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Officers' Quarters: That other guild reputation

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.

These days, when you say "guild reputation," most people think of the guild rep grind that's required to buy items like the Armadillo Pup and the Dark Phoenix. Cataclysm didn't invent this concept -- the expansion simply turned what already exists into a specific number with some fun rewards attached. As long as there have been guilds, there have been players with an opinion about them, and vice versa. This kind of reputation plays a huge role in a guild's success or failure, particularly when it comes to recruiting. This week, an officer with a rep problem asks how to deal with a handful of former members who are sabotaging the guild's recruiting efforts.
Hey Scott,

So my guild is fairly new (about 3-4 months) we started at the beginning of cataclysm as a guild of friends who wanted to raid on the weekends together. We slowly built up and developed a raider base however it was very difficult to get new players as every other guild on the server was looking for people. We had around 6-7 devoted raiders but those last 3 or so raiding slots left it difficult for us to pug and find members in general who were willing to raid. We went through a variety of members in these slots but most of these people didn't understand the concept of a "raiding guild." Some misunderstandings occurred and over the course of our guilds existence we developed about 4-5 "haters."
These haters are against our guild no matter what and tell all their friends about what a horrible guild we are. It's gotten to the point where when we advertise in trade, people we don't even know will bash us in front of the whole server. These people have spread ridiculous and untrue rumors about our guild to everyone they knew and it's getting to the point where we can't even get more members since people have "heard bad stuff about us" even though non of this stuff is true. I've tried talking to these "haters" but they insist that I'M wrong and they just put me on ignore. Please, I don't know what to do anymore and we are a small 10m raiding guild who desperately needs more raiders for it's second group since only 1 person gone from our main group means disaster. I don't know what to do about these haters!

Thanks,

Stressed
Hi, Stressed. Misunderstandings are a fact of life in online gaming. Veteran players know this, and most of us try not to lose our cool when these sorts of things happen. Unfortunately, some people don't have the maturity or the patience to deal with misunderstandings, and they turn what should have been a regrettable but forgettable incident into a bitter and enduring grudge. It sounds like that's what you're dealing with here. The way I see it, you have a few possible solutions.

1. Take them head on. Since they are going out of their way to trash you, you could try fighting back. Talking to them hasn't helped, but if you go on the offensive in public, then perhaps you can win back your guild's reputation with a good old-fashioned verbal confrontation.

Next time you're recruiting in trade chat and someone makes a rude comment, ask them why they hold that opinion. Don't be hostile or aggressive. Stay calm, be reasonable, and refute their statements with the reality of the guild. Cite specific examples of things that you do or specific policies that you have that prove they are wrong. Identify yourself as a guild leader/officer, and offer to answer any questions that people may have about the guild or the false rumors about it.

Don't engage the haters in childish banter. Let their own immaturity work against them and discredit their arguments, and let your own reasonableness in the face of this attack speak for you and your community.

The downside to this, of course, is that no matter what people believe or don't believe, everyone will think your guild is prone to drama if they see this kind of discourse in trade. You'll have to weigh that against what people think about the guild now -- and decide which is worse.

2. Try other recruiting methods. Trade chat is the most direct method, but there are other methods of recruiting at your disposal that aren't so blatantly public. You can ask your own members to reach out to friends in private, you can talk to solid players that you group up with in dungeons or raids about joining, and you can host server events or competitions. The latter method has the additional benefit of providing some positive rep to balance out the bad.

Once everything blows over, you can go back to advertising in trade -- but don't give up on these other methods, either.

3. Change your name. Hey, rebranding worked for Nissan, Philip Morris, and Blackwater -- it can work for you too! Unfortunately, doing so right now will mean you'll have to repurchase your bank vaults, re-earn achievements, and re-grind guild level. It's a steep price to pay, but it has the advantage of a fresh start without changing servers. If you can afford to wait, Blizzard has announced a guild name change service (that will probably cost real-world money).

4. Transfer to a new server. This solution is certainly the most drastic, but you'll solve the issue in one fell swoop. All the same drawbacks apply to changing your name, with the additional risk that not everyone in your guild would be willing to pay to transfer or to leave your current server. You may find yourself even more short-handed in the short term, but hopefully you'll have an easier time recruiting in the long term.

Luckily, Blizzard is also planning to offer a guild transfer service, if you're able to wait for it.

The third and fourth options may feel like giving up or letting the haters win. By all means, if you don't want to let that happen, keep fighting the good fight. Keep those other options on the table, however. You may reach a point where you decide it's not worth the headaches.

Has anyone else encountered this type of problem? How did you resolve it?

/salute

Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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