Regional Flag[Feedback] Standards of CommunicationSource
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#1 - 2016/12/09 09:55:00 PM
There's been a ton of great Legion feedback in not only in the 7.1.5 PTR, but stretching all the way back to Alpha, covering everything from encounters and legendaries, all the way to individual spec design. Players are wearing thin however, when pages upon pages of feedback goes ignored for months at a time, and even feedback that receives blue responses rarely gets acted upon. But no, this isn't strictly that kind of thread. There's been a lot of talk recently about lines of communication between the developers and players, and since Ion took the reins, I think a lot of players including myself are hoping that things get shuffled around internally, and the WoW development team starts taking the good points from other Blizzard titles like Overwatch, HoTS and Hearthstone - who all seem to be much more transparent.

Getting to the point, this is the viewpoint of someone outside of Blizzard HQ looking in, which is understandably sometimes hard to envision when you're the one on the inside all the time.

Let's talk: What aren't acceptable lines of communication?

This trend needs to die a swift death. Twitter is a platform where you shill your new content and handle PR. Feedback cannot fit in 140 characters, and thus responses to feedback cannot fit in 140 characters. Additionally there is no filter for content that floods the development team - the tweet asking what Garrosh's middle name is ends up being in the same viewability status as legitimate concerns or feedback. Add on that there's several twitter accounts tied to the development team(Warcraftdevs for the entire team, and then individual accounts for Ion, Holinka, Celestalon etc.) and you get a jumbled mess of what's getting sent where. I've also heard numerous stories of people getting blocked on Twitter by devs/CMs for legitimate game related tweets - and this just comes off as unprofessional. I don't have a problem with Devs having their own Twitter accounts, but a line needs to be drawn if they are going to be using it for personal/PR reasons, or if they are legitimately accepting game related tweets; We seem to be getting sent mixed signals here.

Now, inherently I don't have a problem with Q&A's, but they need to be structured properly to be used effectively. I've talked to a few people about yesterday's(Dec 7) Q&A and we all seemed to agree that it was straight up awful. The vast majority of questions have already been answered either in the last Q&A, or at the Blizzcon Q&A/WoW panel. Why field a question on AK alt catchup, when it was not only answered last Q&A, but also at Blizzcon - and that's only 1 example. The Q&A questions could only have been softer if Lore himself had written all the questions beforehand.

Q&A's need themes, with yesterday's general Q&A around three quarters of the way through, Lore moved from Class related questions onto more general ones, and everyone had a sigh of exasperation as their class questions remained unanswered, or just got answers to extremely stupid questions. Was it really necessary to field a question on whether Hpals will receive HoTs? I'm sure there are more legitimate concerns for Hpals than that. It's like getting a legendary and it ends up being Prydaz.

There needs to be a legitimate vetting process to make sure questions that "need" to be answered, are the ones being asked. In my mind, a successful Q&A would be one with a specific niche or area, for example one week is entirely dedicated to Melee DPS and a week beforehand a blue thread pops up in all of the class sections that have a melee dps spec. The top handful of upvoted questions per spec get sent in and answered on Stream. It's not perfect(Forums aren't the best way to handle "top" comments) but I think it's infinitely better than the system we have now.

Like Twitter, Interviews are meant to be used for PR. No legitimately big interviewer wants to ask the hard questions, or push for substantial answers - for fear of dismantling their reputation with Blizzard and ruining chances at another interview or future partnerships with Blizzard. There's nothing wrong with Interviews per se, but they should be reserved for announcements and/or covering recently announced/released content.

Community Manager
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#14 - 2016/12/12 09:43:00 PM
Some good feedback here. I'll try to address your points as best I can.

On Twitter: Disagree that it's always the wrong approach, but it's definitely not always the right approach either. 140 characters is a blessing and a curse - it's harder to get a complete point across sometimes, yes, but it also forces things to be presented more concisely, which is great for certain types of feedback. We're not going to stop using Twitter, but we're continuing to learn about when it's not the right platform.

Also just as an aside, every account other than @WarcraftDevs should be treated as someone's personal account and not as the correct place to provide feedback or look for answers. That also means that it's completely their choice if they decide to mute or block someone.

On the Q&As: I agree that the experiment in the last one to answer more spec-specific questions didn't go well. I honestly don't think the live Q&As are a good way to answer those questions at all. Even if we were to somehow narrow it down to only "legitimate" questions (aside: what criteria determine "legitimate" anyway?), there's far more to answer than we can possibly fit into one Q&A, so we're always going to leave something out.

Secondly, it's important to remember that not everyone follows fansites closely, or saw the BlizzCon panels, or even the other Q&As. AK alt catchup is a great example - despite all of the other places we talked about what's happening in 7.1.5, it was still one of the most-asked questions. I'm glad that you had already heard about it, but clearly a lot of others had not, which made it absolutely worth answering.

I do agree, though, that the Q&As work best when we either stick to broader topics, or focus the entire thing specifically on one topic (like we did with the Professions, PvP, etc. Q&As a few months ago). As a whole, it's a format we're still experimenting with. I can't promise they'll all be great, but I can promise that we'll learn from when they aren't.

On Interviews: Mostly agree, although it depends on the interviewer. You're not likely to see the hard-hitting questions coming from a major gaming publication, but you might from a community site, podcast, etc. Personally, I actually think we need a lot more interviews with those community sites, especially those that focus on more niche playstyles - it's a great way to get answers to those people without "wasting" everyone else's time.

On the forums: I actually completely agree with you here. Our forum presence sucks. It's a big issue that we're working to fix. That's part of why I'm here, posting this, and will continue to be around these forums as much as I can. Resolving this issue will take some time - if it can ever be completely resolved - but we're working on it.

It's worth mentioning that part of the issue - the general lack of dev posts - has been because they've been focusing as much of their time as possible into working on the game. Part of trying to keep patches coming at a good cadence means we need all hands on deck to get the work done, which means less time for the dev team to spend on the forums. That in turn means that, when the devs do get time for the forums, they spend the vast majority of it just reading, so they can absorb as much feedback as possible. So, the community team (including myself, but many others as well) need to step in to fill that gap, in a way that doesn't make you go "Ooh, a blue post! Ugh, it's just a CM." We haven't been, but we're going to.

On Reddit: I also like AMAs, and agree with your thoughts here. I do think that there are some topics where they might work much better than the Q&As, and while I don't want to say what those are for fear of over-promising, it's a cool idea that I'll circulate around.

On Patch Notes: I think a lot of the issues with patch notes are actually symptoms of some of the above issues. The designers' notes are definitely a good addition, but those are intended as little snippets of explanation for the player who doesn't really keep up with fansites, interviews, forums (well, when there's posts on them), etc. It shouldn't, whenever possible, be the first place that the person reading this thread heard about something, unless it really only needs a couple sentences to explain. If we need to give more detail, we should be doing that ahead of time and just referencing that explanation in the patch notes.

We've also heard loud and clear that you guys want PTR Patch Notes back. It's a tough situation for us to solve, though I don't think it's an unsolvable one. The PTR, especially under Legion's development structure, is much more experimental and incomplete than it's been in the past. Having official patch notes makes each individual change - any of which could be reverted at any point - feel a lot more "final" than they really are.

Our approach for 7.1.5, then, was "let's focus on what it'll be when it's done" - that was clearly the wrong choice. Official PTR Patch Notes might not be the answer we need, but we definitely need a way to keep you more informed of what's happening, especially for class changes. Even something as simple as "Class Notes for PTR Build ABCXYZ" might fill the gap.

At any rate, thanks for this - it's given us a lot to think about. I know there's a big difference between saying we'll do better and actually doing better, but threads like this really help us actually improve things.

Community Manager
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#16 - 2016/12/12 09:51:00 PM
12/12/2016 01:49 PMPosted by Bandet
The one thing I should really say about this is the fact that you have ONE twitter account for EVERY form of feedback and question.

Why don't you like, delegate it out a bit?
you get the idea

I think this would just get confusing really quickly, and lead directly into one of the issues the OP mentioned which is needing to follow too many channels at once.

Community Manager
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#31 - 2016/12/12 10:43:00 PM
12/12/2016 02:31 PMPosted by Athirius
I have an idea for your Q&A that should get you the questions that people want answered most

Make a thread about the Q&A first and specifically state that the most upvoted questions in this thread will be adressed/responded to in the Q&A when it happens. Do this everytime you have a Q&A, that should help people get the questions they want to see and hopefully the answers they want to see

We briefly debated this early on but decided against it, for a few reasons:

1) We don't always have an answer for something - if a highly-upvoted question is going to get "I don't know" or "We're not sure yet" as an answer, is that acceptable?

2) Sometimes the answer lies in something we're not ready to talk about yet; for example, if "When will you add Demon Hunters" got a ton of upvotes prior to Legion's announcement, how do we handle that? Do we dodge the question (which says just as much as answering it)? Do we lie and say we have no such plans? There really isn't a good outcome there.

3) It's pretty easily abused - if I want my question to be answered, it makes sense for me to ask all of my friends/guildmates/etc to upvote my question and downvote others, even if they don't care about the answer.

4) It heavily favors playstyles or classes with the highest overall representation; it's likely for there to be entire aspects of the game we never talk about again just because there are going to be fewer people upvoting those questions.

Because of the above (and probably a couple other reasons I can't recall right now), we decided that our best approach was to just ignore upvotes/downvotes entirely.

Community Manager
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#49 - 2016/12/12 11:36:00 PM
12/12/2016 03:31 PMPosted by Darkfist
Yes, not only is it acceptable to say, 'We don't know," or "We aren't sure yet," but that kind of transparency is absolutely necessary for quality feedback and communication. Those are great jumping off points to get good feedback from the community. Of course, hopefully you would give us more than just those statements. Hopefully, you would explain why you haven't been able to come to a decision yet, what you perceive to be the pros and cons, and why it is so difficult to make that particular call and then MAYBE the community could help you actually make the decision.

Even if our feedback won't help make the decision easier, understanding your thought process will make it easier to accept the decision once it is made.

To be clear: I agree that "we don't know yet" can be a good thing to say. I don't think a time-limited Q&A is the right place to do that - would rather spend that time on a question we actually have an answer for.