Sometimes a particular post or event will ripple across the blog-o-sphere in unexpected waves of action and reaction, something I have a sneaking suspicion is highly relevant and unique to gaming blogs. Unlike news or “issues” blogs, gamers tend to flock together, and have a relatively small amount of material to cover–the game, the interactions, the changes, and their actions and experiences in said environment. Despite the large number of blogs that rise and fall over time, overall, the community remains fairly stable, losing established and respected members of the community which are quickly filled by up and coming writers learning their voice. My experience in reading established bloggers who’ve been blogging since it was new is that the community has always comprised an important part of the joy of blogging specifically about WoW. Sharing and discussing ideas, and debating the niggling differences between talent A and B have characterized the community since I have been a reader.
I read long before I started my own blog. I respected the community as a whole, and wanted to take a role in an expanding network of writers–fun, serious, professional or flamboyant–who made it a point to entertain OR inform the wider WoW community. However, I also admit that I made a rather inflammatory post my first couple of weeks. I criticized a post presented on a highly popular blog in a post, and I got a visit from the owner of that site which, loosely paraphrased amounted to–I provide the best content I can at any given time, and it’s not polite to criticize my content in your own forum.
I kept that post for a long time (It is still available in my RSS feed). I enjoy the content provided at the blog in question and was frustrated with, what I saw as a poor resource on, at the time, severely back-dated information. That information has since been updated, and ultimately, the information became relevant again. However, what struck me was that I wasn’t criticized for my point-of-view, but for the way I presented the information. My tone was indignant, and my word choice was inflammatory.
When I received that comment I thought, “Is it that forceful?” I re-read the post and realized, yes, the tone could be construed as a criticism of the site as a whole, the author/owner could take it personally, and perhaps, I should have been more clinical and less fire-branded about my approach. That thought also reinforced the view I had of the community as a whole–we all blog about WoW and while we may disagree on topics or dislike a post, action, or attitude of a fellow blogger, that point of view can be conveyed in a less controversial and more constructive frame.
So, what did I do? I felt that I had posted something I wasn’t proud of, written from the heart, but obviously while not “personally” harmful, it could be construed that way. Initially, I updated the post stating something along the lines of “On reflection, I feel the tone, if not the content, of this post is not appropriate for discussing something I disagree with.” I wrote an e-mail to the site for the guest author thanking him for following up his original post with more information and alternatives.
I didn’t want to yank the post because I had put it out there and I felt it was inappropriate to retract it without giving full time for other readers/commentators their chance to be offended by my tone and language. Sometime after the 3-month mark I decided to delete the post because I had come to understand and appreciate that the tone of the post was not the tone I wished to share with the community, and it had ample time to be seen by any interested parties. I also hadn’t understood exactly how pingbacks worked–I knew the blog was notified of incoming links commenting on their pages/sites, but I didn’t realize the implications that other readers would have access to this information as well. I received fairly regular traffic from said site for an extended period of time for what the site owner considered an inappropriate … attack is not the right word… we’ll keep going with tone 🙂 I didn’t feel it was fair to benefit from another blogger’s viewership when he was annoyed, and on reflection, I could understand his point of view.
The comment I received on that one post did not deter me, even though I understood and conceded that the post in question was likely not appropriate in a community of dialogue. However, that same said blogger did not drag my very new blog into his very large readership circle and discuss my disrespect and rudeness in interacting with the community. Such an action would have likely destroyed me as a blogger–not because I don’t feel that I don’t have things to share with the community, but because blogs with large readerships always have a cadre of readers who are protective of their blogger–I would have been crushed if one of my earliest posts was condemned at large and followed back by a loyal readership and highly criticized.
I still consider myself a new writer in the WoW community. I have a readership that I enjoy, and have become comfortable with being more activity in said community as evidenced by my involvement with Blog Azeroth and my recent joining of SAN. On the whole I have discovered and become involved in the larger WoW community, which was part of the goal of beginning my blog, in addition to keeping my writing skills from rusting from lack of use. I still feel that I am finding my voice in terms of my interests and topics of discussion–honestly, I’ve broached some topics I don’t think I would have ever considered–but the encouragement of fellow bloggers and readers has kept me interested, evolved, and hopefully, improving. However, if that first poorly handled post had been handled differently by the blogger in question, I might not be writing today. I don’t particularly want to run a blog that has nothing but sypmathetic players who agree with every aspect of my gameplay–the back and forth and different priorities of different gamers is part of what makes discussions on blogs interesting. However, unlike my experience in other areas of internet byplay between gamers, that experience reinforced and shaped my opinion that WoW bloggers are more than a disparate group of non-interested parties seeking to gain the upper hand over one another’s data, but a generally interested group of individuals wishing to foster a feeling of solidarity and group respect.
This week, a young blogger made an honest mistake. As someone who was shocked by the inappropriate behavior that constituted “roleplay” in her first trip to Goldshire Inn, I can definitely understand wanting a small forum to poke fun at a topic that can be quite shocking. My exposure and experience with role-play came from The Realm Online where I was the resident priestess performing initiations, ceremonies, blessing of armors/weapons, etc., etc. I understood that when I performed a ceremony–whether it be a marriage or a blessing for a safe journey–in a public area and in a public chat channel, that passing strangers could, and often would become a part of the conversation. I had one guy wander by with a jug of ale and try to grope the “bride” in the middle of her marriage ceremony one night. The entire wedding party attempted to oust the undesirable, but eventually, we moved the ceremony from a public garden to a private home in order to have the privacy that we thought was necessary for the situation. I often took confessions from troubled guild members–in this case, since the conversation was a private one “for our ears only” as it were, we spoke in private via whispers. When I moved to a RP server, I expected a similar mode as that I had experienced before, but found a very different situation. Although I’m aware sexual roleplay existed, it was always “behind closed doors” in the privacy of a private channel or whispered conversation. The same could be said for roleplay conducted in heavily populated areas where the general population passed through frequently. When conversations were not conducted in such a way, commentary from fellow players, either as role-players or non-role-players was an expected part of the discourse. Just as I would pass someone in the street and perhaps inject myself in the conversation if the topic was particularly relevant (especially in a “social” area such as a pub or inn) I don’t particularly see how becoming involved as a bystander in someone else’s public conversation is inappropriate. I would find it interesting to see how the parties reacted, and whether or not we could create a new dialogue based on my (or their) interruption.
Anyway, I’ve rather gotten off my point. As I said, many felt that this blogger was conducting an inappropriate survey of RP on a new server. It might very well seem disrespectful, and I can understand that; however, unlike my angry diatribe that resulted in some personal, if not widely publicized embarrassment, I feel that the reaction to the initial post only escalated the problem rather than serving to illustrate a perceived problem with the proposed behavior. While I am a proponent on blogging on issues that are too long for comment discussions in order to create a wider avenue for discussion, the tone of the post, one of anger and disgust, instead of that of an experienced blogger and role-player to a new blogger and probably inexperienced role-player did not foster a sense of community, but rather served to create a rift. An opportunity to enrich and improve our community has been lessened, and I for one am saddened by the loss.