I'm not sure about all of you guys, but I personally loved the recent blog from Ghostcrawler regarding the 4.2 changes to class balance. While some of the change reasons are a bit questionable, the very fact that the Lead Systems Designer is willing to discuss these reasons is a huge step in the right direction. The developer Q&A series, though well intended, ended up becoming something of a laughing stock because of both the format and the work that went into it. The tanking one was a very sloppy, ill-informed and infuriating piece of work, but proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the back of patience.
Additionally, the stated intention to continue these balancing explanations for future patches is something I find really, really positive; I hope everyone feels the same way and I hope the community can take the intention into account when judging these posts and be supportive of the format.
Despite being positive about these plans, I do still wonder why it came to this. Looking around the forums, most of the blue posts are either gags or attempts to squash threads that are living on the wild side of the "rules". Particularly in Europe, Vaneras must have the rule-breaking quote on a macro. It's quite disheartening, really. While I can accept that the community is so poisonous in some examples that it needs more managing than ever, their actual contribution to worthwhile debates is possibly at an all time low.
It's not that they don't try. They're just in a position where they can't win, no matter what they do. Any insert of light-heartedness is scowled upon for "making fun of my serious problem". And even when they do address a serious issue, they get pilloried for attending to the wrong issue. It's little wonder they're becoming more insular as time passes, only willing to step in when things are getting out of hand. There just seemed to be a decent "feel" when Ghostcrawler posted, as it was understood that he dealt with issues that saw good discussion and he didn't mindlessly recite what he'd been told or what the latest parse proved. He engaged the community as part tester, part theorycrafter, part player and he did so in a pretty fair fashion, all things considered.
Unfortunately, when Ghostcrawler left the forums, he left behind blue posters who were (with all due respect) nobodies. Without the executive authority to enact change in any meaningful way, people like Bashiok or Zarhym were essentially relegated to middle men between the community and the development team. With Mr. Street around, they fed from him and were confident of the development stance when engaging with frequently irate players. There was always something current to refer to and their own views and assertions would be backed up by what Ghostcrawler himself said. Now, it's a case of checking and double-checking that what they're saying is acceptable and palatable to a development team who'll end up having to defend it.
In short, the absence of Ghostcrawler left a hole that the other blues couldn't fill and the community has felt the pain of his absence ever since.
That direct link to developer thinking is something that no amount of Q&A can replace because speaking to Ghostcrawler gave you the opportunity to question the party line. And despite what many claim, there are an absolute myriad of examples where exactly this has happened; he's started with a point of view, and well-reasoned debate saw him change it on many occasions. This really helped the community to focus on issues properly because it was worth arguing with the person who could enact the change you wanted. Now... No matter what you ask, a middle man is going to forward (and probably filter) your question/concern/complaint and you'll get the response via that same middle man.
The only problem is that these balance posts have the same "last word" problem. The dialogue can't happen when it ends up one sided. And while I totally champion the plan to continue them as a thoroughly worthwhile exercise, I just get the feeling they're going to end up leaving us all flat because they're almost, but not quite, what we really want.
Return to your forums, oh crab of calamity; all is forgiven.