Thursday, 24 October 2019

What does and doesn't count as "Gatekeeping" to you?

Specifically - what situations or circumstances are on either side of that line, where on one hand, you would say "this person is Gatekeeping", and on the other you would say "No, this isn't Gatekeeping"?


And an addendum if you are up for it -

In a semi-virtual environment where everyone is limited physically by their local circumstances, but simultaneously borderless in their virtual selves, where friendships, cliques, marketing and "community" all segue seamlessly into one another, where hard elements stopping someone from, for instance, starting a blog or publishing a PDF are minimal, but where attention and reputation are essentially resources, and where the whole thing is very fluid and constantly changing;

How would you personally decide who has 'institutional power' or its equivalent? What heuristic or decision making process, and what evidence would you use to decide that this person has more or less power than that person?

Remember, I'm asking for your personal views and how you do things, now how you think other people are or should be doing things.

We all know that if anyone answers at all then its going to turn into a shitshow in the comments, but the longer we stay civil then hopefully the more we can get out of it.

"Cooperative convo: Assume good intent and that problems are misunderstandings, deescalates, uses gentle/neutral language, amoral."


  1. When someone tells me who I should have at my table
    What politics to support
    Who I should shun or dox
    Who I must support or ally with
    Tries to turn my hobby into a lifestyle brand
    Injects their politics into mainstream work
    Judges me based on their perception of my group identities

    All gatekeeping. Keep it to yourself.

    1. So my impression is that gatekeeping involves an exclusion. Do you think these situations have excluded you from something, and if so what?

      I ask because I have experienced some of those things and they usually come from someone I avoid anyway

    2. Scott's definition works perfectly for myself as well.

    3. Are these things you could ever imagine yourself doing?

      I mean, to never, ever do any of those things yourself, to anyone, seems to me to border on the edge of human possibility. You would have to live as some kind of crazy aspergers monk to do it.

    4. That can't be gatekeeping! Parents, teachers, good friends, brothers do that all the time. They are not keeping you out, they are introducing you into something.

    5. Scott's definition works for me also.

      To me these are not the acts of a good friend, nor by corollary things that only a crazy asperger monk could avoid.

  2. I'll give my uneducated opinion. Firstly, Gatekeeping, in the way I define it, is preventing someone from engaging with a community without a demonstrable working knowledge of the subject the community engages in. Preventing someone from playing in your game or engaging in your community due to their age, sex, race, politics, etc. is discrimination rather than gatekeeping. Gatekeeping is also not "Stop having fun in the way I don't like.". It's still a broad, wishy-washy definition but it suits my purposes well enough.
    The absolute minimum one should have in order to engage with a TTRPG community is the ruleset itself. Whether you pay for it, acquire it through illicit means, or find a legally free version, you need to have those rules, as they establish a common baseline between one another in that community. Without the rules to read up on and reference, nothing the community says will make sense.
    The next part to engaging a TTRPG community is reading up on and understanding the rules along with the design philosophy behind the rules. While sometimes reading up on design philosophy is an easy task, a lot of it is unfortunately obfuscated behind forums, blogposts, interviews, etc. I still don't count it as gatekeeping as the information is still freely available (unless you don't have internet), but I would love if more designers compiled their design notes into single documents. Asking questions about why the rules are why they are, while bound to give you pushback by grogs and other grouches, can be a good way to figure out and deepen your understanding of why things are why they are. This isn't an all-access pass to start suggesting that the rules are bunk and that your changes would absolutely make the game 100% better, that's seen as rude more than anything and is probably a good chunk of why people cry out about gatekeeping. Yes, your houserules could probably make the game itself run smoother, but unless the discussion is specifically for that sort of thing, you're attempting to take the base understanding everyone shares and limit it to just yourself that way.
    You'll note that I don't mention running the games here. That honestly doesn't matter as much to the subject of gatekeeping, as there is absolutely nothing stopping you, barring personal preference, from gathering several friends or strangers to learn and play the game you want to run. This in fact forms your own little community, where you can invite people as you please and exclude folks who are not a good match. I would put this under the definition of gatekeeping, but because there are so many other GMs running games out there it's rather difficult to completely close off someone from a certain TTRPG, unless if it's incredibly obscure or a homebrew of your own make.

    And yeah, that was a whole lotta words to just say "There's way too many dang communities, you'll fit into at least one as long as you respect their rules." I'm also assuming good faith in communities, however I do know a lot of them can be quite discriminatory or liable to tear themselves apart with poor community guidelines on their part.

    1. "a lot of it is unfortunately obfuscated behind forums, blogposts, interview"

      This is something that fascinates me as a comment I read on twitter, roughly to this point just wowed me. It was someone complaining that it was hard to absorb the mores and thinking of a community because (words from my memory, not theirs) it was all 'locked' behind blog posts, interviews etc, and they seemed to think strongly that this was _a way of keeping people out_, and they actually resented this.

      That staggered me because to me those are all methods of open communication and it seemed mad to me to complain that, yes this group of people was deliberately describing their thoughts and ideas out, loud, publicly, as they had them, but their _failure to adequately condense these ideas_ was Gatekeeping.

      To go back to your definition though, the way you define it, most of the outright-bad things about 'Gatekeeping' are 'discrimination', which is clearly bad. And the thing itself is this highly specific process where you, essentially make people read the rules first? Do I have that right?

      That seems an, internally coherent, but rather rarefied and abstract detention for the complex weft of online existence.

    2. If I may jump in....

      The short answer, I think, is that this environment is only "open" if you have (a) sufficient technical literacy and access to technology to figure out how to find useful information online, (b) sufficient free time to educate yourself on references and jargon written for an audience of insiders, and (c) minimal fear of feeling shunned or unwelcome, despite the bulk of material being written with regard to how to actively welcome newcomers, and pervasive stereotypes of "gamers" as racist, misogynistic jerks (unfortunately based on the loudest and worst elements of hobbyist communities, but based on real people and events nevertheless).

      Now, to be clear, I don't mean to suggest we shouldn't have any insider knowledge, or that folk art movements or hobbyist entertainment shouldn't be a decentralized thing scattered across the blogosphere, or whatever else. I think "gatekeeping," as defined above, exists on a spectrum. Hanging a sign that says "no girls allowed" is clearly a more adamant form of gatekeeping than throwing some D&D jargon into our blog posts.

      But I don't think it's useful to only examine individual examples to check off "gatekeeping" or "not gatekeeping" for each. This stuff all exists in context. Yes, it's a form of gatekeeping if the only feasible way to enter a community is through a hobbyist blogosphere, or a paywalled Slack channel, or a subreddit, or whatever. That doesn't mean you can't have those things, though. It just means that if you want to reduce gatekeeping, if you want to actively welcome new people, you have to go out of your way to offer them other ways in.

    3. I think I would view those things quite differently. Speaking personally I don't think other peoples access to technology, their free time and their fears of being shunned really have anything to do with me.

      From my own life at various times I have been too busy to do stuff like this, have not had the tech to be involved and I often still find places and groups to be either unwelcoming, or simply to have methods and attitudes I don't like. It would seem incoherent to me to say that I was at any point being Gatekept from any of those groups. How could it possibly be the responsibility of a bunch of people on the internet, communicating by computer, to make sure that *I* have a laptop? Or that there is some publicly-available hardcopy of what they are up to?

      As far as being welcoming, I find most internet spaces superficially welcoming but in effect each operating by a subtly different range of hidden interpersonal power structures and moral intuitions, and I have not found any place that *doesn't* work that way.

      Of the three things you mention at the end, I would take one of them, the paywalled slack channel, to be totally different from the other two, the subreddit and the blogosphere, as paywall literally keeps something off the publicly accessible record and does so in a way controllable by the people who set it up and the others do not.

      I think we may be operating under totally different intuitions and assumptions about what counts as 'openness'.

    4. Yeah, it sounds like we have different ideas of what counts as "openness," and that's okay. What I'm really struck by, though, is that I think we're thinking about "gatekeeping" differently, too. You are discussing it in terms of whether it should "really have anything to do with me," and in terms of "the responsibility of a bunch of people on the internet." But I don't mean to suggest that we need to understand gatekeeping in terms of shaming, blaming, or social responsibility, which seems to be your concern in those statements. We can also just look at it pragmatically: Do we want more people participating in our hobbies? Do we want a more inclusive hobby, representing a broader range of perspectives? Well, certain technical capabilities and not-unfounded fears are currently barriers to that; it's up to us to decide whether we want to make the effort to help people overcome those barriers. Indifference to those barriers is part of my understanding of what "gatekeeping" means, even if it's not an active or even purposeful effort to shut the door on people's faces.

      As I said before, though, I don't think it's very useful to look at these things as isolated behaviors, devoid of context. If somebody's doing other stuff that actively boosts people from marginalized or less well-represented backgrounds in the industry/community, I don't feel like it's practical or useful to chide them as a "gatekeeper" just because they've got a jargon-heavy blog or whatever. I don't mean that every move we make needs to be geared toward radical inclusion. We're allowed to do things for ourselves, for our friends, in our insular nerd enclaves (which my own blog is very much an example of).

      I don't mind if you don't that we may have different understandings of "gatekeeping," though. Just trying to clarify how I understand the term, as requested. Hope it helps.

  3. Gatekeeping is any explicit or implicit behavior that says "you do not meet prerequisites I define for getting into this hobby."

    Things of this nature I have observed are "larp-ing is not a valid form of roleplay" or "people who need maps or minis should just play board games" or "if you didn't get in the hobby when it wasn't popular, you're just a trend-chaser."

    This is often confused with the geek social fallacy of "Ostracizers are Evil," wherein not wanting someone at YOUR table for other reasons might be viewed as gatekeeping. There is nothing wrong with curating game groups for the enjoyment of those involved.

    For example, "your behavior at the table was detrimental to the rest of the group's fun, and you did not heed requests to stop. You aren't welcome here anymore" or "I picked the group for this game based on who I feel would fit best in the limited slots". Nothing wrong with that, in fact, do that more.

    As far as the addendum, the heuristic would probably hinge on whose opinions were granted additional weight separate from their intrinsic validity. Like, if you're a person who has found publishing success, you likely have more institutional power than someone who hasn't, especially in spaces where that is the topic of focus.

    There's also a common concept of seniority in RPG spaces, physical or virtual or hybrid, that is often valuable, but can lead to negative effects. Someone who has run multiple successful games may have a strong opinion that many view as more valid due to that seniority, which can lead to someone with less experience being ignored, or worse, belittled for their opinion, regardless of its quality.


    1. Ok so how do you personally decide if an 'implicit behaviour' is Gatekeeping (Bad), or ostracising for 'other reasons' (possibly good).

      If someone accused you of gatekeeping them, what series of thoughts would you have do decide if that accusation was valid?

    2. Good question. Probably I'd consider my own behavior, and their behavior, and how it could be mapped onto other situations. Things like "if a more regular member of the group exhibited the same behavior, would I react the same?" or "if I were behaving like that, how would I expect or want people to react?" or "based on what I know about them, is it possible I'm treating them uncharitably due to an incomplete picture."

      I guess the core of it would probably boil down to, "am I trying to improve the experience of myself and my group, or does my behavior more closely resemble an attempt to damage theirs?"

      This can totally be done accidentally. Like, I tend to enjoy a bit of inter-character conflict, but I ran into a situation where a player phased out their character and created a new one because they felt that my character didn't like theirs. I had to impress that if something I am doing is making your experience less good, tell me and I will stop. We're all here to have fun, and if I'm damaging your experience, please tell me so I can rectify that.

      But in that situation, my behavior might have appeared like implicit Gatekeeping, especially if we didn't know each other particularly well.

    3. That's interesting thank you. It seems like for many people who investigate the question, it comes down to some aspect of the "Golden Rule" - Am I doing what I would want others to do to me, or acting in a way I would want others to act towards me in their place.

      And that seems massively deepened and complexified by the staggering kallaidoscope of different personality types, experiences of the world and moral intuitions people can bring to a situation, so asking yourself "What would I want if I were them?" becomes a very sophisticated thing.

    4. Yeah, and sometimes what two people want are incompatible. Sometimes the games they want to play are too different to satisfy both. Sometimes they just don't get along, or like each other.

      It's the same things that happen with any social activity, but often with some added baggage fairly unique to tabletop games.

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    2. Re-read the post again and decided naming names, even in a friendly way probably wasn't a great idea.

      Personally I think most gatekeeping in the OSR is self-imposed.

  5. Gatekeeping is when someone tries to prevent certain content (ideas, drawings, words, play styles, concepts) from being published. Gatekeeping is when someone tries to achieve (through boycotts, coercion or rhetorical speeches) that I stop playing the games that I like, or that the author stops publishing the games he wants to publish, or that the selling intermediary refuse to offer a game because it offends the sensitivity or moral values ​​of a group.

    Power and fame go together. Those who have a certain reputation have power because their opinions become important to their followers. Between two people with certain prestige, fame and power, the person who shows himself to the world (be it true or mere appearance) as a virtuous, Christian, full of values, harmless, pacifist, dispassionate, objective person who does not participate is more powerful in controversial issues, which rejects marginal aesthetics, which always says and thinks what the majority says and thinks but with a little more authority (instead of "I think that", he expresses his opinions as true statements). Monte Cook has more power than Mike Evans not only because he is a millionaire (although that also counts, perhaps even more than everything else) but because Monte never polemicizes, his games are harmless, they do not try to go beyond gender, it does not contain ideas different and novel, while Mike Evans creates games and expresses opinions that go beyond conventional limits. I think, in short, the most powerful is the one who manages to surround himself with more people who reproduce his ideas as truths. Zak was powerful because everyone agreed that he was a genius, but when everyone agreed that despite his genius, Zak was an ominous presence, the power of the majority made him fall from his pedestal (and I don't want to give the impression that this has been wrong).

    1. Ok so would you say Gatekeeping is specifically visible, clear directed action (boycotts, coercion or rhetorical speeches) then?

    2. Yes. Perhaps there's some level of unconscious gatekeeping, like designing a game with a certain kind of contents that will scare away people you don't like around, but it's pretty hard to tell between that and genuine liking, right?

    3. I've been about this, I need to add that boycott, coercion and speeches are gatekeeping only (I can't think of an exception at the moment) when they are based on a moral ground.

      I can boycott a publisher that uses his money to support Trump (or corrupt parties PRI and PAN in Mexico, to give a local example). That doesn't mean I'm gatekeeping.

      But the moment I boycott a publisher because he publishes books I find offensive, now then I'm gatekeeping.

      Coercion works the same, I guess. I can threaten my kids that if they vote Trump I won't give them money and that is not gatekeeping, is education (and, yeah, family values and family educations are violent, are forced into children: you must believe in this god, not in that; you will eat this, not that; you will go to this school, not that...)

      But coercion as gatekeeping works when I threaten to ban someone from my Facebook or MeWe group because he talks about a game I find offensive.

  6. I think traditional or "hard" gatekeeping persists in the current environment as long as anyone can exercise control over a significant platform (means of production or access), such as Facebook, Wordpress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Google, DTRPG, etc. As long as a person or group can decide what content is allowed to exist in "prominent" or "common" spaces, they can gatekeep in the traditional or "hard" sense. The existence of alternative platforms does not reasonably counterbalance the power of mainstream manipulation or exclusion.

    I think "soft" gatekeeping occurs when an individual or group applies power through information, such as controlling a narrative about "what has happened" or promoting a consensus about "what is good". As long as an audience or community can be manipulated by information, there can be "soft" gatekeeping, or at least attempts at it. In this context, individuals with the largest audience (followers?) can exercise the most power (more easily propagating their own information/narrative).

    I think this puts enormous pressure on us as individuals to be continually vigilant in critically assessing the information we encounter and choosing how we react to that information. But really, that's always been true, hasn't it?

    1. Ok, thank you. With your 'soft' definition, are there any of us who are not somehow engaging in 'Gatekeeping' simply by being part of an online space?

  7. Wrt your addendum, I think that saying something or someone has institutional power requires them to have the ability to materially control the range of peoples’ actions. Within this semi-virtual environment that would be sites like Blogspot, Wordpress, Kickstarter, Patreon, DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, Discord, and so on and so on. While the degree to which they can differs, they can all place hard limits on access to communication, funds, etc.

    Besides this “hard” gatekeeping, I think it’s also possible to “soft” gatekeep without material power over someone. Things like ignoring, bullying, harassment, defamation, and the like done with the intent to exclude or isolate someone can potentially be just as effective at preventing access to resources/participation as banning them.

    I’m leery of applying a moral judgement to either form of gatekeeping, at least by the definitions I’ve laid out. I’ll be damned before I let some SEO bot shill in my comment section, and on the soft side no one should be obligated to give someone attention, invite them to games or chats, etc.

    Because of this I don’t think the term is useful on its own. Someone is gatekeeping - and? There needs to be more to it before it can be said to be a problem/issue/whatever else.

    1. 'Ignoring' is the most challenging one for me as, with people I have had bust-ups with or who I just can't stand to be around, ignoring them seems to me like the most survivable and least-aggressive option, especially if not ignoring them will create more drama.

  8. Gatekeeping is any behavior that makes someone less likely to engage in a whatever.

    On the soft, trivial side of this, it's possible to drive someone away from a hobby just by having obnoxious opinions, loudly. This sort of stuff might fit the strictest definition, but it shouldn't be a crime to be loudly opinionated, and that shouldn't be what conversations about gatekeeping are about.

    On the deep end, you have things like harassment, actively seeking to exclude people, actively seeking to exclude in-game stuff (like if Mike Mearls said that there was no homosexuality in D&D), etc. }

    It's a gradient, from "meh" to "wow that's shitty". Where you draw the acceptable/unacceptable line in that gradient is going to depend on a lot of factors.

    1. Do you want to go further and try to come up with imaginary examples that are on either side of the just-about-acceptable and unacceptable boundary for you?

  9. For me gatekeeping requires institutional power. It's about "keeping gates". You can only do that if you have control of whether it's open or closed.

    Being obnoxious and saying "I hate blah blah so people who do that or are like that have no place in my hobby" makes you a prick but not a gatekeeper. At the end of the day it's just words and words, contrary to popular belief these days, are not magic.

    On the other hand, actually excluding people through an institution, like e.g. drivethrurpg picking and choosing who gets to publish through their site, is gatekeeping. That might be good or bad, of course.

    1. So by institutional power would you view that as just the kind of thing that leaves a bureaucratic mark, like a literal job or a measurable decision, seperate from the social world?

      How do you account in your paradigm for people who, by inherent nature or by some other reason, are waaaay across the sensitivity curve from you when it comes to "the power of words"?

      If someone hypersensitive has an argument with someone who is, lets say, "robust", but if both of their natures are natural or inherent to who they are, who decides the terms of engagement or who has the moral advantage?

    2. Basically yes.

      I think people who are hypersensitive and people who are overly robust both need to change and be less sensitive or less robust respectively. You don't get anywhere in life by saying "I am inherently this way and have no intention of changing". That's the mentality of a 2 year old. I also think it's a mistake to see things in terms of moral advantage. In most social situations people are perfectly nice and polite to each other and make accomodations - I almost literally cannot imagine a circumstance in which somebody is going to turn up to some occasion in which D&D is being played and the other people tell them they can't play. I mean for people who are older than, like, 12.

  10. When playing and talking about D&D with others I tend to make an implicit/subconscious assumption that they exist in more-or-less the same socio-cultural matrix as I do and that their interest in and knowledge of the game is comparable to mine (at least in kind, if not degree). So I'll make a lot of shorthand references to stuff without explaining it. I can see how some people who don't share the same background and interests might see this as elitist and exclusionary and call that gatekeeping, but I don't mean it that way. That said, I'm also not inclined to change my mode of play or conversation to accommodate people who aggressively don't care about a bunch of "dead white people" and am much more likely to just not interact with them than to try to find common ground, so in that respect there is a gate, but if anything it seems like I'm the one on the outside.

    A couple weeks ago my niece had her birthday party at a "geek" themed party space attached to a store that also hosts a bunch of gaming and geek-culture events. I think my wife was hoping I would bond with the store owner and become involved in their events, but I didn't feel much kinship with what I saw: the crowd (everyone but the owner) was 10+ years younger than me and they all seemed to exist in a different socio-cultural matrix centered on cartoon shows I've never seen, podcasts I've never listened to, and video and board games I've never played rather than the 80s-era pop-culture (Lucas, Spielberg, Henson, MTV, Atari, etc.) and "traditional western canon" of dead white guys (Homer, Dante, Mallory, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dumas, Hugo, Dickens, Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Vance, Vonnegut, Pynchon*, etc.) that I know and care about. I strongly suspect if I tried to play in a game with these kids they'd think I was very lame and boring and out-of-touch, and may well take offense at my lack of knowledge of "their" culture. So to the extent there's a gate, I'm not the one keeping it.

    *not actually dead

    1. It is possible we old farts have always felt like this, Trent.

      That said, you're not the only one who finds the disdain for the "pale, male and stale" offputting. I don't know how it is that equality turned into slagging off older white men, but it ain't pretty.

    2. Recently visited a peer of mine and we both agreed that we felt disconnected from our own culture, despite the fact that the modern age has co-opted so many of the edge-hobbies of our youth. It's probably a natural part of aging---but that doesn't make it any less weird. We've seen so many things repeated in cycles that the "new" doesn't seem so shiny-new, and "trending" often feels like a re-hashed hype-machine trying to get our attention and money, and "better" seems more like different-but-the-same (e.g. everything Apple has done post-Jobs).

      It was a surprise then (for me with classic D&D) to pick up the old hobby with a cast of new (young) players and still feel the pulse quicken and the incredulous laughter bubble forth. It seems so grounded and "real" in a virtual age. Pure joy!

      (And it didn't require a monthly subscription or a chat with customer support.)

      With regard to the anger directed at aging geeks and our geeky ways (D&D, computers, comic books, etc.)---let's not forgot, we were ALWAYS outsiders subject to potential ridicule for the things we liked. The only thing that's changed is now we are also old and CREEPY too. The solution is the same as always---careful what you say and who you say it to (for fear of being misunderstood and labeled something awful). Also, generally avoid the "cool kids", as they can be socially savage thought-police---unforgiving of dissenting (odd) views.

      There's always been folks fighting over who gets to steer the 'mainstream' barge, Trent, and it ain't ever been guys like us. Que sera sera. Just BE old...just don't let it make you sad or angry.

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    1. (Sorry, that was meant to reply directly to another comment. Reposted in thread above.)

  12. You can probably define "gatekeeping" broadly, in this context, as any attempt to restrict access insular group. That isn't necessarily bad in itself. Generally, though, when we talk about "gatekeeping" as implicitly bad, I understand it to refer to when individuals with unexamined sociocultural privilege say and do things, even unwittingly, that signal to less privileged people that they are not welcome, generally by reinforcing the "rightness" of an imbalanced status quo. In other words, it's only "gatekeeping" when you're already inside the gate, and the world on that side of the gate seems pretty heavily catered to you.

    By that definition, it's NOT gatekeeping to criticize a game's art for disproportionately featuring cisgender white dude heroes rescuing scantily-clad damsels in distress from villainous people of color. That criticism of might be uncomfortable for a lot of insiders, but they're already insiders. It IS gatekeeping to accuse that critic of "gatekeeping" for having the temerity to attack the status quo.

    And, with all due respect, it is an unwitting form of gatekeeping to open a conversation about gatekeeping by implicitly expressing doubt that "gatekeeping" is a thing, as the addendum in the post above does. I honestly believe you don't mean to come across that way, and that you do genuinely want to understand better how on Earth such an "open" media environment could because construed as "gatekeeping." And that's a fair question! (Which I tried to address elsewhere in the thread.) But anything signaling to less privileged people that their opinions are not welcome or will not be considered seriously is understandably likely to turn them away. The "gate" in this case isn't even a technical hurdle, but the promise of a chilly reception and an uphill battle. If this comment thread DOESN'T turn into a shitshow, I'd take that as a sign that the gatekeeping is working well enough to turn away folks who don't see the point in arguing.

    1. Rereading this, I fear it comes across with greater hostility than intended. For what it's worth, I suspect I'm behind plenty of unintended gatekeeping myself. I don't think it necessarily makes us bad. I just think we need to be mindful.

    2. How do you personally decide or understand for yourself who does or doesn't have more or less privilege than you?

    3. Cultural studies and sociology research, I guess? Long story short, there's a substantial and persuasive body of empirical research and journalistic writing on the axes of cultural power, notably race, gender, and socioeconomic class, and I happen to fall into the "pretty damn privileged" category along all of those axes. If I get pulled over for speeding, I don't have to worry that I'm going to get shot because the color of my skin makes the authority figure with the gun uneasy (and then literally get away with murder). If I get passed over for a raise, I don't have to question whether I could be making more if I were of another gender. Countless studies have already shown that social systems are already rigged in my favor.

      But of course, that's a pretty privileged answer right there: I was very lucky to get paid to get a PhD, and doubly lucky that I got to both take and teach courses at extremely diverse women's colleges. Those experiences exposed me to a lot of people and perspectives I likely wouldn't have encountered otherwise. And I have to admit, I don't know that I would've understood how privileged I am if I'd only heard that claim from randos on the internet. I have to imagine that reading what women, people of color, and LGBTQ people have to say about privilege and gatekeeping will communicate a lot more than anything I could say, seeing as how I'm pretty much inside the "gate" already.

  13. Gatekeeping is deplatforming, demanding that individuals be banned from public venues such as conventions, fora or online distribution platforms that control a large percentage of the marketplace based on characteristics that are peripheral too, or have nothing to do with their contribution to the hobby.

    Expecting a baseline of familiarity with the subject matter and the cultural background behind the hobby, broad though it may be, is a vital component in ensuring its vitality and longevity, but otherwise association should be on a strictly voluntary basis.

    I am vaguely incredulous that any of the aforementioned public spaces is anything but deliriously enthusiastic at the prospect of adding yet more (insert appropriate category here) to their ranks but I am certainly open to viewing any non-anecdotal peer-reviewed statistical evidence to the contrary.

    I haven't checked out Silent Titans yet. Where would you rate it among your other works?

    1. Rating my own works in public, especially where there were numerous other people involved, is something I would rather not do.

  14. The preamble to your follow-up question is the most interestig facet to me:

    "In a semi-virtual environment where everyone is limited physically by their local circumstances, but simultaneously borderless in their virtual selves, where friendships, cliques, marketing and "community" all segue seamlessly into one another, where hard elements stopping someone from, for instance, starting a blog or publishing a PDF are minimal, but where attention and reputation are essentially resources, and where the whole thing is very fluid and constantly changing-"

    ...because as a new arrival to this scene this is the facet I'm having the most difficulty negotiating. The question with which it is folowed is telling, because it encourages us to evaluate this "semi-virtual environment" in terms of power structures: telling because this is how all of us approach a scene or community or any social situation, consciously or not. It raises the question: how do we create an environment where power doesn't matter?

    I'm starting to drift into territory in which my confidence perhaps exceeds my intellect, so I'll reel it back in: as a new "entrant" or prospective entrant to "the scene", there are aspects of one's identity which might grant one greater cachet (and by extension, power). These aspects could be gender, race, or age (with different spaces according different levels of power to different variations of such aspect)... but it seems to me that the greatest reverence is granted to those who have a) been published and b) have taken principled stands in their publications. So, superficially, this is meritocratic.

    Of course, we can then come back to questions of what role their gender, race, sexuality etc. played in getting them published, and (if we really want to dig deep) how much their identity contributed to their capacity to produce great work (the great works of pre-war 20th Century fiction were by and large produced by members of the upper social order whose backgrounds afforded thhem the very best education).

    Okay this is broadening as well as lengthening, so finally:

    The only way to assert a genuine egalitarianism in the here and now is a complete erasure of identity and history. The result is the Khmer Rouge's year Zero, which no-one really wants (not that I know of), so instead we're left to muddle through with all of our cultural baggage, hopefully slouching slowly towards ~~Bethlehem to be born~~ a future without gates and borders of any kind.

    Yuk, glib... but brevity as never been a virtue of mine, whenever it's attempted I waste to many words excusing my own lack of brevity...