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Officers' Quarters: Don't start from scratch

Officers' Quarters Don't start from scratch MONDAY
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.

Something in human nature relishes the concept of "starting from scratch." Is it the blank slate that excites us? Is it the opportunity to let go of the past and forge a new destiny for ourselves? Is it the joy of creating versus the tedium of maintaining?

In any event, I've received a lot of emails lately about this idea. Players have written me expressing a desire to create a new account or get a name change and then create a new guild on a new realm where they will be the guild leader. Usually it's a lone person or a duo.

To all of these people, my most sincere advice is this: don't.

And if you have no experience with leadership, especially don't.

First I will explain why this is a bad idea. Then, because I hate to discourage anyone from taking up a leadership role (the game always needs more of you), I will give a few words of advice about how you should approach it. Finally, I will offer an alternative that may work out better for you in the long run. Read on if you want to know!

The problem with blank slates

Let's put everything aside for now about guild policies and guild theory, about raiding or loot, websites, Vent servers, and all the rest.

Say you pay some people to sign a charter. You pick a name and you make a guild. Now, despite not knowing anyone on this realm, you somehow manage to recruit someone. That first player joins the guild and you think you're off to a good start.

Then they see that only two people are in it: you and them. They will probably gquit on the spot. No one wants to be in a guild with just one other person. When it comes to guilds, there is such a thing as a slate that's too blank.

Even if they stick it out for a few days, the longer it goes with just you and that person, the more likely they will be to quit. Then you are back to square one.

The problem is that no one knows you on this realm. When a player doesn't know you personally, you have to offer them something in your guild that they can't get from another guild. Fundamentally, every other guild will be able to offer at least one thing that you can't: other players. A community. A few warm bodies to run dungeons or PvP with. This is the most basic function, after all, of any guild.

If you can't even compete on that level from day one, your guild will be dead in the water before it even leaves the dock.

Three suggestions

If you're hellbent on having your own guild, then don't let me murder your dreams. Give it a shot, but do it the right way.

First, you should go into this with realistic expectations. You will have to work about five times as hard as the average guild leader to recruit players and to keep them on your roster. That will be the case at least for the first few months if the guild is successful in the beginning and possibly much longer than that if it's not. If you're not willing to put in the effort, then don't start down this path -- you'll just let everyone down at the end of it.

Second, you should be honest with the people you recruit. Tell them that you're new to the realm. If you're new to leading, you should tell them that too. By all means, you can be upbeat about your guild's potential. I'm not saying you should run around telling everyone that it's doomed to fail. In fact, your enthusiasm can be a selling point.

However, the worst thing you can do is mislead players about your background, your intentions, or the real nature of the guild as it currently exists. Your recruits should not end up feeling like you deceived them. That will damage your reputation on the realm -- and reputations have a way of migrating from realm to realm these days more than they used to.

Third, recruit before you create the guild. Don't recruit anyone into an empty roster. Talk to players first. Recruit them with your ideas about what you want the guild to be and how it will be different in some way from other guilds on the realm. (Yes, that means you need to find out what the other guilds on your realm are doing.) If you have an idea that appeals to people, then they will be willing to wait for it. This will not be easy, but it can be done.

When you have at least four other people who are interested and can join, only then should you pull the trigger on the charter. If you can't find those four people, then it wasn't meant to be. You need to find a better idea or a more receptive realm.

A better idea

Instead of putting yourself through all this, why not join an existing guild? Get to know some people on your new realm. Get to know the realm itself and the other guilds there. Figure out if this is actually a realm where you want to lead a guild. There is no rush. The more you know before you start a guild, the better your chances of success.

If you have no leadership experience, follow these seven steps and eventually you can become an officer in that guild. Then you can find out if the reality of leadership appeals to you as strongly as the idea of it.

Ideally, you should only create a guild because it needs to exist. If that sounds too zen for you, I'll break it down. You should create a guild when (a) you know players who want to form a new community, (b) you see a need that is not being fulfilled by other guilds on your realm, or (c) you can offer a significant improvement over what existing guilds are doing.

It's much easier to recruit when you can convince people that one of these three reasons is true. That applies to every guild out there.

You should not create a guild only because you want to lead one.

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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