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.

Ranting

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?

Matticus wrote:

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

Anea writes:

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.

Closing Words

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.

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18 Comments on “Of Guilds and of Blogging”

  1. puggingpally Says:

    You’re absolutely right. Focusing on solutions to problems always leaves me feeling much better than simply dwelling in what’s bad. I think that in fact you know quite a lot about leadership, and a year+ experience sounds like a fair bit to me, and you don’t give yourself enough credit. :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Aww, thanks.

      I think a bit of self doubt is healthy, but yeah, I probably overdo it *embarassed* When it comes to people things I’m a complete worry wart.

  2. Matticus Says:

    Every day I am thankful my childish emo moments arent documented.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Ah…I guess you didn’t know that yours fell under the “hilarious childish emo moments” category and therefore must be remembered and used against you forever.

  3. Rhidach Says:

    I like to write about my guild, the good and the bad, as a form of therapy. Every attendance issue, every triumph, every dramatic moment… it all goes up there.

    And yeah, everyone in my guild knows about my blog. Back in the early days of it, only my closest friends did and I badmouthed a few guildies who did stupid or annoying stuff in posts, but as it became more widely know, I stopped picking on particular people. Now my complaints are a bit more abstract.

    I like to know that guildmates read my blog, and I toss in little shout outs here and there to keep them coming back.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’ve never seen anything on your blog that would bother me if I were your guildy. I suppose some guild leaderships might not like their members occasionally writing about things like struggling with boss fights and attendance issues, but since they’re general problems that occur everywhere, it shouldn’t be scandalous to talk about them.

      I like how you write about your guild, it adds a lot of personality to your posts.

  4. ReversionLFM Says:

    “One day he got fed up and asked me why I couldn’t just talk to him directly.”

    Something I discovered early on in marriage is that somethings are easy to discuss via email. Not that my wife and I can’t communicate, we can. But if you want to really let out a long rant style venting on something that has been bugging you then sometime email is better. Email lets you lay out an entire issue without getting sidetracked or drawn into starting a serious debate before you get all the points you wanted to discuess layed out. If you want to lay out a detailed argument and then give someone time to think on it before giving you an equally detailed resonse, then email is a good medium for that communication. Blogging is like that in a way. Actually I a very new to blogging and am still learning about what it is and isn’t. All communication arenas have strengths and weaknesses. It is very important that we, as social critters, conduct the communication we want or need to conduct in the right medium for the transaction. Much pain and suffering happens when someone fails in the regard.
    As the medium of communication changes so too must the message and tone. And of course, like most things on the internet, it is highly dangerious to assume no one will see it who you don’t want to see it. Personally I assume everything posted anywhere on the net will eventually be read by anyone and everyone.

    On a related note a friend of on a social networking site is fretting that her parents are joining the site. Now she has to rethink everything she ever posted in the contex of her parents listening in. Oops. Should have thought of that in advance.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Social networking sites are always pretty risky, you never know when your parents or potential employer are watching! It’s annoying, but there’s not much privacy on the internet.

      There are a lot of similarities between blogging and emailing in term of putting all your thoughts out into words. I do personally enjoy letters when speaking about certain difficult topics since you have the time to think about what you write. It’s much easier to be efficient in writing than in speaking.

      The difference is that emails are personalized and intended to be private, blogs are general and usually public. The feeling you get when you read an email directed at you is different from the one you get when you read about yourself in a blog post.

      That said, other than a few legal points, there’s no real “rights” or “wrongs” when it comes to blogging, it’s really up to your own sense of ethics and what kind of consequences you’re willing to face for your writing.


  5. Loved these comments, and the post! I am gunshy on blogging because, like Ridach, I blog for my own form of therapy. Good, bad, ugly, it’s all there. This has led to some nasty blowups because sometimes it’s just a rant and sometimes it’s a topic I did bring up in guild forums or with guild leadership, and nothing was changed, leaving my blog my only form of venting.

    After having guild forum posts of mine that were difficult to write and written with the best of intentions for improvement get sidetracked or derailed by those that don’t care about the topic the way I do or ignored by those who it really involved, I *need* my blog.

    Anyways, thanks for a rather excellent post!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thank you!

      My blog ends up being a form of therapy too, although I guess it’s more personal growth type therapy. I do learn a lot about myself through writing and it’s great exercise for my problem solving skills.

      It seems like you sometimes have the problem I had with my old guild, where you just can’t talk to them because they don’t listen. I just ended up moving to a guild where I would be happy. But to me, having a good relationship with the guild I’m in is a top priority. I can’t play the game if I’m not crazy about the people I hang out with on vent most nights.

  6. Hempia Says:

    You bring a refreshing perspective to talking about touchy subjects. I really appreciate the time and effort that you put into ALL your posts. :)

    It’s a little known fact that I have a livejournal. I guess it’s a blog. But for me, in all reality, it’s a dumping ground for everything. I don’t really write about WoW related things there… More about my emotional instability, to gain some ground and see my issues in black and white in front of me; yes, a form of therapy.

    I think no one reads it… at least no one who knows me does. ;)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thanks :)

      I used to have a livejournal, but for whatever reason, I don’t feel the need for it anymore. I guess I don’t have time to think about my emotions, it’s always gogogogogo. But back when I had an LJ, I wrote all sorts of stuff in there. I was careful to keep the negative stuff “friends only” and the really bad stuff private, just in case my parents or brothers or teachers or employers would come across it. I have no problems with being a wreck, but I don’t want the people I have to live around to know!

  7. Jaedia Says:

    One note, when you stick a cute in a post, it doesn’t cut the post in the reader :) You don’t have to worry about that one!

    An excellent post. I’ve been through a lot of guild drama in the past, but even when somebody or something really gets under my skin, I’m very careful what I write about it, if I write about it at all, because aside from offending people involved, whether they deserve it or not, it can stir up more drama. It is definitely a stepping on thin glass topic (did I get the phrase right? I’m sleepy for some reason).

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thanks!

      I’ve never heard that expression before (I’m an English noob), but I like it! It fits. Stirring up drama is something I really try to avoid too. I take so much pride in saying that I’ve rarely encountered significant drama in wow, I don’t want to have to change that (and be responsible).

      The apologies to the feedreader people were actually because I couldn’t cut on the feedreader. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s scrolling finger with my epically long personal post.


  8. [...] post that started it all and his follow up, Larisa on the issue, Indecent Healer, Anea, Matticus, Ophelie, and probably more than a few others whose posts I can’t seem to locate at the [...]

  9. Endyme Says:

    Being as new as I am to blogging, I haven’t run into this particular issue yet. But as someone who abhors drama and gossip, I try to keep in mind when I post things who could read it. So I’m not going to go and relate in excrutiating detail some horrible, dramatic, awful event (if there was one, which there isn’t), the guildie or guildies in question, and whatever else and not expect potential backlash. If I did have some issue I want to relate on my blog, I’d try and keep it vague enough and mind my words. For me, the point of my blog is not to call out people and shame them, but to relate to others what is going on with me and how to avoid it or how to handle it or just to get it out of my system without being vicious.

    I agree with Ophelie, I try to keep my mentions of my guild positive and am respectful of my guildies. So far I haven’t mentioned them much and I’m still gun shy about using people’s names so I stick to class references. If I did have something negative to say, I’d try to keep it constructive and take any serious issues I have to an officer. My blog is not a place to air dirty laundry.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I don’t really use people’s names either and I always block out names on screenshots. The exception is when I talk about the guild bloggers and then I’ll use their blogger names instead of their character names. I keep character name’s hush hush more out of respect for other people’s privacy than anything else. It’s not my ambition to ever be a big name blogger, but if, for whatever reason, I end up on someone’s hate list, I don’t want to drag anyone else into it.


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