WoW for me is about 25% play time and 75% chat time — no joke.  Between my guildies and friends list, there’s always a bunch of people who have something to say; whether I’m sitting in Dal doing nothing or chasing adds in Ulduar, there’s really no getting away from it. 

For the most part, I like the activity as it keeps the game interesting.  There are times, though, when it can get stressful and particularly difficult to manage…especially when impatience comes into play.  It’s easy to forget that chatting with someone over the internet is not, in fact, equivalent to a phone call.  You don’t have each other’s full attention — a fact people frequently fail to take into account when they get upset over delays in response time.

Instead of flying off the handle or dreaming up a bunch of negative nonsense to worry over, take a sec to examine the situation.

Here’s what I figure are the main reasons, from most likely to least likely, why a person may not reply to your whisper: 

a. They might be busy.

Hard to believe sometimes, but WoW is not a chat client.  Chances are your whisper target is doing something while you’re talking to them, so be sure to keep that in mind before you send them another prodding (and often times rude!) whisper.  That aside, a player’s ability to chat is sometimes limited by the class they’re playing.  A paladin, for example, can be safely left on auto-attack pretty much indefinitely while the player does whatever else; on the other hand, a rogue will have his ass handed to him within seconds if not closely watched.

Additionally, there are times in-game when hitting enter to access the chat window simply isn’t an option: in the AH window where you post auctions, for instance, and when composing an in-game mail.

b. They may have missed it.

Most folks don’t split up their chat windows, so they get blasted with lines of text almost all the time — especially when they’re in a capital city.  The various global chat channels move so fast…blink an eye and you may’ve just missed an important tell!  It’s not hard to miss a whisper crammed in between the otherwise impressive ascii STFU Truck and some desperate person’s enchant spam, so take it easy.

Other possibility in this vein?  You might not be the only person whispering your target.  If it’s an involved conversation, your tell can easily be overlooked.

c. They might be AFK.

This is obvious.  We all need to pee or get food or answer the phone, and we don’t always raise a flag each time it happens.  Just because the game isn’t marking a player as legitimately AFK doesn’t mean they aren’t.

d. You’re being willfully ignored.

See how this one came 4th and not 1st?  There’s no reason to default to the assumption that the person you’re looking to reach is choosing to not reply.   Most people reply when spoken to!

That being said, it is possible that your whisper target is through speaking with you.  Usually you can tell why a conversation’s come to an end (e.g. nothing more to say, suddenly busy or AFK, upsetting subject matter, etc.), but if it’s tough to gauge for whatever reason, try to attempt resuscitation once and once only.  Learning when to cease and desist is an art, but it’s worth the trouble experimenting with it in order to get it right.

e. They don’t know how to reply.

There was once a time when I didn’t know what a chat channel was, let alone how to access one.  There are tons of people like this, and it’s important that we show them a bit of patience; those few nice high-levels that showed you the ropes back when you were in Linen Boots really made the game for you, didn’t they? 

f. Their UI chat settings may be set to filter you out.

There are a crazy amount of mods out there, and Blizzard’s made tons of changes to the way the chat UI works, so it should not be a stretch to consider that your UI may not work like your whisper target’s.  Narrow down the possibilities by trying an alternate channel.  At worst?  Send them an in-game mail when you get a chance.

Just remember: if you’re really, truly being ignored by the person you’re trying to reach, WoW will politely tell you so.  If you didn’t get the “You are being ignored.” message when you hit the /r, take a deep breath and try again in 10 or 15.

Communication is what makes the game new each time you log in, so make sure you do what you can to keep the experience a good one for all involved!