WoWInsider posted a post about how to best go about killing people while their doing their Molten Front dailies, fittingly written for the rogue-column (no prejudice here). It of course drew up a fuckstorm of opinons, ranging mostly from "people who enjoy this kind of behavior are complete assholes" to "why get so excited? It's all in good fun". First of all we have to acknowledge that there really are two different questions in this debate and they don't necessarily have the same answer.
The first question is whether it is ok to post a text describing, making fun off or otherwise explaining how to engage in this behavior.
The other question is whether the behavior in itself is ok.
I'm one of those people who think it is ok to make fun of just about anything. It's not so much what you say, as how you do it (and to some extent, why). There are plenty of cruel and tasteless jokes (but Love wouldn't allow me to post any because he'd be afraid you'd only get hung up on that) that still can highlight a problem, a line of reasoning or just be so satirical that you feel bad about yourself for even laughing at it. Most of the jokes in South Park work this way. A joke doesn't have to be all bad just because it is tasteless, it's not that black and white. So even if I completely disagree with the behavior of griefing, I think a column like Chase Christians could have values. But I of course have my limits. Mocking people who are being mistreated for pleading for help and/or understanding are the kind of jokes I'll never enjoy. Because I simply don't enjoy griefing myself I'll admit I didn't read Chase's column very thoroughly, so I don't know if it went that far, but I do know that the behavior he describes is based on this kind of amusement. Also of what I read I must say it was difficult to see that it was meant jokingly (I'm assuming it has to be that way).
Griefing is all about laughing at people for trying to save themselves in helpless situations. I know people who grief and gank mostly actually enjoy the feeling of having ruined it for another person. That is really what they're after. Not that they've won, because then they would've engaged in one on one combat with someone who can fight back. Not that they've succeeded with a difficult task, because then they'd go and try to kill Patchwerk solo. What they want is exactly the feeling of knowing that they've angered or saddened another person, without that person actually having done anything to them. I will admit that I love, absolutely farking adore, to be able to be a bitch to someone who's been a bitch to me. Ninja my purple and I will let you die, first chance I get. But that's about revenge, and revenge is a beautiful thing. Revenge is what gave us The Count of Monte Cristo and Wuthering Heights (and unfortunately, Moby Dick). But these people are completely unprovoked and do it because they can. Even real evil is motivated by greed or ideology, what this is is just pure spite. There is no money or feeling of greater good in it, they do it just for the feeling of being able to put someone else down. To me, that is the most despicable form of human behavior.
But you chose a pvp-server, you get to suit yourself!
Ah yes, my favorite argument. I don't know how many times I've cursed myself for choosing to play on a pvp-server. I can only imagine that the reason I completely neglect ever doing dailies is because of the frustration I've felt from being ganked somewhere way back. I hardly get ganked anymore since I rarely play in areas where people of the other faction play. Yes, I do get to suit myself for choosing a pvp-server. Eventhough I did choose it because my friends played there and before I even knew what it would actually mean, I completely agree with that. But that is not the same as saying - it's a pvp server, so we should act like total asshats. That my friend, is a reasoning below even a 5-year old. That is like saying I should accept people who ninja when I go into a pug. Expect, sure. Accept, no.
Just because the behavior is possible doesn't mean I have to like it, accept it or condone it. It comes down to whether we think world-pvp is about griefing or not. Let me tell you, it's not. World-pvp is as much about griefing as pugging is about ninjaing, afking, overpulling, name-calling or any other behavior that is completely unecessary to get the instance done. People who say "we should because we can" tend to forget what would happen if everyone engaged in their behavior. But I know people who love world-pvp, who love being attacked while questing just so they can get some ruthless retaliation going on. And I don't mind people who attack me while I quest, I don't mind people who run by my lowbie and just can't resist to gank me. I don't mind people killing eachother because they're fighting over the same mobs or resources. That's completely ok, that's part of the thing about being on a pvp-server, always having to check your back. Randomly killing someone of the opposing faction is what world-pvp is about.
I do mind people who just run around with nothing else on their mind but to ruin eachothers gameplay. It's still a long step from ganking to griefing. Killing someone who doesn't stand that you happen to come across is one thing. Seeking out people to kill who don't stand a chance is another. You might say that it all comes down to motivations and we can never truly know another persons thoughts, but you can definitely tell a ganker from a griefer.
World-pvp is built around trust, just as any other social interaction is. Blizzard can't go on regulate every little thing just because there are some people who think it is fun to abuse the system or who ultimately think only about themselves. Eventhough these people always are around, they're still only a minority (although in WoW sometimes I wonder...). That's why they won't change the need/greed system too much because it wouldn't allow for any flexibility. Same thing with world-pvp. Blizzard let the system be the way it is because the occasional gank, killing of other faction while questing or all the other clashes that happen when we meet in the world actually are what world-pvp are about. We wouldn't want them change the entire system just because a few people can't handle that freedom.
I'm not going to take this into a discussion about morale and ethics. This is an opinion, my own and shared by plenty of others. I'm not saying it's more right and better than anyone elses, like I said I know a couple of people who love the way world-pvp works, including the griefing. They love it because they know that if they can be griefed, they can do it to someone else too, and that is good enough for them. But most people don't enjoy griefing, whether being griefed or griefing others and would probably prefer that it wasn't a part of world-pvp, I belong to those.
If you've read the Isaac Asimov foundation series, and I don't just mean the Foundation books, but the entire World-Empire, Robot-series you'll know that (SPOILER HERE BTW) his robots finally decide that the best way to protect humans is to relieve them of any possibilities. Best thing would be to make them all vegetables. Because the more rights they have to make their own choices, the more freedom they have, the likelier it is that someone will abuse that right to hurt someone. Just because I accept that risk because I like that freedom, doesn't mean I accept the behavior. And it doesn't make the behavior any more right.