When I joined Earth2.io ("E2") in January, I couldn’t stay away from the Earth2 Official ("E2O") Discord. Gradually, the community grew and before I knew it I found myself in 50+ Earth 2 related Discords, and even dared to start my own (E2WW) which has now grown to 700+ members. All are great environments to exchange ideas and some just to catch up with all the fine people of the E2 community. And yet, most of my Discord time share was still on E2O – that was my go-to hangout, my daily touch point with the E2 team and community.
I could be blamed for wishful thinking assuming the place would stay the same. Of course it wouldn’t, especially with the volume of people that joined E2O (over 20K) as the weeks went by. All was still fine for the most part - but a couple of days back I managed to pop-in for some time, as I do come every now and then. I was horrified to learn about an on-going incident involving severe levels of toxicity and even racism! By morning, everyone was talking about how someone had allegedly dropped the ‘N’ word in voice chat and there was even more trolling on the same topic in text channels.
It blew up to an extent where once the Discord moderators got involved, they were allegedly back-trolled and targeted by the same users who might have acted inappropriately. It then spilled over to some back-and-forth between Thomas, the Earth2.io community manager, and the mods. It reached a breaking point when a very popular moderator decided he needed to take a break due to how the situation was handled. It’s hard to tell who said what and maybe even futile to try to discern exactly what happened, but there was enough smoke, and as the popular adage goes – there is no smoke without fire. The key takeaway from this situation is whether these are early symptoms for the need to draw up a community management plan by the E2 team. That plan needs to go beyond Discord which has less than 10% of E2’s 300k+ user base.
Plan for the next million users
It will be a bigger challenge for E2 to manage a community that will grow quickly as they expand their marketing efforts. Keeping the environment clean will be even more difficult when it falls all upon Thomas and a small army of volunteer moderators that are not paid for their time. These mods deserve huge applause for their efforts, but will it be enough going forward? When E2.News reached out to Thomas, he assured us that he will go through all the logs and take appropriate actions against the people who were causing issues. He added that he'll get more involved in the future to protect the moderator team from personal attacks.
While this is commendable, without a formal organization or plan in place to handle the Discord, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, Thomas will struggle because he is only one person and one person can only do so much. This is the Internet, and no matter how hard one might try, there will be bad actors. There will be attempts at misinformation, toxicity, and yes even racism. It is not unreasonable to ask for efforts that will keep Earth 2 free from this, because I feel in the long run it will be worth it to do so. Perhaps it is time to put a solid community management plan in place and prepare for the incoming swarm of people that will join the community.
"Freedom" by robynejay is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The onus should not just lie on the Earth2.io team. The community itself has a responsibility to discourage toxic behavior. We have an opportunity to create a society we want on this new virtual planet with the ability to shape the culture of our own environments. An example of how this might play out is a Megacity I started, Wakanda. The city delves into Afro-Futurism as a sub-theme, with the intent to flip the table on racism and stereotypes. I'm sure many other projects on Earth 2 will do something similar, or even better.
Having an Earth2 that is a better place to exist than Earth1 is an achievable reality. We don't need to turn our backs on Earth1, but the point can not be lost that we have the potential to impart change in a meaningful and productive way on Earth2. We can shape the culture we want to exist in and how we start in these initial months will be an important, crucial factor. Only time will tell whether we will be successful or if it all just an Utopian dream. We must push back on the bad actors and resist the toxicity.
If you are reading this, you are the resistance.
ZEU$ over and out.
"Love is our Resistance." by Xanetia is licensed with CC BY 2.0.