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Officers' Quarters: The constant complainers

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 now from No Starch Press.

Just about every guild has its complainers. The bigger your community, the more you'll have to deal with members who think you're single-handedly out to drive the guild into the ground, and they are the only ones standing between you and wholesale destruction. Perhaps I'm overdramatizing, but sometimes it can certainly feel that way. Some complainers can be positively relentless.

This week's email comes from an officer who's afraid the complaints are about to force his guild leader to take drastic action.
Hey, I'm an officer of a medium-sized raiding guild that currently has two 10-mans and working on getting a third. During ICC we had three 10-mans, which we will call A, B, C and a 25-man [...] When we began raiding, we only had enough raiders to form one 10-man Raid A. Two months later, we got enough people to form another raid B, and a few weeks after that we form the last one Raid C. Everything was going good, all the raids where progressing [at] a similar pace, we down Lich King a few times, did a few heroic modes, than decided to close down our 25-man raid a few weeks before Cataclysm because of attendance issues.

Than a bombshell dropped, one of our raiders (we shall call him Jon[...]) posted that he was concerned with our move to 10-man raiding in Cataclysm (basically not having a raid). We quickly addressed this issue saying that there would be two 10-mans at least with the possibility of a third, Problem solved, at least we thought. Then one of our [raiders] (who we will call Bob) posted a very long post on forums. He stated that while the GL [...] and I were excellent guild leaders [...] the other officers were effectually a joke. He went on to say that the Guild does not come together on anything, stating the last guild event he considered significant was our last ICC 25-man raid. Stated that during most days there is maybe five people online, "A WoW guild that does not raid, dies." (Despite us saying that we are done raiding until Cataclysm.) [...]

After many (long) posts and the Leadership of the guild explaining their stance or addressing his concerns we found out what the problem was. He didn't like the fact there was an "A team" or progression 10-man raid. Which there wasn't, Raid A just started two months before the other ones. So the officers got together for Cataclysm and decided on raid rosters that divided up the officers and "core" players into fairly equal groups. Everything is hunky dory. Or at least we thought.

A few months later, we now have two 10-man raids (we'll call them One and Two), both at about the same point; each having the same number of bosses down, just different ones. Then him and one of his buddies says they are fed up with the lack of progression in their raid (One), and wants a raid with the best players in it to have a "Progression Raid". *head desk*

It was at this point that the GL says to us (the officers) that everyday he logs in, it's some new problem or complaint with or about Bob or Jon and he was sick of it. He is going to give the guild to someone else and quit playing WoW. And it's not just him either, we are all fed up and frustrated with the both of them. But none of us are really big on /gkicking people.

So, To /Gkick or to not /Gkick? Or is there another way?

Wow, if the level of complaining has reached the point that your guild leader is talking about quitting the game over it, then it's gotten pretty serious.

I can completely understand the frustration of trying to explain your policies to players who don't seem to understand why things can't just always be the way they want them to be. I can also sympathize with the agony of listening to seemingly conflicting complaints from the same source. Neither of these situations, unfortunately, are uncommon in online gaming. Some people just love to complain. They see it as both their right as members and their duty to "improve the guild."

However, you can resolve these situations without walking away from the game.

Regain control

First, don't let the complainers take over your WoW time. If you dismiss them, they'll only bring up the same problems tomorrow. On the other hand, if you indulge them and let them complain whenever they want to, you may find yourself participating in a daily gripe session.

Rather, set up a time with the perennial complainers to hash out their specific issues. Don't overwhelm them with the entire officer corps if you have a lot of high-ranking members. Two or three officers is a good number for a talk like this. It's important to have other officers who can provide a different perspective. Also, if it's just you, then your arguments take on the air of a dictator's pronouncements.

Prior to this meeting, don't let the complainers approach you. Tell them to save it for the meeting, and enjoy your brief reprieve.

Talk it over

Then get together at the designated time and hash it out with these members. If possible, use voice chat software. These types of talks tend to go better when people can hear inflection. Also, voice chat means only one person can speak at a time -- that keeps the conversation from becoming too scattered.

Talk with them about their concerns frankly and explain to them exactly what the officers will and will not do to address those concerns. Try to address as many problems as you can. Let the complainers get it all out of their system.

Be confident during this confrontation but not emotional. It sounds like your guild is doing pretty well overall, so don't let their naysaying and bellyaching ruin your enthusiasm. At the same time, don't be afraid to admit it when they make a good point. Just remember that a good point on paper doesn't always translate to a practical solution.

If you have to turn down their suggestions, do your best to explain why, even if you're already told them in the past. Repetition can be more effective than you might think. Sometimes people have to hear things five times before the information sinks in.

Follow up and carry on

Once you've all heard each other out, take any outstanding issues back to the other officers, make decisions, and then call for another brief meeting to tell them what you intend. At the end of the meeting, explain that the matters at hand are now closed to further discussion.

From here, the complainers essentially have the choice to either stay in the guild without further criticism or to leave. That puts the ball in their court. If they decide to stay, make it clear that you won't listen to more griping. By staying, they are agreeing to the way things have been decided, and they have to accept the guild that way.

The only outcome here where you might need to gkick someone is if a player continues to complain despite everything you've said and done. Give him one final warning. At that point, if he doesn't shut up, you can kick him without remorse. Hopefully it won't come to that!


Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to

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