How to be a proper newbie-helper


This week’s shared topic over at BlogAzeroth is “Helping New Players“. I think that is phrased the wrong way around. The topic, in my opinion, should rather be, “How To Be A Player You’d Like To Help”. A while back, I wrote a small piece on some fresh experiences with “helpful” players, so I’ll take this spot to highlight what the ideal help-seeking player would look like and behave in my mind.

Be polite.

Blizzard actually says in their introductory pages somewhere that it is considered ‘good manners’ to buff players you encounter. So, if someone buffs you, the very least you could do is hit your “/thanks” macro. This way, the buffer is encouraged to continue in this way. In a similar vein, if a whisper for help goes on for a while, a quick “thanks, see you around” isn’t too much to expect.

Return in kind.

Most of the time, you won’t be able to directly repay the effort (because they are higher level than you), but there are myriads of lower level players out there. Buff them. The chains keeps on going this way.

Do your homework.

Now, if you can’t find the Golden Lion Inn for some quest, asking “where is it?” is fine. “Goldshire” is the answer. You can even ask “where is that, then?” or “how do I get there?”. But if you continue asking “where in Goldshire”, you’re starting to make yourself look plain lazy. Or worst case, trolling. We all like to give general directions. Or, in some cases, give a few tips if you are not sure of the gameplay – turning on quest markers on the map, for example. But if we see that you don’t make the slightest effort to learn something from that, well… don’t expect any helpful answers.

Type properly.

Seriously. Okay, the first quick, “wait pls” is acceptable, you need to catch the askee (Yes, that’s word. Well, now it is…) before he mounts up and disappears. But after that, when it is clear the other person is indeed waiting and willing to help, type properly. In fact, if you find yourself asking for help more often, make a macro out of “Hi, could you please help me with a question?”. Works wonders.

Ask precisely.

If you’re going for a swim near Bloodmyst Isle, don’t ask “how do I get to the bottom of the sea lol?”. Ask “Can someone tell me a way to reach the bottom without drowning?”. Or better “Can someone buff me or sell me an Elixir of Water Breathing so I can reach the bottom?”. People might not bother answering if they get the impression they have to start from zero. If you can show that you know the principle and just lack the specifics, you’ll get a quick answer and maybe the item you need for free.

Interestingly, I find that these points hold true for the other direction as well. Be polite when you answer – a “lol” after each sentence feels like you’re ridiculing a newbie for not knowing what they can’t know. Especially since “lol” seems to trigger an Emote with your character laughing. Don’t expect them to immediately reward you for helping – they’re a newbie, not a quest NPC! Ask them before helping out actively in a fight. Passive help (Heal, Buff) is always okay, but jumping in and killing mobs usually just annoys. Type properly. Seriously. Answer precisely and concisely. “Near Stormwind” isn’t helpful. “South of Stormwind, centre of Elwynn Forest”, now that I can use.

Now, what if you want to help, but honestly don’t know?

Let’s have a pop quiz.

  1. “IDK lol”
  2. “sorry, don’t know”
  3. “lol wowhead noob”
  4. “Sorry, I don’t know, try wowhead.com perhaps they know.”


  1. No comment.
  2. Acceptable, if curt.
  3. Violates about every single guideline so far. Wowhead is kind of useful, granted, but for the average newbie probably complete gibberish.
  4. Ideal answer. You indicate that you want to help but can’t, and you show him the way where he can find help himself. Not only now, but in the future as well.

So. Hopefully, by now, you noticed that I place about equal responsibility on the player needing help as on the one giving it. Both parties follow the same rough guidelines – or honestly, plain manners and common sense.

One comment

  1. Really nice guide, I like it. I think a lot of people in general forget the simple thing of being courteous cause they don’t seem to think they need to in a game.

    The comment about asking before you step in and help kill struck home with me. I was so annoyed the other cause because I’ve rolled a horde hunter on my friend’s realm. I was in Barrens, walked all the way up to the quest where you summon Eyechakee (or whatever his name is) and you lose the item and will have to do it again.. I wanted to tame him so I’d already been there once and had to kill him since something went wrong. I had a friend with me who could summon him again.. I started taming him… and some level 30 warlock 2 shots him! Did they not see the big hearts over our heads? It was so annoying.. Out of the summoning item my friend and I both had to abandon the completed quest and re-do the whole thing again (summon – tame, summon – kill).

    Had the warlock stopped for a second before attacking he would have either seen that I was taming or he could have asked and I could have said “No thanks, I’m taming so please don’t kill him”

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