Not so long ago in a forum not so far away,a great redesign took place...
*Disclaimer to save me constantly having to write the words "with the utmost of respect" can we just assume this entire post implies that, as I know I am about to ruffle a few feathers.
I am not making this post to *****, far from it I hold these forums and the people involved in them from both sides in the highest of respect. These forums and by default this website is something I hold quite dear to me for a number of reasons. Some of my closest friends nowadays I met from these forums,I've seen forum members rise in the community off the back of these forums be it their standing in the community and or in some cases as a stepping stone into careers in the gaming industry. This website and forums are enshrined into the CoD community and it's that community aspect I want to talk about.
The CoD HQ used to be THE community hub for all things Call of Duty, I'm sure like me you fondly remember the late great and often lamented Charlie Oscar Delta and old Infinity ward forums and wonder at times like me, where did it all go wrong?
We used to have a thriving very active and loyal community here on the forums which has slowly diminished over time. There are numerous reasons for this some of the main ones I'll get into as this post goes on.
But It does sadden me that considering Call of duty has one of the largest player bases ,we also have one of the worst community hubs and by extension community interactions on the official websites for any game. I won't name names here but you only have to look at certain other games and see how they have invested in community engagement and then look at what we have ( the forums and this website) and well you get the idea.
From a business standpoint (publisher) imo engaging and creating brand loyalty is worth more than spending x amount of dollars on some A list celeb to appear in your tv spot. It has always irked me that while the game devs thrive and use feedback from the players and community , the community/web side aspects of Call of Duty are for the most part devoid of any feedback .
In fact I tried racking my brain earlier to think of when we have actually engaged in direct feedback with this site and the only two times I could remember - There was a post about upcoming changes to the forums when they changed to this horribad CMS and there was a couple of posts about the changes the " forum missions" and both times the majority of the feedback was negative - especially the forum missions as they were the final straw and have caused more issues for a lot of the forum .. and herein lies one of the fundamental issues with this site imho - Since the glory days of Charlie Oscar Delta this site has seemingly at times gone out of it's way by design or decisions to actively put people off visiting and using it and shut down any and all community engagement aspects. to the extent where long time forumites have migrated away.
Yes the forums are still pretty active, but if you look at what sort of posts and content we have nowadays (off topic excluded) compared to what content used to get posted. We used to have great discussions (and yes our fair share of heated disagreements) about aspects of the games, about canon and generally posts that showed a more positive aspect of our community.
Now it seems the majority of the topics are negative in nature and support focused (more on this later) . Ironically the one thing that did bring people onto the site and was imo a good first step into making this a proper community hub that tied into the games more was Elite. which has now gone the way of the dodo. Elite had a lot of flaws but what it did do well was drive people to the site honestly whoever made the final decision to nix Elite in favor of the less than user friendly and function/content lacking app really misunderstood what Elite bought to the website table.
Since the days of Charlie Oscar Delta we have seen the rise of other forms of social media , twitter, youtube , reddit and a whole host of other Cod Community sites. People have migrated to these new fangled things and left the cod hq at times looking like the opening scene of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western . But at some point you have to ask yourself why does the official Call of Duty forums run by the publisher with such huge resources have less activity and interaction than a forum run by a bunch of cod fans using a simple free forum script? . It doesn't make sense to me especially when you look at some of the other cod community forums and you see that the majority of the posts and content is of a postive nature, yes alot of this is due to the fact this is the official website so this is where people will aim to vent and will concede that point.
The answer to that is I think these forums at times suck.
We the users are to blame for one aspect of this (and i take full responsibility for my share of doing this) we do at times jump into threads to argue or berate someone. How many of us still actually make new threads and try to start discussions of a more positive nature ?not many of us right ? (off topic excluded you guys maybe fruit bat crazy whackjobs but you keep the ethos of a forum going ).
The forums themselves are not user friendly at all, and I have lost count of the number of times we have highlighted issues that make using them about as much fun as going for a root canal when the dentist has run our of Novocaine. It does seem at times the webteam goes out of it's way to make the forums as un-user friendly as possible, over the months since we have had this cms nearly every basic function found on any forum has been removed or broken and not fixed, or made so convoluted and annoying to use I just ignore them (which is why people may notice I hardly ever reply to pms any more)
. Firstly we lost all our rankings while some may not really understand why this was and is still a major bugbear for some us. There is nothing on the forums now to signify those of us who have been here and by default supported the forums for years. It was a status a lot of us wore with pride, rewarding loyalty is something enshrined in all cultures, be it a different icon on a forum or a golden watch when you retire. I took the removal of our ranks (for some of us the second time it happened due to the switch over to the new cms) as basically as a big F U from the web team. I don't give two hoots I have a number 3 next to my name it's meaningless, Whereas " member since " or a rank or medal (nod to the charlie oscar delta system) shows someone on the forums how long that person has been here, again people may not take this as a big thing but to a lot of us it is.
The latest change of the forum missions is a classic example of everything that is currently wrong with the forums and I honestly wish some of them were removed.
The forum missions have also caused an unforeseen side effect.... and I am going to chose my words very carefully now as I have already been warned about going down this route but it needs addressing...
The support forum has major issues ,by giving missions involving the support forum we have reached a point where many of us are clashing with AtviAssist, sometimes daily basis. The continual locking of threads by certain AtviAssist people and marking their answers as correct AFTER we have posted the same answer earlier is really annoying us. Its disrespectful to us and when someone is trying to gain new ranks its a slap in the face and makes us not want to do the one thing we have managed to continually do for years and that is actually help people when they come on here looking for answers.
This goes further than that though and goes back squarely into my point about attracting people to these forums and why we are losing people. As I said earlier nowadays people come to these forums for two main reasons to voice their opinions/discuss the game and to ask for support. From a end users point of view there is nothing worse than asking for assistance only to be given a stock copy and pasted answer that doesn't actually help or address the issue . By then locking the thread as soon as the stock answer is given there is no means for the poster to reply if they have a follow up question or the issue isn't resolved. It comes across as bad customer service and very impersonal at times.
Don't get me wrong here I have a lot of respect for anyone who works in a csr role in the gaming industry and I appreciate Atviassist has guidelines to follow but if you cannot see why this is an issue someone really needs to look at the way you interact with the community, especially on here.
At times it does seem like you guys on here are given targets to reach on how many threads you reply to, as we have witnessed some really peculiar behavior for example bringing a two or three week thread up from the depths of the forums and answering it, or dragging an old support question from the main forums into the support forums and answering it even though there has been numerous correct answers and solutions offered by forum members already.
End of the day we are all trying to do the same thing and that is to assist someone who comes onto the forums with an issue. While AtviAssist may not have the time nor inclination to spend time helping the community, some of us do and would like the opportunity to be able to so again. There is nothing more annoying for me than seeing someone come onto the forums seeking advice only to see a few minutes later that thread locked with a copy and pasted reply usually to a woefully flawed and unhelpful guide.
We the forum users who do actually care should really make more of an effort not to turn seemingly every post nowadays into a slanging match (again I hold my hands up here) One of the reason I know a lot of the "old skool" left was the heavy handed moderation and punishments dished out due to stuff we posted, and yes I'll be honest there was a time when Foxhound was sending me to the naughty step more often than I was posting. But there is rules in place and the mods whether or not they agree with what we post or our opinions have to uphold those rules. I have mucho respect that has grown over the years for all the mods as they have a really tough job to do and we need at times to be reminded of the rules
We all should really do more to try to encourage traffic back to the site with content that acts as a good positive discussion and a good community resource. I've seen a few posts recently like this and we should encourage stuff like this and this is where the forum missions assuming they continue as they seem to have died off should be focusing more imo.
the tl;dr version, we ALL need to make this site the community hub again, the webteam need to work with us to improve this site oh and we need to stop being douchebags to each other..