Advice on Blogging Safely Without Fear of a Gkick

I sensed a disturbance in the force. As if millions of unsatisfied WoW bloggers cried out in terror before being silenced.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as dramatic but I wanted to offer up some advice to both bloggers and guildmasters about guild stuff that gets blogged. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and I’d gladly share my experiences with those that are a little nervous about coming out to their guild that they’re a closet blogger.

So in this post, I want to expand on a few aspects of blogging about your guild.

  • What spawned this post
  • The guild master’s perspective on the blogger
  • The blogger’s perspective versus the guild
  • Why blogging is good for the application
  • The negative side effects
  • My personal limits
  • How to “out” yourself

A quick background

There was a question on Twitter asked a few nights ago regarding the revealing of your blog to your guild. It eventually turned into this post by anea. I responded that I had no problem with it and that I encouraged it. After a bit more reading and research, I came across a rather disappointing story of a blogger who got the boot over their blog Whoops, factual error. I misread. He didn’t actually get canned. He left of his own accord. Larisa detailed her own thoughts regarding the situation. The folks at Hots & Dots listed their stance on it too.

As a guild master

I go out of my way to remind the bloggers in my guild that they are free to write about whatever they wish, but have some tact. If it’s a problem with myself, a situation, conflicts, or policy issues, that it be brought up with myself or an officer first to see if it can be resolved. After that, they’re free to blog their experiences and what not free of reprisal. It’s not fair to me if I am told that there is no problem only to find out minutes later on their blog that they got treated poorly or had some really bad experience somewhere. It becomes even worse if it’s something that I could have fixed.

Again, I stress that I would never gkick anyone over their comments on their blog. I might be a little hurt but it comes with the territory. I’ll gladly remove players for attitude reasons or what not, but their blog is their territory. It is their personal haven for their thoughts. I don’t exactly pay these guys unless it’s in epics. I would never dream of with holding Holy Paladin loot for the Bossy Pally (especially now that she’s our only one).

Besides, have bloggers in your guild can be a positive thing. They’re ambassadors of your guild to the public and to potential applicants. Bloggers can offer an idea of what raiding or day-to-day guild life is like. This helps applicants reach a better conclusion on whether or not your guild is a good fit for them.

Note: I mentioned this in Anea’s post, but I am most likely the exception as opposed to the norm. Guild masters have take a variety of stances and perspectives when it comes to stuff like this. Some will embrace it and others will feel threatened by it. Not every person is willing to have guild business on the internet and will view it as a private and internal affair. I guess you could say I lead one of the rare few blogger-safe guilds in existence!

As a blogger

In previous guilds, I’ve been just a raider who blogged. So I definitely get that whole feeling of wariness and caution. But you know, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I knew I was a fairly decent Priest and that raiding guilds love Priests. If I was going to get booted for having a published opinion, then I didn’t want to be in that guild anyway.

The trick though is to write without being utterly spiteful. Don’t come out with guns blazing when you face a problem. Write about it with a sense of style. Write it calmly. Write your drama posts as you would an objective news reporter: The facts. Add your opinion, your feelings, your thoughts afterward.

My blog has always been my personal outlet when I was frustrated with different aspects, proud of various achievements, or if I simply wanted to get my thoughts organized somewhere.

It can also act as a thermometer.

When you notice your blog starts to have more negative posts about your guild, it’s time to re-evaluate the guild you’re in. In the past, I’ve read blog posts centered around dissatisfaction with certain policies or actions. Then I think to myself, “Man, that player and that guild certainly did not make a good fit”.

The story of the bossy pally and how she conquered

I’m going to pick on the bossy pally here just because I’m her GM.

Ophelie was not the first blogger to apply to the guild. A while ago, there was a hunter by the name of Amava who applied. You may remember that hunter blogger from a long time ago. But I knew the name, I knew the blog, and I already made up my mind to pick him up. I only skimmed his application. If memory serves, he actually did list his blog in it. Amava has since retired from blogging and is now a social and casual player.

Now the bossy pally on the other hand, did not. She merely mentioned that she had a blog without listing her URL. When I saw that, my eyes narrowed, my knuckles cracked, and my brain turned full tilt.

Here was a supposed blogger who applied without listing their URL.

First, the thought on my mind was that came up was “Why?”.

Why would anyone withhold their blog URL and from me of all people?

Maybe they’re shy. Maybe they’re a little intimidated that what content they have on their blog isn’t good enough. Are they embarrassed? But why be embarrassed? There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Unless you have a terrible blog layout with really bad eye gouging colors and the inability to type properly, I’ll definitely give applicants that chance.

But, I will absolutely deny an applicant if I find their blog aesthetically vomit worthy. Comic Sans MS?! Fuchsia (I hope I spelled that color right)?! Really obnoxious ads that obscure everything?! Not in Matt’s guild!

Regardless, I was determined to find her blog. I’ll walk you through what I was thinking.

How does showcasing your blog help your application?

  • Demonstrates your knowledge: I want to know what you know. If it’s about raiding? Great. Class knowledge and posts? Perfect. Even if your blog has nothing to do with the game, I’ll still hunt it down anyway because it offers me an insight into your personality. I have this theory that when it comes to writing, people unconsciously imprint a part of their soul or essence into their work. It offers a glimmer or a window into what makes that person who they are. Thankfully, when I saw her blog, I was satisfied with what I saw. Here was a person who was young and new to the world of blogging but had a solid grasp of their class. Her blog layout? Passed with flying colors.

How might showcasing your blog work against you?

  • Content censorship: I think this is something that bloggers wrestle with internally. There is a political aspect to this. “If I write about this, will the leadership get mad? If they get mad, does that jeopardize my status in the guild?” Bloggers, especially those new to the guild or who aren’t as “established” in their organization tend to be a little cautious. No one wants to piss off their boss intentionally. No one wants to screw up their raid spot or have that epic drop accidentally mislooted. As a result, you’re not quite as free as you think you are because you’re subconsciously trying to put up a positive image of not rocking the boat.

Writing about guildies and my limits

Unless my guildies already blog, I’ll never list them by name. It’s more of a protective measure. Every day, I get various tells and emails and such. Most are positive and some aren’t. The last thing I want to have happen is for that sort of publicity spillover to the rest of my guild when that flak is undeserved and unnecessary. I’m a little paranoid about it, I’ll admit. It might be unjustified even so.

All the same, it allows me to blog about certain… finer, humorous moments in the guild without opening them up for exposure. I would never shy away from writing about the positive outcomes. At the same time, while I may be reluctant to write about the negative experiences, I won’t be afraid to dish that out either. If someone in the guild epically failed and took 18.63 seconds to shake of the Pact of the Darkfallen on Blood Queen, I’ll write about it but withhold their name. The primary purpose of the blog has always been to teach and to get you readers to think. Readers can learn from my successes. But they can just as easily learn from my failures. As long as someone out there is getting some kind of value from what they’re reading, then our job here is done.

Be careful about the dirty laundry you decide to air. It could very well come back and bite you in the ass.

Again, you have to remember to be tactful about how you come across. This is the internet. It’s a little difficult to convey tone. Saying “You moron!” like House is vastly different saying “You moron!” in a playfully, teasing manner.

Various ways  to “out” yourself

  • Forum post: Create a simple forum post announcing your blog’s URL and what it’s about. Solicit some advice and feedback about what they like, didn’t like, and what they’d want to read more about.
  • Stealth: Insert it in your forum signature. See how long it takes for people to notice.
  • Announce in guild chat: Maybe log on late or early when there’s a few people around. Subtly leak it to the players that are online. Say that you’re working on a little WoW project.
  • Scavenger hunt: Just say that you have a blog. Leave no URL. Leave no clues. Leave no other indications. Make them work for it and lose sleep until they find it.

So how has Ophelie turned out so far? In about 2-3 months, she’s come a long way. When she was first in the guild, she had a tough time speaking at all or saying hi. Now she actually speaks and has even taken the initiative to lead a 10 man.

Lastly, I’m not saying you have to out yourself. That’s your personal move. You shouldn’t be afraid to though.

Let this be a warning! No applicant’s blog will ever be safe from the super blog stalker! Of course, you could just also not say anything and I wouldn’t have a clue (unless I recognized your name like I did with Amava’s).

Ugh, I’m losing my touch. I look at this post and it seems like I’m all over the place. I suppose that’s just blogger rust. The formatting looks weird! Where’s my coherency? Where’d my flow go? I’ve lost my blogging mojo! Sigh! But whatever, I want to get this post out.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. I mentioned my activity in the theory community of DK tanks, and specifically my blog, when applying for my new guild. I also agree others should do the same, and further that definitely a blog is not the first place one should write about guild disputes.

    Matt, don’t worry about the ‘rusty’ style; the message was still clear. 🙂
    .-= Gravity´s last blog ..Is threat fun? =-.

  2. “Stealth: Insert it in your forum signature. See how long it takes for people to notice.”

    *whistles innocently* It’s also a lot of fun doing that 😀

    Great article, I like how you covered all the points, and specifically mentioned how bloggers can be ambassadors for their guild. I think of it that way and it’s nice to think that blogging can help your guild, as well as being something for yourself personally.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Discipline in Icecrown Citadel =-.

  3. Just a small correction: Tam didn’t get the boot from his guild, he g-quit as he didn’t see any other solution to the drama he had gotten into. Apart from this: you’re dead wrong about one thing: your lack of blogging mojo. This was something of the best I’ve read from you in a long time.
    Cheer up!
    .-= Larísa´s last blog ..Will the theorycrafters get out of work? =-.

  4. I sometimes mention my blog to hunter applicants so that they can peruse my guides and improve upon gemming and such via their own reading, I also sneakily insert it into my signature!

    Either way, my guildies do tend to know I blog, and I don’t mind that because I’d rather not write about a situation and have people find it, read it, and take offence. I like to keep my blog a fun place, and a helpful place, I don’t even take the risk to write about events unless it’s something that is long past.
    .-= Jaedia´s last blog ..Wish Upon A Gnome 2 =-.

  5. It’s funny when Cass & I posted about our hesitations and self censorship I had been completely oblivious to both Tam & Larisa’s posts even though they are both on my reading list! It’s amazing how so many people can be thinking and musing about the same issues your facing – I really find it comforting.

    Cass & I are pretty lucky most of our guildies are ok with our blog and we’re probably harder on ourselves than we need to be. I did find it easier when I was just a raider though, becoming an officer has made it a much more fine line to walk!

    Cheers

    Lath

    PS – This is a good post, IMO sometimes the ones you feel are most scattered are filled with so much heart and personality it makes up for it 🙂
    .-= Lath´s last blog ..Too Many Cooks =-.

  6. My guild knows I blog (I even post our guild’s boss kill pics sometimes, recruit for them, etc). I just don’t use my blog as a place to complain about the guild, for the most part. I try to keep things positive. Some of them pop up in my blog’s comments from time to time, especially since I’m in a guild with so many druids! I use my blog for good instead of evil. 😉
    .-= Lissanna´s last blog ..Cataclysm Gear changes for druids =-.

  7. Lychordia says:

    Nice read. I have always wanted to start a wow blog. Not sure how/where. LOL. But at least it got me thinking about what my content would/would not be. Thanks for getting me thinking again!

  8. Blogging about guild? I don’t think I’ve ever done it nor plan to in the future. When you (meaning anyone out there, including myself) choose to write in view of public scrutiny, you MUST be willing to accept the consequences of what you write.

    Consequences are not punishments, what I mean is you must be ready for people to love you, hate you, talk good or bad about you. You must be willing to have your mother or priest look at what you write…because it’s out there to be seen by anybody who is living and breathing and knows how to use th internet.

    Writing does indeed imprint a part of your soul into their work, it’s unavoidable. It says more about you than you intend, but a writer must be ready to face whatever comes his/her way as a result of putting pen to paper, as it were.
    .-= Gronthe´s last blog ..Who Am I? =-.

  9. The good thing about being the GM and blogging (especially when you’re blog is about being a GM and guild life) is you don’t have to worry about getting the boot.
    😉

    With that said though, my guildies know I blog and I always tell them to take my posts as an organisation of my thoughts and personal feelings on a subject. If I mention someone’s character name in my post I ask them before hand if it is ok. If I am going to write something particularly controversial or possible flammatory about my guild I have a couple of officers read the draft beforehand to ensure that I didn’t post something in anger.

    I’m not the most tactful blogger out there – I know that’s one of my shortcomings – but I do know that I always let my intentions be known with those within my guild and close to me.
    .-= Napps´s last blog ..The 1 Hour Lower Spire Challenge =-.

  10. I think you’re certainly right about go to the leaders/officers/other party about drama before it’s aired on a blog.

    And you forgot one way to out yourself…
    OOH, I started a blog! Go see!

    That’s how I outed myself. Subtlety has never been my strong suit. That’s probably why my baby rogue is combat.

  11. My guild doesn’t know I have my blog. Actually I had my twitter first, and I was determined to keep that a secret. It was a struggle to decide to even link my character profile on twitter. Now I’m totally fine with it, and I think one or two of my wow friends know about my twitter… but I used to be pretty worried about connecting my twitter to my wow life.

    Of course, I’m not a regular blogger (although I am a very regular tweeter). I just don’t want anything I say online to come back to haunt me, although I try to be tactful – and the things I complain about are generally opinions shared by my friends in guild. Now, I think I would have no problem with my guild finding out.

    I don’t know… I wonder what will happen when they find out, though!

    The problem that I would have with my blog becoming common knowledge is… why does she think she has the right to write about anything? What makes her so knowledgable? I’m no officer, I’m not the main tank; I just put a lot of thought into things and like to write about them.

    I don’t know. It’s been on my mind. Maybe I should come clean with my guild and admit my blog to them 🙂
    .-= Anafielle´s last blog ..On Burnout and 10 Man Drama =-.

  12. You open up a deliciously mischevious opportunity Mr. Matticus. What would you do if stellar applicant decided to falsely claim they had a blog?

    You’d be churning away trying to discover their identity all the while chasing a phantom.

  13. This was a very good post. I just left my guild- not over my blog- but over other drama. I was able to blog about what happened, and it helped me get past it quickly. However, those two posts about it are now “private” so I can always remember why I left. LOL The good thing about it was I got a lot of emails and a few posts from people encouraging me to still write. Even messages from former guildies. That made my day. I think the blogosphere is filled with cathartic rants, observations and of course good info. But with everything, there are a bit of politics involved someway, somehow. Even if you are careful about how you spin something, someone will always find something wrong with it and turn it around. That’s too bad, but if it gets to the point where you are blogging about bad things that happen in guild- then maybe it’s time to move on anyway. I don’t know- just my opinion- and we know what they say about that, huh? 🙂
    .-= Exanna´s last blog ..I’m startin’ with the Man in the Middle… oh yeah… =-.

  14. Just a clarification, I *did* say that I would be willing to give out my URL if asked ;D

    As a new, shy blogger, I hadn’t quite found my voice yet and wasn’t familiar with the view from the inside of the community so I was pretty embarrassed going up to a big name blogger asking to join his guild! My main worry was that I’d be laughed at for my crappy writing skills.

    At the same time, my writing has a very personal tone and not every guild is ok with that. I also like to write about guild management, communication and interpersonal relationships. I figured that I should at least mention I had a blog, in case someone had a problem with the topics I covered. I didn’t want “you never told us about your blog and you’re an arrogant, know-it-all crazy person” to be held against me weeks later.

    My guess was that my blog was revealed via the Healer Webring thing (after all, I was the first paladin to answer so my weird character name was on the top of the list). I did get some “Rykga blog” search engine hits, but not until *after* I got a “nice blog” comment on the my guild application!

    And I have to say, now I’m really glad my guildies know about my blog. I love when they comment and I especially love when I’m greeted in game by guildies who have something to say about one of my posts. Being a very shy person, I’ve found that having a blog eases conversation quite a bit.
    .-= Ophelie´s last blog ..Shared Topic: How Will Cataclysm Change YOUR Game? =-.

    • @Ophelie: Me? Ask?

      Psh.

      That takes away the thrill of the hunt. Besides, there’s only room in the guild for one arrogant, know-it-all crazy person and that position’s already held ^^. Actually, all I did was google your name and your blog and I found it.

  15. I’ve got two guilds. One has a bunch of RL friends, who know about my blog. I even made a forum post telling people to go visit my blog and leave comments so I felt loved 😛

    My other guild, where I don’t know anyone in RL, does not know about my blog. It’s not that I’m hiding it, I just haven’t mentioned it. I don’t blog negative things about the guild or anything, I think not telling anyone is just me being shy.
    .-= Jasyla´s last blog ..User Interface Part 1 – General UI Info =-.

  16. Personally I never write anything that I’m not willing to say to someone’s face or in public. Obviously the medium of writing can mean humour and euphemism are often mis-interpretted but, still, I think it’s a good motto. If you rant about people or talk negatively about them on a blog (or anywhere), expect to deal with the repercussions.
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..EVE Online In The BBC News =-.

  17. I think you gave some very sound advice, and it didn’t seem all over the place to me. It’s funny, but somehow saying that yours may be one of the few “blogging safe” guilds makes me think your guild would be a pretty cool place to be.

    What happened to Tam was very unfortunate, and in ways, quite similar to people who have lost actual employment because they kept a blog. Full-disclosure seems like the best policy. My guild knows about my blog, because they urged me to start it. Ophelie’s right, having someone in guild remark about something you wrote or otherwise give cues that they’ve been reading is a nice feeling. If other guildies decided to keep blogs I’d be thrilled!
    .-= Vidyala´s last blog ..Score one for Scruffy. =-.

  18. When I started blogging, I was sure instances were going to come up where I wanted to talk about very specific things going on in my guild but wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it. In less than a week, one of the most potentially touchy subjects that I could ever imagine occurring occurred.

    My immediate reaction was to make a post about it, not to point and laugh or call anyone out or anything like that. More just to demonstrate some of the crazy things that someone might experience when they end up in a guild officer role.

    I ended up sitting on it for a couple days because I wasn’t sure the exact right way to handle a post like that. Like I said…it was touchy. Ultimately I changed names, left out the vast majority of the details, and any semblance of opinion.

    It also helped that I had about 2 readers at the time. But yeah. Goes to show.
    .-= Saniel´s last blog ..New PTR build = Feral wags =-.

  19. My dormant blog was best when I was talking about being a guild master. My best blog posts were about leading guilds, but I don’t think I could have written what I wrote had I told the people in my guild that I was doing it.

    I mean, there are problems where talking to the parties in question does not help. When someone’s in-game goal is to become an officer, and they’d simply be bad at it. When you have a quality person who you can center a guild on, except that they have one friend who causes Mount Drama to erupt every holiday season. My leadership posts were for other people trying to muddle through these leadership problems. They weren’t for the people who caused the problems.

    In short, I feel that there’s no responsibility to be public. Privacy can be maintained. Just be careful with technical details, scrub the names and personal details, and don’t tell anyone that you blog.

    Anyway, nice to see that you’re still doing great stuff here Matticus. 🙂

  20. There’s always something to be said about tact. Rant blogs, while often entertaining, serve no real function. It’s better to cool down a little, I think, and form a real argument so discussion can come from it instead of “OMG MY GUILD SUX. THEY NEED TO DIE IN A FIRE.” That’s not constructive, nor is it really entertaining.
    .-= Professor Beej´s last blog ..I Am A Resolute Failure =-.

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