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.
Guild splits can be traumatizing for all involved, often ending in bruised egos, stabbed backs, and rancor all around. (Yes, rancor isn't just that monster in the pit under Jabba's throne room.) In the best outcomes, the two factions can ignore each other and go about their own business. Unfortunately, it doesn't always turn out that way. Sometimes, as you'll see in this week's email, one faction isn't content to live and let live. Sometimes, it's war ...
I'm an officer in a smallish casual raiding guild. We just recently got enough of our players geared enough to start raiding and are starting the process of continuously wiping on early bosses to learn the encounters. The officers aren't freaking out about our difficulty in completing the encounters or the fact that some of our members still aren't raid-ready yet, because we understand that the game has barely been out a month and some people didn't get it until Christmas or later.
Our problem has been that a couple of the more hardcore members have been causing quite a fuss and complaining that the guild is going nowhere and in some cases, openly attacking officers and general members in guild chat. This has gone far beyond the occasional good-natured ribbing and has become a major source of tension in the guild.
I don't blame you for being Stressed. I dealt with quite a bit of drama in my time as a guild leader, including inter-guild drama, but never a guild leader who told me he'd do everything he could to dismantle my community.The guild master, one of the other core officers, and I made the decision to deal with the problem at its source and boot the problem players from the guild. This was followed by some of our more active players leaving the guild. We explained to everyone in the guild why the /gkick occurred in the first place, but people still left, citing the loss of two good players as their reason why.
The two problem players have since joined another smallish guild along with a couple of the players who left after the /gkick and have begun a crusade to destroy the guild from which they were booted. Our members have been getting multiple messages trying to lure them away, with the only reasoning being, "That guild is a fail guild." The guild master of the other guild has messaged our officers and our guild master saying that he is going to do everything he can to poach our members. My question is twofold. First, did we make the right decision in the first place to kick two active members, both good players, to relieve tension in the guild? Second, what can we do to hold things together and avoid losing people to a poaching guild master?
As to your first question, it's difficult for me or anyone looking at it from an outside perspective to judge. Mainly, it depends on what your existing behavior policies were (if you had any) and whether or not you could prove that the players in question were violating those policies. Some behavior goes so far beyond what any policy would cover that you have no choice but to remove players from your roster.
Perhaps the situation might have turned out better if a more diplomatic solution had been reached, but it sounds like these players weren't a good fit for your guild in any case. Now they are holding a grudge, so they must feel as if they didn't deserve to be kicked, whether others would agree or not. I feel like a broken record sometimes when I tell officers to put their policies and expectations in writing, but this situation is yet another great example of why you should.
Regardless, regrets and second thoughts won't get you anywhere at this point. You have to move forward. Your former players have decided to respond aggressively, and you need to match that aggression.
I'm not recommending that you engage in the same underhanded tactics, and I would never condone blatant poaching for any reason. In fact, I would ignore their messages completely. Responding to them will only encourage further harassment. However, you have a right to defend your guild from them.
The best defense
The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. As a first step, I'd acknowledge the situation in an honest and straightforward message to your guild members. Telling them why you kicked the offending players is a start, but you need to go farther. Explain exactly what this new guild is out to do. Share the threats that their leaders are making toward you. Bring it all out in the open and expose their behavior.
As a second step, you need to draw a figurative line in the sand between their guild and yours. Explain in no uncertain terms all the things that your guild stands for and how that makes you different from this rival organization. Emphasize the way their leaders treat people versus how you believe people in the game should be treated. Heck, you can even tell people that you'd rather see the guild wither and die rather than stoop to their level.
Then, make it clear that anyone on your roster who wants to quit and join the other guild is welcome to do so. If anyone in your guild actually wants to join an organization whose leaders are behaving this way, you're better off without them. That guild is only headed for more drama. In most cases, guilds that start this way don't last.
Finally, you need to be aggressive about rebuilding your roster and getting back into raids. That includes outlining a plan of your raiding goals for the expansion and how you plan to meet those goals. The faith of your membership has been tested by these events, so you must restore that faith. Beyond that, only time and hard work can repair the damage that was done.
To the other guild who is causing this drama: Shame on you. Whether the officers of the other guild kicked you out justly or unjustly, nothing justifies this immature and spiteful behavior. You may think you're better players than the leaders of your former guild, but all you're proving at this point is that you're worse human beings. Grow up, let it go, and let everyone get back to the point of this game, which is to have fun.
Join us to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!