In a word, probably not.
More and more players are finding themselves on Twitter and Facebook. Guild members are adding each other as friends to all these other social networks and their thoughts are then broadcast which expose themselves to even moreplayers. There is always an inherent risk though. Much like the way companies operate, the wrong tweet or message could lead to getting fired or facing a penalty. I’ve witnessed cases where WoW guilds did very much the same thing.
One disgruntled player said something damning and they were pretty much run out of the guild.
With something like 10+ members of Conquest on Twitter, I keep an eye on it as much as I can. I prefer to address problems privately and directly. I don’t want to find out about issues via someone’s blog or their stream. At the same time, I recognize the need to vent frustration. It’s a fairly fine line to walk between presenting the best image for the guild and allowing people to just be people. I’ve written out a set of guidelines just to remind players who do blog and use social media to keep this stuff in mind before they start blasting stuff openly.
Recruiting is hard
Again, it’s partially about image control. Smart and tech savvy players might uncover blogs or tweets from individuals talking about a guild that they want to join. I’ve spoken with players before in the past who stated that while they expressed interest in joining Conquest, scouring the twitter list of players gave them pause because some of their thoughts about the guild was upsetting. The truth of that is going to vary. My point is that social media stuff has direct impact on the recruiting efforts of guilds. So if you’re sitting there complaining about how raiding has sucked because no one’s applied and people are getting restless and no one’s showing up or applying to the guild, how do you think that’s going to look to potential applicants? No one’s going to put in an application to a guild that looks like its on the verge of collapse. Granted, that guild might have a motivated GM trying to rebuild and put things back together. But tweets and blog posts that reflect negatively could hamper their efforts.
The Public Drama
Things like loot drama or so forth should be kept internal.
Now, I toe an extremely fine line when I write about players past and present. Years ago when Syd was still with me she and I had a philosophical disagreement. She felt that publically recognizing players was a good thing. I disagreed because there was a potential chance it could lead to elements of dissatisfaction from other players who felt snubbed at not being given the same treatment. From the GM perspective, I wanted to avoid the potential headaches that it would cause. I have no qualms when it comes to writing about certain situations, but I’ll go out of way to obscure select details. When it comes to blogging, I do it to help educate not to vindicate. I’m not one to hold grudges. But not every blogger out there shares that sentiment. Some use it to write about their thoughts without regards to the ramifications of what they’re saying.
At the end of the day, if any player gets to the point where they’re extremely unhappy about their situation within the guild, that’s something the GM need to address. Every solution needs to be considered even if it means dismissal. Sometimes a change of scenery is needed. If it were me, if I was tweeting and blogging about how upsetting my guild was to me, I’d take a step back and wonder what the heck I’m doing in here in the first place.
Another reason? Can you imagine getting into a public mudslinging fight? I would much rather have a conversation in private detailing a player’s shortcomings. If a player decides to take things public, then I can either walk away and take the hits or come back and publically rebuke them. For example, if I had a player who was particularly venemous and wrote a blog post about why they felt they should have gotten this item instead of that other player, that loot council sucked and that it wasn’t fair and so forth and I noticed that the post generated some number of comments, I feel obliged to reply to explain our stance.
So I might have to come back with reasons like this:
- No actually your DPS wasn’t that high. You got out DPS’d by players who were under geared and who were doing specific things (like dispelling or doing gongs).
- You’ve been missing the past 4 raids or have left early.
- I’ve blown 10 battle res’s on you in the past 15 bosses. That’s 10 too many.
I don’t like embarrassing players in public and I’m thankful it’s never gotten to that situation. But I knew I wanted to create a reference for players who used social media.
I think there are many GMs out there who aren’t quite adept when it comes to things like public relations or damage control. They often want to take the easiest solution and run with that. Sometimes the easiest and fastest solution is to kick out the troublemaker without even trying to establish a conversation.
Note that I didn’t say it was the best. I just said it was the easiest and fastest.
Drafting the guidelines
It’d be stupid and fruitless of me to try to discourage players from using Twitter or from blogging. I can’t control that. At the same time, when I came up with the guidelines I wanted to ensure that the team had an idea of what was cool and what would give me headaches. I don’t like getting headaches. I get headaches from healing raids and figuring out how to tackle certain bosses. Those are good, acceptable headaches. I don’t want unnecessary headaches. They’re a waste of time.
When harnessed correctly, social media can be a strong asset for any guild. I’ve managed to recruit players, drive up interest and gain some raiding insight from players who use it. Its a neat way to meet new players and get a handle on different personalities.
When I came up with the guidelines, I approached it from the angle of encouraging players to think about their experience and how they wanted it presented to their followers. Keep things light yet professional. It was also a reminder to them that the leaders and I would always be available if there was something truly troubling them. Unless they seal and privatize their accounts, they would always represent the guild in everything they say or do.
In the end, like it or not, everything said online has an impact on the relationships around you whether you intend to or not.
I went through several drafts and revisions before I settled on this iteration of it.
Conquest Social Media Guidelines
These are the suggested guidelines for the use of social media at Conquest. Conquest members are encouraged to create, contribute, or comment on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums, online games, or any other kind of social media both on and off Conquest. If you do, you are kindly asked to understand and follow these guidelines.
We’re not here to censor you.
If you participate in social media, follow these guiding principles:
- Understand and follow the Conquest Code of Conduct
- Try to keep remarks meaningful and respectful—do not post spam, offensive or derogatory comments
- Take a moment and think before posting
- Respect confidentiality whether it’s guild related or otherwise
- When you’re disagreeing with the opinions of other players, keep it appropriate and polite
Guidelines to Keep in Mind
Openness – If you are blogging or tweeting about your adventures and efforts in Conquest, don’t be afraid to disclose it. You are free to write and launch creative projects at your discretion. Projects like Redhawks’ Gaze and the LeetSauced podcastare maintained by the very same players who are a part of the guild and I have no intention of trying to restrict their creativity. Feel free to approach Matt for advice or assistance.
CommunicateProblems First – Conquest is a transparent guild. I don’t have a problem allowing players to vent. However, if you experience any severe problems with the guild or its leadership, you’re asked to approach the leaders first to see if a resolution to the problem can be found before taking it public.
Try to Stick to Your Expertise– I write about healing and raiding. I wouldn’t dream of advising a Mage on things like their rotation or stat weights. Don’t intentionally mislead players who may approach you for advice. If you’re not sure, do refer them to other players in the guild or other resources on the internet.
Your Words Have Effects– By saying you are a member of Conquest, every tweet, post and comment you make indirectly reflects upon the guild as a whole. This can have a severe effect when it comes to things like recruiting new members to when securing guild partnerships/sponsorships in the future.
Be Conversational– Have some fun interacting with your readers and followers. You don’t have to be mechanical and personality-less all the time. There are many interesting players out there. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
Accountability– What you write is ultimately up to you. I can’t restrict your speech. Being a part of social media as a member of Conquest reflects upon the guild, so treat it well. Follow the terms and conditions for other communities you are a part of.
The Grandma Rule– If you’re about to publish something that doesn’t feel right, think about whether or not you should post it. If your grandma or parents saw this, would you be embarrassed or worried? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider modifying or refraining from publishing altogether.
The Internet is Forever– Stuff that you put out there can be saved. When you publish information, any efforts to destroy it or render it anonymous might work. It also might not. If you’re not prepared to have something published for all eternity, re-work it or reconsider it.
This is your guild – If being a part of the guild gets to the point where the direction is severely upsetting to you causing you to start publically blasting players and its leaders, you may wish to reconsider your status within the guild. I have no intention of trying to keep players who have absolutely lost their desire to remain in the guild. I want players to be happy, irrespective of what guild they belong to.
8 thoughts on “Does Your Guild Need Social Media Guidelines?”
Continue to love this blog. Really hope you find someone good to take over No Stock UI.
Something related to what you write here is that a lot of guilds have a recruitment process whereby an application is posted so the whole guild can see it and comment on it. That leads to a lot of problems you address (especially “Try to Stick to Your Expertise” and “Be Conversational”). Your average player (and honestly… your average guild leader) don’t understand that recruitment is a two-way street. The player may be applying to the guild but the player is also evaluating the guild at every step.
I can’t help but chuckle at the irony of blogging about guild guidelines about blogging et al social media outlets. (Not a bad thing)
Have you ever had these guidelines pushed back on you such that someone did feel like they were being censored?
Nope. I just released them a few weeks ago actually. I gotta protect guild interests somehow. It’s not like I can go out of my way to erase blog posts or tweets or anything. The only thing I can really control is their status in the guild.
Seems to me that Matt’s blogging and podcasting and other community activites are very clearly an overall benefit. I remember when I first started reading this blog the guild was obscure, now they have queues of recruits to get in. In fact many of those recruited have probably been drawn to Conquest because of Matt’s high public profile in the WoW community.
Also he doesn’t say things like “Steve is such a jerk”. He might post about an anonymous member creating an issue and how in general guilds should handle that. No one outside is even going to know which person triggered that.
That’s an excellent list of guidelines, and I feel like it could apply to far more than just WoW. I have been thinking recently about trying to use social media to build a guild (as part of my wife’s studies on social media and democratization), and I may very well steal these directly (educate, right)?
I was wondering if, for your “Internet is Forever,” you’d think about adding a corollary about feathers in the wind. Not only is it forever, but once you put it out there, it’s totally out of your control, like feathers in the wind.
I totally agree with this list of guidelines. The behavior of guildies always reflects on the guild, whether that is in trade chat or on blogs. You have done a nice job of being firm but respecting the desire of your members not to be censored.
I’ve recently had to educate a couple of guildies about this, since I don’t enjoy people from other guilds coming to me and complaining about guild members.
You raise a really good point that most of the people are venting and don’t mean anything by it – but others form opinions based on their actions, regardless. I suppose it really comes down to how much coaching the guild leadership are willing to put into this, compared to the quicker decision to prune.
I find that delivering the coaching always takes a while, and is far more than just ‘read the code of conduct’. People who mean well often say really silly stuff. Like trying to spark more guild chat by being controversial, or using sarcasm in a text-based communication mechanism.
Do you have to spend much time with this? I’ve had to have these discussions with core raiders, members of the second and third raid teams, casual members and officers as well. Usually there are two discussions and then everyone is on the same page, understanding where guild interests and their desire to say what they want overlap. It’s not something I enjoy doing though – I manage people for a living, and then WoW starts to feel like work as well…
Mmm, yeah. I’ve had to remind people. Just the other day, I had to vocalized the concerns of other members inthe raid to the rest of the guild regarding conduct and language. I pretty much laid out that I was getting weary of these complaints that were clearly going against the conduct rules we had going on. And if it continued, I would use some combination of loot lock, GMute, Gkick or some other to enforce it.
The work we do for our guilds, hehe..
A great guideline indeed. you could think that these points should be obvious to people, but if they are not, better put them down to have a common ground (and leverage if needed at some point). it shows how times have progressed from few years back when we started off and all the aspects guilds are confronted with today. quite the difference.