So, I left my guild on Monday. It was a tough weekend, but it also made it easy to decide what to do. Those of you who’ve been keeping up since Friday saw the lovely tidbits left here for me by some of my “family members,” or, if you haven’t, I suggest you go read them. Actually, no, you probably shouldn’t. They don’t deserve the attention.
That said, a whole forum thread went up about me and my blog over the weekend, too, hidden behind account requirements on my guild’s forum. I guess the people there assumed that because it was hidden away they could say what they wanted because it would never see the light of day, but considering what they were already angry at me about, that doesn’t really make much sense.
I’ve compiled a few comments from a larger discussion which I considered replicating in its entirety here, but decided against because it was from the members only part of the forums. Since shining light on the other public actions of the guild was met with such resentment by a handful of people, I figured I’d only point out the particularly egregious examples of the public shaming of me that’s taking place.
I considered hard, too, whether to paraphrase what was said, which would be more “socially acceptable” (I guess) or whether to just put quotes out here and let the comments speak for themselves. I was even asked by a friend not to post them here, and while I understand his points and his position and I do respect him, I’m not going to pull punches when people are being so overtly accusatory and insulting. Or, rather, I’m not going to let those who would be so accusatory and insulting pretend they pulled punches, since I’ve yet to throw a punch (and have no intention to). Sunlight, after all, is the best antiseptic.
“A Family Member” (though not the one who left the comment here to that nature):
If none of this (my recent blog post) is true and this guild person continues to tell false stories than maybe it is time for someone to say something to him. He has already slandered us and called some Neanderthals and thinks we can only handle things by calling each other names. What is next for him to blog about? Just getting tired of it.
I Just Feel Now This Person Is Trying To Stir The Pot For Attention And Juicy Info For His Blog To His Virtual Friends. (Capitals are a forum error, not what the OP intended)
I’m sorry, virtual friends, that you got dragged in to this. What’s equally disheartening was the general agreement among the chorus with these comments. I find it noteworthy that the so-called “false statements” I’ve made have yet to be identified (and have since been confirmed by some guild members as accurate), but the attacks against my character and motivations continued unabated for a while. Also, this person’s understanding of “slander” is somewhat inaccurate, but as you’ll see, most of the vocabulary choices in these messages are designed rhetorically to connote that I’m “bad.” Instead, careful readers note that sort of thing and count it against the author, not his or her topic.
Couched within this message was a question about whether or not what I’d said about this group being disciplined had any truth to it, or, as the same “family member” put it:
It says in his blog that he talked to a officer in guild about the past events with a group of us doing SoO on our own. He says a officer said that we would be punished and be sat out of up coming raids.
I guess I want to know if any part of that is true. I know that there is always a hint of truth in every fabrication and that is why I am asking.
Ah, so the truth comes out; this isn’t about me, it’s about the perception of who’s right and who’s wrong, about whether they should be punished or I should be. Fear drove this, then, not just spite, which actually makes far more sense. Of course, it’s written with more negatively connotative words to try to turn public opinion, which was largely successful, unfortunately, though with no specific details as to what it was I’d “fabricated.”
I have to pause here and admit that of everything I wrote, I think this one piece – what the two officers who made this “discipline” comment said to me and another guildy, which is why I didn’t for a second think it was said in confidence – might have been a mistake. I outted two officers who apparently had not communicated this message to the other officers, as was shown when these two comments came in from officers (though not the two I spoke with):
We Never Said Or Did Or Intended To Punish Anyone, That’s Not How We Do Things. There Is A Lot Of Misinformation And I Will Need To Talk To Him To Clear Things Up.
This officer and I have spoken at length since then, and while it’s clear we disagree on a few points, we had a nicely civil conversation. I said to him then and I’ll repeat now I think he’s one of the two best officers in the guild, and I wish him well, but as they say of divorce, I think this guild and I had irreconcilable differences.
The second officer’s comment:
I’m not sure where this (the comment about discipline) came from, and it certainly wasn’t the case. As an aside, that is not, nor should it be, how we operate.
And that’s when I knew I had to go. Here’s an officer that I barely know – I truly think I’ve only ever in a month done one thing with him, and that was the previous guild meeting – and he’s saying that when people overtly do things to their guildies that communicate an elitist attitude, hurt their guildy’s feelings, and that are exclusionary, there shouldn’t be any repercussions.
Clearly, the propaganda, filled with rhetoric but no facts, had been successful, but that’s not enough in and of itself to /gquit. However, that the officers clearly hadn’t been communicating with one another really worried me, and their willingness to make such bold statements when I have to assume they hadn’t actually come together and figured out what was truly going on bothered me, too. I don’t blame any one officer for this, especially since there’s so many officers (more on that later), but that’s the state of affairs.
Of course, topping that off with the fact that I was being made out to be the villain for daring to talk about what goes on in our “family,” a family with members who were clearly was ready to get rid of me, doesn’t help. Funnily enough, it’s a family when someone makes “fabrications” to “stir the pot to get attention,” but an organization from which one can and should be removed when that’s more convenient for them. In other words, it’s simply another manipulation of language for rhetorical effect, which, being a writing teacher, I can identify from a mile away.
At any rate, some calmer posts came later, some bond-rebuilding, some commitments to improvement. The two officers came in to put a stop to the more affronting comments and ask for a commitment to move forward, which I applaud them for, though I had no intention of remaining in the guild, regardless.
So I decided who I wanted to talk to – the officer who I knew had all the facts, as he’d been the one who made the “discipline” comment – and communicated with him. It took until Monday to actually schedule a meeting, but I had a few things I wanted to say before I left, and I also didn’t want to leave too quickly and inadvertently reinforce the abusive people’s bad behavior.
In my exit interview, I had some suggestions that could be widely applied to guild management in any guild.
1) Don’t have too much middle management. The lack of communication between the glut of officers in this guild created a large amount of this situation. It seems like even before there was a “problem,” there was a problem, because information is coming out that maybe those guildies had permission from an officer to do their secret-exclusionary-calendar-invite-only run. As mind-boggling as that may be, I wonder if it’s not true, and if it is, then there’s been an enormous miscommunication among the officers as to the guild’s intent.
2) If you see a clique forming, find a way to break it, preferably by engaging them in a larger group-building exercise so that the clique is dissolved into the group as a whole. It’s far better to re-integrate, but if you can’t, then it needs to be broken, regardless. I have to assume since my blog buddy Quori invited me to this guild that this whole situation is a new phenomenon, so I hope the guild figures out how to deal with it, but since it’s been a somewhat capitulatory approach, I’m afraid things may only get worse.
3) Make sure you don’t have secrecy as a policy, and if you do, make sure it’s communicated to new recruits. The expected self-censorship was never mentioned to me, and the repeated queries on my part as to whether my blog was a problem (since I saw references into the blog from the officer’s forum) were responded to with strong “NO’s!” Clearly it was, but no one wanted to say I needed to censor myself. Look, being the person who has to ask someone else to censor himself stinks, but if it’s a choice between a ton of drama and someone leaving or just saying, “Yeah, you should tone it down a bit,” then you should communicate that to everyone who’s coming in.
4) Don’t confuse longevity and tradition with value. An old member can have value through their knowledge of the organization or the game, and tradition can provide value depending on what the tradition is, but neither have value in and of themselves. That I was “new” and some of the other members were “old” is meaningless. It’s the actions and thoughts that matter, and while I’ve repeatedly stated that everything printed here was true and asked for discussion to straighten out the misunderstanding and the older members (save one, who’s spoken to me a lot) have ignored my requests to help sort this out, one has to wonder about their motivations and, thus, value.
5) Make sure your recruitment message is in line with your actual culture. This one was not, and while I don’t believe I was ever consciously “misled,” it caused a lot of problems. When I spoke with the GM, I get the impression now (which has been somewhat confirmed with others) that he was speaking about the potential ideal of the guild, not where it factually was. The transition that’s going on within the guild, evidenced by the change in homepage message brought to my attention by Zarisia’s comment, really needs to be resolved before any more recruiting is done to make sure that the message and the culture are consistent.
So before I left, I spoke to an officer about all of these things, and I hope they’re seriously discussed in the large guild meeting that’s coming up. I suspect some will be and some won’t, but unless all 5 are well nailed down, there’s going to continue to be drama in this guild (and others that have similar problems).
In the end, I’m saddened by the way this turned out. The attacks on me were very effective, and it did anger me as it was intended to, though I burned through all my willpower to not respond in kind. It succeeded also in making me sad, which will make some smile when they see that, which saddens me further, but if I’m going to be honest and direct about things, then I have to include that truth, as well.
I suspect, in the end, that unless a lot of otherwise polite and quiet people speak up, this group’s going to get what it wants: to direct the guild policy through refusing to compromise and abusing those who disagree. Not everyone in the larger group who want more hardcore raiding does that, of course, but enough do. In the end, I wish the best for the guild, but if they don’t stand up as a whole against some of the more volatile personalities, well, that’s their bed to lie down in.
Then again maybe all this is just a fabrication.
Stubborn (and exhausted)