No player is an island

The phrase “no man is an island” may be something you’ve heard before. It originates from a poem or meditation from John Donne, an English poet, priest and a major representative of the metaphysical poets of the time. Here’s the original poem;

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Now the saying is a little bit outdated and now should read no person is an island, but it was on point for the time that married two important ideas. The first is that people are not isolated from one another, but that mankind is interconnected. Essentially, there is something that connects us to each other that is inherent to being human. The second is the concept of mortality which was all the rage at the time. The two together tell us that the death of anyone person affects the entire world. Over time this has evolved from that original meaning to one that no person can really stand all on their own without support. And that is exactly the lesson we’re going to talk about today.

In order to make a guild and a raid run, it doesn’t all fall to one player. It takes multiple people to manage anything more than a small group of folks. I hear a lot of people say that they could run a raid or a guild single-handed.  After the events of the past two weeks I can tell you with certainty that it is a lot harder than you may think.

The last month and change has been pretty tough on Unpossible, not going to lie. It’s one of those period where real life hit everyone pretty hard right around the same time. Things like this happen. Two of the core officers had to step away from the game because of work related issues, and a third because of school. This left four of us still around, and things were going alright. Raids were still going and people were leveling and progressing. Then a couple weeks ago one of the leadership was gifted with the birth of their first child. For obvious reasons they had to step away from the game to handle RL as well. Another event took place that caused one of the remaining three officers to be absent for a week, unfortunately leaving just two of us to run the guild and raids for the time being.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t fun. Raid signups, restocking the guild bank, hunting down missing raiders, running the raids, handling new recruits waiting for guild invites basically everything. It was stressful, lead to a lot of confusion and to speak frankly, it sucked. I’d find myself logging in before work to double check the Gbank, remote accessing my computer at home on my lunch in an attempt to log into the game and check status’, pouring over forums between work assignments and then rushing home to get things started on time. All the while handling raider complaints, DKP and other various factors. It was exhausting. At the end of the day all I wanted was a cold glass of beer, a dark room and some earplugs.  Even with two people trying to handle it, it was just simply too much. As a result of our stress, the guild became slightly stressed as well. Things weren’t running with their customary smoothness and adjustments were made to handle things as best as they could be handled at the time.

This persisted for two weeks of basically trying to keep things together and smooth, and at the end of those two weeks I honestly didn’t even want to touch the game for a bit. It was that stressful. Then three of the officers returned, and now things are going back to normal. While I’ve always been a strong proponent of sharing responsibility and delegating responsibility, this did nothing but highlight how very true that is. There’s too much involved when running a guild, let alone one that raids, for one person to effectively keep track and handle all aspects of it.

This is why when you come into a guild there may be multiple officers. In our case we have a DKP officer, healing officer, Ranged DPS officer, Melee DPS officer, Tank Officer, and Recruitment officers / membership officers. Responsibility is divided so that whenever a question or concern is raised it can be dealt with with a certain specialty. Each aspect gets the time and care only a person not trying to do everything can do.

So when someone comments to you that they could run a raiding guild single handed, remind them that no player is an island.

How about you out there? Ever try to run a massive group by yourself without help? Were you ever a part of a raid or guild where one person tried to manage everything? How did that work out?

11 thoughts on “No player is an island”

  1. Hate to mention it . . . but your title has a double negative. When I read it, I thought the article was going to cover something entirely different.

  2. Simple fix for this if your guild is large enough, grow Junior officers. People that aren’t full officers all the time. But people interested enough that they gain some responsibility and can fill in when there’s a resource crunch. This is a typical problem in many types of organization. Management stays management, worker bees stay worker bees, no cross pollination. I ran a 10-Man guild for a while during Wrath, and similar to this management burn out destroyed our guild because we couldn’t find people that wanted to manage, and despite being the number 4 guild in 10-man strict content at the time, we had to rebuild the guild 3 times due to management related conflicts.

  3. I’m the guild master of a fairly small guild. We have about 15 – 20 people in the guild, with a lot of alts. We like to think of ourselves as a raiding guild, even though we only have about 6 – 8 regular raiders. We have five officers. For the most part though, they are officers in title only. One has vanished for about three weeks now, no idea what happend. One is not online too much, but was the previous guild master. I’m left running the guild, the guild bank, the raids, guild membership, etc. Not by choice mind you, but because I love the guild and what we do. I guess I have nobody but myself to blame though. I guess I can’t complain too much either, good group of people that are very self sufficient. I do belive that in order to make the next step into a bigger and better guild, I will need to make some changes, and get some help though.

  4. It shouldn’t read person at all. “Man” can and is being used with reference to a member of the human race in the same way that Neil Armstrong used the term.

  5. I am a guild officer in a large guild (460ish toons – about 40 people online any given night.) We are a 10 man raiding guild that dabbles in pvp and achievements. Our basic recruiting theme is we enjoy all facets of the game and are a casual raiding guild (2 nights a week.)

    It still adds up to a lot to keep track of. So we organized our officers a bit differently (or maybe along the lines of all of the ideas above.)

    The way we organize is a class officer for each class (some people pull double duty for instace I am the defacto priest officer but really primarily the mage officer.) We also have some officers for specific purposes (raid, pvp, recruiting.) Finally, we have what we affectionately term officers emeritus. These are officers that can no longer fill their role but have been in the guild for a long time and still “fill in” when we need them. Some have switched jobs, or stepped away from raiding etc but we all still value their opinion and input so when they are on we include them in our decisions.

    This model seems to have worked very well (our guild is going on 4 years old now) and we have managed to see end game content (downed lich king even if it was only 1 month before cata.)

    I do know that our guild leader is definitely a big reason the guild is so solid but she will try to pass the credit to the officers. Regardless it is a lot of work and we are lucky to have such a great network of officers that helps us keep the guild going.

    Knights Who Say Ni

  6. New level of respect, it’s not often someone randomly quotes John Donne, I have a feeling next Blizzcon will be a drunken quote off.

    The post says a lot about how things were run back when my guild was doing 25s, so much was being done by only one person. The GM drove themselves bonkers trying to recruit and develop, unlike your guild/officers. They believed themselvves to be an island It eventually led to issues within the guild, and its eventual disbanding during the “Lull” to Cataclysm.

  7. I believe in making the members themselves responsible for a lot of things.

    If your members share the feeling of responsibility and act likewise a whole lot of weight will be taken off the officer’s shoulders.

    That said, I’ve seen a lot of times over the years where I haven’t envied our guild leader for the decisions he had to make, or the actions he had to take.

    I guess I’m glad to just be an officer 😉


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