It’s time.

Actually, it’s been time for quite a while, but uh, it took me way too long to get around to saying it.

Troll Bouquet will be closing its doors this month.

Much of the better content will be moving over to melissapearce.net, while the story stuff from Company of Fools will go… somewhere, I dunno, I have to sort through it and figure that out. Thank you to all the folks in the WoW blogosphere for being so cool all these years.

If you wanna know where I’m hanging out, then drop me a line and I’ll let you know.

It’s basically come down to this: I’m not using the site as much as I should, I can’t justify paying for it to sit here, so it has to go.

Farewell (for now), and thanks for all the good times.

P.S. The bad RPer warnings will most likely go onto Tumblr or something but they aren’t going to disappear.

If You Want A Clubhouse, Build A Clubhouse

Wyrmrest Accord has several open, community channels that exist for networking and finding roleplay — these include WrANet, OOC, WrARP, and Hearthstone (an in-character channel). There is another channel that has proven to be public on one faction only: Horde. Where the creator of the Alliance version of the channel had claimed that the channel was public, they, at the same time, made it clear that certain people (at least one group has the distinction of being made up of people who were once friends and guildmates of this person) were not welcome. They wanted this channel to essentially act as their clubhouse, and even went so far as to change the name and password protect it to have more control over who was able to enter and who was not.

If this channel was for personal or guild purposes, that would be totally appropriate. In fact, the point at which they started using a different channel name was the point where they immediately gave up the idea of having a public channel and made it very clear that they only wanted to give the appearance of being open.

Public channels are integral to a server’s community, especially to very specific communities with certain goals — like roleplay — in mind. It’s fine to create a certain atmosphere, and it’s fine to be clear about what behaviours are okay in the channel and what aren’t, but public channels are not meant to be gated communities for very specific groups of people. The more access you provide, the easier it is to allow for more networking opportunities, to get more people involved in events, that sort of thing.

It’s also totally fine to be unwelcoming to Toxic Roleplayers. They help sour communities and turn them inside-out.

My point is this: if you don’t like the majority of a community, then perhaps trying to build tools for that community’s use is not for you. If you want to create channels dedicated to certain activities that are important to your server, but you only want certain individuals to be part of it, do not call it a public or community thing — it isn’t. It’s your clubhouse. If, however, you’re just opening a space up for people to gather and are simply asking people to not be jerks while cleaning out said jerks on occasion, by all means, congratulations — you’ve built a public channel.

Warning About Toxic Roleplayers is a Community Service

A Toxic Roleplayer is a player that employs various methods of emotional abuse to get what they want out of their roleplay partner(s) at the expense of that person’s happiness, including but not limited to a hell of a lot of guilt-tripping, isolation of their victim from other roleplay, jealousy over other roleplay, and making the victim feel like they are imagining the toxic behaviour.  In order to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about here, I strongly suggest reading the Emotional Abuse in Roleplay compilation by Sahnin on Tumblr.  She’s far, far better at explaining this and just how easily it can make you feel like you’re the problem than I am — even though I have been a victim of emotional abuse, I just don’t have the capacity for a decent explanation.

I have dealt with and watched others deal with several Toxic Roleplayers over my time in various RP communities.  Every single one of them was an emotional abuser — that’s why they’re toxic — and resulted in my friends and myself dealing with a lot of stress.  In the case of one abuser, her victims are still dealing with the aftermath of her abuse.  Victims of emotional abuse can suffer from anxiety, depression, various physical ailments (including chronic headaches), low self-esteem, and even more serious issues, most of which require treatment — some of which, like medication and therapy, are expensive.

I bring this up because, this week, defenders of one of these Toxic Roleplayers accused those that warn about her of “being mean”.  They wanted this person’s victims to “get over it” and “grow up” — despite, you know, the fact that these people suffered abuse.  This was not a roleplay issue, it was a player issue.  These people wanted her victims to stay silent.

I would go so far as to say these defenders are guilty of abuse themselves, or at least are supportive of abusive behaviour.

There is absolutely no reason for victims of a Toxic Roleplayer to stay silent about what they went through and dealt with.  Warning others about this sort of roleplayer is a community service because it can and will save some people from stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues that most people just don’t like dealing with.  Telling people about what you went through with this person and what behaviours to watch out for can prepare other people so that they can decide whether or not to engage, and if they do decide to engage, they can be ready to get the hell out when things start to get bad.

If nobody had warned me how much trouble a particular roleplayer was, I may have gotten sucked into the same trap as everyone else.  I’m already suffering from depression and chronic headaches — further stress would make my already iffy physical health even iffier, and at least one or two people can attest to my inability to deal with me even imagining that I’ve hurt somebody I care about.

If you have dealt with a Toxic Roleplayer, or if you know of one, it is of the utmost importance that you pass on your knowledge.  By warning others of this sort of person you help protect your community from a force that can tear it apart by setting members against one another, victims against those that doubt them, friends against friends.  The Toxic Roleplayer often insists that they are not the problem, that everyone else is what’s wrong, they’re the real victim, but as you start asking questions and making mention of your own tale you’ll find that you aren’t the only one.

So, yes.  Warn people.  You’re doing everyone a favour — and if the defenders of a Toxic Roleplayer accuse you of being mean?  Forget them.  You, your mental health, and the mental health of those you come across in your time within your community are far, far more important than the feelings of an abuser.

Resources:

Sahnin @ Tumblr’s articles:

 

The First Rule About Gold-Making: We Don’t Talk About Gold-Making

Good Gods, I feel like such a twit for drawing upon an old Fight Club meme (a movie I never even watched, even), but it’s very appropriate for this particular topic.

Talk about gold-making?  I don’t know what you mean.

I love the gold blogging community — this is a fact that has been re-hashed over and over again in things I have said, or things I think I have said — because it is so supportive and willing to share.  It is full of amazing people like Alyzande of The Gold Queen and Nev of Auction House Addict; each has their own great ideas, interesting viewpoints, and spectacular brands of gold theorycrafting.  As a consequence, I love reading gold blogs and conspiring with other readers to figure out different ideas for making gold.

I occasionally talk about how I’m the Community Manager at TheGoldQueen.com and that I enjoy when I get to chat with people about their gold-making, that I like helping them figure out new things to do, and that I especially love how excited they are to share their latest victory.

All of this is why I was surprised to hear someone in one of my server communities say: “The first rule of gold-making is: we don’t talk about gold-making.”

What?

That goes against all of my instincts as a blogger.  As a blogger, when I hear something new and interesting I want to share it — I want more people to know about it, see it, talk about it, tell me what they think about it … and to share it with others and pass it around.  When I find out something that will help somebody solve a problem, I want them to know about it.  Gold-making isn’t any different.  When I hear of someone that’s having problems making gold, I want to help them and I sincerely believe that there is no harm in sharing the information that we find while we’re on our own gold-making journeys.

Not talking about gold-making does not make any sense.

People of that frame of mind are worried about competition.  Instead of seeing the potential for competition as a challenge to be overcome, or part of the auction house game, they’d rather not deal with it — who can blame them?  It can suck, not making as much money as you’d otherwise make because you have competition that you didn’t have before.  This assumes that everyone is interested in the same markets and the same methods when, in fact, this isn’t the case; some people like to flip items, others prefer grinding and farming, some prefer to buy materials and craft their money-making objects.

Without posts that tell people where the best places to farm Exotic Leather are, for example (like Alyzande’s post about killing turtles in Valley of the Four Winds or her post about killing Yetis in Kun-Lai Summit), I would not have cheap leather to flip for killer profits, nor would I have the leather for my blue cloaks and my other crafts.  I’d have to farm!  I like farming, so this isn’t an issue for me, but not everybody enjoys farming.  Without posts suggesting that people stockpile old Azeroth trade materials for the brand new monks that would be leveling once Mists of Pandaria hit, getting some of my trade skills leveled may have been a lot harder — and more expensive — than I would have liked.  There are guides to marketing and business concepts that are written in plain English so the average person can understand them, and these concepts are obviously extremely valuable in real life.

Besides, if we all kept our ideas about gold-making to ourselves, we wouldn’t have the massive gold blogging community that’s roaming the internet today.  It would be disappointing to be without it, and to be lacking all of the voices that make this whole thing so worthwhile.

Discuss!  What do you think the pros and cons of staying silent are versus talking about gold-making?  Why do you do what you do?  Why not?

“Fight Club” photo from Ezra’s Blog of Cool.

Gold, Games, and Guhwha.

In May, I started helping Alyzande of TheGoldQueen.com with e-mails — then, as now, she was having difficulty keeping up with the volume of e-mail she was getting and hired me on to help.  Since then, I’ve been sporadically working on helping people out with their gold-making woes.  It’s been a nice enough run that I’ve said that her being a business reference is more than enough payment for me and her friendship is an even better bonus.  ;)

If you do not read The Gold Queen, you should.  I enjoy her writing style and the fact that she combines making gold with ethics — and is even ethical about making gold — is something that’s fairly unusual to me, after spending so long reading The-Goblin-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (and who I no longer read).  Although kind folk among the WoW community are not as rare as we like to think, they are still a breath of fresh air since they’re so quiet that we sometime forget that they exist — so go visit her.

I’ve been poking at non-WoW games in what little spare time I have, too, and broke down to purchase Guild Wars 2 several days ago.  I enjoy it so far, even if I don’t really understand the combat system, and I am enjoying my Charr thief.  I’m waiting for Star Wars: The Old Republic to go F2P before I try playing it again, though I seriously prefer Star Trek Online.  I hop into Champions Online and Lord of the Rings Online sometimes, too, and I’ve even started completely from scratch in LOTRO because I… forgot how to play my hunter, so.

The Harbingers of War has their first major event in months last night.  We arched from Hillsbrad to Arathi Highlands, and at the end of the road the entire unit was stuck with a terribly nasty surprise — a trio of goons from the Undercity that arrested Matojo and declared the Harbingers to be dissolved.  With Teaghue now in the driver’s seat, what will happen?  Are the Harbingers doomed, or will they come back stronger than ever?  What will happen to Matojo?

“We’ve got company.”

(Special thanks to Sebrawyn and Pook for volunteering to play a pair of cronies for Kekoa.)

Once we get going a bit more, the Harbingers of War Brag ‘n Brawl will be starting up again, and we’ll be working on becoming stronger than ever as a guild and a group of friends.  I don’t know when we’ll be able to hold a proper meet-and-greet in real life again, but one day!

Thorium Brotherhood has also yielded several surprises for me, with a player asking for grudges to be dropped and another one being far friendlier than expected.  I am certainly not complaining and I enjoy the banter with people I couldn’t banter with before, I just hope it lasts!

If you’re interested in checking out the Harbingers, visit us on Enjin.  There may be a Wyrmrest Accord branch of us opening up sooner or later, with cross-realm events taking place, so keep your eyes peeled for that.  ;)

Real life, however, has been exceptionally busy.  I am not going back to school this year, and even if I could the first year of my program has changed so dramatically that I would almost want to just start over again.  I have been living with my parents and working at the grocery store that I worked at as a teenager!  It’s amazing how things never really change all that much.  One day I will be able to go back to living in my own home, or maybe just on my own in general, but that day is not today.

I hope you are all doing well and looking as forward to Mists as I am.  I cannot wait to have a lady Pandaren rogue, that’s for sure.  ;)

Dear Guild Leaders: Don’t Ignore Your Members’ Concerns

A new individual joined a roleplaying guild.  Existing members of said guild, who knew this roleplayer and had a history with them, expressed concern and offered proof of the individual’s ill fit with the guild to the leader.  Instead of taking and considering this information, the guild leader refused it, so the concerned individuals then said, “Alright, but we are not going to RP with this person, we are going to have to ignore them, but we will be polite.”

What did the guild leader do?

a. Change their tune and ask to see the information that made the concerned react this way.
b. Accept this, with the understanding that they would have to quietly deal with whatever fall-out would occur.
c. Chide the concerned individuals for causing drama and give them the boot.

If you answered anything but ‘c’, you are wrong.

This is not nearly the correct way to deal with this situation.

Once the potential problem member is accepted, you have two options:  You can take a look at the evidence, then wait and see what happens and if the person actually does show their ass … or you can take a look at the evidence and if it does worry you, you can tell them they are not a good fit and it’s time to go.  That is what the Harbingers wound up doing with the Ranger who gave a friend and, eventually, myself, some problems last year — the leadership took the evidence of their final blow-up in channel and decided it was time for them to go.  You absolutely do not ignore your members’ concerns because that is a douche move.

When anybody essentially says “I cannot deal with this person and will have to stay away from them”, the correct response is not the one that makes that person into the bad guy.  If one of your members, or several, have to ignore or stay away from another person within the guild, chances are there is an issue that needs to somehow be addressed.

There is no easy way to do this.  If you accept the need to ignore the problem individual and that individual then turns around and throws a fit upon finding out that they are being ignored, you will need to step in.  You will need to be firm.  You will need to express the importance of keeping such personal issues between those involved and keeping the drama away from everyone else, and you will need to state, quite plainly, that they are to leave those people alone.

Or, you can avoid the problem entirely by admitting that a mistake was made in admitting the individual into the guild, that you have found that they are not a good fit, and then send them packing.  Can this create other problems?  Of course.  If the problem player has a reputation in the outside world, however, the chances of this coming back to bite you are extremely low.

Punishing people for trying to protect themselves from shit hitting the fan, however, is not cool.

I definitely will not be involving myself with the guild in question when I am able to get back onto my account because I simply cannot support a leader that can’t see the danger in what they are doing.

A Big YAY! to Blizzard — QQ, Neckbeards

Not too long ago, Apple Cider Mage reported a slimy and disturbing bit of dialogue by Ji Firepaw – a major Lore figure for Pandaren – toward female Pandaren.  It was gross, it was creepy, it brought back memories of pretty much any time some neckbeard found out I was a woman online.

As of yesterday, she reports that it has been changed to something far less creeptastic (yes I am slow on the uptake).

Mythrai expresses the joy that a lot of us are feeling, too.

I say, “Good on you, Blizzard!”  It’s these small changes that make us all feel like Blizzard actually listens to us.  That’s important, that’s something that all game companies should be doing — listening.  Is a segment of your audience feeling really uncomfortable with something (a segment that is not the majority because, chances are, they’re not going to see the issue)?  Listen.  Make changes.

Naturally, the neckbeards are not happy and are whining about the change and how it makes them feel, I don’t know, like Ji doesn’t represent them anymore, because I guess they were really proud to have a slimy horrible snippet of dialogue and they’re all sexist douchebags, too?  Who knows.  Anyway, they’re doing exactly what they said we were — you know, complaining about “nothing”.

Hey dudebros:  You aren’t the only ones that play this game.

Anyway, that’s that.  Now, maybe they’ll eventually make Boss Mida the Trade QUEEN and not screw that character up… or maybe the Warchief.

A gal can hope, yeah?

Feminism is Important

[Trigger Warning for mentions of sexual assault, anti-feminist anything.]

Now, more than ever, Feminism is important.

In the WoW blogosphere, a lot of people have had some pretty terrible opinions about women in gaming and the Feminist movement.  I will not be linking to those terrible opinions here because I do not feel that they deserve the extra bandwidth, and I am quite happy to report that one of those dangerous (yes, dangerous) voices apparently decided to stop blogging because of the backlash that she received.

In the past one-hundred or so years, women in North America have gained the right to vote, own property, and not be treated as chattel by the men in their lives.  We are not out of the woods yet, and we may not be for some time.

I have been told before that I should stay silent, that there is nothing that I can do and that obviously means that I shouldn’t speak up or attempt to do anything at all.  The problem with this viewpoint is that if we remain silent, if we don’t say, “this is not appropriate” and “this is not true”, nothing will happen at all.  A little bit of progress is better than none, and the angrier we are about it, the more likely our voices will be heard.

Before the internet, before WoW and the WoW blogosphere and a certain livejournal community, I thought “Feminism” was a four-letter word.  I wasn’t a feminist!  I thought men and women were equal!  I knew that women were not treated equally to men, deep down, and didn’t start to understand that until high school.

You see, there were debates in one of my high school English classes and one of the subjects that was brought up was, “Are women better off now than in the past?”  I stood for the “No, not outside North America” camp where I wound up with two males defending that viewpoint – the other side was all women – and I did much of the research on the subject.  I learned about the situation women in the Middle East were in, the plight of women in Africa that are dying from AIDs because they can’t get access to condoms that would save their lives (it’s not their place), and on, and on.

I did most of the debating for my side.  I think the males were hoping for an easy mark, but I didn’t care because I had this knowledge and I wanted everyone in class to understand.

I didn’t really start to “get it” until after starting into WoW and discovering WoW communities on Livejournal, which then lead to me finding various social justice communities and bloggers that made me understand that the opinions I had were shitty and dismissive of other people.  In the past three years, I have changed a lot – for the better.  I have a lot more growing to do, a lot of myself to learn to understand and accept.  I still have a ton of baggage from growing up in a society that says that women must fit in this one box and they are not allowed in other boxes, that women are at fault for their own assault if they don’t follow a certain set of rules, and many other troubling things that eat away at you and cause you to lash out at other women because that is what society has trained you to do.

In some ways, I guess I understood that this idea of women only doing certain things was Wrong.  I wanted to be a Paleontologist (until I learned they only made $35,000 per year, and at that time I was made to believe that I had to make $100,000 per year to be able to survive — bullshit), I played with “boy toys” (I was derided constantly as a kid for wanting to play in the sandbox and play with toy cars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles “like a boy”) and constantly tried to tell other kids that there was no such thing.  I only wanted children ’til I was 14 because I didn’t understand what was involved and I thought that was what I was supposed to do.  Once I went through sex education (thank goodness) I realized it was not something I actually wanted, no way, no how, and developed a very strong “DO NOT WANT” feeling in regard to child-rearing, pregnancy and childbirth.  I also understood, vaguely, that sexual assault isn’t the victim’s fault – but it still took me over twenty years to realize that I had been assaulted, myself, regardless of the age of the person that touched me.

Perhaps the groundwork for those changes in view had been laid long ago, subconsciously, and I just didn’t realize it.

The Feminist movement isn’t perfect.  In its current form, its erasure of women of colour is extremely troubling, extremely problematic, extremely wrong; its treatment of trans* individuals as not one of us is extremely wrong.  White women talk over black women when we should be stepping back and letting them talk, because they go through shit we can’t possibly understand because we are white and our capacity for understanding the plight of women of colour is not… quite there, so we have to learn to listen, too.

Even with its imperfections, it is important.

By the way? A trans woman is a woman.  There are no exceptions.  If you identify as a woman, you are a woman, that’s it, case closed.

Apple Cider posted a very important article on the subject of Feminism in light of discussions this week (I use the term “discussion” loosely) that I implore everyone to read.  Do it.  Read it.

Decoding Dragons has a post on Sexism & WoW that’s collected interesting, pro-feminist articles in one spot for easy reading.  Check that out, too, and add Decoding Dragons to your blog roll.

Why Roleplayers Never Forget

Roleplayers have a very long memory for drama.

We aren’t the only ones; I’m fairly certain everyone remembers events that stand out in their minds, good and bad, and that more people have a memory for drama than would care to admit.  My dramatic memory extends to the beginning of my time on Thorium Brotherhood – I may not be able to remember how our characters met, but I can remember all the ridiculous crap that has happened to me before and since.

Why is this the case?  Why do we so vividly remember this crap that made our blood boil back in the day?  Why is it that we can recall some of the most heinous crimes other roleplayers perpetuated against us, but other events are so damned hard to recall?

It’s because we’re storytellers.

Just like reporters on the local news, we’ve discovered that stories that showcase the worst of roleplay are far more interesting than those that make things out to be completely reasonable and wonderful.  We are, at our core, lovers of the train wreck and for each and every one we stand there in awe of the carnage that’s going on before us.

I know it’s hard to admit.  It’s hard to admit that you feel a slight thrill whenever you see something going on (in someone else’s roleplay or out of character life, that is) that’s so utterly ridiculous that it is almost a dark comedy.  It’s hard to admit that you secretly enjoy the call-outs of the people that think you’re the worst person to ever walk the server because you know they’re wrong and that the problem is them, not you.  It’s hard to admit that you love seeing those posts on dear_gnome that call out bad roleplay, or that talk about the silly things other people have done (raiding drama stories, anyone?) in-game.

We don’t forget these things because they remind us of why we’re careful, or why we don’t do certain plots anymore, or why we don’t roleplay with certain people.  They remind us why certain behaviours are troublesome, and they provide us with tales to regale the younger roleplayers with, or they serve as explainations for those roleplayers who just cannot understand why you’re cringing at the way that other person is behaving toward them.  You can say, come here, dear, and let me tell you of that one time when someone acted the exact same way and what it lead to.

Maybe, just maybe, your drama can save someone else from drama.

The above is why I collect, share, and remember tales of my own drama.  I figure that if I can help prevent just one person from going through the same sorts of drama that I’ve dealt with, then maybe the crap I’ve gone through wasn’t so bad after all.  This isn’t to say that my personal issues are because of internet drama – some of them are, but I know that my stories are far, far more tame than what some have gone through, and other peoples’ stories started like some of mine.  The difference between my tame stories and those of people who wound up with a hell of a lot more baggage?  There isn’t much.  Given an extra few days, I may have wound up in the same boat (or ship).

It isn’t that we’re jerks or that we like to look for reasons to suffer, it’s that we’re storytellers and we collect these tales as little reminders, or as entertainment.  In most cases, those events that were so horribly annoying at the time they played out aren’t quite so bad when we look back.

Events as the Night Elf getting angry at Matojo for declaring his love to her Troll lover over Booty Bay, all in jest, because it took attention away from her for fifteen minutes (that same Troll whose player has caused me many, many late nights because I just don’t want to sign off Skype, not yet, okay), or the stories I’ve already told here. Those stories, which were so bloody irritating when they took place, now sit in my personal history as “oh man do you remember when” moments that I can share with the friends who aren’t completely sick of hearing about them.  Of course, that example was most likely more troublesome for the Troll’s player – I honestly don’t know.  If he told me, I forgot, but asking him again just gives me an excuse to make him talk about something.  >_>

What about you?  Do you have stories, roleplay-related or otherwise, that you fall back on and frequently share because of reasons like the above?  Why are they so memorable for you?

Bullying: It’s a Thing, Even in WoW

Lodur over at Way of the Totem posted about (Trigger Warning for mention of suicide and other related things) his experiences with bullying and an instance run this evening brought the topic to mind again.

I’m a fat chick.  I was bullied as a kid because of my weight and because of my interest in “boy’s toys” (hint: toys are toys they are not meant for one gender at a time), so the subject of bullying is one that hits close to home.  Any one of us that doesn’t fit societal “norms” is bullied every day by the media and the idea that what we are isn’t “normal”, but that’s another topic for another day.

Over the past decade or so, online bullying has stepped into the spotlight, and rightfully so – anonymity of the internet makes it so much easier for people to say nasty shit and not suffer the consequences.  The concentration tends to be on getting the victim to “buck up”, to not be so “weak”, and it’s rarely on the bully to … fix their shit and stop being a dick.

As a result, it is considered acceptable to be a jerk on the internet and that just isn’t right.  It’s a set of behaviours that the gaming community seems to support by virtue of not stepping up and saying “that is not okay”, or by turning the complaint around to hurt the victim of the behaviour.  When a woman says “I did not like the behaviour of this major gamer toward me”, the proper response is to call him out on his shit, not to tell the woman, “Well, you came into this hobby knowing what to expect so you should just deal”.

Several weeks ago, I wound up in a Wailing Caverns with a bunch of people including a low-level druid.  The druid decided to go bear form, and I was annoyed at first because he wasn’t the tank, so I expressed my annoyance and received no response.  It wasn’t until he got lost by running off to kill raptors on his own that I realized he was new to the game and my attitude changed entirely – I ran off after him and got him to follow me to where the rest of the party was, and I started giving him advice alongside the tank.  He seemed to warm up to us, and the guy that wanted to call him names was shot down relatively quickly.  The run was pleasant, despite the silly stuff that was happening, and I learned a valuable lesson.

A lot of us are far too quick to jump on somebody for being “bad” at this game, when we’ve had years to get used to how it works, years to understand its mechanics and the resources available to get better.  A lot of people immediately jump to insulting someone’s intelligence, their home life, their sexuality, and everything under the sun over their performance in a video game.  This is not acceptable.  I do not care if you are in a high-end raiding guild that’s pushing progression content, it does not give you license to be an asshole to your fellow humans.

Last night, I ran into an individual who felt that “retard” was a totally cool thing to call somebody that didn’t seem to understand the game.  Another low-level druid was not doing very well when it came to dealing damage (people actually pay attention to damage meters in Stockades, really?) and seemed to be utterly clueless about what they were doing.  The shaman in the group decided it was a great idea to be an asshole to this person and call them a “retard”, I reported them, and both times a vote -kick was initiated I turned it down (I’m assuming the healer did, too, as I think he was of a similar mindset to me).  At the end of the run, I told the druid where he could find guides on balance druidry and wished him better luck with other runs.

There’s a real person on the other side of that computer monitor.  You don’t know what their life is like, you don’t know if they’re using the game to escape from a shitty home life or anything about them, really, and assuming the worst – getting on the offensive right from the get-go – isn’t awesome at all, it’s just plain shitty.

Bullying is a problem, online and off, and it will continue to be a problem as long as we, as a community and as a species, continue to support the bully’s right to say whatever they want to without consequences … and as long as we continue to just let the victims flap in the wind.