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Behind the scenes with a Blizzard forums MVP "green"

Carrying the flag
Who are the "greens," the shining emerald jewels of the posting community on the official World of Warcraft community forums? How does one go from being, say, Eldacar the PvP enthusiast to Eldacar the forums MVP, who recently unleashed a volley of questions on the current state of WoW PvP that gathered a virtual storm of opinions and insights on the official PvP forums? Who is this guy, and why is everything he posts on the forums in bright green letters? Here's your answer -- the scoop on a green straight from one of the blues, Blizzard Community Manager Jonathan "Zarhym" Brown:

"Eldacar's posting style and contributions to the community first crossed my radar during Cataclysm beta," Zarhym explains. "He had created some very useful guides on the beta forums detailing good feedback and bug reporting etiquette. I stickied his information and had brief contact with him via email and in the beta around that time.

"In the fall of 2011, once the community team solidified plans for expanding the MVP program, his name popped back up in part because of some PvP-related posts he was working on," he continues. "I really make an effort to try and hang onto the names of constructive, eloquent posters -- whether or not they're critical of some of Blizzard's decisions. The MVP program is really meant to be a reflection of the diversity within our community. Its members are just a collection of folks from the community who are embraced by their peers for their knowledge and personality, to the extent that we want to give them official recognition. I think Eldacar's a damn fine example of this."

A "damn fine example"? Frankly, we're with Zarhym -- Eldacar's thoughtful approach and obvious passion for his subject matter made trumpeting his recent call to arms for player feedback a no-brainer. So who is this guy? And how'd he get so damn fine, anyway?

Through the snowMain character Eldacar
Guild Martha Stewart
Realm Boulderfist (US)

WoW Insider: Are you an old hand in Azeroth, Eldacar, or is your forum MVP status riding on a wave of a more recent involvement with the game?

Eldacar: I have been playing WoW continuously since a few months after launch, although I did take a five-month break during The Burning Crusade while I was deployed to Iraq. [My guild] is a small, PVP-focused guild that has been around on my server since vanilla. I actually became friends with the guild and its members by fighting against them back at level 60 (I was Alliance at the time) and developing a relationship of mutual respect with them.

It is hard to say what led to me being invited to the MVP program; only Blizzard can really answer that. [Editor's note: Psst, Eldacar -- according to our intro here, Blizzard's done exactly that.] However, I have always tried to be a constructive and helpful forum poster. I maintained two sticky threads during the Cataclysm beta test in the general discussion forum; one was a list of all the content that was currently available for players to test, and the other was unofficial patch notes, which I did my best to update with each of the 30+ patches. Both of those took a lot of work to maintain throughout the course of the beta.

In the last year, I have spend a lot of time writing PvP-related guides and other informational posts such a guide to how resilience scales, a breakdown of all the currently announced PvP content coming in Mists, and an FAQ for the season 10-to-11 transition. Most of my recent work can be found on my website, which is a WoW PvP blog I made primarily as a repository for all of this stuff I was already writing.

What exactly is a forums MVP? How are you chosen? Do you have any special responsibilities, powers or perks?

MVPs (Most Valuable Posters)
are simply players who have been identified by Blizzard as being particularly helpful and constructive posters on the forums. We are given green text so that players are more likely to read and know that they can trust what we say. We don't work for Blizzard and we are not representatives for them, as some players tend to mistakenly believe. We are essentially volunteers who are just trying to help out fellow players on the forums. Our only real responsibility as MVPs is to continue doing what we were doing before we were selected, helping people out on the forums to the best of our abilities.

We don't have any powers beyond what a normal player has; however, we do get a few really nice perks for our participation in the MVP program. Foremost among them is that we have a direct line of communication with the community managers that allows us to ask them questions or bring things to their attention. Blizzard set up a wonderful communication network that allows us all to communicate with Blizzard and the other MVPs as a group; however, we can contact individual CMs as well, if we need to. We get other great perks as well, which range from holiday cards by Sam Didier to beta keys to licensed products.

Turning the flag
It sounds like the greens have a little community of their own.

Every one of these guys and gals are friendly, knowledgeable people that will bend over backwards to help out people they don't even know. Becoming friends with and talking to many of them on a regular basis in our private IRC channel is quite frankly a pleasure and a privilege that I am very grateful for.

The tech support and customer support MVPs in particular are really the unsung heroes of the official forums in my opinion. They put in a tremendous amount of time and effort helping players with all sorts of issues, some of which are extremely complicated and require them to leverage years of knowledge and experience. They essentially work part-time jobs on the forums for no pay and ask nothing in return, and often times don't even get a thank-you from the person they help. If I could make just one request of everyone it would be to go thank them for what they do, and when they or any MVP helps you out, submit some positive feedback about it to wowcmfeedback@blizzard.com.

How much time would you say you spend on the forums and keeping up with WoW news every day?

I would say I spend about an hour or two on and off reading or posting about something Blizzard-related in an average day, although I tend to get my free time in chunks, and that is when I typically write the longer guides I post.

Is that typically less or more time than you spend in the game itself?

Right now, I am taking 18 upper-level credits at George Mason University, so I don't have a whole lot of free time. I try to log in and play a bit when I can, but for the most part, during the semester I spend far more time reading and posting about the game than actually playing it. Plus I have to sneak in some time for the Diablo III beta, StarCraft 2, and the occasional DOTA game.

Eldacar
Would you consider yourself a regular at any other WoW websites, blogs or communities?

I have been a long-time reader of MMO-Champion and WoW Insider; they are the fan sites I visit the most. However, I also frequently visit Arenajunkies, Blizzplanet, and Diablofans.

Let's talk PvP. What's your preferred form of PvP -- what does a typical week in game entail?

Battlegrounds have always been my favorite form of PvP. I did a few Raid Finder Dragon Soul runs when 4.3 first came out, but beyond that I haven't really touched PvE this expansion. I used to do Rated Battlegrounds very regularly, but lately due to the heavy constraints on my free time, all I am really able to do is log in and play the occasional random BG with some friends. If I am really lucky and my guild happens to be running a Rated BG group when I have some free time, I will log on and join them for it.

One might imagine that someone who devotes so much time and energy into following one aspect of the game on the forums might lean toward a more hardcore approach within the game. Do you see yourself as an aggressive player, not simply in terms of gameplay itself but in terms of theorycrafting, staying on top of tactics and trends, and squeezing every last drop out of your play?

I certainly try to stay very well informed about all aspects of PvP in the game, even when I can't play much. The better informed I am, the better able I am to help people on the forums. When I do have enough time to play more seriously, I am very goal-driven and tend to play hardcore until I achieve my goal; then I tend to play more casually if I don't have other goals in game I am really interested in pursuing.

Some of the major goals I have pursued and achieved during my time playing WoW have been the original Grand Marshal title, which was a brutal grind; the Gladiator title, which I got in the first Arena season; as well as the new Grand Marshal title and the new Hero of the Alliance title, both of which I got in the first season of rated BGs. One of my current goals is to get Gladiator again, but realistically I don't think I will have the play time to pursue that one this season. Maybe in Mists!

Taking care of business
So with so much PvP experience under your belt and after organizing a massive player feedback effort on the PvP forums, what PvP issue tops your personal list of concerns going into Mists of Pandaria?

The top of my personal list of concerns is the state of crowd control in PVP. I feel like as more and more CC abilities have been added to the game over the years, things have gradually gotten out of control. My big objection to having so much CC in the game is that the more a player is CCed during an engagement, the less their skill as a player as an opportunity to affect the outcome of that engagement. In my opinion, no one should ever be chain-CC-locked while they or their partner is burned from 100 to dead, because when that happens, how much did their skill as a player really matter?

There is, of course, a degree of skill in both using and avoiding CC, as well as knowing when to trinket out of it, which is why I feel everyone should have at least a little bit of it to use in critical situations. But it should be on a fairly long cooldown; using it should be a real choice that players have to make, and using it at the wrong time should hurt their chances of victory. I don't think spammable CCs should exist at all, quite frankly, because it leads to people spamming them by default without really having to put much thought into it beyond choosing a target for it.

I believe that CC could successfully be significantly scaled back in Mists so long as the classes that are currently heavily dependent on it for their survival are compensated with other powerful defensive tools. Of course, given that it is such a subjective issue, I am sure there are plenty of people that disagree with me on some or all of this. But from what I have seen in the 700+ replies to that feedback thread so far, the majority of players posting seem to share my concerns about crowd control.

What are you keeping your fingers crossed for that you hope will come out of this feedback thread?

My hope is that Blizzard now has a really good idea what players liked and didn't like about PvP in Cataclysm and what they want to see change in Mists -- but more importantly, that they can take that knowledge and use it to make some great improvements to PvP in Mists. After all, the goal of any feedback is to help create positive change in the game and in our own gaming experiences.

PvP
It looks like you've certainly put enough effort into making this a valuable process.

My attitude towards posting on the forums, and towards a lot of life is guided by a set of standards I set for myself, many of which I picked up during my four years in the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force's core values are "Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do." I feel like despite how corny they sound, those are really good standards to live my life by, and I do the best I can to stick to them. Those values carry over into my forum posting; I do my best to post honest, helpful, high-quality threads and replies.

I firmly believe the quality of the things we as individual players post on the forums matters, and it directly impacts not just the game but also the community. The tone and environment of the forums is entirely what we as players choose to make it. How we post influences others and sets the tone for them. If a player comes to a forum and sees helpful, well-written posts and constructive, well-reasoned discussions going on, they are more likely to contribute to those discussions in a friendly and mature manner.

Right ... ugh, the infamous forums trolls.

For example, the PvP forums, which are where I typically spend most of my forum time, can often be a nightmare. However, when I make helpful, well-written posts, a surprising number of people will join the discussion in a friendly, constructive way. That was the case even before I had green text, and it is true for a lot of other players who post helpfully and constructively as well.

Every player who posts helpful, friendly, constructive things drives others to do the same. If enough players simply made a conscious effort to post more constructively, the tone of the entire forum system could shift pretty significantly. Of course with a community this large, it is impossible to get rid of all the trolls, but what we can do is ignore them.

PvP
So give us a moment with the man behind the curtain. What's in the works for you outside the game?

I have been a huge fan of all Blizzard games since I was a little kid and have spent a great deal of time playing all of them over the years. I have also been to four BlizzCons so far and have loved every one of them! I put a lot of time and effort into Blizzard games and the Blizzard community because I really care about them.

Since I got out of the military, it has been my goal to eventually work at Blizzard. I am now a junior majoring in IT, and when I graduate, I am going to apply for every position I realistically can at Blizzard and I will keep applying till they hire me! I have had friends that have worked there in the past, and they all loved it. I just can't imagine a better place to work or a better job to have than to help make the games I have loved all my life.

More resources

IRC channel for BG enthusiasts "With the addition of the cross-realm real-id raid functionality in the latest patch, I have seen a lot of people LFG for rated BGs on the official Battlegrounds forum," Eldacar says. "Given the need that seems to have arisen for a quick effective means of communication between all these players attempting to find cross-realm groups, I have started up an IRC LFG chat channel for Battlegrounds that players can access via my website or an IRC client. There is no registration required; you just choose a nickname and enter. I have also made my personal 50-slot Mumble voice chat server open to the public to give pickup groups easy, free access to voice chat. Players can find more info in this post on my blog and can access the IRC chat."

Nominate a player for the MVP program Nominate yourself or another player by emailing MVPs@Blizzard.com. "It is important to keep in mind though that the best way to be selected as an MVP is to have a positive influence on the community, with a posting history to back that up," Eldacar reminds us.

MVP program FAQ Blizzard MVP program

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: PvP, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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