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Officers' Quarters: Not an officer

Scott Andrews

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 this spring from No Starch Press.

Who deserves to be an officer? Guild leaders struggle with this question quite a bit. It comes down to this question: In your guild, does the officer rank exist to reward players or to give them responsibilities? In other words, what is the purpose of the officer rank? Later, I'll talk about the two most common purposes. But first, this week's e-mail comes from a player who feels he deserves a promotion to officer.

Hey Scott,

I've been playing with a group of people for five years now. We've stuck together as a guild for most that time, though we've moved from tag to tag over the duration. I left WoW for a short period while I moved across the country and upon my return found the guild I had been in was disbanded and we had merged with another guild. No big deal, we've done it before. I was an officer in the old guild, but was not promoted to officer status in the new (too many officers, not enough members, etc.). Again, no big deal.

Over the past three months I've taken a very proactive attitude in the guild. I wrote the guild constitution, restructured the guild hierarchy, built the guild site, organized events and assisted raid leads on a regular basis. In the meantime three of the five officers all but vanished from the game and only show for the occasional raid. Both the co-leaders have stated they want to make me an officer, but nothing has come of it. Our guild leadership is notorious for procrastinating. I'm doing all the duties (and then some) of an officer without the promotion. I feel the officers are taking advantage of me at times. Should I outright ask for the promotion? What's the best course of action here?

--Not an officer

NAO, much depends on the way officers are perceived in your guild and the purpose of the officer rank. In some guilds, officers aren't actually the people who carry out the day-to-day business of the guild and bear the burdens of responsibility for all of those tasks that you've been performing. Rather, the officers are merely the members who have been there longest, who happen to know the guild leader in real life, or perhaps simply the players whom the guild leader feels are deserving of the privileges of the officer rank.

In those guilds, being an officer is a reward. Unburdened by too many extra duties, the officers rule like monarchs. They take care of the occasional crisis. They handle inviting and kicking players according to their whim. Meanwhile the average citizens are expected to make sure the guild is functioning smoothly.

If you're in such a guild, you might feel like you deserve the reward of leadership after everything you've done for your organization. But the officers may be afraid to promote you. Once they do, they fear that you will stop working so hard.

In this case, I'm afraid to say that you've fallen into their trap. You've done all the work, but they don't actually owe you anything. They will give lip service about promoting you, but they'll drag their feet about actually doing it.

This situation isn't the norm, but unfortunately it does happen more frequently than it should.

For most guilds, on the other hand, being an officer is not exactly a reward, although some may perceive it to be. In fact, it's more like a burden. In these guilds, officers not only deal with all guild crises, they also carry out all the tasks that a guild needs in order to function: scheduling, recruiting, leading and organizing events/raids, squashing drama, maintaining a website and voice chat server, etc., etc., etc.

In this type of guild, players like you are a godsend, because they take some of that burden off of the officers. Even a player who volunteers to help with one of these tasks is a boon for the leadership, let alone someone like you who has done so much.

If you were in my guild, I would have promoted you long ago, and before you asked for it. But I certainly wouldn't have felt like I was rewarding you -- far from it. Rather, I'd feel only that I was recognizing your efforts with the proper status for someone who was doing all that for the guild. But instead of being a volunteer, once you were promoted I'd expect you to continue doing such things.

(Of course, all officers are volunteers. None of us gets paid. But there's a difference between a normal guild member who's helping out with leadership duties and an officer who's assigned to handle certain tasks.)

If you're in a guild like this, you can be more assertive about asking for a promotion. Some people who actively ask for promotions do so for the wrong reason. They want to lord it over their fellow guildies or they want the leadership-determined privileges of rank. In your case, however, you've clearly put in the effort and should be given the rank. There's no real harm in asking again, aside from perhaps being perceived as pushy or overly ambitious.

It's better to phrase your request as an offer to help rather than a demand for recognition. Say something along the lines of this: "I noticed a number of our officers haven't been around lately. If you need someone to fill the gap, let me know." That will go over much better than, "I've been doing all this work and I'm not even an officer. Can you promote me?"

Ultimately, however, your officers will promote players when and if they want to. My advice, if you care about your guild, is to continue on as you are. Rest assured, the people in your guild know who's doing all the work. Rarely does anyone actually get thanked, whether they're an officer or not. In many circumstances, the guild officer position is an utterly thankless job. Yet, people do appreciate your efforts, even if most don't actually say so.


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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