Nov 23, 2011

Posted by in United We Stand | 16 Comments

United We Stand: Simplicity Isn’t a Vice

United We Stand is an Ask A Jedi column focusing on guilds, groups, and other communities in Star Wars: The Old Republic. By examining the communities that we form, we can create a stronger game for ourselves, build relationships that will last a lifetime, and perhaps even change the world itself.

Four weeks to go! We are so excited. It’s important to remain on track and not get derailed by the excitement, so let us return to our topic: how to build a guild from the ground up. Two weeks ago before I got distracted, we talked about how to build your core message, how to define your vision, and how to share your guild’s promise with everyone. 

We talked about what a good core message has and about how writing one will help you understand what you want the guild to become. We decided that when you write your message, you want to show what you want to do and the guild you want to become so that you will attract the right kind of members.

What do you do with this message? Well, basically you expand it to all the parts of your guild that you have to build. From this message we can develop a governing document, discuss how to make your guild visible, how to build legitimacy, and how to develop server presence. You can take parts out of the message and apply them to every situation, this way your guild remains true to a central vision.

The first thing that we need to do with our core message is to build our governing document. Yes, think the U.S. Constitution except written for your guild. The principle that we want to follow is transparency. This is usually used to talk about the governed understanding the processes of the governors, which is also important, but mainly in this case we mean simplicity. We want to build a simple, clear, and transparent document that anyone can read and understand. It should detail how your guild works, where one can refer to when there’s a problem, and outline and effectively accomplish the promise of your guild.

Your guild doesn’t need to be complex, simplicity isn’t a vice. It needs to be equipped with rules and systems that will serve your guild’s purpose. First thing is to take your core message and take out all the nouns. PvP, raiding, hardcore, things like this, and make sure that they are all enumerated at the top of your document. This article first, and it’s called the Statement of Intent. For example:

Article 1: Statement of Intent

Section 1: This document is written in order to define the rules, regulations, and systems of the Star Wars: The Old Republic guild Pajama Warriors of Neverland. Pajama Warriors of Neverland is on the Darth Malak server, and is a causal crafting guild designed to build a community of crafters working together to sell high quality, high value, and rare patterns to anyone and use those funds to build a better community.

This is kind of like your core message; you can see elements that we highlighted in our discussion last week on the Craftsmen’s Guild idea. It’s not the same though, the core message is written to be posted anywhere and everywhere so people know what you are about, this section specifically defines what your guild does so you can always look back to it, and if necessary, you know where to change it.

The next article is where you talk about recruiting and member levels. In this article, you need to define how someone applies to join your guild and what they need to do to be accepted. This might be an application, an interview, or a trial period, whatever it is it needs to be well defined. Following that is each of the levels of membership that you have and what each rank means as well as the privileges that it has.

You can mention officer and guild leader here, but don’t go into too much detail yet, that’s for article three. In your third article, you define how your leadership works, how are officers selected and what powers do they have. How do officers come to a decision? What does the guild leader do? What happens when a guild leader wants to step down, how is a new one selected? Think of all the things you can expect to go wrong and head them off with a simple and well designed governing document.

Finally, the fourth article. This is where you talk about your systems like DKP, PvP team selection, how people get selected to go to operations, which crafters gets what rare patterns first. All the central features of your guild go here. Keep it simple, keep it firm. When there is a problem, this is where you refer to. If someone has a problem with your DKP system, you point to this section and tell them that they knew how it was going to work before they joined, and by joining they accepted these rules as their own. This will head off a lot of problems.

My friends, please read, reread, and proofread your document. There is nothing more painful to look at than a misspelled and poorly written governing document. Remember that people will judge you for what your guild produces and writes, they aren’t going to look at your governing document and say that ‘Wow, despite all of these errors, I think this is a really great guild and I have absolute faith in how well it’s going to be run!”

They are going to doubt you for those things because it shows that you do not care. That is the second most important part of this document, not only does it define your guild and how it runs so specifically, but it shows the world that you have put time and effort into your guild. This is not a temporary institution, but an organized community that is going to make your game experience better.

Leave comments or tweet me @TwinHits with your thoughts, ideas, and stories about guilds, communities, and leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

  1. Ok, would like some feedback on this. I see what Twinhits is trying to get at is a Guild Charter for the most part, and titled it as such.

    Acme Crafters Union Guild Charter

  2. Wow, Coydog, this is really good. You really took what I’m talking about an applied it very well.

    I think it’s well written and clear, I have two suggestions though. First, and most importantly, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to link the ranks of the guild to your skill in the profession. It’s really easy to level crafting, I’m level 17 and I’m over 100 already (out of 400) and I could easily sit there and get it much higher. I think that instead, rank should be determined by your helpfulness to the guild as determined by an officer assigned to such duties. I think that will make your guild both more flexible and more clear.

    The other suggestion I have you I think you should have more detail about what “better the server in terms of social events.” This may just mean clarifying which officer is in charge of such matters. You should also have more clarification on customers and relationships, maybe clarifying how it is the duty of each member to form relationships with their customers and the guilds that they meet.

    Read it again, think about how someone else would view it and imagine how it would work in a real setting, streamlined and simple and you will have success.

    • I will take those suggestions and apply them. I only had limited beta, and think maybe a combination of minimum skill level as well as contributions to the guild. I have a few relatives that are part of trade unions and want to draw on the whole should have some basic info on your crafting profession.

      When you think about it, would you feel comfortable going to a crafter who didn’t really know how to get items he needs to craft them.

      That was pretty much first draft.

      • Sounds like you are going for a RP-ish approach to the structure, and that is of course every bit as valid as anything. I would caution that you apply a little bit of real world into it though: specifically you place a great deal of demand on your Master Artisans time in evaluating promotions, where they either have to meet up or even travel with the prospective promotee. It’s not quite clear if “Master Artisan” refers to officers, or just any member of a high enough rank, but at any rate these guys and girls also want time to play the game, rather than servicing member requests.

        Perhaps you could find some standard criteria for advancement that most could fall under without requiring the attention of a Master directly, and leave the personal involvement for the fringe cases?

  3. I see what you meant about me being six weeks ahead at the first article, TwinHits. :) I agree with the points, though perhaps the idea that prospective members must agree to the terms stated before joining could stand to emphasized as you begin talking about the document. It may help in figuring out what it worth mentioning in it, when you view it in the light of “how much can we assume a new member knows about us?”.

    For reference and perspective, here is the Guild Charter of a WoW guild that I was a member and officer for a while back. This Charter has served us well for going on four years. It uses a slightly different structure than TwinHits, but hits on all of the same points.
    Bear in mind that it has been revised a few times along the way as the guild structure changed, but much of it remains the original wording:
    http://pastebin.com/FApkUPjR

    • Wow, very well done Ghostboy! This is an excellent governing document, I especially like how you define each officer’s role and the area that they are supposed to oversee, how you define that you can punish people for hurting your reputation, and how you talk about how people can be punished for breaking the rules.

      The guild bank section is really intense, but I can tell that is because you had some problems with that in the past, so you had to build a more robust system in order to deal with it.

      Well done, this is a great example.

      • Thanks. The guild bank sections latest revision was actually not a result of trouble, though it was always rather extensive since nothing provokes drama faster than loot, but because a new officer volunteered to use the stuff in it to earn us money on the auction house. That meant selling of potentially useful gear, so we had to be sure the rules supported players getting a chance at it before we sold it.

        I was only part of writing the latest revision, which was detailing the officer roles and instituting the 3 month rule. That was just after we had recovered from a period where we were literally only myself and another officer left on the council. The rotation was made to ensure we shared the workload better, and forced people to evaluate their continued officer-ship, rather than burning out and dropping off the face of the planet.

        Generally we held to the mantra that we only had 1 rule we would never budge on: the 18 years old rule. Everything else was subject to the requirements of the duty. Common sense rules the day, but there have been times where even our supposedly adult members have shown some less savoury sides to themselves. For those cases, it was a blessing to have some baseline rules to refer back to.

  4. Well, took in the constructive criticism/suggestions and implemented them.

    Thoughts?

    Acme Crafters Union Guild Charter

    • I like the new advancement options. They fit well with your stated goal of promoting social server events.

      A thing I could be concerned about is perhaps the overall tone. Disciplinary procedures are talked about a few places throughout the document, and one of the first things you mention, and later repeat with the word “generous” in front, is donations to the guild. Couple that with the only real benefit to members being they can buy patterns at a price the officers decide and hope the other members give them a discount, and frankly it reads like a guild with a big emphasis on control and having members donate, with very little payout in return.

      I’d suggest grouping the disciplinary procedures in one section. They should be there of course, but having them in one place rather than spread out over the document doesn’t draw as much attention to them. I’d also play up the benefits of being in the guild and mention them early, maybe even come up with a few more (or at least make them concrete: members buy patterns at 75% of the average price on the GTN or something). And mention donations as an option and whether they are expected once, without any arbitrary qualifiers, and leave it at that.

      The Charter is a rules document, true. But it is also the second thing after your core message that a prospective member reads. It should reflect the good things you get from being in the guild equally to the rules you are expected to follow.

      • Well, I do realize that there are 2 area’s where it talks about it. The first being where the responsibilities of the Artisan’s Council is outlined and then in its own area.

        • And taking about stating some benefits:

          Section III: Guild Benefits
          Ability to purchase crafting materials up to 75% off going market rate. Price discount shall be determined by both rarity of the material as well as current guild stock. Preliminary pricing shall be as such.

          Common/Uncommon
          1-250 25%
          250-500 50%
          500+ 75%

          Rare or better
          1-500 30%
          501-1000 50%
          1000+ 75%

          Regular participants in material drives who help keep the guild bank filled are eligible for a 100% discount on materials and schematics in the Guild Bank.

          Active members, which shall be defined as those helping further the goal of the guild shall be entitled to free schematics when needed.

  5. Why would people put stuff into your guild bank? What incentive is there for people to do that?

    • Mine? I laid it out, those that contribute to the GB regularly would get ability to just withdraw items they need.

      You have any improvements on what I listed?

      • I’m not sure if having to make people craft an item or gather something is an efficient system, unless it’s just ceremonial. What if someone joins and they are already max level crafting? That’s mainly for the first two levels, I think the 10 rate items idea is okay.

        • And this is why I like running my ideas here for feedback. I get great criticism instead of ‘it sucks’ I get the ‘it sucks and here is why’ so I can try to get it not to suck.

          Getting someone to craft is very much ceremonial and want to keep that aspect. One way to create a great community/group is tradition. And something like that can bond people people. It may be a crappy one, but they can bitch about it all they want in gchat, but at the end guys will go ‘yah, it sucks, but we all had to do it.”

          I was thinking of just having them craft a few things overall instead of at a X score. So if you come in max level you can craft whatever you want have mats on hand for.

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