Thank you for your interest in <This Column>. Our recruiting at this time is limited to officers who are interested in creating or improving their guild's application. Please copy and paste the questions after the jump, along with your character's name, class, and level, into your form. For more background on <This Column>, click here.
1) Does your guild's application form contain yes-or-no questions?
It probably shouldn't, and this "application" is a very poor example of one for that reason. Yes-or-no questions give the applicant no reason to elaborate, and as a result you get no further information. For example, "Have you read and do you understand our guild's Mission Statement?" doesn't encourage the applicant to comment on what he or she thinks about it. It's much better to ask, "How does our guild's Mission Statement reflect your preferred style of play?" or "After reading our guild's Mission Statement, you've decided to go forward with your application. What about the Mission Statement appeals to you? What would you change?" The answers to these questions will give you insight into the type of person who's applying and what his or her priorities are.
2) Do you number your questions?
If you don't, it's much easier for an applicant to skip one or two that they'd rather not answer, and more difficult for you to notice that they've done so.
3) Does your application have an "idiot filter" question?
An "idiot filter" is a question that's virtually impossible to answer poorly. Its purpose is to identify as quickly as possible an applicant who is a big jerk or a dishonest person. You should put this question early in the app so you don't have to bother reading the rest of it. An example of an idiot filter would be "What is your favorite thing to do in Warcraft?" Arena = pass. Join PUGs and wipe them = fail. Another example would be "What other guilds are you currently applying to?" If they answer none, and you've already heard he or she applied to another guild some of your friends are in, you have successfully filtered your idiot.
4) Do you ask your applicants about their history with other guilds?
In my opinion, this is the most important question to ask, regardless of what type of guild you run. Very few players have never been in a guild (and depending on how long they've been playing Warcraft, that information alone can raise a red flag). So if they're applying to your guild, that means their previous guild either no longer exists, no longer wants them to be a member, or wasn't meeting their needs. The answer to this question gets to the bottom of the applicant's motivation for wanting to join your guild. Do they want a better social atmosphere? Are they focused on progression? Did they have a "misunderstanding" with their previous guild's leader? If so, you want to know about it before you extend the invitation. Obviously you can straight-up ask them, "Why do you want to join our guild?" But not everyone is going to answer that question honestly -- and you're going to read a lot of shameless brown-nosing. You often get a better sense of where they're coming from by reading between the lines about why they're looking for a new home.
5) Do you ask intimate personal questions?
You might think that knowing a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, annual income, blood type, credit history, college GPA, astrological sign, Social Security number, and chest/waist/hip measurements provides valuable insight into whether or not they will be a good guild member, but you'd be wrong. Unless your guild is full of bigots, Red Cross nurses, and IRS agents.
On the other hand, it's okay to ask about age. Real-life professions can also be relevant, and most people don't mind telling you about that -- even if they're famous.
6) Do you ask unbelievably vague questions?
"What does being in a guild mean to you?" "How would you describe yourself?" You're running a guild, not a beauty pageant. Don't make people waste time answering questions like that.
7) How often do you update your application form?
If you're still asking about Onyxia attunement and Hydraxian Waterlords rep, it may be time to blow the dust off that document and make some adjustments.
8) Does your application contain more than 20 questions?
If so, you better run the most totally awesome guild in the whole game. A dozen questions (or less) is a much more reasonable app, particularly if you're not a big progression guild and just want some decent players. An app that looks more like a final exam in Chemistry is going to turn people away. You can say that they weren't going to be dedicated to the guild if they couldn't even take the time to fill out the application. However, people have limits on the amount of time they want to spend filling out an app. And do you really want to read all those answers? Wouldn't we all rather be playing the game?
9) What else can you ask about?
Depending on what type of guild you run, you can ask who the person knows that is currently a member of the guild, whether or not the person enjoys role-playing, and what types of PVP they are interested in. Raiding guilds sometimes ask about connection reliability, PC specs, hours played per week, attunements, endgame experience, familiarity with specific add-ons and VoIP software, time zone location, understanding of and agreement with the guild's loot system, and even raiding experience in other MMOs. Depending on how discriminating you want to be, you can ask a great number of questions . . . but see #8.
10) Do the answers you receive from applicants give you a reasonably accurate sense of the player's attitude, goals, abilities, and intentions?
If so, you've created a successful application! If not, take a look some of your applicants' completed forms and ask yourself, "What else would I like to know about this player that I don't know now?" Then add the questions that will give you the information you need.
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!