Sunday, June 17, 2012

Heading up to 4 years - The Frostwolves Guild Community

Elunamakata wrote a really interesting piece about the Guild as a community, and I think I liked it a lot because she echoes a lot of what I believe about guild community.
The community of a guild is just as vital as the goal of the guild, so you have to look for both a guild with goals that match your own, as well as a community you feel comfortable in. 
- Elunamakata
This is a very important statement.  Most people feel the need to belong.  To feel like they have a place in the world.  No toon is an island, though some might think they can be.
Our guild is very old.  It was formed on a different server in Vanilla, on a server that was full of people in a different time zone to us.  We found it difficult to recruit people who could raid at our times, and we moved to Dath'remar, an Oceanic server, populated by a lot of people in our time zone on 29 June 2008 (which means it will be our guild's 4th birthday soon - well 4th birthday since moving to this server, that is).  And since we moved here, people have joined and left, which is very common occurrence.  But for every 10 people that joined and left, one person has stayed and remained.

We still maintain that we are a casual and social guild, with a raiding component.  With a guild as large as ours (183 accounts, 509 members!!), you can't expect that EVERYONE is going to raid.  We have a massive social component to our guild - in fact, with the whole guild levelling and perks, you find a lot more social people joining the guild for all the benefits you receive.

I think most members of Frostwolves, and those people who read my blog, know that I look upon my guild as my second family.  I try to at least say something to every person who gets online, and get to know a little bit about the person behind the keyboard.  Like, why do they play?  Where are they based?  Where were they before this? So I'm just going to talk about what makes my guild work.  This doesn't work for everyone's guild - but it works for us.

How do you decide who gets into the guild?

Raiding is a specialised subset of members of the guild.  Not everyone has the dedication to be able to raid on the specified days.  Obviously, you can't make everyone happy - which is why I'm glad Fueghan is our guild leader.  He's diplomatic, thick skinned, calm - people argue with his decisions but he doesn't take it to heart.  I've NEVER seen him emo-quit for any reason.  He's also really fair, and sometimes, it is the fair part of him that can sometimes make it hard for others who have the drive to succeed, because to be fair, we have to let everyone play.  To raid in our guild, you have to apply and list your raid experience, and be willing to use the addons and other components we use for a successful raid.

Social members are different.  Social members can come in if they are friends with someone already in the guild.  We don't take on new solo social members or you can imagine our population would just blow out.  They have expressed no desire to raid, and are not entitled to a raiding position - however, if they are geared, and show up consistently to raid even if they don't get in, then they could be upgraded to raider status.

How do you keep members happy so they don't leave?

The first rule - you can NEVER please everyone.  All you can do is make it clear when people join what they can expect from the guild.  People will always be unhappy about something or other, whether that be we are not raiding, they didn't get into a raid, they don't get play well with others.  What we try to push for is acceptance and tolerance.  People are different.  Not everyone plays at the same level or intensity, or skill.  Be tolerant of those who are trying.  Abuse (Voe!!!), especially of the nasty vindictive sort, is not tolerated in our guild, and after a few warnings, the real nasties leave or get kicked out.  I would recommend this to anyone who is trying to maintain harmony in a guild.  Warnings, first, then removal.  Don't kick them first off - it might have been a misunderstanding, and sometimes, young players don't understand boundaries.  Remember, that an officer/guild leader also has to extend tolerance to those who are being.. intolerable :)

When we raid, it is not unexpected that the longest standing members are asked to raid ahead of others - over years they have proven themselves more reliable, dedicated and committed to the guild.  This often causes conflict amongst other raiders, and would have to be THE biggest source of raider headache that I have to listen to put up with.  Explaining, being consistent, and setting a good example are the best ways to try to deal with difficult situations, I find.

The second rule - if people feel like they BELONG, or are IMPORTANT to the guild, then they are less likely to leave.  Treating every member like they are a member of this guild, and not a pleb to be bossed around or a number or another body, is a vital part of guild member retention and also to the morale of the players.  However, this is also tricky.  People will take offense if they wish to, no matter how reasonable you try to be.  You sit them out for one raid, when other key members have sat out a few times... they get upset, and threaten to leave.  Which leads me to the third rule.

The third rule - don't negotiate with terrorists.  The constant fear of having a knife hanging over your head because someone threatens to leave because they don't get what they want is not worth the hassle.  No matter how good a DPS/Tank/Healer is they can be replaced.  The emotional drain of having them around is not worth the extra progress on a boss kill.

Is socialising important for Guild Community?

Yes!!!  This would have to be our guild strength.  Except for Bish the mute recluse, and Hwired who is the newest officer, every other officer has met up with the others at least once, in person.  Being friends outside the game adds a dimension to the person that makes them that much more real, that much more tangible that you are less likely to write them off and think of them more as a person.  Socialising though doesn't only mean real life meet ups - in game "fun runs" are also great for socialising.  Old raids and dungeons for things like transmog, take a lot of the pressure out of knowing a fight and stressing about getting it right, and allow you to enjoy everyone's company.  I am going to throw the word tolerance out again.  Often, the leader or organiser of these things, is after something in particular.  If you want people to help you, then you have to help them.  And that's what makes these runs work.  You have to help others if you want to help yourself.  Of course, complete your goal too, but make sure that everyone who helped you, you do something for them as well.  Everyone is happier when they got something out of helping.

Real life social events have always been a big thing for us.  We've had a few guild gatherings now, and mini gatherings as well.  I admit, every time I am in another city I will look up guildies to meet up with.  Next month, I have a conference in Queensland and 3 guildies are up there (that I know of!) and one ex-guildie.  Aza heard and he's coming up as well, and perhaps Roshii and Lushnek as well.  Our last guild social event was last March, held in Sydney, and that was pretty cool.


Guild highs and lows

However, though it sounds like things are all roses and candy, there are a lot of bad things I remember that happened during my time here, things that were low points, things that I wasn't particularly proud of.
  • We had one difficult point where we had a couple of people join the guild, reasonable players, who then beefed up our numbers bringing friends in from all over the place, and we could raid 25 mans comfortably.  However, one day when things didn't go well, the leader of that little group, quit in a huff and took everyone with him.  That was a huge blow to raiding numbers, and we struggled for a while, but I remember thinking, that what I learned from that, is to never trust anyone who has been known to be a guild hopper, no matter how good they are.
  • We've had two pairs of tank/healer combos who had quite volatile personalities.  It was unfortunate because both of those pairs were excellent raid attendees, and their personalities were difficult but we put up with them.  Their healing and tanking were not the best either but Fue never told them they were crap or anything, and neither did I for that matter, but people did and it got to them.  I mean, they were difficult, emotionally frail, and sensitive.  They weren't the best, but we made do and we'd just do our best to prop them up when needed or placing them with stronger healers/tanks.  Anyway, one pair left on their own, and to this day those toons of theirs are still wandering around, and the other pair left the game to go play something else.  I still feel bad about them.  Though, credit to the healer of one of those pairs, they were considering leaving the guild, and when an upgrade dropped for them that they really needed, they didn't want to take it because they were worried that people would think they were ninjas, taking loot and then leaving guild.  I have to commend that person on that behaviour, I thought it was very noble and unselfish.  I felt bad though, because everyone was glad the healer left, because they were so bad.  The tank of that pair left after a squabble with a long time guildie and felt that everyone was against them so huffed off too.
  • I hate to overgeneralise, but young teenage girls CAN BE trouble.  One young girl, said that a mage was bullying her and sexually inappropriate to her, and got on the side of one of the female officers who was very outspoken and demanded that we reprimand that other mage.  Now that mage, had been nothing but extremely civil, if not even a little quiet, and was quite humble, in my honest opinion, and Fue had that impression too.  But the mage had to be talked to, and then there was a lot of bitchy hate towards him stirred up by those girls, so he ended up leaving.  Then that young girl ended up leaving as well some time later.  And she ended up causing some sort of internal conflict within that other guild she went to that some people had to leave.  So you see a trend happening there? I was sad for that mage.
But even for all those bad things, there are heaps of good things!
  • Of the people that joined when we first came to the server, Faith and Ayelena (who actually came via Mabaho) are the ones I remember best as long term stayers.
  • In WotLK Souglyy came on Bahada to join us, and so did Hwired at the end of it.
  • In Cataclysm we have Roshii, Voe, Falln, Gutsy, Ksret and Augment still here.  Hopefully they'll still be here come Pandaria.
  • All the great friends I've made through this game, who are now my real life friends as well.

I'll leave you with some advice that Matticus said about guilds:
Your guild is your family. The best guilds have a strong sense of unity and community.
And if you want to start up a guild, you should look at his page on guild stuff.  Really good for the day to day running of a guild and managing all those crazy kids.  I told you running a guild improves your parenting skills.


8 comments:

  1. It would be hard to replace me Nav :P

    -Rosh

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  2. Ill still be here in the next exp, just having a break for a few weeks.

    Falln

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  3. When you are on a good thing you stick to it and never let it go. Frostwolves are by far the most friendly bunch of WOWers I've had the pleaseure to play with since I started playing WOW. The only way I'll leave is if the guild folds, which thankfully, is not on any horizon I can see.

    Go Frosties.

    Ayelena

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  4. Grats to you Frosties on your four years, I wish you at least four more!

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  5. Frosties is my family :) Your all stuck with me :)

    Souglyy

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  6. Argh, Aye! What have you done, lol.... you don't talk about folding! :)

    Is it only 4 years since we moved, it seems like so long ago.

    Still, plus two years on that other server (is there a reason you never name it Navi, are we in trouble there or something?) there can't be a lot of guilds who've been together that long.

    Mab.

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    Replies
    1. @Mabaho - oh I didn't realise I was avoiding saying it, I am sure that I have mentioned it in other posts. We were Frostwolf on Khadgar.... Ok I said it :)

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  7. @roshii - now why would I want to do that!
    @falln - I can see you in d3 so I know you're still alive :)
    @ayelena - I'm glad you are here ayel :) someone other than moo has to be older than me!
    @TotA - thank you my friend, looks like you'll be stuck Reading about us for a while longer!
    @souglyy - Ooh ah oooooh... Happy to be stuck with you....

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