Yesterday, the not-exactly-calm waters of Reddit’s No Man’s Sky community at r/NoMansSkyTheGame were further rocked when one of the moderators, who went by the name r0ugew0lf, purged the subreddit and shut it down. Little warning was given and quite the outcry ensued. Reddit admins showed up and got the subreddit running again, but not before r0uge had explained his actions in a post, saying that “It's become a hate filled wastehole of no actual discussion.” To find out why he felt that way, we got in contact with him. He has requested to be referred to by his now-deleted Reddit handle out of fear of reprisal from the section of the community that has come to hate him.
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“What lead up to my decision was mostly months of build-up,” says r0uge. “What finally pulled the trigger for me was looking through our modmail, I see nothing but bans. Every single one of those ban messages had a reply from the banned user saying absolutely awful things. ‘You should kill yourselves,’ or ‘I'll make your lives living hell.’ These were over temporary (five day) bans.
“Strewn in were automoderator messages saying certain comments/posts had gotten 10+ user reports, and inspecting one linked comment was saying something along the lines of ‘I want to punch Sean Murray in his f*****y grin, the piece of s**t,’ with 200+ upvotes, but 20+ user reports.”
R0uge provided pictures of auto-moderated comments with personal attacks against Sean Murray and they were as bad as you might expect. Homophobic language and hate towards not only Hello but the rest of the community.
“[It’s] absolutely insane that this mindset was so widely accepted in a subreddit dedicated to an indie game. Sean Murray was joked about as a god just six months ago.”
When r0uge realised how bad things had gotten, a meeting of the moderators was called. While they disagreed on exactly what course of action to take, there was an even split between a temporary shutdown of the sub and the full purge that occurred. This was relayed by The_Music, another ex-mod, in a now-deleted Reddit post of their own.
Once r0uge had nuked the sub - making it inaccessible to everyone and deleting all content on it - he was contacted by Reddit admins pretty quickly, as users started to notice and reports were made. Another subreddit, r/no_mans_sky, became the hub for discussion about its lost brother. Meanwhile, r0uge got into a conversation with two of Reddit’s community admins - known by Sporkicide and AchievementUnlockd.
“I stirred up quite a bit of drama. I was called some rude things, and I was concerned for my safety for a little bit there. I probably didn't handle it as well as I could have. I had the attention of the admins, which is surprisingly hard to do here on Reddit. While I had them, I wanted to bring up some moderator support issues they've been putting off for quite some time.
“My conversation with them consisted of them trying to figure out why I did it and what they could do to pacify the masses. I'm sure you're aware, the subreddit is now in admin control. I gave them permission, though I'm sure they didn't need it and only asked as a formality. They wanted to keep me on the team to help smooth things over. I used the term 'bridge to the community' though I feel I'm the worst candidate for any sort of community relations now with that username. I suggested them to go through one of the other moderators, as they've got better relationships with the community. Odd, though, none of my team is involved on the mod team now.
“I did ask them to purge the stylesheet, as those are my and my team's assets. They haven't done that, I don't know if they intend on it. I get that it's hosted on their servers and that stuff is probably covered in the ToS, but I look at it as more of a respect kind of thing.”
As a glance at the subreddit will tell you, Sporkicide is now running the ship, though mostly in the capacity of finding a new mod team, keeping trolling at a minimum and dissuading the spread of misinformation and hate. While they were in conversation with r0uge, Sporkicide was attempting to control the more heavy-handed community reactions, including this rather withering put-down of one noted troll. Much more of their efforts over on their user page.
Since coming back online, one particularly hard-to-dissuade assumption has been tossed around that the previous, or even current, mod and admin team were being paid off by Hello Games to keep the subreddit positive. An odd accusation, given threads such as the list of missing NMS features have gotten huge attention from press and players alike and were only removed when the creator didn’t like the negative attention. However, it continues to be a popular assumption.
“We've gotten shill accusations since day one, weirdly enough,” points out r0uge. “I always say, ‘if I was a shill I'd have more than $1 in my bank account right now’. Our contact with Hello Games has been almost non-existent. There were tweets sent out around the time of the leaks, and there were some emails exchanged about unaffiliated merchandise being advertised on the subreddit. We did try to keep Hello Games close, as we wanted them to be part of the community but that never worked out, so we lost interest in trying to have any contact. We were just janitors who went on strike.”
As for the future of the sub, r0uge explains he has no interest in it or any gaming subreddit, saying that “other communities are much more mature, fortunately.” The community admins will remain in control until they can install a new mod team and get the sub back on track, trying to dissuade discussion of the shutdown in favour of actual content about the game. Currently, the front page is still dominated by drama and memes receiving far more upvotes than other posts.