EJ – It’s great, and it’s fail

My relationship with the Elitist Jerks forums is one very much composed of both love and hate, but which has been increasingly leaning towards the latter as of late (which is a large part of why I started this site, although more on that at another time).

Don’t get me wrong; there’s no denying that EJ’s infamous moderation causes most people to think twice before posting there and leads to the removal of those who don’t care to do so. Generally speaking, this keeps the average level of conversation moderately intelligent and reasonably constructive, which in turn makes for a more mature and knowledgeable community.  You don’t have to sift through pages of threads to find ones of value, nor do you have to worry about pointless speculation, trolling, or whining. You don’t have to wonder whether the information presented is to be trusted, nor do you have to be concerned with repeated questions, hand-holding, or walls of text. In other words, you don’t have to deal with many of the flaws of the official WoW forums or other more lax community sites.

EJ is a place where you can get reliable, objective, factual information without having to deal with the “human” side of that information (or of the game as a greater whole). It’s been highly successful in that regard, and I wouldn’t be the player I am today without it.

That said, it has faults – many, many faults. Enough to make me consider the end of my thread there.

To begin with, a single thread for each spec (plus one or two extra devoted to a specific spreadsheet or simulator) is frankly terrible. It prevents any semblance of organization. It makes it extremely difficult to tackle cross-spec issues of a class, and near impossible to compare and contrast the ups and downs of two specs. It ignores the fact that specs don’t live in isolation from each other, and that the current state of one spec directly impacts the performance of another. It leads to near-identical conversations on the same issue to occur in multiple threads. Worst of all, however, is that it leads to pages which are several hundred posts in length…

In no way are these mammoth threads ideal for discussion, no matter how intelligent or constructive that discussion may be. No person new to the site is going to wade through those thousands of posts to get acclimated. No person accustomed to the site is going to wade through those thousands of posts to make sure they know every little point that’s been raised and every little argument that’s been had. It’s just not going to happen, and it’s ludicrous to expect otherwise. Yes, there’s a search function, but that’s no solution when most of these threads have existed for several patches (or several expansions), and thus the majority of their contents aren’t even accurate or relevant. A search on Scourge Strike, for instance, will bring up information about all of its dozen of incarnations, and then you’re left trying to determine what’s discussing the present and what’s discussing the past. Punishing people for asking redundant questions or raising already solved issues is commendable, yes, but not when you make it so incredibly difficult to see what’s been asked or debated. It’s the real life equivalent of being fined for not maintaining the minimum speed on the highway, but then there being a single lane thus impeding your speed! Punish people for not adhering to your rules, of course, but don’t make your environment one which impedes the ability for people to adhere to your rules.

Within those threads, the focus on facts and figures is admirable, but it ignores the undeniable fact that not all facets of the game can be reduced to numbers (see: Improved Unholy Presence). Sometimes, you have to consider that mentioned “human” aspect of the issues to actually be able to discuss them, let alone attempt to come to a conclusion. It’s a fine line to walk between “subjective but informative” and “personal and completely anecdotal”, understandably so, but all too often EJ essentially says “screw the line” and just kills the entire conversation via heavy moderation, which often leads to the debate being permanently abandoned, even if parts of it were legitimately thought-provoking and worth being explored.

The laying down of the law in this form of heavy moderation (which does have its upsides, as I’ve admitted) not only can kill potentially valuable conversation, but it can prevent them from even starting. Humility aside, I’m probably one of the greatest contributors to the DK portion of the site, yet even I am sitting on three infractions. What this means is that one more, and I get banned for a week (which then prevents me from being able to even edit my post for that duration). There’s been many times where I’ve wanted to comment on a subject, or answer a question which is original, but I hold back, all because I don’t want to deal with the potential ramifications if a moderator misinterprets my post or otherwise disagrees. If this is an issue for someone of my stature, I’m sure it’s worse for others. The fact is, not all infractions are necessary or called for and they are given out regardless. This creates a residual effect of even more (often unnecessary and uncalled for) moderation before a post even has a change to be typed. That previously discussed line is simply so blurry (which is ironic for a site which places an emphasis on objectivity from its posters!).

On top of all that, from the perspective of a thread author, there’s a whole host of other issues. Foremost among them: a single post is incredibly limited, no matter what you do with it. There’s only so much information you can put in a single post before it just all rolls together, and there’s only so many tools available in which to properly break up and otherwise organize that information. I would love to add additional sections to my thread, but how could I when it’s already a single post of 10k+ words and takes half a minute to load after an edit? Not just that, but as already stated – specs don’t exist in bubbles. Whether Unholy is viable or not depends heavily on how Frost and Blood are doing (and vice versa), and being unable to tackle more than one spec – partially because of there already being too much on one spec for a single post and partially because of the arbitrary one-spec-one-thread rule – is incredibly frustrating, and gives readers an incomplete picture of the class. Not to mention the fact that there’s been several points in the past where the author of the other threads were doing inadequate jobs, and I can’t even begin to express how aggravating that is to know that I could do better, but have no option to do so.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. The very things which make EJ so great are all too often working against it, and the site just isn’t what it once was, what it’s intended to be, or what it could be. It simply has little serious competition, generally speaking, and thus is all too often considered the only avenue for intelligent talk and theorycrafting.

All of this has lead me to contemplate some intriguing changes to my current association with those forums, and tomorrow expect some more extensive writing delving deeper into the possibilities therein detailed. Emphasis on possibilities, for that’s all they are.

Until then, sleep well.

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12 Responses to EJ – It’s great, and it’s fail

  1. Communism says:

    Oh hey Consider, I just found this site.

    I used to be an active poster on EJ, but slowly grew apart and eventually stopped keeping up with it. I agree with most of your points. I think the quality of the posts on EJ has fallen dramatically, or maybe I’ve just only noticed it in the past year. Threads have mostly turned into people begging for advice, or someone who clearly doesn’t understand mechanics trying to make a case for something. =/

  2. Zao says:

    I agree with you 100%, it was one of the reasons I stopped posting in Suno’s thread, and only check once in a week if there are any new interesting topics that came up.
    Because tanking has/had it even worse than DPS, because it contained all three specs in one thread.
    It’s not as bad now, because of the DW tanking offspin and Unholy not being viable, but it still was annoying.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great for a few ideas on talents I haven’t thought of before. But I already know quite a deal of DKs, and don’t have to hold myself up with the basics.
    However I’m very reluctant nowadays to recommend EJ to a new player, and rather redirect them to the guides from Insolence on MMOC, Satorri’s on Tankspot or to the pwnwear baisc questions thread.
    Because those are actual guides, and not in depth philosophy about the uptime of BSh.

  3. gravity says:

    We are chatting about this here
    pwnwear.com/forum/post3576.html#p3576

  4. Valtiel says:

    I completely agree on your judgement of EJs.

    I admit that I don’t really care anymore if I get modded or not, but I’m not tending threads or doing any good service like you do.

    However, I also admit that every time Kaubel steps in to make his little redicolous rant about how horrible DKs are, basically spitting on what are without doubt the best kept threads and the most complex discussions on the entire forums, yes, I do rage a little. I understand the DK pages need more upkeep from moderators for an hoard of reasons, but coming to say that the best pages on the forums are the worst just out of spite is simply childish and doesn’t do much justice to the forums.

    I think the biggest sign of the degradation of the EJ community is that a couple years ago I used to read the Banhammer to laugh at modded members; now I can only laugh at moderators. Some of the new people have absolutely no clue about what they’re doing.

  5. septiple says:

    How very bold of you to sneak in a link to this page in the first post of most-read EJ threads Consider 🙂

    • Consider says:

      I tried to be rather subtle about it, for what that’s worth!

      At any rate, problems cannot be fixed if they aren’t brought to the attention of those who are affected (and, depending on the specific individuals, those who may potentially be in a position to solve said problems). This was simply a relatively low-key attempt of such.

      Most likely nothing will come of it but a couple more views here, but there’s really nothing to lose. At the theoretical and highly unlikely worst, I suppose I could get banned by EJ, but I don’t see that happening for a number of reasons, and even if by some strange turn of events it did happen, it wouldn’t be without its own upsides.

  6. Insolence says:

    Well I finally found my way down to the end of the page and the comments section! 😀

    Nice post, one of the reasons I have an account with a 0 post count on EJ is that I’m thinking “if I don’t do enough math, will I get banned?” lol. They have some great BiS Lists and stuff but otherwise the moderating and the 100+ Page Threads are like “lolwhut?” Not even a search function can get all the good parts of a discussion out as well as reading it all but who’ll sit there reading 100+ pages just to see if something was already mentioned or not? Exactly – Nobody.

  7. Jonneh says:

    Couldn’t agree more really.

    I mean I am by no means a clueless tard or maddening drooling idiot when it comes to wow. I lead a successful raiding guild and I know enough about the game, like any raid leader, to understand how class mechanics work.

    I don’t have the time to theory craft, since I work full time and run a guild, so I pop into your thread to tell me how Jonneh should proceed. I’ve posted about 4 replied on EJ, 2 of which have gotten me infractions. One of which was for inproper use of a comma.

    The goal of keeping forums free of tards is a valid one. People begging for help, people who just want you to tell them what the win button is so they can spam it and top the meters.. but there comes a point when being a jerk to the valid members of a community just starts to hurt the community.

    I for one promised myself never to post there again unless its really required. I’d appluad your protests and any move you made to make this or another site you run into a more open DK discussion forum.

    • Roth says:

      I dont want to start an EJ bashing debate…but yea, some of the moderating there is very suspect. I received an infraction one time because I made a post asking about canceling the Shadowmourne buff (and whether it was better to keep the buff or cancel it as an Unholy DK). I received an infraction because apparently I was supposed to “use the search function” for a discussion that hadnt been completed yet (many posters had theory crafted about whether DKs should cancel or not, but no definitive answer had been reached when I made the post about 2-3 months ago).

      Getting an infraction for that really puzzled me. The problem is, attempting to argue an infraction simply leads…to more infractions.

      EJ did us all a favor because it brought like-minded players (those who want to improve and those whow ant to min/max as much as possible) together. Unfortunately, EJ doesnt really allow us to discuss our ideas freely and sites like Consider’s do. Quite honestly, if I had any say, Id much rather Consider focus on this site and less so on EJ. Its nice to be able to actually discuss things about DKs without having to worry about how many infraction points Im going to get.

      I would still love an edit function tho =P…and maybe the ability to private message too.

      • Minaka says:

        Yes, as Consider This gets more attention from the DK community, and becomes a more valuable resource, it would be great if more of the ruminations and discussions of the Death Knight class moved over here. Or possibly Consider could contribute to Pwnwear for DK DPS( as mentioned above by Gravity). Either of these would be a step up from the options we have now.

  8. tesseractyl says:

    I assume you are thinking a DK site something like http://wowhats.wordpress.com/zap-spreadsheet/ ? I think that is a great idea! Your OP is one of the best kept on EJ, and I refer budding DKs to it rather than other threads for that reason, regardless of their intent.

    I’m trying to keep my opinion about EJ and other matters from cluttering up my support, but I have to say I’m not looking forward to reading posts from people who think that “tard” is a good word to use, and has no clue why people should not use retard or any derivative of it as a pejorative. I hope if there is some kind of discussion area on your site, there will be some standards for it.

    😉

  9. Sil says:

    I completely agree with you.

    I’m still going to EJ because that’s the place chosen (for lack of better place?) by many talented players and theory crafters.

    But EJ is completely fail web-wise and EJ’s moderator are often stupid and childish with infractions and hinder discussions & progress. The fact is their jerky moderation isn’t really successful with s/n ratio and on many sites it is really easy to avoid the noise and find the nuggets. E stands more for Egotistical than for Elitist.

    That’s why I am using it less and less and more and more using other great sites such as Maintankadin or pwnwear where you will find great people and where controversial discussions are not avoided because a stupid moderator decided it was worthless.

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