Taking a riff on Seri’s classic How To Apply To A Raiding Guild post (it’s not stealing ideas, it’s homage!), I thought the world in general- or at least that portion of it consisting of officers of casual guilds- needed a similar version for the raiding guild’s unkempt brother.
Identifying raiding guilds and what they’re likely to be about is easy; they’re there to progress in the raiding content, and they are after members who are going to help them do so. Other priorities vary from guild to guild, but at least that expectation is clear and easy to understand. Casual guilds share relatively few characteristics other than not being serious raiding guilds; there are far more basic varieties, and their primary priorities vary a lot more. These are some of the basic types:
“LOL I NEED GUILD”: Every server has them; they exist basically in order to have members, a tabard, a bank, and a gchat channel. The typical example has the lifespan of mayfly in a trout stream because the members have no attachment to it or to each other, other than a generalized desire to be in some sort of guild. Most will vanish when the creator /gquits without explanation or someone ninjas the guild bank. A handful with more dedicated officers will usually survive on every server fulfilling the role of the catchall guild for the chronically social or needy. You don’t need an application to join these, just a /tell and desperation.
The Office Party: These are typically either friends-and-family guilds or guilds centered around some kind of other social networks; almost nobody is playing for the same reasons, and it exists partly to serve as a mutual-aid resource for people who already know each other, and partly as a social touchstone. You don’t apply to these because they have absolutely no reason to involve anyone not part of the social network.
The Ambitious: These are people who want to eventually be a “serious” guild of some sort, but don’t really know how to go about it. Having collected the guild tag, the tabard, and a few people, they are trying to become the next (insert top five guild here) on the server. Usually will either fall apart or be absorbed by another guild, or become one of the other types of casual guilds. Every once in awhile someone with real leadership skill will do this and has a chance of actually becoming an up-and-coming progression guild, but it’s rare. Generally so hungry for warm bodies level 75+ applications aren’t necessary.
Casual Raiders: This is, technically, a raiding guild, but one that has decided for varying reasons that progression isn’t their top priority as a guild. They are usually not terribly large, rarely have the manpower to do 25s, and usually has a core of friends that have played together a long time and are more interested in who they play with than what level of content they’re doing. You do need an application for these guilds for precisely that reason; if they were hungry enough for raid content and the raiders to do it to be indiscriminate, they’d be in another guild. These are the guilds this post is aimed at.
1. Rule number one with a bullet: do not bitch about having to apply, either to the guild officers or to the realm forums of the server you’re on. Officers see this and they read: “I am unwilling to put the most minimal effort into your interests if I feel they compromise my own even a tiny bit. I will be a self-centered albatross. Please avoid me.” If you’re looking to join a casual guild, the entire point is to find out if you will enjoy playing with these people and they will enjoy playing with you; this is why the application exists even if the only technical requirement for membership is being over eighteen and having a pulse. It’s the first step of a mutual process of finding out if you will be a good fit for each other.
2. For the love of God, put some personality into it! Again, the entire reason the guild exists in the first place is that these people enjoy playing with each other; beyond finding out if you meet the “18, has a pulse, is not immediately apparent as a flaming jackass” criteria, they are most interested in who you are and what you’re like to play with.
3. Write clearly and intelligently, same as for raiding guilds. No text-speak, no l33t-speak, have actual sentences and if you get that wordy, paragraphs. Remember, these people that want to enjoy the people they play with will be communicating with you in large part by text; reading terrible communication is a terrible experience. It also ties back into that whole “effort” thing; what’s attractive about someone who can’t even be bothered to put ten or fifteen minutes into writing coherently when making their first impression? Besides all that, it means the officers’ mental picture of you is going to look like this.
4. Make an active effort to suss out the guild culture before you apply. Catch one of the officers in game chat when they’re not busy raiding or facerolling heroics. Volunteer information about what kind of player you are and what your goals and expectations and hopes are. Find out what the guild’s goals and hopes for recruits are; there are usually layers of goals and ambitions. For example, the overriding goal and thus condition for continued guild existence is playing with people that really enjoy playing with each other, but the goal being worked toward right then might be getting the gear and the stable raider schedule harmony to start progressing in Icecrown Citadel, while a more hoped-for goal might be getting enough raiders to form a second ten-man team, or start doing 25s. Bonus points for using the mail system to let an officer or officers know you’re interested and offering good times to talk about it.
5. Don’t be a public jackass. Resist the temptation to troll the realm forums or wave your e-penis around, and avoid tradechat unless you’re being helpful. While some guilds will tolerate this sort of behavior and even revel in it, most don’t and won’t and will turn you down at the door if they remember you as the asshat from /trade- not only do they not want to put up with that kind of behavior in gchat, they don’t want their tag associated with anyone doing that kind of thing. Guilds which actually consider the art of jackassery a valued skill set are easily identifiable by members trolling realm forums and tradechat; go apply to them instead.
6. Don’t assume you will have a raid slot for your preferred role or even at all, even if the guild is small. Unless specifically advertising a need, small ten-man guilds usually have long-term, reliable members filling the most crucial roles like main tank and raid healer; the odds that you will be asked to fill these spots is fairly low. If you prove yourself a valuable member the odds are that officers will try to work you in somehow, but don’t expect to squeeze very established members out of these slots just because your gear or experience is better. Be understanding about this and officers will love you for it.
Even if you are admitted anyway due to meeting “18, has a pulse, not obviously a prick” criteria, putting in this kind of effort is what will make the difference between you being seen as “that guy who happens to be online”, who is relevant to the rest of the guild in about the same way that one bank tab that all the junk goes into is, and being seen as an investment. The faster officers and core members adopt the latter view, the more people will go out of their way to talk to you, run heroics with you, help you if you need it- and make plans to get you into a raid slot, if you can be fit in.