It’s Recruit a Friend, NOT recruit a Stranger

So, Druidmain showed me a very disturbing thing that is happening on the “WoW getting started” forum. She has been spending a lot of time in the Getting Started forum, which is designed for experienced players help new players get acquainted in the game. The forum has a lot of guides for new players, and allows players to ask basic questions about the game mechanics that tended to get lost in other forums.

Unfortunately, experienced players have started a really bad trend of spamming this forum for their own purposes. In an attempt to abuse the Recruit a Friend feature, there are people trying to bribe new players into leveling with them, with promises of gold, mounts, etc. Yes, instead of trying to use the RAF feature to recruit their RL friends, they are trying to trick inexperienced new players into becoming their Recruit a Stranger.

I can’t conceive of how Blizzard allows people to spam the Getting Started forum with subject lines such as: “RAF!!! I Give You Free Stuff LOOK!” This is just really inappropriate behavior, which (According to Druidmain) Blizzard hasn’t cracked down on at all. The most troublesome thing is that these spammers are likely trying to recruit people for their own personal gains, rather than for the benefit of the new players. These spam posts often have poor grammar & spelling, and read more like a gold-selling add than people trying to help others out of the kindness of their hearts. According to Druidmain, people spamming the RAF forum with these posts are not getting bans, as the same people keep posting there day after day (to the point where the “regular” helpful posters recognize the names of the RAF spammers).

WARNING – If you are a new player to WoW: Please do not respond to these people spamming the “getting started” forum. In general, you should never send e-mails to people you don’t know/trust, and you shouldn’t ever click on links posted on the forum if they come from sources you don’t know/trust. Even if there happen to be trustworthy people who will help you as you are leveling, they are not likely to be the people who are posting on the “getting started” forums. I personally spend a lot of time trying to help new players, BUT I don’t do it for personal gain, and I don’t spam forums looking to recruit new players to help them.

The people on that forum posting RAF threads are (9 times out of 10) likely only there because they want you to grant them free levels and get them a free mount reward that comes from recruiting a player – and it’s unlikely that they actually have YOUR best interest at heart. In this case, any players who abuse their RAF partner are a risk that could turn off new players from the game more than help them, and is likely an unacceptably high risk, especially since all the recruiters post e-mail addresses which they expect you to reply to.

If you want to do the RAF system, you should be doing it with someone you know and trust – not with some stranger.

In addition, the posts on that forum are something that Blizzard should NOT be continuing to allow to happen. I feel that posting RAF want-adds on the getting started forum is something that Blizzard’s Forum Mod Squad should be deleting – just like they delete other spam adds in other forums. The RAF spam distracts from what the “getting started” forum is supposed to be all about, and shouldn’t be allowed to continue week after week.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted February 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Not to mention the fact that the Getting Started forum used to be a cool place to visit. But now it’s nothing more than RaF spam and so I never go anymore.

  2. Posted February 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I really liked the concept of the forum given the amount of trolling that occurs on the regular class forums. It’s often nice to have a place to go and get help, even if it’s just the answer to a simple question like “Where did the bars above the mobs come from?!” I remember those days. It’s the same mentality that I structure my tutoring around. Too bad that it has become a RaF spam place. I really hope Blizz brings down the hammer on that.

  3. Posted February 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I’ve often thought they should just create a whole new forum for RAF requests, to let people hook up, and to keep the newbie forums nice and clear.

    It really is out of control these days. I used to go there all the time to answer questions.. but now it’s so spammy.

    It can’t be achieving its purpose in its current state, surely.

  4. Thomas Jespersen
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Its the same thing on the European “Newcomers” forum. It has been that way almost since RAF was introduced.

    Also there use to be an almost endless spam from “Reroll” guilds in the newcomer forums. Thankfully the moderators has started moving those to the recruitment forums.

  5. Hamlet
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t actually see what the big problem here is. It’s beneficial to both sides. There’s no particular threat to the person being recruited. The only potential security issue is your e-mail address, but you can just use a temporary one. And you say the recruiters are giving their own e-mail addresses anyway. Where’s the harm in any of this?

    Unless you’re just annoyed that the forum is cluttered up, I guess. But I never imagine the official forums as a place where we expect anything useful to happen in the first place.

  6. Lissanna
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Someone just went through the forum & cleaned it up. thanks mod squad. ;)

    Also, the problem is that it distracts from the purpose of that forum when half the posts aren’t actually related to the purpose of the forum.

  7. Chipster
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    This is not a new trend, it has been going on essentially since RAF began.

    And thinking that Blizzard will crack down on anything in the forums is pretty much a lost cause. Unless it explicitly breaks the forum rules, they don’t do anything. And even then, they sometimes don’t.

  8. Hamlet
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t know, the official forums kind of have to be completely overwhelmed with junk, by definition, don’t they? The whole point is that everyone has to be able to post there; that’s why they’re the official forums. Private forums can try to filter for useful posts/posters–the job of the official forums is to give a place where any player can talk (albeit drowned out by idiots, but again, that’s to be expected).

    I mean, yes, this use wasn’t what was intended for that forum. But since I have zero confidence in the ability of the WoW-General community to advise new players on competent playing in the first place, it’s hard to conceive of it as a loss.

    But regardless, I guess this all answers my original question about whether the only problem with this practice was its effect on the forum.

  9. Mushu
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    You’re just too nice and need to start thinking from The Dark Side.

    If *I* were a Bad Person(tm) then I would do what they do. You prey on new players who are inexperienced and trusting. You post your own “personal” (yeah, right) email addy and tell them you can help them better by sending them screenshots and links to required mods.

    Then when they respond you see if you can get them to trust you enough to send you their login info (hey, I bet some trusting newbs will do that!) If that fails then simply send them links to trojan’d mods on your own web server to infect them that way.

    Either way you will make money by having yet another account to spam /2 gold ads from or you can get even more mileage.

    It is always about bribing the naive into doing what you want. Pretty sad. I’m glad Blizz is taking at least a token effort at preventing that but I’m sure it’s not from an altruistic venue–dealing with hacked accounts and the corresponding lost subscribers costs them very real money, so it is in their own best interests to do so.

  10. Lissanna
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Also, my blog attracts a lot of new players, so if I can help keep my new readers from getting scammed, then that’s a good thing. It’s a security reminder to new players as much as anything else – so that What Mushu just described can’t happen to them.

  11. Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Hey folks, this is the gal who raised the ruckus in the first place. The forum mods have been locking and actively purging the RAF and reroll threads recently.

    So yes, getting the moderators’ attention does work to clean up a forum. Just takes a little persistence and effort :)

  12. Lissanna
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the update. :)