I've been in several guilds during my World of Warcraft tour of duty. They've ranged from tiny friends and family affairs, to server-leading raiding guilds. And size and activities have typically not been the factors as to which guilds really worked well for me. Rather, it's been more about the level of organization in the guild. The guilds that have been the most fun, and that I've stayed with the longest, had a few things in common, which all boil down to good organization:
- A written charter/guild mission statement.
- Well-led, organized raiding (if the guild raided)
- Clear expectations for guildie behavior
- A consistent application process
Your Guild Charter
I've been in a number of guilds that lacked a guild charter and in many cases, it's been the source of fundamental differences in expectations amongst the membership at large and even the officer core. I know a guild charter can sound like an intimidating piece of work but it doesn't have to be. At its core, a guild charter is really just a simple statement of the purpose and objectives of your guild. Ex.:
- XYZ guild is a casual raiding guild, with an emphasis on inclusion of everyone who wants to raid, with an ultimate goal of all guild members seeing all of an expansion's content.
- ABC guild is a friends and family guild, with an emphasis on group social activities and a positive guild chat atmosphere.
- ZEN Guild is a progression raiding guild, aiming to be in the top 3 of server progression at all times, with an expectation of personal accountability and exceptional performance.
Yes, your guild charter can certainly go into more detail, but it doesn't have to. Just take as many words as you need to accurately express the personality and goals of your guild, then publish it where applicants and your server's community at large can see it.
Once upon a time, I arrived to a raid 5 minutes early, and parked myself outside the entrance and went AFK to grab an adult beverage. I returned a minute before raid start to find 7 members in group and no one else at the entrance. 45 minutes later, the group was assembled and there was a "break" called for members to go look at a Tankspot video for the new boss we were going to work on.
The above scenario is what is referred to as disorganized raiding. Not to be confused with casual raiding. There is nothing casual about wasting everyone's time. Your raiders should know in advance what boss you are working on, their role, your strat, and be there with bells on at raid start time. If any of the former is not the case, you've got a problem, starting with your raid leader.
One of my worst ever raid leaders was the MT of my server's most progressed guild, and the RL and MT in my raiding guild in his "spare time." Never once did Tank provide a strat to the team in advance of a raid, or even find it within himself to mumble out a basic strategy for the new fights we were about to undertake. But sure enough, if any pull didn't magically go like clockwork, Tank would bitch out the player he deemed to be at fault. Here's the problem: 1) your raiders are not mind readers and 2) the MT isn't actually seeing everything going on out in the wilds of the raid. This raid leader is the guy who pushed me over the edge into no longer raiding after 5 years of progression raiding. Don't be that guy!
I was a member of a friends and family guild that had an officer couple that was challenged from a social standpoint. One half of the couple was a surly foul-mouthed lady. On one occasion, she freaked out and starting swearing at me, calling me all sorts of words I won't repeat here, because she felt I had somehow done her a wrong while we were in a Scholomance run.
I can't even remember what the imagined wrong was. And frankly it doesn't matter. Both parties in this couple had recurring behavior that shouldn't have ever been considered tolerable for Officers, let alone for guildies. But the guild didn't have any sort of written expectations for behavior of guildies or treatment of guildies. After being cussed out in a full gchat by the lady, I demanded that our guild leader take action to avenge my wrong. SO what did he eventually do? He kicked her out, promoted another officer to the GM position, and left the guild.
I kid you not.
Had the guild published a set of behavioral expectations in their guild forums it wouldn't have gotten to that place. But since there were inconsistently enforced loose rules on behavior, that Officer felt she could swear at guildies and be all around disagreeable and not have any consequences for it. Behavioral policies need not be a big hairy deal. They can consist of DBAD (though this only works if everyone agrees on the definition of that final D.) I think Conviction has a nice post on behavioral expectations.
And finally, we get to the guild application process. Many of the guilds I have been in did not have a formal guild application process, which is a shame. I strongly feel that the guild application process can be both a great opportunity for the prospective guildie to get to understand the guild culture before they make the leap and for your guildies to get to know a little about the new member, which in turn can help acclimate that person into the guild. All to often, however, guilds have minimal process and often fore-go an application. On several occasions I've seen guilds with a "friends and family" invite mantra invite in "friends" that had gone on one PUG dungeons with a member and gone on to be an incredibly unpleasant fixture in gchat that the Officers were loathe to kick, lest they get badmouthed by said troublemaker in the server forums and trade chat.
You should never be held hostage by guild members for fear of public ridicule and retribution. And having a set application process can help. By requiring someone expend minimal effort to express interest in your guild, and allowing for a set period of time for your current guildies and even other server community members to comment on said applicant's post, you can often weed out bad applicants before the enter your guild culture. Like that guy who app'd to my casual raiding guild and after only a couple of days had cussed out several female officers in the forums and in tells. That is what I consider to be a dodged bullet.
And if you need inspiration for your guild application, well I have just what you need.
Althought it may seem quicker and easier in the short term to rush head first into forming a guild, a small amount of time setting your expectations of guildies and applicants can go a long way towards long-term guild success and harmony.