How to Approach (nor not) a Suspected Creep



  • We've discussed a number of variations on this in a lot of threads.

    This is specifically (though feel free to discuss other concepts) when you suspect someone is a creep, but it's not directed at you.

    A specific example:
    You're in a big group scene and someone's poses are making you uncomfortable. A guy is hitting on, flirting with, leering at some girl. Your thought process is 'if that were me, I would be bugging the fuck out right now.' Except she seems OK with it.

    What do you do? If anything?

    Because my thought process is torn:
    On the one hand, she seems OK with it.
    On the other hand, almost every woman has been in a scenario where she plays along until she can safely/comfortably get away. In MU terms, this is usually where she can exit the scene without causing a scene. At which point, she decides to either report him or simply never RP with him again.
    On the other other hand, he's making me uncomfortable and doesn't that count for something?

    Now, if I know this woman well enough, I can just page her and go 'Hey babe, is everything OK with Dude there?' But if I don't know her well enough, I can see how that could be taken the wrong way. Maybe she'll be insulted that I think her new squeeze is a creep. Maybe she'll think I'm trying to scare her off so I can get in on that. There's no graceful way to ask when you don't know the person.

    So again: what would you do? If anything? when you're in a scene where a guy is posing things at a woman (or multiple women) that make you feel a little (or a lot) grody. Especially when you suspect a report to Staff of 'Hey this guy's poses at other people made me feel weird' would just get a return of 'So? It wasn't directed at you so who cares. Just don't RP with them.' (Which is, I guess, a valid reply, but I also, again, still worry that the other women involved might be staying silent themselves out of a fear of not rocking the boat.)

    So I ask you MSB: have you ever been in this spot? What did you do, if anything? What would you do? Is there any real solution?


  • Pitcrew

    You know, I don't know. In the spur of the moment, I don't know that I'd do anything but ultimately sigh and wish I had the stones to interfere.

    That said, if I flip the script and the guy was somebody I did like and things were cool? I would still be able to recognize that the behavior could be taken poorly, and I'm absolutely going to appreciate another lady reaching out to say 'hey, you OK?' I think that's what it boils down to. If you don't load it with expectations or w/e, keep it simple. Even if you don't know her well enough.

    I mean, let's look at it like RL. Yeah, she could get terrible and drama at you..or you could be stepping in to give a hand to somebody who REALLY needs it, and I think the latter is worth risking the former, generally. While I think the specific approach might make a difference and stuff...I dunno. I think it's worth a check in even with a stranger.


  • Pitcrew

    I have been on both the observer side of this and the person who had mild to moderate creepy stuff directed at them IC or OOC in a scene with others.

    Honestly, these days, if something is really setting off alarm bells I will either check in with the target if they seem to be trying to ignore or minimally respond to the other person's advances/antics with a "hey, would you like <my pc> to come over there and provide a distraction?" or just do so (sometimes the response to that ICly can provide clues--if they glom on to the conversation then that's a good indication that they were seeking escape. If I don't feel that I can do that, or the behavior has crossed a line into making me personally very uncomfortable, NOT just annoyed or a bit skeeved, (this usually ONLY happens with ooc commentary/inappropriate or pushing comments) then I will just ping staff, logging and sending that interaction, with a brief explanation of why it made ME feel uncomfortable, expect no response, but that I just thought it was worth noting in case the other person needed a check in or does at some point.

    I try to sit on that for a little while (at least to the end of the scene either because it ends or because I leave), to make sure it's not an emotional reaction to something else going on that has nothing to do with mushing. And I try to keep an open mind that I could just be reading things very wrong--it happens.

    It has been many many many years since I felt vulnerable enough online that I didn't feel empowered and able to be very direct with someone making unwelcome creepy comments, or felt just fine totally ignoring their inappropriate behavior and not rewarding it with attention. But I am very grateful that when I have found myself in that situation where someone was crossing the line (usually in ooc chatter or behavior directed at me in a group of people) and I felt less able to do that, almost always at least one person asked "are you okay?" Or I got contacted by staff because someone had talked to them about it. Almost always I did really need the support that I wasn't nuts, and that the person's behavior was actually inappropriate, not something I deserved or brought on myself.

    I understand people not wanting to get involved, and I don't think that is a bad choice to not really worry about what the other person MIGHT be feeling (Because you could definitely be wrong) and to assume that they are more than capable to take care of it themselves. If something is really concerning you though, I do think it's also not wrong to check in with the target or staff. It's just kind of a weird situation because a lot of times these things are very grey. And it's always a risk to reach out and ask if someone is okay, and I don't think anyone is ever obligated to do that.



  • I will note (and I appreciate people weighing in!) that in this scenario, there was nothing OOC. No OOC commentary or anything, because I absolutely would step in or speak up in that regard (I find OOC 'PDA' type stuff to be very awkward-making). It was all RP'd, but it just set off a few alarm bells in my head and something felt off about it all.

    But I didn't know the others involved well enough to, as mentioned, say anything. Nor was it directed at me, so I didn't feel in a position to report anything. It was just a weird spot all around.

    Next time (if there is one) I may just say something along the lines of 'Hey, if you'd like me to come over there and RP at you...' but we'll see.



  • A quick two cents, maybe the weight of my thoughts are just one cent on this one all things considered.

    As a player I'm inclined to do less. If I know the player(s) being targeted, I might page to ask if this is okay or not. If its not, I will approach the creep...

    If I see this as staff and I think its creepy, I'll page to ask and approach the creep either way. If I receive a complaint as staff, I take it as a please no by player towards target creeper and get involved.

    I'll usually start with page chat, do you know its a little creepy, then direct them to a read something that might help (which is a relationship RP guide someone had for minecraft RP a while back (here it is as posted on Calaveras: http://calaveras.wikidot.com/relationship-rp)). Its pretty forward in its openings: If you get approved to play a character on the game, odds are that you’ve created a fairly balanced one at that with an interesting story and lots of potential. If you think you NEED a romance to make your RP interesting, you are not doing it right. I can usually point out the creepy behavior in there so they are at least informed of the perception of how they're coming off.

    As staff, I lean towards low (benefit of the doubt)/zero harassment tolerance (yo, racist/misogynistic stuff on pub, cause I'm cool or something - instaban). If I've said something to a player, that's the 'no/stop' and persisting is harassment, this if the behavior is repeated I jump on the ban wagon for harassment.



  • I haven't had much experience with this grey zone; usually, things turn out a lot more black and white. I've certainly had pages as an admin, asking me to please to do something about someone who kept making sexual innuendos and making people uncomfortable. I've also had to ask people to tone it down or make it private because while they were consenting adults, everyone else didn't want to watch it. And in the bizarroland that is video game MMOs, I've had to do the opposite -- tell strangers to shut the hell up and get on with their lives because they were trying to read something sexual into everything so they could do the 'won't somebody think of the children' crusade at us.

    I am not convinced that as a stranger you can do anything on the woman's behalf if she does not ask you to. As you say, butting in as a stranger might feel just as creepy as what the other guy is doing. However, if the creepy guy is making you uncomfortable as a third party, there's nothing wrong with letting this show in your own actions and words. Often, this will serve as a hint to victims of creepers that it's okay to ask for help. Or at least to cold shoulder the other guy and hide behind you -- I've done this a few times.



  • If women/people are willing to look to bar or restaurant staff for help in similar RL situations, could that be used online? Designated points of safety and contact? It still takes the person doing something.


  • Admin

    Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I feel the issue with creeps is very rarely that they get away with things during public scenes focused on aggressive flirting.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but it's likely much more common that people don't get help when they ask staff for it ("can you produce logs and evidence this happened?", "can you point out the exact thing said that grossed you out and why?", etc which results in the onus being on them) or when they get the OOC page equivalent of dick-pics than someone hitting on a character in plain sight, no matter how awkward it might be.


  • Pitcrew

    If it is a legitimately known creeper I will page the person. This has only come up once with a new female PC and I did it after the scene had ended to be like hey, you do what you want, but just so you know this guy is pretty notorious for going after someone hard IC then asking them for nudes OOC and I don't want it to scare you off the game if it happens.

    She thanked me and said that yeah, he'd already paged her some really weird things and it was good to know that she should just avoid him. I think I then said something like he'd already been reported to staff at least once so PLEASE to report it if things got too inappropriate for her.

    He eventually got banned for being a creeper.


  • Pitcrew

    I have definitely seen people pushing the line in a public scene (as well as had it done to me) because a person is relying on the target to not make a fuss when there are other people around. It is rarer though, and usually they are violating some kind of standard (assuming they can grab/kiss/touch someone in a pose without asking or leaving an opening for it to be rebuffed, for example), not just being "flirty."



  • @Quinn In this case, there is theory they are a known creeper, but that has also backfired in the past. (As in: people have assumed X person is known creeper and X person has not been at all.)

    And I have to consider that, too: is the fact that this person has had other shady behavior and the theory that they're a creeper coloring my perception?

    I do know I shared the poses that squicked me with a friend and they had an equally shudder-y sort of response. So I don't think so.

    Next time I may just page the gal(s) being targeted in-scene and quietly ask. If they get mad, they get mad. I think I'd rather a reputation as someone cautious than not.



  • I get this in the opposite direction, being "a man getting hit on/flirted at/leered by a woman." Usually I'm in the scene with someone else I know who I can signal to come talk to me and intercept the interaction, which I find gives me a pretty good out to go "lol, goodbye, I need to talk to this other person now."

    So I guess the best thing to do (just in case the people are actually playing out something they want to play out) is to go over and talk to the person being hit on. Their RP response should probably make it a little clearer whether the situation is "go away, I'm trying to get some," or "please help."


  • Tutorialist

    My thoughts on this are, both as a player and a staffer:

    I am not your dad. It's not my job to decide for you what is or is not appropriate for you. If a player acts in a way that you feel is inappropriate for you, then it's your job to take the first step, either by telling the other player or telling me.

    I very rarely step in and tell people to knock something off IC unless I receive a complaint about it first. OOC is a slightly different matter, but IC? You are empowered to raise your voice. I make it very clear that you are empowered to raise your voice. If you don't do that, then that's on you. I'll act swiftly if you lodge a complaint and provide evidence or examples of the behavior that you're talking about.

    But if you don't even do that? Then how am I, or anyone else, supposed to know that you aren't ok with this? My job is to provide fun, either as a staffer or a character. Not to sit and hawk over everyone to make sure that whatever artificial boundary exists in my head is being honored by the entirety of everyone.

    Christ, that sounds exhausting. Even just dealing with the complaints that get formally lodged is exhausting.



  • @Derp

    Ok, look.
    I get along with you on a lot of things, but dude.
    This wasn't about 'whine whine why doesn't a staffer step in'
    This was: what do people think a player's role is as the third party

    So you need to shut up in this regard.
    Jesus fucking christ.

    Because this is the exact sort of behavior that makes people afraid to speak up.

    Because mother.
    fucker.

    I have, as the third party, spoken up to Staff before.

    And you know what I've been told?
    Repeatedly?

    'Since you weren't the targeted party, I can't/won't do anything.'

    So fuck off.

    ETA:
    Seriously, this is just vexing me. ANY TIME I've gone to Staff with 'I witnessed this sort of creeping, it made me uncomfortable' the response I've gotten is essentially 'So? It wasn't being done to you, why do you care? If the person they were targeting reports it, we'll do something.'

    The topic of this conversation isn't 'oh no I'm being creeped on, what do I do.' Obviously you report it. The topic is: I'm WITNESSING someone being creepy, what do I do.

    Because Staffers pull this shit. 'Well I can't do anything unless-'
    Right.
    You WON'T do anything.


  • Pitcrew

    the onus of proof is on the reporter. that's why it's proof

    people say theres nothing wrong w/ staffers using their bits to ts players because theres no pressure on players for squishy text words? the same holds true for so called creepers and victims

    there is always a way out of any online situation

    people should mind their own business. put down the virtue signal flag and mind they business


  • Tutorialist

    @Auspice

    Ok, so first -- you asked what we would do, if anything, and I told you what I would do and how I think as both a player and a staffer , so you wanna pull back the aggression a bit? I wasn't accusing you of doing anything, or telling you how to behave. I was telling you how I view it.

    Second, if you come to me as a third party in the matter, my very first question is going to be did the other person say something to you? Because I truly believe it's not your place to police them, either. So you're right. I won't do anything because you're essentially asking me to police the fun of two other people, neither of which have said anything at all to me, even though I make it very clear that they can.

    Different players have different standards that might differ from yours, or mine. That's fine. That's to be expected when dealing with homo sapiens. They're a strange creature.



  • @Derp said in How to Approach (nor not) a Suspected Creep:

    @Auspice

    Ok, so first -- you asked what we would do, if anything, and I told you what I would do and how I think as both a player and a staffer , so you wanna pull back the aggression a bit? I wasn't accusing you of doing anything, or telling you how to behave. I was telling you how I view it.

    Second, if you come to me as a third party in the matter, my very first question is going to be did the other person say something to you? Because I truly don't believe it's not your place to police them, either. So you're right. I won't do anything because you're essentially asking me to police the fun of two other people, neither of which have said anything at all to me, even though I make it very clear that they can.

    Different players have different standards that might differ from yours, or mine. That's fine. That's to be expected when dealing with homo sapiens. They're a strange creature.

    Because your response is basically: 'I don't give a shit as a player or a staffer.'

    This is how we have witnessed a few creepers in the hobby run rampant. Because of 'Well sure you have logs and evidence of this behavior and the threats against the victim, but the VICTIM hasn't said anything so......... welp. this person can keep doing what they're doing.'


  • Admin

    @Derp said in How to Approach (nor not) a Suspected Creep:

    Second, if you come to me as a third party in the matter, my very first question is going to be did the other person say something to you? Because I truly don't believe it's not your place to police them, either.

    Yes and no.

    There is more nuance to being staff than wielding a rulebook in one hand and the banhammer in the other. Sometimes it can be as easy as paging someone with a simple "hey, it came to my attention Bob has been flirting with your character pretty heavily. I'm just checking if that's okay with you".

    That's it. There's no reason to pull people aside or bring out the big guns. Policing doesn't need to be heavy handed 100% of the time.



  • @Derp said in How to Approach (nor not) a Suspected Creep:

    Not to sit and hawk over everyone to make sure that whatever artificial boundary exists in my head is being honored by the entirety of everyone.

    This. Everyone has different boundaries. We can't all be expected to guess whether someone is amused and/or enjoying the aggressive IC flirting or whether they're squicked out by it. If it's IC, then it's preferable to deal with it ICly. If there's an OOC problem, then the player needs to make that clear to the other players and/or staff.


  • Tutorialist

    @Auspice said in How to Approach (nor not) a Suspected Creep:

    Because your response is basically: 'I don't give a shit as a player or a staffer.'

    That was not my response. I specifically said that I would act on it if a complaint is lodged, and do so swiftly. That is not at all 'not giving a shit'.

    'Well sure you have logs and evidence of this behavior and the threats against the victim, but the VICTIM hasn't said anything so......... welp. this person can keep doing what they're doing.'

    So, let me just say this bluntly -- you, as a third party, don't get to decide that someone is a victim of anything. Period. That is a decision between the affected person and the adjudicator of fact. You can believe that someone is a victim, and encourage them to speak up, but you don't get to slap that label on them.


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