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Officers' Quarters: A runaway success

A guild and fireworks
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.

Many guilds struggle to find recruits. The guild in the email below is not one of them. In fact, if you're looking for someone to blame about your recruiting difficulties, you might want to look at these guys. With seven raid teams and chapters across multiple games, this guild leader's problem isn't too few players, but too many.

Dear Scott!

I am longtime WoW-player (since patch 2.4) and reader of WoW Insider. This site is my favorite place to read news and articles about a game. Most important is that audience of readers is quite nice and constructive. It is always nice to read. This is one of the reason, why I ask for advice here.

Currently I am leader of WoW-wing in middle size MMO-community, there are 250+ members. Half of our members play Guild Wars 2, another half plays WoW. Now we experience some growth problem...

Initially it was planned to create PvE-oriented guild with at two raid teams at the best. We were recruiting mostly via our blogs. First raid team managed to clear MSV in three weeks in February and started to progress further. More progress, more people came to us. We were not hardcore or even semi hardcore raiders. We raid two nights a week, six hours in total. It is quite casual from my point of view, but seemed like we attracted an attention. Number of members started to increase pretty fast. Before the end of the April we had four raid teams and plenty of socials, who did want to raid, but anyway had a good time in game.

Currently we have seven raid team with different progress in ToT – from 3/12 normal up to 4/13 heroic. Three teams already cleared ToT and two teams are close to do it before patch 5.4. We even have team for rookies, where new people learn how to raid. There are some players, who are interested in PR-events and PvP. We also do old content and achievements. Currently there are 150+ accounts, 500+ characters, 40-50 people are online every evening. May be this is not so amazing for somebody, but basically, this is biggest guild I participating. Also, MMO-bloggers keep to join us and I consider we gathered quite a lot interesting and friendly people.

So, what is the point I write to you? Generally I need an advice how to deal with medium size guild, which is a part of multi-MMO community. Can I read something about this somewhere in the net? Are there any sites of successful multi-MMO guild? How to organize the management of this guild? We do have a council of MMO-community, but how should it work? Should we just make decisions by ourselves or discuss it with all members of the guild? Democracy or tyranny? How to deal with new recruits? Everybody says, that he is ok during interview, but sometimes it is not so. Time, when we accepted almost everyone, has gone, and guildmates started to talk about closing doors.

Things are not looking bad right now, though, we had some forum dramas during last two month. But as guildmaster, who is responsible for guild's development, I really feel, that I need an advice. We already created quite unique community of bloggers and readers and I would like at least to keep it as it is.

Thank you in advance.

With best regards
Deckven
P.S. http://wowcasual.info is my blog. Warning – this is Russian blog


Hi, Deckven. That sounds like quite an amazing community you've built up. I'm sure it's happened somewhere, sometime, but this is the first guild I've heard about with seven different raid teams in the same game. That is truly an accomplishment.

The sheer size does present some challenges, and I will offer my advice.

Policies in a cross-game guild

With such a diverse community, you should be very careful about which policies you set in stone. What works for a heroic raid group may not work for the rookie team. And what works in WoW may not work in Guild Wars 2.

What you should have is an overarching charter stating the purpose of the guild and what you hope to accomplish in the various games. Talk about what sorts of players you're looking for and what sorts of behavior won't be tolerated.

Any specific policies about recruiting are probably best decided on a game-by-game basis. Any specific policies about loot, attendance, criticism culture, etc. are probably best decided on a team-by-team basis, though you can and should offer suggestions.

Overall, it's probably more effective for you to outline what should never be done rather than what must be.

Leadership structure

Way, way back in 2007 I wrote a two-part article talking about different historical leadership systems that could be applied to leading a guild. I think a council of officers is probably a good solution for you, though of course you'll have to be the ultimate arbiter.

The biggest challenge in a guild like this is making your members feel like the officers care about them. It's easy for a person to feel disposable in a community of hundreds. To avoid that, you need transparency and communication.

I would urge you to poll for opinions on guild policy/direction and to speak with individual members one on one. Private conversations can help better than anything else to gauge how things are going for the average guild member, judge how certain actions or policies are perceived, and identify the shortcomings of the organization at large.

When decisions are reached, you should try to explain as much as possible about how and why. Make yourself available to answer any questions or concerns that people may have.

Restrict recruiting

I would urge you to slow down the number of people you invite. At this point, it doesn't make much sense to bring in players who are complete unknowns, even with an interview policy. When my original guild ballooned to a few hundred people, we decided to stop recruiting anyone who didn't come with a strong recommendation from a current member. We probably should have pulled the plug on it earlier, to be honest, but I was still new to running a guild back then.

Adding players, at least on the WoW side of your guild, doesn't really help you much at this point, unless one of your raid teams is really hurting for someone who can make a specific day and time.

If real life friends or family of an existing member want to join, you should accept them provided they aren't likely to cause a problem. You'll have plenty of those as time goes by to keep the roster healthy. Aside from that, it should only be a player with a ringing endorsement from a member and a rock solid reputation on your realm (or whatever realm they play on right now).

Your guild has earned the right to be picky. It's an enviable situation. Many guild leaders out there would love to be in your shoes right now. Take advantage of it!

Resources

To me the ultimate example of a large, cross-game guild is The Syndicate. It's a bit outdated now, but there's a book about them, too. Another is The Art of Warfare, who play not just MMOs but shooters and other games.

The readers might be able to point you toward others in the comments below. Is anyone else out there running a guild like this? Tell us about it!

/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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