As most of you might be aware, near the start of this year, several well-known and popular users were banned from the Discord and GMOD server. Whenever something like this happens there is often a lot of confusion, speculation, and misinformation, and the most recent instances are no exception. Now that some distance has been placed between the incidents and tensions have cooled across the community, we would like to officially clear the air and be transparent on the events leading up to these punishments both within our community and behind the scenes. We do not want to farm any more drama than we need to; as such we WILL NOT be denouncing anyone by name nor promoting any kind of community reprisal on our behalf. All we ask is that you consider some of the following as our side of the story when you hear the version spun by other parties. What you choose to do from there, and whether or not you care to take the time to read this statement, is up to you and your commitment to this community.
The common assertion in the aftermath of high-profile bans is that the administration is punishing users for giving criticism and feedback. Although it is true that many of the users in question were vocal in the complaints about the direction of the server, they were not punished solely for being unhappy. It is when the user crosses one of three lines that administration has to get involved: criticism that is lobbied through persistent and repetitive petitions that derail conversations and overwhelm developers, criticism that derails to personal attacks against developers and mods, and criticism that is directed in a way that belittles the servers and the community as a whole, whether isolated in nature or for the sole purposes of elevating and promoting other communities above our own.
These forms of criticism are not mutually exclusive, and in many cases they tend to evolve in severity over time as users get more disgruntled and fall under the influence of other fire-stirrers within and without the community. For a long time, users who engage in behavior that crosses the three lines mentioned above get away with it based on past goodwill and popularity in the community, and with each chance they’re given end up emboldened to be more and more disrespectful in their behavior knowing they face no repercussions. Their friends and like minded individuals get pulled into the discourse, and an entire toxic, drama sub-community of users who complain and sass the developers and administration takes root within the membership. This is a scenario that has played out time and time again, and we will no longer be as lenient on long-time members who know better than to engage in toxicity and ad hominem. Accordingly, you have been seeing more of these members have their memberships revoked, and if necessary been banned from the community for farming drama.
There is another layer to these situations that has remained an inciting force, and that is the frequent involvement of other ZS communities in internal issues. The owners of these communities often catch wind of the behavior of toxic, disgruntled users and use them as an ample opportunity to act on their ancient grudges and bias, seeking to destabilize our community at any chance they get. They begin supporting the banned players in their smear campaigns by providing competing game servers, people to join in raids, and Discord calls to organize and conspire further actions against the community. We do not intervene with their communities’ expansion, nor do we even allow discussion of their servers at all in hopes of avoiding drama. Despite efforts on our part to avoid confrontation, the rival community owners find themselves intertwined with our internal affairs once again and continue to stir the pot in hopes of pulling our community against us.
FWKZT as a community will never agree with the involvement of other communities in our internal issues. We wish only to focus on developing our community as a unique, accepting, and fun environment for all. We have not tried to spy on and manipulate other communities even when formed as direct competition with our own and have no intention of starting now. The most we ever ask for is the same in return. Our goal is never to kill anybody’s fun, nor to engage in some illusory power-trip. We just want our community to continue to thrive and for the members to treat each other, the administration, and our developers with respect. If there are individuals or groups who are incapable of that respect, then their place in this community will no longer be guaranteed by their popularity alone.