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Another look at /ignore

August 1, 2012

Dear Reader,

In reading the public’s responses to my vote to kick issue, I found a very mixed bag of support, disagreement, and downright foolishness.  The support was pretty few and far between, though, if I’m being honest.  A majority of people felt the system worked just fine, and that – in my favorite extension of the metaphor – since I had been “policing the community too much,” Blizz had “taken my police badge away.”  Clever.  I like that.

The foolishness ranged, as it usually does, all over the place, but the disagreement really seemed to focus on a single feature: /ignore.  My feelings on /ignore were pretty well documented here, but the constant battering I’ve taken for the last 48 hours has caused me to review some of my feelings about it.  That said, my feelings haven’t changed a bit (I’m not calling myself Stubborn because I’m super-flexible, after all), and in fact, I think, have intensified.

The more I’ve thought and written about it, mostly in defense of wanting my VtK to work, the more it’s struck me that /ignore is actually inherently selfish.  To be clear, I’m not accusing people who use /ignore of being selfish people, and I use /ignore myself any time I try to VtK and on some rare occasions when I don’t but still really don’t want to end up with another player again, but the feature itself is selfish for the player when not used in conjunction with other features.  Allow me to explain.

When you /ignore another player without reporting, kicking, or at least explaining to them what’s wrong, what you’re really doing is solving a problem for yourself only, while shuffling off the problem to others.  That player may never end up in your party again, but he’s still out there causing problems for everyone else in your battlegroup.  Sure, you’re fine, but nothing at all has actually be resolved.

In fact, when enough players /ignore a bad player without doing anything else about it, it’s increasing his chances of bothering new people, since his grouping options become more limited.  In a perfect world where everyone in his battlegroup /ignored him, sure, it would eventually cripple his queue times and might begin to sink in that he was being punished, but with the sheer volume of people out there, his queue times won’t be drastically effected; he just leaves you alone and bothers someone else.

So /ignore only solves problems for you without helping anyone else, without improving the community, without actually solving the problem.  It’s a quick and easy form of sticking one’s head in the sand, as I said before, while the community continues to go down the drain, but out of sight, out of mind for you.  So I again advocate for us all to avoid /ignore and instead deal with problems directly.  Put in tickets on anyone you ignore, detailing why.  Of course Blizz won’t do anything about it 9 times out of 10, but at least you’ve given them more work.  The more work they have, the more likely they are to empower us to police the community like they say they want us to.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and remaining so)

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. RimeCat permalink
    August 1, 2012 1:00 pm

    “The more work they have, the more likely they are to empower us to police the community like they say they want us to.”

    I really cannot agree with this statement even though I would love to see them enforce some community standards on LFD (and the Trade channel). From what I’ve seen of organizational behavior and extrapolating from the know track record I would argue that Blizzard will do precisely nothing with the increased reports. Indeed, they may take them as evidence that people are running LFD and care about the results – the system is a success. It is too cynical (even for me) to say that the only time they will move is if there is a threat to profitability or if the player action may spawn a lawsuit but the reality does not seem to be far off that mark.

    In a somewhat more generalized way it can be argued that Blizzard encourages a certain level of player misbehavior. There is really no reason, on a PvE server, for quest-givers to be PvP reactive. All this does is encourage bored high-level players who will not risk facing equal opponents in a BG to go and destroy low-level towns. Every time I’ve seen this, going back to vanilla, the players engaged tend to run if an equal number of equal level opponents arrive to show them the door. If that is too subjective, how about mail boxes? How many times have you reported someone who has parked a massive mount on the only mailbox in some berg? If they really wanted to stop the problem they could just make the mailbox larger, make the mailbox zone an auto-dismount area, or spawn a dozen or so around the local inn. Another example? Go into Stormwind and turn Trade on for a few minutes. Any longer than that may be a threat to your hope for humanity.

    What does this have to do with the overall argument? Simply that it seems that Blizzard has decided that a certain level of player anger is good for the game. If you are upset with the idiot in a random who is holding down 4th on the DPS meter (while wearing raid gear), rolling need on everything that drops, and spending more time complaining how bad the tank, healer, and other DPS are, well you are engaged. I personally think that this is a poor decision but I have a very hard time explaining why they should change given the overall success of WoW.

    One thought contrary to the bulk of my position would be that making the players the police is a positive move as it would leave Blizzard in the role of policing the policemen. To achieve that desired state would require publication of clear rules with threshold-triggered penalties for all offenders but most particularly for those who engaged in false reports. Can you imagine Blizzard ever growing the courage to be this decisive?

    • Chris permalink
      August 1, 2012 3:41 pm

      I have been following this for some time and I will tell you that the reason this happens and cannot be fixed rationally is because we are humans thinking like humans in a virtual world that has it’s own rules. In real life power must be earned and 12 year olds cannot do such a thing. If you put an aggressive tween in a grown man’s body you get chaos! Power without discipline is more dangerous than anything on earth and this game proves it every five minutes. If a kid in real life said some of the things to people that players have said then they would get a backhand upside the face. In real life if some jerk blocked a mailbox with his car then the neighbors would force him to leave or call the police. Wow has no functional law enforcement so the criminals do whatever they want. Swift justice is the only thing that gets any results when trying to protect people from abuse. Why would a bank-robber who could not be shot or caught bother stopping? Imagine the only way to report a robbery was an email you never saw a reply to?

    • August 1, 2012 5:58 pm

      If you’re arguing that humans aren’t rational, I’d have to disagree. Emotion can be rationally predicted; there’s businesses set up that have a startlingly high rates of accuracy at predicting various future events. Check out Bruce Beuno De Mesquite for more information on that sort of thing.

      If you’re main point though is that people do bad things when they’re not monitored, I’d argue that it has a lot to do with what they see around them, a la the Broken Windows theory. Since we don’t/can’t deal with even the smallest issue in the game, more and more issues arise, as the true offenders push the limits more and more and non-offenders turn into small offenders. Blizz could easily remedy this, but won’t.

      I love your final question; that very succinctly sums up my feelings about the issue. Thanks for the comment!

    • RimeCat permalink
      August 1, 2012 7:21 pm

      I’d say that the first problem is that you have to acknowledge proportionality. Telling someone that they look fine, sneaking a peak at your neighbors cards in a friendly game, stealing a car, and murder are all wrong but are treated differently because they are different. Indeed, in the first case it is often better, morally, to tell the white lie. WoW is a game, despite some of the comments I read on the forums, and should not be held to the same standard as actual crime. That may sound like I’m saying go easy on the offenders but it’s the opposite. In the real world I have a very strict tolerance on punishment because the outcome is so drastic. In a fantasy world I’m ok with a three-time offender getting the death penalty (account forfeiture). But, and this is the big qualifier, only if the rules are clearly defined and consistently administered. I don’t think Blizzard has it in them to do so.

    • August 1, 2012 5:54 pm

      Well, to be fair, I don’t think Blizz will do anything about it, either, regardless of how much I whine and protest. They’ve made it clear over the past 4 or 5 years that they don’t give a hoot about player behavior beyond us just reporting up to them and they mysteriously and secretly doling out punishments.
      The business model of success which you bring up certainly was molded by WoW, but it was molded in a much smaller market years ago. With so many (too many) options now, WoW’s beginning to slowly flag, and I suggest it will continue to do so more and more until the next MMO comes out. If they use the same business model, I don’t think it will be nearly as successful as WoW.

      I also agree that putting down clear rules on how things work is something that Blizz wants to avoid. If they were more willing to be open and clear, I think that, too, would benefit the community, but they repeatedly fail to do so.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • RimeCat permalink
      August 1, 2012 7:35 pm

      I don’t know, it’s hard to argue that a game that dropped more subscribers than most of its (subscription- based) competitors have and is still as large as it is has any immediate risk of failure. The model doesn’t seem to be working for others, only Rift on the AAA list that I can see, but Blizzard is keeping the cash cow healthy. They do not have an economic incentive to change the administration model, especially given that the changes most of us would like to see will be staff (and cash) intensive.

      I also wonder how much of the WoW bleed is driven by the continued bad economy, how much is ‘end of an expansion’ expected drift, and how much of is because Cata was a truly bad product. If MoP is a good expansion and the numbers stay down then there will be something to discuss.

    • August 1, 2012 9:32 pm

      Quite right on all the cases of WoW bleed, but I’m unconvinced. I think WoW locked in its success because of when it came out as much as the product it provided. Its continued success I believe is a function of greater and greater accessibility and the expected player churn. The problem with that is that even the entire world has a limit for churn, and after you’ve chewed through however million individual accounts they’ve churned through, eventually the “in” begins to be less than the “out.” I think we’re seeing some of that, too, though I agree that I don’t think they’re in any danger of “failing” or “dying” or whatever other descriptor other bloggers want to use.

      And that’s the problem. Success has a way of desensitizing, and it’s clearly done that to Blizz. They’re the Wal-mart of the MMO world, and I’m tired of that kind of service. I want someone like the developer of Legend of Grimrock, who, upon hearing that disabled players might want on-screen turning buttons, simply added them. I can’t see WoW moving at anywhere near that kind of responsiveness due to its size and the sheer fact that losing a disabled player or two – or an overly moral player or two – won’t even register on their accounts paid page.

      Check the new pingback on this post; there’s a very interesting twitter exchange there that perfectly sums up my point, and as always, thanks for the comment!

  2. August 2, 2012 1:06 am

    Very interesting point and quite true. Most of my /ignores are accompanied by a ticket but I can’t deny occasionally just being in that mood where I’m just relieved ‘that player’ is gone and please don’t bring him back.

    • August 3, 2012 10:45 am

      I’m sure that’s true for all of us; I’ve ignored people without reporting them, but, like you, prefer to accompany /ignores with a ticket. That said, when I don’t ticket, it’s often because I, too, have misbehaved in response to the jerk and know that any scrutiny of the situation will probably come down to “you’re even. He was a jerk; you were a jerk back.”
      As a result, I’ve tried to be less and less jerkish so I can report, but my temper sometimes gets the best of me (;

  3. Syl permalink
    August 2, 2012 5:47 am

    If I had to add an explanation to all the people I’ve ignored in this life, I’d be busy 24-7!!
    ;)

    • August 3, 2012 10:47 am

      Well, life and games don’t work nearly the same (:
      People don’t have a multitude of servers to hide on in life, and usually have pretty limited social circles around them, too. If 100 people ignore you in real life, you’re probably pretty lonely, so you learn not to behave in anti-social ways as a result. The game doesn’t have such a limitation, so it’s more important to try to ensure some penalty for bad behavior. Sure, Blizz makes it very unattractive to do anything by making the results hidden, but we don’t have many options.
      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Voltigeuse permalink
    August 2, 2012 7:58 am

    Its worth noting that if you right click and report them you get the benefit of ignoring them anyway without clogging up your ignore list.

    • August 3, 2012 10:48 am

      Yep, and that’s one reason I like reporting folks that way, but I’ve also found that writing out an entire ticket can be very satisfying, as well!
      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Tiggi permalink
    August 2, 2012 4:41 pm

    I have a question stub, you are very dismissive of the reason blizzard states they had to limit the kick, but then you are adamant that the community is terrible, couldn’t it be true that there really were Massive abuses of the system by the same community that you point out is terrible resulting in the limits? It really doesn’t seem like it’s too far out there that the claim is right given the community. Anecdotally I had a few ex-guildies admit to and laugh about kicking random people at the end of runs for no reason.

    • August 3, 2012 10:50 am

      Massive is a tricky word. I find it hard to believe there’s more 4 person groups abusing the kick system than individual jerks that need to be kicked. I also don’t like the idea that because there’s some immature people who do abuse the system that I can’t use it maturely in the way it’s designed. The people who abuse it should be reported by the unfairly kicked, and Blizz should simply deal with them in like fashion.

      So put shortly, I’m sure there are abuses, but I don’t think they’re massive nor do I think they even get CLOSE to the number of individual abuses within LFD.
      Thanks for the comment!

    • Tiggi permalink
      August 4, 2012 5:42 am

      Right but you don’t have that information your just making assumptions. I think you are starting off one the wrong assumption even. VtK is not an offensives tool. That is to say it is supposed to be used defensively to protect yourself from the bad players not to go all batman on your groups. I think Blizzards actions with VTK back up my theory too. When people took to using the tool offensively blizzard nerfed it and they nerfed it hard. your trying to solve the problem with a hammer and I think we need a different tool. In fact I think the only way to fix the wow community would be to implment something like LoL tribunal.

    • August 4, 2012 11:30 am

      Well, let’s put it all out there. You have no more information than I do, and I can at least justify my opinions with numbers: a 4 person guild group that’s of the mindset to kick others for a laugh is without a doubt a smaller subset of LFD dungeons than individual jerks. I don’t really think you’re arguing against that assumption.

      Please explain which of my 4 VtK scenarios is offensive as opposed to defensive:
      1. Abusive behavior
      2. Needing on everything
      3. Pulling recklessly
      4. extended unexplained afks

      From my point of view, every single one of those is a defensive kick. The needing, I will admit, is the most “selfish” of me, but I don’t like to think I’d or my wife would lose something we could use to a jerk who’s just going to vend it, so really, it’s still defensive. To top it off, I always speak to people first. In a Halls of Stone just yesterday we found someone needing on everything despite the fact they were in cata gear. I called them on the needing, and they flat-out lied. “I do need it.” “No,” I responded, “You’re in all 278.” The needing stopped, and lo and behold, my wife got 2 healer-specific upgrades that this mage could and would have needed against her on.

      No further action was necessary. Just being direct and honest was enough, in spite of the lying. If he’d kept needing and I’d gone for a VtK, that would be offensive to you?

      I like your hammer analogy, and I think you’re precisely right. However, Blizzard’s only given us a hammer, and as the saying goes, “When all you have is a hammer, every problem you see is a nail.” At least I speak to the nails first.

      And I’m 100% behind the LoL tribunal. I wrote on that a while ago, bringing to attention the success rate and the non-repeat offender rate (which IIRC is in the 90%s). We’re totally on the same page there. Until then, though, I’ll use the VtK tribunal as often as I can, because it’s all I’ve got other than just bowing my head and being run all over or turning my head and pretending there’s not a problem.

    • Ngita permalink
      August 5, 2012 10:09 pm

      Not all bad kicks are by 4 man guild groups, mind you every successful kick on me has in fact been by a guild group. But in normal random groups I probably vote no to at least 50% of the kicks. Even then 3 random dps successfully kicking the tank or healer for what is in fact a dps issue is pretty common.

    • August 6, 2012 3:22 pm

      Yeah, I vote no on some kicks that make no sense, too, but again, then, it takes larger groups (like 4) to see that the kicks go through. It’s not that I’m arguing there’s no abuse, just that the abuse of the system I suspect is less common than abusive individual players. Either way, we clearly both want some reform to improve what’s there, so we’re just talking about the same thing from opposite directions.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Tiggi permalink
      August 6, 2012 6:21 pm

      Right but remember back before they put the restrictions on kicking you only needed 3 people from a guild group to get a successful kick no matter what and could probably get it with two. Did you know you need 4 people in a preformed group now because of that problem? I don’t have specific #’s to back up what I’m saying but I do have evidence. The way that they changed VtK after it had started to become abused back up what I’m saying making it so you had to have more people to kick in a preformed group. Giving you extra penalties for kicking people over and over. This says to me there was a legitimate problem. http://www.wowhead.com/news=182937/
      upcoming-changes-to-dungeon-finder-and-vote-kick here’s where the changes happened you even get more severely punished for kicking a person in a preformed group. When I talk about the tool being used offensively vs defensively I’m talking about that you view it differently then I do. I never vote to kick unless I truly have to. If someone is needing on greens in a leveling up dungeon can I vote to kick and be in the right? Yeah Do I really need to? No. If someone is being a tool in chat I can vote to kick them and be justified sure. Can I just ignore them? Yeah.

    • August 6, 2012 10:17 pm

      Yes, but I’m not complaining about the restriction that you need 4 from a pre-made group to get a kick, I’m complaining about the increased cooldown for people who do kick.

  6. August 3, 2012 2:02 am

    When you /ignore another player without reporting, kicking, or at least explaining to them what’s wrong, what you’re really doing is solving a problem for yourself only, while shuffling off the problem to others.

    The premise you keep not questioning in inherent in this sentence. Using VtK does not solve any problems for others anyway. A kicked player can immediately re-queue. A kicked player does not get to see the reason why they were kicked. And a successful VtK is in NO WAY indicative of behavior deserving to be kicked; it simply means 3 other people didn’t like you.

    You are pulling a Zimmerman: policing a community on your own time, by your own rules, even after the 911 operator (4 hour timer) tells you to stop.

    In fact, when enough players /ignore a bad player without doing anything else about it, it’s increasing his chances of bothering new people, since his grouping options become more limited.

    How many times and in how many different ways must it be conveyed to you that many (most?) people are not bothered by the behavior that vexes you so? To a similar degree, in any case. There is no “increasing of chances of bothering new players” unless we assume everyone is like you. And, as point of fact, by your own argument kicking him increases his actual chance of bothering new people when he re-queues! Hell, it might have pissed him off, making his behavior worse towards the next group of people.

    You do not get to assume your actions are helping anyone other than yourself. If you actually cared about shielding other players from bad behavior, you would heroically fall on that grenade and never kick anyone.

    P.S. This whole thing is exactly why systemic solutions are the only rational course of action. “Police the community” is madness – who watches the watcher? Moving LFD to individual loot would solve most of these issues automatically, reserving VtK for those times when a dungeon run would fail otherwise.

    • August 3, 2012 11:09 am

      I have to start by saying that I find the whole Zimmerman comparison in very poor taste; I was tempted to simply not respond, but ignoring the rest of your robust comment didn’t seem fair for a single line. Please, though, keep things civil and respectful; comparing any game system to the murder of a youth really isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

      I disagree with your core argument, that kicking doesn’t do anything. I believe it does two things. First, it makes clear that some people will not tolerate that behavior. Secondly, and I admit this is specific to my current situation, but since I’m a tank queueing (that’s the only word in English with 5 vowels in a row) with a healer, it means they get to sit their sweet time in the dps queue. The kick isn’t really the punishment; it’s a statement about acceptability. The queue’s the punishement.

      Are there players who are so dense, jaded, or downright mean that no amount of punishment will get through to them? Almost assuredly. However, since part of my argument is about deterrence, I’m more interested in pushing borderline cases back from the dark side.

      I completely agree about your point that the kicked player doesn’t even get the message as to why they were kicked. That’s extremely poor design, which is becoming more and more common in Blizz’s community management. That, too, should be changed.

      As for “by my own rules,” well, no. The four specific reasons I kicked are pretty universally accepted as poor game group behavior. I’ll cite them here again, and feel free to tell me which you think is “my own rules.” I kick only after I speak to the person and ask them to stop whatever it is their doing. I only initiate a vote to kick if their behavior continues after that. I only vote to kick when other players are pulling recklessly ahead of the tank, causing dangerous or wipe situations, needing on everything, treating others abusively, or take extended afks with no explanation. Which of those do you think is not pretty universally supported?

      This ties right in to your next point, that “other people are not bothered by the(se) behaviors.” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I’m not asking people to care about things they don’t care about. If someone /ignores another player, clearly they don’t like the behavior. I’m simply asking for a more overt action to show their dislike. The question can be turned around, as well; what vexes you so much that I do care about bad behavior? I’m not asking you to care, but you’re asking me to not care. Why?

      I’m a teacher. I do nothing but assume that my daily choices will create long-term changes that I’ll never necessarily get to experience. Yet, I consistently get feedback from former students thanking me for how I treated them during our time together. Some of them frequently fell under a judicious use of power. I’ve had plenty of “bad boys” (and girls) thank me for teaching them a modicum of self-control. I’ve had students who’ve graduated buy me dangerously expensive gifts (that I couldn’t accept) because I taught them a little anger management. If I’d never heard from them again, if I only had to assume that I’d helped them but had no evidence whatsoever, that would neither change the fact that they had been helped nor change the fact that I would believe I had helped them.

      I completely agree with your final point; a systemic solution would be vastly better than the undefined request to “police the community.” But Blizz doesn’t have any interest or financial reason to do the work it would take, so I’m not holding my breath. I’d just prefer they free up the one action I can take.

      In summation, I’m not asking you to care about things you don’t care about. I’m asking that if you do care, if you use /ignore because you care, then simply go the extra mile to vtk or put in a ticket.

    • August 3, 2012 10:09 pm

      The question can be turned around, as well; what vexes you so much that I do care about bad behavior?

      The implicit accusation that those with a better tolerance (or lower standards, if you prefer) for random player behavior are somehow at fault.

      It is perhaps not fair to link this article to a prior one, but I keep going back to the AFK incident you posted about a while ago, wherein your own VtK failed and you took it upon yourself to punish another player by going AFK. The “tiebreaker” paladin that disagreed with you was punished by you for not caring (as much) what the other player (the one with the actual bad behavior) did. As someone much more interested in a completed run than social engineering experiments, it galls me to think I could have been that paladin, and you would have wasted my time.

      I’m not asking people to care about things they don’t care about.

      …except you are. You punished the paladin in the ZF run by going AFK to spite the mage for pressing Need on loot he is entitled to Need on, and continued to refer the paladin as “spineless” across multiple comments. You even chased him to his server to get an explanation! When you bring the VtK up, you are clearly saying “Are you with us, or against us?” Fail to vote as you demand, and you go AFK.

      To me, all of that is worse than just letting someone Need on everything. The Need thing can be fixed by individual loot. Comparatively, the “policed community” is a nebulous, endless commitment. I have to trust that your expectations for politeness are reasonable, which is in turn based on my own moods/principals/subjective perceptions. There is too much gray area to “police,” and encouraging kicking for more than reasons that actually prevent a dungeon from being completed is a recipe for disaster.

      P.S. My apologies for the Zimmerman analogy.

    • August 4, 2012 11:23 am

      Written language is atrocious when it comes to prosody, the tone at which we speak which indicates the emotional background of what we’re saying. Reviewing some of the references you make and thinking about how we’re disagreeing, I think that the accusatory tone you’re seeing in there – at least in the most recent post – isn’t what I had in mind. You’ll have to take me at my word, but I meant what I said. I’m not asking people to care about things they don’t. I didn’t know I was “punishing” the paladin until I ended up kicked. He never spoke up. I communicated my plan, I said what I was going to do, I didn’t particularly care about the needy mages, but the paladin never said a word. Left open to interpretation, I did what I thought was best.

      When I see what I consider to be pointless conflict in a dungeon, I usually say something like, “Let’s just finish. Let’s just get through it,” or the like. If the paladin had said anything like that, I’d have kept going. As for “chasing,” I worked quite hard to be clearly polite and understanding. I made it clear that I wasn’t there to judge him or berate him, but to get his side of the story so when I wrote about it I could more fairly represent him. Again, he chose silence, so I chose to represent him how I saw fit. Chasing is hardly a fair comparison.

      I agree about the individual loot. I agree that “police the community” is a terrible idea. But it’s what we have, and when I have the choice between being pushed around in one way or the other by jerks or standing up for myself, I’m going to stand up for myself. If others want to /ignore, well, I totally disagree, and that’s what I wrote. I think you should accompany ignores with a kick or a ticket or both. If you’re going to take action, it might as well be meaningful.

      And once again, I don’t think any of the 4 reasons I kick are a “grey area.” No one defends those actions, not even you. There may be other solutions to them, which I wholeheartedly support, but no one defends them. I’m not saying there aren’t other grey areas, but my 4 kick reasons aren’t. As for disasters, again, I’m not sure about the strength of the word. I’m not even sure I can envision disaster coming from more vote to kicks. Hell, I got one and survived. I was angry, sure, but I went right back in, and to be frank, have only used that tactic once since with full consent of the rest of the group. It seems that the vote to kick worked, then, against unilateral decision making on my part, though the actual act of refusing to pull is still on the table if everyone else agrees. Even in my case VtK was a resounding success. Where’s the disaster?

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