This week, I answer some Reader Mail from Arjun.
The writing style of [WoW Insider] is always upbeat/positive, which is great. I thought I'd ask you your opinion of the official WoW forums, especially the realm forums. What do you think of them? Should casual or newer players try to avoid them at all costs? I've been playing casually for about a year, and have two 70s (Ally Mage and BE Tankadin). I posted to the forums that I'm looking for a new guild, casual in focus. It's amazing what happens, but not in a good way. [Here is the forum link.] What would you recommend to your readers about the official WoW forums?
My answer is after the jump.
In general, I have to say that writing anything anywhere on the internet requires a thick skin. Whether because of the GIFT, lack of manners, nerd rage or a combination of all of these, some people are very comfortable with insulting anyone who dares to post publicly. Forum Trolls don't just hang out in gaming related forums. I read a lot of knitting blogs, for example, and while the knitting community tends to be a friendly bunch, they still have their share of obnoxious commenters. I still have nightmares of the time I posted a column and woke up to dozens of people hating my guts. When people feel strongly about something, even non-trolls, they sometimes forget they are talking to real people with feelings. It takes a while to get used to.
Back in EverQuest's heyday, the official forums were called Whineplay, for obvious reasons. My server's community didn't bother to go there for requests like yours. Instead, we went to the Stratics forum for our server and posted. Of course, there were still trolls, but we all knew each other in game and therefore rude posters could pay the price of people not grouping or raiding with them. (Except for priests. Priests could get away with anything, even dropping acid during raids. But I digress.) Though EQ was huge at the time, that still meant only 500,000 people spread out among many servers at their peak, so the community was much smaller than the WoW community.
Because World of Warcraft is such a popular game, there are a wide variety of sites that offer forums for it. In general, however, if you want to get the largest audience for your question, going to the official forums is the best answer. But if you are looking to become a part of a more intimate and closely monitored community, LiveJournal is a good option. Unfortunately, your server is not represented there, but if you have more general questions regarding gear or talents, for example, you are more likely to get friendlier help.
I did notice that the third comment on your post did invite you to join his casual raiding guild. That is the real key to writing on the internet, whether posting to a blog (like this one) or on the forums or even in Trade Chat: read the good and ignore the bad. Just read the people who actually respond constructively to your question and ignore the people who are just there to poke at you. It is important to remember that someone can respond to you constructively but not necessarily with an answer you want to hear. If someone says that your gear isn't good enough to join his guild, he is actually being helpful. If someone says your gear isn't good enough to join any guild, he is just wrong.
Overall, I think the WoW forums are a good resource for casual players, particularly for server specific questions. Unless you really enjoy arguing, however, I recommend that you don't feed the trolls. Just respond to the constructive posts or clarify your question if you feel that the responses are missing your point. The more you defend yourself against the trolls, the more they will taunt you. And our game-related time is too short for all of that negative energy.
I hope you have found a casual raiding guild by this time and are enjoying your new server. I agree with you that casual players should spend their limited game time having fun. Let us know if you are succeeding.