Unless I am missing something, that GW2 Reddit session was very dumb

If you’d like to read the article and event I am referencing, here it is. Take your time, this text ain’t goin’ nowhere.

To explain what went on and to show that I might – or might not – be missing, here is what GW2 said:

“Raise your hand. When we point at you, shout out a username and we’ll tell you why it was banned. We’ll tell you on Reddit, the most well-behaved and non-trolly place in the world. No one lies here.”

I have asked my wife, a community manager, to verify what I was seeing. I asked on Twitter and asked a few friends in other places. It seems as though I am not missing something, but feel free to let me know in the comments or other places.

Who came up with this idea? Who at the long-established ArenaNet made the decision to host this on Reddit, and who thought it was a way to show, I don’t know, street cred or something? The fact of the matter is that not a single one of the CMs I know or follow thought this was a good idea. I could go into the million reasons why things like bans or suspensions or silences are not discussed in public. This is a great quote from Facebook from a CM:

Along with all of the valid points you’ve both raised, this also flies in the face of something I feel very strongly about and that’s keeping a tight fence around your communication channels. Your customers should not have to go on a magical egg hunt to find information from or about you. Discussions should be relegated to your official forum or social media outlet. Reddit? I think they got lucky.

NOT discussing these things in public is community management 101.

So, why did it happen? I think for a few reasons, including these two:

1) Posting on Reddit gives you some sort of troll street cred. Notice the people who are claiming it is a good thing and you’ll notice someone who is cool with Reddit. Reddit is a cess pool that is overwhelmingly male and young. If anyone denies this, they do not step outside of his or her friendly circle that happens to be hosted on the site. The few “nice” places do not subtract the many horrible places on the site. But, if you’re the president and one of your aids tells you “That’s where the kids hang out!” or if you are a CM and decide “Hey, let’s go over there and tell them trolls what’s up!” then you might think it is a good idea. Let me be clear: these Q and As can be hosted anywhere. Hosting them on Reddit is an obvious cry for cred.

2) Any community team should understand why these things are not discussed publicly. Hell, PLAYERS should know this by now. There are security concerns and other reasons you do not discuss these things publicly, ever. All it does is give attention to trolls (CM 101: do not feed the trolls) and give the legit cases no choice but to be embarrassed because Anet was not answering CS emails (something that has been reported on a lot since the game launched.)

Either I have no idea what happened and what the motivations were behind it, or I am one of the few people who think it was a very stupid idea. Not only did the Anet team feed the trolls but they also set up an expectation for future interactions. How “raise your hand and tell us a name and we’ll divulge private information to everyone” was ever brought up is beyond me.

Oh well, next Anet can publish the names of players they do not like in the hopes that the player will be harassed out of game. Oh, good idea…from now on CMs can just utilize the “shame” method and will have the job become 56.4% easier.

Makes sense, I guess.




Author: Beau Hindman

I write for a living, which means that I sit around in my PJs all day. I love it. www.beauhindman.com

13 thoughts on “Unless I am missing something, that GW2 Reddit session was very dumb”

  1. Edited the first one for you:

    1) Posting on the Internet gives you some sort of troll street cred.

    Now reread the point you made and let me know if you understand the why a bit better.

  2. Hey Beau,

    I think you did miss the point, or some part of it somewhere. At least, the way I see it is this – ANet is making it abundantly clear that they have a no-tolerance policy for bad behavior. AND they are engaging their community in a space outside their “walled garden”, which is something I think every Community Team should explore more often. Yes, they did it on Reddit which is probably NOT the best place they could have, but it IS a VERY public place, and it garnered the kind of attention they apparently felt they needed. For cred or for publicity – whatever – it served it’s purpose.

    The thing that caught my attention was that the ANet rep who was responding on Reddit was candid, but not rude or mocking. Where they responded to a player with a question about their ban, it was fairly dry. The type of misconduct (name or chat) and the exact example for which the player was banned. They were friendly and humorous in other places, but purely professional where they addressed a player’s behavior. The ANet rep wasn’t demeaning – something that cannot be said for the OTHER Redditors, but that’s not ANet’s problem, nor does it reflect badly upon them.

    I agree with the Gamasutra article you linked – all other Community Managers need to take note of this. I sincerely hope that ANet continues on this path, and sets a new bar for good customer relations. It’s telling that “not a single one of the CMs I know or follow thought this was a good idea” – but shouldn’t you also ask yourself, “How many of those CMs work for video game companies with a reputation for good customer service/relations?”. Heck, how many video game companies actually have this kind of reputation at all? Exactly. And most of us are adults, and paying customers, who want to be treated with respect.

    I won’t argue about the lack of ANet’s responses outside of Reddit – but it is launch, with a huge influx of new players. This is probably the single busiest time for them. I think we can cut them some slack, yes?

    I guess my question for you is this: In light of what ANet is trying to accomplish – clamping down on homophobic, racist, and sexist behavior inside THEIR game – how can you consider this to be a bad thing? Is it their motivation (a clean, fun place to play)? Their method (publicly posting a player’s name/chat)? Or their mechanism (Reddit)?

    Lastly, please don’t ignore the fact that ANet didn’t post a list of players who were banned – those players volunteered up their information and invited ANet to make their behavior public. And, yes, it IS “the ‘shame’ method”. But shouldn’t those players who were legitimately banned BE ASHAMED of their behavior?

    (sorry for the wall of text)

  3. OK, you have missed my very simple point. I’m a poor writer when I am mad about something, though, so I understand, lol:

    Anet is not wrong for talking openly to the community. I have never said that.

    The problem is that Reddit User #236 asks about a GW2 player name.

    So, how did Anet know or verify that Reddit User #236 WAS that GW2 player? They did not. They openly discussed what is always (always always) private information. Again, the reason this is a bad idea should be very obvious.

    “Hey Anet..look up GW2 player name _____, please. And then publicly tell me why they — I mean I — were — I mean was — banned.”

    “OK, Reddit user #236, here is the normally private information for you, on a public site. By the way, you ARE GW2 player _____, right?”

    “Yes. I promise. Now thank you for verifying that GW2 player (me, I promise!) said those things. Now I know that he…er, I mean *I* said those things.”

    GW2 player ____ : “Wait a sec, who the Hell gave out my private dealings with Anet?”

    Anyway, moderators and CMs are dealing with this every single day. They do not do it openly for the reasons I stated. If I did not state them, they should be obvious. If it is not obvious, ask a CM.


    1. I get you now, though I didn’t see that as the main point of your post (me being obtuse more than your writing!). But I still think it’s a bit of a stretch…

      I read through a majority of the Reddit posts, and I stand by ANet. One, they don’t provide any PII, no email addresses, etc. Even where people mention their account name – UserBob.5678 – there is no email address associated with it. Not that I could find on Reddit. I see Display Names and character names, neither of which are used to log in.

      None of what they gave out is private – anyone who purchases a copy of the game has access to display names, character names, and can see the chat channels. And even gold farmers/hacker MUST have bought at least one copy of the game to do *anything* with account info.

      Two, I would rather they approach it this way that the standard method for community “interaction” around issues such as this. Which is to say, little to none. I didn’t get banned or hacked, but it makes me feel a lot better about being an ANet customer to see that they are both proactive, and communicative.

      Whatever their reasons, the reactions you describe from the other CMs comes off as petty/jealous/scared/bitter. None of which they can afford, working in Customer Service. I would never claim that they have an easy, or even manageable job (I know *I* couldn’t do what they do – it is a Herculean task for any and all of them), but it seems they are intimidated by the idea of needing to move beyond their realm of absolute control.

      1. No, it’s not you. I’m just a crappy writer. Lol

        Anyway, a lot of community workers do things like this, all the time. I just streamed a live event with 100+ people in a live chat room with the developers from Allods. They were careful with what they said but would have giggled if someone in the chat room asked “Here’s my screen name, can you tell me why I was banned?”

        Its just weird that the Anet team would have let it go that far. Oh well.

        Thanks for the comments!

        Beau (sorry, playing from mobile.)

  4. Condescending, check!
    Self righteous, check!
    Narcissist, check!
    Critic, check!

    I stopped reading your “blogs” long ago because of this. Only reason I ran across it today was because it was for GW2.

  5. I think the ANET CM’s that I saw on that thread were being very careful to only respond with what the customer had already made public… either a visible character name or a line of chat text from the public channel. In the case of possible hacked accounts, the users were asked to contact them through the official channels.

    So… even if a reddit user spoofed someone else’s username, they’d only succeed in linking their reddit username with someone elses bad /public/ behavior.

    I think most in the community saw this a plus for Arenanet, and the community managers you asked may not have seen the whole picture.

    1. You’re still missing the point. A poster on Reddit can say whatever name he or she wants…we all know how easy and obvious it is to find those usernames.

      But UNTIL Anet confirms that username, we know it is not official. In other words, they still did not CONFIRM that the usernames that were posted were, indeed, put out there by the actual owner of the username.

      In your example there is still no official tie to the account. Anet does not own or run Reddit and has no way of verifying (unless they sent each person a message ahead of time verifying who they were…and we know they didn’t do that) who those people were.

      I gave examples that illustrate my point. I can’t explain it further. hehe


  6. Here’s an example:

    “[–]FoulMouthedFrog 197 points 3 days ago
    Mind checking Invalidation?
    I too was suspended for inappropriate behavior.

    [–]ArenaNetSupportTeam[S] 967 points 3 days ago

    Now, how did they verify that the person who owns that account name (if it is FoulMouthedFrog, cool, but we and Anet have no way of knowing) because all they was take a screen name and post why it was banned.

    Imagine if this person had said something that barely skated the rules or if it was someone who, as most MMO players expect, thinks these sort of interactions are always kept private as they have been for years. That person can have all of their private information put out there for all to see, simply because Anet thought it would be cool to take it to the trolls.

    I can find more examples, here’s one where a person on Reddit asks about a ban, but we have no idea if he is the person in question or if he just found the username or was trying to air his friend’s dirty laundry as a joke, etc: http://www.reddit.com/r/Guildwars2/comments/yxx3m/suspensions_for_offensive_names_and_inappropriate/c5zti8d


    1. “That person can have all of their private information put out there for all to see, simply because Anet thought it would be cool to take it to the trolls.”

      Except, it ISN’T private, and there isn’t ANY reasonable expectation of privacy when you are BROADCASTING OBSCENITIES TO A WHOLE ZONE OF PEOPLE.

      The things that ANet was posting, and this is something in your other responses you do NOT adequately address, by the way… you simply gloss over it, is that what the ANet people were posting, were things said OPENLY by players in an MMO… “Massively Multiplayer” is right there in the name MMO.

      You can sit on your high horse, and say “ANet had no right to publicize public information, what they did is bad, and I am better than them and smarter than them.” all you want, but you are being obscenely disingenuous with that line of argument.

      This would be like me getting on a street corner with a bullhorn, telling everyone to “go fuck themselves in their stupid faggot asses” or whatever other horrible things I wanted to say, IN PUBLIC, TO OTHER PEOPLE, and then getting upset that someone talking about the incident later quoted me, because they were violating my privacy.

      Here are the FACTS of why what happened happened:

      GW2 players act like shits, and get banned.

      Banned GW2 players start crying that ANet is ban-happy, and banning them for NO REASON, WAAH! and start a massive campaign of sound and fury.

      ANet decides to give them a place to “put up or shut up” in one of the places where that sound and fury was loudest. In essence, ANet decided they wanted a chance to tell their side of the story.

      People post character names of banned individuals, and ask why they were banned.

      ANet posts the reason for the ban, by quoting their public statments/names.

      Some internet jerkwad decides for some reason to advocate for the privacy of the GW2 players who thought it was ok to call complete strangers “faggot” and “nigger” and worse in public, because their privacy was being violated.

      In this story, you’re the jerkwad. The jerkwad is you.

      1. I’m going to respond to this so you can see it before I ban you. If you want to come on here and insult me, I’m sure you won’t mind never coming to the site again. Anyway, what they said in public is not and has never been the issue. Neither has the issue ever been what Anet decides to do with any information at all, period. It’s their game and EULA….they can do what they want and change what they want when they want.

        “ANet posts the reason for the ban, by quoting their public statments/names.”

        This is a perfect example of how wrong you have it by concentrating on the public. The public chat is, as I said above, not the issue. The “ANet posts the reason for the ban…” part is the problem. Who are they telling this normally private TO? The public. That’s the point. They are taking information (verification of what was said connected to an account and what the punishment is, even if the ruling was unjust or done, as in my example, wrongly) and putting it into public areas.

        I’m going to make you a promise: if Anet said that they are going to post every bit of every player’s private messages, chat logs, forum posts and in-game mails, there would be an outrage. Just because they are announcing that CERTAIN accounts are doing SOME things (some of them very bad, something I have never argued against) does not mean that they are doing it in a way that is standard for any community team from any game. Name me a single MMO that posts everything from GM or Mod-to-player mails (you might not be in community and do not understand how community works) and I will show you an MMO that you made up.

        It doesn’t happen, for the exact reaons I have stated over and over. If you don’t get it, that’s fine. But do not pretend that I am talking about public chat logs. Those chats and things that were said have absolutely ZERO to do with what I am talking about.

        Now, off with you. Shoo!


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