Negotiating Space: Guilds & Blogs

It’s my blog and I can cry if I want to!

Last year there was some kerfluffle between Tam and his guild over a blog post, and I commented about how I felt about my own blog and my guild. Since then, I’ve moved my raiding over to a new team, and in the process, I’ve had to spend some more time evaluating how my blog can affect my guild, and in what ways I feel comfortable discussing guild business, promoting guild interests, and how my guildmates might be affected by what I decide to write.

My current guild was aware of my blog when they recruited me — it’s how they found me after all. When I was accepted as a full-member, there was some quiet discussion in my forum about the role of my blog: the guild was aware of it, the GM and RL did not expect me to change my voice. However, a link in the guild forums would be nice for blog post discussions that would benefit the guild.

Let’s just say, I’m horrible about linking.

The past couple of months I’ve spent most of my time doing what I always intended for my blog: compiling notes relevant to my characters and writing up strategies. I was tired of losing links and information whenever a guild imploded, and that was my primary motivation for starting my blog.

However, there are some things that can be considered touchy subjects. Guild management in general, a problem facing the guild (whether interpersonal or raid strategy), and all that generalized stuff that goes on in green and orange chat from day to day. I’ve begun to use my blog as a personal sounding board for how I feel about things that happen around the game. If the hamsters spinning the wheel of my brain will NOT shut up about something, I try to write about it. It helps crystallize my own feelings as well as allowing me to get feedback from other players who may have had similar experiences, or just a better solution than I can come up with!

The question is: how much is too much? Is there ever a time that sharing “guild business” can cross the line and become unsavory? And how much self-editing is appropriate?

In this, there’s a lot of wriggle room. My rule of thumb for any discussions involving my guild is to make sure someone in management knows I have a problem first. If I’ve stated I’m unhappy about something, and you’ve given me the “let’s try it” I may very well turn around and write a post to solicit opinions from others. However, if it’s a specific problem with an individual then it’s going to depend on several factors.

  • Do I just not like someone? If that’s the case, I’m not going to talk about it. There’s nothing to resolve, and bitching about it to the interwebs is not going to do anything constructive except make my guild look bad.
  • Do I think feedback will help? The reason to talk about many guild issues is to solicit feedback from the rest of the community. Almost everyone is guilded, and chances are, whatever issue I’m having is one that someone else has had as well.
  • Can I keep the other party anonymous? It’s really hard to do this in a guild setting, particularly in a 10-man guild with a lean roster. If I can’t, and I don’t want to talk to the player about the post, then I’m obviously not comfortable with them finding/reading it. If that’s the case, I shouldn’t be posting it in “my space.”
  • Can I talk about the issue in neutral terms? If not, then I’m probably too biased to elicit any response other than “omg, what an asshat!” which is not going to help the situation (although it might make ME feel better).
  • Will the post help someone else? If the issue is resolved, it may be worth talking about as a “case study.” Even problems with poor resolutions (someone lives the guild for example) can provide good examples of things that work… or don’t!

Of course, you don’t always get what you expect when writing about these things. My recent post on the healing channel is a perfect example. To me, it fit into the “I could use feedback” category of discussion–I wanted some opinions from other players on whether they viewed a healing channel as necessary or not.

Basically, this is how the timeline of events occurred:

  • Channel shut down
  • Tells on night of event about “really, why?”
  • Reasons explained
  • Windsoar has overactive hamster syndrome (i.e. it’s bugging the shit out of me)
  • I write a post
  • Many comments later, I decide I’m not crazy, I’ll talk to the other healers
  • RL was apparently out of town and comments several days later
  • Next raid night get a tell from a healer in support; others undecided
  • RL and I have been discussing the channel.

If you’ll notice, I didn’t follow some of my own “ethical” guidelines when talking about my guild. I expressed some displeasure when the channel was shut down, but I never really had a talk with the raid leader about it until AFTER I made my post. I also did something on that post that I rarely do: I didn’t respond to comments. Although I definitely intended to convey that I supported having a healer channel and was disappointed that the shutdown of said channel wasn’t a joint decision, I wasn’t mad at my RL. I wasn’t even angry over the decision to close it down. I felt outside my comfort zone, and I couldn’t judge whether I was just reacting poorly to change… or not. However, I received some comments that made me uncomfortable — that perhaps I had overstated my case and was seeking support instead of feedback (if that distinction makes any sense). I now felt like I had attacked a member of my raid team, and I felt crummy!

This has inspired further guild/blog discussion a bit more between myself and the management. In some ways, it’s made me really happy that I chose to be guilded with this group as this has been the overall response to the post:

I enjoy your blog and think it is a great thing. I also enjoy your shared rss feed, as an aside. Keep doing whatever you think it best and feel free to ignore anything I say or said this thread about it.

However, it made me realize that my blog space, where I speak in my own “voice” is not always as great as conveying exactly what I intend all the time. While I can’t help people forming their own opinions of myself and my guild, I can control what I share and how I share it. And since I tend to talk about issues (problems) instead of successes, I thought I’d be unequivocal in praise of things that I love about my guild.

  • I am a team member, not a random class/role.
  • My management does listen when I speak to them.
  • My raid team is awesome.

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7 thoughts on “Negotiating Space: Guilds & Blogs

  1. The way that I rationalize why and how I discuss certain things on my blog is that the people in question are more than likely already aware of what I'm about to say.  It's not as if people are reading it and going "I didn't know she felt that way."  I would actually make sure they did and that what I was discussing was fairly common knowledge before I posted about it.  I'm pretty open like that.That's where I think most of the issues come into play.  You have people that can't bring themselves to take up their issues with those that need to hear it (i.e. the GM/officers) and instead take it to the blog and deal with it in a potentially unhealthy fashion.  I get that it feels good to vent and have a place to sound off, but that may not help the situation and could even be seen as passive-aggressive. 

  2. I'm a little bit puzzled about how that healing channel post provoked this musing. In my experience the comments you got on that post were.. quite tame. A few people were not as kind as they could have been toward your RL, and most of your commenters disagreed with his decision to varying degrees, but it wasn't angry or toxic. Hopefully my guild will be okay with the fact that I do intend to talk about guild stuff on my blog if I feel a need to. So far all the things I've talked about how either been analyses of my own behavior (which is hardly controversial, I hope) and positive things about the guild, but if I ever had something I needed to say that was less positive, I'd still say it. I wouldn't want to go back to guilds not knowing about my blog, as it's been extremely nice to have it out in the open this time around, but I also don't really intend to change the way I post very much in response to it. I talked about it with Alas before I joined the guild, and I talked about it with several other bloggers after I joined, so nobody should be surprised. Tomorrow if Zel started demanding to bring her alts instead of her main, taking 20 min smoke breaks after every pull, and bragging insufferably about her gear, you'd find the updates on OMK! 😛 Of course I don't  expect it from Zel, but I complained about it when I had a healer-teammate who did these things before, and I'll do it again!

    • I think because, in my own mind, I hadn't already haggled the issue with the management before posting it for discussion. In the past, I've been pretty clear I was unhappy about some issue before I posted it–in this case, I hadn't really discussed it in guild channels at all–I was undecided on the issue. And while the comments could have been more or less worse then they were, they weren't the kind of response I was expecting, which is totally different from "what's the worst possible comment I can receive." 

  3. Interesting 'musings'. Personally, I keep the blog a vent-free zone – I'll just bitch about something I don't like with a friend of mine in /w. But people blog for different reasons, and one of those could be having a space to write about what annoys one – generally or personally. In that case, one needs to have guidelines like the ones you've outlined above.

  4. This is something I've struggled with as well, particularly as a recent post about some of my guildies becoming burnt out was, ahem, picked up by WoW Insider, and suddenly those issues were on display to thousands of readers.

    I got a promotion to officerdom soon afterward, though, so it seems to have turned out all right. 🙂

  5. My position on this one is pretty simple: if it's not something you'd discuss openly in /g, you probably shouldn't be blogging about it. If it's an interpersonal issue that happened in /w or Vent, it should probably stay off the blog. Blogging about the things your characters, your group or your raid did are totally above board and should be blogged about as frequently as possible, if only to make your guild look totally awesome for downing Nefarian/reaching GL25/whatever.

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