Off-topic: anonymous commenting, Facebook, and the future of online discussion*

*Almost definitely an overly ambitious title.

As a fan of hard rock and metal, one of the sites I visit on a daily basis is Blabbermouth.net. For more than 12 years, they have been an aggregator of news, reviews, and happenings in the rock and metal universe, and for me they’ve been the go-to site for that kind of content.

Since the beginning, Blabbermouth has had a typical comment system, where a user registers with the site, creates a user name and password, and is essentially anonymous – and, therefore, is free to be unrestrained with his or her speech on the site.

Blabbermouth has always had a policy against abusive language, racism, and so on, but it never seemed to be enforced. And with the previously mentioned commenter anonymity, there probably wasn’t much that could be done in such cases if abuse was reported, other than banning an account or even an IP address, but over the years it seemed to me that no comment was ever addressed by the admin. I came to accept that this was just the way the site was: it continued to post content, commenters did their thing, and if you didn’t want to read the comments, you didn’t read the comments.

On Monday night, I visited the site to find that at some point in the previous 24 hours, it had been relaunched in a new format. Gone are the full-length front page articles, the archaic post menu, and the long-standing, claustrophobic-dark look. In its place is a bright, clean, professional, modern looking website, with truncated posts and “Read More” buttons. In general, it is a much easier site to navigate from a “what’s happening right now” standpoint.

Also gone, however, is the old commenting system. If you want to comment at Blabbermouth.net now, you have to be signed in to Facebook. Which opens up an interesting can of worms for the site’s users…

There has been a lot of talk around the world lately about anonymous commenting and online discourse: I’ve heard a few stories about it on NPR and its affiliates (here and here. for instance) in the past six months. Unsurprisingly, it’s been a subject of discussion within the WoW community. Furthermore, with a couple of Google searches, you can find many articles about websites, such as online newspapers, getting rid of anonymous comments.

What’s interesting is that many sites that don’t allow anonymous commenting have integrated with Facebook. One of the benefits of doing so is that the site’s Facebook page can then highlight comments that it gets on its website, giving both the site and the comments/commenters more exposure (and, presumably, can lead to more discourse). As far as I can tell, it also takes a huge chunk of responsibility for the content of the discussion out of the hands of the website and places it squarely, in the end, on the user.

This is fairly simple to explain. On Facebook, the user is the person. The user isn’t “Neil Young’s Cocaine Booger” or “RiotAct666″ (real user names from Blabbermouth – I didn’t make them up myself). It’s you, the Facebook user with – potentially – real life friends and family, who are “friended” on the site and can presumably see every comment you make.

To my knowledge, Blabbermouth.net hasn’t made any announcement about the revamp of the site and the discussion system overhaul. When I saw how it had changed, my first thought was “they must have changed it to cut down on trolling.” That may or may not have played a part in their decision, but I’m inclined to think that, in addition to adopting a comment system that is in place on thousands of other websites (and is probably simple to implement), improving the quality of the discussion was a factor.

Additionally, Facebook is the closest thing there is to a universal sign-in system in the world, particularly when requiring that commenters use their real names is a desired feature. Facebook is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, and nothing else that uses real names to commonly sign in to anything on the internet comes anywhere close to that magnitude. It’s a built-in sign-in system, with no site-specific registry required – unless, of course, you don’t use Facebook at all. Or, unless you don’t want to use your Facebook login to make comments on other websites…

While anonymous posting/commenting is as alive as it has ever been, there seems to be something of a growing movement toward requiring real names in order to comment on websites.

I’m curious to see how this plays out over the next several years. As more sites stop allowing anonymous commenting, will there be more ways to require that users log in as real persons, other than using Facebook? Or will this be something that becomes the lifeblood of Facebook, as more and more young people enter the online sphere looking to use the new “it” social media format – not FB – but are forced to use Facebook in order to be a part of a growing piece of the online discourse pie?

Or, will there be sections of that pie that begin to skew less toward the opinions of young users simply because such sites’ comment requirements will restrict them to Facebook, while these users would rather use Tumbler / Twitter / whatever the next big thing(s) is(are)?

Personally, I sit in the camp with those who don’t want to use their Facebook logins to comment on other sites. This is not because I am young and hip (…), but rather because I just don’t like Facebook. I barely ever comment on Facebook itself. I don’t trust Facebook. There are many reasons for this, and I won’t get into them here, because I’ve never written a 5000 word post before, and I don’t feel like having my first one be about Facebook. But there are privacy issues, data-collection and -sharing issues, and others that make me extremely uncomfortable with the idea of just going ahead and giving in to it, and posting my life and opinions and whatnot there… and, therefore, having my account linked with various other websites doesn’t make me feel easy.

With respect to Blabbermouth.net, I don’t really care. I didn’t ever bother commenting there before, and I don’t think that will change. But I also never comment on a site that requires Facebook. If FB is an option, but you can also use an alternative, I’ll comment if there is an alternative that I like.

I do like the fact that, intended or not, Blabbermouth has stopped so much of the terrible commentary on its site with one fell swoop. There is value in that. But I go to that site for news and videos and so on, not for the comments. The comments there have historically been mainly garbage, although there has been good discussion on rarer occasions.

I just wish that there were non-Facebook alternatives for sites like that, where the burden of moderating could be kept to a minimum without requiring FB. Right now, I don’t know that there is any other solution on the horizon.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Mushan, part 2: the proof is in the screenie

One of my recurring experiences this week has been the constant reminder that Blizzard named a large lizard after my toon and those of a couple dozen other players, a situation I’ve alluded to before.

This weekend, for instance, a friend of mine and his wife, who recently finished questing from 85 to 90 together, were working on their last few bars, and got a quest requiring them to pick up Full Mushan Bladders. At the time, I was smelting ore on my warrior, and logged out to switch over to my hunter. Apparently, they mentioned to one another that it was time to get the bladders, or that the drop rate on the bladders was low, or something. And right then I logged in on Mushan, and it was apparently hilarious! Of course, they told me about it right away, and even asked me for a full bladder, to which I replied that I was, sadly, unable to help them.

Everything that’s been said to me has been good-natured – it’s been referenced in guild chat a fair amount, but not an annoying amount.

And I haven’t really noticed it much while actually killing them, or passing them in the fields on the way from one place to another. For example, on Sunday night I was farming leather on my druid, and I killed hundreds of them, and it never even crossed my mind that I was killing “my namesake” or whatever. I was in Vot4W, killing foxes and mushan and stags in big stacks, and it was all good. I feel like I’m killing kodos when I kill them, to be quite honest.

What I have noticed, on the other hand, has been the large number of new players named Mushan this week.

When I checked the US armory a couple of weeks ago, there were the usual dozen or so Mushans. I wasn’t the first, and I won’t be the last, so that’s fine. However, checking last night, there are 44 players named Mushan. It’s been in the back of my mind that this would happen; and I didn’t know how I would feel about it. While my name is, as I said, not unique, I did make it up on my own back in mid-2010, and any reference there to anything else, before or after, is purely coincidental.

Here… I’ll show you.

Mushan in October 2010, the week before patch 4.0.1 hit and Tirion Fordring disappeared from his hovel-in-exile along the Thondroril River in the Eastern Plaguelands.

What I hope is that I will not be lost among my friends, you, who read / follow / enjoy this blog. I won’t be changing my name, so hopefully I can keep my identity and uniqueness by virtue of my character and personality, as it comes across in my writing and online conversations with you.

Anyway, please remember little old me, when I am but one of the soon-to-be hundreds of players named Mushan.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Reversing the tide of a reversal of the tide (whimsical replacement-mage saga)

Yeah, sometimes my titles aren’t the best. I don’t even know what that one means – the first part, anyway.

For those who may remember (read this if you don’t), I started a new mage a while back. The express purpose of this mage was to replace a max-level mage that I already have, with maxed primary crafting professions and decent (I did fine in Raid Finder) gear.

Now, as I pointed out in that post, this is something that probably sounds crazy. I have a mage. He works fine. He’s not a main. He makes me tons of gold. So, just leave him alone, right?

Well, I decided to replace him because he was a human male and because I wasn’t crazy about his name. And since money is tight, I have a hard time using cash to change all of that.

(This mage still exists, by the way, for now. I’ll likely keep him until Mists of Pandaria is underway, and then let him go when he stops being useful.)

In the meantime, I started this new night elf mage, with exactly the same professions, so that he will become a “2.0 version” of the current one, with no drop-off in production, so to speak. However, things came to a halt with him when my iMac decided to succumb to its terminal illness.*

*The technical name for the iMac’s terminal illness is something like “Apple develops shit (the iMac) that costs more than a certified pre-owned car, with inferior parts, and looks great or new-fangled or something, but its designs are fatally flawed and they run way too hot and so on, so their shelf life can be shorter than you expect.” Or something to that effect.

The death of my iMac combined with my girlfriend’s heavy Diablo III play meant that I’ve been offline much more than usual, since hers is the only working PC in the family at the moment. As such, I eventually sort of resigned myself that I was going to $#*t-can the idea of replacing Theophilos, as my new mage still had all of Outland, Northrend and Cataclysm to complete, as well as maxing out Jewelcrafting and Tailoring, before MoP dropped.

However, over the past week-plus, I dove back into play with him (he was 60). I quested. I ran several dungeons (all Wrath, so far). I worked on professions. I changed him from Frost to Fire for all leveling, since I just like playing Fire anyway.

As of today, he’s halfway through to 82. His Tailoring is at 505 (yay!). That’s the good news. His JC is at 412 (ehhh…), which is indicative of the fact that JC is probably one of the more difficult crafting profs to level without spending an iMac’s worth of gold on mats.

At this rate, I should be finished leveling him – depending on how much time I get to play him – within the next seven days. The profs are going to be fine, I think. At the very latest, they should be ready to go (maxed) by the time MoP drops, so I will be able to switch seamlessly from the old mage to the new one at that point.

So… let me briefly elaborate on why I made the decision to replace Theophilos:

I was using MogIt to look at cloth combos for transmog, and… seriously… human males look so awful in cloth gear. Most gear, actually, but really, I just can’t stand it. So I made a nelf. I like how he looks. And I’m excited to put together some looks for him once that becomes something I care about again (aka after I finish mogging my hunter and warrior, at least).

OK, I should have said “prioritize,” not “care about.”

So yeah, new race, new name, same class, same profs. “Money” (because I’m totally dropping some chunks of gold while leveling this one’s profs) well spent? Absolutely.

It’s in-game gold. Meaningless currency. Fun money. It means I don’t have to spend U.S. currency to have the mage I want. And I’m enjoying the leveling experience. Win-win.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Mushan (beast)

When I created my hunter back in the summer of 2010, I made his name up in my head.  I typed it into the Character Creation screen, and I liked the way it looked.  I liked the way it sounded.  And it was a “good” name, in the sense that it was available on my server.  So I was off and running with it, and I’ve never looked back.  I still love the name, and have never regretted it or wished that I had made up something better for him.

With the release of Mists of Pandaria, several new creatures will be introduced into the game.

One of these, as most people know, is the mushan.

^^ I think it’s safe to say, I’m prettier…

My friend and former guildmate – and fellow hunter – Jacuzzi, came online shortly after the mushan were datamined and made public.  He asked me if I knew about them, and then happily told me that he plans on killing thousands of them for fun, just because I happen to share a name with their species name.  We shared a good laugh about that.

I know they weren’t named after me, because there are other players named Mushan, and I highly doubt that I am even the most decorated or skilled Mushan out there. And I didn’t start this blog until after they were announced, if I remember correctly.  Blizzard doesn’t know me from any other player, so I’m happy to rest on the idea that it’s just a coincidence – that I happen to have made an Asian-sounding name for my toon, and the new expansion has Asian themes.

What is interesting, though, is that I sometimes get page views from people searching for “mushan” on Google.  I know that they’re not looking for me, in most cases, unless they’ve typed in “mushan etc” or something to that effect.  People are interested in the new creatures of MoP, so naturally they are searching for the beast, not for me.  The mushan even drop meat that will be used in several recipes in MoP, including feasts, so there’s profession and gold-making value driving up the curiosity factor there.

The big sadface is that it looks like hunters aren’t able to tame them.  Imagine: Mushan, with a mushan pet named Mushan!  I would definitely do that, just for kicks.

Yes, I’m silly.

At any rate, Jacuzzi will not be the only one killing lots of mushan.  Perhaps he’ll be the only one killing them for the pleasure of spiting me, and that’s all well and good!  But I’ll be killing them for profit and for, um, lunch.

(And so there it is.  People who happen to find my blog while searching for this beast will now have a post to read about it!)

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


Thunderbrew’s Jungle Punch: Ingredients may vary, but results are the same

Several months ago, when I was feeling particularly annoyed with my cat druid, I made a rogue.

Avacrusa works at Cutco, apparently…

It was the fifth time I had made one.  The first three never made it higher than level 14, and the fourth, who is currently an Auction House mule, is 29 and shall never reach level 30.  In fact, he’s in the queue to be deleted at some point in MoP – if not before – since Blizzard is only giving us one more character slot per server, rather than allowing us to roll 50 characters total in any combination we like.

I mean, I have to roll a hunter in MoP right?  If I didn’t, it’d be the first expansion that I didn’t since I started playing more than five years ago.  So there’s one slot taken right there.

Anyway, I made a new rogue that was almost a carbon copy of Anacrusa.  Night elf, same skin tone, same face, same markings, same hair.  Same name, other than one letter: Avacrusa.

Over time, things have changed – I gave her white hair and a different ‘do, because I felt it matched the gear I was transmogging her into, and also because of the absurd fact that playable Night Elves cannot have black hair in the game (hello, Illidan? and so on).  I would totally put black hair on a Night Elf.  Heck, I’d put it on Mushan.  It’d go great with the Black Dragonscale armor he’s wearing at the moment.

Anyway, I played her for a few hours, and the excitement wore off, and I leveled her sporadically thereafter, reaching 85 almost a month ago.  It was fun, but I didn’t love it.  Since then, I’ve hardly played her, which tells you something right there.  Ah well, at least I can finally say I didn’t delete this one.

Anyway, while I was questing in Sholazar Basin – one of my favorite zones in Northrend – I did the Nesingwary quests, which include the series of quests that revolve around Grimbooze Thunderbrew* and his Thunderbrew’s Jungle Punch.

*Grimbooze Thunderbrew is one of my all time favorite names in WoW, by the way!

The quest chain first requires you to gather papayas, oranges, and bananas out in Wildgrowth Mangal.  Then you make the Jungle Punch, following the strict, by-the-seat-of-his-pants instructions of “Tipsy” McManus.  Finally, you have to have administer a taste test to three particular people.

I’ve done this quest chain seven times, at least.  I’m not sure if I did it on my alt-druid, but the other max-level toons have all been through it.  Part of the fun of the second quest – Still At It – is that Tipsy will randomly have you add a papaya / orange / banana, light the brazier to add heat, or let out some pressure on the still.  After ten or so instructions, the punch is ready to taste.

Well, with Avacrusa, the punch seemed, at least to me, to come out a little lopsided.  Have a look:

“Heavy on the papayas! Oh, and add a banana. And hold the oranges!”

On this particular batch, the Jungle Punch consisted of four papayas, one ‘bananas’, and zero oranges.  I’d never had that happen before; usually, there was at least one of each fruit in the batch, with miscellaneous other instructions to fill the gaps.  But not this time.  This was Thunderbrew’s Jungle Punch, Papaya-Lovers Special!

However, The Taste Test, which requires you to have Hemet Nesingwary, Hadrius Harlowe, and Tamara Wobblesprocket take a swig of the stuff, is always the same.  Hemet loves it, Hadrius gets a real “kick” out of it, and Tamara says it tastes like engine degreaser.  So perhaps it doesn’t matter after all.  :)

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


Sartharion-10 down on an otherwise off night

Last night, only about half of the people showed for our alt raid, so Anacrusa ended up having to sit this week.

Since there wasn’t much else on the agenda, I decided to finally bug my girlfriend to help me defeat Shadron in Obsidian Sanctum.  For those who don’t know or remember, Shadron is the one Lieutenant of Sartharion that forces you to go into the Twilight Realm to defeat his acolyte.  It’s impossible to solo Shadron – when the Twilight portal opens, you have to send someone in because he’s immune during that time –  so, because of that*, I had never tried to solo Sarth before.

*Also because, basically, I’m lazy.

However, last night she helped me with Shad, and then she left to solo Attumen the Huntsman on all of her toons before the lockout reset, and I stayed to attempt Sartharion.

Sartharion, May 14, 2012

It was very easy.

I was having an off night, and ended up flubbing all over the place – even getting hit by two firewalls because I just wasn’t paying attention – but the fight is simple, and I really overgear it, like I do with Sapphiron-10 and others like it.

After Sarth, I went back to Naxxramas to try Gluth.

The Gluth bug is not working for me.  I’m either not doing it right, or it’s been stealth-fixed.  I’d be willing to believe that it was just a result of me being stupid, except for the fact that I can’t get the Crypt Guards to despawn for me when I FD on Anub’Rekhan either, and that worked for me several weeks ago.  So I’m not sure what to think.

Anyway, I decided to give Gluth a few tries with a legit strategy, but I didn’t do very well.  Durendil calls Gluth the second-hardest boss in Naxx, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too badly.  However, I do feel badly.  I usually move pretty well in raid situations, but I was kiting like a jackass, and I just wasn’t getting much past the first Decimate on my best attempts.  So I decided to leave that alone.

Ever have a night where you feel like you completely failed at competently using skills that you normally use without any problems?  I’ve had a few of those nights recently, and this was one of them.  It’s frustrating on a certain level.  For me, letting it go for a couple of days usually does the trick.  So I guess I’ll rest a couple of days in order to clear up any residual fatigue from working on Heroic Dragon Soul last Sunday, before I attempt any raid-like activities on the hunter.

I think that – fatigue from bringing my A-game for progression attempts on Sundays – contributes to a lot of my problems on Mondays…

Anyway, on the bright side, I got the glove token from Sarth on my first try, so now I just need the chest, legs, and the complementary pieces (belt, boots), and I’ll be ready to rock the Heroes Cryptstalker look whenever I decide to do so!

I also picked this up, of course:

By the way: the names of Sartharion’s lieutenants – Vesperon, Tenebron, and Shadron – are, in my opinion, three of the cooler names in WoW.  Just had to throw that out there.

:D

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


Mushan, pronounced (for Hydra!)

When I think up character names – when I’m not ripping them off from books – I think them up entirely in my head.  By that, I mean that I have some characters that have what are, to me, originally created names.*  Anacrusa and Mushan are two of these.  I also made up Abenadari, my draenei paladin.  These three, at the time that I made them, were each created at the login screen, playing around with letters, wondering how they would sound, and so on.

*This doesn’t mean that nobody else has those names, but it means that I made them up in my brain, they were available when I entered them into the character creation screen, and I didn’t look to an outside influence when I did so.

Of my names, the one that gives me, personally, the most trouble with pronunciation is my warrior, Droignon.  I stole his name from the Jester Series of books by Alan Gordon, along with Theophilos and Feste, which are all names used by the protagonist in those books.  I loved the name Droignon – loved how it looked, and how it looked like it might be pronounced like filet mignon.  (Yes, this is how my brain works!)

How it’s been pronounced

Anacrusa flows off the tongue, and, once you sound it out, Abenadari does too.  However, Mushan seems to cause loads of trouble for some people.  I’ve had friends call me Mu-shan (rhyming with can), which is fine.  One of my guild-mates started calling me Mushy (rhyming alternatively with slushy or bushy) during Firelands because apparently that was easier to say than the full word, and I accepted that, because my brain by that time could react to being identified as Mushy in vent.

On a more public scale, though, I’ve had the good fortune of having my name pronounced on two podcasts.

For several months, I’ve been actually logging into the chatroom for the live Hunting Party Podcast when I’m able to attend.  For those who don’t know the HPP, if you have any interest in hunters, fun podcasts, or just WoW in general, it’s both informative and very entertaining – hunters have a great community, so the conversation is lively and friendly.

Anyway, during the podcast, Frostheim reads the names of those who join the conversation in the chat room, and part of the fun is hearing him either nail or butcher various names.  I was relieved to hear Frost pronounce my name “MOO-shahn” the first time I managed to log in on time, and that was fine.

Today, though, I was listening to last week’s episode of the Twisted Nether Blogcast, and was delighted to hear Hydra announce my blog as one of the new introductions on Blog Azeroth over the past couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, she didn’t quite get the pronunciation of my name, but she did spell it out.

How I pronounce it

In the interest of anyone who cares, I pronounce my hunter’s name “moo-SHAHN” with the second syllable rhyming with John.  I also like Frostheim’s version accenting the first syllable; I think it sounds cool.  But, if you should ever read this, Hydra, no worries!  (And thanks for introducing my blog on the show!)  You’re not the first person, and you won’t be the last, to not know what to think when you see my name.  Unintentionally, I chose a name that has an uncertain pronunciation, so I guess it comes with the territory!

^^

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


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