Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trade Chat: What it is, What it Was and What it Could be

            Trade Chat; what an awesome idea. A single channel that spans all of the major cities of a faction, designated specifically to facilitate trade and spur the growth of the in-game economy. This week I look at the much maligned Trade Chat channel and attempt to put into words What it Is, What it was, and What it Could Be. How this ties in with being a banker is elaborated on in the later section of this post.

What it Is: Ugly (you may want to skip this part)

            Trade Chat is used to harass other players. This abuse is often in the form of an intolerant and bigoted rant or series of comments directed out into the world without having a single target. Sexual / Religious / Political / Philosophical / Racial epithets, derogatory statements, polarizing and inflammatory comments are that most common of all Trade Chat entries. This is the same type of stuff that the “Looking for Group” channel suffered from before the Looking For Group interface was developed.

            Trade Chat is used to play games like the “Murloc” game and the “Link Anal” game. If you are not familiar with them, I applaud your server’s ability to prevent them.

            Trade Chat is used as ground zero for flame wars between multiple boisterous and prolific individuals intent on disrupting the channel as a whole. They claim it is “funny”.

            Lastly Trade Chat is used as a platform for players that are unhappy with the game. They will spend countless hours whining and sniveling about Gear, PVP, Lack of Roleplay, you name it they will complain about it in Trade Chat.

            This is not a rant, this is an observation of multiple realms and their Trade Chat.   

            Most players turn off Trade chat just to avoid this behavior. By turning of Trade Chat these players have eliminated the best method of you, a banker, getting your pitch to them. The other frequently used option is for an individual to /Ignore the offending poster. This once again eliminates a banker’s ability to target their customer base.   

 What it Was: The good old days

Long ago during the expansion-less time known as “Vanilla WoW”, each city had its own auction house they were not interlinked as they are today. Trade Chat was used most often to inform players in other cities of what had been posted for sale. When a nuisance poster, (one that posted any of the previous heading’s contents) would begin spewing their vitriol, many of the users of Trade Chat would instruct the user to leave Trade and take it to General Chat. This was surprisingly effective. Many of the individuals that used trade were relatively friendly as a group, but would harass an offending player off the channel. Trade Chat denizens helped keep the peace on the channel.  

What it Could Be: A pipe Dream

           Trade Chat has the potential to be much more than the sewer it has become. If Blizzard would install a cross cities general, they have the old Looking for Group channel to work with, then Trade Chat could once again become a useful part of the in-game economy. By allowing the Trade Chat population to police the channel by instructing disruptive individuals to go to an appropriate channel, such as a cross cities General Chat, Trade Chat would become once again a center of commerce for the realm rather than the catch all sewer it is currently.

Trade Chat Etiquette: The language of Business

If you have read this far then you may be interested knowing what you as a banker can do to help the situation on your server.
 Uses for Trade
           Link Items for sale. Do this consistently while you are actually banking. It is amazing how often you will get someone that is interested in what you are selling at the time you are selling it.
           Answer questions in reference to the market. When a player wants to know the price of an item fell free to comment. Give them a price. Or if you feel like it discuss the pos and cons of similar items from an economic perspective.
           Advertise your goods and services. If you have a manufacturing skill develop a witty or clever ad that you can macro and announce it every 10 minutes or so, more frequent than that will irritate people and drive off your customer base.
           Transact business deals in the channel. I recently bought 2 Vials of the Sands in Trade Chat. This went over very well and the individual that sold them to me developed more business because of it. A Win - Win situation.
Respectable Trade Behaviors
           Flippant comments are never really appreciated by anybody but the speaker and the cruel hearted. It can rankle a banker to keep their tongue when dealing with a disruptive individual in Trade. Just remember that by handling a negative situation with finesse shows potential customers that you are a level headed and reasonable person.    
           Avoid participating in the The Murloc “Game” or any game for that matter that is not part of the economy. Try to interrupt said games with advertisements, attempts to initiate trade discussions, and requests to the player to take it else where.
           Obnoxious individuals require attention. When they begin filling your Trade Chat with garbage, ask them to leave. If they do not the /Ignore Command is your best choice. Never “attack” such a person in trade, it only empowers them more to be irritating because they know that they are irritating and it makes the happy to know that. When other folks attack them in trade suggest that they also use the /ignore command. Do it in trade so that everyone on the channel realizes that they do not “have” to deal with the disruption. Overtime it will become second nature and the disruptive people will learn that they are not welcome in your Trade Chat.

Advertising in Trade Chat
             Make your advertisement standout through humor or shock. A clever advertisement will be commented on every time if it is not used too much. These comments are free advertisement for you and can easily generate sales.
            Keep your advertisements short. By this I mean use the full complement of a single macro window, 255 characters. That sounds like a lot but trust me is it not. An advertisement for a service with clickable links eats up that limit quickly.
            Be clear about what you are selling / buying / trading. Miscommunications can lead to unhappy people and unhappy people lead to a tarnished reputation as they speak poorly of you to their friends and acquaintances.
            Be respectful and polite to perspective customers, which in Trade Chat is everybody. Individuals that can not be reasoned with are best /ignored. They will not buy from you in person and you do not need to be exposed constantly to their hassles.

When is too much advertising actually spamming
            Advertising once every minute is too much. You will alienate your customer base and lose out on sales.
            Every 5 minutes is also too much. Consider that it takes almost 3 minutes to run through any single city in the game. A few take quite a bit longer than that. People that have trade turned on will have already read your advertisement and are either not interested in it or not interested in it right now.    
            Once every 10 minutes is good, if you are selling a high demand item. This gives enough time for a few new people to wander into the cities and for people that were in the city to have left.  
            Once every 30 minutes I find to be the best. 30 minutes provides enough time for the population in the cities to change by a large percent and some of the new individuals in the cities will comment on your advertisement, garnering extra attention with out having to constantly spam.

Good rules of thumb
            Be polite to the prospective customers, this would be everybody in Trade Chat 
            Avoid using l33t speak, excessive use of abbreviations, and vulgarity as much as possible. This provides you with an air of stability and perceived strength.
            Avoid instigating or participating in arguments with obnoxious individuals.
            Sarcastic “funny” is best reserved for General Chat because it fails to translate well in the text of trade chat.

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