Admittedly, I’m still playing WoW. After quitting last year, like many people I decided to come back to experience the new expansion content of Wrath of the Lich King. To quote Michael Corleone and more recently Silvio Dante: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…” As expected, as Blizzard is desperate to lure in new subscribers the caliber of the community keeps getting lower as more children and teens seem to be invading the MMO world. Just the other day I politely called out someone in General Chat in Stranglethorn who was flagrantly violating the official WoW terms of service by continually swearing and using various epithets.
Unlike Blizzard, I care about my server. My server is my virtual home. I’ve invested a heck of a lot of time there. It’s a role-play server which had the added effect of making the cacophony on public chat channels even more egregious and unacceptable. Blizzard has an abysmal record on an utter lack of support for their role-play servers. But due to the fact that Blizzard has weak, reactive and almost ineffectual enforcement policy regarding verbal harassment and speech on public chat channels — it’s up to the players to police their own servers. Even the offending players know that Blizzard is lax and will do nothing. Hundreds of millions of profits from WoW doesn’t buy much customer service apparently but $15 a month sure buys a lot of love.
So how can we police our own servers and turn the tables on offending idiots?
Solution 1: Bait Them
Once someone curses or uses an epithet in a general chat channel I go after them publicly with the hope they will dig themselves an even deeper hole. But you need to be clever. Never use a curse word yourself or never repeat the offending word that they initially used or you could find yourself in trouble with Blizzard. Be calm, wise and witty. The goal is to get them so frustrated and off their game that they will keep cursing which is more ammunition for the Blizzard game master and which also makes them look foolish in the eyes of everyone in the zone.
Solution 2: Petition a Blizzard Game Master
While Blizzard is willfully failing to police servers it’s still very important to submit an official petition and contact a Blizzard game master. During the chat violation I use the report “spam” feature so that the Blizzard GMs can review the offending speech in question. It’s important to always fill out a detailed petition so be sure to include the player’s name (spell it properly or the GMs will discard the petition) time, zone, and chat channel. Include the complaint/violation that you believe happened and include the disciplinary action that you want Blizzard to take toward the offender. Always use proper punctuation and be sure to thank them at the end of your petition.
Blizzard GMs have access to chat logs and can verify the claims you are making in your petition. After they do that, they will put a warning on the player’s account and the player will get an email. After a certain number of warnings players are subject to a series of escalating disciplinary account actions such as temporary suspension of a players account up to and including outright banning. The problem is that Blizzard is very lax about this as they do not want to lose revenue from an offender’s precious subscription.
If enough people were to petition these troublemakers then eventually the player’s record would get so long that Blizzard would have to ban them.
Solution 3: Get them Booted from their Guild
At high levels in WoW reputation is everything. It’s also important when you consider you need to have a good reputation to be a member of most guilds. One way to deal with offending players is to find out what guild they are and contact the officers of their guild. Better yet go right to the top and contact their guild leader. If you do this calmly and politely you can help to destroy a player’s reputation by getting them booted from their existing guild. The objective is to tell them about the public behavior of the offender and to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of their guild.
Be sure to mention in your conversation with their guild leader that you were concerned that Little Johnny was reflecting poorly on their guild and you just thought they should know about it. It also doesn’t hurt to let them know Blizzard Entertainment has been contacted regarding this guild member.
Most guild leaders I have contacted are very appreciative of getting feedback like this. In most cases the offending player in question is removed from the guild or demoted. In some cases I have even received heartfelt apologies. In one case I got the excuse “it was my little brother playing my account…it won’t happen again”. Yeah right. Bottom line: it’s worth the extra effort to do this and then in the words of Don Corleone they will fear you.
Solution 4: Ruin their Reputation
If you want to go one step further then try this: once the player is booted from their guild put them on your “friends” list and be sure to contact the guild leader and officers of their new guild to even further ruin this player’s reputation. Eventually the little punk will learn this important life lesson. We can only hope.
Solution 5: Get Their Name Changed
If you are brushed off by a guild leader in Solution 3 you can take revenge against them by petitioning all of the naming violations in their guild. Trust me, you can cause major chaos in a guild when 30% of the guild suddenly have “new” names. I have zero sympathy for a guild that allows foul-mouthed, disruptive players into their ranks.
Things That Don’t Work
I’m sure there are other ways to deal with troublemakers but over the years these methods have worked rather well in the various MMOs I have played. However there are a few things that really don’t work:
The Ignore Feature
Many people use the ignore feature to deal with these kinds of players. I feel that putting a player on ignore is a cop out. By doing this you are not solving the problem and allowing these miscreants to keep plying their trade. Also if they are on ignore then you won’t be able to hear their chat violation the next time and you’ll lose a valuable opportunity to report them and add another incident to their growing record.
The Mature language Filter
Regarding the mature language filter, I feel it’s also a cop out and is routinely hailed by the offenders as the solution. It’s like a burglar justifying the theft of your property because you forgot to lock your doors. Memo to these stupid players: the mature language filter does not give anyone the right to break the rules. You can’t go yelling “Heil Hitler” all day long in WoW and expect the language filter to absolve you.
For a while now I have been talking about how ineffectual Blizzard’s disciplinary policies and procedures are in WoW. It’s a disgrace how Blizzard has given the community on their servers over to the worst players among us and let them run wild with zero enforcement. When this is allowed to happen my play experience is eroded and marginalized. Despite that, we the players who care about our servers need to take action and actively shape the character of our servers.
Never be afraid to confront and challenge the idiots on various chat channels who violate the rules. The reason why they keep getting away with it is the apathy (understandable due to Blizzard’s lack of leadership and enforcement) of our fellow players. If we don’t stand up to them then who will?