Friday, March 20, 2009

You Must Gather Your Party

Again, super nerdy reference title.

Today we're gonna talk about guilds. Running a guild, guild recruitment, and those sorts of things. If you're a small business owner this might be of some use to you, but I am really focusing on the guild type of organization. I'll try to keep things semi-broad but the focus is on guild organization.

Furthermore, I'll be focusing on high level guild organization, aimed at getting people focused on accomplishing goals such as raids or PvP. If your guild is more casual, some of these hints will still help you, though.

There are a couple things you need to know about how to make your guild successful. The first is that you must develop a large, strong reputation and secondly that it must be a good reputation. This is actually a long-term process that pretty much determines whether your guild succeeds or fails. If your guild is well-known but has a bad reputation that can also work to your advantage, but it has major downsides as well. I don't recommend it.

One way to develop reputation of sorts is to have one or two (preferably one) people devoted to community excellence. By that, I mean someone who is extremely good at some task in the game and who will talk about it at great length on forums or even blog about it. The more well-known this person is, the more attention your community will get. It is somewhat likely that your guild will not have one of these people, because they are hard to find. I recommend making one instead.

By this, I mean having one spokesperson whose goal is to post up large amounts of useful information about the game (or if you're like me, about things totally unrelated to the game, as long as it's interesting). Instead of having that one person be responsible for finding out all of this information though, you instead have many people gather information about as many nuance things in the game as you can. Then these people can write guides and articles and such. Then your guild can submit these guides through proofreading and peer review (to ensure quality) and finally submit them to the world.

Although you may seem skeptical about this, let me point you in the direction of World of RogueCraft which is one of the more well-known fan-made videos about WoW. Although Mute was certainly one of the brains behind it, he had the backing of a whole guild full of video capturers, voice actors (Mute isn't even the one doing his own voice, btw), and most certainly testers and information gatherers. As a result, Rogues Take Zero Skill is a huge guild and very well-known.

Oh, and RogueCraft was made in 2006, so some of the information is outdated and of course, the gear is outdated, but the point remains that the video is incredibly popular.

Yes, he really is killing people in Ironforge, and yes those really are IF guards aggroing on him.

Anyway, your game is probably less big than WoW, but even if you are playing WoW or a similar game, you can provide information that isn't easily available to everyone. If you can provide it in an entertaining way such as that, your guild will have no trouble with a good reputation. If your guild isn't good at making movies, there are still options such as forums, blog posts, or podcasts.

Another really good way to raise popularity is to have the aforementioned guild mascot/figurehead be very active in your server's help channels. Information and kind words go a long way, and people remember both him and your guild tag. If you have multiple people who help out there, you will develop a rep for being helpful and cool. If you are simultaneously a good PvP or raid guild (or whatever you decide you want your guild to be good at) you will get people clamoring to join your guild in no time.

As mentioned above though, you should make sure that any 'helpers' are actually helpful. Train them as best you can so that they know lots of niche things about their area of specialty. The more secret knowledge they know, the more effective they are. If they give poor advice, elitist jerks will correct them in the help channel and it can lead to arguments, which makes you look bad.

In general, public opinion of your guild needs to be positive, and the best way to do that is to eradicate elitism in all of its forms. Elitism is horrible for reputation. People will remember you if you're excellent, but they'll remember you with hatred and contempt if you're elitist. Don't talk down to noobs and don't let your guild do it either. If you want to promote positive attitudes, have them all read my article on elitism. Even if they think noobs are stupid and not worth their time, it is absolutely essential that your guild not present that attitude because it really does separate you from everyone else.

Starting arguments in the public realm is another way to really make you look bad, and it can make your guild look bad. Train your guys to avoid "proving" anything in a public domain. If people don't believe you, that's fine, just leave them be. Also, if someone posts something wrong in a public chat or forum post, correct them politely once and that's it. If they start to lash out, apologize for offending them and drop the argument. Don't get involved with that stuff.

The byproduct of all this is that you will get polite, respectful people who want to join your guild. Elitist jerks may see you, but most of them will stick with more elitist jerks - it's actually fairly rare to see 'nice' guilds that get a lot of people who will make you look bad.

The (debatable) downside to this is that the overall skill level of your guild will be somewhat low at first. Fortunately, you did a lot of homework and made the core of your guild very competent and knowledgable. Your guild has already written a ton of guides and put out a lot of useful information and people really like you. You've been preaching tolerance and respect. In the end, this means that you'll be able to train new recruits because they will be much more willing to learn from you. So while you will have to teach a bunch of noobs how to heal properly and move with the group and DPS very very slowly, the end result is that they will get good at it and your guild's overall skill level will get pretty high.

Training new guys has to follow the same sort of tolerance, though. Establish a good method of teaching and mentorship - get both your new and old members involved in the process, and always give positive reinforcement. Never be negative, even if your new guys suck. When you suck, you don't want to keep going and you want to quit. If you think you did a few things right, even if small, it makes you think that you can eventually get everything done right.

Single out people in your guild too for improvement. By that, I mean reward guild members who have improved greatly - much needed gear upgrades or gold or whatever is good in your game. Don't emphasize too much on the people that did great and focus on the people that are improving a lot. And even if you have people straggling, again, tell them what they did right, then show them what they can do better. Don't show them what they did wrong (showing what you can do better is the same thing, only nicer!)

Lastly is you have to have some resolution for when people screw up. I mean conduct-wise, not performance-wise. Performance can be trained, but conduct is hard to fix. Generally, if someone presents an attitude that is not suitable for the guild, I would recommend having a talk with them and ask them why they acted the way they did. If they seemed unrepentant or claimed to be 'in the right,' I'd probably give them the 'be nice' lecture (basically this whole article). If they tried to make excuses, I'd kick them. It is so crucial that you keep your guild in harmony, and anyone who tries to prove themselves 'better' than other people is really not a good idea to have around, regardless of other merits.

Even if your guild 'sucks' at first, the end result will be grand. Your guild members will be happy, well-liked, and popular. High level guilds might try to grief you, even.

Feel free to comment if you've actually gotten this to work. I mostly know these things from failures of myself or other guild leaders/officers, and I have never run a guild based on these principles. I have used these techniques in real life (!) though, so I know they work.

As an end note: If you do this in EVE, make sure that it isn't blatantly obvious that you're using this article as a reference, to prevent someone from infiltrating your guild and disbanding your alliance. Make your own policies, but definitely don't include the dispute resolution paragraph - or else, when someone slips up (and everyone who isn't genuine does) they will lie to get through it!

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