RuneLabs: Trolls in White Coats

posted by on 29th January 2015, at 10:00am

Flashback to my internal monologue on Tuesday January 20th.

Ah, today is the beginning of my weekend! What a great feeling! I’m all ready to relax and enjoy some free time. I’ve got my cup of coffee, my laptop is fired up, and I’m ready to catch up on things. Let’s take a look at Runescape’s webpage – oh awesome, RuneLabs is finally out. Let’s take a gander at some people’s well thought out and immersive suggestions for the game.

…Oh… Oh my… Wha – that’s not even… Why?

Ok, what’s going on here? Why are there already a hundred pages and the majority horrible? No pictures, no way to search, no way of providing feedback, I can’t even support something yet. What the heck IS THIS? If I wanted to sift through a pile of garbage I would just go to the RSOF Suggestion section. How is this innovative? How is this a better system?

I’m not sure what I was expecting from RuneLabs, but this is not what I had in mind. As it exists now, it is no more than a glorified forum. Posts are made that are in categories, but other than that there is no sorting – no designators of whether it’s a tweak to a current part of the game or if it’s an expansion or rework to something existing, or whether it’s a completely new idea entirely. There is a ninja category, but what does that mean exactly? To me that is a small tweak to something existing, but you go through the pages (all 425+ at the moment) see all range of ideas, new content included, in this category. For example, as I flip to a random page the idea for a slayer backpack to hold all your slayer gear is noted as a ninja update. That wouldn’t be a ninja update because that’s NEW content. There’s not even a quick explanation of what the categories mean so players are just posting whatever they want to whatever category! There’s just so little structure when submitting an idea that players aren’t given any direction. There’s 4 fields for information when you post an idea. FOUR – and one’s for a forum quick-find code. There really needs to be more sections that ask for specific information so players can give us a full picture of what they are trying to suggest.

Then there’s the trolls. People that post stupid ideas for no reason. And there’s plenty of them already. One I stumbled across was that all drops should be in note form, except for food of course. While there are a few rules against posting about certain things, Jagex seems to have very little or even no vetting system to remove such pointless suggestions. Besides burying legitimate posts, the existence of these troll posts really makes a mockery of the entire system. There is a way to report posts, but it is worded so vaguely that I’m not sure you’re even supposed to report trash posts: “Please report this idea if you believe it contains a serious issue and should be reviewed by a Jagex moderator.” Well, trolling isn’t serious, but it is getting very much out of hand. The worst part is Jagex is spurring it on, through a competition on their Facebook page called RuneFads where they WANT you to tell them horrible ideas. This isn’t helping and RuneLabs is already being treated as a joke by many anyways. If there is to be any validity to RuneLabs, Jagex really needs to have moderators, either players or employees, monitor incoming ideas. Or even simply have someone approve posts to ensure they aren’t posting anything they shouldn’t or anything stupid. It would take just a few seconds and existing forum mods would surely want to help with this process.

There also needs to be some sort of end to ideas that don’t get any support. Surely Jagex can come up with some sort of algorithm that weighs the age of an idea vs. how much support it has been given. Or, let players vote a negative to an idea, which pushes it further down the pages. Bias is always an issue with systems like this, but as it stands RuneLabs is just going to be one big popularity contest anyways. Let players have a preliminary say before they go to the full vote via the Player Power poll in-game. Or put a level restriction that only accounts that are level 1500+ can vote in the first few days of an idea existing.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more difficult it seems it will be for good ideas to rise to the top rather than fester with the mental waste of others. This could be easily changed by allowing players to rate an idea from 0 to 5. Zeros would be for ideas that are completely undoable or viable for the game. Ones would be for ideas that have a little merit, and so on till a rating of 5, meaning that it is an extremely well thought out idea and would be worthy of being made an update next week in its current state. You then would take the average and have that determine the placement on the pages. To allow new posts a chance, you would have a New Idea section that people could be among the first to rate it, then after a few hours it’d find its place among the rest of the ideas in that section.

It’s very upsetting to see what should be a vast improvement in how we suggest things to Jagex to be so dysfunctional, impractical, and unorganized. There’s more than one way to have a democratic suggestion system like RuneLabs run, but in its current form I can’t see it working at all. There’s too many ideas in too few categories with too little ways to receive feedback. It’s no wonder that we still see ideas being posted on the RS official forums, /r/Runescape, and elsewhere as players attempt to get their idea noticed. Why post to RuneLabs if I can get a mod to respond to me on the subreddit? Why write out a detailed explanation of my idea when I will get buried by trolls and people with one sentence suggestions? Why use RuneLabs if I can’t even post pictures?

…I guess I need to go on RuneLabs to suggest all of this to them.

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