I looked out my window this morning to see a pig take flight. Later, as I scanned the news over my customary Eggo and Picross breakfast, I noticed that snowball futures are doing extremely well in arid markets. I learned shortly thereafter that Valve has implemented living, human moderation staff for parts of Steam, whose job is to check the content being uploaded to Steam Workshop. This put the earlier events into perspective and thus, everything made sense.
“If you are submitting an item to the workshop for the first time, you’ll need to verify the submission via email,” the newly updated Workshop support page reads. “After you’ve successfully verified your submission, Valve moderation staff needs to approve the item before it becomes publicly visible. Both of these steps are designed to prevent scams and account theft in the Steam Workshop.”
It’s worth noting that this new, commonsense policy is not going to be implemented on every Steam title with Workshop support, but only for “certain Workshops that have been the target of scams leading to hijacked accounts.” Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) seems to be the first game to enjoy this added level of human intervention, as its unofficial subreddit was the first to notice the policy change.
Counter Strike: GO‘s Steam Workshop has been in ruins for some time, thanks to the efforts of an army of scam artists and bots that have up-voted duplicate, nefarious Workshop mods, while simultaneously down-voting legitimate content. Since the Steam Workshop is largely a lawless hinterland — where honest hobbyists are besieged on all sides by thieves, racists, and criminals — CS:GO players have had to simply endure until now.
Valve issued the policy change quietly, and has made no public statement regarding its implementation, or which games are protected by the new moderation system. The official Steam Support Twitter account hasn’t tweeted since 2017.
Valve has taken a hands-off approach to preemptively reviewing the content that appears on Steam since 2012, when Steam’s internal curation process was dissolved in favor of Steam Greenlight, a community-lead system. Greenlight was, of course, as vulnerable to manipulation and toxic mob mentality as Steam Reviews are today, so in 2017 it too was dissolved and replaced by Steam Direct, a system where publishers simply pay Valve to get their game on the service.
A game published through Steam Direct is ostensibly checked by a human employee to ensure that it’s “configured correctly, matches the description provided on the store page, and doesn’t contain malicious content,” according to Valve, but don’t let the phrase “malicious content” fool you. Valve means “malicious” in the cyber-security sense here, not in the “cute pro-Hitler anime game” sense, which is something that can be readily found on Steam.
This new moderation process for Steam Workshop items is almost undoubtedly going to follow the same process — not actual content curation, but rather the bare minimum that would be expected of any company with Valve’s resources. At least it only took ’em seven years to get here!