Unsolicited Advice in the World of Wacraft
Inevitably we all witness one player give advice to another. In any situation, giving advice can be a very tricky thing. It has the ability to forge positive relationships, but also to create resentment and even outright dislike. The fact of the matter is, you can’t avoid advice in the World of Warcraft. My hope is to give you some perspective on both how to give, and how to take, unsolicited advice.
What is “Unsolicited Advice”?
Many times, advice is sought after. In Guild Chat you might ask “Where is the best place to find [Insert Relevant Fish Here]?” and then receive what is known as “solicited advice”, or advice you actually wanted to hear. Whether you like the advice, or even the adviser, is an entirely different matter.
There is also a grey area between advice that you directly ask for, and advice that it is assumed you have agreed to receive. This includes things like a Raid Leader making a strategy suggestion, a Class Leader giving you rotation advice, or a Recruitment Officer making a profession choice recommendation. Players in structured groups are given advice all the time from the leadership without asking for it. It’s a part of how the group as a whole functions. Very similar to when a teacher or a boss makes a suggestion, it’s appropriate because that’s an assumed part of their role that people understand when they apply for the job or take the class.
Then there’s the controversial “unsolicited advice”, or, advice that you didn’t ask for but was given to you anyway. Chances are that if you’re familiar with the concept, you have an opinion one way or the other as to when/if giving unsolicited advice is appropriate.
When is Unsolicited Advice appropriate?
As I’ve already talked about, sometimes the appropriateness depends on the relationship between the person giving advice and the person receiving it. People that are ranked above you in whatever hierarchy you’re functioning in will expect you to accept this advice without problem. When a player is not a part of your guild or social circle, giving you advice can make it seem as if the adviser feels they are above you in experience and skill. Obviously, when you disagree with this determination, problems can arise. It is also appropriate to give advice to players that are essentially equals. This can be friends, family members, or people you get along well with.
When should you avoid giving Unsolicited Advice?
There are definitely some key moments to avoid giving advice to others. One of the most important times to avoid giving advice to others is when you’re not in charge. If you’re not the boss, why are you bossing people around?
Another time to be wary (and here comes the first time you’ll be saying “hey wait a minute, didn’t you just say….”) is when you and the player you’re trying to advise are technically equals. Remember that even though you and another player might be equals, and giving advice to someone at your level can often be seen as helpful, giving unsolicited advice can make it seem like you believe you aren’t actually equals at all. Needless to say, this can be taken as a general insult if not done carefully (See “Ways you can give Unsolicited Advice”).
Even worse than when the person is someone you know, is when the person you are talking to is someone you don’t know at all. There is almost no way to gauge how they will take your advice. If you want to keep things amicable, it’s best to just leave it alone. If you don’t know the player, chances are you won’t be interacting with them very often and your advice won’t help you in the long run anyway. Giving advice to a player you don’t know can also make them feel intimidated, and thus add stress to what might otherwise be a positive learning experience for them.
There were two situations competing for “absolute worst time to give advice” and the runner up was when you realize the recipient is just there to have fun, and they aren’t interested in improving their gameplay. Sometimes these are six year olds that get to play WoW for some reason. Other times they are people your own age that just aren’t concerned with doing amazingly. Think about all the people that say “D’s get degrees” and you’ll have an idea of who you’re dealing with.
The winner of the Most Inappropriate Time To Give Advice is definitely when the person already dislikes you. Considering that unsolicited advice can cause resentment and negative relationships, why on Azeroth would you give advice to someone that doesn’t care for you? Even if the advice is GREAT and 100% meant as a way to help them and not insult them, it’s just going to be received badly. Don’t do it. Advise someone else to do it.
Ways you can give Unsolicited Advice
Sometimes when I am running a random dungeon with a player that clearly could use some help, I can’t resist the urge to try to help them. I am a professional teacher, it’s what I’ve devoted my life to. Helping other people is what I practice and whenever I can I try to. The problem is, since none of these players signed up to be in my World of Warcraft class, they haven’t agreed to receive advice from me. So sometimes I just ask them (in /whisper and not in /party so that they aren’t put on the spot) “Are you open to some advice?” Sometimes players will just so “No” or “No, thanks”. Sometimes they respond with hostility. If they aren’t interested I simply reply with “No problem, sorry to bother you.” Does it always result in zero hostilities? Nope. But if they’re just not interested it often helps minimize any problems. If they do happen to say “yes”, then you’re in, advise away.
Another method I use, if I have the time to, is to open with a compliment and then add something that I like to do when playing and NOT something I think they SHOULD do. An example might be something like “Nice use of Hellfire. I like to use Soul Burn: Seed of Corruption to add some damage upfront.” Technically, you’re not (even though we both know you totally are) giving any advice at all. The player thinks you’re just talking about something you both enjoy doing. It’s more like showing off pictures of your Gaming Rig and just being a fan of tech stuff, rather than giving anyone direct advice.
You can also feign asking for advice when your true intention is to give advice. This one may go against some people’s personal ethics, but since you’re not their teacher you can’t ask them to demonstrate they’re in-depth understanding any other way. The idea behind this method is to make the player you want to help (because if you’re giving advice without trying to help, what the hell are you up to?) feel one up on you. Do this by simply asking a question or making conversation. “Have you heard of this method?” “Do you think doing this is a good tactic?” “I’m working on getting better at ____.” Questions/statements like this give the player you want to help the opportunity to show you what their thought process is. It also gives them the chance to ignore you or brush you off. From this point, you can make a determination as to whether or not your advice is worth imparting.
How you can deal with receiving Unsolicited Advice
Sometimes dealing with unsolicited advice is as simple as thinking to yourself “Damn, that’s true. Glad they gave me that advice I didn’t ask for.” Unsolicited advice can be really helpful if you’re open to it. Other times, you really didn’t want the advice that someone tried to give you. There are a few “healthy” ways of dealing with this.
I like to estimate (since it’s hard to really know for sure) what the adviser’s intentions are. Maybe they’re someone friendly just trying to help. Maybe they’re angry with your performance. Are they angry and trying to help? At least they’re not resorting to direct insults. Maybe they are just jerks and using the advice as an indirect insult on purpose. Trying to know the intentions of the adviser usually helps avoid conflicts. If they’re trying to help, then be polite back and simply say “cool” and go about your business. If they are being jerks, how you handle that is really up to you, but I’d rather deal with it by avoiding further conflict, but any of my friends will tell you that I have been known to take on a player or two in the verbal arena.
Ignore the advice. Just say “thanks”. What can they really do?
Defend your practice. Yes, I did just use the word “practice” to describe your gameplay. All the best players are constantly practicing not only to maintain a level of sharpness, but to find ways to better themselves. I’m a Best Practice teacher, which means I’m always seeking more information and ways to make my teaching practice better. Would YOU want to go to a doctor (and yes, they “practice” medicine) that has been doing the exact same methods for 30 years? If you don’t need any advice, you should have an idea as to why you’re already correct and they aren’t. Defend your practice with well thought out reasons. Otherwise, maybe you do need some advice. Be open to that idea.
It’s funny to me that whenever I’m writing a post on a topic, a seriously good example of what I’m talking about always seems to happen to me. This time, I can’t avoid using it as an example of unsolicited advice. Both in dealing with receiving it, and in dishing it out. If you’re only wanting to read about direct information on the topic of Unsolicited Advice, read no further. If you want a tale of woe related to Unsolicited Advice, continue on.
Recently I PuGged into a Firelands run. This was run by a guild that I enjoy running things with. As is evident by the fact that I was running a dungeon with them, they often PuG to fill spots. The first thing you’ll want to know is that I was doing this raid on my Warlock. If there is one thing I know about in World of Warcraft, it’s how to play Warlock. I am open to advice, but it’s a rare occasion when I come across any Warlock info or strategy that I’m unaware of. You may call it arrogant, I call it “well informed.”
So I’m in this raid, on my Warlock, and we’re chipping away at Shannox, the generally accepted first boss. If you’re unfamiliar with the DPS role in this fight, Shannox has two dog adds that have different abilities. The one we were having trouble with was Rageface. Rageface will often use a move called “Facerage” to hammer a random target to death. You can divert Rageface’s attention elsewhere by hitting him with a damaging move that does a specific amount of damage or more. Our group was having players die left and right because we weren’t landing a strong enough hit on Rageface in time. After a few failed attempts, another DPS was just moaning in vent saying things to effect of “Come on guys, nobody can get a 30,000 hit on Rageface? There’s no point in doing this fight if nobody can do it.”
Interestingly enough, he was the most qualified DPS in the group to achieve this hit. He had a ranged attack with a cooldown (that he could save for Facerages) that had a minimum hit of 32,000 damage. How did I know this? I used a combat log parsing addon to see what people’s abilities were hitting for.
His advice to the group, which was actually focused 100% towards me, was that we should not be splitting our damage between Rageface and another target. He wanted us to use whatever attacks we had that could break Facerage and those only. It was hard for me to choose what to point out to him first. Would I let him know that a.) As an Affliction Warlock the damage against my secondary target was passive or b.) that he himself wasn’t following his own advice.
I started by telling him “As an Affliction Warlock the damage against my secondary target was passive” to which he replied “Dude, I know about Warlocks, my main is a Warlock. You can look him up, his name is [Unimportant].” I didn’t bother to look up his Warlock. His earlier statement showed me that he didn’t really take the big picture into account. His advice continued with “You should go Destruction for this fight. When I cast blah blah blah and blah it breaks like instantly.” “Neat” I said “I won’t spec Destruction, especially when you can break 100% of the Facerages by yourself by using [Ability that did a minimum of 32,000 damage].” Realizing that he didn’t really know what he was talking about he muttered something along the lines of “Well, if you want me to I can, I just don’t know who is going to deal with the other dog.”
“That’s the first 100% true thing you’ve said tonight” I told him and then added “You take care of Rageface and I will take care of the other dog, while having passive Damage on the boss and blowing up Rageface. Affliction Warlocks can do that.”
I hope you’ve found this post informative or at least provocative. What do you think about unsolicited advice?