Reddit Rallies Around User Banned For Criticizing Roll20 App

On Tuesday, reddit user ApostleO, who's real name is Cory Owens, posted on the r/dnd subreddit about cancelling his Roll20 account. Roll20 is an app that helps users run or play Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and he was a hardcore user for five years. In the post, which has been gilded 18 times with more than 50,000 upvotes,Owens laments about his unfair ban from the Roll20 subreddit.

It all started five days ago, when Owens wrote in the comment section of a post titled "is criticism allowed here?" He shared a long list of grievances, bugs and problems he's had with the app. He wasn't looking to insult the company, but merely address some of the problems of the app that he's used to moderate his own games for five years. A few days later, he was banned from the Roll20 subreddit as moderators suddenly claimed he was actually a previous user who had been banned in 2017.

One of the many memes birthed out of this controversy Reddit via DogNamedZeus

ApostleofTruth was banned from the Roll20 subreddit a year prior and the mod claimed that both apostles were the same person. The mod said he couldn't check IP addresses but wanted to "err on the side of caution." Feeling that there was an injustice afoot, Owens compared his own posting styles to the other banned account, finding that the two didn't post on the same subs and had little in common outside of their use of Roll20 and that they were both banned for criticizing the app on forums.

"Now I'm not just angry for myself, but for this other guy who got banned a year ago" Owens wrote. "He got banned for criticizing Roll20, and pointing out moderation abuse trying to quash criticism." He sent multiple requests for the ban to be removed by Roll20 moderators, which were all ignored or denied.

The moderator who was sending these messages was Nolan T. Jones, the managing partner and co-founder of the Roll20 app. Owens posted a rebuttal to the claims from Jones in the Roll20 subreddit, saying that the ban was justified because they "want users who can get along with each other."

"When someone's response to a ban from an ancillary forum is essentially, 'I will spend enormous effort attempting to burn down the store,' we know-- from experience-- that they'll do the same thing to other users they dislike, and we'll be left cleaning up the mess and with a poor user interactions," Jones wrote.

Jones' post quickly went viral on the site, drawing attention from all parts of reddit. The post was downvoted into oblivion and is currently the second-most downvoted post of all time. Users in the comment section were shocked by this level of lackluster PR that seemed to attack a user for sharing criticism, the original problem that started this whole ordeal.

nolant meme
Another meme about NolanT Reddit via drakmar

"You have a PR nightmare on your hands now all over a non issue. Well played," wrote AzarikX. Atuatedarbalest said they would be dropping their Roll20 subscription and that "(Jones is) unwilling to accept valid criticism from users or accept (his) own mistakes."

The other Roll20 subreddit has been filled with memes about the whole situation. The moderators released a post, saying that they will be changing how moderation on the sub works in the future and that they will be bringing in new moderators from r/lfg to run the sub.

In an email with Newsweek, Owens said that he has been playing Dungeons for Dragons for more than 15 years and did not expect his post to gain the level of traction that it did. "I was expecting to reach, maybe, a couple dozen people. I was basically just venting some frustration; I thought it was about as important as a Yelp review, which is to say not very," Owens wrote.

Owens wasn't surprised by Jones' response. "It was consistent with our communication prior to that, and what I saw of his communications with other critics in the past," Owens wrote. "I was surprised that he didn't seem to recognize the social media buzz around him at that point; I would have expected him to be in damage control mode."

Reddit has no comment on the situation.

Newsweek has reached out to Jones for comment. We will update when we hear a response.