Can Microsoft Put Enforcement United Power in the Hands of the Players?

In a previous article I discussed the new Enforcement United system that Microsoft was enacting on Xbox Live.  Briefly, Enforcement United is a system that allows members of the Xbox Live community to monitor itself and report players who operate on a level that is deemed inappropriate by Microsoft and Xbox Live community standards.  Currently this system is in its beta phase and is only open to Xbox Live Ambassadors.  By participating in the beta Enforcement United volunteers can report other members whose Gamertags are violating the rules and have managed to slip past the screening phase.  Which is completely possible, as there are players who have managed to use numbers or quirky letters to write out offensive Gamertags.  Something that I don’t really have a problem with, but it does violate the Xbox Live Terms of Service and Agreement forms that you must accept before joining.

Of course the first issue that I have is that once this feature is out of beta, Microsoft is putting policing the Xbox Live community in the hands of community members.  I’m not suggesting that we can’t trust Xbox Live members with this kind of responsibility, however when you put that kind of power into the hands of the people inevitably that power will be abused.  That’s human nature and we see it all the time.  Those that use their power for evil and in the case of Enforcement United people could be tempted to report and affect the rating of others solely on disagreeing with their opinions.

Now Microsoft has come out and said that there will be a system of checks and balances in place to protect players from being arbitrarily punished and losing their points based on false accusations.  I assume that this system is going to allow reported players to appeal and have their case reviewed by Microsoft employees.  Hopefully Microsoft would consider the possibility of adding a punishment system for players who chronically send out false reports and dissuade the action.

But gamers know trolls, and this is a group of people who will find a way to ruin this.  To often our lives on Xbox Live far more difficult than they have to be.  In the end, the power must not be completely in the players hands.  Xbox Live is a large and continuously growing community, and Microsoft can not monitor everything themselves.  That’s true, but they must make it clear to the members of their community that they may have the power to report other players but in the end Microsoft is in charge.