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Games that hurt people aren't cool - updates to the itch.io acceptable use policy

Hello,

My name is Leaf. I’ve created itch.io over the past year and a half. itch.io is the culmination of well over a thousand hours of work: tens of thousands of lines of code, hundreds of support tickets + emails, and plenty of opensource projects. You could say that I’ve put my very existence into creating itch.io. I’ve received a tremendous amount of support with the thousands of games uploaded and all the wonderful feedback I’ve received. I will continue to provide this service as long as I can.

It would pain me to see the platform I’ve created being used to distribute any sort of content that promotes intolerance or hate against others. The hours invested into itch.io by all those who participate should not boil down into a delivery mechanism for someone’s inappropriate behavior.

Traditionally the acceptable use policy of itch.io has been vague about what is not acceptable. A few months ago I released a “Report game” button so I could start collecting feedback on game pages but I never explicitly defined a procedure for handling inappropriate content.

Starting today the acceptable use policy is updated:

The acceptable use policy exists to help create a safe environment for users of the site. The posting of content that degrades the experience of others may result in account termination. Here is a list of explicitly prohibited actions:


  • Uploading viruses or malicious code
  • Spamming or sending repeated messages
  • Posting unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory content
  • Bullying, intimidating, harassing, defaming, or threatening others
  • Posting content that promotes or participates in racial intolerance, sexism, hate crimes, hate speech, or intolerance to any group of individuals
  • Soliciting personal information or login details of others
  • Violating copyright by posting content without permission to distribute
  • Hacking, maliciously manipulating, or misrepresenting itch.io’s interface in any way using the built in tools for page customization
Should there ever be a need to invoke the possibility of removing content, the consideration will be made very carefully. Where not obvious, cases of misconduct will be handled individually and the policy document may be updated to reflect the decision.

The indie game community needs a safe place, and hopefully you agree that this is a step in the right direction. I’m always open to discussion about matters like this. You can get in touch with me from the contact form on itch.io.

You can read the entire terms of service here: http://itch.io/about/terms

Thanks
- Leaf

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I get where you are coming from-- and also want to to advise caution.

Terms such as "discriminatory" and "hate speech" are poorly-defined-- with lots of room for "gray area"-- , and rules like these can be potentially abused by harassers in an attempt to censor people with whom they disagree. I hope that this doesn't open the doors for ideologues to put pressure on content and ideas that they personally don't like.

For the most part, I'll trust that the itch.io team will be able to make fair judgments and avoid that kind of scenario.

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I wholeheartedly agree with you finalbossblues.

Itch.io had such great potential and fills a niche that is desperately needed.  But this policy (and the use of the term "safe space") reeks of SJW propaganda.  That niche has already been filled by existing marketplaces.  What we need is a marketplace that is good for indie developers while also not playing morality police.

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In the current climate of discourse, I'm more worried about hate speech propaganda than SJW propaganda. I'm glad for this policy update.

Admin

It's not propaganda though. We don't want hate speech on our platform. Our acceptable use policy is pretty standard operation for probably most sites you use on the internet. This post is 4 years old, in that time there's no instance of us enforcing this policy that has been labeled as "censorship". We don't ban things because people tell us to. Contentious issues are rarely black and white & we review cases carefully. Moderation based on content is pretty rare.

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Thanks for the reply.  Sorry for my tone.  I take freedom of speech and selective enforcement of subjective moral rules very seriously.  Hopefully you treat intolerance towards minorities the same way you treat intolerance towards majorities and vice versa.  Allow intolerance towards Clinton supporters if intolerance towards Trump supporters is allowed, etc.
If all intolerance and hatred is actively removed regardless of which demographic is being intolerant and which demographic is being targeted, I don't see hypocrisy there.

Is it possible to implement a system that publicly lists information about content that was removed and why?  That would allow independent users to verify your claims that moderation based on content is rare.

Based on the games I currently see in the store, it appears that there is content that is intolerant of certain demographics while there is little content intolerant of others.  This could just be that content creators with a certain political agenda are more prolific than others.

Seeing which content has been removed would be helpful in determining bias.

(+1)

It's a pity. A part of the community is often trying to spread malicious viruses or something else, using a free platform like Itch. I - bad content too, but it's another conversation I guess. Have you ever banned someone because he was trying to harm other people? I assume that GitHub or Kongregate encounter the same problem sharing thousand games and project. However, I would like to tell you that you were the first who supported me when I needed to promote some of my little games - you are still the first one in my heart. I wish you the best ++