Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where to find the best writing on the WoW forums

During the Big-Conflict-we'd-rather-not-mention-by-name I read a player comment quoted by BBC that left me a little bit puzzled.

Quoting BBC:

"One player who goes by the moniker Zwip, Ragnaros was more prosaic in their assessment of the publisher's move and wrote "elitism is the fall of man, To proclaim that you are a scrub is the realisation of true skill, for forever you are improving".
Even if I could approve with the sentiment it felt just a little bit far-fetched as a comment on this topic. Had BBC really got this right?

After a little research it turned out that they hadn't. I don't think they fully understand the design of postings on the WoW forums. The quote was in fact a signature tag, belonging to one of the thousands of players who had commented on this. And he wasn't even named Zwip. He was just quoting what - if I understood it correctly - seems to have been a particularly wise player at the Ragnaros server.

Research on signatures
This little incident made me start noticing the signatures in a new way. Previously I barely saw them. Now the signatures have taken overhand, turning out to be way more interesting and entertaining than the actual content of the forum posts. My eyes jump from signature to signature. What's written in the topic is irrelevant. The signature is the message.

They come in many different shapes and genres. Some are funny, often very self ironic, some are insightful, a few are intentional cocky or even annoying and yet others are incomprehensible, probably built on an inside joke that I don't grasp. Often they include a quote from a someone, either famous or fictive person.

Seeing all this I got a bit curios. Where did this tradition come from originally? Unfortunately Wikipedia couldn't tell. But they say that it could be regarded as a "mark of recognition or individualism", which sounds plausible to me. Even if we're posting under avatars, it seems as if we still want to show some of our individuality, stand out in the crowd and make a statement about who we are - even though we for known reasons hesitate to introduce ourselves with our real life names.

Wikipedia also told the story about a guy from the early days of Internet, who went under the nickname Kibo. Apparently he became something of a legend, thanks to the monster sized signature he used in Usenet. For a modern forum poster it looks rather bizarre, and I must say that I prefer the slimmer versions we see today.

In this post I'll give you a few of the signatures I've run into during my explorations. I don't claim they're The Best WoW forum signatures ever created. I just happened to notice them. But maybe they can serve as some sort of inspiration to come up with one of your own.

Life advice signatures
Some of the signatures are about giving general good advice or setting a motto on how to best lead your life:

"Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience !"

"It's nice to be important, but more important to be nice."

"Life is not measured in the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away."
WoW related signatures
The majority though seem to be game or WoW related though:

"You can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around... but you can sit at your computer and do something that matters!" -Eric Cartman

"Disconnected from server! I'd complain but the forums are down..."

"Almost 6 years and a total /played around 600 hours and I'm still not the craziest person you'd meet in the skinner box that is WoW. All I wanted was the mouse pads from the collectors editions. "

"We actually talked today about adding an item level 300 shirt that did absolutely nothing but mess with mods that attempt to boil down players to gear scores. :) "

"It's not how fast one flies through content, but how much one enjoys the game."

"I am good at healing. When i'm not stunned , or counterspelled, or feared, or blinded, or sapped, or cycloned, earth shocked, or mind-numbed, or tongued, or polymorphed, or hexed, or dead."

"I'm not geared properly, my gems are wrong, my spec is not perfect, my GS stinks and my enchants are questionable. But, I'm still having fun!"

"I'm a Gnome, short but proud. I fire up my 'nades to whipe the Goblins out!"
A short story
Sometimes those few lines resemble to a poem or even a short story. Like this bittersweet one:

"I have printed off your photo and have it sitting on the sofa next to me while we watch a DVD together. Occasionally, I throw an M&M at you and pretend you giggle and tell me to stop it."
And if you can't come up with something witty you can always cheat:

"Insert funny remark here".
(No, please don't copy that - it's so old that it isn't even funny anymore.)

Blue signatures
It isn't just the players who come up with signature quotes - many of the blue posters have it as well, and they change them every now and then - especially Nethaera, who changes hers every now and then. Here's an example of her style:

"They say dreams are the windows of the soul--take a peek and you can see the inner workings, the nuts and bolts.
~Henry Bromel"
Vaneras is more consistent, always linking to the picture of The Epic Mug of Vaneras- The Alebringer, something that appears to be drawn especially for him. An inside joke maybe?

Zarhym goes for poetry, or rather lyrics, because it comes from a song by Tool:

"Thought the sun would come deliver me, / But the truth has come to punish me instead./The ground is breaking down right under me./Cleanse and purge me in the water."
A blogger quote
One of my guildies deserves a special mentioning for picking a quote from a WoW blogger in his guild forum signature (a sign of good taste if you ask me!).

The quote comes from Big Bear Butt:

"Perhaps true Bear Tanking Attitude comes from the simple fact that, of all the classes in the game that can tank, we are the only ones that “go commando” into battle, waving our mighty wang in the enemies’ face and screaming “I’ve got a great big tonker and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it!”
I think you can figure what class he's playing.

Another of my ex guildies, who was probably the most cocky and competitive players I've ever met, chose this quote from the hitchhiker character Zaphod - which showed that he at least had some self insight about his appearance:

"If there's anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot now!"
My signature
So what signature has Larísa got? To be honest: nothing worth talking about. I link to my blog on the guild forums; I figured that would be an easy way to be open about my blogging and direct anyone who's interested that way. On the official forums I don't have any signature at all. This doesn't prevent me from enjoying the creativity of other players though.

Many players shy away from reading the WoW forums, since there's just too much trash compared to goodness there. But I suggest you don't give up on them entirely. Lower your eyes and check out what hides under the signature line. Because that's where you probably find the best writing on the WoW forums.


Carson 63000 said...

Speaking of giant sigs on Usenet, once of my oldest internet memories was reading the newsgroup, where people would humorously dissect sigs from other newsgroups. I was delighted when my own sig got warlorded! has a bit about it.

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure signature (.sig) files were originally used for email messages. I imagine it was probably some lazy programmer deciding they wanted their emails to automatically end with their name instead of having to type it every time.

Usenet also had signatures, but there were community rules about it. Having a long signature file meant that it got copied around a lot over the network, and this was back when some servers didn't necessarily have fat pipes. Also, some users were on really slow dialup, so a long signature was obnoxious because it took time to transmit to a user. Kibo's signature is an extreme joke about how it's more polite to be brief.

If you want to read more about interesting mail habits, go read Richard Bartle's blog entry about why he addresses his email in an original way.

spinksville said...

Oh, I remember Kibo!

He was famous because -- in an era where search engines weren't very good -- he had a reputation that whenever his name was mentioned in a Usenet post, on any newsgroup, he would find out and answer.

Dallanna said...

Here's a bit of an in-game inspired quote I use...

Old Dwarven Adage: Subtlety? What's that?

Inspired by:

Perdissa said...

I used to use this simple paradox.

"Everything I have said is a lie."

One thing I realized, though. After a while, even the wittiest comments can seem old if you see them often enough.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I quoted my favorite book, Dealing with Dragons.

"Power of Water, Wind and Earth, send the Fire back to its Birth. Raise a spell to shield the flame, by the power that I have tamed."

I figured it was a good quote for a shaman.

Dwism said...

I've always adored the signatures of Netharea and Zarhym. They both change theirs frequently.
Ancilorn almost always qoutes music, and he even got me hooked on

With the quote: "Once we jumped off the boat and into the jungle, we cranked up the volume and marched to our own drummer..."

Dwism said...

oh and my own is sort of weird now a days: Its the first one I ever used, back when I was a priest: "mana-holic since 2005"
Looks daft for a dk, but I have yet to figure out a better one :D

Mangara said...

I recently changed mine to "Some have said there is no subtlety to destruction. You know what? They're dead."

It's a flavour text from a Magic: the Gathering card, which I think is appropriate for my fire mage.

Valdu said...

My sig is a pastiche of all the people who feel the need to list every single one of their characters within their signatures. Before that I used part of a verse from a Siouxsie and the Banshees track (was going through a protracted serious phase back then).

The funniest one I've ever seen on the WoW Forums belongs to server-mate Richeron, which I'll quote here:

Lord Peridon frowned, disconcerted by her sudden offer.
Dame Octavia repeated it with a smirk. "U wnt sexxy time?"
That devilish smile... He couldn't help himself... "kk."

timefortincan said...

I chose random Tom Lehrer song lyrics at the moment on my guild forum... but change them every so often. My current one is: "all they ever found was some bones/and occasional pieces of skin, of skin"

Tom Lehrer is perhaps an acquired taste - my husband plays guitar, and this is in his repertoire as well :)

Gevlon said...

Never had a signature, they are waste of space.

However some people found really good quotes and they should be published (but not sure that a signature is the best place).

My favorite WoW forum signature: "Support bacteria! They are the only culture that most people have."

Larísa said...

@Carson63000: wow, that's what I would call a truly geeky subcultural thing to do. Thank's for sharing!

@Brian Psychochild Green: thanks for sharing more signature history! I suppose the evolution is going on. I wonder what the future will look like.

My impression is that signatures are moving towards connecting/marketing other channels for your online presence, such as your blog, your twitter, your Facebook page etc. Although not that much seen in the WoW forums. Maybe we care about our privacy there? I've decided against marketing my blog that way, not to tempt the trolls to come and visit me.

@Spinksville: hm. Am I the only one of my generation not to have participated in usenet?

@Dallanna & Mangara: Cool, thanks for sharing!

@Perdissa: It's a dilemma isn't it? In one way variation is great - in antoher way - since they're a marker for identification, maybe you want to stick to one and become recognized by it?

@Pangoria Fallstar: That sounds suitable!

@Dwism: a mana-holic DK? Slacker! Now get inspiration here and find something appropriate!

@Valdu: there's an entire little story there. Thanks for sharing. And yeah, I find signatures where you list all your characters rather boring. I suppose they can serve a purpose if you're trying to make a point about somthing and want to show that you know what you're talking about since you're such an experienced player playing this and this and this class... But still. And besides: the pain to keep it updated as you level your chars! Why bother?

@Timefortincan: I grew up with Tom Lehrer! My father was crazy about him. That quote... could it come from the same as: "Not only did she do them wrong. She had everyone of them let in let in"?
Nasty little girl there...

Imoh said...

My guild forum sig tends to be a quote ripped from my chat log in game, my current one is pretty crude, but makes me chuckle every time I read it. On other wow related forums I just use images of my mage's stats, if that's not available an armory link works too.

Redbeard said...

Wow, Kibo must be losing it. I expected the old boy to have showed up by now.

My old .sig wasn't that extraordinary. It had a quote from either Nathaniel Greene or Lord Tennyson, my name, and several e-mail addresses. This was back in the day when people collected e-mail addresses, and spam hadn't made it onto Usenet yet.

Those were the days...

Kotakh said...

My signature is something i rad on a blog and found real funny.
I cant remember which blog it was for sure but it might have been Jong.

Anyway, me being a healer i think it fits well:

Martha: "Jesus, can you rez my brother?"
Jesus: "Yep, I got him." /target Lazarus /cast Resurrection
Jesus: ....
Martha: ...
Jesus: "Hold on I'm still in combat."

Anonymous said...

"Heart of Gold, Nerves of Steel, Knob of butter"

My tagline

Cacknoob (The watcher)

Beruthiel said...

I have two forums signatures that I favor:

"What would you attempt if you knew you couldn't fail?" - Which I feel sums up a lot of things is WoW, as well as life. How many times have you *not* done something because you've been afraid of failure?

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people" ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I think that this is a great adage to keep in mind in any type of discussion or debate.

Gronthe said...

Signature of the overconfident:

"I don't know everything. I have been wrong once; rembmer that time that I thought I was wrong but I wasn't?"

Doug said...

"Arenas were a mistake." - Ron Pardo, Blizzard, VP of Design

Jong said...

@ Gevlon

Your signature should read: "There's a clear distinction between being friendly and being respectful."

With that said, if you run around with "It's nice to be important, but more important to be nice," I'll buy you a sparkly pony.

Larísa said...

@Gevlon: "Never had a signature, they are waste of space." Wouldn't that make quite an excellent signature?

@Imoh: Keeping that quote secret, heh? Must be something juicy.

@Redbeard: Collecting e-mail addresses? Hm.. . How far back in time can that have been? It's weird how things that took place only a few years ago get old so very quickly in the wired world.

@Kotakh: Nice one!

@Cacknoob: Oh, I remember that one from when you still had access to the WoW forums. Still missing your presence!

@Beruthiel: Two very good quotes indeed!

@Gronthe: Hehe!

@Doug: good find. I've got a weak spot for signatures with good Blizzard staff quotes.

@Jong: Oh! You're a signature advisor! Giving out appropriate signatures for free. Have you got any suggestion for me? What would be a suitable motto for a pink pigtailed innkeeper?

Jong said...

@ Larisa

mmmm I'd do something with Teddy Roosevelt's quote:

"Speak softly and carry a big missle; let it go when AB stacks to 4."

Cap'n John said...

I used to have "Don't run from a Hunter, you'll only die tired."

Wiggin said...

My favorite sigs are the ones that unified a group, such as classes. Every warrior worth their salt should remember this gem, inspired by V for Vendetta and the fallen blizz rep Tseric:

"Remember, remember, the 5th of December, the patch day treason and plot. I see no reason for MS and cleavin' since Tseric wants us to spec prot." said...

My Favourite that I saw - even though I am not a mage is " Mage leveling is very irish Fight, Drink, Fight, Drink, Fight, Drink, Fight, Drink

My signatures are usally song lyrics/poems.

Redbeard said...

@Larisa: It was the early 90's, when the major online companies were just starting to allow internet portals. There was a long time where the only way to get to the internet was via a university account (assuming your university was connected), so if you had friends on different networks like Prodigy, GEnie, Compuserve, or AOL, you had to get accounts on each network.

Larísa said...

@Jong: And who says playing WoW isn't educating? Of course I didn't recognize the original quote (in Europe our history classes focus on more than US presidents ;)). So now I learned something:

@Cap'N John: thanks for sharing!

@Wiggin: Oh I love that too! That kind of quotes build a sense of community.

@Pugnacious Priest: That's a lovely mage signature! And very much true for levelling, at least how it was in the past. Now as I'm playing a little 23 mage I don't drink quite as much and often as I remember. I guess heirloom gear helps out a bit.

Anonymous said...

I also tend to read the signatures on WoW forums and some are really gorgeous. Maybe there should be a compilation of the best quotes, but they would be copied even the more. Something I also noticed quite frequently.
There was a WoW player doing ironic, funny and really fitting audio comments on most classes, then still Classic/ BC times. His name is Barlow and you can still find them on Youtube, but they are in German.
Here is my favorite quote on mages from him (roughly translated): There are 4 things mages can do in WoW: bread, water, portals and mischief. And only the latter they do without being asked for...

Doug said...

"WoW's PvP game has not been perfectly balanced before, and is not balanced now." - Greg Street (Ghostcrawler), Blizzard, Lead Systems Designer