Valve’s content moderators will soon start moderating game discussion board comments on its Steam publishing platform, instead of leaving the task up to developers. Under the new policy, which goes into effect on September 25th, Steam moderators will review posts and threads that players report from individual game discussion pages — along with other content that the team already handles, like user profiles and community groups.
Valve says that while it moderates other content, it’s been “hesitant” to deal with discussion boards. “We didn’t want to step on the toes of game developers that want to have their own style of communication with players and their own set of guidelines for behavior,” says the blog post announcing the decision. But it says many game developers have asked it to “take a more active role” in the boards, particularly in handling posts that other players report.
Developers can opt out of the new policy and keep handling posts on their own, and Valve moderators won’t be actively checking the boards for offending content. But when a user reports a post, by default, it will go into a Valve moderator queue. Valve says it’s been growing its team to meet demand.
Valve is expanding its oversight here while it’s reducing its overall moderation of games on Steam. Earlier this year, it announced a new policy of allowing developers to sell “everything” on the Steam store unless a game contained illegal content or was “straight up trolling.” It recently posted an update on this policy, offering detail about new filters it had added to let users control what they see, as well as more information about its “trolling” provision.
PC Gamer reported last year that many Steam developers were frustrated with Valve’s hands-off discussion board policies. Each game gets a community board, and they can be a useful way for developers to publicly answer questions or troubleshoot bugs. But Steam users can also fill the boards of games they don’t like with bigoted slurs, and so far, Valve has left developers — many of whom are already busy, especially around game launches — to keep up with the abuse. (Some developers wish Valve would let them shut down the boards altogether, which Valve doesn’t discuss here.)
We don’t know how quickly Steam moderators will be able to respond to reported comments. But Valve is saying it wants to put “human power to use in more ways” across Steam — which contrasts with the “just add more data” approach it’s sometimes taken in the past.