To watch ranks or not is the question


When I first heard about it, I thought it was a great idea, but I didn’t want it myself.

It’s an addon that you install, and if you or someone else you are grouped with uses an ability that ain’t at the max available to someone of the persons’ current level… it whispers them (or you) and tells you.

I’ve posted here before that I caught myself on my Paladin doing that while tanking, because I leveled Retribution, but Dual Specced at 40 and set up my tanking bars.

Fast forward 40 levels later, and find out that every time I dinged a level and trained, I was in Ret spec. Every time you ding and then train, your currently active spec has it’s buttons updated to tie in to the new level spells. Your inactive spec… doesn’t.

So Rankwatch, which warns you when you are using underlevel abilities, is a proven help.

My first, initial reaction to it? I didn’t want it.

The reason was simple… I didn’t want to be “that guy”, the one that has “I’m an asshat calling you out for being a scrub” addons.

Failbot, or whatever the addons are called that people in raids used to have all the time, announcing in raid chat “Brutus, Simias and Maximus failed to avoid the Fire” during Sarth fights. Or announced that the same folks can’t dance during Heigan when they took damage from the floor zones.

I didn’t want to be the guy that had an addon that announced to others that they had problems. I had visions of “Well, screw you man, kiss my ass”, because let’s face it; Most people, no matter how well you phrase it, are NOT inclined to be graceful when caught making a mistake, even so simple a mistake as using the wwrong level spell in an off spec in easy content.

Not from a stranger, not when it is so difficult to convey inflection, nuance and attitude (or lack therof) in typed communications across the internet.

“Better to hold my peace”, I thought, “than to antagonize someone over a mistaken spell level in a pug.”

Advance a few weeks after that decision, and I pop on my Horde Paladin, literally for 5 seconds, and some friends invite me to join them in ICC 10 man, clearing some trash.

“Sure”, I say, “sounds like fun!”

I’m not in the instance for 5 minutes when I get a whisper from one of their members… and automated whisper generated by their Rankwatch, telling me that I am using a downranked Holy Wrath.

So, I’m in a run, with mostly people I don’t know, and here I am in the same position that I had worried about putting someone else in.

How did I feel getting an addon whispering me?

I felt grateful. Damned if I want to be using a weak version of a spell, and I sure didn’t know on my own, or I woulda fixed it. So shit, thanks! Now I can get the right one on my bar!

I had to laugh about it. After all, I expected I knew how someone else might react… but that’s not how I reacted. So why do I just assume someone else would get all pissy about it?

Do I really have THAT low of an opinion of most players I meet in PuGs? Ouch.

So I downloaded Rankwatch myself.

The very next day, I queue up to heal a quick Heroic, and get Utgardt Pinnacle with a Paladin Tank.

Very first pull out of the gate, the tank grabs the trash, and my unconfigured addon fires off three whispers to him, telling him that Rankwatch has seen that he’s using Consecration rank 6, the max rank of Consecration at level 80 is rank 8, that there is a known issue about button bars not updating with dual specs, and if he intentionally intended to downrank Consecration, the addon is sorry for bothering him, and if he lets me know I can stop it from spamming him again in the future.


Holy shit, does that mean every time he uses Consecration for the run, it’s gonna spam him? HELP! I don’t know how to configure it yet!!! I don’t how to shut it off mid run!

That’s okay, it turns out it didn’t whisper him any more during the run.

The tank also clearly didn’t care if he was using a lower ranked Consecration, because he never broke stride, not for a second, the entire time he was chain pulling Pinnacle. Not once, ever, the entire run, was there a moment where he stopped long enough to have flipped through his spellbook to find the spell and move it to his bar. He was either attacking stuff or bouncing around or running, never just standing still, even for loot.

So, no worries, right?

I find it very useful to personally have that reassurance that, from now on, I don’t have to worry about making that mistake myself.

On the other hand… I still debate whether or not to turn it on and off when in PuGs.

I now come down on the side of optimism. I was grateful to have my mistake pointed out to me, and I think now I like having it be from an addon.

I think that, if you are going to have something like that running, having it be an automated addon that is very polite, and whispers the person once in private, and then never brings it up, that’s about the best way of doing it. 

Kind of removes that temptation to suspect someone else is judging your performance, when it’s just an addon giving you a private whisper, right?

I think it is highly revealing that, when faced with a decision to make, I choose to err on the side of “let’s not start shit with strangers”, though.

47 thoughts on “To watch ranks or not is the question

  1. I had it used on my lock and i found it very helpful. I dual speced and forgot to train some stuff, so that was a nice reminder. Never would have picked that fact up otherwise.


  2. So I took a two week break from WoW I come back startled that people used this addon. Not only that but people were being rude to me about it, like saying how I was undertrained when I just recently took my priest to the trainer…I’m a level 80 priest and when I go to the trainer I have nothing…NOTHING to train. I am not sure if something is wrong with the addon or something wrong with my priest. Anyways, I suppose this is handy in raids, but in 5-man heroics? Come on, 5 mans are there for being casual not something more.


  3. well i lvled as resto feral(tank ofc) though 60-79 i would always be entered into the group as the healer so i didnt get a chance to tank with my druid till i hit 80 when tanks are like gold and get into groups instantly. as a result i was using a lot of how of rank skills (by accident ofc) anyways i ended up in a pug with a dude with this addon and by the end og it i had sorted out all my skills personaly i welcomed the whisper and consider this a great addon


  4. Honestly, I don’t know if BBB reads these comments, but anyways I’m relatively certain that chain pulling, jumpy, non stop Paladin was myself. I ran with a tree Druid whose add on reminded me of my sloppy mistake. I was very surprised but also very greatful. As I recall the add on whispered me before the “impaler” boss. With the four mini bosses. If I’m mistaken about the tree being you, then please forgive my rantings and just take this as another person satisfied with this add on.


  5. One of the top ten addons of all time.

    Yes it is a little on the spammy side, but it makes up for that by being ridiculously polite. I’m not even that polite to my own mother half the time.

    I have been raiding as a resto druid with my guild for several months, and on our 10 man progression team since icecrown came out. It was not until this last weekend when I ran a 25 TOC that I had never trained the max rank of Wild Growth. /facepalm

    I was grateful, even if mildly embarrassed by it.


  6. Absolutely hate this addon and the people using it below lvl 80. I got like 7k whispers while lvling up my twink in the battlefields… i didnt run to the trainer every single level of course and got punished hard by this addon. If not for fail blizz coders this addon wouldnt even exist. I use ensidia fails and the likes to show me fails but ill keep my hands off this piece of spam.


  7. And it gets better. I just switched to resto spec and found that ALL my healing spells except Riptide (maybe Earthliving Weapon also, I forget) were messed up on my toolbar. Earth Shield. Lesser Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave, Chain Heal – what a great add-on.


  8. I read this post tonight, and got my first experience with the add-on today. It was incredibly helpful. Someone in a PUG was running it, and my badly-geared shaman alt, who is struggling with dps and healing, found out he was using a downranked Lesser Healing Wave as elemental. More importantly, he had rank 7 Flametongue Weapon instead of rank 10. My dps went way up after fixing that.

    The person running the add-on apologized for it, and, remembering your post here, I thanked them profusely for their help.


  9. I installed RW after reading this post thinking it might be useful. I certainly like to be corrected if I’m doing something stupid.

    However, this has turned out to be a pain in the new PUG world… RW whispers to somebody EVERY time in my PUGs. And I mean every time. I have no idea if that’s just something about my battlegroup (Bloodlust) but it just goes off without fail.

    And that DPS loss that is caused by somebody using an ability that’s a few ranks below doesn’t make up for the time it takes to explain what the whispers were all about. Or what ranks are all about (duh!). I’ve now turned the whispers off — and I just ping them myself if it happens to be the tank that’s using the downranked abilities. Rank 1 Consecrate just doesn’t do the trick…


  10. Ok, correction to my above claiming only to have been caught out once. My wife installed it just before our raid tonight. I’m normally a healer, but went enhancement up to the Plagueworks. Flametongue weapon for enhancement, Mana Tide Totem and Chain Lightning for Resto. Woops.

    Thankfully nothing for actual healing, which is my usual job.
    .-= dalaani´s last blog ..Sometimes progression isn’t killing a new boss =-.


  11. I have actually had a very negative experience with this add-on. My main is a warlock and in PUG heroics every time I am whispered about how my Chaos Bolt should be a rank 4 (there is only rank 1). The users of this add-on have been incredibly self righteous and annoying, and it seems that this particular warlock bug is only one of many.


  12. I had it go off on my dual spec (shadow/disc) priest. At 75 I’ve been switching specs and dinging on both, I was so grateful for the whisper because it immediately helped me. I thanked the user of the addon, asked him what it was and promptly installed it.

    It sends an extremely polite whisper that anyone who takes offense to such a helpful tell is just hypersensitive IMO.


  13. I have mine set to only inform me (/rankwatch none). And I usually just whisper them myself with a just fyi your spell is going off at 1 out of a possible 3, (or whatever it is).

    So far everyone has been grateful


  14. I’d never heard of that addon until one night in a PUG I got a whisper from it, it told me that several of my spells were much lower than currently trained. I just about keeled over. I was SO GRATEFUL! It helped me immensely in healing, I had wondered why I seemed to be subpar suddenly. >>;


  15. I don’t think I would like getting a whisper for the most part. If you accidentally put the wrong rank on the spellbar or your keybindings were messed up it would be cool to know, but otherwise I would take quite an offense to it.


  16. i just installed rankwatch today and it told me 2 times on 2 different characters that i was using a lower rank. once on my resto druid when i was using hurricane (not a big deal) and on my resto shaman earthliving which is a big deal. thanks for the recommendation. i probably want to turn off the whispers to others tho.
    .-= Matt Lee´s last blog ..Debt Free and Lovin’ It =-.


  17. I’ve been using it since the LFD tool was introduced, and I’ve gotten the gamut of responses.

    The vocal majority of folks were like you’d expect “zomg… thanks!” as well as a few folks that made me really glad I was running the add-on, including my all time favorite: “You know, I swapped to Shadow on my Disc priest for raiding a month back and my raid leader was this close to kicking me for crappy DPS… You have no idea how happy I am to finally know why my DPS was so bad!”

    You’ll run into folks with no enchants on their epics, folks who have issues pushing 1k DPS in a H run who get angry… but you shouldn’t really be all that concerned with those folks anyway. Most folks who get the whisper take a minute to fix the mistake and move on. It’s really rare that you get the irate arsehat… the whisper is much more likely to go to the poor guy who’s just wondering why his performance isn’t where it should be.

    Although, catching my RL downranking in raid’s has been great fun… and those nights are when I really think about swapping RW to blast into a /rw channel 🙂


  18. I got this whisper my first time running Heroic TOC on my Death Knight. At first I thought it was rude but after rebuilding my macros I saw my DPS increase and felt grateful for having gotten the whispers.

    DK’s get a bad enough rap as it is. In retrospect I appreciate the polite nudge to make sure I was pulling my weight in the run.

    Not sure I want to be the one doing the whispering though…


  19. Had a person come back with an absolute ***hat reply after it spammed them once in Wintergrasp…they were pissed my addon whispered them and spammed them. 5 minutes later when they had checked and seen that the mod was indeed right and they had forgotten to train a spell for a spec…they whispered me apologizing for their reaction and thanking them for informing them of the issue.

    Other than that I either get silence of maybe a, “oh”


  20. When I started healing heroics, I found out that most of my healing spells were 1-2 ranks below maximum… after about a week of constant pugs. I was horrified. I had been switching specs and training everything I could on both specs whenever I trained, but I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t using maximum rank. I’m pretty sure that I noticed the rank difference by looking at tooltips.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks. I got a whisper from rankwatch. It seems that I hadn’t upgraded everything. As a healer, I was casting a lower rank of Lightning Bolt (At least I was healing effectively). I was slightly amused, and quickly updated my cast bar.


  21. I share your initial feelings on Rankwatch – while I agree it is a very useful addon and I’d be happy for someone to let me know I wasn’t using the optimal spell, I haven’t installed it simply because I would feel bad automatically whispering someone to tell them they were doing something wrong :-/

    Incidentally, if people are healing as they level and using Clique, they may also have problems with ranks. All you need to do is untick “show all ranks” in your spellbook and rebind, or re-move to your secondary bar, and these problems should go away.

    I posted about the solution at

    Good luck 🙂


  22. I’ve been in groups where (before the nerf) we’d be banging our head against heroic HoR and dps was rotating in and out. One of those groups I was tanking had it set to /party and it went off on the healer with about 3 different spells. They whispered me and apologized for complaining how I was too squishy with 44k hp. We regrouped and finished the next attempt. Great addon although there are always those that will take it and use it to be negative.


  23. Freaked me out in ICC when we were clearing trash mobs when i got that whisper on my spriest. Some how I had came out of shadow form and hit my heal instead of mind blast and bam i get a whisper from BBB saying i used a downranked version of heal – huh. God i felt like a noob.


  24. I was healing on my Druid in a pug and got a whisper from rankwatch. I was very grateful! I had the same dual-speccing rank issue, where my action bars weren’t updating to the current rank.

    The message was very polite, and it helped fix a mistake I made! I whispered the guy with the addon to thank him, and he was also very kind. None of this “lol u fail” stuff. All in all, great experience!


  25. Yep I just touched on this same thing in my blog post from yesterday. I almost never use holy wrath when I am healing. It just so happens when I used it last, speced as holy, I received this wispier from someone in the group telling me I was casting rank 2 not rank 5!
    Amazing …
    fixed that problem right away!

    Any new 80’s that want some more helpful hints and tips, wander over to and check out the “New To 80?” line of post.

    /end self promotion


  26. Thankfully, one of our guildies picked up on this before Rankwatch became popular, so we all madly scrambled to check our bars. Still, it’s good to know it’s out there, just in case. The only time I’ve been pinged by it was when double-stacking Flamestrike DoTs in a BG, so that’s always going to cause it to fire. Thankfully, my mage is frost now, and just spams blizzard for AOE.
    .-= dalaani´s last blog ..Magery =-.


  27. I would be embarrassed as all get out if I got a tell like that… but then again I would also be very greatful to know what the problem was!


  28. When RankWatch told me I was using a low rank of Wild Growth, I audibly said, “Oh crap! Really?” took a Screenshot, then used autorun and opened up my macros to check my WG macro to be sure I hadn’t hard coded it to rank 1. Then during the next pull I opened my spellbook, while healing, paged to the correct page, looked to see if I had the other ranks of Wild Growth, saw I only had trained Rank 1, said to myself, “Oh crap I am a noob!” Took a screenshot, kept healing, typed in chat that I was a noob and needed to see a trainer, took a screenshot, and kept running and healing the whole time.

    Perhaps this paladin did (some of) the same things.
    .-= maerdred´s last blog ../facepalm =-.


  29. It’s not just dual specs that seem to trigger the bug. Apparently my moonkin’s AoE dps was sucking because the Hurricane on his moonkin bar didn’t get updated since rank 3 (max is 5 at 80) and I never caught it because I always trained in tauren form, and those bars were correct. Got a whisper the other week about it in raid from someone using RankWatch. I was rather grateful it was pointed out… in between being incensed at my connection for kicking me every couple of minutes.


  30. I installed it and ran my guild’s ICC 10 that night. We’re a pretty good guild, but it caught 4 players using down ranked spells, one of them being me! I too was using down ranked Holy Wrath as a tanking Paladin.

    All of the other guild members too were thankful for letting them know.


  31. My guild leader uses it, and for a week or so it was a running joke that he kept catching our shaman casting downranked things. Then, I go to a Culling of Stratholme run with my resto druid. I hear the distinctive “You’re receiving a whisper” ding. “You just cast Rank V Thorns, the maximum rank at Level 80 is 8…”

    Oh. My. Gosh. I raided with that character, as a resto druid, for MONTHS. My husband warrior tank is going, “You were giving me less thorns than I was entitled to?!”

    I’m going, “…I can’t believe I was casting downranked thorns for all that time.” It was embarassing, yes. I leveled as Balance and the same thing happened with my action bars as you described. Needless to say, the guild has been having fun at my expense since (even though my main is a mage). Our “comedy-demote-people-to-this-rank-in-guild” is now called (you guessed it) “Rank V Thorns.” When the tank asks our resto druid for Thorns he replies, “Rank five?”

    I’ll probably never live it down. But I’m glad Rankwatch exists. I’m not even going to tell you what happened when I went to cast Wrath in Resto spec. Or Hurricane.
    .-= Vidyala´s last blog ..SM: Did you know it can also mean ’sadism’ and ‘masochism’? =-.


  32. I recently installed it so that I could catch myself using the wrong ranks. I turned off the explanation in the whisper to avoid excessive chat pane spamming. I haven’t had any complaints yet, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time until someone goes ballistic on me.

    I’ve also had failbot installed for a long time. I agree about not announcing it to raid, but I have it send to a private chat channel so the officers can see. My guild raids casually, so I don’t want to name & shame people, but it’s nice to be able to see where things are going wrong.


  33. Although I’ve currently seen a few hostile responses to Rankwatch auto-spam, the vast majority of folks have been absolutely mortified (and grateful) for it. Generally speaking, no one really wants to be caught doing the wrong thing, and there are a lot of great players who’ve just forgotten to update ranks when they switched specs. Part of what makes it less threatening than the usual “Wow, you’re terrible and why the hell are you using X and Y spells???” group discourse, is the fact that it does send that lovely little tell rather than broadcasting someone’s spell-update failure to the entire group. As someone else already mentioned, I do recommend disabling it while leveling (otherwise, you’ll get an absurd amount of tell spam for just about everyone).
    .-= Runycat´s last blog ..So long, and thanks for all the fish (feasts)! =-.


  34. New reader of your blog – love it. 🙂

    Anyway, I just recently got rankwatch myself (for personal use; wanted to make sure I didn’t hit the dual-spec snag as described), but at the time I didn’t realize it would whisper people.

    The first thing I did after I installed it? Wintergrasp.

    I get in there, start doin’ my thing, and suddenly this new addon fires something in the realm of 5 to 10 messages to a handful of people. My reaction was similar to how you describe yours during your first PUG with it. 😀

    Nobody replied to my whispers though, for good or bad, and I shortly thereafter configured it to only send me the messages. Now if I feel the need to mention it, I’ll privately whisper the person in question in my own words.


  35. I got rankwatch just the other day for my priest – due to discovering I was using a lower rank of power word shield. Within 2 minutes of grouping up with Regis, he got spammed so I know it’s a good addon! 😛


  36. I know myself that literally 80% plus of the pug 5 man heroic runs I do my rankwatch is able to catch someone with a low ranked spell. I’d have to say 90% + of the time I get a big thank you back for letting them know. In the days of wanting to improve tanking threat, improve dps or even make healing easier most people are extremely happy to be able to change this to help out their toons.

    Think of it this way.. For dps its the equivalent or better than getting a piece of loot to drop that you need as upranking your spell to the best one gives you that much more dps….


  37. Get used to people being confused; the number one response I get when Rankwatch notifies them of a downranked spell is “Huh?”


  38. Thanks for telling me what that was – I’d only had it happen to me once, and that was due to my Volley being one rank too low or something.

    Have to download it now.


  39. I installed it, then freaked out the first time when it went off, and immediately relogged to disable it because I felt bad. But you are right, people are probably grateful, and it only spams them once per run per spell, so it isn’t too much of a bother. And it doesn’t announce to the whole party that they are a noob. I think I’ll put it back on again.

    Does anybody know how well it works at lower levels? The alt I’m working on is still sub-40 so it shouldn’t be a problem, but I know that it is for low level characters, where you are gaining new ranks all the time, that it is the most annoying for updating ranks of your alternate specs.


  40. I’ve been running it since the new LFD tool went live, and I’ve never had anyone complain, but I’ve gotten more than a couple of sincere thanks from people who had simply forgotten to go and train. And that had been 80 for weeks and months.


  41. I am a huge fan of Rankwatch. I am kind enough to disable it on my leveling toons, but I keep it running on every 80 whether I’m in a pug Heroic or a raid. Then again, I’m willing to be “that guy,” or girl. The automated message is very polite and it has built-in filters to prevent spam. You can customize it to prolong the time inbetween “reminder” whispers about repeated offenses. And if multiple in the group have the addon, the player will only be whispered once.

    Some people don’t care that they are level 80 and using Rank 1 spells. But I know in the future who these people are. Most of the time, I find that people are grateful and either silently correct the error or whisper me a thanks for the reminder. It isn’t calling them out saying that they are doing something wrong. It’s just politely and privately informing them of a minor oversight that, if corrected, will greatly improve their performance.


  42. I’ve gotten a couple whispers from Rankwatch, thanks to the whole dual-spec thing. I too was grateful.

    I have to say, the addon really does go out of its way to be polite. It sends a whisper, rather than some party chat “Malph is a noob for using Rank 6 MOTW” or something; it notes that the suspect may be downranking on purpose; and it adds a nice little explanation about the dual-spec bug, which moves the tell from “accusation” to “reminder” territory. People will always be stupid sensitive, but it’s a worthy risk to take, considering how common this oversight might be among perfectly strong players.


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