Officers' Quarters: Rock bottom

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|03.12.12

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Officers' Quarters: Rock bottom
a shipwreck on the ocean floor
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.

Guilds in WoW are a precarious fleet at this moment. With player activity stagnating, many guilds are like sinking ships. They survive only if their officers can bail water fast enough by replacing the players they've lost. Fickle players are quick to jump overboard and swim to a guild with fewer leaks, only to find that their new vessel isn't quite as watertight as it first appeared.

Today's email is from a guild leader whose hull has hit rock bottom. She wants to know whether to dredge up the wreck or shop around for a sturdier boat.
Hi Scott,

I am the leader of a guild that sadly has no more active members. My fiance and I started it to try out Cata raiding at our own pace with people we knew IRL but at the peak of the guild activity we could only get about 7 people together and getting everyone motivated to get their item level up high enough to attempt a raid was even tougher! I love playing a mage but found myself rolling a paladin and gearing up to be what the guild needed...tank or heals. I eventually got super burnt out with lack of effort and took a break from the game. Recently I have come back to a dead guild.
I thought the desire to run my own guild would have been long gone after the failure a few months ago but I'd still love to do it. I had a blast setting everything up (ranks, guild bank tabs, vent, etc) and would definitely be settling for less if I were to join an already established guild. The main things I want out of a guild are FUN, maturity, cooperation, liveliness, consideration, dependability, and fairness. I would have loved to provide this to the best of my ability with plans for group runs of everything, fun guild events, a non-critical learn/teach as we go approach to raiding, and help with anything from information to materials but it was too difficult to try to get the guild off the ground by myself.

I guess my question comes down to this: Should I try once more to get the guild going or would it be best to try guild-hopping until I find an environment I like?

I appreciate any opinion you have on this because I'm so torn! Thank you...
First of all, I'm sorry to hear about your guild. That sort of thing is happening more and more frequently these days. The only good part about hitting rock bottom is that you're now free to make a decision without worrying about how it might affect anyone else.

Before I can recommend a course of action, the crucial questions that occur to me are these: How much experience do you have with MMO guilds, with WoW in general, and with online leadership roles? My answer mostly depends on your background.

In short supply

As the game faces its lowest active population in years, officers with experience who are willing to lead guilds are becoming harder and harder to find. If you have an extensive officer resume, then you should definitely keep trying.

Now is not the ideal time to rebuild, since player activity is still fairly low at the moment. I'm not convinced that the new Scroll of Resurrection bonuses will bring too many players back just yet.

However, as WoW gets closer to the release of Mists and especially right after the expansion's release, there will be an upsurge in player activity. Players will be returning to the game and looking for guilds that match their in-game preferences and goals. Taking advantage of that is your best bet if you want to start over from scratch.

Learn, then do

On the other hand, let's say you don't have a ton of experience with guilds or the game. I would recommend joining an established guild for the time being. Keep your own guild intact with one of your alts. It won't go anywhere.

Then make a thorough guild search across servers and factions. Find a community that is similar to how you envision yours in the future. That way, you'll be able to learn what works and what doesn't first-hand. You'll be able to understand the perspective of the average member within such a guild. You'll see how the officers' policies and decisions affect you.

If you're enthusiastic and willing to work hard on that guild's behalf, the officers will likely recognize that and eventually promote you. Getting some more officer experience under your belt will help you immensely when you take the step toward leading your own community again some day.

Lessons from the past

From what you've described, you can take two important lessons away from what happened with your original guild.

You sacrificed your own enjoyment to help the guild to raid. That is noble, but it led to a serious case of burnout. In the future, you have to make sure that whatever else may be happening, you're still enjoying the game. If you're not, you'll just head down that same path sooner or later.

Also, you can't force people to gear up. If your members aren't motivated, all you can do is encourage them to do so and offer to help. More often than not, that won't be enough. If the desire doesn't come from within, they won't stick with it.

That's why it's important to recruit players whose in-game goals are similar to your own. Ask about these goals on the guild application, so you'll know what they want from the game before you invite them.

Whatever decision you end up making, I wish you luck!


Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to
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