What Your Guild Forums Say

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m always excited when I get the first crack at a guild’s forums. Something about the ability to read what people take the time to write out, past the one-liners that compromise most guild communications, gives a really solid idea of what you’re facing and who you’re dealing with past the pixels.

I am currently a “member” of Production Company, and as such I’ve been invited to the guild in-game, but even better, I got access to the guild’s forums a little over a week ago.

I wanted to talk about the forums because I found something I wasn’t expecting, and have yet to see in any other guild I’ve been a part of — individual forums.

The general set-up for most guilds runs something along the lines of this:

Public

  • General / News
  • Guild Guidelines
  • Funny Stuff
  • ApplicationsPrivate
  • General / News
  • Funny Stuff
  • Class/Role Forums
  • Raiding Strategies / DiscussionOfficers
  • General / News
  • Policy DiscussionNow some of these things are duplicated, because in many cases, they are duplicated in many guild’s forums, or pertain “public” vs. “private” news and information. No one wants to air their dirty laundry, and no sense announcing to the interwebz that you’ll be on vacation from the 20-30th of next month.

    Primarily, forums function as a free-flow of information among guildmates who may only meet in “real-time” at set times… such as the raid–not exactly the best time to be mucking out the latest strategy or notifying people that you’re planning a vacation in the future. A healthy guild forum equals a healthy guild in my opinion.

    ProCo has taken that private among the guild conversation and restricted it even further. Each guild member has a forum that is accessible to the guild member and the management. This provides a few things:

  • Direct line of communication to management that is not reliant on schedules matching up
  • Private forum for airing problems without fear of repercussion
  • A place to be criticized about performance without the “all eyes are watching” feelingWhile the management likely feels the last is the most important, from a member perspective, I feel that the first is. Finding time where you don’t feel like you’re “bothering” management likely leads to most of the dissatisfaction people feel about being able to communicate their fears/worries/concerns about the guild or their place in it.

    The second ties directly into the first. I know when I was an officer/guild leader the biggest problem I had was personal issues/concerns spilling over into guild chat/guild forums that opened a whole can of worms that often had nothing to do with the original problem. Once one person vents a tear, it seems that everyone gets the bug, and its sure hard to stamp out that infection once it starts. By allowing people to voice their problems in an “this is my entire argument” way without having to worry about how its going to come across to EVERYONE in the guild is a HUGE relief. While some episodes of guild chat/forum spewing actually help you resolve issues by allowing everyone a rant, the number of times this has been true has been, oh, about… once.

    The last is an awesome way to handle constructive criticism. Being called out in a raid is likely the most humiliating experience that a person can have. The problem is, most people don’t follow up after raids/in private communication to criticize either — it’s time consuming, the back and forth in /tells can send the wrong message, and frankly, it’s just easier to say “you’re in the bad.” Criticizing performance on the forums has the same problem, in many respects, to criticizing management on the forums — it can easily get out of hand. The member feels too “exposed,” other members try to “help,” and the whole thing ends up looking like a witch hunt. Knowing that you are in a “safe zone” with only management there to try to point out your performance areas and help you improve can do a lot to seeing an actual improvement instead of a /gquit.

    I will say, that for a larger guild, or a guild with high turnover, establishing and maintaining a forum for each guild member would likely cause more stress than the enterprise is worth. However, for a smaller guild, or one with little to no turnover, the extra communication could help cement your guildmates more tightly to the overall goals and direction of the guild.

     

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6 thoughts on “What Your Guild Forums Say

  1. I think the 'help desk' system is a fantastic one, and have used it for previous guild sites and for a massive PbP I was involved with for years. The absolute best method, as it stopped everyone heaping every little issue on the GM, and saved time.

    I need to look into replicating the system, but I'm not sure phpbb3 has the necessary permissions (I always used vbulletin in the past.)

    Having a busy and regularly updated guild forum has been massive for our guild, allowing people to stay in the community even when their game time has run out, or business/family takes them afk.

  2. This sounds… like a major, MAJOR pain in the ass for whoever the sad soul maintaining the forums is. It's not rocket surgery, but setting up those permissions manually takes a lot of time… and then you have to do it each time a member joins? It might sound like a good idea in theory, but I don't think it's viable (unless the guild has a forum admin with a lot of time and patience). PMs would work just as well… if it's necessary, a joint account could be created which all the management could access (so all the officers could see messages received and what the other officers replied).
    (And I'm speaking from the perspective of someone in a small guild with little turnover.)

    • Many PM systems (like in-game mail) limit the amount of text that can be exchanged, and you lose the ability for multiple members (the entire management team + guild member) to react and interact on a particular topic.

      Having run boards before, I am unsure where the time issue comes in except in the initial set-up process for an established guild since setting up a new member + permissions (including creation of private subforum) should take less than 10 minutes. To me, the time investment up-front is well worth the investment in additional communication resources–prevention is definitely 100 times less time consuming than dealing with a problem breaking into a public setting!

      • 10 minutes is a lot of time for me, and I'd rather just talk to people in-game… Currently setting up an user takes about 2 minutes and I still don't like doing it 😛

        I don't think the private forum solution would work very well (time/effort investment vs. results). For a small guild, talking personally with each player shouldn't be a problem (we have ~30 accounts with ~20 active). For a bigger guild this would be more useful, but the setup would be too time-consuming. If someone has the time to do this, great, but for me it wouldn't be a workable system.

        • I think it depends on the time you commit in-game, as well as how well you (or your officers) take in making an effort to stay connected to your players. I personally find "hanging around" in-game the biggest pita in existence, so I'd much rather have an out of game system so I can spend my in-game time playing the game.

          I realize it's not a solution for everyone, but the advantages for guilds attempting to share a ton of information with limited in-game time made the idea seem worthwhile.

          • If you don't like hanging out, then yeah, I can understand why you'd want a multifunctional forum 🙂 Personally, I love being on Vent and chatting to my guildies in chat, and my RL is also very approachable, so that works.

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