News Post

The early June freeze

Jake the Admin

June 4, 2023

I’m imposing a content freeze this week. New activities will be able to be posted again on June 7, and comments will return on June 12.

If you’re wondering why this has happened, it’s because there’s been another fracas regarding a new activity similar to the one last month. This time it included content that a lot of people found upsetting. I do want to discuss this at some point, but there hasn't been time to do that yet.

What’s different this time is the sheer viciousness of the response I’ve gotten once the activity went up and people saw it. I guard users’ privacy to a greater extent than most web sites like this do – there’s no private message function or any other way to directly contact a user, and I’ll never provide anyone’s email address to any third party. So all the bile directed at that activity and its uploader came directly at me through a variety of means. If you’re thinking that it wasn’t as bad as I’m making out, please bear in mind that you don’t see what I see.

I was especially taken aback at how snarky and disrespectful the reaction was on the ALTopedia Discord. A lot of new people joined the server on Friday and despite them having never interacted with me before or supplied a single penny to support the site, they made it clear that they had more of a right to determine what happens on this web site than I do. Maybe they thought that if they were aggressive enough, I would just follow their orders.

I don’t think anyone wants to live life by the rule “if you get mad enough at me, I’ll do whatever you want.” There may have been some good points or thoughtful comments buried in all the abuse, but they got completely drowned out, so I’m locking everything down until I can begin to gather feedback from people who can make their points rationally.

A lot of good things have happened on this site, and there are a lot of kind, professional, and helpful users, but I’m seeing a lot more people being really rude and hostile to each other in the unmoderated comments that I see on the site and on Discord.

I’ve gone back and forth over the weekend about whether I want to just discontinue the site, change it to a read-only archive, sell it to someone, or do a significant restructuring with more of a community-managed model. I suspect the latter option is what most people would want me to do, but it’s not something that can happen overnight. I have to find moderators, coordinate with them, debate and develop a lot of rules, and then code a bunch of new systems in to make the process as transparent as possible.

The site is finally on the cusp of breaking even with the Patreon and Ko-fi, but it’s been operating in the red for years, and as much as demand as I’ve seen for some sort of corporate-style oversight for the site, I haven’t heard from anyone offering the money to actually do that. If you’re going to suggest something like that, then bear in mind that I do this in my limited free time and nobody’s making a full-time living off of this site.

One aspect of the site design that I plan on changing is the speed and visibility of comments and other feedback. One thing that’s caused these latest incidents to escalate is that similar to other social networking sites, people make immediate comments in the heat of the moment and then other people see that something’s getting a lot of attention and then join in. This is great if you’re trying to get everyone to look at ads, but that’s certainly not my goal.

I’ve locked down the Discord and I’m probably going to discontinue it, since it’s vulnerable to brigading and instant flame wars. I’m going to slowly reopen the site’s systems, but what happens after that is going to depend on how civil people can be.

  1. Kdel22 June 10, 2023

    You've done so much for ALTs, allowing a site where each can share their ideas for lessons and activities. Without it many people would be lost and be stuck wondering what to do. Thank you for creating this space, and I hope everything your facing gets resolved soon.

  2. ramsey June 12, 2023

    I depend on this site very heavily when I plan my activities. I would rather at lost if this site go away. So bad apples please go away. I hope everything resolve peacefully. And thank you for all the hard work.

  3. jamesr June 12, 2023

    This is why we can't have nice things.

  4. Hannah June 12, 2023

    I hope things go well. =) Thank you for your hard work. I cannot reiterate enough how helpful this site is for teachers- beginners and experienced professionals alike. That being said it requires professionalism from everybody.

  5. 10moku June 12, 2023

    The ALTopedia Discord was a great way to share ideas and for people to beta test their latest games. I would be very sad to see it go..... perhaps you can find another moderator?? Things got heated on the General chat about LGBTQ lessons but shutting the whole thing down seems drastic. We need a way to brainstorm ideas and get quick feedback.

  6. ALTMyokokogen June 12, 2023

    I am very sorry, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been the past few weeks. Thank you for your hard work all these years. This site helped me and my students a lot these past years I have been an ALT. I hope successor will be able to get ideas for classes in the future too.

  7. scotty June 12, 2023

    I wanted to write a little reflection of The Great Gordy Fracas of 2023, and how moderating could work in the future. Those who disagreed with him didn't do a great job of meeting him halfway, and let their anger and distress take over. However, from my perspective, Gordy seemed at least a little intent on baiting people and writing off ALL criticism as "haters." A pretty typical online interaction, lol.
    These few routes for moderating come to mind:
    1. Be strict on censoring social issues. Take down almost anything re: politics, and shut down conversations around it. (This requires more moderation work, will frustrate many users)
    2. Be lax on what's allowed, but if there is significant uproar from the community, remove the activity or user. (Community-governance, easier on moderators, will result in heavy bias)
    3. Allow ALL activities, but remove discussion from Fracas-inducing ones. (Will result in the discussions bleeding into Jake's DMs, discord servers, other activities)

  8. anna5312 June 13, 2023


  9. Topaz79 June 14, 2023

    @scotty. I'd agree that people can get quite heated on these issues, but I don't think you can meet someone like Gordy halfway. Not only were these activities posted in bad faith, but also deny the lived experiences of an already marginalized group of people, and are in contrast with MEXT guidelines regarding LGBT issues. Somethings you cannot debate or compromise on, and one of those things is human rights. I don't think we need to shut down conversations about sensitive issues, but the idea that there needs to be compromise with bad faith actors I think will on serve to tarnish this great site

  10. jet123 June 14, 2023

    I use this site for ideas and quick lessons and I am very grateful for it. When I leave my ALT job I will upload all my best lessons here. It is a shame that somewhere that is about helping others out became the locus of such a horrible debate. I personally found some things said about Japan and Japanese people to be amazingly ignorant and to be so contrary to my own experience of this country and its people. As far as any drama goes, I will leave it at that.

    To Jake the Admin, I am sure this is a stressful time and I really do not envy you right now. I love the site and hope to contribute in a big way in the future. For the moment remember to take it easy and don't be afraid to take another step back for a week or so if that breathing space is what allows the site to continue. Cheers.

  11. AsakawaSune June 15, 2023

    Thank you for everything Jake, I'm sorry you had to go through that. There is no excuse to spout vitriol or vicious behaviour, no matter the reason. We are all adults and should be able to disagree with each other calmly, and hopefully respect that others may not have the same view as we do.

  12. SolanKJ June 15, 2023

    Not withstanding how one may (or may not) feel about a specific social issue, it is important to remember that we are assistants in a classroom directed by teachers who are themselves guided by a curriculum - whether we or they agree with that curriculum or not. The safest way to handle this is to stick to the curriculum or the provided textbook. If the provided text does not include same, then it is probably best to leave the topic alone. By no means should we be discriminatory (regardless of our views), but it is important to stick to what we are asked to do.

    And, regarding the forum, given the huge workload it will undoubtedly place on the admin and potential moderators, the best decision in my view would be to simply keep it a read-only archive.

  13. nm1984 June 15, 2023

    I am sorry you have to suffer such hateful comments. I am really grateful for your hard work in maintaining this site. I have used it for many years and really depend on its content for ideas and lesson materials.

  14. Lucasmh June 18, 2023

    I left my creations here because I felt they could be used by someone else now that I am not an ALT anymore. Hopefully people can take them and keep using them before the site goes away

  15. yukiyuki3094 June 19, 2023

    This site is like my best friend since last year since a lot of teachers in my new city asks me lessons like 5 to 10 minutes before class. I will be totally lost if this site will be gone.

  16. JeTenT June 19, 2023

    I, too, often visit the site and have done for many years. Thank you for all your hard work, Jake. Hoping that this can be resolved.

  17. Mrmarkmark June 20, 2023

    I use this site a lot and would be a bit lost without it. I would hate to see it go.
    Come on people please be civil.

  18. shing June 26, 2023

    First, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to you and to this site that youve created without this site many of us ALTs will be at lost.
    Second, you give us a chance to also contribute to the growth of this site. Many thanks.
    We hope you don
    t get tired. Just leave out or ban those people who doesn`t know anything about you and your hardships running this site of yours.

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