(Editor’s Note-

Above all, GeneralDamageControl.com is a place where our team can talk about the things that matter to them.  From time to time, everyone has something to say that they feel needs saying, and we as a team support that right fully.  Today, Sean has something that hits home for him, and pertains to everyone who has ever picked up a Magic card or put fingers to a keyboard to write or post about the game.  Give it a read.

—>Cass) 

During the last weekend of July, there were two major gaming events- one for Warhammer 40k and one for Magic the Gathering.  In both of these events, some players walked away with the impression that one of the top players in each event had been cheating.  Cheating at tournaments is wrong; I believe we can all agree on that (Except you Unhinged players, but we all know that’s a different situation!)  This tends to lead to a bit of a vigilante attitude, where people end up posting online to warn other people about someone who they perceive has broken the rules.

From what I have read, nearly all online authors who call out specific players have good intentions in mind.  They were mostly trying to either correct an injustice or just express frustration at an unpleasant experience.  Both of these reasons are perfectly reasonable and understandable.  However, issues arise because the internet is public to the whole world.  When writers post articles online, they have the potential to be much farther reaching than they realize at the time; even casual blogs can spread like wildfire. 

If your writing style is freeform (as if you were writing in a journal or talking to a friend) it can easily feel personal and private to some degree.  Now, people believe what they read unless they already disagree or those things are definitively proven otherwise.  If someone simply implies something, it is nearly impossible to disprove with any certainty.  There are, for example, rumors about married actors who are closeted gay men, rumors about professional athletes cheating who have won multiple championships and thus have “tainted” their records, and players whose reputations are equally tainted as a result.

While some of these may very well be true, the reputations of the ones that are not are always  irreparably damaged.  In the US, we have a legal system that declares you innocent until proven guilty; in the court of public opinion, it is the exact opposite.  Unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you aren’t what everyone says you are, people will always believe the worst.

Gamers are a small community.  We need to stick together and be as supportive as possible to each other.  Even if we don’t get along with someone, we need to be respectful.  If we want our community to continue to grow, respect is key.

If you suspect someone of cheating, please – do not post about it online.  Deal with it with the individual, the store owner, judges, or tournament organizers.  If the person is proven to be cheating, they will be punished; after that, we can talk about what happened online with actual evidence to back things up. Cheating does happen, and we want to discourage it and punish those who cheat, but we don’t want to do this at the cost of innocent players.

At the end of the day, we are all free to post whatever we want online.  Please be courteous and careful when posting about others.  Understand that words have meaning and power regardless of your actual intent.  I haven’t always followed this advice, and I really do regret every negative post I made about someone else.  Even with good intentions, our words can hurt more than we realize.

@SwordsToPlow