Hi, PFE. In the spirit of the season, I'll forgive you for asking a question about your Old Republic guild on our WoW blog. It's nice to hear that guild leaders in other MMOs are finding useful information from the OQ.
Now, regarding your email, that is a very difficult to answer! In a way, I'm going to cop out of answering it, because I think it's practically impossible to cover every situation that might warrant a gkick. Also, there are some compelling reasons not to be too specific.
Some rules need open ends
If you get too specific, you just paint yourself into a corner. Some rules work best when they are open-ended or left up to the guild leader's discretion. Once you put in writing, definitively, "If you do X, you will get kicked," then there's really no room for any other response. Even if you feel that the person doesn't deserve the kick, you have to follow through or else your rules mean nothing.
You could of course change the rule at that point and acknowledge that it is a bad rule. In that case, however, you undermine your members' trust in those rules and in the guild's leadership.
You've already alluded to the other problem -- "supposing the full story is known." The truth may be out there, but finding it can be impossible. In my experience, situations where every aspect is 100% confirmed by a reliable and trustworthy person are few and far between.
Much more frequently, you get various conflicting versions of events from which you have to piece together what really happened. There's a reason why most justice systems rely on judges, lawyers, juries, witnesses, evidence, expert testimony, and all the rest. Determining guilt is a highly complex matter. For better or worse, WoW has no such system. In a case where guilt is uncertain, it's tough to justify a gkick.
Most of the people I have ever had to gkick were not people who perpetrated some unthinkable heinous act. They were just repeatedly doing minor things that built up into major issues over time. For example, I had a player who lied to me on several occasions. I suspected he was doing it, and the second time I caught him it was time for him to go.
Another player was just being really weird in guild chat and making people uncomfortable. After a couple of warnings had no effect, he was asked to leave.
How do you make these situations into a specific rule? I suppose you could, but what would be the point? Obviously if someone is outright lying to an officer over and over again, they shouldn't be in the guild.
Except in rare cases, I like to give people second chances. Tell them that the next time they do the same thing, they will be kicked. That way, they can never say they weren't warned.
They either learn from the mistake and become a solid guild member, or they don't and give you a clear-cut opportunity to kick them. Either outcome makes your guild better, but you've retained the flexibility to make the right decision.
Kicks should never be done in haste or in anger. Allowing yourself that flexibility gives you time to think things over and make the right call. By strictly regulating all behavior, you don't give yourself that option.
Here's to a happy and kick-free New Year!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.