What's a poor profanity-pelted player to do?
Stop! The first action you simply must take when confronted with annoying profanity in game is to take your hands off the keyboard and resist the temptation to countertroll. You can't fix other players' behavior. Nothing you can say in the channel of a public video game is going to cause anyone to make a permanent change to their behavior. Neither can you beat trolls at their own game; just like you, they'll log off secure in the knowledge that they're smarter and wittier than you are, no matter how many other players end up laughing at (or along with) either of you.
The fact is, as soon as you take it upon yourself to police chat channels, you become part of the problem. Your schoolmarmish lectures or attempts to teach that so-and-so a lesson are as much an inappropriate nuisance to other players as the boorish behavior of the original offender. It also cements your reputation as a troll in your own right -- after all, every time there's BS in chat, your name is attached. When it comes to trolling and profanity, remember this: When you try to beat 'em, you actually join 'em.
Wrong place at the wrong time
If you find yourself staring down the barrel of $%^& on a regular basis, you might be setting yourself up by being at the wrong place at what turns out to be the very wrong time. Have you changed the time of day that you play? As Drama Mama Robin observes, battlegrounds during school hours are normally a much more cooperative, mature experience than battlegrounds on a Friday night. "I recommend experimenting with different periods in your time zone to see which ones have players who tend to communicate instead of castigate," she suggests.
The problem could also lie with the company you keep. Perhaps you're in the wrong guild. That's not to say all leveling guilds or unfocused social groups are evil nests of profanity-laced filth, but collectives of random players tend to contain more chaff along with the wheat. Sure, you're in no way responsible for making these players behave inappropriately, but you very much are responsible for choosing the company you keep. If you consistently find yourself aghast at what goes on in guild chat, quit throwing up your hands and crying "Woe is me!" Wake up, smell the coffee, and move on.
So what can you do to steer clear of depressing levels of trolling and profanity? Let's review Blizzard's four-point plan for inappropriate language.
- Use your ignore list. Remember, your goal isn't to fix trolls or beat them at their own game; all you need to do is get them out of your hair. Placing them on ignore does exactly that. WoW offers a relatively small ignore list. If you run out of room on your list, you may find you need to remove some players from your list or install an addon that allows you to ignore more players (and remember later why they're on the list).
- Use the mature language filter. You might find its nonsense words and symbols more annoying than the actual profanity. The real benefit, I've found, is that it neuters bad language enough that my emotions don't engage and I feel less tempted to countertroll or reply in rage.
- Manage your chat channels. If the chat in a particular channel proves too distracting or over the top, it might be simplest to simply leave that channel. Type /leave X (with X being the number of the channel you want to leave). Many players keep trade chat turned off and leave general chat on a frequent basis as well. You can even leave battleground chat when players are being overly critical or abusive; with that sort of nonsense cluttering up the channel, you won't be able to effectively coordinate strategy anyway, so you may as well give yourself the peace you need to focus on your own plan of attack.
- Report bad language. Use the right-click function to report bad language; Blizzard's support staff will not accept harassment reports filed under the Open a Ticket menu in game. Right-click the player's name on the chat line where the harassment, then click Language. "A contextual report will be created for us to review," Blizzard notes. "While no response to the report will be possible, rest assured that we will investigate and take appropriate action to address the issue." Ignore the player if you need to and move on with your game.
If the situation escalates and things become personal, remember that additional tools are available for your protection. Read the Drama Mamas guide to handling in-game harassment.
In closing, Robin and I would like to remind you that you don't have to accept profanity, trolling, and other bad behavior as simply "the way things are now." As one of the players who make up the World of Warcraft community, you are a part of setting its tone and expectations. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Here's where your consistent, reasonable, mature reactions come into play. Your reactions and attitudes are every bit as influential to the tone of our online community as those of the hatemongers. Every time you respond to inappropriate speech with restraint (don't give these people the negative feedback they crave) while taking steps to curb their ability to act out inappropriately, you help counteract the effect they have on others and spread an attitude of empowerment and respect among other players.
Profanity and inappropriate topics aren't the only speech that's contagious; your reactions can be equally powerful in creating the online world you want to live and play in.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with advice from the Drama Mamas guide to preventing multiplayer drama. Got a question? Email the mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org.