Surely by now you've seen the announcement? Blizzard is looking for "a handful of guilds to join us in the beta test process." I know seeing it made me giddy. But I'm not jumping in, because I'm not eligible, unless I recruit some of you to join my bank alt guild.
Who's Not Eligible
Me. Why? I don't meet the first criteria: I'm not a guild master in a guild with 10 or more members. And a lot of the folks I saw saying they were super excited to enter aren't either. And then there's the residency clause - some states have rules that make them less contest-friendly. Thus, residents of North Dakota, Vermont, Connecticut or Maryland, you are not eligible to participate.
If you're dying to enter and you're a resident of those states, and have been considering abdicating your power to someone else, remember us Californians are always a good pick -- after all, Hollywood is the land of game shows giving all and sundry fabulous! prizes!
What You Need to Submit to Blizzard
This is a standard write an essay to win contest. Blizzard wants you to email firstname.lastname@example.org with 50-250 words (i.e. more than a Yelp listing but less than a college essay) about why you think your guild would be the "perfect candidates for testing the limits of Cataclysm's content and systems"
Content-wise, you want to convince them that your guild would be
active in a BETA, has folks with varying interests and playstyles and
operating systems. After all, many of the changes in store for Cataclysm
revolve around a new guild interface, and with new guild-based
achievements. To test them out fully, they need to have teams of folks
who will actually get into the BETA play and *do stuff*.
So, if your guild is all on hiatus at the moment, and would rather be boiled in hot oil than try out anything that has the potential to be buggy, or wouldn't dream of submitting a bug report to Blizzard, you may want to think twice about entering.
What You'll Win
Contest rules state they'll be picking 100 winning submissions from eligible participants each week for five weeks, Monday, June 7th through Monday, July 12th. That's 500 guilds who'll have the chance. Well, 10 members each of 500 guilds.
The limited number of BETA keys means if you have 100+ active members, you'll want to think long and hard about what your distribution system will be. Officers first then an essay or other contest for the remaining slots perhaps? Duels in front of the capital city of your choice? First person to collect 10 murloc heads? It's up to you. But you'll want to know how you're going to pass them out *before* your guild's announced as a winner.
Hot to Make Your Submission Stand Out
Now, Blizzard's contest gives you a lot of leeway to be creative, if not a lot of word count. Those 50-250 words can be in the form of a song, or a poem. It can be a parody of something else. It can be in-character RP. Think about what would reflect the nature of your guild. And I didn't read anywhere that you couldn't have an illustrated accompaniment, though I am not sure they'd be too excited about file attachments.
Have fun with your submission and good luck! Crossing my finger that myself and many of my favorite folks in the blogosphere will get in some time to kick the tires in BETA.
P.S. Details above pertain to the United States version of the contest. I've seen information floating around about contests for other locales. Check your country or region's official forums for details.