How to Report
Samus, a commentator here, made another great suggestion in my comments the other day. Samus suggested that I make a suggestion about how to report well in League of Legends, which struck me as a great kernel for a much larger post: how to report anyone in any game.
This post will be divided into four parts: general suggestions for all report functions, then specific sections for League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and then all other non-WoW games.
One of the most important aspects of the report is the length. A lot of us – myself very much included – see a “500 word limit” and make it a goal to fill those 500 words with logic that will lead to righteous justice. Really, though, that’s not a good idea. There’s a common adage (meaning I can’t find the source to give credit) that goes “If you say three things, you don’t say anything.” The concept comes from marketing, wherein if you tell your viewer too much, nothing will stick. Instead, you need to boil down the most important single item of your message and focus on that and that alone.
From a “reporting player” point of view, then, you need to focus on the single most egregious action or phrase the player said and focus on that. You can certainly mention in vague terms that other bad things were said or done, but only get specific about the one most terrible offense.
This goes hand-in-hand with Being Direct, but I wanted to make a separate section for it. Once you’ve decided on the most offensive thing the other person did, make sure to specifically mention it – even quote it, if appropriate – or at least give a time-stamp idea of when it happened. It can be difficult if you don’t have time stamps, but you can make an educated guess regardless: “In the first few minutes, the guy was calling everyone on the team _______.” “During the after-game chat, the player was saying ________________.” Be as specific as possible both in time and what was said.
A quick “To Whom it May Concern,” some “pleases” and a “Thank you” at the end can make a big difference. Remember, even though you’re a player in a game, really you’re engaged in a professional relationship with the GM. You are a customer paying for a service that has been interrupted by another customer, and you should address the issue in an appropriately businesslike manner. Manners are the grease that lubricate the wheels of civilization, and it can’t hurt to throw a a little courtesy the GM’s way.
Fourthly, you want to talk about how that offense made you feel from an objective standpoint. Yes, it may mean lowering your “macho shield” (more on the stupidity of macho another day), but if your actual goal is to get this person punished or, even better, rehabilitated, then you might have to just let a little of that pride go. If you were made uncomfortable by a racial slur, say so. If you were threatened, even if intellectually you know that the Internet bully on the other end can’t do anything, say you felt threatened. You see, dear reader, anger won’t get you anywhere. GMs deal with angry reports all the time. It’s the calm, thoughtful reports that talk about players being made to feel uncomfortable that I’ve paid more attention to, and I suspect that most GMs or tribunal members would respond the same way.
It makes sense, too, because often if you’re angry you may have fired some shots back at the offender, and if you did, you’ve vastly weakened your case. You have to be strong by not resisting (I am admittedly very bad at that, though my resistance takes on a comical “passive resistance” (a la the “Lou” fight scene in Fight Club)), then go in to the report system with clean hands and a rational mind.
Don’t say someone did something they didn’t do. Don’t over-exaggerate your feelings, either. Don’t make yourself out to be innocent if you’re not; I’d even suggest that if you did fire a few back that you admit it but contextualize how you were feeling when you did it. The more honest you appear, the more credible, and the more credible, the more likely your reviewer is to take you seriously. I can’t tell you how many tribunals reports (not many, really, but some) were generated by players who didn’t start the fight but who were clearly the more offensive and disgustingly behaved. I can’t do anything about them, of course; I can only punish or pardon the person reported (nice alliteration), but often those cases make me take the hardest look at what really happened and are the most likely for me to pardon. Sometimes a single mediocre explosion could have been ignored or remediated within the game, but instead the reporter took the time to drive the other player into a frenzy. If everyone’s guilty, no one’ s guilty.
Now, for some game specific advice.
League of Legends:
Samus’s actual suggestion, which is an excellent one, is that you make sure you write something in the comment box. Keep it simple, keep it short, but it’s far more effective to have put something for the tribunal reviewers to look for than to only click the offense button. “Report Player: Harassment” might be hard to find in all that text for a lot of readers. Think of it like a pre-reading strategy; your teachers always told you to look at the questions first to help focus your mind on those topics; the same’s true here. Help the reviewer by focusing them ahead of time with a sentence or two of explanation.
Secondly, make sure to put in the chat logs what’s happening when it’s happening. If someone’s intentionally feeding, make sure to politely ask them a few times to stop whatever they’re doing to create a log of their offenses. Fore example, if they’re feeding, politely ask them to stop and include the number of deaths or the method they’re using directly in the game chat. Put it in “all” chat, too, and let the other team respond; it may be that by letting them know what’s going on, you get more reports on the player. A lot of teams want a fair, clean game without feeding in either direction and will report even enemy feeders.
Going right along with that one, let the enemy team know what’s going on and ask them to report. If you have an afk (making the game 4 on 5), let them know. You may still lose, but again hopefully you’ve got good sports on the other team who will report alongside you. Seeing an enemy report on team-based behaviors (feeding, afking), makes a HUGE difference in my eyes, and a simple statement of what’s happening and a request to report can generate that kind of good sportsman behavior.
World of Warcraft:
As a joke, I feel like saying “Why bother?” but instead I’ll try to be positive. They’ve made it easy to simply click “report player / for __________,” but if someone’s really behaving in a disgusting way, I’d go the extra step and generate a ticket about it. Include your name, the offensive player’s name, the date and time, the server, and the chat channel. Again, I’d also include a “pre-reading” phrase for the reviewer to look for. Really, I have no idea if any of this works, but I’d also include a short statement asking them to take action because the community “has been getting better” and you don’t want it to “regress again” or something like that. By giving the GM a compliment about the community getting better (even if it hasn’t), then dangling an opportunity to continue said “improvement,” you may get more leverage with your complaint. Then again, they may all be totally desensitized to the whole thing since the game is riddled with trolls and jerks and I’m sure they get inundated with tickets every day.
Any other Game:
Just make an allusion to the fact that you hope that this game won’t fall to the same depths of community as that terrible game World of Warcraft, which you left to get away from this kind of thing. That ought to do it!