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Drama Mamas: Keep it secret. Keep it safe.

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

The Lord of the Rings references stop at the title and this sentence. We're talking about drama here, not an all-powerful ring that sucks your soul and -- oops. Now the first sentence is a lie. Anyway, keep your drama out of guild chat to keep your guild a happy place safe from grievances and transgressions that are best handled behind closed, virtual doors. But in order to be successful at this, you absolutely have to deal with what caused the drama or else it's just going to creep back in again.

This week's letter isn't so much about handling or preventing drama, but how to make sure guildies know that drama-causing issues are being addressed without extending the brouhaha.
I'm writing today with a question I don't think could really fill a whole article, mostly because I don't have a personal story to go along with it. I'm a guild leader of a very small guild (with aspirations!). So far, we've been ridiculously free of drama. I dread dealing with it when it happens, and I had a question I was hoping you could answer. Let's say a guildie says something in chat and I know it's way over the line. I take the time, speak with that person and handle it. What do I do now? I think it would be a bad idea to just say, "I handled that" in guild chat, obviously, but how do I make sure people who are generally quiet know I took care of things? Do I have to worry about that? Are they just going to be happy if it doesn't happen again?

Drama Mama Lisa: Lucky for you, this matter's straightforward and involves setting clear expectations for members and leaders alike. The reason that guilds have officers in the first place is to take care of all this business. While you don't want to spill the beans on ugly matters that should more appropriately remain behind closed doors, you don't want to give the impression that your leadership is a bucketful of do-nothings.

  1. Post your general code of conduct on your guild's forums. If you're so casual that you don't even have forums yet, this very situation is a great example of one reason they're such a good idea. Along with the expected code of conduct, include some sort of general consequences for repeated infractions (suspension or removal from the guild). Your goal is to give members some concrete benchmarks they can go by.
  2. Make it clear that drama and "situations" are to remain behind the scenes. Drama begets drama. Guild members need to know that drama gets handled quietly, so that it doesn't cut into guild life, and that the officer team will not comment publicly.
  3. Set up a restricted-access officers forum. When a situation crops up that has to be dealt with, outline the circumstances and measures taken in a post there. This keeps the other officers informed, engaged and able to appropriately respond to future developments. Make sure officers visit the forum regularly.
  4. Keep an open door. As wearisome as it may be for you and the other officers, encourage one-on-one whispers to officers when members have questions about perceived drama. You want to reassure members that things are being handled; what you don't want is the kind of re-airing of laundry that's inevitable when drama is handled or reviewed in public channels. In some cases, if you feel it's important that people know that a situation occurred and/or was handled, you may have to go so far as to plant seeds of information in some guild members' ears. Details aren't necessary; reassurances that problems won't recur is what you're after. Be short, sweet and matter of fact.
Drama Mama Robin: I agree with almost all of what Lisa said, except that I think you should let your guild know that something has been handled -- but only if the initial problem was public. They were exposed to the initial drama and want to know that it's going to go away so they can get back to playing. Here's what to do publicly after you've privately laid the smackdown on the offender:

  1. Restate the rule that was broken, for example: "FYI: No begging in guild chat."
  2. Refer people to the rules: "Please read the guild info for our rules."
  3. Ask people to whisper you with any questions or concerns. This has the added benefit of making it clear that questions or concerns shouldn't be made in guild chat.
  4. Move the discussion along to another topic. Tip: Have a topic ready before you follow these steps.
Keep issue recaps succinct, without naming names or incidents. When I do the above, many people express relief that things have been taken care of. If someone asks what happened, reiterate that you will answer all questions privately. Don't rehash, just respond in whispers with something like, "Someone broke the rules and it has been handled." The goal here is to reassure everyone that the rules aren't just meaningless text and that things will be handled in a timely fashion -- not to shame and vilify the guilty party.

We got some questions in last week's comments that I think apply here. Some of your members may want the drama aired publicly to clear the air or reaffirm opinions or express themselves. Privately encourage those who feel this way that guild chat is not an appropriate place for disagreements or debates and, most importantly, that throwing opinions around publicly causes -- well, it causes what happened in last week's comments. There's the main drama and the side drama and the festering drama -- it all comes out, and the next thing you know, you're watching an online version of one of those daytime/late-night, chair-throwing shout-fests rather than enjoying your leisure time.

Drama buster of the week

There is usually more than one side to any story. We get letters from one person each week and address the issue from that person's perspective. But we always know that there could be another person with a different view on what happened that might change our advice if we knew those details. But we can't get all the details, so we go with what we have. This doesn't apply to in-game issues. Justice reduces drama. If you are attempting to resolve a dispute, it is much easier to come to a just decision if you get all sides to the story first, when possible.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas@wow.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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