WoW and the Art of Courtesy
Before we get started, let’s go ahead and throw out the definition of courtesy so that we’re all on the same page.
cour·te·sy[kur-tuh-see] noun, plural -sies
1. excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior.
2. a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.
Now that I have that out of the way, I need to step back a little bit and explain a handful of things (and I will attempt to do this without wall-of-text writing). I quit playing WoW for many reasons, but most of them are probably better left for a different sort of blog entry. When Blizzard introduced cross-realm raiding, the ability to get to play the game in the way that I wanted was finally available. The world of Twitter and WoW go hand in hand like many other online groups. There are many levels of involvement, but for the most part, it’s pretty inclusive. A person can participate if they want to. And a person can choose not to participate if they do not want to.
When Saz created Twitterland Raiding, I was very excited! I had the opportunity to raid and play WoW with people I had grown to like on Twitter. This is not an understatement. I was truly and honestly happy about this. So much so that I re-enabled my account just for this reason – to play WoW with people I wanted to play WoW with. Here’s the caveat – having such a large group you’re going to find yourself in the middle of people whom you grow to love, and people whom you really don’t like very much at all.
Within a guild that has specific rules and guidelines, you can exclude people you might feel are going to cause a rift among your current roster. There’s a tone of voice, or even an air about a person when they fill out applications that you just sense. There isn’t always something you can put a finger on, but it’s just something, right? We get those kinds of vibes off of people when we meet them, either in real life, or in game. People you just get along with and people with whom you have no discernible reason for dislike, but you just don’t. Now when you try to put all of these people together under a single umbrella there are going to be problems and rifts that occur. As well as alliances and friendships.
The question I want to pose is at what point does common courtesy no longer apply? When does etiquette and politeness cease to exist?
When Vitae asked the question late one night about what people thought of a public Twitter mumble, there was a lot of people who expressed interest. Since that first night of wondering, the Sleepy Hams server has become a fairly bustling place. Those first few nights were full of people talking over each other, and chatter across the board. There were people making sexual innuendo jokes. Others are talking about Minecraft, or Rift, or SWTOR. Those early days were an experiment and things have toned down quite a bit.
One of my favorite places to hang out is in Twitter Mumble. Don’t get me wrong. I love the place. I love the service and I’m forever grateful for Vitae providing such as service for all of us to use. But when did common courtesy go out the window? When did it become okay to just burst into people’s conversations and overtake them? When did it become commonplace for people to just interrupt and interject and voice opinions that weren’t asked for?
At some point, the server etiquette rules went out the window, and quickly! When I see two people whom I consider friends in a channel, I send the channel a message to ask if it’s okay to join. I remember the rules I was taught as a child and I feel that this is the perfect time to use them.
The majority of the channels on the server are not private. Due to this, please be mindful that no different from walking into someone’s bedroom without knocking would be rude, so too is hopping into a channel where only a few people may be talking. Send a message to the channel and make sure it’s not being used for a temporarily private discussion before hopping into it.
Do you know how many private conversations I’ve had interrupted abruptly because someone, uninvited, burst into a channel without as much as a warning? Mid-sentence someone will come in, catch a bit of the conversation and ask “So what are you talking about?” Not, ‘I’m sorry, did I interrupt something?’ or even ‘Oops! Was this a private conversation?’ It’s like sitting on the phone in the furthest room from the front door and having someone walk in from the street and plopping themselves between you and the phone asking to be included.
I understand that not everyone is going to be as nice as I am. Even the people I feel are my besties in WoW are not exempt from my joining their channel without my asking first. Why? Because this is the right thing to do! Never assume you’re welcome. Ask kindly if it’s okay. If you’re told you’re unwelcome at the moment, don’t rage and flame people for it. The service is being provided for many people. A large group of people. Alas, you are not always going to be included. I’m sorry, but you just aren’t.
Is there really such an entitlement issue among gamers, particularly the Twitter WoW folk, that you feel as though you can do whatever you want? I understand the desire to socialize. I understand the desire to get to know people better. I understand enjoying other people’s company. But sometimes, just sometimes, I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU! And I shouldn’t have to worry about how to say this to you in the nicest way possible because you’re prone to having fits of hurt feelings. Maybe had you asked if it was okay to join the channel I could have kindly said “I’m sorry, but we’re having a private conversation” with no hurt feelings. Once you’re there, what can I say? You’ve burst through the door, demanded to know what was being talked about, and assumed what we were talking about! You’ve put words in my mouth. You’ve finished sentences for me. You’ve insisted on filling the silence with chatter and noise. You joined ME and forced me to listen to something I’m not interested in at all. You brought friends with you. Hell, at some point, you probably joined the channel I was in and told me that you had 16 other people coming and that you were going to take the channel.
I can be nice. I can let a lot of shit slide. I’ll even be kind and just simply change the subject so that I’m not yet another person on the list of people who’ve ostracized gamers and treated them like social lepers.
But you’re teetering on a very fine ledge in which I’m going to lose my cool and jump your shit. I can’t re-teach you how to be kind and courteous to me and others. I can ask you to be respectful though. Because I extend that same courtesy to you. I want to be nice. I want to be respectful. I want to be kind to my fellow gamer. I really do. Not all people will be my friend, though. Our common ground does not instantly mean an established friendship is mandatory. This also does not mean that you’re welcome to jump into channels willy-nilly like you own the place.
I guess this is my call-to-arms… I’d like the twitterverse to learn to be nice to each other, and treat each other with respect and courtesy. And send me a damn message to ask if I’m in the middle of a private conversation rather than jumping in assuming you’re welcome. Just ask. It’s not a hard concept. It’ll save you from making an ass of yourself, and it’ll save me from having to go ape-shit over your insistence that you were automatically welcome just because you exist.