Massively: Linda “Brasse” Carlson Trumpets SOE Community Management

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

Linda “Brasse” Carlson led a panel on Community Management at Game Developers Conference 2012. Massively‘s Karen Bryan brings us the story:

What do dwarves and Monty Python have in common? They both feature prominently in Linda “The Brasse” Carlson’s GDC 2012 talk about the front lines of the SOE community relations team.

Given the recent roller coaster ride of the ProSiebenSat.1 deal and the turmoil on the forums that followed, I found it interesting to hear what it’s like to be a member of the community management folks as they try to handle being in the middle of it all. While her talk was mainly aimed at community managers in other games, there were a few tidbits that players would probably find interesting and maybe even surprising. Read on for the highlights!

As Carlson has mentioned in previous talks, the community team submits daily, weekly, and also monthly reports in which it consolidates player feedback from forums and social media and reports back to the developers and producers of all of SOE’s games.

What players might not realize, however, is that in those reports, the team includes quotes from player posts to help provide more specifics about a particular issue. By quantifying player feedback and using quotes from posts, the CM team has been able to present an objective assessment to the team in order to come up with the best solution possible.

Carlson added that the community team is getting a great tool from Clara Insights, one that will automatically tally up posts and quantify things that until now had to be done by hand. Every post, even banned posts, is counted in the feedback totals that are included in the report. Carlson explained that the team members rarely ban, but when they do, the main reason is that they simply want to preserve an atmosphere in which people can feel comfortable going to the forums and posting their thoughts in a reasonable setting.

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Comments (29)

  • Kwill

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    My fifteen minutes of fame?

    Those who run guilds or have been knee deep in forum flames can attest to the fact that it’s easy to misinterpret the typed word. She used the example “I did not say she stole the money” to prove that emphasizing different words in the sentence changes the entire message. Later, she spoke about the recent confusion over whether Fan Faire is still being held and player worries that the redirect to the main SOE site was a sign that it was canceled. In reply, Community Manager Tiffany “Amnerys” Spence posted that everything was still on, finishing her post with the phrase “Don’t fret.” Now, EverQuest II fans know Amnerys well and know that she’s a friendly presence on the forums, but when her post was cross-posted to the other SOE game forums, it was met with replies like “this is very condescending” and “I don’t like being talked down to” and characterized as “snotty.” Carlson’s point was that the community team has to constantly be vigilant of what its members post to avoid being misinterpreted or taken out of context. (It would probably also be nice to see players cut them a little slack too!)

    Thanks, Linda. How about taking what someone says on the internet just a little less seriously? Or mentioning that I publicly apologized?

    Just, wow. Okay, going to go off and cry now.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Linda has instituted the current SOE policies that Fan Sites get NO information or communication about upcoming Expansions or Game Updates.*

    Kwill, it’s sad that all the work you have done over the years writing for IGN and trying to build the EQ2 community didn’t mean as much to Brasse as using this as an example for a GDC panel. I think she saw this as a perfect opportunity to paint EQ2Wire as just being a bed of negativity that can be dismissed.

    *As always I must make an exception for data feeds. The communication and responses with regards to Data Feeds have been nothing short of astounding.

    Reply

  • Kruzzen

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    I don’t even like to go to the official forums because they want to delete or ban any post that they even get the slightest bit of a pinch in there knickers about. I have found that at least here we can get honest opinions without worrying about if the community manager is gonna be PMSing that moment. Thanks for all the great work you do here.

    Reply

  • Abatha

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    I got on others about negativity in a recent article but I do have to say that NOTHING SOE has said in the GDC gives me any confidence that they’re “moving forward”.

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  • Aeyri

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    I think if Brasse had wanted to paint EQ2Wire (or Kwill) negatively, she would have mentioned the persons involved by name. I think her example was just that, an example of how statements can be taken out of context — one that was simple and easy for the listeners to understand without needing to go into things like game mechanics or features. Who knows if she even remembers the specific person who said it anymore.

    Could it be that we are taking Brasse’s statements in this panel out of context? ;)

    Reply

  • Grimmond

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    I like several players here have been banned, deleted, moved and or censored on the “Official Rags … I mean forums. Feldon has done an admirable jobs with his forums, allowing them to be a place for usually intelligent discussion, both positively and negatively about SoE’s EQ2 game. he has used the moderators stick very sparingly and when I got out of hand one day he actually apologies for censoring me … but I truelty deserved it. Would that “professional” paid forum moderators might take a lesson and learn something and then the “powers that be” at SoE might get a truer reflection of what is happening on the ground, below the tops odf their ivory temples.

    Reply

  • Dragonhearted

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    “Brasse” said at GDC-

    “Even banned posts are counted

    If you’ve ever crossed the line on the forums, you might think your voice is being silenced, but that’s actually not true. Every post, even banned posts, is counted in the feedback totals that are included in the report. Carlson explained that the team members rarely ban, but when they do, the main reason is that they simply want to preserve an atmosphere in which people can feel comfortable going to the forums and posting their thoughts in a reasonable setting.”

    You might think your voice is being silenced but that is not true? LMAO come on, Brasse used to be an upstanding member of the EQ2 community and now it appears she is just a corporate puppet. This is utter crap, the mod police on EQ2 forums are completely out of hand

    Reply

  • Grimmond

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    The moderators at SoE’s official boards aere primarily there to keep players, fans and trolls from flaming SoE. All other work by them is secondary. Making us “play nice” is just a side effect of removing all the negative stuff about SoE. If SoE was responsive, listened to the players, and took positive constructive critism, the flames would be small and relativey few and the boards would see a side effect of their being pleasant places to spend a little time … instead of being such a flame fest. If SoE was more proactive EQ2Flames would NEVER have become such a huge site.

    Reply

  • Wanda_Clamshucker

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    Unfortunately, any official messages given at this time by EQ2 staff, under Georgeson’s smarmy rule, should be viewed as suspect. At least, imho. He’s all about spin, and Brasse’s message surely contains its fair share. Is she actually trying to get us to swallow that their censoring tactics (banning posts) has a softer edge? That our voices are still heard and that “they are listening”(tm) ? Really, Brasse?

    In addition, there is the huggy, “we’re all the same people” love-in nonsense. Sorry, honey, we’re all not in the same boat and we all don’t want what’s best for the game. Georgeson’s and Smedley’s vision and antics are counter-productive to community health. Oh wait, you said game, not community, clever girl. *wink* We understand what’s really going on over there.

    So how about less talking around what’s going on and a whole lot more talking about what’s going on? At last count, we are at the 3 month mark today since this hooey began and we have yet to have a fully comprehensive addressing of the community’s FAQ by anyone in power.

    As a side note there, what corporate-community relations model are you guys using? Something tells me I’ll have quite some difficulty finding it in a first-world country’s library.

    Reply

  • Nyna

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    I’, not really a fan of Linda, mainly because I can’t stand her always talking in that scottish “dwarf” accent. Also, these webcasts look like they’re broadcast from a garage by some amateurs – not by a major game-company – which make them somewhat likeable, but in a “pitifulness” way. I don’t think a game-company should put out videos with such a bad production value. They should scrap the LIVE part completely, and only do “straight to youtube” videos, cause then they have at least time to quality check the whole mess and let a video-editor beef it up a bit. I doubt the live cast is seen by more than 100 people anyway…

    Reply

  • Nyna

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    SOE should hire a pretty woman with some speech training for their videos and let Brasse sit in her freaky office command center. Her video presentation is always a turn off to me.

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  • Necromancer

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    SOE…community management?!?

    Does such a thing even exist?

    Reply

  • Kralus

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    SoE forum software is full of bugs and their mods are ban/delete happy. It’s so annoying trying to log in with an authenticator on their piece of crap forum.

    Reply

  • Steve

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    Wow, I met Brasse at Dragon Con in 2009. Thought she everyone else there from the SOE team were pretty darn cool. Guess that has changed somewhere along the line (not to mention the fact that most of those people aren’t with SOE any longer)

    Reply

  • Bootlee

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    One of my fav Brasse quotes

    “If I got home from work at 11pm Id rather buy Dungeon maker spawners and avatars from SC then hunt them down from kills”

    She said that in the same podcast were she said she plays WoW. Every time she talks I feel dumber and I look across the room at my Cat and debate kicking it.

    Reply

  • Taka

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    Damn yall, the last part of the post was about cutting the woman some slack. /em Passes out chill pills. She wasn’t there to give the community news she was there basically as a community developer talking to other community developers about how she has to deal with all the hate mail and filter it to get direction for the company.

    I respect the opinions the divergent opinions. But, realize shes trying to do a job of read/use tools to interpret all kinds of feedback into constructive metrics for a dev team.

    She also has to filter the “I hate Brasse. I hate SOE. You’re an idiot posts.” from the actually posts that have something constructive that is actually valuable to guiding the game towards what players want.

    I’m pretty sure in an 8+- day. Many communities (and community managers) deal with their fair share fire quenching and bandaid fixing and PR and foot-in-mouthing. I’m not saying I blindly drink the kool-aid, but there’s two(+) sides to every flame.

    Reply

  • Striinger

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    It’s common to see what is qualified as constructive feedback: I think your decision sucks and you should do it my way to suck less. If your feedback boils down to that in any way, the feedback is really a whine or flame.
    All the community love professed, yet I don’t know of a single community led bug tracker that (with useful info like too, time, location, group, action, hardware, driver versions, etc.) that the community uses to HELP fix our biggest pet peves…bugs? Is it OUR job? Nope, but if you really love something does that matter? I’m pretty sure Feldon doesn’t get paid to keep us informed about our game and give us a place to gripe.
    Btw: if you’re not actually helping, you’re whining…though a good whine feels good every now and then, doesn’t it? ;-)

    Reply

  • skippydippy

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    The mods at the official boards are utterly out of control blindly deleting/banning people isnt a good way to go when most of the post in the pro7 thread certainly where simple not ban worthy,they made their own rules up as they went along amertarish to say the least.

    As for Brasse,i’ll say it again its time to grow up she ISNT a dwarf and should put the silly clothes away,she should act like a professional then perhaps i could taker anything she says/does with note rather than a pinch of salt becuase the “relations” between players and SOE have hit an all time low under her and SJ’s tenure

    Reply

  • Nyna

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    SONY VEGAS – they have one of the best video dev/cut tools but the videos SOE puts out look worse than most stuff released by youtube amateurs.

    take a look at one of the many Battlecasts for Command and Conquer to learn how community videos should look like:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2w4VdGq3Is

    your stuff is more an embarrassment than an advertisement for your games.

    Reply

  • badcat

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    I still say, they are completely out of touch with the player base. She can spin that line eall day long, but that dog is not hunting.

    Look if they were taking just the post they have not edited out of the 212 + pages from the prosieben deal they should have enough data that folks are really unhappy. There is a list that Feldon had tons of great questions, and so did Lempo. None of which have been answered. Not even peistro will go in that thread now after being called out for some of the silly posts he made with information that was totally contrary to the faq. The last week has been please give us answers and sill silence.

    Oh and lest go over the video’s that they posted on facebook did anybody see that dcuo crud they posted on eq2 site. A bunch of folks dressed like super hero’s. How out of touch can you be.

    Oh well I just don’t get it I guess.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    I had to do a double-take. I thought this was a parody at first.

    Turns out SOE is the parody, and the joke’s on us.

    Reply

  • Seffrid

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    @Starlakay: “just wish an honest company would start a good game without a bunch of upper management bull crap”.

    Trion under Scott Hartsman are doing a pretty good job with Rift in that respect.

    Scott was a tremendous loss to SOE, but we can all understand why he made the decision to go. EQ2 was a great game when he was Producer and it hasn’t been the same since.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    Meanwhile, details have been released for GU63 on the main site.

    …level cap raised to 92? Soon, Nagafen, SOON…

    Reply

  • thait

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    The level cap increase is most likely necessary since we already fight mobs that are lvl 98′s. They will probably release instances that have boss mobs at lvl 100 so you’d need the extra 2 levels to be able to hit them reliably. Hopefully the release after this one will bump us up to 100 or at least 95.

    I feel for ya Anaogi, i’ve met plenty of people who’d love to try and take down Nagafen. I had a friend who attacked him once when we were still low level just for the fun of it.

    Would like to see more info though. I wonder if they’ll release with as many instances as DOV part 1 did.

    Reply

  • zerigo

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    Ya I agree, this is not fan fair or comic-con so put the costume away.

    Reply

  • zerigo

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    lol just dawned on me that this is probably a old photo from fan fair.
    /sigh

    Reply

  • Dune

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    sort of interesting how she posted here last, but this time.. nothing… we know she reads it .. so .. silence says alot

    Reply

  • Apple

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    The official forums are not greatly representative of the community as a whole. It tends to reflect the views of a small minority of players. Also, the official forums tend to reflect the continual views of the same peoples. I hope they attempt through different means to obtain a holistic approach to analyze players’ views points.

    Reply

  • Onorem

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    I hope that new polls can be used to obtain views. I don’t think any of us has enough information to say that the forums are or are not representative of the community as a whole.

    Reply

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