In the recent few months of playing, I've noticed a lot of people being accused of AFK and been reported for it when they were not connected to the game in the first place. I don't find this is good for the community as it leads to a "blame culture" in which people are reported for reasons that they shouldn't really be and potentially removed from the game for something outside of their control. As such, I want to explain the difference between AFK and disconnect.
"AFK" means "Away From Keyboard". It therefore means that the player is no longer playing the game but their attention is elsewhere while they are still connected to the internet and therefore, the game. This is the offense listed in the report option at the end of the game. If someone is playing and leaves or rages and says something like "X is fed, Y is noob, so i'm AFK'ing" then that's something you can report. The telltale sign for an AFK is if someone stops responding in a safe place on the map. If they have to go elsewhere, they tend to go somewhere safe as not to be a free kill for the enemy team. If I have to AFK (phone, door etc) I try to recall first or leave as I'm recalling. AFK just happens sometimes. What's important is to learn to deal with it and not rage at the person because nowadays, the community almost look for excuses to report people. "Darius stole my blue buff with his passive! REPORT!" Though unrelated, if you've ever seen something like that, you will know what I mean. As a personal guideline, if someone does go AFK, I ignore it if they come back within the next 2/3 mins or if they gave a prior warning, a reason and they came back within their predicted timeframe if provided. If someone AFK's and comes back 20 mins later, I might report them, might not. Usually I don't. Coming back is better than not coming back at all. If they never return, I do.
This is not a bannable thing, nor should it be reportable. But people still do so, which is why I'm here writing this. Disconnects happen against the player's will. They are out of the control of the player. If they can't do anything about it, they are personally not at fault, therefore, the incident should be ignored. Before a game starts, the way to tell if someone is not connected is if their champion art does not appear at all on the loading screen. It means they lost connection to the internet or the game itself between champions select and loading. If the game starts without them, then they are with 100% certainty, disconnected. If I see that, I never, ever report that. If they do something else like racial remarks or something, then of course, but if it is ONLY the disconnect, I ignore it completely. Players also disconnect in-game. As with all disconnects, it happens against the will of the player. Hence, I ignore it. To tell if someone has disconnected, just check to see if they are running back to base ignoring everything. Turrets, champions, whatever. If they do that, they are most definitely disconnected. I have a bad internet service where I live. The connection drops out for about 5 minutes 3 or 4 times a day. When I am about to disconnect while playing, I tend to get a few seconds of lag, then disconnnect about 20 seconds later. If I get that lag, I warn my team. "Getting lags. Net gonna cut out." If I do disconnect (which I do, 9/10 times), then at the very least, my team knows it's coming. Warning them is better than suddenly disconnecting with no prior warning, trust me. It helps people distunguish between when it was and wasn't your own choice that you left the game temporarily. If something like this happens, I never, ever, ever report it.
At the Shop
This is just a little something I noticed. When someone spends a long time at the shop, maybe with tons of gold, or are undecisive with what item(s) to buy or are maybe waiting an item out, then some people immediately blame them for AFK because they haven't left the fountain for 30 secs. Even though they didn't AFK, they still get raged at. It's kinda sad. If I'm gonna be a long time, I tell my team "Got 3k gold, so much to buy" or "need 30 gold for Deathcap, waiting it out". Something like that. If I am waiting something out, I tend to pace around the fountain so they can see movement and that I am not AFK.
I just hope that anyone who read this and didn't know the difference does now. If I saved even one person from being removed from the game because they disconnected, but are mass reported for AFK, then I did my job.