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EARACHE42 - BANNED


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#1
buddah

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EARACHE42 banned.

Three strikes and you are out.

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#2
Dark0ne

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I'm going to do a report on this, including the PM conversation I had with Earache, in due time as it's something I took on personally as I was concerned with the situation, which I very rarely do. Too late and too tired to do it now, plus it's easter weekend, a time to spend with your family and friends so if you care about this then watch this space.

#3
Dark0ne

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As promised I said I would do a report on this as the case was something that I looked at personally. The case, along with positive constructive comments from other members of this community whose opinions I value highly, have spurred me in to doing a review of moderator actions on the sites that is being hotly talked about in our staff forums with a good general consensus. Hence the reason for this little report on the matter; it's not really to "out" Earache42 but to talk about what happened and what's going to happen from here-on-in. However what I will do is bring out the facts on the ban, and the situation leading up to the ban, simply because this community, like most, has a serious case of Chinese Whisper syndrome which is essentially "If I don't know the facts I'll make the facts up and tell others these made up facts as though they are truth". Similarly there's a contingent of people that seem to believe that, because a modder has released some well used and popular mods, they can't have done anything wrong. Modders are not all innocent and unique snow flakes!

It is my hope that in posting this some of you might begin to look at situations and scenarios from the perspective of us, the moderators, rather than from the prospective of a mod downloader or mod author who has been inconvenienced by the situation.

This topic will remain closed and this report should be considered as me putting a line under the Earache42 being banned situation. If Earache42 wants to talk to me about it then he knows where I am. If you have queries or concerns about other topics raised then feel free to PM me about it and I'll do my best to respond. That said, let's get on with it...

The first that I was aware of anything to do with Earache42 was when several stolen file/asset reports from multiple members were flagged in our reporting centre.

File reported: Book of Earache - Vegas Edition
Report reason: Illegal content

Report: Smaller and bigger pieces of ripped content from commercial games.

The XM1014 (/jss folder) is completely ripped from Left 4 Dead;

http://img263.images...599/proofws.jpg (This link no longer works but originally showed a side-by-side comparison)

The Desert Eagle I'm sure is ripped from a commercial game, I've seen it ported to CSS some 3-4 years ago, I don't know what game it's from though.

There's also a couple of Red Orchestra textures around in the folders.

Most of the other content is probably ported without authors' permission from CSS as well.


That's a stolen copyrighted asset content report, with proof provided. Something we take very seriously.

File reported: Book of Earache - Vegas Edition
Report reason: Stolen file

Report: Earache42 stole my RPG-7 mod and put it in several of his mods without giving credits or asking permission. Thanks.


And this is a stolen assets report filed by dude719 on several of Earache42's mods. Dude719 has since been banned for openly admitting in his file description that the file he had uploaded was a port from Call of Duty. At the time we didn't know about the stolen content (and it had no relevance to this case) but once again, we take reports from authors who believe their content has been stolen very seriously.

At this point we, as the moderation team hit a lose-lose situation. One of many lose-lose situations we hit weekly here on the Nexus. A lose-lose situation is, as the name suggests, an event where no matter what action we take we get blame piled on us for it.

There are a couple of actions that we can take in order to investigate these stolen file claims.

The first is to put the file in to moderator review mode and investigate the matter until we have got to the bottom of what has happened. We can then safely make a judgement call and know what the right course of action is. Moderator review mode, for those who don't know, locks down the file completely so that it cannot be viewed or downloaded by normal members and the uploader of the file cannot modify anything related to the file.

Moderator review mode is used because throughout the history of the sites we've had situations where some mod authors have modified and removed any malicious/stolen content they know to be there once they know a moderator is investigating their files. What moderator review mode does is stop authors from changing their files before we can properly investigate and it insures that we can get the full story from both sides, unedited, clean, and completely untouched before we make a decision. Think of it as a crime scene like you see on CSI (note: I've never seen a full episode of CSI in my life). The detectives don't touch anything in the crime scene until everything has been catalogued, photographed and dusted for prints.

Moderator review mode, however, has the negative side effect of making mod authors think they have been judged guilty until proven innocent, and the ones who are innocent feel very put out by having their mods locked down and investigated.

Ergo our other option is to try and investigate the situation covertly, rely on the goodwill of both parties and try to reach a consensus without using moderator review mode. This process, however, takes time. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks depending on how busy each user is and how often they check their private messages. During this time the file is still up and users are still downloading and using the mods, mods that can potentially contain stolen assets from other authors without permission. Often times the accuser (the person who has reported the stolen assets) will feel extremely let down by the moderation team because it's not going fast enough, because, in their eyes, their stolen assets are still being allowed to be downloaded without their permission. And there-in lies our lose-lose situation. If you put the file in to moderator review mode the accused author gets upset and feels betrayed and if you don't put the file in to moderator review mode the accusing author gets upset and feels betrayed.

The situation is further exacerbated when either party, the accuser or the accused, is a prolific or popular modder that the community enjoys downloading mods from. Earache42 was one of those modders. The scales get heaped on and the moderation team gets put under immense pressure from people we know and don't know who only have one side of a story and are too short-sighted or lack the wisdom to stop and think "there's always two sides to a story and I don't know the full story here". That pisses me off, because the people who volunteer their time to the betterment of this community get accused of everything under the sun for just doing what I asked them to do. The buck stops with me. Not with the moderators here.

In Earache42's case his mods were put in to moderator review mode by Thandal, a new moderator on the team here, as he investigated the case. The first I was aware of there being a problem was when Earache42 private messaged me here on the Nexus:

Earache42 to Dark0ne, 18 April 2011 - 12:57 AM

While Thandal is under probation as a moderator, I would like to express my feelings that he is unfit to serve in this capacity.

He recently blocked all my FNV mods for review under the flimsiest of excuses, incomplete details, and no information regarding the identity and veracity of my accuse.

For example, Thandal claims "Your eagle is from another game". Who published "another game"? In what year? What are the publishers of "Another Game"s policy towards non- profit re-use of resources. My documentation clearly states the original artists of the model as well as the modder who ported it to FO3 and gave me explicit permission to use in my mod. I would like a minimum review BEFORE blocking mods would be appropriate.

I have recently received threats of physical violence in my nexus PM. Shouldn't this be germane to any "investigation"?

BTW - One of the mods blocked was CaliberX, the most popular ammo standard for NV and a required file for over 20 other popular mods. Oh well. Tough s*** for them eh?

This type of guilty until proven innocent witch hunt is beneath the dignity of this board, and certainly not the policy of a board that I would want to contribute my work product to.


Earache42 was clearly put-out and I have dealt with many authors who have taken issue with the moderation team. His concerns were genuine and he provided more than just an upset rant, he expressed his concern and suggested " I would like a minimum review BEFORE blocking mods would be appropriate.". While I dislike any of my moderators being spoken about negatively I didn't begrudge him his message and I replied as soon as I read it:

Dark0ne to Earach42, 18 April 11:07 AM

I'll look in to this for you ASAP and get back to you when I have more.

I have recently received threats of physical violence in my nexus PM. Shouldn't this be germane to any "investigation"?


Have you reported these? We can't do anything about them if you don't report them.


I didn't know the full situation so I couldn't comment more, but I wanted Earache42 to know that I was looking in to the situation. I immediately got on to Thandal regarding the issue:

Dark0ne to Thandal, 18 April 2011 - 11:11 AM

Hi Thandal,

Can you give me a bit more info on this report from Earache re: his mods being put in to review mode?

He recently blocked all my FNV mods for review under the flimsiest of excuses, incomplete details, and no information regarding the identity and veracity of my accuse.

For example, Thandal claims "Your eagle is from another game". Who published "another game"? In what year? What are the publishers of "Another Game"s policy towards non- profit re-use of resources. My documentation clearly states the original artists of the model as well as the modder who ported it to FO3 and gave me explicit permission to use in my mod. I would like a minimum review BEFORE blocking mods would be appropriate.

I have recently received threats of physical violence in my nexus PM. Shouldn't this be germane to any "investigation"?

BTW - One of the mods blocked was CaliberX, the most popular ammo standard for NV and a required file for over 20 other popular mods. Oh well. Tough s*** for them eh?

This type of guilty until proven innocent witch hunt is beneath the dignity of this board, and certainly not the policy of a board that I would want to contribute my work product to.



Did you have any reasonable proof that the file was using copyrighted or stolen material or did you put it in to review mode before you had any? You really need to only use review mode when you have good proof else we get a whole crap storm of abuse

If you could let me know the specifics on this one I'd be grateful.


I obviously wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened so far and play catch-up on the situation. After 5 hours with no response from Thandal I took the files out of moderator review mode. 5 hours is not a long time but I was aware of the drama ensuing from the files being placed in moderator review mode, the amount of rubbish being spread about why, and how the moderation team were terrible old draconian cronies. Being a disliker of drama, and the drama queens that come out of the closet when drama occurs on these sites, along with Earache's reputation and contributions to the community I felt it prudent to take the files out of moderator review mode for the time being. I PM'd Earache to let him know:

Dark0ne to Earache42, 18 April 2011 - 04:31 PM

Thandal hasn't been on yet today so I've taken all your files out of moderator review mode until I can get to the bottom of what's happened.

I believe what has happened is a few people have reported your files for stolen/ported content and Thandal has jumped the gun a bit before getting actual proof. It's definitely something I'm trying to kick out of the moderation team a bit so sorry about that.

I'll find out more as I get it.


It turns out I had jumped the gun a bit without knowing what I was talking about and I apologise to you, Thandal, (if you're reading this) for doubting you at this point. As I was looking up this PM for this article I was quite ashamed of what I wrote in that PM. I dabbled with the idea of leaving it out but thought, for truth and continuities sake, it was best I kept it in. I received no response from Earache42 from either PM. The next day, Thandal replied to my PM:

Thandal to Dark0ne, 19 April 2011 - 02:10 PM
Robin;

Here's the information I have. Since EARACHE42 agrees that he used dude719's materials, and it was dude719 who reported that they were used without permission, it would seem to me that it's up to EARACHE to show otherwise.

I do not have "Left 4 Dead" or "Red Orchestra", and cannot verify the claims about those games as the source of ripped materials, but that wasn't the primary reason for the Review, it was the claim by dude719 that his work had been used.

Original reports by dude719, author of some of the content in question:

dude719, on 17 April 2011 - 04:57 AM, said:
Report by: dude719
File reported: Book of Earache - Vegas Edition
Report reason: Stolen file

Report: Earache42 stole my RPG-7 mod and put it in several of his mods without giving credits or asking permission. Thanks.



dude719, on 17 April 2011 - 04:59 AM, said:
Report by: dude719
File reported: Mo Beta
Report reason: Stolen file

Report: Earache42 stole my RPG-7 mod and put it in several of his mods without giving credits or asking permission. Thanks. My file is a Fallout 3 mod, he also stole it for that aswell.



dude719, on 17 April 2011 - 04:55 AM, said:
Report by: dude719
File reported: CaliberX
Report reason: Stolen file

Report: Erache42 stole my RPG-7 mod and put it in several of his without credits.



My message to EARACHE42:

Thandal, on 17 April 2011 - 07:29 AM, said:
Your mods "Mo Beta", "Book of Earache - Vegas Edition", and "CaliberX" have all been reported as containing materials which you do not have permission to use.

Examples of these unauthorized materials include:
- The XM1014 is from Left 4 Dead;
- The Desert Eagle from another commercial game
- The RPG-7 is from another modder's work for FO3
- There's also a couple of Red Orchestra textures around in the folders

If these reports are accurate, then this is a clear violation of the Terms of Service here on the Nexus.

We would like you to respond to these reports with any information you care to provide.

--Your Nexus Staff



Reponse from EARACH42:

EARACHE42, on 17 April 2011 - 09:25 PM, said:
I received permission from Toxa01 for the RPG and from dude719 for the FO3 re-texture used in CaliberX, as well as FO3 eXcaliber, BOE, and BOEvegas. I would be very appreciative if you could expedite your review of CaliberX and restore its availability as release this mod from review ASAP as it is a REQUIRED master for a large number of mods and you have identified no other issue with it.

You can keep the rest of my mods suspended if you like. You can even delete the Mo'Beta because it is merely a redirection page with no current files and was c;learly marked as a beta which included beta documentation as well. The detailed credits were acknowledged to be incomplete, but addressed in the BOE vegas official release. You have blocked my access so that I cannot do this myself.

Use of stolen resources is a serious accusation and I am dismayed to be treated guilty by default.. I demand to know who is making these accusations, where they are gettng their "insight", what specific evidence has been presented, and most importantly, how long they have had accounts here on nexus. I don't know if you are aware but I recently requested a user be banned after sending my physical threats via PM? Had him banned the next day as well when he showed up with a brand new account and trashed my mod in his very first post. How long has my accuser been a member of this site? What's his IP address?

With the exception of weapons my MunkeeNuts (who is well regarded in the 3D modeling world and has clear permissions and credits for his weapons), all resources used in these mods have either been custom build of used with permission from other FO3 and FNV mods. I have only ported weapon accessories from FPSbanana that have open usage rights.

The XM-1014 was also from Toxa, presumably from Stalker as it was used with permission from his Stalker mod. What proof to you have that it is from another source?

Eagle is used with permission from Redline_64 who did the FO3 port. Original artists are listed in the detailed credits. What "other game" is it ostensibly taken from? Again, what proof.. If it is a mod from another game, do you have a written compliant from an original artists that the resource was used without permission or in violation of fair use standards?

Again I ask you. What is the source of these accusations and what due diligence has been conducted to ascertain if there is any merit, whatsoever, in these claims.

In the meantime, you should suspend my FO3 mods as they use the same resources. And all the FO3 mods I directly link to on my description page.;

If there is convincing evidence that that I have unwittingly used resources I believed to be legal and proper, or I have a bug in the documentation, I would be glad to remove or correct the offending content upon proof positive they are not in accordance to Nexus policy. But there damn well better be proof.; For Christ sake, I'm the kind of guy who reaches out to milllenia for permission to alter an old texture of his original ported for FO3. I take this s*** seriously. I am constantly updating my credits documentation if I get new more valid information.

I find this precipitous action by the moderators most offensive and ill treatment of those that make meaningful contributions to this community.



My mother was visiting through yesterday, so today was my first chance to get back to the Nexus...

My follow-up message to EARACHE42:

Thandal, on 19 April 2011 - 02:24 PM, said:
EARACHE42;

Had pressing family obligations this weekend and did not have chance to see your reply and respond to you until today.

The reason for placing your mods under Review was that one of the authors whom you cite as giving you permission to use their work was the one who submitted the Reports to us that you did not have such permission.

It is possible that the author of the works in question has simply forgotten that they had approved your use of their materials, but in any case if you would please provide a copy of whatever communication you believe gave you such permission, it would allow us to close this Review and make your mods available once again.

Thank you,

--Your Nexus Staff

P.S. As a personal observation. I do not believe that placing a mod under Review when another author reports it as containing that author's work without permission is a particularly "...precipitous action by the moderators". I think it is only prudent, given that it would be irresponsible to leave such a mod available if it does, in fact, contain "unauthorized" materials. The mod was not deleted. Your account was not affected. The mod's status is simply being, as the category implies, "Reviewed".


Lots to digest and take in here. Once I received this information from Thandal I began to realise what had happened and why people were reporting stolen copyrighted material. Earache42 was using other authors assets, with permission, but these other authors had actually been porting content from other games illegally. I don't believe Earache42 knew this. Toxa01 had been banned 3 months previously, in January, for using copyrighted material without permission and dude719 had been using copyrighted material but had yet to be banned. This issue of 3rd party use of other modders resources who have actually ripped the content and illegally uploaded it without permission is touched on later.

Having read Thandal's message any doubts I had about how he had dealt with the situation had, mostly, washed away, and the guilt was settling in on what I had sent Earach42 previously. I replied to Thandal:

Dark0ne to Thandal, 19 April 2011 - 02:47 PM

Thank you for the complete log. For the most part what you've written has been perfectly good and reasonable. However you need to be sure you are not taking someone's word when you claim that some of the assets have been stolen. Report on what you have proof for or good grounds to question, in this case the fact an accusing author claiming stolen assets when the accused claims he has permission, and not on the stuff you don't have proof for, in this case stolen assets from other games we haven't verified.

I have written up a new thread about this in the staff forum so that we can all be on the same page about how to deal with these situations.

From the way that Earache reacted I was worried that you had done something wrong, but now I look at it you haven't really done anything wrong at all. I shall defend you and speak to Earache about this.


The original post I wrote in the thread mentioned will be quoted later on, at the end of this transcript, for you to read. Having read everything I decided I would take on the investigation myself, personally. I wanted to understand the situation and also try to reassure Earache42 that I was taking actions to insure that we, the moderation team, were putting in proper protocols and procedures on handling these sorts of issues in an effort to keep him happy and here, on the Nexus. By taking on the investigation personally, something I very, very rarely do, I was actually showing Earache a great deal of respect. Something I doubt was picked up on. Quality modders are very important to the community, not so important that they are above reproach, but important enough for me to want to improve their faith in these sites.

Dark0ne to Thandal, 19 April 2011 - 02:51 PM

Thandal, I'm going to handle this report from now on (if that's OK with you) as I don't want you taking any flak for anything that has happened. I'll take the flak and get to the bottom of things.


And here ends my personal contact with Thandal on the matter. I messaged Earache42:

Dark0ne to Earache42, 19 April 2011 - 02:58 PM

Ok, Thandal has replied to me with the full transcript of communication that has occurred on this case. He has been too quick to bring to light accusations that have no bearing without proof, that is, the accusations of stolen assets from other games that he has no proof for, but also brings to light the one important aspect that actually was worth investigating, albeit he doesn't focus on this element that is in fact the most important.

I have already put in a full review of our procedures, which haven't been formally adequate until now, and hopefully this won't happen again to you or other authors from here-on. My apologies for our hap-hazard way of doing things.

I have asked Thandal to let me take over this issue from here-on.

On to the issue at hand, dude719 is claiming that you have used his FO3 re-texture without permission, which is contrary to what you are saying. This doesn't mean that I think you're in the wrong, but this is an accusation you're going to have to rectify, either by giving me proof of permission in the form of a private message log, or an email, or some recorded transcript that I can take back to dude719 and get him to explain, or in the form of a rectification of the used assets, removing the ones in question and a respectable response to dude719. Does this make sense to you? Are you ok with that?

For the love of god don't start PM'ing dude719 with all guns blazing in a way that would be against our rules because then I'd have to do something about it. If you want to try and discuss the matter with him to come to some sort of understanding, or clarify the situation, then do it formally and respectably and then you'll be fine, even if he reacts badly. If he does, you can report the PM using the report feature and I'll be able to see it, along with the moderation team.

Let me know what your thoughts are and where we're at.


This is the type of communication with mod authors I am keen to have all moderators using, if they don't already. It lays out the situation, where we're at, and also pre-warns Earache42 about common pit falls other mod authors fall in to when they're accused of wrong doing; primarily blowing a fuse and going mental either at us, or at the person who has reported the wrong doing. There have been many bans in this site's history for those sorts of situations and I didn't want to see Earache42 doing the same. Earache42 replied:

Earache42 to Dark0ne, 21 April 2011 - 02:25 AM

I very much doubt there is any physical evidence that Dude719 personally made the claim that I was using his texture without his permission. He did not claim to have contacted a moderator about this issue nor does he have a problem with the usage of his texture in my mods.

In any case a failure to provide proper credit is a far cry from using a modder's resource against their wishes. Recently, roguehallow was reviewing my FO3 Book of Earache mod and noticed I was using a handgrip animation of his but attributing it to someone else. He wrote me a PM noting the discrepancy, I thanked him for giving me the correct info, and updated the credits on my page accordingly.

Although Dude719 is fully and properly credited in my BOEvegas mod, Double-checking the credits for CaliberX, I concur that it was unintentionally omitted from that mod. Documentation, like software, always have bugs that need correcting. A missing credit on an otherwise approved usage should be ground for a polite PM, not wholesale suspension of mods and publicly calling my character into question. Do I still need to worry about the other unspecified and unsubstantiated allegations made by Thandal? I'd like to know where these allegations came from and why they were given credence without substantiation. I am concerned that either Thandal is targeting me or he has played to fool for someone who is. I'm well known to not suffer fools so I have more than my share of enemies here.

You asked me what my thoughts were and I'll take the opportunity to brutally honest with you. I'd like to know believe that the staff here are concerned with protecting content contributors from nuisance complaints, because that's not how it feels to me, nor to many fellow current and exiled modders I've talked to on these matters.

Below, please reference my recent contact with Dude719. I hope this puts this issue to bed. Thank you for your help in all of this.

Sent 18 April 2011 - 11:07 AM
Nexus moderators have shut down my FNV CaliberX mod for "using another modder's FO3 mod without permission". The only thing I can even remotely consider is the RPG texture you gave me permission to use for the RPG projectile in both eXcaliber (FO3) and CaliberX (FNV). If I am mistaken in this permission, please let me know and I will revert to Toxa's original (though I like yours more).

BTW - Did you lodge a complaint or were you contacted by moderators on this issue?


Sent 18 April 2011 - 01:23 PM
It isn't Toxa's its from the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I have no problem with you using it, you just need to give me credit in the credits section and put Toxa for porting the model, it is not his property nor mine its Valve's. Just give Toxa credits for porting the model and Dude719 for the retexture.

Thanks.


Additionally Dude719 posted the following comment on my profile today.

Today, 06:37 PM
I apologize that your file got taken down, I'm glad you are using my mod. I'll help you with anything if you need it. Please don't take this the wrong way. I hope I can help get the file back up some how.


Earache42 dodged the actual situation I highlighted because he believed that dude719 hadn't reported the content as stolen and someone else had. Dude719 was the person who reported his assets had been stolen. The situation wasn't about a missing credit in the readme and file description, dude719 had reported the assets were stolen without permission. I responded:

Dark0ne to Earache42, 21 April 2011 - 11:03 AM

I very much doubt there is any physical evidence that Dude719 personally made the claim that I was using his texture without his permission. He did not claim to have contacted a moderator about this issue nor does he have a problem with the usage of his texture in my mods.



I've read the communication you've had with him and he doesn't say he didn't, either. In fact, he ignores your question altogether and just says "Please don't take this the wrong way.". He did contact us using the report system and I'd advise against calling me or implying I'm a liar. You don't suffer fools and I don't suffer much either.

Although Dude719 is fully and properly credited in my BOEvegas mod, Double-checking the credits for CaliberX, I concur that it was unintentionally omitted from that mod. Documentation, like software, always have bugs that need correcting. A missing credit on an otherwise approved usage should be ground for a polite PM, not wholesale suspension of mods and publicly calling my character into question.



We take reports of stolen content very seriously, especially when the reports come from authors who have claimed that their files have been used without permission. The moderator review mode is put in place to stop mod authors from changing their files and removing any malicious or stolen content before we've had time to properly get both sides of the story. You might think you were dealt with unfairly, but authors changing their files once they know a moderator is looking at it used to happen A LOT. Surprisingly, not all mod authors are sweet and innocent snowflakes that do no wrong! And we do it to allow us to properly investigate matters.

As I've said I'm putting measures in to place to insure that a proper routine is followed that is much more fair to all involved, including not using moderator review mode until proper proof has been received and insuring that all communication is fair, balanced, polite and impartial with the tone set squarely on innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around.

You asked me what my thoughts were and I'll take the opportunity to brutally honest with you. I'd like to know believe that the staff here are concerned with protecting content contributors from nuisance complaints, because that's not how it feels to me, nor to many fellow current and exiled modders I've talked to on these matters



If you're speaking to disgruntled modders who have left the community then I'd advise you to remember that there are always two sides to a story, and they often omit rather large chunks of their wrong doing in the stories they tell others. I've seen it plenty of times on other forums in the community; someone gets banned because they broke the rules (often using someone's content without permission) and they go to other forums in the community completely lying through omission about what actually happened and just going on about how draconian we are.


I had tried the soft approach and Earache42 had dodged the situation so now I laid it down straight and flat. It seemed to me that Earache42 had been mislead by dude719 so I sent a further pre-emptive warning to Earache42 as, once again, I didn't want to see him banned.

Dark0ne to Earache42, 21 April 2011 - 11:08 AM

As an aside, as you may or may not notice, dude719 has just been banned for porting content from Call of Duty in to the games which is an obvious no-no and there are warnings not to do it. It might be prudent to check to make sure, if you haven't already, that any assets you are using from others aren't actually ported assets from other games.


And the last communication with Earache42 came from Earache42:

Earache42 to Dark0ne, 21 April 2011 - 01:57 PM

I very much doubt there is any physical evidence that Dude719 personally made the claim that I was using his texture without his permission. He did not claim to have contacted a moderator about this issue nor does he have a problem with the usage of his texture in my mods.


I've read the communication you've had with him and he doesn't say he didn't, either. In fact, he ignores your question altogether and just says "Please don't take this the wrong way.". He did contact us using the report system and I'd advise against calling me or implying I'm a liar. You don't suffer fools and I don't suffer much either.


I did not mean to imply you were a liar in any way. I was calling into question Thandal's integrity. I can understand now that if Dude719 was under investigation, he might lash out in a "but others are doing it" way.

We take reports of stolen content very seriously


And I take the theft of another work very seriously.

As I've said I'm putting measures in to place to insure that a proper routine is followed that is much more fair to all involved, including not using moderator review mode until proper proof has been received and insuring that all communication is fair, balanced, polite and impartial with the tone set squarely on innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around.


I am glad to hear this. I believe you to be a fair person and such a policy would well serve this community.

It might be prudent to check to make sure, if you haven't already, that any assets you are using from others aren't actually ported assets from other games.

.

I cannot possibly do this and have to trust the integrity of the author who grants me permission. I would certainly remove any content I find out to be stolen, but I can't see how I can expected to be omniscient. As part of your policy, might I suggest that should stolen content be discovered, that the modder who actually stole the content be banned but secondary modders using using that work be notified so they can have opportunity to dutifully remove the offending content? A lockdown can then be applied is secondary modders who refuse to comply.

Again, thanks for you help and your consideration.


Earache42's tone had changed dramatically, he was still upset with Thandal but I believed he was now aware of the real situation, how we had received it, and not how he had mistakenly believed the case to be. I even got a thank you, which I felt was good progress.

I feel it important to clarify that dude719 wasn't under investigation before this, like Earache42 seemed to think. He literally, out of the blue, reported his assets as stolen by Earache42. It wasn't a "but others are doing it to" report, it was a "he's stolen my work" report. No strings attached.

I was not able to reply to Earache42's message before he was eventually banned for an unrelated incident to this situation here. Friday the 22nd of April was a bank holiday in the UK on the build up to Easter and I had lots of things to do and people to see and get ready for. I had read Earache42's response and was glad to see things moving in the right direction.

Annoyingly Earache42 eventually got banned for his actions in one of his file comment threads talking about matters completely unrelated to the situation transcribed above. He was given two strikes by LHammonds for responding to comments in ways that are against our Terms of Service; ways that he well knew were against our rules. After receiving these two strikes Earache42 got pissed off and asked to be banned.

In an annoying :psyduck: moment the file comment topic where Earache42 asked to be banned was removed when his file was removed (if you delete the file the thread goes with it). It's not a conspiracy theory, just a moderator coming along doing some spring-cleaning without realising that the thread was probably quite important!

On Earache42's ban I will say this. The Nexus has rules, and these rules apply to everyone. No modder, no matter how good and how much they have contributed to this community is beyond reproach. What annoys us is when we know mod authors are very much aware of our rules and regulations and still choose to ignore them.

We understand you can have bad days, and we understand that trolls can be very annoying but the moment you give in to them, they win. And we all lose. Strikes are there for bad days, they're there for those days when your guard slips and you give in to a particularly annoying troll. You get a slap on the wrist and a reminder to not do it again and everything continues again as normal. Some modders don't get strikes at all, they just get banned because we're serious about not wanting trolls, not wanting flame wars, and wanting mod authors who know how to use the report button on file comments. Earache42 got strikes because he was a great contributor to the community. How he reacted to those strikes was entirely his decision, and I can only feel slightly bad that the situation with dude719 and his files might have put him in the negative disposition that eventually lead to his deciding he wanted to be banned.

Having said that, I noticed a remark on F3Underground (which I can't link due to site rules) which I came across while researching the situation which I thought was quite telling. In a thread titled "Pay for play" from December 2010 he notes his belief that:

The nexus sites exploit modders to make money. Maybe not huge amounts, but money-losing operations don't keep expanding. Internet advertisers pay for traffic and it is the mods donated there that generate it. The large amount of page hits generated by my mods is the only reason I have not been banned.


Clearly he thinks he breaks/broke the Nexus rules and he even acknowledges that if it weren't for his contributions to the community he would have been banned by now. What can I say? Even when we give mod authors lots of lee-way and allow them to stretch and bend a few rules it still gets thrown back in our faces. I think the amount of mod authors we have banned, often times for much less than what Earache42 has/had done, while sad, is testament enough to negate what he has implied (that we don't ban people because then we can't cash fat cheques on their mods).

As an aside to this, because I know some members love to put words in my mouth, Earache42 was not banned for his remarks on other sites nor did they have a bearing on his ban. I only noticed the comment as I was researching material for this article, and even if I had noticed them before, it wouldn't have been grounds for a ban, though it would likely have put me at a negative disposition towards him in any communication. Say what you want on other sites, as long as it isn't a personal insult directed at me or my staff (or the flagrant spreading of lies and slander that particularly irks me) I really don't mind what you say and where you say it.

Now, to lay this article to rest I'm going to share my posts in a discussion that's been going on in the staff forums regarding the process we take with files, particularly in regards to stolen content reports and accusations. Hopefully it will give you an insight in to how we work, and how we think (much like all the transcripts and my notes above) and that we do actually care about you and this community. These quotes are as they were written, with no edits:

I think it's time that we laid down some formal procedures for handling reports of stolen or illegal content in files. As it is we've lost a few good modders over the years because we have been too quick to cast guilty looks in their direction without doing due diligence or giving a fair benefit of the doubt. It's become more of a "guilty until proven innocent" system, rather than the other way around. And the modders get very butt hurt if you accuse them of things without concrete proof.

Part of the short-coming is in the way in which people can report files so easily. That's something I take responsibility for and that I'm going to review with the site redesign happening in the coming months.

What I want to talk about in this thread is putting in a formal procedure for handling stolen or illegal content reports. We need to all be on the same page else we get accused of that "impartiality" that we've all heard about recently.

What this all comes down to is proof. Do you have actual proof, actual evidence, that the file is using stolen or illegal assets or are you going on the word of someone who has told you it's stolen or illegal? No proof, no crime.

I know there are issues with illegal content coming from other games that none of us have. If that's the case then we do need to find proof, ask all the staff if they can help, and ask the original reporter for their help. If the original reporter can't provide any more information or seems sketchy then you're probably being lead on some wild goose chase for that user's personal vendetta against the mod author. If you think the asset is actually stolen from another game, and you can't get proof, then just leave it and don't worry about it. I'll wait for a take down letter from a lawyer firm who generally give you 24 hours to make the necessary changes. I haven't had one yet

If we can't find proof we can't just ban users or remove files because we just think it might, or because someone told us.

You need to look at a report and judge whether or not it actually looks legit or not. Is the report coming from the person claiming their content has been stolen or is this some random person, with no link to either files, saying it's stolen from another mod? If the person is a randomer then it's very likely that person has no clue whether the original mod author has permission to use those assets or not. If you're not asking these questions, you really need to think about it before you act.

If the person filing a stolen asset claim is the claimed owner of the assets then ask them for the proof. If it's their file then it should take them all of 5 minutes to open up whatever software they're using, do a side-by-side comparison and send you a screen shot. Don't waste your time when they can do the work for you. If they are unwilling to provide you with evidence then it's very likely the case is not worth pursuing. If they provide you with the comparison screenshots and it looks legit then you can't take their word for it. Users here really can be that petty and would photoshop an image to get another user in trouble. You can either take a proactive stance and research this yourself by downloading both files and doing the comparison side-by-side yourself, or you can go to the accused mod author, show them the image and ask them for their opinion. What is their take on the image? Is it a fake? Is the asset freely available and not belonging to the accuser at all? You want to try and remain neutral so as to avoid upsetting the mod author unnecessarily. People hate to be accused of anything, even if they did it, so come to them with open hands (with no guns in them) and try not to make them feel like they've been judged before they've been given a proper trial. That way, hopefully, there will be less drama.

If you investigate yourself and find that the accuser's assets are the same as the accused assets then it doesn't end there. You still need to talk to the accused and get his take on the situation. It's possible that the accuser actually gave permission to the accused to use the assets and the accuser has since become butt hurt and wants to remove that permission (and hasn't told you this information...). That's something we don't allow here. If you give permission that permission is, generally, irrevocable.

The importance is the proof. What you don't want to do is to be in the middle of a "he said this, they said that" situation. If you have proof, you can go to the accused and get them to counter the proof. If you go to an accused and say "A user has said this asset is stolen" without any proof they're going to get pissed and everything will get muddy. Be above it all. Be fair. Be impartial. Be the person both sides feel they can be honest with.

If you take a TL;DR away from this wall of text it'll be this:

  • No moderator review mode/deletions/bans without proof
  • Don't do all the work yourself, get the reporter to get you proof. No proof, don't waste time researching the case yourself
  • Communication, communication, communication. Communicate with both parties, accuser and accused, throughout
  • Innocent until proven guilty

In response to someone else:


I'm still also in the mindset that mods should be placed in review mode when we feel that there is a substantive claim being made against the mod. It's usually fairly easy to tell a valid report than one coming from the peanut gallery. Also, in cases of disputes over unauthorized content, it helps to have the idea of their mod being locked down in order to get the accused to cooperate (or blow up and show their true colors). Also, if I remember, part of the reason for review mode was so that we could handle reports about stolen content without having to deal with people who are changing their mods and hide evidence while we try to sort things out under the guise of "just adding more to the mod". Simply hiding the mod didn't accomplish much to this end.

I know that we don't want to look like the accusing, steel fisted bad-guys here, but sometimes we need to take actions just to be able to do our job properly even if it doesn't turn out to be anything.



Yes and no. You shouldn't put a mod into review mode straight away without tackling that first hurdle of getting actual proof. Ideally you should talk to the reporter and get your proof (be it a like-for-like comparison shot of the stolen content in whatever stolen content program, or a person saying they haven't given their permission, etc.) and THEN you should PM the accused mod author politely with your findings and put the mod in to review mode, explaining that the review mode has been turned on during the process and can be removed once the situation is rectified. Essentially during that first proof finding step the accused mod author has no idea he's under review so there's no reason to put the mod in to review mode straight away.

I worry some times that we're "kiting" users in to exploding deliberately. We want them to explode because then it makes the process and motives for banning them that much more simple. People never like being accused of wrong doing, even if they've done the thing they've been accused of. We have to give people the benefit of the doubt until we know the facts 100%, from both sides. Putting a mod into review mode and then kiting the person in to exploding by having a judgemental tone or making accusations without proof is going to inflame all but the most mature and thick skinned modders. To ban them for their poor attitude or response would be unfair on our part.

Some time in the not too distant future I'll review and change the "moderator review mode" warning blurb that displays when a file is under mod review so that the authors aren't immediately pissed off with us.

And a note on a similar line of issues:

There was one other thing I want to mention that has happened today and reminded me to mention it. People using other people's assets with permission, that then turn out to be ported assets. All of us sometimes struggle to notice ports because we don't have the games and have never played them and I think the same benefit of the doubt needs to be given to mod authors who have unwittingly used someone else's ported content.

The example at hand is that of Earache and dude719. Dude719 has just been banned for porting content from CoD: Black Ops and I know for a fact that Earache is using some assets of Dude719's, now with permission from him. It is quite possible that Earache may be using one of these ported assets unwittingly and what I wouldn't want to happen is for Earache to get banned instantly due to him unwittingly using someone else's ported assets.

Ergo proof of ported assets isn't always an instant-ban, you will still need to talk to the author about it. Essentially you should ask him where he got the material, if he points you in the direction of another mod from this site, from another author, then it is my thinking that THAT mod should be investigated (and banned if deemed that person was the original ripper) and that the original mod author, Earache in this case, should be warned and respectfully asked to properly insure from now on that all his assets are legal and not breaking copyrights. I think we have a reputation now of just going "Ban, ban, ban, done!" *rubs hand* than actually being fair.

Admittedly it should be just as much Earache's responsibility to find this out for himself as it is ours, but sometimes warnings and requests are better than instant bans, especially in the case of mod authors who have obviously donated a lot to the community and deserve chances.


We honestly do care about being fair and impartial but we're often times lambasted by people who are not thinking on our level, who are thinking about things from their limited point of view rather than our point of view; the point of view that has to look at situations from all angles and not just the angle of "this modder released super awesome stuff that everyone loved, ergo he was banned unfairly". That's not how we do things. It never has been and it never will be.

We love brilliant mod authors and the work they produce but our rules and ideals have been a pillar of this community for 9 years now, and not one individual is bigger than them, no matter what they've done or released.




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