Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen?

watchmen

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

I realize not many readers understand Latin. It basically translates to “Who guards the guards themselves?”.

During one of my earlier years in university, we studied up a bit on Plato’s The Republic (ethics and government stuff). Who protects the people against the protectors? Plato responds by saying they have to guard themselves against themselves. Ideally your officers are going to be just individuals who won’t become greedy or evil.

Your officers

In a majority of cases, your officers are simply normal people who have invested their time (and perhaps money) to handle guild tech or infrastructure. They’re busy tackling things that no one wants to deal with like personnel, scheduling, and what raid operations to carry out. Policy has to be continually updated. Loot has to be awarded and DKP systems have to be managed.

To be frank, the officers are the overseers of the guild and possess the power along with the responsibility.

The level headed ones have no desire to go all political. They’re leaders of a loose organization of gamers, not the mafia. There’s no backroom deals going on. With luck, there is no maneuvering or behind-the-scenes backstabbing.

Red alert!

Now something has happened. Maybe one of your leaders committed some kind of grievous offense. You, Joe raider, happen to take exception. You don’t agree with whatever they did. Maybe they completely screwed over a pug in loot. Or they might have completely dished it out to a raider one day who was undeserving. The reasons could number beyond infinity.

In any case, whatever the reason, you’re upset enough to the point where you want to do something about it.

Your options

Now here’s a list of things you can do and what might possibly happen if you go down these roads.

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. When I was just a grunt, I preferred taking the direct route and telling officers personally that I thought they did something wrong. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it? The guild my alt is in has a raid leader who randomly calls people morons. I get called it myself once in a while because I can be a touch slow getting out of fires periodically. I don’t take it personally because I simply don’t care enough (It’s my alt’s guild for one).
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.
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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. A good article thanks for posting it 🙂 I agree with the fact that a lot of people in WoW seem content to just sit back and ignore things that happen. In some cases when someone does speak out or defend they can find themselves becoming disliked by the do-nothing-people. I’m also happy to see you made the point that not all guilds are suitable for everyone, it does seem sometimes that people don’t realise this or expect a guild to change for them. Recently in my guild we had a whole todo about raid days just because a handful of people didn’t want to raid 5 days a week.. well that’s great for them but why should an entire guild change because of them?
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..A few Updates =-.

  2. IMO…My biggest complaint about WoW guild stuff is that one person (the GM) has all the power and no real checks. How many times have we heard of a GM ninja the bank and/or boot everyone?

    • @Wylson: Yeah that’s a worse case scenario because there is nothing that can be done about it. Only thing that can be d one is to simply up and leave.

  3. My complaint is I can’t find enough dedicated, active people to be officers- it seems like my server (kael’thas) is full of sheep- wtb some sheepherders

  4. I pretty much agree with this assessment. Whoever is walking around with the guild tag ultimately has the authority and single-handed authority to promote/demote/gkick anyone in the guild and there’s just not much you can do about that.

    However, talking to your officer’s about your problems can solve a lot more problems than you think. I was surprised when I was GM’ing my last guild at how many times I had to track down members and go “spill it” to get a good idea about they felt about policies and procedures.

    Chances are — your GM and officers care about keeping you in the guild. They cannot always affect change that will help immediately (loot’s already distributed, some guy already left the guild for the same reasons, etc.) However, if they’re not willing to explain their decision making to your satisfaction of meet your standards for whatever reason, it’s probably not the guild for you.
    .-= Windsoar´s last blog ..Attack of the Loot Drama Queen =-.

  5. In my mind you left out an option.

    I personally would do it after talking too the officers and GM. (i have done it in my guild actually).

    U can make a post on the guild website. Do it with respect but make your point. It serves for 2 things. 1 it lets u speak your mind, wich is enough in most casses, u have made your point and u dont have too agree on everything. 2 there is a change people agree with u, and u actually change things.

  6. I’ve recently dealt with something similar. My issues weren’t so much being “wronged” by an officer or GL but more with a lack of leadership and responsibility. They were factors in my fading desire to play the game. It’s a bad scenario that a lot of players find themselves in. I think it’s important to interview a prospective guild as much as a guild should interview it’s prospective players. By interview I mean to get to know eachother in a “pledge” sort of stage. Take some time without commitment to learn about the guild, it’s policies, and it’s leadership. Make sure that the guild and the player are a good fit for eachother when it comes to their goals.

    I find that a lot of guilds do not have a solid direction. Thus their officers aren’t truly leaders because there is nothing to lead people towards.. no goal. I think it’s very common to find a guild that is actively recruiting members for the sake of recruiting members by spamming ads that claim active raiding and other things such as help with leveling. So, often they end up with people expecting one thing and getting another. If you want to raid, then be goal orientated for those raids. If you wish to be social and raid socially, be prepared to deal with the issues that arise from casual leadership in a raid environment.

    That said, I think there should always be a “Warming Up” phase as well as a “Cooldown Phase”. Allow yourself to get to know the guild or player without an attachment. Be this grouping with them in instance runs or raids to see how they mesh before becoming a full member or inviting them to the guild on a probationary or pledge level and explain that this is part of a getting to know eachother period. As for the cooldown phase, use it well. Take time when you find things that bother you to think about them before acting upon them. Analyze the situation and ask yourself if the issue is perception (your feelings) or reallity, a specific wrong event or action. Most often it’s perception, you feel bad or wronged or you simply dislike someone or something that has happened based on your personal set of values. Now, take the time to think of the other guild members feelings on the action, if they don’t have the same strong feelings you do, odds are it’s a matter of perception or you made a poor choice in guilds or members. Then, after thinking about it during a cooldown phase decide your course of action. A good example would be the work environment and e-mails. We are not always happy with what happens in the work environment and sometimes we find ourselves wanting to say or do something about it without really thinking it over. we type up an e-mail in the heat of anger or frustration and click send. Take some time and re-read your e-mail, walk away for awhile and have a cup of coffee, take a walk and think about and do other things. Then, come back and read the e-mail.. odds are you will modify it or simply never send it. Perception

  7. I really believe a monthly meeting just like an all ops meeting at work can do a guild wonders. One of my biggest problems in my current guild is the lack of communication about what is going on. The channels and ability to do the communication is there simply unused. I like open forums to hash it out and be done with it.

  8. My question now is why can’t Blizzard do something about the “worst case scenario?” I would like to see a system where Blizzard would let you have multiple accounts at the max rank. Perhaps it would take all of them at the max rank to disband or perform certain actions.

    Anyway, I definately agree with coming to talk to your officers. If you really don’t feel comfortable doing that, then do you really want to spend hours a week with these people.

    Another strategy that might work for some casual guilds is what my guild (Fates Legacy on Aggramar) calls a “membership driven” format. We don’t have designated raid or class leads. Our officers exist mostly for our amuzement. If you want progression, you step up, send out the invites, and lead the raid. If you want casual fun stuff, same deal. If you lead well, people attend your events. It is not a structure, or more accurately lack of structure, that works for everyone and I’m still adjusting. That being said, we kill bosses occasionally and I have fun. I think this format really encourages people to talk to their raid leads directly about issues and it also gives people an outlet when they don’t like something (ie…Run your raid how you want to).

    I guess it all comes down to the golden rule, “not every guild is right for everyone.”

  9. In many of the guilds I was in, I found that the real problems occurred between the officers themselves rather than any of the members. Power corrupts and all that I guess.

    I found the best wayt to deal with it was to just call a meeting and chat it all over. Usually helps if you can do it through Vent or Teamspeak too and not via typing as it’s more personal.
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Why Is Raiding The End Game Of MMORPGs? =-.

  10. I think one more suggestion is for members to look at each side of the issue, as well. Members will sometimes be the ones in the wrong, not the officer or GM. So when an officer argues against their points and shows them they’re wrong, they need to take a step back and not take it personally.

    Though I guess that’s the same as “change your reaction.” Just a different example.

    .-= Lume´s last blog ..Rejuvenation, part 2 =-.

  11. Just a thought regarding speaking either to the officer in question or to the GM. If this is the first time you’re raising the issue, talk to them, make your case for why you thought it wasn’t cool and then drop it – don’t let yourself be drawn into a heated debate.

    You’d be surprised how often people initially respond to criticism by getting defensive, but then when the moment has passed and they no longer feel under attack, take things on board in their own time and actually change their behaviour.

  12. Agree with We Fly Spitfires here: The real dramaz ™ tend to come from the group that is supposed to prevent it.

    It might not be that power corrupt, but officers tend to be the ones that have opinions about the guild and how its run in the first place – and just cause you have the same rank in a guild doesn’t mean you see eye to eye on how to solve things.

    After weeks of intense discussion on a officer forum about DKP, alts, raidinggoals, recruitmentneeds or any of the other stuff decent officers try to stay on top of – some are bound to go head to head at times.

    Sadly, the only one with real power to stop it then is the GM…

    @Matt

    Thanks for putting this one in:
    “Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much?”

    When members or trialists of a guild screw up its almost expected. When an officer screw up – its power abuse. The more people keep in mind that officers are just players who are willing to put in that little extra, the less conflict or focus on the power aspect will be there.
    .-= Kristine´s last blog ..Industrial Gaming: Making money from games by not using them as games =-.

  13. @Danzell

    Putting up a public post on the guild forum is exactly what we discourage in our guild. More often than not it has led to unnecessary drama instead of a constructive debate.

    In my opinion the best course of action still is to talk it over privately with one of your officers. Sadly, I have to agree with Windsoar on that one: if you don’t track down and question the members yourself, you hardly get any responses.

  14. I also think whispering to the officer in question is normally a very good way, posting on forums is generally bad because it breeds more comments and slanderings etc.

    In my guild we have various officers (I am one) – and we DO make mistakes at times, but try to talk things out, explain why we got something wrong, change rules if needed.

    We’re a guild with many in their late 20s, and quite a few in their 30s or older – we’re all busy with jobs, families etc – and sometime do things without checking with everyone else etc – but we basically trust and like each other and are always ready to try fixing errors and listening to complaints.

    But please leave forums out, or just post a neutral short questions like “why did officer X do Y on day Z?”

    Try the “offending” officer first, and maybe the GM if you’re not happy with the answer you get. And consider sometimes you may see offences where there is only a slight mistake or an attention slip.

  15. Thats a good post and one that many members and officers could do with taking note of.

    A while back in my guild we had a little spate of people leaving. They left over loot and raid slots. Basically, they didn’t like it when other people got something they wanted. Each time they tried to place the blame elsewhere (on the officers). Thats why the ‘change your mind’ option is so important. Perhaps it should be more ‘open your mind’.

    Yes I know you want those shoulders. But so do all the other people. And they have just as much right to them as you do. If there are lots people in a guild, then all have to be considered. You the individual are just one of them and while it would be great to give everyone everything they want, thats not possible. I think thats the cause of a lot of game drama that I have seen. And possibly my biggest reason for stopping being an officer.

    Another option then – try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Be it the officers, or your fellow players.
    .-= Morrighan´s last blog ..Standing down as an officer =-.

  16. One of the hardest decisions people face while in MMOs is how to deal with disagreements they may have with an officer or other player in the guild. The most important thing is to not overreact and always give yourself time to cooldown and think through situations.

    Most of the time officers aren’t out to get anyone and they have the best interest of the guild at heart. But they have a thankless job. Generally any decisions made especially those involving guild policy, loot, or raid positions is going to make one person or more people happy while at the same time making one or more people angry.

    When any type of major issue comes up it is very important that everyone acts rational and professional and not let it become a negative cloud over the guild. If not then the atmosphere becomes poison, the game becomes less fun and people will either quit the game or guild all together.

    If you are a guild leader, make sure you educate your officers how to handle disputes and try to have as much of your policy in writing as possible.
    .-= Verile´s last blog ..UI Addons 1 of 3 =-.

  17. I am consistently a squeaky wheel, so I would highly recommend going to both the officer and GM first. Don’t talk to other guild members about your problems, or you’re just asking for unnecessary drama. Not every piece of dirty laundry has to be aired, but good communication between officers and members is key to keeping things running smoothly and troubleshooting difficulties behind closed doors, as it were.
    .-= Professor Beej´s last blog ..The Strong, The Weak, and The In-Between: Fall 2009’s TV Premiere Episodes =-.

Trackbacks

  1. […] of leadership is motivation, and that doesn’t start and stop with your members.  Your officers need back-up, direction, vision and support on a regular basis.  The only thing that changes is your […]

  2. […] Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen? – I detail my thoughts down on officers and who or what keeps them in check from abusing their powers. […]

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