After the situation a few nights ago, we wanted to make a post addressing some things publicly and clearing up any misunderstandings people might have while giving some insight into the decisions we made. While we understand some people were unhappy with the decisions made, these were decisions made with the full weight of the board. John did not go off on some tyrannical mass banning and to think that is how any situation would go down is quite ridiculous.
I suppose it's fair we start at the beginning of all this, or at least as far back as I'm willing to go. This whole issue that seemingly pitted the higher-ups here against the ZE community started back about a year ago when Pikajew was banned from our community. We are fully aware of the fact that some people believe he was wrongly banned, but at this point, it should be old news. The board at the time decided that Pikajew did not belong here based on pictures on his profile, as well as pictures and comments he had made over time. I was not around when this situation happened, but per request, I looked into it further. At first glance, it did not look like there was a lot of evidence supporting the ban so I can understand how some people would be upset. Not all the evidence of things done back then was preserved, with some evidence actually being deleted by ZE staff at the time. Nonetheless, there were multiple witnesses to Pikajew posting what at the time was considered "borderline" pictures (loli) and making inappropriate comments about those pictures or other subjects. I even had a conversation with Wesker this week where he told me and another BD that we should never unban Pikajew.
Now I'm going to make a very clear point that the BDs are never obligated to show all the evidence we use to make decisions, and sometimes we couldn't possibly share all the conversations we've had or reports we've combed through. In this case, however, it was public knowledge that Pikajew was throwing around the word loli way too much and posting lewd loli images. Now you can argue that "it was just a joke" or "he didn't really mean it", but at the end of the day I'm pretty sure everyone knew he was riding the line of inappropriate. The board at the time found anything related to loli to be unacceptable and subsequently banned him. When it comes to loli, there really shouldn't be this "anime people" vs "non-anime people" situation, but somehow it still turned into that. Sure the board at the time was not that in tune with anime culture and viewed it as pedophilia, but they were not wrong to act on it. This is something that is banned in all general gathering places of the internet as well as being illegal in multiple countries including parts of the US. Yes, that's right, multiple countries that have made it illegal to possess (as well as create and distribute) sexual images of fictional characters who are described as or appear to be under eighteen years old.
It's clear that the Pikajew decision started this rift and built a layer of distrust between ZE and the BDs (even SG as a whole), but it was a necessary decision. No BD team is going to unban Pikajew probably ever and plenty of people stand behind that, even if they're not the ones being the loudest about it. That distrust because of these decisions built and got twisted by people in the ZE community basically making people believe SG hates ZE, higher-ups are evil, etc. We were made aware of the gap in trust and things being said on both sides, but never with any substantial proof. Fast forward to about a week ago, maybe a little longer, several BDs are made aware of some issues centering around the ZE population. The primary issues we were looking into were the ZE population being harassed and called pedophiles. The issues weren't making it directly to us, but we heard rumblings loud enough we had to investigate. I went and sat down with a few of their more senior people in a private discord they have for ZE people (Cascade). The conversation went well enough that I thought there would be a positive future after some long needed TLC.
There were obvious things that caused the ZE rift, most notably a lack of unity and trust between ZE and SG and a lack of strong leadership within the ZE server management. The latter leads into the former, which is to say the lack of strong leadership led to the rift between ZE and SG. It was clear that the SG ZE community was being led by a few ZE regs who were horribly misinformed or perhaps ignorant of how this place runs. Most notably was derpy, who in my ~90 minutes in discord with him threatened to pull the ZE population and go to a different community. Yes, you're reading that correctly, a reg was holding our players hostage. I'll be honest, on top of that, this was someone who was clearly misinformed about how certain things work in SG, particularly how we handle complaints of things happening as well as expecting us to unban people or strike/ban them simply because the demand for it is there. I get it, the person who has the loudest microphone gets heard the most, but hearing talk like that was really concerning.
I understand that some people are friends with derpy, and I don't mean to out him as a horrible guy here, but there were some points where he was leading people astray. Having someone as a friend is one thing, but letting them lead you down a bad path is another. The ZE community go-to people are always going to be the SMs and CAs helping run it, and to rely on anyone else for accurate information or proper leadership will end poorly for you. This was proven not more than a week later when in a rage about an admin contest post derpy decides to "declare war" and start spewing nasty shit about SG. There were a few things that happened after that, all being encouraged and pushed by derpy and others involved. First, in an attempt to dismantle the admin contest, multiple people from Cascade made alternate accounts to vote on the admin contest. Messing with admin contest votes is petty enough, but breaking forum rules at the same time? Big no go. On top of that, suddenly people were pushing "A vote for Case is a vote for Fuck You John" which was started by derpy. Suddenly Applily is posting in the announcements section of the SG ZE discord, and after that, we pretty well had to shut the admin contest down.
From there, we went to have a conversation with Bright and Wesker to see if we could get control of these ZE players as this sort of behavior was unacceptable. After a long conversation we had come up with an action plan going forward, but the BDs who attended still felt that the entirety of the BD team would have to get more involved. As I referenced earlier, there was a questionable lack of strong leadership in the ZE community beyond some regs, so it became a BD issue to solve. From there we banned derpy and mick for inciting this drama and pushing this ZE vs SG mentality even after we had reached out with him and maintained multiple open conversations throughout the week. There are going to be things that don't fall directly under a rule or previous precedents, and this is honestly one of those times.
We saw derpy as a direct source of toxicity and negative that was dug deep into the ZE community and was seeping into SG as well. While you may not all agree with it when we see something like that we cut it out of the community immediately. Mick was banned for promoting this disruptive drama ridden behavior alongside derpy. Applily was demoted for posting the "A vote for Case is a vote for Fuck You John" in the SG ZE announcements, abusing the trust and access that was given to him. He was later permed after we received proof of him talking about DDoSing the servers. Case was demoted for leaking information from the staff discord as well as continuing to get involved and contribute to this ZE drama.
The bans that followed were standard in a situation like this, and by that, I mean that when shit hits the fan IAs are often authorized to [temporarily] perm people causing trouble to stop the chaos as quickly as possible. After everything is calmed down then the IAs and BDs go back and re-assess who deserves what length ban if any. This was the plan this time as well, but unfortunately in the two days following this, near every person who was permed originally made alt forum accounts to send more toxic crap in SB, troll PM a BD, make a complete troll ban appeal, etc. It's unfortunate that in the end all those who were permed went and proved that they were rightfully removed from the community in the first place. If you didn't participate in all this shit after your ban and you're reading this, appeal and we will hear you out.
All issues surrounding ZE are being looked into and evaluated by the higher-ups, including drama being started by our staff members. In the last few days, we've received evidence of our staff members adding to this drama as far as two weeks ago. I'm sure there have been plenty of things said and done over time, and if you have evidence of that please bring it forward. We do our best to investigate all situations especially those that are causing drama, but we need people to bring evidence forward through the correct channels for us to act on it. We are fully aware of negative comments being made and false accusations being thrown around, and we will look to issue punishments accordingly.
We are completely willing to be reasonable and understanding in any situation, but when a group continues to act out and prove they're incapable of meeting us on that level we will always take action. That's not without its losses though, and as I'm sure many are aware we took a big hit by doing this. The board felt we were in a no-win situation, as we knew if we banned derpy shit would implode, but we also felt that if we let all this toxicity and negativity continue to grow the aftermath would have been even worse. When it comes to decisions made by the Board, we try to collect as much information as we can before making a final decision. This includes media, talking with involved/knowledgeable parties, and full-length discussions among ourselves to find the best solutions possible at the time. Understandably, these decisions may not make much sense or seem reasonable from an outside view. These decisions might not always be the best when looking in hindsight, but it's the best we can do with the information we have available.
We'd also like to apologize for the late response, and we are aware that some of the negativity and fallout surrounding this situation built up as we took multiple days to release something public. That was not us blowing you off, just like this isn't us trying to save face with anyone. It's just how it goes sometimes, we're all really busy people and it's hard to sit down and get one person to write up all the thoughts of 6 people. On top of that, we had to continually field questions and conversations with people on all sides of the situation. Gator didn't even sleep the night it happened. I spent my entire workday Thursday talking to people. Black Rain was answering questions all day. Fantastic tried to engage in conversation with the ZE regs and coordinate with Maniac to keep an open line of communication. We also had to sort through evidence that had finally been brought to us regarding our staff acting inappropriately. We were all fucking exhausted and were just trying to keep up. As it always is, you are allowed to ask us questions, and we will always do our best to answer them all.
To those of you who decided to step down or step far away from SG, I'm sorry it didn't work out how you had hoped. To those who are here and wondering what's next, all I can say is big things. Moving forward we will be continuing our efforts to support the ZE server and community.
TL;DR - If you care you'll read it.