And it's really my own fault. I think that, for me, RPG.net had taken on a special significance. It was more than just a posting site, it was a community that I actively worked to support however I could. This probably wasn't a very healthy attitude to have, I became over-invested in the site. Which is why the threat of a perma-ban stung so badly.
I wasn't even going to bring this up anywhere, but I really need to. It's cathartic. If I posted it on an RPG website it would just stir up negativity, and that's the last thing I want. The fact is that I'm still bitter over it. Really bitter. I know a lot of people would say "but it's just some website." That's true, but it's also a community and receiving rejection from a community is tough.
I think part of it is this vague sense that I stand to lose everything I've invested into the site over the past 2 years. I take pride in writing reviews, adding to the index, doing occasional things like "Best indie games of the year", and otherwise helping out. I go out of my way to greet every new member I see posting and offer whatever help I can. While all of those things would still be there, the reputation I've cultivated would be toast.
In the law, especially administrative law in the U.S., there's a concept called "reputational damage." Basically, some people have to be given a hearing before they can be fired or disciplined because of a stigma that attaches. I'm reminded of this concept not because I think that administrative hearings would work well for an online forum (far from it) but because reputational damage is the sting I feel. There's a big difference between some random poster on a site arguing with you and a person with clear authority identifying you as a problem.
I haven't decided what, if anything, I want to do about this feeling. I intend to keep using the site and writing my reviews like always. I still love the site and the people there. But there are other things I'm reconsidering. Buying a lifetime membership seems like a poor choice right now. Contributing to the Gaming Index also seems unwise. Working to establish a positive reputation on a broader assortment of RPG websites, however, seems like a good idea.
I'm hoping that, over time, I'll get over it and go back to how things were for the most part. So far, acting like everything is ok isn't working out - I just feel bummed out in my day to day life.
Thanks for listening.