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New XBL reputation system will keep trolls under the bridge

New XBL reputation system will keep trolls under the bridge

Thu 04 Jul 2013 7:54am GMT / 3:54am EDT / 12:54am PDT

"You need a community of folks that aren't screaming vulgarities"

Details have emerged of the new Reputation system which will be implemented to Xbox Live with the Xbox One, which Microsoft is hoping will help separate the community's less savoury members from everybody else.

Speaking to Official Xbox Magazine, senior product manager for Xbox Mike Lavin explained how he sees the system working.

"There's a lot of folks, a lot of our core consumers, who just want to basically kick back and stay in touch with some of their old college buddies," says Lavin. "That's cool, and Party Chat today and our Party system is leaps and bounds ahead of competitors, from the standpoint of just being able to isolate yourself and cross-game chat.

"But the problem we see is that this fragments voice communication within games. It's very difficult, because if you're isolated in Party Chat, you're leaving everybody else behind. You need a community of folks that aren't screaming vulgarities every ten seconds, or the griefers or the harassers, those types of folks."

Party chat will remain, and is now powered by Skype, but Lavin hopes that, by effectively ghettoising players who consistently annoy others, the general XBL experience will become more pleasant for those who want to meet new players.

"What we're looking at doing is creating a very robust system around reputation and matchmaking. 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."

That "few per cent" may be more apparent to some than others, depending on what you're playing and who you are, but the lack of moderation applied to the more voluble gamers has been a bone of contention for many players throughout this generation. Any progress which means being subjected to less questions about the nature of your relationship with your mother, the pros and cons of your ethnic background or the suitability of your gender for the act of button pressing will be welcomed by most, but isn't there a danger the system will be abused, give the mendacious nature of those it will try and identify?

"Let's just be clear, there is no way at all that a conglomerate of people can conspire to sink your Reputation on the system," reassures Lavin. "The way that it's built fundamentally stops that. It's very much over a period of time - if we see consistently that people, for instance, don't like playing with you, that you're consistently blocked, that you're the subject of enforcement actions because you're sending naked pictures of yourself to people that don't want naked pictures of you...Blatant things like that have the ability to quickly reduce your Reputation score."

Whatever your opinion on the wisdom or desirability of Microsoft's play for the entertainment middle ground, any serious attempt to punish abuse and reward sporting behaviour is a step in the right direction. The Reputation could well be a symptom of a more inclusive attitude in future - as Lavin goes on to say, successfully building a happy userbase will be key to the One's future.

"We're one of the only platforms that really takes an interest in exploring and investigating major problems, and this extends from sexual harassment, to age harassment, to gender to everything else under the sun. Really fostering a sense of community and providing an infrastructure for that is a huge deal."


Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

331 229 0.7
Any system can be exploited, any system can be unfair.

Though it is good to try to find "better systems" if anything like that can actually exist.

Posted:A year ago


Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

228 631 2.8
I just don't use the microphone at all when playing in xbox live (you can imagine why), and I just leave the 'room' and look for something else or come back later if it's riddled with trolls or mike-static-always-on.

I'm glad they think they've got a system worked out, and I honestly hope it works as intended, however, the process of reducing the rep or banning someone seems to be medium to long term, and unfortunately there's going to be more supply of babbling idiots than those same people being banned or de-reputized (if that's even a word).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 4th July 2013 1:31pm

Posted:A year ago


Paul Jace Merchandiser

945 1,433 1.5
All this time people thought it was little kids doing all the trolling when in fact it was none other than Paula Deen sitting on the other end of the mic shouting racial obsenities. Or maybe it was Alec Baldwin. Those two seem to enjoy making racial and homophobic slurs via social networking.

Anyway, I hope this new system improves on the existing not-very-effective system we already have in place. Theres nothing wrong with trying to make things better though. I still wish they would impliment a voice recorder button so that you could record people in real time while they are spewing all their offensive speech. But unfortunately I have a feeling a few would complain about that because they think it would be used for spying. Oh well, a man can dream.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 5th July 2013 12:16am

Posted:A year ago


Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
You play a game to have fun. I have no interest in the frustration of people so pathetic that they seem to play just to get mad at you. This system will be welcome.

Posted:A year ago


Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

331 229 0.7
Well, basically, there was an experiment with lab rats made by some French researchers (short video here but sorry it is commented in French - roughly translated "experiment of the diver rats").

I am going to try to sum it up here. The idea was to make some groups of rats and expose them to a similar environment. In a cage they had to go through a tunnel to get food on the other side. After a while, the tunnel was filled with water and its structure only allowed the rat to catch the food but it was unable to eat it while swimming and had to go back to the cage (which you can compare to a community). Therefore 3 major behavior types or specialisations from the groups of rats were observed, some were A. Divers, B. Thiefs or C. Scavenger in each of the cages (communities) with varying proportion of each of them and varying skills of specialisation from each of the individuals (though all 3 behavior were observed each time and in each cage or community). Basically Divers were the ones to dive (who would have guessed...) and get the food to bring it back to the cage, Thiefs were the ones to attempt to steal the food from the Divers when they came back with it. Though varying skills of the Divers and Thiefs allowed some Divers to manage to keep their food for themselves and resist Thiefs' attacks. The Scavengers where the ones who were unskilled at either diving or stealing and had, well to use various harassment techniques as a way to get their share from the other two types whichever had the food.

In the second part of the experiment, once the rats behaviors and specializations were clearly identified it was decided to form new groups made only of individual with the same specialization, A. with A. individuals, B. with B. and so on. Hundred of new groups were made and guess what... in each group type, the 3 behaviors were reproduced again, so on a group fully made of Divers, some became Thieves and some became Scavengers (and so on in others groups types, i.e. some Scavengers in a group full of Scavengers began to dive and steal).

Regrouping "trolls" togheter will only lead to that (some trolls will turn nice in their new group made only of trolls - not to mention nice players who had once an outburst for some reason and landed with the trolls forever branded as unfit for the first layer of the community). A split of the community (with as many cascading levels as you want to generate and which is a failure of the very idea of community) will not sort the issue at all, it will just postpone it on various layers, each of them becoming another bowl where occurences of the core problem will show up again. While of course this rat experiment is far from being as representative on how complex the human mind is (compared to rats probably - although I am still not sure about "how superior we are as animals compared to others", but that's another deeper topic - there is still some parallel that can be made, add the Stanford Prison experiment or some other "human-oriented" studies to that and you'll probably have a better base to approach the inter-individual or social issues that rise in any kind of communities)

We haven't solved that in the real world - i.e. with laws, rules, jails or even more drastic measures - (or do we?), how can we decently expect to solve it in the virtual one?

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 5th July 2013 8:56pm

Posted:A year ago


Craig Page Programmer

386 220 0.6
I'm sorry but it just wouldn't be Xbox Live without hearing racial slurs and little kids singing.

Posted:A year ago


Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

228 631 2.8
Interesting study Eric, thanks for sharing, despite the french.

Posted:A year ago


Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Can we get this on the internet plz?

Posted:A year ago


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