One fun thing to do while waiting for expansion-pack related technical issues and sever queues to resolve is read up on r/WoW, unless the top mod sets the subreddit private until he can log on to the game, which is exactly what happened last night. Update: moderator has quit following alleged doxxing and harassment.

As detailed over at Polygon, subreddit owner nitesmoke was having trouble logging into World of Warcraft last night, as were many other players. The launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack has taken a heavy toll on Blizzard's servers, and despite the developer upgrading its server hardware early yesterday morning, high population servers were still experiencing massive login queues.

Understandably frustrated, nitesmoke exercised his moderating power and set one of Reddit's largest gaming forums private.

This went over really well with users of r/WoW. Here are some of the Twitter replies to his pronouncement.

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  • Wow, you really are a whiny little shit. "If I can't have it, no one can." Grow up.
  • super childish move. 100k+ people now just had their community turned off.
  • "I'm upset that I can't access Thing A, so I'm going to arbitrarily deny access for the entire community to Thing B." Not cool.
  • this is the most neckbeard thing I've witnessed in a while. congratulations.

A childish move? Sure, but I can understand where he was coming from. When you're the top mod of a major forum covering a dedicated topic, and that topic has done nothing for two days but kick your ass and cause the subreddit to be flooded with screenshots of long queue times, I can see the need for a short break.

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Still, the subreddit acted as a haven for those having issues with the expansion launch, and taking it down made many people upset, including World of Warcraft community rep Jonathan Brown.

Nitesmoke's response? "It will be back the moment I am able to log into WoW. That is the fact of the matter and everyone's opinion on me is irrelevent."

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Eventually the subreddit was brought back online, accompanied by a message from moderator aphoenix which included the reasoning behind the downtime.

Blizzard was having issues allowing people to play the game that they have payed to play. As a form of consumer advocacy and protest, the subreddit was taken offline as a way to send a message to Blizzard that this wasn't acceptable. The idea is simple: if one has no faith in a product, one of the simplest ways to show that is via protest. Protest is most useful if it has some kind of financial context to it. Being that we typically log a million hits per day, /r/wow has a significant claim as a fan website. "Going dark" in protest has worked for a variety of other protests, and it could work for this as well.

Aphoenix also made clear that the reasoning offered was not his — he was just writing it down as people were asking for it. He also clarified that the reopening was not a result of nitesmoke finally getting into the game.

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As a direct result of nitesmoke's actions, Reddit World of Warcraft fans have started another subreddit, r/RealWoW, rallying for it to become the new official Reddit destination for fans of Blizzard's MMORPG.

UPDATE: Following Saturday evening's incident, nitesmoke's personal information was reportedly made available via doxxing, leading to phone harassment at his real-world job yesterday. When he arrived home from work, nitesmoke set the subreddit to private once more, removed all of its moderators.

Now the subreddit r/WoW is back once more, now under the leadership of former sub-moderator aphoenix. The new mod posted a lengthy explanation about how the incident went down, including several condemnations of nitesmoke's actions, a paragraph about how harassment is wrong and mentioning he's looking into gtetting the subreddit involved in some sort of charitable venture.

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That lengthy response has been archived in the comments of its own post, replaced with a simpler message.

Yesterday /r/wow went private for a small amount of time. Nitesmoke, the previous moderator, was angry at a variety of issues and took /r/wow offline.

Nitesmoke made a mistake. It was a big one. I'm going to simply ask that you stop trying to get back at him. It's over; he's not on the moderation team here.

Nobody here is on board with how he handled the situation. We will not handle the situation in the same way. Nitesmoke has apologized (to me, and through me, to you), and I apologize as well.

The original message here was different, and it's available as a comment in this thread. The intent of this is transparency. I'm not trying to sweep anything under the rug; I'm trying to put out the right message. I think the right message right now is "things got messed up. We understand that. Nitesmoke made a mistake. We're working at setting things right."

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And now back to our regularly scheduled programming [r/WoW via Polygon]