Forum Follies

By Shamus Posted Saturday Mar 17, 2007

Filed under: Rants 36 comments

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve noticed a few of my old posts are attracting trolls and morons. Some of my movie posts have a tendancy to pick up people who want to engage in tiresome nitpickery over the plot or the degree of suckage manifested by the film. But by far the big draw to the posts of yesteryear is my old post on Oblivion and the way the graphics engine fails at simple tasks. It took me a while to figure out why this was. That post has a steady stream of people who jump in and insult me for having the audacity to use an old graphics card and then expect games to work, even if the card meets the stated system requirements. Some of these people are downright combative. I’ve deleted the worst ones, but there are still a few there that think I’m being unreasonable for expecting something as exotic as lighting to work in the game. These people do not appear elsewhere on the site. That post is seven months old now, but still there are people who come in, drop a few insults, and move on.

Looking at my referrers, I see a lot of traffic coming from the Elder Scrolls forums. The site is actually my #3 referrer, right after Stumbleupon and (recently) Bloglines. There must be some long-standing debate there about this problem and someone probably cited me in the thread. Great.

What is the rationale for this? Is the forum just not filling their need for fruitless debate? Are they so starved for contention that they have to come here and supplement the vast bounty of tireless foes one normally finds in forums? At any rate, coming to my site is a terrible waste of time because I don’t really care to spar with these kids. In fact:

Bethesda should have raised the system requirements or fixed their engine, because the game does not work as promised. As a customer, I feel taken advantage of. To date they have never met the initial promise made on the box, even though user-made patches have emerged to fix the problems they wouldn’t. Shame on Bethesda.

End of story, pixel-humpers.

And I get to say “end of story”, because I’m busy and I have all the bully powers here. If you want a fair debate, then return to the place whence you came, forum-spawn!

(Of course, I could close the comments on that post, but aside from my feigned outrage above I actually find this to be sort of interesting. It’s funny that one of the major sources of newcomers to the site is to a minor post from seven months ago about a game I no longer play. Although I really do wonder about what drives them to comment.)


From The Archives:

36 thoughts on “Forum Follies

  1. Justin says:

    Although I really do wonder about what drives them to comment.

    Probably because you make it so easy. If they had to register for an account or some such thing, they’d likely not bother.

  2. bloopy says:

    actually, this being a relatively high-traffic blog, i’m kind of surprised you leave your comments open for that long. . . pretty much nobody comes to my blog (and with good reason, it kind of sucks) but if i leave my comments open for posts that have left the front page, they start drawing comment spam. . .

  3. Julia says:

    I’ll ask you what I asked someone else earlier this week about a different sort of situation:

    How big of a cluebat do you need in this situation, Shamus?

  4. bbot says:

    Actually, bloopy asks a fairly interesting question. How are you preventing comment spam?

  5. Shamus says:

    My anti-spam system is Akismet + Bad Bahavior. Together they weed out 90%+ of the spam. I only need to sort through about 50 – 100 a day. I get a false-positive about three times a week.

    There is a plugin out there to close comments on old posts, which I may put into place at some point.

    1. WJS says:

      May I just say how glad I am that you never did this? It’s fun to look back to the past at what is by this point gaming history, and in some cases comment on the old posts.

      1. Mousazz says:

        I love it the most when there’s a semi-regular comment chain with an unusually long interval between the comments.

        Like, a post will come out in 2007, the first comment in the chain will also come out in 2007, the a comment in 2010 will say “well, currently the situation still hasn’t changed…”, the in 2013 “Right now it’s still all the same…”, in 2016: “Welp, now it’s even worse, because blah blah…”, and so on.

        Really nice to see, especially considering there’s a web-wide stigma against “necroing” old forum posts.

  6. Yunt says:

    If I took a guess, there’s a fair amount of frustration related to the “This version is final” messages from Bethesda. People go searching for either fixes or like-minded frustrated customers and *bam* they arrive here where your post sums up that whole package.

    I’d already not played Oblivion for awhile due to frustration stemming from the “CRAP! I ACCIDENTALLY STOLE THAT FROM THE MAGES’ GUILD” scenario when I found out from other sources on the net about the 600-700+ outstanding bugs that are fixed in user-mods but Bethesda refuses to touch. As the game is in fact still on the shelves, and now selling more copies for PS3 as well as 360 and PC, I’m sure there’s a steady stream of disbelievers still scouring the net for support, either in argumentative or technical form.

  7. Myxx says:

    Well, I’ll admit a goof I’ve made (not here though, fortunately)… I’ve posted comments on articles and blogs without even looking at the date they were originally posted. It could be that some of your snipers are so agitated and desperate to find a new outlet that they don’t bother to realize that it’s unlikely anyone will read their posts…

  8. Allan says:

    I don’t remember how I found this site(probably DM of the rings) but I’m glad I did, so keep up the good work with it all and don’t let the wandering trolls bother you. Just thought I’d let you know.

    I’ll probably go back to hiding in the shadows now.

  9. josh says:

    Graphics card fanboi-ism is the Gentoo Linux of gaming. I’ve never understood how a certain segment of computer users can get so obsessed with visuals and related hardware, while maintaining such a depth of ignorance in the matter.

    I suppose we can blame them for a lot of the indifference that game producers show toward making interesting gameplay or narratives.

  10. Ermel says:

    Justin wrote, “If they had to register for an account or some such thing, they'd likely not bother.” Possibly true — but neither would I probably bother to comment then. I’d still read, though.

  11. Evans says:

    So… if anyone knows of anyway to make this work on a video card that dosen’t meet the requirements, if that is possible, please post a link. I tried oldblivion… and I’m dying to play this super game! I don’t have a video card, I have some graphics thingy built into my motherboard. It’s a dell inspiron E1705. I can pretty much only play solitaire and spider solitaire on it. Or if anyone knows of a good free-roaming off-line role playing game I might like. Asheron’s Call 1 was my first and favorite role playing game. Thanks for reading this! Bye!

  12. Polk says:

    Evans you could always try Baldur’s Gate 1 and/or 2 if you haven’t played them yet. They’re kind’ve old (D&D 2.0 ruleset) but they’re very fun and very, VERY large.

  13. Stark says:


    Well, my keyboard needed cleaning anyways and the water I just sprayed onto it is a good start. Note to self: do not drink and read this blog simultaneously.

  14. Da Penguin says:


    Dont let the nay sayers and trolls bother you.. Some of us lurkers love your site, including your rants.. :) Like many others, I came for DmOTR and I stayed for everything else (including reading your VERY interesting back posts on OBlivion). I played it on the 360 (borrowed game from friend) and not beign computer technical i dont understand the more technical flaws but the huge game play flaws where even a fairly inexperienced game player like myself can rort the game.. It pisses me off when the game manufactureres either dont game test the game enough to find these rorts or the companies ignore the thousands of players who scream ‘fix this game!!!!!!’

    Keep up the good work.

    Steve aka DaPenguinMan

  15. Marmot says:

    I’d say that the percentage of trolls is somehow linearly tied to the number of overall visitors, perhaps even exponential.
    Does that sounds scary? Cynical? Probably yes :(

    Anyways, I second what DaPenguin said above me. Try not to be upset and remember all your loyay, (more or less) civilized, rational readers.

  16. Scott says:

    People are always talking about closing old posts but it seems like if the blog author is still monitoring them then they can provide interesting conversations (and heck I’m happy to get any comment, old post or not). I’d vote against accounts too but that’s just me.

  17. Sir Pedant says:

    Grr. ‘Whence’ = ‘From where’.

  18. Shamus says:

    “Grr. “˜Whence' = “˜From where'.”

    Sure enough. I’ve seen it in print many times, and I’ve seen it used correctly ONCE. (And at the time, I of course thought it was incorrect.)

    Learn something new every day.


  19. Julia says:

    The date complaint stuff I have about blogs hasn’t happened with this blog, so it would be pointless to leave a comment about it here. :) (Your feed seems to be saner than some others.)

    I do check dates before commenting on something that was linked to from elsewhere. If it’s over a month old, I’ve got to be really desperate to share.

  20. James Blair says:

    Hmm… it seems to me that video card snobbery comes from the same source that most snobbery does. Someone has an expensive pair of shoes, car, or video card. It has some undebatable superior qualities compared to cheaper items of the same type, but in its most basic function it is about the same. As a result, these people try to exaggerate their superiority, and actively put down people with cheaper items. This is their way of telling themselves “I didn’t waste all this extra money”.

    It’s sad to see game companies starting to release “we won’t patch no more” product like they used to do their INITIAL releases. As a non-gaming programmer with about 10 years of experience, I’d guess that Oblivion had a failure to stick to its own design document. There’s a point where someone has to decide that the game’s features are “locked” so the last couple of months can be spent nailing down those planned features. Unplanned features should be the territory of user mods and expansion packs.

  21. Hal says:

    Well, I can understand some of Bethesda’s reluctance towards patching the product. With a portion of their audience in the XBox360/PS3 crowd, patching becomes really tricky. Yeah, you can get the patch for the 360, but it seems like a series of patches would be a hassle.

    For the most part, the patches don’t seem to address any catastrophic errors. I suppose with a game the size of Oblivion, a few slips here and there isn’t too bad. Not that I’m excusing mediocrity, but the game worked just fine out of the box (for me, at least).

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience with it, Shamus. It really is a good game. And sadly, not everyone at the Oblivion forums is insane, either (although like any forum, ~50% is, and most of those people speak marginal english).

  22. Will says:

    Well, I for one am glad Shamus keeps old-thread commenting open. That’s how I first got involved around here, playing the necromancer with older posts.

  23. Will says:

    Bugger… Looks like I botched my link. Or the spam filter zapped it.

  24. Steve says:

    There’s a book in the subject of how and why forums and blog-type message boards feature ”forest fire” comment wars that die down but flare up periodically. Someone should write it and get famous, so us lazy gits can bask in reflected glory.

    If I can add one more niggle to the obsolescent-for-little-good-reason pile, one of the best designed Myst-style explore and solve games I had was obsolete once we moved off Windows 95 (I told you lot I’m old) because of some sort of script error that has proved immune to Stevehacking. No-one will fix it for me with a patch because the game was a licensed-universe thing and the licensed was allowed to lapse by the software house. Pefectly understandable that it would stop working under those conditions. Perfectly understandable that the software house has moved on. Annoying as hell that I cannot play the game any more (unless I maintain a Win95 computer system for it).

    Don’t laugh. One day some kid will look up at you and say ”Grand Theft What? And what are pixels when they are at home, Grand-dad?”



    1. WJS says:

      Reminds me of Magic & Mayhem. On modern versions of windows, in one of the missions, it will crash partway through when it can’t find a sound file. You can fix it by renaming the file from bell.wav to “bell”.wav (or “bell.wav”, I forget). Try to explain how that one works. What the hell kind of error would result in the quotes ending up as part of the string? And why just that one?

  25. Miral says:

    Virtual machines are your friend. Sometimes. Although I admit that I keep an old Win98 box around for some old games too. (Though most of the *really* old ones I just play on DosBox or ScummVM.)

  26. Steve says:

    [Video Card Snobbery] If I might make an observation without triggering a flame, the manufacturer of the most popular O/S has a vested interest in promoting a “bleeding edge” mentality in its developer partners, and has to turn over the O/S itself every 3 years to survive.

    Although the mad race for bigger, better, faster has a genuine value in and of itself, it is worth re-evaluating the total worth of the process on the basis that the velocity of the push to change is determined by market factors more than the need for newer technology per se.

    Video cards must be one of the few ways a company can actually make money in the harware business. It is an industry maxim that hardware sales are poor money earners in the PC world (which is why your PC was actually made in China if you look hard enough).

    I only bring that up because of a bad experience I had last week when I offered to set up a new PC for an older guy. Windows Vista has caused me to do an abrupt, wheel-screeching 180 on the “Windows vs Other Guy” question when it comes to OS choice. I have never seen a more intrusive, insidious piece of crap in my life (and I’ve been alive and computing since transistors were made of Germanium and you could only get two AND gates on a 10×6 perfboard). I don’t know what I’m going to do for my next machine, but Windows Vista will positively be the OS of last resort after a long, hard search for viable alternatives.

    We should also start lobbying now for all domestic appliances to have clear markings announcing which embedded OS is used in the works. I’m told Vista is being embedded in many popular brand DVD recorders as I type.




  27. Lo'oris says:

    please don’t close comments in the old posts. I’ve discovered this site recently and I like it very much, so I suppose many people will be in a situation like mine: reading a lot of old posts and wanting to comment some.

    now, if you do need to close one specific post that’s reasonable – and of course you do whatever you want here anyway – but if you ever intend to close “all old post” at least think twice about that please ;)

    btw, didn’t remember if I already said it, but the “anti-spam” is a ROTFL-maker.

  28. Schmidt says:

    The problem which you have I found most “physically” portrayed, ironically came from World of Warcraft.

    Hear me out people.

    Anyhoo, before the Burning Crusade expansion, there was Horde, with ugly and brutish characters, in ugly, quickly thrown together areas, and the bare minimum of “ARPEEGEE” items (Ogrimmar, the Orc Capital, has ONE “inn”, the size of a closet, and near squat for there to do in the place).

    The Alliance had the Pole-Dancers, er I mean the Night Elves, the Huge and Lovingly designed areas (you’d swear they mapped out every rock), and their cities have so many inns, spare shops, and all around ambiance and character, that it’s a real treat to just walk around and enjoy.

    So what happened? Most everyone flocked to the Alliance, used ONE inn (next to the bank), and filled with Twelve year olds [you can really hear the T] stripping their night elves for some silver by the mailbox.

    Disgusted, the typically sensible players (all too few) went to the horde side, or got the hell away from the major towns if they could.

    This made servers 70/30 Alliance. Some as bad as 85/15. That meant that the alliance got waaaaay more idiots than the horde (there were schmuks on the horde side, but not many). A lot more. Fields of ’em.

    Then the horde got a non-Butter-Face character, the blood elf.
    Horde got breasts, pixel-boobs, polygon-jubblies, what have you.
    Now the servers are slowly evening out.

    My point Shamus is that there are concentrated packs of idiocy. Nests of them, hives if you wish. But by complaining about something as ‘evil’ as box requirements, you’ve poked the nest. And they come, angry and poorly typing, to smite you for posting anything bad about their baby. Looking at the few comments that have escaped your notice, I can practically SMELL the T’s.

    I can hear the T’s now in the distance, so I must be off.

    Thank you for your time,

    Serr Schmidt

  29. Pester says:

    I’m looking through the old video game posts, just read the one that lambasts Oblivion’s looks, and followed the link here. I realized that it’s even less likely that people will read the comments here then there, and yet I feel compelled to speak up for my community. Or, my former community, the Elder Scrolls forums. I was always more of a lurker there (much like here) than a poster. Anyway, even with that, I have to stand up for what constitutes the community there. Not the fanboys and the screaming 12 year olds, but people like me who kept coming back for love of Morrowind and the engine that led them build a ton of stories. Or just skimpier armor. Smart, interesting, thoughtful, fair people who are fanboyish in the GOOD way. In other words, like Scmidt said, every bunch has some rotten apples. But in this case, don’t throw the bathwater out with the babies.

    As a matter of fact, I’ve seen familiar names from the Elder Scrolls forums in the comments here, such as Taffer and Cenobite (one of the master crafters of the aforementioned armor). And, as a matter of fact, similar concerns even before the game came out that all of the modding would lead them to be, well, lazy. Mods can make a game twice or a hundred times what it was to start with, any anyone with technical skill who really cares will find a way to make it happen.

    And for the record, I get cut all the time by the bleeding edge of Technology. Beyond Good and Evil was an old game, I assumed it would be okay on my PC, it wasn’t, so I held onto it for ages, had to go through a registration-surgery song and dance to get it to reinstall due to copyright protection. I bought Jade Empire because I knew that it came out in 1998 based on your glowing reviews, completely missed that it had “updated” graphics, and I’m still waiting to get the updgrade that will let me play that. It can be frustrating, not to mention expensive.

  30. Whiterabbit aka Stephen says:

    I agree with you on that one Shamus, i.e that they should place realistic values on the minimum requirements or at least give examples of what it’s going to look like with specific cards. That way, we would all be satisfied. Being one of those that loves graphics, I occasionally update my cards (well quite frequently), because it really does improve the playing experience. I’m sorry you had a bad experience playing Oblivion. That’s such a pity. Still, there are thousands of game sout there to play.

    Why we all have to insult each other over something so unimportant as a piece of code is beyond me. As for your query as to why a thread so old is still drawing in comments. It’s obvious; (well to me anyway) The game is so good that it’s still being sold (be it at at least half the price)as well as the fact that it’s only several months since the last expansion was released.

    have a great week folks

  31. Nyxalinth says:

    my guess is that it’s because the official forums are run rather…draconian. You can’t even sneeze without a mod getting on your ass. So these guys are full of pent-up rage, and they unleash it on the easiest target.

    Just my two cents, two years after you posted this.

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