Responding to Inappropriate and Prank Chats

AskAway has guidelines in place to help you respond to patrons who are abusing the service with prank calls, inappropriate language, or rude behaviour. They're designed to provide you with the tools you need to communicate clearly with the patron, give them an opportunity to change their behaviour, and if needed, to end the session.

In addition to these guidelines, here are some general tips to respond to inappropriate and prank chats based on feedback and input from service providers:

1) Use the reference interview to determine if there's a legitimate information need

2) Use scripts to clearly communicate the purpose of AskAway and what type of behaviour is not tolerated

  • Service providers have reported that the formality of scripts can be effective at moving the conversation in a positive direction
  • The scripts are a great jumping off point - you can always edit them to suit the particular situation
  • The following scripts can be especially helpful at communicating the purpose of AskAway or what behaviour will not be tolerated:
    • Chat - Citation Limits
    • Chat - Limits
    • Chat - Refer Public / Research / Writing
    • Problem - Prank
    • Problem - Rude
  • Tip: Each script has a keyword to help you bring it up quickly using the type-ahead feature in LibraryH3lp, but not all keywords are as intuitive as we'd like. For example, the Problem - Prank script doesn't have the word prank in it. One suggestion shared by a service provider is to make a copy of this script in your Personal scripts and add the word Prank at the beginning. That way, you can bring it up quickly, delete the word "prank," and send it.

3) If the patron is not responding to the scripts, you have the option to block for 24 hours using the red "block" button in LibraryH3lp

  • Before using the block feature, send the following script to let them know you are ending the session:
    • Problem - End Session: "Because you are continuing to abuse the service, I am terminating the chat and reporting it to the AskAway administrative team. You are welcome to use AskAway later when you can be respectful."
      • Note: This script has been updated recently so that it can be used more broadly when a service provider decides to end a session or block a session if the patron continues to abuse the service.

4) As an alternative to using the block feature, you can hang on to the chat, minimize it in your LibraryH3lp webclient, and temporarily turn off your "Chat message sound" notifications (if they're turned on). This way, if they continue to send messages, they will not disturb you or other service providers

5) Add the Inappropriate / Prank tag to your chat session and report it to the Administrative Centre. This helps us track any patterns and respond appropriately.