Tuesday, October 7, 2014

World of Warcraft: Can We Have a More Extensive Report Feature?

Update (6/30): After browsing the Heroes of the Storm forum a bit, I found this post from a little under a year ago. One thread linked there indicates there is a more robust report system in the works. This is appreciated but I've got to ask where it is. I am aware the report system did get updated to have more categories at some point, but the few additional categories still don't suffice.

A little over a month ago, I was working my way through LFR with a group to gear one of my characters. Given the late stages of the expansion, I was expecting a reasonably smooth ride and after the first boss dropped, I was expecting few issues. However, this changed when two players decided to deliberately wipe the group. While this didn't completely derail the group, it was upsetting that a few players could so easily ruin the experience for many and there isn't that much of a deterrent, as the report function doesn't sufficiently cover actions like griefing. With this in mind, I filed a ticket for both the griefing and my observations on the report function.

The response I received was very positive, but I feel there still needs to be some improvement to reporting players. Here's why:
  • The response clearly mentions reporting for botting and cheating in the case I filed a ticket for, even though griefing in itself probably needs its own category.
  • In order to report a player (at least from what I can tell unless there's some script that allows reporting of players under any circumstance), they have to have said something in chat.
    • Furthermore, the ability to report a player times out after a short time, meaning if someone says something once then performs a reportable action a few minutes later, one cannot dig back through the logs, right click that player's name in chat, and report them.
  • The game has greatly increased the amount of random player interaction due to features such as Dungeon Finder and LFR, increasing the need to deter poor behavior due to the unlikelihood of players meeting each other again, much like the matchmaking system in League of Legends hence my mention of the Tribunal in my ticket.
What these reasons ultimately mean is the report tool is insufficient in situations where the player is silent or botting or the otherwise bypassing the requirements to allow players to report them using the in-game tool. Getting around this feature is as easy as never hitting the Enter key and hoping players don't file tickets. If the assumption that players don't file tickets much regarding reportable issues is true, that means there is potentially under-reporting of reportable actions.

However, issues such as botting or griefing shouldn't have to be escalated to begin with considering that's what the report tool is intended to cull (as mentioned in both the linked support article and in the customer service response). Not only does writing a ticket take a bit of time, but excessively filing tickets with customer support results in inconvenience for them and is disorganized because reports have to then be handled throuh both the report function and customer support tickets. I find this outcome disheartening because it is due to the report system's narrow set of requirements and lack of categorization of reportable actions.

With all of this in mind, I suggest the report system undergoes the following changes:
  • Instead of right clicking to report players, add a button on the UI and in the Help section where a player can file tickets that allows reporting of another player by name (if they're on another realm, the name would be Name-RealmName as the chat interface show) and names could be Shift-Left Clicked into the report interface like with chat boxes.
  • Like with filing a ticket, a player could file a report for a number of categories or add their own, as shown below:
  • Reports can then be handled automatically if needed, such as the currently implemented auto-mute in the case a player is reported for spam enough times. In some cases, the appropriate individuals (probably GMs/customer service) can go right through a list of reports and take appropriate action as necessary (this probably already exists in some form given the current report feature).
    • A Tribunal function, much like with League of Legends, could also be adopted to help reduce the workload customer service and other individuals have as a result of the reports.  
    • In the case of bots, this would allow Blizzard to build up a list of botters for a larger ban wave.
Ideally, the result of this is that more players use the report function and fewer tickets are filed, thus allowing for better organization, a larger volume of reported players due to extensive usage of the updated function, and efficient report handling through punishment (if needed).

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