Constantly predict the downfall of the guild
There are plenty of times when the outcome of a decision isn't clear and there's some doubt about whether the guild leader has made the right call. But constantly expressing those doubts over and over and openly wondering whether the guild will survive isn't helpful. The guild leader has it hard enough, and few enjoy having to be in a position to make difficult decisions. Playing the role of Henny Penny sows the seeds of doubt throughout the guild, and there's a good chance that it leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have to get your doubt out, consider doing it privately with the guild leader or officer.
Join just so you can fulfill personal objectives
I have to look to my beloved Red Sox for the perfect example of what not to do. Before this season, the team was fractured and not at all cohesive. Some were there to play, but others were phoning it in and more interested in cashing their checks than in winning, or even worse, busy sneaking beers in the clubhouse. This past year, even though they weren't expected to do well, they ended up winning the World Series. They were a team that genuinely liked each other and played for the team rather than for themselves, and that made a big difference in the end.
You can't join a guild with the expectation that your objectives come first. A guild is like a bank, and you get out of it what you put into it. In the end, you'll be able to do many things that you probably could not do on your own. But there will be nights when you'll be investing your time to help someone else reach his goal. Many MMOs now build ways to let everyone walk away with something, like tokens or status, so even if you don't get the big drop of the night, you don't walk away emptyhanded.
Great players don't need to tell everyone they're great; people notice it already. Too often, new members start off on the wrong foot by talking at length of their accomplishments and amazing skills. This is especially problematic when a more casual guild invites a player who has more of a hardcore background. That new member might have seen and done many things that the guild has not and might be tempted to tell everyone about it. But there are plenty of casual guilds that either aren't interested in endgame content or don't want to play at a hardcore pace. As a result, there becomes a bit of a culture clash, and that can lead to tension in the guild. Players who move from a hardcore to a more casual setting need to really be sure that's a playstyle they're happy with because you can't join a guild thinking you'll pull the members into your playstyle. And reminding them of your previous success only ends up creating resentment.
Trying to run the show when you're not part of the leadership team can be toxic to the guild. Running a guild is a tough challenge, and no guild leader is perfect. But a member who constantly tries to insist that his way is the right way is disruptive to the rest of the guild and can make a good guild leader decide to walk away in frustration. Joining a guild means putting trust in the leader, and if you don't agree with her vision for the guild, it's better to move on and find a guild that does share your game philosophy.
Don't treat players like people
It's hard to see past the characters we play, but that veil of anonymity often causes people to say and do things that they would never say or do to someone face to face. You don't need to be friends with everyone, but you should keep in mind that you're in a guild with other people, not other characters. Longtime guilds get through tough times because they've been able to look past the avatar. They might not agree all the time, but because the members respect each other as peers, they avoid unnecessary drama.
Most gamers have had moments when they've reached their limit with their fellow guildmates. But the worst thing to do is act in the heat of the moment. Nasty posts on forums and rants in guild chat usually are regretted later on when things cool down. But by then, the damage is done, and sometimes it causes irreparable harm.
Even worse is the ragequit, when a member basically takes his ball and goes home. It's upsetting to see, it usually leaves many members confused about what happened, and it makes it harder to resolve things because the main channel used to communicate (guild chat) is now no longer an option. If you're mentally done with your guild, it's best to take a day and reconsider after time has passed a bit. Even if the decision is to leave, it will be done with far less drama and hopefully no burned bridges.
While these are all things that guild leaders should be wary of, Thanksgiving is a good time to remember how special the guild experience is. For each guild turkey, there are dozens of fantastic players who make MMOs much more enjoyable and many guild leaders who take on the challenge of managing things. Guilds are a big part of why MMOs are more compelling than single-player games, and there are so many different types of guilds today that there's bound to be one that fits everyone's playstyle.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.