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Officers' Quarters: Managing the alt invasion


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

I'll never forget that first month after Wrath went live and the endless requests from guild members to invite their death knight alts into the guild. The second anyone rolled a DK, they wanted to bring that toon into the roster to be part of the social experience as we all explored what the new expansion had to offer. I couldn't blame them. It is painful to be cut off from your guild during such an exciting time.

As it turns out, the DK influx was only a small taste of what the Shattering has wrought. Now it's troll druids, tauren paladins, and undead hunters springing out of the woodwork, or dwarf shaman and gnome priests for Alliance guilds. Even this, however, is just the rumblings before the earthquake. In one week, a deluge of goblins and worgens will engulf our rosters.

How can we manage this alt invasion? Let's take a look!

1. Make sure to ask whose alt you're inviting. This advice seems like a no-brainer, but when you're getting requests all day long, it's easy to become lazy and just invite everyone without asking who they are. It seems harmless, but the next two points will explain why this is a bad idea.

2. Use a security question. Nonmembers will sometimes try to perpetrate "alt fraud." Alt fraud is when they claim to be the alt of a current member in order to infiltrate the guild. There are several reasons why a player would commit alt fraud:
  • They've been denied membership to your guild but they are still trying to find a way in.
  • They have a grudge against your guild or its officers and they want to stir up trouble while wearing your guild tag.
  • They belong to the opposite faction and they're trying to get information about where your guild might strike or where to look for people to gank.
You might say to yourself, who would go through the trouble? And won't it be obvious the first time the real person logs in at the same time? Just because it's a bad plan doesn't mean people won't try it, and if they're lucky or clever, they've chosen someone who isn't generally on at the same time they are or who recently quit the game. People have tried to do it to me more than once. After I called him on it, one potential defrauder even went so far as to say, "See how badly I want to join your guild? Invite me!" I told him I didn't want liars on my roster.

You could try to think of a question that only that particular player would know the answer to, but that's a tall order for every guild member. The easiest way to prevent alt fraud is to post the answer to a security question in a members-only area of your website or in the guild info section of your UI. Your question shouldn't be something that is able to be researched or guessed, so the best answers are actually nonsense. For example, your security question could be, "What did the whale say to the seagull?" The answer? "Mustard pancakes."

3. Label the main of every alt in the guild UI.
Whether you use the public note or the officer note, label the alt so that officers and other members can attach a main to that character (and his or her behavior). As we all know, sometimes players will try to get away with behaving badly (or other high jinks) when they're anonymous, and the easiest way to become anonymous in your own guild is to switch to an unlabeled alt. Labeling them takes away that anonymity, although if you only label them in the officer note, they won't be aware that they're not anonymous to the officers -- and that's a good way to test whether or not someone will act like a jerk when they think they can get away with it!

4. Set a level requirement. A level requirement will be a controversial move, but it could save your officers some headaches. Players will want their goblins and worgen in the guild ASAP, but do they really need them in the guild immediately? Like I said in the intro, I understand that people want to be in the guild during the weeks after an expansion launch. There's a lot of excitement, even giddiness, and players don't want to be cut off from that.

However, by setting a level requirement, you can make sure that only the alts that players intend to level will be invited. The requirement will cut down on the number of invites during that first week. It will also ensure that your roster isn't cluttered up with level 5 worgen druids that never see the light of day in 2011.

You don't have to make the requirement punishing. I recommend level 15, which is when players gain access to the dungeon finder. There aren't any group quests that I know of below that level, so players lose nothing besides the social experience.

For death knights, I would recommend somewhere around 60, since they will be done with the DK starting area by then. Anyone can play through that and maintain interest in the toon -- it's when you hit boring old Outland that tests whether or not you intend to keep playing that character.

Players will complain, of course, but you can recommend that they form parties, create a custom chat channel, or use your guild's voice chat server to communicate until they reach the required level.

5. Train your officers to do all of the above and prepare your members for the process. You're not the only one inviting alts -- everyone with this power will be pestered every time they log in for the next few months. Make sure they all know the proper procedures. Likewise, be sure to communicate your alt-inviting process so that members know what's expected.

6. Have an alt policy for raids. Over the lifetime of the Cataclysm expansion, you're going to run into more alt issues than during any other time in WoW's history so far. You need to decide how you will handle alts in raids. Some questions to address:
  • Under what circumstances will alts be allowed into raids?
  • What requirements will alts have to meet in order to fill a raid slot?
  • How will alts fit into the framework of our loot policy?
  • May a member switch their designated main character to an alt?
  • What must they do to allow for such a switch?
As I said in my two-part column about the leveling process, raiding guilds will want to know who is switching to a different class for the expansion, so be sure that players communicate this information ahead of time. You don't want to be caught with 30 DPS raiders and no tanks or healers.

How does your guild plan to deal with the alt invasion? Tell us below!

/salute

Learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at scott@wow.com; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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