Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Adolescent Guild

The guild that I joined a long, long time ago as a very new and green WoW player is a-changing.

A few months ago our founder and original GM decided to retire from the role. He had started the guild to be a home for people that wanted some fun banter in gchat while levelling and maybe group up sometimes when it took someone's fancy. All very casual, relaxed and small scale. These days we usually sit at around 60-odd accounts, but as most of the active members as also alt-a-holics, we tend to have about 150-odd characters in the guild. So not large, but big enough to create a need for a bit of organisation, which our GM did not have the time for. So he handed over the mantle to one of the long-term officers, who I think would have done a great job, but he then ran in to RL stuff and had to leave the game. None of the other officers were quite ready to take on the responsibility of GM-ship, so we decided to institute a council to run the guild.

So now we have a guild on our hands and we need to figure out what it should be when it grows up.

We have many members, but few are active in the guild. They have been in the guild for a long time, but you never hear them on gchat, not even to say 'Hi!' when they log on - and heaven forbid that they should ever post on the guild forum. So even if put ideas and proposals for the guild's future on the forum I doubt we'd hear back from more than the handful of people that we normally hear from on the forum.

We know that we will never be a full-on raiding guild and we are happy with that. Kara is on farm up to and including Curator and we are trying to find a second raid night so that we can progress further. The guild does not have enough people interested in raiding to do 25-mans and that is ok. Members who have decided that they want to raid more have departed to raiding guilds and every so often we've welcomed them back again when they decided it wasn't what they wanted. I have seen in quite a few places the comment of that "you don't have to like them to raid with them". And for a proper raiding guild I can absolutely see that - well, up to a point anyway. I'm sure most raiding guilds won't put up with people behaving as complete twunts towards other members, no matter how good their DPS is - but for a guild that has in the past mostly had a social focus it is important that people get on and enjoy hanging out together in gchat.

So we're not a raiding guild, more of a social guild. But what do we mean by social? Do we just want to liven up gchat? Do we need to arrange in-game entertainment like naked Deadmines? Set up a schedule for instance runs to get people doing more stuff as a guild?

Most of all I wonder whether we need to do something about all those members we have that are not active at all? What can we do to make them participate? And if they do not want to participate - should they still be in the guild? It's not like they are doing any harm being in the guild per se, but it seems a bit pointless. If we weeded our membership would that create a bit of a shock-wave making some other people leave or would it maybe make it feel closer and encourage more togetherness?

All questions and no answers at the moment, but I hope to be able to start finding answers as we move along our learning curve on guild management.


Cynra said...

Well, you do have a couple of options there. First off, are those less-active members involved or afraid to get involved? Often, newer members are loathe to speak up and they sequester themselves from the clique that includes the original or longer-standing members. Try to get those people involved, whether by inviting them to raids when you have a slot or organizing runs into instances or even heroics.

One thing that my old guild ran into was that newer members were often behind in progression; while we were a social/roleplaying guild, we did maintain a weekly Karazhan raid and had started raiding Zul'Aman as well. We didn't have the room for newer members and they frequently were very undergeared -- enough so that we were loathe to bring them into raids when we did have openings because our own success was still very tenuous at the time. Helping those people get geared up pushes interaction and gets everyone involved.

Also, rerolling together can be a fun and rewarding experience. By creating alts and working together, you share similar experiences at the same time and often build a rapport.

Finally, increase the ways to communicate! Vent was a godsend to our guild because we teased, cajoled, and threatened people to join and talk. A website with forums allows more communication, which should hopefully foster more in-game communication and involvement. You may even want to consider a group blog with your guild members having access and posting at whim.

That's all I can think of!

Tufva said...

That is a very good point about whether people are actually wanting to be active but don't dare/know how or just aren't active. We as officers do have to take the blame for having allowed the guild grow as it has without taking enough time to bed in each new members properly.

I have been thinking of Vent as a way to create more communication - so I think I might get that sorted sooner rather than later.

Thank you so much for all your suggestions! :-)

Auzara said...

Speaking of Adolescents....

"We as officers do have to take the blame for having allowed the guild grow as it has without taking enough time to bed in each new members properly."

I'm VERY interested in your initiation period.

Tufva said...

Up until recently we didn't even have an initiation period!!

When we took over the running of the guild we decided that we needed to make a bigger deal of becoming a member, so we said that there should be a 2-week trial period. During that period we should take note of this new person and how they fitted in, they needed to be told that they had to create an account on the guild forum and at the end of the 2 weeks a decision should be taken about whether they should be made a member or be asked to leave. And if they made member rank we should make a fuss of it - to show that it is something important.

We got as far as managing to institute a trial rank and no one gets beyond it without a forum account. The officers started to dutifully jot down the joining dates in the officer notes.

But we have not managed to do the really important part. The one where we observe the new joiners, try to make them feel at home and, if necessary, have that difficult chat with them at the end of the 2 weeks.

And of course we still have all the quiet guys that joined before we took over, but that is a separate problem.

I could have gotten this going as well as any of the other officers, I am not absolving myself of the guilt of being lax. Under the original GM being an officer was just an honorary title - and as much as all of the current officers want to make the guild better, none of them are really pushing for change or implementing anything new.

Any and all thoughts on good ways of managing initiation would be MOST welcome!

Cynra said...

Well, this doesn't probably translate well on non-roleplaying servers, but have you ever considered an in-game event to welcome neophyte members?

In my old guild and the one that I was Guild Master of for two years, we had an initiation ceremony for each batch of recruits. Basically, after a set period of time had passed (usually about two to four weeks) and we'd decided that, nah, we really don't want to kick the bastards out, we'd have an in-game boot camp. They'd show up one weekend, we'd make them do all sorts of horrible things, and then we'd end the entire ordeal with an in-game ceremony welcoming them to the guild. And when we promoted people to any of the officer ranks, we had a full-fledged ceremony lined up where everyone dressed up, got together, and had fun.

Another roleplaying guild I was in was a little different in their approach -- and, fortunately, it's applicable to non-roleplaying guilds. What they would do was go through an initiation process. Basically, an officer had to run them through a zone. They had to be naked except for their guild tabard (which we supplied if they couldn't afford one) and they had to run from one point to another. We had different areas designated for each leveling group and if the initiates died while running, they'd run back to their corpse and continue from there.

And, of course, they were required to yell happy slogans concerning the guild (people in the zones always knew when we had a new recruit because of all of the /y's) and how much they loved being a member. It was so popular in our guild that people would drop what they were doing and join the initiation run to support the runners.

It was fun. It got people involved. And we often ended up having a drunken party afterwards and sharing a lot of jokes, stories, and fun.