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.