Sharing accounts is an issue that I've talked about in the past (and I'm sure, in some people's opinions, beaten to death). Previously I've covered a few different situations. First there was a general question about the issue, which I answered back in 2007. Then there was an officer who shared his account with his girlfriend (which is still a terrible idea in my opinion). Finally, a guild leader's account was banned because he bought it from another player, and his guild's progression subsequently skidded to a halt. As if those examples weren't enough to convince you that account sharing can cause a lot of problems, here's another one:
Recently, my fellow guild officers and I decided to kick a member from our guild, which also caused three other members to leave. The person who we initially kicked from the guild had asked our guild leader for a BoE Epic item in the "Ask an Officer" tab of the bank. Our guild leader responded by saying he'd ask the officers about it before handing the axe out.
Not less than an hour later he asked another guild member to take it out of the guild bank for him. Being a good guild member, they asked the guild leader if it was okay. It was instantly perceived as being an attempt to ninja the item from the bank by trying to avoid the guild leader.
It becomes complicated here when two other new recruits come on asking why we kicked their friend from the guild. In short, they told us that there were five of them that were in the same house and all played WoW. Each had easy access to the other's account information. We were told that it was two separate people who had logged on asking for the axe.
Trying to quell things before they actually quit, I sent a letter to one of them as an officer saying how I appreciated how they approached the topic with care and did not just cause all hell to break loose in guild chat. On vent I pulled everyone down to the officer's channel [. . .] and there were mixed opinions.
With the new information that we received how one person did not know the other asked for the axe and how multiple people have all of their account information, feelings were mixed. Were we in the right for kicking this member? We couldn't have known it was two different people asking. Should we even consider letting them back in? Would it be safe not knowing who is actually taking a stack of materials out of the guild bank because they all have each other's account information?
I feel somewhat bad about the decision made, and I'd like to know whether it was right. I'm supposed to be one of the experienced officers in our guild but I'm just not sure about this topic.
First of all, I congratulate you and the members who were involved on keeping a level head here. That's all too rare these days.
Now let's talk about the conundrum. Here's the bottom line: Members who play the game this way put their officers in a no-win situation.
Your e-mail is a great examples of why it's a no-win when we don't know that members are sharing accounts. Misunderstandings like this can happen left and right.
Getting to know a player who shares accounts is a nightmare. You think you've got someone figured out, but then they act completely different one day. They come across as someone with multiple personalities.
Further, we could be holding someone accountable for someone else's bad behavior. If we ban a character from raids that's being played by someone else, the member who typically uses that toon is banned unfairly. Meanwhile, the person we banned could just hop on his or her own toon and raid with that character, completely unknown to the officers.
Those members are also risking account bans. Your guild could be working hard gearing those characters up to take down the Lich King and then one day you find out that all those upgrades -- and the toons themselves -- are gone.
Not to mention, the day-to-day managing of those members becomes exceedingly difficult. You always have to ask who's playing the toon that you're interacting with. Different people will have different skill levels, and different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to handling raid content or PvP situations. So you have to learn who will be able to handle something with each shared character and who can't.
If you need to talk to a particular person, you have no way to know whether they're online. You have to ask, every single time. It's a huge hassle.
So, whether members tell their officers what they're doing or they don't tell the officers, they're creating problems for the guild. The problem is bad enough when there's only two people sharing one account. In this situation, there's five people sharing (I assume from the e-mail) four accounts! How could you ever keep track of who you're dealing with?
T, what you do at this point depends entirely on your comfort level with the situation (and that of your other officers). Knowing that all those people have access to the accounts, do you want to deal with that? I've told you the drawbacks. The only real advantage to you is when one person can't make a raid, but another can play the toon you need equally well. I won't gloss over that upside, but how often will it really come up?
You'll have to weigh the pros and cons. Are these people essential to your raiding progress? Will even more people gquit if they leave? Does their membership solve more problems than their account sharing may cause?
If you decide that it's worthwhile to deal with the account sharing, then go ahead and invite them back. They didn't try to cause trouble. And as far as I know they didn't break any rules specific to your guild. Just make sure all your officers know about the situation to avoid further confusion.
If you decide that it's not worth it, you can offer them a choice: Stop sharing accounts, or find another guild. If they agree to stop and you invite them back, you're risking that they might not stop -- they could just pretend that they're not sharing anymore. Sooner or later, however, you will find out. Then you'll have to gkick them for lying to you about it, and whatever gear they earned will be lost.
If it were me, I wouldn't want them in my guild. Their particular situation just has "bad news" written all over it.