[Meta] Help me crowdsource moderation

I very rarely step in to moderate comments on the blog, because it’s very rarely necessary. But I thought it might be interesting to lay the process open for discussion.

1. Allowing a comment in the first place. WordPress allows various options for moderating comments – you can let them all go through, moderate each one individually, only allow comments from people who have signed in, etc.

My main goal is to not allow spam because I find it annoying. But once I trust someone not to spam, I don’t especially want them to have to wait for moderation to see their comments appear. So the option I picked was to get people to sign in (you can just put a spoof email address if you want, it’s for id, not because I care about your email) but once you have had a comment approved on your sign in, anything more should just go through automatically.

2. Moderating comments that have been posted. Like I say, it’s rarely been necessary. I have a few rules though, which have been unwritten until now.

  • No personal attacks. No offensive sexist/ racism/ homophobic/ group attacks. I’m probably quite lenient with these as long as comments are relevant and let people sail quite close to the wind, in the interests of lively debates.
  • let people know that their comment has been moderated, and why. If you do get a comment moderated, the offending phrase/s will be removed and replaced by something like <<moderated for racist language, please don’t do that>>
  • No dodgy links. I do check links that people put on their comments, if I’m not happy that one is kosher, it goes. And by that I mean advertising something irrelevant or looks as though it might be virus ridden. Links to relevant blogs or blog posts are great.

These aren’t up for debate, although please speak up if you do find something offensive.

Question: What about adverts which are also relevant comments?

People get smarter and sometimes I get comments which actually are relevant to the post and the discussion, but also used as adverts to link to commercial pages/ blogs. Do you want to see those comments, or would you rather that they were moderated out?

Blog news: Ratings on comments, future post schedule

Just a brief update on a couple of changes around here:

I had been trialling the WordPress option to let people rate comments  on this blog (you may have seen the thumbs up/ thumbs down icons). I’ve turned it off for now, but thought I’d pass on some good and bad things I saw with it — feel free to leave comments if you feel strongly about the issue.

Good points about rating comments:

  • It’s very easy for people to feel that they can make a contribution to the discussion without necessarily having to write a comment. If someone else said something you agree with, instead of posting “I agree with Nick!” you can just click on the +1 vote.
  • It’s fun for people to be able to see how their comments are viewed by everyone else.
  • It’s another way for people to interact with each other, and interaction is one of the things I really like about blogging.

Bad points about rating comments:

  • It can put people off expressing strong feelings, especially if they disagree with the blogger, because they may get automatically voted down by ‘fans’. (I don’t expect anyone here to be all that fanatical, but since it’s my blog I do have a built in power bloc.) So people can feel oppressed if they want to say something unpopular.
  • On the other hand, that could happen anyway. It’s just that instead of  typing as a comment, “No! Spinks is a goddess! How dare you disagree!!!” it is much easier to click -1 on the comment you disagree with.
  • But if it actively puts people off from commenting then the whole discussion will get less interactive, less lively, and less interesting.

My gut feeling is that although the voting can be fun, the downside at the moment outweighs the upside. As I said, feel free to leave a comment if you feel strongly about it.

Future Schedule

Just for information, I am back at college full time at the moment and still adjusting to the schedule. With Arb’s help, I expect to be able to keep up fairly frequent posting but this will now depend on having enough time at weekends to write posts in advance. Especially when coursework and essays come due, I can’t guarantee how the schedule will hold up, but I have every intention of chronicling the effect Cataclysm has on the in-game communities in WoW. (Quite happy that the expansion is dropping just before the end of term – and although I’ll expect to be playing on a fairly low schedule I’ll see if I can find someone who plays more regularly as an extra guest writer.)

On the bright side, there will probably be more posts that touch on issues like the ones I have written recently about industrial societies and consumerism in MMOs. Textbooks can be pernicious.

Housekeeping notes, and wordpress updates

I don’t write about the blog itself often but for those who have been following along, you will know that I sometimes turn various new WordPress features on and off.

The last update was a few months back when I turned on the ability to rate posts. I thought  it might be fun for readers to be able to give quick feedback (like the equivalent of a thumbs up or down) if they didn’t feel inspired to comment, and maybe I’d learn more about what people liked. Bloggers generally tend to measure the popularity of a post by the number of comments received and number of hits – but number of comments might just mean that you wrote something controversial, and not necessarily just a good post that people liked. This isn’t a money making venture so I’m not pressured to write posts that will get a lot of hits; from my point of view this was pure curiosity.

It has been an interesting experiment. There hasn’t been a lot of feedback, possibly because the ratings don’t show up on the RSS feed or because people read from the front page and not individual posts, but it has been a good pointer to when a few people liked what they saw. So thank you if you did take the time to score a post.

thumbsup

I’ve now turned that feature off, and instead turned on the ability to score comments. You can now go score each other :) WordPress use a slashdot style of scoring where you can either give a comment the thumbs up, or thumbs down.

So, have at it!

WordPress introduces the like button

Part of the reason for changing things around (other than FOR SCIENCE!) is because WordPress is now featuring the ability to say that you like a post. If you are logged into WordPress while browsing blog posts, you will notice a new icon on your menu bar.

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If you find something you liked then you can click there and:

  • the writer will be able to see how many people liked that post
  • you’ll have the opportunity to reblog it (this also has the side effect that if you wanted to reblog something to say how much you hated and despised  it, you have to hit the like button first)

So what is reblogging? Bloggers often get inspired by each other. I know that many times I have started a post by saying, “I read this really good article on blog X ((insert link)) … ‘”

When you reblog a post, WordPress will insert the title, link and some text from what you are linking and then let you add comments underneath. I’ll reblog a post later today with some comments as an example. The idea, I believe, is to make it easier for bloggers to repost something cool that they found with comments of their own underneath.

If you are interested to know more, here is WordPress’ news on the new features.

Stories of the Week

I thought it might be fun to experiment for a month or so by summarising some main gaming related stories of the week on Sundays, with some links and comments.

Warhammer Online takes your lunch money

Another nail in the coffin of the subscription based MMO was placed this week, as Mythic Entertainment made one of the worst possible customer relations faux-pas and billed many of their playerbase several times by mistake. i.e. to the tune of several hundred dollars (plus any bank related expenses if the account went overdrawn). Charges are being reversed, but it’s likely that the PR damage has already been done. wasdstomp gives his personal experience of being charged 16 times.

Now, if you engage in a lot of online commerce, then it’s quite likely that you’ve had to deal with mistaken payments on at least one occasion. This happens more frequently than anyone likes to admit. Arkenor relates a billing error from STO, for example, although this isn’t anywhere near the same scale as Mythic’s screwup.

But still, there’s an element of trust in passing credit/ debit card details around online and although the system is only as secure as users can make it (and it is a good idea to check through your monthly statements regularly, just to keep an eye on these things), this kind of breach of trust is the sort of thing which persuades players not to bother with MMOs at all.

Having said that, old timers are used to all sorts of wacky game-related screwups and as long as the company turn it around, fix the problem and reimburses everyone speedily, many of the playerbase will give them a second chance. Especially if EA (Mythic’s parent company) could sweeten the deal with … say  … beta spots for a certain upcoming MMO which really could use some good word of mouth.

It always makes me sad to report bad news about WAR. There were so many things to like about that game, it feels like kicking a puppy.

Anyhow, if you were affected, Chris at Game By Night has some advice on practical advice on how to sort out your refund and complaint, from a banking insider.

Apparently WoW has an expansion coming out

No dates yet for Cataclysm but various press outlets report that they’ve had emails about registering for the press beta.

And in case you somehow missed it, Blizzard have been coming out with some class previews for Cataclysm, including wide ranging changes and new abilities. None of this is yet set in stone, but is a useful pointer to where they are heading.

One of the early reviews was for priests, who will get an ability to pull a raid/group member to their location (Leap of Faith). This received a lot of kneejerk reaction, including a stern shake of the head from Tobold, and epic QQ from Tamarind.

Personally I think it sounds like fun and I hope that this does make it into the game in some form. But the fact that I could think of at least three ways to grief people with it before figuring out even one legitimate use doesn’t bode well.  I think something a little more subtle (maybe a spell to wipe threat from a friendly player) would have been more priestlike, but then that has different issues in PvP.

What I like about the idea is that it shows that Blizzard understand that standing passively at the back is one reason that healing isn’t as fun as it could be. So giving priests more power to affect a fight directly, rather than at one step removed, is one of the ways they are exploring to make heals more fun.

Other high(?)lights of the preview:

  • Bye bye tree form (Will try to comment more on this next week since I do also play a resto druid – basically I’m really happy with the proposed changes.)
  • Bye Bye blood dps and unholy/ frost tanking builds. (I guess the great DK flexibility experiment either failed or was too much effort. DK tanks are my prediction for more overpowered tank next expansion.)
  • Mages get the bloodlust/ heroism analogue. (I wonder if they should have just removed that buff from the game or toned it the hell down, it makes way too much difference in 5 man instances and I’m still not sure whether 10 mans are balanced around it – Blizzard claims not but is that really possible?)

And there were also announcements about the rage normalisation changes and hunters using focus instead of mana, neither of which was unexpected although they’ll both be sweeping change.

Over the next few weeks, a lot of current players will be analysing these previews and trying to decide which class to play in Cataclysm. The classes with the sexier updates will attract more people. I didn’t really see anything which made me wonder ‘why the hell are they doing THAT?’ Well, except maybe leap of faith …

One thing is for sure, that’s a hell of a lot of balancing for Blizzard to try to get right.

And if you were wondering about the paladin update, that isn’t due out until next Friday (16th). For the class which has most epitomised Blizzard’s Wrath ethos,  will it be more buffs, the nerfbat, or a complete redesign? Paladins have certainly rocketed in popularity over the course of the expansion, and they were never an unpopular class. But has Blizzard decided to call time?  Personally I’ll call it a win if they can make it impossible for low level tankadins to forget Righteous Fury (their tanking buff).