Toxicity - (how) ca...
 
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Toxicity - (how) can we avoid it this time around?  

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gallow
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I think it's fair to say that barrens.chat is one of the least toxic wow-related websites I've ever been a part of. Razz
Seriously, I made the mistake of going to official WoW / mmo-champion forums after so many years and my god there are some clinically insane people over there.

Which made me wonder, why and how do communities grow toxic? Not just forums, but also in-game ones.

I've spent about 10 minutes of thinking this issue, and came up with the following stages. This doesn't apply to WoW alone, but other "online" titles. These are my observations from different games over 15 years of gaming (Starting from Ultima Online to Starcraft, Red Alert series, Warcraft titles, Diablo titles, some LoL, HoTS, Destiny 1 and 2, and the recent failures of Fallout 76 / Anthem, plus many others I can't remember nowadays).

  • Stage 1 - Pre-release: Players are gathered around a community (these days it's subreddit, official or fan forums, discord). The community is mostly amicable; there are some build/idea guys, news are being shared. Pretty much everyone who is in these communities are fans of the genre and are looking forward to playing the game. Usually the negativity is around 0% ~ 5% here. In ecochambers like specific gaming subreddits, negative posts are burried due to how upvote/downvote systems work (or sometimes are straightout removed by mods), so specifically in reddit you will not find many critical posts at this stage. There are some people at this stage who tell others to basically behave nice, and not be toxic (which this post is sort of mimicing... in a sense!).

  • Stage 2 - Release: Barring technical difficulties (e.g.: Error 37 in Diablo 3) or horrible releases, the community is still overall pretty happy. The rush of playing something new, or in cases like WoW starting fresh is still very entertaining to almost everyone. The negativity is probably around 1% ~ 10% at this point, but with users usually pointing out possible issues within a game that will become an issue in X many hours / days / weeks.

  • Stage 3 - Stagnation / issues discovered by masses / game specific issues: At this stage either the game has not enough content, or that more players pick up on gameplay related issues. Maybe the game is rushed (Anthem), or has not enough meat (Fallout 76). For some games (like Overwatch) the competitive aspect starts to usually shows its ugly colors at this point. Fans are often invested enough in the title that any small irritation can lead to small-blow-out brawls either in-game (via game chat) or offline (via communities). The negativity slowly evolves into toxicity at this stage, and is anywhere between 10% ~ 100% depending on the specific game.

  • Stage 4 - Full blown toxic: Not many games "reach" this stage. Some are constantly between Stages 2 and 3, while some dip their feet on Stage 4 once in a while. Some spectacular ones (cough Anthem / FO76 cough - or even the beginning of No Man's Sky, which is actually a pretty good game now.) bathe in the glory of a full meltdown Stage 4. USUALLY a Stage 4 is the games / Developers fault.
  • Now this 4-stage list mainly focuses on the "offline" communities (forums etc). What about "online" (aka ingame) communities aka Guilds? And how does all this relate to WoW?

    Overwatch reddit was a lovely community with posts full of "embrace new players because they may not come from FPS backgrounds" and "let us show the FPS gamers can be non-toxic", and the in-game community was actually pretty laid back. Once ranks were involved, the first few matches I had were pretty "Oh... well.. okay.. I guess I gotta pick XYZ or people will start blaming me.. but it's still fun!". Nowadays I if I find a non-toxic match I find myself lucky and don't even care if I win or lose. Which made me just pretty much stop playing Overwatch.

    WoW is pretty different because WoW can be what you make it to be. You can be a casual raider, hardcore PvP'er, a social player, or someone who only does 5 man dungeons, or.. well.. anything! But how can we avoid the pitfalls that has plagued "modern" gaming that is toxicity? How do we not make the same mistakes as the Overwatch community?

    One can argue that the nature of the game will reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour; If you're a dick you are blacklisted and noone will want to play with you. Okay, but what happens after 2 years? Do you think that the "toxicity of a server" (if one can even measure that) will rise as time passes? Do you think the population of a game / community affects the toxicity (the more people you have in one given space, the more chance that some of them are dicks)?

    Also, is "griefing" a form of toxicity? Camping someone for hours on PvP servers, or pulling a boss to a city - are these examples of toxicity or gameplay mechanics? How 'bout ninja looting? Personally these examples for me are just a part of life for Vanilla, so I accept them together with everything else. For me toxicity would be just rude behaviour, spamming someone with insults, mass-reporting so they get muted (not sure if this'll be a thing in classic but hey); basically "lul u got trolled n0ob" behaviour.

    Anyway, I have rambled on for some time now. I don't really have a point to drive home, nor do I have the answers to any of these issues. Perhaps we can make a "Carebear" (not literally) guild for Barrens.chat users and advertise ourselves as "Drama Free" (which ironically has always meant for me that any guild that says they are Drama Free was full of fucking drama but hey)?

    Closing thoughts: I always loved the idea of Fuel Rats in Elite: Dangerous. For those of you that do not know, Elite: Dangerous is quite a realistic space(ship) simulator game where you can explore the whole milky way (no really, the ENTIRE milky way). Naturally the insane distances between planets means that running out of fuel is a real danger. When this happens, your only option to save yourself (and your ship) is for another player to find you in the vast emptiness, and give you fuel (tips are not mandatory but ethics dictate that you pay for the fuel + that persons trouble). The Fuel Rats are not something that is enabled in-game mind you, but rather is made up from helpful individuals who just like helping out others who are in trouble. Perhaps we can make our own "Fuel Rats" guild (quick, someone come up with a clever guild name!).

    Edit: I got it. I have found the best guild name.
    Named after https://classic.wowhead.com/item=9061/goblin-rocket-fuel
    <Goblin Rocket Fuel Rats>

    Edit2: Shameless self advertisement.
    "The bastard did it!" - noone
    Here's the <Goblin Rocket Fuel Rats> recruitment post. Come join us. Hah.

    29 Replies
    Stfuppercut
    Posts: 1228
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    Also, is "griefing" a form of toxicity? Camping someone for hours on PvP servers, or pulling a boss to a city - are these examples of toxicity or gameplay mechanics? How 'bout ninja looting? Personally these examples for me are just a part of life for Vanilla, so I accept them together with everything else.

    I think the definition of griefing will shift wildly between users. This is the truth for both barrens chat and Classic. I'm certain that some users on barrens would likely argue that this is a toxic forum while others have found a new home here. So how do we prevent toxicity? By not creating it. You can only take accountability for your own actions/interactions on the site. I think the definition of toxicity and peoples views on toxicity are becomming more and more broad as our culture shifts towards safe spaces and hyper-victimization. I came here to talk about Classic because I don't know everything. I'm interested in learning from others by reading guides and talking about the future of Classic. At times I specifically aim to make myself vulnerable by posting my opinions and welcome others to challenge them. In this way, I have been a part of several productive discussions on the forum. While I don't agree with a lot of people on this forum, I have only had positive interactions since I have been here.

    As for creating a drama-free guild, thats sort of a juxtaposition of two efforts. I mean a guild by nature will have a massive amount of people, with a ton of different needs, striving to accomplish various goals. Guilds will always have drama by their very nature. Guild drama is organic and is inevitable. If you dont want drama, you should probably avoid joining a guild. The best drama free experience would be to play solo, but where is the fun in that? Lets be real, we all like a bit of drama. When you think back to some of your most vivid memories from retail vanilla, some of them were likely dramatic. Just find a group of people to play with that add value to your experience and ride the wave. I wouldnt bother getting to hungup on the potential of drama or toxicity, it just seems so... dramatic. =)

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    acrmojt
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    I think you hit a lot of the right notes with your post but I also think it has to do with the fact you have to sign up to post here. You have to expend effort and your account name has a sort of reputation attached.

    On Reddit people already have accounts and can just drop in and take a dump on the game/thread and no one ever pays attention to names.

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    Lendryn
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    It would help the discussion if you gave a clear definition of toxicity. Many of the scenarios you describe are disagreements over the shortcomings of the games and how they ought to be played taking their course. I wouldn't say those discussions need to be avoided.

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    IronBrutzler
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    Toxicity only rise if you let it rise. To give example before Overwatch got released the Reddit was calm and friendly, then the game got released and Reddit was full of PotG which people pissed of because you could not see the "real" threads. Then Ranked came and people took it way to far like in LoL.

    I mean that is the reason why you do not have a "real" Ranked mode in games like CoD (i know that Black ops 2 had one) Battlefield. Ranked mode with randoms just bring the worst out of you if you based the ranks on the performance of the Team and not the single player.

    Toxicity can also rise if Devs are not good at communicating, have not enough content or take the fun out of the game (like WoW, TheDivision2, Destiny2 etc).
    I really do not have that much of a problem if someone is Toxic in Voice /Chat but some people can not handle it well and that is when the problem really starts.
    To keep it around WoW i hate people that take it granted that you know every encounter and every Tactic that there is. I played with a friend some days ago that stopped playing around MoP. He hit 120 and we gathered Equip for him so he could then run M0 Dungeons. My friend watched videos of the dungeons and encounters so he knew the boss fights but what some people do is mostly not shown in the videos, the Insane mob pull,LOS, Tripple Stun and what not thing they do like it is a M+15 or so.
    Yeah he had not that much of fun and me either (because i hate timed runs).

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    ShamelessEU
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    Also, is "griefing" a form of toxicity? Camping someone for hours on PvP servers, or pulling a boss to a city - are these examples of toxicity or gameplay mechanics? How 'bout ninja looting? Personally these examples for me are just a part of life for Vanilla, so I accept them together with everything else.

    I think the definition of griefing will shift wildly between users.

    Red means dead Twisted Twisted
    I am really looking forward to rivalries, world pvp and such.. I can agree that ganking for some is very toxic because no one likes getting farmed for hours, but if you're not into it you should roll pve or log on another character so the ganker loses interest

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    Jon Bloodspray
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    Imco the thing that made the Ovewatch toxic was that they forced it to be an esport. Esports are detrimental to gaming as whole. I know that's a "hot take", but I'm almost 40 and have been playing games since 1987. The trend of everything needing a competitive multiplayer mode was bad enough, but now that they're always trying to be monetized it's even worse. Anyway, it's too early in the morning for me to be going on a totally, absolutely correct rant.

    On the topic of WoW, I never really felt like a community was toxic until I played on Emerald Dream, and you guessed it, some big streamers transferred to it. Between the crowd they brought with them, and oddly a pro-Trump guild, the server went to shit pretty fast. Before that I had been on a couple servers that were troll heavy, but nothing I would call toxic.

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    Derek
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    I think it's also important to have a positive attitude. Being negative will just help reinforce the feeling of toxicity.

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    disco
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    I think it's also important to have a positive attitude. Being negative will just help reinforce the feeling of toxicity.

    100% Agree. I hate toxic users with a passion, and am kind of a carebear when playing online (I'm the person that does /wave on PvP servers rather than jump you). I really believe leading by example when it comes to toxicity.

    The negativity within some communities is strong though. Anyone visiting r/classicwow can take part in the absolute shitstorm about layering, where people judge the beta as if it was the finished product. As someone who also really hates misinformation, I cannot help myself but diving into the conversations and suggesting that maybe, just maybe, saying that Classic is shit because certain systems broke during the stress test is just plain wrong. But you know, some people enjoy the anger because it lets them feel something.

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    Swans
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    Toxic is a made up term.

    Assholes are assholes, cunts are cunts, dicks are dicks. Just call them what they are, don't make it a polticial thing.

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    Nymis
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    Overwatch reddit was a lovely community with posts full of "embrace new players because they may not come from FPS backgrounds"

    It's always a lovely community unless you disagree with them on anything that's not part of their hivemind. I remember when we were all noticing an enforced 50% win rate where matches would become terribly stupid and unbalanced If you went over that 50% line - so Blizzard denied it, Reddit denied it, and they silently removed it from the game. Then when people shouted what the fuck happened, Reddit just downvoted everything and it was classified.

    Every time there's a stupid broken hero or mechanic it just gets downvoted on Reddit until Blizzard / main influencers admit it's a problem and then Reddit takes that and says "yeah, fair enough, we knew it all along". It's like one moment everyone's a smartass saying countering X is super easy and anyone who thinks he's broken is a noob, and in the next they're all saying X is too stupidly broken and Blizzard needs to nerf X.

    So yeah, sorry, fuck that community and people who think they're better / smarter because they're more polite and supportive. You get 10k upvotes for saying "Am I the only one who just enjoys playing this game?" and downvotes for venting frustration about something that's legit wrong with the game. Same thing with how WoW went to shit - it wasn't on the back of those "toxic" players, but on those frustrated casual players who cheered on for every stupid decision Blizzard decided to implement.
    WoW is pretty different because WoW can be what you make it to be. You can be a casual raider, hardcore PvP'er, a social player, or someone who only does 5 man dungeons, or.. well.. anything!
    .

    I don't know what World of Warcraft you've been playing but being "anything" in WoW usually requires other people - you can't just go raid, do dungeons, or spam BGs without other people. When you have people of different skill sets, backgrounds, attitudes etc. you are going to have conflicts, especially now when people expect you to have half a brain and the decency of googling a couple of things about your class before you attend group content. There are much higher expectations now than there were 15 years ago and it's normal that people are going to be a bit more toxic over a lot of small things.
    Also, is "griefing" a form of toxicity? Camping someone for hours on PvP servers, or pulling a boss to a city - are these examples of toxicity or gameplay mechanics?

    People can fuck off and play Hello Kitty online if they don't want PvP.
    Perhaps we can make our own "Fuel Rats" guild

    No thanks, way too many types of people with different views on everything and different interests.

    I'm glad toxicity exists. It's a fair balance to the other kind of stupid I often see, which is blind and unconditional support - and this is more damaging to the game on the long run than the latter. It keeps away the kinds of people I never want to interact with and I'll take an authentic asshole insulting me over a fake asshole trying to be nice any day.

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    Selexin
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    I hate when you hold back on us Nymis! Wink
    Toxicity exists, it is part of basically every gaming community out there. It is something that a lot of people may try to avoid, but you're better off learning how to deal with them/laugh at them/work them to your advantage. To try to avoid them altogether would be futile and may end up causing you more hassle than the perceived benefit.

    I find humanity to be largely toxic, especially these days. I find myself drifting into misanthropy more and more everyday. It's always good if you can find ways to mitigate or manage other peoples toxicity (and our own toxicity), or you'll probably just end up depressed.

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    Nymis
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    I hate when you hold back on us @Nymis

    Like what, am I being too polite in this post? LoL

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    Authiel
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    Trying to be completely rid of it is just a folly. It will be around plenty enough, as it is in any game where a player can defeat or hold advantage over another. It is probably better to learn to deal with/avoid it and just surround yourself with good folks. That is what I do anyways. Also helps to be the kind of player you want to see.

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    Jon Bloodspray
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    Also, /ignore exists.

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