AFK, or now known as Away, is an acronym for Away From Keyboard, meaning a user is not at their computer. It is a common acronym and phenomenon all over the internet, not just in World of Warcraft. In WoW, an /afk command exists which lets users who message you know that you are AFK.  The name of the character will show up as <AFK>Name, and an auto-response will be sent to anyone who sends the flagged user a tell. A message can also be typed after /afk which will be included in the auto-reply. Auto responses will also be sent for ready checks. As of patch 3.3.5, with the introduction of the new BattleNet RealID system players will be marked as 'Away' rather than 'AFK'.
Typing /afk while in a battleground makes you leave that battleground. However, doing so will give the player the Deserter debuff, which prevents joining a battleground for 15 minutes.
You can make your AFK-status more detailed by adding any notes "behind" the /afk. This can be used to tell people why you are AFK and how long you will be gone. Some addons will also make your AFK (and DND) more detailed, giving automatic replies telling where you character is located and the like.
- Person A says: /afk eating food.
- Person B says: /w A Hello.
- Person B receives: A is Away from Keyboard: eating food
Various AFK mechanics
- You are marked AFK automatically after 5 minutes without any interaction.
- You'll be logged off and sent to the character selection screen if you are AFK for 30 minutes.
- You'll be disconnected from the server if you remain at the character selection screen for 30 minutes.
In your Interface Options, under Controls, you can select "Auto Cancel Away Mode", which will automatically unset the AFK flag when talking or moving. It should be noted that any input that would reset the AFK flag if auto clear AFK is enabled will also reset the afk timer, regardless the user having the option disabled.
As AFK may be used to let people you don't want to talk with believe you are not available at the moment, it may be useful to make a macro which marks you AFK and keeps you so no matter what you do. To do this, one must access the CVar Auto Clear AFK while adding a simple AFK-commando.
/run if IsShiftKeyDown()then SetCVar("AutoClearAFK", 1);else SetCVar("AutoClearAFK", 0);end /afk /run if IsShiftKeyDown()then print("Auto-Clear AFK is now enabled.");else print("Auto-Clear AFK is now disabled.");end
When this macro is simply clicked, it will mark you AFK if you are not already marked so (in that case it will remove AFK-status. Clicking the macro once more will solve this). It will also turn Auto Clear AFK off, preventing actions you make from removing your AFK-status. If you hold down the Shift-key while pressing the macro, Auto Clear AFK will be turned on again. Both actions will be notified to you via private messages.