As the legal process chugs along...
...we’ve been having depositions. For example:
Mandy got asked how I could have “forced” our ex-, Viv to move in with us.
She admitted--despite what she'd earlier claimed--that I hadn’t forced her to move in with us. She said I called Viv and I asked if she wanted to move in with us. That's it.
When Viv said reasons she might hesitate on the phone (she might have to break her existing lease, for example) I said reasons why these things actually wouldn’t be a big deal and so Viv was like, yeah ok, I’ll move in with you. She did, liked it, and redid the living room.
Viv said the same in her deposition--after much hemming and hawing. So that’s on the books. It’s resolved. It’s down. It’s over. Mandy and Viv were lying about that. They can't say that anymore. We move to the next thing.
Depositions aren’t complicated, the process goes like this:
1. People ask each other questions
2. They answer them
It closely resembles what every sane person since Aristotle would recognize as “a conversation between people who disagree about something” and which the RPG internet calls “An endless Zak debate”.
Of course it's not endless--it's usually pretty quick. (Mandy and Viv could've said the two sentences it took to admit the truth two and a half years ago but they dodged it until there was lawsuits.) It only ever takes a long time if the person being asked questions is lying and is trying to figure out a way to avoid saying that. But even then it ends pretty fast.
What people who complain about answering questions are scared of isn't wasting time (they have enough time to say all the other shit they say online): it's being revealed as liars.
The Great Rebranding
I didn't invent asking and answering questions. This, for example, was on the internet way before I showed up.
Rebranding the most common and efficient way any issue gets solved in any sphere where the truth is admitted to matter (whether it's legal, academic, scientific or journalistic) as “an endless Zak debate” rather than just like admitting that's how grown-ups who disagree have to talk to fix anything is probably the single most toxic thing the RPG internet ever did to itself.*
The arguments raised against just answering questions are, basically:
-“I have a bunch of feelings and therefore cannot be asked to do anything”.
-“Before investigating, I decided anyone who disagrees with me about this is evil and I don’t talk to Nazis”
-“I don’t wanna”
-“Ew, isnt' that a debate” (it's not) "debate is bad"
Whether you think these are good or bad excuses, using them guarantees issues will never get figured out or solved and conflicts never de-escalate. Instead you get…
The Normal Way
This is how the RPG internet likes to handle things:
1. One person says a thing, articulately, or forcefully or both.
2. People use the tools of social media to spread or otherwise express approval of this take.
3. Another person disagrees in a completely different venue--sometimes equally articulately or forcefully.
4. They never talk to each other. They are never put in a position to answer questions.
5. It never gets resolved ever.
6. Everyone argues about it over and over and complains that it never gets resolved, no-one learns anything, and people who lied or never did their homework are not uncovered and they stick around and poison the community forever by lying about bigger and bigger things.
This is supposedly a really good alternative to talking to people/Terrifying Zak Debate.
A Few Greatest Hits
I would argue all of the biggest problems on the RPG internet have been caused by the online nerd social norm that’s it’s ok to blow off questions. Some examples:
-If not The Original Sin, then a very early one was Ron Edwards claiming that playing the game Vampire: The Masquerade caused brain damage on his own forum. When asked for proof, he said—explictly, you can go back and read it—he did not have to answer questions. Ron suffered no consequences. This was one of the earliest examples of folks from his scene—the storygamers—making bigoted statements against people who played other games going unchallenged, which tradition continues to this day.
-The Gauntlet forum’s official policy is “If you ask someone a question and they give no answer, assume the answer is ‘No’” which has got to be the single most abusable and thoughtless rule in the history of forums—and is completely responsible for that community falling apart.
-Edition wars? When D&D’s 5th edition was announced, fans of 4th edition (including many still-active designers) claimed that 4e was very popular and selling well and that WOTC's decision to do another edition was actually based on old people complaining on the internet. They were asked for proof of this. They didn’t answer. They also claimed there was no way people having more fun playing older editions were telling the truth and/or that there was something wrong with people who said this. Again: when asked they provided no proof. This kind of thing is what caused the edition wars.
-The guy who founded the actual website “Storygames” eventually apologized in a thread for the way OSR creators and fans had been treated on his site for years. He was asked what he was going to fix the damage he’d done by platforming stupid gamer hate for years. He gave no answer.
-Arnold K / Goblin Punch literally cited my belief that people should answer questions as a bad thing when he joined the hatemob against me, and when Scrap Princess joined she bragged about how she wouldn’t answer questions or back up the obviously false claims she’d made. This kind of set a fashion in the new OSR where flaunting your total inability to make sense was cool—probably best exemplified by Jared “infinite mao” Sinclair and the Troika Trolls—who delight in their total failure to help each other or anyone else figure out anything. They are currently all blocking each other and hating on each other on twitter because of, basically, they don't want to answer questions.
-Ok, but all this is small beans next to, say, sexism, right? Well: RPGnetters (et al) also made bold pronouncements about how women felt about everything from preferred mechanics to RPG art. Women then showed up to protest these claims. When asked why these women’s opinions didn’t count, the RPGnetters gave no answer.
-When an RPGnet mod was accused of rape, they were asked a lot of questions about what happened, how, and who knew what when. They didn’t answer and apparently did no internal investigation.
-When someone with Green Ronin was accused of sexual harassment, the company’s heads—Chris Pramas and Nicole Lindroos—refused to answer direct questions about whether this happened, how it happened, what evidence they did or didn’t have, etc.
-Racism? When the accusations against me came out, everyone who supported my ex was asked why they supported the white girls rather than the women of color—who were telling more consistent stories that actually made sense, were corroborated, and were backed up by documents. Nobody answered.
Literally all of this could be fixed if people would just adopt the social norm followed around every dinner table: you ask a question—when someone doesn’t answer that’s weird and they look like they're hiding something and it’s obvious and everyone knows you can't be trusted.
So, I'm asking you (and there are thousands of you reading this) why are you ok with this? You don’t put up with it at the dinner table, why do you put up with it here?
Or maybe an easier question: does it seem weird to you that this super normal way of interacting in real life is called "Zak debate" here? And that finding out who you can trust is considered bad or not worth it?
P.S. Oh but can't we just never ask questions about anything important and just play games? Sure. There's lots of new stuff in The Store since last I mentioned it, pick something up:
|Cube World #46--Goblins and Murder|
|Cube World #43 --Ths Stair and the Vizier's Secret|
|Cube World #44--Traps, Traps, Traps|
|Cube World#45-Warmutants of the Cube|
|Cube World #47-The Pentamorph and More|
|Cube World #48 Two Cults|
|Cube World #49-Two Gimmicky Dungeons|
|Cube World #50-Hell on Earth (and in Hell)|
|Cube World #5-Four Elementals and a Giant's gut|
|Cube World #52-The Fox Witch and the Freckled Hog|
|Cube World #53-Quiet Places|
*In the law it's called "depositions" and "testimony" and "cross examinations", in science and academia it's "defending your thesis", in journalism it's "interviews" and "press conferences".