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Resigning from SteamRep staff

Discussion in 'Discussion Archive' started by Schwegs, Oct 5, 2013.

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  1. Schwegs

    Schwegs New User

    As of today, I am resigning from SteamRep staff, as I can no longer continue to fully support the actions of SteamRep, their admins, or fully endorse their tags.

    I consider this an honorary position I've been given for the last 12 months, for which I am most grateful to HelenAngel. People like Helen, Atom, and Gencobra are awesome staff members who make great and fair decisions, and there's many others that do too. I wish to do this as politely as possible out of respect to them.

    However, there are a number of serious issues that I have with SteamRep which have only gotten worse. I will list them as politely as possible.

    Let me just say this first though - I hate drama. I HATE drama. All I want is to have some NICE, HAPPY people doing HAPPY trading with other NICE, HAPPY, people. That's why I haven't traded high-value items as much for the last couple years...too much of a target for drama. I've given thousands of dollars of personal money away, spent thousands of hours helping communities, and in net total I've never made a penny of profit off of trading (not because I can't, but because I don't need to -- I have a full-time job and just want a pleasant community hobby). So I don't want this at all. I've fought hard against scammers and to help people so everyone can have an enjoyable experience, but I can't really handle it when even the people who are supposed to be the "good guys" are also people who damage that vision. That's why I'm resigning. I recognize that SR does a lot of good, but I don't want to be associated with drama, or with people being hurt in any fashion. Over the last few months some things have occured that have really damaged my sense of community, and have really made me sick (most significantly http://pastebin.com/fDh0A484). Of course, many issues have been going on for years, but along with new events it has cumulated to the point now where there is too much I not only cannot endorse, but do not even wish to be associated with.

    I'm not here to provide a case against SR or cause public uproar. So I'm just giving you my perspective based on what I've seen since SR's inception. I'm talking in generalities here, because I don't want specific examples to be invalidated in an attempt to brush aside these points. However, I do have documented examples of all of these issues.


    1. The standard of perfection
    No one should have to go around triple checking every trade they do out of fear of SteamRep. Doesn't matter whether it's a newbie, regular trader, or 5-year community admin -- no one should have to live in fear of making an honest mistake. Obviously I'm all for being as good and clean as possible, but I don't want to be a part of a community where the only standard is perfection. The ethics at SR over the years have frequently been to take people who have no malice and make small mistakes, make the issue look far worse than it is, and punish them. That was a big reason why SteamRep had such a hard time getting community support at the beginning, and they had to make a lot of concessions to make it happen. I feel like it's just as bad now, if not worse than it was in 2011, because they didn't have the same level of adoption, so the community could much more easily pressure them to change than now.

    I believe in defending the community from harm -- but not just losing items from being scammed -- losing your reputation and ability to trade because of injustice is much worse. The goal of SteamRep is to protect people, not punish well-meaning people over accidents. A trader with no experience who makes an honest mistake should be informed, and a trader with a thousand trades who makes an honest mistake should be *praised* for going so long without a mistake. An accident from person with apparantly good morals *does not* mean he's suddenly changed into an evil person whose reputation should be flagged (until it becomes a regular occurance) -- it makes him a person with good morals who can make a mistake, which last time I checked, is *every* good person. The only people incapable of making a mistake in their trading are those who do not trade.

    TL;DR Punish the bad people. Give the good people leniency until you can no longer believe they are good. Zero or one-strike rules for any category of persons do not achieve that, and make good people not want to be a part of the community out of fear of making a mistake.

    2. Power
    SteamRep has the power to decide the ethics of the trading community, which is very much backwards. SteamRep is a service to the community, and the community should decide how they want to be judged. However, this is currently impossible, because their investigations are not public -- sometimes they post links to certain evidence on the player's SR page, but always the vast majority of the information and investigation is not shown. Because SR is highly respected, player complaints of unfair treatment or injustice are generally met with "there's probably more going on", but that's an often-made statement that is easy to hide behind, and sometimes just an easy excuse to not have to reveal the controversial information to the public.

    Because they are not bound by rules, their ethics are created either by the admin themselves, or via internal discussion. While the PR people at SR would like to present an image that everyone's just well-trained, honest workers, many admins are allowed to make decisions on their own, and have their own agendas, just like every community admin, causing decisions to often vary widely, and disagreement among the admins themselves. I'm not suggesting that SR is generally wrong -- I think they are usually right -- but sometimes ethics or opinions are involved that many people would find inappropriate, and even that the communities don't know about. Instead, SR's normal response is "we can't reveal the secrets of how we do things, or scammers would find out and take advantage". But that also means their decisions cannot be questioned -- and those decisions are huge -- they make or break a player's global, cross-game reputation and ability to trade, and even play in (some) servers/groups.

    TL;DR No community group should have the power to globally ban a player or harm their global reputation without revealing the full information so the community can decide as well.

    3. Police
    There's always been the question of "Is SR a ban database, or is it police?". Valve's said they don't want SR to be police, because they're just a group of community admins like everyone else, and they don't want to see a community police group enforcing their sense of ethics on the community. I concur - however, it seems like that's the way SR behaves in large part -- they decide the ethics of the situation, and apply a judgement -- they even have some admins who enjoy "catching people in the act". I've seen numerous screenshots where simply not responding or stopping and answering all SR Admin questions counts against you as "being uncooperative", a negative mark on your record, and included in the reason for tagging you -- essentially, you have to treat interactions with SR like you have to treat interactions with the police, the judge, and the jail. To me, that's entirely inappropriate for a community group.

    4. "Rules"
    SteamRep does not have "rules" that restrict them or define how they must act -- it is entirely the opposite -- admin and leadership opinions first decide what to do in each case, and then update their list of "rules" (FAQs) with their decisions. The "rules" list is really just there to indicate to the public how SR probably will act in those cases, but nothing more. SteamRep is purely an opinion-based, case-by-case, decision-making system. Many people do not understand this in the public, because it's frankly backwards. This is why many people get confused and point to the "rules" and complain SR isn't following them, to which SR response with either an extreme interpretation of the "rules" to fit their decision, or simply a flat "yes, we didn't follow the rules, because we felt xyz was more appropriate".

    5. Rule creators
    The vast majority of SteamRep admins do not trade regularly, and none of the head admins have done "regular" trading in several years (and at least one I wouldn't classify as ever having done so). In other words, the ethics SR creates and applies to other community members are largely created and applied by people who aren't active community members themselves. It's really easy to follow even a standard of perfection when you work on it full-time, and even easier to not realize when you're being unfair when you don't have to follow it regularly.

    6. Expectation of guilt
    Some (many?) SR admins expect that people are guilty, and some I'd even classify as *wanting* people to look/be guilty. I've had conversations where no matter what a player does, it's interpreted as probable guilt. In fact, from what I've seen, once a player is under any suspicion at all, every action is will be looked at that way for years to come, and will be jumped on for it. I do not believe that any community should be a police state, where people have to be always checking over their shoulder to make sure they don't even give the appearance of doing something wrong. Investigate probable scams, yes, but while it's easier to take the approach of starting out with the assumption that the person is guilty and you just have to find it, it also leads to harassment and the use of feelings in the decision. You should investigate on probable cause, yes, but presume the person is innocent, and give them the benefit of the doubt until you're faced with undeniable proof that he isn't, then tag him.

    7. Appeals timeframe
    People who are incorrectly tagged have their reputation unbelievably hurt because they must wait anywhere from 2-9 months to get their appeals handled and reversed. This problem is not new -- the duration has been going on for well over a year (and probably before that, I just didn't look at the time). This is so unbelievably unfair, unjust, and cruel. SR should have been forced to deal with this a long time ago, and it shows how little action is being taken to force SR to clean themselves up.

    PS. Before anyone says "if you're complaining, why didn't you do anything about it," I had multiple SR admins ask me to help process appeals, as I have some of the most extensive admin experience around, and they feel I'm a very fair and clear thinker. Though I don't have much time, I volunteered the time to process a few each week, but the head SR admin declined because he doesn't know me well enough personally, and he wanted me to start at the bottom and spend the time processing scam reports and rising through the ranks first. I don't hold that against him, but if no one is qualified enough and you won't take on the help to solve the problem, then you shouldn't be allowed to take on the responsibility of needing to handle appeals in the first place.

    8. Permanency
    I've been very scared since the start of SR about the permanency of these bans and the potential long-term use of them, resulting in never a second chance for the (now tens of thousands of) players to change their ways. The fact that some playing communities use SR as well makes this future even more scary, meaning people may not even be able to even *play* non-valve-server multiplayer games again. I fully recognize and agree that having scammers not be allowed in playing groups is great, and good punishment for them. I fully understand that if a player scams once, they are likely to scam again. I agree with that too. However, there are currently no limits on that.

    If HL3 came out in a few months with some sort of multiplayer or trading, should a player who did a scam in TF2 in 2010 be given no opportunity to re-enter the community via HL3 in 2013? A player who was 18 will be 21. A 12-yr old will be 15. That's a big difference in maturity alone. That's the nice thing about permanent server bans -- those are unlikely to span years and people have new opportunities to start over on different games and servers -- but with a centralized, cross-game system like SR, that's not possible. Even Valve, with VAC, allows the player to start over and re-buy the games on a new account and not cheat, and the same for many permanent trade bans. A stiff penalty for cheating, but not permanent. There obviously *should* be some lifetime bans, like for Og, Opiate, etc, who make their living off of thousands of dollars of stolen items and creating phishing sites, but I think there's a big difference between those people and someone who quickswitch scammed several years ago -- but many (most?) SR admins won't agree with me on that.

    9. Vulgarness/Rudeness
    Some of the SR admins are extremely vulgar and rude, dropping f***k, s***t, a**hole, etc regularly. And it's not even just the vulgar language, but it sometimes goes to what I'd consider flat out abuse. I could provide many examples of posts like this on the SR forums alone. I'll leave it up to you if you wish to run those searches. This is so extremely unprofessional, hurtful, and wrong, but there is no reprimand for it. It is not representative of people I wish to be associated with.

    10. Internal group beliefs
    Perhaps the largest fundamental problem with SteamRep is how many of their staff view the group internally. Many believe with all their heart that they are the "good guys" and always doing the right thing. Many SR Staff who read that statement will not respond with "hmm, I wonder if I believe that too much", but rather "of course we're in the right". As a result, they don't respond well to criticism and then change for the better. Even with this post, to uphold their belief system, they must either discredit it, find ways that the opinions/points are invalid, and when all else fails, believe that the author (me) is probably really a scammer and ignore him. Most believe any critic is automatically wrong, working with the enemy, or is an enemy themselves. I guarantee you some of them will do investigations on me simply because I'm making this post. To be fair, this is probably because they take so many attacks from real scammers, and people who support scammers, that they feel the need to band together and hold on to the sense of who they are and that they're right. It's understandable, but it's also wrong, harmful, and blocking themselves from changing or seeing things from other perspectives.


    These kinds of issues will only be corrected by public opinion and pressure from the leadership of the various trading communities. SteamRep is only as successful as the amount of support it has from the playing and trading communities (affiliation with SR, recommending it, installing its plugins, etc).

    I know almost every issue I have presented will be responded by the staff to claim they are not true or are invalid (this is SteamRep's public defense strategy), but I will not respond to this thread or turn this into an argument out of respect for the good people here.

    Again, I appreciate the good people here, and the good things SR has done, and I do not wish to create hostility, but these things must change or SteamRep will continue to be allowed to hurt people and create unpleasant experiences.

    Thank you,
    Commander Schwegs (http://steamcommunity.com/id/commanderschwegs)
    (Former) SteamRep Moderator
    SourceOP Trusted Seller Group Manager
    MCT (Mann Co. Trading) Admin
    HG (Harpoon Gaming) Admin
    Former UTC (Unusual TradingCommunity) Admin
    Former UHC (Unusual Hat Club) Admin
    2-Time former playing server Admin
  2. JulieT

    JulieT New User

    Seconded. Though I've never been involved with SR, I have done lots of admin work in the past with other groups and games, and I've been watching SR very closely for the last year or so - and a lot of the above has me worried too. Also, well written. Good Job.
  3. SilentReaper(SR)

    SilentReaper(SR) Retired Staff

    SteamRep Admin:
    0. The situation of Solaris was that SOP TS was given the chance to handle it themselves. They didn't, so it defaulted back to SR to handle as a SR admin was the one founding out. That you did not agree with that has more to do with your agreement to blanket cover that he traded with a scammer. There is really not more to say about that. Higher standards where set for admins for a long time. The whole situation was handled poorly by SOP TS by doing nothing, where that group was to be the higher standard.

    1. You are WELL aware that we do not mark noob traders, but warn them via chat. A first Caution for such a trader that does it repeatedly is easily appealed. Just continuously they get marked.

    2. Well, new situations happen every time. Especially at those times new policy is "invented" and reasoning for those. Sometimes there is no need for discussion, other times there is. Rules have to be workable for SR, and are therefore made by SR. As for stuff not being public, all what the users post is public. What SR itself collects mostly not. You as a mod didn't have that access, and there reasons for that, which you should have been aware of. You also have the position to ask for any evidence on any person as a CA. That we do not post everything has a lot to do with that we do not want scammers to wizened up on our methods.

    3. To stop talking means that we stop at that point and go on with the conclusions, unless the person says 'coming back tomo for I need to go xx/yy". Stopping talking is not a "admission of guild" or w/e, but it does initiate the next stage: conclusions/ruling.

    4. See 2. These rules should really be abide by, if not, that should be discussed with a more senior admin.

    5. Would be interested whom you mean as "never traded". And ethics do not rely on trading experience anyways. And really, its not hard to not trade with scammers. Simple enough to paste their URL in SR and check. You know this, there are even browser plugins out there that allow you to see in the browser what their tags are while viewing their comm profile.

    6. There have been cases of such, I've not followed all of those investigations, but most times its found to be a alt of a scammer. Others have been suspicious for various reasons, and while for you you see a multiple day investigation on somebody, its just that much time to find all the tracks and combine that. My guess its mostly instigated by the Solaris situ.

    7. It was agreed long ago what the requirements are on SR to be a appeals admin. Sure, you have a trust position etc, and a longer track record of admin-ship around. But it was decided to go this way with you. Time-frame of the appeals elongated more and more, and so did handling reports. Its just that ppl keep leaving SR that we keep being short-staffed. And a appeal is way more work then a simple report.

    8. Age is really not a factor to SR, and any tag to "expire" in any which time has been opposed by several admins and most communities. There where some talks in "redeeming" but that ended up in a totally unworkable system where a admin had to spend a really big chunk of time on such for months on end. Plus that several comm's where against such.

    That game communities wanted to ban for such is entirely up to them. SR only advocates to run the SR Plugin on trade servers. I know 1 such game community that does ban on its game servers, and they started doing so for the reason that sharkers/scammers where targeting their players, and they where sick and tired of that, so they auto-ban all of them now. In a way, they have to thank themselves for that.

    9. well, not seen that on the SR forums in the admin topics or w/e.

    10. lol, we know you're not a scammer Schwegs. And ppl can see other perspectives just fine, but the rules are still there to abide by.

    PS: SOP TS Group manager should have had a "Former" tag in front of it.
    PSS: nice sink the ship exit... was quite short for you.
    PSSS: I should lock the thread to confirm your theories... ;)
    PSSSS: nah, I'll leave it open.

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  4. You Are The One

    You Are The One SteamRep Admin

    I spoke to you a tad already i wanted to say my own opinion(s) on some of the issues you touched upon.

    1. Pretty much directed at the "trading w/scammer policy" and why should users not strive for perfection?
    2. The "power" that SR has is only as much as the community gives it.
    3. They are some policies/rules that should be tightened, and others loosened up to be most accommodating to the most amount of users (not a select few).
    4. Yes, its an issue that some cases/policies/procedures are not done "by the book" we do call each other out on these issues for correction (more often really then it should happen)
    5. I disagree, also profit traders make horrible admins in general.
    6. We dont have time for babysitting, we dont have any sort of "APB and insta-tag list"
    7. I agree, adding qualified and competent staff is harder then you would think.
    8. You know as good as any admin, most of the tags are for alternate accounts.
    9. Was pretty much directed at me.
    10. They are a lot of things SR does that I disagree with as you are aware. We always listen to input, even if its only a small vocal fraction of our userbase, tho unlikely to have any major effect.

    On a side note, thank you for your time within SR.

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    HelenAngel likes this.
  5. [nG.] Astradamus

    [nG.] Astradamus Banned on SteamRep

    You're the best man. In point by point shows what's wrong this site. Congrtz.
  6. Zerfenus

    Zerfenus New User

    You've nailed a few good points about SR and its policies.
    And i have to agree, if nothing is done about this it could lead to SR being pushed aside and to no longer get taken seriously
  7. Hula_Dancer

    Hula_Dancer New User

    Been lurking this forum for a long time, when I saw this topic I wanted to reply for the first time.

    Let me ask this Schwegs... I looked at your post history, and you did in a year time no more then 10 reports... wtf did you do here anyways? I see a couple old threads handled by you back on Dec. 2, Nov 24th and 21st of 2012 and thats it. And the 2 reports you where in recently are your OWN reports, and even then you leave it to the SR moderators that actually do work here to handle them. In short, this is a drama thread, for resigning from a function you didn't even work in is all about the drama, not about disagreeing. If you really had wanted to improve SR, you would have done some actual work here.

    Sure, you bring some points, but all the valid ones are known for ages already. And this topic doesn't bring much new to the table. The only thing that could be done is doing actual work... but you didn't even have that in your vocabulary. You had your chance to do some actual good here, but instead you just dropout and run.

    It only makes me wonder: why the **** you where moderator anyways, you did nothing at all.

    So, my question is: All this is not what you're mad about, so tell me, what was it really about? for it sure wasn't SR. Can't be, for you where not active here anyways.

    I do see some clues on this, regarding that Solaris guy at the start of your post. Seems to me you where just looking for a different venue to disagree with this issue.
    Sjru and You Are The One like this.
  8. Eoj Nawoh

    Eoj Nawoh Retired Staff Partner Community

    SteamRep Admin:

    Discussion has never hurt anything. Schwegs said things he considered important, whether you agreed or not. I can assure you, cursing at him or anyone here, is only going to lead to warnings and forum bans from SR staff.
    Mattie! and Backseatsman like this.
  9. gukingofheart

    gukingofheart New User

    ^ How would we do this, by purposely trading with scammers and taking the marking?
    This site is kind of getting scary. Scam reports are piling up, appeals are being ignored/very slow processed, innocent people are being marked and gave on appeals(I'm not going by your list either, it's people I know), staff is short(even shorter now with you gone), and the staff are easily angered.
    The innocent who don't want to be marked get very scared when they realized they accidentally traded with a scammer(In most cases I tell them to relax because it was items less then a key).
    I'm saw a thread not too long ago on the steam forums questioning this site. http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2656345
    Sometimes you have to question yourself to give up a good deal because steamrep went down(It does go down at times, especially the forum).

    Lastly, not sure if I'm just having this problem or not but the site is buggy slow. For a few days, I thought I was blocked because I pissed off the staff with too many posts because whenever I load the site while logged in, it takes minutes to load. If I'm logged out, pages load fine. Because of this, I rarely post now.

    At this point in time, the non-marked are trading with the non-marked and the tagged ones(not necessarily even scammed) are trading with anyone who will ignore their tag.
    Why did steamrep hit 15,000? It makes you wonder how many of them were marked for the silliest/false reasons, and can't get removed for at least a year(if they decide to stay in contact, many seem to give up)
  10. deeveejay

    deeveejay New User

    i completely disagree with Schwegs. his post is - with all due respect - a list of false arguments, unfair points and should be removed ASAP. Schwegs and his family all should be banned from every site in the Internet, and scammer marks tattooed on their faces for the rest of their life :)

    SR, please continue your great work. You guys are shining diamonds of the community. Everyone i talked to, even my grandmother (this old lady never saw PC game in her life), is 100% behind you. my case is perfect example how things are done here, i cannot express how grateful i'm for removing my scammer tag very fast (it took ONLY 4 months, so skip the false "more than 1 year time") , while i'm still banned from every possible trading site (not that i care, because i'm not playing TF2/Dota2 or trading anymore, but this show the "quality" of justice served by SR:

    You have been banned permanently by ☣ ฿LÜΣÐΣMӨП ☣. The reason for this ban is as follows:
    ALT to: http://www.tf2outpost.com/user/21175
    yeah, sure, my "alt" Astradamus posted few posts above :)

    Oh no! You did something that the admins didn't like. And they probated you! Those jerks!
    Respawn in: 290237494 seconds.

    Here's your probation history!!!

    12/20/2012 3:21:12 PM 315360000 seconds Scammer alt

    and so on...

    so keep up guys, because entering this site and observing your "hard work" (laugh) is a source of great fun :)

  11. ForteSP

    ForteSP New User



    I'm really sorry your cannot count the months between August 2012 and October 2013... That is well over 1 year. Perhaps if you go back to grade school you would learn that there it has been 13-14 months since these were posted (depending on how late in August they were posted).

    Before you try to rip the OP use common sense, use your brain and do your research. I could list other people who have had to wait over a year but what is the point.
  12. its scary when people like you are reporting good users and slowing down the system.....

  13. Teeird

    Teeird New User

    Well said. It's great to see someone so highly respected within the community to make an unpopular critique on SteamREP as a whole. Hopefully it will get people (in lack of a better word) un-brainwash themselves that SR is still this awesome community for catching scammers and warning you about it.

    One thing I had an issue with is how j-o-n got everything removed for one tiny mistake he made by buying earbuds from a scammer. If I recall correctly comments were exchanged on each steam profile of the trade (but might've been deleted, so not entirely sure) as a "+rep sold buds etc". Would someone with malicious intent really want a +rep on their profile from a scammer for everyone to see? I don't think so. J-o-n was scraped out of everything for a simple tiny mistake. His green bar at SR, his outpost admin status, and his SOP account. As a side note, why didn't you include the evidence that he traded with scammers on his SR profile?

    I'm sort of glad the TS list was disbanded. It's mission goal was stated as a group of role model traders to show the newbies how it's done, so they can replicate it. What really happened was an insane power grab. People would state on their threads/profile that they are a TS member, and that alone is a reason to trade with them than other highly reputable members of the community that don't have the shiny green tag that they do. Reputation has nothing to do with entering it, rather it's knowing people. I can name you one person who used to be TS that did not fit the bill what-so-ever. Lacking of every requirement, but still was able to enter because he knew some of the people in there. This alone should make TS not be taken seriously. "Trusted Seller" by it's roots means an experienced trader who is proven to be 'honest' and 'knightly'. Yet breaking their principles by allowing one person who hasn't proven himself to the community that he is responsible to take such a role.
  14. CanadianInvasion

    CanadianInvasion Retired Staff

    You bring up the j-o-n case Teeird, yet you fail to understand that SR only had involvement in the SR CAUTION tag. Sneeza fired him, and SOP banned him based on their own rules. The information was merely relayed to SR to remove his OP Admin tag. Additionally, it was not "one tiny mistake", but a second offense that garnered said caution tag.

    Speaking not as an admin, but as a trader now, I did have my qualms with the SOP TS group. I found it to be a very archaic system for garnering rep, and to a degree, was abused by some as a form of status.

    The criticism of SR is only tangentially related to this thread, as it is intented to be a public letter of resignation from Schwegs. I would kindly ask that any further discussion of criticisms of SR be made in a new topic so it can be properly addressed there. We are very well aware of our shortcomings and are working to improve them the best that we can.

    For now, locking this thread.
    SilentReaper(SR) likes this.
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