No Solicitation: A Sign Runescape Could UseEdit This Entity
You can do anything on RuneScape - and that's exactly what I was afraid of.
The word "solicitation" is usually used in the context of people coming to one's door (analogously, coming up to you in RuneScape) and asking for money. However, this is not an article about beggars, nor amount by that definition. As described in detail in other articles, there is a steady stream of people willing to solicit anything from making out online to nude photos, even from an eleven-year-old-girl.
The majority of this is completely unwanted. It is concentrated in places like Lumbridge on World 1, where characters (particularly low-level female ones) receive these kinds of solicitations. You may not visit there now except for trading, but even Jagex themselves initially withheld making Worlds 1 and 2 "themed" worlds (note the designation: Trade - F2P/P2P under location/activity) because of the traffic due to them being at the top of the list. It would not be uncommon for a new player to be put there, and after all everyone is youngest when they first start playing! Most players want to play RuneScape, gain levels, do quests, and earn money, not discuss (and possibly be hassled about) deep concepts like sexual orientation with a stranger, let alone pretend to have an affair online.
The group of people who willingly participate in this form of interaction has a substantial number of minors (people under age eighteen). But just as a seven year old who may eat nothing but chocolate cake and ice cream for meals, given the choice, they are not acting in their own best interests. It can encourage similar activity in real life and, particularly for girls, cause psychological damage. In rare cases it leads directly to contact in real life: see this news story where a 54 year old man drove hundreds of miles to have multiple affairs with a 13 year old girl he "married" on RuneScape. One doesn't need to read the bit at the end referencing the 13 year old girl being in counseling to understand that this will have a profoundly negative impact on her life.
Given that this does occur with some frequency in RuneScape, and that it is important to deal with it somehow, the question turns to what can be done. A favorite hobby of players is to place the blame on Jagex. But examining the role of Jagex more closely, there is not much they can do. Short of spying on all players' private messages, there is not much that can be done to stop two cooperating players. One can be tempted to blame it on the filter, but as the parade I once saw supporting people with "brest cancer" shows, players quickly find a way around it. A filter is a static object, and can beat neither the will of players, nor the now omnipresent spammers selling RuneScape gold in popular locations.
There would be one more hope: a group of players willing and able to help, who have been granted sufficient power to do so. I'm referring to Player Moderators, or Pmods. In the short run it works: a kid soliciting such services can be muted immediately when seen. However, much like the resiliency of the gold spammers, they soon surge back with more subtle advertisements, soliciting in a way where they can claim innocence-for example, the guise of role-playing. There is plenty of legitimate role-play like pretending to fight a dragon, and then there is the kind I have discussed earlier. Even if a Pmod has a good gut feeling that it is the latter, muting cannot be accomplished on this basis. The second way in which they respond is by sending private messages with these unwanted solicitations - primarily to low-level female characters that are around.
Of course these can be reported under solicitation - assuming players know that they are classified as such-but it runs into the same problem as the gold sellers. There are simply too many of them on too many different accounts to keep up with, and unlike what people would have you believe, muting is not the optimal solution. Muting stops any more damage at that moment, but does not solve the problem, as the solicitor simply makes another account, and may even have the mute overturned by Jagex, if they were careful and kept it sufficiently vague or light. In this way, one can see that the attempts of Pmods may be just as likely to worsen the problem than to solve it.
So is all this useless, a sea of sympathy uselessly running down the drain of a giant sink? For the most part, I'm afraid that it is. But if enough people try, being in the right place at the right time does happen. Several weeks ago, I saw a girl in a random place (not in Lumbridge on World 1 or similar places) attempting to hit on people. Instead of taking advantage of her, I added her and eventually cornered her into telling me what she was doing. I don't mean to be vain, but she told me she would stop and I haven't seen her online since. It's possible she shrugged me off and went to another account, but I did what I could.
Ultimately the game is what we make it, and we have just as much responsibility to not take advantage of someone as Jagex does to enforce our behavior. If you and whoever else are over eighteen, so be it, but make sure of it. I've never participated in this kind of behavior, and I'm not going to say that my life or the life of one of my friends has been traumatized by it, because it's time someone other than a victim came forward. I have one final surprise for you: I'm not female.