[Resource] Ravenholdt Guildmaster Support

Greetings Ravenholdt,

The purpose of this post is to address the issue of Guild Leadership and to provide some information, resources, and encouragement to members of the community who may be currently struggling or who may be thinking of starting their own guild. Hopefully this thread will also be a place where additional issues, struggles, or concerns can be shared so that we can support one another in these endeavors.

Being a guild master (GM), while oftentimes fulfilling, is not an easy task. Oftentimes GMs struggle with issues that they haven’t anticipated and sometimes the task of running a guild can seem overwhelming. In my discussions with other GMs, it has become apparent that we face many of the same struggles – recruitment, low activity levels in the guild, dealing with drama, figuring out organization, difficult members, etc. Despite these commonalities, we seem to struggle with these issues in a relatively solitary manner. But there is no reason we can’t pool the collective support and resources of the Ravenholdt Community to help one another out. Strong guilds benefit the community in various ways and I think that working to create a network of strong guilds will only benefit this server.

As a caveat, I am not creating this post because I think I’m an excellent GM or because I think I know all about how to lead a guild. I still struggle with issues and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, others have expressed that a thread for this topic would be helpful and so I am taking the initiative to start it. Also, this is not an exhaustive post. I’m trying to overview issues at first, though I can tailor this post if another format is preferable or other issues arise that people think this post should include. All other members of the community are welcome to contribute their advice – this is a community effort and together we can make a better resource for GMs than I could ever hope to on my own!

The following is a brief outline of what will be discussed in this post.

I. Guild Leadership in General
a. Common Struggles of Guild Leadership
i. Organization
ii. Recruitment
iii. Retaining Members
iv. Activity Levels
v. Drama
vi. Difficult Members

b. General Remarks for Current or Future GMs
i. Perseverance
ii. Infrastructure
iii. The Importance of Community

c. Resources
i. Guild and Raid Leadership Forums
ii. Officer Quarters
iii. RH Sanctum Community

II. Conclusion

So, here we go!

I. Guild Leadership
I(a) Common Struggles of Guild Leadership

A guild leader faces many unique struggles, depending on the type of guild he or she leads. However, there are some struggles or issues that might be universal to guild leaders. If I miss any, please feel free to address them in subsequent posts!

I(a)(i) Organization.

Before creating a guild, or at any time during the process of leading a guild, it is important that you know some basic facts about what you want in a guild. This will help to clarify your recruitment message, target players who will do well in your guild, and give your guild a sense of purpose and progression. You can make your guild an RP, PvP, PvE, or social guild and the strength of focus in your guild can be noted as casual, medium, heavy, or hardcore. Choose a style that you enjoy and it’s also worth seeing if there is a void in the faction you’re thinking of making your guild. Is the Alliance lacking in a hardcore RP-PvP guild? That might be a good place to put your guild!

After the initial focus of your guild, you might consider what, if any, RP focus that your guild will have. Developing a backstory is a good way to set up a guild where players feel like they’re a part of a guild with a mission. This post isn’t tailored to RP guild, but there are some resources available to help you out with this!

Personally, I find it helpful to have a guild website to help clarify your guild mission and focus. It’s also a great way to have an FAQ about your guild or allow your guild members to post/chat when they’re not in-game. Guild websites are also a good place to have applications if your guild is more restrictive.

Finally, know your rank organization and note what is required for promotions. You don’t want to make it too difficult to progress through the guild ranks. At the same time, everyone being an officer doesn’t really make sense either. Officers can also help to fulfill roles that you might not be well suited for. Recognizing your strengths, your weaknesses, and the strengths of others (and utilizing those strengths appropriately) will benefit your guild!
Edited by Aerana on 11/19/2012 8:17 PM PST
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I(a)(ii) Recruitment
Once your guild idea is solidified and you have your charter, you’re ready to start recruiting players. There are a couple of different ways that you can go about this: Mass-recruiting, Trade/General advertisements, forum posts, interactions, and word-of-mouth. There are pros and cons to each type of recruiting method. The type of guild you have and your application process will also impact what type of recruiting method you use.

Mass-recruiting, or spamming invites, is a way to grow your guild quickly. But oftentimes these members aren’t permanent-member material. It’s a way to fill up your roster, but there’s a balance that you have to maintain between quality and quantity. Some people frown on this, so again, make sure you’re projecting the type of guild you want to be known for when recruiting.

Trade/General advertisements are a way to reach people in-game, but they can get lost in the shuffle and, if you spam them, end up bothering people. It’s another option though!

There are forums where you can post for guild recruitment. The Realm Forums, the Ravenholdt Sanctum (if it’s an RP guild) or the Blizzard Guild Recruitment forums are some places to start.

Interactions and word-of-mouth recruitment can be more difficult than the previously mentioned methods. To do this, you and your officers (and guild members!) need to get out in the community and interact with others in a positive way. Note that I said positive. Sometimes the hardest thing for a guild to overcome is a negative reputation. Whether fair or not, you and your guild will be judged by the actions of your guild members. If you’re constantly trolling, camping, griefing, or generally being unpleasant, that will be extended to your guild. When others have good experiences with you, they’ll associate those good experiences with your guild too. Being helpful, offering advice, saving people who are getting camped, etc., are all ideas on ways to be involved. Not only does it create a good reputation for your guild, it also helps the community!

If you’re having trouble gaining members, sit back and think of why. Are members that would fit into your guild going to another guild? Does your guild fill a niche that was open? Or are you trying to compete with well-established guilds? There is nothing wrong with competing with other guilds but it does make recruitment more difficult. Also, it’s worth noting that “stealing” members from other guilds is frowned on. Members can choose where they go, but advertising your guild pointedly to guilded people and asking guilded people to leave their guilds to join yours are generally poor decisions for recruitment.

Another important way to get help with recruitment is to integrate yourself positively with the community. The more the community knows you, the more they are able to help you out. I try to get to know the general missions of guilds and, combined with the reputations of those guilds, I’ll direct people to certain guilds when they ask me what guilds might be good for them. There are threads on both the TE Public Forums and the Ravenholdt Sanctum where I talk about ways we can get involved in the community. You’re welcome to check those out too!

I(a)(iii) Retaining Members

Once you have a base number of members, it’s important to keep those members. Retaining members can require a lot of effort. You have to make sure that you’re meeting their expectations, keeping them involved, and making them feel like they matter to the guild.
In order to help members feel valued, I’ve made it a policy to keep try to communicate with members as much as I can. I try to ask them how they’re enjoying the guild, I listen to their issues, and I try to address them. Please note that you don’t have to change your guild in response to a member’s opinion. But it’s still important that the member feels like their opinion matters and is heard. Validating feelings, thoughts, and opinions is an important way to allow members to be a part of the process.

When TE was still growing, I would try to whisper new members after a week or two in the guild to see how they were getting along and to ask if there was anything I could do to help them out. Unfortunately, RL has kept me out of the loop and unable to continue this practice, but that’s my own failing. It’s something that I’d like to keep doing when I’m able.

Guild members often take their cue from leadership, so make sure that your officers and you, as GM, are as active as you can be. Invite members along in whatever you’re doing – BGs, dungeons, RP, or just messing around in Stormwind. Guild members are a part of a guild because guilds add to the experience of the game. It’s important that your guild is adding to the experience too. If your guild is full of drama, angry emotions, outbursts, or just unwelcoming people, then it might struggle to retain members.
Edited by Aerana on 11/6/2012 3:10 PM PST
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I(a)(iv) Activity Levels

Part of retaining members is making sure that the activity level in the guild stays up. In order to do this, you might consider planning weekly (or bi-weekly, or whatever) events and inviting guild members. Make sure that these events are events that people in your guild want to have and participate in. A little planning in advance will help the events go smoothly. These events will, in all likelihood, be poorly attended at first. But keep having them! Also feel free to reach out to the community to help you host them and get people to attend.

Part of having a high activity level is making sure that you’re around a lot. In the beginning, the presence of leadership is key. If you’re around, talking to people, helping guildies, reaching out, and creating a good environment, people will notice. It makes people uneasy when they don’t see the GM online for a long time, especially when a guild is first getting started. While you want to go do your own thing and have fun, sometimes those things come second to the guild.

As with recruiting, if your activity levels are suffering, ask yourself why. Reach out to members and figure out why they’re not around more. Are the all alts? Then maybe you need to focus on recruiting more to get a membership base large enough to have mains in it. Is school affecting membership? Then let people know and try to be around during times of the day when you would like to see more members so that you can recruit members at that time.

I(a)(iv) Drama

You know that it’s going to happen, right? Drama can take a variety of forms, but it has the potential to really shake up guilds.

In order to foster a guild environment of inclusiveness, I try to keep cliques from forming in the guild. It can be hard because we naturally put ourselves into groups. But I think it’s important that the officership demonstrate a commitment to reaching out to new members and old members alike to group up and do things. Asking if anyone wants to join you in a BG or a dungeon can give others the opportunity to form bonds with the guild. This will help to keep them a part of the guild.

Also, personally, I try to keep drama out of public channels. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago. Some guilds don’t have to do this and some do. It’s really a personal preference on what you’d like to have in your guild. I just find that public discourse and drama often puts people on the defensive and the conversation spirals from there. As a policy, we tend to address issues in whispers where possible or we tell guild members to keep the drama out of the public channel. As mentioned before, people are in guilds to have fun. If your channels are full of drama all the time, then you might lose members who simply don’t want to deal with that.

As part of dealing with drama, I try to make sure that I understand what perspectives are involved. Oftentimes people just want to be heard and have their concerns validated. So I take the argument or whatever out of the public channel, join a group, and talk through the issue as best as I can. Are you going to be able to solve everything? No. Sometimes people are very focused on their own opinion and unwilling to compromise or whatever the case may be. You cannot make everyone happy (and you’ll wear yourself down if you try). But this is a good method of showing that you care and that you want to move past the drama.

Drama takes on an entirely different form when it comes to forums. Sometimes issues will be posted and you have no control over the drama that bubbles up. One of the best things you can do, as anyone can tell you, is ignore it. But that’s hard sometimes. So, in an effort to be realistic, I think the second best thing you can do is act maturely. If you or your guild is somehow at fault, take responsibility, apologize, and propose a solution. If the allegation is baseless, explain your reasoning and move on. Continuing to respond will only bump the thread and keep it going. Oftentimes I share this with my guild and ask members to stop from posting as well so that the issue fades. Also, I’m definitely not perfect at this – I understand how much you care about your guild and how important it is for you to make sure others don’t see it, or you, poorly. Just remember that people will form opinions based on the initial drama and how your responded to it.
Edited by Aerana on 11/6/2012 3:10 PM PST
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I(a)(v) Difficult Members

Despite our attempts to create a good environment for everyone, sometimes guilds just aren’t a good fit for people. In dealing with difficult members, I’ve found it beneficial to have a disciplinary system that is written out so that people understand expectations and consequences. I do my best to document reasons why certain consequences were implemented so that there aren’t allegations of favoritism or unfairness. I also do my best to be calm when dealing with these members – it doesn’t do anyone any good if you lose your temper and allow the scene to devolve into a rage-fest.

Many times, a difficult member just isn’t aware that they’re being difficult. Having specific instances and how those instances are difficult can help someone to see where they’re falling short of expectations. In the majority of cases, I have not had to progress beyond this step.
If the behavior continues, then follow whatever disciplinary measures are in place. Be prepared for drama but do not incite it. Make sure that your rationale is well-reasoned and not arbitrary or capricious.

I(b) General Remarks for Current or Future GMs

The following remarks are just general encouragement for GMs. The work you do is important and it betters our community.

I(b)(i) General Perseverance

Building a guild is not easy and establishing a foundation in the community can take time. When you face adversity or struggles, persevere. When a guild member leaves to join a raiding guild, persevere. It can be tough, I know. But over time, your guild will slowly gain amazing members that will give it a really strong foundation. Value each of those members and keep soliciting advice from them. Don’t be afraid to try new things and switch up things if something isn’t working. Most of all, just give it time – time to gain members, build momentum, and establish yourselves as part of the Ravenholdt Community.

I(b)(ii) Infrastructure

I’m a firm believer that guild infrastructure (ranking, FAQs, vision, website, etc.) are an important part of making a guild work. It gives the impression that you’re serious about making your guild work and committed to putting in the time and effort to succeed. These things can also prevent misunderstanding and drama. So take the time now to give your guild a strong foundation!

I(b)(iii) The Importance of Community

Without the Ravenholdt Community, TE would not be the guild it is today. Reaching out the community and integrating ourselves into it can be a big boon to the guild. When others know your guild and know that you’re committed to the server, they’re infinitely more willing to support you, work with you, and share ideas/resources/tips/etc. with you.

For a longer explanation of this topic, please see: http://www.twilightempire.org/forums/public-forums/public-general/1781504-take-the-lead-community-involvement or http://ravenholdt.us/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=2609&sid=bbced99c81b231b6c1b7921959778e48
Edited by Aerana on 11/6/2012 3:06 PM PST
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I(c) More Resources!

There are others out there who have more experience than me and who have written more thorough guides than this one. I would encourage you to check out those guides (and thanks to Cayreth for making me aware of them)!

Raid and Guild Leader Forums: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/2187372/

Officer Quarters: http://wow.joystiq.com/category/officers-quarters/

Roleplay Guildmaster Compendium: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2029915572

Also, don’t be afraid to use the community here or on the Sanctum (ravenholdt.us) to ask questions or solicit support.

II. Conclusion

Hopefully you found this helpful – if not for the actual advice then maybe at least for the knowledge that you’re not necessarily alone in all of these issues. Sometimes just knowing that other people are going through the same guild-issues can be helpful.

I'm open to adding to this resource, modifying it, extending it to a group if people are interested, or just using it as a way to collaborate for a more supportive community.

The Ravenholdt Community is extremely supportive and if there are other ways that we can support GMs, please let us know!
Edited by Aerana on 11/6/2012 3:08 PM PST
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<Reserved> ...Just in case?
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A last <Reserved> because I can?
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70 Gnome Warlock
680
It sure says a lot about our server forums that you posted 7 <reserved> posts without even a C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER.
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It sure says a lot about our server forums that you posted 7 <reserved> posts without even a C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER.


I know. I may or may not have been watching this page and clicking "Submit" as soon as the button would show up! I think that I reserved enough space to accommodate any future posts or lengthening of the guide if people want me to add things. That was my goal!
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90 Human Paladin
12990
+1
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90 Human Paladin
8880
Reported for sticky!
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Thanks for your responses. If it's sticky material, then so be it. But what I'm most concerned about is making sure that it's helpful. So if you have any ways that you think I can improve it, please let me know!
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90 Blood Elf Paladin
7555
Sticky requested :D
Thank you as it is greatly helpful indeed!
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90 Human Death Knight
5755
Sticky Requested :)
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90 Draenei Paladin
13995
Requested a sticky as well.

As a GM I've found that threatening the lives of people's loved ones is a great motivator. It has helped keep my guildies in check and our environment thriving. Granted we've had some rebellion and whines of how this should be a democracy but we all know that I'm the WoW version of Castro. Better beard though.
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90 Goblin Hunter
9695
Man this would have been so helpful back when I was GM of an rp guild on alliance side struggling to get TE to participate in roleplay with us. OR when they (and a second guild that can remain nameless) attempted to ask me to shut Castle Aurastorm out of the Rp community because they had some kind of dumb ooc grudge.

BUT lucky me you made this just in time to help support my new endeavor! Hand of Five will be seeking a guiding hand or five as we attempt to make it through the wilderness!

I can already see in my own posts and threads how supportive this new GM thing is. Thanks Aerana!
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Man this would have been so helpful back when I was GM of an rp guild on alliance side struggling to get TE to participate in roleplay with us. OR when they (and a second guild that can remain nameless) attempted to ask me to shut Castle Aurastorm out of the Rp community because they had some kind of dumb ooc grudge.

BUT lucky me you made this just in time to help support my new endeavor! Hand of Five will be seeking a guiding hand or five as we attempt to make it through the wilderness!

I can already see in my own posts and threads how supportive this new GM thing is. Thanks Aerana!


I'm glad that you think it would have been helpful and I'm truly sorry that I wasn't able to post it earlier. Real life is extremely busy at the moment (and has been this entire semester >.<)! As I noted in the first post, the impetus for this post was the reoccurring conversations I would have with GMs and, recently, Tahlasar's admission that House Ravenong was struggling and that you and he had really struggled in successfully leading the guild.

As I mentioned in the Ravensong thread, I had no idea that you both were having so much difficulty and I wish that others had been made aware sooner so that we could have helped. Even though I wasn't in-game as much as I would have liked, I do know that there were threads on the TE forums about Roleplaying with HR, enjoying the RP, and building up a dynamic between the two guilds. We had a lot of conversations on future storylines, how to support you guys, where the RP was heading, how to foster relations, etc. It seems that the support we provided (or tried to) wasn't sufficient to help keep House Ravensong together, and I'm sorry that we weren't able to support you in the way that it seems you wanted. But if you give specific instances to clarify, we'll definitely look into rectifying these situations.

To that end, I'm not sure that these forums are the best way to go about that. But if you'd like to contact me privately, we can discuss how to better support people in the future. From the tone of your post, it sounds like you're still upset about these things and I'd like to do what we can to fix it.

Thank you for the bump and hopefully this thread will remain a useful resource to current and future Guildmasters. As mentioned previously, if you have specific issues you think I should address in this thread, let me know!
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90 Goblin Hunter
9695
Np! <3
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90 Gnome Priest
9585
Sticky requested ,

Looks good so far can’t wait to see what constructive additions the community will make.
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Would it help to post names of GMs who are willing to answer questions, reach out to new GMs, and help guilds get started? That way, if someone is browsing the forum, they will have an idea of who they can approach in-game.
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