It seems that a bunch of people have been banned from World of Warcraft today due to some new detection mechanism from Blizzard for finding of 'bots' or basically stuff which automatically farms things to make gold while unattended. In general our attitude to that is good! but while one newer guild member of ours recounts the story of being banned, another also tells a story about having been banned a long time ago. No decent reason given, just a late terse reply that no action will be undertaken to renew the account.
Now, some caveats. I suspect that Blizzard aren't complete morons and that this latest chap has been doing something which warranted getting banned. He'd certainly not admit it to us, given the guild's dim view on this sort of thing. However the longer term member I trust implicitly since there's no real reason for him not to fess up about the whole thing.
Basically Blizzard spawn a task that looks for 'third party programs' that interfere with the operation of WoW. I don't know any real details having not looked into it and simply trusting that not being inclined to do this sort of thing, I'd be pretty safe. However there's stories of people getting banned for running WoW under WINE on Linux and other stuff too.
So the question is here, is there a chance that they could just decide that some application we're running - I don't know Netlimiter, some clipboard tool or something like that - is a third party application and then just ban us. And then wont tell you why, other than you've been caught doing something against T&Cs and refusing to talk further or reinstate your account. Is this a possibility?
I think I'd like to know because as an officer in a large end-game raiding guild, wearing equipment which I've spent months accruing, if they did that I'd just jack in the game and vow not to give them another penny. Course I'm not saying they'd care, they have millions of subscribers and I'm sure they've got it all worked out. They need to take action against these people and the odd banned innocent accounts, well, if they were a real WoW nutter they'd probably just start again?
However we have a guild of over one hundred accounts. I think we have some kind of right to know how we'll be treated. I want to know that if I'm putting all this time and effort in the game, and most importantly helping to organise it for many many others too, that I'd have some kind of protection against them falsely deciding to ban my account. I bought some gold awhile back, is that banworthy? I run the guild raid bank and have 8000G in it, does that look like I'm a farmer and I'm selling gold? You tell me.
What I think they ought to do is put up a public list of the servers, names of accounts etc of banned folks and tell everyone why they're banned. We'd like to know, why not tell us? It's not personal information. Also, there should be a proper appeals process. I'd hate, if hypothetically-speaking our guildmaster was just banned out of the blue, to end up having to do the childish thing of threatening many people of quitting the game but is that, at the end of the day, the only thing we have?
That said, at least some part of Blizzard's customer service team is actually commercially minded and responds to this sort of thing beyond the legendary bot-like insanely unhelpful replies we currently get for any enquiry. Our server had a guild come back from the dead and a player who had sharded all of his gear got it reinstated, all by promising that players would come back to the game and re-subscribe.
So maybe we have to give a thought to it. Maybe we have to work it out ahead of time, if Blizzard wont square with us from the outset, and start saying that we as a guild agree to pack in the game if they're not actually going to give us a proper human response to banning any one of our players.
I'd like to believe that mistakes in something so important as automatically banning accounts can't happen, that Blizzard would be absolutely sure but come on, we've played this game for a couple of years and we've seen they're as fallible as any other software developer. It's just most other companies don't see the whole thing as some big numbers game and forgo any human interaction in this kind of process at all.