What do you Expect from Your Guild and its Officers?

Boomkin being harassed by Thrall for not having the massive anti-Deathwing pewpew power.

This is that point in a new expansion when beleagured officers come face to face with foaming at the mouth guildies. Already I have seen friends’ guilds break up, splitting off into 10-man raid teams. I have seen friends nerd rage at being left out again from a guild heroic. I’ve heard people rage about the horrors of trying to complete a quest in HoO that actually requires killing all the bosses…oh wait, that last person was me.

All this excitement naturally got me thinking about the expectations we all place on our guild officers.And the expectations they have for their guilds in return.

What I Expect From My Guilds

I have to start by saying that, of course, there are more flavors of guilds with a more diverse palette of objectives than there are flavors of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. These are my opinions based upon my five years of playing WoW. From my perspective,  people join a guild in order to either be a part of a group activity (such as raiding or RP or BGs), and/or to have a supportive social environment in which to pursue their goals.

For me personally, my list of guild expectations goes something like this:

  • Good players with whom to go do stuff. That stuff may include 5-mans and raids, or BGs, or lowbie antics.
  • Raiding. Sooner or later, I know I always want to raid. I am fine with not being in a progression raiding guild, having done that in the past when my schedule allowed, but that’s not a primary motivator for me now.
  • Nice people to talk to in G. Not PC people, or suck-ups, mind you, but genuinely pleasant people with whom I can talk about WoW, or in the best case, RL topics of interest.
  • Vent or some other sort of voice chat. Communication is key for raiding or BG groups,; and text only just doesn’t cut it.
  • Twitter and/or forums/guild website. Some topics need to be talked through outside of game. And strategies need to be shared for raiding. Some folks like to fly by the seat of their pants and just listen to the RL tell them the fight. I am not one of them. I like to be prepared.
  • Reciprocity. I try to be helpful whenever I can, be it with my time, helping out in an area I am familiar with, or with crafting. I don’t expect tit for tat, but an environment wherein I’m always helping or donating to the guild but can’t obtain any help myself becomes tiresome.
  • Personal accountability. It’s hard to find. And many folks tell me to get over it and deal with those looking to live in their own little bubble. But this is one of my core beliefs, so I’m not backing down on it.

What I Expect From My Officers

As someone who has both been an officer and not been an officer in a variety of guilds across both factions and several servers, I’ve seen many different guild management styles. And let’s just say I’ve seen some pretty cringe-worthy officer behavior. But I’ve also seen some rock stars. Hence, my list:

  • Acknowledgement. I kick butt. I show up to raids on time and prepared. I help out. Like anyone, I do want some acknowledgment for what I bring to the table. No one wants to feel taken for granted, or worse yet, invisible.
  • Open communication. I was in a serious raiding guild run by officers that several of us referred to as “the shadow council.” Not only did they not share information out to the guild, they didn’t share it amongst themselves. I want to be able to talk to my officers about issues that arise and have them listen. This doesn’t mean I expect everything to be changed to how I’d like it, but I do want to be heard.
  • Organization and Management of the Guild. I like my officers to be thinking about guild activities and getting them going. I like a moderated forum if it’s a big active guild. I like an Officer presence in G chat to quell uprisings and dramas before they boil over. And I like a guild bank that’s somewhat organized and not full of junk no one could sell in the AH.
  • Consistency. I am not a fan of guild policies that fluctuate. Or decisions based on whom a GL likes best that day. I expect consistency in policies and procedures.

What I Expect, as an Officer, from my Guildies

That’s right — your officers have some expectations of you too. They’re volunteers, after all, putting in extra time and effort to make the game more fun for themselves and for you. Here are some of my expectations of my guildies:

  •  Patience. Yes, I know you really want that shiny item from the gbank. But it is not, in fact, an emergency. I am happy to help you when I am free, but if I am in the middle of doing something else, you will need to wait, and not to have a hissy fit.
  • Acknowledgement. You do realize that officers spend a bunch of time behind the scenes keeping things running smoothly, right? You do know those raid strats didn’t magically find their way into the raid’s ears, yes? When all you hear is complaints, it becomes a lot less rewarding to be an officer.
  • Assistance. If you know of drama brewing, tell an officer sooner rather than later. That goes double if you are the person with an issue — talk to an officer. And if you want some rare item crafted for which I don’t yet have the pattern, rather than complaining about my not having it yet, offer to help me attain it. An officer is not your personal dungeon slave or crafting bee; you want some assistance, offer us some as well.
  • Maturity. Please understand that I am not your mommy. And that your guildmates do not owe you anything. A guild is not just a captive audience for you to talk at and to harangue about doing runs with you. Please do not behave like a two-year-old. Becuase it does not please me to have to treat you like a naughty child who needs a scolding. Really, it doesn’t.

What about you? What are some of your key expectations from your guild and its officers?

Why I have a Love/Hate Relationship with Guild Forums

Every so often, I swear off reading World of Warcraft related forums. Typically, this is after a particularly nasty turn of events on a guild forum that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and pondering why I voluntarily subject myself to them. But just as surely, after a while, I am back in there, posting up a storm about things I’ve gotten excited about or think guildies should know. I have a pretty classic love/hate relationship with guild forums. And I think that’s true for a lot of folks.

What I Love About Guild Forums

In theory, I absolutely love guild forums. They can really knit a group of people together into a team.  Specifically:

1)    They provide an out of game place where guildies can get to know each other better. They can post pictures from their vacations, or share their band’s touring schedule, or opine about pop culture. In short, provide a glimpse at the person behind the pixels.

2)    They are a great place to capture your guildies’ expertise. I’ve long been one to post my lists of rare craftables on my guild forums, and my thoughts on specs and gear etc. I shifted much of that to my blog when I started it two years ago, but do link out to those lists or cross-post things to the forums when relevant. Of course now you can see at-a-glance which of your guildies can make what by sorting your guild roster in-game by profession.

3)    Even with the in-game calendar, forums provide a good way to get organized for raids or other events.  The calendar can only provide you with the who/what/when/where. For the nuts and bolts of who is doing what, and what strategies to employ, there’s little that beats the guild forums. Yes, you can get by with telling folks to “go read wowwiki/watch tankspot”, but a successful guild will often find benefit from posting their specific take on strats in their forums. And the forums are the perfect place to post screenies and a recap of your guild events. After all, you can’t post a video of your guild’s naked gnome run in the calendar.

4)    And most of all they can help keep your guildies all on the same page. Instead of having to answer each new guildie’s questions about guild policies and procedures anew each time they are asked, you can have everything there is to know (or at least your guild charter, loot policy and raiding schedule) posted on your forums.

What I Hate About Guild Forums

But I have to be honest and say that overall, I’ve gotten to the “I don’t want to read this anymore” state with more than one guild forum in my five years of playing WoW. Why? The usual suspects:

1)    Trolling. You’d think people would save their trolling for the official forums, yes? Well, that hasn’t been my experience. I have seen more than one blowhard, excited by the captive audience a guild forums creates (since unlike in-game, you can’t ignore a member/poster on most of the popular guild forum providers), being unable to resist their urge to troll their guildies repeatedly. Frequently, they feign innocence, and get away with it and live to troll another day, because, after all, you don't want to jump to conclusions. But here’s the deal: one post that causes a dramastorm is an accident. The same person authoring the last 5 dramabombs dropped in your guild forums? That’s called trolling, no matter how you try to whitewash it.

2)    Bullies. Something about being behind a keyboard, typing words into the void without immediate feedback seems to bring out the worst in some people. They require having the last word. They use facts, complex mathematical equations, or things they made up right now but sound pretty official to try to shout down anyone with an opposing viewpoint. These people are called bullies. Most of the bullying I've seen on forums is over a difference of opinion, not over a point of fact. You'd like to think that adults (and most of the time the bullies are, in fact, adults) understand that with 12 million people playing the game, across the planet, people will not always share your opinion. And that one's opinion is not the same thing as a fact. But a bully will not rest until all opposing opinions have been publicly stamped out, even if that means resorting to name calling, condescending comments and belittling others. Because for a forums bully, all that's important is winning that argument.

3)    Drama. You have probably seen a baby fall down and look around to see if anyone saw them fall before they start crying, haven't you? In many ways, guild forums are like this too. A dogpile of drama can pile up faster than you can say Legendary Weapon, with the wails increasing in volume as more people chime in. Similarly, many people decide to take every issue or grievance they have — be it with the guild leadership or an individual guild member– to the forums instead of talking through the issue one-on-one with the other party. This is not OK. If you've never been tried in the court of public opinions via a forums drama post, then you may not realize exactly how horrible it feels to log in and see someone talking a bunch of smack about you, and trying to get others to join on in, about an issue about which you were completely unaware. This is the kind of drama that often leads to a /gquit from the recipient of the dramabomb, leaving you with a victorious bully or dramaqueen.

4)    Endless rehashing of dead issues. Have you ever read a forum wherein every new member wants to give their 2 cents to the raiding schedule? And every few weeks a discussion about loot rules emerges? Or after a decision is posted about who will be getting the items needed to craft the latest legendary weapon, someone else chimes in to say they think they should get it as well/instead? For whatever reason, instead of providing a history of what's gone on and why, many forums seem to get stuck on repeat. And if you are an officer, discussing for the 12th time why the current raid nights are in effect, you just might want to pull your hair out.

And lest you think I am alone in these issues being a turn off, note that whenever I’ve brought this topic up on twitter or with folks one-on-one, there have been a number of folks right there with me, who stop perusing forums (or even leave guilds) when they become overrun with bullies, or churn the stomach with the way guildies are (mis)treating each other. And as an officer, I've had guildies come to me and tell me flat out that they were considering leaving a guild, or in fact did leave a guild, over bullying and trolling on guild forums.

How to Improve Your Guild Forums

 The first step you can take, if you haven't already done so, is to post forum rules and make it clear that all members — including Officers — are expected to heed them. Ideally, you'll want to post the rules in conjunction with forum registration, as they do over at Elitist Jerks. Some sample rules/operating procedures:

  • Keep all discussion civil.
  • No name calling or obscenities.
  • Praise publicly and criticize privately. Don't bring your personal issues with someone to the forums– talk to an officer.
  • Do not post the same comments/content repeatedly in reply to someone with a differing opinion. Say your piece once, then move on.
  • Don't make posts that are just whining/complaining.
  • Don't beg for gold/guildies' time. It's OK to LFM for a group in the forums. It's not OK to post every other day about how none of the guildies have come with you to farm Heroic MgT for the mount.
  • Don't start a new thread about a topic already being discussed.
  • Don't start a new thread about a topic that has been locked.
  • Don't have a signature file that's obnoxious.
  • Don't post links to or include visuals that are distasteful on your forums.

After you have the ground rules worked out, you need to also post how infractions against the rules are to be enforced; 3 strikes and you're out for instance. You'll also want to clearly note, or instance, that moderators will lock drama threads and delete anything that's against the terms of service for your forums provider. Spell out what the ground rules are, and then stick to them. Even if that means locking a thread due to an officer crossing the line with someone. It is key for your moderators to be fair and apply the rules to all members, and for them to be supported by the officers in doing so. If the moderator is going to be getting their own dramabomb lodged at them with accusations of squelching someone's free speech every time they shut down a drama thread, pretty soon you aren't going to have any moderators left.

Alternatives to Guild Forums

Guild forums may not always be the best choice for your guild. If you do not have the bandwidth for active moderation, or guildies don't want to pay for hosting that allows moderation, you may want to consider a few alternatives to guild forums.

Wikis

If you are primarily looking for a place to house your guild's charter and policies, with a "just the facts" slant, a free wiki might be a good resource for you. Check out: http://www.wikia.com/Wikia and http://pbworks.com/content/personal+overview to see what you need to do to get started.

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with guildies out of game. And a lively twitter stream of guildies can also be a great recruitment tool. One of the nice things about twitter is other than direct messages or people with locked accounts, most of the discussion is out there in the open. Something about that seems to give folks more of a sense of accountability. Because you don't want hundreds of WoW folks on twitter thinking you are a jerk, right? I will say I have seen some jerky behavior on twitter, but far less of it than I have seen in guild forums. And it has gotten shut down fast.

Blog

Why not consider starting a guild blog? You can let multiple folks post to it, or have one owner, depending on your preference. Some blog hosts, like Typepad, let you give guest poster's access to creating drafts that the owner has to approve and which will be tied to their username, thus giving some control over the content. This allows you to have static content pages plus newsy posts about what your guild has accomplished, screenshots and recaps of recent events, or even recruitment needs, without the free-for-all of forums.

What's the Future for Guild Forums?

I was talking about this topic with my Alliance guild leader this weekend, and he said that for that guild at least, forums aren't necessary. Yes, we have them and folks use them on occasion. But primarily the guild uses the in-game calendar to schedule runs, officers actively communicate in G (and in whispers to those not on when topics are discussed in G) to communicate anything that needs a wider audience, and a good number of folks are on twitter talking to each other about in-game issues and other topics day-in and day-out. And since several guildies, including myself, are bloggers, commenting in blogs, or on twitter about blog topics, also serves as another communication tool.

The one guild forums function that I don't seeother communication channels as being able to replace, however, is the guild application. I still feel that guild applications, if your guild uses them to recruit raiders and members into the guild (versus invitations going only out to friends of friends via word-of-mouth), should be made in a public guild forum. Having applications out in public allows all guild members the opportunity to speak up if there is a reason the guild would be better off not accepting an applicant, provides a public record of the person's interests and role applied for, and also allows raid leaders to see if their raiders are app'ing elsewhere. Thanks to public guild applications on forums, as an officer I've been able to find out that an applicant was applying to every raiding guild on the server; have had guildies give me a heads up that an applicant was, in fact, their stalker who had followed them from guild-to-guild harassing them; and been able to find out that some of the details in some applications were more than just a slight exaggeration.

So while I don't think guild forums are headed for extinction yet, I do think there are quite a few other ways to build a sense of guild community. And if your guild does have an active forum, having clear rules of conduct– and consistently enforcing them– seems to me to be key to maintaining a sense of civility and camaraderie amongst your guildmates, and making the forums a resource people are interested in reading — not a place of dread.

What do you think? Could you live without guild forums? Would you never even consider joining a guild without an active forum? Have you successfully moderated forums? Would love to hear your POV.

 

Friday Five: Five Guild Forums Commandments

  1. COMMANDMENT 1: Thou shalt not troll thy guildies.
    No, really. Trade is for trolling. And no one wants guidies who troll. Especially not in G or in the forums. Don’t be that guy. You can’t win at the Internets. And there is no winner in a difference of opinions. Put down the mouse and step away from the forums.
  2. COMMANDMENT 2: Private forums can not ever remain truly private.
    There’s this function called copy/paste. And this other one called screenshot. If you slam your guild in an application in another guild’s private forums, rest assured it will get back to your guild. Or make its way onto your realm forums. Watch your back. Same holds true for your own guild’s forums. Save your racial slurs, sexist remarks and porn links for some place that will appreciate them. If you can’t say something nice, maybe you should log off.
  3. COMMANDMENT 3: The way you treat declined apps will influence your future rounds of applicants, and the way one responds to their application being declined will influence their future guild opportunities.
    If you are nasty to failed applicants, putting them down and acting holier than thou, you’ll scare off future applicants. Likewise, if you are declined for not meeting a guild’s requirements or needs, and you swear at the officers and stalk them online, word will get around that you are a crazy person. Treat guild forum applications like a blind date with someone who knows all the other hotties in your neighborhood.
  4. COMMANDMENT 4: DBAD.
    Don’t be a d***. This seems obvious, right? Go look at my post on how to lose friends and annoy guildies thorugh your guild forums then come back here. That’s right. DBAD. Thank you.
  5. COMMANDMENT 5: Save the drama for your momma.
    Some people seem to live for starting drama on their guild forums. Perhaps you should consider a career in writing for daytime serial dramas. I guarantee that no one appreciates your /emo, your /flounce, your /devils advocate for every opinion or post shared on the forums. This is especially true for interpersonal dramas. If you have a rpoblem with a guildie talk it out — in private.

Major thank yous go out to all my tweeps who gave input and ideas for this list, especially to Druidis4fite. What would you add to round out a top 10?

Friday Five: Five Considerations for Cataclysm Raiding

Despite recurring lack of interest across servers in WotLK raiding, I’m starting to see folks in guild forums and elsewhere starting to get ants in their Cataclysm pants about making decisions now about raiding teams in Cataclysm. If you’re tempted to start drafting up your raiding policies now, you may want to stop drop and roll, and think about these key considerations prior to making sweeping changes:

  1. Mains today are not going to be mains in Cata.
    Don’t assume your raid team is going to pick itself up and go into the expansion as status quo. There are going to be a whole slew of main changes. If you started playing in Wrath, or didn’t raid prior to Wrath, you haven’t lived through watching people who adored their class have nerd rage meltdowns regarding changed class proficiencies and game mechanics, and cycle through their alts until they land on one that feels right. So you’ll just have to trust me — THIS WILL HAPPEN A LOT. Until you have your first 10 folks ready and willing to raid, you can’t start parsing out the groups. Will you have too many tanks? Not enough healers? All druids? It’s really way too early to know. Or to start fighting about who gets what person on their team.
  2. Your star raiders may not be your star levelers.
    The first folks to make it to 85 are not necessarily going to be your best raiders. Or even be people with interest in raiding. Yes, hardcore guilds often give short timelines for leveling a character to get their raiding going as quickly as possible. But in a casual raiding situation, you may have folks level several toons to 85 prior to deciding whom they want to raid with, or even being ready to give up that alt leveling time in exchange for raiding. I know at least 1 person who has said outright that he intends to spend months leveling his alts prior to being ready to step into a raid.
  3. Heroics will be your first step as a fresh 85, not raids.
    That’s right– it’s not intended for a fresh 85 to immediately ding then head into the raid instance. When these expansions unfurl, there is an expectation that folks will farm their way through regular instances and heroics to gear up and get ready (and to learn how to play their class at level cap in a team.) I’ve heard a number of incredulous newer players complaining about how the heroics are being implemented in Cata as a “C*** block. Newsflash: you just got spoiled by the Wrath heroics on a whole being easy. BC heroics were REALLY DARN HARD at the turn of the expansion.
  4. Guild churn is not over.
    As guilds that focused on 25-mans pare down to 10s, and as folks who have a small core group of friends they play with realize that 10-man raids are a viable pursuit as a focus in Cataclysm, there will continue to be guild churn. You’ll also have some of the players who haven’t played in over a year who come back, swear they live for raiding, come to a couple then drop out. This is all perfectly normal. Take all such declarations with a grain of salt, and see how things look at the end of December when the dust settles.
  5. Ideal raid makeups are still an unknown.
    Blizzard is still making significant tweaks to the classes. Until they lock and load, and we can see true group synergy in raids, with proper glyphs and itemized gear, it’s a crapshoot. We know what has worked in the past, but what’s worked for ideal group composition has changed over time, through each expansion, and with some raid instances. See also why my BC druid main never finished ZA, yet my mage alt went through there countless numbers of times (see also: cc makes a Cataclysm comeback.)

This list spurred from having gone through all the prior expansion’s raiding “ZOMG we need to change everything up nao” bubbles, plus a great chat AF had a few weeks back to set raiders’ expectations. If your guild is starting to have these discussions, it may behoove you to get out in front of it and have a chat about guild expectations in regards to expansion raiding.

Safe travels and Happy Friday!

Three Reasons Why Guilds That Raid Need Class Officers

If only these guys had had class leader mentors, perhaps things would have turned out differently for them…

In my vanilla WoW raiding days, our 40-man raids had specific numbers of raid spots designated for specific classes fulfilling specific roles. The class raid leaders (who were not always the same as the class officers) managed their invitee and standby lists, and kept tabs on how everyone was performing. My druids and I sat in our own Vent channel (only raid officers and the RL could talk to each other and over the whole raid), and had our own chat channel. We built comraderie while also having a solid sounding board for trouble shooting how our class and role should be handling any given encounter.

Fast Forward to Burning Crusade with its smaller raids. All of a sudden, many guilds, including mine, decided there really wasn’t a need for class officers any more, since raid sizes were so much smaller, and we didn’t always have multiples of each class/role. The emphasis moved to having raid leaders and then folks in charge of each functional area (tanking, healing, DPS) at the most. And thus, for many guilds, the class officer died out comleteely.

Given that Cataclysm may well sound the death knell for many guilds running 25-man raids, I can see how a call for a return to class officers may sound like craziness. But hear me out. There are some very solid reasons to consider having them — even if they aren’t max rank officers.

  1. No one is an expert on every class and role.
    That’s right, mister hotshot raid leader, I am talking to you. It’s infuriating when you are told to do something your class shouldn’t (or worse yet can not) do. Or to watch the RL keep handing the dispells/decurses to the same class over and over again, while two or three more who could do it, stand by, not saying a peep. Class leaders know what their folks can (and should) be doing, and can feed the RL that information discretely. In a free-for-all situation, the raid leader doesn’t always know whose advice to follow.
  2. Sometimes, players need tips on how to improve.
    I’m the type of person who goes out and finds great resources on the classes I’m playing and tries to maximize what I do and how I do it. Not everyone does this. And further, you can’t expect them to. But you can ask your Officers to provide coaching and feedback in these cases. And feedback comes across as a lot more genune and useful when it’s coming from someone who also excels in their class and role. No offense, but if a melee player starts telling me how to play my spellcasters, if they are lucky, I tune them out. If I’ve had it already, they’ll get an earful.
  3. No one wants unsolicited advice.
    That’s right, no one. Yeah, maybe you’ve gotten a helpful hint or two from someone that you didn’t ask for that really helped, but most of the time, it’s annoying. The unsolicited advice typically comes across as someone 1) thinking you suck and 2) trying to tell you they know better than you as to how to play. Having class leader officers tells the guild: these are our experts, and they are your go to resource for help, and are expected to know how to maximize their class in raids. This takes a lot of the sting out of the advice.

If you are pursuing 25-man raids, and have several dozen active players, why not ask them if they’d like to have class leads or class officers? Those who are nominated by their peers will feel appreciated for being called out for excellence, and your quieter members of the guild will feel empowered to approach them for advice. Even if implemented in a more honorary than powerful role, class leaders have the ability to build a sense of community amongst players, while recognizing some of your best players for doing a great job, which may even help with guild retention.

Leaving Your Guild Without Burning Bridges

There are certainly reasons for a ninja /gquit. Such as when your Raid Leader is a bully and the Officers you’ve talked to refuse to stand up to him. Or when the GL doesn’t have anything to say to you that isn’t full of venom and mean spiritedness and you are finally pushed a little bit too far. But unless you have the absolute worst luck, those situations are going to be the exception, and not the rule when it comes to why you decide to tell your guild Buh-Bye.

How Not to /gquit

If you want to leave your guild and still remain on good terms with the guildies you left behind, here are few things NOT to do:

  • DON’T make a passive aggressive post on the forums about how you really hate to leave but mysterious unnamed forces and their <insert conspiracy theory> leave you with no choice but to go to that raiding guild.
  • DON’T post your buh-bye note on the forums then linger around online, milking your goodbyes.
  • DON’T log on in the middle of a raid and dramatically /gquit.
  • DON’T /gquit without telling anyone what’s up, and ideally, without talking to an officer or your GM to see if your issues are resolvable.
  • DON’T /w the guildies you left behind, chiding them for not camping on to your /gquit.
  • DON’T start actively recruiting for your new guild from the one you just left.
  • DON’T trash talk your guild or its members in trade or on the realm forums.
  • DON’T log back in to your old forums to gloat over the new loot/achievements you just got with your new guild, or to tell your former guildies how they should change all their raid strats to match what your new guild does.
  • DON’T decide to leave, and line up your new guild, but come to one last raid and blow all your DKP on BiS items. You may feel that you “earned it” but your guildies will be bitter you chose to take that payout and run.
  • DON’T take all that you can carry from the gbank.
  • DON’T be surprised if you DO all of the above and want to leave behind an alt and find them unguilded 48 hours later.

Making a Graceful Exit

It’s really not that hard to leave a guild with style, leaving the door open for your eventual return, and reinforcing the friendships you are leaving behind. A few tips:

  • Make a thoughtful goodbye post.
    State honestly, but courteously, why you are leaving. Good examples are: leaving to raid more, to raid less, to play on another server with RL friends/spouse. If you’re leaving because your RL is a bully or you have another such personal conflict with a guildie, your goodbye note is not the right place to get into those gory details. You are trying to make a graceful exit after all, remember? Stick with something honest but more general in such a case, such as the guild did not turn out to be quite the fit you are looking for.
  • Share any specific reasons you are leaving with an officer or the GL before you go.
    Ideally, you’ll do this before saying your goodbyes. This helps the Officer team understand how the guild may be improved, or if there are any gaps between the recruitment process and the reality of everyday guild activities that may need to be addressed. For instance, if you were looking for a casual raiding guild, but are leaving because once every two weeks is a lot more casual than you were expecting, that’s good actionable feedback. If you are leaving due to an ongoing issue that you’d informed officers about, consider sharing with a different person this time around to see if that message sinks in.

Leaving gracefully basically boils down to being considerate of others, and not surprising anyone. This goes double if you are in a position of leadership in your guild. When an officer or raid leader ninja server transfers or faction changes, or just /gquits and turns up in a competing guild  few moments later, it understandably leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

With Cataclysm on the horizon, we’re going to see a bunch more folks coming and going as guilds shake out and develop their identity — be it 10-man, 25-man, or no- raiding. You never know where your guildies are going to end up, so why not make an extra effort to ensure you don’t end up on their personal “do not invite” list?

It’s inevitable along the way to have one really guild break-up but there’s no reason they should all be that way. Safe travels and good luck.

4 Tactics to Run More Effective Officer and Guild Leadership Meetings

I spend a large portion of my work day sitting in meetings. Some of them are face-to-face, in conference rooms, but many of them are virtual meetings of some stripe. The one thing both types of meetings have in common, when they are successful, is they are purpose-driven, and you leave them feeling as though you've gotten something accomplished and spent your time well. What's the dividing line between the productive meetings and the ones that feel like a time suck? Typically it boils down to having a consistent leader, and a solid agenda. Guild officer meetings can benefit from some of the same meeting tactics:

  1. Elect a meeting leader. This doesn't have to be the Guild Leader, and in fact, it may be best if it's not since they typically already have a lot on their plate. You can have a rotating responsibility for leading the meetings or have one person take this on for a few months at a time. They key is that at the end of each meeting, it's clear who will be driving the next meeting. This person is tasked with keeping the team moving through the agenda in a timely manner, while also ensuring that everyone with a POV on a topic is given the floor to speak on it.
  2. Have an agenda, and stick to it. No one wants to spend a few hours talking in circles or meeting when there isn't anything to discuss. Having a set agenda of topics, and reviewing it the day of your meeting, can ensure you don't burn out your leadership team with meeting more than you need to. It also keeps a lid on the time commitment. 
  3. Post meeting notes with assigned To Dos. Things come up — and not everyone can attend each meeting. Having a designated note taker (often the person driving the meeting) post the key issues discussed, plus noting the decisions made or deferred, keeps all your officers on the same page.
  4. Hold yourselves accountable. Kick off each meeting by reviewing the notes from the previous meeting, and obtain updates on the to do items, and reopen deferred items for discussion.

Drafting Your Standing Agenda

The most daunting piece of all this for many people is coming up with a standing agenda that is both structured enough to keep things moving along, while additionally providing enough flexibility to address the unexpected. Mostly it boils down to time — the last thing most of us want to do at the end of the day is to draft an agenda. But that's OK — steal some (or all) of these items for your own agenda:

Old Business

  • Re-cap prior meeting's to do's
  • Updates on progress or lack thereof
  • Identify next steps if any

Review applications

  • Decide if they are accepted or not
  • Identify an officer to notify the applicant of the decision

Discuss guild promotions

  • Officer promotions
  • Class or specialty designation promotions (i.e. guild crafters, PvP ranks, etc.)

Raiding updates

  • New content cleared
  • Any hurdles to progression
  • Evaluations of new raiders/trial raiders
  • Raid leader feedback (2-way from the raid leader about their interactions with the raiding team and about the raid leader)

New business

  • Issues that have been raised in the guild forums
  • Issues or incidents that have happened in game
  • Issues or incidents brought up privately to officers

Planning for the future

  • Adapting to announced Blizzard changes
  • Preparing for new content or changes as a result of patches/expansions
  • Recognition of active guild members who might have potential for being promoted in the future to a leadership role

Clearly, every guild has its own personality and focus, so you'll likely have other items to add to your standing agenda, but this should give you and your officer team a good starting point for crafting your own guild leadership team meeting road map.

Thoughts on the New Guild Achievements and Other New Cataclysm Details

If you're looking to not learn anything at all about Cataclysm prior to its launch this is not the post for you. It only contains, however, reflections on information officially released by Blizzard during its recent fansite/blog day on campus.

As the clock struck Midnight on Saturday night, Wowhead and World of Raids came out with amazing treasure troves of new (and expanded upon) information about the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. All copy in sky blue below is from World of Raids.

What I'm Excited About

  • Guild talents are not going to be implemented.Instead, guilds will be automatically rewarded with perks.
  • Guild currency has been scrapped. Guild rewards will be unlocked by completing guild achievements. Rewards will be purchased with gold, and anyone in the guild can purchase the reward once it's unlocked.

These changes make me ecstatic. Why? because I was envisioning what a nightmare it was going to be for the Officer team to decide upon guild talents and awarding of guild currency across a large, diverse guild. Instead, the idea of rewarding folks for longevity in their guild will still be implemented, but without an accompanying administrative burden on the guild's leadership.

  • Path of the Titans has been scrapped and will not be implemented.
  • Instead Blizzard will focus on improving the glyph system, as they feel it didn't quite hit the intended goals in Wrath.

I know lots of folks are upset about this, but it started to sound like a sidegame grind that would be a must-do rather than an innovative and fun add-on. And it also seemed like it had the potential to be Blizz biting off more than they could chew from a class balancing perspective. I'm excited that Blizz *is* however going to take a look at the glyph system and add in medium glyphs as well as taking a look at some classes who have weak minor glyph selections. Please to be seeing green fire for warlocks and some fun minor glyphs for shadow priests. NOTE: lack of needing reagents for a spell does not equal fun!

  • Archaeology will now help to "dig into the lore of the game" — essentially being used as a vehicle for storytelling.

I was a little bummed when I initially read this but eventually felt better after reading some blue replies Sunday on the topic. Because, of course, I thought this might mean they were doing away with the promised vanity pets and toys. And I had personally been truly looking forward to having this sort of mini exploration game, with shiny new pets, to tide me over during future lulls.

What I'm Excited About That Also Worries Me

Guild Reputation

  • This is a newly announced feature; players will gain reputation with their guild similar to how other reputations work in the game.
  • As you contribute to the guild by completing quests, killing bosses, winning rated BGs or completing guild achievements, you will gain reputation.
  • The best guild rewards will require having exalted reputation with your guild.
  • Guild reputation is on a per-character basis, so you'll have to gain rep for each character you have in the guild before you can buy rewards with it.

Guild Achievements

  • These will be integral to the reward and level systems. Completing one can unlock rewards as well as give the guild experience.
  • Guild achievements are earned and owned by the guild, so once it has it, it never goes away — even if all members who participated leave the guild.
  • When viewing a guild achievement it will display the members who participated in earning that achievement.
  • To earn a guild achievement you must have 7 of 10 or 20 of 25 players in the raid be members of your guild.

For me guild reputation and guild achievements are both a can of worms. Why? For a few reason. First, I think it means we are going to see folks who were on their fence about their guild (especially with the uncertainty around what the raiding changes will mean to their guild) may jump ship sooner rather than later. The idea being no one wants to "waste" those precious first few weeks/months of guild achievements in a guild they're not sure about. And not wanting to be the new guy with no guild rep somewhere a few months in to the expansion.

My other concern is guild achievements will become the new item to war over in guild splits. Once they are implemented, I worry that in a case where a guild split seems imminent, you could end up in a situation akin to a messy divorce — with one angry person with their finger on the hot button kicking out a bunch of players and keeping the guild achievements for themself, and thus starting a blood feud amongst players.

You may think that sounds like crazy talk, but if you've ever been in the midst of a large progressed raiding guild imploding, I can tell you it got nasty back in the day, and that's just when the MC BOEs in the guild's official bank alt's bags were all that was at stake. Personally, I love the spirit that is intended with it — reward players for sticking with a guild, and make the decision to bounce from guild-to-guild a herder one to make, by meaning folks will lose out on the perks their existing guild has earned.

So this one will go on my wait and see list. I will remain hopeful, and can't wait until BETA is in full swing and we start to see folks poking around with the many new guild-related changes.

What piqued your interest the most in this mega preview?

P.S. And if you haven't taken a look at it yet, check out the new zone preview up on Youtube. Stormwind in particular looks amazing.

In Defense of Civility

Truth be told, much of what annoys me in-game about the behavior of other people boils down to civility. Specifically, a lack thereof. Some examples over the past few years of playing WoW:

  • Having to talk a guildie out of qguitting due to her absolute panic and hysteria over the teenage boy who refused, after being asked multiple times, to stop making dead baby jokes. The woman, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, had also lost a baby a year prior.
  • The men old enough to know better who pepper their vent chat with gender-specific vulgarities whenever fighting a female boss, and don't give the male bosses the same treatment.
  • The self-centered persons who ninja AFK and leave a team of others waiting for them to show back up to complete the dungeon/raid, never apologizing or explaining their absences.
  • The people who constantly ask for help, be it in the form of your time or handouts, who then never reciprocate.
  • The trade chat troll who spent hours at a time, wearing my guild tag, being condescending to and picking fights with the server at large, including other guild members on their unguilded alts.

I'm sure most people have seen some of the above examples during their game time. What they all have in common is a demonstrated lack of civility.

Civility.

n., pl., -ties.

  1. Courteous behavior; politeness.
  2. A courteous act or utterance.

Well-mannered behavior toward others: courteousness, courtesy, genteelness, gentility, mannerliness, politeness, politesse. See courtesy/discourtesy. A courteous act or courteous acts that contribute to smoothness and ease in dealings and social relationships amenity (used in plural), courtesy, pleasantry, politeness, propriety (used in plural). See courtesy/discourtesy.

That's the dictionary.com definition.

As you can see from some of the synonyms, civility seems to be a term better suited for a Merchant Ivory film than a blog about the World of Warcraft. Who cares about civilized discourse and politeness? Surely not anyone who gets behind a keyboard and picks up a pixelated sword, right? Wrong.

Civility Isn't an Antiquated Concept

Do you make plans with your friends and then not show up? And then never say anything to them afterward? Why is this OK if the plans are a raid signup and involving 24 other people?

Is your every day language at work, at home, and in social gatherings towards acquaintances full of expletives and racial slurs, and derogatory remarks against folks with sexual orientations that differ from yours?

Would you walk up to a group of women whose names you know but you in all honesty are not good buddies with, and start making dead baby jokes? And casually toss around a number of gender-specific sexual terms? Would you say these things in front of your sister/significant other/mother?

Why then so often is online chat too often full of all of the above?And why is it that when you approach someone about their lack of civility, you often are chided for trying to suppress their freedom of expression, or called the thought police? When did it become unfashionable — or even extremist to hear some folks reactions — to ask for courtesy in people's interactions with each other and expect a civil environment in which to play online?

At their core, many of the posts I've written here have boiled down to looking for the human beings on the other side of the computer screens to stop what they're doing and behave more like they would behave towards others they knew in their non gaming lives. The fact that I'm sitting in guild chat with you doesn't mean I have an expectation and desire for the level of your conversation to stoop well below what it would in your living room.

I'm not advocating for a G rated guild chat at all times, but I am advocating for the return of common sense.

Ways to Demonstrate Civility

  1. Think before you type. In person, rude and insensitive comments can fly out of your mouth before you have time to reflect upon them. Online, you're communicating with other via text. Read back what you are saying to someone before you hit enter. This is a major benefit of text-based communications. Take advantage of it.
  2. Be the better person. I don't care if it was someone else who started in with the crass commentary — you are not obligated to join them. You have free will and the ability to make a better decision than they did.
  3. Don't be a dick (a.k.a. the DBAD rule.) Don't troll in trade to "light things up." Don't pick on a guildie in Gchat over something they are sensitive about. Don't treat the World of Warcraft as your personal soap box and megaphone, with your fellow players as the captive audience who can't walk away from you.

How to Cope with Others Demonstrating Incivility

  1. Let them know. Don't seethe with anger and lash out once you are past all points of patience. When the bad behavior/unwarranted commentary happens, whisper the person and ask them to knock it off. If it continues, or if it is malicious and directed publicly at another person, politely ask the offender to cease and desist, using the same channel the person is using for their behavior/comments.
  2. Set an example. No, I'm not saying make an example out of the offending person. I mean model the kind of behavior you want to see in other people. Exert peer pressure by being civil in your interactions with others. Even when you disagree.
  3. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt. This is probably the hardest thing to do. And this is also why obscenity laws vary from state-to-state: what offends me or goes against my community's standards of acceptable behavior may not align with what offends you or what offends your community's standards of behavior.

As much as it boggles my mind at some of the comments and behavior people I don't know but am thrown together with over the Internet say and do, I can suspend my disbelief and think that there may in fact be a time and a place wherein they are within social norms and boundaries that favor them and not me. That said, however, the online space is neither my place nor their space — it is a new shared space wherein we have to compromise and come to a workable and tolerable environment for all of us.

When All Else Fails

And for those die hards who refuse to modify their behavior in the face of guildie requests for a kinder gentler place online, you may do well to direct them to the Terms of Service for the game, which state:

Rules Related to "Chat" and Interaction With Other Users. Communicating in-game with other Users and Blizzard representatives, whether by text, voice or any other method, is an integral part of the Game and the Service and is referred to here as "Chat." When engaging in Chat, you may not:

(i) Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Blizzard, is deemed to be offensive, including without limitation content or language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable

Safe travels, adventurers.

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?