Rambling Commentary on Recent Events

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.


32 thoughts on “Rambling Commentary on Recent Events

  1. I won't comment on the underlying issue because I don't think it would add anything to the discussion for me to do so, however.

    I agree with you in saying that folks can walk up to public RP (in /say or emotes) and interact. I don't condone open griefing for a few reasons. Sometimes the folks with just plain horrid characters are young, sometimes they're actively trying and need to be encouraged rather than slammed, and sometimes they're just asshats who will get off on being made a spectacle of anyway.

    As for Goldshire… there's a reason it's dubbed Pornshire on most every RP server. It's sad and it's ridiculous, but for the most part if you avoid those places, you won't run into RP that is quite as openly offensive.

    • I never played on a RP server before Windsoar (so my pretty late into the game for me) and RP is fairly rare on non-RP servers, so I was definitely shocked and put off. Every character I've rolled since I've been on an RP server has been solicited in /whispers before I even MADE it to the inn. I didn't find out about the reputation of "pornshire" until I'd already run into the problem.

      • Definitely understandable, and it's one hell of a shock to put people off of an RP community. I will say though that this is NOT the RP community. This is people cybering, plain and simple. I'm sure you know that, and I do agree with your points, just tossing that out there.

        • Yes indeed. Making Goldshire a house of ill-repute with vampires, demons, and various other non-WoW lore related characters, and any non-role-play activity to be found in general, say, or yell and party chat is a violation of WoW's rules concerning role-play servers. Just because it's role-play doesn't mean it's acceptable for WoW. If you want to do something that's against Blizzard's rules of conduct for acceptable role-play in a public forum, I think you should be prepared to be warned and reported, even if that warning comes in the form of a paladin giving a sermon in the middle of said pleasure house.

  2. The biggest problem with the responding post now is that is seems to have become more about the issue behind it, than the post itself, which is a huge shame because it did have some good points in it, but people are going over just to see what all the fuss is about and missing the point of it entirely now. (You should know my feelings on the rest by now, I have nothign more to say in that respect)

    A well worded post!

    • I actually enjoyed both posts, the first because I have interjected myself into conversations at the local inn, or responded to a solicitation with a character appropriate response. I also imagine many role-players have had their share of discrimination or someone just trying to ruin their fun NOT following the rules and interrupting the flow of their role-play.

      However, like all interactions written and not said, it is hard to tell the tone. I think word-choice, from both parties, created tension and escalated the situation from a lark that was not well-thought into a horrid and thoughtless attempt to target and "grief" role-players.

      While I hope that the cloud passes quickly, there are lessons to be learned for future conversations 🙂

  3. Very well spoken. This is such a great post.

    I've always felt that veteran bloggers with a larger readership have a certain responsibility to give back to the blogging community – particularly smaller bloggers – to help guide them and promote them.

    I think part of the problem is that it is very common for bloggers to not realize just how well read they are, or just how much influence they have in the community at large. I don't know if that was at play here, but I've seen it be an issue before.

    • Once you introduce your material, you really have no idea how others will choose to respond. While you may intend a quiet rant in your own backyard, your readership may choose to do something quite different, and there's honestly nothing you can do about it!

      I'm definitely a proponent of blogging about topics that you feel passionately about, positive or negative, but it always helps to remember that there is another individual on the other side of the screen.

  4. "…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."

    Nicely said. And from my understanding, she was entirely unexperienced in RP and had been told that her idea was a good one. I think the idea of protecting the integrity of RP is great and needs to be done…but on an appropriate level.

    • I can't speak for most role-playing blogs, because I tend to ignore other people's storytelling on the whole. I'm sure that many role-players have experienced negative attitudes about their activities, and I'm sure it gets tiring to continually shout from the mountaintop about the etiquette of it all.

      Sometimes, I feel silly writing about mechanics, or spell choices because it's plastered all over the interwebz, but it's a big place, and you never what exposure people have to the information you've provided.

  5. This is beyond ridiculous already. Initiating a conversation IC as a response to a public conversation is NOT griefing. If someone had sex in front of you on a bench in the park wouldn't you react?! EPC in /say is public. Sex in the park is public. Why the hell would anyone expect their 'privacy' respected?

    That's how I read the post. Not as "yay, let's band up and make fun of the RPers until they go away!!" but as harmless fun. Yes, I do find the idea of a morality squad very entertaining, just like the idea of asking vampires what they're doing out since it's daylight. Guess that makes me the bane of RP servers?

    People are blowing it way, waayyyy out of proportion. To make my own (maybe wrong) assumption/generalization, RPers are too damn sensitive. Or maybe I've just been running into the SRS BSNS ones?

    • I'll agree that it's gotten well out of hand. The whole thing is just silly at this point, and the initial intent is lost in the nether.

      Personally, I wouldn't find an IC reaction to be griefing if you happen to stumble across it. But purposefully looking for bad roleplay to springboard off of seems a bit of a waste to me.

      A lot of us can be over-sensitive, but I'll be honest: we're used to being griefed. So to see it openly suggested is bound to ruffle some feathers. I don't believe this particular situation was handled well, but it is what it is, at this point. Now it's a cause for right-fighters on both sides to wave their flags about and declare war on each other, and that's what I have a problem with.

      • Honestly I don't know if it'll make you the bane of role-players as I haven't interacted with many full-time role-players in WoW. My experience is listed to a previous game, and was not a "protected" server dedicated to role-play.

        I debated writing this post at all, but I thought their were some lessons that bloggers and readers/commentators could take with them for future interaction in the community. We make the choice about the type of person we want to be.

      • Wonderfully written post, and i wish i could have put my thoughts into these sort of words as well. Let's the hope the storm will blow over soon and the community will grow towards eachother again.

        • Thank you for the kind words. Most of the community leans towards vent it and forget it, so I'm sure things will snap back into place for most of us pretty quickly 🙂

      • I agree with that – looking for bad RP is not only silly, but probably impossible. People RP all over the place, looking for it would mean… wandering across Azeroth and hoping to run into a. people RPing at the moment you're there; b. RPing badly?

        I doubt that was the idea behind Cranky's post, she seems much smarter than this 🙂

        • "I doubt that was the idea behind Cranky's post". If she didn't delete her blog I would say look at the date when the article was written. Then go to Gnomeaggeddons post about AD being over runned with gnomes from a different server. There were no posts or screen shots of this. Then ask yourself why. It fits all of the things that she said in her post. It happened before Anna posted her article. There was more then enough time to post it.

          Now look at the first comments by Dristanel and Windsoar regarding Goldshire. Now lets remember that Cranky Healer is an officer in a different guild. Lets remember that Sans has people new to being accousted like that. Now just maybe she posted that to make the new people less turned off by what they saw and posted it to comfort the people venting about it.

  6. Thank you for this post. I've been thinking about this issue quite a bit as a newish blogger myself. Yes, the information we blog is public and people should provide alternative or critical viewpoints, but we should also attempt to foster a positive and welcoming community.

    Points are more effectively made when they are not colored by strong emotions. The trouble with blogging is that we all come from different world views and emotions are part of what makes our blogs interesting to read. Just as in real life, we all need to decide when emotional reactions are appropriate to display and when they will just make things worse.

    • The only true advice I can give, is that if something is making you unbearably angry, save it in your drafts folder. Read your draft again. DO NOT re-read the post that sent you over the edge. Just evaluate your post and decide if that's the voice/tone you want to use.

      • That's great advice. Too often we speak when angry or upset and say things we later regret. One of the advantages of writing is that you have the opportunity to re-read and edit before publishing. 🙂

  7. If it is insensitive for one WoW player to "make an example" of a player's actions in game, I think it's insensitive for one blogger to do the same to another, especially when the first is, as mentioned, new with a small readership.

    The only analogy I can think of would be something like this:

    Some community college DJ makes some snarky comment about shock-jock DJs. Since it's a college station, it has limited exposure, and the DJ is basically unknown

    But, let's say, Howard Stearn got upset by this, and proceeded, on a nationally syndicated show, to drag the small town DJs name through the ringer.

    And to continue, let's say that the small station DJ called in to Howard's show to apologize, but Howards AND ALL HIS LISTENERS still wouldn't let the subject drop,and CONTINUED USING HIS NAME.

    While this analogy (and the situation in blogs) may not exactly be "griefing" (since someone trotted out the wiki definition) It is still grossly unfair, and using power of readership to publicly humilate the individual.

    Even after a couple edits and an apology, the name,the quote and the link are still active.

    While public humuiliation might not be the explicit intent, it sure is the result.

    • All links have been disabled and the bloggers name is not listed in the original post (this may have been an edit. I did not read the post until much later in the conversation.) Essentially, I agree. Yes, we as writers have to be aware that everyone may not hold our world-view and criticisms and debates may come our way. In the same vein, we as writers generally attract a readership that is in concert with ours and supports our world-view. While I fully accept and expect to be criticized for things I may write or attitudes I may hold, I also have a, perhaps, skewed perception based on my experiences that I should not expect to be scolded.

      • Okay lets look at what was said in her original post, "Apologies for the long quote, but I want this to be in full, so that I’m not accused of “taking it out of context”." But then she goes on to say in her comments, "I have no characters on Argent Dawn, no connection to this guild, and absolutely no reason to seek out anyone involved." Then in her last comment she says, "everything I’m hearing about it is second and third hand".

        Words have power. It doesn't matter if you have 5 followers or 900. You have a responsibility to a thing called "Journalistic Integrity". Meaning "Reporters are expected to be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources". In this case reporters are bloggers reporting something they saw. You have one quote that was completely copied so that was used as a source. She clearly admits not seeking any other reliable sources.

        • All blogs, as a public medium seek a modicum of factual information when discussing facts (gear/talents/spell choice, etc.) However, editorial pieces do not require such rigidity if they are not based on "facts."

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  9. Heya, this is Skeleton Jack from http://www.skeletonjack.com/

    I'm not really 100% sure what this post is that you made, or even how much of a jerk you may have sounded like making it. But as a blogger who has both been in the main stream and then backed off to fall out of it I can tell you this.

    You *WILL* make posts that piss people off. Whether you are intentionally offensive, or not. It's going to happen. More than once. Some people will tell you about it. And some people won't. But just like when you talk to people in real life and accidentally say something to offend them you shouldn't feel terrible because of a mistake. Mistakes happen, we're people.

    I've got several posts I wish I never made on my site. I've not deleted them however more due to a sense of obligation to my readers to let them see my good moments and my bad. But to each their own I always say.

    My point is simply that you will accidentally piss people off in rl and in your blog for the rest of time. You don't have to feel bad or ashamed for being human like the rest of us.

    • Hey SJ!

      The content is still available for those who are really curious, and if I'd been more savvy, I probably would have just broken the links and left it is in full because I don't think its very often the write choice to remove content. Seeing all the clicks from that post was starting to make me think "gawd, what a jackass am I? Not only do I insult someone, I get their readers too!"

      While I expect and enjoy differences of opinion, that post/comment did bring to the forefront that I do want to make sure I am treating those I disagree with respectfully. I started utilizing my drafts folder so I can make a decision if I am making an emotional outburst or a studied evaluation. While I can't and would not want to cease all discussions, because what a stagnant place that would be!, when possible, I think bruised feelings, if not bruised egos, can be avoided.

      That being said, I do appreciate the "it's ok!" While I can live without a resolution, I do have a tendency to feel really badly about pissing people off. I don't mind when other bloggers do it–and if often makes for some great reading–but I have a tendency to feel like I've failed in the conversation when that happens.

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