Of Guilds and of Blogging
Note: This post is crazy long. That’s what happens when I’m away from my blog for more than a weekend. The words build up and come out all at the same time. I wrote this for myself because I’ve been thinking about the topic quite a bit lately and it’s driving me nuts. I considered splitting the post into two, but it’s too personal to be worth it.
I hate getting into hot blogging trends. Unless it’s an official Shared Topic, the more people talk about something, the more I write about everything but. I’m special, unique snowflake dammit!
I do, however, love thinking about blogging. I also love talking about anything guild-related. I’m somewhat of a closet amateur social anthropologist. Anything that has to do about how people interact with each other, about cultures, about communication, about influence, about social behaviour just gets me giddy. And the young, diverse, strange, ever changing social world of the internet? OMG! Just thinking about it makes me want to jump up and down in excitement.
What can I say? Some people are big into birds, others into sports, I’m a geek for social anthropology. I have no training for it, though, (two level 100 courses I took while on student exchange don’t count) so I kind of fumble around topics in hazy bliss. May real social anthropologists forgive me.
But anyway, I talk a lot about guild stuff on my blog. As a result, I’m constantly worrying about crossing the line. It’s important to me to show respect towards my guildies and to have respect for the work the officers put into the guild. I don’t want to censor myself, yet it’s not my place to criticize others, or be the cause of hurt feelings.
So, to make myself happy, I’m going to jump onto the bandwagon and bring up the very topic that’s been discussed on bit on Twitter, and posted about by Cassandri, Tam, Larísa, Anea, Pugnacious Priest as well as my own guild master, Matticus. Besides, I’ve been very good lately and put my schoolwork before my blogging for FOUR (4) WHOLE DAYS! (OMG IT WAS SO HARD TO DO! Blogging is such a drug.) I totally deserve a self indulgent post.
Inserting a cut here for your scrolling ease (sorry feedreader people)
A Question of Respect
When I first joined Conquest, I was still very new to the blogging world. I had no idea how my words were interpreted and I wasn’t familiar with guild blogging etiquette. After one more, um, awkward post, I had a chat with my GM and asked about my limits. His answer was very similar to what he wrote in his post on the matter:
[...]their blog is their territory. It is their personal haven for their thoughts. I don’t exactly pay these guys unless it’s in epics. I would never dream of with holding Holy Paladin loot for the Bossy Pally[...]
In a sense, it was reassuring to hear, but at the same time, that’s not really what I was concerned about. Thing is, I believe each one of my guildies deserves the same amount of respect. I’m as concerned about the feelings of the guy who joined last night as I am about those with the power to /gkick me. I’m not worried about my loot, I’m not worried about my raid spot. There are a million guilds out there, I can leave if I’m not happy.
I am worried about the human beings on the other side of the computer screen. Sure, they’re big boys and girls but it’s not my place to test their skin thickness. We’re a team and we’re not going to be a very effective team if us bloggers start stirring up hard feelings.
Heck, I feel the same way about fellow bloggers. Seeing arrogant or slanderous blog posts about other bloggers, no matter how justified, gets under my skin. Disagreeing with a blogger or suggesting corrections to a post is one thing, being rude and disrespectful is another.
We all need to rant at sometimes. Some of us need to rant more than others. I know, I’m a ranter of the most extreme kind. When I’m worked up about something, I’ll pour my heart out to the first person I get my hands on. Then I feel much better and go on my merry way. It goes kinda like this:
“OMG”/$%/$?%$?/$ OMG”/$/%$%$”/$ I CANT TAKE THIS! /$?$%?/$%/?&*??/$$%/”$”/$”/%/$%/”$”/”/”… Ok, I feel better now. Thank for listening! You rock!”
Since I’m generally pretty quiet and mild mannered, my short, ranty outbursts (or “my tears of QQ” as my raid leader calls them) are typically met with shock or amusement.
When people and/or their projects are involved, though, I’m careful. Frustration and personality conflicts are unavoidable and I’d rather get it all out than suddenly blowing up and spending three days trying to calm down. Still, there is a time and place for everything. I’m open about my blog, but, even if I wasn’t, anything written runs the risk of being read. Yes, being negative about people stuff on vent is disrespectful. Being negative about people stuff on a blog is disrespectful times 100. Not only are you taking private matters public, you’re doing it in a relatively permanent manner. Anything written on the internet can be copy/pasted and spread around forever.
Nevertheless, there are masters of the ranting art who are able to make excellent rant posts about their guild without being hurtful. Who’s never read Amber‘s hilarious, explosive tirades? I’m not sure exactly how she pulls them off. A mix of exaggeration, of being vague about “serious” details and heaps of genuine affection for her guildies, perhaps?
A Blog is Not An Alternative for Direct Communication
I’m going to share a horrible, embarrassing secret. When I was a teenager, I once had a boyfriend and a personal blog at the same time. Not a good a mix. I’d write about my thoughts, my day and everything else teenage girls wrote about on their blogs. And when the poor guy would ask me questions, I’d answer with “DIDN’T YOU READ MY LAST BLOG ENTRY?”
One day he got fed up and asked me why I couldn’t just talk to him directly.
I had to think on that one. He had made a really valid point.
It’s so obviously wrong to use a blog to communicate in a relationship, so why isn’t it as obvious when it comes to communication within a guild?
I go out of my way to remind the bloggers in my guild that they are free to write about whatever they wish, but have some tact. If it’s a problem with myself, a situation, conflicts, or policy issues, that it be brought up with myself or an officer first to see if it can be resolved.
I don’t know if its because we’re guildies or not, but that’s exactly how I see it too, and not just for guild politics issues. No one should have to find out from a guildy’s blog that something’s wrong.
I’ll admit I slipped once, early in my wow blogging life. It was before I joined Conquest. I wrote about my frustrations because I didn’t feel like I could talk to my guild.
Since then I’ve learned that if I can’t communicate with my guild, I’m in the wrong guild.
On Being Constructive
This is just me, but most of the time, if I’m going to bother writing a blog post, I’m going to make it somewhat useful. If no one else can benefit from it, at least I will.
I mostly write about positive stuff. The rare times I’ll write about negative stuff, I’ll only use the problem as a prompter for discussing solutions.
Using Matticus’ Pact of the Darkfallen failing example, if I was writing about a topic like that, I’d probably half-tell-half-invent a funny introduction story about me falling on my face and freaking out (I make fun of myself a lot because it’s safe ground and its easy for readers to relate to), briefly mention that mastering Pact of the Darkfallen can be hard, then list tricks.
Or, as an example of a topic I’ve actually covered, lets take my post about complaining techniques. It wasn’t directly based on a guild problem, but lets pretend it was.
Had we gone through a phase of bad complaining, I would have made note of the topic, then wait for the storm to blow over. Once everyone had forgotten about it, I’d write the post, stating how people generally suck at complaining and here’s how we can get better at it. My choice of examples is typically very silly, having the double of effect of comic relief and making sure than no one falsely believes the post is directed at them.
Not all topics can generalized and turned into “how to” posts, but I sure have a blast trying.
Different Bloggers Have Different Relationships with their Blogs
My blog is my blog – I use it for personal writing. I didn’t tell my guilds about my blog, not because I was hiding it or being sneaky, but because it is a personal blog and I didn’t want guildies reading it and making fun of my attempts at writing. [...] unless they ask straight out if I have a blog, I’m not mentioning it. It is a personal retreat for me, a place to share my feelings and thoughts. Yes, this “personal retreat” is available online and available to anyone who happens to stumble upon it. I’m fine with that. I’m not going to point a big neon arrow at it, though.
I remember when I applied to Conquest, I was so shy about my blog. I disclosed having a blog (but used the “URL available upon request” cop-out) to avoid criticism and “you never told us” later on, but I was sick to my stomach at the thought of these people I was trying to impress reading my newbish, crappy writing.
I still shudder when I remember that first week. Especially after I left my old guild and one of my former guildies got really aggressive with me on my blog. I had never received nasty comments before. I had no idea how to handle it, so I handled it poorly. The next 3 or so days were awful. It wasn’t the words that bothered me, but rather knowing that my new guildies, who I was trying to impress, were seeing me at my very worst. I was convinced I would be written off as a drama whore and left stranded on a new server without a guild security blanket.
But I lived. And I was still accepted into the guild. I’ve long since grown more confident. Now I plaster Bossy Pally links all over the place. Even offline people who don’t play WoW read Bossy Pally to shut me up.
Different Bloggers Have Different Relationships With Their Guilds
I’m very affectionate. I love talking about my guild, I love talking about my guildies. I’m the same with my classmates or colleagues in real life. As quiet as I am, I can go on for hours and hours about how wonderful my class/guild/work team is.
Many bloggers worry about getting in trouble for slandering their guild.
I worry about being mistaken for a suck up.
As a blogger, I’m fortunate to have a good relationship with the guild leadership (at least I think I do… O.o I don’t get in trouble too much!), with the healing team and with my guildies in general. As far as I know, they don’t have a problem with my blogging. I know they read because sometimes they comment. I’m sometimes also greeted by “Hey Rykga, about that blog post…” when I log in. Some even read very closely and pick up on the hints and tidbits I insert into my posts to entertain myself. When I do draw attention to individuals, they act more flattered than offended. It’s a great feeling and I feel bad for those bloggers, who don’t have, or want, that luxury.
But then again, having an established blogger for GM makes a difference. My guildies are used to the idea of guild stuff made public. They’re familiar with blogs, know what kind of stuff might be blogged about and what’s off limits. Plus, whenever I’m not sure about whether or not I should talk about something, I can ask and get an honest, straight answer. Very different from when I first started blogging and was fumbling around, discovering limits by trial and error.
I think whether a blogger is an officer or not also affects their blogging. Officers are privy to more drama, more potentially touchy subjects than the rest of us. As Cassandri writes about her partner in blogging:
Lathere has spent more time administering the guild than actually playing the game. And the topics she wants to blog about include all the bad stuff that comes with being part of the running of a guild.
As a non-officer, I often worry about being out of place when writing guild management type posts. I mean, my guild leadership experience is pretty limited (about a year and half in a single guild), who am I to talk about these topics? I suspect I enjoy writing those posts because they’re a fun way of applying all the stuff I need to learn for my business classes, but I cringe at the thought of my guild officers reading them and laughing at me.
Summing everything up in a few lines goes kinda like this. How I blog about guild stuff:
- Emphasize on the good.
- Use the bad constructively
- Be respectful of guildies
- Communicate directly, not through the blog
In her post, Cassandri mentions she feels as though leaving out the bad stuff is lying. I don’t see it like that. Claiming things are great and rosy all the time is lying and anyone who’s ever been in a guild can smell that BS a mile away. Choosing not to air certain dirty laundry out respect for those concerned is different. I want my guildies to be able to disagree or get into an argument with me without having to read about it the next day. If someone has a childish emo moment (and you know we all do at some point), I don’t want to record it for posterity (unless it’s one of those hilarious childish emo moments, in which case I totally want to remember it forever and use it against them).
Besides, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel much happier after spending a few hours writing a positive post than I do after writing some QQ.Guild thoughts, Internet Anthropology