How feedback works and why it matters

34 Human Priest
9880
@Fasc: I can't speak for Torvald, but I think Zar passive aggressively plugging that biased article while playing the martyr ('constantly reiterating') is what spurred that portion of his argument.

@Topic: I believe it'd help if there were more official discussion threads for hot topic issues; these posts could be stickied and have the latest blue posts/discussion consolidated in a few posts at the start of that thread. Random player could come to the forum and see all the feedback from Blizzard on their issue in one place, rather than trolling the blue tracker and wading through bug fixes, fluff, and things that they weren't concerned about. Besides, it'd make it a lot harder for someone to say Blizzard ignores customer feedback if they acknowledge the playerbase is divided on an issue.
Edited by Averena on 11/15/2012 11:31 AM PST
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100 Worgen Warrior
10675
Dax i like the way you put things out there for us as players to get answers. You are a great CM and i just want to say thanks for what you do.

I have one request though. Can you tell me when does something become an issue that needs to be discussed as a group in your meetings you have with the devs?

We can all scroll through the forums and see posts numbering in the hundreds about the same thing. I know you cant read all of them and dont expect you to. That would be an enourmous headache. Honestly though when do all the compiled subjects become worth discussing?

I as a player would love to see a feature that would be similar as the Devs Watercooler on a weekly basis. Such as implementing it on a maintenence day. I think alot of this would be constructive to see.

I dont know if it is possable. I would love to hear the thoughts of it could ever happen. Right now alot of us rely on outside sources and websites to see what is going on.
It would be helpful to read about it from you guys as the CM's and Dev's.

Just a thought. Thx for what you do. Keep up the good work.
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90 Dwarf Paladin
3485
The article presents absolutely no unique or interesting perspective. It's butt-kissing and repackaging of quoted blue text. It has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing with development decisions. It's a fanboi article. Not all of the articles on wowinsider are fanboi. But this one is.


I haven't read the article so I cannot say whether it is a fluff piece or whether it isn't. What I find interesting is how the side defending Blizzard is portrayed as non-thinking fanbois and drones, and the side criticizing Blizzard as rational people offering honest critique. Yet when I read the forums, the vast, overwhelming majority of irrational and just downright mean posts are on that side.

So imagine a Blizzard person trying to go through all that to get to the 'honest critique':

You suck
You suck
Conspiracy theory about Blizzard wanting Wow to fail
Die in a fire
Get hit with a bus (not even kidding about this one)
18 paragraph rant
Accusing Blizzard of posting on forums posing as customers
Worse then Hitler
Caused 9/11
You suck
You suck
All caps
Fix CRZ nao!
Wall of text
Blizzard not responding to feedback

The fact that Blizzard employees aren't all basket cases is a minor miracle all in itself.
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90 Human Warrior
11790
Editing because I have more to say!

Feedback is important, both positive and negative. The way you construct your post, be it in a constructive way, or with yelling, is going to determine the response you get. I see a lot of really good posts on here that are not flame bait and are well thought out, but too many are basically either parroting what has been said in literally hundreds of other threads, or is down right volatile.

Constructive discourse is the best discourse! :)


Very well said!!!

/nod

It's a true testimate to someone's character if they can, instead of going with the masses whine and complain, actually put the thought into constructive critism (if it is critism at all). The older I get the more I notice how I used to be, how I act now, and the difference therein, and therefore try to be that person. It's hard, and it takes some serious will power at times, but it is, at least in my mind, part of growing up.

After all, if we put our heads together and work on things, the possibilities are endless; whereas if we all just act on our own volition as if what we say should be the ruling vote, well, that's more or less a recipe for disaster.

Let's make things better, not worse, yeah?

Have a great day y'all!!
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90 Orc Warrior
4380
11/15/2012 11:39 AMPosted by Mcdrunk
So imagine a Blizzard person trying to go through all that to get to the 'honest critique':


My favorite part is that there is no 'honest critique' among the example "feedback" you listed. I think the closest candidate would be the ominous "wall of text".
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26 Draenei Shaman
130
11/14/2012 08:47 PMPosted by Shamscams
The problem is, you guys don't use the feed back, or deny it!!! Everyone has been screaming since MoP dropped "DAILIES SUCK!!!!" and blizz just simply says "then don't do them..." Which is clearly not what there intention was. I felt like they were mandatory intill I noticed I was revered with all most all of them then I thought to myself, that was the worst thing I have ever done in the history of wow!!!!!


=/ did you not read the article? It says what people have been trying to say for a while...

The forum goers do not really represent all of the player base. Not that what they have to say is unimportant, but to say that "everyone has been screaming dailies suck" would be assuming that 1. Everyone on the forums IS saying that (not everyone is) and that 2. Everyone on the forums speaks for everyone who plays the game. This simply isn't true.

What we say can give insight into what -some- of the player base think and feel, but it cannot adequately represent the way all or even most players feel.
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90 Tauren Paladin
9685
I hate your level 90 rep system, I think its terrible and has made me gone from a person that plays 2-3 alts to logging on for raids and logging off. Thats my feedback
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MVP
100 Night Elf Priest
11795


I haven't read the article so I cannot say whether it is a fluff piece or whether it isn't. What I find interesting is how the side defending Blizzard is portrayed as non-thinking fanbois and drones, and the side criticizing Blizzard as rational people offering honest critique. Yet when I read the forums, the vast, overwhelming majority of irrational and just downright mean posts are on that side.


Well, I personally won't go so far as to say that defenders are intelligent and attackers are irrational/mean.

However I do think that attackers miss two important facts. The first is that explaining is not the same as defending. Sometimes you are just stating how things got to be how they are, with neutral opinion on it. The second, more complex thing is that most of WoW is made up of compromises.

Explaining why something is right in the middle of Player A's desires and Player B's desires is not "defending the status quo", nor is it ignoring Player A or Player B.

Player A may ask for something changed to be more as Player A wants. However that might be moving it even further AWAY from what Player B wants. If you try to explain that the current state of "that thing" is in the middle so that it balances both out - Player A might say you are just being a fanboi!

Player B may ask for something changed to be more as Player B wants. However that might be moving it even further AWAY from what Player A wants. If you try to explain that the current state of "that thing" is in the middle so that it balances both out - Player B will ALSO say that you are just being a fanboi!

It's a simple subtle truth, but one that I see many MANY forumgoers unable to grasp.
Edited by Snowfox on 11/15/2012 11:58 AM PST
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90 Tauren Druid
9990
11/15/2012 11:30 AMPosted by Averena
@Topic: I believe it'd help if there were more official discussion threads for hot topic issues; these posts could be stickied and have the latest blue posts/discussion consolidated in a few posts at the start of that thread. Random player could come to the forum and see all the feedback from Blizzard on their issue in one place, rather than trolling the blue tracker and wading through bug fixes, fluff, and things that they weren't concerned about. Besides, it'd make it a lot harder for someone to say Blizzard ignores customer feedback if they acknowledge the playerbase is divided on an issue.


Blizzard has said time and time again why they won't do that.

It is basically inviting people to come complain in that one specific thread, then you also get "Why are you talking about this, and not <other thing>"
Then you get bickering between players instead of talking about the subject
if Blizzard dares to go through and delete the off topic posts and the ones violating the ToS because the player was insulting other players positions then Blizzard gets accused of "censorship" and "covering up the truth" and "ignoring the problem" trying to "silence its critics" and "see they don't really want to discuss the problem"

It is the same reason Blues stay away from posts that are being productive. Because they want the input without the topic becoming "Lets analyze exactly what the blue said, and try to twist it in the most negative way we can because we think Blizzard is out to get us"

Seriously look at anything Blues post, then find anything where people are complaining about what the Blue posted. You will tend to see that what the person is claiming the Blue said is way different then what Blizzard actually said.
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97 Human Warrior
10825
11/14/2012 08:35 PMPosted by Haleh
From reading the thread with over 220 pages now, I must say I am happy to see forum posts are actually being seriously reviewed upon...... no matter how ridiculous at times. I want to personally thank you, Zarhym, for responding to us needy children of yours! =)


Funny you should refer to us as children...as a lot of the content in that article, while very well written and well thought out...is very CONDESCENDING. I guess some people on these forums need to be addressed as if they were children, huh?
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90 Goblin Shaman
6795
too long, tried to read, but got bored..

with love,
Waylord


I'm going to go ahead and diagnose you with ADD then. Good luck ever trying to read a book.
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100 Draenei Death Knight
14870
i don't know what the point of this thread is. blizzard doesn't appreciate feedback that doesn't affirm what they already plan to do. you guys plan ahead years at a time, and you have repeatedly said so. changing course is just something you don't do, feedback or no. instead, all of the feedback you did listen to but couldn't conceivably act on is summarized at the end of every expansion as "things you learned". while, in the mean time, you'll deny the existence of problems and insult the people who can't see it your way. as i see it, the prime opportunity to use constructive feedback, well, constructively, is during the betas, but you're so launch happy that you really just can't or won't make fundamental changes to fix problems that people notice.

a really glaring example is the portal system in cataclysm. beta feedback already alerted you to the fact that it was annoying and counter-productive to place a bunch of portals in SW/Org rather than concentrate people in a new collection of zones. nothing short of a complete redesign would have alleviated this problem, and so you ignored it, denied it, and insulted the intelligence of anyone who thought they could design a game better than you could. 2 years later, suddenly you've all had this epiphany that that was poor design?

does feedback matter? potentially, but not in the near term. the development cycle for this game is too long and too rigid for feedback to play a meaningful role. just admit it already. stop pretending you're listening and we'll stop pretending we can't play the game until you fix x,y and z. let us get on with enjoying the game instead of fighting with what we've been told is a receptive development team when it clearly isn't and cannot be. this thread is just troll material, basically.
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26 Draenei Shaman
130
11/15/2012 12:10 PMPosted by Oaklander
From reading the thread with over 220 pages now, I must say I am happy to see forum posts are actually being seriously reviewed upon...... no matter how ridiculous at times. I want to personally thank you, Zarhym, for responding to us needy children of yours! =)


Funny you should refer to us as children...as a lot of the content in that article, while very well written and well thought out...is very CONDESCENDING. I guess some people on these forums need to be addressed as if they were children, huh?


I can't really see anything condescending about that article at all. Unless you're referring to comments about "who screams the loudest" which is merely taking from what can sometimes actually happen on the forums.

The article does a very good job of explaining how feedback does, and does not work.
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MVP
100 Night Elf Priest
11795

does feedback matter? potentially, but not in the near term. the development cycle for this game is too long and too rigid for feedback to play a meaningful role. just admit it already. stop pretending you're listening and we'll stop pretending we can't play the game until you fix x,y and z. let us get on with enjoying the game instead of fighting with what we've been told is a receptive development team when it clearly isn't and cannot be. this thread is just troll material, basically.


I think you are severely mistaken on a few points there.

Sure the development cycles are long, but they without a doubt release hotfixes too. Some things come slower, some come faster. However it is absurd to act like because of long development cycles they are only pretending to listen. It shows a woeful lack of knowledge about how software is done in practice... which is fine, up until you try to portray them as pretending and trolling.

Some feedback gets implemented very quickly, often within a day if it is very important. Other things take longer like xmogs/wakener-titles. I have also seen roughly 1-2 week feedback cycles like when the hearthstone changes were made.

Basically though, the main flaw in your argument is to act like a long development cycle means there cannot be hotfixes or on-the-fly changes as well.
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100 Draenei Death Knight
14870

does feedback matter? potentially, but not in the near term. the development cycle for this game is too long and too rigid for feedback to play a meaningful role. just admit it already. stop pretending you're listening and we'll stop pretending we can't play the game until you fix x,y and z. let us get on with enjoying the game instead of fighting with what we've been told is a receptive development team when it clearly isn't and cannot be. this thread is just troll material, basically.


I think you are severely mistaken on a few points there.

Sure the development cycles are long, but they without a doubt release hotfixes too. Some things come slower, some come faster. However it is absurd to act like because of long development cycles they are only pretending to listen. It shows a woeful lack of knowledge about how software is done in practice... which is fine, up until you try to portray them as pretending and trolling.

Some feedback gets implemented very quickly, often within a day if it is very important. Other things take longer like xmogs/wakener-titles. I have also seen roughly 1-2 week feedback cycles like when the hearthstone changes were made.

Basically though, the main flaw in your argument is to act like a long development cycle means there cannot be hotfixes or on-the-fly changes as well.


this is a fair response, but it isn't what i was saying. i was talking more about fundamental things like design that feedback cannot affect, not how much a spell hits for or how much a goat mount costs. and feedback for the former is usually met with hostility or ridicule. hotfixes tend not to mollify the major concerns that players have, which is the focal point of the community's anger here. the (apparent) impetus for this thread just seems really flippant and counter-productive, and if blizzard would like to keep ignoring the gaming press' collective agreement that they've turtled and become abrasive to criticism, that's their prerogative, but they don't have to also pretend that we're the problem here.

if we're going to sum up others' arguments in simple terms, we might as well characterize this thread as a response to the question "why don't they listen?" and that response is "because you're saying the wrong things in the wrong way." as an attempt at customer outreach, this is painfully insulting.
Edited by Tycho on 11/15/2012 12:44 PM PST
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MVP
100 Night Elf Priest
11795
11/15/2012 12:34 PMPosted by Tycho
the (apparent) impetus for this thread just seems really flippant and counter-productive, and if blizzard would like to keep ignoring the gaming press' collective agreement that they've turtled and become abrasive to criticism, that's their prerogative, but they don't have to also pretend that we're the problem here.


I think this thread is basically pointing to an article that goes the long way of saying something that would be criticized as rude if it were put short and clear. Many players seem to like being offended by official statements, often *seeking* out reasons to be. So this thread goes the roundabout way of saying something that could be say curt in a single sentence.

I will now say that sentence.

"Just because you don't get your way doesn't mean we didn't hear you."
Edited by Snowfox on 11/15/2012 12:42 PM PST
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Community Manager
That article is a joke (but it's WoW Insider, which makes a habit out of creating columns out of tripe). Yes, obviously feedback matters. Obviously they listen to feedback. But that doesn't necessitate any applause. When they discount feedback (even after listening to it) that was well reasoned and highly supported, they should offer better explanation (if they want to keep their community feeling like communication is valuable). They should be judged based upon the context of the time, and right now the context does not look good.

The statement in the article about Blizzard not following the directions of people who shout the loudest on the forums is a strawman argument (and one that, sadly, Blizzard reps and Blizzard fans like to fall back on). No one thinks that they bow down, or should bow down, to the wishes of the guy who posts in all caps and with cursing about how his class needs to be buffed. But obviously that's not the issue people are identifying as "failing to respond to feedback," and to act like that IS the issue reveals a discrediting bias in the writer (again though, not surprising, since it's WoW Insider, where the bloggers LIVE for those moments that they gain enough favor to interview Blizzard staff).

Forum trends are just not that difficult to spot. And the large trends tend to be pretty representative of the in-game opinion. As much as people like to talk about self-selection, more often than not the "vocal minority" is only a minority because they're vocal, not because their opinions about what is good or bad are out of sync with the general population - that is to say that the opinion which appears to be the majority on the forums is often the majority in the game, and the minority on the forums are also the minority in the game (again, this is talking about large forum trends). Probably the only area in which self-selection has a highly skewed result is class balance arguments, for obvious reasons. Outside of that, the skew is minimal, and failure to act on widescale feedback is worthy of criticism.

The two best examples of that are recent: CRZ's and dailies. In the case of CRZ's, the article makes the extremely unconvincing point that CRZ's were a feature developed based on player feedback. Well, no, not really. It was a feature developed to save money on server costs, but spun to the playerbase as being a positive feature to make the world feel "alive" again (cue eye rolls over the people who think "alive" means smaller chance of getting rare mobs and loss of nodes for professions while people continue to not group up for quests because it's faster to just solo the solo content most of the time). The problem? First, the "feedback" about how the world was too empty was never a notable trend on the forum to begin with. And the ones who did complain about that tended to see server merging rather than CRZ as the appropriate response. The best you could say about Blizzard's reaction to feedback here was that they used it to determine how best to make a cost-cutting measure sound like a positive development for the game.

That decision made the player communications even more irate. The players thought their task was to convince Blizzard that their feature was not fun and detracted from the game, and became pretty certain that feedback was useless and ignored when the surge of negative feedback for weeks resulted in nothing but comments about bug fixes and vague promises of upping spawn rates. Was it useless? No. But it didn't carry the weight that common sense would tell you it should carry if the subject under discussion is what is fun rather than what is cheap.

Dailies are another prime example of course of this same trend. A decision by Blizzard motivated purely by the belief that creating chores for players to do every day makes it more likely they will stick around in their subscription. It's not about fun there, it's just about tying a reward to a grind that slowly - extremely slowly - gets done on a day to day basis. They're hoping that the joy of the reward will make players stick around longer than they otherwise would. Of course the game has always had grinds, but the level of reward and the tying of grinds to solo content has never been at this level, and it kind of stumbled over that line from, "hidden grind through enjoyable gameplay" to "boring grind where players are all too aware they are in a grind and can't wait to get the reward so they can never do that boring content ever again."

Lots of negative feedback again. And the response? Silly "gotcha" comments from Blizzard supporters about "dailies not being required" with some nodding from the blues. Oh yeah, that definitely makes feedback seem worthwhile. Again, I don't think the feedback is useless or not being taken into account in some fashion.

There have times in WoW's history that I have actually held them up as an example of doing a good job in providing steady communication with players and taking feedback into account. In many ways, Mists of Pandaria does that. But I view that as their response to feedback on other issues that was probably delivered a year ago. People who wanted more challenging dungeons got challenge modes. People who wanted something between dungeons and solo got Scenarios. When looking at the questing structure (NOT counting the daily quests), you can see how they split up storylines a little more to give more flexibility to player travel across zones (something I saw many people supportive of in the past, though some linearity is still good to have and players like to have arcing stories).

At present, however, it's difficult to be anything but critical of how they are handling the feedback on dailies and how they handled the CRZ feedback (I use the past tense because CRZ is something that was pretty well set in stone). Everything should be judged based on how long it would reasonably take to respond to the issue raised by the feedback. With dailies, it really would take almost no time at all, but instead we are waiting for it to be addressed in 5.1, and even then only in a half-hearted way that has not dulled the negative sentiment from the players much. (A token to increase rep gains after revered means little to people primarily complaining about how long it takes to get to revered, not to mention that the complaints also strongly center on the inability to gain the rep outside of dailies; and the double rep gains for alts has not removed the dread players feel at working on all those rep grinds with their alts - account wide reputation for alts being the far more sensible solution, with a restriction for Horde and Alliance only reps only translating to other Horde / Alliance characters and a few notable exceptions made for neutral factions opposed to each other such as Oracle and Wolvar or Aldor and Scryer).

Anyhow, I've rambled, but to sum up, it really comes down to two things. Does feedback matter? Yes. The article is right that it does. And should Blizzard be criticized for how they have discounted feedback in their actions recently? The article seems to take a very defensive stance for Blizzard, and I think it's just not correct in that stance. I think Blizzard is well deserving of criticism lately for that. (Though the criticism chiefly belongs to the decision makers, not the forum representatives of Blizzard).

You make some good points, Tolvard, and I appreciate that your post is well written and mostly constructive. The primary issue I have with your post -- since it's overall very good -- is that you make huge assumptions about our "hidden" motivations for implementing CRZ. Even if the guesses you're making are logical inferences based on observations you've made, you absolutely declare your statements as fact when you're clearly a reasonable enough person to understand that you couldn't possibly know with certainty how we made the decisions we did.

11/15/2012 03:00 AMPosted by Torvald
It was a feature developed to save money on server costs, but spun to the playerbase as being a positive feature to make the world feel "alive" again

You're just not correct, and you have no basis for comparison to even begin to understand any financial motivations behind the implementation of CRZ.

That's my biggest problem with a lot of the negative feedback I see on hot issues like CRZ: Not that it's negative, but that people usually need to explain the unknown by formulating what I'd define as straight-up conspiracy theories. And they spread like wildfire. We are probably in part to blame for it, but sometimes all the insights and behind-the-scenes facts just can't be shared in a meaningful way with the public. There's just not a lot to be accomplished by engaging with people who say such changes are financially driven (i.e. cost efficiency > gameplay or customer concerns), or that they provide the path of least resistance for us in terms of our production pipeline.

We come off looking very defensive purely by nature of responding to a fallacious, hyperbolic, or incredibly presumptive argument. And, yet, that somehow tends to validate a conspiracy on the forums. This is an extreme example, but I'll use it since it was posted in this very thread:

not gonna read your propaganda, you own wowinsider and they never criticize you when you do a crappy job

your platitudinous tripe is just orwellian speak

there is no point to feedback, you don't respect anyone's opinion on this forum, and you never acknowledge your faults

there's also no point to public test realms, you ignore all feedback given to you in those as well, their only point is to flesh out bugs, not to criticize your game design

you guys are just terrible at your jobs, and too proud to admit it

Most people probably (hopefully!) understand that this is a major leap into the deep end of connecting dots simply because those dots exist in the same space and time. And the people who truly believe this type of stuff are going to feel validated if we A) defend ourselves purely on the basis of liking things like truth and facts (even you used the term "spin" to describe this); or B) remain silent because the endless tug of war that could result is a colossal waste of organic material.

Anyway, don't get me wrong. Your criticisms are well founded. I'll keep them in mind as I continue discussing the larger points of contention in the community with our developers and executives.
Edited by Zarhym on 11/15/2012 12:49 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Druid
8045
Much respect to the blues, but sometimes it seems like you go for the most irrational troll post to make out as a straw man to make a counterpoint. Like the dude with 9 alts who hates dailies.

Then again, if I was in your shoes, I would probably be doing the same thing. I might have maybe at one point in my dark past worked CS for a competing MMO company that will go unnamed. So I don't really envy you. Then again, over there, if we told someone "sure, we'll forward that to the devs" we had to hide our belly laughter.

Which isn't to say I think the devs aren't listening, but I do think the mixed messages are one of the more frustrating aspects. I ask myself what the intention was behind some of the more... unloved features of the new xpac, and look back on blogs and blue posts and just see contradiction rather than a necessarily coherent vision. Not that its right, but I guess in that sense I can see where some of the more wacky conspiracy theories come from.

Regardless, I'm one to look at how things work and how haven't worked in the big picture and over time. And that will probably continue to be my posting style. Hopefully that translates into usable feedback.
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100 Human Priest
11600
There have been a few good feedback threads on (for example) dailies, but they get trolled to death by people who openly admit to trolling (and thus derailing the thread). If forum moderation was not such a slow moving behemoth, such threads could have the derailing posts removed so that the constructive part of such discussions could continue. I know that moderators can't read everything, so I understand that players would need to mark posts. I used to, but when I see obvious troll posts remain for days on end, I stop and actually give up giving anything constructive and simply walk away.

Is it possible for that process to change in any way?

While you're 'round these parts, I want to draw your attention to a well-written, insightful article by Matt Rossi over at WoW Insider. It's a great point of reference when you consider some of the statements we, as Blizzard employees, tend to consistently reiterate.

"[url="http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/11/14/how-feedback-works-and-why-it-matters/#continued"]How feedback works and why it matters[/url]" via WoW Insider

Food for thought!

With love,
[url="https://twitter.com/CM_Zarhym"]Zarhym[/url]
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