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Why we should all /ignore /ignore

November 11, 2011

Dear Reader, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the saying that “Evil thrives where good men fail to act.”  There’s many cases surrounding us in the world, from the Sandusky child abuse case here in the states to the multiple failures of European leaders to get their shit together (American leaders, too, but I thought the Sandusky thing was a bit more grievous and topical).  In most of these situations, brave people standing up for what was right might have put a stop to the problem before things became so out of control.  Instead, people tried simply to cover their butts and keep their heads down, like ostriches.

Predators love to see this.

WoW’s not exempt from this trend, either.  In fact, it encourages it.  In the ultimate act of “out of sight, out of mind,” every time you see someone behaving unacceptably in WoW, you’re encouraged to use /ignore.

There’s an inherent problem with this, though.  When we ignore problems, they don’t go away.  Anyone who ever tried ignoring a bully in school learned this; it’s not the attention from you they want, but the attention from others, which they get whether you ignore them or not.  The same is true of trade chat trolls in WoW; it doesn’t matter how many people ignore them, there’s still a VAST market of eyes to attend to their shenanigans.

Consider Blizzard’s first apology for the now-infamous Corpsegrinder incident.  Essentially, they said, “Sorry you don’t like it, just ignore it.”  Luckily, many people did exactly the opposite and demanded an apology for the unacceptable behavior. They followed Blizzard’s advice to the fullest: they policed their community.

Unfortunately, a virtual world does not work like a real world.  Where in the real world we can all sign a petition, write letters, and otherwise exert social pressure (i.e. bully for good reasons) Blizzard into doing the right thing, no such facilities exist in WoW.  You cannot start a petition to ban a player from the server, and while you can write as many 30 copper mails as you want, it’s likely that you’d be cited for harassment rather than the player learning to behave better.  As I’ve ranted about before, we’ve been asked to police a community but given zero tools to do so.  Our only options are /ignore and to tell a GM, who then covertly waves a magic wand, and we rely on faith in Blizz that something bad happens to the offensive player.  Proof of God may be the antithesis of faith, but I’m not playing WoW for religious reasons; I want see the results.

There’s a reason we make our justice system a matter of public record.  When someone is arrested, tried, and convicted, everyone can see what happened.  It serves multiple purposes.  First, its lets the larger, silent, good community know that justice is being served; that they are safe to trust in the legal establishment to protect them, so they do not have to become vigilantes and protect themselves.  Secondly, it deters some borderline criminal elements from amping up their nefarious doings.  Lastly, it keeps the process of justice open and clear, making sure all the players are playing fairly.

But in WoW, the entire justice process is secret.  We cannot know if we are being protected.  The borderline elements do not see the “criminals” being punished, and so become trolls themselves.  The trolls behave recklessly because there are no overt rules, and they laugh in the face of temporary suspensions or bans.  If you don’t believe me, ask one of your local trolls in /trade whether or not they’re afraid of being punished for their behavior.  Prepare for hilarious bluster.

On top of the opaque justice process, we have no way to become vigilantes or defend ourselves beyond, like the ostrich, sticking our head in the sand.  We’re essentially children forced into a large lunchroom with virtually no adults for supervision and a team of roving bullies to intimidate, threaten, offend, or slander us.  Ask around; there’s been some really terrible incidents of harassment where the player could do nothing more than send Blizz a prayer and hope for holy smiting, or just Google Warcraft Harassment.

As a result, people do what they do best: protect themselves from harm.  They retreat into their insular guilds, drop out of trade and general chat, and play alone or only with their insulated communities.  Tools that could have been useful additions, created with the best thoughts in mind, turn into cesspools or a pit of vipers, such as LFD.  And all that it would have taken to avoid all of this would be a little visible justice on Blizzard’s part, or a simple tool for dealing with the trolls ourselves.  Instead, we’re provided with a hole to stick our heads into that Blizzard considers the first and best defense: /ignore.

I’m leery of calls to action, but I’m going to put one out there.  Clear out your ignore lists.  Take everyone off ignore.  Then, each time that someone does or says something offensive, open a new ticket about it to the GMs.  Don’t just click “report player” (which also puts them on ignore, I believe), but open an actual ticket about the incident.  Just put the server, the channel, the name and time with a 1 sentence description of the event.  Don’t go overboard, but do it every single time you see something offensive.  If you’re feeling particularly self-righteous (clearly I am), then you might add a little tag like “I sure wish I had some way of fixing this problem myself instead of having to pass it on to you guys and increase your work load,” and when they respond with “Use /ignore,” you can say, “No, I said I wanted to fix it, not stick my head in the sand.”


Stubborn (and on a high horse today)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Selyndia permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:27 pm

    First, for the “Report Player” function, it temporarily shuts off all messages from the account you reported. Once you log off, or change characters, messages will appear again, so it’s temporary and doesn’t actually use your ignore list.

    And actually, there is a very valid use for Ignore when dealing with the Random Dungeon Finder, and the soon to exist Raid Finder. Ignore prevents someone on that list from ever being grouped with you again (I am unsure if it has the distinction between character or account though). By putting someone on ignore in that situation (The trade/general trolling is another issue altogether, and I agree with your assessments there) it prevents not only you, but any group you happen to be in from having to deal with this person again. If more people were to actually make use of this for people using offensive behavior, it would actually begin either limiting an obstructive or belligerent player from seeing as many groups, or begins to extend their queue time while also saving you from having to deal with ‘repeat performances.’

    If we were to all actually fully use the ignore feature on a regular basis when LFD or the forthcoming Raid Finder is introduced, it helps by expanding the ignore lists by those we do get grouped with (Example, if each of the twenty four people in the raid finder have ten different people all on ignore, it eliminates two hundred and forty trouble makers from even being able to queue into the raid with you to fill that last spot). It eventually (should) filter the groups, because those people that are like minded and are willingly using the ignore function to remove trouble makers from their own queues and also preventing others having to deal with them. Those that are all finding themselves on people’s ignore lists regularly should end up with few to group with but themselves.

    Unfortunately, with the enormous player base, to get to this point will take an awful lot of time due to willfully ignoring poor behavior. Sure, there is already a chance I will never end up grouped with that person again anyways; but if I have the option to ensure it with just a quick right click of their name, and to remove future potential aggravation, I think that it’s worth it.

    Perhaps the option is to go to something like League of Legends tribunal, but this can equally be subverted when members of that tribunal either shirk their responsibilities or end up being trolls themselves. Another issue with actually reporting people is it does begin to bog up an already long queue time for other issues (Stuck character, raid ID issues, etc) that already have long queue times (For a long while after patch 4.0 came out, the average queue time for any GM petition was a full week).

    • November 14, 2011 8:59 am

      You’re quite right, and in fact we’re in total agreement. I’ve just given up faith in the “isolation” model (which is what everyone -1 ignores would do) in preference for actually fixing the problem. Someone never grouping with you again might help you, but it doesn’t help the community, it doesn’t change the bad behavior. A bad comparison with this strategy would be if you lived in a crime-ridden neighborhood to buy a personal security team to patrol your property and house; it might make you feel safe, but it’s still a crime-ridden community.

      I’d much prefer Blizz actually lift a finger (or give us fingers of our own to lift) to deal with the offenders instead of ignoring them. Ignoring jerks in no way prevents us from encountering other jerks and having to suffer a dungeon with them in the future, whereas actually fixing the community would. It’s much larger (probably impossible at this point) job, but the potential payoff is much greater as well.

  2. November 11, 2011 4:09 pm

    Great post! I ran across this last evening in the battlegrounds. There was a player being verbally abusive and shouting out racial bigoted slurs to folks. I’m pretty thick skinned but even for me he went too far. So I dropped. Because I would not put up with this, I was punished as a deserter and had to wait to get another battleground for 30 minutes. I talked to a gm…they would not take the screen shots and even though I reported the player I will never know if anything happened.

    I was pretty much told either put up with it or put up with the punishment. So in essence, I being the harmed innocent party is the one punished.

    • November 14, 2011 9:00 am

      That’s Blizzard for you; put up or shut up. You can report the guy and have faith that something will happen, but when your faith is supposed to be in a company that’s so lax in their enforcement that things have gotten as bad as they have, it’s hard to keep that faith. Better to just send 1000 tickets about offensive behavior and hope the point gets made.

      Welcome, and thanks for the comment!

  3. AliPally permalink
    November 12, 2011 8:05 pm

    I don’t have any players on my /ignore list. Generally I play with guildies/friends, and if you are pugging, there is a good chance that the people you group with from other servers are not going to appear in your group again anyway.
    Having said that, I really cannot stay in trade channel; the moronic level of chat is simply too much for me to stand.
    I will opt to report players, though. I have reported people for racism, for verbal abuse, and for having obscene names, and I will continue to do so. If nothing else, it is letting Blizzard know that not everyone finds such behaviour acceptable.

    • November 14, 2011 9:02 am

      The thing is that most people don’t find that behavior acceptable, but most people are too busy doing their own thing in their own guilds that they don’t say anything about it. If Blizzard got enough tickets about the same bad behavior, they might actually take action and deal with the problem. Clearly, though, that hasn’t/doesn’t/isn’t happen(ing), so instead of just letting the community go to pot, they should have instituted a new system. Instead, they went with “out of sight, out of mind.”

  4. November 13, 2011 4:37 am

    I didn’t realise ignore worked the way Selyndia describes – so there really would be repercussions if everyone did use it. But to be an effective deterrent everyone needs to know that’s how it works so the trolls will be disinclined to continue with their activity. But I also agree- we should report everything that is abusive and unacceptable. At the very least I’m sure Blizzard would get so inundated they would be forced to think about what other more effective things they could introduce to improve the playing experience.

    • November 14, 2011 9:06 am

      I knew it prevented grouping with that player, but the likelihood of ever seeing someone again is pretty slim (unless you both requeue right away and end up in the same group next time around). The problem is that there’s no repercussions on how it’s handled; if you ignore player Jerkface and end up – without your knowledge – right behind him in a queue, I doubt he’s going to be bumped to let you in; more likely, he gets his spot and you have to wait for another group to form. Doesn’t seem fair to me, though admittedly I’m just hypothesizing about how it works.

      Either way, fixing the community is the best, albeit impossible without Blizz’s help – solution. I just wish it was a priority for Blizz instead of real money AHs, tradeable item shop goods, and other profit-making enterprises. I bet keeping players around would be even more profitable, but they assume we’re going to stay no matter what.. which too often we do.


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