Ask WoW Insider: Defining mains and alts

There's a ton of asking going on around this site lately -- between "Ask a Lore Nerd" and "Ask a Beta Tester," you guys are asking more questions than a two-year old who just learned what "why" means. But this column, Ask WoW Insider, is the O.G. of Ask columns here on the site, and unlike all of the other Ask columns, we put the question back to you readers. Chippen of EU Doomhammer sent in this great question this week:
We are having a discussion in our guild whether alts have priority on loot before guild members and we do have different views on this. Some say that an alt is an alt, and need to wait to be geared up, while others can't really see the problem. What is a main and what is an alt?

I suppose a main is the...well...I don't know. The first character I created? Or is it the character I play the most? Or is it the character I want to play the most and also enjoying playing the most? When does an alt become a main, and is it possible to swap between the two?
If you're asking me, I'd say it's definitely possible to switch mains (I've done it a few times) -- your main is currently the character that's getting the majority of your playtime, and the one where loot matters the most to you. Some guilds ask you to declare a main, so that they can make a clear distinction for passing out loot, while other guilds just have players switch alts depending only on what situations require what.

So let's show up those other Ask columns and give this great, open-ended question out to you, our dear readers: what is a main and what is an alt? And what's the difference between the two?

If you've got a question for our readers to be posted right here in the original Ask column, be sure to send it along to ask@wow.com. And there's lots more Ask WoW Insider, including this question on abusing the /roll, and how to make friends and influence raiders on a new server.

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.