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A Time for All Things

August 30, 2013

Dear Reader,

So last night, our guild had a big meeting.  There were about 25 or 30 people in the mumble channel, listening and discussing the various topics at hand.  It started with a long but earnest statement from the guild leader about his vision, the complaints he’s heard, and the officers role.  It took about a half hour for him to get through it, and we were told that he had actually taken the time to prepare notes about what he wanted to cover.  A lot of people tease him in the guild, but that’s a nice piece of dedication, and I suspect that the teasing is good-natured and that others see that, too.

The major points that the GM brought up were

1) we’re more inclusive than progressive, but we do care about progressions.  As a result, flex raiding will be an option when several people would have to be benched, but when 10 mans are a better option, we will default to those.

2) Raiders should have their gear gemmed and enchanted, but flasking and food buffs are not required.

3) The officers are available, but you need to come to them with your problems, not just stew.

Sound familiar?  You wouldn’t believe how many guilds I’ve been in with these exact same complaints, these exact same meetings, these exact same speeches.

But it wasn’t over.  The officers opened the mic for an open-ended Q&A.  Several raiders had some complaints they wanted voiced, including

1) officers aren’t available enough, so we need new officers who play more.

2) We have food and flasks in the bank; why aren’t they being required?

Again, I’ve heard precisely these same things before.  Two raiders were particularly annoyed about the flask and food issue.  They pointed out that there was stuff available in the bank and wanted to know why those weren’t being “required” for raiding, too (which I basically agree with).  There was a debate about it, but as it was getting nowhere, I asked two simple questions.

1) Would anyone actively refuse food and flasks if offered?  Of course the answer was no.

2) Why not have an officer or other member take up the role of dispensary for them, then, and hand them out to those who need it at raid time?  That would solve the problem.

Still, though, the two raiders didn’t like that.  They took the time to get their own food and flasks, and they didn’t like that others could show up with zero effort and have someone else hand out consumables to them.  Also, they still wanted people to use them no matter what.

It’s an overtly contradictory position, but I understand the underlying theme: repsonsibility.  They’re responsible, and they want others to be, either by providing for themselves or at least by getting stuff out and not having it brought to them.  This of course all comes back to the raiding ethos of the guild, of which many people seem angry about the – in their perspective – declination.

So it was a great meeting and told me a lot about people’s personalities.

There was one problem, though.

This was happening DURING THE RAID.

Look, I’m all for guild meetings, and I’m certainly for open, honest debate.  But there’s a time and place for everything.  If people are interested in the guild’s culture, they need to find time to make it to one of these meetings outside of raid time.  We spent an hour and half on two bosses that we’re usually done with before a half hour or so.  The raid was dragging and dragging along, trying to split attention between the two efforts, debate and raiding, and it was not creating a conducive environment.

When the two angry raiders were really getting worked up – and rightly so, since someone said something somewhat rude to them – I realized that we’d been standing in front of the second boss for a half hour just talking, not pulling.  My “naughty” side rose from the depths, and I whispered one of the good-natured players, a tank, and said, “Everyone said they were ready with the ready check.  Pull before this argument eats the raid.”

I followed that with, “Be aware I give bad advice, though, so you may not want to listen.”

He clicked the countdown and pulled.  Everyone shut the hell up and started in on the boss.  It turned out to be a wipe “because we weren’t ready,” but really we got to the second door and things fell apart, so I feel it was really because we weren’t focused, not ready.  I don’t know if they realized that further discussion would likely have led to less focus or even people leaving the raid.  The tank got called out for it, too, so I felt bad and whispered him an apology, but we continued the raid instead of fanning the flames and downed the damn boss.

There’s a mental zone that’s required for raiding.  It’s not about argumentative back and forth thinking; it’s about focus on the task at hand.  You can’t have both.  As the conversation turned from productive to counter-productive, which, let me tell you, I’m a master at identifying from all the guild debates I’ve witnessed – and, of course, my highly interpersonal job, I knew that this was headed for a wall, a wall upon which the raid would splat like a car-load of clowns.

I in no way deny I was WAY out of my position to suggest to a tank that he pull, but I’m not sorry I did.  I’m AM sorry he got called out for it, though.  Some may also say that the debate was more important than the raid and I was in the wrong putting a stop to it, but I’m convinced that I prevented a worse outcome.  If we’re a raiding guild, be it more inclusive or more progressive, we’re still there to raid.  Having a raid eaten by a heated debate that’s not going anywhere because it’s about a basic culture clash, a debate that’s descending into “If you don’t think things can improve, why are you still here?” (the aforementioned rude comment), would do more harm than good.

I’m going to push for another meeting, several of them, in fact, at different times so more people can access them.  I’m like this; it’s my nature; I can’t stop being like this any more than the scorpion can not sting the frog.  I see a problem and I want to help solve it, and it may destroy me.  I know that going in, so if I’m whining in a month or two about how this guild didn’t work out and it’s a result of my own interference, feel free to remind me.  These meeting, though, won’t be during a raid time, so we’ll see who really cares about the issues.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and, occasionally, naughty)

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Mos permalink
    August 30, 2013 8:32 am

    I really think you’re in the wrong guild. There are lots more out there.

  2. August 30, 2013 8:37 am

    Well-written post, as usual. A few things I noticed…
    1. I have run a guild before. I think expecting the officers to be on during certain times (other than raid time) is rediculous; they have lives and they should be able to live their lives however they please. WoW is a stupid game, nothing serious. Though I do think that during raid time, everyone that said they would attend better be online BEFORE they are supposed to be online.
    2. The whole thing about how everyone should get their own food/flasks is so incredibly stupid, in my opinion. If the guild is rich enough and wants to provide them, then the guild should provide them. Not everyone wants to spend forever farming cooking mats, getting Tiller rep, getting gold to buy flasks, or leveling Alchemy (and gathering herbs).
    3. I just have to “lol” that this kind of thing is happening during raid time though. But hey, it sounds like your guild is really getting somewhere. They have to get past all these arguments to really decide who they are as a guild. It sounds like maybe the GM is not entirely clear on his mission/purpose for the guild. But hey, these arguments will help iron things out and eventually you will have the right players for the guild/raid.

    I would encourage you to “stick with it,” as you seem to have been doing. I think you are fitting in, so far. At least people are listening to you. And hey, don’t worry about that tank. Tanks are used to getting blamed for everything.

    • August 30, 2013 9:41 am

      1) To clarify, I don’t expect officers to “have to be online” at all times. I don’t have any kind of expectation about that; I was just reporting what some others had been complaining about. I’ve no horses in this race, so I’m kind of enjoying – no, that’s not right – I’m somewhat morbidly fascinated by how these discussions are going. Very rarely do I have no opinion on things, but I’m still too new to have formed one. So I don’t agree or disagree with you; I haven’t had time to form an opinion yet.

      2) I do tend to agree with this. I understand why that player was getting upset, but I think overall success is more important than trying to enforce a “responsible” (by her definition) play style, which is why I suggested what I did. We have it; they need it; let’s just form a bread line!

      3) I agree, and while I don’t like sitting at bosses while people argue, it, again, is a first-time thing. The GM whispered me last night to explain the policy, which I was unaware of, so I guess I better understand it, though I’m still not sure I agree with it. You don’t have to agree with every policy, though, just accept them, and I do… or will in the future instead of causing mischief.

      Speaking of tanks getting blamed – I’m leveling a warrior to hopefully help out with the tank shortage (3 showed up again last night, so lots of benching) – I was in RFK yesterday on my 30 warrior getting yelled at for “leaving the dps” because I was chain pulling, keeping threat, and moving on. One dps just didn’t like that, and they were having trouble downing the trash (I’m in full heirlooms and lowbie warriors are truly OP), so I guess it’s my fault that I moved on without them. I even put a star on my head at the start of every instance so people can easily keep track of me. While I did pratter a bit back and forth and argue, I finally said, “This is why there aren’t enough tanks.” That seemed to sum it up well, and we finished (since I kept chain pulling the whole time the complaints were being lodged), so we went our separate ways.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. August 30, 2013 9:05 am

    Being the GM of the guild in question, I want to point out, since we don’t ask others to be on other nights (mandatory anyway) we have for the past 9 years held guild meetings as we pull trash, or right before a raid, which while yes does eat into guild raid nights some, we only have these meetings maybe once every 3 months and usually right before the last raid patch. I know its not conventional to take up raid time for guild meetings, but this has been how we do it.

    Yeah some folks get heated in our guild, and its because we have so many personalities, and the emotion really falls on people really do care about our guild and the culture that has developed for almost a decade now.

    I do agree that sometimes we need to cut off unproductive communication. And the food from the guild bank is always provided during raids, but the flasks while in the guild bank are not always used, so your idea of having an officer ready to hand them out is something the officers are actively discussing the logistics of, so great suggestion.

    Our guild has always been community first progression second, since vanilla and that is our mission statement and what we always debate when we make any changes to guild policy & direction.

    Thanks for being part of the guild and I look forward to your contributions on suggestions and raiding!

    • August 30, 2013 9:50 am

      I guess the only real difference in our views is the idea of mandates. I don’t see guild meetings as mandatory, and I don’t really think you do, either; if I’d hopped channels in mumble to leave the discussion, I don’t think anyone would have dragged me back. Like raiding, I think it’s an issue of interest, and I think if you schedule more frequent opportunities to meet at different times, those who are actually interested in engaging with and improving the guild will show up, and those who just want to rock the boat won’t. Creating that sort of extremely low entry-requirement to participation really helps separate those two types of people, and if you schedule one a week over those three months at 12 different times (even perhaps a short one before a raid night), no one can really say that they couldn’t meet ANY of those times.

      And while I did understand those two raiders’ issues, I really didn’t understand their reluctance to that solution. That more than anything informed me, I think, as to whose side I’m closer to. I always look for solutions, and when a seemingly good one is presented and rejected outright, that tells me a lot. IF they’d deconstructed it or found a legitimate problem with my suggestion, fine, but to just say they don’t like that means that they are, despite what they stated, elitist. That doesn’t bother me at all, of course, because I’ve been there, too; heck I was mean as hell to some people in a guild a long time ago because of it, which is a constant source of shame and regret now (well, constant, but very small, admittedly), but it’s good to be able to keep that in mind in future discussions with them.

      Regardless of the people here who keep telling me to bail, I’m nowhere near making any kind of decision like that any time soon. It takes a lot more than a month to really judge such a large organization, and since I can see your dedication (as stated in the post), the officers earnest desire to fix things, and the many very approachable personalities (even two that often clash, Q and Shard, both of whom I really like talking with), I’m enjoying virtually all of my time there.

      So thanks for dropping in and for the comment, and please don’t think that you have to come here and defend yourself (I’m not saying that was your motivation, but if you did feel that way, don’t). I alternate a lot between positive and negative posts, so if you happen to catch a few bad ones, don’t let it bother you.

    • August 30, 2013 9:55 am

      Not defending myself or the guild, but per the guild’s social policy I do like to keep up with those guildies who do have podcasts, blogs, etc. I make it a point to interact with folks outside of game, because I am not always able to do so in-game or on at different times, you will find on weekends I am usually on around 6am until 9am, then off for most of the day doing other things with family.

      So interacting with guildies on their blogs, twitter, facebook, their podcasts sometimes is easier and I take a vested interest in what you all do outside of game, this is important to me.

  4. August 30, 2013 9:26 am

    I can understand holding a guild meeting at the usual raid time to ensure that as many people as possible can make it, but still going through with the raid at the same time definitely strikes me as a bit odd.

    Mostly I just wanted to say that going “splat like a car-load of clowns” is the most beautiful metaphor I’ve read today. :D

    • August 30, 2013 9:29 am

      It may be odd, and usually we only pull trash while having the meeting, but we broke it up this time to try and see if it would work, just like Blizzard we aren’t afraid to try different things, in this case it didn’t work out, and the officers already discussed next time no bosses or break up the meeting for only trash. This is how we have done it over 9 years, and we always adapt and try to improve how we do things.

  5. August 30, 2013 9:48 am

    If you are going to take an Aesopian view of things, why not lay the original version of The Ant and the Grasshopper on your less prepared raiders?

    • August 30, 2013 1:07 pm

      Hey, it might work. Then again, that’s a story about survival, not hobbies, so I’m not sure it’d have the same impact. Was there a fable about helping communities being its own reward? I don’t know. The Lion and the Mouse, maybe?

  6. August 30, 2013 10:46 am

    A few comments:

    Guild meetings are only optional if they’re optional. Make them mandatory and they’re mandatory. Either are fine but the guild needs to clarify how they run theirs.

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with a raid devolving (evolving?) into a guild meeting if that happened organically but trying to do both at the same time seems silly. Once the raid become secondary it should have been cancelled and all focus given to the meeting. I’m with you, though, I might have egged on the tank to pull, too, since you WERE trying to do both simultaneously and 10 people saying they’re ready should be ready. I’m sure there was a time lapse but I’m okay with that. :) Plus, I’m not sure how well the “meeting while doing trash” policy would work these days, other than progression bosses I think I’ve died more to trash than farm bosses in MoP. Maybe your experience differs, though.

    Those two raiders seem out of step with your group. Consumables ARE a separate discussion (more “hardcore” of a requirement) vs one-time things like gems and enchants. The raid group needs to set minimum expectations, which can (and often does) include providing flasks and food for raiders. Individual raiders are more than free to go above and beyond on their own (I do, I send a few stacks of feasts to various people I raid with here and there in advance and let them drop them and I always bring my own flasks) but they can’t expect a raid of 10+ to suddenly go from no responsibility to what the two of them consider a minimum. Many raid groups also require potions for possible kill pulls (or all pulls), that isn’t something I’ve ever had to deal with but I would if it happened. Having said that, some of my raid groups over the years HAVE used potions on some/all pulls. I’ve done it on occasion. But it wasn’t a requirement and they never made an issue of it not being one. Your two raiders, however, are making an issue of it which seems petty to the point of intentional divisiveness. I’d be wary.

    As for officers being online, I think you’d generally want to have at least ONE on during peak play hours but few things come up that require immediate officer attention that minute so I wouldn’t say it’s necessary. Worst case, assuming you have a hierarchy and promote people based on merit, you could always designate the most highly ranked person currently online as a temporary, unofficial proxy… no actual power but someone who can listen to the issue and offer some advice and pass it up the chain when possible if it’s out of their depth. Why have ranks if you (and all guildies) aren’t going to use them?

  7. August 30, 2013 2:10 pm

    Speaking as the GM of a two night 13/13H guild (http://despotism.enjin.com/ ), a few things come to mind:

    1, trying to hold both a raid and a guild meeting at the same time is a bad idea, as Ceraphus has realized and acknowledged. Along those lines, though, I disagree with Stubborn that such things should be done outside of raid time. If you’re thinking about making sweeping changes to how the guild operates, everyone needs to be there. In this case, setting aside 30-60 minutes at the start of raid to hold the meeting would have been the best move.

    2, not using flasks and food will really hurt you. I simmed an alt of mine and the difference between flasking and using food versus not using either was 7k DPS, or about a 7% difference. That’s like everyone in your raid gaining 4-5 ilvls.

    3, it should be possible for your guild to provide all flasks and feats, along the same lines. My guild bank provides all repairs, potions, 275/300 stat food, flasks, gems, enchants, and anything else while being completely self sufficient via doing things like selling Haunting Spirits. Your guild bank should easily be able to provide at least flasks and 250 feasts. Flasks shouldn’t cost more than 50-60g each and 250 feasts should be purchasable for <5g each (10 man version). If we assume 25 people * 60g per flask * 4 hours (so no alchemists and worst case scenario on flasks) + 5g * 3 (need three feasts per pull) * 30 (maximum wipes per night) = 6450 gold. Even at this point Haunting Spirits are going for 1.5-2k on your realm (https://theunderminejournal.com/item.php?realm=A-Dalaran&item=94289) so if you pick up and sell 4-5 of them on a given night you've more than covered your costs. Then if you factor in stuff like the 10% of looted gold gets added to the bank and bonuses for doing guild dungeons/scenarios/raids, it should easily be self supportable. I don't know if you're offering free guild repairs, though, so it is *possible* you might need to remove that to support flasks. I suspect people will be more willing to cover their own repair costs than their own flasks, though, if it comes down to it – since no one will raid with broken gear.

    If you're worried about doing the above cost effectively I'd be willing to help you sort it out – can email me, PM me on our guild site, or add Balkoth#1847.

  8. Beshara permalink
    August 31, 2013 11:28 am

    A couple ideas I thought of, if it might help the situation. A lot of the vendor food from Pandaria adds secondary stats. Worse case scenario you could provide those for people who don’t bring food. Also, if there is someone who enjoys fishing (some people like me do!) if they want to throw a few things in the guild to cook up. It may not be enough to make the max food for everyone, but there are easier stat foods that can be made with minimal ingredients. Also, anyone who has Nomi gets free tokens and stat food every day that can be useful if that person gets extra. And the new noodle cart is coming out next patch, that might help the guild provide food for everyone. Plus, having the farm, even if it’s just the 4 plot beginner one, can provide herbs and food ingredients fairly easily. I know when I had to stop raiding I was still throwing some extra in the guild bank for the raiding group, that way if I was called in as backup and I needed supplies there were ingredients available.

    I can understand the point of view of the two raiders that are upset people don’t provide their own buffs. I have been in that position before in previous guilds. If the guild, even if it’s just a few people in the guild, are willing to provide the food and possibly flasks to those who don’t bring them, it gets the job done. Some people will put more effort into improving themselves than others. If the guild is not requiring everyone to provide their own max food and flasks, then those two need to accept the compromises or possibly look for a guild that does see things the same way they do. Hopefully after some time has past they will be calmer and be able to logically think about what they are willing to accept. This expansion it’s a lot easier to provide food and flasks for the guild than it has ever been in previous expansions.

    • August 31, 2013 12:15 pm

      “This expansion it’s a lot easier to provide food and flasks for the guild than it has ever been in previous expansions.”

      Er, what? Cooking’s harder than it’s ever been. And we had cauldrons in Cataclysm which made flasks very easy to do from a central bank.

      I don’t recall if flasks are easier now than in WotLK, but Cata was the golden age of the guild providing stuff.

    • Beshara permalink
      August 31, 2013 5:09 pm

      I guess I mean ingredients are easy to come by with the farm. Nomi does take a lot of effort and grinding. The farm can easily provide herbs for flasks, even if you don’t have an herbalist alt available. If you only learn the cooking Way that gives your desired buff, it’s not hard to learn the basic single person buff food. The feasts and 300 food are very difficult this expansion, but the basics aren’t. Unless your desired food requires fish, and you don’t like fishing.

    • Beshara permalink
      August 31, 2013 5:16 pm

      Even then, you can get cooking tokens with dailies and trading in unwanted ingredients for the ingredients you want. A dedicated officer/raid group could spend a little time each day to get the basics gathered, then a guild alchemist can convert the herbs to needed flasks, and any cooking person could make the desired foods.

  9. August 31, 2013 5:13 pm

    “I guess I mean ingredients are easy to come by with the farm.”

    And you need a hell of a lot of ingredients.

    “The farm can easily provide herbs for flasks, even if you don’t have an herbalist alt available.”

    Sure, and that’s generally a better idea at this point than actually growing crops.

    “The feasts and 300 food are very difficult this expansion, but the basics aren’t”

    And all food, period, was very easy last expansion. Very easy to get the best feast for the entire raid. Easier in LK too afaik. Heck, even the most basic 250 stat food is harder than it’s been, I believe – the 275 food certainly is.

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