On Criticism

Picture the scene, Alterac Valley in the level 70-74 bracket. One tower still remaining and you are wiping on Drek’thar. Some bright spark calls out in the aftermath, “There was a priest and shaman here”. Naturally someone (currently playing a warrior) turns to me and promptly starts questioning my ability to play. All fine and good, only I wasn’t anywhere near Frostwolf when they wiped, I was up Tower Point being zerged by 10 Horde. I ended up in Frostwolf because that was our closest graveyard and according to the scoreboard, I was the only Alliance healing Priest.

What would you do?

I (being rather insecure at the best of times), pointed out that I wasn’t there and thus, couldn’t have possibly been responsible for the wipe. All fine and good, however the conversation then took a slightly nastier turn. After naming half our spells, they started quizzing me about my rotations whilst we were fighting and I freely admit, I’ve never really mastered the art of typing and fighting at the same time, pesky keybinds tend to get in the way so I was slow in responding. Next thing I know I’m being told I’m arrogant and stupid for rejecting advice on how to play a Priest from someone with a Priest main.

Now this was the first time they had mentioned a Priest main and since they hadn’t actually offered any advice, I was a bit taken aback. Arrogant is the last thing I think I am and had any actual advice been offered, based on my actual witnessed play, I would at least have listened even though I’ve been playing a Priest since the game went live in Europe because I do subscribe to the general principle that you can always learn something new.

However it got me thinking, is offering unsolicited advice a good thing in any circumstances?

I can understand wanting to be helpful, but surely the right thing to do is assess whether the person you are trying to help is at all interested in your advice before you start and certainly before you call them names. For example if he had been looking at recount and noticed that 90 percent of my healing came from heal, then yes, he would have been justified in saying something. Or if I were trying to tank an instance as say a Prot Paladin and never used Righteous Fury then as a victim of my sloppy tanking, sure but without a reference point, it just comes across as insulting and condescending.

Yes, he got my back up right from the start. Being accused of causing a wipe when you were half a map away is never a good way to start a conversation but even if this was my first ever Priest, would I want help from someone who started out that way? Probably not. First up, any one can claim to have a main of a certain class but that doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. Secondly, healing in PvE and PvP are different beasts so just because you’re good at one doesn’t mean you are good at the other. Thirdly, before you offer advice, it rather helps if you actually have something the person you’re offering it to did wrong (in your opinion) as a baseline.

I’ve always helped people who have asked for help but I’ve never been so confident in my own “awesome” abilities to feel happy dishing it out unasked.

Replaying the conversation, I can’t help but think he or she is the arrogant one, assuming that A. I’d never played a Priest before and B. that I’d made it to lv 72 without having looked at Elitist Jerks or any of the many Priest resources online and thus needed the help in the first place.

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11 Responses

  1. I recently made a post to my guild about criticism. For such a thing to be constructive, I think you need to have some sort of relationship with the person you are criticizing – so to that end, random advice from random strangers is automatically going to come across the wrong way. You don’t know who they are or if you can trust them and they certainly don’t know if you are playing your fifth alt or your main.

    All of that being said, I think that person was way out of line. Not just for giving the unsolicited advice, but definitely for doing so without a full understanding of where you were on the map.

    • Definitely agree on needing to know the person and even then, in my experience criticism is still often taken the wrong way. That’s why I avoid it unless someone specifically comes to me and asks for help.

      I’m working on developing a thicker skin (looking over my shoulder Mr Harpy has just burst into giggles) but sometimes people’s jerkiness just gets to me.

  2. Just shows how ignorant the person was, thus their advice was probably just as ignorant ;) I wouldn’t have given them the time of day-besides a swift ignore and maybe a brief stfu =p

  3. I agree that the person was out of line. They were giving you advice for no reason as well, since as you said – they really had nothing to complain about. (While priests may be good PvP healers, they still can’t heal you when they’re not actually in the same place as you are!)

    I never give unsolicited advice either, but sometimes if someone’s admitted to being new at playing I’ll ask if I can give them some tips and pointers. I never just assume though.

    Whenever someone offers me advice I usually get a bit testy about it, because usually it’s basic stuff that I’m already doing and we wiped/failed what we were doing due to something other than what I was doing. It’s just often easy to blame the healer I guess, but that doesn’t mean it’s less frustrating, nor that we need someone to tell us how to play. (Maybe we need to tell them how to play!)

    • “they still can’t heal you when they’re not actually in the same place as you are!”

      If only penance had a 1000 yard range :D

      Unfortunately it seems that a whole new crop of dpsers are levelling at the moment blaming the healer for everything. I got blamed in WSG the other day because I couldn’t keep the flag carrier alive. He had the full 100 percent debuff and got ambushed by 4 rogues and a feral druid. Not sure an army of healers could have kept him alive.

      • I sometimes wonder what they think healers can do. They must never have played one. Or with one…

        Even against 1 good dps it gets really difficult to keep someone up with a 100% debuff. With 5 dps it’s impossible… I’d like to see those dps people try healing :P

  4. “I sometimes wonder what they think healers can do. They must never have played one. Or with one”

    I keep meeting rogues who roll a priest because healing is so easy. They usually last about a week before going shadow :D

  5. [...] The Harpy’s Nest has a post On Criticism, and asks whether unsolicited advice is ever a good thing.  Plenty of good advice here for PvP and [...]

  6. Not only was the other player out of line for criticizing in public something that hadn’t even happened, he was actively working against your team’s victory by 1) cluttering up /BG with nonessential chatter, obscuring actual tactical information; 2) typing when he should have been doing ANYTHING else; 3) distracting EVERYONE from their tasks with what amounted to trolling /BG.

    First to complain in /BG, least skilled. No exceptions.

    Put that guy on /ignore and keep on doing what you’re doing. :)

    • I love this line
      “First to complain in /BG, least skilled”.
      Hardly anyone announces incomings or anything of use but most have opinions on how X class sucks/how Player Y isn’t doing anything or how the Alliance/Horde always lose.

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