Starting with Module 5 PWE tried to install a system that was formerly called “Class Advocate”, but has since been renamed to “Class Feedback Reporter”. The goal is to acquire active members of the community to browse through the class sections of the official forum and compile a list of useful threads, ideas and feedback. One focal point is to separate valuable feedback from discussions in certain topics. This is an extension to the work the forum moderators already do and should serve to ease their load. You can read Akro’s full post on the Feedback Reporter’s role here.
So far, so good. The system initially created a formidable hype and players lined up to become the first Feedback Reporters of their class. I was amongst those that were skeptical about the success of such an idea, because I thought it would be too easy for an individual to manipulate or omit feedback to push a class into the direction one wants it to go. That apparently hasn’t happened, but (judging from the forum posts in the threads) the current lack of applications indicate that the system fell out of favor with the community within one module anyway. With the help of some of the former reporters, who were willing to answer some questions, let’s dig in to find out what led to a rather quick demise.
To know what went wrong you only have to go as far as the initial misnomer. Calling the system an “Advocate” led to the wide belief that the nominated players could indeed, you know, advocate for their class. PWE was well advised to rename the system and have tried to clarify the role ever since, because it’s a secretary and not much else. But looking at the most recent posts on the topic, it’s pretty much clear that this misconception still exists. Some quotes from the Trickster Rogue application thread:
These are very recent quotes from February and March and players don’t seem to have understood the system and its purpose at all. The feedback reporters aren’t there to advocate, to lobby or prevent nerfs, nor do they have to be visible to the outside. Some players chose to open threads to gather feedback, leading to the conclusion that some feedback reporters are very active and benefit the direction of a class more than others. This is of course inaccurate and not what I’ve heard from the former feedback reporters, which are wildly disappointed about what they could achieve during their stint. While there are limited bright spots (I recall the CW feedback reporter posting that the bugged Chilling Advantage feat, which was not giving more Critical Chance, will be fixed within two weeks and it actually happened), a public and telling post about this comes from damnacious, who was well respected for his work in the Guardian Fighter community. Other reporters seconded that sentiment, going as far as saying the whole system was a placebo and PR move.
More than that, the feedback reporters actually were used as scapegoats within the community whenever a class was being nerfed or urgent fixes weren’t applied in a timely manner. Which made the job an extremely discomforting one. Silently collecting and submitting feedback once per week led to labels such as invisible or incompetent, although that’s exactly what was asked from them. In fact, an active approach to the role might even be worse, because you engineer a discussion and not only forward what’s naturally coming from the community.
All in all, the early misconception of the role confused the reporters and community alike and it’s still lingering today.
While PWE can’t control what players do with the system, they didn’t add much incentive to continue the work with the initial enthusiasm either. Direct feedback from the devs was very rare if it occured at all. Multiple feedback reporters said some minor stuff was looked into, but especially pressing matters were systematically ignored. That partly might be, as always, a case of priorities. What the players think is important might not be as urgent for the devs, but you at least need to convey that the work done is important and on the long run is contributing to something. Maybe the lack of such feedback comes with the job description (“class feedback reporters will not be assisting in the design or decisions regarding the class direction” -Akro), but it’s certainly not very motivating, especially if the community expected so much more.
Probably PWE simply lacked personnel to supervise such a system or underestimated the effort, which surely contributed to the dwindling interest and belief in it’s impact. It’s especially annoying because it still has potential and is needed. Reading between the lines you get the idea that the community team understandably is unable to process all the daily threads and discussions, missing important feedback along the way. That’s why assisting feedback reporters are indeed mandatory to complement the work of the moderators and Community Manager. The system just needs to take another approach. Reporters shouldn’t create threads or even appear to the public, let them run tasks entirely in the background. Maybe the lack of noise around the feedback reporters is an indication this is already happening, which would be good.
I can only encourage players to still volunteer for the job, but take a passive route. Don’t reveal yourself, it only leads to the stated problems and unwanted consequences. Forward feedback in the way they want you to. It’s not very shiny, it’s not very heroic, you might not even think what you are doing is valuable, but it is by all means necessary.