The Burden of Leadership, Lodur bares his thoughts

There are a lot of folks out there that think being in charge, or in a leadership role, of a guild is a big fun thing. You get to set permissions, invite, kick and all that other cool stuff! Truth is, at least for me, it’s another job. Being in charge means that, like at every other job, you are responsible for those beneath you and how they perform. On top of that you become involved in the day to day running of something larger than yourself. This is especially true if you are among the leadership of a raiding guild.

After leaving Unpossible after 5 long years, I had put the officer mantle in the laundry bin to be cleaned pressed and put under glass. Circumstances did not allow me to leave the mantle alone for long, and I find myself in a leadership role again. Over the last two tiers I’ve had a lot on my plate between being in game, my podcast For The Lore, still consistently writing for WoW Insider, and also writing a novel that I’m submitting for publication consideration in the following weeks. On top of various other personal things, it’s been a hell of a long year and I find myself with an over abundance of ideas on the topic of leadership in a raiding guild. So, bear with me here, because I’m about to dump my thoughts a little.

The burden
The wear and tear
The hard choices

Truthfully it wears on you over time. You have to make a lot of hard decisions that are not always easy, and certainly aren’t popular with everyone. Lets take on the topic of friendship in real life, and raiding in game. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s something that keeps rearing it’s ugly head over and over again. Being someone’s friend does not make you immune from being included in those hard choices a competitive raiding guild faces. This includes officers and the rank-and-file of the raid team. Sometimes,  you have to look at someone’s performance, and if found wanting must bench them or otherwise remove them from a fight or raid, until performance can be fixed. It’s for the good of the entire team, and the progression of the raid, and ultimately if that’s your goal that’s what matters most. Don’t take it personally, it’s not a slight against you as a person, it’s just that the numbers aren’t where they need to be. I’ll use myself as an example here.

Firelands was not very kind to restoration shaman. The fights were ones that didn’t let us take advantage of our strengths and as a result other healers tended to do better than us. In our raid team, there were many fights where I would sit myself for the other healers because they were that good and the numbers worked out better. I did the same thing with the second restoration shaman in our group. Do I think I’m a crappy healer? Do I think the other restoration shaman just sucks? No, I don’t, it was just better numbers to configure our raid healers a different way to optimize success.

When you have to bench someone who is a friend of yours, especially in real life, sometimes it’s hard for that person not to be upset by it. I understand that, I get that, but it’s not personal. It’s not that they aren’t your friend, or that you suck at the game, it’s just that things needed to be done a different way. It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometime’s it’s the necessary one You have to separate the leader from the friend when those decisions are handed down the same way you would if your friend was your boss at your 9-5 job. It’s not easy, but it is what it is.

A sellers market
Make your own choices
Evaluate your position

There’s a saying that “it’s my game time and I’ll play how I want to play.” That’s all good and true, I mean you are paying to play the game. Consider, however, that you might not be in the best place to play the game the way you want to. A progression raiding group is going to be looking for a pretty solid set of criteria.  These include, but are not limited to the following

  • Are you willing to change your spec, gearing, chants and reforging to a more optimal setup?
  • Are you willing to play a spec you don’t normally play?
  • Are you willing to be benched if it’s for the good of the team?
  • Are you open to criticism about your performance and information to help attempt to improve your output?

If you answer no to any of these, then you should probably not try to get into a progression raiding guild. If you don’t want to budge on how you play your game it’s just not the right environment for you. Blizzard has made a big deal out of “bring the player, not the class, or spec or cooldown” etc. For the most part that’s true, but when you’re edging into hard mode encounters, or sometimes just a normal encounter in itself, and you want to get through it quickly and efficiently, then it simply isn’t always the case. See above where I benched myself for the good of the raid on a fight. No matter what, there’s always going to be an optimal setup. Whether it’s a raid full of paladins, or nothing but druid healers in a group, there will always be a tweak. Can you do the fights without the optimal group? Sure, but it becomes harder and harder as you progress through content. Sounds counter intuitive, but I assure you it’s true.

Another truth here is that right now it’s a sellers market. What do I mean by that? Cataclysm has royally screwed recruitment over pretty badly. Finding new members to add to your guild  can be a pain and prove rather difficult, especially when you’ve something specific in mind. It’s not that “beggars can’t be choosers” or anything of that nature, but a progression raiding guild might not be keen on accepting that applicant in normal Cataclysm blues and can’t spell their own name when the group is trying to kill heroic Deathwing. There’s a guild for everyone out there, and you need just look if you want to play a particular way that you aren’t allowed to where you are.

LFR
Doing what it takes
Better for the guild as a whole

This is something of a recent development, and something that irked me a little bit. A lot of guilds out there do LFR weekly as a group in order to obtain set bonuses for raiders, gear up new recruits and sometimes just to get a feel for the fight. It makes sense really, it’s an easy way to gear up and see the fights, and still have a bit of a safety net. Hell, my guild even did it for a few weeks to get some set bonuses in action. As a group we were going to go in, and just pound out the 8 bosses on LFR and then go back and do normal raiding. With the raid as geared as it was, LFR should have been easy and would do nothing but help everyone.

What got me about it was that some folks just simply said no and refused to participate in the LFR runs, even if it would help them and the raid as a group. I understand having a preference, I myself am not a huge fan of LFR any longer, but even I showed up for those runs because it allowed people to gear up, see fights and did nothing but raise the entire guild higher and help with normal raiding. What got me was that those same people wanted priority on invites to the normal raid, and expected to get the normal equivalent gear. When neither happened, they complained.

Not going to say someone should be forced into doing something they don’t want to do, but the way it was handled was bad. Immaturely logging out, refusal to listen to reason, and claiming that there wasn’t anything in it for them so they wouldn’t do it. Even when it was needed most, refusing to help the guild by tagging along. Like above, you have to be willing to give a little, especially in a group who wants to accomplish progression raiding. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you don’t want to do to help the group. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re in the wrong place.

In the end

This is what’s been on my mind for two tiers now. Working out ways to do what needs to be done, and convey that the decisions aren’t personal, that the raid group as a whole is a larger organism thriving on everyone in the group working to the same means. It’s hard sometimes. It’s frustrating, and borderline infuriating some nights. But, it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s the officers who bear an incredible amount of burden. Now, I’m not quitting or burning out mind you, just needed to gather my thoughts and get them out “on paper” so to speak. I appreciate my raiders and the ones that not only give me their all but also do more than that. The ones that send me funny tells in raid to keep me laughing or just making sure we’re progressing, I appreciate their actions and what they do for us the officer corp, and for the raid group as a whole.  Sorry for the brain-dump folks, but hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the skull of ol’ Lodur here.

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

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Where do all the officers and leaders come from? I mean, they all started somewhere right? As people become leaders the workload shifts and changes for them. The community over at PlusHeal has an entire section devoted to leadership. Tools of the trade, tips and tricks, and most importantly in my opinion how to make the transition from raider to officer or healing lead. Today I’ll talk a bit about making the transition and some of the obstacles you will face as well as share some of my personal experiences with you.

A little background, I spent most of my time in Vanilla WoW and in Burning Crusade as a raider switching from DPS to Healing when Burning Crusade came out. Partway through Burning Crusade our Heal Lead and Raid Officer left the game. In his absence I was asked to take over Heal Lead and shortly thereafter was awarded the rank of officer in his place. It wasn’t expected and I had to make the transition quickly. We finished out Burning Crusade and then headed off to Northrend to go say hi to Arthas. Here’s some things that changed.

Addons

One of the first things most people tackle is the list of addons they run. After being put in charge of healers or a raid you’ll find yourself having to monitor a lot more things. It’s imperative you sit down and decide what information you need readily available to you at all times. Here’s some addons I found useful when I first started out

  • BigBrother – Like Orwell’s 1984, this see’s all and then reports it to you or the raid. This mod lets you check for buffs like flasks and other consumables as well as lets you know when CC like Shackle or sheep has been broken and by who. This is a great tool to make sure you’re raiders are using their consumables.
  • RaidCooldowns – This addon allows for you to track all the abilities with cooldowns in a raid. This will display battle rezes, innervates, Divine Hymn, Lay on Hands etc. For a complete list click the link and visit the site. Some trackable abilities like a Shaman’s Reincarnation require members of the raid to be running oRA2, CTRA, or RaidCooldowns itself  in order to display properly, however if you’re in a raiding guild, chances are your team will already have one of those.
  • CastMonitor – This lets you place a movable list of players that you can then monitor their target, as well what spell they are casting. This is great when you want to double check your healers are on the right targets or doing what they are supposed to.
  • Cellular – In your new position you’re going to be getting a lot of tells, no two ways about it. People will be confirming assigments or just checking to make sure they did ok. Cellular (or any similar mod) lets you keep them like AIM message windows and they stay nice and tidy. Helps make sure you don’t miss any important tells.

My UI is constantly changing. I’m removing and adding items frequently to find a mix that will give me all the information I need in a pretty package. Find what works for you to give you what you need.

Knowledge

I’m going to focus more on the healing aspect of it here, but the ideas stay the same for all of a raid. You are now responsible for the instruction and care of a team.You’re not going to have eight of the same class with the same spec (if you do please let me know I’d be curious at that one). Take time to familiarize yourself with the various healer classes and specs in your raid. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Specs present in your heal team and take the time to learn the encounters your team will be facing. Learn the mindset of your healers and don’t be afraid to ask them questions., after all they should have a commanding knowledge of their class. You’re in a position where you need to know whats going on and need to tell people to do. Knowing your healers mindset and asking for their input goes a long way. I make it a point to encourage my heal team to offer constructive ideas when things go wrong or are not working as well as they could be.

There are several threads over at PlusHeal that deal with how to assign people, who is better suited for what and more of the ins and outs of the various specs. My suggestion, spend time on forums like PlusHeal and see what you can learn. There is a plethora of information available to help you fill in your knowledge gaps from various strategy sites and different forums all over the internet.

Communication

This is something that I thought was the easiest part of the transition. You are a central point of communication for your raid. If you are Heal Lead, all of those healers report to you and you in turn report to the raid leader. It’s important to have ways to get information to everyone that needs to have it quickly and efficiently. For healers having a dedicated healing chat channel helps. In the same vein, class or role specific chat channels are a good idea. My guild has one channel for every class as well as one dedicated to healers and one for tanks. This allows us to easily hand out information and gives collective spots to have questions asked and answered. As a heal lead you’ll want to sit in the tank channel too. This lets you know who is going to be eating what hits and allows you to quickly and effectively assign healers for maximum effect. You are the communications hub, keep that in mind.

Sometimes raiders need to call in sick so to speak, or they’ll need information that isn’t readily available on the forums and needs an immediate reply. For this reason I have my contact information posted on the guild website. This includes my email address, AIM (msn, icq and yahoo as well),  and phone number. I’ve had several instances where I’ve been thanked by raiders for being so accessible. As another rule of thumb I have an open door policy. Anyone can come to me at anytime for anything and I’ll do what I can to help, and if I can’t I’ll do my best to find what they need or point them in the right direction.

Finding a Balance

This to me is the hardest thing a new heal lead or officer needs to do. You have to keep in mind that this is a social game. You have been dealing with at least two dozen other people for a long time and have more then likely made a few friends. When you get elevated to a position of authority sometimes it’s hard to find the line between what a friend would do and what an officer would do. In the same vein it’s often hard for people to distinguish that when looking at you. They have to understand your dual roles. Keep in mind that you are in a position of authority. You have a responsibility now to keep things moving and working at a good pace. Sometimes you will have to put friendship aside and tell a person no, but at the same time you don’t want to be so much of a jerk that no one likes you. You have two distinct roles, a friend and a leader. Let me give you an example of what I mean by finding a balance.

In BC when we were still clearing Mt. Hyjal, I was new to being a heal lead and officer. I was fairly quiet in vent aside from the friendly jibes and conversation, and I had a little less authority in my assigning of healers. Plainly put I was too nice. This came to a head when we were wiping on Archimonde. I kept seeing the same 4 people standing in the fire. After a night of wipes that had followed a week of wipes, I finally dropped a set so to speak and piped up on vent. I was assertive and authoritative in my tone. I thought I edged past normal limits and into jerk territory when everyone on vent was deathly silent. The statement was something like this

“Really? Seriously? You’re still standing in the fire? Come one people! Turn! Move! Stop whatever you are doing and move. Don’t finish your cast, don’t try to get one more instant off just turn on your heels and run. It’s not rocket science just do it. That’s all this fight is. Move. Out. Of. The. Damn. Fire.”

Next attempt saw a 25% improvement in dps on the boss (from 49% to 24% boss health) then we called it for the night. We came back and stomped him into the ground the following attempts. I received a lot of thank you tells that night. I still thought I stepped out of line. More recently I had a raiding healer whose spec was brought to our attention as not being ideal. It was missing key features we needed from that class. I was real life friends with this person for many years. The guild leader and the Class leader approached him about it before I was out of work, and he was quite upset. He turned to me on AIM and I told him I’d talk to them and see what’s up. After a lengthy discussion I agreed something needed to change. I informed the raider that yes, it would be appreciated if he respeced as the raid needed the particular talents he was missing. As a friend he expected me to back his position fully, but as a healing lead and officer I had to agree with what was better for the raid and for progression. Notice the word “was” I used when referring to my friend? He was unable to see that I had two roles and has decided that speaking to me in a non official capacity isn’t to his liking any longer. He still gets the job done and responds well to assignments, but holds a bit of a grudge. It’s very difficult to find that balance of being someone’s friend while still being an authority, its something we all constantly have to recalibrate.

How about you? Any tips for new leaders you’d like to share? Any stories about your own rise to being a leader?

That’s it for now. Until next time, happy healing!

sig

Image Courtesy of su.wustl.edu

Build Your Own Guild Part 10: Making Changes

Build Your Own Guild Part 10: Making Changes

New guilds tend to start out in an idealistic mode. Guild masters and officers alike make ambitious plans–possibly including world and server domination–and they put in the kind of policies that they believe will get them to their goal.

However, sometimes plans go awry. In my experience, guild rules fail for two primary reasons.

1. Rules Have Unforeseen Consequences.

Despite the officers’ and guild master’s good intentions, new policies sometimes have unintended effects. A clause that was meant to help and support potential members may end up alienating them. Collateral Damage has make several mistakes in policy over the past few months, and it was always with the best intentions. To offer one very recent example, at the outset of our planning sessions for Wrath, CD’s officers talked about putting in a Raider Status. At the current moment, we don’t have a guild rank that corresponds to raid eligibility. While we thought it might be a good thing for organizing purposes, as it would let both infrequent and regular players know clearly how often they might expect to raid, our members did not. Most players were vehemently against having any kind of rank associated with raiding, and so this policy never made it to live, if you will. The reason? The mere suggestion of a special designation for raiders felt divisive to our members. Ironically, the very players who would exceed the standard we put forth were the ones who argued most passionately against it. The label “raider” was unwelcome, and as such, we’ve jettisoned it entirely.

2. The Guild Identity Evolves.

Guilds are organic entities, and they do not remain static for long. Part of the reason for this has to do with personnel. In the virtual environment, turnover is high, and the identity of a virtual organization depends heavily on the personality of its members. In addition, the guild’s successes or failures can determine its direction. In Collateral Damage’s case, we progressed farther and more quickly than we thought we would, and as a result, we became a more hardcore guild than our original design envisioned. Gradual change can also alter power structures. Guilds that start with lofty goals and a strict hierarchy may find that, over time, they can loosen up. What starts out as a totalitarian state led by a benevolent philosopher-king may end as an association of friends and equals. It is my belief that healthy guilds shift towards this model over time as they develop trust among members. In the case of gradual institutional change, you may find that the initial policies you wrote may have very little correspondence to guild reality.

How Can I Change Things?

When something isn’t working, it tends to be pretty clear. You will hear little grumbles here and there. This is normal for a guild, as QQ is eternal, but pay attention when you start to hear the same thing from many different parties. When that happens, make a new item on your officer meeting agenda and do something about it. If a policy is bad, get rid of it as soon as you can. Sure, you’ll look inconsistent to your members, but in the end, no one wins a prize for persisting with a bad strategy. However, in order to set your organization up to be able to change with the times, or with your better judgment, certain structures have to be in place.

1. Give yourself an out.
Sometimes a guild’s charter seems graven in stone, when in fact it’s a functional document that should always be changing. Let your members observe a tradition of keeping the charter up to date. That way, if a big change needs to be made, they won’t say: “You can’t do that because it’s not in the charter.” Believe me, CD made the mistake of having a static charter and rule set. Members will read the charter like a Blue Post, and we all know what happens whenever Ghostcrawler appears to change his mind.

2. Have a Decision-Making Structure
Make sure that your guild rules set up a procedure for proposing and ratifying changes to policies. For some guilds, it may work best for the GM to have final decision-making power in all cases, but in others, a vote among the officers will guarantee better support for the decision. The worst thing you can do is poll your members and let them vote on guild policies. People tend to vote their fears. You’ve selected your officers (hopefully) because they’re capable of thinking through problems logically. Polls are useful for information-gathering, but leave the decision-making power in the hands of a few well-informed individuals.

3. Have a System for Reporting to the Members
Transparency is a good thing. I believe that the GMs and officers should be making the decisions, but I also believe that they should explain any major policy change to the members. Document the reasons for the change carefully. It’s very common for disgruntled guild members to accuse the GM of making arbitrary decisions. Don’t give them ammunition.

Sweeping Changes

The advice in this article should enable a new guild to make the small adjustments that are necessary to keep an active organization healthy. These kinds of changes are usually acceptable to all members with a little explanation. However, what happens if you want to radically change your guild’s identity? Is it possible, for example, to mold a casual guild into a hardcore raiding team?

Yes and no. In order to explain how a gradual shift might work, I am going to borrow the rather disgusting metaphor that my fellow CD officer, Bruug, used in our last officer meeting. Imagine that your guild is a cute little froggy, and you’d like to boil him up for dinner so you can snack on some delicious frog legs. If you drop Mr. Croaky into a pot full of boiling water, he’ll jump right back out. However, if you stick him in room-temperature water and turn up the heat a few degrees per minute, he’ll be perfectly happy to sit in his nice warm bath and cook.

Gross, huh? I’m not suggesting that you eat your guildmates. However, if you think that your guild has the potential to grow in a certain direction, take gradual steps to get there. Members tend to resist change. They like what’s comfortable and what works. Many people would say that you can’t take a casual guild and turn it into a hardcore one, and they’d be right in principle. Yet, CD has done that in practice, and without consciously trying (apparently we figured out how to poach a frog all on our own). If the will to be more competitive is already out there among your membership, you can help that along. Change will occur organically, but it will do so more surely and effectively if the hand of leadership gives it a nudge or two. Like a careful gardener, you can influence your guild to grow in certain directions. However subtle the changes, I do urge Guild Masters to be as transparent as possible about their vision for the guild. This is only fair to your members who, after all, did not sign their guild contracts in blood. Well, all except the warlocks anyway, and that was because their other pen ran out of ink.

Build Your Own Guild Part 8: Dealing With Feedback

Build Your Own Guild Part 8: Dealing With Feedback

Successful guild masters and officers are always attentive to the concerns of their membership. It is your job to understand your guild’s psychological makeup and status. If your raiders are happy and enthusiastic, you’re probably aware of it, as people tend to be demonstrative about positive emotions. However, little worries and concerns can bubble below the surface of an otherwise stable guild, and, without the leadership ever being aware, a small problem can turn into a guild-breaking one overnight. How can you address these explosive problems before they grow to dangerous levels? Read on for some tips on eliticing–and dealing with–feedback from your members.

How Do I Get Them To Talk to Me?

Face it, Guild Master, you are one scary dude or dudette. You are The Man (or The Woman), and that means most people will tiptoe around subjects that might be controversial when you’re around. Rest assured, however, that your guild members have opinions, and they want the leadership to listen and to react to them. Here are four things you can do to get your guildies to tell you their little secrets.

1. Have Guild Meetings on Vent
Collateral Damage does this every couple of months, and it’s quite helpful. The officers start out with a little “state of the guild” address and then turn over the floor for member questions and concerns. Now, when it’s time for members to talk, don’t expect the discussion to start immediately. I learned through teaching my college classes that a little silence is ok at the outset of a discussion. People are getting their thoughts together and mustering the courage to speak. You can ask little questions to prompt them, but make sure you let people have time to get the ball rolling. From what I’ve observed, the first person to speak will say something really positive. Others will comment on it, but the feedback will start to roll in. Eventually, you may get people’s most passionate objections to your guild policies. The important thing in such meetings is to listen. Let people know that you will hear their concerns and take them to the table at the next officer meeting.

I can tell you, sometimes CD officers have felt frustrated and under-appreciated at our open meetings. Try to think beyond yourself and your immediate reactions. Is there something helpful you can learn from a person’s complaints? We’ve found that even the most ardent whiners aren’t able to sidetrack the guild from its most cherished goals. However, we’ve also discovered some useful information in open meetings. In at least two cases, at the next officer meeting, we changed policies based on public opinion.

2. Post Officer Meeting Notes
Officers spend a lot of time discussing policy in meetings–earn credit for that time with your members by posting notes. You don’t have to expose every controversy, and naturally, anything pertaining to specific players should be kept quiet. However, when you’re writing new policies, a little item in your notes that says something like “Discussed Revisions to Attendance Policy” will let your members know that the officers are actually responding to the changing conditions in the guild. CD allows members to comment on officer meeting notes–we get many good ideas this way.

3. Have a Feedback Forum
CD has a forum in which only officers can post and everyone can reply. The purpose is to elicit member opinion on major policies. Recently we have decided to implement a Raider Status and attendance requirement for Wrath of the Lich King. Our policy drafts went up in this forum, and there was a lively exchange between officers and members. We were able to clarify our intentions, and the final document is, as a result, very clean and easy to read. Of course, some members disagreed with the officers’ decision and thought that we should continue without Raider Status. We tried to assuage their (mostly unfounded) fears, but we did hold firm to what we had decided. However, some of those objections led to clearer policy, and as such, they were a very fortunate thing.

4. Allow Members to send PMs to Officers
Your guild website should have the capacity to send Personal Messages. These are like emails, only less formal. When CD members have personal complaints–either something they want to keep private or something that only affects them–the best way to communicate that is a PM to one of the officers. If they do not request that the note be kept private, often we share these with other officers so we get a balanced solution. A good example of this kind of issue is the perennial loot quandary. It has happened several times that a CD member has felt that loot was distributed incorrectly. Sometimes the members are right. Inevitably, things go a little bit awry with any loot system. These member issues have actually helped CD officers revise the loot system for Wrath so that it is more fair to all raiders.

The Two Types of Feedback

As a guild leader you can expect to get two types of feedback: legitimate concerns and QQ. Here is how I suggest that you address each type.

Legitimate Concerns:
Sometimes members are able to see around officers’ blind spots. Often the members are first to know when someone has been treated unfairly. Even in the best guilds, this can happen by accident! Make sure your policies are flexible enough to change if they are really not working.

Here are some common examples of legitimate concerns.
1. One of your guild members is behaving in an offensive manner or specifically antagonizing someone.
2. One of the guild policies has had unintended consequences. For example, there might be a loophole in your loot system, or you might be distributing BoE items like Hearts of Darkness in an unequal manner.
3. A specific member or subset of the guild is feeling overworked or burned out.
4. Something in your raid strategy is not getting desired results.

Sometimes you’ll get a PM and just know that the person has a valid point. When that happens, don’t panic. Reply to the person and let him or her know that the issue is going on the next officer meeting agenda. Make sure you talk about it, and make appropriate policy, rostering, or strategy changes.

QQ

The letters QQ are meant to resemble crying eyes, and QQ is synonymous with whiny complaints. QQ is constant and unavoidable. I am going to make a radical suggestion here for how to deal with this. As you read or listen to the complaint, try and imagine that it is legitimate. Even if you end up disagreeing with the person or even reprimanding her, hear her out before you do that. QQ is called QQ because it’s communicated in a less-than-constructive way. However, separate the content from the means of delivery to find out if, behind the tears and snivels, there is actually a valid issue to be addressed. If the person has a point, put their issue on the meeting agenda just like any other member concern.

The following is a list of issues people tend to feel passionately about in the game. As such, they are likely topics for QQ.

1. Loot Issues.
This will always be the number one cause of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the World of Warcraft. Most of these complaints are unfounded. If you have a loot council, you will be dealing with this often. Try to make the person reasonable, or at least resigned.

However, sometimes loot issues are very much legitimate. If someone is concerned that he consistently gets passed over for loot or that others of his class and spec with similar attendance have significantly better gear, he is probably right. Loot systems of whatever type tend to have loopholes through which many purples flow. These complaints are a way to discover if your system is really working the way you intended it to. It may be that “unlucky” players, or players in certain roles, truly are not getting their fair share. If this is the case, do something about it! Whenever you find injustice in your guild, stamp it out!

2. Personality Conflicts.
In a raiding guild of 35+ members, not everyone is going to get along. Members who are at the high end or the low end of the competence scale may attract a lot of complaints due to jealousy on the one end and resentment on the other. Evaluate each of these complaints for validity. As an officer, you need to know the difference between one of your raiders having a bad day, or a bad week, and just plain out being a bad egg who either does not play up to the standard of your raid or makes everyone miserable. You should also ask pointed questions to decide if harassment is involved. For example, if one of your female members is having to field consistent come-ons from a male raider, this is a legitimate complaint and you should probably kick him. Many guilds let rampant sexism, racism, and all-out prejudice go on in g-chat or vent. In my opinion, this kind of thing isn’t very funny–or very conducive to successful raiding. I would rather play in an organization that’s open to different types of members. Sure, Collateral Damage cuts loose a bit late night on vent, but on the whole we’re an organization that 10-year-old girls could happily and safely belong to. “Cutting loose,” by the way, is different from encouraging prejudice. No one minds a little innuendo or even well-meaning jokes at someone’s expense–the problem comes when members harass each other. As a guild leader, you should be able to tell the difference.

3. Bench Issues
The #1 topic of PMs sent to officers in Collateral Damage has to do with raid scheduling. Long story short, people want to be in when it’s convenient for them and out when its not. A lot of people feel frustrated that they’re not in full control of when they get picked to raid. For the most part, people just have to deal with it. Officers can lend a sympathetic ear, but we know that we have to balance the needs of many different people. Bench happens, more often than some people would like. However, if a person complains that they are consistently being passed over for a raid spot, you need to investigate that issue. Look at that person’s attendance and performance. Does he have a legitimate complaint? Has he been forgotten, or is there a deeper issue? Is someone getting preferential treatment and not sitting their fair share of time? If so, rectify that immediately. No one–especially not officers–should get out of sitting the bench. Sometimes, however, the raid leader is perfectly justified in sitting a player frequently, especially if he’s not performing up to the standard of the group. This can be a good opportunity for the class or raid leader to work with this person on improving his play. After all, raiders are supposed to want to play up to their potential. If that interest isn’t there, it could be time for a frank talk about that player’s status in the guild.

Conclusions:

Don’t fear feedback from your members. Embrace it, and deal with it in a timely manner. After all, you are in service to your guild members. They’re really not trying to ruin your day. When members complain, they do so because they care about the quality of their in-game experience. Never fall back on the “it’s just a game” excuse for unequitable behavior. Sure, it’s a game, but games have rules. They’re only fun if you follow them. One of the rules of being a GM is to create an environment your members feel comfortable in. Otherwise, you’re no better than the three year old who kicks over the Monopoly board and then sticks the house from Park Place up his nose.

Build Your Own Guild Part 7: Day-to-Day Management

Build Your Own Guild Part 7: Day-to-Day Management

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’re a new GM, and your guild is finally up and running. You have enough members to start scheduling events, and you’re running at least some raids every week. It might be logical to think that your task as GM is done–if you’ve put in good policies, the guild will run itself, right?

No, dear reader, it won’t. Think of the guild master as the helmsman of a large and unwieldy ship of state. All you can control is your pressure on the wheel–storms will rage above, and whirlpools will draw from below. Heck, in the context of WoW, it wouldn’t be at all out of place to have to deal with a nasty Kraken or two, or at least a few Bloodsail pirates.

The day-to-day business of managing a guild takes time and energy. Many prospective guild masters don’t realize quite how many of their personal resources will go into keeping their organization healthy. At this point, many GMs get frustrated and hand over the leadership. Others fade into the background, letting officers or vocal members de facto lead the guild. A good GM, however, will always be a strong presence in the daily life of the guild.

But…It doesn’t seem like GMs do much!

Most of the work of a GM or guild officer occurs behind the scenes. For many valid reasons, guild members may not be made aware of every little argument or controversy. It’s important to maintain the appearance–and by extension, the reality–of peace in the guild, so discretion is key. For example, my guild is having a bit of a difficult time right now differentiating between friends and family applications and raiding applications. It’s been a multi-hour topic of discussion in officer meetings and the subject of lively debate. We wanted to make sure that the policy we put in–which is now fairly strict–suited our overall guild ethos. However, those hours of talk led to a policy that could be expressed in 50 words or less. What our members see is those 50 words, not the work that led up to it. When I mentioned, in an offhand way, the “F&F controversy,” to a member, he was surprised to learn that officers deal with so much stuff that just doesn’t filter down to the members. This is a good thing. Members are there to play and have fun, and the officers and GM make sure that they are able to do so.

A GM’s Weekly Quests

To borrow a metaphor from the game we all love so much, think of the GM’s job as a series of repeatable quests. The following list details the essential duties that GMs or officers must perform every week, just to keep a healthy guild on an even keel. In WoW, a week is like a year of real time. Guild morale can sink fast, and virtual organizations require constant maintenance.

1. Be Present

The GM and the officers must be a part of most guild events. You should have a hand in the planning for the raid events, and you should raid very regularly. I also advice GMs to put in some face time outside of raids. If you invest your officers with enough authority, this task can be shared. In general, if a significant portion of your guild is interested in doing something, the leadership should participate. Make sure that you don’t simply disappear for several weeks if you get occupied with real life–the guild should know what’s going on. Otherwise, when you return after 6 weeks in Paris, your guild might not exist anymore.

Never underestimate, moreover, the power of just hanging out. Let your voice be heard in g-chat and vent–that way, your guild will come to know you as a person, and not just The Man or The Woman in charge. Don’t censor your personality too much. For example, I let my guild see my silly sense of humor and my love of pets, in-game and out. One guild member referred to me as our guild’s personal lolcat–and I took that as a compliment. I DO like to run around in cat form before raids asking if I can haz mage bizkits. However, don’t let things get too personal. You can share your deepest issues with good friends, but as GM, you need to maintain a degree of professionalism–which means a little distance between your guild and your personal life. If you’re having a fight with your girlfriend, you probably shouldn’t discuss it in g-chat.

2. Keep Your Ears Open

If you’re the GM, you probably don’t have to fish for members’ opinions too often. More than likely, they will share them with you unasked. However, some might not feel completely comfortable talking to The Man, so enlist your fellow officers (particularly any understanding or nurturing types) to keep their ears to the ground, so to speak. If there is a dip in morale in the guild, you should know about it. The person who does recruiting for your guild can probably help you out here. A good recruiting officer will be an advocate for applicants and initiates, and long after they become full members, they will probably feel comfortable talking to that person.

3. Respond to Member Concerns

If a major issue arises–like a serious argument over loot that plays out publicly–don’t just let it drop. Meet with your officers as quickly as possible, make a decision, and explain it to both parties. Someone will inevitably be unhappy, but you want to let your members know that you are capable of handling problems. It also might be a good idea to write a summary of any major decisions–especially if the controversy affected several players–and post it in a read-only forum in the website.

If a minor issue comes up–and they do all the time–make it a topic at the next officer meeting. Officers and GMs alike will receive many tells, emails, or website PMs per week about specific member concerns. Sometimes the member asks you to keep the complaint confidential, but more often, the member wants the leadership to know about and address the concern. Collateral Damage talks about all such requests–both legitimate issues and whiny QQ–at officer meetings. If a member sends one of us a PM, and doesn’t tell us to keep it quiet, it goes on the agenda. Sometimes the decision we make is to do nothing, and sometimes that’s the right call. However, most often something is done to resolve or clarify the issue.

It is important that your members know that their requests will be considered. Once the officers have made a decision, be sure to communicate it to the person who originally asked the question. Even if the answer is “no,” for the most part, people are glad that their ideas were considered.

4. Do Your Homework

It’s highly unlikely in an organization of, say, 50 members, that the Guild Master would happen to be the best player. That usually is not the case–statistics are against you, future GMs. You may not be able to control your natural aptitude for fast-twitch movement, but you can control the amount of information you can master. A Guild Master should do everything possible to be a better player and a better leader. Know your own weaknesses, and work to overcome them. For example, my own personal weakness is panic–sometimes I’ll do the wrong thing in a raid if I get startled. What’s the solution? Never be surprised. I read up on the fight mechanics and rehearse them to myself. I still feel the panic when I see a boss ability for the first time, but with a little coaching, I can usually control my reactions. It’s not enough to know, for example that Illidan does a Dark Barrage in Phase 2. For me to handle it adequately, I need to have linked the ability to the counter in my head, as in: “Okay, Dark Barrage–when it’s my turn in the rotation, that means I target the affected player and hit my Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch macro.” Figure out your personal kryptonite as a player and find ways to work around it. It might seem a little petty, but I have seen many players criticize their guild masters for being bad players. I know that different skills are involved in being a great raider and in being a great leader–but try not to give the QQ machine any more ammo than necessary.

It’s one thing to master your own class and spec, but as GM, your research needs to extend beyond yourself and your immediate needs. You are your guild’s visionary, and if you don’t have a sense of the future, your guild is lost. Always know what’s on the horizon, both for the game in general and for your own guild. For example, a guild master at this moment should be very informed about raiding post patch 3.0.x and in Wrath. The GM should have a sense of how things have changed with the new patch not just for her own class, but for every class. A good GM will be checking the news sites daily, and he or she will be leading the officers in discussions about how the guild will change once the expansion hits. My guild is extremely forward-looking, to the point of already having our first Naxx 25 on the raid calendar. We already have many policies in place for Wrath–with some major changes to suit the new raiding paradigm–and we are planning a mini-retreat (virtual style) in which we meet for multiple hours two days in a row and hammer out the final details. It’s entirely possible that some members will be just as interested and informed as the officers, but they certainly don’t have to be. When the game changes, you, the GM, will have to guide many of your members. The information is out there–inform yourself so that you can teach.

If you are also the raid leader for your guild, your task multiplies. You must absorb all of the information available about the bosses you will be taking down, and you should stay several bosses ahead of your guild’s raid progression. Once again, your task will be to teach others, and your ability to communicate information will help you construct your authority as leader. However, raid leading is truly difficult. The only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. If you’re new to leading, let your guild know, and be humble about it. Usually, people will be understanding. The worst thing you can do is to get defensive. Try to master your task and keep a strong command of the situation, but if that fails, don’t be afraid to take suggestions.

5. Maintain Dialogue With Officers

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a weekly officer meeting. Do not make all decisions yourself. Even if you are the final arbiter, discussion and negotiation are helpful processes. The officers’ meeting has a very significant benefit when it comes to making new policy. Even with only three or so officers, there will be a diversity of opinion. The give-and-take from an officer’s meeting will help you workshop your ideas. By the time you present new rules to the guild, you will have already worked out many of the problem areas.

In addition, officers should participate in the little daily tasks of guild management. Make sure that members are aware of what officers do and the authority that they hold. If members don’t observe the officers making decisions, they’ll take all further concerns and QQ directly to the GM’s virtual door. Moreover, they might feel resentful toward a too-powerful GM. No one likes to feel like they belong to an organization led by a tyrant! Where the balance of the the day-to-day work in your guild falls–on the officers’ shoulders or on the GM’s–is entirely up to the individual organization. Collateral Damage is quite unique, but we’ve been extraordinarily successful without a true GM. Instead, we’ve got 8 officers fully invested with GM-level powers, and we all serve as checks and balances for each other. I can tell you, our bargaining and negotiating skills have gotten quite good over the last several months.

Conclusions

Guild management always takes more time than you expect, and it will scale with the complexity of your organization. Raiding guilds in particular are delicate to manage. If you want to maintain your own authority–and a stable guild–you have to get used to working for the good of your organization on a consistent basis. Yes, this means that the GM is held to a higher standard than the members. For you, it’s not all about fun and games–you have responsibilities too.

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership


If you can, dear readers, stretch your reflective faculties for a moment and recall the first article in the Build Your Own Guild series, in which I urged future GMs to start forming an officer corps. This entry will delve a little deeper into the question of leadership and show you how to construct and maintain your guild’s hierarchy. The principal lesson here is delegate, delegate, DELEGATE! This article will show you how officers and GMs work together to govern the unique virtual organizations we so casually refer to as guilds.

History Lesson: Getting Medieval

I would like to meditate for a moment on the word “guild” and its history, as I think its origins are rather instructive for MMO players. A guild, in the medieval sense of the word, is an association of tradesmen, artists, or craftsmen. Guilds oversee the production and distribution of material goods, and they regulate both practitioners of a trade and the larger market in which that type of product is bought and sold. My favorite guild example dates to cinquecento Italy. Imagine Renaissance Venice, her canals a-stink with the smells of a thriving fishing industry, her now-white palazzi ablaze with murals in every color of the rainbow. Somewhere in the Serenissima, probably next door to the leather-curers guild or the paper-makers guild, Tiziano Vecellio runs his own workshop. He sees himself as a craftsman, rather than an artist, producing goods for sale. He is the Master, and his is the signature on most of the products. His employees, however, are also craftsmen, some of them as talented as the master, and Journeyman and Apprentices work together to create great pieces of art. Sure, Tiziano himself may be the one to sketch the Madonna’s face, but what about her hands? Guess what? Renaissance art was a cooperative enterprise, and just look at the product. Pretty fantastic, eh?

Why the long excursus into metaphor, you ask? For you, the prospective GM, the setup of your guild is your masterpiece–the way you do things at the beginning will prove to all your members that you are a capable leader, someone they can trust. But like Tiziano, you can’t go it alone. You will need help, and the end “product” that you create–namely, excellence in raiding–will be a group effort.

Choosing Officers

If you’re contemplating setting up your own build, you probably have a few people in mind for officer positions. Make sure, however, that your officer corps is not composed entirely of your best friends and your significant other. For a raiding guild, you need a balance of power, and this means bringing people into leadership positions who represent different constituencies and have different perspectives. You will also need to limit the number of officers to a manageable size–too large, and every member who’s not an officer will start to feel left out. The following are my quick tips for forming a workable officer corps.

1. Size

If you plan to focus exclusively on 10-man raid progression in Wrath, your optimal number of officers (including yourself in this number) will be three. That means that there will always be a tiebreaker vote. The percentage of officers to members will still be rather high, especially if you are a niche guild and limit yourselves down to 20 or so players. I think this model will be extremely workable in Wrath. The good news is that if you form a guild of this size, your work as GM will be much less, and you will not need to define each officer’s role to the nth degree. The three of you would each probably be capable of handling any questions your members have, and all members will know the officers personally.

For the 25-man size, the task is more difficult. I suggest either three or five primary officers (including yourself of course). Three will be just fine if you plan to also have class or role leaders to do some of the work, but if you do without them, expand up to five so that you can cover all the necessary tasks. I actually recommend against having class leaders. That model worked better in Vanilla WoW, when specs were less differentiated and there were more people to manage.

2. Diversity of Talents

All of your officers should not excel at the same aspect of the game. They should not be three healers or three dps. You should include your primary Raid Leader in the officer corps, but the other members do not have to be your best players or best strategists. One of them, at least, should be computer-savvy enough to build and maintain your website, if you cannot do so yourself. Try to find people with different interests. And yes, sometimes this means looking beyond your immediate circle of friends. Caution: it may seem attractive to a new GM to appoint as an officer someone who has been a GM in the past. Be careful–this person might be so used to leading that he chafes at just being an officer and effectively undermines the officer corps’ decisions. Have a very thorough talk with any officers with GM backgrounds so that the guild hierarchy–whatever it is–is clear to them.

3. Diversity of Perspectives

Your guild is a raiding guild, so most of your officer conversations will be about raiding, and almost all of your planning will be dedicated to raid progress. You do not, however, need to find officers who agree 100% with your vision. It is best, in fact, if officers to some degree serve as checks and balances for each other. For a real life example, in my guild, raiding is important to every one of our eight officers (yes, too many!) but within that general category, our priorities fall under several subheadings. For some real-life examples, in Collateral Damage, our Raid Leader wants everything to be well-organized, transparent, and planned out ahead of time. The officer who manages our Loot system wants all policies to be fair and all goods to be distributed equally. Our personnel officer focuses on the human side of things–she wants to make sure that no one feels left out. And me? Believe it or not, I’m always the one pushing for faster progress and stricter requirements.

4. Open Positions

When you introduce your brand-new guild to the world, you probably won’t have the perfect balance of officers yet. I suggest starting out with yourself and one other person (or for the large guild model, two) and promoting the rest of your officer corps after you actually begin raiding. You need to see how people operate in their new guild context, but you can’t do all the work alone at the beginning.

Your Management Hierarchy

Let’s imagine that your guild is up and running and you’ve identified and promoted four other people to work with you. Now what do you do? I have seen guilds flounder at just this juncture. People become officers, but it’s a vanity position. There are no clear duties and no opportunity for leadership. In practice, the GM runs the guild by himself. Or worse, no one runs the guild. No events are scheduled, and people associate with each other only in guild chat. Here are 5 ways to avoid the no-leadership quagmire.

1. Weekly Officer Meetings

Schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time, and hold a meeting every week. Believe me, you’ll have a lot to talk about–some of CD’s run upwards of three hours, and they were longest at the very beginning. You should at the very least check in with the guild’s progress, set the raid schedule for the week, and vote on any potential recruits. This is also a good time to talk through the inevitable member complaints and make plans to address them.

2. Give Each Officer a Specific Task

You chose officers with different talents for a reason. Assuming you’re a large guild with 5 officers, here’s a sample breakdown. As GM, feel free to snap up the role you like best, but if it’s your name at the bottom of the guild panel, expect a secondary job as QQ filter. Your five officers could best divide into the following roles:

a. Raid leader and strategist
b. Loot system manager (if you use Loot Council, this person tracks drops received)
c. Personnel officer (this person takes attendance and tracks raider status/performance)
d. Recruiting officer (woot! This is what I do)
e. Website manager (don’t underestimate this one–it’s a TON of work)

As GM, you need to funnel any specific questions or complaints to the officer who specializes in that area. People will want to talk to you too, but if you get a loot-specific question, pull the loot system manager into vent with you when you talk to that player. You will find that your officers will become experts in their area of expertise.

3. Strive for Consensus

When there is a decision on the horizon, particularly if it’s an important one, don’t just flex your GM muscles and make the call yourself. Discuss any decision that has far-reaching implications in the guild meeting, and let each officer present his or her opinions. Very likely, some of you will disagree on any issue that’s halfway worth talking about. As GM, you may feel tempted to go with your own opinion after nominal discussion, but I urge you to wait it out and let people make full arguments, especially when they feel passionately about something. There should be give and take. If two parties disagree, have them propose compromise solutions until each of them can live with the new policy.

4. Hold Votes on Important Issues

Your officers can only serve as checks and balances for each other if you give them power. Try for consensus first, but what you may find is that not everyone speaks up every time a new policy is on the table. If everyone cannot agree after a reasonable amount of discussion, as GM, it is your responsibility to call for a vote. Except in dire circumstances, abide by that vote. Remember: if you have power as GM, it is only because others entrust you with it. Allowing them a voice will convince your fellow officers to stick around and support you. My guild–which has no GM, only officers–has just now put in a voting policy. We felt that compromises were sometimes worked out only among the most vocal officers, and in any case sometimes we would have 12 hours of discussion over many weeks with no solution reached. We’ve decided to hold votes after 2-4 hours of discussion on a topic when we can’t come to consensus. I am in full support of this idea–even though I’m one of the loud people! If you never vote, you may create a situation in which one person can veto any idea by holding out on the compromise. That can lead to guild stagnation, particularly if it’s a regular occurrence. Sometimes your officers will have to agree to disagree.

5. Know When to Play the GM Card

If you’re going to be the first among equals, you have to know when to step in and put an end to debate. Maybe votes are inconclusive too, or your officers just can’t come up with a decision. In those cases, use your best judgment and lay down the law. Don’t do this too often though–a GM whose attitude screams: “It’s my guild and I can do what I want with it!” won’t be in power for long.

Conclusions

It’s not very fun to be the Supreme Emperor of a nation of one. If you want a happy, healthy, resilient guild, you will need a power structure that puts some of the authority in other people’s hands. Build trust with your officers, and always treat them with respect. They are both your friends and your work colleagues, and the relative unity that the officer corps presents to the guild will determine your success or failure in endgame raiding. People want to feel that their leaders are both well-organized and fair. Use the GM/officer dynamic to create that feeling, and you’re well on your way to climbing up the rankings on your server.

Chamber of Guilds: Integration of Cliques

Chamber of Guilds meetingI recently stumbled upon a forum thread on WoW’s Guild Discussion forums about an organization called the Chamber of Guilds. Curious, I decided to go check it out.

So what is it?

Roundtable is a cross-server, cross-faction guild that allows past, present, and future guild leaders and officers to get together and discuss any issues that they may be experiencing and see how other guilds deal with it. Everything from guild involvement and events to instances and loot is discussed. This is more a “Chamber of Commerce” type situation where we exist to provide information and discussion. How you apply that to your Guild is completely up to you.

Turns out their next meeting was on Sunday the 13th and I signed up for it to learn more. Think of it as an online conference involving GM’s from a variety of Guilds around WoW. Every 4-6 weeks, they all gather up on Ventrilo to discuss topics that are of interest to other GM’s. In these talks, GM’s share their experiences and solutions with other GM’s so that everyone learns.

Boy, what an experience! Even though I wasn’t a GM, I’m technically a recruiting officer for Carnage. I’ve certainly been in my fair share of senior positions in other Guilds.

You have to be in the same Guild as everyone so you can participate effectively. If you don’t have a mic, you can still comment in Guild chat alongside those speaking on vent.

After a brief introduction by the main speaker (Penlowe), we instantly dived into the topic of the day.

Cliques Within Guilds: Are they a problem?

The main issue here was on the topic of cliques. A good way to kick off a good discussion is with a definition, which is what the speakers did.

Guild:
Def’n: an association of people with similar interests or pursuits; especially : a medieval association of merchants or craftsmen

Clique:
Def’n: a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially : one held together by common interests, views, or purposes

A problem that is a frequent occurrence among Guilds of any size, any level, and any progression is the formation of cliques within Guilds. Typically, these are close knit groups of friends who have known each other for a long time. What typically happens is that there are players who will run with no one else BUT the players that they know and that they trust. Obviously a clique by itself is not able to tackle higher end difficult content which is why they apply for Guilds as “package deals”. Now they could come in groups as small as two or in groups as large as a self sustaining Karazhan team. Depending on the players, this could be a severe problem as they could all refuse to run with certain other players and grind Guild progression to a halt.

This could manifest itself as an even larger problem when such a large group of players could effectively dictate the course of actions a GM could take, particularly when the clique consists of your main tank. I would not be surprised if GM’s have been held hostage in a manner similar to this. I’ve often said before that a Guild revolves around their tanks and healers.

Dealing With Negative Cliques

What was suggested was that Guild objectives be made known to them before coming in. Tell them that you are a casual guild with little to no desire for end game. Or tell them that you are a progression guild which values performance over preference (my personal stance). If there’s any problems or issues that have arisen, it should be “nipped in the bud” (I could not have put it any better myself). Deal with these brushfires swiftly before it grows into a forest fire. GM’s need to be willing to grow emotionally distant and effectively give these players a way out or fire them. Sometimes it pays to be heartless.

Encouraging Cliques to Integrate

1 of the proposed methods that some of the GM’s suggested was to force rotating Karazhan rosters and here’s the reasons why:

  • Players grow outside of their comfort zone and learn to adapt to other players
  • Helps eliminate why cliques exist in the first place
  • Players become more sociable

The downside is that there is going to be a large amount of player shuffling going around so that different raid days can be accomodated for different players. I heard an example from one GM where she had shuffled a student with a curfew and a working security guard who had to do his rounds. Time’s were scheduled so that players who had not had an opportunity to tango with a boss could have a shot at taking him down (IE, Nightbane).

Closing Comments and Feedback

The talks were about 2 hours at max and it seemed like everyone had a good time exchanging ideas and techniques. Not everyone had a mic and those individuals had to type in guild chat to keep up with everything. As a first time participant, I restricted myself mostly to typing in game. From what I know, there are minutes being compiled. I even recorded the entire 2 hour conversation before my power got jolted for a second erasing the first half of the discussion. My plan is to convert it to an MP3 and compress it down to little audio clips for anyone interested in listening. Think of it as audio highlights.

My participation was limited. I was more of an observer than anything. I had a mic active but I felt out of place using it. Actually, I felt kind of intimidated. Everyone in there seemed to literally be a GM and I felt outranked in every aspect.

Maybe it was the fact that I appeared to be surrounded by female speakers =).

Whatever the case, I will definitely be at the next Chamber of Guilds meeting. It certainly makes for good blog discussion. It was made clear to me after the meeting that all leaders and officers are welcome (which includes class leaders, officers, GM’s, raid leaders, recruitment, etc). What do you think about cliques? Do you have any within your Guild?