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Drama Mamas: The prodigal GM returns

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.

Actions. Consequences. Drama.
Hello Drama Mamas,

When I joined over two years ago, our 25-man raiding guild used a 2-headed GM system. Of course, only one had the guild controls, but they would pass things back and forth at times and had equal say in policy. Over a year ago, one of them, the creator of the guild left the game due to some heavy real life issues. Guild control was passed to the other, and another co-GM was assigned. We were told often that the old GM would be returning soon, but none of us ever heard from him.
A few months passed and then a mass exodus occurred, including the newest appointed rank 1 GM and at least one other officer. We were forced to stop raiding for a few weeks and things looked like they were going to completely collapse. Those of us left banded back together with the one GM and resumed raiding as a 10-man unit. The GM however, chose to sit out, but promoted new officers and asked me if I'd take one of the GM positions. I initially declined due to uncertainty of the recent events. The people that stuck this all out finally began to make progression on Heroic DS (pre-nerfs) and while things were quite different, everything was back on the upswing. About this time the current GM stopped playing altogether. A couple of weeks after things had stabilized, I wrote a PM to the GM accepting his offer, but received no response. We realized without a GM in-game, we were handcuffed with some things like gbank access for raiding materials and such. After a second attempt to contact him, I and another player were promoted to rank 1 GMs with no instructions on length of term, what to do/not to do, etc. just a note saying essentially, keep on keeping on.

Time went on, and we cleared DS heroic. With a MoP release date announced we started to make plans for late September. However, we still hadn't seen or heard from the GM, nor from the creator of the guild. I tried contacting the GM via PM on our forums to see what their plans were for MoP, stating that we needed a real GM present to do some things come the expansion, but didn't receive a response. The other rank 1 GM told me that the GMs account was inactive and that I should use the dethrone tool, which I did.

Things were fine for almost 3 weeks. No one had any issues with my taking control of things, nor of any changes the officers and I were making. With no word from the active GM for 6 months and no word or site of the guild creator for 14 months.

Three weeks go by, and the old rank 1 GM, creator of the guild returns after 14 months. After not having heard from them for so long, and concerned of a heavy hand, we drop his rank to casual and consolidate things, combining what was 4 officer ranks, back to 2, GM and Officers.

After talking with them, I explain our initial concerns and why he was dropped to casual. He understands, promises he meant no harm and we return him to rank 1, now labeled "Officer" upon seeing this, he talks a bit about the changes with me and then quits.

Two days later we get a drama bomb on our forums about how it was a coup de tete, etc. Completely different tone than when I had talked with them. He was clearly shocked and upset by the changes to something he had created. But from current members perspectives, he'd been gone for 14 months without word in-game or our forums.

Anyway, after a 14 month absence, he wants things put back the way they were, but the people who stuck out the exodus 8 months ago are fine with how things are now. The other option is that we name change and allow him to keep his old guild name, but that we'd be selfish for taking this route.

I'm stuck now trying to make a final decision. The people who stuck things out the 14 months without this GM and the 6 months without the other GM have done nothing wrong and don't deserve any sort of upheaval to the guild as it evolved over that time. However, I do understand the feelings of the guild creator, as so much had changed without his being kept in the loop by his partner when he left.

Choosing one option or the other, I am surely to upset people I don't want to upset. It's really eating away at me IRL. I firmly believe given the timeline and evolution of the guild, I did no wrong, but I'm in a position to look like a guild stealer to some, or upset the balance of a guild that fought through some pretty dire times.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do I allow the guild to carry on as it currently is, what it's evolved to become, upsetting old members who haven't been around for a while? Or do I go against the wishes of many active members and concede the guild back to how it used to be?

Thanks,
Fizzstorm

Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: When the GM left the game, he gave up all rights to the guild. Period. Even if he had come back after four months rather than 14, it would be the same. The fact that he let his account go inactive, even for completely understandable reasons, means he passed leadership over to the new regime -- and he did so voluntarily. To call it a coup is being a petulant drama queen.

If he had come back and asked to co-lead again in a professional manner, I would have made him an offer:
  • Probation period After a finite period of time -- say, three months -- he could become an officer by participating heavily in guild activities and demonstrating that he still retained his leadership skills.
  • Excellent officer? If after another finite time -- say, six months -- he showed that he was capable of being the GM he used to be, I would offer up the position to a vote.
  • Election You would need to decide who could vote and how often you would have elections. Yes, I think that if you were willing to give up the GM spot using a democratic process, Mr. Prodigal GM should be willing to do the same.
  • Communication All of this should be communicated to the rest of the guild so that they could see that you were giving him a chance to regain his position.
But the fact is that all he demonstrated was that he was impatient, unreasonable, and completely unappreciative of all that had gone on without him. A good leader knows he has to prove himself and not just make promises. Instead, he threw a temper tantrum. Just like I don't reward The Spawn with what she wants after she kicks and screams, you can't give him back "his" guild. Actions have consequences, and he's old enough to know better.

I like the idea of offering him "his" guild name. It's a good gesture. Otherwise, he shouldn't even be in your guild, let alone lead it. Drama is as drama does.

That being said, you could still try forgiving him for this incident and making him the offer I suggested above. /shudder It would probably help you with the older members.

Whatever you do, please don't just hand the guild back over to this guy. Please. Pleeeeease. Seriously. Write back and tell me what happens, but don't make me sadfaced. /worry

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: You can't put this genie back in the bottle. Once you've come to grips with that fact, I think it'll be fairly evident that you must keep things in their current gear. You may lose a few people over the ensuing drama -- but don't lose sight of the fact that the Mr. Back From the Dead is the one kicking up all the Corpse Dust.

I'd recommend a little advice from Officers Quarter's Scott Andrews to clarify and bolster your thought process. I'd especially draw your attention to the first article here, "Return of an ex-guild leader" -- it's got your situation written all over it. Like Mr. Back From the Dead himself once did (har, har), this too shall pass. Mists is around the corner now -- bite the bullet, handle the business, and you'll be back to enjoying the game before you know it. Good luck!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Drama Mamas

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