About my Policy Fiddling Hobby, Part 1
I’ve been swamped with Cataclysm and finals preparations…despite what Kurn may say, for me, Cataclysm preparation has very little to do with in-game stuff and a lot to do with pre-studying for finals so I can actually play the expansion without ruining my GPA. However, like Kurn, I’m a team player and I did contribute to my guild’s Cataclysm preparation by pitching in with policy updates.
That’s right, guild policy update. This post is going to be about guild policy updates.
I know the term policy has a tendency to trigger an irresistible urge to sleep, especially if guild politics aren’t your thing. Just grab some coffee and I promise I won’t be too dry.
As a matter of fact, I think this is such an exciting and fascinating topic that I’ve split it into two parts! The first part (this one!) is about my experience and my attempts to convince you that guild policies aren’t horrible, scary things. The second part will go into specifics with some examples of how I handled the wording. (I freely admit part II exists for the sole purpose of showing off quotes I’m proud of.)
I like knowing what’s expected of me, don’t you?
I volunteered to update our guild policies. I’m not an officer, heck, with my crazy lifestyle, I struggle to keep my raider status. But I’ve disliked my guild’s website since day 1. Rules, details about guild functioning and culture, loot system explanations, etc., were scattered throughout individual threads in several forums, mixed in with regular chitchat threads. Some information about the guild wasn’t available at all.
Had I not heard and read about the workings of Conquest from Matticus (our GM) and Sydera, had this been a random guild website, I wouldn’t have applied. (And I would have missed out.)
Public, clear, comprehensive policies are important to all guild and potential guild members for a few reasons :
1- Guild policies give a potential applicant an overview of the guild’s culture. By reading the policies, a guild shopper can see if this guild is in line with what they’re looking for, thus reducing unimpressed recruit turnover.
2- Easy to find, comprehensive and clear policies are a sign of transparent and consistent leadership. In English that means you’ll always know what’s going on and everyone will be treated the same way by each member of the leadership. Conquest’s leadership is extremely transparent, but the limited and scattered information on the website didn’t convey that impression.
3- When you know what’s expected of you, it’s much easier to act accordingly.
Drafting guild policies as a non-officer
I’ve often seen bloggers complain that they can’t get involved in guild management without being an officer. These bloggers just don’t know how to effectively take initiatives. The key is to find an area that needs improvement, an area that the leadership realizes needs improvement but no one wants to take care of. Preferably an area you enjoy being involved with.
I love editing policies and constitutions (you should have seen me while I was involved in student politics). We had a brand new PvP division, Matt was in the midst of revamping the website and another officer pointed out that our policies needed updating. I wiped the foam from my mouth and jumped in.
It’s actually good to have a non-officer fix the policies, making the information on the website reflect how the guild currently functions. How much a non-officer knows about guild functioning measures how effectively the leadership communicates with the membership. A non-officer obviously wouldn’t know the details of new, unannounced changes to policies, but most of the updates I made involved changes that had already been announced and implemented, only they hadn’t been translated into policy format.
Between sitting in on an officer meeting to take notes, tossing emails back and forth with Matt, perusing our forums for old announcements and using my knowledge of the guild, I was able to draft a current policy to every topic I could think of.
Note that as a non-officer, my job was to translate the leadership’s ideas into a concise and clear text format, not to pass judgement about the validity of these ideas. Which was fine by me. Matt likes to come up with a lot of ideas. I’m easygoing and will accept most ideas. As long as they’re recorded with an optimal terminology and consistent font.
I did have to take some liberties to fill informational gaps, however anything new was colour coded so Matt could easily identify it and decide whether or not he wanted to keep it.
There’s a huge advantage to getting involved as a non-officer. When you’re an officer, you’re expected to be involved with everything all the time. Your work is taken for granted. When you’re not an officer, you can get involved in what and when you want, and, as long as you know your place, everyone is thrilled that you’re helping out.
Written Policy versus Announcements
A policy change announcement isn’t the policy itself. The goals of an announcement is to describe the new policy and convince the guild that this new idea is a good one. The convincing part can be passionate and creative. The written policy is creative in a different way. It describes the new rule or procedure in a manner that:
1- Is comprehensive.
2- Is as concise as possible.
3- Eliminates any risk of confusion.
While policy writing sounds like an incredibly tedious task, playing with words until the most efficient terminology is found is actually quite enjoyable. It’s like a cross-word. I agree, it’s very time consuming, but I love puzzles and to me, updating our guild policies and creating the perfect string of words is a blast.
For something more specific and some examples, check out part II (after I finish writing it).