Dealing With Controversy

Anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that I’m a likeable and agreeable chap, usually very mild mannered and polite. However, I seem to have a knack for occasionally writing blog posts that create a bit of a controversy. It’s been a while since it happened last but yesterday Matt over at World of Matticus kindly posted a guest article of mine entitled “Tanks And Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards” (note to self: remember to phrase articles as questions instead of statements in order to lessen the backlash) and it seemed to cause a bit of a ruckus.

Although the majority of the comments were very interesting, insightful and rational, a few were less so and openly expressed their outrage at the article. The result was a bit of a shit storm that would’ve led anyone to believe that I had written an article about denying the Holocaust or how to drop kick a baby.

Of course my intention (and certainly Matt’s or he wouldn’t have published it) was not to cause controversy but rather to open the floor for an interesting conversation and debate. I was rather surprised at the backslash although given all of my years on the Internet I suppose I really shouldn’t have been. As Matt very wisely pointed out in one of his comments, some people read articles and have a neutral attitude towards it whilst others become extremely energised… and due to the wide audience of Matt’s, there were a fair few of the latter.

I can honestly say that I never purposefully write for controversy as it’s just not in my nature. Althought some bloggers, such as Gevlon, thrive on it and the old adage “any publicity is good publicity”, I don’t. I worry too much about offending people and being seen as a dick to volunteer myself for the usual feedback that such articles generate. I write because I love writing and sometimes my thoughts or style are more edgy than others. However, if you are wondering about the publicity side of this post, I’m happy to share with you that Matt’s link through to my site generated a grand total of 67 visits over the course of two days. I guess I can cancel that server upgrade :)

Even though Matt has probably banned me from ever guesting on World of Matticus again ;) , I at least feel good that I wrote an article that I think is well-written, well-constructed and elicited some excellent responses. My opinions are not carved in stone and I believe in growing, learning and changing and I enjoy nothing more than getting great feedback from a host of different perspectives. In an essence, it’s why I blog. The responses to my post at WoM may have been strong but they certainly gave me something to think about and reflect on which was the entire point.

I’ve gambled on articles in the past and some have generated very positive feedback and some very negative. A few months ago I wrote a post comparing MMORPGs to women and I was sure I would be crucified for it. But I wasn’t. In fact, folk loved it. You just can never tell how people will react.

At the end of the day, blogging is a media for expressing opinion and discussing topics. Sometimes you have to push boundaries to explore topics, just like any good art form. As I said over on Angry Healers (apt name), if every article on every blog was just a positive reinforcement of what we already know and think then they really wouldn’t be worth reading would they :)

So do you think this article was too controversial and was it a mistake to publish? Should we take risks and write about topics or in styles that may provoke emotions to run high? I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on controversial articles in general.

P.S. Thanks to Professor Beej for his encouraging tweet saying how much he liked the article! It really made me feel good knowing you appreciated it, Beej. Cheers, buddy.

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24 Comments

  1. Ysharros says:

    Ah, that question mark that makes things so much less threatening. Women are taught early on how to use it in conversation. ;) (I joke, but it’s true nonetheless.)

    I was wondering if you were being intentionally controversial in order to spark debate. Then again, considering you weren’t actually providing instructions on how to dropkick babies or juggling kittens, I didn’t particularly see the harm in it. There’s sparking debate and there’s stirring up a shit-storm — and if your post did the latter, then it’s more because there’s always people willing to be stirred than because of what you wrote.

    IMO. Yadda yadda. Question mark?

    • Gordon says:

      I think my main issue was that this was my first guest post for a MMORPG site and also to a much larger, and very different, audience than I usually write for. I think if had I published the article on my own site, the reaction would’ve been a lot less severe.

      Most of the responses were very interesting and very cool but the odd one was off the handle but, as you said, that might be more of a fact of them wanting to be stirred than anything else :) I don’t think this is the first time Matt’s had some strong reactions and unfortunately it just seems to be a side effect of such popularity.

      • It probably would have been less severe, which is why it was good that you posted it at WoM and not here. That kind of conversation is a good thing in order to keep any given community from becoming stagnant.

        Also, I really did like the article. It was full of good stuff and lots of win. So there.

        My first set of guest posts at WoM got a hell of a response, too–the ones about my dealing with online gaming addiction in the past. I was told everything in the book, but in the end, even though I can reread the posts and think they weren’t especially well written compared to the stuff I generally churn out now, it got my point across. Gevlon even posted a response on his site about how if I was becoming obsessive and addicted that I was playing the game wrong. That’s how I knew I had stricken a nerve. And one that needed to be struck.

        So keep up the good work, Gordon. Cheers to you, too, buddy. :)

        • Gordon says:

          I think I just need to developer a thicker skin for the Internet :) In hindsight, I guess it’s inevitable to get some negative feedback from a site as popular as Matt’s. I think the best articles are the ones that get people engaged with them and don’t just say something we already know. This one may have been a little too close to the bone in places but live and learn :)

  2. Windsoar says:

    Writing for a public forum, one in which you hope to make people expand their boundaries of the “norm,” is a guaranteed way to start a shit-storm. That doesn’t make it bad, or not worthy, and I thought quite a few of the comments were quite, quite good.

    While I didn’t agree with you, I didn’t think the post was unnecessary or uncalled for, and actually enjoyed reading it. It made me think “why would you want extra loot, what would be the advantages, would it penalize other raid roles?”

    I’m all for the post that makes me go “hmmm” over the one that merely chronicles the current system.

    • Gordon says:

      I’m so delighted by your comment, Windsoar :) What you felt is exactly what I was trying to achieve and I’m very happy you enjoyed it. Right or wrong, good or bad, the whole point was to let people think and challenge their believes for a moment. As you said, chronicling the current system is never as interesting.

  3. Longasc says:

    It is true that the role of tanks and healers has been given too much weight and apparently there is a disconnect between soloing (apparently the default nowadays) in the world while levelling or doing dailies vs various group sizes in dungeons. DPS or Hybrid DPS is way to go for the world, but in dungeons the dungeon play mode of the trinity suddenly kicks in.

    I would burn all tanks and healers at the stake and the trinity design, then the dps players would have to grow a brain and adapt to new mechanics and die out, too. :>
    In WoW raids there is interestingly not much place for more than one-two primary tanks in general, and then you have a problem, too. Dual spec fixes it somewhat, but a tank in dps mode usually causes DPS players to lol a lot.

    Your posting was indeed a bit provocative to stir up some reactions, unfortunately this can indeed range from irate to expanding your idea in various directions. Would I give tanks and healers a little extra?
    No. Make their roles more attractive. Don’t punish them outside of the dungeons, and don’t make them the ones that matter inside the dungeons. But this would mean to change the whole system, if one wants to do something else besides adding some extras. There is something that is exceptionally evil in most MMOs for tanks: They wear tons of the heaviest armor. Which costs the most to get and the most to repair. Even the -5% item wear bonuses and similar mechanics cannot preven that tanks usually pay TONS of repair costs, while some ranged attackers usually only pay much if they die.

    I still would not give healers or tank classes an extra reward. I would rework the mechanics and abolish them. ;) Till then I would tell them to suck it up, they know they are the most important guys in a dungeon group and can get away because of this most of the time, despite being jackasses. ;)

    • Gordon says:

      Abandoning the trinity design would be marvellous but it would require some serious changes in gameplay and design. I actually think the best forum for trying something new would be in a Sci-Fi MMO as that genre doesn’t tend to have so much of the classic Warrior tanks and Cleric healers. I could see a game in which everyone is the tank, healer and DPS and thus no separate roles.

  4. Really, Gordon? You wrote, “But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.” and didn’t expect a shitstorm? Are you naive or a master level troll? ;)

    In response to your post: I think that while tank and healer are higher pressure roles in combat, DPS requires a lot more work outside of a raid. More DPS = more competition for limited slots, as seen in the new LFG tool. It’s easier to fall behind on DPS if you have a few upgrades missing than if you’re a tank or a healer from my experience.

    You also have the problem of how to single out a true tank or healer. Is an elemental Shaman who throws out a few chain heals a healer? How about the feral Druid who has the Nuturing Instinct talent and stops DPSing for a bit to throw out some HoTs? Would a Paladin tank who throws some heals on him- or herself get both a tank and healer bonus?

    It’s also a question of what you reward, too. Giving tanks and healers more rewards means that you’ll get more people rolling tanks and healers. That means there’s more competition for limited raid spaces or groups. Is this what you really want?

    • Gordon says:

      I’m gonna go with naive :)

      I think a lot of rewarding goes on behind the scenes unofficially. Certainly in most MMORPGs, the guilds always try to outfit their Main Tank and Off Tank with the best and they always get first picks of the items. This gives those players a lot of power but it’s offset by the responsibility and pressure that’s put on their shoulders. A raid wouldn’t be able to commence if the Main Tank didn’t turn up one night, a rule which didn’t extend to DPS classes. Saying that, however, I think WoW is less strict in it’s requirements for raiding and thus other players can step into the role more (which is a good thing).

      I think there’s always going to be an underlying animosity between tanks, healers and DPS classes and I agree now that incentivising one role over the other isn’t the way to go. Still, I think there is a spark of truth in the fact that being the Main Tank or Main Healer is a more pressured role than being DPS – would you agree? Potentially that says more about my personal experiences though than anything else.

      • Forgot about my post here, so I’m making a necro comment! ;)

        I think DPS can be a pressured role, just in different ways. There’s the initial pressure to keep up with the others. If you’re lower on the meters, you might be passed over for some slots in future raids or groups. There’s also pressure if the fight is a “DPS race” type event where damage stacks and eventuall splatters people. If it’s a particularly tough fight, the DPS might need to keep track of their own health since the healers are going to be busy keeping the tank alive. (Before shapeshifted druids could use potions, that meant shifting out, casting a bunch of healing spells, then shifting back and possibly waiting for energy to come back.)

        Also, if you have any utility then you have other pressures. In WoW, Mages have to keep enemies sheeped if there’s CC, for example, which means they have to keep track of more stuff or possibly get a rampaging monster on them. Druids might have to rez in combat, or throw out a few heals if things get grim.

        I think Adam’s post he talks about on his blog is true. A mediocre person in any role is bad news. It’s just more visible in game terms when the healer brings someone back from near death, or the tank grabs an unexpected add. DPS just have meter whoring, which is just annoying to reasonable people. :P

        Utimately, if you think DPS is an easy role, feel free to roll a DPS and go for it. I think you’ll find that if you pursue DPS as seriously as you’ve pursued tanking (or healing), you’ll find that it takes a lot of work to do well in that role as well.

        • Gordon says:

          I agree that any role takes skill to play well and we (me) shouldn’t marginalize any one of them.

          However, I think the visibility thing is a big factor in terms of pressure. DPS – in many situations – can afford to underplay but healers and tanks can’t as it often leads to pretty noticeable mistakes and failures which they then take the blame for. For instance, if you’re in a group comprising of 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 DPS, there’s a lot more room for poor performance (assuming straight DPS metrics) if you’re one of the DPS players. If the tank or healer screws up a single thing though, you’re going to notice it pretty quickly.

  5. Enlynn says:

    I commented over at WoM that I more or less disagree because it’s more the players that put in the time or don’t, as opposed to the role they play.

    But I have to admit – deep down inside, I want more rewards for just the tanks and healers. How many times have I saved the raid or pulled out my cooldowns at just the right time, and no one even… noticed? The elitist in me agrees with you, even if I could never actually support such a measure.

    I think your controversy was a good one – there were some great comments left over on WoM and I enjoyed reading most of them! I wouldn’t have ever found your blog, otherwise, and I now have another blog to follow. :)

    • Gordon says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback and for taking the time to comment here!

      Your point about elitism is an interesting one… I think everyone has those moments were they want to recognised and praised for what they did and being a tank means there isn’t a lot of room for error because there’s usually only one of you and that can put on a lot of pressure.

  6. Adam says:

    Enlynn,

    Good DPS pull out their cooldowns and save the raid occasionaly as well. Strange but true.

    Gordon, I blogged about your post yesterday. I really like we love spitfires and I have you linked, but be warned that I did rip into you a bit.

    adam

  7. Payce says:

    Instead of posting a short comment, I made a blog post related to your entry. Hope you’ll find the time to check it out and comment!

    http://artisanelitist.blogspot.com/2010/01/regarding-tanks-and-healers-in-pugs.html

  8. Poneria says:

    Your guest post at Matticus was awesome. Shit-storm inducing, yes, but awesome in its controversial way. I plan to write my own response to the post and ponderings later.

    You said, “I wrote an article that I think is well-written, well-constructed and elicited some excellent responses.” Well-written…well, you did sound like a troll, at first. As a warlock player, rage was indeed one of my initial reactions. I had to take a step back and think about it some more and check you out to see if you were serious before it became apparent that this was more a thought-provoker than downright trolling. I also don’t agree with well-constructed; you put forth some opinions, but you didn’t exactly explain any of them and support your overall point. You said tanking and healing were more stressful and demanding than DPSing, but you didn’t provide strong evidence, in my opinion, that this is the case. You just stated it and assumed it and left it at that. That, I think, was probably your problem more than not phrasing the title as a question. Fortunately, I think the responses–some of which were, in fact, excellent–explored the points and counterpoints of your article.

    Was it too controversial? Controversial, yes, but too controversial, no. Was it a mistake to publish? Nope. In fact, I was disappointed when I reached the end of the comments to see Matticus had cut them off and said in the future he would look closer at the politically correctness of guest posts. Oh, come on, Matticus, it was good thought-food! Should you write about high-emotion topics? Yes. Done right, controversial discussion is awesome.

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, in hindsight I think you’re right that I didn’t provide enough evidence to back up my arguments. I’ve actually ended up doing a lot of that on other people’s blogs in response to their feedback and it’s lead to some really interesting discussions and conclusions. I wish I had gone deeper into it all with the article. Honestly, I just wasn’t expecting it to be picked up so much or analysed in so much depth. I suppose I’m too used to writing for my own small blog and not for something on the scale that Matt’s is.

      I’d love to be able to re-write the post, re-analyse it and put forth some more evidence and deeper arguments because there’s certainly a lot behind it all. I think the nature of the topic is always going to polarise people but that’s part of what makes it an interesting discussion.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it :) I agree that controversial discussion is interesting and not something we should shy away from. I don’t want to always just read blog posts that reinforce our mainstream beliefs and then are filled with comments like “good post, I agree” ;)

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