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Jon Wood: Worthless Replies

Columns By Jon Wood on April 15, 2010

Worthless Replies

Oftentimes, if we disagree with something or there's something that we don't like, our gut reaction is to lash out against it, and tell the world how we feel. The internet in general is a great example of this, and our forums here at are an excellent example of it.

Because of the ease and the anonymity of posting online, reactions to thoughts and ideas are often met with a chorus of replies like: Fail, this sucks, EPIC, awesome, WRONG, this is stupid, Best.Game. Ever., I won't ever touch this, you're stupid, and other equally guttural but ultimately completely worthless replies.


Now don't get me wrong, it's not that anyone's thoughts, comments or emotions are actually worthless. They are, in fact, completely valid and important to the person expressing them. They are, however, almost completely useless to anyone who would read them, whether it be here at or elsewhere. For the moment, we'll focus on and other MMO-related activities.

There are a number of reasons that these kinds of forum posts or replies, both positive and negative, are indeed worthless:

  1. They are easily dismissed - Most people reading through a thread of posts looking for useful information will skip past posts of this nature because, let's face it, they don't have a lot of value to the reader. If it's simply another MMO fan or potential fan of the game you're talking about, the post is going to be at best considered a nuisance and at worst considered bait for would-be trolls. If it happens to be a developer of a game looking for feedback, they're going to ignore it because it's devoid of any substance.
  2. They're confusing - I know that on the surface, there really doesn't seem to be anything confusing about it. I mean, there's really not too much that comes off any more clearly than to say simply and succinctly that you either liked or disliked something. Digging deeper though, more information is needed so that others can decide whether or not they agree with your standpoint. Sure, you and I might both hate the game, but if you hate it because it doesn't have enough solo content, and I hate it because it has an item shop, then we're really not on the same page at all.
  3. It's arrogant - It's insulting, and somewhat arrogant to assume that people should agree with your gut reactions without any reason to do so. It's arrogant to assume that because you said it, it doesn't require any kind of justification or reason.

None of this is to say that posting on a forum is a waste of time. Forums can be places for great discussion, for sharing (sometimes opposing) points of view and for learning what other people think. They can be an invaluable resource for developers looking to find out what people are thinking about their games, and how best to go about improving them. The best way, in the end, to have your voice heard is to give constructive praise or constructive criticism. If you have an opinion on something, don't rush instantly to your keyboard and bang out a purely emotional, short response as quickly as you can. Instead, take a minute to think about why it is that you feel that way, and express it so that everyone who reads your post knows where you're coming from.

The thing about opinions is that everybody has one and no matter how eloquently you make your own point, no matter how well thought out it might be, you are never going to convince everybody that what you think is right. The best that anyone can really hope for on a forum is that their voice be heard and their opinion understood and considered. Worthless replies won't get you that.