Even as Jagex flaunts its victory in court over iBot, I insist that "getting rid" of bots could, should, and would have been the easy part. After all, everyone knew it was against the rules, even if they were breaking them. Most people hated bots and botting in general, and even more so as things spiralled out of control. But as I remember Jagex's old rule system, with thirteen numbered rules, I cannot help but think: "One down, twelve to go."
Indeed, sometimes the rules are not quite clear to the average player. Jagex seems to be keen on slapping some offenders harder on the wrist with a penalty for breaking them rather than others. But it is often first-time offenders that are punished more severely, because people become savvy in toeing the line, which is often blurred. So for the benefit of making sure they are kept, it would be nice if Jagex clarified the rules. In other words: tell players what is against the rules and what is not. In some cases the rules have been "softened" and are (apparently) broken without fear or concern of receiving a ban or mute. Here are some examples.
The problem: Offensive language.
Why this is important: Some players like to swear or use racially charged language. Other players would not like to hear such language. Jagex would like to make all players happy.
The current solution: Turn on the profanity filter and everything is solved.
Jagex's view (direct quotes): A Jagex-approved page from the RuneScape Wiki states "...language that is considered offensive, racist, obscene or otherwise inappropriate should not be used in chat or as a username." However "There is no need to report starred out chat." Jagex has also suggested using a "bad word" in a non-offensive manner is allowed.
However, Jagex has also said it could depend on context: "...To give you an example, in a battle between clans, it may well be part of the banter to scream "Die, scum!". However, were I to shout that at my girlfriend, I'd probably find myself sleeping in the garden. I think it's also worth pointing out that the game filter isn't always the best yardstick to say whether a word is offensive or not, as again, the context of usage is key" (source). Note this was before the filter could be toggled.
Why this doesn't work: Suppose a player uses, in public chat, a six letter word beginning with the letter N which is derogatory towards black people. Even though the player doesn't bypass the filter, this is racist language, which is against the rules according to the wiki page. Should the player be muted or not? A decision either way conflicts with past statements. To use an example that can be printed here, what about saying "That's gay?" It is sexual preference promoting "straight" people over homosexuals, which one might say is "otherwise inappropriate," yet people say it all the time, and is also starred-out with the filter. Some people also avoid the filter. I have reported friends but nothing happened.
Why you should care: Would you report players for it, or not, for fear of retribution for "spam" reports?
How this can be fixed: Jagex should simply retract previous statements or change the wiki page to make it clear.
The problem: Offensive username.
Why this is important: Players should be able to read each other's names without seeing offensive material, according to Jagex.
The current solution: You can report a player for "Offensive username," but only if they spoke or traded with you recently.
Jagex's view: Aside from two words in the inappropriate language quote used above, it is rather buried. However, it is clearly stated in their Terms and Conditions.
Why this doesn't work: It is easy to see for oneself that people create usernames to be obviously offensive, or need a small trick such as switching two letters to make something offensive. "Offensive" usernames contain a word or words that would be otherwise censored by the profanity filter or attempt to evade it. I have reported people but nothing happened, so either Jagex decided the names were okay, or the reports were not read.
Why you should care: If this is a "rule", and people break it without being punished, they may have the courage to break other rules you may feel more strongly about.
How this can be fixed: Jagex should create a Wiki page for "Offensive username" as a genuine rule. Then they should start reading offensive username reports more carefully and perhaps get more help.
The problem: Spamming.
Why this is important: It's nice to be able to use public chat for...public chat.
The current solution: Report the player and/or add them to the ignore list.
Jagex's view: "Spamming/flooding the chat window is to fill the chat window with unnecessary text. Players should refrain from spamming, as it can be detrimental to others enjoyment of the in game chat systems" (source). This is clear and there is no conflict with other sources.
Why this doesn't work: There are still many spammers in the Grand Exchange. In addition, how many times in how long do you have to type something in order to spam? In other words, is there a definite threshold?
Why you should care: You would like to be able to use public chat, right? And most players would like to be able to type "Buying X" or "Selling Y" without worrying about a mute.
How this can be fixed: Jagex should implement some new content. Players could have "floating text" that stays over their heads without them typing it over and over again, perhaps along with their name. They would also be able to toggle this feature, and the text may be selected from a preselected database such as Quick Chat with more fill-in options. Even if any text was allowed, many gold farming accounts already replicate this by creating many accounts.
The problem: Solicitation.
Why this is important: This is not the purpose of the chat part of RuneScape.
The current solution: Report the player and/or add them to the ignore list.
Jagex's view: "This is not a dating site after all!" It is clear they oppose it.
Why this doesn't work: One can visit world 1 and see many players asking for a boyfriend or girlfriend, along with much more extreme requests that can be made without fear of a mute. A euphemism is "role-playing." Players also often ask for your age, even though it is technically against the rules to for you to say your own age.
Why you should care: Popular areas should be a place for healthy chat, trading, and so on, and not like a dating site.
How this can be fixed: Jagex needs to recognize that people are doing these things and decide if they are against the rules. If they are, they should mute or ban accordingly, instead of ignoring it.
The problem: Multiple logging-in.
Why this is important: Unfair advantages can be gained by using two accounts, and furthermore, people should not feel pressured to have multiple accounts to keep up.
Jagex's view: The RS wiki clearly states that it is not allowed. However, a reliable friend told me he heard first-hand from a Jmod that having two accounts logged in with one in the lobby is acceptable. This seems to be partially acknowledged by a Forum moderator post, although it could be an oversight.
The current solution: One should report the player, but under which rule is unclear.
Why this doesn't work: There is no clear way to draw the line. If a second account can be in the lobby, why can it not stand around in Lumbridge chatting? There is also confusion - many players incorrectly believe it is okay to log in two accounts if they use two different computers. It is also not clear how to report multi-loggers, since there is no option under the "Report Abuse" screen.
Why you should care: There are many places where people using two accounts give themselves an advantage, such as Dungeoneering. Why should they have an advantage over people following the rules?
How this can be fixed: It won't be easy, but Jagex should at least make it clear that it is not allowed under any circumstances, and enforce the rule a little better.
The problem: AFKing.
Why this is important: Many people "AFK" and it therefore concerns them.
Jagex's view: "AFK (away from keyboard) training is as much a breach of our rules as Macroing. Both methods of training allow a player to increase their levels in a way that they would not be able to do themselves and that provides them with an unfair advantage" (source).
The current solution: The best option for dealing with people who are AFKing seems to be to report the behavior under macroing on the in-game screen, as no other categories come close.
Why this doesn't work: If you check at spots where AFKing could be beneficial, you will find people still do this. For example, they AFK at relatively safe combat training areas (fleshies, experiments, etc.), Living Rock Caverns, or Artisan's workshop. In short, they are not being banned.
Why you should care: If someone else is training their skills without even being at their computer, they have an advantage over you. And should we report people who are "AFK?" How do we tell if they are AFK? If they don't talk, maybe they just do not want to chat.
How this can be fixed: Jagex should again tell players about this rule, beyond a blurb in a Q&A. Or, if they cannot make sure people follow it, it should not be against the rules.
The problem: Website advertising/sharing email
Jagex's view: On their wiki, Jagex says advertising any website or product is not allowed. In a forum thread this is softened, but this still does not allow you to say a common site like Facebook or Google. Sharing email addresses is prohibited. On the other hand, Jagex has hinted it is acceptable in private chat, "So, if a fellow clan member wants to check out your clan site and you tell them in private chat, I can't see that being a big issue, as it's not advertising the site. ;)" (source).
Why this is important: Just like "spam" email, website advertising is despised by most players. Sharing email is done (I assume) mainly because of RuneScape's lack of an offline PM system and the vast number of people who possess an email account.
The current solution: Report offenders under the appropriate rule.
Why this doesn't work: A player who reads the Rules of Runescape will conclude that they cannot say they like the soft drink Coke, cannot recommend an amazing site called Tip.It, cannot say go to or write the address of Jagex's Facebook page, and cannot suggest that a friend could find information that they request on Google. Also, you can only say "Irc" with the filter off, which refers to a third party client and not profanity. Finally, if two complicit players want to share such details in private chat, they will not suffer any penalty.
Why you should care: Almost everyone has shared a link over RuneScape. Since Tip.It is not censored it may be a bad example, but suppose it were "tipit.com." Then people would have to evade the filter merely to suggest a "Platinum fan-site" to another player. Also, many people have shared an email address or chatting ID to another program and have not been muted for it. People should care if this is actually acceptable!
How this can be fixed: Add a toggle to the website filter for either 13+ or 18+, and make only unsolicited website advertising reportable. For example, if someone asks where to get help on RuneScape, suggesting "Tip.It" would be okay, but spamming their PM with random websites would not be allowed. Unfortunately, without a loss of privacy or Jagex creating a viable alternative, players will continue sharing email addresses. Perhaps Jagex should examine whether this is really so dangerous, or allow it for certain ages.
The problem: Dicing.
Jagex's view: Jagex has a recent forum post saying gambling is discouraged.
Why this is important: Consider all the former and current people hosting "dice games" in world 1 and other locations.
The current solution: Jagex waits until an item becomes used for widespread betting games, and then proceeds to remove it. If there's anything players can do aside from ignoring the dicers, I have not found it.
Why this doesn't work: Is dicing against the rules? Will people be punished for it? This also does not stop people from using an IRC to generate random numbers (see also Website Advertising).
Why you should care: You have a right to know whether "dicers" in world 1 can be reported.
How this can be fixed: Jagex makes a rule "no dicing" and lets people report for it.
The problem: Account buying/selling.
Jagex's view: They oppose this, as seen on their Wiki page.
Why this is important: Account buying/selling, if not "disallowed," shares many problems as any black market including scamming and legitimacy issues.
The current solution: Report players for Account Buying/Selling.
Why this doesn't work: Recently I have seen many people selling or buying an account. They can also use a level 3 account to advertise and set up the transaction.
Why you should care: As Jagex says, the account should only be owned by one player, who has trained it from the start.
How this can be fixed: This is not clear, but perhaps punishments could become greater by IP address, regardless of which account committed the original offense.
Jagex seems to have been ignoring these problems with the rules. In doing so, it sends a message to players that they will not be punished, and furthermore, no one really cares about the rules. Effectively, it seems as if Jagex has said "You can break the rules, but keep a low profile."
If you feel the solutions I offered will be hard for Jagex to put in the game or finding a solution will not be possible, then you are proving my point: tackling botting was the easy part.
With all that negativity, the situation might seem hopeless. It isn't. Jagex has a working model, and needs to look no further than their own forum. Despite being plagued by "trolls", there is an easy system to report them, by posting on the "Forum Help" thread. Empirically, people (presumably fmods) read my post quickly, and if they agree they hide the offending posts (and sometimes even more). This is done on a queue system. We don't know if there is a similar queue for abuse reports, or pmods have the power and authority to decide on them and deal mutes or bans.
If Jagex cannot or will not respond to abuse reports in a timely manner, they should at least clarify their rules, and perhaps turn to their players for help. Of course, the ultimate responsibility falls on the player to follow the rules - but I think it's fair to ask for some clarification for greater transparency regarding the exact statement of those rules.
DISLCAIMER: Despite whether or not they can be broken, I strongly encourage you to try to follow the rules and encourage others to also do so.