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How not to help newbies

22.03.2010

Imagine you’re an apprentice carpenter. You’re working away at your first real assignment, when a seasoned professional comes along, pushes you aside and finishes your job. Then hands you the completed piece with the words “You’re welcome”.

Imagine you’re learning to drive. Only the instructor – instead of just being there in case you screw up – constantly controls the pedals and shifts gears for you. While going on about how his private car is so much better than the one you’re learning to drive.

Imagine you’re just learning to play a complex game, where everything is new and confusing. You get the task of fighting beginner’s level enemies that are actually quite peaceful unless attacked. Just as you’re coming to grips with the basic interface and trying out the first abilities and finding out just how much punishment you can take, a veteran comes along, killing all enemies and tossing a “You’re welcome.” your way.

What do all three examples have in common? The apprentice, learner or newbie hasn’t learned a thing. The professional, instructor or veteran wasn’t helping at all.

Seriously. A level 80 Death Knight hanging out in Northshire, blasting any mob that’s targeted by a level 1 character to smithereens, telling them to “Pull all!” isn’t helping. Not the slightest. Yes, it’s fun to see a horde of *whatever* die in one blast, but the goal of the 1-5 areas is to teach newbies how to play the game. To teach them when to run, what to do if a fight gets out of hand. And all that in a safe environment.

I’m not against helping newbies. But doing so without regard if they want it or not is plain rude.

Buff them. Buffs are nice. Buffs can be canceled if they decide they don’t want or need them.

Heal them. Heals are nice. It means they usually know they would’ve died if not for outside help, a valuable lesson.

Ask them. Always, always, ask if they need more direct help. Some would prefer to get the starter zone over with quickly, others actually enjoy these first few levels or want to figure out the game for themselves.

After experiencing those “helpful” 80’s a couple of times – including those that continue to follow you around even if you obviously don’t want their help – I actually made a macro, complete with /rude and a link to John Gabriel’s GIFT. I’m aware that may turn off a few people from wanting to help others. But in my opinion, they weren’t helping at all anyway.

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