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Better? Maybe? - You Can Now Report Abusive Steam Tags

Growing pains

Oh, Valve. I'd like it so very much if we lived in the world you seem to wishfully inhabit. Power to the people! It's a wonderfully idealistic goal, but there's just one problem with it: the Internet mutates far too many people into hideous trolls, and they use their powers to make the world a viler, more putrid place. I'm not as against democratization of game development/sales as, say, John, but I do think there need to be serious checks in place to prevent rampant misuse and willful idiocy. It is, then, good to see Valve sort of moving in that direction with Steam Tags. Doubtless, Steam needs to beef up discoverability for its increasingly labyrinthine library, but easily abused tags initially turned the feature into a giant joke. Valve's solution? A community driven report function, naturally.

Here's the full update, courtesy of Valve:

  • There is a new reporting option next to popular tags on game pages. You can click the flag icon to report a tag, which will downvote the tag. Right now there are four report reasons:
    • Offensive/abusive tag
    • Not appropriate for this product
    • Not a helpful tag
    • Spoiler
  • In general, tags need to be applied by more users before they will show on the popular tags section
  • "For You" / Recommended tags will only recommend tags that apply to multiple games
  • Fixed an issue where swear words would show unfiltered in some places

So Valve's solution to a community issue is... the community. That's not particularly surprising, but I worry that dedicated trolls could use this system for ill just as much as regular ol' Average Joe573623420blazins could use it for legitimate purposes. I mean, what's to stop malicious ne'er-do-well types from reporting and downvoting tags that actually reflect opinions formed on this plane of reality? It's good that tags now need to be applied by more people before they show up on a game's page, but I worry that still won't stop a concerted, pre-planned "raid"-style effort from pushing dubious tags past Valve's gates.

That said, I went ahead and checked the tags of popular targets like Fez and Indie Game: The Movie, and they're totally spotless for now. My guess? Valve went in and moderated those personally, but that's only speculation. Games like Gone Home, meanwhile, still sport tags like "boring" and "white girl problems," although those are thankfully not on the game's main page. Oh, and while a lot of it is technically against the rules, Barbie Dreamhouse Party's treasure trove of tags is incredible. My favorites: horror, post-apocalyptic, MLG, hardcore, grand strategy, and masterpiece.

I'm still definitely not sold on Steam Tags, but this is an improvement, at least. It remains to be seen what'll happen when a new controversial or somehow objectionable game comes out - whether people will rush its store page and try to put a dent in its initial sales or something - but I suppose time will tell. And until then, well, at least there is an official (and very popular) "Nanomachines, Son" tag. Thank goodness for that.

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