Guild Chat: What to do when your MMO guild is close to imploding

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively commenters can join forces to help solve the guild dilemmas of fellow readers. This time, I have a sad submission from Louise, a guild officer who is at present in the middle of the worst kind of guild wars. She explains that a personal bust-up has been festering within her guild’s ranks between the guild leader and another officer, caused by an inconsequential fallout that she doesn’t know the full details of. The dispute has spilt out to the wider roster as the pair snipe at each other and manoeuvre behind the scenes to undermine the other, which is making members leave the guild, mute chat, and take sides in the row. Now Louise faces a dilemma: How can she resolve this fallout and come away with a still-functioning, harmonious guild at the other end? Read on for Louise’s full submission and my response, and don’t forget to share your advice in the comments below. 

I’m caught in the middle of a guild mess I can’t resolve myself and was wondering your thoughts. My guild leader and another officer have had a massive argument over something a couple weeks back. (I don’t really care to share the details because it is so dumb and I wasn’t there for the row, but it has nothing to do with the game anyway.) This has grown from a tiny dispute to a huge blowout, it’s ruining the guild, everyone knows about the row and is taking sides, and I’m the only one in charge with any sense. The two can’t be online at the same time and run the same runs, only at opposite times. Most go with the leader but many are now running with the officer instead and our main groups are weaker for it. Now I don’t know what to do to fix things. Members are leaving and they don’t seem to care, but the guild worked really well before this stupidness and I just want it to go back to how it was.

Oh wow, Lousie! It seems as though you have quite the situation on your hands, but fear not: This is totally fixable, providing you’re willing to put in some work beginning damage control and talking sense into the leader and officer in question after such petty antics. I think both parties need a healthy dose of reality to regain perspective: Game time is supposed to be enjoyable, and their actions are affecting the wider guild. I’ll outline my advice for aiding the pair and the wider roster while this row either runs its course or your guild’s leadership decides how to move on. Of course, always remember that if things become too challenging at any point, you are free to walk away and find a new happier home within your chosen MMO.

The ultimatum: Make it right or part ways

Like all arguments, this one will end eventually: The main uncertainty right now lies in how the row will be put to bed and what effect that will have on your guild roster. It seems as though you have managed to remain neutral and distanced from the row thus far, so you’re in an excellent position to mediate and try to bring about some sort of resolution here. It’s difficult to approach a guild leader this way — especially if the character in question is volatile enough to have a weeks-long dispute with another officer over an inconsequential difference in opinion — but I do have some ideas.

Firstly, I believe it is time to point out the fallout that’s happening within the guild ranks to the guild leader: It happens so often that people in conflict cannot see what’s happening beyond their own drama, so he or she may not have noticed what has happened. Arrange a time to check in with your leader and give him or her the reality of what’s happening in the guild, pointing out that the sensible splitting of the officer and leader is in effect splitting the roster too. Point out that something has to give and drop names of those who have left or commented on the tension: Being direct by providing examples is the best tool in your arsenal when dealing with an emotive topic.

Ultimately, you need assurances from the leader that this friction will end before the guild implodes in on itself, so put it to him or her that you need an outcome that will end the internal drama. The two options as I see it are either sincere apologies happening and the pair making up or your leader and fellow officer deciding that their differences are irreconcilable. What makes this scenario interesting to me is that the guild leader is involved in the dispute but hasn’t flexed the banhammer: If he or she has not removed the officer, something tells me that the person in question feels that the relationship can be repaired once one or both parties have calmed down. Try being candid and asking what would make the rift right again, pointing out how relatively trivial the original row was and the fact that the leadership worked well beforehand.

Damage-controlling after a public blowout

I’m unsure about whether you are the only other leader remaining who isn’t directly involved in the dispute, so my advice is going to look at that as the worst-case scenario. If you do happen to have leadership help, take the lead in uniting the other officers under a neutral banner and get everyone on the same page with how best to discuss the fallout with your fellow guildmates. No matter how the dispute resolves itself, in a guild of any size you’ll always find a minority of people who will hang on to ill feeling for one reason or another, and you might well have to quash some drama-seeking characters’ accounts of events that add fuel to the fire along the way.

The most important thing you can do while the officer and leader work out their differences is preventing the dispute from being perpetuated by further whispers of malcontent and third-party additions that might stoke the row all over again. Shut down discussions of the fallout within guild chat decisively but without getting too sharp with your members: If you are worried enough about the drama to write in, chances are your members are worried too. Use neutral phrasing such as “Let’s give them time to work it out without us weighing in on the matter” at first and save harsher shut-downs for the persistent gossips.

You might have members who are not happy to let matters lie, so expect that your downplaying of events might elicit some probing PMs or word getting back to either party that you’re shutting down their public supporters. This is where it is important to tell both parties what you’re doing and to be consistent in how you apply this action: If you silence those who speak against one party and not the other, even accidentally, the difference will be noted by those who are looking for ammunition. Don’t get into details via PM and remember that everything you type could be saved in a screenshot and sent to anyone without context to stoke fires. Hopefully, the lack of current fuel will prevent the leader and officer from re-engaging in the argument and finding more tenuous reasons to stay mad at each other because of he-said she-said antics.

Rebuilding after a guild fragmentation

The worst-case scenario here is that your leader decides that he or she simply cannot get along with the officer in question and the resultant guild-kick causes a roster fracture because the officer takes his or her followers with them, as was the case recently in a guild I’m a member of. Should this happen, members should be free to do whatever they decide to do next without either party getting vocal with them: Enforce a clean break and put in place repercussions for anyone who starts drama between the ex-members and the remaining roster. Don’t panic if this is the resolution for the fallout and remember that you are currently losing members to the drama anyway. Sometimes it’s best to just pull off that band-aid: This could be the making of a stronger, more cohesive guild.

Remember that herd mentality can kick in when people are part of a guild collective that’s going through some turbulence, so it might be the case where you need to stem the flow of people exiting the guild out as a knee-jerk reaction with some clever distraction. When a chunk of your roster falls away, it can seem to the remaining members that the guild is a sinking ship that they should abandon too if everyone else is. You’ll need to present the split as an opportunity for members to step up and become more involved, so keep the guild calendar full and the atmosphere positive by polling members for content suggestions or perhaps running a guild fun day or competition. Ensure that the leader is involved in this positivity: The guild members need to be able to trust that he or she is not just a volatile character who feeds off the drama and will spark another fall out eventually now that this one is over.

Over to you!

However you choose to move on, Louise, do remember that your gaming time is precious and that your happiness outweighs any guild loyalty guilt you’d feel about giving yourself some space from the scenario. While you feel as though you want to repair this guild right now, should it prove to be harder than you imagine or should the leader lash out at you too, my best advice is for you to walk. Check out my articles on solving officer conflicts to help you out: They’re fairly closely related and will have more advice for you.

What advice do you have for Louise? Have you helped to smooth over a leadership argument in your own guild? Let Louise know your thoughts in the comments below.

Many thanks to Louise for this submission. If you have a guild issue you’d like to have addressed on Guild Chat, email me for consideration.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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29 Comments on "Guild Chat: What to do when your MMO guild is close to imploding"

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Alex Malone

I’ve been in similar situations before, I’ve even been guild leader when this has happened (other people arguing causing guild problems).

In my opinion, there is only one solution – purge and rebuild.

Toxic members aren’t worth wasting time on, it is a game after all. Your guild leader, whether he was right or wrong, should just kick out of offending officer and then deal with the fallout. Worst case scenario, the guild splits in two and it takes months to rebuild. However, most people are lazy – if you kick out that one officer, chances are 95% of the guild stays with you as it’s not worth the hassle of finding a new guild.

So, kick the guy out, make some sort of announcement – “this is what happened, this is how we tried to resolve it, we couldn’t so this is how it is” – and then move on.

Should this sort of situation happen again, then it’s probably a sign of poor leadership, in which case it’s time for you to find a new guild.

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MesaSage

but it has nothing to do with the game anyway.

Let me guess, Politics? It’s always over politics.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i ahd some drama issues in my guild that were getting old long before i resolved them and it wasn’t politics.

it was nice guy syndrome and throwing weight around and snide comments. all stemming from the fact the guy didn’t want to play wildstar at launch with us really but begrudginly bought the game and then acted a child to get out of it when it did launch.

basically overblown bitching about queues on day 1 of early access all over guild venues from a guy that banged his head on d3 at launch every single night for weeks on end until it was vaguely playable complaining as loudly as possible in the most assholeish way possible, leading to him spamming me insulting and rude messages in pm’s until i kicked him from guild. which two guildies and friends got upset with me over so i readmitted him and took a back seat on visible GMing for a couple weeks over (which was kind of really insulting to me as it was).

faster forward two or more years of regular sniping, unecessary arguing over every little administration action, and out of the blue insults and i’d had enough. my consultations with my other officers and their inability to reign him in, with the regular constant bickering between us in full view of the rest of the guys, i decided to kick him for good. told everyone they were free to hang out with him elsewhere but he wasn’;t welcome where i am. one guy went with him (tho he tried to keep one foot in by hanging around and talking in irc where no one else really ever talked to him and isn’t a guild venue for along time now) which i asked him why he was still in there and he tried to act like he didn’t leave all other guild venues and unfriend me everywhere. so another quick kickban and that was that.

guild has only been better for it, and now that those two particulars are gone, i feel comfortable recruiting again, and recruit we have. several new faces, some friends of mine i used to talk with else where an ddin’t feel comfortable bringing them into that, and some from in games we play. guild is a positive place to hang out and chew the fat and play games in again without being bitched at for playing a game that isn’t hardcore enough for someone or w/e bullshit.

and the best part is 110% less reddit top comment memes being repeated ad nauseum XD

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Schmidt.Capela

Politics has become a hotbed for intolerance these days, though. Far too many people, of all political persuasions, from many countries in the world, seem now unable to tolerate anyone from a different political camp.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i agree fully. it’s one of my frustrations with political discourse.

luckily at worst sometimes one or two people in my guild might get occasionally upset when they feel everyone is hating on america, but a bit of consolationa dn meeting in teh middle makes them feel better about their positions.

and generally we do politics in respectfula nd civil manner.

tho a visit from a couple of estranged guildies that have gotten married and removed themselves from regularly hanging out with us have gone full on radical on the end of the spectrum the wife prefers (and basically brainwashed the guy who used to be rather moderate and centrist (not socialist i’m trying not to out their end of the spectrum lol and mistyped) if leaning a bit in either direction depending on specific topics to her increasingly radical end of things) was some what insane and acerbic. maybe why the guy who is my irl bro hasn’t been around since. which i’m upset with that whole thing with them for alot of irl reasons as it is.

but even with this thing with dr who yday. like there was upset about capaldi being revealed because he’s an old white man. now other people are mad it’s a woman. like who gives a shit as long as it’s good! if it ends up being bad it won’t be because she’s a woman. i mean come on ffs.

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Schmidt.Capela

The Donald is certainly making America more hated worldwide than it was. America hating is not something new — where I live many people dislike America for its involvement in enabling the military dictatorship that ruled my country for two decades, for example — but new developments like leaving the Paris Climate Agreement (and becoming the only member of the UN that is against it*) has made it far easier to dislike America.

*Nicaragua is also against the Paris Agreement, but for the opposite reason: it thinks the agreement doesn’t go far enough. The country plans to have 90% of its energy needs supplied by renewable sources as early as 2020.

BTW, when you mention “The Doctor” and “Woman” in the first sentence, the first thing that comes to mind is:

Ladies of the Doctor.jpg
deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

it started before trump long before him. he just capitalized on it.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I completely agree that America-bashing started far before Trump; I know of examples dating back to the 60s.

I’m not sure Trump capitalized on it, though; my gut feeling is that the main difference between The Donald and the previous presidents regarding it is that he doesn’t care about it. Previous US presidentes, on the other hand, knew they had to always try to improve America’s image around the world so as to maintain the country’s soft power, and that includes keeping tabs on America-hating and working to reduce it.

And yep, America’s soft power is visibly declining. Being seen as pro-America is becoming political suicide in some countries that until recently regarded America as a friend and ally.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

oh wrt to the guildies feeling like we’re hating on america – almost everyone in teh guild who is active in our chat room is either american or canadian with american ties.

it’s more of a left vs right thing except pretty much all active people in guild are moderate/centrist with leanings left or right and different thoughts on how to improve things.

fwiw i’d talk more canadian politics with the other canadians but we cba to spam politics all the time like the americans do :D and the uk boy who hangs out in there is savage when it comes to criticisizing UK gov as well.

was talking less about world wide america hating and more of “i don’t like this about the country me or my fam live in and would like to fix it somehow” and that sometimes being taken as hating america.

but yeah agreed on what you said otherwise.

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MesaSage

Here’s the problem I have with a two party system. Half of the population goes to sleep for 4 to 8 years and gives a pass to their own party to do at will. Then, when they lose power, they wake up and suddenly proclaim the world to be divided and headed toward hell. The reality is that it was long-ago divided, and turning a blind eye is no excuse. I’ve been around long enough to know it happens every 4 to 8 years and that’s the way they like it.

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Schmidt.Capela

Better two than the 28 we have right now where I live, and that is counting only those that managed to elect at least one congressman. And things are particularly vicious right now, to the point people have been beaten in the street just for wearing a red shirt.

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MesaSage

It’s never good for one side to bully another into submission. I won’t prolong the discussion because I’ve been pretty vocal about avoiding political discussion on gaming sites, but I would just say that if we had leaders instead of politicians, regardless of where we live, we’d all be better off.

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imayb1

You can’t un-break the cookie; once a guild fractures like this, I’ve never seen one recover to pre-break conditions. If these “leaders” let a petty grudge go this far, I doubt I’d continue following either of them.

In my opinion, the best thing to do is to encourage the guild leader to make a decision: bury the hatchet or use it. At least that should resolve the immediate tensions. Then you can decide how to proceed.

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Utakata

…or Tl,dr: RUN!! :(

Brendan Drain
Staff
Brendan Drain

Steal everything that isn’t bolted down and sell your guild out to its enemies for personal profit, of course! That might just apply to EVE Online, though :D

Reader
birini

I suppose clean out the vault, transfer servers, and put everything on the auction house isn’t what you’re looking for?

Reader
Dystopiq

I quietly leave and move on to another guild.

dixa
Reader
dixa

Sometimes you recruit for your raid and pick up some toxic people. Their toxicity spreads.

As with any cancer the best thing is to cut it out and get immediate treatment.

The raid and the gear you get from the raid should be secondary. If you are in that guild ONLY for the gear and the raid you are doing it wrong. You do not understand the entire point of a guild or an in game community.

Cut them out. What is left is your core, your group. You may not be IRL friends. You may hardly play together in this same game or only play together ever in this very game, but these relationships are not worth damaging over a piece of gear or repeated wipes.

It has taken me two decades of MUD and MMORPG raiding to finally realize this – that unless there are great people to raid with, the raid and the mmorpg game itself feels hollow.

If you feel that the guild you are in does not gel with your opinions, views or ideals then please move on. Do not put the guild leadership in the uncomfortable position of having to remove you.

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

There is only ONE valid answer: you leave the guild, ASAP. In my experience (especially after observing the various drama happening in many other guilds from many other games) this option works much, MUCH better than trying to engage into pointless discussions with guild leaders/officers/whatever or trying to decide which side to pick. Always remember that your “real life” is pretty limited in terms of time so you should spend as much of that limited time as possible on activities which give you pleasure, not pain (physical or mental).

After you do that, you are completely free to decide on what to do next, like finding a new guild with no drama or perhaps start one yourself with other friendly, drama-free people from your former guild who also decided to leave and are currently guildless. Or just stay guildless and perhaps take a break from the game for some time (or at least from in-game activities which force you to do them in a group). Problem solved.

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mistressbrazen

Once members start to leave, it is almost impossible to get them back even when the drama is resolved or dies down. It’s good advice to talk to the leader but Louise should also be prepared that she might become the focal point of the leader’s ire. You know…kill the messenger. Before she has that discussion, she should carefully examine her friends list to have a back up plan in case she is the one who gets booted. It is possible for the guild leader and other officers to put the lid on a contentious issue, but in my experience, once the infection of discord sets in, it is really difficult to root it all out. Always seems to rear its ugly head some place else, particularly if the parties who buried the hatchet, didn’t really mean it. Good luck to Louise.

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Duane Does not check email

When the leaders don’t act like leaders what else you expect.

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Castagere Shaikura

I remember the lotro guild i was in that imploded badly. And it was all over jerk offs fighting over raid spots. Turns out these people fighting only joined the guild for getting raid gear and didn’t give a crap about helping anyone but themselves. These were high or max lvl players that the guild recruiters only let join because of their lvl. And they all turned out to be jerks. The guild broke up because of this. I never joined a guild again.

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Schlag Sweetleaf
guildplosion.gif
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Utakata

This really should be /Featured! <3

Reader
mcsleaz

Give Zero fcks & get on with my life, it’s only a game.

dixa
Reader
dixa

Its this type of thinking that creates these issues.

MMORPG’s are not just games, they are massive investment in time and relationship building to accomplish tasks. To be removed from a guild with no notice because there were months and month of behind-the-scenes bitching about you or something you said a year ago that nobody once ever approached you about feels like shit.

Having to cut out cancerous people trying to turn a small segment of the group against the goals you laid out also feels like shit.

If you treat these games as drop in, drop out and don’t give a fck then do the games’ community a favor and do not join a guild.

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Kickstarter Donor
Tandor

It looks to me like the only way forward is for the guild to split into two and people can choose which player to follow. Otherwise the guild will simply fold in time anyway as people drift away.

However, this sort of thing is precisely why I gave up guilds a long while ago, far too many drama queens for me to want to be bothered!

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Fervor Bliss

Play a game that lets you be social and have more than one guild.

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NeoWolf

Life only moves in one direction…forward. The chances of everything going back to how it was are negligible to none. The best you can hope for is a new way forward with as much of what you loved intact.

Ideally the best bet would be to get the two at odds together and get them to lay the dispte to rest and come to some semblence of peace. Reminding them that their drama is affecting everyones enjoyment here not just thier own. Face to face is usually best but where that is not possible due to geography Skype is handy. Mediate the talk have each person present thier view on the issue and how they would like to see it resolved and have the other respond and vice versa.

However as Ideal as having them maturely sort the issue is, sadly the internet is not filled with massively mature people and little nonsense arguments can quickly blow out of all proportion and people dig thier feet in and things don’t get resolved. In those crimcumstance the only thing to do is like a cancerous growth cut it out and hope you can heal the damage done. Get rid of the offending individuals.

In order to regain member confidence a strong show of leadership and unity among officers is going to be important as well as including them in the outcome of any major changes (but not the decision making itself). Let them see things are in hand and can function still. And then engage them in activities or a planner event, show them things are moving forward.

The main issue you have is that it was an issue left to fester to such an extent that people have already taken sides or left.. NEVER let issues stand unresolved, fast and decisive response is typically key to preventing fallouts from getting out of hand. Coming back from that will be tough, but not impossible.

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