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Kicking guild members is generally one of the least enjoyable tasks that guild leadership has to undertake. There are some very clear black and white issues that take little to no thought in kicking someone: harassment, inappropriate sexual behavior, hate (racism, sexism, etc), and so on. Thankfully I have only had to deal with such situations 3 times over the years. Other times the task of whether or not to kick someone can be a daunting task that weighs heavily. Unfortunately this does come up relatively often and can be taxing to the emotional energy of guild leadership. Let’s look at some of the more common, but no more fun to deal with, situations that can lead to kicking someone from your guild and what is the best action to take in response.
I like to approach things based on either “zero tolerance”, “second chance”, or “3 strikes you’re out.” These approaches get their strength in simplicity, both for you in implementing and because persons of every background and culture can understand them. Zero tolerance means no second chance. I’ve marked each of the below with the level of approach that I typically apply to the situation.
Cheap Drama – 3 strikes you’re out
Also see ‘Immaturity’ below. Cheap drama comes in the forms of someone instigating problems in guild chat, pushing other people’s buttons, calling people names, and generally being rough around the edges. This kind of drama is easy to identify and the easiest to deal with. My experience has shown that a very firm hand can solve this problem well. I typically lay down the law as to what is and is not allowed swiftly and heavily without room for interpretation or gray areas. People who cause drama tend to search for gray areas that they can wiggle around to get away with their behavior, so clear statements like “Name calling is not permitted in any form or fashion” or “You are not allowed to criticize people’s performance. That is the responsibility of leadership” or “Your extreme and volatile opinions are not wanted in public/guild/raid chat. “Take it to whispers if you must” are a necessity.
Sophisticated Drama – Zero tolerance or Second chance
Also see ‘Backstabbers’ below. Some drama is in the realm of drama queens and lords who have a natural inclination to weaving a web of crap through whispers, custom channels that they operate as “invite only”, sly comments, and otherwise sneaky actions. They can be hard to identify and usually when you do identify them, the web has been spun and damage is underway. This is one for nailing the coffin shut as quickly as possible. Depending on the situation, zero tolerance or a second chance may be in order. If the drama situation has led to any kind of attempt at coup (see ‘Backstabbers’ below), zero tolerance. If it has led to people leaving the guild (or wanting to), zero tolerance. Lesser offenses may get a second chance. Go with your gut and decide from there. Always remember that the best defense against such situations is staying in tune/touch with your members, building trust with them such that they are your eyes and ears within the guild. They will tell you when something is up long before it becomes an issue.
Immaturity – 3 strikes you’re out
This typically comes in the form of players under the age of 18, but immaturity can be had from anyone. Sometimes cheap drama can be a result of immaturity. With guild’s being social in nature, it is a learning experience for everyone involved, contributing to their development as a human being. Younger guild members under 18 are learning a lot about life in general and a guild can heavily contribute to that. Expect them to test waters, poking and prodding to see what is or is not allowed. As always, issues should be addressed without room for interpretation. Younger persons are likely to jump onto band wagons without thinking about what they really mean or the consequences. They also tend to try to find humor in off-color jokes about racism, sexism, lewdness, discrimination, etc. Clearly defining the lines of what is or is not acceptable is usually more than enough to keep younger persons in line.
Immaturity can also be had in adults, however. The problem with adults and immaturity is that clearly saying what is or is not acceptable is not likely to work because they may be the same age or older than you resulting in lack of appropriate respect. Some people genuinely “need a girlfriend/boyfriend” kind of deal. This just means that in their adult life they have turned too heavily to virtual life and don’t get out enough in real life, leading to stunted social development (ie. immaturity). This can be tricky to deal with and is a case-by-case situation but, as always, is well managed with clear cut lines.
The Attention Whore – 3 strikes you’re out
This is the person who doesn’t know when to stop talking in guild chat or vent. Everyone knows every detail about them and their life tends to be rather dramatic and riddled with problems. They seek comfort or self-actualization in drawing attention to themselves and use any means possible to be on everyone’s radar. This kind of person is typically one to play the victim card/role so conversations can be difficult manage with them when addressing the problem. Like any situation, there is no room for gray areas and boils down to telling them “The guild does not want to hear about your real life problems. Keep it out of guild/raid/vent chat.” These kind of people can take things even further behind the scenes and ask others for real life money or assistance. This is trouble in many ways and must be stopped. In such a situation, the attention whore must be told it is unacceptable behavior and those whom they have turned to must be advised that they need to very carefully think about their actions. You can’t stop people from helping others but you should council them as to negative consequences (mostly that they are unlikely to ever be repaid real life money).
The Loot Whore & Ninja – Zero tolerance or Second chance
Within a guild you likely run a loot system or method that prevents ninjaing. However out in PUGs, that may not be the case. If one of your members ninjas something out in the PUG domain, they are not only trashing their own reputation, but spitting on your guild’s reputation too. This isn’t something you want. That is likely a zero tolerance situation. Be sure, however, to fully investigate the situation. If someone hasn’t caused any trouble before and you get a message from some random person on the server, you owe it to your guild member to investigate. If they have a history of issues or maybe even stand accused of ninja’ing in the past, your action should be relatively clear.
Within a guild, a loot whore is someone’s who’s focus is so thoroughly on loot that it detracts from the guild. People who respond dramatically when they don’t get loot create unnecessary workload for leadership. If they respond to such an emotional degree that they go off, ninja log, or otherwise create such a scene that they make themselves look like a fool, a pretty stern conversation needs to be had with them. As always, setting clear lines lets them know what is expected and the frame work for whether or not they stick around in the future.
Under Performing – 3 strikes you’re out
This may be the hardest to handle in that you may like the person but you don’t like their playing. It can also be the most time consuming if you stick to giving them 3 strikes fairly such that you genuinely try to help them (you should). Someone who consistently fails to live up to at least the average performance level of the guild only brings the guild down and that is not something you really want. I view the 3 strike approach as follows.
Strike 1: Identify the failure to perform at the required level. Discuss with the person what level of play is expected. Outline a reasonable learning curve. Encourage them to always ask if they are ever unsure of something, speak to other members of their class, and research their class and fights before hand. At this stage I leave the improvement in their hands but point them in the right direction.
Strike 2: They have failed to improve when encouraged and pointed in the right direction. Now is the time to get more hands on with helping them. Baby step them through fight descriptions and make a concerted effort to let them know exactly why they died on each and every attempt/boss (death logs FTW). Explain to them exactly how a specific mechanic relates to them and their class. Ask someone else in the guild to look out for them and help them out.
Strike 3: Still failing despite being given help and ample opportunity. If the personality doesn’t fit in the guild, they need to leave the guild. If their personality fits and they are a nice person who may have potential in the future, offer a “Social” type rank in the guild where they can’t really do any harm.
Backstabbers – Zero tolerance
Ultimately, if you’re doing your job well as a guild master, this won’t be too much of an issue. Building trust and respect for your members throughout the guild will be your barometer as to how things are going and you will catch wind or be told of situations that involve back stabbers. This being someone who tries to upstage you as the guild master or form some breakaway group. Their reason may be valid or invalid. If they don’t like someone in the guild they may try to rally some people to their side and then leave to destroy the guild. They may just be a straight up back stabber and want to seize control of your guild. Situations like this cannot be tolerated in any way. This is where your guild leader hat has to be its tallest. If there is a potential breakaway group due to a valid problem, you need to address the problem with great urgency and devoting your full attention. People won’t go to such lengths to organize a breakaway unless the problem was genuine and needed resolving. If someone is staging a coup because they as a person are a backstabbing ass, there is one but one action and that is to kick them from the guild. I personally wouldn’t even wait to speak to them. If/when they get in touch with you again, then you can hear their side of their story. Your actions here need to show to the guild as a whole that you are capable of making the hard decisions and taking firm action when needed in order to protect the stability of the guild.
Leeches – Second chance
This is the guy who always takes out their full allowance from the guild bank but never contributes anything back. The one who always uses guild bank repairs outside of raids when you forget to turn them off after raid night. The guy who always asks for this or that to help himself but never helps others, whether it be a 5-man run or getting an achievement. These people tend to be serial in that when they do once they will likely do again. A second chance is in order but it needs to come with removing their ability to access resources and a stern warning against begging.
Every situation is unique and has its own flavor depending on the personality and details of the situation. Always take the time to listen to both sides of stories, talking to as many people as possible involved. A guild leader must act as a facilitator to justice. In the end when a decision is made, a good rule of thumb is that the best decision is one that leaves you feeling right or at peace about it. Build relationships within your guild, taking interest in the people behind the character will build the trust and respect you need to always be aware of what is going on with your guild and build a comfort level that people can come to when something does come up. It is very encouraging as a guild leader to look back at times when situations have been avoided because your guild members have given you a head’s up before something has escalated to unmanageable or destructive proportions.
What kind of persons and situations have you had to deal with that led to considerations of guild removal?