The three main types of WoW bullies
In my real life, I work with kids. I've spent the past third of my 24-year life working with kids. As a result, I've been exposed to a lot of bullies, both online and on the playground. There are a few staple things to remember about people who are also bullies, particularly when it comes to the Raid Finder. Here's who you'll find there.
1. The Covering for His Own Inadequacies Bully This is your archetypical bully cliché, but it's grounded in reality. These bullies are horrifically self-conscious, and they're just lashing out at whoever's handy because they're afraid that if they don't, they're going to be the one picked out and picked on. We've all been here; it's called high school (also Congress, but I repeat myself).
These bullies are fairly common in your average Raid Finder run. Just yesterday, I ran a RF with Shelam, my blood death knight. Now, Shelam has an average ilevel of 378 and has tanked all of RF before, but he was called out and almost vote-kicked by three players: another blood DK who was trying to tank while dual-wielding Souldrinkers (a big no-no), his friend and guildmate the last-on-meters fire mage, and an unholy death knight who was fully gemmed for stamina despite being a DPS class. They all called me out for being undergeared, most likely because I was the easiest target in the raid due to my lone remaining blue item, an ilevel 346 helm. Had they not gone after me, it would have been easy for them to have been the recipients of some harsh (if accurate) words, so they chose to go on the attack instead. That let them redirect the blame and their insecurity onto me while feeling empowered because they were making accusations instead of fielding them.
2. The You're a Threat to My Gear Drops Bully Less Psych 101 and more Seminar: People are Jerks. Remember three things: First, that you're raiding in WoW. Second, you're raiding on the internet, essentially playing a game with the proletariat. Third, WoW raids are loot-based. While people might run the Raid Finder once for the lore aspect, the ones who are running it weekly are there for loot.
In the case of the above example, I was competition for all three of those players' Vanquisher token drops and competition for the other death knight's tanking gear. Trying to orchestrate a vote kick in order to lessen the competition for loot drops is a powerful motivator for players, and their main way of doing it is convincing the rest of the raid that you're not worth keeping. It's petty and rude and self-centered ... and you should probably expect it.
3. The Elitist Egotist Bully This is mostly likely the worst kind of bully you'll find in the Raid Finder, mainly because there's not much you can do about them. The group of bullies I've belonged to in the past, these are your heroic mode raiders who deign to grace your RF group with their presence so that they can take their Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest, top meters and then call you all bad for not doing the same. These are the ones who are going to complain every time you get loot, not because they need it but because you don't deserve it.
Now, how to deal with them?
The first thing to do when confronted with a bully is to realize that you're not going to change anyone's attitude. You're not going to make anyone suddenly see the light and realize what they're doing is harmful, mean, and socially unacceptable on anything that isn't the internet. As a result, we're going to talk less about changing them and more about helping you.
1. Don't take it personally. I hate to use such a hackneyed phrase, and I'm well aware of the counterarguments to it. You are being personally attacked and in a way that could cause emotional or mental distress. So why do I say not to take it personally?
I say this because, chances are, you're awesome. I don't know you personally, but I'm going to assume you are -- and you should, too. The fact is that people on the internet don't know you; they have no idea that you go to work and try to cure cancer, or that you're the coolest mom in the world, or anything else about your life. They don't know you.
So when I say don't take it personally, I mean this: People are attacking a virtual character that doesn't even begin to encompass who you are as a person. In that context, what they're doing is incredibly trite, and you shouldn't let it ruin your day. If it's harassing you, report it, and continue to always remember that you're awesome.
2. Don't fight back. By "don't fight back," I don't mean you should take it in silence; I mean don't make a spectacle. Rabble-rousers of any sort are likely to get kicked by the mob mentality of the RF crew, and even someone who is totally in the right will get kicked for supposedly being a dramamonger. So, first off, report the player harassing you.
Second, if particular problems are stated, address them calmly. If you're called out for not stacking on Ultraxion and dying to a full Twilight Instability, explain that you made a mistake and that you won't do it again. While some players (particularly elitists) might continue to hold it against you, being able to show that you recognized you did something wrong and are willing to take steps to change it is a powerful and positive message to send. I've known a large number of raiders in guild groups who couldn't manage that, and the few who can are always well appreciated.
Finally, under the Don't Fight Back heading: Don't resort to name-calling and petty exchanges. They won't help, and they won't prove that you know what you're doing. They'll alienate you from the rest of your group just as well as being singled out will. Prove your maturity and your competence, and the less-vocal majority should be behind you.
3. Know your stuff and play your best. When you enter the Raid Finder, you enter into a contract with 24 other players that you'll do your best and will work to down the content. The best way to avoid any type of harassing or bullying behavior is by holding up your end of that bargain.
Second, follow through and gem and enchant properly. I've known plenty of players who can tell me how they should be gemmed and enchanted but who don't because it's too expensive. That might be the case, but a green-quality, 30-agility gem is always going to beat a blue-quality, 50-stamina gem for an enhancement shaman; there are ways to be thrifty while being good.
Finally, learn the fights before you see them. Icy-veins, Learn to Raid, Fatboss, and our Ready Check column all have guides to the fights you'll be seeing, so take some time to review them before clicking that queue button.
4. If all else fails, leave. At the end of the day, World of Warcraft is a video game that we ultimately play to have fun. If you are not having fun, if other players are doing their best to make sure you're feeling the worst, leave. You owe nothing to anyone else in the group, and it's no mark of shame on your character. If you don't want to be there, if you're not having fun, if you're feeling mentally and emotionally harangued, you owe to yourself to leave. Sure, you might have to rerun a boss in a subsequent run, but killing Morchok twice in one week and having fun doing it is more important than getting through Hagara and having a miserable time in the process.
Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!