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Updated Editor’s Note 11/7/2017 – In an effort to further commit to our editorial vision of quality content about nothing but games or the industry, we are leaving this note here to let you know that this article does not meet the standards of that vision as it exists today. This article may be poorly written, or it may be well-written but with charged political content, which we have stepped away from. It’s not the ideas we have a problem with, as we do not discourage any viewpoint, we are just moving away from this sort of content. This article no longer represents TechRaptor’s editorial vision today and into the future. You can read more about why we are doing this here.

 

A man was “harassed” off Twitter last week. That isn’t a story, because there are plenty of examples of people, men and women, getting “harassed” off Twitter, and their oft-spectacular exits don’t warrant entire articles about them.

A member of propaganda website Polygon had his knowledge of the game industry called in to question for an article he wrote of dubious quality. Gamers and game developers started asking pointed questions, and, to be fair, some random people on Twitter started to mock and deride this author. That isn’t a story, either. Deep space scientists, data scientists, knighted biochemists, and university students (some real, others imaginary) have all been gleefully character assassinated on social media, or in the regular media without so much as the raising of pulses from the usual outrage peddlers.

No, the story here is deeper; the story is about (whitespace included) 235 lines of Perl code; the story is this: Why didn’t ggautoblocker save Tauriq Moosa?

According to Deepfreeze.it, Moosa was a ggautoblocker user. In theory, autoblocker was supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening; however, Moosa was so “harassed” by Twitter users he left Twitter and deleted his account. Check out the following paragraph from the OAPI’s, not the African Intellectual Property Organization’s, the other one’s, github site:

Good Game Auto Blocker compares the follower lists for a given set of Twitter accounts. If anyone is found to be following more than one of these accounts, they are added to a list and blocked.

Most discussions of ggautoblocker are referencing the GamerGate-specific block list. The GamerGate block list filters the majority of Twitter interactions by GamerGate supporters. This list is maintained and shared by the author, Randi Harper, as well as a number of volunteers. OAPI does not maintain that block list.

At this point, I’m confused. What amounts to the design paragraph for autoblocker says it is specifically designed to filter the majority of “Twitter actions by GG supporters.” If the software was developed in accordance with its design and requirement(s), and Tauriq Moosa was indeed using ggautoblocker, then it should have been impossible for there to be, as The Mary Sue puts it, “a sustained harassment campaign led by…” that could chase Moosa off Twitter.

2 Possibilities

I want to address the simple possibility first. There’s every possibility Deepfreeze is wrong, and Moosa was not a user of ggautoblocker. If that’s the case, then Deepfreeze should be corrected. I call on those who know Moosa to find out for sure if he was/is a ggautoblocker user and for Deepfreeze to be corrected if necessary.

The other possibility is Moosa was a ggautoblocker user, and ggautoblocker was unable to save him from criticism of his utter lack of knowledge of videogames or their developers. The previous sentence is the “what,” but it’s far more interesting to examine “why” ggautoblocker couldn’t save Tauriq Moosa.

In spite of a noble goal in its design paragraph, ggautoblocker is, in fact, designed to be a guilt-by-association blacklist for “ideologically pure” members of the videogame or technology industry to use. A list of seven Twitter users, up to November 2014 named blacklist.txt, are the source for assembling a second list of Twitter users to automatically block. Included in the seed list of seven names is Breitbart commentator and journalist Milo Yiannopoulos and attorney Mike Cernovich.

Any Twitter user that follows 2 or more of the blacklist members is added to a list to be blocked. At best, ggautoblocker is a broad stroke blacklist with thousands of false positives. At worst, ggautoblocker is the worst designed and implemented software, perhaps ever. To determine which, let’s allow metrics to decide.

Ggautoblocker’s Tale of the Tape

To start, we’ll go back to data in a report from Women, Action, & the Media about Twitter harassment. As was stated in the report, only 65 of the nearly 10,000 accounts in the ggautoblocker list were characterized as having harassed over the three-week period under study. Therefore, the success rate of ggautoblocker for the three-week period is roughly .65%. By any standard, that’s a failing grade.

This leads in to our second metric, requirements success rate. Based on the design paragraph, it would seem the lone requirement for ggautoblocker would read something like this:

Ggautoblocker shall prevent harassing tweets from appearing in a user’s mentions.

Seems like a simple enough requirement to write code to. To decompose this requirement a little, some of the functions of the code might be the following: Grab tweets in a user’s mentions, mine them for harassing language, remove the tweets, and block the offending account.

Perl, as it turns out, is pretty good at this sort of thing. I used a Perl script in 2013 to mine hundreds of MB of log files for specific strings of text, to compare results against known values, and to report values and success or failures in comparisons to a display for the user.

However, the implementation of the ggautoblocker code, as we demonstrated above, doesn’t satisfy the requirement, considering the 99.35% failure rate of identifying accounts as harassers that did not harass in the three-week period in the WAM study.

Also, ggautoblocker didn’t save Tauriq Moosa from getting “harassed” off Twitter; further, the people who allegedly “harassed” Moosa off Twitter were supposed to be the people blocked by ggautoblocker. Doesn’t that mean autoblocker just publicly and catastrophically failed it’s only requirement?

I’d say so, which makes ggautoblocker, according to metrics, the worst piece of software ever written for a professional environment. Ggautoblocker passes 0 of its 1 requirement, a requirement pass rate of 0%.

At worst, software written in the real world obtains requirements pass rates in the 70-90+% range—software that cannot achieve this level of requirements compliance is not allowed to proceed to testing, let alone get delivered, in general. Indeed, in 2014 and early 2015, software I tested was allowed to go into formal test with an estimated requirements pass rate in the low 90% range only after a briefing to our customer.

Professional Incompetence

If the story of ggautoblocker ended at how woefully inadequate it is as an anti-harassment tool, there wouldn’t be much of a story, either. Sure, a character assassination of the developer(s) of the tool could be written on the basis that a person lost their presence on social media because of autoblocker’s ineffectiveness. Everyone who read it could have a laugh, or solemnly nod their head in acknowledgement of the damage the education academic elite has already done to STEM.

The story is that IGDA, a professional organization, gave the green light to list autoblocker as an anti-harassment resource in spite of its design as an obvious industry blacklist and the fact autoblocker doesn’t do what the design paragraph says its supposed to do. One question remains: Did IGDA list autoblocker without reviewing it, demonstrating gross incompetence in leadership, or did IGDA review autoblocker and support blacklisting its own members?

The story is anyone considering membership in IGDA must question the software development competence of not only the Executive Director, but of the entire Board of Directors. Reading less than 250 lines of code, noticing the totally unprofessional variable and array names, evaluating the effectiveness of the code, and rejecting ggautoblocker as an ineffective, inflammatory, and potentially defamatory piece of software seems like the kind of thing the leadership of a professional software development organization would have an obligation to do. So why didn’t they?

The story is the strong circumstantial evidence the videogame academic elites at DiGRA are using ggautoblocker. Again, one must call in to question their competence in software development to passively approve the use of an industry blacklist for their Twitter account. Further, one has to ask why an organization advertised as one dedicated to the study of videogames would utilize a tool capable of blocking important voices in the industry.

Think about this: If John Carmack leaned libertarian politically, he could very easily be on autoblocker’s list. How could DiGRA possibly fulfill its role academically without John Carmack’s voice as a commenter? The same is true for Sid Meier or Miyamoto or Kojima or Williams and so on. No amount of “research” into videogames would be complete without at least offering the research to industry veterans for comment. I’ll go so far as to say any research about videogames that doesn’t have comments from at least one notable industry member is fraudulent.

Of course, this is DiGRA we’re talking about, who made it abundantly clear what they think about creative freedom and the will of the consumer. Maybe it’s no surprise that a having a culture of incestuous peer review and disdain for the industry upon which it is supposed to study is using the worst piece of software ever written.

A man was “harassed” off the internet, and the worst piece of software ever written was incapable of saving him. There is a story in there, but it isn’t character assassinations or concern trolling. The story is exposing a terrible piece of Perl code for what it really is, and the story is exposing the professional and research organizations who aren’t competent enough coders to realize the worst piece of code ever written is just a blacklist that can’t satisfy its requirement.

UPDATE: Apparently, Moosa is back on Twitter, so it seems the whole thing might have just been an attention grab.


Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.



  • Dave The Sandman

    You sir are a pip, the veritable bees knees, and I doff my cap to you. A wonderfully written article, sharp, witty and cutting.

    (psssst….. you did leave out the bit about Moosey Moose searching for tweets about himself, particularly ones which didnt have him or his handle tagged, then injecting himself uninvited into those convos only to be told to bugger off as the users didnt invite him to join in, then throwing a shit fit as he had been told to sod off back inside his GGAB Cone Of Silence).

  • Sigma

    I read that this guy had been searching for his own name on Twitter and he found conversations where people were talking about him, but not actually @ mentioning him, but he still considered that to be “harassment”. Some of the people talking about him were already blocked by him too, so it seems that he may have logged out of Twitter and then performed the search.

  • Sand Ripper

    Should we thank Randi Harper or blame her? I’m so confused. 🙁

  • randomname007

    My God is DiGRA pretentous. I have a B.A. in Game Design from an overpriced university and these people make me feel ashamed of it. This notion of having an inner circle of acadamia sit around to wax poetic about video games in absurd. Please, someone tell me this sort of thing isn’t commonplace amongst developers. I’ve only just started, but I don’t want to work in an industry that is so beholden to SJWs on twitter, ournalists, and self styled “academics” such as these people.

  • singsingdav

    Ayy can you use archive links instead of giving polygon clicks please.

  • Xepheus

    They could. But as upstanding writers, it is best to link back to source, the actual source. For a writer to link to archive out of spite or displeasure comes across as being extremely unprofessional. I don’t like it too, but try to understand why.

  • Typical

    This is what makes Sparta’s tradition of throwing weak babies off a cliff seem less inhumane. If we practiced that today, there would be no SJWs left, because despite their best efforts to redefine the meaning of strength, they are all still pathetic.

  • Todd Wohling

    Our writing guidelines say to use actual links instead of archives if possible. Hence, the actual link to the Polygon article.
    TW

  • Niwjere

    Archive yourself, or use the GG auto-archive browser extension.

    That said, I don’t agree with the guidelines that state writers must link to the source proper. The very function of archive.today and other archival services is ensuring that what you are referencing isn’t subtly altered ex post facto. I would strongly urge TechRaptor to reconsider their stance on this — perhaps using both archive links and regular links would be ideal.

  • A_SHtv

    Just toss her a fish and put it past you

  • Oh, thank her, I think. This isn’t really about her or her 235 lines of Perl. It’s about the rush of certain people to use it, without questioning either its functionality or its intent, betraying both their prejudice and intolerance. And, I would add, Harper’s – heh – privilege. I bet none of us could get industry bodies and globally-recognized organizations to swarm over a half-assed script we’d knocked out over lunch.

  • singsingdav

    Alright. Better to have standards I guess.

  • kzrtg

    I fucking love TechRaptor!

  • Ford

    Here is what you are talking about

    https://archive.is/cjmYO

  • ty2010

    Moosa had some very well thought and logical views on many social issues. If he’d applied that to his work more I don’t think there would have been an issue.

  • It’s not commonplace thankfully. Real developers spend pretty much every waking moment developing and not engaging in pathetically public pissy fits when their names aren’t @’d enough.

  • Typical

    That explains Wu

  • TheCybercoco

    “Any Twitter user that follows 2 or more of the blacklist members is added to a list to be blocked”

    That can’t be true because I’ve only ever followed one of the users on the blacklist and I still managed to get on the block list (and I’ve never even actually tweeted anyone, just lurk occasionally). Either the app isn’t working as intended or someone (Harper) isn’t being forthright with how it actually works. When you have veteran software developers tell of what a joke the code is, I guess it’s no wonder that it wouldn’t work exactly how described, even only having less than 250 lines of code. Pretty sad.

  • Cred

    what they really want is to avoid confrontation
    confrontation with their own ignorance, their own foolishness or their own wrongdoings
    you can block all the people you want
    but unless you block them all there will always be someone out there that can point out your mistakes and that offends them, and that’s the problem, the truth offends them

    they keep trying to find people to blame and scapegoat but the problem lies with them, and those problems will follow them everywhere

  • sjw2skeleton

    Are you sure you weren’t on TheBlockBot? Two separate lists, BlockBot worked on a report system.

  • Angus the Deplorable

    Manufactured “harassment” is just as good as the real thing to some folks it seems…

  • Angus the Deplorable

    I wish I could give you more than one up vote for this^

  • TheCybercoco

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to. All I know is that I’m on this list:

    http://pastebin.com/ReCnMKnT

    That seems to be the ggautoblocker list (although somewhat dated). And all due to following the “wrong” person.

    I’ve since discovered that Totalbiscuit may have been on the blacklist at one point. That might explain how I got there (that would make 2). Still a ridiculous method of blocking people.

  • Pablo Hernández

    Being on that blocklist would actually be good.

  • “Moosa had some very well thought and logical views on many social issues”

    Such as? Just asking as I had never heard of him prior to this so I am curious.

  • If I’ve learned one thing from all this nonsense, it’s that SJW’s have INCREDIBLY thin skins.

    What a bunch of children.

  • ty2010

    The state only being involved in civil unions to cover legal aspects, the term marriage is for personal/spiritual beliefs and state shouldn’t have an opinion.

  • I agree the state should not have an opinion. Indeed the state should not have any role at all, much like many contractual relationships between people.

    But given this guy is in Polygon’s orbit, I would imagine his views on “social issues” is to intermediate the state into pretty much every ‘social’ relationship (i.e. replace social relationships with law based state regulated relationships).

  • ty2010

    Yea, he is out there on quite a few things. Don’t know how much he really believes or what is pandering. He could be another SJW POW like Ian.

  • Smoky_the_Bear

    These people are actively seeking to be “harassed”. There is literally nothing you can do to stop it, if 1,000,000 people put forward balanced critical discussion and 1 single person said something along the lines of “he’s an idiot”, that single person would be their entire focus, “evidence of widespread harassment”.

    The reason they behave like this, is that they talk bollocks, they know this, however they have no problem telling flat out lies to push their agenda. When you know you are lying it’s difficult to respond to legitimate criticism that is picking holes in your poorly considered argument like a piece of cheese. Therefore they decide to focus on the harassment, it deflects any legitimate responses and then they use it to paint everybody who disagrees with them as a bunch of bigoted, frothing harassers, thus allowing them to continue spewing tripe from every orifice with impunity. Honestly it’s got to the point where we really should just stop paying any attention to these people. Stop reading Polygon, stop reading Kotaku, lets see if they can keep paying people to write nonsense when their add revenue is all but gone.