Eurogamer recently published an article where they talked with the entertainment platform Fandom (owners of various gaming-related sites including Metacritic) about what they plan to do about the abusive, disgusting and misogynistic reviews currently plaguing Horizon Forbidden Wests’ DLC: Burning Shores.
As per the exceptionally well done Eurogamer piece, here is Fandom and Metacritic’s stance:
“Our team reviews each and every report of abuse (including but not limited to racist, sexist, homophobic, insults to other users, etc) and if violations occur, the reviews are removed. We are currently evolving our processes and tools to introduce stricter moderation in the coming months.”
Content moderation is a difficult thing due to the sheer amount of reviews being published, or due to the site owner’s reluctance to cut off a large stream of clicks and eyeballs. No social site has been able to adequately moderate content, nor have most blogs. It’s an immensely challenging topic with few tried-and-true solutions. While we are by no means experts at the topic, we have a few ideas.
Here is What We Think Metacritic Can Do To Keep User Reviews, While Cleaning it Up
User reviews can be submitted by anyone. Whether you played the game or not, you can write whatever drivel you please. That is the first big issue. As of this writing, there is no verification that the game is owned, nor the number of hours actually played. Steam has shown that while this won’t completely fix the issue, it should reduce the vile that is infesting the Burning Shores user reviews. A qualification check should be mandatory.
It’s true that this may be a bit more complicated since you aren’t playing on the same platform you are reviewing .I imagine they can tie reviewing into the console logins. A game validation check will work to enhance reviews. As of right now, they are little more than a trash heap of depravity. Let’s put game time up as well. It will help to reduce troll reviews and help users gain actual insights.
A Rep System
Again. Something else that could be brigaded, but one that seems like a step in the right direction. By allowing other users to up or downvote reviews, it should help the moderation team. I know the first thing that will happen is people will encourage mass downvotes that aren’t reasonable, but the general thought would allow for the actual reviewers to rise to the top. Then, as the same reviewer reviews more and more, they can have a sort of badge as a “power reviewer.” While this is not earth-shattering stuff that hasn’t been implemented elsewhere, it is more than Metacritic is currently doing.
Bans are an unfortunate, yet necessary part of being in an online world. Are there relatively easy ways around them? Of course. But, the review platform must at least attempt to discourage behavior that amounts to review bombing. If a reviewer runs afoul of ToS, by all means they should be banned.
Content moderation is like trying to fill a cup with a fire hose. It’s nearly impossible to be perfect, but I don’t think that should stop them from being better. User reviews provide a more personal insight than many review publications do. The importance is there, but are aggregator sites willing to put in the time and money?