Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.
Guild officers are faced with difficult choices all too frequently. Not every choice seems momentous at the time, but occasionally time and consequences prove that it was so. That's why it's helpful to look back at the decisions we made and consider how those choices determined the state of our guild today.
Now that we have all fully embarked into the Cataclysm expansion, it's an interesting time to look back. Did a good decision during the lead-up to Tier 11 help to ensure a fun and successful content progression? Or, as one guild member is wondering, did a pivotal choice during Wrath doom a guild to mediocrity?
Dear Officers' Quarters,
This is neither a current issue nor one I had real influence on, but it concerned me and a tough decision by our officers.
During Wrath, sometime shortly after patch 3.3, our guild was among the better casual guilds on the server. I was a relative newcomer. Due to my insistence in playing a Beast Mastery hunter, and my abysmal luck in getting new gear drops, I was not among our best DPSers, but I held my own and was usually the last to die in a wipe. The problem came up when a new guild member, a Marksman hunter well beyond me in gear, was showing off Zod's Repeating Longbow, which he'd just obtained in our guild's secondary 25-man run. At the time, I felt rather miffed that this new hunter had obtained the bow before me, especially since that hunter was an alt.
The problem came when I grats'd him and commented that he was a "lucky bastard" and that he was obviously using up all of my "good karma with the RNG gods." Now, this kind of banter was common in guild chat, and my horrendous luck in gear drops had long since become a running joke in the guild. He took offense to this and retaliated with an insult. I tried to brush it off, but my pride was injured, and I retaliated in kind. His friend joined in against me, and the whole affair escalated. Eventually, the two of them decided to take their ball and go home, and promptly /gquit.I sense that you are wondering this because some part of you still feels responsible for what happened to the guild's raiding. Don't guilt yourself! Your guild's current state is not your fault. I'll explain why.
The guild leader later told me that the two who had left had told him they would return only if I was kicked from the guild. He said he would not do that, because he "valued me more as a person than he valued them as raiders." He will always have my gratitude for that.
I apologized many times for the whole affair, but our raids struggled without those players. This continued a trend, and we never progressed pass Sindragosa. Now we are behind other guilds our size in Cataclysm raid content, and there has been a general slump in raid vigor as of late. Could my guild leader's decision, kind and reasonable as it was, have been the wrong one?
Sticks of <Driven>
Yes, you were part of some silly drama. It's a textbook example of how a simple misunderstanding can escalate into something ugly. It happens all too often when players who don't know each other very well communicate through typed words alone. Inflection and tone are not conveyed, someone takes umbrage at what's being said, and the whole thing explodes.
Yes, you should have backed down and apologized before things got too heated. However, the other players involved were the ones who issued the ultimatum to the guild leader, not you. You are not the one who took it that far. I don't know exactly what was said when you "retaliated," but it's just a stupid guild chat argument. That's not the sort of thing to demand someone's gkick over. The two players who quit sound like they have some maturity and/or entitlement issues.
Therefore, in my opinion, your guild is better off without them, or anyone who would take something so silly and turn it into something so serious. It's old-fashioned drama-mongering, and no guild needs that. The mature thing to do is to sit down, have a conversation about what happened, exchange apologies, and move on. Clearly, they were not prepared to do that.
Your guild leader made the right decision, to answer your question. The guild has paid a price for it, certainly, but if those two had stayed, there could have been even more drama and the price could have been much higher. It's possible the guild wouldn't even exist today.
Even so, the state of the guild is not your fault, because it is the responsibility of the officers to replace members who quit, particularly if they were so crucial to the roster. They had plenty of time to do so, but the guild still seems to be having a hard time. That's not on you. You can help your officers with recruiting, but ultimately the burden falls on them.
The measure of success
Finally, I would caution you and any other guild member not to measure your guild's success according to where you rank on your server's progression lists, especially at this point in the expansion. Much depends on how much time your guild spends raiding. The guilds that get world firsts often compress into a single day what is for another guild several weeks' worth of raid time.
The true mark of success is whether or not you have fun while you're trying to kill new bosses, and whether or not you can do so while still remaining true to the values of your guild. Count yourself lucky that your leaders regard values over progression. It's not always the case!
Join us to learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!