postings by local game development companies and forum members was tabled by the committee to address a concern that was raised by the community.

Currently, no recruiters are allowed to post jobs on the forums. These posts are considered spam and deleted.

Jobs posted must adhere to the following guidelines (in order to prevent misinformation and to help people make accurate decisions about jobs, forcing users to follow up on job offers just to find out basic information is an inconvenience to users and is not in the spirit of MGSA):
  • A job must be posted by the company offering the position/contract and the company must be clearly identifiable.
  • The position must be clearly stated as a game development position/contract.
  • The job post must contain a description of the skills/qualifications required, an indication of payment/budget/salary, expected timeframe for the job and a job description that clearly communicates job responsibilities.
  • The job post may not be solicitation for spec work or in the form of a competition reward.
*Note that there were extensive debates about non-game-industry jobs, including debates about what constitutes the game industry, specifically as relating to gambling jobs. Gambling jobs, if clearly stated as such, are currently permitted on the forum. General programming or web development or house painting or textbook writing job postings are not.

*Also note that it was tabled that job posting might be restricted to IESA member companies in the future. The efficacy of the current stopgap is dubious at best. As such, anyone wishing to start a game development job site is more than welcome to!

Safe spaces

MGSA has a responsibility to ensure safe and respectful spaces for all South Africans. The MGSA constitution mandates the organisation to enact change in order to address sexism, racism and all forms of discrimination faced by South Africans and impact the local games industry accordingly to allow it to be more inclusive.

Enforcing this as an admin is difficult. It has led to some of the largest forum fights we've had here (which are actually relatively minor and hugely infrequent, compared to other online communities of similar size). The reality that the local industry is skewed towards very specific privileged groups is undeniable (refer to past MGSA industry surveys) and we are all tasked to address this. As such, doing nothing is not acceptable. I am curious to see how other admins handle this.


There seems to be an idea that MGSA is for the users here, the people that log on and comment. This is only partially true. The most important part of any growing, healthy community are the lurkers - the invisible users that read the forum, gain useful information and, hopefully, make games as a result. There are many layers between the user that reads one post because it appeared in their google search for something, the user that signs up but never posts, the user that posts a little, and the core of users that post a lot. It is very easy to focus on the "core" of loud users and cater to their needs - often these needs are things that let them post more and post less useful stuff for lurkers (why would a lurker read social posts about how much X is looking forward to braaing tonight, for instance?). This is a constant balancing act.

There are historically zero resources available to "spend" in order to run a forum like this one. Volunteerism works, but it's unreliable (count the promises by users that are the same as ones they're making today). As such, it makes sense to focus effort on what makes the most impact in terms of supporting the goals of MGSA - one of the prime examples of this is to only do things that are not available or not happening anywhere else. Other places host jobs, so MGSA should only put effort into hosting jobs those places ignore. Other places are social hubs, so MGSA should be a knowledge sharing community. If somewhere else offers something useful, advocate for its use. MGSA should be the only thing like it, otherwise it's not efficient.

A community tends to have a poor memory - it can only remember one or two core things at a time and those go on to dominate its culture. There seems to be little memory of the history of local game development, and that is a constant challege. There seems to be little memory of the things that MGSA achieved a year ago, let alone what we could learn from all the studios that have failed in the last 10 years.

Running a feedback-centric community is fantastically useful, but really hard. I look forward to seeing what future committees and admins decide their interpretations of these concerns mean for a community.

Future rules:

The thinking around potential rule additions for the IESA switch, devoid of rationale (as I doubt that matters at all anymore) are as follows:
  • Report posts before posting in anger.
  • Search before posting a question.
  • Warnings issued for bad-faith arguments (assuming malice on behalf of another and responding in kind), arguing using logical fallacies or misrepresenting discussions, miring a thread in negativity.
  • Ask new posters what they're looking for from the community: Feedback, welcome or help. (this has been a cultural norm here for a few years now, how effective it is depends on who you talk to)
  • Empathy is the new black.
  • If you're posting a solution, make sure you understand the problem.
That's it. Good luck future admins and goodbye :)


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