Mobs and justice don't tend to mix.
I joined a new guild, and everything was great. People were happy and talkative, they were doing things together, and the guild leader had made it clear people could approach him if they had a problem with his leadership and he would step down if they thought someone would be better.
This lasted all of about 2 days after I joined. I came home and was immediately pulled into a conversation where I was told the leader was sexually harassing female members, sending them creepy messages and making them feel unsafe. This was serious, and the first thing I asked was did anyone bring this to him. I got a vague 'he was told' and no more information, so I accepted what they were telling me. They initiated a public vote on the forums to have him removed from the guild, after telling everyone unaware about it (before giving them a chance to hear the leader's side) and expected us to vote based on that.
Over the next few days, as more information was released in between the back and forth mudslinging, it became clear that the leader's 'harrassment' had been a few awkward compliments and some bad jokes. And nobody had actually approached him with the problem before making it public like this. He did some bad things in the argument, and everyone including myself has been unhappy with him over it, but he did accept and admit to doing the wrong thing and apologise for it. Everyone else, however, insisted on demanding he leave the guild, and basically told his wife (also a member) that he was cheating on her based on some behaviour nobody had indicated to him was wrong.
Sexual harassment is a serious matter, and at first I was as angry at him as the rest, but as it unfolded I found myself more bothered with those making the accusations for how they handled it. The leader refused to step down in the end because he didn't want to be removed from the guild. I tried suggesting he pass leadership onto someone not involved in the argument so he does what they want but doesnt need to fear being kicked, and everyone take a few days to calm down before trying to settle the whole matter.
Everyone else went ahead and made another new guild though. I wasn't an officer, and I tried to stay neutral. When I started disagreeing, some people said to me privately it wasn't my argument, but they were willing for it to involve me when I was angry at the leader too. At this point I feel I tried everything I could, and some more quiet members sent me messages stating I said exactly what they were thinking, but they were too afraid to speak up, so I know I wasn't alone.
Nearly everyone has gone ahead and joined the new guild, some don't want to, and the leader of the past one kept his but is not logging on. I haven't left it yet, purely because I am the only one in there now and I don't want to be around anyone else at the moment, although I am constantly having them whisper me asking me when I'm going to join the new guild.
I'm still in shock that all this happened so fast and sudden, especially when I think it all could have been handled so much easier and peacefully if they just kept it private and didn't initiate that very public vote to begin with. I want to be with my friends, but they just divided our group further, and it feels like their way of handling drama now is to just get rid of the person without settling it, or reforming without them, so I feel like it's just going to repeat itself again in the future. How could this have been handled, and how can it be ensured it won't happen again?
Drama Mama Robin: Ah, the mob mentality. There's nothing like a good witch hunt to get the blood flowing. Carrying torches and pitchforks can make you feel so righteous.
But seriously, sexual harassment is a very serious accusation, as everyone knows. And its investigation and subsequent punishment or exoneration should be taken just as seriously.
Step number one in any harassment accusation is to ask the harassed if they expressed their discomfort to the alleged harasser. It sounds like the harassed didn't do the expressing and accusers didn't do the asking. Awkward jokes will continue from the awkward joker if not warned off, but that isn't harassment -- that's someone who wants to be funny. Would he have stopped if he was informed quietly that his humor made people feel uncomfortable? We don't know. He was quickly judged a witch and burned at the stake, with nothing but an inquisition for a trial. And nobody expects the Azerothian Inquisition.
If it had been determined by the victims that they were being harassed after talking to the GM, then it should have been quietly brought to another officer and discussed. The officer should have talked with the leader in private to ask him to stop, apologize, and step down. Of course, it's his guild so he wouldn't have to comply, but then and only then should this matter have gone public. And by public, I mean that they could have posted a statement about their new guild, who was joining, who was invited and that all questions would be answered privately.
If the GM had continued harassment, then he's a stalker and should be treated accordingly. Obviously that wasn't the case.
So now what? What's done is done. Move over to the other guild because this one is dead. But only do so if a charter is put in place that clearly defines what constitutes sexual harassment and describes exactly what happens in case of accusations. No polls. No shouting matches in guild chat and the forums. Just a professional, drama-free procedure for bringing the perp to justice.
If they won't come up with a charter you feel comfortable with and have it clearly posted, then find another guild. You don't need to play with people who accuse loudly and publicly, then only provide the justice of a kangaroo court. You're right; it will just happen again. Find a guild with clearly stated rules that you can abide by and go there.
Also, no need to stay true to the guy who was wronged. He may actually have been harassing, after all. Regardless, he's not playing right now and you need to get on with your chosen leisure pursuits.
So be happy with your old friends who now have clear rules to follow or, if not, with your new friends you have yet to find. Good luck and let us know what happens.
Drama Mama Lisa: These folks have broken the cardinal rule of guild drama. Not only did they air their drama in public, but they compounded it by calling for a public vote. That's no guild management strategy -- that's a drama pinata just waiting to explode in your face again the next time someone whacks it with the drama stick.
If you want to stick with your friends, I'd strongly recommend strafing over to Officer's Quarters for some solid advice on how to handle guild matters. Then get that information into the hands of someone who'll use it.
As for settling your own choices, let me leave you some some points to ponder:
- Are the friends you'd be following to the new guild situational friends that you only see in the context of this guild or WoW? If you didn't move to the new group, would you be cutting any deeper, lasting connections?
- It's clear that you disapprove of the way your friends handled this situation, and you've seen first-hand the amount of behind-the-scenes whispering and gossip that goes on in this group. Does this level of drama change how comfortable you feel around these friends?
- Are you generally open to second chances, as long as you go in with your eyes open?
- Will you resent joining the group under these circumstances?
- Are you feeling any social pressure or sense of obligation to join the new group?
- Are you open to joining a new guild with new people (and new rules)?
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at email@example.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.