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Officers' Quarters: No poaching!

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

If the wildlife in Nagrand didn't reproduce faster than rabbits injected with Viagra, one could accuse the genocidal Hemet Nesingwary, or even the Consortium (with their endless need for ivory tusks), of funding poaching on a massive scale. And of course, we would be the perpetrators, guilty of the annihilation of entire generations of species. But fortunately, those elekks, clefthooves, and talbuks never seem to become endangered. This week's e-mail is about a different kind of poaching, but one that is no less nefarious.

Hey. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I am an officer in a small casual guild (66 accounts) that one day hopes to have some endgame on farm. The problem we seem to have is people just leaving with a stealth guild quit. When asked they normally say they left for a friends guild or something along the lines of "just wasn't working out." About a week later I see them in Shattrath with a guild tag of another guild that I know just poached them from us. I understand that it's their $15 a month but is there anything that we as a guild can do to keep them? We seem to lose one once a week.

This is really beginning to get on guild morale, and getting to the point where we have some people leveling from 60 and I am wondering if we will see them at 70 or if they will get poached along the way to one of the bigger guilds on the server that have progressed further into endgame. It has gone from having about 15 people on Saturdays to now to only about 8 people online. We were planning on doing Kara but we just can't get the people. I have been trying to recruit but I feel bad since I could just be poaching from another smaller guild. This is a low pop server so chances are I run with the same guild if not the same people that are poaching from us.

Xioyn, A-Cho'gall <Dark Covenant>

I don't encourage the practice of poaching. To me, it's underhanded and disrespectful. I have never -- and would never -- directly ask someone with a guild tag under their name if they want to apply to my guild. If they happen to come on a run or do some quests with me and/or other members, and they enjoy themselves, I'm happy to answer any questions they may have about my guild. But I leave the choice up to them and put no pressure on them either way.

However, not everyone feels the same way I do. With the current state of Warcraft raiding, poaching is practically inevitable. There are only so many adequately skilled raiders on any given server, and with fewer people raiding every day, demand for them is high, particularly on a low-population server such as yours.

On top of that, there just aren't enough built-in reasons to stick with one guild. It would be great if Blizzard gave people better reasons to stick with their guilds. Guild banks were a step in the right direction as far as people feeling invested in some way. The possibility of guild-based attunements, hinted at by Tigole, could be another. But of course the other side of that coin would be losing members to another guild just because they've earned an attunement that your guild hasn't been able to accomplish. Guild housing could be a huge way for people to feel invested in their guild, but it seems to be pretty far down on Blizzard's priority list, just above collectively stabbing themselves in the eye with their car keys.

So where does that leave us? Well, recognizing that poaching is going to happen, you have two options: You can either blame the players who leave, or you can work hard to give your members reasons to stay. The only players that can be poached are players who aren't 100% happy where they are. Think about it: If you work for a certain company, and you absolutely love working there, corporate "headhunters" are going to have a very difficult time luring you away. On the other hand, if your boss is a jerk and they're paying you peanuts, it won't take much to get you to jump ship.

Xioyn, as an officer, it's up to you to keep all of your members happy and content to be right where there are. And unfortunately, in the long term, it's an impossible task. Even so, if people know that you're trying your best to help them achieve their goals, they are much more likely to stick around.

Do I feel guilty when someone comes to me from another guild under the circumstances I described above? Not a bit, and neither should you. The best way to recruit is simply to be a guild whose members have fun, and other people will catch on to that. That's not poaching -- that's just good leadership!

/salute

Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott.andrews@weblogsinc.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Guilds, Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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