Officers' Quarters: Pitchforks and torches

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|08.16.10

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Officers' Quarters: Pitchforks and torches

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available from No Starch Press.

Wipes are a fact of life. Everyone wipes. How you deal with these situations can be crucial to your guild's success. Some guilds cultivate an environment based on blame, where everyone's first thought after a wipe is, "Who messed up?" Sometimes, it's easy to figure out who is at fault: Someone with a spore goes the wrong way, or someone gets mind-controlled by the Blood Queen after failing to bite his assignment. When it's not easy to figure out, some guilds use a different strategy for assigning blame. Here is one such case:

I have a real dilemma.

I'm an officer, one of six, in a semi-serious raiding guild. We have 30 core raiders who raid with us, and one of them until recently was one of our druid healers, and the issue surrounding him is my dilemma. A little background information on the guild, since it is relevant, is that we have a strict rule involving loot due to some people in the past who have abused our requirement for Vent in that they wouldn't use it, or they'd log in but leave their headsets off. This caused a lot of problems with wipes and caused the officers, GM and co-GM to agree that a rule would be made that was you must be in Vent and actively listening at all times during a raid in order to be eligible for loot. This is what caused the initial problem.

The player of this druid healer I mentioned before applied to our guild and told us on the application that he is deaf.

The officers discussed it, and after looking over some World of Logs reports, we decided to give him a trial run. He outhealed our druid class officer and seemed more on spot with raid awareness. He wasn't in Vent, so we know he didn't hear us calling out for a battle rez or heavy heals on an individual, but he was always right on top of those things. He seemed to watch other healers' mana and would innervate them. After the trial run we agreed to let him into the guild. He has since raided with us now for around two months. He was there when we got our first Lich King kill on 25 and has been there consistently.

The first issue came up about two weeks after he was invited. Some of the members started to protest that he was not abiding by the rules of using Vent. After talking it over amidst ourselves, we decided to ask him to at least log into Vent. We knew it wasn't going to do him any good, and he agreed. He said it was what another guild he was in had him do and he was fine with that. Things seemed fine. Until two weeks ago.

It started with just a few complaints that soon turned into more and more complaints to various officers. We'd had a meeting about it a few nights ago and asked the guild for input on our various rules and any they felt needed to be changed, and a few other things. We used this as a quiet way to find out how people felt about the Vent rule. As it turns out, of the 24 raiding members, 15 of them felt that this healer's inability to hear us calling out for heals or battle rezzes had caused a number of wipes and the fact he was able to get gear was just an abuse of the system.

We officers had a meeting about it and with mixed decisions called the healer into the officer channel, promoting him so that he could use officer chat temporarily. Of the six officers, GM and co-GM, four officers and the GM supported kicking the druid. One officer and the co-GM felt that we should discuss this with the guild and not judge the healer for a disability he has but rather for the performance he has shown us over the past two months. I did not vote, preferring to not cause a split. I now regret that decision.

The GM stated that many of the complaints received were that he (the druid) single-handedly caused the wipes because of his inability to hear. After about 20 minutes of talking to the druid, things got a little heated and he gquit [. . .] I tried to talk to him, ask him to stay on the server, seriously thinking of quitting the guild myself over this, but he was offline. He has since transferred servers[.]

How could we have handled this differently? [. . .] I'm not sure what to do or what could have been done better. Help?


This is one of the most blatant cases of bandwagon scapegoating I've ever heard. It's a sad story.

Here is how I imagine it went down: Your guild was having trouble progressing. People got frustrated and started to look around for what could be holding them back. An obvious target presented itself: The person who can't hear Vent. Someone suggested that the druid could be the problem. Someone else, who probably felt bad about causing a few wipes, but didn't want anyone to know about his or her mistakes, saw an opportunity to pass the buck and echoed the original finger-pointer's sentiments. A few accusing raiders became a mob of angry guild members, they took up their pitchforks and torches, and your officers folded to the pressure. They gave the druid over to the mob.

I wasn't there, obviously, but if what you tell me is true about this player's awareness and skill, then your guild just ran a good player out of town because it's easier to blame the guy who can't hear than for everyone to look at his own mistakes and what he could have done better.

I expect that sort of behavior from normal members, but when your officers agree with them, when they surrender to the mob, what can you do? I'd say it's a failure of leadership that more officers weren't willing to stick up for this person as a solid team member. Yes, he probably did cause a couple of wipes. Who among us hasn't? But were his wipes disproportionately more frequent? I doubt it. It sounds to me like he went above and beyond to compensate for his disability.

What did your guild do to compensate? It sounds like no one went out of the way for this guy. All it would have taken is a few simple macros to whisper him a specific instruction. I'm not saying that he deserved special treatment or that you should have changed the way you raid to accommodate him. I'm just saying that your raid leaders or your healing leads could have helped the guy out if they wanted to. It doesn't sound like anyone was really interested in doing so.

There's no undoing what happened at this point. He's not coming back. Chalk it up to a personal lesson learned, and if a similar situation arises in the future, use that experience to guide your actions.

You can, however, take steps to prevent the situation from being repeated. Your guild and its officers need to take a long, hard look at how your guild handles raiding. Clearly there are other problems at work here if people feel the need to scapegoat a player right out of the guild.

What happens after you wipe? Do raid leaders react with anger, or are they understanding? Are those to blame shunned and embarrassed, or are they forgiven? Is personal accountability encouraged, or do people remain silent about their own mistakes out of fear?

Figuring out how a wipe occurred is absolutely vital. Ideally, the person who caused it or who made a mistake that contributed to the failure will speak up. That way, no one needs to point the finger and everyone can learn from that error. Adjustments can be made and your raid can do better next time. For that to happen, however, your leadership needs to create an environment where people feel comfortable doing so. Right now, you don't have that environment.

One final point: The fact that people thought the druid didn't deserve loot due to a rule that he couldn't possibly meet is ridiculous. I mean, seriously.


As for the Vent rule itself, it makes sense if you have to bring in PUG players, since it can be difficult sometimes to get random people into your Vent channel. Denying them loot is an effective way to make sure they're logged in. However, if you have actual guild members who are too lazy to log in or -- even worse -- who can't be bothered to listen to Vent when they do log in, then they have no business raiding with the guild.

Are those players still raiding with you? If so, that speaks volumes about the lackluster level of effort that members are putting into your raids. If people care so little, why do they even bother showing up? And why do you invite them? Find players who care. Replace the ones who so obviously don't. Then, hopefully, your guild won't need to find any more scapegoats.

Vent is an important communication tool, and communication is a huge part of raiding success. If people are willfully ignoring that, then they're just disabling themselves.


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

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