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People have repeatedly shown that, when given anonymity on the Internet, they’ll do terrible things to each other. This is why gaming communities like Steam have set up community rules to keep things civil. So what do you do when a Steam player violates the community rules? Here’s everything you need to know.
Steam has a number of different rules for its members, but a few of them address some very common issues in online multiplayer gaming. Here’s a short list, drawn from the online conduct and rules and guidelines for discussions, reviews, and user-generated content pages.
The following activities are prohibited:
- Defaming, verbally abusing, or stalking users.
- Threatening violence or harassment.
- Cheating, hacking, or using game exploits.
- Creating a false identity for the purpose of misleading others.
- Flaming or insulting other members.
- Posting personally identifiable information.
- Discussing cracks, key generators, or console emulators.
- Posting spam.
- Restricting or inhibiting any other user from using and enjoying Steam services, software, or other content.
Obviously, this last item gives you a lot of leeway in what to report. But if someone is doing something that detracts from your gaming experience, you have the right to report it. If you want to see the other rules, click the links to the Steam pages above.
Do These Things Happen?
You don’t have to look very far to find stories of harassment, abuse, and cheating on Steam. Shortly after it debuted the ability for gamers to add tags to games and other pages, both the game Fez and its developer, Phil Fish, were attacked with tags like “diva dev,” “bipolar,” and “Phil Fish sucks.” Gone Home, a simple and emotional game that was met with critical acclaim, also got slammed by gamers’ “not a game,” “overrated,” and “feminist” tags.
Individual gamers have repeatedly posted stories of incessant swearing, racial harassment, and sexual harassment. Wired detailed a particularly disturbing form of sexual harassment in an article on Jenny Haniver, who logged over 200 individual examples of her own harassment on gaming sites (that figure comes from 2014, so the total could be much higher now). And we all know about Zoe Quinn’s repeated and alarming sexual harassment.
It’s not just angsty teens who feel the need to be jerks online—two League of Legends pros were banned for six months as well as fined for dishing out “verbal abuse” and “racial slurs” during games. In 2013, a player was banned for life due to persistent verbal abuse, racism, anti-Semitism, and threatening behavior.
Cheating gets reported too. In games like Call of Duty, Evolve, and Civilization, people have found ways to alter the games to make it easier to win or scam their way to the top of leaderboards, denying more honest players a chance at Steam fame.
It’s not like these actions are hidden, either—it’s easy to find a number of Steam groups specifically set up for people to engage in harassment, abuse, and “griefing,” or taking advantage of game mechanics to frustrate other players for no practical gain.
How Do You Report Abuse, Harassment, or Other Violations on Steam?
Reporting abuse on Steam is very simple. Just follow these steps:
- Navigate to the user’s Steam Community profile.
- Click on the large “More” button in the upper-right corner of the page.
- Select “Report Violation.”
- Select a category of abuse and enter a brief description.
There are a number of different categories that you can choose for reporting a violation, including harassment, suspected cheating, and impersonating other users. Be sure to provide a detailed description of what’s going on and provide any evidence you can, so Steam can look into the potential violation.
Reporting a group is done in the same way, but you need to navigate to a group’s page and then hit the “Report Violation” button on the right side of the screen.
If you’d like to access a Steam user’s profile while you’re playing a game, bring up the Steam overlay (the default key combination for this is shift+tab), and click “View Players” in the Friends panel on the left. Find the player who’s misbehaving and click “View Profile.” You can file a report from there.
To report a particular forum post, click on the icon to the left of the post (it looks like an exclamation point in a white-and-red warning sign).
Steam has made it clear that these are the best ways to submit reports of harassment, abuse, or other violations of the community rules. Submitting a support ticket won’t do you any good, and contacting moderators individually may or may not work. Sticking with the official channels is your best bet.
Will it Work?
There are varying reports of how effective reporting someone on Steam is. Reporting doesn’t result in bans, but supposedly Valve does something with the reports that we can only hope will help improve the community overall. Because Steam surely receives hundreds of reports every day, making sure that you only submit claims of actual abuse, harassment, cheating, or inappropriate content or conduct is the best way to make sure that you get heard.
People are awful to each other all over the Internet—it’s one of the prices we pay for the freedom we enjoy online. But multiplayer gaming has earned itself a terrible reputation for harassment and abuse. Don’t let it go unreported, and maybe we can all try to create a better atmosphere to play our favorite games in.
Have you had problems with community violations on Steam? Did you report the violation? Was action taken? Share your experiences below!