The above either means that I’m winging it today, or it means that nothing is going to happen today. Even the hamster is sleeping. In his defense, it is still pretty early.

I spent all yesterday stressed out by an incident on Wednesday night. Do you know I used to be a GL? I was – a little bitty guild on a PvE server. I wasn’t really the GL in anything more than title, as I had agreed to take it on only with the promises of support from the core raiders (all five!), and they held up their end of the deal, proving themselves to be some truly osm people. We had a really good setup of sharing the work involved in running a guild – for serious, we were a pretty good example of collective accomplishment seeking. It was a really nice guild to be in for a while there.

Ultimately what brought me to move on was a mix of everyone’s schedules colliding – simply: it’s impossible to raid successfully when you can’t get ten people in the room at the same time. It’s also really hard to run a guild at all that way. Add to that my crash-n-burn efforts at recruiting*, and, well, the future wasn’t bright, and I went on to server x-fer (and eventually faction x-fer) for a raid slot that would fit what was going on in my life**. I left amicably – I still loff those folks a LOT.

Which is why, when S texted me, I got bright around the edges and popped in on the old server to see what’s up. So I logged in on my lowbie priest, and logged into vent, and J was there, and B too, and V, even! And we got to play in the snow near Ironforge, and I got to be a furbolg with my furbolg stick, and or course J was dueling with everyone, and and and – well it was fun!

J asked me to come back. Then S asked me to come back and GL again. Which was totally awkward. I’m not going anywhere – I really adore my current guild situation, and it fits when I have time to play, and best of all, I don’t have to be a GL. And I think they got it – everyone was really nice, and we still played and had fun while we were hanging out.

What came out in the wash was that they’re having problems that they think might have to do with current guild leadership. They asked me flat out if I would take the guild back on my priest, and then hand it over to one of them (they’re officers, for the record. Also they’re not seeing very much of their current GL, which can be super disconcerting). We talked for a while – none of us could see how that could be done without hurting people’s feelings, and so any plans of a coup they might have had were tabled. And we kept talking.

I asked to what benefit it would be if they took back the leadership of the guild. It kept coming back to the bank – three people were doing a ton of contributing to the bank (5 tabs of goods, mind you), but there are fourteen people in guild spending from it. B, who’s doing the raid leading, said that he’s been paying for raiders’ enchants***, and that’s when my eyebrow shot up. I took a look in the g-bank, and there were no enchant mats in there. I asked why no one was putting in enchant mats. He and J told me that no one is running heroics for mats because they’re only ever on to raid. Same for flasks and fish – no one’s gathering, because they’re never on to gather, only to raid.  I think I actually groaned into vent. Like pushed the button and everything. Could have cried, swear to dog. They have a problem that’s bigger than who’s holding down the GL spot. And I have a suspicion about why the GL may be hiding out offline.

Guild culture is a Big Deal.

There’s the obvious stuff, of course, like fair raid rotations and not insulting people or hurting their feelings with how you talk to them. But there’s also the bigger part about everyone pitching in – you know, like you’re trying to do something together.

That’s what it comes down to, really – you can’t push the car uphill with just one shoving while the other three are sitting inside. It just won’t go. Your raid needs fish feasts? Well then, someone needs to fish, or buy fish. Your raid needs flasks? Well, someone needs to gather mats and alchemy them up, or folks need to buy them. People need their gear enchanted and gemmed? Heroics need to be run for mats and miners need to mine, or raiders need to buy their own. Bosses need to be killed? Raiders need to read strats and be prepared to wipe till it works. Raiders need gearz? Raiders need to run heroics until they have the badges to buy fanceh puplez****.

The best case scenario is that everyone in a guild just contributes to contribute, and that it’s painless. For example, I love to gather herbs on my druid (flight form picking FTW!), and I love to fish and dungeon on my mage. Hence, it’s not an issue for me to contribute fish and flowers. Some people (S, I’m looking at you) sing a little song when they spot a Titanium node. Some people love the challenge of engineering. Some people are pro at playing the AH and could be designated for bank cleanup. In my current guild, we have at least one person who delights in making bags. I know this because I keep putting in cloth, and watching the cloth tab fill with frostweavey 20-slotters. Someone’s also having a good time cooking – I’m noticing many Fish Feasts appearing in the food tab.

The main importance is that contributions to the guild be painless. And that’s the key to fostering a good guild culture. What are your guildies good at? What do they like to do? Is there someone who’s particularly good at explaining things or likes to research boss fights? They might make a great raid leader. Who loves to min/max and number crunch and spends wacky amounts of time on the Elitist Jerks forums? Well, you’ve got yourself a class lead. Someone leveling inscription? Encourage them to put a few glyphs in the bank – and save up Books of Glyph Mastery and herbs for them in an accessible g-bank tab.

Come Cata, there are all kinds of good reasons to get your guild to work well together – achievements aside, there’s leveling to be done! But it’s more than that – if the guild isn’t working together, it’s just… Well, it’s not a whole lot of fun, is it? And why pay fifteen dollars every month for something to relax and have  good time in if when you log in it’s more work than it is fun?

I feel terrible for the guys in the old guild – a precedent has been set wherein not everyone has to contribute. And to get business back together, there’s so much work to be done – talking to people, finding out what they like to do and what they’re good at, meting out the tasks and seeing if folks have enough time to do them, and then the growing pains of all the changes. It could be tough. I hope they can come to an understanding with their GL and smooth things out. I hope it happens easily and comfortably – it could, you know; they already have a pretty successful raid group going. They also have an advantage in turning things around, being a small guild.

All in all, I’m just super grateful for the guild situation I’m in right now. It’s cozy and people are kind. And it didn’t happen overnight –  the majority of this group have been raiding together for quite a while. They’ve had their growing pains, and have learned each other. I feel honored to have been welcomed in so warmly. With the new expansion on the way, I’m sure there will be some sturm und drang, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to weather it.

But one thing at a time, one thing at a time. Today I fish, today I de-stress. Today I remind myself that I’m only stressed out because I sincerely like all the parties involved, the old guild and my current guild, and I only want to do right by them all.

***

*Mistakes were made. Just for reference, if someone g-quits in a douchey way? When you at last invite them back after they wear you down with upstanding and generous behavior, and what appears to be genuine remorse for their prior actions, it is entirely plausible that they will rob the g-bank before they server transfer in the middle of the night. Just sayin’.
**Play time was at, and still is really, a premium for me. Everyone has obligations that define when they have downtime to play – mine are bounded by family, business, and four cats, one of whom thinks it’s delightful to make off with my authenticator and/or the modem cable (while it’s still attached to the modem, natch).
***His intentions are pure, and I get him. I made the mistake of buying mats for raid flasks a couple times, until I was told to stop that.
****Incidentally, I recently found out that  badgers can also buy gems – whoo-hoo!

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