D&D Consultantgate refuses to die down

This post contains more RPG drama relating to the D&D consultant issue. If you don’t want to read another word about this ongoing shitstorm, then move along, there’s nothing to see.

The war of words over the consultants for D&D 5th Edition shows no sign of dying down, no matter how much most people would wish that everyone drew a line under the whole thing and moved on. It’s all been reignited this week by a blog post that’s been widely linked, then subsequently described as a malicious hit piece spreading misinformation and smears. If you haven’t already seen them, read these posts in Richard’s Dystopian Pokeverse and Seebs’ Tumblr before continuing.

I’m sure most people are sick of this by now, but I do have some thoughts regarding the accusations of online harassment.

Both people who have attacked Zak Smith & RPGPundit (and before that James Desborough) and those who have defended them appear to have been at the receiving ends of anonymous threats. Nobody knows the source of these anonymous threats other than the people actually sending them.

In at least one high-profile internet abuse case, that of John Nimmo and Isabel Sorley convicted of sending threatening posts on Twitter to campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, the two trolls turned out to be a couple of disturbed individuals with no motive beyond lulz for the sake of it. It is worth noting that some people did not take it well when the facts turned out not to support the narrative they’d constructed beforehand.

All of which suggests the following hypothesis: All the anonymous threats to both sides are coming from the same small group of people (or possibly even a single very disturbed individual) who have at most a tenuous connection to either side, but are just winding people up for shits and giggles.

The above is purely a hypothesis, and I am prepared to be proved wrong.

At the moment there are a lot of accusations and counter-accusations flying about, and it’s difficult to tell who is telling the truth and who is lying. But I do believe it is in everyone’s interest to know the truth, even if some people have invested too heavily in a narrative that’s not supported by actual evidence, and may have difficultly handling the cognitive dissonance when their narrative collapses.

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