About my Policy Fiddling Hobby, Part 2

If you’ve read part 1 properly, then you’re super pumped about guild policy stuff now. Or maybe you’re not but you’re nosy about the inner workings of my guild (I can’t blame you, I’m always nosy about the inner workings of my guild too- I mean I like reading about other guilds).

Note that everything quoted here is still in draft mode and may or may not be accepted by my guild’s leadership. It’s really difficult to self evaluate clarity and concision so maybe all these quotes are crappy after all.

What I’m going to do in this post is talk about parts of the guild policy that I found more challenging to word and give a sample of the end result. None of the topics here will be revolutionary or shocking to guildies, they’re all either descriptions of Conquest’s current reality, or Cataclysm related policies that are consistent with our guild’s functioning. (And to guildies reading this: remember this is a draft form, if you do have comments on anything quoted here, please wait until the final version is posted on the website.)

Challenge 1: Integrating our PvP Division

Our PvP Division is young and fresh. Guild achievements and rated battlegrounds along with a few QueueQ former leader guildies gave us an opportunity to expand into the realm of PvP.

But while our Raiding Division is well established and tight knit, members of our new PvP Division are just getting to know each other and the guild. Even the PvP Division leader is fairly new to the guild and wasn’t present at the officer meeting I attended to take policy notes. Since rated battlegrounds and organized guild PvP are completely new concepts to us, there wasn’t much determined in terms PvP Division policies. There wasn’t even much determined in terms of PvP Division vocabulary. Overall, the PvP Division needed to be better integrated into the guild as a whole.

My maternal nature got worried (my guildies nickname me HR for a reason) and in the section on guild ranks (Raiders and PvPers have separate ranks), I felt it necessary to specify :

Both guild divisions, Raiding and PvP are considered equal.

I added a note for Matt:

I couldn’t think of a better way to say it… I think it’s really important that members of both divisions feel they have equal status in the guild. I’m a little worried that PvP players might feel a little left out until their division is better established.

I then went through the document, looking for rules and wording that imply alienation of our PvPers. Here are some examples of what I found and what I did about it:

1- Our terminology wasn’t adapted to having two divisions. So I set the terms of “Member” to designate any guild member including socials, “Players” to designate guild members who take part in guild sanctioned activities, “Raider” or “Raiding member” for members of the raiding division and “PvPer” or “PvP member” for members of the PvP Division. I then made sure that lingo was consistent throughout all our overhauled documents.

2- Enchants are provided for free to raiders for main specced gear they acquired in guild raids. This didn’t translate to PvP so I inquired about a PvP version of that practice. (As far as I know a final decision hasn’t been reached but there is a note saying the guild with help out with enchants for PvPers if needed.)

3- I had written “Players have to be careful about saving themselves to 10 man raids but can raid while they’re on standby”. So I reworded it to “Raiders have to be careful and Players can raid while on standby”. (More details on this later.)

4- We use role channels to assist with raid communication and all raiders are expected to be in their role channel during raids. I had no idea how PvP members were expected to communicate. I pointed this out to the leadership and wrote as a placeholder: “There is currently no PvP channel, however certain roles may choose to use the raid role channels for communication during PvP activity.

Challenge 2: Explaining 10 man rules

With the new lockout system, we can’t have members of our raiding team getting saved to 10 mans on their raiding characters. Unless they were on standby or absent for a given raid, in which case they’re allowed to kill the bosses the main raid has already killed. Sounds simple, right?

Then you add the following factors:

1- Players may run 10 mans while on standby, but must be ready to join the main raid at any point. Players also shouldn’t assume they’re on standby until the end of raid invites.

2- Anyone is allowed to plan a 10 man raid and may choose whichever focus (alt vs main, heroic vs normal, farming vs achievements, etc.) they want for their raid.

3- Members of the PvP division can raid whenever they’re not doing guild scheduled PvP.

4- Players can do whatever they want with their alts whenever they’re not participating in guild organized activities.

5- There are always a few really dense members who don’t understand the raid lockout system.

Talk about a juggling act! After a few hours of fiddling, I came up with the following:

There will be no guild sanctioned 10 man raid groups unless otherwise specified for the week. Conquest’s raiding focus is 25 man raids.

Any guild member, including social members, may organise their own 10 man raids. Scheduling, advertising, content, participant selection and loot distribution are to the discretion of the raid organizer. Note that members of the raiding division may not plan 10 man raids during guild sanctioned raid times and members of the PvP division may not plan 10 man raids during guild sanctioned PvP activities.

Players on standby for a given night, however, may initiate or participate in a 10 man raid after being made aware of their standby status, so long as they are prepared to leave their raid should they be needed for their division’s activities.

Due to the current raid lockout system, members of the raiding division may not raid 10 man content on their main raiding character if the main raid group is scheduled to raid the 25 man version of that content. Should a raider miss a main raid due to absence or to being on standby, they may participate in a 10 man on their raiding character but may only kill bosses already killed by the main raid group in that specific raid week. After the end of Monday’s 25 man raid, all content is fair game until the raid reset.

Challenge 3: Defining our social rules

This is always a very sensitive topic. We all remember the intensity of the reactions Keeva received when she blogged about banning all offensive and potentially offensive language in her guild. Whether they agreed or disagreed with her idea, WoW players of all types responded passionately.

My challenge was to word a policy that reflected our guild’s reality.

Our membership is incredibly diversified. Not only in ethnicity, gender and age, but also in social skills, upbringing, social-economic background and education level. We’re an R-rated guild and we have plenty of potty mouths. At the same time, no one wants to genuinely upset other members (some like to fish for reactions, but it’s never malicious). Guild chat isn’t policed, but when the leadership considers that someone goes too far that person is reprimanded.

Same goes for vent. The old rule was that, outside of raids, vent was free for all and if you don’t like someone, you don’t join a channel with them. Then, last week, we had an incident where a new member was removed for behaving extremely inappropriately toward a female member. Thus the rule needed to be adjusted.

In addition to that, I had to fit in a warning about using terms against the Blizzard TOS due to members having been reported and suspended in the past.

Eventually I fit together this policy for guild chat:

Derogatory or potentially offensive language considered excessive by the guild leadership or upsetting to certain members will be reprimanded. While guild chat is not strictly policed, members of any ethnic background, gender, social status and sexual orientation should feel welcomed and respected.

Additionally, use of terms violating the Blizzard TOS places players at risk of suspension should they be reported, a situation this guild does not tolerate. Such terms include, but are not limited to racist, homophobic, sexist, hostile or obscene comments as well as casual use of the word “rape”.

Guild members with a low tolerance for swearing and similar language are encouraged to turn on the filter.

As for our vent outside of raid policy, this part covers the guild stance on language use:

With the exception of extreme behaviour such as aggression or sexual harassment, vent is not monitored. Members who do not get along are asked to avoid or mute each other.

Challenge 4: Introducing our culture of feedback and criticism

As I mentioned above, our guild is very diversified. Because of this, I think, and because of our leadership’s strong belief in working together to improve as players, we’ve developed a very…direct…manner of communicating amongst ourselves. It works fabulously: you can say whatever is on your mind knowing your guildie won’t take it personally. It is, however, very unsettling to some new members.

I thought it would be helpful to include a section explaining this aspect of our guild culture to new recuits. I therefore adapted a paragraph Matt wrote about having thick skin in the guild (I can’t link to his original post due to the website being down for revamping) into something more formal.

I also wanted to define what “criticism” means to us. From reading blogs, I know that “criticism” means something different to everyone, ranging from “have you considered replacing gem X with gem Y?” to “you $%”$ you’re $%$%” wrong you $%?$”“. I didn’t want people to be scared away by our use of the word.

Finally, because it’s been a problem in the past, I was asked to include a few lines about how, even if you’ve had a bad raid and were heavily criticized by 24 other players that night, hard feelings end with the raid. You’re still welcome to relax on vent with everyone else to unwind.

It took me a few tries and I eventually settled with:

Conquest thrives heavily on feedback and criticism. All members of both divisions are expected to offer and receive feedback on a regular basis by participating in raid or PvP debriefings on the forums, by communicating frequently with the guild leadership, by accepting advice from more experienced players and by offering constructive criticism to less experienced players.

An appropriate tone for criticism is straightforward, yet tactful.

Performance criticism should not be taken personally. During guild activities, time for feedback is limited and participants sometimes neglect tact for the sake of efficiency. Furthermore, the large diversity in our player base implies that members have different levels of communication skills.

Players who received negative feedback are still encouraged to unwind with fellow members on vent after guild activities and to participate in social or offnight events.

Conclusion and Further Readings

After spending a lot of the weekend reading, writing, reading, re-reading, proofreading, I’ve developed a deep, deep obsession for written detail (tonight’s two posts are probably full of mistakes, though. I actually put effort into not writing formally on my blog). It’s an interesting state of mind, but I think everyone around me is ready to shoot to me.

Anyway, if you’ve taken an interest in guild policies writing, I highly recommend the following reads (all are written by Karatheya of MMO Leader)
Guild Policy Summary
Wall Of Text Crits You. You Die.
Policy Transparency
What Every Wow Guild Leader Needs To Do Before Cataclysm

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7 Comments on “About my Policy Fiddling Hobby, Part 2”

  1. Keeva Says:

    I LOVE your language policy wording. It allows flexibility for adult language, but is tough on offensive stuff. I really love the part about people feeling welcomed and respected. I love that it focuses on the positive, where a lot of people look at language policies as negative.

    Great!

    • Matticus Says:

      Complete credit goes to her for managing to come up with that. I was despairing for a while because it felt like I had to select one stance or the other which didn’t accurately reflect our atmosphere. But that wording did the trick.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thank you!

      When I was told “write that people can say what they want as long as it’s not excessive”, I immediately thought of your post on bigotry, where you pointed out (and made me realize) how “excessive” doesn’t mean anything in an offensive language context.

      Hopefully this wording will give new recruits a realistic idea of Conquest’s atmosphere, but makes them aware that everyone has a right to respect and to a comfortable guild environment, a right our leadership enforces as needed.

      I’m not 100% satisfied with the TOS wording (essentially the stance is “if your potty mouth gets you in trouble, don’t make it our problem and don’t give us a bad reputation”), but it was the closest I could get.

  2. Jen Says:

    I might have to borrow that language bit for my guild… we’re pretty much the same – filthy, *as long as no one gets offended*. We can make fun of the gay guy for being gay, but calling bad things “gay” or people “faggots” is a big no-no.

    If I was applying to your guild, there’s one thing I’d like to see in your policy thread: examples of criticism. To me that explanation seems vague and I wouldn’t know what to expect – I’d guess it’s not “you fucking idiot change your fucking gems”, but it could be “your gems are wrong, change them or you don’t get to raid” vs “you might want to check out this thread, I don’t think you’re gemming correctly”; or “Get the fuck out of the fucking fire” ( (c) an ex-raid leader, the guy who finally made me leave that guild) vs “Please stop standing in the fire, you are killing half the raid”.

    (And I love writing and editing stuff too! Actually it’s what I do at work anyway, but I’m also the “official thread” writer in my guild. Just as well, since the other officers don’t particularly like it, so they just give me the ideas and I can rephrase to my heart’s content!)

    • Ophelie Says:

      It’s funny that you should mention usage of homophobic terms because I think that’s the one area my guild really struggles with. I don’t think anyone (except maybe one person) is genuinely homophobic, but we have a number of really sexually insecure guys who are ignorant about social issues, so there are a lot of comments that make me wince. But without any gay members that anyone is aware of to put a human face to the concept, it’s impossible to get the offenders to realize what exactly it is they’re saying.

      I’ll pass on your comments about the criticism section. What I quoted here is really just the summed policy, which I think is already too long for its purpose. Matt has written more extensively about how we communicate elsewhere. We are a very blunt group of people and, being a progression focussed guild, we seperate the player from the person.

      Straightforward yet tactful is really the only way I could describe it. Using your examples, the most common way you’d hear something said is “change gem X for gem Z” and “move”, but we have 50 or so different personalities in our guild and everyone words things differently.

      • Jen Says:

        I was going to leave an incoherent comment last night, but I stopped in time :P I hope you’ll be glad to hear that you were an inspiration and I spent this morning tidying the forums – I made a section just for guild stuff, yay <3

        Lack of social skills hasn't been a problem in my guild yet, but there have been a couple of blunders. We invited a RL friend of mine who can be very immature and he started saying how gay things are… but after I told him off he apologized and never used the word again. It's hard for some other people to stop using it, but at least they're funny when they realize what they said :P ("That's so gay-oshit sorry Nads!!") I just want to make sure all the rules are written down somewhere, just in case someone gets out of line and then objects to being told to stop that behavior.

        • Ophelie Says:

          Yeah, it is really nice to have it down in writing. It becomes more complicated when the rules are more vague, but hopefully “you have to stop if you’re upsetting someone” will go over well. Even without a clear rule somewhere, most people are pretty considerate. They’re really good about not being aggressively sexist around me, and I’ve never had to call anyone out for swearing at me (swearing doesn’t offend me, but too much of it annoys me and I have a personal rule that I don’t allow ANYONE to swear AT me, ever.)

          Anyway, the guild leadership loved your suggestion about criticism and are considering recording some samples in mp3 format :)


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