Here at Kotaku, we strive to cut through corporate nonsense and press releases to tell you real stories about the world of video games. In order to help us do that, we want people to be able talk to us securely and anonymously.
So we’ve created a guide for anyone who wants to tip or share information with Kotaku, whether you’re a game developer, a customer service representative, or just a video game fan with a story to tell. The video game industry is shrouded in a culture of corporate silence that we do our best to penetrate every day, because we believe that people should have as much information as possible. So if you see or experience something crazy, we want to hear from you, even in cases when you want your identity to be protected.
It’s true that we have shifted a lot of our efforts at Kotaku to covering games after they’ve been released, favoring stories about what happens in and around games that people are actually playing over the unsatisfying hype of pre-release product coverage. But we’re still also interested in news involving any aspect of gaming and game development. Sometimes that means reporting on big cancelled projects or doing in-depth looks at chunks of video game history, like how LucasArts fell apart. Sometimes it means exposing malfeasance—sharing stories about horrible work conditions at a game studio or reporting on a multinational company that isn’t paying its staff on time. Sometimes it means answering big questions that everyone’s asking, like why Aliens: Colonial Marines turned out so terrible.
We want to know the stories that our readers should know but that they wouldn’t be told without an independent media working for them—stories that could reveal the poor working conditions of a studio, celebrate the efforts made on a now-cancelled game, or explain to gamers why the game they just paid $60 for didn’t work. To tell these kinds of stories, we are only as good as our sources, and our sources could well be you. If you’ve got something to say, we want to hear you. And we want to help you stay protected, in cases where you want to be.
The easiest way to contact anyone at Kotaku is to e-mail us individually. You can find all of our contact information here, and it’s all very straightforward. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org, for example. Or you can e-mail the entire staff at email@example.com. (Though we can’t feasibly respond to every tip that comes our way, I do read every single one, so rest assured that if you send something, we’ll see it.)
Here are some simple tips you can use if you’d like to give us sensitive information with the goal of keeping our correspondence confidential. Some of these are common sense, but they can still be helpful reminders:
- You may not want to use your company e-mail account to contact us; instead use a personal account via gmail or other providers.
- It’s best not to use your work computer or WiFi network—use your home connection or, better yet, public WiFi. (Try your nearest Starbucks!)
- There’s no need to worry about using your real name while talking to a Kotaku reporter, as we’ll take the strongest measures possible to protect your identity. If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, that’s OK, although we may ask you to corroborate that you are who you say you are so we can verify the information you give us.
- As a rule of thumb, you may not want to tell anyone that you’re talking to us—the fewer people know about any correspondence you may have with Kotaku, the more protected you’ll be.
Of course, we have our own methods for protecting sources and obfuscating their identities while reporting information they tell us, but it never hurts to be as careful as possible.
If the story you’d like to share with us would be improved by photos or documentation, here are some extra potential security measures for sending out visual materials:
- Taking pictures of photos or documents with your phone and sending those photos is always more secure than digitally transferring the files themselves.
- If you do take pictures of a photo or document you want to send our way, try to get multiple angles so you can send us as many versions as possible.
- When sending photos via e-mail or Dropbox, remove the metadata first. We do our own metadata scrubbing before we post leaked photos on Kotaku, but it’s best to be as safe as possible.
There are several extra steps you can take if you want to leak ultra-sensitive information to Kotaku in the most secure way possible.
- Use the TOR browser, an open-source program that allows you to use the internet on a proxy IP address.
- For extra security, you can encrypt e-mails using a tool called PGP. The easiest way to do this is to install a browser extension called Mailvelope that can enable your webmail—like, say, Gmail—to encrypt and decrypt e-mails. Mailvelope will also give you a full walkthrough on how to do this.
- You can send me an encrypted e-mail by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with my public PGP key, which you can find right here.
Questions? Concerns? Let us know any time.