When Raiders Only Partially Depart a Guild

When you've decided a guild's progression in raiding is not to your liking, or there are fundamental conflicts between the guild's raiding style and how you'd like things to be done, that's typically a good reason for a gquit. My horde guild has seen a few such gquits over the past few months, and I have to say, it was a good decision for the folks who did so, even tho I was personally bummed to see the folks go. 

What's been interesting to me over the years is seeing how many folks choose to leave their alts in their departed raiding team's guild, and still clock in on the guild forums each day. Because whenever I've left one raiding guild for another, I haven't felt the urge to keep a toe in where I was leaving, because I've never left on a whim — it's always been due to some sort on intractable issue or incompatibility.

In most cases, I've done a full-scale move into a new guild. But on one occasion, I only moved my main out of my friends and family guild so she could raid, leaving all my alts behind. The alts' guild has not been raiding this expansion, so it wasn't any sort of an issue for folks that I'd done that. In fact, several members had done likewise once it was clear our scrappy little raiding team wasn't going to head into Naxx when the bulk of us hit 80. 

Former Raiders and the Guild Forums: Not a Match Made in Heaven

In the case of my first time in this position, our guild forums were not especially active, so my moving one character out and still spending a ton of time on my alts didn't cause even a ripple of drama. I wish I could say the same for other folks in that position in guilds that had a more active forums culture. In most cases, it became a source of ongoing drama in the guild until the person either voluntarily moved on, or had the gkick door hit them in the ass to show them the way out.

The primary issues that can flare up are pretty consistent:

  • Bragging about their new guild's progress. Guess what? The guild you left probably has had to struggle some as a result. They aren't really interested in hearing about your successes. And if they are, people will ask you directly.
  • Bagging on their old guild's policies/strategies. You chose to take your ball and go home by taking your raiding toon out of a guild. To me, that also means by choosing to be part of the problem, and not part of the solution to the issues that made you leave, you should also give up your right to lecture/ harangue/ complain/ berate others about said issues.
  • Providing unsolicited advice. The fact that your new guild flawlessly executed on a fight your old guild has been struggling on is not an open invitation for you to school them on how to do the fight. You forget you were right back here with the rest of us, struggling, not so long ago. I assure you, if folks want your advice and tips, they will most certainly ask for them. If you find yourself incapable of keeping unsolicited advice to yourself, go play on the WoW Forums or start a blog!
  • Continuing to fight old fights. You've gone on to greener pastures. Get over those old grudges. bury those old hatchets. Move on. Don't camp the forums and pick fights with the same people with whom you have been picking fights with for months.
  • No one cares at all about the new gear you've obtained. Your momma doesn't even care. Don't link it to us in chat. Or post about it on the forums. Seriously, no one cares. At best, it makes others think your primary motivation is lewt. And no one wants to be that guy.

Having been on both sides of the fence with this quandary, I have to say it's incredibly difficult in most cases to have someone move their raiding main to a new guild and maintain a collegial relationship with the guild they left their alts behind in. Even if you aren't engaged in any of the above guild forum faux pas, the folks you've left behind may perceive a hidden agenda in anything you say after you've left. And honestly, you've taken your ball and gone home. You can't expect others to not feel a little bitter about that.

That said, you may be in the position of having had a personality conflict with a guild leader that drove you out. Or some other big ticket issue that you tried really hard to resolve to your liking before finally going out the door. Your leaving on your main did not resolve that conflict. it is still there. And in some cases, it escalates the conflict. I suppose if you are someone who thrives on drama and conflict and loves to argue, this is a dream scenario. But I know for myself personally, it's neither fun to watch nor to participate in.

So What's a Guild to Do?

There are a few ways to minimize the conflict that can result when a main raider leaves the guild and wants to still participate on their alts.

The guild leadership can:

  1. Consider creating a special level of forums access that somewhat restricts the discussions in which these persons can participate. Give those left behind a place where they can talk about raiding challenges amongst the team — without feedback from those whoa re no longer participating as part of the raiding team.
  2. Restrict moderation and special forums access only to those with mains participating in raids/the guild.
  3. Continue to check-in with guildies to see how they are feeling about their former raiding peers' interactions with them on the forums. If the scale tips too far into the bad, you risk losing currently active members over those who've already left you once.

The guild member can:

  1. Consider the issues described above and try to participate in a respectful manner on the forums.
  2. If you had a conflict with a specific guild leader, put them on ignore. You can make your friends swear to tell you if they are talking crap about you. Ignoring them doesn't make the conflict disappear, but it keeps your blood pressure down and can keep drama from flaring up.
  3. Make sure you are remaining in the guild on your alts for the right reason, i.e. because you really love playing with the members. The wrong reasons include because you want a safety net in case your new guild doesn't work out, or because you want to show everyone else how awesome you are and they aren't.
  4. Check in with yourself often to make sure it's still working out for you to continue your dual life. It's hard to maintain friendships — or even get to know new members — when your primary play time sink is outside of the guild. Knowing when to say goodbye and leave on good terms can be hard. Which is why it is important to periodically self-evaluate how things are going.

How does your guild handle this sort of a situation?

Personal Accountability: A Raider’s Checklist

It’s really easy to be that guy who posts a complaint in your guild’s forums about how everyone did a crappy job last night in the raid. Or to start pointing fingers via raid chat and vent when things start to go south. But regardless of how thoughtful or valid your criticism may be, if you’re not doing everything you personally can to help your raid be successful, your comments are going to fall on deaf ears. Because if you don’t demonstrate personal accountability, frankly, no one is going to listen to your point of you.

What is personal accountability?

Personal accountability in a raiding setting can be roughly defined as being aware of how your personal actions and decisions contribute to the overall success or failure of the raid. That’s right, YOU. Regardless of what your raid role is. Your choices and actions affected the outcome of that last raid in which you participated. Not just what everybody else did.

When tempted to start diagnosing the causes of a less than spectacular raiding night, you need to start with looking at yourself, and answering these questions:

Did I come to this raid prepared?

  • Did I read the strats/watch a video of the fights with which I am less familiar?
  • Was I online, gear repaired, with all my reagents/consumables, en route to or already at the raid location at invite time?
  • Did I ensure my significant other/parent/dog understood I was going to be unavailable to them for the course of the raid time and was OK with me spending the entire raid time online, not tending to them?
  • If I know in advance that I cannot stay through the end of the raid for some unavoidable reason (think called in to work, not buddy called and wants to go grab some beers), did I tell the raid leader beforehand so I could be replaced either for the whole raid or the portion I can not attend, or better yet did I line up my own replacement?

Now that I’m at the raid, am I focused on the task at hand?

  • Did I turn off IM, minimize the Farmville, turn off the TV so I can pay attention to the raid?
  • Am I listening to Vent/TeamSpeek/Discord at a reasonable volume so I can hear anything my raid leader is trying to tell me?
  • Have I turned off any downloads/backups/console Internet connections that might cause me to lag horribly or DC?

Am I correctly performing the role I am assigned?

  • Did I switch targets when the raid leader asked me to do so, or did I stay on the boss or AOE instead?
  • Did I get in my fair share of interrupts/dispells/cleanses? Or did someone else on the team get stuck doing all that heavy lifting?
  • If I was asked, for the good of the raid, to swap into my off spec, did I do so pleasantly, or did I grumble/whine/complain/threaten to log off and hold up the raid for 10 minutes while arguing that someone else should have to swap roles and not me?
  • If someone else had the same job assigned, did I perform roughly the same as they did?
  • Did I die in a pool of slime, or in a fire, or in some other place I should not have been standing?
  • Did I die from pulling aggro off the boss?
  • Was I the first to die in every fight, due to some sort of avoidable issue/mechanic?

Am I playing my class to the best of its potential?

  • Is all my gear properly enchanted and gemmed?
  • Do I roughly understand the stat weightings for my gems and enchants, to evaluate which gem/enchant is better?
  • Is my main spec gear appropriate? i.e. I am not trying to heal in hit gear, or tank in DPS gear, or DPSing in PvP gear.
  • Do I know what a good solid rotation is that makes the most of my special abilities and cooldowns?
  • If there is someone else in the raid with my same spec, am I performing roughly as well as they are? If not, do I know why not? (Hint: If they are doing 2K more DPS than you, blaming their two pieces of better gear is not going to fly as a reason for that disparity)
  • If I am in a raid with someone who plays my same class/spec and they are a superstar, do I check recount and raid logs and armory or even PM them to see how I might improve my performance?

Tough Love

This is a big checklist. And from time-to-time, we’re going to slip up in one of these areas, such as by not knowing, after a patch, our most effective rotation. Or maybe we forget and put on a piece of gear we got last night and didn’t yet gem. These kinds of goofs happen and are forgivable. But if you can’t confidently check off most of these items, you are not in the best position to be offering up your unsolicited advice as to what the raid’s problems are.

Because you are, in fact, one of those problems.

But the good news is, the checklist doesn’t just show you potential issues, most items also include the “how to resolve the issue” portion too. No one expects their raid members to be perfect. But most folks do expect you to give a damn, and to make an effort. Addressing any gaps you have ID’d via this checklist is a great start.

Keeping it to Yourself: Lich King Edition

I've previously made the case for keeping Patch 3.3 Spoiler Free. And I have been happy to have kept myself in the cone of silence until I was able to see things for myself. But yesterday's buzz over the data mining of the Lich King cinematic makes it a good time to revisit the topic.

As soon as I started seeing the twitter buzz, I made my plea:

internets plz 2b keeping your lich king spoilers clearly marked so peeps don't get spoiled not by choice.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Re-Tweeted a few times. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to experience Arthas 1st hand when we eventually get to him. I wouldn't have watched a Sephiroth FFVII spoiler back in the day either. I don't shake my Christmas presents to try to guess what they might be. I don't read the final page of a novel first. I do like for a few things to be in the moment surprises.

First of all a big THANK YOU! to MMO Champion and WoW Insider for keeping their article headlines, which show up on feed readers all around the Web, clearly marked as containing spoilers inside, and not hinting at what they might entail.

I can totally understand the curiosity about what's going to happen next, and that some folks want to know now. I don't care if others ant the spoilers; I just hate when I get them not by choice. I'd like to think folks don't purposefully spoil stuff for others, rather that they get caught up and spill the beans. But the same way you wouldn't blab the ending of a new movie or the seasonal finale of LOST this year if you are on the East Coast to everyone, if you choose to read the spoilers, please think twice before sharing them some place the unwary can't avoid them.

GOOD: Behind an LJ Cut, behind a blog cut tag with lots of SPOILER! copy around it. BAD: On twitter, in guild chat, in various and sundry WoW chat channels. MARVELOUS: the #wrongspoilers the tweeps I follow were posting last night. Not only did a number of them make me LOL, they'll be sure to confound google real time search as well. mwahaha.

Happy Adventuring and thanks everyone for keeping this patch as spoiler-free as you have.

Countering a Misconception

On our Festergut 25 attempt this past Monday, I was blessed with being placed in the melee group. This meant I didn't get the barfs and could stand still and DPS the boss except when I was gifted with a spore I had to run to a ranged team. My DPS increased by 1300-1500 thanks to this placement And as expected, there was at least one public case of ruffled feathers over this placement.

Why did a shadow priest get this coveted placement over another DPS? Aren't shadow priests the class least affected by the having to run to and fro for Festergut? Alas, no, which should have been clear to the person asking me these questions if they had reviewed our raid logs. It takes a while for shadow priest DPS to ramp up. First, you have to get your 5 stacks of shadow weaving up. Next, you have to keep on refreshing that SW:P that you put up after those 5 stacks and during the use proc of your trinket, careful not to let it drop off. And finally, you want to keep your other DoTs up, without clipping them unnecessarily.

Yes, Devouring Plague is an instant cast. But Vampiric Touch isn't — it has a cast time so I can't cast it on the run. Ditto for Mind Blast. And Mind Flay is a channeled spell. And my Muradin's Spyglass rocks as long as I keep up my10 stacks at all times. So, not sure how one would come to think that the running in and out for spores would somehow not affect my DPS. I'm not just going to fling out DP until I am out of mana to try to keep the DPS flowing. And since you asked, no, in a fight with the entire raid taking damage, I'm not inclined to Shadow Word: Death myself either.

Being put on the spot, by someone I don't really know, who was jonesing for the special placement I'd gotten (which had netted me our #2 damage done slot overall for the fight, #4 on DPS) made me pretty uncomfortable. Personally, I wouldn't have brought it up in guild chat, or proceeded to whisper a guildie, asking them to justify why they deserved the spot. I stood in the middle because that's what my raid leader asked me to do, just as the prior week I'd stood at range, gotten the pukes just about every go, and done significantly less DPS.

This brings up a larger issue for me though which is not presuming to tell others how to play their class. Telling a guildie who excels at their class that they should do XYZ instead of what they are doing is out of line. Period. Firstly, it's not your business; if they want suggestions from the team they'll ask. And secondly, you don't top the damage charts by doing it wrong. You really don't. I promise. Facerolling OPd class du jour excepted, of course.

When in doubt, keep your opinions to yourself. When my guildie confessed he was jealous of my placement, after the harangue about my playing, I said "yeah." Because that much was apparent already, or we wouldn't have been having the conversation. A conversation that, to be totally honest, really turned me off. So next time you get the urge to offer some unsolicited advice to someone, considering keeping it to yourself. Or go tweet your thought or write a blog post. Your raid will be the better for it.

Keeping it to Yourself: Request for a Spoiler-Free Patch

As progress has been made on Patch 3.3, and files have been datamined and PTR time has been sent, a lot of Lore-related content has been posted on the Interwebs. And I made the decision not to read any of it. I want my first forays into Icecrown Citadel to be ones of discovery. In fact, that's a big reason why I didn't try  out the PTR.

My SO was lucky enough to have been part of WotLK BETA for a few months. I was able to poke around and learn everything I wanted to know about the profession and talent changes. And yes, I worked out my 3.0 build, my leveling build, and my lvl 80 build for my main well before the expansion hit the shelves. But even then I drew the line at spoiling the content for myself.

My first time through the Wrathgate cinematic, for instance, was amazing and moving. And it wouldn't have been as much so if I had seen it for the first time on Youtube. It involved my favorite Alliance hero, Bolvar Fordragon, who plays a large part in the new raid instance to come. And that is already more than I wanted to know in advance, but it was pretty much unavoidable.

Not all of us will hop into the 5-mans tonight when the servers come up. And my raid team is not scheduled to start content until Thursday. And thus, I make a small plea: when talking about content and Lore spoilers that this patch introduces, for at least this first week or so, please mark your post clearly with SPOILER. Hide spoiler content behind a cut or a jump.

Just like you don't want to find out what you're getting for Christmas by seeing a receipt in the trash can, I don't want to glean everything that is in store for me in 3.3 second or third-hand.

May your adventures in Icecrown be fruitful.

cheers,

Anexxia

We’re Not Friends

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"We're not friends. We're just online acquaintances."

This phrase, spat out over Vent in a mad GM rage, was one of the first hard lessons I learned playing WoW. It came from the mouth of the GM of what had been a fun friends and family guild that had some success with 10 man BC raiding, but was at loggerheads over an elephant in the room that went by the name of Our Main Tank Who Is Terrible But Since She is a Girl Our GM Has a Sort of Crush On We All Have to Compensate For It. For brevity, let's just call her Bad Tank. And in case you think I am being harsh, said tank could not stance dance (even after we all showed her how to do so via macro) so I did not get a Nightbane kill in Kara until I changed guilds. But I digress.

Our GM put us all in our place the night he flipped out. He made it clear that our roles in his life, as far as he was concerned, were interchangeable/replaceable cogs that allowed him to complete heroics and facilitate raiding. We would do as we were told or we could gtfo. We were not to confuse ourselves with having such an exalted status as that of friend. He did not give a crap about our opinions or feelings unless they were along the lines of how great a GM he was. And in this specific instance, he cared more about not hurting Bad Tank's feelings by replacing her with a more able tank on that fight than he cared about frustrating the rest of the guild. He lost three of his most competent raiders, but he was happier that way. Well, until Bad Tank stopped playing a week later to go horde with her new boyfriend. Cough.

His venomous assertion that we guildies were not his friends took me by surprise, to be frank. After our months of raiding together, hearing his tales of woe both job and girl related, I had started to think of him as a friend, not just some avatar I visited at my convenience when I wanted some new loot. Yes, I'd had fallings out with friends IRL before, but I'd never had someone say to me "we're not friends" with an undercurrent of superiority and arrogance.

The big lesson here of course is my perception of reality does not equal your or anyone else's perception of the same situation or place in time. And until someone gets a BFF tattoo with your name on it or mails you a gaily wrapped dragonling as a present, don't make any assumptions about your relationships with other people. Like my mom's smart ass boyfriend always said "You know what happens when you assume, right? You make an Ass out of U and Me." I have to remind myself of this unpleasant experience whenever the "but I thought we were friends…" phrase pops into my head in light of an interaction gone awry.

The crappy thing about this particular lesson is I've had to repeat it more than once, because it just never sinks in for me. I'm hard-headed and soft-hearted that way. If only the armory had a friend stat or achievement so you could more accurately gauge your friend faction with your online acquaintances. Maybe they'll add that to the guild functionality in the expansion.

😉

Until then, I'll keep on fighting the good fight, and keep on treating as friends the folks who make my online experience a fun way to spend my time. And as for those that turn out not to be friends after all? Well that is what ignore's for, and I've got a full 25 free spots I can fill, with 25 more after 3.3. You can't be on the same page with everyone all the time. All you can do is be true to yourself.

cheers.

Addressing Growing Pains Before You Need a Splint

With all the progress our casual guild has made over the past few months, it was inevitable we would have some growing pains. If you’ve ever been a part of a guild that was slowly but surely progressing into uncharted territory raiding-wise you’ve probably been through something similar:

  • Raid team has first half of raid on farm; previously disinterested guildies start signing up for farm night
  • A surge of new guild applicants all wanting to raid
  • As you near the final raid boss, the core raiding team members whom made the progress possible finds themselves losing rolls on major upgrades — or on raid spots for that matter — to folks who have attended one raid in three months
  • Forums drama ensues

A guild that lacks strong leadership or vision often crumbles in the midst of these sort of growing pains. Luckily for us, our thoughtful and inclusive officer team talked out these frustrations, and allowed us all as a guild to transform our vision of the guild’s approach to end game raiding.

The officers, after taking in guild discussion, came back to the forums with proposals — not mandates– that they received additional feedback on. A primary issue they addressed was we were leaning heavily upon three guildies for all our raid leading and strategy. In addition to burning them ut, it gave some less frequent raiders a sense they could show up, go through the motions, loot, and profit. We needed more raiding team involvement in making the raids happen and to thus lead to better engagement (and ultimately, have a strong end game raid team ready for Icecrown Citadel, and to be fielding a strong 25 man raid of some sort in house.)

Not All Raiders Are Created Equal

The first major task that was undertaken was to evaluate the raiding performance of all our frequent raiders over the past few months. From that evaluation, we came up with 2 separate lists of raiders — those ready for hard modes and the top tier of raiding instances, and those better suited for Ulduar and our “farm” raiding. These two lists also came with updated performance standards, which I am sharing here as I realize how much time it took to get a good SWAG going for them (and in some cases, we are still trying to nail down the numbers).

  • Trial of the Crusader/25

    Tanks: Uncrittable, Armor TBD, Health TBD

    Heals: 2400 Bonus Healing (unbuffed), 400 Mana Regen (while casting).

    DPS: 3000 dps

  • Trial of the Crusader/10

    Tanks: Uncrittable, Armor 24k, Health 31k (unbuffed)

    Heals: 2300 Bonus Healing (unbuffed), 400 Mana Regen (while casting).

    DPS: 2500 dps

  •  Ulduar

    Tanks: Uncrittable, Armor 23k, Health 28k (unbuffed)

    Heals: 2000 Bonus Healing (unbuffed), 250 Mana Regen (while casting).

    DPS: Day1: 2200 dps. Day 2: 2400 dps.

These numbers seem pretty readily attainable for anyone willing to put in the time. My newly faction-transferred elemental/resto shaman, who sat in some Naxx gear, unplayed, since January, is Ulduar ready after a few weeks of badges and ToC 5-man drops. And with her totems down she meets the ToC 10 healing minimums, which means that is within reach soon as well, were she to have been my raiding toon.

Get a Job

The second major component of our raiding revamp was to actively solicit more raid member involvement in planning and running the raids. Our initial list of proposed roles for the two tiers of raiding included:

  • Raid Scheduler
  • Raid Strategist
  • Raid Reporting
  • Raid Role Captain (i.e. Heal Lead, Tank Lead, DPS Lead)
  • Raid Recruiter
  • Loot Master
  • Raid Leaders

The final component of our changes is the introduction in the end game raids of EPGP points accrual and loot bidding. Taking into account compensating those heading into uncharted territory for a night of wiping, and making it less frequently possible that an occasional raider would attend a raid and scoop up the one item for which a core raider had been waiting.

Our approach isn’t a cure-all for these issues, and won’t work in a guild with officers whose sense of self-worth is tied to wielding their power over the raids. But for our passionate, engaged raiders, it’s going to be a welcome change. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Friday Five: Five Signs That a WoW Friend May Actually Be a Frenemy

KanyeAnub

With friends like Kanye, you wouldn’t really need enemies. All the Kanye memes this week got me to thinking that many of us have folks like him on our friends list. For those of you not familiar with the term, frenemy, popularized by the episode of the same name in Season 3 of Sex and the City, is a term comprised of the words fri(end) and enemy, giving you a term that refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but actually is an enemy.

And thus, I bring you, five signs that your “friend” is actually more of a frenemey:

  1. They’ve replied to your squee about an achievement or a rare drop more than once with a reply that reminds you they’ve already been there and done that.
  2. They never seem to actually ever compliment you on anything you do, giving you a backhanded compliment at best. In fact, often rather than gratzing you personally for your achievements, they’ve given you an ungrats– congratulating your guild or your raid on your accomplishments, or worse yet, using that old uncompliment “I haven’t had a chance to congratulate you on…” which is still not a congratulations any way you shake it.
  3. They listened to you when you sighed about needing only a Malygos run for your Frozen Wastes title then made sure to set up a raid for the one day they knew you couldn’t make it.
  4. You are up for a guild promotion but they don’t say anything in your favor. No, wait they did say that for the amount of time you have available and have been playing you aren’t that bad at your class.
  5. They cry bitter tears in blog posts and tweets when a raid fails due to your not being able to be there yet on a day-to-day basis you are never sent a tell, or directly invited to come to heroics, or given any indication at all that you are an important person in their grand scheme of things.BONUS: They leave a horse head in your bed.

Once you’ve identified a frenemy, there are two options open to you: call them on it or cut them loose. If you think the frenemy’s irrational competitiveness and jealousy of you may be due to some sort of misunderstanding on their part, sitting them down for a chat can be a good tact to take. But often, it’s not something you can sort out. You’ll never be on the same page as some folks. And that’s when it’s important to give yourself permission to cut them loose. Turn that frenemy into a non-entity and save yourself some stress/lower your blood pressure!

For more true stories on frenemies and how to spot them, check out the most recent edition of the always compelling This American Life podcast.

Kanye meme graphic posted by cosmic_iris on Wow Ladies.

Rolling With the Punches vs. Taking Your Toys and Going Home

Yesterday morning, I was chatting with a friend who is still in the same raiding guild I started my raiding career with over three years ago. When I asked her how their progress was going, and how she liked the new raid, I was surprised to hear things were up in the air: their two primary raid leaders had pretty much stopped playing.

Me: "Why has [MT] stopped playing? Was he mad that pally tanks kick warrior tanks butts now?"

Her: "Well…he was getting mad that [PallyTank] pulled off him and tanuted his mobs a few too many times and refuses to raid with him. And since [PallyTank] has pretty much been our MT…he's almost never on."

Me: "Right. So this is just like right before BC came out when he said his shaman will be his new main until Blizzard 'fixes it so warriors are the best tanks again.'"

Her: "I forgot about that…"

Me: "Yeah well since his crazy is why I left the guild…it's been funny to see this specific issue crop up repeatedly. The funny part is, if he looked past his wounded ego and read MMO champion on any blue trackers, he'd see that [PallyTank] isn't intentionally doing any of that, as I am sure he has told [MT]. It's a known issue Blizzard actually *is* going to fix."

The moral to this story? World of Warcraft is a game. It's supposed to be fun. So when you find yourself on the verge of flipping out over something you think someone else is doing to you intentionally, calm down and zip your mouth. Log off for a while if you need to. You are not always right. Also, just as in real life, change is a constant. Today's hot DPS class is tomorrow's wallflowers. Yesterday's tank glut is tomorrow's tank famine. But the bridges you burn today, freaking out without knowing all the facts, often stay burnt.