Well, there are two behaviors, and two opinions as to which is better. I like a system that has “mute”, which is more like what it’s doing now, more than a system that has “block”, which is what you’re describing. So let’s be clear and define them:
- If I say block, I mean a 2-way relationship. If A blocks B, then neither A nor B can see messages sent by the other.
- If I say mute, I mean a 1-way relationship. If A blocks B, then A can’t see messages sent by B, but B will continue to see messages sent by A.
Here’s the social problem with “block”, as learned over the years by everyone’s favorite haven for harassment: Twitter.
Originally, Twitter implemented only the two-way block. The idea is that if you block somebody and they can’t see what you say anymore, they’ll have lost their ability to participate in the conversation and will be repentant. This seems obviously perfect, especially if you’ve never been harassed before.
But if you have been harassed, you know where this goes. The people doing the harassment thrive on attention. If you block them, it’s clear you got their message and were upset enough to do something about it. Score! How do they know you blocked them? Easy. They are also watching all your friends, and can see that your friends are engaging with you but your messages aren’t on their feed. Or: they have multiple accounts, and can see you on one you haven’t blocked yet. The end result: they know they got through to you and hurt you, so they create new accounts and harass you from those.
(A root issue here is “it is easy to create a new account”, that can’t be solved in many situations.)
Eventually Twitter implemented “mute” in addition to “block”. This works better in the face of relentless harassment from an individual. Let’s walk through the scenario again. They say something really hurtful, and you mute them. On their end, it looks like you ignored them. They can still see everything you say, but you’re frustratingly not acknowledging their hurtful statement. Maybe, eventually, they decide you must have muted them and switch to an alternate account. You do get hurt, and mute that one too. Again, they aren’t sure if you just have thick skin or have muted them. It’s very frustrating: they are working very hard to get a reaction out of you and not getting that reaction. In the case of online harassers, this tends to make them get bored and go chase dumber targets that react.
(A problem in Twitter’s context is it’s too easy to organize rings of bots that produce more harassment than a mute or block feature can deal with. GoW isn’t plagued with this problem so far.)
Anyway, bringing it back:
I think “mute”, the current behavior, is better. It doesn’t give jerks the pleasure of feedback. Some people wear “so and so has blocked me” like a badge of honor. I don’t like making those people smile.