Well, yesterday was a very sad day in the life of the Sidhe Devils.
One of our long time members and dear friends, Doodlebug, decided to leave us for a while to take a break.
To travel the lonely trails as a wandering ronin, guildless and hunted by ninjas, his only companions the wolf at his side, and the baby in the cart he pushes along those dusty roads…
Oh, sorry. Lone Wolf and Cub flashbacks.
Anyway, as Doodle leaving kinda came out of nowhere from my perspective, you can imagine that I was confuzzled.
So I sent him an email, letting him know that I hoped he was all right, and assuring him that we were all really going to miss him. He’s always been a bright light of joy and fun in the guild.
When I logged in during the afternoon yesterday, he came on and we partied up to chat for a bit about how he was doing.
One of the things I was hoping to find out, beside how he was doing and if there was anything I could do to ease his stress levels, was whether or not something I had or had not done in being the Guild Leader had either contributed to, or directly led to his desire to leave.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think I have all the answers, certainly not about running a guild. I don’t know it all, I just do the best I can from one day to the next, taking things as they come, trying to anticipate potential problems and work to prevent them, but mostly just improvising as I go.
If it weren’t for Cassie, who does 90% of the actual thinking and work involved in running it, I’d look more like the idiot I am.
But I do worry about the things I could be doing or should be doing. Are we too hands on, organizing stuff on the calander? Are we not active enough? Do we give players enough space to do what they actually want to do when they want to do it, or do we give them too much wide open freetime, leaving them bored off their ass?
In the end, Cassie and I have pretty much just decided that trying to have a couple guild events on the calander each week that people are welcome to sign up for as THEY choose, and making sure everyone knows that if they do want more events, or want to do something specific, all they need to do is take the personal initiative to say so, and ask for it to be on the calander, is enough.
We hope it’s been working okay.
Well, in talking to Doodlebug, while chatting about this that and the other, he asked me a very good question on how I decide to act with people that are causing problems.
Apparently, it wasn’t an issue with him, but he couldn’t figure out why we took action on some things, but then on others I seem to just let it go on and on and on, bugging me.
In the past I’ve chatted with Doodle on voicechat, just venting a bit about something I’m cranky about, or stuff that’s irritated me lately, or whatever. So he knows when I’ve been grumpy about something once in a while.
And he asked me yesterday, “If someone in the guild has done something that’s really irritated you, why don’t you just boot them? Why do you put up with it?”
It’s a good question. I’m the Guild Leader, right? So if someone in the guild did something to irritate me, I could boot them from the guild and be done with it. Right?
Well, no. Not really. I think that it would be immature and asinine.
I stole the title of the post from Terry Pratchett’s character Carrot Ironfounderson, but I think it’s true. I’m responsible for leading a group of people, and when thinking about an issue, ”Personal isn’t the same thing as important.”
Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think so though.
There are two different kinds of issues that I think need to be dealt with in two very different ways;
- Something that only affects me.
- Something that affects many members of the guild.
If it’s just something that is bugging me, but nobody else either notices or cares, then I blow it off. I may vent about it for a short time to a close friend, but that’s about it. Not everybody gets along. Sometimes, people just say things or do things that will rub your fur the wrong way. Life sucks, get a helmet, as Denis Leary would say.
If it does seem to have some kind of animosity behind it, if something that seems a little mean-spirited keeps going on, then I’ll certainly approach them and talk about it, try to figure out what’s going on. But to take some kind of banhammer /gkick action? Nah, that’s incredibly inappropriate.
But what about something that affects the fun of the group?
If there is something going on with someone that is hurting the fun of a large number of guildies, then it’s a different story. An issue that affects the guild as a whole needs to be identified, and corrected. Period.
Everyone has a right to enjoy playing the game. It’s only a game, after all. If it’s not fun to play, if you find yourself choosing not to log in to play your game because there might be someone online that you don’t want to deal with, or who hurts your feelings or makes you very uncomfortable… that’s an issue. A big issue. And hopefully it’s the kind of thing you can trust your guild officers enough to tell them about, before you drift away.
Now, maybe my approach to things isn’t the best. Rather than confront someone right up front on a first time issue, potentially hurting their feelings over what may be nothing at all, I’ll instead talk about it to other guild officers first, see what their thoughts are, and generally wait and see if maybe it was an isolated thing, or to see whether it becomes an ongoing trend. Was it just the one time? Did they just have a bad day? Will the person approach anyone else and bring up what happened themselves, showing personal responsibility and maturity, or will they pretend nothing happened or do they act like how they are treating others is actually appropriate?
Maybe it would be better to simply confront the person, the very first time, get everything right out in the open. I know I’ve read some things that suggest it is.
But I think that, if you were having a bad day, and you were just cranky, and maybe you still are, and you know it but you’re all mixed up inside, then being confronted about it right then is probably not going to help at all.
I just prefer to have a ‘cooling off period’, where guild officers can have a chance to discuss things first. And you know what? On those rare occasions where there might have seemed to be an issue… in most cases, a week passes, and nobody even remembers it happened. It was a bad moment in a day in the life, and you moved past it. And nobody got all argumentative and huffy and defensive and proud.
Arguments for and against, really.
I don’t think of myself as a babysitter. I expect everyone else in the guild to act mature and responsibly. I will NOT be big daddy bear dealing with childish cubs.
I’ll give someone a lot of chances to deal with things on their own, because who the hell am I to deal with it for them? All I’m responsible for is making sure no one else gets hurt by a guild members’ actions, and to be available to talk to if someone chooses to seek out someone out on their own.
If things go on long enough, and a behavior or action continues to hurt the fun of the group, if it does become a trend, then it becomes time to discuss what course of action to take, to make sure that the fun of the group is not screwed up because of one person.
That’s it. Once it becomes an issue that affects the group, and more than once, then it’s time to address it in some way.
In our guild, of course, there’s also another level to look at.
We’re a guild that is based on being social and having fun together, keeping in mind that real life comes first.
So the core playstyle, the foundation of the guild, is to have fun doing what we all like, and hanging together and chatting together and generally having fun. We can get goofy in chat, and have fun, and frequently people pop in, play for 15 minutes, then announce it’s time to go take the kids to Cub Scouts. It’s what the heart and soul of the guild is all about.
But there are also those of us within the guild that like to occasionally get our raid on.
People are more than welcome to PUG runs and raids if they want, I for one think we are all in agreement that if you enjoy raiding more than we schedule, but you also want to be in the guild too, then by all means, I don’t think it’s a problem. Go find a group that you can raid with. We still love you. Why wouldn’t we want you to have fun?
But when we do schedule raids, if someone signs up for it then they are committing to a certain level of mature play. In a raid, nine other people are also committing themselves to setting aside an evening to play together. For many of us, we actually rearrange our lives so that we can have that time available.
As an example, for Wulfa to raid, Dammy has to watch the Orclette for the night. So Dammy has to give up his own WoW playtime so she can do it. That’s the kind of thing everyone has to choose on their own, in one way or another.
Is the fun I expect to have playing with my friends worth what I’m going to have to do to free up that time?
It’s a big commitment to anyone with a family, and even if you don’t have a family in your immediate daily life, often there are work stresses, school studies to be done, and friends that want a bunch of your time too, especially on the weekend, and all those things that you might be doing, are things you are setting aside for that time to raid with friends.
So it’s expected that, while the guild is social and casual, if you choose of your own free will to sign up for a raid, you are committing yourself to stepping up and acting in a mature manner, and show respect for your other guildies by being ready to go at the scheduled start time, so everyone can have as much fun as possible in the short time we’ve got.
And since there are going to be a lot of people depending on each other, it’s very important to everyone that, if real life does come up that prevents you from coming when you said you would, that you make sure you let us know in advance so we can work something out.
It’s fine that real life comes up. That’s the point of the guild, that we understand that real life comes first.
But, when you sign up for a raid, you are saying that if real life does come up, you will act responsibly and let us know so nine people aren’t sitting on their butts waiting for their friend to show up.
So there are two different standards in our guild, one for being in the guild and having fun, playing with friends and socializing and messing around. And there is another level of commitment for those folks that choose to sign up to raid.
And yes, heck yes it can cause stress. But would it be fair to boot someone from the guild because they have trouble making raids reliably? Because they are only having trouble with one small, optional part of guild activities?
I certainly don’t think so, not at all. Absolutely not.
But at the same time, would it be fair for the other nine people if we don’t do something abuot it, if problems keep happening without any warning at all? I don’t think that’s reasonable, either. You can’t expect people to rearrange their lives to go on a raid, if the raid consistently fails to happen. So it needs to be addressed.
So it’s extra drama that we always have to worry about, but it’s the price we pay to have fun on our own terms.
But the rule has to be, if it just affects me, then it’s personal. I have to deal with it as an individual. It does NOT constitute guild officer level business, or guild officer level action. DOES NOT.
If it affects the fun of the group, then it DOES constitute a problem that the officers have to deal with, calmly, fairly, and with more than one opinion in the mix.
I think it’s appropriate. And I think, in the long run, that it is working for us pretty well.
I can wish that it wasn’t necessary to even have to think about that stuff at all, though, can’t I?