Blizzard’s Silence Mechanic Exposed As Automated


Blizzard recently introduced a new moderation system to World of Warcraft, one that promised to implement account-wide punishment for abusive chat once a player was reported by a sufficient number of people. The description of silencing, as shown below, states that punishment is inflicted “after investigation,” presumably by a live customer support staffer.

“Following the Legion pre-expansion, any player who is reported multiple times under the Spam or Abusive Chat categories will, after investigation, receive an account-wide silence penalty. While this penalty is active, the silenced player will find that their ability to chat with others is greatly limited.”

Twitch streamer Zach “Asmongold” recently decided to test Blizzard’s new silence system in World of Warcraft by typing one (emphasis on one) innocuous chat message (I love World of Warcraft) and having his raid group mass-report the comment as abusive. The account is muted within a minute. The accompanying email notes that the punishment will only be overturned if there is evidence that the account was compromised or for “other extenuating circumstances.”

A system where players can be muted (with each subsequent punishment lasting twice as long as the last) due to reports sounds ripe for brigading against unpopular opinions or merely mass trolling, leading to concern that the tool could wind up with players becoming victims of mob rule. Blizzard, in response, has assured that game masters will review each case:

This isn’t just an automated system, our Game Masters will review under the same rules they always have.

Only it is very clear that silences, at least in this case, are not being reviewed by a human. Asmongold’s email explicitly states that he has been punished with a full 24 hour silence. The account was not, as some people are stating, “squelched,” as the mute for squelching only lasts a few hours and Asmongold was silenced for the full 24 hours.

Blizzard has yet to make a statement either on their forums or otherwise.

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