Sing it, Black Dog.
Hey hey mamas got questions for you, gonna ask your advice 'bout my guild's mood.
I'm co-leader with my stable GF of a small casual guild. We've got a small community of members, with most able to log in a couple times a week and a few who play daily. We have firm guild rules about verbal abuse and slurs, and quite honestly have never had drama of any sort. All of this sounds peachy-keen, except we seem to have, for lack of a better word, stagnated.
Over the last fall, winter, and spring, our biggest challenges were getting members at all. We recruited a real-life friend who went through some real growth as a person and was made an officer a few months later. He helped us spur the guild's growth and now we've promoted another officer to handle our surging population, and we were making noises about a second raid group...at least, that was the situation a couple months ago.
Once summer hit, it became impossible to get a raid team together once a week. Folks would ust log in for a little bit and then log off without a word. You could play for hours with 5-10 people online and never know, guild chat was silent. I found myself instigating conversations when I didn't feel like chatting just so things seemed more active to the other members. Nowadays, only a few people are usually on at a time, sometimes it's just me. Everyone who bothers to communicate has a valid real-life reason to not be on, but a lot of folks just aren't logging on, and those who do aren't engaging with the guild. That real-life friend hasn't been able to play as much over the summer as he does during the fall and spring, when he's at college, and he's even made noises about moving his alts to the other faction or simply quitting WoW altogether for a while. As he puts it 'grinding out quests for loremaster and running LFR isn't enough for $15 a month.' We schedule raid nights, get 4-5 people confirmed, and only 2-3 show up at best.
Should I be concerned? Is this a sign the guild needs a jump-start of some kind? I'm almost afraid to recruit new players because they might take one look at how quiet and unresponsive our old guard are and turn right around. Is it just the season where folks don't spend as much time in game, or is there something more sinister going on?
Black Dog GM
Drama Mama Robin: Black Dog GM, if you haven't had any drama, then I sincerely doubt that anything sinister is going on. And if there were drama behind the scenes, it is likely that people would be leaving the guild instead of just not showing up. Your guild not only has the case of the summer doldrums, but also the pre-patch blues. And you're not alone; many guilds are having similar issues. With patch 5.4 coming out on Sept. 10, you're likely to have a surge of people returning to see the new features. And since it looks like Connected Realms will be rolled out in the weeks following the patch, I think having a bit more patience is in order.
Suggest to your real life friend that he hold off on moving to another faction until after the patch drops. Or if he decides to quit, suggest he come back after 5.4 to see how things are. Summer will essentially be over and there will be new content galore. Once you see how everything shakes out, you'll find it much easier to recruit new people with so many others returning after the patch. Also your server is likely to be connected to others, enlarging the potential guildie pool.
You seem to have been successful building your guild up before, I'm sure that once there is renewed interest, you'll be able to do it again -- if necessary.
Drama Mama Lisa: Robin's right about one thing: You don't seem to be looking at any drama or sinister machinations. However, I think you're absolutely right to be worried about your guild. You've seen for yourself how awkward it feels to play in a social ghost town. It is natural to lose some steam during the summertime, especially if your guild is full of students and parents with school-aged children, and you do have the advantage of new content right around the corner.
That said, why wait? If you have a guild web forum, use the messaging feature to send everyone an end-of-summer greeting teasing the patch content and setting a few dates for group exploration of the new material. Do you have a guild Facebook page? Now might be a good time to create one and promote the kind of happy chatter that attracts people to wanting to meet up with the gang.
Back in game, don't allow events to collapse. If only a few people show up to raid, fold into an LFR group or have an alternative goal in mind (retro raiding for a particular item or title, wrapping up current content before the patch hits, helping someone who's signed up make it through a quest step).
Once The Siege of Orgrimmar hits, you should be able to get a more accurate read of whether your current roster can still support its own weight. I have every hope it will be able to, especially if you keep the tone bright and positive from this moment forward. Best of luck!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.