All the great new content in Wrath has brought a number of my guild members back to the game. It's great to see their names lit up in the roster again. But I imagine that, in some guilds, players have come back that no one is particularly happy to see logging in again. This week, one reader wants to know how to handle a member that annoys just about everybody.
I'm an officer in a pretty big, casual guild (roughly 100 people). One issue that [. . .] has caused quite a lot of discussion in officer chat and forums alike is a few of our members. These members are disliked by many people in guild, due to their overall behavior, as in repeatedly asking for the same things in chat, and complaining during raids (among other small things, that over time drives people crazy).
Now, this have gone on for a fairly long time, and we have come to the place where most officers just want to get rid of them. Problem is, they have not actually broken any of the rules. They are close to at many times, but they never actually cross that line and do something that is clearly against the rules. We don't have a "no annoying people rule."
To me, being the main subject in officer chat for weeks, and having officers say "he's bound to make a mistake sooner or later" in itself should warrant a gkick, but not all officers agree. So here we are, still waiting for them to actually break a rule so that we can kick them.
What's your take on situations like this? Among officers we are just discussing around in circles, not getting anywhere, so I hope for some outside thoughts on the matter.
I've always believed that not everyone in a guild, particularly a large guild, has to get along swimmingly. We don't all have to be best friends. As long as you can tolerate someone, that's generally enough. But when a member is disliked by the entire guild, that's a different situation.
You say you're waiting for them to make a wrong move. But they might never break an actual rule. You can't sit idly by while they drive people out of the guild or make everyone's experience miserable. A guild is not a corporation. You can't be sued for wrongful termination.
In my opinion, "don't be an annoying jerk" could be considered the ultimate unspoken rule of every guild. After all, that's mainly what a casual guild screens for when players apply. Just because a person manages to mask their annoying behavior during that process doesn't mean you and your officers are powerless to do anything about it.
You need to speak with such a person in private. Explain why their behavior is unacceptable in a calm, reasonable manner. Don't make it sound like everyone in the guild hates them, even if it's true. No one wants to hear that and that will only put them in a defensive posture. It could also be very hurtful. Instead, tell them you've had a few complaints and that the officers are trying to keep the peace. You could also say that the officers agree with the complainers for extra emphasis (and I'm sure you do).
Make sure you are explicit about the type of behavior that you're addressing and explicit about asking them to stop doing it. If you're dealing with a situation where everything they do annoys people, you'll have a long list, and it might be best to choose a few specific things to highlight. However, always be specific. Saying "you annoy people in guild chat" isn't enough.
One of three things will happen at this point, but no matter what happens, you win.
They might actually listen to you and stop doing whatever it is that's getting under everyone's skin. That's a win for you.
They might fly off the handle at the accusation, dumbfounded that anyone could find their "playful antics" aggravating, and quit the guild on the spot. It's not the best resolution, but it's still a win for you.
The third scenario requires some followup from the officers. If they continue the behavior after you've specifically asked them to stop, you must give them a warning that another incident will result in an officer asking them to leave the guild. Then, if they still don't stop, you have every reason to kick them. And you win.
If "don't be an annoying jerk" is the ultimate unspoken rule, quickly on the heels of that one is "listen to the officers when they're making a reasonable request."
I'm sure a lot of people would say, "It's your guild and you can kick whomever you want for any reason." And that's true. However, remember that kicking someone out of the guild is the most extreme punishment you can dole out. If you do that left and right, it can create an environment of fear, where people aren't having fun because they're afraid to do or say anything.
When you give someone a second chance before kicking them, it's hard for anyone to question your decision -- particularly the person you just kicked.
You also don't want to cultivate the attitude that the reason for your decisions is "because I said so." We all hated to hear that from mom and dad, and no one wants to live under that kind of authority. Respect for your own rules is essential to fair leadership.
Ultimately, however, the rules are your rules. There is no separation of powers in the way most guilds are organized. You and your officers are Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, all in one governing body. So if you feel a new rule is necessary for the well-being of the guild and your own enjoyment of the game, go ahead and officially add it to your existing guidelines. Then enforce it.