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Drama Mamas: The case of the guild bank thief

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.

I'd like to give the "friend" of this week's letter writer a talking to, but he's not the one who wrote in.
Hullo Drama Mamas,

I am asking for some help regarding a RL friend and WoW problem. I am in my teens and wear a permanent back brace as a result of complications in my spine, so WoW and WoW Insider have been a great source of enjoyment throughout my mostly stationary life.

With the new patch and reductions in game prices, a RL friend (who introduced me to the game in the first place) recently got back into WoW. I am in a fun, casual, high leveled guild, and he asked if I could give him some cheap item enhancements--"+1 Stam" and such -- to restart his army of alts and twinks, suggesting that I take some from the guild bank. I like helping people, but I was hesitant to do so in this case, because I felt it was effectively stealing. However, I later decided to do so anyways because of other small favors he had done for me in the past and the low leveled items had been sitting in the guild bank for quite a while -- now there would be more room for higher leveled enchants.
The thing is, withdrawing several stacks from the guild bank for someone not in the guild has caused me to lose my rank and privileges. It's not a huge discomfort as I rarely need items from the bank, but being questioned and reprimanded by an officer shook me to my core. There was also the implication that I was lying and used the items for my own benefits, eg. selling them on the AH, or the like. I did withdraw one mid-level enchant for my tanking set, but that was it.

I'm not on the best terms with this friend anymore; part of me blames him for convincing me to take out the items, but the other part blames myself for my naïveté -- how do I know he really needed them? Even then, shouldn't I have known that it was wrong to withdraw so much from the guild bank? Should I tell myself to stop taking the demotion so personally and grow a spine (literally)?

WoW isn't quite as enjoyable anymore. I don't have a questing buddy now, and I don't know how to come to terms with myself -- I can't change what I did, but I don't know what to do. I'm too ashamed to log in much because I feel like I've been branded as a wrongdoer in my guild.

Do you have any suggestions?

Spineless in Seattle

Drama Mama Robin: Hey Seattle, I won't call you spineless because you just seem to have done what most teens have done at one point or another: succumbed to peer pressure. I'm not condoning your behavior, but I think you're learning a valuable lesson here that will help you be strong against questionable behavior to "help" a "friend" in the future.

Let's talk about how you could have handled it:
  • Get your friend a guild invite. If your guild is a casual guild, it seems to me that getting him a guild invite would have been a simple matter. Then he could have worked his way up the ranks and gotten access himself to outfit his army of alts. This is so obvious, I wonder why you didn't do it. Did he not want to? Was there some other obstacle to his joining your guild?
  • Ask permission from an officer. If you thought it would be okay and make room for better items in the bank, you should have cleared it with an officer first, though asking for just one of each item would probably have been better.
  • Offer an alternative way to help. Saying no to a friend is hard. But rather than say no, you can propose a solution you are comfortable with that still helps your friend. Offer to craft things for him yourself. Group with him to farm for mats, gear, gold, whatever. Create an alt to do random dungeons with him to help him gear up. If he refuses this help and only wants you to steal the stuff, he's not your friend -- he's just using you.
Generally speaking, if you are approached by a friend to do something that he hesitates to do himself and you are reluctant to speak to an authority figure about, you are almost definitely being asked to do something you will regret. You felt it was wrong, and you were correct about that. But you found it hard to say no and talked yourself into it. The main thing that should have tipped you off here, however, is that he wanted you to take from your guild bank to outfit his "army of alts and twinks" ... "army." That's a lot of things to procure for a lot of characters. Seems rather grabby.

You've been branded as a wrongdoer in your guild because, I'm sorry to say, you are a wrongdoer. You could apologize and explain the situation (possibly linking to this column), and perhaps your guildies will soften toward you. Lisa has more to say about what you should do now.

Drama Mama Lisa: Robin's right -- you don't take stuff from the guild bank for someone who's not a guild member. Period. You need to go back to the officer who demoted you, apologize again, and produce replacements (as close to the actual items as possible; comparable value in gold only if you absolutely can't replace the items themselves). That's the first thing you need to handle, right away.

Once you've taken care of that, suck it up, carry on, and count this as an embarrassing lesson learned.

Taking stuff from the guild bank is just completely awkward, if you ask me. Unless there are specific rules -- and most often, those exist for raid team members but not so much for the inevitable army of alts -- you never really know what's appropriate. If your guild's anything like the ones my characters are in, people dump tons of stuff into the guild bank but don't really take much out.

Yeaaah, awkward.

Here are a few commonsense guidelines:
  • Ask an officer first. Sometimes, rules do exist; they're simply unspoken. See if a quick "Hey, I was wondering how people handle taking out items from the guild bank for alts ..." doesn't prompt a few more details.
  • Get a feel for what others are doing. Early internet etiquette guided new members of any group or forum to spend a week or so watching the action to get a feel for the group culture, before diving in with a comment or post. (It's still the mark of a n00b to fire from the hip too soon.) Watch what goes in and what goes out. Do things pile up endlessly? Do players occasionally withdraw items for lower-level characters? Are the only withdrawals being made by officers?
  • Contribute. If you only take things out, you're not sharing -- you're just taking advantage of everyone else's stuff. If all the raiders are gobbling up food made with a certain type of fish, you'll put yourself in very good graces by going fishing.
  • If you still feel awkward, simply replace what you take with something of equal or better value.
I'd like to hear what our readers think about taking things from the guild bank. It seems like the civilized thing to do to not obsess over lower-level items -- but of course, that leaves the guild bank wide open to situations exactly like this one. What's the bank culture in your guild? How do you handle withdrawing items if there aren't explicit rules in place?

Note: Please see Robin's comment below for how It came from the Blog and The Insiders do things.

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 robin@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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