Friday Five: Five Good Criteria for Choosing New Guild Officers

That shadow priest may have put lots of fish in the bank, but that alone is not a good reason to promote her to officer!

All too often I've been in guilds who seem to choose guild officers based exclusively on longevity of membership within the guild. Which is how you end up with the worst druid I've ever played with as the Druid class leader and the raid healer leader in a former guild. Luckily, there are a number of better indicators that a guild member might have what it takes to make a good officer in your guild:

  1. One of your top performers in raids. These are the folks you want to give a shot at being a class or role leader, or helping to define raid strats. Yes, it could just be dumb luck, or the stars aligned against everyone else in the raid that has propelled them to the top, but more often, it's due to their taking the time to optimize what they're doing, often by poking around on blogs and forums and synthesizing a number of opinions and ideas until arriving at their own witch's brew of excellence. These are people you want to have as part of your leadership team.
  2. One of your most friendly gchatters. Every guild has that member that says hello and makes newcomers feel welcome. In my past WoW life, that was Lady D. She made all our new recruits feel at home, while also being sure to give a warm welcome back to folks who hadn't logged in for a while. As a result, she was often the guild member people who were having a rough time confided in. You want your officer team to reflect the needs and concerns of your entire membership, which makes having at least one outgoing, friendly officer key.
  3. The maintainer of your guild website or wiki or whatever medium you've chosen for your out of game community. It's not a cakewalk to administer an active forum, or to keep a complex guild website updated with the latest news and widgets. This guild member often gets little public recognition for what amounts to a part-time job behind the scenes keeping things going. But they are in fact, demonstrating daily how committed they are to the guild. This is the sort of participation that merits an officer slot.
  4. The most prolific sharer of WoW-related news. This member has a direct link from MMO Champion to their brain, and spits out WoWhead links in their sleep. Or at least it seems that way. They are the first to interpret what all the Patch Notes really mean, and are often the instigators of lively (yet respectful) debate around those topics. These are the sort of folks that truly help keep a community going, and that should be a primary goal for your officer team.
  5. The altaholic. Now, at first glance, the altaholic might not look like an obvious candidate for leadership. Some might see the full selection of character slots on a realm as a sign of being flighty and unable to focus their energies n completing a task. However, I see the altaholic as someone who has a true passion for exploring all the nooks and crannies and perspectives available to them in the game. And that sort of passion can be inspiring-- both to their fellow guildies, and to the leadership team.

What are some of the other guildie traits that you've found to make great officers?

My Favorite Guild

Candy Fishing 2008

While recently reflecting upon the many guilds in which I played over my 5.5 years of playing World of Warcraft, it ocurred to me that my favorite of all the guilds was the largest and most unwieldy of them all -- my vanilla raiding guild, Imperial Guard.

IG was not my first guild. My first guild was a lowbie-friendly uber casual guild. In that small friends and family guild, I got to run all the lowbie instances with other lowbies! It was great fun, until I hit the mid thirties and realized the only way I'd have anyone to play with would be to roll another alt for super lowbie instance running. And although that was fun, I wanted to see more.

That's what led me to the next guild. They advertised themselves as a growing raiding guild. That's sort of a cliche these days, but back then, it was a shiny new phrase not immediately met with suspicion. My SO was already running ZG with them weekly, so we joined. Which is the point at which we discovered it was really a friends and family guild with 5 Officers who all knew each other IRL and never wanted to do anything without each other. Oh, and some of them were foul mouthed and crazy to boot. But thanks to those folks, I got my first taste of raiding. We'd banded together with the server's many other "growing raiding guilds" and were starting to raid in Molten Core weekly. I got pulled in for the very first raid, at 58, because we were short a healer. One Saturday afternoon spent in Blackrock Mountain and I was hooked on raiding.

Unfortunately, the raiding alliance was all that was keeping me in that guild. The officer clique never opened up and thus for most of the week, the SO and I were on our own to find things to do. At which point, we started to get invited to AQ20 runs led by a buddy from that original lowbie guild. Those runs became what I most looked forward to each week. Filled with players from the buddy's raiding guild, plus us, we quickly plowed through that content, and made friends with -- gasp! -- people who wanted to do things!

This inevitably led to my receiving tells one evening about filling in for a druid who had to log off for bedtime (he was 15 and his parents kicked him off the computer) in BWL, would I like to go? Can you say HELLS YES?? My guild was not happy for me having made new friends and raiding with them, even though it was not coinciding with our alliance raids. Which is how I eventually ended up joining IG.

Everywhere you'd go on the server, it seemed someone had the Imperial Guard tag over their heads. That's because there were 200 or so active members. On the weekend, there would often be over 100 people logged on at any time. In addition to our Blackwing Lair progression raids when I joined, we had a weekly MC run that took a couple of hours (we called it speed raiding), and 2 Ony kills back-to-back, filling in slots with main raiders alts if we didn't have another 40 raid-ready players on. Eventually, we got up to 3 MC runs per week, plus BWL and AQ40, and weekly ZG and AQ20 runs.It's crazy to look back on all the activities the officers and class leaders kept going in IG.

The fact that there was always something to do was one factor in why it's my favorite guild, but not the primary one. Somehow, despite the size of the guild, there was a real sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. People donated valuable supplies to the guild bank alts, such as herbs to make fire resistance pots and flasks back when those were luxury items that took much grinding for the non-alchemists.

If a member of the raid coming in from PvP was set upon by the horde, our entire raid group would pour out of the BWL instance, and give the villains chase, and spend up to a half hour avenging our guildie's ganking. Similarly, we had alts strategically placed at the world dragon spawning points, and almost always got a shot in (or a kill) on a couple of them each week. The world dragon kills almost always devolved into a massive world PvP battle, which was something I always looked forward to because our raiders always played as a team. If you were out there with your raiders, you knew they had your back. As an aside, I can't count how many times since then I've watched guildies stand by and not want to get involved with world PvP, preferring to stand by and watch a guildie die than to jump into the fray. That's totally their choice mind you, but I do miss being a part of a guild where that would not be considered the honorable choice.

Due tot he large size of the raids, we were all split into Team Speak and chat channels based upon our class. Which is how I cam to build strong friendships with so many druids. The interesting thing about being in separate TS channels is we never had to hear someone bitching about a class they didn't know anything about-- our raid class leader would give any such baloney the smack down while we carried on, oblivious. In non-raid times, the druid chat channel would always be burbling with conversation, and offers to help with whatever harebrained scheme someone came up with. My friend Elvenia, who shared my love of vanity pets and concocting crazy ways to farm them, was one of those druid friendships I made in IG. That's also where I met my buddy Thardon, whose friends and family guild houses some of my alts to this day.

To be fair and balanced, IG had its faults. There were class and raid leaders who were far too young and immature to be making guild decisions. And our guild leader got incredibly burnt out towards the end of the expansion. And with Burning Crusade looming on the horizon, the progression raiders left the guild to start a 25-man raiding guild in which I was briefly a member. But that guild, focused only on raiding, and led by some of the members with the worst people and leadership skills, failed to capture the essence of what made IG special.

Although I have been happy in guilds since IG, I've never truly been able to recapture that certain je ne sais quoi. Thank you Imperial Guard, for the fabulous vanilla memories and the many long-standing friendships that sprung out from you.

Get Organized to Create a More Positive Guild Environment

Your Officers don't need to be performing synchronized dance routines, but they should at least all be dancing the same dance...

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.

Well-organized Raiding

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!

Behavioral Expectations

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.

Application Process

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.

Not Having an Application Process Can Ruin Your Guild

  this shadowpriest prefers a robust application process
I logged in to Anexxia's horde guild the other day to see a familiar name in gchat. This individual inspired one of my favorite posts of all time, "When the Raid Leader Says Everyone, This Means YOU."

He'd also led a fairly successful (11/12 in short order) new guild with the birth of Cataclysm. A guild he left in the lurch by selling his account and "quitting WoW." An action that screwed over all those who had built that guild up with him (including leaving an established guild to do so.) That decision seems to have lasted all of a month before he turned up, like a bad penny, in my guild.

How did this happen? Because my current raiding guild is run by someone who doesn't think process of any kind is important, especially such a silly thing as a guild application process.

Now, certainly, not every guild needs an application process. If you only invite friends of existing guildies (and by friends I do not mean some person they just picked up in LFD, something a former guildie of mine was notorious for.) But if you are running an even moderately successful raiding guild, it's a must.

Having a solid application, that asks some hard questions about why the applicant left their former guild and what made them interested in yours is a good way to get a glimmer of how someone will behave in your guild. It also gives their former (or even current) guildies an opportunity to put in a good word, or to tell you that the person is a drama queen who tried to recruit away half the main raiders to form their own guild. Without an application process, you can quite easily end up with a guild full of people who can easily ruin your guild's reputation-- and its team spirit.

An application isn't an insurance policy against recruiting bad apples into your guild, but it certainly can be a great early warning system. Don't step into Firelands without one.

Friday Five: Five Things Every Guild Officer Should do Each Week

Druid coming in for landing...

As the Summer doldrums set upon us, and all of Azeroth gets lulled into complacency pre-patch, I bring you today's Friday Five...five things you should be doing every week as a guild officer:

  1. Talk to a guildie you don't know very well (or at all.)
    In numerous guilds, the Officer team can become an insular little group, mostly talking to-- and playing with-- each other. But to be able to represent the best interests and needs of your guild, you need Officers to get out there and mingle.
  2. Take a visit to your guild forums.
    You do know the URL to your guild's forums, right? It's amazing how many Officers I've seen who rarely participated (or rarely even read) their guild's forums. A good part of leadership is showing up-- and the forums are a part of your guild's communication infrastructure. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with your guildies.
  3. Peek at the Gbank.
    Your gbank is probably overstuffed at this point in the expansion. At some point, you need to find a good home for it all. Do you have enough mats to make a guildie an epic armor piece? Or some engineering pets? Or why not send some newly active alts some gear they probably didn't notice that's rotting away in the middle of the overstuffed gear tab? And by all means sell those trepix that drop for your guild every week and stash the money in the bank to use for something fun for the guild later.
  4. Organize a 5-man.
    Remember what I said about insular Officer teams? This is a good way to break out of that rut-- or to squish any perceptions of an Officer clicque. Content doesn't matter-- do the new 5s, or schedule a lowbie run. The point is to play and socialize with your guildies.
  5. Re-commit yourself to being an officer.
    Sometimes, you're not feeling it anymore. You don't feel like showing up to raids or to officer meetings or what have you. It happens. Wallow in that feeling for a day or two. But make sure that each week you take a look in the mirror and evaluate if being an Officer in your guild is something you can commit to and embrace. Because if it's not, you're doing everyone, yourself included, a disservice.

Happy Friday!

Friday Five: Five Ways Guilds Can Help Their New Members Integrate

New member! Parachuting in! Handle it!

Earlier this week, I talked about how hard it can be to be the new kid in the raid and guild. Although the bulk of the responsibility for getting to know folks does, inevitably, come down to the new member, there are still some things guilds can do to make transitioning in a lot smoother. And thus, today's five:

  1. Have a guild application that can illuminate the applicant's personality and interests.
    Those former applicants are your new members. If you have a hard-working guild application, current guildies should feel like they've already gotten to know the new member a little bit, which will make it a whole lot easier for them to start making friends in your guild.
  2. Have a welcome committee.
    Seriously! You don't need to bake them a fish feast, but have an officer or a friendly guildie welcome the new member to the guild. They can also point the guildie to any members-only resources on your forums, talk about the trial process (if you have one), and show them where to find the Vent/Mumble server information. Sort of like having someone walk you around the office on your first day of work.
  3. Clearly spell out guild policies and procedures on your website.
    What's your raid sign-up and seating process? When do trial members attain permanent status? Who can take what items out of the guild bank? And for that matter, are items from the guild bank free, or at a fraction of AH cost? These are all things that a new member probably wants to know, but doesn't know whom to ask (or if asking any of these might set off someone's hot button.)
  4. Be friendly!
    A guild with gchat that only consists one one-upping or worse yet, silence, doesn't give your new member a warm welcome. You'd think this would be an obvious statement, but believe me, many guilds are not only not especially friendly to new members, I've seen guilds wherein new members join and walk into a hotbed of hostility from folks who are concerned they might usurp their raid spot.
  5. Plan social events that can help new peeps get to know the old guard.
    Depending on your guild's interests, this can be retro raids, scavenger hunts, group completion of holiday events -- whatever reflects your guild's personality. The point is to have the occasional event planned that allows for conversation, and that can be open to a wide spectrum of your guild community.

What are some of the tactics or activities your guild engages in to make new members feel welcome?

It's Always Hard Being the New Kid in the Raid Team

You may have noticed some shiny new locales in my screenshots as of late. That's because I'm in a new guild horde-side. They're 10/12, and I get to raid 3 nights per week. A nice upgrade in the raiding department over my prior situation.

That said, like any guild change, it's an adjustment. I've gone from being an officer in a guild that I was in for almost two years, to being the new kid in the progression raid team in a Cataclysm-birthed guild. Easing the transition is the fact that the guild leader is my SO's buddy from way back. So that helps. But it still takes time to get to know everyone and get a sense for the flavor of the guild. And it's easy for a new team member to feel left out of all the inside jokes that you just had to be there to understand. And if you are a highly competitive player, used to being recognized for doing a kick-ass job, it sucks to go back to unknown status.

All this got me thinking about how you as a new guild member can best get assimilated to a new guild.

 3 Ways a New Guild Member Can Get to Know the Guild

  1. Tag Along
    When a guildie asks in G for someone to come along for a heroic, raise your hand. Even if you don't need anything else from justice points. It's in the 5-mans you actually have time to chit chat and get to know your fellow guildies.
  2. Lurk on Vent
    Even if you're not the type to chit chat yourself, if you find that a number of your guildies stay logged in to Vent for hours, that may be a great way to get to know them a little better. And they don't have to know that you're surfing the Internet or reading blogs while you do it. ANd in fact, that may even give you some conversation fodder.
  3. Connect via Social Media
    No, I'm not talking about SPAMming folks with your get rich quick schemes. I'm talking about joining your guildies' conversations on twitter, in the guild forums, on blogs, or even on Facebook. Pick the venues you are most comfortable with, and go raed through the past month or so of activity. Then add guildies to your connections, and say hi. I've been amazed at how much you can learn about your guildies just from being active on twitter.

So, what are your tips for getting to know a new guild?


Disappointed, But Not Surprised

these are the moments I raid for

This time last month, I wrote about waiting it out to see how our raiding schedule played out for my shadow priest horde-side. Here's how it shook out:

  • Second early start time raid night added, for a total of 4 EP earning nights per week*
  • No additional Pacific Time weeknight progression/EP earning raid night added (Note: Pacific Time was the raid time for all the Wrath raids, which was a key factor in my joining the guild circa Ulduar)
  • An incredible # of DPS signing up for every raid night, with half those signed up, on average, being sat
  • Early start time raiders also signing up for and being seated in Pacific Time raids
  • After I got sat from my only raid signup one week, the raid scheduler tweaked the signup spreadsheet in a way that will probably usually (but not always) mean that I will be seated for the 1 weeknight I can sign up for.

Over the course of the past month, I've gotten to attend 3 EP earning raids. That was my typical weekly raid count for BC and Wrath. And in Wrath, the other raid officer and I were neck and neck the entire time after EP was implemented for the most EP. i.e. if there was a raid, I was there. If there was a first kill screenshot to stand in, I was in it.

Now, I'm "a casual." And not at all by choice.What does this change for me? It means I go to raids and am killing content that other folks have already been working on for a few nights, or have killed. I have to play catch up-- learning how the raid is approaching the fight, and getting into the groove with a boss fight, well behind the learning curve. I like to lead the charge. To figure things out. To be ahead of the curve. And that's simply not what's possible for me with this schedule.

Yes, I could raid on Saturday night if the seating chart gods aligned. However, Saturday is the 1 weekend day my SO and I both have off, and we often *gasp* -- do things offline on Saturday date night. So I don't want to commit to spending my Saturday nights in a raid group. And more to the point, I don't want to not know until 24 hours beforehand if I am going to spend my Saturday night in a raid group. 24 hours notice is not enough advance time to make a dinner reservation, or buy advance movie tickets, or make plans to grab a City Carshare in this busy city of mine. It just doesn't work that way.

If it was Sunday night instead, I'd be there. And I'd totally be there for the raid nights that are early starts now -- but I have this thing called work that I do that pays the Internet and WoW subscription fees, and makes it impossible for me to be able to raid at the time I typically leave work each night.

And thus, I find myself without much of a reason to log in to my beloved shadow priest.

Because it's the raiding I love. The raiding that gets my adrenaline flowing. The raiding that I spent so much time planning for and prepping for and writing about. And now it's out of my grasp. And I am disappointed. So very disappointed.


*the significance here is if you receive points (EP) for time spent in raid and for killing bosses. Thus, if you are not able to attend raids, you are not earning points. If you are not earning points you will have no points to spend to buy any gear in raids. If you do not gear up in this tier of raids, you will be woefully unprepared for the next tier of raids. And so on.

Providing Constructive Criticism Without Being a Jerk

shadow priest versus the world

So you've decided you need to provide someone in your raid team with some constructive criticism. My first word of advice: put that thought on simmer on the back-burner for a while before doing so. Seriously. No matter how well-intentioned, "constructive feedback" given in the heat of the moment is rarely effective. Instead, take some time to think through what you have to say to the person, and how you're going to say it. Here are some thoughts to guide you through that process.

First, Evaluate if You are the Right Person to Give the Feedback, and If It is Warranted

Once upon a time, I was filling in on a ToC25, healing on my shaman. An elemental shaman in our guild, mid-Jaraxus fight, started telling me everything I should be doing differently. On my alt. In the middle of a boss fight I was healing. This person was just another teammate. Not the raid leader. And I wasn't failing either mind you-- my shaman was 3 out of 5 healers, which I was pretty proud of given her limited play time that expansion and her crappy gear. This unsolicited criticism was ill timed, came from someone who had no business telling me what to do, and was directed at an alt that was actually doing just fine. This was a great example of how NOT to give constructive criticism.

In general, if someone is playing an alt to fill in for a role your raid needs, you should consider carefully how you give feedback. The player is less comfortable with that role generally, and is doing it as a favor to the raid. If you did want to help them boost their future performance, it would be appropriate, after the raid, to say "hey if you think you are going to be healing on your shaman a lot moving forward, I read a great blog post on healing you might be interested in."

Make Sure You're Providing an Expert Opinion, Not Just Your Opinion

Yup, that's right. Holding the title of raid leader or guild leader does not, in fact, make you an expert in every class and spec. If you have a hunter who is struggling, have your guild's best hunter talk to them. No one wants to hear someone who doesn't play their class regurgitate a well-meaning blog post they read somewhere, and being told to "just do that." Likewise, no one wants to be told how to improve by someone who uses another class/spec as their example for what to do. Each class and spec is different, and takes different finessing. If you don't have an expert in your guild on that class, do some online homework: start with Elitist Jerks and from there fan out to class and spec-specific resources. If you're not sure where to start, WoW Insider has a nice big list of WoW resources, including bloggers by class.

Praise Publicly, Coach Privately

This one should be obvious, but I have many times heard a raid leader berate a player and give them detailed instructions on how to improve in the middle of a raid, over vent. this is fail. How would you like it if your boss came up to you, in front of all your coworkers, to tell you you were doing a sucky job and should change X, Y and Z immediately? Yes, WoW is not a job, but the scenario still applies. No one wants to be taken to task in front of their peers. By doing that, it is unlikely that even good, well-intentioned advice will be heard by that player. Instead, they'll remember how they got chewed out by that jerk (YOU) in front of their raid team.

Make Your Feedback Specific and Actionable

Bad Feedback: Your DPS sucks, improve or we kick you from the raid team.

Good Feedback: Elitist Jerks is modeling a player with your spec and gear level at about 2k DPS higher than we're seeing you perform. I think we can do some fine tuning to your spec/gems/enchants/rotation to get you to where you need to be.

See what I did there? I gave specific feedback on what needs to be improved, and by how much, and laid out a possible check list to start with, and offered up a partnership with the person to help them improve.

Be Sure to Praise the Improvement

Once you give the feedback and support, and the person improves, you have one last constructive feedback task ahead of you: Praising the person for their improvement. This reinforces the change and shows the player that you are paying attention, and are aware of the efforts they made, and their progress. If you don't say anything, the player can feel as though they wasted their time and efforts trying to meet your standards. It's a small thing to do and doesn't take much time, so make sure to acknoledge your teammate's progress.

Waiting it Out

shadow priest hiding in plain sight

Right now, I'm playing the waiting game on my undead shadow priest Anexxia. Specifically, I am waiting to see how our raiding schedule shakes out. And this is why I have had a sad as of late.

You see, I love raiding. I've been raiding ever since my first character hit 58 in vanilla WoW days and was goaded into coming along to a guild alliance's MC run. I've been hooked on it ever since. Fast Forward to WotLK. I finally found a good server and home for my shadow priest, in a guild for whom I am currently serving as an officer. I managed to complete all of the WotLK raid content, including getting my Starcaller title. Some pretty amazing and rewarding accomplishments.

I'm still wearing my Starcaller title but I don't feel much like a raider at the moment. My work schedule has been erratic and unpredictable, and we've done some changing up in our schedule.

One of the things that I really liked about our guild's raiding schedule was it offered up 4 or even 5 possible raiding nights per week, all of which started at 6:15 Pacific. Even if I got waylaid a bit at work, I could get home in time for the raid. But even before the expansion hit, we had some East Coasters lobby for an earlier start time. And thus, we now have a 5 Pacific start time raid night, soon to be 2 raid nights.

So, depending upon how things shake out, that leaves us with either 1 or 2 Pacific time raid nights during the week. And Saturday which starts at 6 Pacific. There aren't too many folks who work on the weekends, and for those who do, 6 Pacific on Saturday is no better or no worse than any other time on Saturday. Although I used to count Saturday as one of my raid nights, RL schedule changes on my SO's part mean I would be choosing raiding over the one weekend night we both have to go do something, so that's out.

This leaves me at 1 or 2 nights per week I could possibly raid. Which is usually about how much I want to raid. but here's the wrench: we're going back to our old seating system that seats you based upon how many times you sign up and seated versus other folks. So, back when I could sign up for 4 raids per week, I'd get seated once or even twice depending upon signups. Now, I could sign up for our 1 or 2 nights, and be sat half the time or more often depending on how the math works out. That could put me at raiding 4 times per month on Anexxia. unless of course, like my schedule for the next 2 weeks, I have work-related events that either spill over past 5 or mean I will be stuck working late to make up the time after 5 on those few possible raid nights.

That's just not going to work for me. I don't see that I can improve my character, learn the fights, and be a rel part of the team if i am seated in 4 raids per month. I get that could work for other folks but for me, it's like being a visitor, not being an active member of the team.

So for now, I wait and see what happens. I am signing up for raids when I know for sure I can attend, and I am crossing my fingers it will work out. I've spent the entire weekend stressing and bummed about this. And there's absolutely nothing I can do to influence the outcome one way or another.

Wish me luck.

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 5mans 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 acknowledgement 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 upon 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 assitance, 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.


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: and to see what you need to do to get started.


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.


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.
    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.


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 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?

What if Vote to Kick Was Part of the Guild Interface?

Yesterday, while idly daydreaming about Cataclysm guild features, a funny idea popped into my head. What if the Vote to Kick system Blizzard put in place for 5-mans was somehow implemented into the new Guild management interface?

Now before you say "Anexxia has lost her marbles!" I could see it working a couple of ways...

Guild Member-Initiated Vote to Kick

I think we have all at one time or another, watched a hacked guildie's characters silently log on and rob the guild bank dry. Or have been offended by a guildie trolling trade chat, making everyone who wore your guild name plate look bad. Inevitably, these things happen when there aren't any officers on to help deflect the drama.

What if in such a situation, a guild member could initiate a guild kick vote? And if it passed (i.e. the majority of those members on at any given time said yes, or whatever threshold your GM set it at), said member would be demoted to a no-bank access and no gchat capability guild status level, and the next time an Officer logged in, they would have a blinking guild management icon alerting them they needed to read what happened and decide the guildie's fate?

Sure, in my guild, this could mean certain long-time members would probably, for lulz, be demoted on a recurring basis. But overall, it could save Blizz GMs some ticket time, and save many guilds some drama. And if you were lucky, if it was a case of someone behaving inappropriately, it would give the person some time to think about if it is necessary for them to be in a guild that is OK with whatever the behavior was, or if it may be time to be a better WoW citizen and knock it off to retain their place in your guild.

Guild Officer Quorum Required for Gkicks

One of the reat things about having a number of Officers in your guild is it increases the chances that someone will be on to catch a hacked account and boot them out of the guild until the issue is resolved. But one of the bad things is sometimes an Officer has a bad day. Or sometimes two Officers don't see eye to eye on an issue. And sometimes an Officer goes batshit and kicks someone out of the guild for spurious reasons.

Having seen, in my very first WoW guild, a petulant Officer boot out a fellow Officer for disagreeing with them (no, seriously) about something trivial, or making a joke they didn't like (it was truly so insignificant that I can barely remember the what) I can see what happens when the gkick command is used in error. I recall giving that Officer a piece of my mind and then typing /gquit. As did another Officer and several other members. Within the week, that hothead Officer had quit as well and the guild was all but dissolved.

In a diverse guild, with a number of Officers, requiring an Officers quorum before kicking out a member of a certain rank or higher could avoid such drama. As Officers logged in, they would see a flashy Guild management icon indicating they needed to take action on the issue. Once the vote reached a majority saying yay or nay, the kick would either happen or the vote request would close down and go away.

I doubt Blizzard would ever add this to the new Guild management interface (whatever that may be.) But it certainly gave me some daydream fodder, thinking about what the interface could possibly do, given the right tools.

Friday Five: 5 Things That Made Me Smile This Week


  1. Yes, being named an officer in my guild was totally the highlight of my week. I am incredibly excited about being empowered to help shape our future, and keep our raiding momentum going, along with the help of fellow new officers Moober and Ox, the latter of whom joins the fabulous miss Sawyer as the 25-man RL team! I am confident we will collaborate to do great things together.
  2. Related to that, it's been awesome to get tells cheering me on for that promotion, including from a lot of folks whom  haven't really talked to a lot in game. I had a few old timers chat me up too which was cool. I know I am a new kid on the block when you're talking about a 5-year-old guild, but I promise I'll do my best to do right by them and myself. And thank you for such a warm reception.
  3. I found a cool shadow priest blog to add to my reading list: Lucky Lurky. Go check it out. They have a couple of recent posts on how to shadow priest that may be of interest to folks.
  4. I suckered yet another, guildie...into joining twitter. whoohoo! One.of. us.
  5. We're hopefully going back into Ulduar tonight to try to get that last achievement out of the way so we can go and slap Algalon around. Thank you guys for pulling this together.

BONUS: Despite a rough week wherein we had two of our core raiding team members (who also scheduled our 10-mans) leave, plus our 25-man schedulers (who were also core raiders), go on hiatus, we dusted ourselves off as a guild and kept marching in the same direction. The week's raids all got scheduled. All the same old bosses got killed. And we had a good time doing it. No, we didn't take down anyone new yet, but we did hold it together, and that means a lot.

Happy Friday.

P.S. Today's screenie is my Boomkin, doing a Scarlet Onslaught quest wherein you play dress-up as an Onslaught Raven Priest. Apparently they are very easily deceived...

Handling the Primordial Saronite

If you haven't already made your way into Icecrown Citadel and checked out the quartermaster, you may not be aware that unlike ToC and Ulduar 25-mans, wherein many yummy crafting patterns fell from the bosses, you will be needing to purchase your 3.3 epic crafting patterns. Specifically, you will need to have appropriate reputation levels (honored for one pair, revered for another pair or patterns) plus a primordial saronite to purchase each pattern.

There are two ways to obtain the primordial saronite -- they drop at 50% or less off the bosses in Icecrown Citadel 25-man raids, or you can buy them for 23 emblems of frost. Personally, I don't see a lot of folks taking the latter route straight out of the gate since we'll all be needing to spend hundreds of those emblems on purchasing our tier 10 gear.

Our guild is still undecided about how to handle the saronites as they drop. We do have a guild crafter rank, Swashbuckler, already in place. For runed orbs, our guild sold them to guildies, from the gbank, at half the going auction house price. I've proposed that we either give them to the guild crafters, as they hit the appropriate rep levels,  or sell them to them at no more thank 1/4 the going auction house price. Even the latter would be a pricey proposition for crafters.

Personally, having acquired a substantial number of patterns both before and after being named a guild crafter, and so far having made about a dozen pieces for guildies and friends of the guild, and nothing for myself, find it a little hard to rationalized spending my gold on buying primal saronite for four patterns, when it's unlikely I will make the items for myself (at best, I could see myself crafting a pair of boots.)

One of the rules of being a guild crafter is that since you get priority on dropped patterns you don't charge guildies for crafting the items. Thus, if we don't give guild crafters the saronite, we are basically saying "oh hai please spend 3k per pattern in costs you will not be able to recoup unless you shop yourself out in trade chat for a few weeks." I doubt most of the folks would do so -- or would even have the cash reserves to do so even if they wanted to.

How's your guild handling the primal saronite? Or how would you like to see it go?

Guild Retention Strategies

This post was written in response to a recent Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

With Patch 3.3 and the Icecrown Citadel raids and 5-man looming on the horizon, and Cataclysm still pre-BETA, guilds are likely to be in for some growing pains. Players leaving because they want to do hard modes or change mains or raid on all their characters. And then there's those folks who hadn't shown much interest in improving their playing or gearing their characters since Naxx was on the schedule who have suddenly reappeared and started to rattle their sabers about being included in ICC raids.

Although the competing agendas of your guildies may be enough to make an officer want to stick their head in the sand and wait for the Cataclysm to hit, that's not your best strategy if you want your guild to stay strong and active between now and then. The key to making that happen is:

  • make a concerted effort on the part of your leadership team to keep players engaged
  • keep guildies apprised of the road map for the content ahead
  • make an effort to reach out to guildies who might be on the fence as to their future with your guild

Keeping Players Engaged

It can feel daunting, especially if you have a large, active guild, to do a pulse check with all of your guildies to ensure they're still feeling like part of the team. But the bigger the guild, perhaps the more important that officers divide and conquer and do just that.

One way to hit up a number of guildies all at once is to put a poll up on your guild forums. Allow the guild at large to help make some decisions about how the guild will spend its time as a group once 3.3 hits.  Be sure to schedule time for low-impact fun runs and events to make sure even those who can't make as much time for raids can feel like they have a chance to participate with the guild.

Our guild fun runs through old raid content allows players not ready for prime time raids to get to know players they might not otherwise have much opportunity to play with, and gives friends of the guild an opportunity to see if they might want to jump aboard at some point.

Officers can also make a point of trying to informally check-in with one guildie per day (split them up according to class, who knows whom or whatever feels right for your guild.) Ask them what they're most looking forward to doing once 3.3 hits -- it's a topic most of us are more than happy to talk to you about.

Outlining Your 3.3 Road Map

Once you have a good idea as to what content -- and with what frequency -- your guildies want to see, define the requirements for participation then put up an activity schedule so they can plan for it, and stick with it. Spontaneously deciding to pull in your best 10 players for an extra night's shot on a new raid boss is a surefire way to lose friends and alienate guildies -- don't do it! Transparency is key if you want to keep your guildies excited about learning the new content and in your guild.

Consider planning an activity schedule that is a mix of weeknights post-work and weekend days, again, to allow for more participation. Many times you can lose good players who are highly engaged with the guild over an inability to make key raid nights. No raid schedule will make everyone happy, but it's good to do a check-in with your most engage players to see how your plans measure up to their expectations, and adjust accordingly when possible.

If you have more players interested in content than you can handle in your raids, decide how you plan to handle it. Options include cycling players in and out on a set schedule (i.e. rotating nights/weeks), recruiting to start an additional raid team, and coaching players not quite ready for prime time so they can fill out additional teams. Be sure you clearly state your sign-up policies in advance and again, stick with them, to ensure no hard feelings.

Reach Out to Players on the Fence

Much online ink has been spilled over guilds who have shockingly just lost their main tank/ lead healer/best DPS. It's typically seen as "coming out of nowhere" leaving everyone surprised and scrambling for a fix. Frankly, I don't buy it. I'm not in the first guild I joined. And when I think back to when/why I left prior guilds, not even one of them was an impulsive decision. Especially the raiding guilds.

As an officer, you should be paying attention to your assigned guild duties. You should notice if a formerly talkative player has gotten quiet. Or if you've received a number of concerned mails from a guildie who is unhappy over a change in policy or another member's behavior. A raid leader should notice if a player stops signing up (or showing up for) raids. Or if someone is fixated on loot, and complaining about other team members getting a drop they felt entitled to. These are all pretty common signs you have a player who's on the fence about their future in your guild.

It may be they're not feeling the guild is a good fit. Or they have RL issues that have come up and aren't comfortable bringing them up with an officer. Regardless, if you want to retain a member who is showing signs they may not be as engaged as they previously were, you are going to have to make the first move. Reach out and acknowledge you've seen/heard their issue, and ask them if they want to talk about it. This small bit of effort on your part is not a fix-all. But a failure to reach out to a player who has either directly or indirectly let you know tat something is bothering them will frequently lead to a /gquit, or perhaps worse yet, festering resentment and snippy /whisper commentary.

With a little extra care and feeding, patch 3.3 should be an opportunity for your guild to thrive. You've got multi-winged 5-man, 10-man and 25-man content to tear through, lore aplenty to soak up, and a shiny new expansion a ways off in the horizon. Safe travels.