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Happy to Help

September 26, 2014

Dear Reader,

Recently, I was contacted by Navi about a post she was tossing around that became this post.  I felt pretty honored to be her (or one of her) sounding board(s).  I figured I’d steal a little of her wind here and give myself a post for the first time in a while by publishing my response to her offering.  If you haven’t read it, you really should; it brings up a very interesting ethical situation, and besides, my post won’t make since out of context.

Here it is:


Let me start with two of my favorite quotes:
“Redemption is the highest form of good – not justice.”
“Tolerance is meaningless without tolerance of the intolerable.”
It’s really hard to live by these quotes, and no one does all the time, but I think your attitude in this case fully embodies both of them, and I think you have a completely legitimate concern about how your guildies reacted.  Safe places have to be safe for everyone, not just the people who came in having “earned” it.  Once they misbehave – make it an “unsafe” place for others – then they go, as in this case.  But the decision is still up to them.
I had a similar situation recently.  Well, not similar, but not terribly unlike your thoughts about “What if this kid really does give up on growing up because of this?”  Balk’s flex had a really bad interaction with a guy who had routinely come with us, and a bunch of guildies went after him on openraid.  He deserved it, mind you; he said some pretty terrible things, but for god’s sake they DESTROYED this guy’s capability to find other groups.
I still have him on my friends list, by chance, because I once set up the flex when Balk was away.  I don’t want to talk to him because I assume I’ll get the same vitriol that the others got.  And again, he was horrible, right in front of me, but I feel like they might have taken it too far getting him banned from openraid.  I wondered, too, if that flex was the only thing he enjoyed during his otherwise unhappy week, and they’d taken it away.
I’m sure I’m being melodramatic, but my point is that I completely see where you’re coming from, and I think your post does a good job explaining it.  I think you should post it, assuming you’re not worried about guild blowback or anything, and I think you should use it to start a discussion about the difference between justice and prejudice.  They have the same root, after all – judgment.  They were clearly prejudiced, and perhaps for good reason, but that doesn’t mean you don’t let people try to redeem themselves.  Quite the opposite, in fact.
That’s the thing about being “good.”  You constantly have to open yourself up to situations in which you may be vulnerable, which leads to the whole Spaceballs “Good is dumb” belief.  It’s not, though.  It’s daring, and forgiving, and strong enough to survive when people often don’t end up redeeming themselves.  But still, good tries.
What do you think, dear reader?  Is it stupid to help people who are likely beyond helping?  Or does good always at least try?
Stubborn (and still around, if only just)
15 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2014 6:01 pm

    I agree with you and Nami. People deserve the benefit of the doubt. If they are turds it’ll show soon enough. I think the guildies overreacted and should have taken a wait and see approach. But as Nami pointed out, some of them may have been personally hurt by this troll, and were not willing to forgive.

    • September 27, 2014 7:14 am

      Yeah, and I can certainly sympathize with those who had a personal stake in it. Forgiveness is very, very hard, as I’m sure we’ve all learned as we got older. We can’t live by those lofty principles all the time, but I’m glad we can at least discuss it when it goes a bit sideways. That reflection undoubtedly serves to help us the next time around.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. September 26, 2014 11:15 pm

    It depends on how pragmatic you are. In D&D terms, Lawful Good is dumb compared to Neutral Good. From Navi’s post, it sounds like she gave the guy a chance and kicked him when he flipped out. Sounds more like Lawful Good. The guildies who wanted to kick the guy based on his account’s reputation would be wholeheartedly supported by the old-school Everquest “name and shame” crowd and were perhaps more pragmatic, but Navi’s the officer so she gets to call the shots. I sympathize with those who wanted him gone immediately (I’ve been those people before), but I’d ultimately side with Navi on this one.

    • September 27, 2014 3:33 am

      Reading comprehension: he left on his own. Still, Navi did the right thing here.

    • September 27, 2014 7:13 am

      I sympathize with the “get ‘im gone” crowd to, especially if they were hurt by him before. I do not wish to suggest that the guildies were terribly wrong for feeling how they do; I know that in such a tight knit guild, any fear of guild-damaging behavior can be a real impetus to act. I just wanted to emphasize to Navi that I didn’t think she was wrong at all, that she was not “crazy” for wanting to help someone who was a terrible server troll.

      Well spotted, by the way, that that quote about good was from the alignment guide for D&D (: You and I are both consummate nerds! However, I have to say that I don’t think Lawful Good is dumb at all; I think it’s probably the hardest to alignment to play (except a true neutral whose goal is to balance acts of neutrality, which can be very difficult, but not many people play TN like that). I think that a lot of people don’t understand HOW to be lawful good, particularly in connection with being a paladin, which leads other players to THINK that LG is dumb. I’ve had a stupid paladin, too, but I’ve also had a really reasonable and good paladin who didn’t try to impose his beliefs on others and simply acted as his conscience told him to act without being melodramatic or pushy. If the party was doing something of a questionable nature, he’d go to church and pray for their souls or, at times, even participate if it was truly for the greater good (he was certainly good first and lawful second, though not to any alignment-changing extreme).

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. September 26, 2014 11:33 pm

    It is a good thing I did not publish your awesome reply to me, because it would have taken the wind out of your post!

    I really appreciate you being there to listen to my dilemma – just having someone understand what I wanted to say rather than “Are you crazy? Who gives a poo about his sorry ass?” I think I have now no longer ashamed of my decision and feel more confident to stand by what I decided to do, which is tough but fortunately my tauren has broad shoulders.

    • September 27, 2014 7:06 am

      As the title says, I’m always happy to help! (;

  4. September 27, 2014 4:20 am

    “And again, he was horrible, right in front of me, but I feel like they might have taken it too far getting him banned from openraid.”

    FWIW, they didn’t get him banned from OpenRaid. Three people left the following comments on his profile after the run (which, incidentally for those not aware, I was not present at):

    “Very rude. Told the entire raid to “get aids and die slowly” Invite at your own risk.”

    “Very rude during a weekly flex clear. Would be wary of inviting to other events.”

    “Rude, freaked on whole raid after being there for literally ONE boss.”

    The guy in question then responded inappropriately AGAIN to those comments and my guildies reported the inappropriate comments. The mods removed/edited the comments…and then the guy decided to go after the MODS and repeatedly ignore their warnings and kept posting inappropriately. Which was then removed/edited. And apparently he then got into an argument with them in PMs or something. Eventually he got banned (which also seems to have been a temporary ban or he got it reversed down the line).

    So if he had never responded (or responded appropriately) to my guildies’ comments he wouldn’t have gotten banned.

    If he had taken the chastising from the mods and stopped being an idiot he wouldn’t have gotten banned.

    If he hadn’t then decided to go after the mods and argue with them about OR’s policies he wouldn’t have gotten banned.

    He just wouldn’t stop. That’s my understanding of the situation, at least.

  5. September 27, 2014 1:00 pm

    Right away, without knowing any details, this person seemed to pay the consequences for his own actions. It is not the fault of other players if he himself self-destructed. Are we to continually put out welcome mats to asshats and blackguards? You know the old saying — we don’t ‘give’ grades – you earn them. 🙂

    • September 27, 2014 11:09 pm

      No, we don’t need to put out welcome mats to asshats and blackguards, but to not allow strangers – which is what the kid in question was at the start of this – a chance to interact with us is exclusion.

      I also disagree that it was “not the fault” of the other players that the kid melted down. People constantly harassing a person about something can easily cause that person to melt down; how many teen suicides are caused by precisely that sort of behavior? To be clear, I’m not drawing a parallel between the two situations, just making the case that external pressures put on a person can lead to bad internal decision making.

      It’s pretty well accepted that pressure of any kind can be a factor in people falling back into old routines, like smoking, unhealthy eating, or, you know, being a troll. So I’m not sure this kid was given a fair chance to redeem himself – IF that’s even what he wanted. I’ll happily admit that he may have just been a troll looking for a free ride who deserved to be stomped out by those who knew who he was.

      But that’s just it; we’ll never know. All we can do is speculate.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • September 28, 2014 11:01 am

      A teenager is a very different story – as you are well aware, their brains are not fully developed. But I do really wonder about such a small majority of children, teenagers, and adults who meltdown so often, and circle back to the poor state of mental health treatment. Would be interesting to know what he wanted. Sounds like a sad situation all the way around. I am currently working on an informal research project and am asking permission to use this thread. My thesis is dealing with age-old social pecking orders in the Internet generation–how adolescents use “writing” to convey their agendas.

  6. September 27, 2014 1:00 pm

    Navi, Navi, Navi….

    • September 28, 2014 3:11 am

      Uh oh… yes Matty?

    • September 28, 2014 11:02 am

      I just love how you try to help everyone. 🙂 Big Yank Hug!

  7. kaleedity permalink*
    October 1, 2014 12:03 pm

    My best raiding guild was so good primarily due to our flexible and thorough recruitment policy:

    Initiates could get into high level raiding as long as they met extremely lenient gearing requirements and space was available. They would submit an application developed by our website manager with input from core members and officers. The application was meant to root out obvious miscreants and did a good job of it. While they were initiates, they gained the same benefits that full members gained regarding loot. Indeed, you only had two drawbacks to being an initiate compared to full membership — you didn’t have access to our applicants forum, and you knew we were watching you.

    The initiate period varied from person to person. Some folks could become members within a week and others took months. During the initiate period, the initiate’s application was posted in our application forum and all members were welcome to make comments. We had at least two ranked folks whose sole additional guild duty was to evaluate initiates on a social level. Can we get along with these people? Do they cause problems inside or outside of raids or pvp? Do other people have problems with them? Why? If there are problems, can they be fixed? They would interface with the officers charged with evaluating raid performance (Like me!) to verify if that’s a problem. Mechanics are rarely a problem and are relatively easily corrected — raids up until Naxxramas weren’t very mechanically demanding anyway. Getting along with folks is always the primary issue.

    Now, I probably wasn’t privy to everything that happened regarding recruitment. I did see that, when other guilds had various falling outs, we definitely had some “questionable” folks in our raids. We had initiates that had just been kicked from guilds for ninja looting. We had folks apply that had rerolled from the opposing faction after guilds disintegrated in their wake. At least one of those ended up becoming one of our recruitment officers, and he ended up being the best person I’ve ever seen perform any similar role.

    Generally, if we had a problem with something you were doing as an initiate, we let you know. If you could fix it, you probably became a member. If you couldn’t, you didn’t. Losing a member due to some absurd worries over server reputation just seems silly to me. If someone with a bad history actively doesn’t cause problems, they shouldn’t be discarded — they should be watched and evaluated. We had a 12 year old with a handle along the likes of ssapphirexx that ended up being one of our most capable and enjoyable members despite being 1/3-1/2 most of the guild’s age. If a new member starts shit or makes anyone’s lives miserable, then feel free to drop them. No need to pre-judge. I totally back the idea to allow this evilzod to prove the naysayers wrong or right. I would be disturbed by people not being willing to allow them the chance.

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