Encouraging Raiders to Sign Up and Why

For a list of suggested add-ons or web scripts regarding raid signups, scroll down.

This is a problem that’s plagued many Guilds. Many members are simply too lazy to sign for raids. I’ve found it very frustrating as a former Officer. I know other Guilds who are suffering from the same problem. It makes my life easier if I know who is going to show for sure and who isn’t.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Why is it necessary for people to sign up to raid?

Answer: Having Raid signups allows the leadership to determine who will show up for sure and who will not be. I would like to know what kind of assets I have available going into a Raid. I guarantee that all of us have been in a situation where our raid comes to a halt (or doesn’t even get underway) because we’re missing a certain class. Then we spend the next hour trying to find a pickup player. Then we wipe twice on a boss. Then we call it a night. It would be nice to know before hand what players will be there and what needs to be there. With information like that, arrangements can be made in advance to look for other players to fill that void.

On the other hand, I’ve heard of various reasons as to why people don’t sign up. It goes something like this:

“I can’t figure out how to use it.”

“It’s broken. I get some kind of an error.”

“I don’t want to download that add-on.”

I think that just about summarizes almost all of the excuses I have heard in the past. As leadership people, the onus is on us to show them how to operate the tools that they need. The methods you have chosen for signups will be narrowed to one of two methods: Either it’s an in-game addon or some webpage based script. I guess forums can be used, but that’s amazingly tedious.

Enforcing Signups

Now you’ve determined the method which your Guild will use to sign up. The only obstacle in the way is people’s willpower and the laziness factor. Three years and $10000 on tuition has told me that people will take the easiest route to perform an action. Why? Because everyone is inherently lazy. We’re not going to do anymore work then is required. But if we have to work for it, there damn well better be an incentive.

Let’s take a page from Skinner and look at the concept of reinforcement. There’s several ways we can influence people to sign up.

Positive reinforcement: If your Guild utilizes DKP, you can consider giving 0.5 DKP or some other arbitrary number to those who sign up and show up early. But do that only if both conditions are met. This may require additional work on the part of your number cruncher. Not the best idea but not the worse since it involves additional work. Let’s take everyone into account here and don’t forget about the guy who does the DKP who has a degree in science, mathematics, or engineering (or accounting). On a side note, power to YOU DKP guy! You deserve a raise or a beer for having to handle that kind of stress and responsibility. I salute you!

Negative punishment: Players who signup have first priority over loot (okay, so it punishes the guys who don’t sign up). The guys that don’t signup, even if they have more DKP, are forced to wait in line. Carnage utilizes this system well. I recall this precedent being set and followed twice while I’ve been with them so far.

Don’t ask about the psych terms. I learn better if I can apply these principles in real life (or virtual in this case). =)

Next question: What if I’m not sure if I can make the raid? Should I sign up anyway? I know I’ll be late, too!

Yes, sign up anyway. Leave a note explaining your circumstances. Maybe you might need to work overtime. But there is always an off chance that you can make it home in time for a raid. Maybe you live in LA and for some reason the freeway isn’t tied up with traffic or something (Hey, it’s possible!)

Addons and Scripts for Signups

Check out the following links. They just might provide the solution you need if you’re wondering what kind of sign up interface to use. I’ve used most of these at some point during my career. Personally, I favor web based signups because of convenience.

Web Based

phpRaider: This is Carnage’s interface of choice. Actually, we use a slightly dated version. But it still works.

Features (direct from the site)

  • Support for any number of classes, races, and class/race combinations.
  • Support for any MMORPG game.
  • Support for any number of attributes assigned to character profiles such as resistances, damage abilities, talents, and more!
  • Raids are arranged in an easy to view calendar format showing only pertinent information. When clicked, a detailed list of class signups and raid information become available.
  • Post announcements for your members to see.
  • Create any number of characters for each user profile.
  • Extensive permission settings allow you to customize who has access to what features of phpRaider.
  • Ability to signup for multiple raids and create recurring raids.
  • Completely free to use!
  • Much, much more…

Requirements

phpRaider requires a web server (IIS, Apache, etc), a MySQL database (4.0 or higher), PHP (4.0 or higher), and a minimal knowledge of software installation.

RaidNinja: This is an alternative to the above. I remember installing this months ago and I scrapped it for a certain reason. I can’t remember what exactly, but I do believe it was technical. It’s last update was on August 9th and is sitting on version 2.0. I think I might have to install this later on my server and see how well it is. Here’s a sample of what it looks like.

Addons

Guild Event Manager: Looks good in theory. It’s an in-game addon which allows players to signup without the hassles of having to make an account online and such. Events are made in game via a private channel with a password so only your members will have access to the schedules and such. The Guild Leader doesn’t need to be online for this to work. Don’t ask me how or why it works, but that’s the theory behind it.

I’ve never used this addon extensively. I tested it with other people to see if it could fit with our needs (HI JOSH). But, the trials didn’t last very long (partly because our Guild didn’t last very long). At the time, it was easy to use and had lots of features. Now I’ve read mixed reviews about it (mostly on the WoW forums) but the latest version came out on the 30th (2.27).

Group Calendar: Here is another promising addon which I have not had the opportunity to try out. Some of the latest updates include:

- Support for guild addon data channel
- Simplified setup and security
- New event types for doctor, dentist and vacation (doctor and dentist are not shared with the network)
- Notification for new events (minimap button and dates flash when they have new events)
- New tooltip for each date shows a summary of events for that day
- New tooltip for each event shows an attendance summary
- Events can now be created as ‘closed’ which won’t allow signups and players can only be added manually (or the event can be opened later)
- Reminders for events are given at 60, 30, 15, 5, and 1 minute before start time as well as at start time
- Calendar can be set to start the week on a Monday (use ‘/calendar mon’ command)
- Events can now be restricted to members of the your own guild in multi-guild alliances

- Players can now be manually added as ‘not attending’
- Minimap icon changes to an upcoming event one hour before the event starts
- Compatible with The Burning Crusade expansion

I really like that Doctor/Dentist feature. I don’t know why, it just stood out at me. Has anyone used this before? Your thoughts?

Anyway, the last alternative you have if none of these work out for you is to use your Guild Forums and get people to make posts saying they’ll be attending or not. It’s going to be tedious. If theres any other raid management solutions I’ve missed, please do let me know. I’m going to lay down the groundwork for a “Guild Website” series in the next upcoming days. It’s aimed at Guilds who want to establish an online presence but are unsure of as to how to do it.

AFK Excuses

Everyone has to go AFK at some point. It’s nearly impossible for most players to get up and stretch or walk around the house quickly or fix a drink during a five hour raid night. I have the kind of parents where I absolutely MUST eat dinner with them at the table and I have to step out of the raid for three minutes (six if its roast beef). No matter what the excuse is for going AFK, there is an art involved in it. Some people are best remembered for being awesome tanks. Some people are renowned for their Arena ability. The rest just have really darned memorable AFK excuses. I’ve said something that’ve made my Guildies blink twice and say what? Here’s my place to explain the story:

AFK BASEMENT FLOOD

I remember barking this one out a few months ago. My mom was telling me the basement was beginning to flood and my dad wasn’t home but he showed me how to cut the water in the event something like this happened. Thankfully, this was during a trash clear towards VR so my absence wasn’t notable nor significantly slowing down raid progress.

afk making rice

For some reason this one seems to draw a snicker. Doesn’t take that long to scoop out some rice, add water, and press a button *shrug*.

afk moving tv

I used this one last night. It was just after we took down Solarian. My Guildies were going… what? The story behind this one is that on Saturday, my Sony TV had some problems with it. There was power going into it but it seemed liked the cathode inside wasn’t displaying anything. There were no channels and the video 1/video 2 options weren’t appearing either. We thought that the TV suffered an internal combustion or something so we brought in a back up TV to replace the set and moved the Sony off the pedestal. So the next day, WHILE I’M RAIDING, my dad has the genius idea of plugging the Sony back into an outlet and turning it on again. Lo and behold, white noise ensues. Then he promptly asks me for help to switch the old set with the Sony. We’ve had the Sony for almost 15 years and I think it’s going to bite the dust. I just hope it lasts until Boxing Day.

%&#@ afk keyboard’s fried

I spilled beer on my keyboard. The game was going on a fritz. I was shooting off random spells and would constantly be in motion. I had to take a minute to switch out my Logitech with a $10 backup I had lying around. Times like this I’d be “oob” (out of beer). Take that as a lesson for all you aspiring WoW raiders out there. If anything can go wrong, it will. Always keep spare hardware on standby. You never know when you need an extra mouse, keyboard, or monitor.

Here’s some others that I’ve heard throughout my WoW career from other people

afk quick sex

Classic. I see this one happening all the time. Nine times out of ten it’s caused by people hitting the x key instead of the c. The other one time wasn’t a typo, apparently.

afk tornado

He did live in Kansas. In one of my past Guilds, if weather was going to be an issue an officer would have CNN turned or the weather page loaded and keyed it to the zip code of where that member was living.

afk smoke

I may not approve of it, but I understand some people having to light one up to calm their nerves down. But to light up one DURING a trash pull to Attumen, AFTER Attumen, and BEFORE Moroes within the time span of one hour? Give me a break!

afk gotta run to a store

A friend of mine used this almost all the time. It was always during an inopportune moment when we raided and he would be gone for thirty minutes at a time. COSTCO IS YOUR FRIEND!

brb wife aggro

This is another common one that has been floating around for a while. The game appeals widely to different players of all ages. It’s not weird to hear this one coming from various guys at some point during a raid because the wife would get pissed off at the player for playing too much WoW. C’mon guys! Need to farm that rep and get Exalted with the wife!

AFK wildfire

This one I heard happened a few weeks back. Good ol’ Socal.

The WoW Forums can be ever so entertaining. Check out these gems that I’ve found.

I was raiding with my guild, and suddenly 1 of the guys yells “Ill brb, someone threw a grenade inside my house!” seconds later we hear a boom, and then he goes afk. 2 minutes later he comes back “Stupid neighbours.. wont be throwing those again..”. There was silence for 7 minutes untill we got up to Hakkar. Funniest raid ever.

- Zakki, Darksorrow

Excuse.. plausible. But I must say, I would be rendered speechless if I heard that.

Actually, this one time my mate was in kara and I was watching.. He gets pissed and kind of throws his arms up in frustration; his wireless mouse flies across the room and goes through the open balcony door. Now the problem is, the balcony door has a safety “metal bar” door to keep out thiefs etc. since they live on the first floor. And the door is locked. He doesn’t have a key to it. So he spends 10-15 minutes trying to reach the mouse with 2 sticks etc. while I try to explain the situation to the raid. >.<

Mundus, Requiem

This is one of those freak accidents. I’m known for my temper. People in my Guild will testify that (Razer mouses are very resilient). I can’t say I’ve thrown my mouse out a window. By the way, this exact case is an excellent argument for why getting a wired mouse is better than a wireless.

I know there’s got to be some other excuses out there I haven’t heard of. Expect to see some more later on when I run into some from my Guildies or party members.

Matt’s Three Stars: Week Ending November 2, and some reader responses

Welfare Epics and Loot Envy: I saw

WoW Web Stats: Start here first. It’s a guide from Kirk regarding a tool that I have preached for a long time. I would argue it is better then any in game damage meter. Use it for your post raid analysis to help determine what went wrong. Once you’ve finished looking at that, refer to his post on using it for healing in raids. There isn’t much more for me to say as the rest has already been covered by the guy. Second star!

A blog post a day: The challenge has been issued. The battle lines have been drawn. A friend of mine from school informed me that November is National Novel Writing Month. Stephi has twisted the concept slightly and made it her goal to pump out 50000 words by the end of the month at a rate of ~1700 words per day. If I were not in school nor had other things to attend to (blogging, demon fragging, etc) I would gladly embrace this challenge. But as such, there is no way I can maintain that kind of a pace without something else in my life giving way. Next year, I will entertain the idea of participating in the novel writing month itself. The third star as well as good luck goes to Stephi!

I took two straight days off both on Friday and Saturday. Why? Because I’ve been busy chasing the dream of priests everywhere: to beat the living snot out of anything unholy. My Evoker is now level 19. I can’t imagine what life would be like had I rolled a different class. But my blog would definitely not be the way it is now.

I received a comment and an email that I wanted to respond to because it merited addressing on the main page.

Maladorous writes:

After reading this it seems your a priest that likes MP5. With 2.3 coming out and priest talent Meditation getting such a big boost what are you thoughts about spirit regeneration? Also the set bonus from the primal moon cloth set would put you at about 35% Regen while in the FSR. I think this is great and will put your Regen way up.

I drop my spell down as i get more +healing so that saves mana also so i get the +18 gems.

For the most part, I’ve refrained from commenting too much about 2.3 because what changes are can easily be reversed the next day rendering past thoughts on them irrelevant. I still think it’s too early to say. Spirit is definitely getting a huge boost. I’ll confess I don’t know the mathematics or the formulas behind it quite yet. Remember, as a Priest, we need to think situationally. It isn’t often that we are inactive for sessions longer than five seconds. If we are, then either we’re not doing our job or we have one hell of a tank. It’s also important to think long term and what it is you’ll be doing. In raid encounters, you NEED that mana per five. It’s a simple concept. Spells need mana. No mana means no heals which means the tank dies which means its game over. It’s not the size of the tank, it’s how fast the gas gets pumped into it. I didn’t spec Spirit of Redemption in my build (simply because I felt those seconds could best be used for running back into the instance). With the upcoming changes, I’ll need to take a closer look.

Bottom line: Nothing has changed. I still value MP5. Expect that to change as soon as more tests are done by my colleagues in that area. If there is empirical proof that Spirit is better then MP5, then I’ll make the necessary announcements.

Until then, keep hoarding Nightseyes. But if there’s cheap healing/spirit gems on your server, consider possibly investing in several and storing them in the bank. At worst, you can resell them back on the AH as their uncut selves. At best, you no longer need to worry about gems for a long time because you just committed grand theft jewelery on the AH. If you look up Talasite on WoW Econ and plot it for a 90-day chart, you’ll notice a spike in the price. I think that coincided with the time that patch 2.2 went live and Talasite was another option for arena players. Expect the price of Star of Elune to increase slightly. We may begin to see Purified Shadow Pearls in frequency as well. Guess those Naga’s have a use after all.

The above question is a great segue (did I spell that right?) into another question from another reader this time via email:

I’m a bit confused as to which is more important, my mana pool or my +healing. My guild (a social guild more than anything else) has just started raiding Kara, so we’re all barely geared enough for it. I have 1066 +healing and a mana pool of 9521. After looking at your gear list, I opted for Essence Focuser and the Nethering Spiritualist offhand, and am debating getting a +30 Int chant or Major healing on the mace. Some healer that’s supposed to be The Shit told an officer in my guild that my mana pool isn’t up to par, so that constructive (*cough*) criticism in mind, I’m hesitant about using the mace instead of Epoch Mender, since the Mender gives me +35 Int, I believe.

Your healing is a little low, but it meets the requirements. Your mana pool on the other hand is excellent. But there is one important question that you need to ask: How is my mana regeneration? Like I said in the previous post, it’s not the size of the mana pool that matters but how you use it. Encounters depend on your ability to heal. Your healability depends on how fast you get your mana. Sooner or later, cooldowns will catch up to you. Your Druid’s innervate will be burned. Your potions blown. Your Shaman’s Mana Tide deployed. Every trinket you have, used. At present, your MP5 is very low. I think that needs to be increased substantially (to at least 100+ while casting spells). Consider the 6 MP5 to chest, the application of the shoulder enchant, and the application of the head enchant. If you need to trade mana pool for mana regen, do it. Having 9.5k mana is a nice buffer in the opening stages, but you’ll burn out by the time you get down to 50% on Attumen. Remember to downrank your heals some to help alleviate the pressure.

I would also apply 81 healing to the mace. BUT, wait for a while first. The mats are expensive and you’ll want to use it on a weapon that will see action for a long time. See if you can farm the reputation for the Shatar and pick up the Gavel of Pure Light. Failing that, you can always roll the dice and attempt to pick up the Shard of the Virtuous from Maiden.

Good luck!

Remember, I’m only an email away. You can find it on the left pane of my blog (unlinked to scare off those pesky spam bots). Please, feel free to ask. If I can’t help you, I’ll direct you to someone who can.

One more topic of note for sunday. GMW’s post about speaking WoW in real life? That actually happened to me the other day. I was at school when one of my friend’s came up to me and asked what I had on the agenda for the next day:

Girl: Hows tomorrow look?
Me: Not much. No class until 230. Midterms are over. Papers are next week. Oh wait, I have a quest to do tomorrow.
Girl: *blink*
Me: What? Oh! Did I say quest? I mean quiz!
Girl: *sigh*

Ho hum.

The Ill-fated Group 2

Ah the Group 2 problem. What a sad and illustrious history it has. It generally consisting of B-List raiders who do not appear to be as active or as skilled as Group 1 (yet). Back in the day (when Kara was THEE instance to run), Group 2 was like the middle sibling in the Guild. They would always be overshadowed by the elder group. Every week, Group 1 would continue to link their swag in Guild chat. Eventually, it comes to a point where Group 2 (or the reject group) feels demoralized without the desire to raid any more because they feel they aren’t “good enough”.

Would it be accurate to say that the above experience happens to all Guilds? No. But I suspect that it happens to most casual raiding Guilds (the hardcore raiding Guilds don’t have such a problem since they advance through Kara at roughly the same pace).

From what I’ve seen in the past, Group 1 consisted of the most keenest raiders who shot to 70 within a week or two, spent another week gearing up their characters, and then straight dove into Kara while the rest of the Guild lagged behind a littl bit because they were unable to keep up with that pace.

How do I deal with it?

As a Guild leader, you have several options. At this stage of a Guild, Karazhan is now on farm. But the problem with Group 2 needs to be isolated. It could range from insufficient gear, bad players, bad raid leader, etc. Personally, I think the main problem is that the Group sets their expectations way too high and consequently feels bad when they fail to meet them. You need to reassure them that your Group 1 did go through the same problems. They went through the very same frustrations as Group 2 has done.

Shuffle Players

Take a few core players from Group 1 and insert them and see if there is a marked improvement. Maybe the tank isn’t able to sustain that kind of damage. Maybe your healer isn’t capable of healing said damage. Maybe the DPS isn’t delivering. Ideally, instead of one overpowered group and one underpowered group, you’ll now have two equally powered groups with roughly the same skill and power set. Obviously, you can’t expect Prince or Nightbane shutouts immediately. It’ll still take some time. Lower Karazhan needs to be farmed sufficiently before Upper Karazhan be negotiated with (I consider lower Kara as every boss up to and including Chess except for Nightbane, Netherspite, and Illhoof).

Problem with that then is that the Group 1 players will feel a little pressure and frustration. All the hard bosses that they have farmed with ease now present a significant challenge. Zero-day Kara runs are no longer a possibility (Runs that are done in under a day I term as zero-day since it usually requires zero effort). It requires a lot of patience on the part of everyone. If all the players just grind through it and stick with it, then crosshair on Gruul will come next.

Large announcement coming later in the evening… stay tuned