As a boomkin, I'm always dancing. But imagine my surprise when I found out that baby moonkin hatchling /danced right back with me!
As a boomkin, I'm always dancing. But imagine my surprise when I found out that baby moonkin hatchling /danced right back with me!
Every so often, I swear off reading World of Warcraft related forums. Typically, this is after a particularly nasty turn of events on a guild forum that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and pondering why I voluntarily subject myself to them. But just as surely, after a while, I am back in there, posting up a storm about things I’ve gotten excited about or think guildies should know. I have a pretty classic love/hate relationship with guild forums. And I think that’s true for a lot of folks.
What I Love About Guild Forums
In theory, I absolutely love guild forums. They can really knit a group of people together into a team. Specifically:
1) They provide an out of game place where guildies can get to know each other better. They can post pictures from their vacations, or share their band’s touring schedule, or opine about pop culture. In short, provide a glimpse at the person behind the pixels.
2) They are a great place to capture your guildies’ expertise. I’ve long been one to post my lists of rare craftables on my guild forums, and my thoughts on specs and gear etc. I shifted much of that to my blog when I started it two years ago, but do link out to those lists or cross-post things to the forums when relevant. Of course now you can see at-a-glance which of your guildies can make what by sorting your guild roster in-game by profession.
3) Even with the in-game calendar, forums provide a good way to get organized for raids or other events. The calendar can only provide you with the who/what/when/where. For the nuts and bolts of who is doing what, and what strategies to employ, there’s little that beats the guild forums. Yes, you can get by with telling folks to “go read wowwiki/watch tankspot”, but a successful guild will often find benefit from posting their specific take on strats in their forums. And the forums are the perfect place to post screenies and a recap of your guild events. After all, you can’t post a video of your guild’s naked gnome run in the calendar.
4) And most of all they can help keep your guildies all on the same page. Instead of having to answer each new guildie’s questions about guild policies and procedures anew each time they are asked, you can have everything there is to know (or at least your guild charter, loot policy and raiding schedule) posted on your forums.
What I Hate About Guild Forums
But I have to be honest and say that overall, I’ve gotten to the “I don’t want to read this anymore” state with more than one guild forum in my five years of playing WoW. Why? The usual suspects:
1) Trolling. You’d think people would save their trolling for the official forums, yes? Well, that hasn’t been my experience. I have seen more than one blowhard, excited by the captive audience a guild forums creates (since unlike in-game, you can’t ignore a member/poster on most of the popular guild forum providers), being unable to resist their urge to troll their guildies repeatedly. Frequently, they feign innocence, and get away with it and live to troll another day, because, after all, you don't want to jump to conclusions. But here’s the deal: one post that causes a dramastorm is an accident. The same person authoring the last 5 dramabombs dropped in your guild forums? That’s called trolling, no matter how you try to whitewash it.
2) Bullies. Something about being behind a keyboard, typing words into the void without immediate feedback seems to bring out the worst in some people. They require having the last word. They use facts, complex mathematical equations, or things they made up right now but sound pretty official to try to shout down anyone with an opposing viewpoint. These people are called bullies. Most of the bullying I've seen on forums is over a difference of opinion, not over a point of fact. You'd like to think that adults (and most of the time the bullies are, in fact, adults) understand that with 12 million people playing the game, across the planet, people will not always share your opinion. And that one's opinion is not the same thing as a fact. But a bully will not rest until all opposing opinions have been publicly stamped out, even if that means resorting to name calling, condescending comments and belittling others. Because for a forums bully, all that's important is winning that argument.
3) Drama. You have probably seen a baby fall down and look around to see if anyone saw them fall before they start crying, haven't you? In many ways, guild forums are like this too. A dogpile of drama can pile up faster than you can say Legendary Weapon, with the wails increasing in volume as more people chime in. Similarly, many people decide to take every issue or grievance they have -- be it with the guild leadership or an individual guild member-- to the forums instead of talking through the issue one-on-one with the other party. This is not OK. If you've never been tried in the court of public opinions via a forums drama post, then you may not realize exactly how horrible it feels to log in and see someone talking a bunch of smack about you, and trying to get others to join on in, about an issue about which you were completely unaware. This is the kind of drama that often leads to a /gquit from the recipient of the dramabomb, leaving you with a victorious bully or dramaqueen.
4) Endless rehashing of dead issues. Have you ever read a forum wherein every new member wants to give their 2 cents to the raiding schedule? And every few weeks a discussion about loot rules emerges? Or after a decision is posted about who will be getting the items needed to craft the latest legendary weapon, someone else chimes in to say they think they should get it as well/instead? For whatever reason, instead of providing a history of what's gone on and why, many forums seem to get stuck on repeat. And if you are an officer, discussing for the 12th time why the current raid nights are in effect, you just might want to pull your hair out.
And lest you think I am alone in these issues being a turn off, note that whenever I’ve brought this topic up on twitter or with folks one-on-one, there have been a number of folks right there with me, who stop perusing forums (or even leave guilds) when they become overrun with bullies, or churn the stomach with the way guildies are (mis)treating each other. And as an officer, I've had guildies come to me and tell me flat out that they were considering leaving a guild, or in fact did leave a guild, over bullying and trolling on guild forums.
How to Improve Your Guild Forums
The first step you can take, if you haven't already done so, is to post forum rules and make it clear that all members -- including Officers -- are expected to heed them. Ideally, you'll want to post the rules in conjunction with forum registration, as they do over at Elitist Jerks. Some sample rules/operating procedures:
After you have the ground rules worked out, you need to also post how infractions against the rules are to be enforced; 3 strikes and you're out for instance. You'll also want to clearly note, or instance, that moderators will lock drama threads and delete anything that's against the terms of service for your forums provider. Spell out what the ground rules are, and then stick to them. Even if that means locking a thread due to an officer crossing the line with someone. It is key for your moderators to be fair and apply the rules to all members, and for them to be supported by the officers in doing so. If the moderator is going to be getting their own dramabomb lodged at them with accusations of squelching someone's free speech every time they shut down a drama thread, pretty soon you aren't going to have any moderators left.
Alternatives to Guild Forums
Guild forums may not always be the best choice for your guild. If you do not have the bandwidth for active moderation, or guildies don't want to pay for hosting that allows moderation, you may want to consider a few alternatives to guild forums.
If you are primarily looking for a place to house your guild's charter and policies, with a "just the facts" slant, a free wiki might be a good resource for you. Check out: http://www.wikia.com/Wikia and http://pbworks.com/content/personal+overview to see what you need to do to get started.
Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with guildies out of game. And a lively twitter stream of guildies can also be a great recruitment tool. One of the nice things about twitter is other than direct messages or people with locked accounts, most of the discussion is out there in the open. Something about that seems to give folks more of a sense of accountability. Because you don't want hundreds of WoW folks on twitter thinking you are a jerk, right? I will say I have seen some jerky behavior on twitter, but far less of it than I have seen in guild forums. And it has gotten shut down fast.
Why not consider starting a guild blog? You can let multiple folks post to it, or have one owner, depending on your preference. Some blog hosts, like Typepad, let you give guest poster's access to creating drafts that the owner has to approve and which will be tied to their username, thus giving some control over the content. This allows you to have static content pages plus newsy posts about what your guild has accomplished, screenshots and recaps of recent events, or even recruitment needs, without the free-for-all of forums.
What's the Future for Guild Forums?
I was talking about this topic with my Alliance guild leader this weekend, and he said that for that guild at least, forums aren't necessary. Yes, we have them and folks use them on occasion. But primarily the guild uses the in-game calendar to schedule runs, officers actively communicate in G (and in whispers to those not on when topics are discussed in G) to communicate anything that needs a wider audience, and a good number of folks are on twitter talking to each other about in-game issues and other topics day-in and day-out. And since several guildies, including myself, are bloggers, commenting in blogs, or on twitter about blog topics, also serves as another communication tool.
The one guild forums function that I don't seeother communication channels as being able to replace, however, is the guild application. I still feel that guild applications, if your guild uses them to recruit raiders and members into the guild (versus invitations going only out to friends of friends via word-of-mouth), should be made in a public guild forum. Having applications out in public allows all guild members the opportunity to speak up if there is a reason the guild would be better off not accepting an applicant, provides a public record of the person's interests and role applied for, and also allows raid leaders to see if their raiders are app'ing elsewhere. Thanks to public guild applications on forums, as an officer I've been able to find out that an applicant was applying to every raiding guild on the server; have had guildies give me a heads up that an applicant was, in fact, their stalker who had followed them from guild-to-guild harassing them; and been able to find out that some of the details in some applications were more than just a slight exaggeration.
So while I don't think guild forums are headed for extinction yet, I do think there are quite a few other ways to build a sense of guild community. And if your guild does have an active forum, having clear rules of conduct-- and consistently enforcing them-- seems to me to be key to maintaining a sense of civility and camaraderie amongst your guildmates, and making the forums a resource people are interested in reading -- not a place of dread.
What do you think? Could you live without guild forums? Would you never even consider joining a guild without an active forum? Have you successfully moderated forums? Would love to hear your POV.
It feels as though my exploration of Azeroth has barely begun. There is so much I have yet to see and do. It's a welcome change of pace. In these past few days, I have come across many changes that have made me very happy:
BONUS: A big THANK YOU to Blizz for the many improved textures that help make the redesigned Orgrimmar and Stormwind cities truly magnificent. You've outdone yourself guys.
It's been several years since the destruction wrought by Deathwing shattered Azeroth. Yet it seems like only a few days ago. How have you coped? What has struck you most in your heart?
I knew that after all the transformation we'd seen take place in Azeroth as a result of Deathwing's fury that I too needed to undergo transformation, to show the world my true self. And thus, I went under the knife for my recustomization, and became the adorable shadow priest gnome that I always had lurking inside of my sexy blue shell.
After I made my leap of faith, I made sure to visit my racial leader, the High Tinker himself, and to receive his blessing.
I hope you too have found your post-shattering "whoohoo!" moment and your inner (gnome) peace as well.
Last night in Azeroth -- what to do? Take a morotcycle ramble around the old world of course. So many memories. Like fighting the world dragon in Ashzara. And my first explorations of Darkshore on my baby druid, my first toon. Remembering the fear of running past Splintertree post as a baby druid (ahhh! they're after me!) So many friendly quest givers, so many scenic spots that took my breath away on first view, then became a part of my game world, familiar territory, for five years of playing.
Fought back some horde picking on a poor little old shadow priest. Killed the Winterfall Runners. Stopped to watch the antelope frolic in the Barrens. And woke up this morning to a message intercepted from an angry dragon. Things will never be the same.
Farewell old Azeroth, and hello to the New World (of Warcraft) Order.
I snuck in just under the wire for this week's Blog Azeroth Shared topic: writing your blog's autobiography. The results can be seen in the shiny new About Me page now part of the site header. Thanks to Ophelie at Bossy Pally for suggesting the topic!
It's pretty funny that it took me over two years to finally get that written. I blame all the vanity pets in need of acquiring and profession lists that needed to be created for waylaying me. Wouldn't you?
Nothing more to see here. Logging back in to WoW to earn some more fabulously cheap and easy cooking achievements on my alts thanks to the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday.
With patch 4.0.3a, a.k.a. "the shattering", on the PTR, with many speculating we'll see it on live servers as early as Tuesday, It's time to start thinking about what you need to do to get ready. And before you say "Blizz would never release a major patch like this before a holiday..." I must remind you that we'd never have thought they'd release a huge patch like 4.0.1 the week of Blizzcon either. And thus I bring you 5 steps for preparing for the patch:
BONUS: Get a chopper made now -- nothing says post-Apocalypse road trip through Azeroth like a motorcycle.
With Cataclysm only a few short weeks away, it's tome for you to face up to the unholy mess that is your personal bank vault. And it's also time for Officers to evaluate the Guild bank vault. This guide to efficiently cleaning out your bank assumes you have a bank alt. If you don't have one already please go roll one now. Thank you.
To get started cleaning out your personal bank, start by moving around all the items you have accumulated. I suggest grouping them like this:
Keep all those in bucket 1. Keep those in bucket 2 only if you have used your off spec in the past 3 weeks. Throw out category 3 items since you can reforge and will be getting all new gear in a month anyhow. Bucket 4 should have already been DEd or sold by the time you are reading this sentence. Send items in bucket 5 to your bank alt.
Keep items in categories 1-3. Keep items in category 4, in moderation, unless they are only usable in Dalaran. And no you really do not need 6 stacks of pygmy oil. You really don't. Minimize how much of each item you have on your character (max of 1 stack); send overflow to your bank alt. Throw out items in categories 5 and 6. You'll be getting far better ones soon, and are likely to use up your old flasks while leveling rather than using those elixirs anyhow.
Make sure you only have, across your account, 1 of each of the BoA vanity pets (Or two if you are contemplating a one character server move.) Delete the rest. Mail all remaining BoA vanity pet items and all BoA gear to your bank alt.
Reputation and Quest Items
Mail all items in categories 1 and 2 to your bank alt. Keep items in category 3 such as Blood of Innocents from Scholomance, or the blue ring that allows you to summon Vael in UBRS if they have sentimental value for you. Throw out items in category 4 unless you are actively engaged in that reputation grind currently. Don't hang on to a half dozen slots of items you know in your heart you will never ever turn in. Especially if it's from BC times and earlier. Keep items in category 4 if you are really going to do the quest before Cataclysm hits. If not, toss them out along with all the items in category 5.
At this point, you should have 3-4 bags free on your main character (we all have a certain amount of gear, consumables, and toys we like to carry around with us), and hopefully well-organized bags in the bank with plenty of room for your Cataclysm goodies.
Toys and Other Fun Stuff
Fun stuff has a tendency to be the downfall of many banks. A leather ball here, a stack of snowballs there, and pretty soon your inventory is full. But this game is ABOUT having fun, so keep all items in category #1. Try to trim down the number in category 2 (I have a whole bag of Halloween wands, blossoming branches, and a Manabonk wand on more than 1 character. That's OK.) Mail items in category 3 to your bank alt or unsuspecting guildies, or throw them out.
Keep a moderate amount of items in category 1 if you think there is a good chance you will need them. For example, if you are an enchanter, hang on to some materials. But if you are a max level tailor for example, liquidate those extra materials. Send all items in categories 2 and 3 to your bank alt.
Bank Alt Vaults
Now that you have sent your bank alt a ton of stuff as part of the process tidying up your bags, it's time to get organized. Most personal bank vaults with which I've been acquainted (i.e. I've asked impertinent questions about this on twitter and in game) tend to top out at about 3 tabs and a full set of Frostweave bags. The tabs start to feel a little too steep after that, so it is not entirely uncommon for serious auctioneers to have a second bank vault for keeping their storehouse of goods at the ready. But I digress.
You'll want to evaluate each item as you unpack it form the mail as a keep or a sell.
Keep and Organize
Keep Until Cataclysm Then Sell
I've seen guild banks that truly became the receptacles for all the junk the guildies couldn't sell. Guild banks that had so many and such strict rules that it was not uncommon to receive an item mailed back with a note about how it was not adequate for the guild bank and to please not place it there again. I like a happy medium between those two extremes.
First, you need to evaluate what items guildies actually contribute to -- and withdraw from-- the guild bank. If the all access tabs are stuffed to the gills with junk, and only the Officers-only extra special items ever leave the bank, consider not having as many slots open for general swapping. In addition to the tips for bank vaults above, guild banks will also want to take these thoughts into consideration:
When it comes to prioritizing which reputations I focus on working up to Exalted status, my priorities are based upon: profession recipes they unlock, pets or mounts that are available, and otherwise hard to obtain entry-level 80 gear for that character. This is why few of my characters attempt to work through all of the reputations each new expansion brings. This guide aims to help you prioritize where to spend your Cataclysm reputation faction grinding time.
NOTE: Until I can see how the rare level items from crafting and heroics shake out, not including the purchasable rare items here. In prior expansions, most of the rare reputation blues were not typically worth grinding out rep for on their own merits.
Guardians of Hyjal
Exalted rep will land you the ability to purchase an epic plate DPS belt, cloth spirit belt, melee DPS mail boots (Malorne gear not for druids? Oh the humanity!), or a tanking cloak. Spellcasters will want to grind at least to revered to grab the Arcanum of Hyjal helm enchant.
These guys are on my epic faction grind list so I can obtain a tan riding camel or a brown riding camel. Other epic purchasable items include dps spellcaster cloth boots, a melee DPS necklace, plate tanking wrists, or a plate healing waist. Melee DPS will want to grind to revered for the Arcanum of the Ramkahen helm enchant.
The Earthen Ring
Epic gear purchasable at exalted includes mail spellcaster boots, cloth spellcaster gloves, a melee DPS ring, and plate healing gloves. Tanks will want to grind to revered to purchase the Arcanum of the Earthen Ring helm enchant.
Therazane's big draw is shoulder enchants. Rare shoulder enhancements available at Honored: Lesser Inscription of Charged Lodestone, Lesser Inscription of Jagged Stone, Lesser Inscription of Shattered Crystal, and Lesser Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz. Epic shoulder enhancements available at Exalted: Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz, Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal, Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone, and Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone.
Dragonmaw Clan (H)
Melee DPS will want to grind out revered for the Arcanum of the Dragonmaw. Epic gear purchasable at exalted includes plate tanking boots, leather melee gloves, a spellcaster leather belt, and a spellcaster necklace.
Hellscream's Reach (H)
Clearly, I am going to be working on this rep, for a number of good reasons. Primarily: Hellscream's Reach Tabard (Use: Teleports the caster to Hellscream's Grasp on Tol Barad) and the Rustberg Gull vanity pet, both available at Honored reputation. At Exalted reputation, they have trinkets for everyone: Impatience of Youth, Mandala of Stirring Patterns, Mirror of Broken Images, Stump of Time, and Unsolvable Riddle. And they also have two mounts available at Exalted reputation: the Reins of the Drake of the West Wind and the Reins of the Spectral Wolf.
Baradin's Wardens (A)
Alliance folks will br grinding this rep for Baradin's Wardens Tabard (Use: Teleports the caster to Baradin Base Camp on Tol Barad) and the Rustberg Gull vanity pet. Like Hellscream's Reach, they have mounts available at Exalted reputation: Reins of the Drake of the West Wind and Reins of the Spectral Steed. And At Exalted reputation, they have trinkets for everyone: Impatience of Youth, Mandala of Stirring Patterns, Mirror of Broken Images, Stump of Time, and Unsolvable Riddle.
Wildhammer Clan (A)
Melee DPS will want to grind out revered for the Arcanum of the Wildhammer. Epic gear purchasable at exalted includes plate tanking boots, leather melee gloves, a spellcaster leather belt, and a spellcaster necklace.
Now that the final countdown has started for Cataclysm, as the earthquakes become more frequent, and the elementals start popping up everywhere, my thoughts have turned to professions. I’d been wondering how Inscription would fare, given that they’ve changed our glyph usage so that it’s buy once and know it forever, which will long-term reduce that facet of the viability of inscription as a money-making profession.
Thanks to the good folks over at WoWHead, I’ve gotten my question answered: we’ll be making toys and the key component to one of the new buff foods. Some nice relics for ourselves, and shoulder enchants that are better than the rep enchants as well. But so far, no sure-fire best selling items, unless it turns out we are the primary source for level 85 offhands for the first few months of the expansion.
Mysterious Fortune Cards
Now, these items are interesting. When you make a Mysterious Fortune Card, you can not be sure of exactly what you will end up with. No, it's not another Darkmoon Card redux. That's further down this page. Instead, you end up with a Fortune Card. Most of the time, you get the white item that provides a fortune but also acts as the primary material for creating a Fortune Cookie, a buff food that provides you with 96k health and mana, and a 90 stamina/90 other useful stat buff for an hour. But there is also a chance to create an uncommon card that vendors for 20g, a rare card that vendors for 50g, or, drum roll please: one of two epic quality cards that vendor for 1,000 G or 5,000 G. Now that's what I call fortunate!
Congratulations to all of AF's new Kingslayers! And thank you all for making one Boomkin's dreams come true.
Bolvar, we can never forget you, despite your request. Safe travels.
Once I saw all the tweets about it at lunchtime, I couldn't wait to get home so I could peep at the new WoW armory design and community website accessible via Battlenet. After I ditched Firefox and opened it in Safari, I was able to enjoy the beauty that is the new character sheet.
What's especially nice is they have the pretty version above, plus one with a lot more detail about the equipped gear and its enchants and gems. I haven't been playing my shadow priest much in the past month, thanks to taking a trip to Scotland and pre-expansion raiding burn out, so I hadn't even noticed that the patch ate several of my enchants (including the one on my chest piece. Thanks a lot!) until I saw that view. Now I have a to do for each of my characters...
Now that the official armory has your average gear level, and shows all your enchants/gems and does a character audit, there won't be much reason to visit WoW Heroes or other gear rating sites, except to see at-a-glance what raid content a character has completed, or for an easy way to see how that item level prepares them for which instance.
As currently implemented, the community site lets you pick which of your characters to display in the pulldown and to thus use for posting. I would put in a screenshot of the new overall pageview and how it shows a nice big adorable picture of your avatar, but it shows your real name right above it and I am too lazy to Photoshop it out this evening.
I have to admit I was a little surprised that Blizz didn't set up a system similar to the Starcraft forums, whereby we have to pick our main character to post on. At least for now, it appears you can change your main character as often as you'd like, and post as any of your characters, as per the existing forums. It will be interesting to see if that remains true after the trial period is over.
But this time around, the expansion also brings up a lot of uncertainty for me. Because I am in a very different place -- in game and out -- than I was at the last turn-of-the-expansion.
That Was Then
I was secure in the knowledge that although I no longer wanted to druid heal, I would definitely be playing my druid main, as per usual. I was enjoying being a lazy guild member without any responsibilities, and crossing my fingers my casual guild would work out for raiding in the expansion, even if it was just at a slower pace, given our good times in Kara. My hours at work allowed me to have a regular raiding schedule, as I rarely had to stay late unexpectedly. All my characters were on the same server were I'd started out playing WoW, except for the shadow priest horde alt I rarely popped onto, as she was stranded on a friend's server with nothing to do.
This is Now
Now I have three 80s Alliance-side (Boomkin, Shadow Priest, Mage) with a warlock at 70. Horde-side, on a separate server, I have four 80s (Shadow Priest, Boomkin, Shaman, Mage) with a warlock at 72. Horde-side, I'm an officer in a large guild that completed all of WotLK's raiding content, including a number of 10-man ICC hard modes. Heck, I even got to kill Algalon! Alliance-side, I've found myself a great friendly guild that had been doing some casual raiding, and enjoy the camaraderie and conversation (inclusive of G and on Vent and on Twitter.)
This Monday, I headed back in to work after five glorious weeks of time off. And despite heading in bright and early each day, I am not getting home until 6:30 each night due to the workload. This has meant no raiding anywhere, no NaNoWriMo writing time. And no blog time. In other words: MEH.
So What's Next?
With Cataclysm only a month away, I'm not sure how things are going to pan out. How much can I get done with only a few short hours to play each night after work? We still need to eat dinner and have outside of game time after all. Even if I concentrate only on my two primary characters at first (Alliance Boomkin and Horde Shadow Priest), I'll still need to sort out daily quests for the others (cooking/fishing/professions).
Having just taken all this time off, I won't really get to have a big chunk of time to play until my time off around the holidays, at the end of December. So in all likelihood, I'll be leveling the slowest I've ever leveled. And will have my attention split between two toons I love, instead of being able to focus my energies on just one of them. This will be an adjustment for sure.
Both guilds are planning to kick the raiding tires in Q1 2011. So at least with that I do feel I'll have time to level up and gear up. Then work in the alts as time allows. But as it stands, I don't really know yet what my availability will look like as far as raiding goes. Or how I am going to feel about these characters at 85, having not gotten into BETA to try things out for myself.
So like everyone else who didn't get a sneak peek via BETA, I'll just have to play it by ear and hope that I do like how things turn out int he end for my ladies. Que sera sera, whatever will be will be. I'm just hoping that somehow I'll find a way to give both of my favorite toons the attention they deserve.