How did you find your current guild/s?

I’m planning to write a longer post this week on different ways to find guilds in games. One of the things that stands out to me is that you may need to search in different ways, depending on what you want from your guild.

For example, WoW offers recruitment forums on the official boards. But at least 90% of the guilds who use those forums are looking for raiders to take on hard mode ICC. So if that wasn’t what you wanted, there’s no point searching those forums even if they were widely publicised (which they aren’t). And  there’s also no easy way to filter out the guilds which are on awkward schedules for you, even if you were a hard mode raider looking for a home. Other websites attempt to plug these gaps, but that still leaves the potential recruit with a lot of work to do. Recommendations from a friend is another time-honoured way to find a guild, especially if you know people who raid on multiple servers/ characters.

I’m hoping that someday, some enterprising guild or game takes the Facebook approach and lets people recommend guilds to their friends. (This would actually be a useful battle.net feature but I don’t think that Blizzard is socially savvy enough to do it.)

Another way is via other communities. For example, maybe you are a member of a bulletin board or group of bloggers who decide to start a guild and you join it because you want to play with them.

Listening to recruitment chat in games is yet another way. People disparage the guilds who recruit madly via game chat, but it’s one way to meet people. And just because a guild recruits publically doesn’t mean that they might not be good company.

Running lots of random groups is another time honored way to meet people in games. If you find yourself frequently in a PUG with people from the same guild and you like them, asking if they are recruiting is a natural next step.

And the most traditional way of all, although maybe the hardest – is to start your own.

So how did you find your current guild/s? And do you think the same method would work for a new player starting now?

And sometimes, they listen …

One of the new tweaks going into (mega)patch 3.2 is more mailboxes for the old capital cities.

I suspect this is nothing to do with my suggestion, in fact I can’t even remember when I posted this (I suspect it was when I was levelling inscription on my Death Knight alt, all that running around from mailbox to auction house can’t be healthy!).  I’d always assumed that no one from Blizzard actually read the suggestions forum and it was more a way to just get things off your chest. But … you never know.

How to get people to read bulletin boards

Every MMO guild I’ve been involved with has used a bulletin board to pass on information and let members chat outside the game and in non-real time. They’re fantastically useful mechanisms.  You can post something in the morning and when you get back later, it’s spawned a multi-page thread, inspired your entire guild to get really enthusiastic on the topic, and gotten you banned.  And as well as threaded discussions, many bboards also allow you to send private messages to other players which is great when you want to bitch at people privately.

They really are a fantastic, simple solution as to how groups of people can communicate when they aren’t all present at the same time. In fact, bulletin boards may be the apex of human achievement.  They solved a very real and very human problem – without them, the internet might be possible but it could never really work. Also, flamewars: the second apex of human achievement.

And what are facebook and twitter if not clever tweaks to bboards?

There is a downside though. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but most people don’t care about your bulletin boards.

It doesn’t matter if you are running a guild, or a RL company, or a voluntary organisation. Even if the bulletin board is a crucial part of your communications strategy, most people ignore it, don’t care about it, and won’t read it unless you force them to do it. I used to work for a company that used bboards extensively and we had regulations about which boards we were supposed to keep up to date with. The fact they provided a ‘mark all as read’ button meant that you never had to actually read the things. Most people never read official forums. They won’t read your guild forums either.

The reason they don’t care is that the information isn’t always well organised, it’s a time consuming hassle to read the boards, and they aren’t all that interested in anything going on outside the game anyway. So they’re lazy and disinterested: welcome to the player base.

If you’re reading a blog, chances are that you may also read bulletin boards for your guild, for a really good game related site (eg. elitist jerks), and for the game itself. You’re in a small minority. You have the power of information, and it is at your fingertips. Yet with great power comes great responsibility. If you are the one who is often telling your guildies about what’s coming in the next patch, you are doing your bit to share the knowledge wealth. If you are the one who lets them know when there’s an interesting class Q&A on the official forums that is about their class, you’re doing your bit for the community.

And this is how bulletin boards typically work. They’re read by a few people, but the people who do read them disseminate the information. This is also why you have to take what players write on bboards with a pinch of salt; sure they are an influential minority but it’s not really clear if they pass information back the other way from the playerbase.

So you’re running a guild, how do you get people to read the boards?

This can be very frustrating if you are running a guild. Maybe you’d like to use bboards to let people know about upcoming raids, or to discuss class issues. You realise that a well used bboard can become a living community of it’s own, and you’d like that for your guild.

But how do you get people to use the boards?

  1. Create an atmosphere right from the start that is centred around the boards. Make them the front and centre of your community.
  2. Force people to use the boards regularly. Maybe use them for raid signups, so that you can make board usage a kind of gatekeeper for content the players want to do. (eg. if you don’t sign up, you can’t come.)
  3. Appoint an unofficial community manager. Companies have them, your guild can too. You just need one person who loves bboards (I know, I know) to keep thinking of cool ways to get everyone else to use them.
  4. Invite a few members who have fulltime jobs. They’ll be much more likely to use the bboards – it’s their way to keep in touch while they are at work.
  5. Reward the people who do use the boards. Be proactive in posting links to interesting news, blogposts, and other things they might be interested to see. Run competitions (I know we’ve had some cool screenshot competitions in the past). Have consumable giveaways.
  6. Most games let guild masters edit a message of the day that is shown to people when they log on. Use it to advertise the guild bboard, or any interesting threads up at the moment.
  7. Make sure all new members are informed about the bboard. Requiring all applications to be posted on the board is a good way to make sure they know where it is.
  8. If you’re the GM or an officer, then engage with the guild members. Answer their queries, listen to their issues, be available to chat on the bboard. Don’t make it a top down affair where you post instructions and they go away and do what they’re told. The baseline of a community is communication and it goes both ways.

What makes a good guild website?

I think it’s pretty much de rigeur now for MMO guilds to have their own websites, even if it is just a free bboard so that members can communicate when they aren’t in the game. Semi-professional guilds like Ensidia go the whole nine yards with forums, player blogs, articles and guides, advertising, and I’m quite surprised they don’t sell branded T-shirts and mugs too.

There are also specialist services like wowstead.com and guildportal.com which present guilds with the ability to easily set up complex and game-specific functionality (like rosters, contents of the guild bank, raid calendars, armoury access, etc). And I think EQ2 offers a similar service to guilds directly, although not for free, which I always thought was a fantastic idea.

For me personally, I’m happy with a basic bulletin board. Although calendars where you can sign up for guild events have also worked well for us.

What do you look for in a good guild website?