World of Warcraft

The Automated Silence System

wow3 - The Automated Silence System

So I'm on my 4th or 5th silence in game currently – two weeks. I have been playing this game for over 15 years and I wasn't ever actioned up until this last fall. I suspect with the decline of Blizzard staff they decidedly ramped up the automated reporting feature. On the forums they'll tell you that it's not automated and there is someone pushing buttons, but this is definitely not true or the person that does literally only stares at cherry picked conversation snippets and flips a coin without context. I've seen some of the things I've been reported for under the penalty section and it includes things like 'Happy X day!' and 'That makes for tasty after christmas meatloaf'.

While I wont go into glorification, I am a influential and popular person on my server. I have a lot of lovers and of course I have my select group of haters. Now this isn't normally a problem as I'm accustom to dealing with trolls and them of course calling me a troll back, even though I don't troll. Over the last few months I've cut down on 'objectionable' behavior I've engaged in which was originally occasional colorful metaphors, then loose innuendo and lewd things, now I don't use either and I was recently silenced after having a discussion of Victory Day and how life should be celebrated as well as honoring the fallen in Trade. I am definitely not the most objectionable person based on the kind of language I'm using and intentionally go out of my way to seem the least egregious in a conversation that turns sour, if you're looking at the whole thing. I'm not racist, homophobic, transphobic, or sexist. I'm egalitarian and generally a centrist. There is no 'catchall' to put me under. I don't harass or hound people, despite others doing that to me and I find such behavior extremely uncouth.

I've taken to reddit as this is becoming draconian and I know people here generally are more likely to attempt to flame you rather then fix a system, however when you're silenced in this manner you can't post on the forums, you can't talk in any channels in game, you can't talk to your friends, you can't even talk to your or realID friends (why is that a thing?), so there is not much for me to do.

These silences don't fall off, you don't get points back on your license. So despite the fact there is a automated system in place that punishes popular people, you can't recover from it. I've attempted to appeal some of these and whoever looks at them, (I'm pretty sure the first appeal goes in the trash) either doesn't look at the context of other people you're talking to or doesn't care. I could only say one I felt was deserved and it was a manual silence, not a automated one (difference being you can still talk to your friends and it's a custom amount of time), where I kicked the person on the way out the door after they lost a argument.


What you get back when you attempt to appeal a silence is 'You violated the ToU'. Then I ask what I violated in the ToU and I receive back 'You violated part of the ToU', so there is really no way of knowing what you're getting silenced for as it would allow you to analyze whether or not it was warranted or even attempt to fix your own after it happens. The only clues is what shows up under the appeal penalty category section and self reflection. There is no conveyance of information and it generally seems like who you're attempting to appeal to really doesn't give any craps. Although it's understandable as I'm sure the types they have to deal with on a day to day basis, if you're a false-positive, you're highly unlikely to get it reversed even if it seems like it's malicious behavior by bad actors.

I've been in arguments with people who flip purely to insults or ad hominems, while I don't use those, and have logged back in after being silenced to find them still insulting my now lifeless corpse. The silences aren't even equal, assuming you're getting silenced for conversations happening around the time of the silence. People who are more aggressive, angry, hateful don't receive silences, it's whoever gets reported.

Now, the bad part, these silences seem to be automated and can be abused by mass reporting. They also seem to be without fail happening at the beginning of every month. They fall off after my silence happens and pick back up at the beginning of every month like clockwork, usually between the 4th and 11th and final push is on a Friday, I assume because staff is limited on the weekend. This one happened today on the 12th. Based on what I'm seeing in the appeals category and when I remember typing those, it's not spread about randomly like human behavior.

There is no way for you to combat these automated silences. Despite other individuals swearing up the wazoo and talking about all different sorts of lewd things, which I honestly don't think should be punished at all, you only get punished if you're reported. Furthermore there is no way for positive reports. For people to report you for interesting, helpful, informative, or good social interactions to combat the negative reports. You just climb an invisible negative popularity ladder till you're inevitably silenced. That wouldn't be so bad if you got points back, but you don't.

I am sure this is going to devolve into 'There is no way for it to be wrong if you were reported!' and to that I can't offer proof if you haven't had debates with me. Even if you're objectionable or controversial, you shouldn't be silenced simply because the other side disagrees with you. I've had plenty of arguments, but it never turns into me straight up insulting or using adhominems on the other person.

Edit: I'm not sure why I'm getting so many hate posts that don't even discuss the topic matter, which is malicious, possibly bought, abuse of the automated silence system.

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