Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Here's the thing about gkicking -- it's not a universal "Fix It" button.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) who's ever been an officer for more than a few days has, at some point, wanted to just toss someone out on their ear. And most of us have had to swallow the impulse and sit on our feelings for the good of the guild.

In a family guild, it's more complicated to get rid of someone than in a raid guild (which is run like a business) or a social guild (which can run respectably on personal taste or less respectably on emotion). In a family guild, if you start getting rid of people who haven't done anything against guild rules, you'll have a rebellion on your hands.

In my opinion? Wait. Until someone breaks the rules, your hands are tied unless you want to upset everyone else, but the truly discontent will leave of their own accord if you give them time. Don't bend over backward for the people you want out. Don't ignore them or sabotage them, but also don't kill yourself trying to make them happy. At a certain point, their enjoyment of the game stops being your problem.

The point is higher in a family guild, but it's still there.

If they don't care about staying for the sake of other people, if they keep demanding their own way even if it's selfish or unwise, they will eventually leave. It's inevitable. And, in a family guild, where the guild is about being there for others, you want them to. There is no place in a family guild for selfishness.

Most of the time, disgruntled players who leave will learn that the rest of the World of Warcraft doesn't care about them. Most come back, humble-hat in hand. A few don't, and you shouldn't lose sleep over those.

The up side is that if someone leaves whom you really believed didn't care about your guild, or if you just plain don't like them, you have all the power you need to refuse them if they try to come back. They will have to justify themselves to you to get back in.

And they should. Anyone who leaves IVV, for example, has to explain to every officer's satisfaction why they want to come back. They have to work out personal differences with anyone in the guild they had issues with, and they have to more or less grovel to the administration to prove they won't do it again.

IVV makes sure that members want back for the right reasons, and not just because their new guild is mean.

The majority of members who gquit IVV and return have been welcomed back cheerfully enough, even when hurt feelings were involved in the gquit.

But that doesn't mean everyone who leaves is always welcome back, or that there aren't people who don't gquit who don't really belong in a family guild.

There will always be people who cause problems. Some eventually work out their differences, or learn that what they have in your guild can't be replaced by anyone else. Some never feel truly settled but stay anyway.

Some mature over time, some get more unhappy until they leave.

The truth is, every guild is imperfect, and every guild will have members ebbing and flowing. Satisfaction grows and wanes, officer stress spikes and levels, and while it is the ultimate in relaxation fantasies for officers to imagine gkicking all the problem cases, the wise move is to just let it be. Fix what you can. Don't rework the guild to make one person happy.

People will come and people will go. The truly loyal will hold on through the rough patches. Trust them. Reward the loyal instead of trying to placate (or punish) the people who cause your headaches.

Let the unhappy leave on their own.

It's the only real solution.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
Beth is glad she's not an officer anymore.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Raid Leaders Are Not The Enemy

This is a companion post to "Taking Criticism."

Raid leaders are not trying to destroy your ranking on Bob's dps meter by giving you criticism or tips.

They're not trying to ruin your play style or step on your toes.

They're just trying to whip you into a shape where they'd be willing to roster you more often.

If the boss dies, it shouldn't matter who's top dps. It should matter whether or not the raid leaders, the ones creating the roster, think you did what they wanted.

Not because they're right all the time, or because you won't get rostered otherwise, but because ignoring them (or getting angry) without reason makes you a brat.

Yes. A brat.

So shut up, sit down, and if you don't like the criticism you're getting from your leaders, feel free to argue with stats and resources and explanations. But being a brat who rebels against nothing at all (or even good advice) is just plain dumb.

Don't be dumb.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
Beth has been playing Warcraft for three years.
She hates the drama sometimes found in raiding.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taking Criticism

I have this friend. Recently, she got insecure about her raid performance. I talked to her raid healers, as well as her raid leaders -- basically, four of the five people who comprise my immediate family group. People I trusted to know what they were talking about and to be honest about it.

They gave her a glowing review with a few minor pointers, but the comments that stuck with me were about how she didn't start out as a great raider-- she made a lot of mistakes when she first began, back at the start of Wrath -- but grew into it.

My sister-in-law summarized it best: "[S]he is open to constructive criticism and improving."

My friend has been rostered for almost every progression raid in Icecrown Citadel because she's improved so much, because she's willing to acknowledge her mistakes and learn from them. The raid leaders know that even if she screws up, she'll keep trying and listening to their suggestions until she gets it right. They aren't afraid to be honest with her, because they know she'll listen.

Because of that, she's extremely valued as a dps. More valued than people who don't know how to take criticism, who get angry or refuse to listen.

This is more than a lesson for raiding, it's a lesson for life: you need to know how to take criticism gracefully. If you don't, you'll never be as good as you want to be, and you'll never be sought-after.

Players who know how to adapt, they get pursued by raid leaders. Players who don't... don't.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
Beth has been playing Warcraft for three years.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why Guilds Keep Bad Seeds

I think it's important not just to know how to respond to outside stimuli but also to understand why things happen.

When someone does something like ninja looting, badmouthing, or being overall rude, and you tell their guild leaders, you expect to see something done about it. Right? Sometimes the behavior has been bad enough that you expect nothing less than a gkick.

So why do guilds keep bad seeds?

The Guild Thinks You're Overreacting
They don't see your side because they just don't agree that the infraction was anything more than a situation between two people that should be handled between those two people.

The Guild Doesn't Mind Bad Behavior
Some guilds are bad. To the core. Or bone. Whichever has a catchier tune.

It's None of Your Business
Much like Blizzard's policy of "We'll look into it but you don't get to know the result" when you report stuff, some guilds will take appropriate action but consider it no one's business but their own as to whether punishment is doled out. After all, the last thing they want is a vindictive wounded party dancing around Dalaran and taunting the punished member with "HAHA! You got suspended from raids!"

No Proof
Especially in cases of he said/she said, the leaders' hands are tied in the absence of screenshots. If you're going to punish someone, you need to know they did it first.

They Can't Afford to Lose Members
Struggling and dying guilds can't afford to do anything that will lose even one member, or they'll sink like a stone. If you have 12 people who raid, three infrequently, and the bad seed is one of the reliable raiders, sometimes guilds will weigh the cost of having a bad rep versus the cost of not existing, and survival wins out.

Too Well Connected
Sometimes your bad seed just knows the right people. When a GM's real life BFF is a total jerk, I bet you 99% of his guild wants him gkicked as much as you do but are equally powerless to see it happen.

Too Likable
Some really obnoxious people are extremely likable to their friends and guildmates. They'll make everyone laugh by telling anecdotes of their wacky antics and be just a really great person to the people who matter to them. Then when you have a tale of woe to bring to the guild's attention, the guild sides with the offender because, well, they like that person and they don't know you at all.

Too Emo
Some players are so emo that any punishment from guild leadership will lead them to gquit in a drama-filled huff. From your point of view, this is a good thing. From the leadership's point of view, if the crime doesn't warrant a gkick, and that's the effective result of any punishment they dole out, the lesser evil is to just bury the matter -- sometimes with a mild "Don't do it again," sometimes not.

Too Much Drama
Some guilds just don't want the hassle of having to deal with a disgruntled player, no matter how bad they've been. If you haven't been an officer, you may not know how much of a headache people can be when they're in drama mode. It really makes officers think "Why do I do this again? It's supposed to be a relaxing hobby, for God's sake!"

Too Valuable
If the offender performs some vital role to the guild that no one else is willing or capable to take on, the guild will often choose to keep that resource and take the hit to their rep because losing that player would partially cripple them.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
She's currently eating blueberries.
Beth's been married since her junior year of college.
Whenever that was.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Keep It Real

Elitists tick me off.

People with superiority complexes do not belong in family guilds. Not because they're ambitious and powerful or because family guilds aren't (power is subjective, but IVV is in about 10th place on our server for raiding atm) but because they're superficial jackasses who don't care about the feelings or interests of others.

Let's take this down a notch. Say it's not a hardcore elitist or jerk but simply someone in your guild who gets along with people in general or does hard work and starts to feel a little . . . important. Powerful. Impressive.

Back when I got the wind knocked out of me, I'd had a feeling of power. Not all-powerful by any means, but as if I had dominion over applicants and the right to weild that power in a responsible way.

I like to think I didn't have any unreasonable pride back then. Just the normal stuff that goes with having a job you take too seriously. So when the emergency popped up and my toes got trampled, I still had my feet and fingers and other bits. I could still function.

Yet it hurt like hell.

So when I say it is unwise to be anything but humble in all aspects of guild life, whether you're an officer or a star raider or just leveling, I say it for your protection. Because I know what it feels like to get knocked down, and if I didn't have much pride and it still hurt that bad, I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who let their pride or superiority or entitlement run away with them. It would probably feel a bit like dying.

These days, I'm trying to stay humble. I do what I can for the guild as a member, and I don't have any duties or position to mess with my head. I found contentment by going more casual, and I'm having more fun (and less stress) in game by simply increasing my focus on the real world.

I said it before, I'll say it again: The game should never become more important than the people. That doesn't just mean gear. Power, position, pride, entitlement -- all are inner demons that you should avoid if you want to be happy.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
She's currently not packing to move, like she should be.
Beth's been married since her junior year of college.
Whenever that was.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Personality Clashes

There's a woman at my church that I don't like. No real reason, I just don't like her. Maybe it's because we have nothing in common. Maybe it's because I think she'll judge me if she gets to know me, so I feel defensive around her.

There are people in the world, good and reasonable people, who sometimes you just don't get along with. No real reason. They just rub you the wrong way.

First off, you can't gkick them. So stop thinking about it. If they aren't needy, greedy, selfish, or mean, forget about it.

I won't tell you to pull some Disney movie stunts and learn to love them.

I'll tell you what to do when things go rapidly down the toilet.


This is good if both subjects are angry and need a cooling-off period, or if someone is about to gquit in a huff.

Signs of needing a cooling off period:

  • You want to say things you can't take back.
  • He or she has said things they can't take back.
  • You know that one of you is about to do or say something hot-headed and stupid.
How do you arrange a cooling-off period if you're involved in the argument?

Repeat after me: "Dear Level-Headed Officer: Please post the following for me in X discussion. 'I need a few days away from this argument to get my head straight. When I feel steady, I hope we can work this out in a calmer venue.' I request that you lock or delete X thread as it is getting out of hand and we need a fresh place to discuss this." Alternatives include "we need to drop this subject."

Take this time off to think carefully about what you might have done wrong. This part is not about what the other guy did wrong. It is about you. Accepting your own culpability is the first step to getting past a personality clash.


For the officer, if both parties remain too angry and irrational to speak to each other without inflicting pain and anger:

  1. Lock or delete the thread; ask the members to log off if the fight is in gchat.
  2. Let the angry parties know that the discussion is over for the protection of both and you insist they take time away from each other to cool down and think.
  3. Do not take a side!
Explain in whispers that if they are unable to speak to each other in civil tones, they aren't allowed to speak to each other in guild channels until that changes.

When a situation deteriorates enough to make officers step in, both are in the wrong no matter how it started. Make sure they know you expect them to take a break from each other in whispers/emails/PMs also and that you're willing to help them through their problem later when they're both calm.

This strategy is to quickly stop people when they're just making things worse but requires careful follow-up to make sure the argument is truly ended.


If/when both parties are cool and open to reason.

The goal is to get everyone to an acceptable conclusion, not to make everyone like each other.

This is the solution step.

An officer might mediate this step, talking to both parties and getting each side, then urging both to a conclusion if a conclusion is to be had.

If the two parties are ready to talk to each other, insist upon language with no hostility. It's best if you can get both parties to apologize to each other for their behavior, no matter how justified they think it was. Apologies usually help cool lingering resentment.

Encourage them to avoid accusations or defensiveness.

Look at these paragraphs and tell me what differences you see:

(1) I'm sorry you think I'm arrogant, but I'm totally not and you need to stop calling me that. I'm just confident, which a scrub like you wouldn't understand.

(2) I'm sorry if you think I come across as arrogant. I do not see myself this way, but I realize how my self-confidence may be percieved as arrogance. I will try to pay more attention to how I come across to others.

The first invites further argument, has harsh accusatory language with "you think," as well as an insult to the opponent. This gets everyone nowhere.

The second accepts that the opponent's feelings have validity while still respectfully disagreeing with them. It also addresses the opponent's root concerns, where the speaker has agreed to try and correct the negative perception.

(TL;DR -- Don't be a jerk when you're "trying" to patch things up.)

When The Mediator Agrees With One Side

Depends on the argument, really. Unless someone is breaking guild rules or has become destructive on a guildwide scale, I advise not to take a side whether you favor someone or not. If a relationship needs mediation, both people have done something wrong and you don't want to support the wrong attitude even if they have the right motives.

It can help if you tell the person you agree with that you see their side of things but they still didn't handle it correctly. Understanding someone's side can go a long way toward calming them down and making them accept their own errors.

When Things Still Go to Pot

With personality clashes, sometimes the only thing you can do is ask people not to make it worse. You can't enforce your request if they insist on fighting, and the result of escalation is usually a heated gquit.

Also, sometimes individuals just won't take criticism of any sort. We had a member gquit once because of a personality conflict and wounded pride when the officers supposedly sided with someone he didn't like (as someone who wasn't emotionally involved, I know there was no "siding" going on, but I can see how an angry and wounded person would take it as a personal affront).

If you're the angry or injured party in the fight, I have very simple advice: don't shoot yourself in the foot. Shut up if you can't hold your temper and don't gquit to make a point unless you're ready to move to another guild. Angry, irrational people are more likely to get gkicks and less likely to get accepted back. No one wants a drama queen.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
She's currently eating Starburst instead of lunch.
Beth's been married since her junior year of college.
Whenever that was.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Holding Back the Tide

When your guild gets embroiled in a bit of unpleasantness with a player or another guild, it can be difficult to control the public responses of your members. The best you can do is request that people keep their heads and not sink themselves further into the argument, but if outrage is high and members are slapping out responses before they think, can you really turn the tide back?

In any dispute, there's always the threat that members will ignore leaders and go off half-cocked into the fight. This makes things worse instead of better by escalating the drama and even giving credence to people who don't deserve to be acknowledged.

In IVV right now, a single player master looted an item that he'd lost the roll for from a 25-man and then taunted and harassed the involved players for trying to seek justice through GMs. Several of his guildmates joined in abusing IVV.

The question for a guild when you fail to see justice in a situation such as this is how to act. On the one hand, individuals may want to strike out to appease their own anger. On the other, the group as a whole is implicated by an individual's actions and leaders want to keep members in check.

This rule -- that a guild can be tainted by the inappropriate actions of a member -- is obvious in our discussions of how to interact with the ninja's guild from now on, since they chose to keep him and (several of them) defend him.

The reining agreement in IVV is to avoid his guild, Pure Insanity, but not to harass them. One of our best players, recently returned from a tenure in a top US raiding guild (and even left behind a Gladiator title and frostwyrm on his alliance toon), says he'll ask any group he joins with a PI member to drop either them or him. He won't group with them. And he's sure to have a solid reputation as a player on our server just like his last.

The actions of a few taint the whole. Perhaps on a small server like ours, you can't afford to get rid of bad people even if it ruins your credibility as a guild because there's no one to take that person's place. Or perhaps Pure Insanity just doesn't care if members reflect badly on the guild.

Either way, when it comes to your guild, public relations demands that you keep player behavior in check whether you possess the offender or the victim. I don't care how connected a person is or how many friends he or she will take -- if a member is willing to soil your guild's name, and if they know they can get away with it without punishment, they will never be worth keeping.


Beth Blevins is a former officer in In Vino Veritas.
She's currently working on her writing.
Beth's been married since her junior year of college.
Whenever that was.