Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Walking in their shoes

This is another post that is irrelevant to you unless you are a blogger. It's about handling commenting, and understanding Blizzard.

No skilled player has approved Blizzard's game changes. (if you make 2200+ DPS and can clear the content on normal, you are in the top 30% skilled)

We want to game more challenging, and entertaining. We want lively conversations with developers, since we know their game almost as good as they do. They nerf it and refuse to talk. I never liked it. I still don't like it when I do the same. I don't like me doing it. But I understand it now and see no other way. And because I still don't like it, I definitely don't expect my readers liking me for doing it. But there is no other way.

To explain it, let's start with blog trolling. I saw a perfect example at Tobold's (there are no such on my site simply because of their treatment described below). He wrote a post that he is playing in another server too, he had low level alliance characters there in the other faction and wanted gold now. Instead of buying gold, he paid Blizzard to transfer one of his horde characters to the other server, then utilized his wife's account to trade the gold/items between the factions in the neutral AH. His conclusion was "I effectively got my paladin 4,000 gold for just 20 bucks. Completely legal, safe, and cheaper than buying gold." The story he presented supported this conclusion, so it was a completely OK post.

Along came the blogger's best friend, Anonymous. He is a busy guy, he is reading every blog out there and his aim is often trolling: "The Terms of Use you agreed to when creating your WoW account are very specific about account sharing. Using your wife's account was not a gray area, it was breaking the agreement you entered into and thus your account can be banned. The only kind of account sharing allowed is if a parent purchases an account for his child who is still a minor." He refers to that Tobold mentioned that he logged in his wife's account instead of asking her wife to do it. Does it affect Tobold's point (that you should relocate gold between servers/factions instead of goldbuying)? No it doesn't. It is aimed on irrelevant circumstances.

Tobold replied: "Anonymous just banned about 2 million WoW players."

Re-reply: "Yeah.. but you are such a stickler for rules, no? ^.~ It is in the ToS that a parent can only share an account with 1 child. No exceptions, ifs, ands or buts. So technically you broke the rules just as much. (and if you want to go really into it, you didn't really get 4k gold for free, since you still had to farm/AH on your Horde server to make it yourself.) The reality is of course different... but meh. ;)"

And it continued. The focus of the comments shifted from the original post to some pointless paper-crunching on legal nonsense about ToS. Perfect trolling. Don't mistake a retard to a troll! "First!", "This post/blog suxx/fail/crap", "Write about [whatever I want to read] instead of this shit" are honest opinions of a primitive mind. He has no other reason to write than giving us the product of his heart and soul. We just don't want it, since he is a retard and the mentioned product is crap.

A troll, while can write with primitive language, is not a retard. He has an aim: to derail the conversation in order to feel control over other people's emotions or actions.

Technically speaking Tobold violated the ToS. But it does not matter for the topic. The proper answer to the troll is not "you are wrong" but "who cares about it here?!" However you should not answer it to him. Even such sort answer is a waste of time for the readers, who will soon find that it's pointless to grind through your comments to do their own since "only kids and trolls comment here".

Never hesitate to delete a trolling post. It's your blog, he has no right to destroy the conversation itself. Of course you should not delete counter arguments on the point, even if they are very far from your point or even you think it's completely wrong.

One more thing, trolls being right. In this case simply fix the post and delete the troll. You should not post incorrect things, even on details. If I were Tobold, I'd replace the last line to "I effectively got my paladin 4,000 gold for just 20 bucks. Completely safe from ban and hacks, and cheaper than buying gold." or even lie inside the text that I asked my wife instead of using her account.

That's OK, but has nothing to do with Blizzard. Here comes that part: "what if someone derails the conversation without any sign of trolling intent?" Several times they ask legitimate questions about some branch of the topic, or try to dig deeper than I did. Do I answer them? No. A commenter once asked "Is the author answers to commenters at all except for adding a PS or a sneak edit to the post?".

No I don't. If your comment refers to the point of the post, and you make me change my mind, I change the post itself, to make sure that the next reader gets the most recent version. If your comment refers to a side-branch or a too deep thing, I may write a post about it later if it's interesting, but I won't engage in conversation in comments, because it would derail the original. If the derailing would be serious, I don't hesitate to delete such comment either. I also delete comments attacking a troll (and defending the conversation, me, the blog, the Tooth Faery), simply because without the troll they are pointless.

The focus group of my blog is the silent reader. There are 3.3K regular and 2.5-3.5K random silent readers. The latter often don't stay long enough to fully read even the post, not to mention the comments. 90% of my visitors doesn't read the comments, just the post. So anything that doesn't reach them is not cost effective for me. What I write in comments won't reach them.

My most disliked action is "sneak editing", aka fixing an error in the post and delete the referring comment. I'm writing it for the readers. See it from this perspective. He is not interested in old incorrect versions and their incremental fixation, nor the comments that pointed out the errors. He wants to read an error-free post.

Exactly like Blizzard I won't make content for only 1-10% of my subscriber base. While I personally like intelligent commenters more than a random guy who spends 2:15 on the site, my personal feelings does not matter. Business is business, cost effectiveness above all!

PS: I found the funnies thread ever, and it fits very well to the topic "trolling". It's the Elitist Jerk's Banhammer topic, the collection of the trolls there.


Mike said...

What a terrible example. That comment on Tobold's blog isn't a troll at all. The whole point of Tobold's post is that he used a *legal* way to transfer gold. He even puts that word in the title of the post. Pointing out the fact that his actions are not any more "legal" than gold buying it perfectly on topic.

I have no idea if account sharing is allowed by the ToS or not. But even if the poster is wrong about that, it doesn't make him a troll, it just makes him incorrect.

Unknown said...

It is not a terrible example.
It is actually a perfect example to illustrate trolling.
The point in question is so irrelevant that Tobold, and millions of other wow players, including me, just ignore it. Blizzard have to put it in there in order to cover themselves for legal reasons. I doubt they ever expect to have to enforce this unless they need to use it to prevent something more significant.

A large number of wow players are aware that the tos is rather draconian in its restrictions against account sharing. However, for the sake of what Tobold is trying to illustrate, we choose to ignore it, as Tobold has done.

The troll however, picks up on this minor point and uses it as source material for trolling.

Pazi said...

Even if it were his 2nd account (and not his wifes) he forgot to add the costs for said 2nd account. And that wasn't a troll. Tobold himself often claims that he obeys the rules more then others. I doubt that Blizzard would sue him for using his wifes account tho.

I always read the comments to your post because they give me a good indicator if all hope is lost for humanity.

Yaggle said...

The average person is fooled by a troll post. They get distracted from the original topic and focus on the troll post.
However, isn't the skill of ignoring troll posts something that is learned after being fooled by troll posts many times? If all troll posts are deleted, don't you deny your readers the necessary lessons that they need to learn so they can ignore trolls?
Plus, what about a post that is 90 percent troll but 10 percent of it is interesting? Do you leave the post, or destroy it? Sometimes a blog discussion will be boring until a troll comes along and changes the course of ths posts, and it gets more interesting.
In the end though, it is your blog and you do have the right to control it, edit it, censor and destroy other people's words however you want to, and you shouldn't feel bad about it.

Unknown said...

The point in question is so irrelevant that Tobold, and millions of other wow players, including me, just ignore it.
Tobold was making a point that he found out a way to buy/transfer gold without violating the Terms of Service. But as the troll pointed out, he was actually violating it, not just in the way that he imagined. Refuting the central point that a poster is trying to make using information that the poster himself provided is not trolling per se. It's not about what the troll did, but how he did it. And that makes the troll's point easily dismissed by resorting to an Ad hominem fallacy.

Anonymous said...

Accountsharing in all cases is ment to be punished when you share accounts between friends..i had 5 accounts at the same time back those days 2 for my wife (well i paid them anyway) and 3 for myself... and i switched allways between those 5, mostly for profession and ah stuff...(well playing female chars isnt my thing anyway)

If its the same adress the same people in one house blizzard gives a god damn shit about this good luck try to report some1 sharing his account with his wife or whoever is family related to him.

Back to topic.....its your house your rules we are your guests, if you would come in my house and would break my rules i would take any action needed, so you dont have to explain yourself, its all cool.

Anonymous said...

Yes and i know the procedure when such"violations" are reported....there will be no action taken like Tobold said allready....they would loose 2 million customers and if each got 2 or 3 accounts they would loose like 6 million accounts in a figure out how my supervisors handle those "violations"...

Unknown said...

Yes and i know the procedure when such"violations" are reported....there will be no action taken like Tobold said allready....they would loose 2 million customers and if each got 2 or 3 accounts they would loose like 6 million accounts in a figure out how my supervisors handle those "violations"...
Indeed. Personally, I see that clause in the Terms of Service absolving Blizzard of any and all responsibility when someone's account gets stolen. If they can look into the logs and point out that someone else has been logging on with the permission of the account owner, then they can simply blame the victim. But that too is a red herring. Tobold claimed that he found a way to do RMT without violating the ToS, and the troll pointed out that he didn't.

Granted, that kind of hypocrisy is common. People like to think of themselves as law-abiding, even if they infringe copyrights, violate speed limits and litter (among other things) habitually. The difference is that most people don't make a big deal out of it. And anyone who shines a light on this hypocricy, either by demanding enforcement or alternatively adopts a holier-than-thou attitude is seen as "rocking the boat", as troublemakers, as trolls.. dare I say antisocial?

But this too is a red herring. A troll doesn't care whether the status quo is right or wrong. All he wants is strife, and he will pick the truth as his weapon if it's beneficial, and the lie if it's not. Also, the side that the troll picks is irrelevant. All that matters is intent, and that's a whole lot harder to identify.

Ruhtra said...

I agree with Gevlin on this topic. His example is perfect and you can even see it in some of the comments on this post where they wander off to discuss ToU/ToS rather than the merits of not allowing all comments.

It is a well thought out explanation and whether you like it or not, it is a valid point.

Anonymous said...

About the P.S:
The Banhammer forum is great, hehe. Found that thing a year or two ago and i am constantly visiting it for the fun. Sadly they now use the description of the broken rules as headlines - a year ago, Kaubel punched them even in the title (now rare...) Good laugh at work...

Anonymous said...

The 2 key rules of Game Design.

1. Never beleive what people say they do. Take it with a pinch of salt.

2. Balance the game on what people ACTUALLY do ingame.

All sucessful MMO's and multiplayer games are those that follow the above rules. There has never been a sucessful MMO that does not follow this.

Kevin said...

I agree that trolls are annoying.

However, I must take issue with your first statement "No skilled player has approved of Blizzard's game changes."

I exceed your criteria for being in the top 30% of skilled players, and I love the changes Blizzard has made to the game.

LarĂ­sa said...

what never ceases to amaze me are the kind of trolls that keep frequenting your place, putting demands on the free service that you offer, demanding you to write about certain topics or in a certain manner. They seem to appear when you reach a certain size of your readership, like you and Tobold. In my eyes they have no rights to make any claims whatsoever. Bloggers write for free and if you don't like our work, you're welcome not to come back. But complaining... it just doesn't make sense to me. And I appreciate whenever you make the effort to take away that kind of comments, which pollute the air and spoil the intelligent discussions.

Anonymous said...

The best strategy is the make it so only the troll himself can see his comments. That way he wont realise that he's been censored and will just get bored of people not rising to his troll bait.

Anonymous said...

Tobold actually illustrates a salient point: real conversation flows organically and good insight often comes from a tangent that was not the original point. Comments, whether you like it or not, serve as a conversation between author and fellow readers.

It's popular to hate trolls, but nobody thinks of it as trolling when two people read the same book and come out with two different opinions like "I love the characters" or "it was poorly written."

Those are two very different points, and the latter would be considered trolling in the blogosphere, but you wouldn't think twice about it in conversation. How do we justify that? How can you decide what reaction/comments a person should have regarding what they've read? When I write for print publication, I generally feel like if the readers miss my point, I failed to write effectively. When blog readers miss our point, we blame them without reflecting on the quality of our presentation. Why is that?

And when people consume written compositions, they always have a reaction. Some provide feedback and some don't. Bloggers, myself included, often get annoyed with "demands" placed on them, but we've put ourselves out there and it's the engaged readers who care enough to share their thoughts. If you don't believe that, take two people who read the same book, one hating it, one loving it, and see who you can get to talk about it more.

In many ways, I think conversation and original thought will suffer from this filtering of thoughts.

Gevlon said...

@Last anonymous: the difference comes from audience. When there is a conversation between 2-5 people, all is fair what the others allow.

However on a blog there are 100x more people reading silently. If you allow trolling, they will simply leave and never come back.

Granted, you may delete a comment that would actually make them stay. That's your risk and your call.

Fricassee said...

The biggest problem is that trolls want to feel important without putting the legwork in. They get a captive audience (the blog readers) and put their opinions out there and look smart and give their views. If they're so opinionated, why don't they develop their own reader base instead of derailing a perfectly good blog.

And yes, the tobold situation was trolling. Tobold found a way to transfer gold legally, even if he broke the ToS when he did it. You can still do it legally, and the troll's whinning didn't point that part out.

mohuju said...

I am a silent reader. Been reading for a long time, never commented. I'm going to keep not commenting after this post. Keep the trolls in line, and the writing top-notch.

Mark said...

As a (mostly) silent reader who reads this blog because of what Gevlon writes, as opposed to what Anonymous writes, I say: Thanks.

Zernam said...

As one who hasn't commented here and usually just reads - I read all the comments, they are (to me) as enjoyable or more than the original idea in the entry. In many cases someone has made a comment I might have said and it seems pointless to just post an /agree comment.

In regards to Tobold's situation, I'm sure they have shared finances so both game accounts are likely paid from a bank account with his and his wife's name on it so I don't see any violation of TOS there. I also don't see it as buying gold, just paying $20 to move it from one of their characters to another.

Ty said...

"whole point of Tobold's post is that he used a *legal* way to transfer gold"

The post was in fact a troll post by Gevlon's definition. The 'point' of the post was the transfer, which was in fact legal. The illegal activity, the account sharing, was not part of the main 'theme' of the post. Which by this definition is a troll.

On Gevlon's blog, this would be a troll. On Tobold's or another where they would not mind exploring things tangential to the topic, it may not be considered a troll. It would be up to the blogger. Since Tobold did not delete it, I have to assume it is not trolling to him, as i have no other way to ascertain otherwise. Tobold has free reign to delete any and all posts on his blog.

How does blizzard handle different topics? They have a forum to allow multiple threads. Therefore posting in a thread on a subject is a waste of space. On a blog, is it as clear cut? Depends on What the Blogger would like to achieve with his or her blog.


Rich said...

I agree with you and see the logic of not blogging for the 1-10% just as WOW is not creating, tweaking, patching content for the 10% of WOW players. I don't have to like it but I can certainly agree with you on it.

Anonymous said...

The people defending the troll in these comments give me a headache. Get your heads out of the books and crawl out of your basement once in a while.

People picking apart every word wrote on how Tolbold mentioned the "legal" way he did it or strictly following the ToS.

My job has rules/laws that when read come across as ridiculous. But, they were put in place to cover our buts in odd situations and would only be enforced in probalby .01% of the violations.

Sometimes good ol' common sense let's us look past these technicalities in the wording. Trolls see it the other way.

Anonymous said...

The only problem is that most people are too stupid to see a troll post and end up thinkin git is serious.

Go to They have competitions setting up co-ordinated trolls and laugh at the idiots who reply thinking its serious.

Unknown said...

*No skilled player has approved Blizzard's game changes. (if you make 2200+ DPS and can clear the content on normal, you are in the top 30% skilled)*

According to that affirmation, I'm on the 30% skilled top, and I LOVE Blizzard's game changes.

You may want a "more challenging" game, but the rest of us mere mortals (the great mayority of the WoW player base) just want to have a good time. Without stupid grinds, without being "left behind" in progression for stop raiding for two months because of Real Life issues...

You may think it's "unfair" to "give free gear" to a guy that didn't raid in two months just to catch up.

Well I disagree. He having more gear doesn't mean you will have less. Gear in WoW is an unlimited resource. Why do the elitist jerks of WoW (not the site) have to feel superior to others in order to have fun?

Back on the trolling issue, the anonymous first comment was valid, but his attitude of still atacking Tobold after he explained himself was that of a troll.

My aproach would be in this case the same as yours Gev: Deleting the post, and fixing the main post if necessary.

Alessandro said...

I complete agree with you Gevlon. (Ah, with exception about what Kevin talked, im with Kevin - I love blizzard changes and im in those 30% you talked ) .

Anonymous said...

i tinks you are rong Mr. Goblin.

/lol lol

Blizzard changes game to make more money

Keith said...

thank you for writing for the silent reader!

Bristal said...

Tobold is an excellent writer and recently took a "Summer Break" from blogging at least partly because of the unpleasantness of dealing with trolls.

He is an idealist (IMO), and his previous policy was to not filter comments at all. He now reviews comments prior to posting, but is still quite resistant to deleting as I think he wants to see unedited and spirited discussion with comments coming in real time instead of bunches after review.

I agree with both Tobold's and Gevlon's views on the topic, but I definitely enjoy reading Gevlon's comments more because he will remove pointless posters and asshats (in HIS opinion). And I think it gives a better forum for people with honest ideas and counter-arguments, as well as helping to clarify his point of view.

Anonymous said...

The guy in your example from Tobold's site is NOT a troll.

His comment was indeed on topic. The topic being, how to legally get gold to your new toons.

You just see it as a troll because it disagrees with the blogger...and because you see anyone that disagrees with you as a troll.

Trolling is not merely stating an opposing viewpoint, or pointing out a gap in the bloggers logic.

Trolling is an attempt insult, cause trouble, or derail a thread COMPLETELY off course.

And yes.. I am anonymous. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

ur bolg stoopud
i cum her 2 mak ez goldz n u qq @ trollz

The above is arguably simpler illustration of the point that you are trying to make.

Another would be to point out that your continued use of Tobold for an example would indicate a man-crush on his eloquece.

Simply because I chose to post an idea inspired by reading your blog doesnt make it correct, useful, on topic, or even marketable. I have no desire to sway the godlike power you hold over this blog, or that same power that the Blizz devs have on their game. I enjoy reading and playing, hell I even through out the random comment from time to time, but dont have any desire to have a lively conversation with Gevlon or Blizzard. I will simply continue to read/play until such a time where either I grow completely bored with what is offered, or a better option presensts itself. Delete me/Nerf me/Ignore me at your disgression.

ZachPruckowski said...

"Another would be to point out that your continued use of Tobold for an example would indicate a man-crush on his eloquece."

Didn't you get the memo? Gevlon is Tobold!!

But seriously, I agree with Gevlon. It's his blog, he runs the place. He sets the topic, and it's fully his right to say "I don't want to discuss this" or "this is distracting from what I'm trying to say". Most comments (including many of mine) are crap, trollish or not. Pretty much everyone who comes here comes here for Gevlon's thoughts, not Anonymous's thoughts on Gevlon's thoughts or Anonymous's thoughts on something tangential.

(and yes, I recognize that by that standard, Gevlon's free to (and probably should) delete this post for the opening joke)

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Miss Medicina said...

"honest opinions of a primitive mind"

I love this line so much. Now everytime my fiance pisses me off, I will use that line on him.

Unknown said...

I think what a number of people are missing is that there is a difference between trolls and idiots.

The idiots are those that post nonsense. The Trolls are the ones there to get a rise out of you (or other commenters). These have to be decently thought out arguments (like the one on Tobold's post), or they are simply ignored.

Obviously the point of Tobold's post was that he found a reasonable way to 'buy' gold with out breaking the rules. Sure, logging into his wife's account is breaking the rules, however it is a completely different type of rule breaking, that is unrelated to the issue at hand, and not required for his method (he could have had his wife do it).

People bring up that Tobold often talks about being a stickler for the rules, that is ALSO unrelated to the post, however the troll decided to jump on him for that aspect in order to start a flame war (or something to that effect).

Deltatango said...

I really wonder how you manage to know how long someone "stays" on a particular blog post. I mean, I load the page in my browser or feed reader and that's all you'll ever see. You cannot see when I close the tab or just move to another blog.
Even if I klick through your blog, I might first middle-klick on every link that appears to be interesting, reading them all after one another without you ever being able to determine how long I read a particular post.

May be I'm a troll now for posting something not entirely aligned with the main topic. I think I can live with that.

Anonymous said...

Why not let visitors decide which comments are worthwhile with a +/- rating system, and hide low rated comments with the option to view them?

Artos said...

"Don't mistake a retard to a troll! "First!", "This post/blog suxx/fail/crap", "Write about [whatever I want to read] instead of this shit" are honest opinions of a primitive mind. He has no other reason to write than giving us the product of his heart and soul. We just don't want it, since he is a retard and the mentioned product is crap."

I love it! Can I use that/paraphrase it for a forum .sig? :)