How NOT to Join the Guild of Your Dreams

Posted: August 7, 2008 by Kendricke in Guilds
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In the past month alone, my guild has had around 20 actual applications filed for membership.  Of those, we’ve brought in a dozen so far, and we’ll probably bring in half of the remaining applicants providing that their officer interviews pan out well.

I’m pretty proud of our membership application process, because it’s kept much of the drama out of our ranks that seems to afflict many other guilds so frequently.  Generally speaking, just the act of requiring an application to be filed weeds out roughly half of all potential applicants right away, while the applications and follow-up interview period probably cuts down another third of those who managed to make it that far.  That means only about one out of every three candidates for membership in our guild ever makes it to our ranks.

Now, keep in mind we’re not talking about a top end exclusive guild here.  Our requirements to join have no level restrictions, no referral or sponsorship requirements to apply, no requirement to use voicechat to join – if you can read and write English fluently, you don’t belong to a current guild, and you’re able to log on once every 30 days, you already meet our minimum requirements for membership.

So, even with the bar set that low, what keeps 7 out of every 10 potential members out of our guild?  Honestly, it’s almost always the same things.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve lead my guild through a variety of games. Through them all, I’ve dealt with all manner of players who wanted to join our ranks.  It doesn’t seem to matter where we go, because I keep seeing the same patterns again and again.  Just like any other game system, those patterns can be learned from and anticipated.

Whether you’ve ever been applied to join a guild, or you’ve been on the other end of that application, chances are good that many of you reading this right now have experienced a rejected application at some point in your gaming ventures. Either way, in the process you probably unknowingly contributed to those patterns I’ve noticed, because it’s rare that I see something truly new in an application.

Judging by how many members there have actually been in my guild and the rate at which we generally turn down interested candidates, I’ve estimated that the number of players who I’ve turned down in the past decade to number somwhere around 6,000-7,000. Trust me when I say I’ve had a lot of practice saying “no” to applicants.

Most of the time, candidates remove themselves from the running, probably without even realizing it. If you’ve ever run a guild, you’ll probably get a chuckle out of several of the below membership requests – all of which are almost guaranteed to send up flares of concern with most guild recruiting officers:

“I CAN HAZ INVITE”

We’ll start with this example, because I see it all the time.  Out of all the players I reject outright, at least half of them use some variation on the “invite plz” verbiage.  Many of them don’t even bother to say hello first, and some don’t even deign to inform me that the “invite” they want is to my guild, not just the group I’m forming.  If I’m very lucky, they might actually spell out “please”, but generally speaking that simply doesn’t happen.

I can’t believe I ever have to explain why this doesn’t work to players, but once in a while, the player I just politely turned down wants to know why I’m turning them down without getting to know them.  Here’s the reason, so listen close:

You aren’t trying.  No, really.  It’s that simple.  You’ve told me nothing about you or why you want to join my guild.  Let’s face it, if you really wanted to join MY guild, instead of just any guild around, you’d put SOME effort into this, right?  However, you didn’t.  You said “invite plz” or “looking for guild” or “send guild invite”.  I don’t even think you know one thing about my guild.  I don’t think you care to know.

If you’re looking for any guild, there’s always one or two on every server that will take in anyone looking (you know the guys, the one’s out spamming the starting areas with invites).  Guess what, we’re not that guild.  You could be the greatest player on the server, with lots of good gear, top end skills, and the best jokes around.  I don’t know any of that.  All you’ve told me is “invite plz”.

“IDK? my BFF, Jill!”

I appreciate that texting is becoming more and more prevalent in our societies today, and that not everyone is a great touch typist.  However, in the first couple of sentences to a prospective guild leader, you might want to consider actually using longhand instead of the all-too-common: “hi, is ur guild LF more?” or “im lf guild – r u lookin?” or something similar.

MMO studios aren’t charging you by the character here, folks.  It’s ok to put the barest of effort into letting guildmasters like me know what you want.  Using the occasional shortform isn’t going to get you dropped out of consideration, but if your entire message to me looks like one big text message, it’s going to paint a less than completely positive picture of the person tapping out the message in the first place.

Whether it’s a fair assumption or not, I’m going to start assuming you either (A) can’t spell (B) can’t type or (C) you’re 12 years old.  IF I continue discussing the possibility of joining my guild with you at that point, realize that all of my future questions will be colored by those assumptions.  So, don’t be surprised if I start coming at you with questions one after the other rapid fire just to see how fast you react and how you type when you do.

Even if you do somehow remain in consideration (I don’t know – maybe we could really, REALLY use your class), chances are that we’ll ask you to join our public chat channel and post more on our forums so “we can get to know you a bit more”.  (Translation:  I’m still making up my mind about you, but I’m willing to give you a chance to see how things go.)

“What’s the Pay Like?”

Even if your grammar is dead on and you type 70+ words a minute, you’ll still get a red flag from guildmasters like myself if you ask about raid loot within the first few sentences of any discussion revolving around membership.  You get another flag if you ask about loot before telling me anything about yourself.

Now, I realize you’re just looking out for number one.  In fact, that’s what’s sending up the flags in the first place.  Put yourself in my shoes for a moment and try to think about things from my persective for a moment:

An interested potential applicant started talking to me about possible membership.  Within the first exchange, this player starts asking about raid looting policies or what targets we’re hitting or (EEK!) what our guild bank policies are.  What sort of message did that applicant just send to you?

To me, it sounds like loot is important.  That’s probably a fair assessment.  So, what happens if the loot isn’t there for this applicant?  What happens if the loot dries up?  What if the loot expectations don’t meet the loot actualities?

Now, I realize these are important questions to many applicants.  Please realize I’m not saying that wanting to know these things is automatically bad.  I’m not even saying you shouldn’t ask about these things.  I just want to clarify that when you’re applying to a job in the real world, the first words out of your mouth aren’t “so what’s the pay like here?”, and there’s a reason for that.  The same basic principle applies here – make sure the guild you’re applying to has a reason to want you to join before you start asking questions which come across as “what’s in it for me?”

“My Last Boyfriend Was Such a Jerk”

When I’m looking at potential candidates for my guild, I’m always on the lookout for potential sources of drama.  Drama is a guildkiller.  Drama is the anti-fun.  If there’s even a whiff of drama on you when you show up at our doorstep, a lot of guilds are going to be pretty reluctant to open the door for fear you’ll rub the stench off on them.

One way to make sure to make sure you sound dramatic is to bad mouth your former guild.  You can really up your drama ante if you badmouth individuals by name.  To be fair, many guilds don’t care what you think about your former guildmates and you can insult them all day long without harming your chances to join.  The problem is that a lot guild officers actually don’t want to hear about how you felt your last Guildmaster was a stuck-up moron who didn’t know how to play his class.  To many guild officers, you might sound like part of the problem as well…which really calls into doubt any chances you might have at becoming part of the new guild you’re asking to join.

This gets REALLY complicated when the new guild officers are friends of your old guild’s officers.  On several occasions over the past several years, I’ve been on both ends of such griping – where former members of my guild applied to a new guild without realizing I was close friends with the guildmistress or where we’d had members of guilds we were friendly with who applied on the premise that their old guilds “really sucked”.

Needless to say, there really are times when it truly is best to say nothing at all if you have nothing nice to say.

“I Don’t Know”

When I was 4 years old and I’d been caught doing something I should not, my parents would ask me what it was I thought I was doing.  Invariably, my answer was always an immediate “I don’t know”.  Amazingly, it doesn’t seem to sound any smarter when the words come from an applicant to my guild.

If you’re asked why you left your last guild, don’t respond with “I don’t know”.  If you’re asked what you know about my guild, don’t respond with “I don’t know”.  For the love of all that you hold holy, when you’re asked why you want to join my guild, don’t respond with “I don’t know”.

Believe it or not, this happens far more often than anyone might think.

“So, What Works?”

There’s no one “right way” to get a guild invitation.  Each guild likes to see different things from their new members.  Depending on the type of guild you’re looking to join, they may take you in just for asking while other guilds want a detailed accounting of all of your characters, levels, classes, gear, and group/raid experience.  For every guild willing to take your application, there are dozens of ways to get into their ranks.

So, I can’t really speak for any guild but mine when we open up the topic of the right way to apply for a guild.  Even then, there’s no definate formula for success.  What I can say is that if you avoid the common pitfalls above, you’ll find your chances improve dramatically, pretty much across the board.

Good luck with your guild search.  May you find the home you’ve been looking for.

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Comments
  1. Xeavn says:

    I actually don’t mind when recruits ask about raiding, but I am also not in charge of approving / denying the guild applications either. To me it seems silly to avoid the topic of raiding if the applicant is looking to raid. I feel they are better off knowing if they have a realistic chance of getting to raid with the guild they are applying to, and I think the guild is better off knowing that they are looking to raid. Perhaps details of raid loot policies may be taking it a bit far, but I think it is in both parties best interests to be open and honest with each other, when it comes to raiding. The new applicant doesn’t want to end up sitting on the sidelines all the time, the guild raid leaders probably don’t want to have to sit yet one more person playing a class they already have covered. Sure the topic of how much a job pays may not come up at the start of an interview, but it almost always comes up before they get hired.

  2. Kendricke says:

    I’m pretty sure I clarified that it’s ok to ask about raiding or loot policies, but that doing so right away puts the conversation in a different light.

    I can’t tell you how many applicantion conversations have started out like this:
    Applicant: Are you recruiting?
    Kendricke: We’re always looking for good members. How can I assist you?
    Applicant: What’s your loot policy for new members? My guild won’t let me bid on drops.
    OR
    Applicant: What raid targets are you hitting right now? I really need Druushk for my epic.
    OR
    Applicant: Yeah, I’m looking for a guild where I get to bid on gear more often. In my current guild, everyone has so many points, I never get to bid.

    Realize, these are the types of opening sentences I hear all the time. In fact, most of the time, they don’t even ask if we’re recruiting first – I just start getting random messages asking about our raid targets or loot policies. One minute I’m healing a group in Runnyeye, and the next minute someone’s asking if we use a points system on raids…well, hello to you too, friend!

    Trust me on this, though. It’s not as if I haven’t given these applicants a chance in the past. I used to bring in these type of applicants all the time…and then the moment they don’t like our loot policy or they lose a bid on a drop, they’re sending the EXACT same tells out to different guild leaders. Like the old saying about unfaithfulness goes, “if she’ll do it to you, she’ll do it to the next guy, too”.

  3. Illuminator says:

    One of the first things I look for in a guild is whether their rules and raid loot policies are posted on their website for everyone to see. I can read it on my own, and it leaves me free to get to know the guild members without wondering when is the best time to suffer through those questions. Plus it gives me the assurance that their process is fair enough to be made open and transparent without hesitation.

  4. Zubon says:

    “plz” in general means you’re not of use. It means, “I want something, but I will not even bother to type six characters to get it.” And that last is a lie, because they will repeatedly ask “plz?” so they just don’t care enough to communicate properly. I don’t even want you in my group.

    I dislike the other side as well. Broadcast channel: “Come join our small, tight-knit family guild. Everyone welcome.” I’m not even kidding on that one, she was using that with a few extra adjectives. Another sign of not thinking it through: “small” in a broadcast invite, then go on to say that everyone will be accepted.

  5. Caliga says:

    I ran a guild in EQ2 and I didn’t require people apply on a website. I preferred just to have an in-game interview, which tells you more about a person anyway. Having said that, I think all the guilds I joined over the dozen mmo’s I played I applied via there websites. I’m not adverse to it, it just wasn’t our guild’s policy.

    We did require that the person had viewed our website, and understood our charter and rules. If they could’t be bothered alt/tabbing and checking it out then that was a red flag. We also required that if they ever wanted to be promoted beyond the lowest rank, they would register and post on our forums. This way we both get a “probationary” period to feel each other out.

    And typing, gah. I learned to type on a typewriter, you remember those old clunky things. And I can type over 50 wpm. In this day and age where people sit at keyboards all day long I expect a bit more of an effort with their typing. Definately a “see you later” if they can’t be bothered typing.

  6. drake1980 says:

    Well from reading this I really do agree with your view on guild invites and how they can reflect alot of who’s sending the invite request. Yes I do think that asking right out at the begging of any invite application about loot, items, and money ( not to mention the “Whats in it for me?” statments, as sometimes people sending these kind of applications as well as asking about the guild bank would flag me as a ” Hmmmm not sure on this one they might just join and take all the guild bank items and leave.” I know I don’t have the best spelling and I like to use abbrivations to type things out a bit faster ( but thats only if its like a first person shooter game where you have little time to type ), but not for something like applying to a guild for acceptance that just seems like there in to big of a rush and don’t have the time to even apply.

    I am the leader of a guild ( though its not even got any more than 2 members though its been around for 2 or more years, but most games I been playing most people were way to drama not to mention didn’t even have any respect for anyone at all ) and I know that alot mentioned here I would flag them also. Don’t even plan on starting my guild up in Everquest 2 till I get to know people around the game.

    But great view on this and was a really good read also .

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  9. Zmidponk says:

    Whilst I agree with most of that, I have been rogered too many times on loot NOT to make one of the first questions I ask about a guild being what their loot policy is. If it is level, fair and honest, then that makes the guild seem better, as it cares about its members, so I would usually apply to that guild, and not take it personally if I lost out on loot I really, really wanted. However, in the past, I have been in guilds where the system was basically set up so there was a core group, usually about 10 players or so, and usually including the Guild Leader, who could basically take anything and everything they wanted and everyone outside of that only got what they didn’t want for wearing, but only if they were feeling generous.

  10. Kendricke says:

    Zmidponk,

    As I said above, do you start out job interviews with the question, “so, what’s the pay like here?”

    There’s a reason that seasoned interviewers will tell you that you should always wait to raise the pay question till later. That principle applies in the same way in online gaming guilds.

    There’s nothing wrong with asking about loot policies. However, you should never lead in with those types of questions unless you’re looking for a guild that only sees you as a potentially temporary asset anyway.

  11. Zmidponk says:

    Kendricke, one vital difference – I already have a job. Playing WoW isn’t it.

  12. Kendricke says:

    Of course it’s not a job. However, just because there’s no Human Resources department and you didn’t have to dress up for the interview doesn’t mean your first impression won’t matter when you’re looking for a new guild.

    You do realize that, right? Right?

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