The Game Moderation Team is responsible for moderating the servers to ensure that everyone plays by the rules and can enjoy their time. We have not shared what goes on behind the scenes in this team often, which may have been a breeding ground for common misconceptions such as that we do not do enough work or that we are barely present on the servers. This blog provides an insight into the core activities of the Game Moderation Team in 2021.
In TruckersMP, we have two separate report systems: the web report system and the game report system. The game report system is used to report users directly in the game but does not guarantee a review. As such, game reports can time out after a while. In order to accommodate users to push particular situations for a guaranteed review by one of our staff members, they can utilise the web report system; however, they must record and provide their own evidence. We regularly receive comments from users that they are unhappy about their game reports being timed out. We understand that this is not an ideal situation, but it is a necessary means to keep things manageable around here.
In 2021, our team received 287K web and 1.1 million (!) game reports. We are talking about 1.4 million reports in total, in just one year. It is practically impossible to review all those reports with a relatively small team consisting of volunteers, which is why we base our decisions on where our focus is needed the most. In the first half of 2021, our focus was mainly on the web report system as we experienced extremely high pressure on that system. This pressure eased during the summer; during the rest of the year, we were therefore able to shift our focus towards game reports and an increased in-game presence. In total, we reviewed all 287K web reports and 195K game reports last year.
Bans and appeals
The total of 482K reviewed reports, in addition to live moderation on the servers, resulted in a total of 307K bans. Of those, 169K bans were issued through the website and 138K in-game. Our staff members received 107K ban appeals, of which 5% were accepted. This figure is shockingly low and we regularly receive signals from our staff members that appeals are based on improper grounds. A large number of appeals are solely based on pointing fingers to brothers, sisters or even pets; or are used to say sorry or to ask for another chance. Please keep in mind that when submitting an appeal, your appeal has to be informative, detailed, and contain sufficient grounds and possibly counter-evidence to explain why your ban is not correct. If you submit an appeal that does not meet our conditions or is very bland and lacks solid reasoning, it is unlikely that your appeal will be accepted.
Earlier this year, we reduced the total number of appeals per ban from 3 to 2, since third appeals barely ever made any practical difference apart from causing extra work. We ask players to make careful use of the rights that we offer, as abuse of those rights may result in systems becoming stricter in the long term. It would greatly benefit our staff members and the community if we could spend our time on more reports or employ more in-game presence instead of having to spend time on reading and replying to appeals that are based on improper grounds.
Server activity and the impact of Covid-19
The most activity on the servers, and thus also the busiest days of the week for the Game Moderation Team, are on the weekends. In 2021, we recorded a total playtime on our servers of 31.2 million hours (compared to 37.8 and 30.5 million hours in 2020 and 2019, respectively).
The server activities in 2020 and the first half of 2021 were elevated due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Many countries around the world took measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, such as working from home and total lockdowns. As a result of that, our team had to step up their game to address the extremely high pressure on the web report system. The most intense period of increased activity during the pandemic was between March 2020, when many countries around the world initiated a lockdown for the first time, and May 2021. May 2021 was a record-breaking month for our team with an all-time high of 40K web reports in one month and an all-time high daily record of 1,890 web reports on May 16th. In the image below, you can see an overview of the server activity and the pressure on the web report system during that period.
The peaks in April 2020, July 2020, November 2020 through January 2021, and May 2021 correlate with the peaks in the globally reported confirmed Covid-19 cases (confirmed by data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the John Hopkins University). This may be explained by social distancing as many countries initiate lockdowns as a response to those peaks, and lockdowns cause an increase in stay-inside activities such as gaming. Besides peaks, there are also some drops in activity visible, primarily during the highlighted downgrade periods. When SCS Software releases a new version of the games, our developers have to reverse engineer the updates to make them compatible for use on our servers, and during that time players are forced to downgrade their game version. Activity on the servers, and therefore the pressure on our team, quickly restores once the newest game version is supported.
Demographics and recruitment
The TruckersMP community is very diverse with players coming from countries all over the world. Although our team primarily operates in English, we offer support for a large variety of languages by hiring users from all parts of the world. In addition to that, we receive great support from other staff members who help us with translations. This ensures that we can deal with reports that contain foreign languages and it helps us communicate with players when they are not proficient in English. Our Game Moderation Team (as of the 1st of January) is globally represented by 105 team members from 33 different countries across all continents (with the exception of Antarctica, as we have not hired any penguins yet). Game Moderation Team members are aged 24 years old on average, ranging from 17 to 50 years old. Moreover, they average 1.5 years of experience as a moderator.
Team members come and go on a frequent basis and as such, recruitment campaigns are frequently held. In 2021, there were three recruitment campaigns for the Game Moderation Team: February, May, and December. We unfortunately often have to disappoint many applicants given the large interest in our team and the strict requirements and expectations. In 2021, we received 1,556 applications (data from the ongoing December campaign is not included). Of those, 114 (7.3%) candidates were invited to an interview and 57 (3.7%) were eventually accepted and onboarded to our team. This gives you an impression of how many applicants do not make it through the selection process. If you are interested in joining the Game Moderation Team, please keep an eye on the recruitment page.
As you can see, the Game Moderation Team has not been sitting still in 2021. With our team of dedicated volunteers, we are working hard to review as many reports as we can. Unfortunately, we cannot deal with all game reports simply because the influx of new reports is extremely high on that system. As a community member, you can do your part and help us reduce the workload for our team by not reporting every minor incident to us. Not every incident has to be punished and can also be resolved by yourself by recognising that players sometimes make mistakes. Our goal is to let players enjoy their time on the servers whilst ensuring that they play by the rules. Let us cherish that goal as a community.
Looking forward, in the future we will have one integrated report system that will make it easier for us to moderate the servers and review reports more efficiently. Our lead Game Developer briefly talked about that system in an earlier blog a few months ago. Moreover, we are also studying a new ban system which is intended to standardise bans; this will increase consistency, fairness, and transparency among the bans that we issue. More information about that will follow once we have designed, developed, and implemented the necessary changes.
We hope this blog has provided a meaningful perspective of what the year 2021 meant to the Game Moderation Team and that it has resulted in a broader understanding of what the team is capable of doing in a year. 2022 will be a year with new challenges and opportunities and our team will continue working on keeping the servers safe to the best of our ability.
Drive safe and enjoy your journeys!
Game Moderation Management