“Selling yourself” works two ways ..

Alternative Chat made a blog post recently that was a bit of a departure from her usual posts, in that it was a request for readers to “sell” their guilds to her, in the hope that she would join them.

Which is fine, but I did wonder if perhaps she was selling herself short in the process (or perhaps failing to sell herself properly!).

When you’re looking for a guild, you’re basically looking for a new home whilst you’re in-game – people will spend hours playing and the guild you’re in, the people you interact with, can make a huge difference to how you perceive and enjoy – or not – the game itself.

In order to find a guild that enhances your gaming experience, you need to find one that “matches” your personality and play style.  There is really no point being in a casual guild that fishes for fun if your passion is PvP or raiding.

One thing that didn’t sit right with me on that post was firstly the overall feel that she felt she would be a “catch” for any guild – that guilds should be falling over themselves to have her join them.  Yet she said virtually nothing about what sort of guild she was looking for.

So take note … guild leaders and those recruiting for guilds are, usually, not just looking for warm bodies to fill the guild – they’re looking for people who have the same general outlook and enjoy similar things to current guild members; the same approach to the game.  And to ascertain this, they need information from the potential recruit.  A little bit about your real-life situation, how it may affect your time in game, whether you’re a focussed individual who has specific goals in-game or is just happy to dabble in various aspects; what times you normally play and how regularly; if you want to join in events, what days/times you’d be available.

The other thing that would ring alarm bells with a recruiter are saying things like “I’m in a dead guild, and it’s my fault”, “I don’t make friends easily” and “I have a L100 character who’s gear isn’t useless”.

The fact that there is also a proviso to her joining any guild, that she will write blog posts about it too, would also be off-putting for many.  I’ve seen her posts and, although they’re entertaining and often to the point, they’re also often a bit on the negative side.  Which I understand in a way – after all, people more often tend to write about things that annoys them, than stuff that doesn’t – and that type of post is more likely to gets responses. So the assumption is that the majority of blog posts regarding any guild she joined would be negative – and very few people enjoy bad press.

So I’m hoping Ms. Chat finds somewhere to hang her WoW hat and call home – somewhere she is comfortable, can let her hair down and be herself, with people who can accept what she is and what she has to offer (whatever that may be).

For others considering looking for a (new) guild, I’d say the following:

Be honest with yourself first and foremost.  Know what you want, what you enjoy and what sort of guild will suit that.  If you cannot work that out, you’re going to be exceedingly lucky to find a suitable guild straight away – and the more you “hop” from guild to guild, the less attractive as a guild member you’re going to be.

I do the majority of the recruitment for our guild and the first thing I’m looking for is an open and honest application.  Sometimes I can simply tell, from the amount and content on the application, if people are going to fit with us.  There is a specific demographic that has a much higher chance of “fitting” with us.  That’s not to say that those outside of the demographic will not fit .. but just that there is less likelihood.  And that’s not saying anything negative about them – it says something about us.

I’ve found that a much higher proportion of younger applicants tend to lie or mislead on their application forms – either by omission, misunderstanding or simply because they think the information being asked for is irrelevant.

A lot of questions we ask during the application process are solely to understand the person applying (and we always base our decisions on how we feel an individual will fit in .. it’s nothing to do with the character you join with – the character does not interact with others, it’s the person behind the character that does that).  One way we understand people is by doing an honesty check .. if you can’t be honest on your application, when you’re supposed to be showing yourself off in the best light, then you’re not going to be honest in the guild.

Now .. I’m not expecting anyone to come online and blurt out everything that happened that day, or tell everyone their deepest darkest secrets.  I’m just checking to make sure people are able to be honest WHEN IT COUNTS.  For example when we organise raids, we expect people to self monitor and be honest if they muck up – it’s much easier (and causes less drama) if we know why a wipe, for example, happened – because then we can work on it, try alternatives, try to avoid it happening again.  If there is a disagreement in guild, that people can be honest with themselves and each other – dishonesty leads to exacerbation of problems and drama – which we don’t like.

Once the honesty hurdle has been overcome, it is simply a matter of assessing if the person applying would fit.

Sometimes it’s an obvious rejection – we’ve had people apply from the wrong realm or faction (with no intention of moving), we’ve had people applying who are looking for a raiding environment we’re unable to provide – we’ve even had one person apply to join for a completely different GAME!  Other than the fact that quite obviously these people had not researched us properly before applying (and the first page of our website would provide all of the information these people needed to realise we were NOT the place for them), of course they were rejected because we were the wrong place for them.

Other times decisions take longer .. during which time I research their previous guilds, what sort of guild environment they were used to; their achievements – what they enjoy doing in-game and, sometimes, speak to previous guilds to find out more.

So all of that is worth bearing in mind.  Not all guilds will go to that trouble – some will do no research, some will do more – some will require voice chat interviews and “trials” before they will accept you.

This leads me to the second thing you should be doing if you’re looking for a new guild: research.

Once you have established what you want out of the game, what you have to offer, and what you’re looking for – you need to research guilds.  Don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way in trade chat – do a bit of homework.  It will save you time, effort and possibly upset in the long run by knowing what you are looking for, and then actually LOOKING for it, rather than keeping your fingers crossed and jumping from guild to guild.

The resources I would recommend are the Blizzard forums – check out both your realm and the “Looking for Players” forums.

If you’re interested in raiding, check out the Wowprogress website – for realms that are suitable for you, then the guilds suitable for you – often guilds will have recruitment posts describing themselves and links to their websites.

Take your time – watch trade chat, watch who talks on it, who advertises, what those adverts say.  Shift-click on character names in chat to see their guild name and then do a /who for that guild name to see how many are online – if there are only one or two online at a peak time for you, then it’s not the guild for you.

Have a look at the in-game guild finder (type /gf in the chat pane) and take note of guilds that look suitable.  Again do a /who for those guilds during your peak times.

Any that still seem suitable – search for them in your browser (use the guild and realm name) – you may come across websites for them and more information about them.

If they’re still suitable, speak to one of them in-game (check first to make sure they’re not in a raid or dungeon).

Make sure you find out all you need to know before you start an application process, whether that be filling in an application form or simply contacting someone in-game.

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Feeling Let Down

Many moons ago, Blizzard announced their “connected realms”.  Following a lot of research, we (myself and guild members) came to the conclusion that our realm would probably be one of those that, eventually, would be “connected”.

Not realising it would take quite so long, we got all excited and decided to create another guild on the same realm, but on the other faction, so that we could experience the other side of things.  Most of us have a lot of alts and primarily play Horde, so were hoping that, when we got connected to another realm, we could create a bunch of Alliance alts on that realm, and still play together.

As I spend a lot of time looking after our Horde guild, I was looking for a volunteer out of those I trusted from our current guild, to run the Alliance one – initially just to keep things ticking over, but potentially to do the whole shebang – including online presence of website, facebook page, twitter, etc.

One of our well-respected high ranking Horde members volunteered to be that person – he regularly played, he was organised, he was level-headed and he already had high level alliance characters so knew the Alliance landscape.  Various of us created alts, we created the alliance guild and we had a brief flurry of activity.

Unfortunately, as the weeks slipped into months and very little was mentioned about connected realms, and nothing about ours, less and less people logged into the alliance guild – I popped in from time to time, but was basically hoping to level after the realms got connected, so didn’t do much.

Two days ago, I logged in after some time away, to discover the guild was pretty much in storage … the roster showed that most people had not logged in for months.  Including the GM.  He’d also not been online in the Horde guild for ages, and had not contacted us at all.  There was the odd character that had been on fairly recently, but I didn’t know them .. most characters had their “main” horde name in notes, but these didn’t.

I was a little concerned about this .. a guild member in our Horde guild had recently told us a tale of a previous guild they were in, where a similar thing had happened .. the GM had not logged in for months .. and then a random member from the guild had managed to take it over, demote or kick the other guild members and steal the contents of the guild vault.

Obviously I didn’t want this to happen .. not least because it had a link with our Horde guild and I didn’t want the Alliance “version” of our guild to get a bad reputation.

So this morning, when I logged in, I saw that the automatic dethroning process had kicked in, and immediately set about taking control.  My character was in the middle of no-where .. I had no access to mail boxes or banks and had no idea where the closest ones were – and to be honest that was not my immediate concern.  I simply wanted to ensure that the guild stayed linked to our other guild and in our control.

So I just clicked on the button to take control, changed the Message of the Day, posted a note on our website, our Facebook page and Twitter, letting people know, and assumed everything else would continue as normal.  I didn’t see any point in changing anything until the guild got used regularly.

Within a very short period of time, I received a very terse message from the guy I had entrusted the guild to, basically complaining that I hadn’t tried to contact him before the “takeover”, saying good luck and goodbye.

I was gutted.  I had acted immediately, in what I thought was for the best of intentions, yet here I was, my first contact for months from this guy, and he was basically accusing me of taking part in a hostile takeover.

Twitter isn’t the best place to go into any detail, although I tried to explain myself.  I also apologised and said if he wanted it back, he could – that I’d just done what I had done, to safeguard the guild.

He sent a reply saying he just wanted his stuff back from the guild vault (he’d apparently been using one of the tabs as a private, personal storage area) and to be done with it.  That he wasn’t planning on playing again until Warlords came out.

So I logged in, only to find that he’d removed his one alt from the guild, and sent me roughly the same message in-game (he wanted his stuff back) – but he wasn’t online.  I logged into our main Horde guild to find that he had already been online and removed all of his characters from that guild too.

Now I feel awful.  I feel really bad that this guy, who I’d always admired and liked, now views me as an untrustworthy guild-grabber.  I’m wondering if I should have waited until I’d managed to contact him direct prior to acting – but then would I have left it too late?

I’m also feeling let down by him.  I’m very proud of our Horde guild.  I helped create it in early 2007 – I was an officer for a while, then when the GM gave up playing, he handed the reins to me.  I’ve been running it since then, with the help of a few officers, but mostly (and I’m sure those officers won’t object to my saying this) on my own.  I’ve organised the vault, the roster, raiding, raiding alliance, potential mergers, recruitment, websites, twitter and facebook virtually solo, simply leaning on the officers when things got too much.

When the opportunity came to create the Alliance guild, I wanted the same for the future of that guild, but just knew that I was unlikely to have time to do the same for that guild as I do for our main guild.  When this particular guy stepped up and volunteered, I was relieved.  It was in safe hands.

Yet I feel let down that, although the guild isn’t particularly busy at the moment, and requires little admin, the one thing that SHOULD have been done (the GM to turn up occasionally, to keep the guild safe), didn’t happen.

I spend hours and hours every week NOT playing WoW, because I’m looking after the Horde guild.  Was it too much to ask, for someone to simply turn up occasionally on the alliance guild, to keep it safe for us?  And now, I’M the one feeling like I should back down, apologise, that I’m in the wrong for doing just that?

I don’t know – it may be just that I’ve finally succumbed to the cold that my family has been infecting our house with, and my brain has gone all mushy – notwithstanding hindsight, what would you have done, especially bearing in mind the horror stories I’ve heard about other guild take-overs?

The End is Nigh … for WowStead/Curse

It’s been a couple of years now since I left WowStead … running for the hills from their awful customer service, bad attitudes and stuffy, restrictive websites.

As a recap, I joined (for our guild) WowStead back when it was its own entity.  The people there were friendly, it had a family atmosphere, several of us spent many hours on their forums helping other users and each other get the best out of our sites.

The site was then bought out by Curse, which I viewed with some trepidation because, at the time, they had had some bad press, and I’d had some bad experiences with them, both with their attitude towards other addon-hosting sites and with their own “Curse Client” which, several times at the start brought my addons crashing to their knees.

However, the then seperate WowStead owner woo’d us with sneak previews of how polished, pretty and feature-rich the new Curse websites were going to be, and we believed.  We looked forward to it with some excitement.  Then things started going wrong .. they suddenly brought forward the transfer date (“unforeseen circumstances”), the transfer itself was blighted with problems and people were getting more and more annoyed.

As I was used to helping out on the forums of the old site, in my wisdom I thought I’d be able to help, putting things into perspective and, rather than simply “having a rant”, wrote what needed doing.  I even sent them a PM pointing out a major security flaw in their system (their admin panel was showing the username and email address of every WowStead user).

Unfortunately the new Curse team took exception to that and took a major dislike to me.  I got sent private messages from their customer service guys calling me names, telling me I was overstepping the mark, etc.  I backed off.  It shook me that someone who didn’t know me personally would verbally attack me that way.

Eventually, as I mentioned back in my previous posts, I asked a pretty innocent question … I simply wanted to remove a specific widget from my site and was having problems doing so.  I was polite about it and, to be honest, it wasn’t really even directed at the Curse guys, more at the general forum users.  I assumed I’d just missed an option somewhere.

My post got deleted.  Then a lot, if not all, of my previous posts on the forums were deleted.  My WowStead account got blocked and banned.  Despite repeated requests, via their ticket support system (which was the only way I could now communicate), I got no explanation as to why I was banned.

Luckily, I’d already found a new home for the guild.  Some weeks before I’d decided that the worry and sleepless nights over a website was just silly, and decided it was time to review my options.  I spent some time checking out other hosting sites and ended up at Guildlaunch.

By the time Curse had revoked me access to my WowStead website, I’d already moved the majority of the information over to our new Guildlaunch site.

Since then … over two years now … I’ve been exceedingly happy with Guildlaunch.  I’m a confirmed “tweaker/fiddler”, but I’m also useless at CSS, HTML and any of that stuff, yet the options available for me at GL allow me to tweak as much or as little as I like.  If I was cleverer, I’m sure I could do a lot more with it, but regardless it caters for my needs, and then some.

Today, I found an email in my mailbox that literally made me groan out loud in dismay. “Nooooooo …. no no nononononononono …. plllllease don’t do that!!”

The email suggested a joining of WowStead/Curse and Guildlaunch.

I was gutted.  I’d spent hours and hours and hours with my Guildlaunch website.  I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else and doing it all again, but I dreaded any interaction with WowStead/Curse.  I mourned for what was about to happen to Guildlaunch once Curse got their mits on it. Gahhh!

I immediately jumped onto the Guildlaunch forums asking for reassurance, worried that I’d have to start host-shopping once more.  Luckily, they put my mind at rest.  Within minutes I had a reassuring response from them, and virtually at the same time they posted a notice on their site explaining that Curse was ending it’s hosting of websites and planning on simply transferring them to Guildlaunch.

I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it all.

I’m really happy that, hopefully, this will not affect Guildlaunch at all (other than, no doubt, a huge influx of ex-WowStead customers who were either happy with Wowstead and therefore unhappy about the move, or unhappy with WowStead but used to the way they did business (badly, rudely, ineffectively).  Meaning Guildlaunch customer services could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

I’m not surprised that Curse have thrown in the towel.  Anyone who treats their customers the way they did obviously really don’t like interacting with customers.  Therefore, they really shouldn’t be providing a service that brings them into regular contact with them.

I’m sad for the current WowStead customers.  Yet again Curse have proved that their customer service is abysmal.  They have sent out one very poorly worded, almost spam-like email to its users which, if I’d never heard if Guildlaunch, I would suspect.  They have provided no further information on their website, nor on their forums (as at this time).  The WowStead customers are starting to ask questions and the only person answering them is a Guildlaunch Rep.  Who WowStead have not introduced and have, in a very short, one-line post, confirmed that the transfer is legitimate, but not confirming anything else.

I’m sad for the Guildlaunch guys who are having to put up with the fallout of all of this due to Curse’s poor handling of the situation (again).  It’s like Curse have thrown in the towel and said “can’t be bothered anymore .. you clean up the mess”.

I am a little excited and hopeful that the ex-Curse/WowStead customers do try Guildlaunch (although some may not, simply because they feel pushed into it), because I’ve been singing its praises for some time and I think the more who try them out, the better.

I did try to help out on the WowStead forums … I have a second account that had lain dormant for some time … simply trying to allay some of the fears about Guildlaunch.

I posted:

I’ve been using Guildlaunch for some time now and, at the risk of being banned (again) from WowStead, I’d just like to say that they’re really nice guys.

The customer service is brilliant, quick and friendly, the amount of options for guild websites is amazing, even for the free ones.

Obviously you’re not forced to join Guildlaunch, you can shop around and have a look at other options, but it does look like you’ll no longer be able to use Curse/WowStead in the near future, so I would recommend, at the very least, giving it a try.

When I left WowStead some time ago, back in March 2011, I tried every guild hosting site I could find.  At the time, there were only a few hosting sites that were anywhere near as polished as I would have liked and, being a cheapskate and very cautious, I wasn’t planning on subscribing and spending real cash anywhere until I was comfortable with them.  Which meant trying them out “for free” for some time.  Guild Launch was the ONLY hosting site at the time (and I’ve had no reason to look elsewhere since) that allowed me so much freedom with my site.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post a link to my Guildlaunch website, so you can have a look at some of what is possible, feel free to PM me for further information though.

Unfortunately, within minutes of me posting that, it was deleted (I only have a copy of it because someone replied to it using a full “quote”) and my account was banned.

Really?  Even now, when I’m trying to help their customers, which is something they themselves should be doing, WowStead “support” ban me?  Unbelievable.

Virtual Realms ..

I’ve been checking out the new patch notes for the test realm and a couple of things jump out at me straight away – and everyone else, I suspect.

Firstly, flexible raiding, which was “released” into the wild to be talked about prior to the publishing of the notes.  The initial comments about it suggest that it is more to cater for those guilds who wish to raid together as a group, but often have more people wanting to raid than can fit into either a 10 or 25 man team.

There has been a huge amount of chatter about it, and I’m really pleased for those guilds that have that “problem”.

The second item is Virtual Realms.  Not a lot is currently known about this, other than they will be “virtually” smooshing realms together.  This has a lot of potential to both be a pain in the proverbial, and a massive help to those realms/guilds that are perhaps a bit low on numbers.

From a personal point of view, I can see that potentially both of these items could help our guild, and others like it.

We’re a casual guild that was originally set up back in early 2007.  Initially simply as a levelling guild, a place to hang out and have fun.  But as everyone levelled up, we got more and more interest in raiding, so we ended up organising a Guild Alliance with another guild in a similar situation, in order to get enough for 10-man raiding.

That worked successfully for a number of years, through a number of upsets and name changes of our partner guild, until finally their guild dissolved.

Luckily, by about that time, we were able to field our own groups of 10 – we still occasionally had to cancel raids, or twist arms to help out, but generally we did okay.

We had a peak in the last expansion, I reckon, when we had progressed further as a guild than in previous expansions, we had a decent raid team and a decent amount of numbers – we often had to sit people out.

However, to bring the history lesson back to the present, we are now in the situation where we struggle to get a 10-man raid up.  We regularly have 7-8 people sign up virtually straight away, but we struggle for the last couple.  It’s not that we don’t have that many raiders, it is more that we are all about being a casual guild – people have real lives, different work schedules, illnesses, holidays …

IF Blizzard reduce the minimum for flexible raiding, that would be really great for us – it would mean that less raids would be cancelled for a start.  But it doesn’t really address our main problem, which is simply lack of regular raiders.

The potential for Virtual Realms to address this problem is huge.  It does depend on the number of realms, and types of realms, they will be putting together, but the advantages of having a much larger pool of people to draw from is obvious.

Of course, it does bring it’s own problems – for example what happens to cross-realm-zones … is this to replace that?  Will it have the same lagging issues for certain areas?  I’m assuming that once virtual realms are implemented, all areas of the world will be accessible by all realms in the virtual group – even those currently not shared with CRZ.

One of the reasons for creating virtual realms rather than simply combining servers, I would imagine, is the outrage that would happen as many thousands of people log in to discover they can no longer have their current character name, or guild name – with the virtual realms, anyone not from your actual realm would be marked with an extra character (a “#”), yet they would keep their current names.

Virtual realms would also share Auction Houses, and characters in any of the Virtual Realms group would be able to join any guild in the group.  But how will the duplication of names be resolved?  If there is a Sprowt on each of my Virtual Realms, how does someone else contact me?  How will they know it’s the real Sprowt?

There is also the question of character numbers per realm.  Would there be a restriction of 11 per realm still .. or per Virtual Realm?  If they restrict it per realm, then in theory you could have “11 x number of realms” worth of characters on one realm (both an exciting and scary prospect at the same time for those of us with a massive case of altitus!).  If, however, they restrict it to 11 per virtual realm .. some people may end up having to delete characters … which could be a big worry for some.

All in all, I’m curious to see what will happen …