Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Public Penalties Would Work

In a recent post on the US forums that had someone complaining about the logic of blizzards system a blue made a response.  As normal for me there is something I can pull out of this response and complain about and I am going to do exactly that.  The first point is not really my main reason for this post but I felt it was something I needed to complain about, because I am grumpy like that.  The second part I quote is where the meat is, where I believe that public penalties would work. 

I am guessing this particular blue responder was no different than the others I have seen spewing the same line of bull crap dribble that all blues seem to dish out that says a lot but means absolutely nothing, so it must be blizzard policy to talk a lot and say nothing of use.

First off, the blue in question is Vrakthris, which being I have never had anything to complain about them must mean they are either rarely active or newer and as such I don't see anything much from them to complain about or they might actually be one of the smarter blues which in turn would give me much less to complain about.  What really got me to post this however is one word, doubtful, that you will see in the second quote and solidified, for me at least, that this is something I worthy of complaining about.

Before I start being my grumpy self I should note I have no clue who the poster is or what they are talking about.  In fact there could be a lot to the story he did not say, and there probably is, but I am only making my points based on what he said and what was replied to him. 

Now to pick apart one wrong within the blizzard policies that the blue mentions.

Poster: This doesn't seem to correct the behavior of the violating player, given the fact that if one of us were to go off so to speak on said player in trade we would receive a ban for language.

Blue: If your violation was reported in the appropriate manner and the other parties was not? Yes, that is entirely possible.

The important thing to remember is to not engage, if you are mutually combative then it limits our options. Report inappropriate language/subject matter when you witness it and do so every time.
I agree with mr blue poster here.  Use the report system every time you see inappropriate language or something you deem worthy of reporting.  I completely agree with mr blue here.  I follow a strict non-engagement policy when I run into people like that.  I stress that on my guild mates.  Report and move on.  So this blue is not completely clueless, not in the slightest, he offered solid advice.

However, and this is the big part, this advice only works when something is done about it.  If you report and move on and others in the guild report and move on and this continues over and over with multiple people reporting and moving on and nothing happens sooner or later there will be a confrontation.

Most people are willing to play by the rules, report and move on.  But when they see nothing being done about it they could or will eventually fall victim of their own frustration about the situation, which is completely 100% blizzards fault for not taking action to begin with, and then and only then they might clash with said person.

This blue is saying that if that moment happens you could be banned for defending yourself?  WTF?  No way that should ever happen.  If the first interaction between the two is mutually combative then yes I could see some actions being taken on both parties.  But when one party has repeatedly used the report function and many people in his guild have repeatedly used the report function and nothing is done about it you should never blame the person for becoming combative when the only recourse they have left is to handle it themselves because blizzard won't do a damn thing about it.

If the GMs did their job and took care of the person that was repeatedly reported there would have never been a confrontation.  The confrontation is because of the lack of moderation on the part of the people that are supposed to be enforcing the rules but apparently they are too busy siting on the couch eating bon bons watching housewives of atlanta on tv instead of doing their job and banning, or at least warning, the person that was reported multiple times.

Do not even for a moment suggest that the person being harassed could have action taken against them for defending themselves.  The only reason they would ever be put in the situation where they feel they have to defend themselves is because they know the report feature will do nothing.  The GMs will ignore it, they will pretend like it didn't happen, and the person will go on doing whatever it was they were reported for.

My main point here is that if a person shows restraint and follows the rules of the game using the report system and continues to get attacked by said person and blizzard does nothing then blizzard is in the wrong, not the player.  And if they get pushed to the point where they do reply it is absolutely wrong to threaten them with a suspension when if blizzard had done their job to begin with and warned or auctioned the person it would have never went that far.  Threatening the victim is wrong but it seems to be blizzard modus operandi.

Now to the comment that made me want to write this post.

Poster : Not to mention if it were made known in global chat that "Player X was banned for X amount of days for cheating/Harassment...whatever really"

Blue:  Doubtful, such information tends only to encourage additional harassment, usually of the person being called out. We don't provide information about another player's account. An action taken on an account is between us and the registered user on the account.
I have long been a supporter of this idea, the calling out the banned idea.  I believe each server should have an updated list on their forums with all actions taken against people on their server for everyone to see.  I believe everything should be made public for all to see.  The blue with his "doubtful" comment shows he is about as clueless as clueless could be when it comes to this topic at least to think that showing people that they actually do get in trouble for doing this is not a deterrent.

Such information would not encourage additional harassment.  If someone just got banned for harassment anyone that would harass them because of their ban would deserve a ban of their own for doing so.  It would be known that you do not harass people because you got banned publicly and then no one would pick on you because you got banned by knowing that they too could get banned now and it too would be made public.

But all that aside, seeing that people are being banned for infractions shows people the system is working.  I have spoken to many people, read many forum posts, read many blogs, had my own experiences and over all I can say with complete certainty that the majority of the player base has absolutely no, or very little, faith in the system.  If we do not see something happening it does not happen in our minds.  That is human nature.

If people see others being banned for racist or inappropriate behavior they would know the system does work, they would be more willing to use the report system because they would see that is works.  If blizzard keeps this hush hush approach and people never notice that something is being done they lose faith in the system and will not use it.  But once they see that reporting people has actual results they would embrace the system and use it more.  Over all, in time, not over night, it would make for a better community by more people believing in the system and using it because they know it works because they can see it work.

It even works on the outer end.  I can give you at least a dozen examples where I was in random content and someone was being a complete jackass and when someone said something to them their only response was, blizzard won't do anything so quit your crying and they would continue to be a complete jackass.  I've seen it first hand many times and I am sure we all have.  People purposely trolling groups because they believe that blizzard won't do anything about it.  Public notices of bans would show them that actions do get taken.  Well, that is if blizzard actually ever decides to take any actions, but that is another topic of its own.  The key here is, people do not report because they don't think it works as they never see it work and people act like jackasses because they know they can get away with it because they too never see anyone get in trouble because of it.

Doubtful?  You doubt that people are more likely to use a system they can see works?  You doubt that the person that got in trouble will not do it again after he knows that everyone on the server knows he got in trouble because he calls everyone faggots?  You doubt that people will feel more comfortable playing a game that they believe actually has the best interests of them and their community in mind?  Well, I doubt that you have a clue.  So I guess we are both doubtful.

As I mentioned, I do not know the particulars of the case at hand.  That does not make a difference however when you see blue answers like that.  A blue threatening the victim is wrong and basically that is what he did even if not directly.  A blue telling people that taking action and letting people know that action is taken would be bad for the game because blizzard tells them to say that is wrong.

Seriously.  The system does not need to go super deep and let us know everything. People that were temp banned because they were hacked.  People that were banned for cheating or whatever.  They can hold that back if they want to.  But letting us know that the system works, by showing us that the people that are toxic to the community have had action taken against them is a good thing, a very good thing.  How blizzard can keep this hush hush policy is beyond me and how any blue, even if employed by blizzard can support this approach is beyond me.

Public penalties would work.  No matter what blizzard thinks or what that blue thinks.  It is why If people would see someone being banned for inappropriate language they might, just might, use the report system more, because they would see it is working and that would be good for the game.  Just the same as if they see people banned for calling people nigger they would be less likely to use that, an other, inappropriate terms and language in game.  Don't tell me public penalties would not work.  At least not until you try them.

Personally, I don't mind so much about the language part of it.  I wish they would start banning the jerks in the LFR that just AFK or try to wipe people on purpose.  You can say fuck all you want in my opinion, as long as you are not a jackass.  But either way, in mixed company, it is not appropriate to use such language and being children play this game as well we shouldn't use it.  I can deal with that and I can surely see public penalties helping others that are too stupid to learn that they can't act like they are hanging out on the street corner with friends in mixed company to deal with it as well.

Could you just see a line like this in all global chats?

[Holybob] has just been banned for 3 hours for calling [Jimmystabs] a faggot.

Makes me want to point and laugh like nelson on the simpsons.  ha ha!  That'll teach 'em.


  1. It's a tough topic. I am not sure if making bans public would make things better.

    But I can state this: the report system is not adequate and has never been adequate.

    Example (I may have posted this story earlier, sorry if this is the case):

    The start of Cata has immediately broken a lot of BG bots. This happens with all major patches. OK, after about a month, bots started reappearing. Then their numbers increased to whatever it was before Cata, and then surpassed that.

    Me and my team have been reporting bots left and right. It's not fun being on the same BG with bots, whether or not they are on your side or on the enemy side, so we were busily reporting. Every day, tens of reports.

    We didn't see any reaction to our reports so we decided to set up an experiment. One of the guys agreed to take it for the team, installed a bot and subjected himself to launching the bot every night. Same characters, same playing hours, every day without exceptions, etc. And all of us kept reporting that bot, filing at least a report a day.

    End result? The bot was up and running for more than a month, and didn't get a ban, despite being reported several times every single day.

    So, no, the current system doesn't work. I don't care why, quite frankly, it just doesn't.

    1. See, that is exactly why we NEED to see that it is working (when it does) so people know that action will be taken. Otherwise all we have are situations like yours, where we lose faith in the system and just stop reporting because it does nothing.

      If they want people to use the report system they need to do two things. One, actually do something about the reports, and two, let us know what is being done so we see it is worth us reporting.

      As it stands now most people do not waste their time reporting because they believe, just like you, that it does not work.

      I saw a mining bot and asked everyone in my guild to come report it. We all did, over 25-30 reports every single day for over a week and we just stopped reporting. The bot still kept going, our reports where ignored, blizzard does not care.

    2. Two people reporting the same person every day is worth exactly two reports. You're persistent, sure, but it's one person reporting the same person for the same offense.

      System, as it is, works, just not like you want it to work. It's meant to also prevent abuse from some, say, two people who don't like a third (same realm and maybe even say guild) and keep reporting him every day (maybe even when not in the same bg as him) in hopes the count will eventually get them.

      Anyway. Number of different people matters. Realm matters. Guild matters. If it's the same guild reporting one guy then, again, it can be one guild who decided to report someone they don't like.

      I've been subject of harassment. I know it works. I also know how long it took and how many reports and what eventually got Blizz to ban the two guys. Yes, ban, not suspend.

    3. I understand what you are getting at. Like if I wanted to I could have people in my guild all report someone that I do not like and suddenly that person has 30 or 40 reports on them.

      But they should look into it and instead of telling us "we can not give out information" or not even say anything about it, tell us, stop filing reports for no reason. Or, we found reason and have taken action.

      Letting people know what you are doing would work. Even if you are letting them know you are putting a note on their account for filing a false report.

      A little transparency goes a long way into making the system better. Keeping everything hush hush is a bad way to do things.

      The only time I have ever seen swift action taken was when someone was threatening to find and rape a female friend of mine. She put them on ignore and reported them. They responded with the "we can not give any information" crap out instead of, you know, actually doing their job.

      When the person made a new character and started to whisper her again how he was going to rape her. She ignored and reported, and he made another and another and another, this went on through about 6 characters over a half hour. Then suddenly, all his accounts listed on her black list disappeared. Yeap, he was banned.

      I think the only reason it was handled quickly was because it was a real life threat and the guy kept making new characters.

      The sad part is, the original character that threatened her never even got a suspension. Not even a one day one. He was always there in trade trolling.

    4. "System, as it is, works, just not like you want it to work."

      Sorry, I refuse to characterize the way it functions as "works".

      Sure, with every reporting system there's a potential for abuse. If the means to protect from that abuse are so rough that they are shutting the system down in the case I explained (which is what you are suggesting), this is a very serious flaw.

      To see how serious, ask yourself the following simple questions:

      Was there a bot? Yes.

      Was the bot easy to detect for Blizzard? Yes. (Same hours, same dumb software.)

      Was the bot there for a prolonged time period? Yes. (More than a month.)

      Was the bot reported? Yes.

      Was the bot banned? No.

      You are suggesting that the bot was NOT banned because it has NOT been reported enough in a proper way, fine, but honestly I am not sure how much more proper this can get. The bot was being reported by several people every day for many days. In addition to that it was perhaps being reported at least several times by some other people who noticed it. If that's still not enough to make Blizzard look ONCE into what's going on (the bot logs showed NO incoming chat from GMs, but several incoming chat from other players), I don't know what to say.

      Seriously, if this experiment is still not enough to show that the system is broken, then I can't see what kind of experiment could possibly convince you in that.

    5. And this:

      "Anyway. Number of different people matters. Realm matters. Guild matters. If it's the same guild reporting one guy then, again, it can be one guild who decided to report someone they don't like."

      If this is really the case, then apparently Blizzard have time to look into the realms / guilds / what not of those who are reporting something, and do various cross-checks to determine similarities there -- yet they DON'T have time to check the actual offense.

      I don't know if this is the case, like you suggest, but if it is, that would easily qualify for BROKEN as well, no?

    6. PvP anon does have a good point. If they can take the time to see that all the reports of the bot where filed from the same guild they could take the time to see if the bot being reported is indeed a bot.

      The system does not work and can not work as it is. They need to actually do something for it to work. If they are not sending me a warning "for over using the report function for no reason" and they are not taking action on the reported ones, it is not working. Either way. Action me or action the person I reported. Do not just sweep it under the rug. It is not working.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Nothing really, but not when you are supposed to be working. ;)

  3. Public ban announcements are an option. However, I think the real problem is that they just don't ever ban anyone. If they implemented that feature, the list would probably be empty most of the time.

    I think they need to hand out more bans. They need to explain what the ban is for. The ban duration can be short at first (3hrs maybe) but escalate quickly with each repeat offense. Your ban history would be cleared after a period of time: maybe 3 months or something.

    They probably have a system like this in place, but there's no point to the system if they never ban anyone.

    The only times I've ever heard of people getting banned were for cheating during raid progression (abusing bugs in Blizzard's poorly tested code) or giving away large amounts of gold and triggering the gold seller checks. I don't care about gold selling and it's Blizzard's fault that the world first raiders are beta testing the raiding encounters on Live... Blizz needs to fix that crap before it even goes to PTR...

    I never hear about bots or toxic players getting banned. You just keep seeing them repeat their behavior over and over.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I agree. They do not need to be super harsh, they could even allow for multiple offenses. A few 1 day bans a few 3 day bans, things like that. And actually follow through.

      Blizzard has this habit of completely ignoring their own terms of service. They let people get away with anything really because that monthly fee is worth more to them then taking the chance of losing a paying customer.


      There is a player on my realm, has been since wrath, called niggerslayer. He has been reported multiple times and he still held on to that name until recently. Even at that, I am not sure if he quit or switched servers, but I have not seen him in a few months. But to go from wrath to mists with that name and never having a name change forced on them shows blizzard does not give a crap.

      Yet a friend of mine decided to take a name, not sure what it was now, that was not offensive in any way, and they were flagged for a name change nearly instantly. I wonder why.

    3. Yes, the system is there, Blizz calls is Penalty Volcano, if you google it you can see the pyramid.

    4. I've seen their penalty volcano. It is just a theory, they do not follow it in any way shape or form.

      There was a post on MMO-C when the annual pass was added where one guy was trying to get banned so it would effectively void his contract. He committed 100s of offenses from small (curing in randoms) to large (buyign gold and admitting it) and they never banned him. It took well over 100 "warnings" before he ever received a 3 hour ban.

      The penalty volcano only works if they use it. They do not. It was written and released to appease people into thinking they actually do something when they in fact don't.

  4. The only time I ever found a player actual banned for a report I made was when some were exploiting terrain bugs in battlegrounds. Even that wasn't banned consistently. Language and offensive behavior was never punished to my knowledge. Bots were allowed to roam free and destroy certain markets on the AH unchecked.

    After awhile I stopped filling out the reports. It was a huge waste of time that Blizzard never used to make the game better. I don't think I've opened the report feature since BC.

    1. And that is exactly why I think sharing the information with the masses (and actually enforcing bans) would help the game. Everyone has lost faith with them doing anything and even if they do something we do not see it so we stop reporting.

      I too have seen an actual ban take place. It was back when the LFD was first added to the game someone was rally being a jerk hard core and I reported them. They got banned for it, so I am guessing that they had a long history of doing it. Funny part is he made a character on my realm to curse me out for getting him banned with turned his short ban into a lifetime one when he did it multiple times. But after reporting many bot, many people doing worse things than that guy, and many other thing, I have never seen any actions taken, ever.