Yesterday I received an interesting question from a miner I had criticized and bumped for being AFK. What exactly is AFK mining? In her opinion, being away from keyboard for a few minutes during the mining cycle isn't AFK mining at all. Others would classify that as being "semi-AFK," a deliberately ambiguous term akin to "semi-murderer." The question remains, how long can a miner stay away from keyboard during the mining cycle and not be considered AFK? A majority of the cycle? A few minutes? A few seconds?
My own view comports with the position taken by the New Halaima Code of Conduct, which states, "All miners are expected to remain at their keyboards at all times..." That means if you're mining, you need to be at your keyboard. The temptation to drift toward AFKness is simply too strong to give them any leeway. Most miners know how long their mining cycles last, right down to the second. If they know they don't need to be back at their keyboard to shuffle their ice out of the mackinaw for another 15 minutes, letting them go away--even for a minute--will naturally lead them toward not returning until the 15 minutes is almost up.
In the case of bathroom breaks, I do ask that miners dock up first, or ask me for permission to go. In many cases, I will allow a miner to take a bathroom break. I'm not a monster. However, I'll deny the request if they need to "do a number two," because that can turn into a long process for some people under some circumstances. You wouldn't go on a break like that if you were in the middle of a fleet fight, and I see no reason why it should be any different for mining in highsec.
As with other seemingly complicated questions, things are greatly simplified if we just return to the Code and see what is written. In the provision on AFK mining, the Code also states, "...[miners] are required to prove their presence by responding in local when requested by the Supreme Protector." Doesn't that just make intuitive sense? If you can't promptly respond to me in local when I ask you a question, you're AFK.
There are other things that get in the way of a prompt response to my questions in local, such as people tabbing through other channels, but that's a post for another day.