Friday, October 31, 2008

Official Class Forums - Lost and Back Again

Originally I'd written a post about the class forums being condensed into three new forums, but then Blizzard reversed their decision and I deleted my post almost immediately. After a little more thinking, I figured some of what I'd written worth still worth saying, so here's a slightly shorter version of it. First, what Blizzard originally said was:

With the upcoming release of Wrath of the Lich King and the many changes the expansion brings to classes and mechanics, we have decided to rearrange our forums to make it easier for players to hold constructive discussions. To that end, we have created three role-based forums -- Tanking, Damage Dealing, and Healing -- in place of the class forums.

The new structure provides central places for players of diverse classes and specs to discuss their common roles. Until now, there was no one obvious forum for a holy paladin to discuss Arena healing tactics with a restoration shaman, or for a protection warrior to talk tanking mechanics with a feral druid. This often led to splintered, fractured, and redundant discussions. In addition, the original class forum structure never properly took the impact of talents into account, lumping together a shadow priest and a holy priest (for example) when that didn't necessarily make sense.

I agree that a place for common roles is good. How many times have I seen a post from a raid leader unfamiliar with how a spec works ask in that respective class form for help in using this person in a raid? This would allow the sharing of more general guides useful for everyone. After all, there are sites like TankSpot and PlusHeal that appeal to people involved in those very roles and they don't discriminate between class. But, the problems was, Blizzard also announced that:

The current individual class forums will be active until Thursday, November 6. On that date, we will be removing the individual class forums.

Perhaps it's because I play hybrids, but I found it would be remiss to cut off feral druids from resto druids or retribution paladins from protection paladins. As a hybrid it's important for us to know what the other side of us is capable of, and for a player who is new to their class, the official forums are often a first stop. I like to talk about tanking as a holy paladin and I learned almost everything about gear selection and spell rotations from those forums or from links provided on those forums. I didn't go there originally for lessons in how to tank. I was looking for a holy guide and happened read the prot guides because they were there and well written and I thought they were good to know.

What turned out to be one of my critical talent decisions for my old pre-3.0.2 41/20/0 holy tank spec (to take Anticipation) was made because of a question I asked on the official paladin forums. Would I have gotten the type of feedback I wanted if I could only ask in a forum dedicated solely to tanks or solely to healers? "Hi, I'm leveling a holy paladin in Outland and I want to be able to tank too. Where would you recommend I put my last eight talent points given these talents to choose from?" Could anyone other than another paladin have honestly answered that question?

We were going to have ten classes (with the addition of death knight) condensed into a mere three forums. More than three times the traffic would move in less than a third of the space. A frost mage could still hold a discussion with other frost mages in the damage dealing forum, but a smaller percentage of the visitors to that forum will even care what a frost mage has to say, especially if it's detailed shop talk about a particular talent.

Sites like PlusHeal and TankSpot work because even though they are themed around roles in a party, they have sub forums devoted to the different classes as well as places to share what they all have in common. Given the traffic load of the official forums I just don't see how someone who needs specialized help would have gotten their voice heard above the crowd, and that's why the class forums are needed. They have to be there for that level of assistance, and thankfully Blizzard seems to understand this now.

I don't mind forums for tank talk, healing talk, and damage talk. What I did mind is the prospect of losing the class forums themselves. I don't call myself a tank or a healer or dps. I call myself a druid and a paladin.


Keeva said...

Wow, I'm glad they ditched that idea. I don't just go to the druid forums for healy stuff, but to learn about the other side of our class as well.

Imagine having to go through 3 different forums just to learn how one character works!

Not only that, but the healing forums would be cramming 4 classes into one - I would imagine that info would be lost from the front page quite quickly.

What a bizarre idea. I could understand if the individual class forums were rarely used and they felt it would be best to consolidate them.. but.. they're still high-traffic areas of the forums.


Glad that one got canned.

Hana said...

Yeah, I'm not sure what they were thinking. It got reversed so fast though. I couldn't believe it.