I don’t understand the forum troll phenomenon.
I also don’t understand people who go on YouTube and anonymously proclaim that the Freemasons are in everything around us, from episodes of “Intervention” to the new Rihanna music video. I don’t understand parents who try to reclaim their youth by pretending to be teenagers and then anonymously peer pressuring other teens to commit suicide. I don’t understand people who pretend to be members of the opposite gender to seduce their friends anonymously through online dating sites.
Notice the pattern here?
Blizzard obviously was aware of how this Internet anonymity was affecting their forums and thought they had a good idea to try and curb it. The idea was a bit on the extreme side and could have been seen as not entirely altruistic, with accusations of Blizzard profiting from third party companies by selling our personal information and with evidence that “basic” personal information released could easily turn into extremely personal and even confidential information being made available to just about anyone. Due to a massive media backlash and response from their customers, Blizzard recanted the statement and made it clear that RealID integration with the forums would not be happening and we could all rest a little easier. Shortly after, the ESRB made a huge mistake in forwarding a mass reply e-mail to a number of users who complained about their practices and they all instantly became aware of each other’s e-mail addresses and another privacy concern was again raised.
So, we’re at a point where we know a problem with forum trolling exists, but we can’t simply rip the veil off completely and risk exposing people to having their personal information or personal safety compromised. Blizzard has stated they are committed to cleaning up the forums and making them a place where fruitful discussions can occur regularly, without the massive amounts of flaming, trolling, harassment and general douchebaggery that occur there. Here are my ideas on what could possibly be done:
– Institute a minimum level requirement to post on the boards. Now this one could be kind of hard to regulate, I know. This one would also mostly be just a shame based kind of regulation. I’m thinking level 10 sounds about right for this, maybe level 20. So if someone really wants to spend the hours to get a toon that high and then come on the boards and call me a hoebag, that’s pretty darn sad. Not only that, but how much do you really have to talk about at those levels? I’ve leveled a number of alts, more than I would care to admit and I can say that the game really didn’t get interesting or open up to me until about level 30. I feel Blizzard offers enough starter resources where those lower level characters should be able to get most of their early questions answered through those avenues, rather than taking it to the forums. There is also Trade chat and General chat, which can offer the friendly player who doesn’t mind answering questions, either.
– Make all characters on an account public. I recently joined a friend’s Alliance guild on my hunter and their forums have all of your characters listed right above your signature. Granted, I volunteered that information when I registered for their boards. But it’s still possible. I’m sure there is some way to read what characters are associated with an account and have those appear when you post. This could also serve to make certain posters appear more respectable or believable. If I see a level 80 mage telling me I should be healing differently and I see you have never played a druid in your life, I’m going to pretty much disregard you. You say you have a druid? That’s great, prove it. Well now you can. I can see that you have an 80 druid and that druid may be better off than me or not. You then become someone that I feel I should be having a healthy, druid based discussion with, instead of just being a mage with too much free time on your hands.
And in defense of the forum trolls, some of them actually say some bright things. Most of the time, you do get the general asshat who says something with LOL WTF BBQ speak and those can be disregarded and I could care less about those. But the one that shines through with a really firm insight and something really astute to say… why do they hide? If you have a gem worth sharing like that, why wouldn’t you want credit for that? It’s so frustrating and confusing for me, maybe because I’m so proud of everything I do and say (good or bad) that hiding my words isn’t really my thing. If I feel someone needed to be called out, I would want them to know I did that or said that. It puts more weight behind your words when you own them.
I think we can all agree that deep down, we want to be listened to or to be heard. I just think some of us go about it in ways that will guarantee we are seen and heard, for years to come, while others simply have our attention for a brief moment and then it fizzles, like a flash in a pan.
Which one would you rather be?