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Stepping Up Penalties encourage Smurfing leading to Matchmaking Issues leading to Bad Behavior again?


To Blizzard and the community, here is what I think about the reporting and penalty system. Feel free to agree or disagree. I know toxicity is not well seen, therefore I invite you to discuss it with good reasons and decent arguments.

How It Should Work: Abusive Chat

Abusive Text/Voice Chat should lead to Mute penalty only: you can't write/talk to non friends for x days but can play any mode and write to friends.

Reports of this kind should mark the last hour of conversation of that player in chats where the reporting player was involved too, and not take into account any othet chat were no one reported anything, however I'd decrease the reports treshold accordingly.

How It Should Work: AFK and Intentionally Dying

AFK or Non Participating and Intentionally Dying should lead to Limited penalty: you can't play Ranked modes, then Unranked modes for x days, but you'll always be able to play AI mode with a full AI team.

Reports of this kind should mark the last game played by the reported player together with the reporting player, however I'd decrease the reports treshold accordingly too.

Why It's Flawed

I see the reason why you wanna step up penalties, but you can't really afford that because you are trading off the following things just to try to put people on the right path after a punishment:
- People can create a new account and play anyways, even more careless than before due to being on an account they don't really care about!
- Smurfing equals MMR resetting, that's bad for the matchmaking!
- People are fake reporting for wrong categories just in the hope that a player they hate for any reason will be forced out of the game.
- Reports don't get attached to the issue reported, but just sum up, so you can basically report for nothing because there is a chance that a given player doesn't behave well in some games.
- Only a small number of players will learn the lesson and stop behaving bad.

Detailed Reasoning

Smurfing and Matchmaking

Creating secondary accounts, also known as smurfing, is a nightmare for games based on an MMR system. Any player has a personal MMR that Blizzard said multiple times it's dangerous to reset, yet people can just create a new account to reset it.

Teaching Lessons

Now, I know anyone can create a new account, but maybe don't force people to do that just because you wanna try to teach them a lesson? You can give them the appropriate penalty on their main account instead, and they will play with that penalty most of the time as they would avoid switching account. They keep their account, okay, but they won't reset MMR and penalties by creating a new account.

Here you can find a psychology article on punishment not working as we might think:

Fake Reports

A fake report is a report given for something that Customer Support will never use against you whenever you appeal for a punishment removal, so they just increase the reports counter to make the system notice the real bad behavior, that could be a small or big part of the whole reports.

You can say fake reports aren't taken into account but actually they are. If I'm bad behaving 1 game out of 10 but I'm getting reported 9 games out of 10, basically 8 games out of 10 someone didn't report me for something actually considered a bad behavior for sure, but just to increase the number of reports on me so that I'll reach the threshold and then a message they didn't even read will be used as a reasoning for my penalty. How can they be hurt by a message they couldn't read due to it being in another chat in a different day? How can they like be hurt for a player that was AFK in a game they didn't play too?

Spreading Reports

You should merge AFK and Intentionally Dying report categories so that reports don't get wasted in two similar categories just because some people will consider it in a different category than others.

Replacement Behavior

A bad behaving player will hardly learn how not to get in the same situation again if he doesn't receive any feedback about it, if he doesn't know any replacement behavior to adopt.

Whenever you punish someone, you should probably explain exactly why they got punished and what they can do if they get in a similar situation again.

What's Stepping Up Penalty

For reference, a Stepping Up Penalty in Heroes of the Storm is when you get reported for something and get punished with some x days Silences first, some x days Suspensions next, and permanent Ban then.

(No) Silence ≠ (Not) Toxic

You can skip this part, but I'll leave it here for complete sake. I did an experiment about this, so now pause for a moment before commenting that you are behaving good just because you never received a Silence and that all players who got a Silence are behaving really bad.

Silenced but Not Toxic


If you are kinda negative in chat but not toxic enough (we are assuming Customer Support agrees) to ensure a Silence and play something like 8 hours per day, you'll lure a huge number of reports in just a week, then they'll review your chats and find that single toxic message you sent once in the past weeks and use it as a reasoning for not removing your Silence.


After this you get Silenced/Suspended, even if you aren't toxic, for being annoying in about 100 games out of 200 and toxic in 1 game out of 200 in a bit more than a WEEK.

Toxic but No Silence


In this case we haven't a rarely toxic player that will be considered toxic just for being so once in a while because, well, he got Silenced/Suspended so he should be toxic for sure, right? Read next example then. If you are toxic in chat most of the time, it will take about a month playing at least 6 hours per day for a total of about 200 games to be punished! It means you can survive the punishment easily by splitting your play time among different accounts and games or just by playing less.


After this you are of course toxic, but not Silenced/Suspended, even if being toxic for almost 100 games out of 200 in almost MONTH. In this case we have a toxic player still playing that could survive the penalty just by taking a little break so that cumulative reports fall off and he'll be able to go around and say he has never been toxic because he's never been Silenced/Suspended. Well played.


The main focus of this post is how to improve the report and punish system for everyone. Please, don't disagree with everything just because you don't like the last part. I can understand you won't like it.

Don't be toxic in the comments below, I guess? Kappa
Thanks for reading!
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