Community Management and Toxicity

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.


I don’t RP, but I can chime in on how the report system works and what the roles are for Blizz staff.

Reporting and Automation:

  • Right click report captures the reported name or text and sends it to the GMs. Those GMs review the report and decide if a Silence is warranted or not. Silences remove social abilities within the games and are Bnet account wide, not just WoW specific. Each time one is applied to an account, the duration doubles.
  • On Automation. The actual Silence is not automated. If an account gets a LOT of reports in a quick time frame there is an automated Squelch that has been in game a long long time. It was designed for gold spammers but if a group abuses it, they can trigger it. The Silence penalty is applied only after an actual GM reviews it. They don’t get to all the reports though, esp if it is a single report and that account does not have other reports against it. Those would be lower priority in queue.
  • Real life threats and doxing are serious issues - and those have a priority report system via ticket. Support > Contact Support > WOW > Categorize issue > in-game > report a player > real life threat
  • On the forums, we obviously flag things for the Forum Moderation team.
  • Future: there has been talk about integrating some AI flagging and action systems but that is not in operation that I know of, yet.

Blizzard Organization and Job Roles:

Community Managers (CMs) don’t take tickets. They have a very different role at Blizzard. Their job is to take feedback across forums, reddit, streams, third party websites, etc. To write and publish patch notes, news posts, forum notices, game changes. They also do engagement campaigns, promotions, and outreach. They engage and work with the media, streamer community, focus groups for raid testing and all the coordination that goes with that.

While CMs have the ability to moderate forums, that is not something they usually do. That is handled by the Forum Moderators who review forum reports that we flag. Those same Forum Mods are like the GMs who handle reports from the game.

Here is a recent Associate Community Manager role job posting.

Blizzard Entertainment games don’t just begin with game ideas or end once those games are released. A lot more goes into the creation of a Blizzard product than the work of developers—and we support our games for years after they’re in the hands of gamers worldwide. Operations teams support, evangelize, and improve our games. The Global World of Warcraft Publishing team is seeking a community professional who is passionate about player communities, brand communications, marketing, and customer support. They would join our community development team, who is dedicated to creating and maintaining relationships with our community of players.

The ideal candidate is driven, creative, and is a self-starter who possesses strong task management skills with a proven track record of successful community management and development experience in the entertainment industry. They are a tireless advocate for the voice of the player, constantly seeking to build bridges, trust, and foster constructive dialogue.


  • Act as public-facing representative of Blizzard and communicate on behalf of the brand across multiple channels and at events
  • Contribute to the design and execution of community development programs for World of Warcraft
  • Support communication plans and channel management
  • Create and maintain relationships with community partners including fansites, content creators, and volunteers
  • Engage with players at in-person and online events Work closely with the various teams developing and supporting World of Warcraft
  • Compile and relay meaningful feedback on the sentiment, suggestions, and concerns of the community
  • Support the live operations of World of Warcraft with public-facing messaging tailored to our audience Develop official communications for upcoming game changes and content


  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or related field or equivalent work experience
  • Minimum four years’ experience with brand communications, forums, and social media
  • Experience with channel management, publishing calendars, reporting & analytics
  • Familiarity with project management and process improvement
  • Ability to meet deliverables amid a fast-paced, high volume environment
  • Able to travel, including international travel, and work long hours including weekends as needed
  • Advanced degrees in communication, marketing, or related field
  • Third party relationship management experience
  • Project management training and experience
  • A passionate gamer possessing ample experience with World of Warcraft and/or World of Warcraft Classic
  • Experience with content management systems, html, or other publishing platforms
  • Existing strong personal network within Blizzard’s communities Fansite, creator, and/or streaming experience within the WoW community
  • Video production and/or graphic arts experience

Game Masters are the ones who handle the in-game report tickets, get you unstuck when the auto tool does not work, can help with Billing and Account Access issues, etc. Here is a great post on what GMs can, and can NOT do. Spotlight on: Game Master Help

QA are the folks who take the Bug Reports via in-game report or Bug Report Forum. Their job is to validate it, reproduce it, document the steps, get it into the system, etc. They don’t usually comment publicly and they are VERY different than the GMs. GMs don’t take bug reports or fix bugs.

On Goldshire - Blizzard did try having in-game live GMs for that back in Vanilla. What happened was that people got worse just to see if they could engage the GMs or get punished. Others just stopped reporting thinking the GMs would catch everything. It was a mess and they never repeated it again.

The right click report makes it easy to report now though seeing as it captures the chat logs with no effort from the player. Data is all there for GM review.

My own issues have to do with Blizzard communications. Players don’t understand the different ways to go about using the systems in place and don’t know what the different roles for Blues are. It impacts expectations pretty severely at times. People get upset if they think a GM can fix a bug when they can’t. People get upset when they think they can ticket for game hints, and GMs are not allowed so they point to Wowhead.

I also feel moderation is not responsive in a timely way which contributes to a feeling that “nothing is done”. It can be hours, or even days before threads containing very nasty insults, profanity, threats, etc are removed. Same goes for removing people in game who are being terrible. People wonder why they even bother reporting if nothing is done.

There are some improvements where we can get an automated message saying our report helped but that is rare and most things just feel like they get lost in a black hole and nothing gets better.


Thank you for the clarifications and very informative text!

I remember having the live GMs occasionally monitor people way back when, and yes, that was absolutely a disaster. I don’t necessarily think live GMs will ever work, but it does feel like we need someone, whether they’re GMs or otherwise, to be more actively engaged.

All of this, yes! Especially in regards to how things don’t feel like they matter. By the time an abusive post is removed, a thousand more might have popped up. And by all the reports I have made in-game, I have never actually seen any of them take any effect - I don’t expect all of them to be noticable, but some proof of change would be nice.


I have updated the initial post in this thread with an edit, after having a short discussion on the GD. I realised that what I had written in the original post wasn’t worded well enough and was up for misunderstanding, and I have tried to clarify that in the edit. I’m also going to add a little note down here:

I want to clarify that when I’m talking about Goldshire having problems, I’m not talking about the activity most players associate with it, ERP (erotic roleplay). I think engaging in that sort of activity, in of itself, is okay - assuming that it is between consenting and age-appropriate parties. Shaming people, harrassing them, and punishing people for participating in this, is what I would consider toxic behaviour. It is quite literally discrimination, and that needs to stop.

The problem in Goldshire, is that lines of consent and age, is often ignored. Not by everyone, and usually not even intentionally. When you visit Goldshire, the only safeguard you have in place for encountering content that should require your consentual agreement, is prior knowledge of the fact that this happens in this place, or to turn off chat and roleplaying addons. Some suggestions on curbing this sort of behaviour that was brought up, centered around self-regulation, where it is up to the players that do engage in these behaviours give a warning to other players that this is what they should expect. This is the key to consent, you cannot assume consent, you need to ask for it, and this is a step in the right direction.

It was also brought up that many prior attempts to curb this sort of behaviour has gone very awry, with many innocents being implicated in the heavy-handed solutions that followed. I’ve also been somewhat unclear about what I think is warranted for bad behaviour and subsequent punishment, so I thought I’d outline some thoughts here.

  • Instantly banning an offender is definitely going to cause more problems than otherwise. If you are wrongfully accused, you now have no recourse to take other than to appeal your ban, and have to wait for your appeal to be processed, which can take a long time.
  • Punishment needs to fit the transgression, there cannot be a single sweeping solution that fits all problems. It needs to start off with a warning, which gives the players some time to realise that perhaps they did something wrong, and can adjust accordingly. It will also give them the chance to appeal the warning, if it was given unduly. Repeated offenses will, of course, cause mounting grades of punishment. If you ignore the first few warnings, you will eventually be silenced, or even banned.
  • I cannot stress the importance of the option to appeal, and the personal touch required by a fellow human being in these cases. Human beings that need to be held accountible if they are misusing these powers of moderation. Moderators have a lot of power, and they can wield it unjustly - and we need to avoid that. There have been cases in the past where this sort of power has been used to persecute individuals, and groups of people. That can’t happen again.

I still believe that we need more people, more oversight, and better relationships with both one another, and with the moderators that are there to keep us all safe. But I am really hoping to hear more from everyone else involved, because while Goldshire might be more of a roleplaying problem, that isn’t really what my post is about: I’m talking about toxic behaviour, whether that is harrassment, griefing, or exposing people to content without their consent - and this happens everywhere in WoW.


I woke up today to read about the Social Contract that was datamined in the latest PTR patch, and I instantly recognised that this was going to cause a storm online. I want to chime in my own thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, I think the social contract is technically a little superfluous, as it only reinforces what is already written down in the terms of service under the code of conduct. I imagine that the reason the social contract exists at all, is simply to make this part of the ToS more visible so that everyone is on the same page.

Secondly, I think some of the language in the contract is slightly confusing. It says “do your best to:” do friendly, helpful things, such as helping random people out or being polite in groups. I think these are great things to aspire to, but given that we’re signing a contract here, it makes it look like if you don’t do these things, you will be punished. It is actually stated in the contract that you will only get punished by the violations of the CoC listed in the latter half of the contract, but it’s easy to misread it.

Do I think this is a good idea? Well, I wish it wasn’t necessary to go this far, but the CoC is a little hard to find in the first place. It seems like common sense that we should all know that exhibiting bad behaviour might have consequences, but that doesn’t really stop anyone from doing that. I don’t really think the social contract in of itself is going to curb any behaviour on a larger scale, but it might at least lay the grounds for more effective community management. This is Blizzard letting us all know what the rules are.

The new report system on the PTR is also something I’ve been meaning to write about, but I’ve just not really been sure what to say. I don’t know how to test it on the PTR, but it does at least look like an improvement. I guess time will tell?


Yea it seems like they are trying to help people understand why they could be punished for certain actions. The only thing I find weird about it is concerning “game ability” does this mean ill be silenced for saying someones dps is too low for my group? Could be a slippery slope


No. You are free to suggest someone use guides or change skills to be more effective.

What you can’t do is call them names, sling insults, use profanity, etc.

One is constructive criticism, the other can result in an account penalty.


Ive heard people take offense to suggestions so I was just wondering for clarification from the devs


I’m hoping we could get a statement regarding the amount of slots on the standard ignore list. The old value of 50 was probably enough for Vanilla numbers of regular server populations. But ever since the larger ones have bloated way beyond 10.000 players and x-realm is a basic thing that limit seems rather small.
Also: maybe add a visual info if those characters (on the list) are still active/existing. That would also help keeping future limits realistic.


People can be offended over whatever they want. If you don’t use profanity, insults, etc, you are fine.

The fake outrage over having to follow the same language rules we have had in place for 17 years is rather over the top. Not saying you are, but please don’t buy into it.