Does reporting even work?

Apologies if the title sounds a bit overly cynical or perhaps even accusatory; it’s more of an expression of exasperation. Perhaps it’s even a little naive or my expectations are too high; but I digress.

I’ve only recently started venturing out into Public and Group Public instances (after spending most of my time in Friend/Invite ones), and, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, the experience has been frankly appalling. My game sessions are typically 2-3 hours, and I say without exaggeration that in every single session involving public instances, at least one individual has engaged in harassment of others, dropped an n-bomb or (insert anything here)-phobic remark, or otherwise simply been a nuisance to everyone around them. And don’t even get me started on the nigh-endless parade of idiots who still think invading furry-related spaces is the absolute height of comedy. Real winners, that lot.

Yes, I get it: blocking and instance-moderation exist for a reason; there are tens of thousands of players and very limited staff-hours available to devote to processing and following-up on reports. But (and yes, this is merely anecdotal), there seems to be a pervasive (and growing) sentiment that reporting just doesn’t work. It’s great that there are a myriad of ways to send such reports, but what good are they if nobody uses them because they don’t believe doing so will accomplish anything?

I’ve been working on a prop->osc->external app setup to auto-trigger OBS to record 30 second clips in the hopes that providing more concrete evidence of such actions might make for more effective reports that actually lead to these people facing some repercussions. But I don’t want to be some sort of ‘misbehavior vigilante’, and it’s far too easy for cynicism to step in and to imagine being a ‘squeaky wheel’ is just going to get my name on a ‘move to spam folder’ filter.

Admittedly this is more or less just venting frustrations at a perceived lack of action on reducing the number of bad actors and making VRChat a more pleasant place to spend time, but I’d be remiss to not at least try making a constructive suggestion. Could there be (or is there already) some manner of periodically-updated report statistics dashboard/page/widget/whatever to just serve as an indicator/acknowledgement/reassurance that “something is being done”? It could be a simple as

During {time period}, we received {X} reports, successfully processed {Y} percent, and actions were taken in {Z} percent of cases

Just a little blurb to tell the community: “Pushing that ‘report’ button means something.”

I really like VRChat, and while I don’t necessarily agree with some of the features/choices/priorities that have been made over the past however many months/years, I have a great respect and appreciation for the work the staff has done and continues to do to improve the game and experience for the userbase. It can just be really disheartening when, night after night, I drop into an instance of something like SVRB or the Pug, only to be greeted by someone wearing an up-scaled, offensive PNG avatar and calling everyone who passes them a “f----t n----r”.

ok thanks for coming to my Ted talk

In my experience, in-game reporting does nothing at all and this is both a good and bad thing.

You can’t really attach proper evidence to the in-game reports, so it’s a good thing that moderation actions aren’t taken solely based on that, because a lot of people abuse this by reporting people they don’t like, even when they’ve not actually done anything wrong.

The bad part is, a lot of people wanting to report legitimate issues, will just rely on the in-game reporting, thinking it will be effective, rather than taking the time to go onto the website where proper evidence can be attached, so a lot of people violating the rules end up not getting into trouble because of this.

I will say there’s one exception to this and that’s for in-game reports that relate to Missing Tags and user-generated content, because VRChat can easily check the validity of those reports on their end without any evidence needing to be attached.

Unfortunately, even those in-game reports that can be easily verified from VRChat’s end, seem to do nothing in my experience.

1 Like

In my experience I’ve had the exact opposite problem – a friend had their account and entire group banned due to false reports. Aside from that, I’ve seen many a case where people get “public-banned” for uploading sexual content that was not set to private, then wearing it in public, where which it would then get reported.

The problem is less that reporting “doesn’t work”, because it does, the problem is VRChat T&S refuses to let us know that anything is happening, so it just looks like it doesn’t work. In fact, upon sending in a report, they email you saying they can’t follow up on the results of the report i.e. if any action was taken.

Another consideration is that reports are prioritized by count, and only one report from one person is almost guaranteed to do absolutely nothing.

This to me seems like a good compromise, it’s exactly what other services like Discord do in their yearly ban reports (albeit Discord doing it to look good to corporate) but it at least communicates to the user that “yes you should use this feature as it does have an effect”

1 Like

I suppose abuse and false positives are inevitable, unfortunately; the internet - and especially socially-oriented sites and games - is rife with cliques and in-groups and those who would just stir up drama ‘for the lulz’ or whatever. I’m sorry to hear your friend and their group were banned; I hope they were able to appeal or get back in eventually, though I’m sure the person(s) responsible weren’t and won’t be held to account.

I’ve also noticed a whoooole lot of people with ‘Visitor’ status as of late, and I can only assume the end of the school year and start of summer break (in the States at least) is responsible for that. And maybe that’s just making this whole issue seem worse than it (usually?) is; huge influxes of new users on any sort of service inevitably means huge influxes of bad actors as well. Maybe I had the bad fortune of starting to venture into public instances just as the flood of newbies was beginning? It does seem as though most of the more offensive people I’ve encountered were tagged as ‘visitor’; I’d like to think I don’t see anyone User-ranked or higher running around shouting the n-word because such people were already reported and banned before reaching those ranks, or at the very least got bored and left before putting in enough hours to get past ‘new user’.

I recently filed a report that I’d like to think is pretty open-and shut; someone repeatedly posting racist nonsense in the text chat, easy enough to grab some screencaps and submit them through the website report form. There’s a good chance I’d have never run into that person again anyway, but I certainly hope nobody else will have to deal with their crap, either. But, as Snowy noted, there’d have been no way for me to actually attach that evidence using the in-game reporting; I had to stop playing, drop back to desktop, search for the reporting form (why isn’t there a link to report someone in the user dashboard site?), and so on. I believe it was the right thing to do, and worth the effort to do, but it was also one of the only such encounters I could properly document and report.

Now I realize trying to add some way to attach evidence to the in-game reporting would not only be an absolute nightmare to code, but could also present privacy or other such issues. And I’m hesitant to suggest any specific in-game features that I think could or should be added; primarily because I honestly don’t know what even could be added, but also, again, I can see such things being very difficult to implement. (Writing systems software for my day job is hard enough; I can’t even imagine trying to write code for a massive, online, multiplayer game, and having to do so with Unity, heh.)

Regardless, while I don’t expect any staff to bother reading my angry rants, I really, really hope we’ll see some consideration on ways to improve the experience for everyone by more effectively getting rid of the sorts of people who can’t go five minutes without dropping slurs. (And maybe less consideration on frivolous features nobody seems to want. Looking at you, ‘boops’. Sorry, had to get a dig in on that.)

Some sort of periodic report on moderation actions would be a good start; maybe an actual dedicated place to upload video clips of offending incidents. Actually, maybe some educational material on HOW to get such clips in the first place - I’m pretty sure the Quest headsets have a built-in controller button combo similar to screenshots that will record a video. Some documentation on how to do that, how to get the clips off the headset and uploaded for a report. Is there something built in to Win10/11 for PCVR and desktop users - preferably something simpler to set up to quickly record a clip than like, OBS. Maybe filing a report in-game could email a link to somewhere you could add additional details/evidence? I dunno.

I’m specifically referring to in-game reporting doing nothing, if you report through the website, there’s a chance of something happening if sufficient evidence is provided and that’s almost certainly what happened in both of your examples.

I find it very unlikely that the group was banned due to false reports, in my experience, VRChat is very hesitant to take action against groups, even when there are clear violations.

This isn’t true with reports made through the website at least. It only takes one report for action to be taken and that’s how it should be if sufficient evidence is attached.

The evidence that was sent in to moderation was a series of clips taken out of context and stitched together to form a false narrative that would make it look like the person in question was partaking in illegal activities.

The evidence was found out to be faked, the account unbanned, and the people responsible banned instead. It’s clear this system is easy to abuse this way, but that’s a different topic.

I forget since I haven’t checked in a bit, but don’t all the in-game reporting options just redirect you to the website now? It’s annoying, sure, but I’m sure they made that change to stop a problem where users could spam reports on people using a modified client, as well as make sure the person reporting does actually have proper evidence.

Windows 10 and 11 come with a feature called Game Bar, if your PC is strong enough to run VRChat then Game Bar can be enabled, from which you can use a hotkey (Win+G, iirc) to bring it up and record clips, similar to NVidia ShadowPlay or OBS Replay Buffer.

It depends on the report type. Some redirect you to the website and some are still done in-game.