I'm going to state this in a very blunt and candid manner. The Report and Silence system that Blizzard are currently using in their games is an absolute piece of crap and should have been removed when it was first introduced. It's now reached the point where the game is becoming unplayable for a lot of HotS fans because they've fallen afoul of the system.
My problem with the penalty is seven-fold:
1) The system is apparently automated
When Blizzard first announced the Silence penalty, they stated that silences will only be applied 'after investigation', yet there is plenty of evidence that the system seems to be entirely automated and arbitrarily slaps players with silence penalties after they've been reported an arbitrary number of times.
Want evidence of this? There are plenty of professional and amateur players who have been punished very swiftly and unfairly due to abuse of the system. Some have been due to accumulating troll reports, while others are due to one player throwing around loads of reports on multiple accounts to get a player swiftly banned within minutes.
• Grubby (one of the most mannered and sportsmanlike professional gamers in existence) gets silenced live on stream –
• WoW streamer Asmongold (a staunch critic of the system) gets silenced live on stream for typing "I love WoW" after bogus reports are thrown at him –
• Kendric gets silenced –
• Chu8 gets silenced – https://clips.twitch.tv/SpinelessSmoggyKathyRaccAttack
• A r/WoW poster gets slapped with a silence and forced name change after a multiboxer spams bogus reports at him with all 20 of his characters – https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/7p71hu/tifu_by_ganking_a_20man_multiboxer/
• Korean pros including Bongsoon, Jiwooojima, Bluebeetle, and King get slapped with bogus silence penalties due to report system abuses – https://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/6vb85a/korea_issue_streamers_in_korea_are_silenced_for/
• Player who was unfairly silenced 20+ times and appealed all of said penalties – https://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/6hwrtr/unfairly_silenced_20_times/
• Player successfully appeals 4 out of 6 penalties on his account – https://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/5ck24j/the_autosilence_problem_my_customer_support/
Even if Blizzard didn't automatically ban players who got reported often but rather flagged them for investigation, the system would still be a joke. It means that you can get away with being a toxic sack of crap as long as you don't receive a lot of reports.
There is plenty more evidence that was posted in this public Google Docs file. This was once posted in the EU Official Silence System Megathread which Blizzard actually nuked from orbit because the thread was being 'derailed.'
2) It is often hard to actually get evidence of abusive chat from Customer Support.
There have been plenty of times where they've shut down Silence appeals with automated cut-and-paste replies about how the action was taken in accordance with the code of conduct and won't be overturned, then refused to give any evidence. They have argued that due to their policies they never reveal details of account investigations beyond what is in the initial email, when this in itself is in breach of EU data protection law and EU GDPR, which gives a person the right to access information held on them.
• This thread – https://eu.battle.net/forums/en/heroes/topic/17613661300
• This response a pro player got to his silences, although to be fair he was legitimately acting like an asshat in his correspondence towards Blizzard –
3) Silenced players are not allowed to queue for Ranked play because Blizzard feels that
'communication is integral to a team's success' Yet despite this, you can still queue for Ranked game modes without any restriction if you have Team Chat disabled in the Options menu.
This is stupid, hypocritical and downright unfair for several reasons. First of all, Silenced players can still read chat, while players who choose to go into the Options menu and disable all forms of team chat are an even greater liability because they cannot read messages from other players.
It also tells me that the Heroes of the Storm development team have no idea what they're doing.
4) Blizzard's Customer Support currently rejects silence appeals for trivial reasons.
A popular Russian streamer had his Silence appeal rejected for the 'sarcastic remakes about a player's skills'. As shown in the actual chat logs, he was not being sarcastic, insulting or offensive at all. Even then, banning somebody for 'sarcasm' for just one day is unacceptable, let alone the weeks and months that some players have been getting.
Another player's appeal was rejected depsite Blizzard finding no evidence of abusive chat. Instead they justified the chat ban by arguing that the community perceived his gameplay as being toxic. If he didn't commit a chat offence at all then why the f**k was he silenced?
Here is a screenshot from a recent forum thread where a guy complained that Blizzard upheld his four month silence.
The 'abusive chat' wasn't even worthy of a 1 day, let alone 4 MONTH silence.
I too have personally fallen victim to this, as I got slapped with an 7 day silence today, and here are the chat logs that Blizzard used to justify it:
"let me get god damn soloed tyvm" "10 minutes in aand you only hit 6 heroes with Flame Buffet. Honestly, if you do not have a clue how to play Alexstrasza, stick to Vs AI games." "Then I hope you get banned from the game :nexushappy:" "l2heal" "'first time' is no excuse" "for how dumb you've been playing" "awful team, nobody listens, noboddy knows how to play their role" "let me get killed why don't you" "jesus christ" "Wrong. You don't even know how to play Valeera" "you just stood around like an afker" "idiots" "but if you do less than 10k hero damage as valeera 11 minutes into a match, you should uninstall" "Or better yet, why are you playing Quick Match when there are game modes that cater towards your lack of skill like Co-Op vs AI"
Much of my chat was me getting frustrated at players who continually refused to communicate, refused to warn me of ganks coming my way (which in a MOBA is absolutely necessary) and who simply didn't pull their weight. Also adding lines like "jesus christ and "idiots" is very petty and doesn't justify an 7 day ban.
No offence but if you only land 6 Flame Buffets on burning heroes throughout the entire match when you're going the Dragonqueen build as Alexstrasza, then you should not be playing against other players until you learn how to play your hero. There are game modes perfectly suited for practicing the game when you lack game knowledge or skill like Co-op vs AI or Training mode. Heck, the DotA Allstars community advised new players to play vs bots back in the height of that WC3 mod's popularity.
Blizzard's abusive chat policies defend bad players who can't take any kind of criticism. If you do dumb things in a match, you can be criticised for it and Blizzard's tendancy of catering the game towards snowflakes makes a very bad experience. Players will not learn from their mistakes if they can just respond to any kind of criticism by whining to Blizzard and get the player banned because they hurt their feelings.
5) Accounts become unusable due to the escalating nature of the Silence penalty
For those unfamiliar with how the Silence penalty works, the first penalty is 24 hours long and each subsequent penalty doubles in duration. This means that the duration of each penalty exponentially increases regardless of how frequent or how offensive your chat is.
By punishing players for this long for what is frankly not bad chat, it encourages players to either intentionally feed and throw games out of resentment towards Blizzard, make smurf accounts to essentially evade account penalties and reset the progress/MMR of their account, or just outright quit the game.
When the game's player base and Twitch viewer base is already declining from how bad the current meta is, the last thing you want to do is victimise players for trying to take the game seriously.
6) Blizzard are punishing players the same way, regardless of the frequency or severity of their chat
If you call people the N-word, tell them to kill themselves, tell them to get cancer or throw around homophobic slurs in matches, you will still be punished according to how many previous silence penalties you've had on your account. This means that for the first offence, you will still be silenced for 24 hours, even though you are typing things that would get you a more severe or even a permanent ban from more competent publishers.
Even other companies like Riot Games and ArenaNet have a zero-tolerance policy towards racist and homophobic chat and have stated that they will permanently ban players for the first offence.
Blizzard's system draws a lot of parallels to 'Three Strikes' laws active in some US states. These laws are named after the 'three strikes and you're out' rule of baseball and significantly increase the prison sentences of criminals who were previously convicted of serious felonies. Under these laws, a criminal who was previously convicted of a violent or serious offence like rape, armed robbery, etc would get jailed for life without parole when convicted of a third offence – even for something relatively minor like shoplifting, getting a parking ticket, or running a red light.
These laws are heavily criticised for several reasons:
Thirdly, these laws have been linked to an increased risk of violent offences. Here is a journal article suggesting a 33% risk of fatal assaults towards law enforcement officers in states with Three Strikes laws. There is a good psychological reason for this. In a convict's eyes, if they're going to be jailed for life anyway, they have little to lose by escalating their actions. The same logic can be applied in HotS.
By punishing all forms of abusive chat in the same way, Blizzard are issuing punishments that do not fit the crime at all.
7) Blizzard have been ignoring feedback and criticism about the Silence system
This penalty has been in place since 2015 and since its introduction has been criticised quite heavily by streamers and professional gamers alike, with Asmongold being one of its biggest critics. Yet Blizzard haven't addressed any of this feedback. If anything, they've claimed that the system was a success. They have even been locking threads on the official forums that have raised complaints about the system.
Even in a AMA post on Reddit, the Blizz developers did not answer a single question on the report system, even though that was one of the core topics of the AMA and recent developer blog that Alan Dabiri posted.
Edit: thank you very much for the award!
Source: Original link
© Post "Blizzard need to fix their joke of a report system before it kills the game" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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