Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Revisiting Gevlon's "4 fun ppl" Theory

A couple of years ago, Gevlon proposed a "4 fun ppl" theory of toxicity[1]:
Those we consider trolls are people with honest intention to positively socialize, but their extremely low social skills cause them to post hurtful or annoying things instead. 
I was recently reminded of this theory when Jeff Kaplan of the Overwatch team posted a "takedown" of a player complaining that he had been banned unfairly:
You have over 220 reports for harassment. Looking at your chat logs, these reports are verified. Here are some examples: 
now im dont give a [expletive]
they can [expletive] my [expletive]too
you deranged addicted nerd
and this community is ignorant and insane
im the reason for anything good
good morning you sad sad dumb generation
LONG WALK FOR A PILE OF [expletive] 
Plus you continually accuse other players of hacking -- we're seeing this in a significant percentage of your games played. The players you are accusing are not hacking, they are just performing at a high level. 
Also, you repeatedly spam lines such as:
Our community has made it clear to us that Toxicity is one of the top issues that needs to be addressed in this game. As a result, we're getting stricter and that means people are going to get suspended and banned for poor behavior. You've fallen into that category.
I'm not denying that this player is toxic. However, looking at the examples, it really feels like he's one of Gevlon's "4 fun ppl", rather than an intentional troll. Probably someone with poor impulse control, and who swears a lot in real life, rather than someone who intends to be toxic. Someone trying to socialize and be "fun", but failing at it.

(To be honest, even I find the idea of a Tobjorn player spamming "TOrbrbrbrbBrbrbrBrBrBRBBRBRBRBRbRBRBRbRB" kind of funny after the fact, though I don't doubt it was annoying in the match.)

As Gevlon noted, these are the types of players who really suffer from a lack of clear rules. "Don't be toxic" is not a clear rule. In my opinion, multiplayer games would be far better served by concrete rules like "no swearing" or "don't call out people for hacking".

You could even add a popup whenever someone swears or uses the work "hacks" in chat. Something like "Swearing is considered toxic and you may be suspended. Send Message or Cancel" and have Cancel selected as the default option. That way, the popups train people not to swear. And if they continue through the popup, that's evidence that they intend to be toxic.

[1] My previous posts on Gevlon's "4 fun ppl" theory:


  1. Whoa, I've almost forgot this post. I wish some community team will pick it up and utilizes.

    The problem with that is that the 4 fun ppl really want fun and the clear rules damage their fun. So if you implement the "no swear words" rule (with a properly intelligent filter that catches "FU.cK" too, some will leave the game instantly, while the improvement would come long after.

    1. True enough. But the people who leave instantly will probably end up getting suspended/banned anyway. May as well have them quit early and not ruin other people's games.

    2. But until they are banned, they pay.

      The core problem is that the "4fun ppl" are a significant demographics. Giving up on their $ is not something bosses want. It is possible that someone will make it his business model to cater to a positive community, but then the whole game must be designed that way, as ganking isn't positive, even if no toxic language is used.

    3. Sorry, your last comment got tagged as spam.

      The fundamental assumption of the "no toxicity" crowd is that toxicity drives other people away. So you lose money from the normal people who leave. Thus it's better to kick out one toxic troublemaker rather than lose ten normal people.

      That's an assumption though, and as you note, there are a lot of "4 fun ppl". It's entirely possible that you make more money by keeping the toxic people and letting the normal people leave.