update: dealing with a problematic member of a board games group

Remember the letter-writer who was dealing with a problematic member of a board games group? The first update was here, and here’s the final installment.

I am the letter writer who runs a board games group and used Alison’s excellent advice about communication to deal with a problematic member of the games group and the issues their behavior was causing.

We had a twist in the tale recently when Q, the member who was asked to leave the group because their behavior was negatively impacting others, asked if they could come back.

For four weeks every year, we use a different venue as another group needs our normal venue. One one of the four weeks, I went for a walk before the session and noticed what looked like Q in the park. When the session started, Q appeared, just “passing by,” and we had a quick chat about this and that before they asked if they could come back to the group, saying they were in a better place now. They then left without ordering anything, which makes me think they dropped in just to see us.

I said I would send a message, and gave it due consideration. I also asked a friend who knows Q and used to be in the group, but has now moved, for their more objective input.

The decision was no: the group is working well as it is, with high numbers and between 11 and 20 people per session, and Q coming back would lead to awkwardness and possible animosity from a few people, some of whom would speak their mind. We would also lose a lot of members, and the group would slowly decline. For what it’s worth, one person who had some very negative interactions with Q, when they heard why Q was there ( they were round the corner), exclaimed “No!” to Q coming back, and this person is one of the nicest people you’ll meet. Similar reactions were given from others.

I sent Q a message explaining the decision, and I was as fair and kind as possible given the circumstances. Q has found another games group, albeit one that only plays light games, (not heavy games, Q’s preference), and I mentioned that and said it sounds like a nice group (which it does).

Q was perfectly pleasant when we chatted, but that was for about eight minutes, and they knew what was coming. They also said that they weren’t often doing the things I’d mentioned anymore (moving other people’s pieces, and a couple of other examples I gave), and that although their new group likes light games, they are helping some people progress up to heavier games. It wasn’t clear if the people wanted to progress (one of the issues we had was Q assuming that everyone wanted to progress).

The games group continues to do well, with enough surplus each year to give everyone free sessions every January, and we receive frequent feedback that the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and that people feel at home and confident to bring and teach their games there. Our annual Christmas potluck dinner and session with a Secret Santa also continues. We also have a Google sheet with people’s games collections, if they want to add them, thanks to one of our members who likes spreadsheets.

For myself, Ask a Manager continues to help me out at work! I recently applied for a job which would be a step up income wise and I used Alison’s tips, and I use the communication tips in daily life as well as at work. I was actually used as a bargaining chip in recent negotiations at work over a type of meeting that needs minuting (for my minuting skills), so I will take that as a compliment!

{ 130 comments… read them below }

  1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    Thank you for this update. It’s good to see that you and your games group are thriving.

    I hope Q gets what they need.

  2. Barefoot Librarian*

    I’m so glad they stuck to their decision. I’ve had two situations over the years that were similar to this (one a board game group and one a LARP group). Both times it was people who felt entitled to be there but were making the group difficult and uncomfortable for others (even driving away great players). I’m the one who ended up speaking up both times and giving an ultimatum of get better or get out. I wasn’t cruel but I was direct. I felt awful doing it both times, but both of those players ended up leaving and the improvement in moral was obvious. It’s okay not to play nice with people who don’t play nice back. Good on you OP.

    1. Consonance*

      This made me think of Q’s attempt to return being taken seriously. While it’s always good to give it serious thought, it’s also totally fine to say “No, this is a bridge that you really burned. We’re not open to you returning even if you’ve improved.” There’s no inherent right to being part of any given group, and there are some long lasting consequences to being rude/mean/etc. beyond the initial removal from the group. It sounds like they really deliberated the first time, and gave them lots of chances; removing Q was never arbitrary or a quick decision. The result is that Q probably did enough damage to their relationships along the way that their relationship with the group is permanently damaged.

      1. ferrina*

        Absolutely! OP was so thoughtful at every step. I like that they didn’t brush Q off, but I also like that they ultimately decided not to invite Q back. Sounds like that was absolutely the right decision!

  3. Kiki Is The Most*

    I remember the other letter/update and happy to hear that you gave it proper consideration and held to your initial decision based on the good of the group. Often these don’t things happen, and as a boardgamer myself, I have left a group due to 1-2 sour apples (and have found my lighter games peoples!) Thank you for thinking of all involved. Hope you get the job, too!

  4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I know it was tough because Q seems to really need the group. But it had to be done. The needs of one cannot put the entire group in jeopardy.

    Your group sounds fun and like everyone can find their own level. This is good for something that is essentially a hobby for people. Gatekeepers on hobbies are annoying.


    1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      It’s possible to both have sympathy for Q and not want Q to come back.

      Not always easy for the person in this position.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        “I wish them the best and hope that they get what they need… someplace far away from me” is a tough needle to thread and takes practice, but it’s worth it.

        1. wendelenn*

          Reminds me of Fiddler on the Roof.

          “Rabbi, is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?” “A blessing for the Tsar? Certainly. May God bless and keep the Tsar. . . far away from us!”

        2. No Lizards Allowed*

          To quote from several Meg Langslow books, “I didn’t wish him I’ll, just elsewhere.”

      2. Kes*

        “It’s possible to both have sympathy for Q and not want Q to come back.”
        Agreed with this. And while it’s good that Q is working on themself and improving, that doesn’t necessarily change the fact that their behaviour hurt people in the past and as a result people may not be comfortable being in a group with Q regardless of whether they are reforming. OP had to consider what’s best for the group and it sounds like they made the right call.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Gatekeepers on hobbies are annoying.

      Very true. And as we have seen, they can be downright harmful, especially to newbs, who should be encouraged, not discouraged. LW provided a great example of the thought process that went into their decision. It’s on Q to actually make changes now.

  5. Eldritch Office Worker*

    “They also said that they weren’t often doing the things I’d mentioned anymore”

    The word “often” feels like it’s doing a lot of work there. You made the right call!

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, that jumped out at me. Obviously they are still doing those things. So, yeah, definitely the right call.

    2. Apt Nickname*

      It sounds to me as if Q has heard the feedback but not understood the issues. Not doing the problematic behaviors ‘often’ means they still happen. Q ‘helping’ people progress to heavier games means they’re still assuming that’s the goal. It sounds like Q is toning down their behavior but still thinks they’re right.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Q might understand and yet still have trouble breaking the habits. Especially if they don’t feel natural/intuitive to them. I don’t know if you’ve ever broken a habit, but it’s not usually something that happens overnight. This might be a huge improvement from Q’s perspective, hence the ask.

        Doing it less often *is* improvement and that’s great for Q, but still doing it also means LW was right not to let Q come back. It also sounds like it went on for so long that nobody who remembers Q will ever want them to come back, which is fair.

        1. Mango Freak*

          If they understood, they a) wouldn’t call it “helping” and “progressing” and b) likely wouldn’t have told LW that they still move 0ther people’s game pieces(!) in this initial conversation where they were trying to present their best self.

          Yes, habits are hard to break, but we can still glean information about people from their behaviors and the things they tell us.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Does moving other people’s pieces mean “helping” people who don’t want your help or… uh… cheating? Because my tolerance for the latter would be zero (assuming the perpetrator is above the age of 10).

            1. Silver Robin*

              I assumed “helping”. Earlier letters say Q would stomp off in a huff if they were losing (less likely to be happening if they are moving things to their advantage) and cheating would have been a really clear reason to kick them out without needing advice from AAM.

            2. run mad; don't faint*

              My guess would be that they got impatient when people were chatting and not getting around to moving the pieces in as timely a fashion as Q preferred. So Q would move the pieces for them and demand that the next person take their turn. Now.

              1. Dogwoodblossom*

                There’s a family friend who comes to holiday stuff who gets really frustrated with people if they don’t make what she considers the “optimal” move in a game. So like, we’re playing a casual card game and chatting and everyone isn’t 100% focused on counting cards or whatever and somebody not fully paying attention makes a different move than they would have if their goal was to WIN AT ALL COSTS and she’ll berate them over it *even though it improves her own chances of winning.* I could absolutely see her picking up somebody’s game piece and moving it if she thought their move was ‘wrong.’ I’ve had to say “Geez, can I just be bad at the game?”

        2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          We don’t know (nor does LW) that Q is in fact helping people who don’t want to progress. If Q authentically found some people who want to play the heavier games that Q also prefers, but need practice to get better at them, that would actually be a win-win. (And a great reason for Q not to come back to this group, because they will soon have what they need in their current group.)

      2. Selina Luna*

        Yeah, Q would hate my board game group. We play light board games and heavy board games. Not everyone is up for a game every weekend that has a novel of rules and 3 hours of playtime. Sometimes, we just want something with a single sheet of rules and 1 hour of playtime. Sometimes, we want something we’ve played 100 times. Sometimes, we do indeed want 3 hours of playtime and a novel of rules. It’s highly variable.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, that jumped out at me, too.

      I don’t know anything about board game groups but in every other hobby I’ve ever had, touching other people’s hobby items without clear permission is a massive no-no.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Well, the game and so the pieces don’t necessarily belong to the other player – it could have been Q’s game. And some people learning a new game would be fine with someone saying “that’s not really a sensible move, shall I show you a better one?” But attempting to play on behalf of someone else regularly and without permission is indeed a massive no-no.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, but that’s moving with permission, which I don’t think is what was implied here. I didn’t think the pieces necessarily belong to the other people permanently, just that they “belong” for the duration of the game (like if we’re playing Parcheesi and I’m green, the green pieces are “mine”, but I’m not going to take them home at the end of the evening).

    4. Wendy Darling*

      Yeah, the acceptable proportion of the time to do stuff like move people’s game pieces or leave a game in a huff because you’re losing is NEVER. Most of us somehow manage to do those things none of the time.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        It’d be *almost* understandable if he were new to gaming or didn’t really like it. I’ve left a game or two unfinished (not because I was losing, just because it was 2am, I’d been there 4 hours and I was considering gnawing off my own arm to escape), but I know that isn’t The Way of the Serious Board Gamer.

        For someone who wishes to play in reverent silence and wants to “help progress” other members to the only worthwhile (serious) games? It’s atrocious behavior.

        1. Green great dragon*

          Me too, but there’s a huge difference between ‘this is not my sort of game, it’s clearly got hours to go, I’m really sorry but I must sleep’ and never trying to play that game again, and repeatedly leaving in a huff because you’re losing.

  6. Falling Diphthong*

    This is a really good update.

    Also a good encapsulation of the observation that when people are bad at boundaries, it’s often easier for others to set the boundary well out as “no.” Rather than constant vigilance to maintain a slightly closer-in boundary as the boundary-challenger keeps oozing pseudopods over the line, trying to move the boundary to where they want it.

    1. Star Trek Nutcase*

      Agree. I’ve accepted after decades I suck at closer-in boundary enforcement. I try once with any individual – if it works, great; if not, I skip to nuclear. I’m finally comfortable making my needs & happiness a priority over pacifying those (usually family) who prefer I live & behave how they think is best. My only regret is not doing this earlier.

    2. H.Regalis*

      Agreed. I had a friend who constantly tested boundaries like a kid would. I couldn’t relax anymore and just hang out with them as a friend because I had to be on my guard all the time, and ended up ending the friendship.

  7. GrumpyPenguin*

    This reminds me of the “Five Geek Social Fallacies”. the first one being “Ostracizers Are Evil”. Every nerdy hobby group has a Q, but nobody has the courage to speak up. Nerds don’t critizise or exclude other nerds. I’ve left several groups (Pen&Paper and online game) because of a Q, so I’m really glad to hear OP was able to overcome this fallacy. Happy gaming and good luck for getting the job. Roll initiative for job application!

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      And the “missing stair” metaphor as well. People that got overly sick of dodging Q left the group, while others did their best to try to deflect, avoid, etc. to get out of the worst of his behavior.

      1. GrumpyPenguin*

        Everyone was tiptoeing around Q instead of adressing it as a group. It can happen everywhere, but in groups like that it’s much more likely. People are so bent on avoiding conflicts and “keeping the peace” that everyone is miserable in the end. It’s really hard to change that impulse, proven by the many letters of conflict-averse managers here.

    2. RVA Cat*

      It also reminds me of the “Nazi bar” metaphor with the bartender kicking out bigots on sight so they don’t take it over and run off the other customers. (Yet another reason the misogynist edge lord from yesterday should have been fired when the harassment started, and it says a lot about management enabling him.)

    3. Varthema*

      I get this deeply – I think in a lot of these niche hobbies, all of the participants have experienced being left out/edged out/openly ostracized before and are understandably reeeaally reluctant to be the one to say, “this person doesn’t belong here.” It’s tough. :-\

    4. ChiliHeeler*

      I wish that I’d seen that when I was younger. was definitely part of some unhealthy dynamics and told that I was the problem for objecting.

    5. bhasdice*

      In healthier groups I have attended, there’s almost always a person who’s learning to cope with social situations better. It’s usually obvious who’s assigned to pulling them aside at any given moment.

      Often their main coach was last year’s newbie, who’s improved and is now able to make friends, and invite someone to come.

      The process of passing on that knowledge helps to cement it, and points out any remaining gaps that a senior member can coach.

      Bad behavior from a long time members usually results in giving them a warning nickname, then isolating them from social events with the broader group. They can still see old friends who opt to check on them regularly.

    1. Dadjokesareforeveryone*

      *While traveling you come across Q. They smile as they see you, and trot over to discuss returning to your board games group.*

      Roll initative

    1. GrumpyPenguin*

      Punching him like Sisko isn’t really an option in real life, no matter how much you think he deserves it.

  8. Dungeons Dragons & Donuts*

    I’m really glad for you, Letter Writer, and for what is worth, I think you made the right call.

    Having someone problematic saying they don’t do “often” the things they are not supposed to do at all signals that Q still has a long, looooong path towards real growth.

    As someone who had to deal with and kick out with their own version of Q, I applaud your thoughtful way of handling things!

    1. Miss Muffett*

      Oh thank you for asking this. I had the same question. Not that it’s totally relevant to the outcome but I was wondering too! Examples would be helpful!

    2. Squirrel!*

      Light games are ones that are easy to pick up and play, quick to teach and quick to play, and don’t required a lot of number crunching or heavy strategy. So something like Cards Against Humanity, Kodama, or Kingdomino.
      Heavy games are the opposite: they [usually] take a while to play (sometimes upwards of 5-8 hours, depending on the game), require complex thinking and strategizing, have big rulebooks and need a good teacher to assist everyone to learn. Good examples would be Root, Scythe, and Gloomhaven.
      Both styles are great and all have their merits. Just depends on what you’d like to play at the time!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Just make sure you always know which you’re getting into. Some game enthusiasts just want people to play their newest game with them and are non-specific or fudge the time commitment. See also: “The rules are really simple to pick up, I’ll explain as we go.”

        It’s not fun to realize at 3am that you’ve completely run out of food except for the plastic meeple and ridiculous number of tokens (maybe they’re edible?), your ride abandoned you hours ago, and you’re still only halfway through the game.

        1. ExitPursuedByABear*

          Yes, unfortunately people have wildly different ideas of what is light and heavy, so it’s important to quantify. I recently got badgered into a “quick game” that took 40+ minutes to set up/ read the rules before we even started. I probably would have enjoyed it had I not been desperate to get it over with due to time constraints!

      2. ChiliHeeler*

        It might be specific to my friends but the friends who are into heavy games are the ones who are generally more competitive in any game play.

    3. Kit*

      Basically, light games are easy to grasp the rules for, and/or play fairly quickly, whereas heavy games are more complex, often involve in-depth strategy, and often take significantly longer to play out to completion. Checkers or Chutes and Ladders would be examples of ‘light’ games, whereas chess and Monopoly could be considered ‘heavy’ (although I suspect that at least Monopoly is also very light by most boardgamers’ standards).

      Basically, the more time you have to invest, in learning the rules, learning the strategies, and just outright playing through the game, the heavier it is; in the time allotted for a group get-together, you could usually play several light games but probably only one or two heavy ones, if you can even finish them at all. (40k players, I’m looking at you.)

    4. GrumpyPenguin*

      It’s hard to put in word or in numbers since there is a whole spectrum. This explanation from reddit is really fitting:”The heavier the game the more play time is required to begin to understand the game. You begin by playing in a fog, and the more you play the thinner that fog becomes.”

      Heavy games are very complex. You have to get invested because they won’t just work on a workday evening unless the whole group prepared for it, everyone knows the rules already, etc. Complicated rules you need to study, the set-up takes time (the board itself, different tokens and cards), lots of stragedy, one game usually takes several hours to finish.

      Light games: Understanding the rules takes just some minutes, short play time, the goal is easy to figure out.

    5. Not a Vorpatril*

      No hard and fast rule, honestly, but time is a pretty good way to consider it, IMO.

      Lighter games tend towards brisk turns/rounds, and a game will likely only end up at clocking in maybe 30 minutes for a play. The rules are generally more straightforward and clear, and often relies more on player interaction for a lot of the fun.

      Heavier games take longer, have a lot more fiddly rules, usually a lot more components as well. When played properly they may take closer to 1-2 hours, more for more players. Player interaction may be strong, but may also be rather obtuse or eve n minimal as players are grappling as much with the game’s systems as with their fellow players.

      Some examples: Euchre vs Bridge is a card version of light compared to heavy that I like, if you’re familiar with those. Otherwise, most card games tend towards a lighter fair, as the components are generally straightforward and playtime is short. Monopoly, every one’s favorite game, straddles the definition, but I think really is more of a heavy game due to complexity, differing rulings, and general length. Risk, another classic, is quite heavy from length alone, even if the rules can be basic.

      For more gamer-y games: Apples to Apples or any “party” game is generally going to sit strongly in the “light” category. Carcassone, Ticket to Ride, and basic Catan are fairly light, but start to build a bit more complexity and might turn people off who prefer the simpler stuff. Powergrid, Suburbia, Terraforming Mars, or any number of other games tend to being differing levels of heavy, and generally are a lot harder for someone not used to the ideas and normalities of board games to get into, and tend to be the types of things that a board game fan feels to be where everyone should play, because those are more often what is being advertised to them. Note that there are also super heavy 4-8+ hour games for those who are truly dedicated, but that tends to require schedule clearing and planning to even attempt.

    6. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

      A website called boardgamegeek has a page for every game known to existence (it seems) and users can do things such as rating the game and listing their perceived difficulty of the game (from 0-5, I think). If you’re wondering how “heavy” games you’re familiar with are, you can check the website.

      I use the site before I purchase all games.

    7. Tulip Madness*

      Light games might be something quick, like Scattergories or Rack-O, cams that take fewer than 20 minutes, trivia or card games, probably a lot of games that were designed before the year 2000 that aren’t Risk. A lot of party games or more social deduction games would probably fall into this category. Love Letters, No Thanks, Qwixx.

      I would say that medium games might be a little more involved, like codenames or other social games, but also a lot of games that take an hour or less. I would class Ticket to Ride as a medium game, since it’s pretty well known and fairly simple, but can take a while. Also Settlers of Catan and its many permutations.

      Heavy games might be most eurogames, with complex roles and focused on resource management; things like Scythe, Risk, a lot of war games or ones that involve a mix of politics, tactics, and strategy.

      Super heavy games would be Twilight Imperium (which takes about 12 hours).

  9. Gretta*

    Q moves other people’s pieces?????? Wow, if you did that even once with my games group, you would be gone forever.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      With any of the gamers I know, if you do that absent-mindedly or by accident, you had better apologize immediately!

    2. Kit*

      Yeah, that’s incredibly poor form, no wonder people were so vehement about not wanting Q to return!

    3. Bear Expert*

      I was taken aback entirely at that!

      You can move someone else’s pieces if they ask you to, or if something has gotten disturbed and you’re putting it back (though everyone I’ve ever played with does this with a verbal announcement “Your teapot marker fell off the hex, it was in the forest, right? I set it back.”) But just… doing it?

      In co-op games with children, you still don’t make other people’s moves for them.

      1. Rel*

        Yeah! Particularly egregious behaviour for someone into ‘heavy’ games where there’s a lot more contemplation required for the decisions in each turn, but not acceptable in general to be touching other people’s pieces.

    4. GrumpyPenguin*

      I had somebody do that to me, too. And than I received a lecture why my move and my stragedy were wrong. And then I was scolded for not understanding the game. This was obviously one of the groups I left quickly.

      1. H.Regalis*

        Ugh. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. People like that are why I’m trepidatious about going to game nights at my local game stores.

      2. Anon for this*

        I don’t know. I would rather be scolded for poor strategy than unceremoniously kicked out or ostracised later with no explanation. If I’m doing something wrong, I want to know it so I can apologise and correct myself.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yes, but there’s also the option of kindly explaining instead of scolding. Or giving someone a chance to get their feet under them and then starting to tell them a little bit more.

    5. Silver Robin*

      Yeah that was wild. I definitely remember doing that in Parcheesi as a kid under the guise of being “helpful” because my brothers were slower at counting how far to move their piece or because I saw a better move/assumed where they were going. But that was not okay and I was taught better. Nowadays it only happens if they are in awkwardly seated for where their piece is and they ask me to move it for them or some such situation.

      Q is old enough to know better. If Q finds other folks too slow/not strategic enough, they can set up their game in their own home and play against themselves; free reign over all the pieces and they cannot lose. But you can NOT do that to others without express permission/request.

    6. Tulip Madness*

      That shocked me! In the original letter, a lot of the behavior was kind of typical a-hole selfish bro stuff, but even that demographic would never stand for touching, let alone moving other players’ pieces! I’m frankly staggered that it took this long to oust him.

  10. Squirrel!*

    I would love to hear more about the board game group in general, and the logistics of how it is run. My friends and I are looking to start up a “club” of our own, so it would be nice to hear about how this one is run, since it sounds really thoughtful and fun! I’m very interested in the dues, how money is handled, what type of place you meet at, etc. Whatever you are comfortable sharing, obviously!

  11. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

    Thank you for sharing your update, LW. As someone whose starting to lead an arts and making group and is already dealing with issues of respect, it’s really helpful to see the other side of making those tough calls–that the group who stayed and treats each other well is flourishing and able to last. Cheers to you for making the tough call for the benefit of the group.

  12. ReallyBadPerson*

    I wish my son’s DM had kicked out their Q. Instead, he was the one who left their D and D group even though he loved it and had been in it for years. But I do understand the reluctance to confront bad behavior.

  13. Ick factor*

    A counter-point to all the rah-rah: LW came in to an existing group, took over running it, and ousted along-standing original member determined to be problematic. And now, a year and half after being banished, there is no consideration to letting Q back in even on a trial basis because once horrid, always horrid (and also, we’re profitable!). Because no person can ever change or grow in self-awareness, as certainly Q has not since Q didn’t say they have 100% mended their bad gaming ways.

    1. MsM*

      The rest of the group seems to prefer the direction the group has gone in, and does not want to give Q yet another opportunity to prove themselves when Q had plenty of chances to improve prior to the request to leave. Q can take the lessons they’ve learned and apply them in a new group that may be more aligned with their preferred playstyle anyway.

    2. Sometimes I Wonder*

      People aren’t entitled to a second chance in a social group. Q is welcome to find or start another group where Q can show off the better manners and behaviors Q learned from being ejected from the letter writer’s group.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        In fact, Q already had their second chance (see previous letter), and spent it arguing about how their misbehavior didn’t count because they apologized afterwards.

        Q does not deserve n+1 chances to piss off the group.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Except that everyone who was polled about his return said no, they did not want him back regardless. Why do his feelings win out over multiple others?

      Q has another group he’s in. He doesn’t need to be in this one too, especially if several others agree that he doesn’t.

      1. Silver Robin*

        +1 this feels like the same thing where the “reasonable” family member is expected to adjust to the jerks in the family because everyone else knows they can be expected to be an adult. But nobody ever tells the jerks to shape up or expects them to do anything other than “show an effort”.

        1. Tulip Madness*

          Yes, and it also seems like some people’s instinct is to take a microscope and make sure that the person who is repeatedly being an outrageous jerk has their case decided with protracted, considered, excruciating fairness… and yet those people don’t consider everyone else entitled to freedom from their social group being constantly marred by one selfish jerk.

          I sometimes wonder if the people who would argue for even more chances for Q…frankly just identify more with him than with the better members of the group, and foresee themselves repeatedly burning bridges in the future. Like maybe they have a vested interest in making sure that jerks don’t have consequences enforced against them.

          If Q needs this group so much, he should’ve acted like it and treated it as precious and been gracious to his fellow members.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Wish we could edit – I realized here that OP had referred to Q using they/them pronouns and I defaulted to ‘him’, probably due to my own past experience with gaming and people invoking reasons (basically the Geek Fallacies) as reasons why we do not exclude problematic people. I overlooked this in my read of the update because there were a number of discussions about groups and missed the singular use for Q too.

    4. Silver Robin*

      Q has not shown enough change and even if they had, sometimes you piss people off enough that they no longer want to hang out with you. Those are consequences to being a jerk. This is a voluntary, optional hobby group. Nobody owes Q another chance and LW owes it to the existing group (that nobody leaves due to jerk behavior and is now sustainable!!) not to jeopardize their club.

    5. Lana Kane*

      There is room here, I think, to understand that as a person Q is working on themselves, but that the group’s experience with Q left enough of a mark to not want to have them be a part of the same group they affected. It’s good Q is trying, but they also burned this bridge.

      Another consideration – Q may be working on themselves, but if they aren’t there yet then it’s going to be on the group to deal with Q’s learning process. And I can totally understand they don’t want to be in that position either. Q has other groups they can join.

      1. GrumpyPenguin*

        Probably a group that suits their play style more. Most dysfunctional groups grow that way because nobody wants to admit they don’t click. Instead they keep on suffering and arguing for years.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      It really sounds like you haven’t read the original letter. This was nowhere near a hasty unilateral decision by LW, it was group consensus and followed clear directions being given to Q about what needed to change with second chances given. People had already left the group due to Q, others were getting ready to leave, other current members were vehemently against allowing Q to return. It’s sad that Q was either unwilling or unable to play nicely with others, but they earned their reputation all by themselves and behavior has consequences.

    7. MigraineMonth*

      To paraphrase:
      LW came in to an existing group, took over running it, and ousted along-standing original member determined to be problematic. And now, a year and half after being banished, there is no consideration to letting Q back in even on a trial basis because… Q didn’t say they have 100% mended their bad gaming ways.

      Exactly. The member was given multiple warnings and chances but was determined to be problematic. Later, when they asked to join again but admitted they still did some of the same problematic behavior, the group didn’t let them back in. They considered it, but the people who were impacted by this problematic behavior–which included being insulted and lectured at a fun hobby group they paid to attend–did not wish them to return.

      This IS a success story.

      1. Andromeda*

        It’s paid?

        I’m not sure if that was ever confirmed, but if that’s true I think OP pretty much has to do what the group would prefer. At that point, if you’re providing them with a product and experience that needs to be really excellent. It’s not fair to take money off someone and insist that they put up with disruptive behaviour that they don’t like in return.

    8. Be Gneiss*

      There was consideration….and the decision was no. You can consider something and decide it’s not a good idea.

    9. Tulip Madness*

      Growing in self-awareness does not entitle him to come back. He is more than welcome to bring his new and improved social graces to a group of people he has not repeatedly made miserable.

    10. Andromeda*

      I would be more inclined to agree with you if the reaction of people in the group when asked about it wasn’t (something approaching) horror!

      Also, maybe this is a nitpick, but “deemed to be problematic” seems to be a phrase deliberately chosen to offer room that they weren’t. It really doesn’t seem like this is the case — they were being disruptive and demoralising other members. The only way I can see this being unfair is if there were multiple people doing the same behaviour and Q was the only one singled out for it, or other fanficcy reasons like that.

    11. Sapientia*

      People don’t owe other people the chance to spend time with them socially. If there were enough people who wanted to play games with Q, nothing stopped them from organising other occasions.

    12. MCMonkeyBean*

      No, if Q has changed that’s great–but they should work on that behavior with new people who won’t be worried the whole night that anything might set him off. The people they used to play with will have literally no reason to believe the bad behavior would not come back.

      This is a social group, not a job. “No one has fun when this person is here” is more than enough reason to boot someone. I was of the opinion on the previous thread that OP already gave Q too many chances. I was really worried at the start of this post it would end with them letting Q back in and very relieved for everyone else in the group that it didn’t end that way.

      I promise you there is not a single person in that group who wants Q to come back. And it is not their job to give up their fun game night to spare a potentially-reformed-but-who-really-knows jerk’s feelings.

    13. Dogwoodblossom*

      I mean, I have been in a loooooot of groups like this where the original person got sick of running it because it’s a lot of thankless work to wrangle a bunch of nerds into agreeing to show up at specific place and time at regular intervals. When that happens, either somebody else steps up to run the group or the group falls completely apart. Maybe the old guard is mad about how the group is being run now (which doesn’t seem to be the case in the letter) but if they are then the solution is that they step up and run the group the way they want to run it.

  14. Katherine*

    Another way to track/view other people’s board game collections is through the website BoardGameGeek. You need to make an account to add games to your collection, but not to view someone’s collection or any of the info in their database. It means a single click from your collection to all the information you could ever want on any of the board games you own – it is the wikipedia of board games.

  15. Faintofheartt*

    As someone who founded and runs a LGBTQ+ friendly true crime book club, I’m seeing this become my future unfortunately. Good for you for sticking to the group’s previous decision. I’ve already had to kindly tell an elderly woman (going through chemo, no less) that she didnt quite fit in at my bookclub (had very alarming and bigoted opinions about a victim in a book we read a few months ago) and she went to my assistant behind my back to confirm that she wasn’t welcome. I dont quite understand why Q or this woman would want to be a part of a group that doesn’t want them there anyway?

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Like Groucho Marx, she only wants to be belong to clubs that wouldn’t accept her as a member?

    2. MsM*

      Something tells me you’re not the first bookclub that’s encouraged her to look elsewhere, and she’s running out of options.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My parents get these at their place of worship every once in awhile. They come in with a lot of enthusiasm and then it eventually turns out that they’re looking for a specific type of primitive worship and “old-fashioned values” that a lot of people think we do, but we don’t do, and it goes off the rails.

      1. Faintofheartt*

        It’s the ONLY true crime book club (that I’m aware of) in our relatively large metropolitan area, so it is pretty popular :)

        1. lunchtime caller*

          Running a successful book club can also be more work than people realize! I had to step back from running one myself because I just couldn’t keep it as a priority anymore; it might have been different if I had an assistant or co-chair.

  16. Very Very Anon*

    I have a family member who is neurodivergent and sometimes struggles with social skills. They have gotten kicked out of groups like this for similar behaviors, which is hard because they love their hobbies and love being with people. However, I have always worked with them to try and change the behavior and to find a different group to join. Living in a society means we have to consider everyone, and people have the right to decide their boundaries. I love my family member but also recognize that they are not always the best fit for every group and situation, and part of helping them learn life skills is being aware of others.

  17. CM*

    I admire the OP for sticking to their original decision, which was made with a LOT of consideration and direct conversations and opportunities for additional chances. My immediate reaction was, well, if Q acknowledges the issues, and says they’ve changed, then it’s tough to just shut them out. But I think the OP is absolutely right that when everyone else in the group says NO, due to our past experiences we are not willing to be around this person, then you stick with that no for the sake of the group. It sounds like OP did this in a kind way, not judging X but just reiterating that the group made a decision and wishing X well.

    1. Kate 2*

      Ah but Q admits to only sort of changing. Still doing the things they got kicked out for.

  18. JustMe*

    For some reason, the fact that this group holds a Christmas potluck and Secret Santa is so endearing to me.
    It sounds like a lovely group!

  19. Tulip Madness*

    Not letting Q back is an absolute no-brainer. I appreciate that you wanted to be judicious about it, but it’s almost bonkers to consider it even for a second.

    Hopefully it’s true that he is in a better place now. But sometimes burned bridges stay burned, and you’re not entitled to have sustained, egregious bad behavior forgotten just because you’re suddenly working on being better now that there are actual consequences. To belabor the metaphor, if Q wanted to have that bridge back, he would need to try to rebuild it himself over a very, very long period of time, not expect all of you to build it back for him after he burned it.

    And in terms of being in a better place: that can simultaneously be true, and also he still might not be in a good enough place to be worth having around. His behavior from the past letters contains such numerous and egregious violations of basic social and board game manners and betrayed such issues with ego, condescension, and control, that even if he has vastly improved versus where he was, he might still be a jerk by regular people’s standards.

    It’s great that he asked politely and seems to have excepted the answer, but it is 1000% the right call to not even consider letting him back in your group.

  20. Kiki*

    Well handled, especially soliciting the perspectives of the group and picking up on the red flag that Q is still exhibiting some of the bad behavior that got them kicked. Really satisfying to see a group lead willing to have hard conversations and protect the group’s peace.

    1. Kiki*

      Something else I want to observe is that Q showed up at the session … rather than messaging the group admins to ask if they can rejoin, even though we know much of their communication has happened over text. It indicates someone who is still unaware of boundaries or trying to push them.

      1. Andromeda*

        I am not in favour of Q being asked back but I don’t think that is what happened — the letter suggests Q happened to be in the area, not that they were maliciously trying to force themselves back in (and I think it *is* unfair to speculate otherwise if they are making a good-faith effort to change their behaviour, which OP believes)

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I disagree, it sounds like they think Q came specifically to see the group: “They then left without ordering anything, which makes me think they dropped in just to see us.”

      2. Elsajeni*

        I don’t know — it does sound like they deliberately showed up where the group would be (versus genuinely “just passing by”), but it also sounds like they asked once, directed the question appropriately to the leader of the group without any “lobbying” to other group members who might still consider them a friend, and then quietly and politely went away when the answer was not immediately positive. I do see what you mean, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Q to want to ask in person — especially when the problem was partly bad social skills, so an in-person conversation might allow them to demonstrate “look, I have worked on my social skills! see how chill and polite I am being in this social interaction?” in a way that sending a text wouldn’t.

  21. LW - BlueMeeple.*

    Letter Writer here – wow, I didn’t expect that many comments! I’ve just read through them all – thank you. :)

    The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few, and it was definitely the right decision. Q has found another games group, ( one they are completely new to, so no history there), and although that group only plays light games, it is a games group, so I hope Q won’t jeapordise their position in that group.

    The Christmas Secret Santa and Pot Luck have become part of my Christmas and December too by now, so they are definitely here to stay. :)

    I didn’t get an interview for the job, but it was a punt, and I like my current job, so I’ll just keep keeping and eye out as I normally do, just in case. I did indeed roll initiative with AskAManager with the application! ;)

    Thanks again! :)

    1. Annie Nominous*

      As somebody with a family member who struggles with some social awareness/behavior issues (and if I’m being honest I do too), I was really moved by how patiently and compassionately you handled things. It takes a lot of thought and energy, but it shows you can be kind to the individual while maintaining your responsibilities to the group.

  22. LW - BlueMeeple.*

    Q never cheated at our group, ( to my knowledge): the moving people’s pieces for them was them being impatient that the game was not being played in the optimal time, thus being inefficient, and so they moved other’s pieces to speed things up.

    However, there are stories of Q being caught cheating at other similar events, ( not board games), in the area, which would be a whole other letter…

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