General Principle: We Excuse Undesirable Behavior for a Good Reason

Most “nice” guilds (and nice people) in WoW have this as an unwritten rule.  If a person does something detrimental to the guild/raid/group, but there is a “good reason,” we will excuse it.

Example: Tank Fails to Pick up Adds.

Scenario#1: I was distracted watching porn on the other monitor.

Now, nobody is going to cut the tank some slack in this scenario.  “Turn off the porn, moron” or a swift kick are going to be the responses.

Scenario#2:  I just had brain surgery.

Poor Cranky Old Gnome.  He had brain surgery.  Most of us civilized humans would forgive him for being a little “off” in the tanking department.  But the jerkfaces he ran with berated him and kicked him from the group.

Good Reason versus Utilitarian Concerns

The above (porn watching versus brain surgery) is an extreme example, but it illustrates how we immediately are willing to excuse behavior that is detrimental to the group based on a “good” reason, and condemn that same behavior based on a “bad” reason.

I’m thinking back to Tamarind’s recent post about refusing to rez a jerk in a Pug, in no small part because he was being a jerk.

Gevlon’s response that from a pure utility viewpoint,  it would be better to rez the jerk, regardless of the jerk’s reason for requesting the rez.

In a later post responding to Gevlon, Tamarind acknowledges an exception that most healers would make:

if someone has a genuine reason to wait for a rez, far better for them to go afk in €œdown time € while the group is running than keep everyone standing around in the instance.

(Emphasis mine.)

Since, however, this wasn’t the case, Tam sticks to his guns and states that refusing to rez was the proper course of action.

In other words, reasons matter to some of us.  It matters whether the person requesting the rez had to attend to a crying baby or was simply too lazy to run.  From a pure utility standpoint, though, the reason does not matter.

The Effect is the Same, Regardless of the Reason

Not to pick on our friend the Cranky Old Gnome, since he is my unwitting example today, but does it really matter why his tanking is suffering?  He has a good reason, a very good reason – in fact you couldn’t get a more compelling reason.  But does the reason matter compared to the result? Do you want him as your tank if the mobs are going to gnaw your face off?  How many wipes are you willing to tolerate before your good nature gives way to selfish motives?

Responsibility to Others (the “Greater Good”)

A raid leader must also balance responsibility to the other members of the raid when rostering, and a “good reason” does nothing to fill a raid spot.  A raid leader must balance sympathy to a person’s situation against the needs of the other raiders who have managed to make it for the raid in time.

Example: Always an emergency

Every guild has these unlucky folk.  This person signs up for raids, but only has a 50% attendance rate because every time raid time rolls around, something happens.  The water heater explodes, a kid gets sick, the boss calls – something.

Yes, this person has a good reason, a compelling reason, and we should be sympathetic.  However, as a raid leader, you know in your heart of hearts that if you roster this person, you will likely be trying to find a sub at raid time.  Wouldn’t it just be better to roster someone reliable? Don’t your other 9 raiders deserve to start the raid on time?

Judging whether a reason is “good” enough.

Do we really want to be in a position to judge if a reason for not making a raid or failing to perform adequately is “good enough?”    One person’s “good reason” may be another person’s definition of a lame-ass reason. Some people may consider a reason “good enough” to miss the raid, but not “good enough” to miss the raid without some advance notice.

Different people have different priorities. Most raid leaders and officers prioritize WoW pretty highly in the sense that they feel a sense of responsibility toward the members and want to schedule events to ensure that members are having a good time with their playtime.  Some people think of this as “just a game”, and as such, it often does not occur to them that the other members of a group or raid may have made this raid a priority and gone through heroic measures to clear their RL schedules.  (When Twig was much younger, I had to grind my nightly Bottlecraft rep at warp speed to make a raid.)

Lying Liars

If you require a “good reason” for undesirable behavior, how many people will lie about the reason?  There was a former guildie who would claim “parent aggro” without fail after we had wiped a few times on content.  He knew he couldn’t bail on the raid without repercussions, unless he had a “good reason,” so he made one up.


Ha ha fooled you, I don’t have a good conclusion.  I don’t have an answer for this dilemma.  I personally will never be the jerk who excludes parents from raiding because of the chance they will drop group due to child issues.  I will suffer as many wipes as necessary for the guy who just had brain surgery to get his tanking mojo back.  Some things are more important than progression.

So I’ll open the floor for comments!


Should we care about the reason for a player’s detrimental behavior? — 5 Comments

  1. The effect is not the same, since the effect is more than just the next ten seconds, but the overall time with the player. The brain surgery person will recover while the pron person is likely to continue to be inconsiderate.

    Basically it's about the standard it sets. Legitimate excuses are rare and it's to the benefit of everyone that emergencies are not devastating. On the other hand, illegitimate excuses are more likely to be bad habits and excusing them acts as encouragement.

    Emergencies are emergencies. When they become a pattern then it is likely that they are not actually emergencies, but poor handling of minor problems. Or someone who picks friends poorly and ends up with drama queens.

  2. Seeing as how I'm the "brain surgery person" used in your example, I feel as though I should chime in.

    First of all, I want to point out that even though I did mess up that one pull we didn't wipe even once. And still the group booted me.

    But it's these experiences that have started my disillusionment with WoW, and have caused me to cut down on my play time quite a bit. I don't want to go off on a big rant, because really there's just too much to be said on this topic. Ultimately though, I would hope that we do at least consider the persons reason before we take action. I would hope that we give consideration where due, and that we call people out for their shitty behavior rather than just excuse them just because we want to 'just get through it'.

    I agree with Klepscovic in that emergencies are emergencies, but when they become a pattern, it's more than likely that they aren't really emergencies, but excuses and poor time management.

  3. As a leader, I realize people are people and they're only human, that everyone has their days and everyone has their moments.

    I will excuse bad behavior the first few times, especially in cases where I know the player has health related issues that may influence their behavior (ADHD, Borderline, Bipolar, Autism (or Asperger's), Tourette's). I'm not going to discriminate and I do believe in giving at least a second chance but will remove someone regardless if they become out of hand.

    I'll privately pull someone aside and try to, without being negative, get them to curb it. I encourage them to give an apology if they piss people off. I've been known to (privately) tell players who have mental health disabilities (it's pretty common on the interwebs) to go take their fucking pills.

    If I find a player is making constant BS excuses for not doing well I may privately pull them aside and tell them to cut the crap and man up. BS excuses are especially insulting to players who tough it out through real valid excuses.

    I am less inclined to invite people who make drama or ragequit back. If someone ragequits on a trial because we're goofing around and have a ZOMG wipe they've screwed themselves over indefinitely. I have a "no fair weather raider" policy, if you don't show up for the wipe nights, I'll take someone who does over you.

    I'll forgive people and give extra chances and correct performance privately, but I'm still sitting there with my finger over the gkick button, and when I actually press it, no one can disagree that it was the right thing to do.

  4. I am as well sticking to the fact that the effect is not the same – later in the post you argument with us Raileaders negotiating the needs of 9 people against need of 1 person.

    However, World of Warcraft is a social game and the result of letting someone get away with excuse on night they are really stressed actually benefits your community in the long run – if I went bananas on our druid because he had to take AFK just when we pulled Putricide because his kid was crying, I'd loose one great healer from roster. In that case, wasting one try with a wipe was completely acceptable. Then again, we are people with jobs, families and thus "same priorities". We do understand if one of us has to attend kids for some emergency, as we all are in the same position, more or less.

    And that's where I think the post is a bit off – especially with 3.3 LFD tool, the game split into two scenes, the anonymous PuG scene and the behind-the-closed-door guild scene. You don't need to be "social, fair or sympatethic" in pugs as it is very unlikely you will meet the people again, and so is unlikely they will make the effort to come over your realm and talk to the guilds GM. As well, guild situation changed – no one needs to have on-realm friends outside the guild, as you can pretty much PuG anything with the tool (barring raids ofc).

    That being said – guilds are more closed groups now and it's very likely the guild recruitment reflects that and reflects the member priorities of the guild – for example our guild states that we start at 21:00 with raids because we want to have time to eat and spend time with families before we go play the game.

    Of course, I am more likely to accept even the "porn" excuse from someone I know and play with than with stranger in total PuG. My tolerance to strangers usually ends at "strike 3" point.

    What ticks me though are bullshit excuses. When you can totally tell the person is making shit up just to get away with attendance, raid performance or whatever. I can accept "sorry it was my fault, bad day" excuse any day and I will hear that rather than "tear of elune not working ffs and I have lag and the tank disappeared from my healbot!!!". Heck, even "Goldfish was on fire :P" (which we use as term for brainfart wipes) is okay. Then again, if it does not improve, you might get substituted or even kicked.

    And I can only second what Klepsakovic, thistlefizz and Zan said.

  5. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! That was kind of the point of this post – not to really advocate a position but to present the issue to get people thinking.

    @ Klep. You are correct that if you take the time to help a person with a legitimate problem, most often the problem will disappear. The person with a medical problem may get better, the tank who is "learning" will eventually learn. However, if we assume that the person won't improve, that is OK, because the reason is valid.

    @ Thistlefizz. I didn't mean to imply that you sucked at your tank outing. I just wanted to point out the extreme example of a group not cutting someone slack who obviously deserved some. It's incredible, really. You'd better not quit playing or quit posting – I like your blog!

    @ Zan – nice no-nonsense approach to keeping the raid together while being sensitive to people's personal needs.

    @ Rahana – Yeah, I realize now that I didn't fully express the dichotomy that is apparent with the new LFG tool. In LFG, we have no long-term benefit to being nice – we can only "pay it forward" and hope it comes back around to us in some form. In guild, we do need to weigh our short-term frustration against the long-term benefits, including what type of guild atmosphere we want to foster (I like to err on the side of carebear).