Harassment comes in many forms. Sometimes it's a one-off, like last week's letter. The bullying was ongoing, but by different people in discrete incidents. Harassment can also be felt from generalized statements made to the public, such as racial remarks in trade chat. But this week, we talk about ongoing harassment or stalking. The actions we say to take are not for someone who was being harassed, but the stalker stopped. Nor are they for someone who just doesn't want to ever hear from another player, but nothing offensive has actually happened.
Stalking = ongoing harassment = a serious problem. This week, we tackle the issue by offering some advice to help reduce -- and hopefully eliminate -- this very harmful drama.
I have a friend who has been physically and electronically stalked. [Details redacted in the interests of confidentiality] Things have calmed down and time has passed. She would like to start playing wow again, but cannot rez this sleeping monster. I suggested she name change. She told me that this guy's friend list would just update to the new name with any of his comments around that "friend".Drama Mama Robin: Unfortunately, a sure-fire solution does not exist for the problem of stalking. The bad guys sometimes win. But you can take a few steps to help yourself and the people helping you. These steps will also throw a few obstacles in the way of the predator.
What tools are available? Would they be effective? I want to help her out and see her play again, but don't want to risk re-starting her nightmare.
Signed, an Invisible Party
- Document I cannot stress this enough. Whether in the physical world or online, documentation will really help your cause. Screenshots, chat logs (/chatlog The logs show up under logs in your World of Warcraft installation folder.) and journals are your friends. Yes, a journal. Mark down times and dates of all harassment as they happen. I know a journal doesn't seem like valid evidence, but it is -- particularly since logs can be checked in-game and phone records can be checked outside of WoW.
- Disengage Stop talking to the stalker. Don't argue. Don't defend yourself verbally. Don't threaten with authorities. Silence is a weapon. Use it.
- Ignore Unlike the advice of many people who don't take harassment and stalking seriously, /ignore is not a complete solution in and of itself. For one thing, it is not account-wide. But do use it liberally. No need to expose yourself to the perp's nastiness unnecessarily.
- Report As Lisa says below, report the heck out of your stalker -- both in game and out as appropriate. The reporting options in WoW from right-clicking are limited, but choosing the one for offensive behavior is good for a short term hand-slap. Then open a ticket immediately. Game menu, Help, Open a ticket, Open a ticket. (Yes, the repetition is intentional.) Explain the situation clearly and concisely with character names and incident times.
- Follow up Don't wait to report until after you have documentation, just follow up with a new ticket (or existing one if still open) when you do. Report every time any contact is made. Don't expect to hear the results, by the way. You may not get more than a form letter in response. But good things are happening behind the scenes. Blizzard does want to help you.
Drama Mama Lisa: Here's what can and can't work for anyone who would like to disentangle contact with another person in game (we'll call that person The Creep). Of course, these strategies work globally, so anything that wipes out your connections to other players does, in fact, wipe it out to all other players, including your friends. It's a completely fresh start.
If you are Friends List friends with The Creep:
- Transferring your character to another realm and back would break that connection.
- A character name change on its own will not break a friends list connection.
If you are Real ID friends with The Creep:
- Disable Real ID before logging in to the game by visiting the Battle.net Account Management page on the web. When you re-enable Real ID, your list will remain wiped clean and you'll not appear on anyone's Real ID list.
If you're not Real ID friends with The Creep:
- You'll still probably want to address Real ID's Friends of Friends feature. You can choose not to appear on Friends of Friends lists. Again, you can disable this option before you ever log in to the game by visiting Battle.net Account Management.
More safety strategies:
- Change the email address associated with your account via Account Management.
- Battletags can't be changed at this time, but they remain mostly unexposed in WoW at this point unless you are already friends.
- Report, report, report. If The Creep should harass you in game, make an immediate report so that The Creep's account can be penalized and the behavior deterred.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.