Poll: US Adults Think Video Games Lead To Violence But Can't Be Bothered To Understand ESRB Ratings

from the wait,-what? dept

It just keeps coming. More and more news items are hitting my eyeballs and ears about violence and video games. We recently discussed the problem with polling adults over this issue, where a giant age-rift still exists amongst gaming habits and that rift appeared to be tossed out for the purposes of the poll in question. Polls like that might be laughable at first, but when you begin to see misplaced legislation introduced by politicians kowtowing to the results, we've got a problem. But let's take it one possibly controversial step further and ask an important question regarding these polls: do Americans generally have any credibility on the question at all?

Polls like this recent Harris poll, where over half of American adults link violence and video games, make me question whether that is the case. The problem I have isn't that specific result. If half of Americans think there's a link, that's their right. I can disagree with it, but I won't quibble with their right to believe. No, my problem is the results of the follow up questions regarding the ESRB rating system.

Two thirds of US adults said they used the ESRB system to help them decide which games were suitable for their children, although only 14 percent claimed to fully understand what the guidelines meant. 18 percent of adult said they mostly, but not completely understood the ESRB ratings system.
To highlight the absurdity of the respondents, one needs only place all this in a single sentence. Over half of adults believe violence and video games are linked, two thirds of them use an ESRB system, which less than 80% even claim to mostly understand, to decide which games to buy for their children. This isn't to say that the ESRB rating convention isn't without its problems, but come on. If half of adults think there's a link between children and violence, but can't be bothered to mostly understand the rating system (which isn't that complicated), then there's a disconnect somewhere. Either adults don't actually think the link exists, or else they don't really consider the link to be all that important.

Either way, it doesn't speak to the credibility of the American public on the issue, which is sad.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:01am

    Why don't guns have a rating system?

    As long as children can't get their hands on guns rated "M" there won't be any massacres. Just a warning though, guns rated "AO" are generally porn.

     

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  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:01am

    No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Without bothering to conform to sensible standards. Example in point, your "cow-towing" should be:

    kowtow ═ n. the act of kneeling and touching the ground with the forehead to show great deference, submissive respect, homage, etc., as formerly in China vi. 1. to perform a kowtow 2. to show servile respect (to)

    So, KEEP TOWING THOSE COWS, TIMMY! (May be code for one of his bizarre sex acts...)

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:04am

    Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Thanks for alerting me to my incorrect usage/spelling of the term, OOTB. I'll make the edit and compliment you on catching it. Always appreciate learning from my mistakes.

    Thanks!

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:05am

    "US Adults Think Video Games Lead To Violence But Can't Be Bothered To Understand ESRB Ratings"

    And yet they think being able to walk into Walmart and buy a gun is perfectly fine.

    Americans are funny.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:07am

    This sort of poll is dangerous when in the hands of politicians as it feeds their prejudices, without giving any valuable information.

     

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    squall_seawave (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    well in my opinion i think the violence is not generated by videogames instead is generated by bad parenting i dont know maybe if a parent test a game before giving it to their children maybe if they researched the game before buying it and maybe if they talked with their children and get to know them then violence would go down

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    I have no problems with guns. Guns sit there and look pretty...

    Idiots, on the other hand, I have a problem with.

    It's those idiots that make the rest of us look bad.

    And sadly, idiots are very, very loud.

    And messy.

    And sadly, some idiots got into power and took away money from mental hospitals where all the crazy idiots were at, now they're on the streets again and causing troubles.

    Yeah, prison works *soo* much better, doesn't it?

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    I would blame mental health issues before I would blame bad parenting. Sometimes these issues are cause by bad/negligent parents but quite often they are not.

     

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    Mr. Smarta** (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    That's nothing

    That's nothing. The real problem is that 100% of video gamers play video games. That's a horrid statistic as if video games make people more violent, then we're headed for a revolution. For crying out loud!!! Do you realize just how bad it would be for Sim City gamers to venture out of their homes after a 96-hour gaming spree and violently build a city??? OMFG!!! How terrible!!! And let's not forget the violent outbursts of those Angry Bird gamers. They might start buying shotguns and shooting sparrows or pidgeons off their roof!! Could you imagine the horror of seeing our children... OUR CHILDREN... playing Call of Duty games and suddenly signing up to fight in the Armed Forces just to go over and kill every terrorist they can find??

    I mean, just look at the older generation! All those years of playing "Pole Position" in the arcades, and today those people who drove a digital car for endless hours while plunking in thousands of dollars in quarters and THEY'RE ON OUR ROADS DRIVING!!! Not to mention the Tennis players who go ballistic on the courts throwing tantrums, smashing their rackets, and flipping off the referee only to be fined heavily for their outbursts. You know what caused that???

    PONG!!!! Hours and hours of PONG! Violently hitting a ball back and forth! Yeah, I'd lose it too. I always wondered why I wanted to break my badmitton racket in two during Phys. Ed. and stab someone in the neck with it.

    It all makes perfect sense now. -.-

     

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    crade (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Don't worry, it's just a phonetic that tries to sound like a chinese word anyway, the only correct spelling is in chinese :)

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re:

    Same here. I would not favour gun bans, but I would favour mandatory background checks and psyche evals for all sales. Giving guns to crazy people is just stupid.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:12am

    Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Ran out of targets to attack so now you are resorting to these petty non-issues? Look for towing in the dictionary. Maybe you can even find some irony in the term when related to politicians... And yourself ;)

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Meh, it happens, I guess. Thinking back, I don't think I've ever attempted to use kowtow, or cow-tow, in the written word. It's admittedly hard to live up to OOTB's standards, still we can but try....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Should be reworded to:

    Poll: US Adults prefer to blame media rather than their complete lack of ability as parents.

    or

    Poll: US Adults think being able to buy guys with freedom doesn't cause violence, but shooting people in the head in a VIDEO GAME does.

    Murica, we love you.
    Regards,
    The world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    Too bad can't edit, *guys = guns

    Sort of a funny typo, oh well, what can I do.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    I do think there's a link...

    ..but it doesn't mean what a lot of people think it means.

    I believe there's sufficient evidence to postulate that people who are prone to violent action are attracted to violent things, including violent video games, movies, books, etc.

    There's little evidence to indicate that those things are likely to make them more violent, though. And there's no evidence to indicate that a person who is not predisposed to violent action will become violent because of those things.

    This is a classic correlation vs causation logical error.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    DH I don't think that specific term is the best here. When I first read the article I pictured a line of cows being guided all tied to each other (before the correction). Which seems much more on par with what you mean than the definition of kowtow. The term does not exist on the dictionary but I've checked and it is used precisely with that specific intent as some sort of slang.

    It's yet another lame attempt of attacking whatever he can. Because he has no argument.

     

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  18.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    > Poll: US Adults prefer to blame media rather than
    > their complete lack of ability as parents.


    What magic did these pollsters use to get parents to stop entertaining themselves and momentarily disengage from their selfish pursuits long enough to make a decision on whether they blame media or not for their lack of parental ability?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    "which less than 80% even claim to mostly understand"

    Sorry to nitpick, but 14% + 18% = 32%. While 32% is indeed less than 80%, I think something went wrong when typing a number somewhere.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Repeat that poll among people in their 30s. You'll see very different results.

    Yet another example of old people afraid of what they don't understand.

     

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  21.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    "18 percent of adult said they mostly, but not completely understood the ESRB ratings system."

    Means that 82% don't even claim to mostly understand the ratings. What am I missing?

     

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  22.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    I think that was on purpose.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: I do think there's a link...

    My understanding is there was a study on this. I believe (like what you're saying) there was a finding that people who likely to do things like mass shootings were more likely to play violent video games. However, on the flip side, playing videos games in general had no impact on a person's desire to do something like a mass shooting.

    In other words, it's a characteristic, but not a cause of the effect that is trying to be stopped.

    The typical politician "there is a link, let's axe it!" response has been generated from these results. Good thing I don't try to make logical sense of politics, otherwise I'd have one hell of a constant headache.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re:

    You claimed that less than 80% mostly understood. That's backwards from what I assume you were trying to claim (that less than 20% mostly understood.)

    But what you are MISSING is the 14% who claimed to completely understand. The 18% who claimed to mostly understand is on top of that. So, 32% total claimed to either mostly or completely understand. That's still bad, but not AS bad.

     

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  25.  
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    monkyyy, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re:

    bad parenting causes mental health issues, in the topic of school shooting u need bad parenting and bad genes(or serous brain damage)

     

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  26.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah ha! I didn't realize those were supposed to add together. I have to look it over to make sure, but you may indeed be correct....

     

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  27.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "bad parenting causes mental health issues"

    Not always. I have met people who have had truly awful childhoods who grew up to be normal, healthy, well rounded adults.

     

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    Wally (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    I will say this once and I will say this amillion times over....

    The entire reason adults have a hard time making head and tail of the ESRB rating system for video games...is because they are jaded by the ever-changing MPAA rating system.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    Re: Why don't guns have a rating system?

    And don't forget, as long as kids don't get their hands on 'R' rated games they won't be raping anyone.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    I bet if you polled adults in the 1690s more than half of them would say that witches existed.

    You can't exactly poll public opinion to use as factual evidence. Most people are just going to mimicry the media.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    "You can't exactly poll public opinion to use as factual evidence."

    No, but you can use this poll to identify where people might perhaps need to be educated.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    Your average kid after playing violent video games won't shoot mom in the face and then go out and kill kids at a school.

    On the other hand a Petsele taking psychotropic serotonin re-uptake inhibitors just might act out a violent video game.

    I would appear that all the crazies that have shoot up various venues were in the later group.

    One of the many warnings involved with these drugs is the sudden onset of Suicidal ideation. When the brains give a fuck switch is turned off by these drugs, what can it lead to?

     

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  33.  
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    Greg G, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    And I thought cow-towing was just what you did after cow-tipping.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Sorry has MAC address isn't registered with dictionary.com so he couldn't look it up.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA youre a fool.

     

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  35.  
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    Bengie, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Corner cases.

    Optimize for the average case which is bad parenting.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    You can use this to find out where you can enact laws that pander to public opinion.

     

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  37.  
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    btrussell (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re:

    "Guns sit there and look pretty..."

    I wish we could hang them on the wall here again. Legally.

     

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  38.  
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    gorehound (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 11:41am

    I will continue to play Mass Effect.All Cerebus Troops will now be known as Dis-Informative Mass Consumer Forces.
    The Reapers will be known as The Politicians.

    I am now going to smoke some Weed and Save the Universe.

    Hello I'm Commander Shepard and you can all Embrace Eternity !

     

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  39.  
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    btrussell (profile), Mar 4th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re:

    They polled the snowbirds in Florida.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    That link starts playing audio ads immediately and I couldn't find any way to shut it off. After sitting through 2-1/2 ads I gave up on finding the mute button and closed the tab.

    So much for reading TFA.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    What? Why should i be responsible for raising my own offspring?! Damnit that's what the TV is for, Obama! Take care of my kids, I need to pretend I'm not a parent.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    "Either way, it doesn't speak to the credibility of the American public on the issue, which is sad."

    Actually, I'm quite confident it speaks DIRECTLY to the credibility of the American public on the issue, which is much sadder.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 4:44pm

    If you can't tell the difference between a video game and real life, you got more problems than a video game. Maybe we should be asking the politicians where is the funding for public mental health institutions?

    I gotta tell ya, I love just the sort of games they want to make sound like is the recipe for violence. I've spent a good amount of time in the military service, shooting weapons of all kinds. I have no inclination to go rob someone, go shoot someone, or even cause someone problems for the heck of it.

    If anything, I'm more relaxed because I've taken all my aggressions out on the bad guys in a video game and have no need to do it elsewhere. It sure costs a lot less than buying weapons and ammunition.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

    Yeah but you need a really big leash.

     

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  45.  
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    Niall (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    18% of Tims mostly understand statistics about ESRB ratings... :)

     

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  46.  
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    I'm American and I think we're dumb., Mar 5th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    There has to be a different method.

    Even though the uneducated adults think that video games lead to violence, I think the protestors need to push more about games other than violence. For example... just because I play Skyrim constantly on my days off, doesn't mean you'll ever see me charging through the woods with a bow, firing arrows off at every thing that moves.

    I have a friend who is freakishly obsessed with wrestling and football games, and he's a scrawny theater major. You don't see those games bulking him up so he can play in the NFL or in WWE. Not happening.

    Or even more extreme - Harvest Moon (or for more internet savvy persons, the similar, but far less fun, Farmville). Just because I play Harvest Moon, doesn't mean I'm going to go run off and marry a doctor, while also raising sixteen cows, eight chickens, while also somehow being able to earn thousands of dollars a day just by growing vegetables.

    Why can't we push more for what all games don't do? Those politicians and the uneducated adults say CoD and Gears of War and every other game with a gun will make people violent. But if that's true, why am I not a thief with awesome archery skills, that can also run a multi-million dollar farm. (I so wish I was.)

     

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  47.  
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    Just Another Moron In A Hurry, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 8:16am

    34% of Adults

    I don't know if I'm quite as concerned as Tim is by the idea that 34% of Adults don't know how the ESRB system works.

    I wouldn't say I fully understand it myself. I understand the basic principles, and I feel comfortable enough to utilize it proficiently, but I wouldn't be considered an expert about the mechanics behind why one game is rated M and another isn't.

    I wonder what the other options were? Was there an option that says "I know enough about it to use it properly"? If so, I would expect a majority of people to select that one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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