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Drama Mamas: Should guilds mandate courtesy?

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.

Try not to get too distracted by cute young men in groovy costumes. We've got drama to take care of.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I am a guild leader of a large social guild, with a large group of officers.

At officer meetings there are a small group of people who continue to bring up the subject of guild members not saying hello when people log on or grats when an achievement is made, they feel as if they are being ignored and are not welcome, although I have had no complaints from other guild members. This subject has been discussed many times and the main conclusion that the majority of us agree upon is leading by example, as we can not force guild members to say hello or grats. But the same people continue to gripe about this one subject which sometimes leads to aggressive discussions on the officers forums. I understand that they feel strongly about it and have attempted to address the problem many times and tried various things to appease them to no avail.
How can I diffuse the situation without resorting to doing something drastic like demoting them, which may cause serious ramifications for the guild (i.e. people guild quitting, aggressive discussions overflowing into guild chat and accusations of abuse of power).

Sincerely

Perplexed

Drama Mama Lisa: Frankly, your grumpy officers' group needs to worry less about how to make members chat more and worry more about why members aren't speaking up. Based on the fact that these officers are the only ones complaining about anyone feeling shut out in the cold, it's apparent that you're suffering from one or both of these problems:
  1. You have a clique problem. There's an us-versus-them mentality gnawing through the foundations of your guild. Your unhappy officers are complaining about the apparent social malaise, while other members seem completely uninterested or unwilling to engage this group in conversation. Yes, you most definitely have a clique at work; get the clique prescription from Officers Quarters' Scott Andrews.
  2. Your guild members are avoiding guild chat on purpose. This may be strictly due to the clique situation, or there might be individual contributors to the general unease. People avoid making themselves known in chat in order to dodge that needy lowbie who's always asking for help ... or that crass dude whose jokes always seem to teeter on the line of being offensive ... or the pitiful player who just can't wait to spill out the latest tale of hardship and personal despair. Make sure you identify those situations and get them on a tight leash, too.
Your idea to set the tone by example is just the right approach. The fact that it didn't work the first time simply shows that there's something beyond a lack of general chattiness at play here.

You're going to have to take a deep breath and confront the clique situation head-on. Don't be confrontational, though; instead, make your grouchy officers your allies. Help them see how their united front sets up a barrier between them and other players, and gently remind them that if they're going to make friends with other guildmates, they're going to have to put their existing group patterns on hold in order to group and chat with new combinations of players.

Yes, it feels artificial. It is! The results are what you're after, and breaking free of existing patterns is the way you'll get there.

Beyond that, we're back at the same square where we were last week when we talked about calling players by their names instead of their classes or group functions. That's right -- we're back to manners. A few quick reminders that apply to everyone:
  • Greetings and, yes, saying "grats!" are common social niceties. They're like saying "bless you" when someone sneezes or "thank you" when someone holds the door. Let's get over this whole notion of being so put upon by the burden of typing out these minimal messages. It's certainly not necessary to go on at length or make mention of every insignificant achievement -- come on, no reasonable person expects that. But it's always worth the time to show you notice and recognize the activities of your fellow guildmates. If you're so averse to social interaction that this is difficult for you to swallow, you should probably rethink your decision to belong to a guild or even to play a social game.
  • In many guilds (like mine), members routinely hang out in voice chat, whether or not they're grouped or raiding. In our group, nobody feels awkward about choosing not to chat on any given evening -- but there's also the understanding that if you start talking in guild text chat, it's fairly likely your message will go sight unseen. Most of us routinely ignore our chat windows unless we're in a raid monitoring raid messages, and we know to use whispers for anything we want to get noticed ("Hey, would you ask if anyone in TeamSpeak wants to run dailies together?"). If your guild has any groups that hang out in voice chat, make sure others know not to take unresponsiveness in guild chat personally.
  • Unless you're all chatting away in voice chat, though, a silent guild is a dead guild. Never doubt that if you're skulking about in the social shadows, you are part of the problem. As I noted last week, "... you've put yourself out in public with other players, and it behooves you to wipe the pizza sauce off your chin, pull up your big boy pants, and act like a civilized person. Social niceties are, indeed, nice! Represent yourself with class!"

Drama Mama Robin: I fear that the answer to both 1 and 2 of Lisa's problem choices may be the same: It's likely the clique is made up of your complaining officers and they're the ones chasing people out of guild chat.
  • Are they being snippy in guild chat? "Oh, finally someone says grats!", or "At least one person knows how to say hello."
  • Have they taken this request to more public forums? Members forum post title: "If you think people should be more polite in guild chat, post here!"
  • Do they keep a mental tally of who gratses/greets them and only do the same to those people?
They are so vehement in their opinions about this, I can't believe they have only kept it in officers' chat. The above behavior would keep me from talking in guild chat, and I'm sure others would feel the same way.

I think Lisa's solutions are excellent, but I don't think they'll mollify your Courtesy Fascists. And if they're the ones causing their own problems, I think there may be only one way to deal with it -- professionally.
  1. State that the decision is final. You and the other officers have clearly stated the decision as well as the extremely rational reasons behind it. It won't hurt to state all this again, however, for the last time. (And really, what is the point of making decisions as officers, if they are not going to be followed?)
  2. Explain the ramifications. Any officers unable to accept the decision of the majority will be demoted. Any drama made public about this (or any ruling) will result in dismissal from the guild.
  3. Communicate to the rest of the guild. In a general post to your members, state the request and decision -- without naming anyone. Then if the Courtesy Fascists choose to leave to make their own Be Social or Else guild, everyone will understand why. This should severely reduce the drama of a group /gquit.
I have a little bit of experience in a large social guild. If your guild is truly large, it can get awfully spammy if everyone online says hello to everyone who logs on and says grats to every little achievement. Personally, if anyone ever gratses me on one of the so-called fish achievements, they get a playfully angry rant about how a Tangled Fishing Line is not a fish! I tend to grats on the big stuff and let most of the PVP achievements go unremarked. I say hello if someone bops in chat and says hello -- and I'm not busy. But I'm not going to obsessively check my chat box to see who logged on and if I missed anyone; I don't expect anyone else to do the same.

I think that's the main thing we should all take away from this is that lovely Golden Rule. Treat people in guild, PUGs, Battlegrounds, and the physical world the way you want to be treated. But please, don't try to make it a law.

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, Guilds, Drama Mamas

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