Customer Service Is Hard

SWG’s new community manager takes a different tack from what we’ve seen previously – managing threads by BEATING THEM INTO SUBMISSION! YAAR! CHOKE HOLD! NO TAP OUT! YAAAARGH!

No, really. Apparently one of his first acts was in making a Friday grab bag-style feature not about SWG, but about its associated collectible card game. The community was unhappy. But then, they were pacified with clear, calm, mature responses!

I feel shafted by many in this community. I am doing my job and I get all this flack about it?

troll my forums again and we’ll have an issue.

Opinion on the post is one thing but comments towards me, on something I had to do on my 3rd day on the job, is another.

I am offended too. That people will take all this time to do nothing but post all this negative text on my first FF. Give me a break. I have been here just over a week and not given a chance to do anything what so ever to make things better but keep spending my time replying to posts that I am sure were made for the previous TCG sets.

Please don’t see if I am all talk.

ahhhh.. you hurt me… I am…… I….. I am crying.. what ever. IT IS LOOT CARDS. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT for in GAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMME and that brings in new PLAYERSSSSSSSSSSS. and new players mean more members for guildddddddddddddddddssssssssssssss.. and I am am tired of reading all this about TCG and getting nothing done for events I wanted to do let alone badge ideas. Now I just want to make a badge with a crying smiley on it and blast it out on here.

I get it. You don’t like it. Attacking me got you on a list you would rather not be on with me. May as well go talk to yourself now.

to make it faster I right click and open quote on each post I want to reply on. I want to make sure I give that personal touch. It floods the thread too just like the trolls have done for too long. lol

Now I just want to dust off the ban button.. put away my project lists for FF’s events, badges, and other things I wanted to do and had in works ALREADY and just slam away at this thread until people get it that I am not any of the other CRM’s that were here before. That I love to have fun but once you get me POd it’s game on.

hmmm. Well.. is it? or is it not? If I am smiling while I type am I angry? LOLOLOL This is fun for me. Just a waste of time for you all that want something done for SWG

And that’s just his first week. Tune in next week when someone posts about gungans!

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100 Responses to Customer Service Is Hard

  1. TPRJones says:

    Well, then. He apparently didn’t read the job description very well.

    Then again, perhaps one of his tasks is “cause forums to explode and die”.

  2. Rattran says:

    The Art and Science of biting the hand that feeds.

  3. TPRJones says:

    More seriously, is there any way to make official forums more useful? Those things are always a hive of scum and villiany. Perhaps a limit of one post per day would encourage posters to use their posts more wisely. Maybe even one post per day with a 255 character limit to make it even more interesting.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    “IT IS LOOT CARDS. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT for in GAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMME and that brings in new PLAYERSSSSSSSSSSS”

    Offhand, I’d say it’s generally a bad move to invite your 15-year-old nephew to do customer service, no matter how mature your sister tells you they are for their age.

    Though, to be fair, in consideration with the usual message board/comment threads I get involved in, I’m not sure I’d do much better with that job (albeit for different reasons).

    Generally speaking, I tend to operate under an assumption the various participants of the thread will be mature, raitonal individuals. However, general internet conduct is to barf out lolcakes while pewpewpewing to victory. I’d likely have half the board banned for being morons inside of 24 hours.

  5. Raad says:

    Guns don’t kill people, CMs do.

  6. Raad says:

    @geldonyetich
    It’s SWG, if it was any other game then yeah but SWG? I don’t know much about their community but for a dead end game yeah, really?

  7. geldonyetich says:

    @Raad
    Now now, SWG isn’t a dead end game, it’s a… what do you a horrible patchwork of impossible-to-meet fan expectations leading to a stitched together Frankenstein horror whose sheer logical fallacy is overlooked through harvesting the lifeblood siphoned out of the slavish devotion from a captive base of true believers… an unorthodox religion?

  8. Calandryll says:

    TPRJones :
    More seriously, is there any way to make official forums more useful? Those things are always a hive of scum and villiany. Perhaps a limit of one post per day would encourage posters to use their posts more wisely. Maybe even one post per day with a 255 character limit to make it even more interesting.

    Not always. The LOTRO forums are very good and they probably have just as much activity. Setting a strong tone early on and then sticking to it works wonders.

    As to the article itself. I have no words. Unreal.

  9. Owain says:

    TPRJones :Maybe even one post per day with a 255 character limit to make it even more interesting.

    A restriction like that would make my head explode.

  10. Arkenor says:

    I would desperately like to see that guy’s resume, and have been a fly on the wall during his interview.

    As I have said before, SOE, I am available for hire.

  11. ethereal.wolf says:

    SOE could probably care less at this point since SW:TOR is looming like a 100ft tsunami. Even if TOR doesn’t meet all the expectations, it will still eviscerate whats left of the SWG player base.

  12. J. says:

    This must be why they were advertising for a new community manager recently, or why a friend of mine asked if he should apply for it.

    Yeah, I don’t know why you’d want to. Especially not after this. But, I guess if you play SWG you’re used to and probably crave abuse.

  13. Pat says:

    Let this be a lesson to employers everywhere. Check the applicant’s math skills! If 1000 people post in a thread and the thread is 1000 posts long, what is the average post per person?

    I cannot understand why so many people can’t figure that one out and instead insist that it’s everyone else who won’t drop it.

  14. geldonyetich says:

    @Pat

    I’ve got a better test for forum moderators than that: an Internet logic test.

    Q: If there is a thread 1000 posts long and 1000 people are involved, how many people have read and understood your post in that thread?
    A: About Zero.

    Q: If there is a moderate-sized post about anything, and someone reads it in the spirit of providing their superiority, how likely are they to misinterpret the post in the worst possible light in order to spark a baseless argument with it?
    A: At least 90% likely.

  15. taodon says:

    There are enough SWG players to warrant a community manager? Can you make a community out of two?

  16. Freakazoid says:

    We need some sort of facepalm emote for this blog, so that I can say there is no facepalm large enough to describe this.

  17. Longasc says:

    I cannot help, but ALL community managers I have known so far were just terrible. There is also never clear what they are actually supposed to do. It differs a lot and depends on the employer. Some companies see them as part of PR, others as a suggestion box, others as chit-chat moderators and whatever.

  18. Rodalpho says:

    The funniest part isn’t his sub-abashi competence level. It’s the title of the page he links to…

    “Star Wars Galaxies – Take Part in a Thriving Star Wars Community”.

    Hilarious!

    http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/players/news_archive.vm?id=68325&month=current

  19. Blake says:

    In other news, SWG is looking for a new CM. Send in those applications.

  20. Longasc says:

    BTW, is Blizzards “Tseric” this new community manager… SCNR.

  21. Arkenor says:

    I assumed they’ed poached someone from the Darkfall forum.

    I do feel for the guy a bit though. Community managers need the patience of Job.

  22. Goldensilver says:

    OMG!!! All WoWplayers check it… IT’S TSERIC!

    Look how he illiterates. It is nearly identical.

  23. Arkenor says:

    He does seem quite similar. Surely no-one would have rehired him as a community manager though?

    Actually, no. Tseric came over as much more intelligent than this.

  24. dartwick@hotmail.com says:

    Did you ever see the stuff Gfrasier(shlonger) used to post on Blizz forums before anyone had heard of WOW?

  25. Daniel says:

    Speechless.

  26. Arrakiv says:

    Pssh, they totally should have hired me. 😛

    I sort of, kind of, vaguely, somewhat know the person they hired though and I’m a bit surprised by the reaction.

  27. Moorgard says:

    Perhaps the goal was to make us fondly recall the days of Abashi. Not the strategy I would have chosen.

    Or maybe on the scale of universal karma, the discipline of community management was due to receive a massive black eye. Thanks, karma!

  28. Arkenor says:

    Perhaps you could write him an open letter of advice. Open letters are always fun!

    It has got everyone talking about SWG though.

  29. Bethryn says:

    “If 1000 people post in a thread and the thread is 1000 posts long, what is the average post per person?”

    That all depends on how many posts have been deleted by the CM prior to observation of the postcount, no?

  30. Outlawedprod says:

    Sadly no matter what he posts he can never achieve the legendary status of Tseric since no one is actually plaing swg =p
    http://tsericdown.ytmnd.com/

  31. Jobrill says:

    Tseric’s breakdown was gradual and beautiful like a delicate flower. This dude is just a whiny pissant.

  32. Man, this makes me want to go troll the Meridian 59 forum again! I forgot how fun that could be. 😉

  33. Arkenor says:

    Breaking down on day 3 does seem to be something of a record. Maybe the users have gotten meaner.

  34. geldonyetich says:

    @Arkenor
    I wager it probably has a lot to do with the scenario,

    Users: We’re still here, and have forgiven you enough for the NGE to look forward to some SWG improvements.

    SOE: COLLECTABLE CARD GAME LOOT! WOOT!

    Users: WTF?

    SWG Community Manager: I understand some of you are upset. Let me say that again: IT IS LOOT CARDS. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT for in GAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMME and that brings in new PLAYERSSSSSSSSSSS. Capiche’?

    Users: WTF?

    SWG Community Manager: Ima going to get my ban stick if you don’t wisen up.

    Users: WTF?

    SWG Community Manager: Seriously, guys, you’re pissing me off.

  35. Arkenor says:

    Oh dear, yes. Though I’d have thought most people playing SWG are post-NGE arrivals, but then again, perhaps many people are more forgiving than me.

    Hmm, that would suggest to me that this was a community he hadn’t interacted with before. Just parachuted in, without taking the time to learn its mysterious ways.

  36. SkullPhyre says:

    Draakull was harassed by the forum crowd.They were extremely rude to him. I have been talking with him and I think he is a really cool guy. People just hit him way too hard with all thier crap blaming him for something he did not do.

  37. Thanks for the link…

    Now if I ever write a book about community management, I’ll have something good to put in it.

  38. Arkenor says:

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT for in GAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMME and that brings in new PLAYERSSSSSSSSSSS. and new players mean more members for guildddddddddddddddddssssssssssssss..

    Also, I move that this is totally untrue. Who on earth would start playing SWG just because their card game got some loot cards? If I’d been there, such patronising nonsense would have annoyed me too.

  39. Gx1080 says:

    He was a dev and saw what people thought of the product. Or he found out that SWG was going to close shop and its pissed because he is LFG in secret. Or he posted drunk and/or high. Or he is just an idiot. I dont know, but if he wasnt LFG then, now it is.

  40. Jeff says:

    If I didn’t know any better I would swear he ran the Warhammer Beta.

  41. Leedo says:

    Actually there are those of us on those forums rooting for him. What is being missed is the satirical nature of his posts. Those forums have been ruled by the trolls for too long and that really degrades the usefulness of them. There seems to be no one more vitriolic than a Star Wars Fanboy. I notice even these posts bring up the NGE, which at this point is getting to be ancient history (in terms of MMO time anyway). Anyway, he was calling the idiots out and trying to show them just stupid they make themselves look as well as establishing his alpha dog status. I think he is trying to reestablish a real community where people actually participate. Most post from people trying to make suggestions or ask questions have some form of statement asking people to troll elsewhere or don’t flame. I know, not a unique situation, but I say go Draakul go!

  42. Tip: Have community meetings with randomly chosen leaders to start discussions. #1 subject “What is/not working”. If the leader tanks/bombs switch them out. Follow the chat of the group’s discussion and you will see the holes and golds. I’ve been in CS in several different companies, and it’s easy. Tell ’em you understand and are there to help. That’ll fix 80% of complaints. THen do for the customer what your company claims to do for them. Simple!

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mdcnet

  43. Mortarion says:

    MMO players are personally insulting a community manager in his first week on the job?

    SAY IT AIN’T SO!

  44. Stabs says:

    Most interesting thing to happen in SWG in 5 years.

  45. […] of Star Wars: Galaxies, looks like there’s an opening for a new Community Manager. I bet everyone working at SOE lifted their heads from their computers when they heard the *SNAP*, […]

  46. Frank says:

    Good God. The first thing you learn as a forum moderator/administrator is to grow a thick skin and learn to be adept at handling the usual forum trolls. You can still be professional yet be able to be, well, direct with players in terms of how they’re acting.

    At Warhammer Alliance I have a strict policy on professionalism – the forums are not a plaything nor your sandbox, and people can and will be shitty to you. It’s just not kosher to lash back at them unless that is what the site promotes in terms of style.

    And to think this guy gets paid for this. Where can I sign up for a job like this? I must be doing it wrong.

  47. Angelworks says:

    You know whats really sad is I’ve been turned down for jobs like this, but I have years of customer service experience. Makes me wonder what people like him do to get work.

    Anyhow if Sony is smart he won’t last another week.

  48. Suedeo says:

    A company representative may lose their temper and insult customers when job frustrations build up with no outlet, and a direct insult suddenly triggers feedback that’s unfairly based on how the rep’s day went. Controlling this is all part of being a professional.

    That said, let me just go ahead and use my anonymity to say that customers, in general, including myself (ouch), are a bunch of touchy, whiny babies that fail to take the time to think things through before jumping to a worst-case conclusion and then posting their sad drama of storied deceit and betrayal on the Internet, which I happen to like.

  49. Suedeo says:

    Ok, It’s my first day on the job as Community person for SWG for my first assignment to announce whatever the hell this is. Here goes:

    Me Booger. Booger new. Yo! Check out Booger’s incredibly glossy sig banner!

    This Booger’s thread. Booger’s thread about new TCG Card Game Loot. Check out awesome Exhibit A (link) terrific Exhibit B (link)…

    … and, Marvellous Exhibit C: (sweet screenshot that fills the entire page).

    Is that cool or what?!

    You can talk about this stuff here in Booger’s thread if you want. Be respectful in Booger’s thread or you might get “Booger’s Day Off” which is sudden 24-hour forum posting vacation. Booger mean. Rowr!

    Booger promise to take best things you say in Booger’s thread to boss. Boss make SWG Better!

    Booger going to eat lunch (where lunch room?), back soon with another thread about more announcements that Booger is eager to share with everybody!

  50. Sullee says:

    Wow.. two abashi references.. don’t continue to evoke Teh Gordon (or ds or prokof).

    Anyway I didn’t click through to see the other side of the story here.. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty just knowing the scenario. And make no mistake.. Sony has gone a little effing crazy over the whole collectible card thing. I don’t mind that they have it I just don’t want it shoved into my face every 10s.

    No real excuse for the meltdown though. Sorry but I don’t think CM is as hard as having to deal with morons in person or even on the phone and lots of people (including myself) have done that professionally in tough circumstances for years (not a few days).

  51. baktru says:

    Bloody hell. That’s a cm? I’m not in gaming, but the only time I ever heard a colleague insult a customer, he was jobless 2 hours later. Now that cm? He should be too.

  52. VPellen says:

    This is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    And the train is made of gasoline.

  53. D-0ne says:

    This is what happens when a company staffs with fan boy bloggers. Then again, it is SWG and it is very surprising that anyone cares enough and is passionate enough about the game to get banned. Good thing for SOE that forum bannings = game bannings, the last thing SOE needs now is customers.

  54. Realist says:

    How appropriate, an Abashi like CRM for an equally bad game.

  55. Steve says:

    @taodon

    I’m more surprised that people are still working on SWG than people are still playing it.

  56. Bonedead says:

    As someone who has played a lot of SWG within the last couple years, here’s my take on it. I would say the minority of the players are pre-NGE and of course the majority are fifteen year old high school kids who couldn’t blend in with the WoW fifteen year olds (which makes them worse). The majority of players do use the trading card game loot items. The majority of active forum users are… drumroll please…. the annoying little kids who troll and whine just for the hell of it.

    So I can somewhat understand how the guy lost it, but, I also don’t think he’s cut out for the job. You’ve got to be able to handle the immature masses.

  57. Hatch says:

    Metagame drama > game itself…. hit game detected.

  58. Matthew says:

    No matter how right Bonehead is about your average forum goer, you can’t act like an idiot back to them. Just doesn’t make for good “customer service”.

  59. D-0ne says:

    Gordon Wrinn was not a bad Community Manager. Most of you noobs weren’t even playing EQ at the time nor do you understand that Gordon was Brad’s sock puppet… Abashi was not and is not guilty of 9/10 crimes you noobs would charge him with.

  60. Rodalpho says:

    Bullshit. Abashi was a terrible CM. He was openly hostile and antagonistic to players. I still despise him to this day, and I haven’t played EQ for eight years.

    To his credit, he was somewhat less direct about it than this SWG guy, though.

  61. Iconic says:

    I played EQ for 5 years. Abashi was a tool. Aradune was a tool.

    Telling your players “You be nice or else I won’t grace you with my presence” is the same thing as saying “I don’t want to do my job.” Hint: There will always be new jerks whining and trolling. Ban them and move on. Communicate like a professional, because like it or not, you are one.

    Oh yea, and have skin like a rhinoceros, because like I said, there’s always going to be new jerks.

  62. Lee Quillen says:

    That’s awesome. I’m sure folks are defending it too…

    Never gets old seeing someone with zero understanding of customer service become a vocal community manager thinking their attitude will have zero (or even positive) effect on player numbers. Community Manager doesn’t equal Customer Support… but it certainly requires a rudimentary understanding of Customer Service.

    Next WoW Killer? The next casual MMO that understands a thing or two about customer service as I don’t think any MMOs currently even manage Time Warner levels (which are not very high).

  63. Guy says:

    Being paid not to feed the trolls is apparently not enough incentive. And that’s *with* ban power.

  64. Ark says:

    @D-0ne

    That’s bullshit and you should know it. Abashi in his day provided quite a lot of LtM’s frontpage material. No, he wasn’t responsible for game design decisions, but he was responsible for being the absolute worst, most antagonistic CM I’ve ever seen, in any industry.

  65. geldonyetich says:

    Say what you will about Abashi, he was better than Milo’s, “Shut up and give me my ten bucks per month, little man. My Porsche needs some performance upgrades.”

    Most people who work in development aren’t really people persons. Perhaps it’s too many days in dark rooms grokking computers, or perhaps it’s because having practiced the computers’ stark logic they realize most people aren’t really that rational. But these are just theories, all we know for certain is that their preferred method of dealing with customers’ complaints is, “Known issue. User is annoying. Closing ticket.”

    Enter the CSR rep to give everybody a happy candy-coated experience. They’re lairs and spin-masters at heart, feeding the masses the truth only if they’re 100% certain they can choke it down. This is deemed ethical because they’re there by popular demand – the company goes down in flames if all they do is tell the truth because the customers by and large can’t handle the truth.

    This SWG Community rep was merely being more honest than most, explaining to the customers that they really are being bratty little self-entitled twats to leverage their unrequited desires as an excuse to troll the boards, and his honesty is why he gets to be mocked for incompetence in CSR.

  66. J says:

    @Hatch

    Yes, it’s called forumwarz.com.

  67. wilhelm2451 says:

    I see they have “introduced” him on the CM Station Blog (which still uses the ‘stationbrenlo’ URL, which must seem an error in hindsight), but I am not sure they needed to after his big Friday performance!

    http://stationbrenlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/introducing-roger-draakull-pilney/

  68. Arkenor says:

    wilhelm2451 :
    I see they have “introduced” him on the CM Station Blog (which still uses the ’stationbrenlo’ URL, which must seem an error in hindsight), but I am not sure they needed to after his big Friday performance!
    http://stationbrenlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/introducing-roger-draakull-pilney/

    Ooh, he has a twitter feed!

  69. Arkenor says:

    It was nowhere near as interesting as I’d hoped. There’s no mention there of anything to do with this meltdown, or anything out of the ordinary. He does appear to still be working there.

  70. J. says:

    (from his blog)

    Yesterday it was toothpaste in the eye but the day ended with a near self-poisoning. Since I am able to laugh at myself I’ll tell you all what happened. Sitting at my desk, middle of the night last night, felt something tickle my foot. Yes, I jumped and said WHAT THA HELL!?! I got a glimpse of the foot tickler. It was a roach! ICK! I got under the desk with a flash light and could not find him. So I remembered I had some Hot Shot Roach & Ant spray “Fresh Floral” Scent.

    So I spray under the desk where I last saw it. Soon the “flowers” hit me. The scent of death and now near fear of florists. I could not breath and was coughing my ass off. So I decided to go to bed. What do I find? The roach had survived the poison that nearly killed me and was on the other side of the room on the floor by the bed! I killed it with my shoe and exacted my revenge on that damn bug. Casualties from last night? 1 Roach and a few hundred of my brain cells from the fumes. Geesh.

    Roaches be warned! I will nearly take myself out to get ya!

  71. Rodalpho says:

    He was an IT recruiter floating around for years who ran a military-themed shooter fansite on the side.

    If you want more creepy internet stalking, just google. He hasn’t censored his myspace or linkedin yet, etc.

  72. Ashendarei says:

    Oof. Apparently I fail at editing comments 😛

    If this wasn’t that guys’ LAST week working the job it should be.

  73. geldonyetich says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t fire him. I’d give him a good whack behind the ears and say, “Hey! Tone it down!”

    If we canned CSR every time they were feeling out the community, we’d perpetually have people who made mistakes just as bad or worse. The question is more a matter of whether or not they learn from these mistakes. If whacks behind the ears fail to produce results, then is when you pull out the boot.

    This is assuming he wasn’t under instructions. It’s entirely possible somebody in SOE looked at SWG’s boards and said, “what a wretched hive of scum and villainy – do something about that.” Away he goes – hopefully not to be sacrificed as a scapegoat, as that’s about as underhanded as corporate policy gets.

  74. schild says:

    Shit like this is why I don’t need cable.

    I give it a 10. Editor’s Choice.

  75. Vajarra says:

    Moderator meltdowns are my favorite kind of e-drama.

  76. Xaldin says:

    This one is no where near as interesting as the old EQ2 CSR who did lesbian goth style porn shoots for her website (wish I still had that link).

  77. Count Nerfedalot says:

    @geldonyetich Your summary of the chain of events on the first page here is absolutely golden. Thank you for the carpet burns from rofl-ing so hard.

  78. Triforcer says:

    This is probably the one community more than any other (hi2u Eating Bees) where I will get ripped to shreds for saying this, but why not have a CM that only:

    (1) Closes gold spam/porn/racist etc. threads and bans the occasional personal harrasser of other posters,
    (2) Merges redundant threads, and
    (3) Pretty much does nothing else?

    I mean, literally nothing else. Never responding to posts asking why that thread was closed, never responding to patch day flame threads, never explaining himself or saying a single word.

    If you combine that with posting the occasional STRUCTURED dev content (a pre-recorded interview, a dev blog, MAYBE a dev chat once in awhile where the questions are screened, MAYBE saying in very thoughtful threads bringing up known issues that “the devs are aware of this, I’ve passed it on”) I can’t help but feel that nothing much would be lost, and maybe even there would be a gain.

    Can someone post me to something where Lum or Sanya or another luminary has explained why this doesn’t work? I feel they have addressed it and can say why I am horribly wrong. I wish someone would just TRY it, because the new-CM-gradually-devolving-into-a-quivering-wreck-of-rage-and-melting-down-in-public act can’t possibly be worse for creating a positive and well-reputed community.

  79. TPRJones says:

    Sounds good to me, Tri. The only reason to have someone interacting on the boards is to give the impression (true or not) that player concerns are being payed attention to. But you could also do that by having the silent CM cherry pick topics and have the dev interviews address some of those by name from time to time.

  80. Vetarnias says:

    Triforcer :
    This is probably the one community more than any other (hi2u Eating Bees) where I will get ripped to shreds for saying this, but why not have a CM that only:
    (1) Closes gold spam/porn/racist etc. threads and bans the occasional personal harrasser of other posters,
    (2) Merges redundant threads, and
    (3) Pretty much does nothing else?
    I mean, literally nothing else. Never responding to posts asking why that thread was closed, never responding to patch day flame threads, never explaining himself or saying a single word.

    Hell, no. I want my CM’s and moderators to explain themselves, and to be in fact forced to do so. I’m sick and tired of forums where you get warned or banned with no reason given, because it’s almost as if it is being done surreptitiously — especially if threads are liberally locked, worse if they are routinely deleted.

    For example, I’ve lost all patience with the MMORPG.com site, not only because the average level of conversation there would make a fourth-grade class look like a MENSA meeting by comparison, but because the moderators seemingly have loose double standards, where abusive behaviour is okay when coming from a select group of users, while everybody else gets warned/banned for trivial reasons. And the moderators never ever explain themselves, even when called out (they just respond with more warnings/bannings), and because of that, they won’t ever change their minds on any decision they make. They’re little midlevel bureaucrats with power trips, only answerable to those above them, and they do it all their work stealthily, so that nobody except the person(s) affected ever knows what is going on. That’s why I’m done with that site.

    This is different from, say, Scott starting to delete posts he disagrees with, because this is his blog, and he can do what he wants with it. I’d probably not agree with his stance and move on if it became endemic, but I’d realize there is not much I can do. But CM’s/moderators, especially those who do not respond to criticism except by exercising their powers to delete, lock, and ban, are faceless, and just hired hands, so they can’t ever be held to account by the community, for if they were to be they would just be replaced by new elements by those who should be held to account.

  81. Triforcer says:

    Well, which makes people more angry- “Nobody ever responds rawr” or “mods respond and say things I don’t like rawr”? I think, in the end, the first results in less net hurt feeling- people are always more angry about sins of commission than sins of omission.

    Ultimately, the purpose of a CM (hell, the purpose of having a community at all) is to make money from the underlying game (I suppose, secondarily, building goodwill for future games so they make future profits is a goal, but I’d argue that a good game will bring people back no matter how much the nasty ol’ CM calls a couple malcontents mean names on boards 99% of subscribers don’t read). The game doesn’t “owe” you anything. There is no subscriber right to “hold people to account.” Morality or how a community “should” be run (in the moral/aspirational sense) is completely irrelevant.

    Any community management strategy is worth exactly as much as the profit (both from the game and from future goodwill to buy and sub to other games) that it makes. I’m aware this isn’t a science, but if you could somehow accurately calculate that a total hands-off community ultimately makes your company over its entire lifetime (again, both present revenue, future revenue, and goodwill as it translates to future revenue) a dollar more than a hands-on strategy, than the hands-off strategy should win.

    Granted, many here would argue that my premise is flawed and a well-run community will ALWAYS generate more profit than the model I propose. True of perfectly run community? Maybe. But I would argue that a badly run community can actually hurt you, while even a perfectly run and loved by all community helps only a little (the much more important factor being game quality). Thus, given the odds against perfection, a hands-off strategy will result in greater profit in most situations.

  82. Hehe, those CSMs crack me up. Reminds of me the European CSM who told all of the WAR beta players that they were ‘overreacting’ and should get some perspective when they couldn’t register on the GOA website. He was, of course, completely correct, but I think Mythic booted him.

  83. EpicSquirt says:

    @We Fly Spitfires
    Not sure what makes you think that Mythic can boot GOA employees directly…

  84. Gx1080 says:

    Thinking it well, this form of communication its better that “Its working as intended”, although i still think that SWG its going to close shop. Which must suck if its your first week on the job.

  85. Jeremy Preacher says:

    Moderator =/= community manager. Sometimes one person does both, but it’s not my favorite strategy for a bunch of reasons. My last CM gig I did just about zero moderation, and it was certainly a full-time job.

  86. Drakks says:

    Guys like this last the better part of a month.

    Wrong temperment.

  87. Please says:

    @Vetarnias

    You said “This is different from, say, Scott starting to delete posts he disagrees with, because this is his blog, and he can do what he wants with it.”

    It’s their game and their forum; it’s exactly the same. They can do what they want with it. Whether it’s good for business or not is a different discussion.

    Also, how many times have you been warned or banned from an official game forum? You cry favoritism, but, are you certain that it isn’t just you?

  88. geldonyetich says:

    I was noticing that Tom from Dantom over on the BYOND boards was talking about his choice of moderators lately. It’s a smaller scale operation and so they can afford to be a lot more frank about the issue.

    The moderation team was not chosen based on friendship because I am not friends with most of the people here. They were chosen because they seemed like intelligent people who were familiar with the community. They also (and this is the important part) expressed an interest in helping out. If a guru here keeps noting that certain posts need moderating, and he’s right, then, yeah, I think he’d make a good mod. Why not?

    I am a results-oriented guy, so that’s what I look at. Like I said, the mods do a fine job. The logs consist mainly of spam/idiocy deletion and moving posts to the correct places. All I want is this forum to be a place where people (particularly novices) can discuss DM design & coding in a cordial environment. Looking through those applicable sub-forums, they seem fine, and it is a credit to the mods for keeping them that way. I don’t require mods to be a beacon of integrity to do their jobs; it is more akin to being a garbage-man than a priest.

    Puts an interesting spin on this entry. So what if he’s mouthing off? Just so long as he keeps taking out the garbage.

  89. Gx1080 says:

    Well, although the CM job can ba hateful, well, you are a forum moderator. You dont need to be a “beacon of integrity”, you just need to do your job without becoming a troll. That isnt too hard if you dont let that the people with small penises in the Internet affect you.

  90. Vetarnias says:

    @Please
    Yes, by all means, it’s their forums and they can do what they want with it; I don’t disagree on that. However, we get problematic cases like –ahem– Darkfall, where the forums are notorious for the amount of stuff that vanishes. Blame it on the community if you want, but the double standard there is that trash talk that is positive about the game is a lot more welcome there than trash talk that is negative. But since I don’t play that game, I can’t see if what gets deleted was deleted for a valid reason.

    A classic example I’ll never forget is Age of Conan, where the board moderators maintained arbitrary standards based on guidelines so vague that they could get rid of anything negative by a more or less convoluted stretch of logic. One moderator back when I played AoC actually closed a thread with this justification: “Thread locked for encouraging to cancelling your accounts, and violating the Terms of Agreement, the EULA, and the Rules of Conduct.” Encouraging to cancelling your accounts? So what does that include? Goodbye threads? Saying the game was incomplete? Exposing bugs? The thread where that lockup excuse was used was actually about comparing the launch of AoC to that of Anarchy Online.

    Adding insult to injury, it was verboten to discuss the forum moderation itself. Here was my contribution to that discussion at the time: http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=99201 . I did not get a warning, let alone a ban, but the thread was locked within half an hour. However, you read the CM’s message at the end, and you can see that the guy is a professional, unlike those hall-monitor fanboys that they appoint from the community to patrol the forums.

    Compare that to the MMORPG.com forums (does it show I have a beef against them these days?). Right now I’m serving a three-day ban, for posting rather mild stuff. Meanwhile, some prolific posters can seemingly get away with anything, so I don’t hang around there much nowadays, and I can picture myself putting together an account of my dealings with that site one of these days.

  91. J. says:

    Vetarnias :
    A classic example I’ll never forget is Age of Conan, where the board moderators maintained arbitrary standards based on guidelines so vague that they could get rid of anything negative by a more or less convoluted stretch of logic.

    Psst. Super secret here.
    Most boards have intentionally nebulous guidelines, so they reserve the right to do whatever they think is best, when they feel like it. It’s to prevent deterministic fucktards from playing the boards like it was part of the game.

    Vetarnias :
    Compare that to the MMORPG.com forums (does it show I have a beef against them these days?). Right now I’m serving a three-day ban, for posting rather mild stuff.

    Oh, so you’re a deterministic fucktard. Be less of a board warrior jerk. Go ride your bike.

  92. Vetarnias says:

    @J.
    I’m all for board moderation, but not when it turns into a double standard based on who is posting and what the views are. I’m expecting “f*** off” on a game forum to be dealt with in the same manner whether it’s positive or negative about the game.

    And I have seen cases where certain players would know exactly how to game the moderation to get rid of threads they didn’t want to see around. And it was astonishingly simple: Just start flaming, just enough to get the thread locked or deleted, but not enough to get into trouble yourself.

  93. Gx1080 says:

    You know, MMORPG.com its a place of game “journalists”, and i think that it has been explained to death the meaning of that.

    That said, i dont think that a forum moderator need to have a legal training aka fix the loopholes that players will find in the rules. Hence the vague rules.

    But vague rules should not be an excuse to play favoritism or closing everything that is a complaint (aka being a douche).

    Back to the subject, that guy thought that he was going to be loved for everybody in the forums (retard) or what?? Cause this isnt a gradual slip in a emo-rage explosion (Tseric), this is an all out assault since the beggining. And i think that he was already told to lower the caffeine.

  94. Amy S says:

    Holy crap, this post is about the funniest thing I’ve seen in weeks. Responses like those from a poster on my boards would have had me watching that person pretty closely, and not in a good way… and he’s the one in charge?

  95. […] Customer service, Tseric-style, brought to you by Lum! […]

  96. Vetarnias says:

    Any news on that poor little community manager?

  97. Joshua Meadows says:

    This is the sort of job I was born for.

    Where do I sign up?

  98. VPellen says:

    @Vetarnias

    I was a moderator at MMORPG.com for 2008, left at the begining of 2009 (not because I hated them of course, just because I felt there wasn’t much more I could learn from the experience) and I fear you’ve got a fair bit of misdirected bile towards the moderators there.

    For one thing, in the time I was there, moderators didn’t invent policy, they simply followed it. I don’t know if things have changed drastically in the last half a year or so, but when I was there, it was (and from the sounds of it, still is) always policy not to discuss moderation openly. The reason the moderators didn’t discuss who they banned and why wasn’t out of fear of wrongdoing, it’s because they weren’t allowed to. It was the CM’s job to come up with and manage policy, not the moderators. And as for certain people getting away with more than others: From what I recall, you were allowed to say harsh things, just not about other people. A person was allowed say that a game is ass usually pretty freely, but if they were to make even a slightly off-hand comment towards another person, that got them a warning for flaming. But like I said, things may have changed.

    Also, keep in mind that the system relied primarily on users reporting posts. If a post didn’t get deleted, then it’s entirely possible that a moderator simply never saw it. And as for the general subject of moderator abuse, you were always supposed to go to the CM for such things.

    I can tell you that the moderators I worked with whilst there were smart, competent, and all older than me. And I was 21 at the time.

  99. geldonyetich says:

    Personally, I don’t hold a whole lot of respect for the MMORPG.com moderators ever since I ran into one moderator who wanted to argue with me (like any other typical forum goer who sparks arguments out of some kind of testosterone-fueled desire to prove their mental superiority) and when it turned out in a way that he just made himself look foolish, he compensated by deleting several messages out of the thread and giving me a warning.

    MMORPG.com is not a great board. It’s a little too mainstream, flooded with tweenage free game players, and the moderators lack of objectivity is generally overlooked in favor of the excessive amounts of garbage duty there is to do. Consequently, anyone who can come off as half-eloquent can probably secure moderator access over there.

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