Guildleader chores - How can you make the WoW environment less toxic?

If I could figure this out, I think Blizzard should pay me. Or even better, have some item or NPC reference to me so that I can forever think I made a contribution to this game I love so much. LOL.

I had an incident the other day that I think I could have done a lot better, but it was a kneejerk reaction on my part and I wish I could do it over again differently.

It was my Friday PvP day, and I wanted to do some arenas. However, Crooked needs arenas, and Sev needs arenas and I don't need arenas (and I was worried that I would get us harder teams and less wins, and Crooked only wants wins). So I left BGs to go sit around and do some pet battles, and come back a bit later to do arenas. Hopefully.

I was chatting to Dan about raiding when Sars and Voe got on. Sars was bemoaning the fact that we did the alt heroic run and even though 5 items of loot dropped that he could use to help gear up for mythic, they all went to alts. Which is a shame and it's annoying, but what can you do? Dan suggested we go do normal Gorefiend so Sars could get his tier chest at least, and so off to group finder they went.

Reluctantly I said I would go, because their chances of getting into a group were a lot higher if a 732 ilvl healer tagged along to help. Dan and Voe were on their scrubby mages and Sars was on his shaman. We got into a group whose leader had the most AWFUL gear (he was in GREENS) and was just getting a plain carry! We had some wipes on Reaver (OMG how can you wipe to that) and people left the group (as they tend to do in Group finder) and then we did Kormrok which also had a wipe because nobody was doing the runes, though I was trying. Council too was messy and wasn't helped by the two mass dispels done by the priest, but it went down, and a second lot of people leaving the group went out.

Now we were on Kilrogg and there were a lot of new people. They started assigning groups, and I noticed they put me into one of the groups to go into the banish zone. I thought it would be better if I stayed out and healed everyone through the bleeds, because I didn't think the other healers would be able to do as good a job as me.

I mentioned it in raid to the person assigning groups. "Do you mind if I stay out to heal?"

A feral druid replied. "Just do what you're told c**t"


Now I hate that word. Just seeing it made me see red. I said "WOW" in raid and then I left the group. Which is what a few people may have done, but in hindsight, it's not what I SHOULD have done.

What I should have done, which would be more productive, was say in raid that I didn't think that was an appropriate thing to say, and then speak to the raid leader privately and tell them that I found that language offensive, and if the offending person wasn't reprimanded or removed, I would leave the raid. I achieved nothing by being leaving the raid except avoiding irritating behaviour. I didn't change anyone's attitude, nor did I set a good impression for good behaviour.

All my guildies left as well, and then I started getting tells from the druid, who called me a pussy. He said "were you actually offended by me calling you a c**t" and "you're such a crybaby wah wah wah someone called me a bad name"

I just reported him for language so that the spam would stop, but as I said, doing that didn't accomplish anything. It doesn't change anyone's behaviour, nor does it make any good impressions to other people on how we should behave.

I mentioned it to Luxy who said that kind of thing would never happen in Guild Wars. And I wondered, was it just WoW?

I think one of the problems is the lack of disciplinary action. People get banned for botting, for spamming, for playing other people's accounts, yet abusive people know nothing will happen to them if they bully or belittle or offend others. And if you think about it, those angry types who get banned from WoW will likely rant and swear for being banned and then refuse to play for ages. It really is a win win if there were actual penalties for crappy behaviour.

Obviously, it would have to have some sort of evidence base. Repeated offences should end up with a ban, but one offs can count as strikes, as long as they are separate incidents. Like you don't want the same incident to reported 9 times and then you end up banned, when really 9 separate events should be what leads to your reprimand. Also, you would want a screenshot of the offensive material, not just hearsay, or some other way to track the conversation that occurred.

Man, can you imagine what a crappy job that would be, sorting through all those complaints and trolling stuff. It would make you depressed. You'd have to share that out with some other tasks to dilute the toxicity!

Also, is the toxicity MORE than what it used to be? Some would say that it is, but in an article in Ten Ton Hammer by Memnock, she postulated that the trolls were always there, but now the population base is smaller, you're more likely to run into them. Also (and this is my theory), with the cross realm group finder things, trolls are more often found there as toxic people are unlikely to get into guilds because of their crappy attitudes, and so they are reduced to finding groups with random PuGs. Memnock also said that we're more aware of them now than we used to be. I find this a puzzling statement because how could I NOT be aware of them before? I don't think I notice bad behaviour more than I did earlier, but I don't do group finder often. However, I do random BGs a lot and I see plenty of toxicity there!

Setting a good example is also the best thing we can do that's not aggressive, but rather, something passive. If you TRULY care about the toxicity in the game, like I do, then you will make an effort to make your guild a less toxic environment.

You may think that "gaming chatter" and "smack talk" is part of gaming culture. However, I can testify that in Frostwolves we really DO make a concerted effort to curb the actual abuse that can be denigrating rather than that which is a just in fun. And the officers enforce that as best they can in guild when it's being seen. I am no angel and my potty mouth does run rampant in PvP but I try to do that in a private channel where people have to actually JOIN it to listen to it, and I won't have to worry about offending the general guild populous. Besides, it's mostly just swearing with frustration rather than calling people offensive racist names.

When everyone around you is behaving well, you tend to behave well. I've noticed that when we add one person into the mix who is smack talking or aggressive, it immediately seems to multiply and others follow suit. That's why it's important to get as many people to realise what the normal kind of behaviour is so they will all follow it. Herd mentality exists in people too!

So how can you introduce that into your own guild environment?

Remember, aggression breeds aggression. You can't yell at people to change, they will just get annoyed at you and maybe even do it more. It's like dealing with children - you see some behaviour you don't like, you tell the child that you don't like it and if they do it again there will be x consequence. Child does it again. You give them the consequence. You don't even have to say anything.

I guess one of the best examples, is something we did when we had a Rukhmar run. We organised a group finder for it and invited people, and one person was really rude and saying nasty things. Kyxyn said that behaviour was not acceptable and removed him from the group. He wasn't rude about it, just matter of fact, no swearing or anger, and everyone accepted it. We made at least one good impression that day, with one of the pugs saying they really liked that attitude and asking to join the guild!

That can be you if you end up being a leader of some group finder event. Be calm, state the facts and the consequences and remove the offender after saying what it was they did wrong.

How about if you're just a spectator though? One of the people in the group?

I would recommend NOT just dropping group like I did in my example earlier in this post. Just making a calm statement in the raid about it such as "I don't think that behaviour/language is appropriate/acceptable," and if that comment is met with further derision, then you can speak to the raid leader just letting them know that you will drop group because you find the behaviour unacceptable. If they fail to respond to you, or they are on the side of the offending person, then just thank everyone for the group and then leave.

What if you are the leader and someone whispers you that they aren't happy with the behaviour of someone in the group?

Hopefully you've witnessed the behaviour. If you haven't, it's a it hard to go on hearsay. If there is no evidence just reassure the person that you will do your best to intervene but without evidence you can't do much. Maybe they will send you a screenshot of said abuse. However, if you are armed with evidence (such as the offending chatter was in party/raid chat) then calmly say to the offending person in a public chat that their behaviour is offending some people, please stop or you will be removed. The best scenario - they'll be contrite and apologise. The worst scenario - they'll get even more abusive. Either way, it's clear what to do. Keep them if they're repentant, remove them if they're without remorse. Easy.

What if, you really want this kill/loot and you don't want to jeopardise your chances at it by complaining about a person in the group or upsetting people in the group?

In that case it's down to what you really want. I have never wanted anything so badly that I would put up with crappy behaviour. I always say something in BGs if someone is being an idiot (but it's very hard to remove someone in a BG) but if the whole raid is being offensive then I just say I don't like this behaviour and leave.

CHANGE can happen. You can't expect to change it all overnight, but if you really want it, you play the long game. Implement and wait for results. You will never know if you don't try. And at least if you try, it means you want to make a difference.


  1. I think you're right .. you DO have to lead by example. But I also think that a lot of the bad behaviour is caused by those who are at the lower end of the age scale. Not saying you don't get bad behaviour from other age ranges, but they're the most prolific. I have two teenage boys (neither of whom play WoW), and watching and listening to them I feel like David Attenborough - they're like a completely different species when they're playing a game with others. When they're not, they're kind and funny - but boy, there is some language that comes out of them - REGARDLESS of what I say or do (although it sounds more like your "PvP potty mouth" than actual toxic behaviour).

    I think it basically boils down to a lack of patience - at the risk of sounding like an old granny, they want stuff "now", with no effort and ideally with no verbal interaction with others - they're the "gogogo-ers" and the "L2P NOOB'ers".

    9 times out of 10, if someone new joins the guild and then starts saying stuff that's inappropriate, they're younger than 25 - usually still in full time education. We try to "train" them by example - we do a little bit of smut, but there is very little swearing in guild chat - there is no need. If they need a bit of a nudge, I'll say something in guild chat to that effect.

    I remember I started in a new department at work many years ago, after being on a career break to look after the kids while they were little. It was an enclosed environment with a wide mix of people and I remember thinking for weeks that they were the calmest bunch of people I'd ever come across. Until one guy slipped up and swore - it then all came to light that, because they didn't know me, and because I had not sworn and been calm and shown a happy appearance, they felt uncomfortable swearing in front of me - so they'd made a concerted effort to not do so.

    Of course I then felt bad because they'd all made an effort to do that and said "oh don't worry about it" .. and then it was swearbox central lol .. but the point is, the best way MOST people learn new behaviour is by example, and also through peer pressure - because one or two felt they shouldn't swear in front of me, the rest followed suit.

    Most people in game don't swear in guild chat because, well, most people don't swear in guild chat - so when it does happen is it very obvious and sticks out like a sore thumb.

    As for the reporting/consequences - you're right - I've been saying for ages that there needs to be a better way of reporting bad behaviour, and the consequences for it. I do know that Blizzard are able to view the chat that happened around the time of the complaint - so they can see what you have complained about - but I'm also fairly certain there are different rules for different chat - so saying something in trade that is offensive is more likely to have a Blizzard reaction than saying the same thing in guild or raid chat - because the audience is smaller, I guess.

    I've heard a few reports recently of people getting told they're so bad they should "go kill yourself" .. which I find wildly inappropriate and quite frankly I'd consider that a bannable offence - but the more often these types of things are said, and then no consequence seems to occur, the more often others will pick up that baton and run with it. Blizzard needs to SHOW they're doing something about this type of behaviour.

    1. It's probably an overgeneralisation to say so, as there are some older players who are just plain dicks. I do admit younger people have a lot of that social media "say what I want because I'm totally not accountable for it" but I don't want to imply that all badly behaved peeps are young.

      I find your office scenario funny :)

      I worry about the "go kill yourself" reports, because those are the kinds of things that plague teenagers and school kids and you end up with teenage suicides. Fortunately I have not been subjected to that, nor has anyone else I know (not that they have said or would tell me), but I know that if I saw something like that, I'd be pretty cranky and hope that kind of behaviour had some sort of retribution.

  2. I have long thought that a "roving GM" from Blizz could go a long way towards improving toxic social behavior. The idea is that Blizz would commit the resources -- maybe 3-4 GMs -- to spot check servers on a rotating basis. They would listen in on Trade Chat, drop into a couple of LFRs, etc. When they witnessed toxic language or behavior that violates the ToS, they would issue an immediate punishment of some sort, maybe a couple hours suspension, whatever. And they would announce their action in the venue they were in -- i.e., to the LFR group, in Trade Chat, whatever. Blizz could even publicize a summary list, without names, maybe listing how many suspensions of what length were handed out on which servers.

    The word would quickly spread that there could be consequences for bad behavior, and I guarantee at least some of the worst behavior would go away. This along with an approach such as you describe might almost eliminate the truly vile stuff we are now forced to endure far too often.

    1. That is actually a rather cool idea! I like the thought of an undercover watchdog wandering around - but I love the idea of sneaking around like a rogue doing things, and it would make me feel like Blizzard did care about the community as a whole to make the game a nice place for everyone.


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