The Guild Counsel: Seeking a guild? Watch for these red flags

Vanguard
Each week in this column, we explore common issues in guild management, with a focus on tips to be a successful guild leader. But this week, let's turn the tables a bit and look at things from the perspective of an unguilded player. With the rise of free-to-play in many MMOs, there's a larger pool of players from which guilds recruit. But before you take that guild invite, there are a few red flags to be wary of when joining a guild. For every good guild, there's a guild out there that makes you regret clicking that "join" button and leaves you wishing you had those misspent hours back after you leave.

In this week's Guild Counsel, let's look at what to avoid when you're considering joining a guild.


Silent invites

In the past, I've advocated that guilds in free-to-play games take advantage of the new wave of players and look to recruit in the starter areas. Among all those new players, there are bound to be plenty of good players, and guilds can build up a great roster just by spending some time in a newbie zone.

But there are too many guilds that spam invites to any newly created character without any introduction or explanation of what type of guild they represent. On the surface, a guild invite might seem like a great opportunity for a new player with plenty of questions and needs. But if a guild recruiter can't be bothered to take a few minutes to talk to you about the guild, there's probably plenty of other areas that are likewise overlooked in that guild. It's probably best to skip those silent invites, or at least ask a few questions of them to see what you're getting yourself into by joining.

Dead guild chat

I've played the solo game, and I've taken the guild invite here and there. What amazes me is the lack of reaction when I join a new guild. I certainly don't expect a ticker tape parade, but if I join and say hi, it's nice to at least get some sort of welcome. As a guild leader, I made sure to announce to the guild any time someone new joined because that quick announcement is an important first step in helping that new member fit in with everyone else there. A guild that endures over the long haul is one that builds a culture and makes all its members feel as if they are part of a team, while still giving everyone enough freedom to enjoy the game on their own as well.

If it's quiet in guild chat when you first join, it's an indication that guild invites just aren't something that's taken seriously in the guild. That's all well and good, but it also means that the screening process probably isn't taken that seriously either, and that's bound to lead to problems in-guild later on.

Insta-promotion

It's one thing to get an unsolicited guild invite, but it's another entirely to join and instantly receive a promotion to a leadership role. It goes without saying that these are guilds with a lack of organization and structure. There are guilds that are building from the ground up and might need to put a few new members into leadership roles, but that still involves communication with the guild, not only about which members are getting fast-tracked but also about why they are and how this will help with the guild's overall vision. In general, any action in-guild that comes without any communication is a big red flag.

The hard sell

There are guilds that do a great job of advertising themselves but for whatever reason seem to forget the word "hope" when explaining what type of content they're working on. So a guild recruiter will tell you that the guild is doing endgame raids and farming bosses, when what she should really be saying is that they hope to raid and farm in the near future. Guilds shouldn't be afraid to be honest about what they're able to do, and in fact, guilds that can explain how they are going about working towards certain goals are usually good guilds to join.

For players seeking out guilds who are on certain content, it's worth taking a little extra time to either ask around or visit a guild progression website to verify.

Disconnected

New players will find it's nice to join a guild early on because members will be able to answer questions and offer tips that make it easier to learn the ropes. Many games also have a guild level system, so new players can get some nice perks, and the guild also benefits from your accomplishments in-game.

But it can be a lonely existence for a low-level player when everyone else in the guild is much higher in level and doing content that you can't do. Guilds shouldn't be expected to cater to every new player's needs, but if a guild is inviting new players, what is it doing to shorten that gap between low and high levels within the guild? Maybe the guild has "newbie nights" when veteran members log in alts and group up. Or the guild might host occasional low-level raids aimed at revisiting old content and helping new members learn the finer points of how to raid. Even something as simple as a quick meet-and-greet in the guild hall helps shorten the distance between high- and low-level players and gives those newer players more encouragement to catch up.

In general, good guilds tend to share a few common traits: good communication, an inclusive environment, and realistic guild goals. When you're searching for a good guild, those are the qualities to look for, and the absence of any of those usually is a red flag. And as with many other things, if it seems too good to be true with a guild, it probably is.

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.
This article was originally published on Massively.