Quite by coincidence, Miss Mediocre's post was about the same topic I posted yesterday. She was much more eloquent than I was, and she inspired me.
I agree with her completely. There was a time when players depended on one another for answers, when guilds were more than "level and gear my alt" groups, and when we could expect that a bad act might be remembered by the community and come back to haunt the purpetrator later. Just desserts we would say.
Now, we can log onto any number of websites to learn how to complete a quest so there is no reason to really depend on our guildmates as much. We can use the dungeon finder to group up and run randoms so we don't have to make friends in our guilds as often to get our runs done. We can make a bad name for ourselves by being complete asses in /trade or picking on other people or ninja'ing loot and then realm transfer if the consequences are bad enough.
Don't get me wrong: I think these are all positive changes. Used correctly, each has its place. More websites means more ideas on how to play a class. I like ideas. The dungeon finder means less time waiting to queue, and a chance to make new friends. I like short waits and more friends.
But the unintended result has been a diffusion of community. We don't depend on relationships in game as much, and as a result, behavior has degraded.
Bottom line: there are no more penalties to behaving badly--at least, not ones that really matter. Hell, I even see /trade chat now "I got banned for XX days" bragging by some idiots.
My challenge to you is simple. Change the world, one act at a time.
I am setting this standard for myself and ask you to do the same.
Commit one Random Act of Kindness every day on every toon you play. The one no-no: you cannot just give away gold. It has to be an act that means something.
Perhaps you craft a set of Barbaric Bracers and mail them to the L27 Rogue you just saw in the AH. Or a guidie. Maybe you buff everyone you pass with a Stamina or Mark of the Wild. Or maybe you take the time to help a stranger who is obviously struggling in a random.
Or maybe you do like I did today: I camped my 80 DK near the Deadmines and advertised a free dungeon run to the first four players who joined me as long as they were on level. We had a great time, and it took about 20 minutes.
Whatever it is, don't make it cheap--make it something that matters to the other person. Something they will remember.
And come back here from time to time and share your stories. If enough of you do, I will host a weekly column called "Best RAK of the Week" and highlight some of the best random acts.
Advertise it. Ask your guild mates to commit a RAK every day. Make a macro to /say "Who did you RAK today?"
It takes a long time to change the direction an ocean liner is traveling. It will take a long time for something like this to change the attitudes of the players who are abusive.
But by starting now, we will make a difference for some current players, and maybe touch a whole generation of new players who we all expect to see after Cat launches.
Let's try to make a difference for them, and who knows, we may make a difference for ourselves too.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~Mahatma Ghandi