Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

filed under Ask Anna, Feature, Roleplay
Ask Anna: RSP Websites
comment 12 Written by on October 29, 2010 – 8:46 am

(Rumors of my death have been premature. Rumors of my return may or may not be premature. But I’m ready to give this a whirl again. Dunno if I’ll ever get back to daily posting, but things have calmed down enough that I think I can manage something once or twice a week. We’ll see how it goes!)

A question from a reader:

Hey Anna!

Lately, there seems to be a trend of sites popping up that make fun of bad RSP flags. What are your opinions on sites like these that ridicule the rsp for either graphic content or minor nitpicking.

– A Nonny Mouse

To be quite honest, Nonny (I hope it’s alright that I call you Nonny), I’m not fond of sites devoted to making fun of RSP flags. For one thing, I don’t think they do anything productive, or offer any kind of help to any of the people that are “offending”. I also don’t think they’re all that useful, given that you can get everything from¬† the nitpicky “OMG Stormwind was destroyed and rebuilt, how could they not know that!!?!!eleventy1” to the more egregious examples of erotic content in RSP flags, posted for either shock value or validation.

Are there some really bad RSP flags? Absolutely. They’re often full of purple prose, gravity defying sexual organs, robotic body parts, and “I’m not really a …” types of silliness. But you really can’t tell much about a character – or how well that character is played – from an RSP tag.

Here’s why.

Aely, my main, whom you’ve all read about and who I’m quite confident is not a “mary sue”, is a 6 foot tall, red-headed warrior goddess built like a professional beach volleyball player. If you read her RSP, you could come away with that, and I could show up on a website getting made fun of for playing such a stereotypical “mary sue” character.¬† Except that Aely is more than just her appearance, and I’ve never had anyone tell me that she’s a hollow shell of a character created for my own self aggrandizement.

Bricu, who writes for WTT:RP (and who has given me permission to do this), plays a stereotypical “not your typical paladin” character. He’s gruff and unusual, and could easily show up on a website getting made fun of for not playing paladins “properly”. Except that if you’ve ever interacted with Bricu, you know that he’s a bastard AND a paladin, and he manages to wear both hats very well. The character fits and works and isn’t a shallow RSP tag.

Seylon, one of Yva‘s characters (who also knows about this post), is a tall, totally hawt night elf warrior with a gorgeous body, who wears really skimpy armor, flirts with anything that moves (of either gender) and drinks hard. If all you ever saw of Seylon was a brief encounter in the bar, you’d probably think she was worth writing up for one of those websites. Except Seylon is also a hard working single mom, an incredibly well developed character, and not at all a shallow RSP tag.

Yes, sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to try to RP with people and get yet another “I’m not really a death knight and my boobs are so huge they’re like watermelons but gravity doesn’t apply to me and I sparkle and smell like jasmine” encounter. I’ve laughed those situations off with friends, in private, because there’s not really any other way to deal with the frustration. But, as I’ve mentioned before, not everyone starts out good at RP, and public humiliation doesn’t help anyone.

The best reaction, when confronted with something that makes you want to roll your eyes, is to either gently approach the person about it, or – if you don’t think it’s worth trying or don’t have the patience to try – to ignore it and move on. If the person is actively griefing YOU (and I have seen situations of extremely off-kilter RP turn into table dancing), then it’s time to get a GM involved.

If reading RSP tags makes you think that every roleplayer you encounter is going to be a terrible one?

Stop reading RSP tags.

You can turn the addon off, or just turn off “mouseover pop ups”, and then all the people passing by that you don’t actually interact with will never intrude on your screen.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you really can’t judge every roleplayer by his or her RSP tag.


For full disclosure, I’m not even running an RSP addon right now. I love them for their naming abilities, but I find that the description boxes aren’t that helpful. And besides, I’d much rather interact with people than have to read their RSP first!

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12 Responses to “Ask Anna: RSP Websites”

  1. I will cop to having joined one of those RSP websites — specifically, Warcraftsues over on Livejournal — when I was just getting started in World of Warcraft roleplaying and wanted to get a feel for where the fandom mores lay with regard to certain things, including character description and naming conventions, things that I did not find WoW Wiki to be all that helpful with, and before I found this and several other fine WoW roleplaying blogs. I quit after about two weeks, as I realized that, in many ways, there was absolutely bleeping nothing that could pass beneath the gimlet eye of the Warcraftsues RP police that would not excite some form of mockery, no matter how mild the example, and they were generally impervious to human decency or observations that good roleplayers are built not born, just as good raiders do not spontaneously manifest immaculately clad in a full set of Tier 10. Just being there for even a short time made me incredibly neurotic about the quality of my roleplaying — and I’ve been roleplaying, in one format or another, for more than half my life at this point. To this day my RSP character description is blank.

    By Nagaina on Oct 29, 2010 | Reply
  2. I admit to reading sites like these, but unlike others that participate in it, I generally only do it for the shock factor. Since I normally don’t see too many blantantly obvious ERP flags, it’s shocking when someone else does manage to locate one. Anything else is really none of my business. I don’t particularly care if someone described themselves as being utterly beautiful or crossed the realms of silliness with their description. It didn’t bother me in game if I ran across them and it certainly doesn’t bother me when I see them.

    I guess I read them only to see how many of my friends will be picked on including myself. I never really laugh or get a cheap thrill out of it other than knowing that someone else out there is probably a little bummed that his or her attempt to try and role play was scorned by a bunch of people who has not once tried to role play with them.

    I feel on the fence about sites like warcraftsues. I know of people who do this and I know their intentions (well I certainly hope so) are harmless. But on the other hand, I don’t really condone it either. When I first started role play in World of Warcraft, I was horrible. My Nigh Elf had a silly name that was constantly mocked and my RSP read as if I was the most beautiful creature you ever set eyes on. It didn’t stop there, either. Every other character I created was the same look with the same ethereal appearance. But despite my inability to be a little realistic, I role played fairly well and was able to entertain a few folks who found my character charming.

    Another character I think that broke the rules a little was a human who grew up in Tanaris and was a gypsy. God, I did all sorts of stupid things stupid with that one, haha. I made her just a teeny bit overpowered, created this lavish background for her where she was a dancer and so forth with an exotic appeal, and just all sorts of ‘Arabian nights’ stories. But despite it not fitting into lore, it was absolutely FUN! I found people who enjoyed playing the story out with me and I couldn’t wait to hop on and live that little adventure again.

    I had fun with all my baddies no matter how much it didn’t … fit.

    Today I play a character that is still perhaps considered cliche but absolutely FUN for me to write about. Sure, everyone knows the typical pirate story, but I don’t care. I don’t try to be different or set myself apart from the rest, I’m just here to create a character and write away! I’m here to lose myself in a story different from reality and let my imagination run wild. As a role player for years, this has always been a passion of mines, so I’m willing to believe something or play along if it’s entertaining enough.

    I’m sure a few folks thought my RSP was silly, but I never had anyone publicly bash it. I imagine if any of my RSPs, old or new, was on that site and received all the negative comments … I’d be crushed, too. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and just plain cruelty.

    I do mock a few people with friends when I see RSPs like this, but I don’t intentionally bash them in public. I kind of keep it to myself and either avoid them or try to get a feel for their character. So as long as they’re not bothering MY role play and I’m still having fun, why should I worry about what others are doing? For all I know, she could be that beginner RP in WoW who’s just trying to have fun herself. Who am I to make judgment?

    Maybe I should leave my RSP description blank, too. Back in the early days of WoW, an RSP was really just a great tool to find other role players who were in character and to give ourselves last names. A lot has changed since then.

  3. @aestiah – I definitely agree that we all generally start out as bad RPers, if only because nobody starts off knowing the lore, and the resources we have today haven’t always been anywhere NEAR as good as they are now. I wasn’t sure how to work that into the post I wrote, but you’re absolutely right. If I look back at my first character (a Troll shaman) and her backstory it makes me cringe… but that’s where I started. My first night elf wasn’t much better, but fortunately I had people work with me, gently, instead of mocking me. Maybe someday I’ll see if I can dig up any of that old stuff about those characters – it’d be worth a laugh or three!

    I also think that there’s not a single character out there that doesn’t have SOME sue elements… trying so hard to not be a sue results in an anti-sue. It’s all in how you play it, and if you can pull it off.

  4. Paragraph one: RSP websites vary enough to attack anything from “minor nitpicking” to “more egregious examples” and yet it’s fair enough to lump them all together.

    Paragraph three: My character looks and acts really awesome, but she’s not a Mary Sue if you get to know her.

    Paragraph five: My friend’s character looks and acts like a Mary Sue, but she’s not a Mary Sue if you get to know her.

    Paragraph seven: If you encounter the kind of person that is unhealthily attached to their character being awesome, gently asking them to stop is the best way to get results.

    Paragraph 11: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Paragraph 1: You RSP sites are all the same and bad.

    Postscript: Oh, and the problem prompting the existence of these sites is something that doesn’t affect me anyway! Lulz!

    Sure, I’m biased, but those seem like relevant points. I can’t quite tell if this is overly vague to the point of uselessness the way advice columns tend to be or if it’s simply a strawman. At least people like Aestiah, a fan of yours who wrote a much more reasonable version of this very post on her own blog this morning, have bothered to speak with (and interview!) people like myself and my partner in crime at the Lament, and she can understand where we come from, even if she disagrees with what we do. That’s fine. This post, however, just reads as “Being mean is bad, be nice.” I’d generally agree, but that doesn’t mean I require doublethink to do what I do.

    Yours, etc.

    Varendil of the Roleplayer’s Lament, one of these ‘RSP websites’ I keep hearing so much about.

  5. Actually, I dislike both minor nitpicking AND egregious examples, as I generally dislike public humiliation – and there’s not really an agreed standard of “wrong” anyway. For that (and a few other reasons) I chose not to name any websites in particular in this post.

    I’m glad you liked Aestiah’s post – I liked it too. She raises some really good points, and I think she presents a very fair opinion of both the very human desire to share and commiserate about things that bother us and the desire to not be unkind to people we don’t know.

    I don’t like sites that nitpick RSPs across the board. That’s my opinion. Obviously, as such sites exist and are popular, other people have other opinions.

    For what it’s worth, the point of the postscript was that an RSP addon is not the end-all, be-all of RP, and not all RPers use them. There are people who have made the comment that all RPers should use RSP tags, and while I think they can be a good way to get information about who is and isn’t open to RP, I don’t think they should be “required”, and I think people place too much dependence on them instead of actively RPing (which is another post entirely, come to think of it). Your mileage, as always, may vary.

    And, as always, I think that if you encounter someone whose RP makes you cringe, you should either be nice about it, or walk away and ignore it.

  6. The point is it’s not nice to be a douche to other roleplayers, and to not judge a book by its RSP cover. Considering how you did the rather boring “picking a post apart paragraph by paragraph” troll, I’m not actually SURPRISED you have an RSP website where people can go and publicly humiliate folks. If that’s how you roll, go for it, but that doesn’t mean that those of us with open minds and a willingness to give people a chance (and you know, pointers if they ever wanted them) have to think you’re a SWELL FUCKIN’ GUY for it.

    What amazes me with the RP elitism – and really, if you run a site dedicated to exposing what you consider bad RP and description that’s beneath you . . . is that RP servers in general have an incredibly difficult time fostering RP over the LOL I HAS NEW EPICS chat spam. What you’re essentially doing is not only discouraging to new potential RP’ers who could learn from a good example, you’re making the ones who might need work feel lesser than you. And hey, I get it. Putting others down for the sake of lol entertainment is fun. But when the RP gets stale because new folks are intimidated enough not to try, you’ll get a badge of honor.

    In other news, grats on a year of posts at the expense of other folks.

    By Yva on Oct 30, 2010 | Reply
  7. If cutting out half-dragons and double-height tribal draenei makes roleplay stale…

    I’m sorry that I’m discouraging new roleplayers by trying to shame bad examples. I would rather walk to the auction house and do my shopping with nary a whiff of roleplay than I would while surrounded by people who think they’re demonic and I should automatically be scared because they’re in Shadowform or two people emote-fighting in the middle of a city in front of guards. Either way I’m not immersed in anything.

    Maybe I’m an RP elitist. If having high standards when it comes to lore adherence makes me an elitist, then I’m okay with that title.

    Oh, and making a series of arguments, if flippant, isn’t trolling. I meant them. This is trolling:

    I now get to be amused because I’m the bad guy at the moment and yet I’m more civil than my detractor (not Anna, she’s great).

  8. Discourse is OK. Trolling, not so much.

    We’re obviously of different minds about this, and I’m OK with that. I hope you can be OK with the idea that not everyone agrees with you.

  9. Anna’s great. I’m a bitch. That’s not news to anyone. Your presentation left a lot to be desired. Henpecking paragraph by paragraph is an old trolling stand-by, as is the subsequent “Nuh uh, I wasn’t. But way to be mean to me”. If this is not something you were aware of? Now you do. And if you’d rather pick on people than help them get to the level you want them to be at, your prerogative. I happen to believe in working with people instead of public humiliation as my tactic. Which probably makes me a nicer person in the long run. Go fig.

    By Yva on Oct 31, 2010 | Reply
  10. Our site is based off that of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where two robots and a human are forced to watch bad movies. I am sure that TV show was given a lot of heat during its prime because they tore down bad movies for entertainment value and I am sure one of those filmmakers were upset at the fact their movie was bad enough to be picked on or that someone had the nerve to make fun of it.

    But a lot of aspiring film makers would watch that show and go “Oh, I see what they are saying with that joke. I’ll have to remember not to do in my movie” or something along those lines.

    Our site is based on that. We make a few jokes, yes, at the expense of others, but people do learn from our site. We’ve had people put on our site that are even our friends and who are better RPers because of it. We never insult the writer behind the character and we take steps not to insult, but to joke around. We refuse to insult those who say they are new at RP as well. We would rather whisper them and chat with them, even if their RSP was the lulziest thing to hit the internet. At the end of our posts, there is always a small (or long) section on how people can take the RP they have and make it better, make it fit into lore and make more believable, well rounded character. Our purpose is to entertain and to educate at the same time and our readers would have to agree that we do both with each post.

    It’s understandable that some people may not like this site or sites like it. We understand that and have taken a lot of risks even having it up. But we feel as though we are helping even if it is in an unconventional way and the whispers we get with thanks or questions about lore/characters tells us we are helping.

    I would love to just sit around on every RP server and whisper everyone who has an RSP with a lore breaking background in it, but I don’t have that time and most of the time, people will just say “WHATEVA, I DO WHAT I WANT” because they don’t care for the rest of the server and the lore of WoW. Some of us do care about the lore of WoW and we have to do these things to insure Azeroth isn’t taken over by vampires, Belfs raised by trolls and night elves born in Darnassus. Unconventional, yes, but it does work.

    Of course, there are people

  11. Lanuria, had your co-writer written as eloquently as you just did? He would have gotten an intelligent discussion out of me. Approach and presentation is 95 percent of any message.

    By Yva on Oct 31, 2010 | Reply
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