A mute is a punishment that Jagex gives to players for breaking the Rules of Conduct. They are an alternative for bans, commonly issued to first-time offenders for minor offences, in the Respect category. Mutes have a duration, similar to bans. During a mute, players may log into RuneScape (unlike a ban), but when the muted player trys to use normal chat, it will not show up on other players' chat windows, and a message will inform the player that they have been muted for breaking the Rules of conduct. However, muted players can still use the Quick Chat system to communicate with other players. Additionally, players who are muted ingame cannot post on the forums. Mutes can be either temporary or permanent. Temporary mutes are more common and may have durations ranging from as little as 24 hours or a few days to several weeks or even months, depending on the offence(s). Permanent mutes are only given out for major offences or when the mute meter in the offence system maxes out, as a means of stopping them from performing any scam or breach of the Rules of Conduct which would require the player to speak ingame.
Mutes are highly controversial, as muted players have limited options to interact with other players, including trading or clan activities. The only ways a muted player can communicate are by using emotes, the Quick Chat system, or some means of external communication. Muted players are sometimes (but rarely) subjected to abuse for being macroers, unless they make use of Quick Chat. Mutes also make RuneScape extremely boring as they have extremely limited options for socializing with other players while doing boring tasks, and most fun aspects of RuneScape, such as minigames involve interaction with other players. Many muted players quit RuneScape during their mute. Players that are permanently muted often either quit completely or transfer their items to another character through drop trading, then cancel their membership (if they have one) and abandon the account. This again draws criticism, as a player who breaks the Rules of Conduct enough to receive a permanent mute is able to simply transfer their items to a secondary account and start a new one. Regardless, this usually ends up with both accounts being banned anyway for multiple logging-in.