Last week, hell broke loose on the gaming site Kotaku. The story offers so much on what’s wrong with Kotaku and game journalism today.
On July 5th, an important and long time member of the Kotaku community, Deanb, was de-starred and banned by Brian Crecente, Kotaku’s Editor-In-Chief, after his comments in the “Talk Amongst Yourselves” (TYA) section giving suggestions for the site was deemed to be “trolling”.
This set off a storm of bannings, comment deletions, and straight out censorship in the comments section across the site. Many were upset with Deanb’s banning and the comment censorship that followed. Apparently, criticism is now viewed as “trolling”. Not all the comments weren’t saying “Kotaku sucks balls” or other nonsense. Some were legitimate gripes and complaints with the site and the situation.
Kotaku posted an article(which seemed to be a response to the negative criticism) highlighting the site’s best posts. The comment section exploded with discussion over the events.
For those with complaints about the site, Crecente stated:
Want to spend the day navel gazing and discussing the font size of Kotaku or the color scheme or whether this story or that story belongs on the site: email me directly, do it in TAY or do it in Speak up.
Commenting on Deanb’s banning, Crecente said:
The first ban, the one that set it all off, was of a person who is very aware of the rules.
Trolling, even in the name of trying to just help out, is still trolling.
In response, user WonderingIsAll wrote:
And are you seriously saying here that you ignore criticism on purpose just because it’s in the wrong place? And that people should automagically know that they aren’t to criticize something in the obvious place- the comments section for it- but to do it elsewhere?
And again, for the eight hundred thousandth time, you keep ignoring one question: If TAY is a safe haven for criticism, WHY DID YOU DESTAR DEANB WHEN HE CRITICIZED IN TAY? This has been asked hundreds of times but you never answer it, you tiptoe around it.
Even though Deanb posted in the TAY section, Brian Crecente still banned him.
Kotaku is one of the biggest game sites going today. As such, it’s even sadder that they are the top guys and how irresponsibly they handled the situation. It’s extremely sad and pathetic that Kotaku is one of the leaders in game journalism. I can’t stress that enough. It’s extremely pathetic.
For starters, the site layout is terrible. I’m not saying my little gig here is easy on the eyes either, but c’mon. Kotaku operates under Gawker Media. Use a little bit of that cash flow to invest in a readable layout.
A lot of their posts are downright stupid articles that have little or nothing to do with video games, or ones that get information wrong, as shown by GJAIF.
This Kotaku parody by Something Awful hits the nail on the head.
Brian Ashcraft posts a lot of trash, but he isn’t the only offender. Just glancing at their main page you’ll find a good amount of dumb articles.
“We love games. Honest!”
Don’t get me wrong. Kotaku does have some good articles, but the mountain of garbage they constantly post always overshadows them.
I stopped taking the site seriously about two years ago after the Xbox 360 Pure rumor.
Cheap Ass Gamer ran a contest on their podcast episode #133. Basically, they were complaining that game journalists just post rumor after rumor and only care about getting high page views. They made up a contest where the first person to get a site to run a fake rumor would win a free game.
A CAG user made a blog post about a new 360 model, complete with fake documentation.
It was a fantastic contest idea because so many sites ran with the story, Kotaku being one of them. It proved CheapyD and Wombat’s point; that most game journalists are sorry excuses, and only care about getting high page views.
Brian Crecente basically blamed everyone around him for the error. Instead of manning up and admitting he was wrong, he threw a hissy fit. He blamed CAG for him not properly doing his job.
Kotaku posted an unconfirmed story from a personal user blog. It wasn’t front page on CAG or promoted as a news piece by CheapyD. CAG is or never has been a news gaming site filled with journalists. It’s a game deal site. Their main purpose isn’t as a news site, but to get people cheap games.
Speaking on the situation, Crecente said:
It’s not funny at all. Cheapy and his crew asked his readers to promote a lie on the site. How do I know they wont do it again. I don’t have the time, or the inclination to listen to all of their podcasts to make sure that the stories that run on the site are valid.
This is called poisoning the well.
Instead of trying to beat out other sites on the rumor, Crecente could’ve emailed CheapyD to confirm the blog and see if it had any merit.
He also said:
And on your point about fact checking. While we have reached out to Microsoft for comment, it’s doubtful their reply would in anyway help or hurt the story. Rumor are by definition often unprovable or disprovable early on.
My feathers aren’t ruffled. I am annoyed that I wasted your time, all of my readers time, with this story when we could have used that time to post something newsworthy. What annoys me most about this sort of thing though is that it sets back the credibility of all blogs.
Newsworthy? Like a celebrity holding a PSP?
Brian Crecente and the rest of the site can’t seem to take any sort of criticism either. They have a condescending and arrogant attitude when it comes to “negative” comments. If you leave a comment that might be critical, they either ban you or your comment gets all jumbled up and “disemvoweled”, the vowels stripped away. They also gray out comments that they don’t like.
The commenting system is ridiculous as well. You have to “audition” to be a commenter. If they like your comments you’ll eventually become a “starred commenter”, meaning your comments will be more likely seen by others. You can still post anonymously, but if they don’t like your comment, it probably won’t get approved.
We only approve the comments we love – so make sure you’re adding something of quality to the post.
Basically the only way your comment is going to get promoted is if it’s essentially ass-kissing someone or something about Kotaku.
Crecente’s response to criticism usually is “If you don’t like it, then leave”. Instead of that response, wouldn’t one that promotes honest discussion to legitimate concerns be appropriate? Nope. You’re not going to find that at Kotaku. In Crecente’s world, he’s always right. Even if he’s wrong, he’s right. Considering he’s the Editor-In-Chief, that’s the worst attitude he could possibly have.
Instead of opening the floor for discussion, Kotaku crushes any opposing view. Like good journalists, they censor, delete, ridicule, and ignore things they don’t agree with. I can’t think of any instance where censorship should or needs to be applied in this way.
Maybe if there are spam comments promoting a new line of fake Chinese purses, or ones that sends people to a site filled with viruses. Other than that, why the need? Oh that’s right. To hide the fact you suck as journalists.