I have been a long time reader of WoWinsider and subsequently WoW.com. While I occasionally enjoyed the drama in guild watch I myself wasn't terribly disappointed when it was removed. That did not appear to be the case with the general public based on their comments.
In today's edition of the classifieds Adam Holisky an editor at WoW.com posted the following comment after deleting several comments and banning people from posting.
"I'm giving a warning here -- we have banned several of you who seem to not be able to move on. The constant barrage from a few of you is not welcomed, and is considered a very low form of trolling. You are welcome to participate in the community here with different email addresses if you like, but if you continue to demonstrate your inability to be polite and respectful, we will make the bans wider.
This is a community here, and we're not going to be like the general forums.
End of discussion."
I disagreed and replied with the following.
I disagree with WoW.com's response to the many requests to have drama reinstated and believe that you are collectively making a bad business decision for two reasons.
First, your audience have clearly demonstrated a desire for a feature that you have in the past provided yet refuse to now. Any time a business eliminates a product or service feature it risks alienating its customers. Based on the feedback I have seen on this column since it has changed I would say that risk has become reality.
Second, your response to the repeated requests (albeit some not so polite) by banning people from commenting and expressing their disagreement further erodes the relationship you have with your readers. Even those of us who have not be banned are alarmed that opposing viewpoints are not tolerated in all instances. By all means edit the asshats, but don't blanket censor the disagreement.
Both of these points ultimately tie to the fact that WoW.com makes its money based on readership. Both of the points will reduce readership and ultimately revenues and your ability to earn a paycheck by writing about a game you love to play.
Afterall, the service WoW.com has a relatively low barrier to entry with the biggest obstacle being the relationships you have cultivated with Blizzard and with their fan base. Neither of those are protected and therefore it would make good business sense to reconsider your collective policy of not only not providing what your readers want, but also the heavy handed treatment being doled out towards those who are unhappy with the changes.
Now I personally believed that to be polite and respectful.
It was deleted inside of 5 minutes.
Personally I am less upset about the removal of the drama section of guild watch, I am abhorred that legitimate debate is suppressed. I am quite sure WoW.com will not pick this post up in their Daily Quest feature but I feel compelled to bring this practice to light. It is an old business adage that ignoring your customers best be done at your own peril.
Therefore, I am encouraging other bloggers to pick up the torch and let's collectively show WoW.com that their readership expects to be heard.