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TSM and the Gold-Making Community

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This was initially a reply to this thread on /u/woweconomy on reddit, but I thought I'd post it here as well.

I have actually thought a lot about the things that are being discussed here over the past couple years, and here are my thoughts with respect to how TSM fits into this discussion.

First of all, I'd love to see more high caliber gold-making discussion going on. When TSM first started, we were pretty quickly drawn to The Consortium because it was (and still is imo) known for these high-caliber discussions (rightfully so). The target audience of TSM was the people who already knew what they were doing with gold making. An analogy I like to use when thinking about TSM is that TSM is like a super-fancy scientific calculator. For mathematicians and scientists, a good calculator helps them be much more efficient in their work. However, for somebody aspiring to be a scientist, buying a high-end calculator and learning how to use it does NOT make them a good scientist. Similarly, I've always held the opinion that simply learning how to use TSM does not make somebody good at making gold. In the beginning, TSM was never intended to be an addon that turns the average player into a competent gold-maker. It was always intended to make the lives of experienced gold-makers easier. In other words, the goal of TSM wasn't to make the best auction house addon or the best crafting addon, but to make the best possible tool for gold-makers.

With that being said, there's no doubt that TSM has changed over time. I want TSM to be useful to as many people as possible and the number of people who fall in the "experienced gold maker" bucket is much smaller than the number of people in the "would like to make some gold" bucket. So, in the interest of expanding the user base of TSM, I've geared it more towards general consumption over the years. Now, I say "I" here like this has been a deliberate choice on my part, but I'm not so sure that this is true. I think it just sort of happened (and I allowed it to happen).

How do I think it happened? Well, I think it all comes down to guides that have been written for TSM. Many people have written guides for how to use specific features of TSM, or just general "getting started" guides for TSM. Even if TSM was originally intended for people who are already in the gold-making scene, if an average WoW player with no gold-making knowledge wants to make a bit of gold, their first question will likely be what addons they need. They will then see that the experienced gold-makers are using TSM and find these guides. This is exasperated by individuals who stream gold-making or focus solely on their own blog / podcast (more on this below). People who then download TSM will proceed to say things like, "Give me a copy-paste string to make gold with TSM" or "I followed this guide and still can't make gold". Even if TSM was designed exclusively as a tool for experienced gold-makers, there's no avoiding the people who want to just install something, click a few buttons, and make instant gold. As those types of people have become more and more common, TSM has adapted to better suit that (i.e. by making configurations easier to share).

Right now I think that the VAST majority of the TSM questions people post both here and in the TSM forums / IRC stem from two things: PhatLewts' transmog lists and Sterling's sniping guide. I'll pick on the latter since PhatLewts has already been picked-on plenty in this thread. The sniper guide is 35 pages of mostly the same exact questions: people who don't understand what sniping is, people who are totally lost with how to sell items after sniping them, and "I followed the guide. Why aren't I gold-capped yet?" type people. I think this all comes down to people who don't know how to make gold and see the guide as a copy-paste guide for how they can make some gold.

Now that I've probably offended a lot of people, let me take a step back and say that I don't have anything but respect and appreciation for people who write TSM guides. There's no way TSM would be as popular as it is today without such people and Sterling and PhatLewts are both at the top of the list when it comes to contributions towards TSM's success. Also, contrary to what it may seem at times, I don't think the sort of TSM user who has no prior gold-making experience is an idiot (although I might say that they are doing it wrong). The question "How do I make gold with TSM?" drives me crazy personally. They are totally missing the point. Going back to the analogy I used earlier, if somebody asked the makers of such a calculator to teach them calculus, they'd get swiftly ignored.

So, what do I think? I think gold-making should be about gold-making and not about setting up TSM and I think discussion on the TSM forums should be about how to make TSM fit these gold-making strategies and not "Why isn't sniping working?". However, this is a bit idealistic and I don't think this will ever happen. Taking advantage of tools like TSM is a big part of gold-making, and there will always be gold-making opportunities that are specific to a tool. The thing that seems to be lacking in the gold-making community is discussion of the things that don't depend on specific tools such as large-scale strategies which you've indicated you want to see more of. So, I guess I agree with you in that respect. However, there will always be people who are new to gold-making and will ask "I imported these xmog lists and bought some things, now how do I sell them?", and are completely ignorant to the fact that gold-making requires market research, trial-and-error, and skills which are developed over time. I think this is what annoys (and drives away) serious gold-makers the most.

You could say that this is TSM's fault by making gold-making more accessible, but I think this is anecdotal. I haven't seen it as much recently, but definitely a year or two ago when really took off, there were a lot of people who avoided places like The Consortium in order to do their own thing. They inevitably end up catering to the average player as a way to get more viewers / readers / etc. Then they end up fostering such a community where people are just getting into gold-making and dilute the serious gold-making discussions. Again, I don't think this has happened nearly as much recently, so I don't agree with your statement that The Consortium is currently just about people advertising their own sites (or podcasts or streams or w/e) or itself.

While I have little stake in this subreddit, I would say that with regards to The Consortium, there's only going to be in-depth discussion if people actually start those threads. Perhaps you could suggest Sterling create a separate "Theorycrafting" sub-forum or whatever you see fit to isolate such discussions. This is what we attempted to do with the new TSM forum structure (with support issues going in the addon or app / site sub-forums and theorycrafting going in the general forum). Maybe this reddit should just force people with general TSM questions to go with the TSM forum so that it can be kept clean for more interesting topics? I don't actually think this is a good idea because some people would prefer reddit over creating another account on The Consortium and it would be hard to moderate such a rule. So, I'm not sure what the best solution is for this subreddit, but thought I'd give my thoughts on the overall gold-making community.

To wrap up, I think the average WoW player expects that simply learning TSM will make them lots of gold. They inevitably run into issues since this is not actually the case. They then bury actual gold-making discussion under piles of general TSM questions. I will be the first to say that I'd much rather see more gold-making discussion and less general "How do I make gold with TSM?" questions, even on the TSM forum. However, this is how the community has developed, for better or for worse, and it's up to us to make the best of it and lead by example.

Updated January 17th, 2015 at 02:08 PM by Sapu94

World of Warcraft , Off-Topic , Development