Valve Restricts Over 2,000 Steam Accounts for Marking a Negative Review as “Helpful”

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Image: Valve

Valve allows Steam users to rate whether a review was helpful or not with “Yes,” “No,” “Funny,” and “Award” buttons, but users may want to think twice before doing so when it comes to negative reviews. According to a lengthy thread on Steam’s forum for Warlander, an online PvP game that has been criticized for its Sentry anti-cheat software, “almost 2,500” Steam users had lost upvoting and downvoting privileges after they marked a negative review from FREEDOMS117, which was banned and scrubbed by Valve, as being helpful, despite the review apparently being a legitimate one with no ill purpose, per an update from a Steam Support employee. Some critics of Steam are now claiming that the platform can no longer be trusted, in that users can be silenced for speaking out about a game’s problems.

From a Steam Support response:

Hey thanks for writing in here and first off, apologies for the delay and the overall experience. I’ve removed the vote ban on all of the affected accounts, and the lock on your account was removed as Tim mentioned previously.

You can disregard the previous message and I will provide a bit more info below.

Our moderators watch for content that describes how to cheat or describes how to tamper with anti-cheat systems. Those are against our rules and it looks like that is what our moderation team incorrectly identified with this case, leading to the banned review. I agree with your evaluation that this review does not fit that criteria.

Furthermore, the mod identified this review as potentially dangerous to other players, due to some of the steps requiring registry edits. This led to the additional lock that was placed on your account and voter accounts. I can see that your review does not contain phishing links, attempts to scam or deceive players, or anything else that warrants a lock.

I’m happy to unban the review, but think it makes more sense to have that complex and detailed troubleshooting within a Steam guide, along with at least some disclosure about how the steps are ‘at your own risk’. The guide could then be linked to directly from the review.

We will also be following up with the developer about the behavior described in the review.

Image: FREEDOMS117

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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