Friday, April 27, 2012

Blizz is Letting the Inmates Run the Asylum

In anything online where people assemble and there is anonymity there are always going to be bad community members that ruin things for others.

I've recently written how the wow community has been on a steady flow downward and that is in part to the recent release of the looking for raid which gives the asshats a captive audience of 24 other players to annoy, grief or just flat out harass.

The game was a much better place, from a community standpoint, before the looking for dungeon.  The looking for dungeon seemed to hurt the community some and it was noticeable but the looking for raid took it to a whole new level.

I always blame the community for this type of action, people do not need to act that way, they choose to.  By making the choice to, it is their very own fault.

The internet is not a new thing, anyone that has ever been a part of any community online knows exactly how things go.  There will always be trouble makers, there will always be drama starters, there will always be the wanna be internet superstar, there will always be people who get their kicks out of insulting others. People under the cover of anonymity, when left to their own devices, are horrible.

This is nothing new, this has been going on since the very first internet community.

I still blame the people, the people have control over their own actions.  In my opinion, anyone that acts like an asshat says something about them as a real person in real life.  They would say, but I only act like that on the internet and I would reply, just because you are anonymous doesn't change the fact you are still an asshat.  Have some self respect.

If anything, I personally believe that anyone that acts like that under the cover of anonymity is worse than someone that would do so in open public with every one knowing them.  The reason is, someone willing to act like that in public is willing to take responsibility for their actions making them a million times better as a human being then someone that tries to hide under the cover of the internet.

As someone that has been part of many communities, and has even been a GM of two over the course of the years, I can tell you that warcraft has not yet hit rock bottom, there is still a long way to go before they get there.  I can also tell you that warcraft does not need to be as bad as it is.  It can still be fixed.

At the moment the inmates are running the asylum and that needs to be stopped.

The difference in all those communities, the good ones and the bad ones, were the moderators.  Those communities with active moderators that took no crap are the communities that were good.  The ones with little or no moderation were the ones that were bad.

The difference between the two was active moderation.  Blizzard does not use active moderation and it is why things have gotten as bad as they have.  Blizzard waits for people to report and then they have to look at things, from the past, possibly out of context and try to make a decision on it and whenever they do make a decision they seem to be fearful of taking any forceful action because it might effect their subscriptions.

They let the inmates run the asylum.

What blizzard needs to do is adopt active moderation and actually have the balls to back it up.  They need to have people watching trade chat and banning people, not waiting for reports.  They need to randomly pop into instances to check on things and ban people when it is needed.  They need to be active about it and not wait for reports as their only form of moderation.  They need to do something and I do not even mean anything really harsh, but something that shows people will be held responsible for their actions.

People posting [anal] in trade, three day ban from posting in trade.  Someone asking what the best raid spec for a hunter is at the moment and having people answer arcane because they think it is funny to troll them, three day ban from posting in trade.  People going on rants with insults all over the place in a random, three day ban from using the random system.  Someone rolling on something just to trade it later that speaks up in raid and says that is their intention, three week ban from the looking for raid.

If the community they let get out of control starts getting in trouble for their actions, if the anonymity does not protect them from getting punished, in time people will start to behave better because they never know when someone is watching.

That is the benefit for active moderation.  If you leave it up to the people to moderate themselves they won't.  Just like when you left it up to the people to do the right thing in looking for raid and only roll on things they actually needed they didn't.

The loot system for the looking for raid was perfect as it was.  The problem were the people.  Blizzard let the people have the power and they need to take it away from the people by using active moderation with actual penalties.

When the bad parts of the community start getting hit with penalties for their actions they will start to wise up and stop being so bad.

Blizzard created a great system with the randoms but they let the inmates run it and it turned into a cesspool, and calling it that is being nice.  They should back up their great system with some active moderation.  It will fix the problem that they have let get out of control.

The fix will not happen over night, just like the community slowly turned to the crap it is now it will take time to right itself.  As anyone that has ever been part of any online community will tell you, the inmates can not fix the problem themselves, they need the some leadership and active moderation is the only way to do it.

I want to see this change before pet battles, I want to see this change before T14, I want to see this change before mists even.  Heck, I am even willing to pay an extra 5 bucks each month to see them institute active moderation.

Everyone complains about things being broken in the game but nothing in the game is as broken as the community and it needs to be fixed before anything else because in the end, the best thing warcraft has to offer new players is a good community and right now, it doesn't have one.

One look at trade chat can scare any new player away... unless they are the type that is just like the people that are posting there.  Do we really want to scare away everyone except the people that are going to continue to make our community worse?

Stop letting the inmates run the asylum blizzard, institute active moderation now.


    1. Now we're completely on the same page. :)

      There's a lot of ways Blizzard could steer the community in a better direction but has failed to; the very least they should do is either start their own active moderation teams, or give the players themselves useful tools to moderate the community. The report system is nothing but a drop in the ocean.

    2. this would be most welcome, i hope this comes to blizzard's attention

    3. ok so first this makes me want to charter a guild called

      second, however much it would be handy to have this happen, $15/month would not cover the hiring, training, equipping, and paying of the thousands and thousands of people this would require. MMO secret police just don't scale.

      Do keep in mind they just made reporting people like a zillion times easier. Report report report. They can't fix problems that don't get reported, and most problems don't.

    4. Well, the key problem with your idea is the massive work force it would require to effectively monitor WOW, much less actively enforce a strict rule code.

    5. Shoot! Forgot it would read my hypothetical guild as an HTML tag. Woops. The guild idea was [Kalimdor Guard Bureau], whee.

    6. I joke that I like wow except for the players. ;)

      "Do we really want to scare away everyone except the people that are going to continue to make our community worse?"

      Great point.
      It's to the degree where I don't know if I want to introduce friends or relatives to the game.
      Hypothetical me: "Here's this cool game, but you have to learn to ignore all the jerks or else you will be raging all the time."

      Active moderation is an interesting idea.
      The fact that they don't do it now seems a bit lazy to me in the more technologically oriented areas, such as character names that blatantly violate policy.
      The time to deal with that is during character creation. User reports can be used to add to the blacklist that will prevent violations from requiring future reports.

      Currently, the North American armory (which is synchronized on a delay - so it's possible this is already out of date), has:
      * 1 Allah character -
      * 2 Buddha characters -
      * 6 Christ characters -

      It would probably be higher if players hadn't reported violations.

      There are plenty of other misspellings and other clever word amalgamations that go uncaught.
      In the past I've reported Holdmydiq, and Holyf***

      If the policy is worth having, it's worth enforcing proactively, in my opinion.

      p.s. some proofreading

    7. Two things:
      1) Your post is oxymoronic.
      2) What you are suggesting is impossible.

      Allow me to elaborate.

      Do you realise that, by deduction of your logic, your forum should have been shut down?
      [Quote]"They need to have people watching trade chat and banning people, not waiting for reports. They need to randomly pop into instances to check on things and ban people when it is needed. They need to be active about it and not wait for reports as their only form of moderation."[/Quote]
      Focus here quickly: You spoke out against Blizzard's current policies and procedures. By your own logic YOU should be punished. Your account should be banned, your titles stripped and your blog shut down. Two KGB agents will arrive at your house shortly with further instruction.

      I also have a problem with your other brilliant idea.
      [Quote] "If anything, I personally believe that anyone that acts like that under the cover of anonymity is worse than someone that would do so in open public with every one knowing them." [/Quote]
      If you truly believe this, kindly furnish us with all your personal details.

      Do you see what I'm getting at? First off, punishing people for anal spam is silly. If Anal spam makes you feel sad inside, you probably prefer having mommy cut the crusts off your sandwiches. Here's what you do: Go to your "general" chat frame, right-click and select options. Untick "trade" and voilĂ : no more anal spam. Either that or go back to watching Noddy.

      Secondly: I agree that certain things deserve punishment. Ninjas, for example. But face it: there will always be some way of corrupting [b]WHATEVER SYSTEM OF JUSTICE[/b] you implement.
      And regardless: it is *impossible* to implement the system you are suggesting.

      Welcome to the internet. Witness the atrocities of the human race and despair.

      1. While I do agree banning the [anal] people is pushing it too far it was said to make a point. The point being, no one should have to read it, it servers no purpose.

        As for your "fantastic"idea of turning off trade chat I should not need to. Read the word and try, for a moment, to understand it. It is trade chat. Not troll chat.

        People that are not actively trading, should not be posting there. Simple as that. I can even say people asking for groups and asking for help would be fine as it goes across cities, which is why most people use it over everything else.

        Yes, there would be a failing in any system, but a system that tries to address the problem will always be better then a system that ignores it.

        And as for my details. Why should I supply them? This is about punishing people that are under the cover of anonymity. So punishing people that you do not know their details is what it is about.

        For someone that took the time and effort to post you are coming off as a very angry person. I understand your point because you said it without cursing, without flaming (for the most part) and without resorting to personal attacks (except for one).

        This is constructive criticism, just as my post was. There is a difference between criticism and insults. Criticism is fine, insults are not.

        Which basically means your one insult takes what was otherwise a very constructive post and turned in into something equal to the dribble you would see in trade.

        Next time, leave out the mommy cutting your crust stuff out and perhaps the turn off trade argument and your argument would have a lot more weight to it. As it is, with that, it turned what was meant as constructive criticism into something more suitable for trade.

        My post is not saying be like the KGB, but it is staying they need to actively do something about people that play the game in a way that purposely tries to make it worse for those around them.

        My idea is not great, might not even be good, but it is 1000% better then what they are doing which is nothing.

    8. Whilst I totally agree that the WoW community has become appalling and something needs to be done your post outlines some of the issues I have with your idea.
      The two examples of things you suggest people should be punished for [anal] spam and minor trolling in trade don't seem like they justify a ban to me. Personally whilst I ignore anyone I see doing [anal] spam I don't think they should be banned. While immature this act doesn't really hurt anyone. The issue is who should be punished and for what and who judges what is inappropriate.

      Should we punish people who mouth of after one wipe in a dungeon spewing incredibly offensive insults at some hapless player who almost certainly doesn't deserve that level of bile? personally I think yes.

      Should we punish people who go enter into a group activity and put in so little effort that they are actively hindering everyone elses ability to succeed? Again I would be inclined to say yes.

      However let me tell you a story. When I first got my pally alt to max level and went into my first heroic it was horrendous. I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong I had read up on my spec, gemmed and enchanted my gear I had appropriate ilevel PvE gear but no matter what I tried I didn't seem to be able to keep the tank up. After several wipes, for which the group kept blaming me, I inspected the tank to discover he was wearing full dps gear and none of it was gemmed or enchanted. I was furious and laid into the tank. I told him that it was incredibly selfish to queue for an instance whilst being inappropriately geared for it and that he had made me doubt my own ability to heal as it was my first run healing. I am ashamed to say I wasn't completely polite. In this case which one of us should of been punished by the moderators? I suspect that depending on who you asked you would get a different response.

      1. You ran into one of those dungeons that are like things I often state when healing. You have to speak up as a healer when people do this.

        If you speak up in a calm and non insulting way and point out what the issue is, like a tank in DPS gear, things might not have turned out so bad.

        It happens to us all however. There will always be times when people lose their temper and go over the edge. Perhaps a system of warning would work better then instant bans.

        Like warning people with [anal] that trade is not an appropriate place for that and if they continue to do it 5 times they will get a ban.

        Anything that has a set of rules and actively backs it up would be better then the do nothing system they have now.

    9. As others have noted, active moderation would have its own issues, though certainly on e.g. the naming policies front things were...odd (don't know if it's still around, but for years there used to be e.g. a Guild named Tea Baggerz).

      Personally, I think that designers should be more aware of how much the way they build a game can affect the kind of audience they attract.

      WoW's 'Hero factory' and 'end-game-is-all' obsession (most notably on the Rated/Raided front) creates some rather nasty entitlement issues as well, especially when 'worlds collide'. Before Heirlooms and XP in BG's for example, altlevellers and newcomers were pretty much in the same boat where e.g. BG's were concerned, while Twinks argued that BG's were a seperate minigame; colission of the two 'worlds' created the issue.

      When however XP was introduced (meaning Twinks indeed ended up in a 'seperate' world), Heirlooms created a rift between newcomers and the alt-levellers who now saw the chance to steamroll newcomers with their Heirlooms (previously, Twinks kicked both groups asses, something alt-levellers esp. didn't like - 'I'm a Hero afterall!'), and in general the gameplay differences between newcomers and alt-levellers became far, far bigger than before Heirlooms, to the deteriment of the community.

      A very good friend of mine once said: the motto of every designer interested in a good community should be:
      What would Eric Cartman do?

      Would Eric Cartman like a certain feature? - then perhaps it's better to not implement it.

      Would Eric C. find it (insert expletive)? - mmm, we might be on to something good here.

      Would Eric C. find a way to abuse this feature? - then make as sure as possible he won't be able to abuse it.

      1. The sad part is I think 90% of the player base is Eric Cartman. Maybe they should think more like that.

        As you mentioned with heirlooms, that is a great point. The faster leveling and the experience boosting has really turn the game into a different direction and that seems to be attracting a different type of player completely.

      2. Don't know about the 90% but it is true that I'm personally convinced that certain game (elements) attract a certain audience.

        To stick with WoW, if e.g. your referal reward is a (huge) XP-Buff, it is likely that it is more appealing to more impatient people (and hence be used to attract more impatient people) than with other types of rewards.

        (personal anecdote: because you can't STOP the x3 XP rate in WoW, the friend that referred me and I hardly played together while the Accounts were linked, as zipping though a 'new' game isn't much fun to us)

        It is also quite possible that in general the audience of games has changed, leading to different games and hence communities. These posts by Koster and Tobold spring to mind

        Personally, I also chalk a lot to the late great Gary Gygax being right about Internet gaming in general ;)

    10. I actually agree with Felcat and the reductio ad Stalinum guy in one regard - the system would be just too costly to implement. Even if they charged us 5 extra Euro.

      I am not sure it would help to solve the main problem either - because I consider the main problem to be people thinking the baddies would not get punished, therefore not bothering with reporting or even being pushed to slightly worse behaviour than they would display otherwise.

      A simpler solution, but one I think would still help quite a bit, might be to actually getting in touch with people who submit the reports and let them know about the investigation results, whatever they are? E. g. "We investigated your report and found X committed a minor CoC violation. Their account was blocked for 3 days" I believe the good people - which are in majority - would be more driven to report the bad ones and fight against them if they knew there's a purpose to it.

      1. I think the same thing, but Blizzard's current policy is the opposite.

        Privacy of the alleged jerk is more valuable than transparency in policing of bad actors.

        World of Warcraft > Forums > Support Customer Support > NOT divulging details on player reprimands

      2. Some transparency on what is done would be nice.

        I think one of the main reasons I do not report a majority of the stuff I see is because I never see any action being taken.

        If I saw that my reports were at least being considered seriously I would file them more often.

        I have filed my fair share of reports and have seen a few actions taken because I looked up on the characters afterwards but even at that, those where only the most extreme cases where I knew there was no way they could just "let it slide". Most of the reports it seems they just "let it slide" and that is why I don't report much.

        I wouldn't be surprised if others thought the same thing. People would use the report system a great deal more often if they saw that it worked.

        A GM note at that said, action was taken, or even a note was made on their account and if they do it again action will be taken would go over a million times better then the standard we can't talk about it BS they always give.