Mod repository Nexus Mods has announced a change in policy in regards to the hundreds of thousands of mod files it hosts. Starting in August, modders who upload mod files to the site will no longer be able to delete them. Instead, modders will only be able to archive their files and hide them from view of the users.
If that sounds like a strange policy decision to you, you're not alone, and some modders are angry about it. There is a reason for it, though, even if not anyone agrees that it's a good one. Nexus Mods has been working on a feature since 2019 called "collections." Collections will serve as curated lists of mods that any Nexus Mod user can create and share.
"The project our team is working on has the goal of making modding easier so the average user can spend less time worrying about mod conflicts, and more time playing a modded game," reads a lengthy post on Nexus Mods. Using Vortex (the Nexus Mods mod manager), a mod user could create a curated list of mods and then upload that list as a collection, including mod load order, patches and hotfixes used, conflict resolutions, and so on. Another Vortex user could then add this collection and Vortex would download and install everything on that list.
That sounds like a handy feature, especially since mod lists for games like Skyrim can run into the hundreds, and it would be nice to be able to easily share those lists among other users. But Nexus Mods says in order for collections to work smoothly, it needs to prevent modders from permanently removing their files:
"For our collections system this means that no matter how much care and effort has been put into curating a collection of dozens or hundreds of mods, as soon as one or several files in that collection are deleted by a mod author—for whatever reason—the collection is essentially and immediately 'dead in the water' until the curator can replace or remove the particular file."
The solution Nexus Mods came up with is to no longer allow uploaded mod files to be deleted. Instead, a modder who wants their files removed will only be able to archive them. The files won't be directly accessible or downloadable for users, or even displayed on the site, though the archived files will still be accessible through the collections feature.
I'm a frequent mod user and not a mod author, but as much as I think collections could be a great feature (it's not available yet), it's not hard to see why some mod authors are so upset. It can definitely be frustrating when a long chain of dependency is broken because a mod gets deleted, but if you're a modder and you decide you simply don't want your mod to be available on Nexus Mods anymore, for whatever reason, it intuitively seems like you should have the ability to delete it (as you can on ModDB or the Steam Workshop—the latter of which also has a mod collections feature).
For modders who want to nope out of Nexus Mods, they can. Modders have until August 5 to request their mod files be deleted. As for files a mod author wants deleted because it's broken or no longer compatible, Nexus Mods says it's looking into a system where a broken file can be removed on a case-by-case basis following a request from the author. Nexus Mods administrators will also continue to delete mod files themselves when mod files violate its rules (such as by using assets from another author without permission).
Deletion isn't the only concern some modders have with the upcoming collections system. Looking through comments on the Nexus Mods announcements, on Reddit, and in the Nexus Mods Discord, some modders feel that collections will drive users away from individual mod pages (where modders can collect donations for their work) in favor of simply using a collection (which could then result in fewer donations). Some would like the option to decide whether or not their mod appears in a collection, but Nexus Mods says there will be no opt-in system for the same reason modders won't be able to delete files—a single modder could "torpedo" the collection system by opting out.
Some modders have already pulled their work from Nexus Mods completely, such as a Skyrim and New Vegas modder who uploaded their mods to ModDB and calls Nexus Mods "a den of thieves." Another plans to remove their mods but may re-upload them after they see how the situation develops, saying, "I would love to have a mod-collection in here but also to have all the freedom I had as an mod-author."
Other modders seem more or less okay with the new policy. "Curated, high-quality modlists are the best thing that ever happened to Skyrim modding, and they're the best thing that ever happened to me, as an author," says a modder on Reddit who found a new audience for their mods after being included in modlists for Wabbajack, a Skyrim modlist installer.
You can read the Nexus Mods announcement here in full.