Where There’s Smoke…
How do you know when your guild is in trouble? I’ve been through a few guild dissolutions, and I feel like each one of them was clearly written in the stars for all to see well ahead of time. However, many people who didn’t want to see it refused to do so. I can accept that, really, but as someone who tries to be a realist, it is upsetting when such optimists label me as a “doom and gloom-er” regardless of the fact that I’ve always turned out to be right.
But the first question was a genuine one, and I’m curious to hear from you, dear reader, about what signs and symptoms you noticed. Perhaps we could collate a list here of warning signs of guild death. I’ll contribute a few of my own, too, of course with stories.
First, though, we need to define what we mean by guild death, since there’s more than one way to kill a guild. Obviously a guild breakup would be a guild death. That kind of ultimate dissolution leaves no doubt. However, I’d argue that guilds that were designed for a particular function, say, a raiding guild, that no longer performs that function without ever overtly announcing a change would be considered a guild death, too. In one, we have the fiery, explosive death of a high-speed car chase ending in a terrible crash. In the other, we have the slow wasting away from an unknown (or at least a “refuses to be acknowledged”) pathogen. Both, in the end, are deaths, though, and I’m interested to hear what led into both types.
Here’s a few warning flares from my own experience. See how they match up to yours, and please contribute!
1) Abusive Officers
Here, the power lies with people who don’t use it as they should. Perhaps they berate their “underlings” for making mistakes. Perhaps they believe they don’t have to follow their own rules. Or perhaps they’re greedy loot jerks. Regardless, abusive officers make stable, sane players cringe and, often, leave. Even if the player base is so stable it can handle an abusive officer, often the officer’s friends create an exclusionary clique that could severely damage the guild if there is a schism. This is precisely what happened in my first guild that lead to its death.
2) Immature Officers
Here, we have officers that can’t handle the responsibility of their position. My personal story about this is the guild/raid/bg leader who showed up drunk all the time. In the final case – the last raid we held before the guild died – he showed up so drunk he couldn’t remember where the entrance to the raid was, and upon going to him and having him follow me to the raid entrance, he fell asleep at his keyboard and couldn’t attend the raid. This causes stable players to be eyeballing guilds that don’t have these kinds of problems, and that start to disloyalty often leads to eventually leaving if the problem isn’t fixed. This can lead to either type of guild death, either a fiery fight about people leaving or a slow attrition of the roster until there’s not enough raiders left.
3) Disloyally Disinterested Officers
My most recent guild death came from having guild officers who could simply go raid with other guilds – and did so. They got their raiding and gear fix by being “carried” – her words – by the other guild. As a result, she didn’t fret when we couldn’t fill raid rosters or had to cancel raids. Instead, she made derogatory jokes about the guild members “not caring enough.” I’m sure from her point of view it’s a “chicken or egg” issue. According to her, she raids with other guilds because our guild doesn’t raid. However, she was raiding with other guilds while we still were raiding, and often she had to bring sub-par characters as a result. In fact, at the most recent raid – the failed Sunday dogs attempt – she couldn’t bring her dps - which is who she voluntarily signed herself up on - because she’d taken it with the other guild on an impromptu raid. Instead, she had to bring a far-less geared healer who really wasn’t up to the task.
Strange, I didn’t plan it to all be about officers, but clearly my three guild deaths revolved around those things. I’ll have a rare moment of objectivity and say that maybe it’s just my non-officer perspective. Then again, I’ve dealt with other problems in the ranks, like members using guilds as a stepping stone to better guilds or simply a short roster, without the guild dying. It seems that from my list that poisonous fruit grows from poisonous trees.
So whether it’s abusive personalities, immature behavior, or disloyal or disinterested officers, I’ve ridden guilds to their death in multiple cases. I consider each of those to be warning signs now, and in our next post, we’ll discuss when the right time to bail is.
Stubborn (and a little bitter today)