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Are the official forums a good or bad thing?

Late Saturday night, Tseric, a community manager on the official WoW forums, got into an argument with a (literal) troll about freedom of speech on the WoW forums. Tseric then posted a pretty stunning denunciation of the whole forum concept:

"When you can understand how a group of beligerent and angry posters can drive away people from this game with an uncrafted and improvisational campaign of misery and spin-doctoring, then perhaps, you can understand the decisions I make. Until you face mobs of psychology, you will not see my side.

Until you see some bright-eyed player coming onto the forums wanting to know what they should spec as this class, and see them shat on and driven away by petty and selfish people who are simply leveraging for game buffs, you will not understand.

You will not understand until you have to see it daily, for years..."

Pretty tough words from someone who gets paid to manage the forums, but I have to admit that I kind of agree with them. The WoW forums can be a great resource -- specifically the UI, Customer Service, Guild Relations and Professions forums -- but most of the class forums, the raids and dungeons forum, and the general forum can quickly become a cesspool of complaining. Instead of helping people in the game and offering constructive criticism, the forums can serve to drive away new players, and make them see problems when there may not be any. For example, while I'm writing this post and skimming the forums, I've "discovered":

  • All the battlegrounds suck.
  • Diplomacy is one of the worst racials in-game.
  • Everyone is quitting WoW.
  • It is a slap in the face that people who are hated with the Steamwheedle Cartel cannot get epic blacksmithing weapons. What do you mean, buy some cloth and get my rep back up? I like being a pirate!
  • Blizzard hates casuals.
  • Everyone hates hunters.
  • The American health care system sucks (originally titled Are Nihilum Human, thus demonstrating some pretty admirable topic derailing.)

Man, and ten minutes ago I was happily grinding on dinosaurs in Un'Goro until I got killed and camped by a rogue. (Just checked -- yep, he's still there.) Who knew I had so many things to be angry about?

Do you read the WoW forums? What do you think could be done to improve them? Overall, do you think they're good or bad for the game?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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