Guide to a Successful Guild
Being in a good guild is one of the most rewarding and fun aspects of World of Warcraft. Running a good guild is like being the captain of a winning sports team - everyone loves you for it and you have a blast. Unfortunately running a guild successfully is also fairly difficult. Most new guilds never get off the ground, and those that do will always have occasional problem members, activity problems, and other upsets. This guide will help you make sure your guild is a place everyone wants to be, and help it stay active for a long time.
Table of Contents
- Before Creating a Guild
- Starting Your Guild
- Guild Features
- Growing Your Guild
- Keeping it Going
AbbreviationsGL - Guild Leader/Master (so as not to confuse with GM/Game Master)
RL - Real Life (as opposed to in WoW)
alt - Alternate character, sometimes lower level
RP - Role-playing (like acting, pretending to be your character)
DKP - "Dragon Kill Points", raid points, used to distribute items.
vent - Ventrilo, a voice chat provider
TS - Teamspeak, a voice chat provider
PuG - "Pick up Group", a group of people who joined up just to do a particular quest or instance, who don't know eachother. Can refer to the group, a person in the group, or even be used as a verb ("we're going to pug someone from Trade chat to fill the last spot").
- Being online often, usually an hour or two every day
- Taking initiative to set up guild events
- Appointing officers
- Recruitment and applications
- Website set-up and maintenance
- Resolving conflicts and dealing with difficult people
- Kicking problem members when necessary
- Be able to take a few insults (it's inevitable that someone won't like you)
There are many people who would no longer have fun in the game because of these responsibilities, and that is fine! Running a guild certainly isn't for everyone. There are lots of good guilds out there to join, and for many people that is a better choice than making their own.
Starting your guildGetting a guild off the ground can be very difficult. It is also an incredibly important step in a guild's history - it sets the stage for everything to come, including what type of members the guild will have and what style of guild it will be. This part of the guide will help you get a great start for your new guild.
What kind of guild will you run?A lot of people become excited about making a guild and don't really decide ahead of time what type of guild they want to make. The best guilds out there have a solid identity - they know quite clearly what they are there to do.
Here are some types of guilds and descriptions of each:
- Social Guild: Social guilds exist so that players can find other cool people to interact with. While members may run instances, PvP, or even raid together, that is not the point of the guild and the guild policy will not revolve around that. Social guilds are usually pretty big, but GLs of social guilds need to be careful of who they invite - a bad apple can ruin a social guild.
- "Family" Guild: Usually this doesn't refer to actual family members - instead this is a very small, tight-knit guild of close friends, either in RL or in the game. These guilds may raid, PvP, or run instances together as well. They are usually very exclusive and careful of who they invite.
- Leveling Guild: These guilds exist for the sole purpose of helping lowbies level up. This can be approached by having lots of lowbies who group together, or by having higher level people who help run the lowbies, in exchange for help running their alts. Leveling guilds are usually quite large, to have a big pool of helpers to draw from.
- PvP Guild: These guilds can concentrate on some or all forms of PvP - arena, battlegrounds, world PvP raids, and twinking. They may run twinks through low level instances to help gear them up as well. These guilds may be large or small, depending on what types of PvP they do.
- RP Guild: RP guilds usually only exist on RP servers. These guilds bring people interested in role-playing together, and often organize group role-playing events. These guilds can be large or small, depending on the type of experience desired.
- Raiding Guild: While all the other activities listed thus far can be completed without a guild, raiding end-game content essentially requires a guild. Raids require planning, research, and teamwork to be successful. Raiding guilds usually have at least 30 very active raiders, and often even more casual members. Raiding guilds require a lot of maintenance and policy-making, since people want to know the rules for how raids are set up, led, and how they get gear. In addition, raiding guilds vary in their seriousness from casual raiding to hardcore raiders who raid every single day.
Pre-charter recruitmentNow that you know what kind of guild you want, you should try and find ten people who want to join your guild before you actually create it. Asking in Trade chat for people to sign your charter is not the best start for a guild. In an ideal circumstance, you would already have some trusted friends ready to join you and become officers in your new guild.
This will also help you decide whether it will be feasible to create a guild. It can be very hard to get a guild started - the fact is, most new guilds fail. Without a large member base, anyone who joins will see that not many people are online and will quit to find a better guild. It is much better to have a few active people on from the get-go. So the pre-guild recruitment step is very important.
What's in a name?Actually, a lot is! Choosing your guild's name helps define the overall feel of your guild. Use the type of guild you decided to make to help you chose a name. An RP guild should not have a silly or out of character name - at the same time, PvP guilds often have names in "leet speak" or funny names. Social guilds also often have funny names, while raiding guilds could have a "cool" name or a silly one, depending on the personalities you want to attract. Regardless, you should spell your guild's name correctly and capitalize it - nothing looks worse then a misspelled guild name. Adding numbers and symbols to the name because the one you wanted was already taken isn't really cool looking either - its usually best to pick a different name.
If you need guild name ideas, just look at the ones that are well known on your server. Here are some examples: The Happy Orc Ale Company; Havok; Ctrl Alt Elite; Cuddly Wuddlies; The Late Shift; Bounce House Raiding; Seeds of Evil; Gravedancer's Union; Red Light District; Irony.
Designing your guild tabardWhile you can't actually get a tabard until after your guild is created, this is something you will definitely want to do right away. No matter what type of guild you have, a tabard and it's symbol helps make the guild feel unified. Make sure your officers wear the tabard around, at least while you are recruiting - it helps people recognize you. Try to pick a symbol that matches your name or the "personality" you are trying to give your guild - for example, the "Happy Orc Ale Company" uses a red tabard with gold trim, and a picture of two ale mugs. This gives a fun and carefree feel. A skull or poison symbol and dark colors gives a more serious or sinister feeling.
Signing the charterThanks to your pre-charter recruiting, you should already have 10 people to sign your guild charter. Head to the nearest major city and buy a charter from the guild master there, and have your soon-to-be guild members meet you to sign it. If you need a few more signatures to get going, you can ask people to sign the charter and then quit if they like, or even pay people to sign - but this is not really the best way to go. Instead, you may as well start recruiting for your guild right now! See the recruitment section below for tips.
Guild featuresMany people put a lot of stock into the "features" a guild has, and they are important. But always remember that features are like dressing or sauce - they can't really make a guild on their own. The type of members you invite and the policies you set down are always more important.
Guild BankHaving a guild bank is very useful, for many reasons. It allows members to easily transfer items to each other. If one member has excess of an item, he can leave it in the bank for someone else to use. For raiding guilds, it provides a place to stockpile materials needed to craft special gear for bosses, or potions and food needed during raids.
But not all guilds need a guild bank. Having at least one bank tab is nice for pretty much any guild, but it isn't necessary to have a full bank for all guilds. Think about the needs your guild will have, and purchase tabs accordingly. Your bank can grow along with the guild - and guild members can help donate to buy bigger tabs.
One note of caution: be wary of a potential member whose first question is "how big is the bank and can I access it?". There are people out there who will join your guild just to rip off your bank. It's best to open the bank to members slowly - use the rank system and permissions to protect your guild from theft.
Website and forumsHaving a website and forums can assist a guild in communication and planning events. Even with the in-game calendar, some planning is best done by a forum. It allows officer to communicate even when they are not all online together, and to provide important announcements to guild members that they cannot get in the small guild message of the day.
Website also have a huge potential for other fun guild activities, such as surveys and screenshot contests. You can share pictures of your guild's accomplishments or fan fiction written by guildies.
Unfortunately, it can be surprisingly hard to get your guild members to use the website. Even when required to sign up, some will not even log in and check the forums. There are many ways to approach this - you can penalize people for not checking in, you can reward those who do, you can generate interest through weekly website events or contests, and you can locate important information such as DKP totals on the website.
Website design is no easy feat, and guild websites have a lot of special needs. I recommend you use a guild-specific website provider - my personal favorite is guildlaunch.com. They are ad-funded (free), but you can upgrade by paying a small monthly fee to remove the ads and get bonus features.
Ventrilo or TeamspeakWhile WoW has a built in voice system, it's generally considered very sub-par. Essentially all raiding guilds and many other guilds have their own vent or TS servers. Even for a social guild, having a voice server of some kind really helps improve guild communication and interaction. In raiding, voice is vital for giving quick instructions and announcements. It also helps in PvP or instance situations for the same reason.
There are many providers for vent servers. Guildlaunch rents Ventrilo servers, which is nice if your site is also hosted there. You can find other providers easily - simply google "ventrilo".
FundingFunding these features is a bit much for one person - all together a website and voice server can set you back fifty dollars a month, depending on the features in each. It's probably not a good idea to try and require RL dues, but you can provide a donate button on your guild's website and call attention to it when your guild's funds are running low. Remember to acknowledge those who donate in some way, to reward them for their help!
Growing your guildSo now you have a guild with at least ten people in it. You may even have some of the fancy features described in the previous section. But you are still at the bottom of the list of guilds - you have only just begun! To succeed, you need to recruit and retain members. To do this, you'll have to catch their interest one way or another, and keep them hooked by managing the guild well.
Methods of recruitmentThere are a lot of options for recruitment. Some are impersonal and can net you just about any type of person, while others are more discriminate. You will have to decide what to use based on the type of guild you want (see, I told you that first decision was important!). For example, it's fairly ridiculous to see a "small family guild" advertising in Trade chat, saying they are accepting anyone who applies. At the same time, a beginning raiding guild that needs to quickly get enough members to fill a 25-man raid needs to get their message out there, so Trade or realm forums are good places to start.
Guild Recruitment channelThe sad truth is, this channel really won't help you. Hardly anyone joins it voluntarily, and only guildless characters are automatically entered into it. Most people who are looking for a new guild won't leave their old guild until they find a new one, so this doesn't help you much at all. Recruiting here is probably a waste of time.
Trade channelRecruiting in the Trade channel is a two-edged sword. The upside is that you will get your message out to a lot of people. The downside is that many view this as annoying, and also desperate. You will lose some respect for recruiting in this manner. In addition, you will have no way to discriminate who answers this type of recruitment ad, so you probably don't want to say you will invite anyone who asks.
Recruitment in the Trade channel is best when the guild needs a quick influx of people, and the quality of those people is a little less important.
General channelRecruiting in this channel has the same pitfalls as the Trade channel. However, it allows you to target your recruitment somewhat. If you are a leveling guild seeking members of a certain level, you can advertise in zones specific to that level.
Realm forumsThe realm forums are different from recruiting in public channels. Only people actively looking for a guild will go to these forums. In addition, these people are already putting in some effort, so they are more likely to be committed community members. Advertising in these forums is expected, and is not looked down upon. However, you will also be reaching a smaller audience.
In addition, the realm forums allow you to reach new transfers looking for a guild, or people looking to transfer. This can sometimes bear unexpected fruit - I have had one player transfer servers to join my guild, then go back and tell all her old server friends about it, and they all transferred and joined as well.
PuG recruitmentRecruiting people from PuGs that went well is an excellent way to grow your guild. You have already run an instance with this person, so you know whether they play well, and you have had some social interaction. This allows you to tell right off the bat whether someone is way off from what you want. Only time will tell for sure, but you can weed out a lot of bad apples this way. Have your officers PuG often when you are trying to grow your guild - this will both get your name out there as active players and allow you to meet many potential recruits.
Friend of guildiesBy far the best form of recruitment in terms of weeding out bad people, recruiting friends of guild members gives you a first hand experience of what the potential member is like. This is also a slow form of recruitment, and most suitable for guilds who are already close to the size they want to be.
EventsHolding fun events that are open to anyone on the server is a great way to raise awareness of your guild and to show people that you are a fun place to be. For example, before Naxxramus was moved to Northrend, a guild on my server would regularly host open raids of Naxx open to all level 70s. People from all over the server got to know that guild as a consequence.
Deciding who to inviteThe truth is, guilds who invite anyone who ask inevitably fail (unless they judiciously kick bad members). The reason is that you will get a few bad tempered people in any guild eventually, and these people can bring down the entire guild. I have seen this happen to good guilds before. A guild leader can't afford to be too nice, its the unfortunate truth.
But how do we decide who stays and who goes? You have a few options, and you should chose depending on the type of guild you are running and how fast you need to grow.
ApplicationHaving those who want to join your guild fill out an application is an excellent way to weed through people. Many won't even bother to put in the effort, which means they probably wouldn't have been very active or contributing members anyway. You can learn a lot from the answers you do receive - no matter what questions you ask in the application, the biggest thing you can learn from the ap is "Did they put time into this? Do they actually care about joining the guild?" If a person put thought into their ap, no matter what their answers are, it is worth considering.
When writing an application, think about the needs of your guild. If you are a raiding guild, ask the applicant if they can make your raid times. If you are a PvP guild, ask them their resilience rating or arena standing. Ask about their internet reliability if that is important to your guild, or their character's background if you are an RP guild.
Finally, I like to add some "fun" questions to my guild's aps to help lighten the mood. Peanut butter or Jelly? Elmer Fudd or Bug's Bunny? Explain the meaning of life in three words or less? What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Things like this will help you get a feel for the person's personality and sense of humor, which is important no matter what type of guild you run.
InterviewMany guilds require an interview, whether on voice chat or a simple pst. The length and depth of the interview depends on the type of guild. Most treat this as a simple question and answers or "getting to know you" session.
Instance/raid/PvP test runFor guilds where skill is important, such as raiding or PvP guilds, you may want to require applicants to go on a test run with your guild. This is a good way to test their play style and also their equipment.
Level requirementsMost raiding guilds require that applicants be at the level cap in order to get in. PvP guilds may require you to be at the top of your PvP bracket.
Gear requirementsMany raiding and PvP guilds have gear requirements. Unfortunately, allowing people with sub-par gear into raids or PvP makes the event less fun for others, since it makes the group as a whole more likely to fail. Many guilds have stalled due to leaders being too "nice" and allowing under-geared people into raids, resulting in wipe after wipe, and causing the geared players to lose faith in the guild.
When to stop?How do you know what size your guild should be? Again, ask yourself what kind of guild you want. If you want a close-knit, family type guild, you probably want to stay fairly small. Most other guilds can be either large or small, depending on the type of feel you want - is it a close-knit band of very active people, or a vast group with many subgroups within it? The more people, the more chances to find groups for raids, instances, leveling, or PvP - but the relationships may be less close and you may have social cliques forming and butting heads.
Keeping it goingNow your guild is the size you want. What are some things you can do to keep the guild going strong?
Have clear policiesEven if you have a simple social guild, you should have some policies - be respectful, no ninja looting, etc. Raiding guilds need to have more in depth policies (how raids are set up, how loot will be distributed, etc). Whatever your policies are, make sure they are clear and change as little as possible.
For some specific guidance for raiding guilds and loot distribution, see the Loot Distribution System wiki page.
Plan eventsNo matter what type of guild, you should have something fun planned for your guild almost every day. This could be simple instance runs or battlegrounds, a raid, arenas, or social/RP events. Blizzard hs been pretty good about adding fun seasonal events - coincide your guild's events with these (Haloween costume party, Noblegarden Egg hunt, seasonal boss kills, etc). Make sure your guildies always have something fun to do.
Kick problem membersYou have policies - make sure you enforce them. While it seems "mean" to kick a problem member, in truth it's mean not to. If that person is making the game less fun for everyone else in your guild, he or she needs to go. Many a guild has been killed by problem members who weren't kicked.
Delegate!Guild leaders get burnt out much faster if they try to do everything themselves. Put together an active team of officers from your veteran guildies and train them to take on some of the work. Possible positions include:
- Website Officer - updates the site, adds new content
- Bank Officer - organizes the bank and gets items out for guildies as needed
- Recruitment Officer - review applications and recommends who should stay or go, does interview and test runs, may even make the final decisions
- DKP Officer - Updates and tracks DKP for the guild
- Raid Coordinator - Sets up raids and chooses people to lead them, or leads them personally
- Event Coordinator - Plans non-raid events
- PvP bracket officers - In charge of PvP teams in particular level brackets
Do new thingsJust doing something every day isn't enough - people will get burned out. Make sure you mix things up occasionally and do something new. This is especially pertinent to raiding guilds who have to focus on one raid for many weeks to complete it. At least one day of the week, do something else that is fun, even if it is a different raid.
Inter-guild relationsA guild leader should cultivate relationships with other guilds. Knowing the other major guild leaders on your server can help you in many ways. One of the most important things you can learn from other guild leaders is the dirt on any incoming members that were in those guilds. You'll be able to find out about problem members ahead of time. You can also make alliances with other guilds for the purposes of raiding, PvP, or other activities.
There can be a lot of tension between guild leaders, so remember to always act respectfully and calmly, even if the other leader does not. News travels surprisingly fast in WoW, especially if you have become a major guild. You always want to come out as the calm and cool one in any conflict - guild leaders are also diplomats.
Ask for inputNever be afraid to ask for input from your guildies. They can tell you if they are bored with something, or if there is something new they want to do. They can tell you if something you planned was particularly fun and should be done again. Always keep your finger on the pulse of your guild - it will alert you to problems early and help you make it an even better place to be.
TroubleshootingWhat do you do when things go wrong? Because they WILL go wrong, its a fact of life. A guild is a complicated system, with many parts, and at any given time something can happen to throw things out of wack. This section will talk about some possible problems and how to deal with them.
Change in leadershipWhether you are on the giving or receiving end of this transaction, there is often trouble. There are some situations where a guild leader wants to step down, either temporarily or permanently. No matter what the situation is, always assume that he or she will come back to the guild or the game, and have a plan for it! If a guild leader returns and demands to be reinstated as leader, but the guild has grown and many new members don't even know the old leader, all sorts of trouble can happen. It's best to insist ahead of time that should the guild leader return, he or she will be treated as any other new member.
If you are leaving the guild or the game, be sure to transfer leadership to one of the senior officers. It is very damaging to your reputation (not to mention hurtful to the guild) to leave without appointing a new leader. This is essentially a guild killer, since no one can make important changes without the guild leader position.
If your old guild leader left without transfering leadership and you are seeking to take the reins, do your best to contact the old leader and get them to appoint someone. If you can't, you will most likely need to form a new guild. Without the guild leader rank, you cannot change permissions and are stuck with whatever permissions you had before he or she left. The best thing to do is hold a large guild meeting, find out what everyone wants to do, and if possible have everyone transfer to a new guild. The downside here is that you will lose all your guild bank tabs and possibly things that are in the bank too, if you don't have permissions to withdraw them.
Changing guild focusThere are times when a leveling guild wants to become a raiding guild, or a hardcore raiding guild goes casual. These times of transition are difficult for everyone involved, but are often better for the guild as a whole.
First, make sure there is a majority who desire the change. If it is only a small group, it may be best for those people to part ways and join another guild or create their own. Or they can simply have a small group within your guild that focuses on this other activity, but remains with the guild for social reasons.
Second, try to make the transition gradual. Going from leveling to raiding is a big step - don't jump into 7 days a week raiding all at once. Start with one or two days a week and work up from there.
Finally, make sure your policies are clear and try to change them as little as possible - but DO change them if they are broken! A newly raiding guild's loot system is a good example. Start with something simple, such as need over greed or suicide kings, before jumping into a full-fledged DKP system.
Splits and spin-offsOne of the more ugly problems a guild can face is when a portion of its members leaves together to form a new guild. There is inevitably a lot of bitterness between the two guilds, and it is a huge blow to the older guild's morale. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that if those people didn't want to be in the guild, then it is really better off without them. If the people who left acted honorably, try to curb as much of the bad feelings as possible and maintain a good relationship with the old guildies. If they did not act honorably (lying to guild members to get them to leave, etc), warn your guild members and any allied guilds about them. This isn't spiteful - its a courtesy to your guild and the other guilds.
Whatever the case, no matter how bad the other guild acted, always try to deal with them calmly and maturely. As a guild leader, you are a diplomat - if you are calm in the face of adversity, you will gain respect.
Have fun!WoW is a game, but its full of real people, and guilds are in many ways the most "real" element of the game. Your interactions with guild members are as real as your interactions with friends in the real world. You are all here to have fun, so keep that in mind!
People come and people go from guilds. But if you are honest and respectful, it is doubtful that your guild will ever fully dissolve as long as you are putting energy into keeping it going.
Good luck with your guild, I hope it becomes a wonderful place to be!