Any ideas on what the **** makes XIV so different? We had an online community back then every bit as big as WoWs (in the early days at least). And those who were asshats were known and widely disliked. They were there, but represented a small minority of the online community. In the XIV era it seems like they're 80% of the userbase, with the rest of the nice guys struggling against the tide.
I have a few thoughts on this. None would be the sole reason and each condition will vary a bit on the environment itself, but here goes...
1) Glorification of drama.
This doesn't deviate much from real world media in that you're more likely to see bad news reported than good news. Be it deliberate or simply witnessed, as these things are basically documented, you have some people that will then strive to one-up some circumstance to go down in infamy, for better or worse.
2) Lack of moderation.
Don't let Alla's karma system fool you, it doesn't scare off people who want to stir ****. Some posters establish themselves as being deliberately antagonistic. They'll throw the insults. They'll make wild accusations. They'll consistently bring up hot button topics in the worst way possible. It might be easier to just label these people as trolls, but some thrive here more on deception than bullying, so it's not exactly a catch-all moniker. But even ignoring forum behavior, bad attitudes flourish within the games themselves because banning someone generally translates to losing profit. What companies risk with this mentality is the people they alienate and lose because you see the same troublemakers day in and day out filling public channels with their drivel, the only defenses being very poor chat filters (unlikely with the times on net slang) and ignore features. The latter brings the issue of what may be viewed as one-sided conversations where you could see someone responding to this mischief, maybe even making them look like a bad guy. I know it's for this reason I am very sparse on my ignores, using them mainly to snuff RMT spam.
These fuel 1 and 2. I have a healthy respect for the good it offers, but can also acknowledge it enables bad behaviors when left unchecked. People can make you a target for the most inane things online. And of course because of this layer of safety, people will be ***** in hopes of praise with no real fear of punishment. Heck, some even gloat when they get banned from a games official board, playing the whole snarky, "I'm better than them, anyway!" angle. Frankly, anonymity is an issue when the individual can't reign in their ego and not accept that no two players are the same in their ability to play and interests.
All these in mind, I am of the belief that the majority of MMO players do not visit any kind of forum related to their game regularly, if ever. Some of this may be due to past bad experiences. Some might not have the time, especially if you can't net surf at your job or school. Even more may just be content with playing the game when they can. They're the silent majority not so much caught up in the intricacies of class balance, but they're still not ignorant to problems that hinder their enjoyment of the game. It can be annoying when the bad apples try to speak for this majority or outright downplay their desires for the game because they're not a top-ranked PvPer, on the bleeding edge of the raid game, play 30+ hours a week, or whatever. The "casual gamer" thusly gets bad rap, leading to other derogatory slang like carebears, n00bz, scrubs, and so on. I don't really like that this behavior has thrived over the years, and with lack of moderation, the eventuality is either an individual bowing out or having to get a "thicker skin" as some might put it. I've never bought that, though, as further joking about things like rape or other aspects of conquering our digital peers is just another glaring example of lacking sensitivity. Though, I'd also not delve into the gender issues prevalent within gaming, as while some are legit, there are some that just seem to be pandering to my category 1.
I'll cut things short, but in summation, the net isn't the free domain some would like you to believe. Every site, game, or whatever has their own rules, fair or not, which can be further subject to their ISPs or even (inter)national law. There's a fine line between policing and censorship in this case, but 1, 2, and 3 have basically led to the now and things won't change unless consequences become more prevalent. In blanket terms, we could probably just call all this **** cyber bullying, and while there are occasional cases of people making things far more personal, I wouldn't say it's as serious as, say, a bunch of kids trolling some unpopular kid's facebook and leading them to suicide or acting out violently. But I also believe how we derive our entertainment further identifies us. If someone thrives on the misery of others, I definitely don't want them in my friend pool. Whatever sociopathic tendencies lie within I'd rather just leave for shrinks to diagnose. But some days I just think I see kids who never got spanked when misbehaving.