World of Warcraft’s Communities feature is already running into some serious issues with trolling and harassment

    
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Because we are no longer friends.

The pre-patch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has had some notable problems, and it looks like they extend all the way down to the relatively innocuous Communities feature. Blizzard talked the feature up as a more social alternative to guilds, so you could be in your guild for raiding (because why else would you be in a guild, obviously Communities can’t be used to organize raids, guilds have never been social features) and use Communities to organize roleplaying, social events, and so forth. Except… that isn’t working out well, either, because Communities aren’t publicly viewable and thus can’t connect like-minded groups who aren’t already connected.

The feature also is limited by characters rather than players, meaning that even the cross-server feature doesn’t help matters (if you want to invite Steve’s dozen alts, he’ll take up a dozen slots in the community). Moreover, it’s difficult to ban trolls and the public recruitment forum has already become a vector for harassment. In short, it’s not clear exactly what benefit the feature is meant to provide for anyone. That’s not to say the feature can’t be improved over time, but at launch, it seems a rather grim assessment.

Source: Kotaku
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Ben Stone

“The feature also is limited by characters rather than players, meaning that even the cross-server feature doesn’t help matters (if you want to invite Steve’s dozen alts, he’ll take up a dozen slots in the community).”

^ that isn’t really true. There are two types of community you can make, one for BattleNet IDs and one for individual characters.

Just set up the BNet one if you want it across all alts.

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Leandra Nyx

Even if it’s having some issues (though I haven’t experienced it personally), I’m still really happy they implemented this feature. I like my casual, social guild, but I also like roleplaying and raiding, so having an organized way of chatting with those other groups in-game while still being part of my guild is great.

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Arsin Halfmoon

Heh, this made me chuckle

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

You have to hire a team of sociopaths to test the system before you launch it. People designing “community friendly” systems don’t think like sociopaths, so they aren’t able to anticipate innovations in trolling.

Alex Js.
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Alex Js.

I agree that Blizzard should have definitely implemented it better, with larger player account limits per community and better tools for banning these accounts…

As for complaints about harassment, with Kotaku’s examples of flame war in a LGBT-related community recruitment thread… I mean yea, this harassment is definitely not cool, but did anyone expect anything different from a trash mass-market game (and the appropriate audience it attracts) such as this? ;-) This is part of the reason I left the whole game long time ago and instead just found a different one, with much more friendly population where no one cares if you put anything like “LGBT/female/attack helicopter/satanism-friendly community” into your Free Company or Linkshell’s description and advertise them as such in recruitment posts anywhere (on official forums or on related subreddits), or put similar description in in-game Party Finder.

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Leiloni

If we’re talking about that forum thread then it’s worth pointing out that threads from a few other communities got locked or heavily moderated that day as well due to trolling, but that’s more forum trolls and not an issue with the community feature.

Part of that problem, though was that everyone wanted to post about their new communities but Blizzard didn’t give them a place for it on the forums. So people who frequent General Discussion, where most of those threads ended up, got angry at all the spam and trolls popped up. But as soon as Blizzard got smart and opened a forum specific to Communities, that all cleared up pretty quickly.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

At least as far as finding communities, as usual the community (ha ha) has already come up with its own workaround to fill the gaps left by Blizzard:

http://reddit.com/r/wowcommunities

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Leiloni

Communities are different from guilds because they have a different focus. Guilds often form for specific goals like raiding or casual guilds. Communities have formed around in some cases things that aren’t gameplay related, but more true to the name, communities. I’ve seen some for people who are shy or who have social anxiety to connect with each other, I’ve seen ones form around political or other beliefs, etc. I’ve also seen them form around things like world PvP communities, to organize with other people who want to do that, where you just don’t find guilds as much that specialize there. There are a lot of uses for it, much like the Linkshells in FFXIV.

I don’t know what you mean by they’re not “publicly viewable”. Neither are guilds? The idea of things like this is to be a private group.

But they do however have 2 different types of communities. One that is specific to WoW and only exist in game – these are faction and character specific. And one that exists on your Battle.net account and exists in all Battle.net games. This is thus cross faction and exists on all of your characters, It’s in the same UI in game as the other communities, and can also be added to chat tabs in the same way. I think it’s ok that there are 2 types of communities since they cater to different needs.

So far I enjoy them. It’s a great way to connect with like minded people which can be hard to find with guilds who often have a very specific gameplay focus. Though I might enjoy that type of gameplay, it’s often hard to connect on a deeper level with people in guilds.

In terms of harassment I haven’t seen any. I did see a brief troll last night, but it was so minor. He said a few lines that didn’t make a ton of sense and people mostly ignored him and he quickly disappeared within minutes. I’m not sure if he left on his own or if he was kicked. I don’t really know the specifics yet of how communities work since I’ve only been using them as a chat channel since I’m leveling alts right now.

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Cosmic Cleric

Communities have formed around in some cases things that aren’t gameplay related, but more true to the name, communities.

If not gameplay related, then why are they at the character level, and not the player level?

I don’t know what you mean by they’re not “publicly viewable”. Neither are guilds?

Did they remove the guild finder function?

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Leiloni

There are two types of communities – one at the character level and one at the account level. Use whatever is most appropriate for your community.

In terms of the guild finder, I didn’t even know the game had one and I’ve been playing since 2007 lol. When looking for guilds I usually look in game via chat, or online on the official forums, Reddit, etc. I’ve found communities in the same places. I didn’t know in game guild finders were a thing, honestly lol…

Edit: OK I had to Google the Guild Finder and yes they do still have it. I vaguely remember looking at it maybe last year when trying to get into Legion, but it’s clearly not something that I stuck with LOL.

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Dread Quixadhal

Not sure they’re really limited to individual characters… there appear to be two types, one that’s strictly in-game and locked to a faction (because, that matters for… reasons)… but there’s another that uses your battle.net tag and works across any of their games, and in the launcher itself.

Of course, it would have been better for them to work with Discord and use their API to link their game client directly into what everyone is already using… but that would have also made their voice chat redundant. :)

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Leiloni

I’m glad it’s in game and not in Discord because I only have one monitor. So for chat channels, I’m only viewing in game chats and not anything on Discord. I only really use Discord for it’s voice chat feature when I’m doing content that needs it.

I would say it’s safe to assume that a big enough population of players are also in the single monitor community still, so in game chats are going to be preferred.

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Dread Quixadhal

No, no. You misunderstand. Discord supports a programming API which allows you to hook your own application into their service. Blizzard *COULD*, if they wanted to, integrate Discord directly into the WoW client and make it fully in-game.

Obviously, they’d rather you use their own in-house voice and text chat, since they don’t have to pay anything for that… but given the popularity of Discord, it wouldn’t be an unusual thing to do.

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Leiloni

Oh I don’t think I’ve seen any games do that yet? That could be interesting.

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Dread Quixadhal

I forget the name of it now, but EVE-Online chose to integrate another voice chat service into their client a few years ago. It gives people a much finer level of control, since (in that game) you could assign various levels of channels.

So, for example, you might join a wing and hear and speak to everyone else in the wing. But the wing leader would be in a squadran, where he could hear and speak to other wing leaders, but not the individuals in those other wings… and so on up the chain to the fleet commander.

In that case, it’s a great way to cut the random chatter for the people who make decisions, but still allow it locally.

In WoW, it would only really apply to the raid leader only hearing what each group’s leader was saying.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Let me see . . . Mines of Moria was 2008. That’s ten years ago. During Mines of Moria, a handful of small guilds created a raiding channel. A private channel with a password. Originally only for guild leaders, it gradually widened to all members of these guilds so we could all chat together.

And that’s how we organized our turtle raids, DN, and the Watcher. It was, I dunno, what’s the word I’m looking for? Community.

When a joker somehow got into the chat channel, a new channel was created with a new password and the fool was left behind.

In other words, if we on our own in the way back of 2008 could figure out how to do this in the hobbled game of LOTRO, with basic chat tools, surely Blizzard could deliver a superior product with tools sufficient to function appropriately for the player base.

TL;DR: Good grief, what did they think was going to happen when they rolled out a half-assed app?

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Rumm

I’ve not experienced any of the harassment issues, but the feature just seems incomplete to me. You can’t right click to invite someone, can’t right click to whisper, can’t see what level or class or even character name someone has. It has the guild interface with none of the functionality. If the entire idea behind it was to replace custom chat channels, then it does its job, but it doens’t really offer much beyond that.