||Freedom of speech and WoW
There's a reason why you don't crash into the Blizzard forums with guns a-blazing, firing off inappropriate comments and spamming threads with personal attacks and outrageous behavior. Hundreds of readers reacted to Adam Holisky's recent opinion on what those reasons might be. We've sampled just a few of their comments here.
DragonFireKai: The issue isn't that people are giving feedback, it's the manner in which they're giving feedback. You can say something like, "I don't feel that the recent changes to Seal of Vengeance allows Ret Bust DPS to compete on encounters demanding multiple target switches." That's not the problem. The problem is that the majority of the people who are straight up foaming at the mouth on the forums are being profane, obscene and generally rude, which is against the ToS.
Sparcrypt: ... Go to a shopping centre and stand outside a store, then start yelling about how bad that store is and how they screwed you because they changed their prices on your favorite items. See how long it takes for security to toss you out, perfectly legally. Now, if you instead were to be upset and make a complaint to their corporate office ... They will take it as feedback and MIGHT consider changing it. Sending that feedback to them, however, does not mean they must change things because "'you are the customer and the customer is always right!"
Hell, if I was always right, I'd never pay for anything. "That should be free!" "But yo --" "CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!"
Freedom of speech is NOT an "I can do anything I want to" pass. ...
Sleutel: This desperately needed to be said. I've been a moderator in a large community (over 500k), and you wouldn't believe how often people would whine about free speech. There is NO free speech in private communities, which includes video games and online forums. None. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Your "freedom" is to leave that community or game and start your own, where you get to make the rules. Period.
Pocky: Begin rant
Personally, I don't feel that it has anything to do with freedom of speech, a person's legal right, private property rules, etc. It's something much simpler: treating people with respect and (un)common courtesy. I pay my $15/mo. to play a game I enjoy. Do all the changes they make always please me? No. When my favorite class gets hit by the nerf bat, do I raise a huge stink like some little child who doesn't want to share his/her favorite toy with someone else? No. Why not? Because I still enjoy the game. What I get from it is worth more than the lousy $15/mo. I pay, especially in this economy. It costs nearly $15 to go see a two-hour (if you're lucky) movie, not including popcorn, etc. For the same amount of money, I can spend as much time a month as I want playing WoW. Do I appreciate that? Hell, yes!
I find it extremely indicative of the mire that society has sunk into. But not just society, but people themselves. People don't have to be this way ... They act this way because they WANT to act this way. They want to be rude, insensitive, selfish, vulgar and much more, because no one is ever held accountable for their actions anymore. It's become a "do whatever you want" society, with no care about how your actions affect anyone else, because no one is being told they should! We're inundated with a "just do it" mentality, step on everyone you have to, to get that almighty dollar or whatever else you want. We live in a society filled with selfish, self-absorbed wastes of oxygen because no one is calling an idiot an idiot.
So, do I like that Blizzard is apparently banning people on Blizzard's own forums? Definitely. It's about time people had a taste of what their actions cost. You can NOT insult someone and walk away without there being consequences. What you say affects someone, somewhere, whether it be the person you said it to, the person walking by who heard it or yourself. I'm sick of hearing people whine about their rights. Most often, the whining is loudest when the complainer is stomping on someone else's rights.
We rent space on Blizzard's servers to create our own little world to live in, a world that interacts with millions of other people's worlds. Do we have the right to force our ideas on them, or they on us? No, because we all pay the same rent. Blizzard owns the property; we abide by their rules. Blizzard decides what happens on their property. Ghostcrawler and the other Blues are doing us a favor by allowing us to interact with them to create a better game. We still don't own it. We play with what is released to the stores (downloaded, whatever). If we can get our ideas considered and possibly even inserted into the game, isn't that an incredible achievement with a company that size? The old saying "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar" is applicable. If you want to be listened to, make yourself someone people will WANT to listen to.
So, I just want to finish with this ... Ghostcrawler, you're doing an awesome job, as are the rest of the Blues. Don't listen to those immature morons who have no right to be flapping their lips. There are a LOT of people out there who appreciate the game and all the incredible hard work that gets put into it by all the people at Blizzard. As for all the idiots who are making the noise, nut up or shut up! If you can't be constructive, go whine to someone who cares.
Killchrono: A lot of the negative replies to the article have been quite abusive and caustic themselves, and the most interesting part is that a lot of them are unfounded. Claims like WoW.com is biased towards Blizz, GC is stupid and either ignores players or only listens to stupid ones ... These are basically weak justifications to act like tools and frankly, most of these comments are unfounded. People like me downvote them exactly for the reason the article states: they're being immature and not worthy of attention. The article isn't suggesting there should be no freedom of speech, just that people don't have a right to be pricks. If they're arguing they DO have a right to be pricks, then that alone is enough justification for us to ignore them.
Anonymous: While Adam probably reflects a majority view regarding the application of the First Amendment to virtual worlds and online fora, the answer ultimately isn't so clear cut -- nor should it be, given the important legal and policy considerations that are in play.
Two examples of private places where courts have recognized First Amendment rights despite a lack of government action are in places of public accommodation, such as shopping malls, and in company towns. WoW could be seen by a court as analogous to those, so IMO its First Amendment status is uncertain.
For an excellent discussion of these issues, and more, I highly recommend Jack Balkin's paper "Virtual Liberty: Freedom to Design and Freedom to Play in Virtual Worlds."