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Officers' Quarters: A closed guild opens its gates

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 from No Starch Press.

This week's email presents an interesting case: The leaders of a guild that hasn't recruited anyone in four years want to open up its roster again. And one of them just might have stumbled on a brilliant recruiting pitch!

Dear Scott:

Recently I was promoted to a pseudo-Guild Lead (I have all the power but not the title). Not a Co-GL, a pseudo-GL. The founders of the guild are still keeping all of their power and titles of GL and Co-GL, but they aren't as active anymore and want the guild to go in a different direction. So below them and slightly to the left is me, the pseudo leader, trying to take the guild in this new direction while at the same time bring back a lot of our current members.

Now to explain. About mid Wrath a lot of the guild members transferred their mains to a different guild in hopes of getting better gear ... Things got worse early Cata. I'm not sure what it was like on other servers, but on my server and in randoms there was a lot of bullying and people just being mean. And I'm not talking about the everyday mean you can encounter online, I mean guild members were brought to tears because of the harassment and haven't played since. About 80% of the guild dropped off. I'll be honest, because of the harassment I faced, I haven't done a heroic or raid since.

... So my first question is this: how can I bring back a lot of those members and show them they don't have to go through that kind of harassment anymore and that the game can still be fun? ... How do I prove that it is ok to play again?

Now for the new direction of the guild. Ever since The Burning Crusade when the guild was founded we've been very tight knit and fairly exclusive. We have never had an open recruitment ... The last time a new member was added to the guild was about 4 years ago. I know that kind of makes us sound like a progression guild, but we're a casual guild. We just have zero tolerance for drama and just want to play and have fun.

The founders now want to open the guild to an open recruitment because of how far our numbers have fallen ... We still want to do randoms, heroics, raids, and all of that, but none of us want to go back into the LFG and be harassed. So how do I recruit people into a guild where all of the members have been playing together for 6 years, and there hasn't been a new member to the guild in the past 4 years? And how do I maintain the trust of a guild that's been through all this, while adding new players?

I just want to bring this guild back to life, heal the wounds, and start having some good ol' guild fun again.

I'll take any advice I can get.

--The Less-Than-Eloquent Overwhelmed Guild Steward

I also want to note that none of the guild members faced harassment because they can't play ... Members were facing harassment based solely on gear color and where they chose to put their extra talent points ...


You certainly have a challenge ahead of you! It's true that the dungeon finder can be a rough place. Some people just shrug off the criticism and hostility; others have a tougher time, and I'm not surprised to hear that some of this behavior has cost you players.

You've asked a few questions, so I'm going to go through them one by one.

Question 1: "How do I prove that it is OK to play again?"

You can never "prove" it. Any time your members jump into a dungeon finder queue, they will face the possibility of harsh and unreasonable criticism. Even within your own guild, there may come a time when someone says something hurtful. It's completely out of your control.

You can only do your best to mitigate the circumstances within your own community through clearly defined policies about harassment, with clearly defined consequences.

Reach out to your former members and share your vision with them. Outline a plan for the expansion. Talk about scheduling specific times for guildmates to run dungeons together or whatever it is that you want to participate in. Discuss a support system to help guildies get the gear they need from dungeons. Explain how you intend to get the guild raiding again.

Most of all, share your enthusiasm. Maybe it will get them thinking about coming back to the game. (And don't forget to mention the free level 80 character they can get from a Scroll of Resurrection!)

Question 2: "So how do I recruit people into a guild where all of the members have been playing together for six years, and there hasn't been a new member to the guild in the past four years?"

You recruit the same way everyone does it: with a lot of hard work. However, if your goal is "Let's never use the dungeon finder again," I think you will find a lot of players interested in that kind of guild. That is a major selling point! Use it to your advantage.

Also, get your two "official" guild leaders to help you. If they are the ones pushing this policy, they should be the ones on the front lines making it happen.

Be mindful of the logistics here, also. Ideally, you'll need one tank and one healer for every three DPSers. Flexible players who can handle multiple roles are even better.

Question 3: "How do I maintain the trust of a guild that's been through all this, while adding new players?"

You and the other guild leaders have to reassure your existing members that you will do your best to bring in only the players who will fit with the guild's longstanding philosophy and culture. Warn them that the transition may cause friction at times, and ask them to bear with you through this process.

Just as you did with your former members, tell your current members your plan for the expansion. Get them excited about the possibilities -- possibilities that can only happen by adding more members.

Let them know that you are always willing to hear them out if they have a problem with anyone that you bring on board. At the same time, ask them to keep an open mind. Make a case that recruiting is the best path for the guild in Mists, and ask for their help to find the best players possible.

I think you and your members will discover that an injection of new blood can revitalize a guild.


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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