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Talking Point: The Good and Bad Sides of Moderating Miiverse

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Big Mario is watching

As we were bombarded with announcements and details about Wii U in the past week, perhaps one feature stood out as something distinctly new in the world of Nintendo: Miiverse. After enduring the lacking online options on Wii for the past six years, Nintendo gamers can look ahead to potential levels of social interaction unknown to this point, apart from limited and preliminary updates on 3DS.

In a Nintendo Direct demonstration, also known as ‘that video with the Non-Specific Action Figure’, we saw a rather goofy gamer seeking help through a chat/forum screen, chatting to a friend who was viewing his question on a mobile phone, before jumping into a video call with a friend registered on his system. After the horrors of friend codes and sending messages on Wii, this showed a significant and much needed improvement in Nintendo’s attitude to networking and communicating with gamers.

As always though, there’s a big but, as Nintendo has a reputation to maintain: its system needs to be safe and accessible for children and families. As anyone who’s played an FPS online with voice chat will know, the gaming community at large isn’t full of friendly and polite individuals, but has its share of foul-mouthed and abusive idiots. Nintendo has stated, without going into too many specifics, that it will offer a triple layer of Miiverse moderation. Let’s look at what was said and whether it will be a good or bad thing, as well as suggest potential ways to accommodate a wide-range of gamers.

Miiverse promises to have a number of different layers to its interaction: a home screen where Mii characters gather around bubbles and share opinions on games, message board areas that are also available during play, and messaging to friends in text and video. That’s what we’ve gathered so far, so when Satoru Iwata outlined automated, human and user moderating of content in Miiverse, it’s wasn't entirely clear whether this is intended to cover every nook and cranny of the network or specific, open areas. It seems appropriate and fair that areas visible to everyone have some sort of moderation, as we all know what images and words will appear prominently should users have unrestricted access.

If content goes through a filtering process, especially with human intervention, it’s inevitable that this will cause a delay from the moment a message is submitted and when it appears. It’s clear that Nintendo is yet to think this through in detail, or at least hasn’t yet shared what it knows, but Satoru Iwata has said that he thinks a 30 minutes delay would be reasonable. If we assume that this delay will apply across message boards in all areas – which may not be the case – then the Nintendo Direct demo of seeking help and getting a number of responses would be a drawn-out process. That said, if the message area is well structured and the community is active, it may be the case that answers will already be available if you know where to look.

The problem of potential moderation, or delays to message delivery, is that it would deprive Miiverse of immediacy, which Iwata admits is vital in social networking. Finding a balance is the challenge, so that’s where a friend system and an opt-out option can come into play. It’s possible that video calls and direct messages will be restricted to friend’s lists, so perhaps these interactions can be spared from moderation delays. The issue of children making the wrong friends could be resolved by a robust parental control system, which would push any Wii U user profiles subject to these controls straight into the moderation system.

For those who want to avoid delays at all levels, we’d suggest that there be an opt-out where users with relevant access can choose to send and receive communications, in all levels and areas of Miiverse, without delays. This would essentially set up two tiers: an area where children or those who don’t want to see crude messages can interact, and an area where gamers can communicate instantaneously with the understanding that there’s potential for abusive messages. The third option is one we’ve already suggested, a moderator-free zone where friends can interact while excluding the community-at-large.

We’d suggest that, with its track record, Nintendo may potentially play it safe and moderate all areas to avoid any possibility of children bypassing parental controls, or perhaps just as part of a broader philosophy that abusive content has no place on the system, even for those that don’t object. While it’s tempting to point at Nintendo Letter Box/Swapnote and say that it allows free communication, it’s possible that the slow delivery of letters is really due to a moderation process, not a system limitation. Ideally, Nintendo will give us the choice to bypass moderation with an acknowledgement of the risks, but time will tell how ‘immediate’ the Miiverse social network will truly be.

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User Comments (54)

Portista

#1

Portista said:

Great suggestions NL! I seriously do hope that we won't have to wait FOREVER for replies, and continue our gaming almost non-stop! :D

toonlinkuser

#2

toonlinkuser said:

Instead of this, they should just put in good parental controls so 10 year old's can't go on if their parents don't allow them. And people that do post curse words and phallus's can just have their account revoked for a certain period of time. For the first strike, maybe 3 days. For the second strike, a week, then a month, then a year, etc. That is the only way to avoid spam filled forums and cursing 12 year old's.

C7_

#3

C7_ said:

I think this approach will make or break Nintendo's idea of a social online community. I agree that there should be a friend-only zone that is free from this moderation, as I have a few friends who like crude jokes and stuff to that degree. But I think these "three stages" thing should only apply if a parental block is on. If parents can't be bothered activate to 'protect' their child even with fair warning and a system to do so, then why is it Nintendo's responsibility to be the parent and protect them? They've already taken the role of the helpful distraction babysitter, the parents need to do something to ensure a good development of a child.

For everyone else, sure apply the curse word filter and for games that recently came out moderate spoilers, but apply a passive system instead. that way responses are instant, and if someone says something truly terrible it can be reported and removed by this active team of people constantly monitoring.

theblackdragonAdmin

#4

theblackdragon said:

i can't see this not being a mess and/or a hassle for Nintendo and their moderation team, but i still wish them the best of luck with it. i'll stick with gamefaqs and Dr. Internet if i need help in a game that badly, lol :3

Mk_II

#5

Mk_II said:

i think it will be an automated and multi-tiered process with human moderator intervention only if a message or user is flagged as suspicious. Any other system would be near impossible to implement and simply too expensive. Miilions of users, lots of different languages... they simply cant monitor everything "by hand"

warioswoods

#7

warioswoods said:

The way Miiverse operates, moderation delays aren't really an issue.
Untitled
Recall Iwata's statement that the Miiverse will unify "across time and space." What he meant was that the public messages you leave in your games are like notes to future travelers who pass by the same spot. They aren't predicated on the concept of immediate communication. They are messages that will only show to others when they reach the same point or die in the same area.

Now, the messages from your friends should be more immediate, and I doubt that friends' messages will go through moderation. But the wider public commentary that will be open in the Miiverse isn't really about direct messaging or simultaneity at all. It's just a space to leave comments for others, so that everyone can get an amusing sense of how the wider community of players is responding to the game.

steamhare

#8

steamhare said:

If the typical flagging inappropriate messages mk_II mentioned is combined with the idea in the article of a 30 minute delay only being for users with parental controls on, the whole system could probably be effectively moderated and appropriate for everyone.

Of course, harsh penalties could also be the answer, as temporary bans that are tied to specific systems are hard to circumvent, and permanent bans almost act as a fiscal penalty (Although they may hurt wii U resale values). This wouldn't be too intolerable as long as users could have unmoderated chat in smaller groups.

SKTTR

#9

SKTTR said:

No monitoring or delay please. Just a 'protection parent password' so kids access is restricted to friendslists.

To ban the idiots let each user have a personal ignore list.
We don't need any fancy moderating for the normal communication and chat.

emiru69

#11

emiru69 said:

I'm actually happy with the moderation on Miiverse. I think is necessary. Any kind of social interaction in other platforms becomes a torture without a complex moderation. I'm going to use Playstation Home as an example. Is not a bad idea, there are many places to visit and talk with your friends but... there is a racist, misogynistic and/or homophobic comment every 5 seconds. To be honest that ruins the experience for me because I'm an adult and I behave like an adult. I don't like the feeling of being surrounded by angry teenagers with "South Park Syndrome". Monitoring will be necessary until people understand the difference between freedom of speech and harassment.

Xilef

#13

Xilef said:

When they release the system, i think they should try without any moderation. If everything runs out of controll, they probably have no choice.

emiru69

#14

emiru69 said:

@Xilef: There are too many gamers that dislike Nintendo that will enter in the chat just to troll and insult. I think (unfortunately) moderation will be necessary but I wish I was wrong.

CerealKiller528

#15

CerealKiller528 said:

I think we should have age groups. There would be 4 seperate age groups. 10 and under. 11-13. 14-17. 18 and over. That way you could talk to people your own age. For instance, I don't want to talk to a 12 year old with bad grammar. (ya no sumting lik tis).

Marks

#16

Marks said:

I like the suggestions, I had similar ideas as well.
This may be selfish, but I just can't wait half an hour for an answer to pop up. I am against abuse, especially targeted at children, but to slow down everyone's experince isn't the right choice. The tier option, as mentioned, would be best in my opinion.
And as others have stated, the ability to block/ignore people would be great for certain users.

Marks

#17

Marks said:

@CerealKiller528
I guess, but of course if that ever happens there should be an option to talk to all ages.
I know plenty of younger users that can spell just as well as you or I and older users that write only in SMS language.

Yellowgerbil

#18

Yellowgerbil said:

emiru69, you are absolutely correct and it is a great pity....
But they could have things like 6-7 years old; they are able to see messages like on the Super Mario Bros U demo. 8-10 are able to see messages from people their own age but no video chat and, interlaced with parental controls for safety. 11-14 year olds able to see messages from people their own age and video chat with friends. 15-16 can message with anyone their age and above but still only able to video chat with friends. 17+ can do anything. Note, these could all be filtered from swear words and everyone would have to give identity.

TysonOfTime

#19

TysonOfTime said:

The tier option is currently the biggest theory. And frankly, the best. Miiverse looks more like a Facebook wall (I suppose? I don't use Facebook lol) than a chat board. So moderation doesn't seem to bad. Especially if PMs are moderation free.

Also, I've used a Moderated fourm. It was one of the most pleasant fourm experiences I've had while on the Internet.

LavaTwilight

#20

LavaTwilight said:

One of the biggest kills for me in online gaming are the abusive idiots (thinking of a T word here) who like to "troll" and although I'm mature enough to handle it I know a lot of younger people arent and it actually upsets me to hear their mentality come to the fore. It makes me weep for their home lives that must be so distressing for them they have to engage in this kind lamentably unnecessary childish behaviour!
This is why I've always enjoyed playing wii games online because I know there's none of that about and is a big factor why I steer clear of online games for other consoles (including PC). It would be a crying shame if Nintendo buckled to pressure to allow an 'anything-goes' attitude now!

LavaTwilight

#21

LavaTwilight said:

@emiru69
I feel moderators are necessary too but if you think about it, those Nintendo-haters out there won't be on the miiverse as they won't have a wii u!

hydeks

#22

hydeks said:

I like the idea of a moderated Miiverse ALOT, doesn't bother me too much if it takes 10-20 min to be posted, as long as i don't have to hear ppls swearing and foul mouths, I'm all happy.

Honestly, my first GOOD experience gaming online has been the 3ds so far. I've played on XBLA and PSN and the people that are usually on that make me almost sick to my stomach, and disgusted that I'm even a gamer anymore.

Happy Nintendo is taking this approach.

Nictul27

#23

Nictul27 said:

Well I agree on this. And I defiantly agree
that there should be monitors looking at the
People playing and to see if they are being mean to
people. And if they are they should be locked
out of there wii for a certain amount of days or
permanet band!

Dupon

#24

Dupon said:

Moderation is important not only to keep children safe from curse words, but also to keep everyone safe from spoilers, considering that most of the public messages will be about games.

Pichuka97

#27

Pichuka97 said:

For god sake Nintendo, just make a really good parental control for Wii U!!! Then we don't have to go through this plus it would save your employes some time as well. They could have done this on Wii and 3DS as well so we didn't need Friend Codes. Please just think this through Nintendo and don't punish your older gamers!!

Pichuka97

#28

Pichuka97 said:

Swapnote having moderation... ... it all seems clear to me now! That's why it takes forever to send and receive messages. Look at your 3DS friend list, when your friend changes their status message it changes instantly while Swapnote/Letter Box does not.

Zaphod_Beeblebrox

#29

Zaphod_Beeblebrox said:

Parental controls are hopeless. 99.9% of parents rely on their kids to set up electronics. Nintendo knows this. And 99.9% of parents who miraculously manage to set up parental controls will forget the password and therefore there has to be a way to reset the parental controls. Nintendo and kids both know this.

So the existence of parental controls will not change anything. Parental controls exist so companies can say they have them ("check that box"). But they never assume they'll actually be used effectively. Certainly not Nintendo.

theblackdragonAdmin

#30

theblackdragon said:

@warioswoods: holy crap i hadn't noticed/realized that... in that case, i'll be using this a lot! it reminds me of The Oregon Trail back in middle school, the best part of playing that game was having someone in your party die and leaving a stupid message, and then someone else in the room (also playing Oregon Trail) would stumble across your tombstone during the game. :O

grimbldoo

#31

grimbldoo said:

Here is my suggestion to moderating games, separate them according to their rating.
Rated M games should receive only the smallest amount of moderation, i.e. Do not filter bad words or offensive language but have a report option if people start to get out of control and the moderators can do occasional sweeps.
For rated T games have moderate (lol) moderation, such as periodic sweeps by the moderators and filter out bad language and even delete posts automatically that have too much bad language.
All rated E games will receive the most moderation, these ones can have the delay needed for the posts to be checked (you probably won't be seeking much help anyway) and any post with bad language is automatically deleted, of course all of these sections have the report function as well.
Then they can make a free discussion area separated like this as well, of course parental locks will keep kids from wondering where they shouldn't be.

Cloud-San-VII

#32

Cloud-San-VII said:

They said that Nintendo Network will run for a few generations. There is 4 circles representing the next consoles that will be using it (2 home, 2 handheld). Assuming each generation is 5-7 years, we will have Nintendo Network (assuming they didn't really change the title or something) for the next 10-14 years (not including this 5-7 years)

Marks

#33

Marks said:

@grimbldoo
This is a really good idea, and it is very logical.
Retailers don't sell M games to children. If the parent decides to buy the game for their child, then it's their own choice and they'll be aware of the danger it may cause.

tardis10

#35

tardis10 said:

I think that Nintendo's decisions regarding how to play the whole on-line messaging shtick shall be telling, not only of the systems perhaps long-term or cores success, but whether the Big N's priorities are quite the same as those for whom they ought to cater. This is particular issue will be a fairly accurate signal, I think, of quite how Nintendo is marketing itself, and to what degree of success.

CrispyGoomba

#36

CrispyGoomba said:

At this rate, this feature is not going to be worth it. I mean, just look at the 3DS. You can't even put bad words in the 15(?) character spaces you have...And it's your friends you're showing this too! Plus, swapnote does not count as a message system in my eyes. I shouldn't have to close every thing out, open Swapnote, wait for it to download the letters, and then I have to scroll till I find a new letter.

emiru69

#37

emiru69 said:

@LavaTwilight
Well not just haters but also sexual predators. Unfortunately any online game rated for everyone needs this kind of protection. People are just talking about bad words like is the only reason to put protection on this chats.

BenAV

#38

BenAV said:

Just implement an opt out system for those who don't want to wait and just use parential controls to protect the children - if parents don't use them then that's not Nintendo's fault.
As for the idiots that will try to make Miiverse a horrible place, ban them.
In fact, lock their system completely so they can't even use it, until they call some number and go through some annoying process or something.
That'll show 'em!

grimbldoo

#39

grimbldoo said:

@Deeda #33
Thank you. It just seems like the most logical way to go especially since the majority of people playing E games are children. The majority of games that I play the most are rated T and those tend to be the ones that I seek help for, and I personally would prefer not to have profanity in the boards I navigate. You have to be 18 for M games, so they should be allowed to throw around all the language they want, if a parent decides to let their child be exposed to that, that is their responsibility and no complaints should be made by people not old enough to even play the game.

Something I just though of, they should add the ability to make accounts on the system so that one person's gaming experience isn't ruined by parental locks, if they did add the account's then they don't have to have the option of entering a code to bypass the locks, just in case the child figures out the code.

grimbldoo

#40

grimbldoo said:

@emiru69 #37
Very true, this backs up my statement that boards for rated E games or rated E free talk boards should have the comments reviewed before they are posted, and for rated T, have moderators periodically check the boards.
@BenAV #38
I second that.

UltimateMetroid

#41

UltimateMetroid said:

There should be 3 age levels
1: Newbies, moderated largly (no swearing lol and emoticons only)
2: Teens, moderated smally (no heavy swears and wtf, gtfo etc allowed)
3: Adult, barely moderated (swearing aloud)

emiru69

#43

emiru69 said:

Still I think it's an awesome idea. Next time I get stuck in a JRPG I just post a message and take a break instead of going nuts trying to find information online. ^_^

RevolverLink

#44

RevolverLink said:

For the inevitable amount of crude genital etchings alone, I do not envy the moderators that will have to work on Miiverse .

Kirk

#45

Kirk said:

At this point I'm just waiting to see what Nintendo ends up doing because I've all but given up on hoping, speculating and imagining that we're going to get anything like what we'd really want as a matter of fact.

Token_Girl

#46

Token_Girl said:

Meh, it's not like they'll have much to moderate anyway. It's not like many people actually connect their nintendo systems to the internet.

As long as I can see friends' posts instantly, that's fine with me. I would prefer a heavily moderated Miiverse. I don't want to be spammed with 12 year olds with neglectful parents' XBL chat.

Also, since your home screen will show games you don't have (I think this is a great way to promote EShop games which is desperately needed), hopefully, it will be possible to choose to remove certain games you're not interested in at all. Probably 90% of the bad stuff you could be exposed to could be taken care of by deleting any COD game from your home screen.

janettocrossing

#47

janettocrossing said:

I'm a VERY impatient person. That 30 min. wait is gonna kill me! I was thinking they should make groups based on the owners' age. Or they should just have a very good parental- control system. :)

Henmii

#48

Henmii said:

Maybe they should do it this way: Very strong moderation for a game like Mario, since there are also many children playing it. But maybe a bit more forgiving for a more mature game like Zombi u.

But the moderation is neccesary, otherwise you get a avalanche of faul language or even worse: People who start insulting each other!

mamp

#49

mamp said:

I hope we get that option I'm fine watching my mouth but sometimes I have those moments when u know I gotta drop some F bombs.

Dannypan

#50

Dannypan said:

Nintendo should allow for a more customisable censoring system.
I, personally, am not too fazed by profanity, though I don't want to endure foul mouthed rants from kids every time I play a game. It's crass and juvenile and I'm sure parents don't want their children hearing it either.

Let the user decide the level of moderation. If they don't want to see anything unsavoury then let them make it so they don't. If they're not bothered then go ahead, show them everything.

We don't need censorship between accepted friends on lists, that's a given. Interation between accepted friends should be almost instant.

Also, I like the idea of degrees of moderation through age restrictions. If you're playing an adult game then there's really no need for some language censorship. Though, of course, if you want it on then go ahead.

The 30 minute delay is an acceptable time, if you ask me. I doubt I'll be using my Wii U to make friends anyway.

Fang

#52

Fang said:

Best idea yet:
What if Nintendo don't moderate it?! If children are using the internet, their parents (should) already know what kinda stuff goes on over voice chat. So they can either disable that function or just let them off in the real world!

g1i1ch

#53

g1i1ch said:

You should update this article, Reggie already said that messages are instant and that they only moderate a message if it's been flagged inappropriate. Don't know why all the confusion started in the first place. It's the exact same thing nearly every website does. Maybe people thought it was something new, it's new to Nintendo but it's the same old moderation we get everywhere.

Gilius

#54

Gilius said:

This... Is... GREAT. It's like Playstation home except it looks like you have guilds in there. Must join Warios guild. :o

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