Banned from NOE Forums 

deKay’s Nintendo Forums Wrangle

Introduction

Nintendo of Europe (NOE) have a website at www.nintendo-europe.com. On this site, they have a set of forums – open to all registered users (such as myself).

As is common with most web-based forums, you can set yourself a “sig file”, which is appended to the bottom of each post you make. Prior to 6th November 2002, my sig read something similar to:

deKay
editor of the free videogames magazine “ugvm”

http://www.ugvm.org.uk

On the 6th November 2002, I received this email:

Hi Andy (DeKay),
Thanks for using the forums as we’ve seen you make good posts, however Nintendo have asked me to inform you to remove any advertisements that are in your emails or signatures. Unfortunately this is one of the forum rules which Nintendo have set.

Kindest Regards,
Mike,
Nintendo Support.

Being a good citizen, I changed my sig to read similar to:

deKay
editor of the free videogames magazine “ugvm”
Apparently, posting the magazine’s URL here is advertising. I’m sure you can find it on Google though.

And that is how it stayed. You’d expect that if it were not acceptable, I’d be asked again, wouldn’t you? But I wasn’t.

Second Request

Well, not until 27th February 2004, more than a full year later, anyway.

Please change sig as NOE see it as advertising and will not allow this on the forums. If this continues in your posts further action will be taken against your account.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

I don’t where Mike has gone, or the friendliness either. Whatever, I change my sig again to:

deKay
editor of something that I am not allowed to mention

Viva la censorship:
“Please change sig as NOE see it as advertising and will not allow this on the forums.”

I also decided to enquire further as to why it was considered advertising, so I replied with:

How is it advertising? I’m not selling anything, nor gaining anything from mentioning it in my sig.

Andy

Soon enough, I received a reply:

So do you or said site not gain any custom or vistor interest from posting on other forums? This is advertising and Nintendo will not allow it. Action will be taken against your account if we continue to see mention of this site on the forum.

Regards,
Nintendo Support

Notice the line “action will be taken against your account if we continue to see mention of this site on the forum”. I have altered my sig to remove the site from it already, so no further action should (in theory) now be taken.

ugvm is a not-for profit magazine. It is written by myself and other regulars of the newsgroup uk.games.video.misc. Its primary audience is also the regulars of the newsgroup uk.games.video.misc. You can see the ugvm site here.

I pointed this out, along with some other stuff, including the real reason I use “editor of ugvm” in my sig:

We don’t gain custom, no. Visitor interest from the NOE forums has been virtually nil. I don’t use the message in my sig to garner visitors anyway – the magazine is written by and for the regulars of the newsgroup uk.games.video.misc – not “the general public”. Anyone else who reads it is an added bonus, and nothing more.

The reason I use the phrase is to show the posters on the forum that, since I edit a games magazine, I have access to information that many others can only speculate on. If you see my posting history, I have on many occasions pointed out that what some people post as FACT, has in actuality, been nothing more than rumour or guesswork.

I have never had a problem including “ugvm” in any other forum I have posted to, either, including Sony’s Playstation forum, and Edge magazine’s, and I have been using that sig on your forums for many months now. Why is it, that it is only now that it is deemed advertising?

Andy

Legal Disclaimer

From that email, I got this reply:

Personally It doesn’t make any difference to me, that�s why I have left on the site. But yes it is a form of advertising and although it may only be intended as you say, it is still advertising. We also had a few emails from people asking why you were allowed to include what was in your sig after they had been warned, so we are just being fair.

I would also advise you change the quote in your current sig, mentioning the quote from an email from us. Remember the legal disclaimer at the bottom of the email. You should not be mentioning the content of private emails.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

If people have complained about me, and they have had to ask others to stop “advertising” in the manner I seemingly have, then that is fine. Although I have already removed the “advert” from my sig, I will concede this and not mention it again.

However, the “Legal Disclaimer” point bugs me. This is the disclaimer (with contact details edited out):

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE

The information contained in this message is legally privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or the entity named as recipient. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copy of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify us by telephone on XXXX XXXX XXXX, and return the origAinal message to the sender. Your co-operation is appreciated.

The spelling of “origAinal” is how it appears on the emails.

As far as I can see, this is only relevant to people who have received an email from Nintendo Support by mistake (for example, if Nintendo have sent it to the wrong email address). Also, it says “intended only for the use of the individual or the entity named as recipient”, which is me. I replied with:

Personally It doesn’t make any difference to me, that�s why I have left on the site. But yes it is a form of advertising and although it may only be intended as you say, it is still advertising. We also had a few emails from people asking why you were allowed to include what was in your sig after they had been warned, so we are just being fair.

I don’t recall seeing anyone else advertise in their sig, but fair enough.

I would also advise you change the quote in your current sig, mentioning the quote from an email from us. Remember the legal disclaimer at the bottom of the email. You should not be mentioning the content of private emails.

That “disclaimer” states that:
“The information contained in this message is legally privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or the entity named as recipient.”

So therefore, the email is for my use. And I wish to use it in my sig.

Andy

Now, I don’t know why, but this prompted them to take action against my account:

Ok, if that’s how you read it??? We will now shortly be taking further action against your account, which is likely to be a 1 month forum ban. More information to follow.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

I’m sorry? Did I miss something? Even though I have stopped “advertising” on the forums, I am now going to have action taken against me anyway – seemingly for not reading the disclaimer in the way they would have liked me to have done.

Yes, that is how I read it. Surely it is up to me to do with my emails as I wish?

Banning me for one month for “misinterpreting” your disclaimer seems highly petty. I hope you are taking much more sizable action against those people who *are actually abusing* the forums, posting swearwords, picking on other posters, and so on.

Andy

Banned!

This is confirmation of a 1 month forum ban from the site. The ban will end around the 1st of April.

The action taken against other users is a private matter between Nintendo support and the user. Any user who we have decided to take further action against will be informed via an email which will contain the confidentiality notice. Most companies will put these on their emails to cover the legal content of emails.

Regards,
Nintendo Support

Well, that told me! I’m not really sure what half of that was going on about, and the bit “most companies” putting disclaimers on emails is mostly irrelevant anyway. I don’t know how legally binding they are, but my reading of it is not what Nintendo seems to suggest it means.

This is confirmation of a 1 month forum ban from the site. The ban will end around the 1st of April.

I assume there is no-one I can email to appeal this decision? I have complied with your request to remove what you considered advertising (which was, after all, the original complaint against me), so what am I now being banned?

The action taken against other users is a private matter between Nintendo support and the user.

Well, I hope it isn’t just me that gets banned, as there are users on the forums with FAR more reason to be kicked off than me.

Any user who we have decided to take further action against will be informed via an email which will contain the confidentiality notice. Most companies will put these on their emails to cover the legal content of emails.

As far as I can see, that notice only covers you if an email is accidentally sent to the wrong person. Once you have sent me an email, it is mine to use as I wish – unless I have signed something to give up that right, which I don’t recall doing.

If you have a supervisor, I would be interested in contacting him or her regarding these issues.

Andy

I should probably point out, that at the time this was all going on, there were a number of posters on the forums who had somehow managed to circumvent the swear-filters and were making full use of whatever loophole they had found. There was also a large amount of off-topicness, and some posters seemed to be ganging up on some others to try and get them to leave the forums. All more important reasons to be banned than mine, I think.

As you can see, I also asked why it actually was that I was being banned. Since I have heeded the warning about the “advertising”, and changed my sig to fit their rules, surely they can’t be banning me for that, can they?

Brick Wall

Hi,

The ban is now in place and will not be removed until April 1st. There is no way to appeal against the ban as it has already been passed by NOE, not me. When a ban/action is taken against a user it has to be passed by NOE, not me.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

I thought this person was part of NOE, but it seems that they are from Codestorm, who run the NOE site on behalf of NOE. Or something.

Notice how some of my questions got completely ignored? There is no mention of a supervisor to talk to, nor am I told the actual reason that I am banned. Perhaps I should ask again…

And there is no-one at NOE you can refer me on to?

Also, I haven’t actually been told what I have been banned for. I would appreciate it if you could tell me.

Andy

And on the 1st March 2004, I actually get some answers. And some odd ones at that:

Unfortunately there is no one you can get in contact with via NOE. You have been banned for breaking the rules regarding Advertising. NOE prompted the action in the first place due to requests from other users who felt it was unfair because action had been taken against them, while other user were getting away with it. If you remember the first warning we sent you quite a while back, promting you to change you message. I was fairly happy with the action you had taken, hence no other warning being sent to you until the last week or so.

We will not be taken this enquiry any further.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

You might not want to take it any further, but I certainly do. Although I don’t know who with, if there is nobody at NOE to talk to!

Remember an email I received previously that stated “Action will be taken against your account if we continue to see mention of this site on the forum.”? Recall also that I removed the site from my sig, and did not mention it further, so as to comply with this request. Doesn’t the wording of Nintendo’s email suggest that if I do stop mentioning the site, no action will be taken? That is what it says as far as I can make out.

The “first warning we sent you quite a while back” refers to the request in November 2002. It seems that I was only warned again due to other users complaining that their treatment for advertising wasn’t fair if I wasn’t warned too, which I fully accept. However, this does not remove the fact that I was given the choice – stop “advertising”, or be banned. It now appears that I didn’t have a choice, and was banned regardless.

In the email I received last week, you wrote:

“Please change sig as NOE see it as advertising and will not allow this on the forums. If this continues in your posts further action will be taken against your account.”

I then changed my sig so as to comply with this, and yet further action was taken, and I was banned anyway. Why give me the option of changing my sig, if I was going to be banned regardless?

Andy

Now Things Get Confusing

Just a quick recap: I was warned about advertising in Nov 2002. I changed my sig to suit. This was acceptable. On 27th Feb 2004, I was warned again, following a complaint from another forum user. Again, I changed my sig to suit. Even though I changed my sig, I was banned a couple of days later. Got that? Good.

This is the reply to my last email:

Site records show a message was sent around summer last year of which your response was to change your sig. We are not referring to the change you made last week.

Now I’m confused. Firstly, I wasn’t sent an email last summer at all. Secondly, it now appears that I am being banned for the first warning (either that, or some non-existent one from 2003). Why wait over a year to ban me, when I haven’t done anything wrong in that time?

Let’s hope someone at NOE (or rather, Codestorm) can explain!

Hang on, I think you may be confusing me.

On 6th November 2002 (not last summer), I got an email that requested I remove any adverts from my sig. At the time, my sig read something along the lines of:

deKay
Editor of the free videogames magazine “ugvm”

http://www.ugvm.org.uk

I then changed it, as requested, to something similar to:

deKay
Editor of the free videogames magazine “ugvm”
Apparently posting the url here is advertising, but I’m sure you can find it on Google.

Since I did not receive any further requests to change it, in over a year, I assumed that this was an acceptable sig.

It came as a bit of a surprise to find that you requested that I change it again after so much time. As you have said, this was down to a complaint from another user and I accept that and have changed my sig again at your request – it no longer even mentions “ugvm”, let alone the url.

As I see it, I have complied with your requests each time, and yet I am still being penalised.

Andy

Apparently, they can’t. And, in a “la la la, I can’t hear you” type way, I get this:

We can argue the matter all day but won’t. We reserve the right to take action against or terminate the account of anyone, this cannot be changed. I expect you’re spot on with the date you said you were first warned but it will not change the fact that your ban will stand until April 1st. We will not be taken this enquiry any further.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

Now What?

On the 2nd March 2004, I sent one last email to NOE/Codestorm in response.

Very well, I will take the matter up elsewhere. I would appreciate a copy of the terms of service for the use of the forums, if you could sent it to me. After all, I don’t want to inadvertently break them when I am allowed back on the forums.

Andy

It seems to me that they couldn’t actually come up with a valid reason for banning me in the end, so they drew the joker card – “We reserve the right…”. If they didn’t like my posting style, or my nick, or something I’d have said on the forums, or if I’d reverted back to my “advertising” sig, I could at least understand why I was banned. But I don’t.

I don’t know if I can be bothered taking it any further or not. It probably isn’t worth the hassle.

For the sake of completeness, here is the reply to my final email:

The only terms and conditions for customer/user view are available in the rules section of the site.

If you want lodge further details we would suggest you write to:

Nintendo UK,
[address snipped]

At the end of the day Nintendo doesn’t force people to use the site or the forums. Nintendo reserves the right to add/remove content as they see, to protect their and other users interests. Many users of all ages use the site and the forums with or without little help from the Nintendo Support/Admin team everyday and generally respect the terms and conditions of the site.

Regards,
Nintendo Support.

I thought I too was one of those who “respect the terms and conditions of the site”, but it seems not. Am I the only one to see a slight put-down in there too? Suggesting that “users of all ages” manage to use the site without help, but since I needed to contact them I was incapable? Probably just my cynicism.

If you have any views regarding this, please email me and I’ll mention it on this page. Thanks for reading.

Emails

Here are the emails I have received in response to this article.

Dear Andy

I to have been wrongly acused of things by NOE, so i have left the site only to return to the news section, I was acused of spam and i changed the way i posted on the Fourm, i was then suprised at the fact that some of my (in the rules) posts were infact removed and i was being punished even though i had keept to there rules, i gave up and made one last post, that i would agree was a bit over the top but i was angry can u balme me?, it simply sed that i was leaving and even though that was kind of spam it never or did’nt get removed by NOE even though my questions did.

Regards
Stephen Luderman

Update 24 September 2004

On a different topic, but still on the Nintendo Europe forums, I received another friendly email from lovely Mike. Basically, I’d mentioned on the forum that I’d pre-ordered the new Nintendo DS from VideoGamesPlusin Canada, as I thought it unfair that those of us in Europe should again have to wait months for Nintendo to release something over here. The DS is due out on November 21st 2004 in the US, and March 2005 in the UK. Apparently, this is against those all important rules, as our chum Mike pointed out:

Subject: Nintendo Forums Warning/Post removed.

Hi deKay,

Personally I understand your frustration at the NOE release of the DS being later than Japan/US and I can see the reason, obviously behind you personally and other users wanting to import one. However, we are not permitted to allow Posts/Threads on the Nintendo Forums which endorse or show how to import products which will not be covered by European warrantee, therefore having no official Nintendo European Service Centre Warrantee. Therefore you are warned against making Posts/Threads which involve importing, so your current post �DS Pre-ordered� has been removed from the site.

Kind Regards,
Mike
Nintendo UK Forum Administrator

(Message generated at web site management office at 24/09/2004 14:02)

So, another banning on the cards? Lets wait and see, eh?

Addendum 30 September 2004

Tim “timtm” Miller (whom I know from ugvm, and who is deputy editor of the ugvm magazine) also posted on the forums about importing a DS. He also has “advertising” in his sig. Bad, bad man.

He got this email from your friend and mine today:

Hi timtm,

Personally I understand your frustration at the NOE release of the DS being later than Japan/US and I can see the reason, obviously behind you personally and other users wanting to import one. However, we are not permitted to allow Posts/Threads on the Nintendo Forums which mention, endorse or show how to import products which will not be covered by European warrantee, therefore having no official Nintendo European Service Centre Warrantee. therefore you are warned against making Posts/Threads which involve importing, so your current post ‘Getting a Nintendo DS this year…’ has been remed from the site. We would also like you to remove your mention of ugvm from any future posts otherwise we may take further action against your account if this continues.

Kind Regards,

Mike
Nintendo UK Forum Administrator

Careful there, Tim!

One Response to Banned from NOE Forums

  1. Anonymous says:

    This owns.

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