Every so often, you hear the word "credibility" come up on a website. For whatever reason, people seem to forget what it means, and when it's called into question, people get awfully uppity about it. The problem is, credibility is subjective. And how to defend credibility is up to the speaker. 

Let's get one thing straight here. Credibility refers to the capacity for belief in one's word. Basically, if I trust you and your point of view, you'll have lots of credibility with me. I know that, as a critic, I strive to have as much credibility as possible. Without it, there's no point to you reading anything I have to say. It's my best tool, and my greatest liability.

So imagine my surprise when I found Joystiq's Top 10 Games of the Year list today, and saw that Fable II was its top pick. There were games that were missing that I felt should be on there, and vice versa. But to pick Fable II above every other game that came out in 2008 came as a huge surprise. So, like any good web citizen, I wrote in that I felt that the choice of Fable II for the top spot was a bit controversial, and the list was not a particularly good one. Basically, the site lost credibility with me.

Christopher Grant, the editor-in-chief, decided to reply by pointing out that Fable II's inclusion was not controversial. The way he phrased it, though, was to frame it with sarcasm and condescention. His main rebuttal? To point to Metacritic as the bolster to that argument.

Readers of Gamecritics know that we don't particularly care about where we stand in Metacritic. We've praised games that the rest of the world hates, and called out games that seem to be liked by everyone else.

Metacritic has little credibility with me.

When I went on to disseminate his entire argument as to why he felt Fable II was worth the top spot, his only replies were "that's your opinion." Of course it is, Chris. That's what gives your site credibility. In my opinion, prior to this list, I had the opinion that your opinion was one I could look to and believe in.

Another Joystiq staff member, Ross Miller, then replied with sarcasm that obviously I was accusing the site of some sort of bias. I want to state for the record that I never accused Joystiq of being biased towards or against anything. I simply stated that I disagreed strongly with the list, and gave reasons why, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that their opinions no longer held the weight they had. I even replied to Mr. Miller's false accusations directly.

I was not the one who wrote with a sarcastic tone. The initial animosity was from Christopher Grant. 

What surprised me the most, though, is how the staff of the site reacted so poorly to someone who stated that their words lost credibility. Believe me, I have been accused of being paid off by one of the Big Three at some point or another (still waiting for those cheques, guys!). I'm no stranger to this. What surprised me is the site's villification of someone who dissented with cogent, clear argument. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given that this is the internet, but still. They are one of the world's largest videogame blogs. Surely that weight must mean something.

So how did all this play out? After replying to each and every criticism that the Joystiq staff tried to pin on me, all of my posts have been deleted. It also appears that I cannot post anything further from my IP. 

Again, for the record, I did not call any of them names. I did not sling any real mud. I did not actively antagonize. I called their credibility with me into question with clear, concise words. And for this, I got banned.

So as we move forward into 2009, and gaming continues to evolve, it is important that you always actively question the opinions of others. Without dissent, how would our culture be so thriving, vibrant and interesting? More importantly, how can criticism continue to evolve if we all shared the same view?

But when someone disagrees with you and your opinion suddenly means less to them, your job is to either let them slide off into the ether, or directly (but politely) address their concerns. Joystiq's actions today have shown their true colors. I have removed them from my RSS feed, and will no longer link to any of their stories. It is a shame that such a large site can be so easily broken down, and their only defense is censorship. 

Hope you believe me on this one.

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8 Comments on "The issue of credibility and Joystiq"

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Ludwig, after reading your response I still don’t see how what Joystiq did was anything other than a particularly capricious and arbitrary case of censorship. Why you chose to ban this particular poster is especially mind-boggling since you apparently had no problem with other comments that questioned your GoTY choices in a far more vitriolic, vulgar and mindless fashion (see the examples in David’s article.) Surely if all you banned David for was “abrasiveness” then you haven’t finished the job you started and need to ban a ton of other posters on that thread as well. It shows class on… Read more »
David Stone
Someone pointed out to me that there’s a discussion going on at PS3Forums about this whole thing (hi y’all!). It’s very amusing to read what people think may or may not have happened, and what my perspective or angle could possibly be. Let me get some facts straight. Am I perfect? Well, I am to myself, but not likely to the rest of the world. That’s okay. When I had the audacity to give MGS4 an 8/10 (a score I now feel is too high, but I won’t go back and change it), I was told that I was bought… Read more »
David Stone
Hi Ludwig, I’m amazed you actually found this, but nonetheless, thank you for taking the time to write here. My issue with your picking Fable II was more about my complete disagreement in your rationale behind picking it for your number one game of the year. Fable II is making the rounds as one of the bigger disappointments of the year from most other sites I’ve been to. It is certainly not a bad game, but quantifiably NOT Game of the Year material. First of all, if you recall, I never used any four-letter words in my criticism of your… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
Hi Ludwig. I don’t presume to speak for David, but I am aware of the situation and I must say that your rationale behind the events that led up to his post being deleted and his IP being banned are pathetically weak. It’s part and parcel of having a website that you will have people making comments that you don’t agree with, or rustling bushes you’d rather not have be disturbed. Based on what you’ve said here, it seems like your site would rather eliminate the issue and simply avoid having the discussion altogether; hardly a stance that demands respect.… Read more »
Ludwig Kietzmann
Hi David, For the record, I probably wouldn’t have banned you, but I can provide some context behind this decision. This was *not* prompted by your dissent (we had plenty of that on staff already — Fable II wasn’t my game of the year either). Anybody can pluck the definition of “credibility” from a dictionary, but there are more severe connotations when the word is leveled at a site that primarily delivers news. Do you also question our ability to publish news because we picked the wrong game of the year? I don’t think you explicitly mentioned this, but it’s… Read more »
David Stone

To be fair, Joystiq is owned by Weblogs Inc., a subsidiary of AOL.

Gawker did have a big downsize recently, and it was a little off-putting to read what they were asking their employees to do (more work for less pay from what I remember). Even Consumerist.com was sold off! But I haven’t seen them treat their readers with the same contempt as this Joystiq incident.

Incidentally, I sent an e-mail to both Joystiq and Weblogs Inc., asking them to explicitly tell me how I violated their TOS. Guess the reply.

That’s right. Nadda. Stay tuned…

You are only one of many people that are finally starting to wake up to a situation that has been there for several years. Joystiq, along with Kotaku are part of Gawker Media. Look up Gawker Media, it is kind of a sleaze bag operation. There is even a memo on the web from Nick Denton about how to sensationalize blog postings to get more click-throughs. And I know what you mean about Metacritic. Their explanation of how they arrive at “metascores” is total mumbo-jumbo. It has just been a really bad era for supposed game journalism. Maybe these types… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
this whole situation is completely ridiculous. I mean, their top ten was complete crap, but that issue aside, the fact that they would go so far as to delete all your posts and ban your IP address is totally unbelievable. I mean, i DO believe you since the aftermath of the comments is still apparent on some of the threads, but with deletion and banning being Joystiq’s first response for they simple disagreement tells me that they are a site that I don’t need to ever waste my time with again, not that I really spent that much time there… Read more »