We live in an apathetic Xboxcracy

It’s rare that I find a podcast inspiring however Major Nelson’s interview with one of Microsoft’s Policy staff spurred my only resolution of the new year – start using the feedback system on Xbox Live.

Prior to this year, I could count the number of feedback reports and complaints I’ve filed on my left hand. According to Microsoft’s Policy Manager, Stephen Toulouse, in the month of October 2007, 0.2% of the people that played online filed a complaint.

I found that proportion shockingly low and it was used in the podcast as an indicator that the Live online experience was extremely positive. However, after asking a selection of my friends list, I believe it’s that low because so few people use the feedback system. Some popular explanations for complaint apathy included having no idea how the system worked, being willing to accept worse behaviour online and that it was easier to mute an offensive player.

On the face of it, all of these seem reasonable, however there were several facts in the podcast that swayed my opinion:

  1. Every single complaint is dealt with by a human being.
  2. There isn’t a complaint threshold at which a player is investigated.
  3. Players who file spurious complaints are noted – the more you cry wolf, the less your complaint means.
  4. Punishments range from blocking a player from Live for periods ranging from days to months to banning them from the service altogether.

Ironically the fact that finally pushed me to change my view had nothing to do with the podcast at all: I pay to be a part of this community. Live is a service I pay for and when I jump in, I expect it to be enjoyable; if it isn’t and I don’t use the facilities my subscription fee pays for, I deserve to suffer.

The problems with Live over the Christmas period indicate the size of our online community is increasing faster than people expect. If we all take a part in policing it, from muting the 12 year old that sings in every lobby to filing a complaint against the cretinous use of racial slurs, we can improve and maintain a great Live experience.

Filing a complaint






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