Microsoft coralling the trolls together

4 min read

As part of the overhaul of Xbox Live as a result of the Xbox One, a new reputation system is being introduced.  Not simply a reporting system, this reputation rating will learn and judge on a variety of factors.  The goal is that gamers will be grouped with other people who share similar social norms and values.

I don’t generally play multiplayer games, primarily because I don’t like being harassed by trolls – if I wanted illiterate or rage-filled comments ranging from pure stupidity to personal offense, I could just take to the bowels of twitter.  This new reputation rating will group players into three broad categories: Good Player, Need Improvement and Avoid Me.  The ranking system will adjust to things like how often a player is blocked or muted.  The system will apparently be built to avoid exploitation – people can’t gang up on you to sink your reputation on the system; like in real life, your reputation is built up slowly over time, but can also be drastically affected if you send unwanted naked pictures to others.

For those who primarily play with a group of friends, there won’t be much of an effect.  You can still form groups with your friends and play together.  However, your party will be saddled with the lowest reputation score in your group.  Microsoft hopes that this works like peer pressure – you don’t want to run around with a low reputation party because one of your friends likes to troll strangers, so you will pressure him/her to behave differently.

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As Mike Lavin (Microsoft’s senior product manager) explains:

“What we’re looking at doing is creating a very robust system around reputation and match-making.  If people are in your friends list, we’re not touching that, we’re just making it easier for you to come together. It’s really the anonymous side of things where we’re making these investments. Ultimately if there’s a few per cent of our population that are causing the rest of the population to have a miserable time, we should be able to identify those folks.”

Like your Gamerscore, your reputation will be fully visible on your profile.  While they haven’t decided whether it will use stars, numbers or some other symbol, the goal is for people to take pride in their score and aim to behave well.  The offshoot of this means that there will be a seedy underbelly of Xbox Live where all the trolls will be grouped together.  I wonder what kind of horrifying transcripts will emerge from those games.  At least those gamers who behave with decorum and just want to enjoy a game with strangers will not be regaled with ridiculous comments.

Sounds great in theory, but I wonder how it will actually work in practice.  Once someone makes it into the horrifying troll underbelly, I doubt they will continue to be reported/blocked.  I mean, will other trolls be offended by the same things that go them all demoted in the first place?  So, overtime, we may find that the trolls emerge from the “avoid me” nether regions.  But, at least Microsoft is making an effort to clamp down on the terrifying behavior that people deem appropriate online.

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Last Updated: July 4, 2013

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • Mark Treloar

    How how does this affect say someone who mutes everyone by default when playing online? Do they now get a bad reputation?

    • Happy Hamster

      Well communication is the key in this day and age lol

      • Mark Treloar

        Except when you don’t want to listen to the whiny kids, or the guy who pays entire Hip Hop albums during a match or the occasional Russian / German / Japanese clan that decide to join and your now stuck with.

        • Ultimo_Cleric N7

          Yip I mute everyone almost automoatically….not sure what to do now -_-

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            I wish either Sony or Microsoft would allow 3rd party clients like Teamspeak or Ventrilo to run on their machines. Yes, I know, it bites into their subcription fees…but for the love of god. Those systems work. Many gamer’s already have their own, or have access to one. They’re robust, they can handle more people than the consoles can support (currently, who knows how many people will be able to play on the newer machines)…ugh.

            And I say either or, because if one does it. The other will likely follow suite soon thereafter….that whole competition thing.

          • DrKiller

            TeamSpeak is one of the main reasons I moved from PC to Console gaming

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            A 3rd party application that requires you to install it, being the main reason for you to move from PC to console gaming is probably the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Ever consider…oh, I don’t know, uninstalling?


          • DrKiller

            You don’t get it.. I have different friends playing different games using different VOIP programs.

            So on PC I need TeamSpeak, Mumble, Skype and some other apps to play with different friends. On Xbox there is a standard, where everyone can just connect to everyone. I miss the old days where people would use ingame VOIP chatting on PC.

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            Sure I get it, I also know that Teamspeak, Skype, Ventrilo and Mumble put together are less than a 100m download. They’re inconsequential applications.

            I also didn’t say add every 3rd party VoIP application out there. I said Ventrilo and Teamspeak, which are far more robust than the Xbox system. I shouldn’t have to mute idiots. I should be able to have my own server, and hand out PW’s to those who deserve it.

          • DrKiller

            Make a private group and invite people? I wouldn’t want to use a gamepad to type in passwords to join a channel. Also, on PC I play BF, and I know its always a mission to get someone in your teamspeak channel. (minimize with the risk of getting back in the game, skype someone your address, wait for him on TS while you move him to the correct channel)

            I prefer Xbox Live’s way of talking muuuuuch more than anything else

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            Both Ventrilo and Teamspeak allow you to save server/user/password information, so you’d only have to do it once. And as stated above, you don’t have to use it, but I prefer the option, rather than being told to use their archaic system.

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            And you know, all that aside, you’re free to like the Xbox system and I’m not saying they should replace it. However, I do believe they should allow for the OPTION of those other programs, because CHOICE trumps being forced into something you don’t prefer. Hence the reason the public went ape$hit over Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal, Microsoft tried to force everyone to adhere to their wishes, and that didn’t work out so well for them.

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            Big fan of Teamspeak as well. It would be nice, but how dare us peons suggest something that would hurt Sony or MS’s profits! Shame on us!

          • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

            I still don’t get it, I really don’t. From teamspeak to stand alone servers. You’d think they’d be all for people buying more hardware just to have a stand-alone server. I mean, don’t they understand what the fuck a stand-alone server is? It’s a goddamn Xbox (or Playstation) dedicated only to hosting the goddamn game.

            Makes no sense to me, it really doesn’t. PS+ still has it’s benefits, so you’d likely lose none of your customers, and I’m sure XBL G sub has it’s additional benefits as well, so you wouldn’t necessarily lose any of those subscribers. It’s simply adding more options to your system. You’d think by now that Microsoft and Sony would understand that gamer’s prefer choice over being forced into THEIR way, or the highway.

            Hell, add in Keyboard and Mouse support and I shit you not, they’d probably start enticing more PC Gamer’s over. Add in mod support on top of that and you’d definitely start getting more of the PC Gamer pie.

  • Lourens Jordaan

    Big brother is watching you…. some more…

  • RinceWind

    If you think about it, this could lead to like a 9th circle of hell where only Trolls roam. If one accidentally enters said circle, leaving without scars would be unlikely.

  • Kromas

    I feel sorry for the 5 poeple at the top. They will have to wait 8 hours to play 1 game 🙂

    • Lourens Jordaan

      What is this poeple you talking about? lol

  • Airborne

    “… primarily because I don’t like being harassed by trolls – if I wanted illiterate or rage-filled comments ranging from pure stupidity to personal offense, I could just take to the bowels of twitter.” ….OR pitch up to work O_o

  • OVG

    I also want AGE gates.

    • TiMsTeR1033

      They should put a age restricter! too many damn kids playing Halo and Bf3!!!

      • OVG

        Yip, the lobby should automatically place you with your own age group.

        AND ALSO BAN ANYBODY UNDERAGE. But we all know that it is the young teens with raging hormones that are giving Bobby a Billion a pop for the Mature COD.

  • Lourens Jordaan

    So let me get this straight… you knife a camper in Battlefield, get kicked by admin for trolling. You take a shotgun to any close quarters map and you get kicked and banned for bringing a bigger gun than the admin but he’ll call it cheating. After one weekend, your reputation is about the same as that of a FOX news “Gaming Expert” and you have to enjoy the company of vehicle camping C4 trolling Frenchmen? Not cool Microsoft. Not cool.

    • Mark Treloar

      I can so identify with that. Spas’ed an admin got kicked. re-joined and got Spas’ed buy the same admin

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    Agh, whether it works or not, I’m just glad they finally trying something to remedy online interaction

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      It remains to be seen whether this’ll be successful or not 😛

  • George

    I think it is a good idea. Whether it will actually work is a completely different story. I do have to say though. I quite enjoy to read the in game chat while playing BF3 (PC). The local servers are sometimes hilarious when people drop the P-Bombs out of frustration.

  • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

    I don’t need other people to tell me who’s a douchebag. I have enough decent friends/family, who have their own decent friends/family to be able to put together any number of gaming sessions I want….just give us stand alone servers, mod and map making tools already. Oh, I forgot, that puts a monkey wrench in monetizing your isolated networks. Wake up Sony AND Microsoft, gaming communities have been around for decades longer than consoles have been online, and they’ve worked out just fine.

  • FoxOneZA – X-Therminator

    Will this system extend beyond potty-mouths as in those that camp and those GT kamakazi drivers?

  • Trevor Davies

    It’s actually not a bad idea – hope the implementation is solid.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    So once in the troll pool all trolls will troll by downvoting/whatever other trolls because, you know, trolling and their reputations will become so bad the universe will explode?

    • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

      Indeed, this system isn’t without it’s flaws. Much like user reviews on meta-critic. Which is why they should simply allow for people to make their own servers. God forbid.

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      It’ll be an army of underdogs. All here to take over the world, only they won’t be fighting White Goodman.

  • Jonah Cash

    Ag please!!! I play quite a bit of Fifa and I have a 87% avoid rating!! I don’t have a headset, so I don’t talk to people I don’t send messages to anyone… So how do I get that bad a score??? Easy, I beat them and losers then just go and click on avoid to not get matched with me again!!! So yeah, just like the current system doesn’t work just like that the new one won’t work!! MS have some truly idiotic people working for them!!! Man now I am annoyed…..

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