Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)
This week Steam introduced tagging for games in their store. Steam users can add “tags”, or short descriptive terms, to any game on the site for use in searches. The idea is to create a more organic, user-friendly system for cataloguing games, making it easier for people to find something they want to play (and buy).
In typical Valve style they’ve taken a very hands-off approach to the whole system. Certain words are blocked, such as common swear words, but in general the company seems to be working off the assumption that given the potentially huge participation numbers for Steam tags the majority will rule sensibly.
Yep, a sensible majority. You know where this is going, right? Let’s look at a few lovely examples.
We have the downright offensive:
We have editorializing from “real gamers”:
(That last one is from Gone Home, of course.)
And we have the just plain bizarre, which while not offensive are also not very helpful for searching:
Small games are getting the worst of it, as it only takes a few people to totally troll their tags. In fact, users are able to tag games that aren’t even out yet which makes no sense whatsoever.
So what of those developers who find their game has been spammed with offensive or insulting tags? Here’s Steam’s answer for that:
So if you find your tags are overtaken by racist trolls…. well, maybe you just haven’t considered that your game is racist! Makes ya think, huh?
I actually believe that Steam’s goals here are good ones. More fluid search terms are helpful for the user, and I understand that it is likely unfeasible for Valve to somehow tag every game in their store through in-house efforts.
But the implementation of this system is terrible. I mean granted, the true problem here is that gamers as a collective are terrible, but adding the ability for any wanker with a keyboard to write horrible things was just destined to be trouble.
I hope Valve re-evaluates their hands-off approach to Steam tags and at the very least provides developers with the powers to remove tags. Otherwise, this system will not only be a delivery method for trolling, but also totally useless to anyone trying to browse the store.
(Thanks to the Actual Steam Tags Tumblr for collecting a lot of these images!)