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ersatz_cats
09-07-2018 at 02:35 PM
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The Contra 3 dispute: A post-mortem

I have some things to say about the recently resolved dispute of Isaiah "Triforce" Johnson's score on Contra 3. Some of this will be a recap of what has been said in the dispute itself, while some of this will be brand new revelations from my experiences in the "AntiCheatingTwinGalaxies" Discord server. (Spoiler: Things got racist.) Yes, this is long, for reasons you'll see.

--"GOOD GUYS" AND "BAD GUYS"--

Before I get to the dispute discussion, I want to call out the recurring theme of this write-up, which is "Life isn't fair." We've all heard this since grade school - usually with an added "always" ("Life isn't *always* fair"), as if to suggest life should be and usually is fair. Many of us here do believe in fairness and in fair competition, which is what attracts us to participate in score adjudication, even those of us who do not submit scores ourselves. We value an even playing field. An organization like Twin Galaxies should strive for fairness, not because it needs to be some kind of public service, but because it relies on the perception of credibility.

So what exactly does it mean when we say "Life isn't fair"? One way to put it is, sometimes the "bad guys" win. We all were raised on stories where the "good guys" invariably win and the "bad guys" invariably lose, when reality, to be frank, often seems much closer to the opposite.

It's interesting to examine why these things play out the way they do. The "bad guys" and the "good guys" have different tactical advantages in their battles against each other. The advantage of the "good guys" is that their business can largely be done right out in the open. This isn't always the case, of course; it would be foolish of even the noblest hero to publish their home address, for instance. Logistical details are also something the "bad guys" don't need to know. Heroes have enemies from whom they must keep secrets - the more unwavering the hero, the more enemies they are likely to have. But largely, the business of the "good guys" is admirable and not offensive. People value honesty and trust, which are core tenets of heroism, and will generally gravitate toward those principles when properly informed.

The advantage of the "bad guys", on the other hand, is that they don't care about the rules except insofar as they can be used against others. Rules are to be weaponized when advantageous, observed when unavoidable, and ignored when inconvenient. Furthermore, since "bad guys" don't respect rules and honesty, they have no problem presenting themselves as "good guys", even when they know full well their motives are not honest and pure. Personally, speaking strictly in terms of tactical superiority, I would say the suite of advantages enjoyed by the "bad guys" tends to dwarf those of the "good guys", but hey, life isn't fair.

Where this stuff gets really complicated is when you get into the many shades of gray in the world. Virtually nobody falls cleanly into one camp or the other. Even the noblest heroes have flaws. History is replete with examples of people who considered themselves heroes, even though their moral standing was dubious at best. While there are in a sense "good guys" and "bad guys", everyone thinks of themselves as the hero of their own story, and nobody thinks of themselves as truly the villain. Even the worst "bad guys" think of themselves as realists, accepting the terms of life's engagement in a way the "good guys" aren't prepared to stomach with their silly moral restrictions. With so many "heroes" and so few "villains", it's a wonder we have conflict at all. (That was a joke.)

--THE CASE--

https://www.twingalaxies.com/showthread.php/188840-Dispute-william-rosa-SNES-SFC-Contra-III-The-Alien-Wars-NTSC-Points-Player-TriForce-Johnson-Score-9-999-999

In preparing this write-up, I re-reviewed the evidence, which left me as convinced as ever of the illegitimacy of Triforce's 9,999,999 score on Contra 3. Sure, I'm willing to believe that he actually sat down and achieved that score on the required console, that he and his friend Lance didn't make that part up out of thin air. Rather, I have no doubt the score as it was achieved on that day was a subversion of the rules against leeching, both then and now. Triforce himself relies on the types of arguments no innocent person should ever make for themselves. Even when trying to grant him some consideration, at some point the frequent and blatant misrepresentations, transparent to anyone familiar with the situation, become impossible to ignore.

On page 1, Triforce quoted referee Lance Eustache saying, of the 5 million score, "Triforce did not leech for this run. He did not shoot re-spawning enemies on any stage." Triforce presented that as a defense of his 10 million score, knowing full well that his strategy did indeed involve shooting infinitely respawning eyeballs on the final boss. Also regarding the 5 million score, Triforce tries to discredit PJ DiCesare saying here and now that the 10 million score is invalid by quoting him in a 2011 thread, even after being reminded infinity times that the 2011 thread was in reference to the 5 million score and not the 10 million score which hadn't happened yet. Triforce has also admitted that he believed his strategy involved forward progress on the boss by virtue of the boss taking damage every time you hit the ring, even after it was shown through game analysis that boss damage ends after so many cycles. Triforce would have us accept that his mistaken belief that he had been making forward progress in this manner should somehow be considered an honorary form of forward progress in that this belief was (according to him) not an attempt at deception.

Interestingly, if Triforce had simply said nothing in response to the dispute, which ostensibly was his right, then none of these points of contention would be on the record now. We would be left to our own devices to decide what constitutes leeching, and little of Triforce's actual techniques could be scrutinized for comparison. (I'll get back to this point later.)

Then you have the referee verification. On page 41 of the dispute thread, former TG ref FBX explains how live referee verification was relegated to tournaments and events, for scores done in public places where having recording equipment for each gamer was not feasible. But there was apparently no written rule against having your referee friend watch and verify your console scores in the privacy of your own home (despite the obvious advantages a gamer would have living with a referee). From what I've heard of Lance, I can't even imagine a universe where, with just he and Triforce in a room, he tells Triforce "No, I saw it, you didn't shoot the boss on that cycle. That's not forward progress. Nope, sorry, you have to start from the beginning again. Hey man, rules are rules."

In the end, TheDrifter18 did good honest work, and showed that it is possible in the span of about three hours to max out the score on Contra using the method of shooting the brain boss once per cycle using the weakest weapon. Thus, it cannot be conclusively determined that Triforce did not use that strategy to attain this achievable score, and thus the score is allowed to stand. A score, which I and many others justifiably do not believe was achieved according to the rules now laid out before us, is allowed to stand as a world record. The bad guys won this one. Hey, life isn't fair.

--THE TERMS OF THE VERDICT--

Unfortunately, the disappointment doesn't end there. There are a number of disheartening precedents set by this ruling - and I'm not just referring to the impossibly high burden of proof standards Twin Galaxies continues to hold score disputes to.

For starters, there was vote manipulation. On page 9 former Empire Arcadia teammate Nightshade reported how his wife had been messaged by Triforce asking her to vote on the dispute in his favor. Perhaps one can't act on just this one person's word, but this is still obviously concerning, and the matter would seem to have been forgotten entirely.

Then you get to the matter of Triforce's direct dealings with commissioner Dave Hawksett, whose communications were later published by Jace Hall on page 41. Triforce, having been familiar with the prior Todd Rogers and Billy Mitchell disputes, knows full well that the open dispute process requires evidence to be presented in the open thread for it to be considered. This is part of the same rule package that has now allowed his score to stand. Yet Triforce chose to submit directly to Dave behind the backs of the public anyway, dismissing the established process by saying we are not his "peers". In fact, Triforce puts Dave directly on the spot, telling him that this privately submitted evidence is "evidence you choose to ignore", thus attempting to implicate him in a conspiracy to collude against the rules and work behind the backs of the TG community. (Meanwhile, at 39:41 in this interview with PlayerEssence - - Triforce says it's "mind-boggling" that anyone would think he was colluding with Twin Galaxies behind anyone's back.) It would seem from public appearances that Dave got in some amount of trouble for these discussions and Triforce did not. But hey, life isn't fair.

As an aside, two items. First, going back to arguments no innocent person would make, I find it all too telling that Triforce suggested to Dave in those discussions that if a legitimate record is mistakenly removed from the leaderboard, "the integrity of Twin Galaxies is severely damaged," but then goes on to say that TG's history "[proves] that having bad records won't hurt TG." Ah, priorities. Of course, we could go on and on and on about that sort of thing. Second, I would be remiss if I didn't make some passing mention of Triforce paying refs, and subsequently changing his story. This was first brought to the dispute on page 9, with Datagod reposting Facebook remarks from Patrick Scott Patterson. However, I'm not here to talk about that, as it's already been talked to death. There has been and likely will continue to be fallout from that, but not anything I'm qualified to nor care to speak on at this time.

As many have pointed out in the dispute thread (including The Evener on page 42), this verdict puts community adjudication of further Contra 3 scores in a very awkward position. Jace Hall in the past has been very supportive of the community's privilege to determine for itself the standards by which it will adjudicate. This score, however, becomes a major obstacle to this system. Under TGSAP, the community now has the choice to either allow this once-per-cycle method as acceptable leeching (as opposed to applying some other leeching restriction that doesn't allow for max-outs, such as banning use of the boss's eyeball mode entirely), or they will effectively prohibit new players from competing with an otherwise impossible score.

There is one other alternative - to lobby for a new track and new rule set to be defined to foster the sort of competition on the game that is more to the community's liking. This would result in the previous track scores being either grandfathered or perhaps even discarded altogether, as those scores no longer apply to the new rule set. But this raises certain ethical questions. On what basis does TG and the community make these sorts of decisions? Would such a decision be made because the current rule set genuinely is flawed, or could such a decision ever be made because enough people don't like the person who currently sits in the lead? Would the objections (or lack thereof) of the current record holder be a factor in the decision? Are there, perhaps, even worse reasons to negate someone's high score track?

--ETHICS--

This brings us to one key character in this dispute, Maris Memes, often referred to as "MemeTroll". Maris was successful at one thing: For a while, he indisputably out-trolled Triforce, posting video recaps of old stories (videos which Triforce called "defamation"), leading to a most epic meltdown seen in the Triforce video "The Evisceration 2". (Start at 11:10 if you want to see it yourself.) reason Maris succeeded (at least for a while) where other Triforce accusers have to some degree failed is because Maris didn't play by the rules. He's effectively a nobody as far as online and public personas go, so when it came time for Triforce to discredit him and attack his reputation, there was nothing to attack. Maris played loose with facts and conclusions, compelling a response from Triforce. And when Triforce did a standard YouTube response video, including fair use commentary of Maris' first video, Maris filed a false trademark claim, leading Triforce to file his own false copyright claim in response. While this was a bad look for both of them, Triforce had much more to lose, both in community reputation and in good standing with YouTube.

This trolling, however, was the extent of Maris' success. Maris has made a seemingly never-ending series of poor decisions, basically from the start. In his first video, he used Omnigamer's "napkin calculations" without permission to claim Triforce's Tetris score was bogus. This later brought undue discredit to Omnigamer and his work when Triforce was able to demonstrate scoring techniques that weren't accounted for (something which I have no doubt Omnigamer would have taken into account before allowing his work to be published). But Maris had only begun breaking peoples' trust. He has outed at least one confidential source. On page 39 of the dispute, he quoted a private conversation between himself and Jace Hall without any indication of permission.

The poor form continued. On page 33 of the dispute, user Bh_ contributed useful clarifications to the dispute, to which Maris replied "It's wonderful to see the circle jerkers of EMP here to trash the dispute." One need only peruse the Billy Mitchell Donkey Kong dispute and see Bh_'s valuable contributions there to know just how off base Maris is. Maris repeatedly accused Triforce of threatening to "swat" him, which was completely untrue; Triforce said he intended to call the police to file a complaint against him live on stream, which is an entirely different thing. (And Triforce wouldn't even be able to do that if Maris, like a novice, hadn't unwittingly allowed his legal name to fall into enemy hands.) On page 43, Maris suggests the leaderboard for WiiWare Tetris Party, for which Triforce holds the top score, should be removed entirely for no reason other than that the game can no longer be acquired. This sort of suggestion begins to veer out of the realm of merely unreasonable and into that of a personal vendetta. More recently, on page 46, Maris outright accuses Jace Hall of accepting a bribe in ruling on this dispute in Triforce's favor, with exactly zero evidence (or, I would say, even common sense).

--RACISM--

Unfortunately, the issues with Maris Memes' involvement in this dispute go deeper and uglier even than that. And this is where I come in. To be clear, I'm a nobody in all this. Though I do take my reputation seriously, I'm not important, except insofar as what I'm about to share. This portion will be long and detailed, for reasons I trust are obvious.

On August 1, I received a private message through my Twin Galaxies account, sent to me and two other participants in the Contra 3 dispute, sent by a TG user active in the dispute. (As I'll explain soon, I'm choosing not to disclose the identities of most of the individuals involved.)



The link was an invite to a Discord server called "AntiCheatingTwinGalaxies". The name is a bit ambiguous at first; are they against cheating at Twin Galaxies, or are they against "That darn cheating Twin Galaxies"? Once I accepted the invite, it became clear it was the former (at least ostensibly), with the chat populated by other participants in the dispute critical of Triforce, with yet more dispute participants joining over time. So I stayed, and began participating myself. Sadly, I don't remember much of the day-to-day chatter, which I would love to accurately recall now. There was some small amount of talk of which scores of Triforce were likely cheated, and what other suspected cheaters had standing records with Twin Galaxies, but not a huge amount of that. I honestly do not recall specifics.

Before I continue, if one is paying attention, the question could be raised: Were these people manipulating votes the way Triforce was accused of doing? The answer is no, not that I saw. In fact, Maris at one point ironically confesses that he *thinks* they're secretly breaking TG rules by having this server to discuss and affect TG matters, when someone else points out it's not against the rules to have private chats about TG, unless you're going to do things like manipulate votes.



Interestingly, the head administrator of this Discord server was not anyone affiliated with Twin Galaxies at that time. It wasn't even Maris Memes, whose earliest TG participation came over a week later on August 10. The head administrator of the "AntiCheatingTwinGalaxies" group was "StreetPass Princeton", a non-TG member who has a long-standing feud with Triforce. Maris did however seem to be acting in an official capacity. I was able to see prior and later messages where Maris asked for people with TG accounts to send invites to specific individuals participating in the dispute thread, myself included.

There was supposed to be a live stream in early August, where people could discuss some of the evidence against Triforce. I had agreed to participate, personal schedule permitting. However, when it became clear from Triforce's copyright claim video that Maris had indeed "fired first" by filing the first false claim on YouTube, I said that was a position I could not defend, and opted out of any stream participation. I did end up doing a write-up of the situation on Reddit, which included a couple clarifying questions I asked of Maris in the Discord. After posting the Reddit link to the Discord, I said it would likely be my last contribution. I would go on to comment in the dispute thread a few more times, but I did not comment in the Discord server again after that.

To be honest, up to that point, there were warning signs I chose to ignore. I was aware of Maris using Omnigamer's napkin math without permission, and I was certainly guarded as to what dispute-relevant material I was sharing in the Discord for that reason, but I decided that also could just as likely have been an honest mistake. The warning sign I definitely should not have ignored, however, came in the Discord conversation about a potential live stream. Maris asked people to refrain from making racist comments in the stream specifically because such comments could be grounds for YouTube to remove the video. That particular qualifier is unusual - why wouldn't you want to avoid racist comments strictly because they are racist comments? Even if they didn't bother you, why wouldn't you choose to avoid that altogether anyway in this situation? Isn't "Please don't make racist comments" self-explanatory? But the next qualifier was even more unusual. Maris felt the need to directly clarify that, yes, racist comments didn't bother him at all, that his prohibition on racist comments was strictly about YouTube policy and about nothing else. Why would he even feel the need to make that clear to people? This was a big red flag to me, and one I regrettably did not act on soon enough (although if I had, we probably wouldn't have the rest of this section). This very much did play a part in my opting out of participation at the next opportunity. Even then, however, I did choose to stay subscribed, because I considered the information being discussed a valuable resource in following the goings-on of the Contra 3 dispute. I was, after all, invited to view it.

I regret that I did not take a screenshot of that first red flag, but I did go on to take screenshots of later ones. It turned out, that was only the tip of the iceberg. TG outcast and self-proclaimed "console player of the century" Rudy Ferretti was soon invited into the Discord. Several months ago, Rudy was banned from the social component of Twin Galaxies for various abusive behaviors, the extent of which I won't get into here. (Since Rudy did not violate the rules of competition, unlike other banned individuals, his scores were allowed to remain on the leaderboard.) Rudy... well... He didn't hold back his thoughts about Triforce or about people of color in general, as you can see here:





[Note: As these images do contain offensive language, if admin chooses to remove them, they are available offsite as well: https://i.imgur.com/wHm6VeR.png https://i.imgur.com/ptrnURl.png https://i.imgur.com/z8l5Iee.png ]


So.... For those who don't keep up on this stuff, perhaps it's worth discussing coded racial language. The concept is not terribly complicated. In the olden days, it was socially acceptable to be an open bigot. You could just walk down the street, say terribly racist things, and nobody batted an eye. That was normal. Once racism became less socially acceptable, rather than reevaluate their world view like reasonable people, bigots took to using coded racial slurs so they could discuss their hated ethnicity of choice while maintaining deniability. Sometimes these slurs can seem very nonsensical, such as referring to a Jewish person as "Eskimo" or "Kangaroo" (both totally a thing, look it up). In 2012, a police officer in Massachusetts was fired over a series of racist comments which were discovered after he openly referred to Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford as a "Monday" (a local slur derived from the phrase "Everybody hates Mondays").

All of this is to explain why many of the words Rudy uses in those comments have racist connotations, and are undeniably racist within the context used here. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman correctly said of the word "thug", "It seems like it's an accepted way of calling somebody the n-word now." There's no reason other than race to refer to a video game competitor like Triforce as a "thug" here multiple times. "Islamic" (as Rudy refers to Jace Hall) is a general stand-in for "brown person". "House [anything]" is immediately suspect, given historically derogatory terms like "house boy" and "house negro". And "nagger" must be the laziest coded epithet I have ever seen. At that point, you're not even trying.

With racists like Rudy, you need not even read into the coded language. What do crime statistics have to do with Triforce? Why is Triforce an example of why Rudy doesn't trust "them"? Why is Patrick Scott Patterson a "white" version of Triforce? Why is Rudy suddenly lashing out at Black Lives Matter?

Rudy Ferretti is racist beyond racist. These weren't jokes among friends, because they weren't even jokes. I mean, if he says this in a Discord dedicated to Twin Galaxies disputes, who knows what he says when he's not in the presence of strangers on the Internet. (And who knows what he said after I left.)

When I saw the first of these comments pop up, honestly, I didn't even react, other than to roll my eyes. I'm white, but I'm well aware there are racists and bigots in the world and on the Internet. This is not news to me. (In fact, I assume Triforce has heard much worse remarks than those, directed at him in particular.) I figured the moderators would obviously put a quick stop to this, as I would have in their place. But.... They didn't? It was ignored by the individuals running the Discord. In fact, there at the end, Maris sort of laughs it off. I didn't even leave until some time after that last screenshot, when I realized there really actually was nothing being done about it. I had been content to sit and read the goings on, but it was at this point I felt even my presence in that server was in some sense incriminating (as well as unpleasant). I may not be the Internet police, and it may not be my job to correct and expose these situations, but I at least have the personal responsibility to have no part in it myself.

I am choosing to publish these now because I believe it is the right thing to do, to help bring some clarity to what exactly went down with the Triforce disputes. Speaking for myself, I want absolutely zero to do with a campaign of bigotry. I accept the consequences of this decision of mine, and as in all things, there are consequences. I'm a writer, and doing what I do at times requires trust of confidentiality. I know that even the people who very much agree with me coming forward with this information, somewhere in the back of their mind they will think "This is the guy who took screenshots of private Discord conversations and published them to the world." And I get to own that. It's now part of my reputation. All because I unknowingly accepted an invite to a racist carnival which I did not consent to. But hey, you know what, it happens that way sometimes. Life isn't fair. You get put in bad situations, and all you can do is make the best choices you can.

This brings us to the question of other people in the Discord. There were many other TG members present, each themselves participants in the dispute thread, who I have chosen not to identify, not even privately to YouTube journalist Tipster with whom I shared these screenshots days ago. The reason is because I don't want to unfairly implicate or incriminate anyone. Perhaps others were just as uncomfortable with these goings on as I was? Perhaps they left in disgust just as I did? A passive observer on the other end may just as likely have thought my presence meant I approved of this nonsense. Maybe others had Rudy blocked or muted. Maybe they didn't even see these comments at all through the chatter. The Discord didn't have particularly heavy traffic, but not everybody keeps up on every social media every day. The other people involved in this Discord can speak for themselves, if they wish. It's not my place nor my job to speak for them.

This leaves us with two people: Princeton and Maris. As I said, Princeton was the head administrator, and did participate in the chat, but I didn't get any screenshots of him on the way out. He didn't say anything I would consider racist, or else I would have noted it and kept it.

Maris is a different issue. Maris is the one who brought Rudy into the chat. He was warned by another user, and I quote, "Look MemeTroll, Rudy has ZERO to contribute to your efforts other than comedy relief. He was banned for being a sh***y human being." (Emphasis theirs, censorship mine. I would properly attribute that quote if the person so wishes to be identified.) In fact, Maris' involvement with Rudy began before the first of those screenshots. In an open mic interview published on August 14 (which I had not watched until much later), Maris spends an hour discussing the Triforce situation with Rudy. During that video, Rudy makes a number of racist remarks, which for brevity's sake I'll forego cataloging at this time.

A serious question is thus raised as to whether Maris is complicit in the racism seen here. No matter what vile racism Rudy had spewed, if Maris had cut ties with him immediately, this would not be an issue for me. You don't control other people, you can only control what you do. However, just as Maris made clear he was unoffended by racist remarks in a potential YouTube stream earlier, we have good reason to believe Maris was perfectly comfortable with his involvement with Rudy's racism seen here.

First, I'd like to draw your attention to something said by Maris at 12:20 in that video:

"I've already told [Triforce], look, you're banned from my channel, because I don't want to read the level of stupidity, because it's just toxic to read."

Now, to be fair, I am singling out quotes and putting them in the context of my choosing, but given that this sort of presentation was the basis of much of the Contra 3 dispute discussion against Triforce by Maris and others, I hope you'll grant me this indulgence with regards to quotes from Maris, at least in appreciation of the irony if nothing else. (Hey, life isn't fair.) With regards to that quote, I find it very telling that Maris considers Triforce's defenses "toxic" and worthy of being banned so he doesn't have to see it, but does not see Rudy's racist rants as "toxic" to an even worse degree.

But the real doozy to me was this, starting at 16:30:

[Rudy] "One thing I've learned over the years, and I'm telling you this from personal perspective and of course in the gaming industry, when it comes to a protected class, everybody tries to say, 'Oh, it's a white man's world', but the truth is, the protected... It's the other way around, the minorities are the ones that get the special treatment and the regular Americans don't get the same treatment. And I don't care. I just want to make it clear, I don't care, but don't ever try to tell me it's different. Like, I'm so sick of hearing about white privilege. Hell no. If it was white privilege, you know, nobody would be, none of us would be out of work, I'm not out of work at this time, I'm doing well, but my point is..."

[Maris] "I'm white and I don't feel privileged."

So rather than rebuking Rudy's racism (including the contrasting of "minorities" and "regular Americans"), or even at least disowning it himself, Maris actively agreed with and reaffirmed it! We have been given no reason to think Maris is not a bigot himself, and with these interactions I've outlined, we have ample reason to believe he, at least, very well could be (albeit more closely guarded than the unfiltered Rudy).

Even if one wasn't comfortable making that leap, it should be clear that this is problematic on so many levels, even totally aside from ethical concerns. Just practically speaking, even if this wasn't an issue of whether racism was a deciding factor in the pursuit of the dispute, it's still an issue of whether people would be right to *perceive* racism as being a deciding factor. In this context, there's simply no separating the racism we see expressed with racist agendas on the part of those doing the expressing. If this dispute had gone against Triforce, in the way that it was carried out (I'll get to that), with one of the dispute's loudest advocates having conversations like that with open bigots like Rudy Ferretti, what other conclusion could any reasonable observer draw? Fair or not, bigotry would be the story, and that story would not reflect well on any of us involved, innocent or otherwise.

The question could be asked: Did Maris finally part ways with Rudy not long after my departure? Thankfully, Maris answers that question for us as well.




I addressed my own misgivings about my involvement in this, but what I truly don't understand is the other end of it. Why? Why would you even want to associate your campaign with racism in the first place? How does this benefit you? Why would you allow your work to be so easily discredited? Why would you invite total strangers like myself in to your workgroup to view that crap? Did the people involved have literally no sense? Did they have no lines which they were unwilling to cross to achieve their goal?

--WHAT WAS THE REAL POINT OF ALL THIS?--

On August 19, Tipster highlighted a tweet from Princeton, to the effect that video game high scores were even more important than paying bills:

https://twitter.com/TipsterGaming/status/1031075366595481601

Okay, I kid a little. We all make silly analogies and dumb arguments from time to time. That's not a big deal. But what I found really interesting about this exchange is that Princeton, near as I can tell, has never actually been a member of Twin Galaxies. I can't prove a negative, but I can find no direct participation from him of any kind.

So is high score integrity really the most important thing for him? Are we really to believe that's his motivating factor in all this? Given their history, Princeton may have a valid beef with Triforce, but that doesn't mean the Twin Galaxies community should be at his disposal in pursuing some kind of personal vendetta by way of score disputes.

[Full disclosure: My own involvement with Twin Galaxies has been minimal, and I have not yet submitted any scores. I can give my assurance that I'm interested in assisting the pursuit of the truth, and I believe my short history of engagement speaks well of me in that regard. Outside of the events described herein I have no personal agendas with anyone involved to pursue. As for Twin Galaxies, what engagement I do have predates this particular dispute by months, which at least shows I didn't come here for this one dispute over this one player.]

Any way you break it down, the motives here are simply not transparent. But the real problem for Twin Galaxies is that this wasn't limited to three effective outsiders. This ties out to everyone in that Discord (myself included), whether they had the offending parties muted or not. Most of the people there were active participants in the dispute, using the Discord to discuss what evidence they planned to present next. Not everyone in the actual dispute was caught up in this, of course. Perhaps not even most. I haven't done a count, and I do know of multiple people in the dispute whose engagement was genuine, and whose primary concern is the integrity of the scoreboard. But - and again, life isn't fair - their good work gets overshadowed and tainted if others are found to be using the matter as a vehicle to pursue dishonest and/or racist agendas.

Bottom line here is this: As comedian Lewis Black once said (speaking of the Clinton impeachment), "If you want to get somebody who's an a**hole, you don't hire a bigger a**hole." If you're going to go after someone like Triforce, you don't bring Rudy Ferretti on to your team. And therein lies the Maris group's biggest failure in all this. They did Triforce a massive favor, something he never could have done for himself. They actually made Triforce a sympathetic character in all this. Scoreboard integrity is important, but it is not the most important thing in this world. High score cheating is not nearly as destructive as actual racism. Not even a contest. If I have to choose between supporting a black man with character flaws, and a group of racists looking to take him down strictly because they're upset that he's a successful black man who doesn't know his "place", I have no choice but to side with the former. Between him and the bigots, I'm on his side. What's worse, this will continue to be an issue, as no dispute of any Triforce score will ever fully escape the specter that, perhaps, the same racists as before might be involved with it behind the scenes. Triforce himself will make sure we never hear the end of that.

Congratulations, Maris and friends. Whatever it is you were trying to accomplish, you blew it.

Does this mean the cheater gets away? Perhaps it does. Life isn't fair. But we also have to start untangling the threads of this travesty, and see what we actually have. And what we have is a dispute that was started by Snowflake with no actual evidence to back it up. Now, to be clear, I'm not accusing Snowflake of racism. I don't know him personally, and I'm not going to speculate on what his actual motivations were. Triforce has rubbed many the wrong way for reasons totally independent of race. Triforce's defenses of his friends Todd and Billy were often shallow and his motives transparent, earning him little good will here among a community eager to root out entrenched cheaters. But the fact remains, and you can see this for yourself on page 1, this dispute began with nothing. Not even a thing worth quoting. Actual nothing.

Now, material did surface along the way, mainly in the form of defense statements from Triforce himself, which in some cases would go on to be contradictory. Recall that, per the terms laid out many times by Jace Hall in regards to the dispute process, Triforce did not have to participate. The dispute has to prove itself on its own merits, with the accused having the option to add clarity if they so choose.

So why did Triforce participate, when he was under no obligation to, and when his score could at least in some sense be legitimately achieved, depending on an interpretation of the rules? I think it's fair to assume that, despite what Triforce may say, he does on some level care about his perception in the community. He's not just content for people to think he's a cheater. Perhaps it's okay, from his perspective, if people think he's a cheater if they do so in a way he considers irrational, in a way where he is unable to change their minds, but not so much if they do so with apparent justification. And failing to respond to a dispute of your score can, to some, be seen as good reason to assume one's guilt. Thus a response, while not obligated by rule, was obligated socially. Triforce revealed these things about his score and his strategy in part because of community pressure, and thus it becomes an ethical issue of where that pressure was coming from.

At best, this dispute was a fishing expedition, an attempt to either suss out confidential knowledge from old TG adjudication which is protected by rule (a rule I disagree with, but a rule), or to simply throw stuff at the wall to see if anything stuck. (I'm not trying to accuse Snowflake of undue malice rather than misguidedness, but I have to be clear and honest about this.) The people with known axes to grind did not appear until later, but appear they did. Whether the demonstrated racism was involved in fanning the flames, I'll let you decide. But just as Twin Galaxies the organization loses credibility any time it chooses to subvert fair competition (as happened many times under previous administrations), the community loses credibility any time it chooses to endorse disputes waged over personal vendettas and fueled by bigots. This doesn't mean any yahoo off the street should be able to scuttle a dispute by making personal attacks and throwing around racial slurs, but it does mean it's of the utmost importance that such behavior not be tolerated, whether by admins, by dispute participants, or those seeking to influence TG outcomes in private chat rooms. This is true both with respect to moral reservations about racism and with respect to the need for credibility. (And no, it's not lost on me that the appropriate time for me to reveal all this was about three weeks ago. I'm not perfect, either.)

At this time, I would like to bring up a quote from Bh_ on page 42. I can't say I entirely agree with this, but given what we've seen in the Contra 3 dispute, I do very much believe this is at least worth considering:

"I would discourage anyone from picking through statements made by a player subject to a dispute for inconsistencies or admissions against interest. Speaking pragmatically we're better off as a community if players can participate in the process without fear of incriminating themselves."

Of course, I cannot un-know what I know, about Triforce's changing stories and deliberate misrepresentations, as well as his own bad faith engagements. So I cannot bring myself to believe this score is legitimate after all. Life isn't fair. But I can accept that this one got away, both because the hard evidence was not there to overturn, and because what evidence we do have was obtained through an unethical vendetta. Perhaps the bad guys won, but the worse guys definitely lost. (And no, life still isn't fair.)

--FINAL THOUGHTS--

In the end, I don't regret my participation in this dispute, although I certainly wish I'd had nothing to do with Maris. I actually considered issuing some sort of apology to Triforce regarding the bigotry involved here, but the truth is, I wasn't responsible for this mess, just for helping shine a light on it now. Such an apology would be back-handed anyway, given that I don't think his score should stand even now. So for my part, he will have to be content with what I've done here to reveal this, as well as a personal statement that I sincerely hope both that his scores and disputes are treated fairly in the future, and more importantly, that he is given the basic respect he deserves as a fellow human being.

And this basic respect is something to keep in mind at all times. Yes, we're angry about liars and cheaters, but even so, we still aren't talking about murderers. Todd Rogers and Billy Mitchell, as well as their family and friends, were the targets of harassment as their scores were being disputed - harassment which was also uncalled for. (Of course, I would be in error if I did not also acknowledge the years of harassment others endured for rightly questioning the scores of Todd Rogers or Billy Mitchell in the first place.) The community was still correct to call their scores into question, and Twin Galaxies was still correct to remove them, but the fact that some who operate in the shadows choose to respond to stimuli in a toxic and destructive way makes it that much more important that those of us who care about fairness and human respect ensure that actual score adjudication and dispute engagement is conducted the correct way. The fact that life isn't fair is no excuse for corruption. We're not all going to get along, we're not all going to agree on things, nor should we. But there's no point in going to all the work we do on this if we're just going to allow it to be discredited so easily.

With regards to the dispute system itself, I'm aware there are those who would cite this as a condemnation of community adjudication, but I completely disagree. First of all, such a criticism is selective: The flaws exposed in community adjudication are also present in moderator adjudication, and especially present in private adjudication, without even the oversight and accountability that open process allows. It's not exactly a secret that Walter Day's pals got preferential treatment back during the old Twin Galaxies, and while I have no evidence racism was a motivating factor in any old adjudications I'm aware of, it certainly isn't impossible. The process once arranged through back room deals has been democratized, bringing with it the advantages and flaws of democracy itself. Cheating is still possible, but the evidence is at maximum exposure, and the community is empowered to openly call this evidence into question. There would not even be an issue with this Contra 3 score were it adjudicated under TGSAP in the first place, and new legitimate scores will not be subject to eternal speculation of whether they really happened. The dispute process does work, and has worked.

On a similar note, I expect Triforce will likely insinuate that since he actively fought his dispute and won, therefore if his friends Todd and Billy had actively fought their disputes they would have won as well. But this couldn't be further from the truth. For there to be so much going against this Contra 3 score, and for TG to say "That's still not enough", is a testament to how ironclad the evidence was against Todd Rogers and Billy Mitchell. In the end, this and other disputes weren't decided by all the distractions the participants (myself included) found so engaging. It was decided by scientific certitude, of which it was decided this dispute lacked. And while I agree with many (including FBX on page 43) that the burden of proof expected to remove a score is far too high, well higher than even that of "beyond a reasonable doubt", this dispute was indeed decided on its merits by the guidelines established, regardless of what either Maris or Triforce did to undermine the process. In that sense, the correct answer was reached, even if I don't like it.

As for the future of Contra 3 adjudication, given what we've seen here, regardless of peoples' agendas, I personally believe there is sufficient reason to redefine the rules for this track and for any other score tracks whose rules come down to a vague prohibition on "excessive leeching" lacking strict guidelines on what is and is not allowed. I also believe it's fair to grandfather or even simply strike out any scores performed under previous rule sets, which could otherwise be misrepresented as having been achieved under the new rules, and which would also simply be unfair to place in competition with scores performed under the new rules. Regardless of what Triforce says in his own interests, retroactive invalidation does happen in sports. In 1991, Major League Baseball redefined a "no-hitter", striking many previously legitimate no-hitters from the record books. I just hope that, if Twin Galaxies does clean up the rules on this and other games, it does so for the right reasons.

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Comments
  1. sdwyer138's Avatar

    Most of those screen shots are too small to read, can you edit the post?

    Likesersatz_cats liked this post
  2. ersatz_cats's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by sdwyer138

    Most of those screen shots are too small to read, can you edit the post?


    Sorry, this is my first wall post here, and I don't know all the ins-and-outs. I'm not even sure exactly how to edit or if the image size can be changed. The screenshots are all readable if you open them in a new tab. Sorry if that doesn't work well on mobile.


    EDIT: I figured it out. That seems to be the largest it will let me resize them.

    Thankssdwyer138 thanked this post
    Updated 09-07-2018 at 03:07 PM by ersatz_cats
  3. ersatz_cats's Avatar

    The link for the PlayerEssence video isn't appearing correctly. It should be -


    The link to the Maris-and-Rudy video should be -

    Updated 09-07-2018 at 03:06 PM by ersatz_cats
  4. sdwyer138's Avatar

    Better now thanks. Man... **** Rudy

    LikesGibGirl, ersatz_cats liked this post
  5. EVN's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by sdwyer138

    Better now thanks. Man... **** Rudy


    I guess based on this: https://www.twingalaxies.com/twin-galaxies/wall/3256/twin-galaxies-moderation


    RJF's "retirement" err I mean ban is at least doubled again?

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  6. Snowflake's Avatar

    Ok read it all I disagree where you say it was based on literally nothing at all. I provided a link which provided the core complaints. Now while I accept that was insufficient I think it’s rwally unfair to describe dozens of comments and analysis as nothing. Just because I provided a link as opposed to cutting and pasting everything sure that means it looks shorter by character count but a link is more than just a link itself it’s what it points to. Though I know the analysis in the link warranted further investigation I also knew it alone wasn’t enough to end the dispute just started. Someone like the drifter coming in and going into more technical detail on what’s possible was the sort of thing I was looking for I made clear a few times triforce was no under obligation to reveal tactics when other thought he was. So while I concede most of triforce self incrimination was responses to menetroll and I also concede my initial dispute reasons were not an iron clad proof I strongly disagree it was “literally nothing”

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  7. Snowflake's Avatar

    also, i've been meaning to ask, is that icon for your profile the simic symbol or something else?

    Likesersatz_cats liked this post
  8. ersatz_cats's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowflake

    Ok read it all I disagree where you say it was based on literally nothing at all. I provided a link which provided the core complaints. Now while I accept that was insufficient I think it’s rwally unfair to describe dozens of comments and analysis as nothing. Just because I provided a link as opposed to cutting and pasting everything sure that means it looks shorter by character count but a link is more than just a link itself it’s what it points to. Though I know the analysis in the link warranted further investigation I also knew it alone wasn’t enough to end the dispute just started. Someone like the drifter coming in and going into more technical detail on what’s possible was the sort of thing I was looking for I made clear a few times triforce was no under obligation to reveal tactics when other thought he was. So while I concede most of triforce self incrimination was responses to menetroll and I also concede my initial dispute reasons were not an iron clad proof I strongly disagree it was “literally nothing”


    I really didn't mean to dig into you too much, or put too much spotlight on you. I wouldn't have said your name at all if not for your being the person who started the dispute. However, I do stand by what I said. A link to an old thread where people are effectively saying "Huh, this is weird, well, who knows, maybe it was legit" isn't a claim. It might be, on some level, a cause for investigation. I readily admit - and I'd kinda wanted to squeeze this point into the post, but it was long enough as it is - that the old forums provided a great venue for discussing things away from a formal potentially-actionable dispute. But it still isn't a claim. It isn't "This score is likely bogus because of X, Y, and Z." The DK dispute when it originally started began with "This score is possibly bogus because this board swap video used as evidence for it is shown to be faked." I feel - and maybe this is my personal preference - that a dispute should start with an assertion. And other assertions can come along when discovered, and the initial assertion doesn't necessarily have to survive to the end if others are found, but at least something must be asserted. And that's what this dispute lacked. It was just kinda aimlessly speculative. Now, if you're linking an old thread, and that thread has a point of contention to go on, I'd say it's still best to actually summarize that evidence into an assertion along with the link (again, perhaps that's just my preference). Having disputes without assertions gets very problematic, as I described.


    As for the other question, you bet it is! Too bad I have to wait an extra three months for my Simic crew to get their turn in Return to Return to Ravnica part 2.

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  9. Snowflake's Avatar

    ok, well its clear you read the link so any further explanation is just me telling you what you already know. we're pretty much debating semantics at this point but i do feel it matters. I guess my assertion was this, the old discussion, while not a thorough proof, but forth a strong argument that was 5 million was the maxout without leeching. While i suppose slightly higher might be possible due to something no way 10 million (double) is possible. I thought i was clear that was the claim i was making. Are you just saying i should've spoke more definitley. If i had instead just reworded into the assertion of "10 million is impossible because 5 million was already deemed the maxout based on everything in the game" would that have made a difference? I guess i'm wondering now is it just semantics, or is the substance itself?

    in addition to sure, i'm kinda feeling on the definsive, this is alos likely not my last dispute i'll ever make and I do value feedback -- note that doesnt mean i'll agree with the feedback always but i do want to understand it. you seem pretty detailed oriented and i know your familarized yourself with most of the details so even though i'm arguing i'm also sincerely asking

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  10. Snowflake's Avatar

    oh i just thought of something that might not have translated over.


    There is a little bit of an appeal to authority at the beginning of my dispute. Part of the reason for me seeing it as enough to start is the person himself, PJ making the claim. PJs shown himself to usually know what he's talking aobut, so while he didnt share his analysis, him simply saying he did it carried some weight with me. Also triforce's own responses, in my opinoin, actually led more weight to PJs claim. So it was a little bit psychology and appeal to authority. No, I did not have the hard facts, but i was convinced others did based on what was in that thread. indirect evidence. evidence of evidence.

    The semantics here are tough, let me give a bad analogy thats hopefully good enough. What if I just found a coffee stained paper that at then said "and so for the above reasons i feel i have proved triforce cheated" and several people signed it. while i'm not able to see the explanation/evidence anymore, i am seeing evidence of other evidence once existing. so more i think of it, ok, as a matter of direct/indirect evidence, i guess i agree, there was no direct evidence.

  11. datagod's Avatar

    The only value in the Meris dispute thread was trolling Rudy and watching block me, unblock me and scream, then block me again. The only racism I saw was Rudy blabbering on as usual. He is gone, so who cares. What a waste of time.

    LikesRedDawn liked this post
  12. FBX's Avatar

    The last paragraph is what I tried to impress on Jace (though the guy ignores me anyway). The entire track needs be deleted and new rules made for the game. That's the crux of the problem here. Not so much that Johnson abused the verification system on a game with subjective rules, but that all future competitors will NOT be allowed to have that same advantage Johnson did. As such, it is simply an unfair track now, and must be deleted. I've been accused of using a 'cop-out' argument, but it's simply cold, hard logic. Logic dictates the entire track must be scrubbed and rewritten, not rhetoric.

    Likesersatz_cats liked this post
  13. The Evener's Avatar

    Thanks for sharing your observations and your experience with the Contra III dispute - it’s a thoroughly well-written epilogue to TG’s recent decision. Thank you as well for coming forward and distancing yourself forcefully from the racist exchanges that you were witness to. At the risk of stating the obvious, racism is corrosive and deeply damaging to the trust we place in one another as members of this community and wider society, and we must speak collectively with a single voice in rejecting it at all times.

    There’s a lot to chew on, so I’ll focus my comments on the TG dispute thread.

    I agree with Snowflake that the dispute was based on evidence. Any feedback on whether it was framed as comprehensively as possible I think is appreciated - like TG, the community is gathering experience about the most effective manner to frame a dispute.

    I also think in some respects this dispute was a test in view of determining the minimum threshold of evidence required by TG to declare a dispute valid. Placing the Contra III decision in the context of recent disputes involving Todd Rogers and Billy Mitchell, the community now has a clearer idea of the “bar” any dispute has to clear - my takeaway is that the bar is a high one. The corollary is that we have a real-world example where a high profile dispute was rejected and the dispute system worked, just as Todd’s and Billy’s disputes were deemed valid and the system worked. No one in the gaming world can toss out the deceit that the TG dispute system is just a mob-led witch hunt where the original great gamers are picked off one at a time by jealous wannabes. The truth is very different - disputes are launched, evidence is presented and scrutinized, and only those disputes that meet a high threshold will pass muster. In echoing ersatz_cats, this reality shouldn’t be lost on anyone who continues to deny the thoroughness and validity of the decisions connected to the Dragster and Donkey Kong disputes.

    I believe that the vast majority of participants in the dispute thread pursued a discussion and analysis that was genuinely interested in testing the evidence in view of the claim that Triforce excessively leeched. Participants reviewed archived discussions of Contra III leeching, they assessed Triforce’s own commentary about his tactics, and skilled gamers conducted and shared their own analysis of the necessary point accruals and tactics required to max out the score. I thought that this kind of analysis and discussion was by far the most productive. However, the evidence wasn’t adequately exhaustive to convince TG to scrub the score.

    My own view is that the “excessive leeching” special rule was sufficiently subjective that a decision in favour of the dispute was difficult to imagine. Because of this subjectivity, I couldn’t foresee a situation where TG would essentially overrule an earlier adjudicated score even if video evidence of Triforce’s original submission did exist, especially based on TG’s stance that a dispute can’t “re-adjudicate a score.” The original advice shared back in 2011 that “if it feels like excessive leeching, it probably is excessive leeching” is exactly the kind of advice that would be quickly discarded by a competitive gamer.

    None of this is to say that the community didn’t rightly examine some “problematic” practices, ranging from discussions of ref gratuities to the lack of any clear oversight or prohibition against permitting friends to verify scores where video evidence wasn't preserved and evaluated by other referees. The fact that this situation arose just a few years ago makes me all the more grateful that Jace Hall and the TG administration (with bumps along the way) has chosen to emphasize transparency and community participation in ways that were simply impossible to imagine or realize back in 2011.


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    Updated 09-09-2018 at 09:07 PM by The Evener
  14. francoisadt's Avatar

    I got a question: Will the Contra 3 rules be change such so to allow others to leach the same way/manner as Triforce was allowed to in all his games? It should be becuase a score can only stay valid if the means to get that score stay valid.

    Therefore: Change the Contra 3 and similar games Triforce have played using leaching to allow leaching so that others gamers can bump his high scores from the TG score board forever...


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