It’s no secret that the WoW community (and wider Blizzard and just generally internet communities) are plagued with toxicity on many fronts, in some places better and worse. We have heard horror stories coming from every conceivable angle, and it never seems to get much better.
Anecdotally, I am not frequently exposed to toxic behaviour in WoW - perhaps largely because I do not generally engage with the public unless I feel it is warranted, and also that as a roleplayer, I am somewhat tucked away in a different corner of the wider community. That’s not to say the roleplaying community is without its toxicity, but more on that later.
But let’s clear a few things up before we dive into the topic at hand: I think it is important to note that when we’re talking about toxicity in the WoW community, we are not saying that the community itself is toxic. Toxic behaviour, such as harrassment, exists in more or less every group once it grows to a certain size, and it is a problem that we all benefit from removing. What exactly constitutes toxic behaviour is occasionally up for debate, but I think we can all agree that it typically entails some form of harrassment.
It can feel very daunting for people to be exposed to harrassment and otherwise bad behaviour when there is little risk in being toxic. All we can realistically do when someone is being toxic is to put them on ignore, send a report ticket, and hope that does the trick. Most reports, as far as I understand, are part of an automated system and aren’t necessarily reviewed by an actual person, because it is actually impossible to process that many reports manually. It does not help that community managers from Blizzard’s side have been practically invisible for a very long time now, and that might need to change.
EDIT: I’ve removed “Goldshire” from the title of this post, because in hindsight, it did not accurately represent the ideas I’m trying to forward in this post, and I don’t want it to be construed as me thinking that Goldshire should be nuked from orbit. Goldshire has problems, yes, but it is not unique to Goldshire. I’ve used it as an example, as a place where toxic behaviour occurs regularly, not as the definitive end point to what I want. Thanks to Evelysaa and Alynsa on the GD for discussing this with me.
Circling back to the roleplaying community: we recently (ish? can’t remember when it was added) got the ability to report roleplaying profiles from the TotalRP3 addon directly to Blizzard for violations there - and that has been a blessing. For those of you who aren’t aware, RP communities have had a long-standing issue with a lot of adult content that ignores lines of consent and age. The standout issue comes from Goldshire, which on many RP realms (such as Argent Dawn EU) is filled with people with explicit profiles. I have personally known many people who have been exposed to this subculture while underage, and some who have been seriously harmed by it.
Being able to report these profiles and this behaviour is one step in the right direction, but… Goldshire hasn’t changed much.
Now, I’m not saying everyone in Goldshire is a bad person, this also happens to be one of the places many new roleplayers first dip their toes into RP - which admittedly is a bit of the problem when this is the first thing they are exposed to. I don’t want everyone who ever set foot in Goldshire to automatically get banned, canceled or harrassed. But I do want better oversight.
The point I really want to make here is that we sorely need community managers to not only read our tickets and answer to our reports, but to take a more active role in trying to make WoW a place where everyone can play safely - without any draconian measures. I’m actually not sure how to handle this topic, so I am hoping that some of you fellow council members might have some input.