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The Ban Appeal System is Bogus


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Introduction

I will preface this post by saying, yes, I am a player who failed to get his wrongful ban revoked, so is this the pathetic wails of a whiny loser scorned by the system? Well no, but if you think otherwise, I totally get it. I am indeed more than a little miffed and this is sort of my way of venting, so if you wish to skip to the conclusion, go ahead. You’ll get all the important bits and my feelings won’t be hurt in the slightest.

 

Personal Interest

Spoiler

You know? I really wish I could have come into this post as a disinterested party. As I have alluded to, my account – accounts actually; two of them – were banned. I have tried to recover both of them, but both appeals were rejected. That is why I must make this clear: the subject of my banning is merely a topic of discussion, not the main point of this post. Honestly, I would have made this post even if my appeal were accepted. Of course, I would like to have my accounts unbanned, but I hold no delusions that anything that I say in this post will persuade in that regard. That is the job for the ban appeal system.

So then why did I write this post? Was it to ensure a wrongful verdict would not be dealt again? Of course not. That is highly unrealistic. This is a system run by humans, so mistakes are ought to occur. I am not angry that I got banned. My anger arises from what occurred after that.

Had I felt the ban appeal system treated me fairly, I would have stayed quiet. I would just sit down and go on a different account. Admittedly, it’s not like I had much on either account that couldn’t be recovered with a healthy amount of grinding. This handling of ban appeals was something I found so glaringly unacceptable that I simply had to speak out, so without further ado, let’s delve into it.

 

My Beef with the System

Spoiler

Let’s flashback to less than a month ago. I was just laying around minding my business when a teammate posts a screenshot on discord of their account being banned and asked what RMT means. “Oh shnap!” was my immediate response, but I soon calmed down and simply told him how we’re all advised to respond to a ban: send a ban appeal saying you didn’t do it.

 

Not long after, I decided to play some PokéMMO for myself only to soon be kicked out of the game myself being banned for the same crime: RMT. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I certainly didn’t think so. I sent a ban appeal recounting these exact events, and in surprisingly short order, I got this wonderful response.

 

"Buying and selling in-game assets or accounts in exchange for real money or assets in other games is strictly forbidden.

This ban is permanent and the account will not be unlocked."

 

There are a lot of problems inherent in a response like this, and the bulk of this section will be spent dissecting this.

So, let’s play a game! Guess how I felt after seeing this reply. Think I was angry that months of gaming (later found out it was years since I lost my oldest account too) were undone before I could blink with no hope of recourse? Sad that my word held so little weight as to be brushed aside without further discussion? Maybe even a slight feeling of betrayal from being mistrusted by the staff of a game I love so much? No, I didn’t feel any of that, at least not at the time. My first reaction to seeing this reply was…

 

“Whoops.”

 

Now to some of you, this response would appear strange. “If you’re as innocent as you say are, why would your response be an admission of guilt?” Well see, I’m completely certain that I have never so much as received or given a cent over this game. This is also the only game I play so it’s not like I’m trading assets for another game. However, I also really love the staff of this game. I know they have no reason to hold malice over me, and I know they wouldn’t go as far as to ban someone without reason. That’s why I believe in my heart of hearts that they do have “evidence” pointing to my involvement in RMT. At the time, I believed through the ban appeal system, said evidence would be reviewed with me, the concerned party, and the fact that there was no mention of it made me wonder where did I go wrong? Was the body of my ban appeal not a clear enough denial? Was there a certain trade I made with my teammate that seemed suspicious?

 

This is the first issue with this response. It tells you nothing thus denying the matter proper closure. You know what I don’t know to this date? What makes them think I did it in the first place? In the reply to my second ban appeal, they said “the evidence has already been reviewed.” OK, why couldn’t said evidence have been shared with me, the concerned party? Why am I not allowed to fact check? Why is there no discussion around the matter? Why does it feel like I have no say in my own appeal?

The second issue I take with this is related to what the response actually does say. Translated from Legalese to English, the possibly copy-pasted response basically just says “RMT is bad.” That’s condescending almost to the level of being an affront to my intelligence. Clearly, I know that. Why would I appeal explicitly claiming to not have done something without knowing what that something entails? It makes the entire response feel distant and impersonal. Where’s the room to correct a human misunderstanding if it doesn’t even feel like I’m engaging with a human?

 

The final issue comes from the finality of it. This is something I had yet to grasp when I had first been rejected, but once you’re rejected, that’s it. You’ve been cut off. No further discussion. Now this, I wouldn’t have minded as much. Obviously, once the discussion has progressed to a certain point, it becomes futile to continue it any longer and must be forcefully shut down. I agree with that except in this case, the discussion hasn’t advanced to begin with! It doesn’t matter whether you have follow-up questions. It doesn’t matter whether you want to provide evidence that might prove your innocence. The matter is over with all the loose ends present.

 

Why is the system like this? Is it because it’s a pain to take the time to follow up on a case-by-case basis? If so, how does that stack up to the time lost by the banned player? Do note that I don’t believe time is being used as an excuse in this case, but my 50 IQ brain can’t conceive any other rationale for refusing the showing of evidence and immediately closing the door to discussion.

 

Conclusion

I have no problem with being wrongfully banned. Humans make mistakes from time to time, but there comes a time when human error ceases to be a viable excuse. Human error is what got me banned. Human error is not what caused my appeal to be rejected without the presentation of evidence. Human error is not what barred it from escalating to a discussion. Let’s imagine a hypothetical case where evidence was presented, and I had failed to argue against it thus still getting my appeal rejected. That would have been 100% fine. That would have in itself been a show of my own inadequacies at absolving myself – human error. However, that’s not what happened. I had always thought the ban appeal system was to provide a platform for arguing for your innocence. If the system fails to allow for that, then what in the world is it for?

 

Spoiler

I'm totally going to regret posting this. Welp, at least now I feel a sense of closure. Hopefully somebody managed to make some sense out of my ramblings.

 

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I don't understand your experience very well, I have also been banned several accounts. One of them was my words and behaviors on the forum, which caused my game account to be banned. Maybe I was the only one who had such an incredible experience.
So I think The whole system of Ban not only includes bogusness, it's also a bit misused.

But anyway I am still playing PokeMMO. Hahaha

Edited by Shawn3K
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Evidence will never be presented to the player, because players that 'do' have malicious intents can then see how they got caught and adjust their strategy in the future. And of course also telling everyone else what to look out for. This sadly has the side effect of making the appeal nigh impossible to actually 'appeal' because you have no clue what you need to argue against. So I get both sides, though staff rarely makes mistakes when it comes to RMT. I believe their first response can be a lot more tactful. I can see that a lot of anger mostly comes from the indifferent and maybe sometimes disrespectful way you're being addressed when you make an appeal. Because a player will just read it as 'no u banned lol, k bye'. It shouldn't be that hard to craft a message that has a bit more tact.

 

Your best best is to message your story in the appeal. Covering why you think you got banned and why you think something is a misunderstanding, hoping they will look more into it.

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1 hour ago, ThinkNicer said:

Evidence will never be presented to the player, because players that 'do' have malicious intents can then see how they got caught and adjust their strategy in the future. And of course also telling everyone else what to look out for. This sadly has the side effect of making the appeal nigh impossible to actually 'appeal' because you have no clue what you need to argue against. So I get both sides, though staff rarely makes mistakes when it comes to RMT. I believe their first response can be a lot more tactful. I can see that a lot of anger mostly comes from the indifferent and maybe sometimes disrespectful way you're being addressed when you make an appeal. Because a player will just read it as 'no u banned lol, k bye'. It shouldn't be that hard to craft a message that has a bit more tact.

 

Your best best is to message your story in the appeal. Covering why you think you got banned and why you think something is a misunderstanding, hoping they will look more into it.

Thanks for the response. It does help to answer that question I guess. Still does make me feel more than a little insecure not knowing what could potentially be misconstrued as malicious behavior.

Edited by Kyklous
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There's not really a way around 'not showing evidence to the players' for the devs.

I think a lot of the tension comes from the fact that, the guy who reviews your appeal is probably the guy who banned you.

Or that all the mods are on 'the same team'.

 

If staff had one dude whose entire purpose, more or less, is exclusively to look at ban appeals and double-check.

"Yes, this was definitely sufficient evidence to warrant a ban." or "Kinda ambiguous, unbanning."

And people had faith in this person because they're not the person handing out bans and they're straight-up neutral like switzerland.

Maybe it would work nicely?

 

Anyways. The template response:

Quote

"Buying and selling in-game assets or accounts in exchange for real money or assets in other games is strictly forbidden.

This ban is permanent and the account will not be unlocked."

...is insufficient. Like, no shit it's against the rules. We know this when making the appeal.

But you're not addressing the fact that he claims he didn't do it.

Even if the response is something like "We definitely have evidence but we can't show it to you due to policies", well, it feels like their appeal was read, at least.

Especially if it's written by a guy whose entire purpose is to double-check the evidence rather than hand out bans.

 

As is, with the responses being so brick-wall and like 99% of ban appeals not being overturned because they're only for GMs making typos, well.

May as well delete the section. Tell it how it is. If you get banned you're fucked.

 

...or change the response template to not be so ass, at least.

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On 2/10/2021 at 8:06 AM, Eggplant said:

 

As is, with the responses being so brick-wall and like 99% of ban appeals not being overturned because they're only for GMs making typos, well.

May as well delete the section. Tell it how it is. If you get banned you're fucked.

If there’s not a section, the amount of PM’s to staff would be insane.

The brick wall response gives finality to the issue, the final nail in the coffin.

 

Personally, having been somebody who was perma banned and appealed the ban to no avail, to becoming someone who dishes out bans (I’ve literally been on both sides), I have no mercy for those who get banned and get their appeals rejected. I trust the system in place and know it works as it should.

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4 hours ago, Gilan said:

I trust the system in place and know it works as it should.

Yeah, but nobody else does.

If the ban appeal states "Why did I get banned for RMT when I didn't commit RMT"

and the response is, "RMT is forbidden". and the appeal gets closed.

Well. This conversation doesn't really...logically or sequentially add up.

So my next logical step, as a banned user, would be to make a new ban appeal, all like "excuse me but did you properly read my appeal? i don't think you understood my post", and then you get met with probably a copy paste of the first response and another closure...

 

The responses aren't just brick-wall, they're also not very useful. It's one thing to communicate that they're never getting unbanned, it's another to do it convincingly and justifiedly.

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Giving a different answer to every ban appeal is unrealistic and a huge waste of time, especially when most appeals are made by players that are well-aware that they've broken the rules and yet are still willing to argue about it. It feels robotic yes, but it's necessary for a game with a large community like PokeMMO.

Edited by LeZenor
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9 hours ago, LeZenor said:

Giving a different answer to every ban appeal is unrealistic and a huge waste of time, especially when most appeals are made by players that are well-aware that they've broken the rules and yet are still willing to argue about it. It feels robotic yes, but it's necessary for a game with a large community like PokeMMO.

It's nice to see that you either

A) completely missed the point Egg and I made

B) Didn't read or didn't want to understand what we are saying

C) Think that the answer given to appeals right now is sufficient

D) all of the above

 

I'll boil it down to a simple sentence for you. Answering a ban appeal with: 'You have been banned because you broke the rules' is in no way answering an appeal. Now in stead of digging your heels into the dirt, you might wanna actually read feedback and do something with it, in stead of making excuses.

 

Edit: wait you aren't staff anymore? Well rip

Edited by ThinkNicer
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1 hour ago, ThinkNicer said:

It's nice to see that you either

A) completely missed the point Egg and I made

B) Didn't read or didn't want to understand what we are saying

C) Think that the answer given to appeals right now is sufficient

D) all of the above

 

I'll boil it down to a simple sentence for you. Answering a ban appeal with: 'You have been banned because you broke the rules' is in no way answering an appeal. Now in stead of digging your heels into the dirt, you might wanna actually read feedback and do something with it, in stead of making excuses.

 

Edit: wait you aren't staff anymore? Well rip

I understand your point and I agree to some extent. The answers can probably be refined and reworked but in the end it will still feel robotic and/or insufficient. Sadly, it's not worth the time of the staff to give a specific explanation to every single ban case as why the ban has been issued, especially when they're appealing just because they don't agree and not because they're innocent, when they can use that time for much more useful things like actually unbanning players, hence why a generic answer is more efficient despite not being sufficient. Shortcuts are less desirable but they are definitely more practical in that case

 

If you put yourself in their shoes for a second, having to deal with tons of appeals every day, maybe then you can understand why they chose that course of action.

Edited by LeZenor
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@LeZenor I don't disagree with how much time that would take, and I'm sure the members of staff are people who lead healthy lives outside of this game who are dedicating a lot of time to an activity that is solely recreational as is, but...

 

On 2/9/2021 at 9:05 PM, Kyklous said:

If so, how does that stack up to the time lost by the banned player?

 

The time excuse really doesn't hold up with me.

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On 2/10/2021 at 3:06 PM, Eggplant said:

If staff had one dude whose entire purpose, more or less, is exclusively to look at ban appeals and double-check.

"Yes, this was definitely sufficient evidence to warrant a ban." or "Kinda ambiguous, unbanning."

And people had faith in this person because they're not the person handing out bans and they're straight-up neutral like switzerland.

Maybe it would work nicely?

While this isn't necessarily a terrible idea in the end it would not change anything. Because SGMs do double check the evidence and do make sure that the ban was warranted. Having a sort of middleman do this will just prolong the process without any change. Since if the evidence isn't strong enough and makes a SGM question if the ban was actually warranted they won't just shut said person down, you do not need a middleman for this.

 

 

11 hours ago, Eggplant said:

If the ban appeal states "Why did I get banned for RMT when I didn't commit RMT"

and the response is, "RMT is forbidden". and the appeal gets closed.

Well. This conversation doesn't really...logically or sequentially add up.

So my next logical step, as a banned user, would be to make a new ban appeal, all like "excuse me but did you properly read my appeal? i don't think you understood my post", and then you get met with probably a copy paste of the first response and another closure...

Zenor touched upon this already but I want to add that if someone does get banned for RMT, and they get said message like "Your account has been permanently closed due to breaking the code of conduct by trading in game assets for real money." it is 99.9% also actually the case.

The fault of the current system is that false positives, which do happen occasionally, are very hard to spot. Because I have seen it happen where the stars align so much that someone got banned because of it. Is this ultimately the fault of the system? Yes. But if staff sees the evidence and case of the false positive, and if the evidence looks like hard evidence but actually just very unfortunate timing, everyone in staff would agree with the ban. Therefore the false positive will get the same message as someone who actually did it because the persons who are in charge of ban appeals see no reason to look into it further which is what makes it sometimes feel as if the system is unfair or in other words complete dogshit. But these are oddballs, very very very rare cases.

And to be honest this is a really hard thing to fix, because being framed or being falsely accused of something in real life also happens.

 

37 minutes ago, Kyklous said:

The time excuse really doesn't hold up with me.


You're right, it doesn't hold up. But it's not an excuse. It's a factual thing. Everyone has always complained for the longest time that ban appeals take way too long to be handled. If staff were to also write out unique answers for every single ban appeal they would be handled even slower. It is very unfortunate if someone gets banned, I would never want to see anyone get banned. But the fact of the matter is, if you got banned and the evidence is there to backup everything a GM did to ban a person. Why would anyone in staff give them more time and effort than they do right now?  And as I said before if something isn't clear, they do actually get asked their side of the story. 

Also I would like to add that someone saying "I didn't do it" doesn't mean they actually didn't do it. I have seen plenty of people that I trust say to my face I didn't do it, but then they actually did it.

Last but not least do I think the current way ban appeals are handled could be improved? Of course, there is always room for improvement. But I think how everything is handled right now is pretty much how it's going to be for a very long time in the future. Would it give players a sense of closure if they saw and got explained more what they got banned for? Yes and should that be the case? In an ideal world yes. But the day only has 24hrs. I am not quite sure any of you understand how much time and effort ban appeals already take. Trust me I wouldn't want to deal with that stuff even if I got paid to do that. In the end there are some cases that get screwed over by the current system and that should be improved. But the way they are being responded to is essentially the way it is.
 

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Unfortunately, the reason for the "robotic" responses is due to a post back in 2018 announcing that there had been a large influx of RMT activities in game.

 

 

That was posted in September and one month prior they noted the following stats:

[quote]

Since August, we have terminated more than 3,500 accounts related to RMT activity and botting, and are still banning hundreds per day.

[/quote]

 

The banning of 3500 accounts in such a short time is nothing short of significant. SGMs were, understandably, overrun with ban appeals. This meant that in order to get them cleared they had to spend less time crafting responses to give proper weight to evidence collected and the counter evidence of the players.

 

 

Something to keep in mind, when you are appealing a ban, it is on /you/ to prove your innocence. If you cannot provide sufficient evidence to overturn your ban then you will stay banned.

 

While mistakes are apt to occur, especially when banning so many accounts per day, it's important to note that appeals are for you to /prove/ your innocence in these cases.

 

As others have already pointed out, they won't show you how they caught you because there are players who are actively trying to find ways around the system. If they know how they were caught they know what to avoid and can tell others how to avoid it as well. They don't want that because a playerbase full of people cheating kills the longevity of the game, looking at you PUBG.

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I've got no horse in this race.

 

I'm just curious what would be the proper appeal to something like this? @XelaKebert What proof would be needed that no RMT had occurred? Are people expected to screen-record 24/7 and then find clips? I'm just confused here as to how someone would have proof that they didn't do something.

 

I can fully understand a series of "weird" transactions within the game flagging someone, I just don't understand what proof would be needed on their end that no RMT had happened.

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2 hours ago, LeZenor said:

I understand your point and I agree to some extent. The answers can probably be refined and reworked but in the end it will still feel robotic and/or insufficient. Sadly, it's not worth the time of the staff to give a specific explanation to every single ban case as why the ban has been issued, especially when they're appealing just because they don't agree and not because they're innocent, when they can use that time for much more useful things like actually unbanning players, hence why a generic answer is more efficient despite not being sufficient. Shortcuts are less desirable but they are definitely more practical in that case

 

If you put yourself in their shoes for a second, having to deal with tons of appeals every day, maybe then you can understand why they chose that course of action.

 Still don't you think its completely unreasonable for players who have spent time and money per say into the game to get wrongly banned and not even get a response with professionality. completely disregarding the games player base and just giving a half assed answer isn't a good way of handling bans in any perspective. running a game like this isn't supposed to be easy so why should caring about wrongful bans be too difficult ? just wondering 

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oh and this "PokeMMO may suspend, modify, or delete any Account related to PokeMMO's Services at any time for any reason, or no reason, with or without notice to You, for any amount of time. For purposes of explanation, most account suspensions and modifications are the result of violation(s) with this Terms of Service." so basically it doesn't even matter if you are wrongly banned, they can ban you with no reason as well 

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This thread has pointed out a few misunderstandings.

 

As mentioned earlier, displaying our evidence to the banned player when it comes to more serious punishments like botting or RMT makes them aware of what to avoid the next time, if they attempt to do the same. Despite players coming to the forums and saying they were just banned for no reason, we do ban when evidence is enough to support it.

 

Every piece of evidence we gather before and after issuing a punishment is reviewed by higher ranked staff, and the point of the appeals is to give these a re-revision in case something has been misinterpreted, along with a chance for players to admit their faults; needless to say the percentage of reversed punishments is very small. Letting the community know the names of the people answering the appeals will only foment harassment and hatred their way, specially in cases where the punishment could've been issued by mistake, because it is true that we make mistakes as well.

 

If during investigation a mistake is found, or SGMs consider the ban to be out of place (Not only when GMs were the ones to issue it, but SGMs as well), the ban is then reversed.

 

When it comes to automated responses: changing these or making them specialized, crafting them for each specific situation will not change the verdict or perspective of the user, if they made a mistake we're not here to flavor their denials, these give us time to focus on reviewing more appeals.

 

The ban system has its flaws, the staff team can be flawed as well but rest assured everyone's given the benefit of the doubt where possible. We really appreciate your feedback and we'll do out best to improve upon this system.

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