Xbox Live Enforcement: Behind The Black Curtain

HardOCP News

[H] News
Joined
Dec 31, 1969
Messages
0
Microsoft is giving you a sneak peek behind the black curtain today, showing you who the Xbox Live Enforcement team are, what they do, how they do it and why. Many of you will recognize Jason Coon (on the left) he's a long time reader and member of the [H] forums and an all around great guy. Definitely good reading, head on over and check it out!

Behind the black curtain is a unique team of Microsoft employees. Their existence is not widely known, and probably for good reason – if you have a close encounter with a member of Xbox LIVE’s Policy and Enforcement team, chances are you’re on the wrong end of right.
 

DarkStar_WNY

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 27, 2006
Messages
2,355
In before the stream of emo-raging people who were banned for using hacks, or flashing their junk, but claiming to be completely innocent of all such offenses.
 

TwistedAegis

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Oct 7, 2009
Messages
8,958
"Apart from being gamers, agents are “steeped and stewed” in Internet culture, as well as being experts in slang, acronyms, and more. Erickson says some of them can actually write in “l33t,” (pronounced “leet”) a hacker pidgin language that incorporates abbreviations and numbers in an attempt to bypass profanity filters."

Wow, I speak l33t to, I should put that on my resume under skills! :D
 

GAT-ROT

Weaksauce
Joined
Mar 30, 2005
Messages
105
i totally expected them to be from india or canada, shocking! is Microsoft back in the US again after all these years?
 

swatbat

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 25, 2001
Messages
12,967
Xbox LIVE Enforcement Unicorn Ninja. Yes, that is his actual job title.

So if he sends a resume in the future does he list unicorn ninja as his last job title or make something up?
 

Weenis

I said WEENIS, not...
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
4,807
So if he sends a resume in the future does he list unicorn ninja as his last job title or make something up?

I'd probably leave it as that because.... you know 3/4 of people are going to want to know what the hell that means exactly. the other 1/4 will probably have zero sense of humor and throw it away.
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
So, at the risk of getting a bunch of "why was I banned" questions that I can't answer, does anyone have any questions about the Xbox LIVE Policy & Enforcement team? Yes, that is me on the left in the picture.
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
Can you tell us what it is like working at Microsoft? What is your average day like? Always wondered what life is like on your campus.
 

LastQuestion

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 25, 2011
Messages
454
I think one of the primary reasons they do not have so many complaints is that many of the users on XBL accept profanity, sexism, and mild racism as a part of the service so much so that you have normal people pretending to be racist just to talk trash in the lobby.
 

bbf

Gawd
Joined
Jan 2, 2007
Messages
624
So, at the risk of getting a bunch of "why was I banned" questions that I can't answer, does anyone have any questions about the Xbox LIVE Policy & Enforcement team? Yes, that is me on the left in the picture.

Do you have any interesting experiences that you can share?

Maybe more details about how the "Fort Gay" guy slipped through the cracks? Overzealous agent? Microsoft did good and made up with the user, but was there any unofficial "peer" punishment from the enforcement group for gross enforcement mistakes by agents that could have been avoided?
 

stiltner

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Mar 16, 2000
Messages
10,661
There's a forum that hosts a plethora of the best Xbox Live team responses. I swear to god, its some of the funniest shit you'll read on the net.

Kudo's to the team for having a good sense of humor, and putting a hand back into the face of the people who try and claim innocence on stuff thats clearly out of bounds.

Some of them are awesome like "Yes, we decided to ban you after your 84th name violation, we figured getting to 85 was unnecessary, as your IQ clearly proved the task of recognition of the rules was insurmountable"
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Can you tell us what it is like working at Microsoft? What is your average day like? Always wondered what life is like on your campus.

I've been with the company for over 10 years and even I sometimes find myself marveling at how cool it can be from time to time. I can honestly say that I work with some of the most intelligent, creative, and passionate people in the world, I learn something new from my co-workers every day. The company is pretty big, about 90,000 employees, but they've done a good job of spreading us out in multiple campuses around Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle. They take pretty good care of us, free soda and on-campus cafes, restaurants, sports fields, and other shops and services. They even offer a free bus service to bring people to and from work that has onboard WiFi.

When I arrive in the morning I check in with my team to see if there is anything is on fire, then start working through my email and meetings for the day. I'm mostly concerned with the accuracy of the decisions my team makes, and the timeliness of their decisions, so I pay close attention to the edge cases where the disicions are not clear cut, or anything that is slowing them or blocking their progress.

We do have some pretty good laughs at times about how creatively profane some users get, and then we ban them :) There are also times when we have to engage with law enforcement for actual crimes that occur, and those are often some of the most difficult things we have to deal with.

In general though most users are just trying to have fun and enjoy the service, so we try not to get jaded by the fact that we spend our day dealing with the very small number who are actively causing trouble.
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Do you have any interesting experiences that you can share?

Maybe more details about how the "Fort Gay" guy slipped through the cracks? Overzealous agent? Microsoft did good and made up with the user, but was there any unofficial "peer" punishment from the enforcement group for gross enforcement mistakes by agents that could have been avoided?

That was an honest mistake, the enforcer who made the decision had no idea that was a real place. It was noted as an error on their part, but we didn't take any punitive action. We actually used that experience to modify our policy on sexual identification. Prior to that incident it was a bannable offense to mention any sexual orientation, afterward we decided that self-identification is fine, as long as it isn't done in a provocative or prurient manner. Identification of others, even if factually correct, is still a bannable offense.
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
I've been with the company for over 10 years and even I sometimes find myself marveling at how cool it can be from time to time. I can honestly say that I work with some of the most intelligent, creative, and passionate people in the world, I learn something new from my co-workers every day. The company is pretty big, about 90,000 employees, but they've done a good job of spreading us out in multiple campuses around Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle. They take pretty good care of us, free soda and on-campus cafes, restaurants, sports fields, and other shops and services. They even offer a free bus service to bring people to and from work that has onboard WiFi.

When I arrive in the morning I check in with my team to see if there is anything is on fire, then start working through my email and meetings for the day. I'm mostly concerned with the accuracy of the decisions my team makes, and the timeliness of their decisions, so I pay close attention to the edge cases where the disicions are not clear cut, or anything that is slowing them or blocking their progress.

We do have some pretty good laughs at times about how creatively profane some users get, and then we ban them :) There are also times when we have to engage with law enforcement for actual crimes that occur, and those are often some of the most difficult things we have to deal with.

In general though most users are just trying to have fun and enjoy the service, so we try not to get jaded by the fact that we spend our day dealing with the very small number who are actively causing trouble.
Now be honest - how many hours on the average day do you spend in meetings?
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Now be honest - how many hours on the average day do you spend in meetings?

Used to be a lot more when I was on the team that built and shipped the Kinect, sometimes my entire day was meetings and I'd have to stay late just to get through the day's email. Now not so much, maybe two hours of meetings per day, four hours on a really busy day.
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
Used to be a lot more when I was on the team that built and shipped the Kinect, sometimes my entire day was meetings and I'd have to stay late just to get through the day's email. Now not so much, maybe two hours of meetings per day, four hours on a really busy day.
do you run into Rahul Sood at all?
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
also, what did you think of the Origin Big O (PC with Xbox built in)? Wondered what Microsoft thought about that project (was worried about you all getting mad but instead you guys ordered some of them). Would have like to made a built in Kinect . . . .
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
also, what did you think of the Origin Big O (PC with Xbox built in)? Wondered what Microsoft thought about that project (was worried about you all getting mad but instead you guys ordered some of them). Would have like to made a built in Kinect . . . .

Honestly I hadn't heard of that before now :) I can't speak for the lawyers, but generally we don't care what people do with their consoles as long as they aren't trying to do something illegal, circumvent copyright protections, or otherwise infringe on our business. I can see why they didn't build in the Kinect though, doing so would severely limit where you could place the PC.
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
Did you have a brother named JethroME who dropped out of school and never amounted to much ;)
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
Honestly I hadn't heard of that before now :) I can't speak for the lawyers, but generally we don't care what people do with their consoles as long as they aren't trying to do something illegal, circumvent copyright protections, or otherwise infringe on our business. I can see why they didn't build in the Kinect though, doing so would severely limit where you could place the PC.
This involved take the Xbox out of the casing and installing it in a different casing and water-cooling it but not hacking the system of course.

 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Did you have a brother named JethroME who dropped out of school and never amounted to much ;)

Ummm...no :)

This involved take the Xbox out of the casing and installing it in a different casing and water-cooling it but not hacking the system of course.


Very cool piece of engineering there. Only downside is that if there was a problem we'd never touch it for hardware support.
 

DarthBeavis

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3,218
Ummm...no :)



Very cool piece of engineering there. Only downside is that if there was a problem we'd never touch it for hardware support.
yeah the support is covered by Origin. At least the first one was Microsoft-centric ;)
 

rat

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,915
So, at the risk of getting a bunch of "why was I banned" questions that I can't answer, does anyone have any questions about the Xbox LIVE Policy & Enforcement team? Yes, that is me on the left in the picture.

Having been someone who worked on the enforcement and policy interpretation side of things for a major MMO (Still bound by NDA, so I can only tell you that my position was one step short of being an actual GM and employed by the company, as I was not compensated)... I've had some really, really lame excuses brought up for how something blatant (spoonerisms and plays on words like like Cunning Linguist) absolutely couldn't be what it obviously is. Many times I'd try to be fair, allow for *ahem* creative alternate interpretations, make them feel like they were heard out and that I was giving them the option of changing their name to something even better... etc. Most of the time folks were cool enough about issues. Most.

The others... well... I've seen some people piss away second, third, fifth... ninth chances for the LAMEST reasons. As much as you'd be allowed to say, any immediate examples of being exceptionally fair, and even... impossibly forgiving... that just seemed to be thrown right back in your face the first chance they got? I've had plenty. (Thrown back in my face, that is.) Best part was running into some of these folks on a player character, hearing them talk smack about volunteers and employees and how they liked doing whatever they could to fuck with them. (Ctrl-C, Load up Player Account Records, Ctrl-V) ANYWAY...
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Having been someone who worked on the enforcement and policy interpretation side of things for a major MMO (Still bound by NDA, so I can only tell you that my position was one step short of being an actual GM and employed by the company, as I was not compensated)... I've had some really, really lame excuses brought up for how something blatant (spoonerisms and plays on words like like Cunning Linguist) absolutely couldn't be what it obviously is. Many times I'd try to be fair, allow for *ahem* creative alternate interpretations, make them feel like they were heard out and that I was giving them the option of changing their name to something even better... etc. Most of the time folks were cool enough about issues. Most.

The others... well... I've seen some people piss away second, third, fifth... ninth chances for the LAMEST reasons. As much as you'd be allowed to say, any immediate examples of being exceptionally fair, and even... impossibly forgiving... that just seemed to be thrown right back in your face the first chance they got? I've had plenty. (Thrown back in my face, that is.) Best part was running into some of these folks on a player character, hearing them talk smack about volunteers and employees and how they liked doing whatever they could to fuck with them. (Ctrl-C, Load up Player Account Records, Ctrl-V) ANYWAY...

The repeat offenders and grossly obvious offenders who plead innocence are probably the most frustrating. For example the guy who claims that he doesn't even know what hacking or modding is and can't understand why we banned him for that, yet is advertising modded lobbies for 1600 MSP in his bio. Or the guy who has been through 35 forced name changes all containing references to racist or sexual terms, then demands to know why we finally banned him.

Probably the most egregious we've seen was when someone was using a gamertag clearly meant to impersonate an Xbox Staff member and actually tried to socially engineer one of our enforcers who was signed in to LIVE from the office. We played along with him a bit, and when he finally demanded the email associated with the enforcer's gamertag (so he could hijack it) we instead provided the scammer with the email on his own account. He went quiet for about 10 minutes, then came back and apologized, claimed he'd never done it before, that his friends put him up to it, blah blah blah. We told him he needed to pick better friends and make better choices, then banned his account. He later came into our forums and demanded to know why he was banned, apparently thinking that different people staffed the forums, wrong again :)
 

dr.kevin

2[H]4U
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
3,053
how many of you would hire a guy who looked like the dude in the middle ?

I would think a lot of employers and interviewers would pass the first second he walked through the door.
 

swatbat

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 25, 2001
Messages
12,967
The repeat offenders and grossly obvious offenders who plead innocence are probably the most frustrating. For example the guy who claims that he doesn't even know what hacking or modding is and can't understand why we banned him for that, yet is advertising modded lobbies for 1600 MSP in his bio. Or the guy who has been through 35 forced name changes all containing references to racist or sexual terms, then demands to know why we finally banned him.

You played around with someone through 35 name changes? I mean I'd think you would call it quits after the first few.
 

Pieter3dnow

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
6,785
so are you guys responsible for banning or filtering every known variation of the word LINUX on xbox , found that so childish :)
 

The Donut

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 28, 2003
Messages
3,107
JethroXP,

Not sure if this is you area, however I moved from Canada to the UK and subsequently my XBL account is now all over the place.

It's a Canadian account, so I have to purchase Canadian points to spend but half the time the content is restricted and won't let me purchase it.

There was a recent release of a migration tool however it was only for obscure countries, is there any plans (or a way now) to change the location of my XBL account so I don't have to start with a new GT/XBL account?
 

dogbyte_13

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 21, 2004
Messages
1,486
Wow i wish i could show my tattoos at work, i have to wear long sleeves all the time, its been brutal this hot summer here in dirty jersey :)
 

masterosok

Gawd
Joined
Apr 1, 2008
Messages
968
These people that you are referring with the inordinate amount of unacceptable names changes and other obnoxiousness are the primary reason I refuse to have a XBL sub.
 

Dark-Colonel

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 11, 2004
Messages
441
how many of you would hire a guy who looked like the dude in the middle ?

I would think a lot of employers and interviewers would pass the first second he walked through the door.

Microsoft, amongst quite a few others, are supporters of equal rights for all individuals, especially during the hiring process.

They do not discriminate potential or current employees based off on their sex, race, religion, skin colour, including stuff like tattoos, religious headwear, and etc.
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
so are you guys responsible for banning or filtering every known variation of the word LINUX on xbox , found that so childish :)

Not sure where you got that idea, we don't filter or block the word "Linux". In fact I just checked, there are over 3000 gamertags that contain that string. For example:

http://live.xbox.com/en-US/member/linux


JethroXP,

Not sure if this is you area, however I moved from Canada to the UK and subsequently my XBL account is now all over the place.

It's a Canadian account, so I have to purchase Canadian points to spend but half the time the content is restricted and won't let me purchase it.

There was a recent release of a migration tool however it was only for obscure countries, is there any plans (or a way now) to change the location of my XBL account so I don't have to start with a new GT/XBL account?

Yeah, that definitely sucks. We allowed migration to the nine new LIVE supported regions, and I'm not aware of any plans to expand that. Switching regions is particularly problematic because of changes in currency, tax laws, privacy laws, and laws dealing with explicit content (as defined locally) and minor children. I wish I had a better answer for you.

These people that you are referring with the inordinate amount of unacceptable names changes and other obnoxiousness are the primary reason I refuse to have a XBL sub.

And that's why my team exists, hopefully you'll give it a try, especially now that you know there is a team of people out there dedicated to finding and dealing with those bad apples. There is a user complaint system built into Xbox LIVE. My team reviews all of those complaints. When you find someone with an offensive gamertag, Bio, or spewing hateful speech or otherwise disrupting your experience, file a complaint, my deal will see it and deal with the individual within 24 hours.
 

cptnjarhead

Crossfit Fast Walk Champion Runnerup
Joined
Mar 9, 2010
Messages
1,669
So, at the risk of getting a bunch of "why was I banned" questions that I can't answer, does anyone have any questions about the Xbox LIVE Policy & Enforcement team? Yes, that is me on the left in the picture.

Has the "Team" been active since the beginning of xbox live?
 

Xrave

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
7,170
So which building are you in? One of the studios? I can say hi next time I visit ;)
 

JethroXP

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
1,181
Has the "Team" been active since the beginning of xbox live?

No, in the beginning it was one guy who looked at complaints weekly as an additional duty to his day job. We've been in our current fully staffed state only for the past couple years and we continue to grow the team.

So which building are you in? One of the studios? I can say hi next time I visit ;)

We are on the Studios West Campus. I'd rather not say which building for security reasons, but I imagine if you travel here regularly you'll probably know how to find us.
 
Top