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Officers' Quarters: Courtesy counts

Scott Andrews
Scott Andrews|January 11, 2010 1:00 PM

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

The community of WoW is not best known for its courtesy. The bar for what constitutes civil behavior has been set pretty low. We as officers don't expect much from random people, but we'd like to think our members and counterparts are better than the average player. That's why it's always so disappointing when we discover we are wrong.

Dear Scott,

I have been an officer in my guild for quite a while but one thing I am noticing more and more is the lack of courtesy between members. I along with several of the other officers and members think of our guild as a family and it kind of cuts us when we have members leave without any word, explanation, or a simple "goodbye". Just today we had a member (we will call him Bob for simplicity) just up and leave without any word and one of the officers made a hasty remark in the trade channel. Probably 4 hours later Bob gets on an alt still in the guild and starts smarting off which gets others responding likewise (including officers) so much so that I have to step in and stop it.

Unfortunately our GM logs on at that moment and sees the drama going on in gchat and promptly kicks Bob and his other alt. Bob then whispers me and asks why everyone was acting the way they were. I tried to explain the lack of courtesy employed by Bob but he just didn't quite understand. How can I as an officer and member of my guild help to promote courtesy and how do I explain to members/officers they are not being courteous?


Man of the Peace

Hi, MotP. First, let's take a moment to lament how the dungeon finder system has affected guilds. As if guilds weren't disposable enough in WoW, it is now entirely possible for a player to gear up to Tier 9 -- and prep themselves for the Wrath equivalent of Sunwell -- in random Heroics alone.

Don't get me wrong: It's great that we are no longer required to run earlier dungeon tiers to gear members up (though it can still be helpful to do so). And I have nothing against making raiding more accessible. However, it's just one less incentive, from a list that's startlingly short, for staying loyal to a guild.

Fortunately, Cataclysm's guild overhaul seems like it could change that. But for now, officers across the board should expect more guild-hopping now than ever before.

I can't say why "Bob" decided to quit, but keep in mind that you can now jump from fresh 80 to endgame raider in a matter of weeks. If your guild doesn't raid or isn't very successful with raiding, you are going to lose players who want to see Icecrown, because they are fully capable of gearing up for it with or without you.

However, I wouldn't say Bob is the most at fault in this situation. Yes, he quit without notice or reason, which is certainly dispiriting to the officers. Even so, making a snarky comment in the Trade channel is only going to make the situation worse.

Passive-aggressive Trade channel remarks (or openly hostile ones) are useful for one thing: starting a fight. If that's what your officer wanted, he or she sure got it. I doubt Bob would have gone on that tirade without provocation, since he seemed to want to slip away quietly.

Officers who want their players to be courteous need to lead by example. That is the most effective way to encourage civil behavior. If your officers have a problem with Bob, the best way to handle the situation would be to speak with him privately about why he left. They shouldn't be confrontational about it. They should talk to him as a human being and try to assess the decision from his point of view.

From the perspective of guild survival, your top priority should be finding out why Bob quit so that you can prevent people, if possible, from leaving for similar reasons.

To address the question you asked, it's difficult when officers are put into the role of the "courtesy police." No one wants to be that person. Sometimes, situations will arise when you must step in. Only you can decide when to do so. When you do, don't respond by insulting or talking down to the players who are involved. Rather, attempt to defuse the situation by mediating the argument. Try to get each person to see the situation from the other person's point of view.

They may not ever agree, but at least you can bring the argument into a civil context and allow for some meaningful dialogue.

We can't teach our members to be courteous. How a person behaves develops from the moment they can interact with other people. If parents, family, and friends haven't succeeded in encouraging someone to be courteous, what chance do we have?

The best we can do is to remind our members that behind every character in the game is a person that deserves respect and consideration. That begins with all of our officers acting accordingly.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott@wow.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!