Episode #13 – “It’s Good to be a Guild Master”

Episode #13 – “It’s Good to be a Guild Master”

Oct 01

Our thirteenth episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider talking about both being guild masters. We look into our histories with leadership, discuss some of the problems and bonuses of running a guild and tips for new or upcoming GMs into filling the role.

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Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 13, “It’s Good to be a Guild Master.”

Tzufit:  Hello!  Today we are going to be talking about guild leadership, being in charge of a guild, forming guilds, and all of the hard work that we need to do along the way.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes, this is actually a topic that is very near and dear to our hearts – unlike, you know, all of the other topics that we’ve ever breached on this show.

Tzufit:  Right.  All of the other ones are completely impersonal.

Apple Cider Mage:  Exactly.  Objective.  But this is the subjective episode where we’re actually going to talk about being GMs because, as I have heard, both of us are GMs.

Tzufit:  Isn’t that a funny coincidence?

Apple Cider Mage:  I know.

Tzufit:  We talked a little bit about this is our opening show, back 12 episodes ago now.  But just to recap a little bit, let’s each discuss exactly how we got to the point that we were in charge of our guilds.  So Apple Cider, let’s hear your story first.

Apple Cider Mage:  My path to becoming a GM was actually quite a long one.  I always seemed very destined for greatness.  Great and glorious purpose even from when I started in the guild, which was all the way back in 2005 in Vanilla.  Our guild is pretty old.  The guild actually started in December of 2004, like a month after World of Warcraft came out.  I actually came into the guild as a newbie and I think within I want to say 6 months or 7 months, maybe a little longer than that, I actually got voted up to an officer position despite being one of the few people in the guild at that point that hadn’t gotten to level 60.  In fact, I was around level 35 or 40 at that point, and I became an officer because the other officers and the guildmaster at the time felt that they needed somebody to represent the members of the guild that weren’t 60 and weren’t actively doing end game content, which was a big deal back in Vanilla.

Tzufit:  That’s a pretty cool idea, actually.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, because I was really loud and bossy.  I was kind of always asking questions as sort of a newbie to MMORPGs and stuff.  So they kind of felt that I was a pretty decent advocate.  So I became an officer very early on in my time with the guild, in my time in World of Warcraft even.  Fast forward several years, the GM of the guild, who incidentally is also my boyfriend now as of 5 years ago, he has to step down from World of Warcraft because of his job.  He’s super busy all the time and he just really doesn’t have time for World of Warcraft.  At that point, I had already been functioning as the GM in all but title basically.  Blizzard decided to implement a line of succession tool.

Tzufit:  Basically a way that AFK or permanently away guild leaders couldn’t essentially hold the guild hostage from the other people who were still active.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Not that that’s exactly what was happing in your guild’s situation.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh absolutely not.  It’s funny because for all intents and purposes, could I have absolutely just gone over to my boyfriend’s computer, logged him in, transferred the power over to me?  Any day I could have done that, literally.

Tzufit:  But it would not be nearly as much fun.

Apple Cider Mage:  No, because it’s like way more fun to think of it as like staging a coup.  So when that tool came out, originally it was only 30 days to tick it over to a new GM as the highest officer.  So every day, me and my friend – and this was originally just going to be done as a joke because honestly, the guild really didn’t that much GMing.  We were a pretty self-sufficient guild.  We had a couple officers.  We’re very quiet.  Not a lot of need for a GM.  But every day that went by that he didn’t log in, the joke would get a little bit more real.  Finally, that thirtieth day ticked over and suddenly I got like a little strip above the guild roster that said, “Your GM has been away for 30 days.  Would you like to take over the GM spot?”  So I did.  It was very ceremonial.  I felt very special.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that clicking of a button.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  And the rest is history.

Tzufit:  My path to GM, very sadly, did not involve a coup.  I wish it did.  Maybe this is a little unforgiveable, but I don’t even know the whole history of my guild, to be completely honest because it’s just an old guild that’s been around for a long time.  I am fairly certain they formed up sometime during BC and started raiding probably midway to the end of BC.  They were taking it a little more seriously at that point.  I did not join until the beginning of ICC or so, which was around the time when I was looking for a serious raiding guild.  Because I’m on a very small RP server, there are not a lot of choices for a serious raiding guild.  In fact, at that point there really was like maybe 1 other.  And I knew a couple of people who were in Council of Dragons, which is the name of the guild I’m in now.  So I went ahead and apped with them and went to a couple of trial raids and eventually joined.  Then around the first tier in Cataclysm, I was offered an officer position.  We refer to them as Council Dragons because we’re cool like that.  The way that works for us is our leadership is a council system, so there’s usually around 6 or 7 council officers at any given time.  They make the decisions as a group.  No one person has any more say-so than anybody else.  They needed a couple new officers because we had a little bit of a turnover during Cataclysm, just people not playing as much anymore.  I came in at the same time as 2 other new officers and helped along the way throughout Cataclysm until the Dragon Soul patch.  At that point, kind of all the officers decided they didn’t really want to play WoW anymore.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh no.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Everybody was just kind of on these indefinite hiatuses.  There were still people in the guild who were really looking to progress.  We finished Dragon Soul on 25-person raiding because at that point we were still primarily a 25-person raid guild.  We also had some 10-person groups but the idea of what we did as a guild together, what we called our “sanctioned” runs, those were always 25-person raids.  Then we had our “non-sanctioned” runs that were just kind of a group of 10 people who would form up.  So once we finished Dragon Soul on 25, everybody was kind of like, “Ok.  I’ve had enough of Cataclysm.  I hated Dragon Soul.  Peace out until Mists.”  That was certainly kind of true for me too.  I took a little bit of time off.  I had probably taken my major break during the Firelands patch, because I was just a little WoWed out at that point.  Because the person who held our guildmaster previously was one of those officers who was taking some time off, he posted in our forums and asked if anybody else would be willing to step up and take that over.  I actually did not think I was going to at first because I did not want to take over being a GM of a guild that I thought might be dying at that point.  I really wasn’t sure just because the interest had waned so significantly over the course of the expansion.  But I spent a lot of time thinking about it.  I initially gave a flat out “no” on the forums and then I thought about it a little more.  A few days later I came back and I said, “You know what?  Go ahead and log in when you have a chance and pass it over to me.  I’ll do it.”  So we had our exchange of power and I took over the nominal GM position.  Again, for us, it really is primarily nominal because we do function as a council.  But at that time, I was the only one of those council members who was really logging on.  Fortunately, we got the raid group back together and going.  It was 10-person at that point, but it was still nice to have that going on.  Eventually we ended up clearing Dragon Soul on heroic, which was pretty cool for us because the guild had never cleared a raid tier on heroic mode before when it was current content.  So we were very excited about that.  Fortunately, it kind of has a happy ending.  Most of the officers returned once Mists of Pandaria started and the gang’s all back together again.

Apple Cider Mage:  Aw, that’s kind of a nice story.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  I’m very glad that it turned out that way and I’m very happy that I did agree to take over the leadership when I did because – not to pat myself on the back too much, because obviously there were a lot of other people who contributed to helping keep things afloat at that point.  But I think that because I kind of rededicated my efforts then, I feel like that’s part of why we’re still around today.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I can see the hesitancy of wanting to helm something that might be going down in flames, but I think it’s good to have new leadership because it can kind of revitalize a guild that might have been going in a different direction.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and that’s why I like the leadership system that we have set up because there is always that possibility that if I just feel burned out or if I just feel like I don’t really have any more to give right now, I just say, “So who wants to step up now?”

Apple Cider Mage:  So you did mention that your guild is run by a council.  So is it a bunch of officers and you kind of all democratically make decisions?  Or how does that work?

Tzufit:  Yeah.  That is the gist of it.  Any major decisions that are being made, we have an officers-only subforum on our website where we kind of talk things through.  We also know each other very well, so we’re in Vent pretty regularly or we’re in officer chat or whatever, and just kind of work things out that way.  Now that being said, when decisions need to be made on the fly – if we need to make a decision and there’s only one other officer on or two other officers on, we just talk with whoever’s there.  There are very few things that we really want to make sure we want to get a full vote from everybody on.  The one exception to that is that anytime we add a new officer, we want a unanimous vote for that, just because since we do work so closely together, we want to make sure that we’re not bringing anyone in that anybody would have a problem working with in that way.  We are very open.  We are very honest with each other.  It’s just an environment where you need to have complete trust because we’re really trying to make sure that we’re doing what’s best for the guild and sometimes the stuff that happens behind the scenes is not necessarily always PG or G rated, I guess.

Apple Cider Mage:  Sort of the structure in my guild is a little bit similar, although I think I have a little bit more weight as the GM because we don’t need a ton of officership.  But I have quite a large officer council.  When I became GM, one of the things that was kind of crucial or had been kind of occurring over the period of the guild was that the guild was going through a personality shift.  I know that we’re going to talk about this a little bit later in the show.  I was trying to make the guild into more of a place that felt like mine.  I had been in the guild since 2005 so it was always my guild, but it wasn’t necessarily a guild in kind of the style or the image I had wanted.  So the past couple of years had kind of been moving the guild in a different direction in terms of socializing or social structures.  A lot of the people that I had originally started playing World of Warcraft with had already retired or quit, sort of like my boyfriend.  All of those people that I used to play with had quit.  So I had started doing a lot of recruitment of people that needed a better guild to go to that had been in abusive guild situations.  So our guild had started to become kind of – we call it like Northrend Commonweath, the home for wayward women.  It basically started becoming a place where a lot of women in particular, people that I had become friends with through places like Twitter or WoW Ladies, which is a LiveJournal community a bunch of us are from.  Over the past couple of years at that point, I had gotten a lot of those people into the guild.  So when I finally became GM, it suddenly became from stuff that I was doing on the side as an officer for recruitment purposes or just giving my friends a place to hang out in WoW, it was becoming where finally I was the leader to make the decisions to make the guild how I wanted it to be.  With that came electing officers because before I hadn’t really delegated much.  I wasn’t around literally 24/7, so it was kind of necessary to have people, especially when we started to do like casual 10-man raiding, it was necessary to have people that were going to do other things besides me.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and that’s always key, especially depending upon the size of your guild.  Having other people to help support you and to help divide up that work is really, really important.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, and that’s one of the reasons why I started electing officers.  I was starting to get really burned out just being an officer.  So a bunch of my friends were like, “Ok.  You really should elect people to do other things.”  I said, “Ok.  That’s actually a really good idea.  I’ll do that.”  I already had like my right-hand lady.  We elected a couple more people up to the upper officer position.  That was people who did a lot of stuff with the raid.  Our raid leader is an officer.  Then we elected 1 or 2 people to a magistrate position, which is like a lower officer position.  They just handle invites to the guild and stuff like that.  For some reason, no one asks any of the officers for invites.  It’s always me.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s basically all I needed.  So now we have about – I want to say we have 4 officers.  1 left the guild.  1 retired from WoW.  So yeah, we have about 4 officers and they’re all like my closest friends.  They’re all people that I absolutely would 100% trust with the guild if I had to leave.  They’re all people that have the same social and moral code that I do in mind, like with how our guild is set up rulewise and socially.  They all have the same principles in mind that I try to keep in mind when we invite people to the guild.  They keep an eye on guild chat and things like that.  I tend to make some of the final decisions myself obviously, but for the most part we tend to sit down and agree on people that are getting invited to the guild.  We decide on things like the raid schedule and things like that.  Officers also have full privileges to run any event that they do.  I don’t run the raid.  That’s not my job.  I don’t want to be a raid leader and the guild leader.  But I run the guild’s weekly events.  I run the mount runs and I run the LFR/Flex raiding night.  All of the officers tend to either participate in those events or help out in some capacity whether it be strats, or just suggesting that sort of thing.  So it feels less like kind of a power structure and more like here are all my cool friends that I do cool stuff with and they help me out.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and that is actually fairly similar for me as well.  I think one of the nice things about the way that our guild has evolved over the years is that because the vast majority of people who are in the guild now have been in the guild for years at this point, there just isn’t a huge need for a lot of very definite leadership about various things because there’s not a ton of conflict resolution to deal with.  There’s not a lot of logistical stuff that we haven’t already worked out over the last 3 or 4 expansions.  It’s really just very day to day scheduling, maintaining, that kind of thing.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah absolutely.  I feel that that’s kind of more of the focus when you have guilds that are structured around a lot more of the social aspect, I think.  It becomes a little bit easier to have officers for practical reasons versus maintaining order.

Tzufit:  Right.  I’m kind of curious, because I just saw somebody talking about this on Twitter this morning, about the idea that it’s very essential for a guild to have a mission statement or a charter statement or something like that.  I’m curious how you feel about that or if your guild has one.

Apple Cider Mage:  I want to say that maybe not set 100% in stone, but I feel that having at least a codified idea that your guild is based around, whether it be a goal like “We are a 25-man progression raid team.”  Even that could be a mission statement in that it has very defined goals, and that if you want to be there, you are probably there to do 25-man progression raiding.  So in that way I do agree that there should be at least some idea of a mission statement, or an outlined goal, or an outlined personality to the guild, because it lets people know what they’re kind of getting into.  It helps you loosely assemble the focus of the guild around that.  If our guild had to have a mission statement, I would say that we are a social/casual guild that is focused on providing a safe space and a supportive, respectful space for WoW players of all stripes.  That would probably be a good way of putting our guild’s mission statement.

Tzufit:  And I like that for some of the same reasons as I like the thing that I would consider our mission statement, because I think that one of the important things is that you have some language that’s flexible enough that your guild has room to grow or room to change if necessary.  Chances are that’s going to happen at some point, whether because the game changes or because you have people coming and going.  That’s just kind of natural at this point in WoW’s lifespan that you’re going to have people who feel like taking a break or feel like quitting.  That’s going to happen.  For us, the sound bitey thing that I would define as our mission statement is we always talk about being a casual raiding guild.  Our policies are basically everyone needs to be mature, friendly, and polite, and everyone gets an opportunity to raid.  That’s kind of our core value is the idea that we will – when it comes to sanctioned raids, if you haven’t had a chance to raid yet this week, we will find a way to get you in there, regardless of skill level, regardless of anything like that.  We want to make sure we give people the opportunity to see the content, which is also a little bit less of a necessity, I guess, than it used to be now that we have LFR and Flex raiding.  But it’s still very important, I think, to give people as many options as possible with that.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  In essence, I think having a mission statement like that, I think it makes you easier to identify yourselves.  I think that people find you better in that regard, or people sort of fall in line better if you have at least a loosely put together idea of what exactly that guild is there for.  It doesn’t even have to be something super important.  Just saying, “We’re a guild for older people to play comfortably without judgment,” or “We’re a guild that is supportive for -“ like I know that there’s guild that specifically exist for members of the armed forces or fireman and cops and stuff like that.  Even that, just providing a space for certain players of certain backgrounds or certain interests to kind of come together and play together, or something really official and formal like “We’re #50 in the U.S. raiding team, 10-man strict,” that sort of thing.  It just kind of helps put a veneer on the guild so that people can say, “Oh, maybe this is something I’d be interested in.”  I think a lot of guilds do suffer from the fact that when you have people joining, if you don’t have that core to it, that a lot of people sign up just thinking they’re getting into a guild and then they find out that the guild isn’t really what they wanted.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  That’s something, for me, that’s always kind of crucial when – we have a full application that people need to fill out on our website, which is a deterrent in and of itself, let me tell you.  So many people will whisper you and say, “Oh, I want to raid with you guys.  I want to join the guild.  Blah blah blah.”  I say, “Ok.  Well the first step is here’s the website address and you need to fill out an application there.”  “Oh.  Well.  Can’t I just have an invite?”  The applications exist for a reason.  We want to see that you have the initiative, the focus, to be able to answer a dozen or so questions and explain to us who you are.  That’s pretty important.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  We tend to only do invites based on social connections from within the guild or a great need.  We don’t actually have an application on our site.  I don’t think we’ve ever actually had one.  It’s a little bit of a up and down, take your chances way of doing it, I think.  But when it comes to recruitment, we don’t specifically recruit for anything for the most part.  We’ve had to kind of look for people for our raid team.  But it’s hard because most of the time when we want people to join the guild, it’s kind of like, “Oh.  Do you want to come be our friend?”

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Recruitment is easily my least favorite thing about guild leadership.  That’s pretty much always been the case for me in this guild, in previous guilds that I’ve had leadership positions in.  I just don’t love recruitment.  I can’t exactly put my finger on why.  I think some of it is that, especially in social guilds, which we kind of are even though we identify as a casual raiding guild, that aspect of it is a lot less important to us than – like for example, your iLevel and what content you’ve cleared is infinitely less important to me than if you can be mature, friendly, and polite.  That is really the thing.  So to me, I know if you can be mature, friendly, and polite from reading 1 application, having a conversation with you in game, and maybe having you come along to 1 or 2 raids with us.  I know if you’re capable of doing those things and I don’t care if you were bottom DPS.  I don’t care if you were bottom heals.  All I care about is that you’re not a jerk.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  In that respect, I actually like recruitment.  It’s difficult but it’s actually one of the parts of the job that I really like because I really like people finding our guild and having them go, “Oh my god.  This is precisely what I’ve wanted for so long in World of Warcraft is a guild that’s super inclusive and I know that I can play and not feel marginalized.”  That’s kind of the back end of my guild’s mission statement is that we’re very feminist-minded, so very woman-friendly, very inclusive of all walks of life.  Recruitment is actually fun for me.  That’s actually one of the parts of the job that I really like is finding people.  I know that if Blizzard handed out like bonus cards for every time you got somebody to transfer to your server to join your guild, I would probably have like 11 toasters.

Tzufit:  I can see how, in a guild structured like yours and in a guild that is focused around the values that your guild is focused on, why recruitment would be a really satisfying aspect of that.  Because our guild is – because we identify as a raiding guild, although that is not the most important value to us, the problem is that we get people who really only care about the raiding.  Oftentimes, those are the ones who actually aren’t that great of players, which is a little frustrating.  So you get people who really want to progress and it’s important to them that – we get a lot of applications where people say, “I want to be the top geared paladin on the server,” or something like that.  That always is a red flag to me, and that’s part of why recruitment is less fun to me, because since we are ostensibly a raiding guild, I have to sort through that stuff in order to find the people who I think will be a good social fit.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  That’s the downside for recruiting for us.  When we were looking for people for our raid team, very casual raid team, it put the values that we had as a social guild in tumult because it’s really hard to recruit for a raid team when your guild is not really geared to being a raid team, but you still want to raid.  We basically did have to say, “Hey.  Are you good at the raiding?  Because we want you to be our friend.”  Most people do not join a guild to be friends with people and then raid.  It’s usually raid and then become friends, or treat it like a business, etc.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  That’s something I think we touched on a little bit last week in our roleplay episode, because both our guest Dyna and I had been leadership in a guild previously that started as an RP guild and wanted to move into being an RP guild that has a pretty good raid team.  It is extremely difficult to try and shift that focus because sometimes people will kind of feel like the rug’s being pulled out from underneath them, because it’s like, “Well no.  I joined you for this thing.  So don’t try and shift priorities.”  The other problematic aspect of that is too that because, with a social guild or with a roleplay guild, you can have people who have a drastic variety in skill levels when it comes to raiding, a lot of people don’t necessarily even have enough experience with raiding to realize that they’re not that great at it.  That’s a really difficult thing to try to explain to somebody in a way that’s not fundamentally hurtful because the thing is that – just being brutally honest – it is possible for 1 or 2 people to prevent progression for the rest of a group if the DPS is that far behind or if they’re a tank that’s dying constantly or if they’re a healer that just can’t pull the numbers they need.  That is possible to prevent progression for everybody else.  When you’re dealing with a guild that is one thing but also raids, you tend to get more of those kind of people and you have to have more of those conversations.  In my experience, they either go 1 of 2 ways.  The person is like, “Oh.  I completely see your point.  Tell me all the resources I can get.  Tell me all the people I can talk to to try and make this better because I want to be a raider.  I want to be a part of this team.  I don’t want to hold anybody back.”  Or you get people who are offended by it, and I totally understand where that comes from.  I don’t blame them at all for feeling that way.  But it’s just that unfortunate balance that you tend to get in social guilds or guilds that are something plus raiding, that you have to have those kind of conversations.  They can be really, really difficult.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  We tend to not have as many of those conversations because I think the raiding is so low on the importance meter that a lot of times people do realize when they’re not being super good for the raid.  But on the other hand, if we’re talking about things that we really dislike about being a GM, I don’t like having to have the really hard social talks because when somebody does not fit in with our guild, it is usually for a pretty awful reason or it is usually for a reason that’s really particularly sticky socially.  I feel like those kinds of conversations are way harder to have than, “You need to pick up your DPS.  You’re not using your tank cooldowns,” or something like that because that stuff can be fixed and it’s not personal.  Social stuff is always personal.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s always telling someone that their personality is just not working.

Tzufit:  And it’s also – for the most part, when it comes down to “Your DPS numbers are not good,” or “Your healing numbers are not good,” I have objective evidence that I can point to and say to them, “Go look at these logs,” or “Go look at how many times you died in that fight,” or something like that.  When it comes to “You don’t mesh with us socially for 1 reason or another,” that can very easily be tossed back in your face as “Well that’s a subjective opinion.”

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s also hard, from just the perspective of I usually, as the GM, have to always be that person to have that conversation because a lot of my officers either can’t or they’re too close to the subject or – a lot of us have confrontation issues.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I am really someone who avoids conflict at pretty much all costs.  So I certainly can identify with that and, not going to lie, that’s one of the perks of having a council system is that if we have someone who’s better at having those conversations, they can be the one to have that conversation.  Although I think all of us, at this point, have really had to do that.  I should also point out that we are extraordinarily lucky because for as large of a guild as we are, I think I can probably count on 1 hand the number of people who we’ve had to ask to leave or had to actually forcibly gkick, which almost never happens, since the guild’s inception.  In the time that I have been in a leadership position in the guild, there has been 1 incident.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  That’s the upside is that in all of the years that I have been an officer or GM or even just a part of the guild, the number of times prior to me being GM that we had to gkick people was like 3-4 over like a 6-7 year period.  Since I became GM, the number of people we’ve had to actively kick, I think, is 1 or 2.  We’ve had a couple people get uncomfortable enough with the atmosphere that they left on their own, but problematic people that we absolutely 100% had to gkick while they were still online, was probably maybe like 1 or 2.  A handful at most.  That’s one of the upsides because for the most part I haven’t had to have a lot of those really tough confrontational discussion with people because with our personality of a guild and our mindset and our politics being kind of confrontational, very political as they are, a lot of people if they don’t want to be there, they get the hint really quickly.  They get the hint really quickly that this is not the guild for them and then they move on.  I’ve only had to have a couple of really sort of nasty discussions or angry discussions or pulling people aside and saying, “What you’re doing is really not cool.”  Were all of them really hard?  Absolutely.  All of them were absolutely difficult conversations.  But as the GM I felt it was kind of my responsibility to do that and not rely on my officers, because I feel like I’m the most public face of the guild.  So if I say something to somebody people listen to me and value my opinion even if I’m telling them that they’re being jerks.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that makes sense.  I think that that is part of why it is so essential to really – whatever attitude or atmosphere you want to establish for your guild – to ensure that that is so pervasive because for us, that’s part of why we’ve only had to ask a few people to leave in the last 6-7 years that the guild’s been around.  Are those 5 people the only people who’ve left the guild in that time?  Absolutely not.  But the thing is that if you ensure that the bulk of the membership believe in the ideals that the guild is founded upon, then people who don’t believe in those ideals are going to realize really quickly that they don’t want to be there, and they’re going to weed themselves out on their own.

Apple Cider Mage:  Social pressure is a very interesting phenomenon that works unspeakably well.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  That’s the great part about being a large guild that’s been established for a while is that you get a little bit of that kind of hivemind thing going on.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.

Tzufit:  Where everybody has a general sense of “This is what’s Ok, this is what’s not Ok.  Here’s where the line is,” and if you see somebody crossing that line, then social pressure is a pretty serious thing at that point.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It’s been not only a good weeding out mechanism for us in our guild, and this is one of the things I actually do like about being a GM, is it’s also a nice armor.  A lot of people, if you come into our guild and you don’t act right, all we have to do is kind of turn around and say, “Well you knew what you were getting into when you came into this guild.”

Tzufit:  Yes, and exactly the same is true for us because that is the question that gets asked in every interview.  It’s on the application – “Can you be mature, friendly, and polite?”  Those are all things that are – there’s a little bit of interpretation in those words, but not a whole lot.  Like it’s pretty easy for me to tell you, “I just watched you use a slur in Trade Chat.  You are no longer welcome in this guild.  You agreed to being mature, friendly, polite.  You’re not doing any of those things right now.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It’s really important to have those kinds of rules because then it makes it easy to bounce people out.  I’ve had to ask, and this tends to be men because we are a feminist guild, men who don’t always quite grasp the whole safe space, particularly for women.  I’ve had to ask 1 guy to leave because he got into a fight with us about the women in the guild cracking jokes and talking about sexism.  That’s a hill I’ll die on.  I want my guild to be a place where women feel comfortable to talk about the things, transgressively even, that other guilds wouldn’t even have those discussions.  We’re not just a progressive guild but we’ve been called a transgressive guild in the fact that we are progressive enough to the point where we will talk about things that you really cannot talk about in other places, with respect to other people.  We don’t have sex discussions in chat.  That is not really super cool with us, because that’s one of those topics that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with that.  But we will absolutely talk about periods in guild chat and raid chat.  We will talk about sexism.  We will talk about stuff that men have done that makes us uncomfortable because I want that space to be there, because women in World of Warcraft really do not get that space to talk about that.  So I’m Ok with my guild being that way for people and if guys are in the guild and they don’t understand that and they are not comfortable with that and they get upset about that, I basically have to turn around and say, “Well you knew what you were getting into when you joined a feminist guild.  You knew what sort of standards we set.”  We actually had to have somebody to leave because he got into a fight with a bunch of our officers, who are all women by the way, over the fact that we were “being very hateful toward men.”  He felt very upset about that and we had to tell him, fairly politely despite the fact that he was upsetting a lot of us, that if you can’t handle that kind of discussion in a feminist guild, this is not the guild for you and you are telling women who are talking about their experiences with men hurting them that you’re upset as a man.  That’s not Ok and that’s not respectful.  There was a huge fight about it and it was really awful and he left the guild.  I didn’t lose any skin off my nose about it.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I think that makes perfect sense under the idea of how you’ve established your guild and the idea that it’s a safe space, which I think is fantastic.  I love being around your guild for that reason, when we do crossrealm stuff.  For me, I would not identify my guild as a safe space, which is not to say that it’s the polar opposite either.  But I wouldn’t be comfortable giving it that label because I think we tend to be a much more kind of vanilla/neutral guild in general.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  The thing for me is that as much as I love talking about feminism and social justice and the ways that it relates to Warcraft and the ways that it doesn’t relate to Warcraft, just talking about all aspects of that, when I play, the vast majority of the time I don’t want to talk about it.  Don’t want to talk about politics.  I don’t want to do anything except play the game.  I know that’s kind of a hot button topic for a lot of people because some people feel exactly the opposite.  They want to talk about anything they want to while they play and I totally get that.  I understand it.  It’s just for me, that’s my time to wind down and the way that I wind down is focusing on the nitty gritty of raiding and PvE content.  That’s what I like to do.  So part of the attraction to the guild that I’m in and part of the reason why we kept it the way that it is despite how I feel about these things, is that we don’t really discuss politics pretty much ever.  If it starts to come up it’s just like, “Nope.  Done,” because I am perfectly aware that there are people who I raid with who have different political views, probably different social views than I do and I’m Ok with that because that’s not what I’m looking for in them, I guess.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I understand that my way of doing things in our guild is completely not the same as a lot of other guilds.  I completely understand that.

Tzufit:  But that’s also why it’s super important that that is available to people.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I think that’s one of the values of being a GM is you get to kind of set the tone and be different or be as similar to other guilds as you want.  It’s made interacting with other guilds very interesting, I will say that.  But on the other hand, I think it also – it’s kind of hard to put your finger on it, but when you are a GM, and this is more of a GM thing than I think anything else, versus your officers, when you are a GM you have to make those really hard decisions of where your guild’s going to go rulewise and social tonewise and groupwise.  While a lot of our guild’s “personality” came out of the fact that all of our members sort of mind-melded together and have very similar views, it’s your job as the GM to kind of parse how that’s going to affect the guild and how the guild interacts with other people as well.  I’ve noticed that in my time of doing stuff with other guilds, how different we are in the real world spaces like Twitter or the World of Warcraft community at large, or even things like on server like in Trade Chat or LFR and things like that.  We tend to carry our politics and our guild personality with us all the time.  So we’ve kind of gotten a reputation.

Tzufit:  I think, like I said, I think that that’s a really important thing to be available to people because, like I said, I completely recognize that not everybody feels the way I do about it.  Not everybody wants to go in and basically have blinders on.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  That’s perfectly fine.  So for us, when it comes to things like Trade Chat or guild chat as just an extension of our general guild policy when it comes to controversial topics, the same extends to Trade Chat or to guild chat.  It is rare that I see a member of our guild talking in Trade Chat and if I do, it had better be for 1 of 2 things.  You’re either giving a correct answer to a question that was asking with no snark whatsoever, or you are legitimately using Trade Chat to go about the business of trading things.  Other than that, I really don’t want to see you in there and I particularly don’t want to see you doing things like linking achievements that you’ve gotten through one of our raid groups.  I don’t want to see you fighting with other people, even necessarily kind of virtuously, which I know is problematic for a lot of people.  But our guild has a reputation as being a certain way and that way is we don’t necessarily wear that stuff on our sleeve.  Again, like I said, I’m not making any kind of judgment about whether that’s better or worse, it’s just we tend to attract people who do want to play that way.  Who just want to play the game.  So part of that, to me, is I don’t want to see somebody from my guild on a guilded character in Trade Chat going toe to toe with somebody over something that got voted on in Congress yesterday because that’s not what we do.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I completely agree and that’s one of the ways that I know we’re super different.  I don’t like fighting in Trade Chat because we did have a couple people that were really big into just giving into trolls and things like that.  However, on the other hand, if somebody’s being gross in Trade Chat, I don’t think anybody in the guild has a responsibility to say something, but I know myself and other people tend to tell people, “Hey can you knock it off.  That’s gross.”  I know that we’ve gotten into stuff like that.  Like I said, we’re more of a transgressive guild than I think people realize a lot of times.  That kind of brings up the question – as a GM, do you feel that you exemplify more of the guild’s personality and code of conduct more than anybody else in the guild?  Like, you’re the face of it.  Do you feel like the face of it?

Tzufit:  Oh yeah.  I do.  I feel like the face of it most of the time.  It’s hard too because I feel like the guild actually sort of has 2 faces in that way because the person who handed over leadership to me, he is still one of our officers and because he was guild leader for so long, he is still very much associated as the leadership of the guild, even though certainly everybody recognizes that I hold that nominal title at this point.  But again, because the power structure is more or less shared, I think it’s a little bit less of a concern for us as long as all of us who are on the council are on the same page.  But do I feel like when our guild thinks, “Should I do this thing, and if Tzufit was watching would I get away with it?”  Yeah.  I think that’s the question that people ask.  You know, because it is – like I’ll have that moment with people where it’s like somebody wants to go PvP and wants to do it in a way that maybe not super friendly or super polite.  So the conversation will be, “Well I want to do X Y and Z,” and my response is always, “Do not do it on a guilded toon.”  That, I think, is not the ideal response, but for us it’s kind of the compromise that we have come to.  Now, I should specify too.  If it was like “I’m going to go in Trade Chat on a non guilded toon and I’m going to say some really horrible shit about people,” that’s, to me, a different level than like “I want to go be an asshole and gank a couple people for a while.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely.  I think that’s kind of interesting that you can make the rules and the tone of the guild extend far into things like Trade Chat, but also PvP.  I think it’s like even if your guild is very social or very casual, I think how your guildmates act even when they’re not in your presence, says more about the guild than just you.

Tzufit:  Oh, that’s hugely important to us.  In fact, most of the issues or incidents that we’ve had have been things that stemmed from that.  Like people that we’ve asked to leave or that we’ve “disciplined” in one way or another – that’s a completely dramatic say to just say that we had a conversation about this.  But people that we’ve had to talk to over the years, it’s almost always something that has not happened in a guild environment.  It’s rarely something that happens in guild chat.  It’s rarely something that happens during a raid.  It’s usually either we see something being said in Trade Chat that’s just like, “Nope.  That’s not going to fly,” or – and this tended to be the case more when you had Wintergrasp or Tol Barad – you either hear from other people that you respect and you trust on the server that somebody from your guild said X Y and Z in battleground chat, or you’re actually there and you see it happen yourself and maybe they don’t realize that you’re there because it’s just a big world PvP group.  But world PvP has definitely been one of those things where it tends to be a moment of people just decide to say whatever the hell comes into their heads and they don’t realize that it’s going to have repercussions later because that is not at all the appearance that we want our guild to have.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I’ve actually had less problems with the out of world stuff as in guild, which is weird, because you’d think it would be like somebody saying something when they’re out of earshot or eyeshot of me or the officers.  But no.  It’s always been like in our presence.

Tzufit:  But I wonder if that is because you guys don’t shut away political and social discussions the way that we do.  So if those differences and disagreements are going to happen, then they’re going to happen in a guild space because people want to have those conversations with other guildmates.  Whereas for us, since we tend to be a group of people who aren’t really interested in having those conversations while we’re playing World of Warcraft, it manifests more in either trolling in battleground or Trade Chat or something like that.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  That’s a good point.  I didn’t think of it like that.  Yeah, most of the time we don’t have a problem with people saying stuff outside.  It’s always inside, which makes it easier to legislate, certainly.

Tzufit:  Oh yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Definitely makes it easier to keep track of it, but it also means that when shit happens, the entire guild knows about it and it’s kind of problematic.  Now have I had people come to our guild and be like, “Your guildmate was being a douchebag,” and have I had to say, “No maybe I think it is you who is the douchebag?”  Yeah, that’s actually happened a lot of times because a lot of people in sort of the stuff that we talk about really don’t like being told not to make rape jokes in Trade Chat.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  So they’re like, “Your guildmate was being a douchebag,” and I’m like, “No.  You were making rape jokes in Trade Chat.  I saw you.  My guildmate called you out.”

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I’ve never – to my knowledge – we’ve never had an incident like that.  For example if somebody came to me and said, “Somebody was making rape jokes in Trade Chat and your guild member totally called them out about it and said X Y and Z,” I’d be like, “Ok.  And the issue is?”  I mean that’s never something that I’ve been approached about.  I would certainly have a different reaction to that than, like I said, the one incident that I had where I have had to ask somebody to leave in the time that I’ve been GM was because I was watching racial slurs fly through Trade Chat with my guild name attached to them and I was ready to bring the world down on this person’s head.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  That’s the thing is stuff like that, if that ever happened in our guild, that would get rooted out so fast in guild chat.  That’s actually what happened with somebody.  They popped that stuff in guild chat, and I’m glad it happened in guild chat versus outside because it would be harder to see.  But, oh my god, yeah.  I would be mortified.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  I was furious.  I was furious.  That is one of the downsides of the fact that when we have problems they tend to be external, is that it means that I get to be in Trade Chat and in pretty much every chat channel all the time, 24/7, on all my characters on my home server.  Not that – I don’t want to act like I’m Big Brother here or something, kind of making sure that the Thought Police is there to prevent anybody from saying anything.  But it is just a way to keep an eye out, especially if we have newer recruits or people specifically that I’m concerned about, that kind of thing.  I keep one eye down there.

Apple Cider Mage:  I don’t usually have to do that, which is nice.  I trust people enough to know that if I see them – and I will see them, it always comes back to me because I’ve been on the server 8 years – that if somebody is acting badly in Trade Chat or PvP or whatever, it’ll come back to me.  I’ll know.  It is nice.  It’s less stress off of my plate certainly.  I expect that.  I expect all of my members to act accordingly, especially in PvP because PvP tends to breed a lot of that sort of grossness.  I don’t even like people in my guild /spitting on other people.  I find that abhorrent.

Tzufit:  Oh, I actually tell people not to do that if I see it happen because I find it really offensive.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It’s disrespectful.  People do that in real life and it’s awful and gross.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Ok.  So we’ve talked about a lot of the stuff that is really problematic about being a GM.  So maybe we should talk about all the really cool stuff about being a GM.

Tzufit:  For me, a lot of it, because we are first and foremost a raiding guild, anytime – anytime – my guild gets a new boss down, if it’s my raid team, if it’s the other raid team, if it’s the Flex raid team, I’m just like “Oh I love everybody!”  One of the things we kind of didn’t really go into this, but you mentioned that your raid leader is an officer but you, the GM, are not a raid leader.  The same is true for us.  In my experience, I have found that that’s kind of essential.  I think you generally don’t want your GM to be raid leader because it is just too much organization and too much responsibility on one person.  It also can mean that drama all filters one way and that can be really difficult too.  I certainly run raids from time to time, but I am not our primarily raid leader for the groups that I’m in.  We have a second raid leader for our second 10-person group.  Then for our Flex, that’s usually either me or one – Flex is just kind of whoever feels like talking about that moment.  But anyway, point being that even though I’m not necessarily the one kind of dictating strategy or going through that with people, when the guild as a whole progresses in any way past any boss, I just like want to hug everybody so much and be like, “Yay!  You did it!”

Apple Cider Mage:  This is kind of a weird feeling, but I often get labeled like the mom of the guild, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If I was in a guild that more heavily dominated with men and I was talked about like a mom, I would probably get really insulted and grossed out.  But the fact that it’s mostly women, the fact that they regard me as kind of like a mom, which is funny because I don’t feel maternal at any point.  The fact that they think of me as kind of this respectful, older person who kind of has her head on straight and kind of tells people, “Now now now.  Don’t do that.  That’s stupid.”  I actually like that.  That’s actually a lot of fun for me.  Oh, am I proud of my guild all the time?  Yeah, absolutely.  That’s one of the nice things about being GM is that you get to look at all these cool people that you’re friends with and get to hang out with and say, “Did I make this all happen?  I totally made this all happen, and I kept it together.  I made it this great place.”  The biggest thing for me as a GM that I really get a kick out of is when somebody says to me, “I never thought that I could play World of Warcraft and not have people say shitty things to me about being a woman or being gay or being trans,” or something like that.  “I never thought that there would be a place for me to play.  I never thought that there would be a place where I feel 100% comfortable to be who I am in World of Warcraft.”  A lot of people in my guild, even old time members, feel that way.  They feel like it’s a place where they can be comfortable with themselves.  That makes me so proud of what me and my guild have accomplished.  That’s what keeps me going on the days that I get tired or burned out or stressed out, because those days happen all the time.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  One of the other things for me that is so completely rewarding is that because our guild is pretty old at this point, because most of the people in the guild have been there for a long stretch of time, we have such a shared history of in-jokes and language that is all our own, just the same way that if you had a band of best friends in high school or college where it was like you could have conversations that other people might not even understand.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  That’s how it is with my guild at this point.  We have so many ridiculous in-jokes.  We have just such a shared history.  One of our favorite things to do, especially if we have newer members or if we have guests, we will do – “Do you remember the time that …?” stories.  The way that these generally work is they either go 1 of 2 ways.  Either we are actually telling a story about something that happened 4 or 5 years ago that we still find amusing.  Other people probably are just like, “What the hell are you guys talking about?”  Or we tend to do, for example, if – and this happened – if my other healer accidentally sneezes, hits his Lay on Hands button and Lays on Hands himself and then doesn’t have it later when he needs it on the tank and causes a wipe, on the next pull immediately after that, we’ll usually start the pull with something like, “Do you guys remember the time Milric sneezed and he wiped the raid?”  So just those kind of in-jokes and shared history, that is super important to me.  We’ve done a couple of guild pep things over the years.  We don’t do a lot of social, fun events for the most part because people just tend to form those up on their own more so than the guild leadership organizing them.  But 2 things that I especially remember as really, really fond memories:  1, when that whole Harlem Shake thing was going around earlier in the year, we did a raid Harlem Shake video.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh god.

Tzufit:  I am not going to even attempt to lie, I watched that thing on repeat I can’t tell you how many times.  The tears were just streaming down my face, I was laughing so hard.  Then the other thing – at the end of Wrath – Wrath was kind of a very emotionally charged end for my guild.  I don’t know if the same was true elsewhere.  A lot of people had raided for the first time in Wrath.  A lot of people had made serious progression and heroic progression for the first time in Wrath because ICC was out for so long and because it was just a good raid for people to learn hardmodes and that kind of thing.  Our former GM put together this whole video of different kills and he had a tribute to each of the people who had been a raid leader in there.  The whole thing was set to The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done,” which is like “Well you’ve already got me now.”  I get to the end of this video and it’s just supposed to be this send-off basically for the guild as we finish Wrath of the Lich King.  There were tears that time too, but they were not from laughter.

Apple Cider Mage:  Aw.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  So just all of that shared history, those shared memories are really special and really important to me.  I like being part of the leadership, knowing that I’m helping to sort of setup those new memories for the next set of people coming in or for the next expansion or whatever.  It’s a very cool thing to be a part of.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Anybody that knows any of my guildmates on Twitter, which is interesting.  Our guild pretty much has cemented itself on Twitter.  We use that instead of talking on forums, essentially.  But anybody that follows any of my guildmates on Twitter, you totally know that we have our own hashtag.

Tzufit:  Yes.

Apple Cider Mage:  We have our own in-jokes.  Our language is extremely peppered with in-jokes and phrases and slang and jargon and all sorts of other stuff.  Yeah, we have a lot of jokes like that.  We have a lot of, “Hey remember the time that Ais totally didn’t wear the right boots?  She totally wore her fishing boots throughout an entire progression night?  Yeah, because I remember that too.”  The shared culture stuff is basically – yeah, it’s one of the perks because you grow to know these people so well that they just become part of your life, and a positive part of your life.  They’re the reason that you laugh every day.  I go on to Twitter and I see all of my guildmates discussing some band or a movie or something like that.  Their personalities basically make the guild.  If they all left it wouldn’t be the same guild anymore, I don’t think.

Tzufit:  Oh yeah.  If I didn’t have the people in my guild that I do, I wouldn’t be there.  And be lucky that you just got away with a story about wearing your finishing boots while you were raiding.  Our hunter wore his Safari Hat the first time we killed the Empress and then we had a competition to name his pet hyena because he hadn’t named it at all.  His pet hyena is now named Safari.  So we immortalized that one for him.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well before every pull, we absolutely actually have a check that people are wearing the right shoes and/or hat because we had quite a few Safari Hat pulls in our guild considering that all of us a pet battle fanatics.

Tzufit:  I swear we have one of those a week.  Like I’m going to start instituting a Weak Aura for it or something because it’s getting to be a real hassle.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yep.  Before we pull, the first pull of the night, we always do a “Do you have the right hat and/or shoes and/or pants on?”  Judging by the number of people who have done fights without pants on.  Those are just some of the upsides.  So we’ve talked a lot about the overall dealings that we’ve had every day just being GMs, without really factoring some of the gender issues.  I want to ask you, Tzufit, because I know you have actually had a lot more problems with this than I have.  Being the supreme dictator that I am in my guild, I haven’t really had any problems with people being weird to me as a woman GM.  What have your experiences been in the past with being a woman who is also a GM?

Tzufit:  I have not had a ton of bad experiences with that, thankfully.  But I have had a few.  I should clarify too, the guild that I’m in now definitely does not have anywhere near as many women in it as yours does.  I would say that we’re probably – I don’t know.  It’s really hard to say.  Maybe about a third women and two thirds men, something like that.  For example, in my 10-person raid it’s usually me and one other woman and then 8 men with us.  So the one experience that I’ve had in my current guild where I experienced sort of a gendered reaction to something that happened was in that story that I brought up earlier with the person who I caught making slurs – it was homophobic slurs – in Trade Chat.  I immediately called him on it.  I whispered him right away.  I said, “You agreed to friendly, mature, polite.  That’s not what’s happening.  Blah blah blah.”  And the response that I got was – among other things – “You’re not my mother,” which to me seemed so far off the mark, so irrelevant, so completely inappropriate to what I was saying.  I approached it with very kind of contractual language.  This is what you agreed to when you joined the guild.  This is what you are not currently doing.  To have the response “You’re not my mother,” and particularly because this was someone who we sort of had concerns that this person might be an issue from the first moment.  But we gave them chances because we thought maybe it was just a personality mesh issue or whatever.  So they had been someone who was fairly hard to read a lot of the time, which is not uncommon online because reading what someone says in text can be very difficult when you’re looking for inflection or meaning or that kind of thing.  So I approached it as, “I’m telling you this.  This is a contractual thing that I’m telling you.  This is your final warning.  This is your first and final warning.  Stop it.”  To then be told, “You’re not my mother,” was just like – you would not have said to any of the male council officers, “You’re not my dad.”  That would not have been the knee jerk reaction.  You might have told them a few other choice words, but this very specific like – any woman who’s exerting any type of power over me is attempting to be my mom – I just completely couldn’t understand where that was coming from.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It just sounds like, “I don’t want to be told by a woman in power to not do something.”

Tzufit:  Yeah.  So needless to say, that person is no longer with the guild.  That ended up being a discussion of “You need to leave or we will remove you,” and they chose to leave.  We generally do give people that option when it comes down to it.  Again, like I said, that’s been maybe 5 times in the last 6-7 years.  Just in terms of fairness to them and not wanting to create additional drama around that, we usually do give the option to them of, “We have made the decision that you will no longer be a part of this guild.  How you choose to leave is up to you.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh.  That’s actually kind of diplomatic.  I tend to just gkick them.

Tzufit:  We have certainly – I know of one incident of that happening.  I think that this was before I joined the guild.  If not, it was definitely before I was in a leadership position and it couldn’t have been while I was online because I’m sure I would have remembered it.  But one of our officers, who unfortunately has quit the game.  He is a really great guy, someone who really took no nonsense from anyone.  Somebody said something questionable, I think, in raid chat or guild chat and he whispered them and said, “You need to cut that out.  Blah blah blah.”  And they said, “I hope you die in a fire.”  And then they got gkicked.

Apple Cider Mage:  Sometimes you’ve just got to put the boot on.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  There are moments to be diplomatic and there are moments to just gkick people.  Honestly, I can’t imagine what other response that person would have expected at that point.

Apple Cider Mage:  Exactly.

Tzufit:  The only other issues that I’ve had, and this was not in my current guild.  This was in a roleplaying guild that I GMed for a little while before that.  I know you’ve mentioned a little about that you like – or don’t mind – the term “guild mom.”  It would be a little weird for me to be called “guild mom” in my present situation because our guild is generally an older group.  Most of us are 30 or over.  We have one little baby 16 year old – he’s in college now and I keep thinking of him like he’s this freshman in high school because he was our tank for the longest time.  He was this really young – I think he started with us when he was like 13.  Aside from him, most of the people are 30+.  A lot of people are in their 40s and a few people are in their 50s.  So it would be extraordinarily weird for me, being one of the younger people in the guild, to have a bunch of people in their 40s or 50s referring to me as “guild mom.”  So fortunately that does not happen.  However, in my RP guild, where I think I was probably middle of the road when it came to age, I got referred to as “guild mom” a lot.  It actually bothered me a little bit there because I didn’t feel especially maternal.  I feel a lot more maternal, ironically, with my current guild than I did with the RP guild.  It seemed ever so slightly condescending. Because it came across as “Oh guild mom.  Oh guild mom.”  I think there’s definitely something to the delivery of that where it really can be either an insult or a compliment, depending upon who’s saying it and when.  The other thing that particularly bothered me was that – for those of you who have not had the wonderful experience of using Warcraft’s UI to manage your guild, you can change the names of all the different ranks, including the GM rank.  Our guild, the roleplay guild, just had this long history of if the character was male, they would be guild master and if it was female, they would be guild mistress.  Guild mistress, that title annoyed the shit out of me.  I know that it’s just the gendered noun that Is the female noun equivalent of master, but because so many obnoxious jokes could and were made around that title, it was just like, “Yep.  I’m changing this.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  See that’s funny because I changed the GM rank from “Prime Minister,” which was the RP rank and occasionally I go as “HBIC,” which – if nobody knows what that acronym means, it means Hot Bitch in Charge or High Bitch in Charge.  That’s not 100% how I like to roll languagewise, but it felt pretty appropriate.

Tzufit:  See, I have a great out when it comes to that in my current guild, which is since the officer rank is Council Dragon, and since the GM is technically part of that council, my officer rank is Council Dragon and my GM rank is Council Dragon.

Apple Cider Mage:  You could just change it to Alexstrasza and then you’d really be a guild mom.

Tzufit:  I know.  We have some really – we just recently revamped our ranks and we were kind of deciding how ridiculous we wanted to be with them.  So there were lots of suggestions about “Wyrm” and “Dragonkin” and all this.  But we went with something a little less off the wall with that.  We do still have the first rank that you come in as is Recruit, but the next rank above that is Hatchling.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  We have RP ranks as well but sometimes I like to change it up.  I’ve also changed the GM rank to QUEEN in all capital letters.  Just stuff like that.  I’ve also changed it to like Iron Fist.  I might change it to Comrade.  I don’t know.  It depends on how I’m feeling any given day.

Tzufit:  I should start doing that.  My guild would get a kick out of it.  But at the same time, I love that I have the same rank – as far as anybody can tell – it looks like I have the same rank as all the other council members.  I love that because I feel like it’s such a testament to the ideal of how we want to run the guild.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  That sounds so diplomatic and cool, and I’m just a tyrant and a dictator.

Tzufit:  I’m sure if you asked my guild, they would tell you I’m a tyrant.

Apple Cider Mage:  So I think that we’re starting to get to the end of the show, so I think we’re going to start to wrap it up with just some helpful hints from our experiences being GMs to people who are maybe interested in running guilds similar to ours or being GMs in general.  If you are someone who’s actually looking to run an inclusive guild like we do, whether it’s something fairly transgressive and feminist like mine, or if it’s something a little less political but also still respectful like Tzufit’s, there’s a couple of things you can do in order to make that transition or even start a guild with that in mind.

Tzufit:  I think one of the most important things, which we’ve alluded to throughout the show, is making sure that you as the guild leader and anybody else who you hold up as guild leadership absolutely exemplify whatever it is that you’re going for.  That means that you and your officers are held to the highest standards.  You should be the example.  If anybody has any question as to whether what they’re about to do is Ok, they should think, “Would I see Tzufit do this?  Would I see Apple Cider do this?  Would I see one of their officers do this?” and the answer should be no.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Having strong leadership and officership is really important, particularly in guilds that have really high standards for conduct.  Having really firm rules – they don’t have to be super detailed – but even having the “don’t be a dick” rule as your #1 rule and enforcing that whenever and at all times possible makes people feel safe.  If you have a commitment to having a safe space guild like I do, that means that 100% of the time you absolutely have to value and judge accordingly.  You absolutely have to enforce those rules all the time.  You can’t slack on them because then you lose all of the credibility that you built up before that.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  That is extremely crucial anytime you’re talking about a situation where you’re enforcing rules of one kind or another, consistency in that is so, so essential.  Like you said, you’ll lose credibility.  People will know that they can do one thing while your back is turned or they can do one thing while this officer’s online but not another.  Yeah, just making sure that everybody’s on the same page with knowing what the boundaries are and what the consequences are is really important.

Apple Cider Mage:  In particular, with inclusive guilds or guilds that are social justice minded, in that being that exemplary example for the guild, it usually means that you have to know more and be more than the guild.  I know that social justice is kind of a very weighty political topic to take on, but as somebody who runs a guild that touts itself as inclusive, and that’s a very particular term, you should ideally be somebody who knows about that sort of thing.  It doesn’t take a lot, but if you say that you are inclusive to people who are LGBT, that means obviously no using slurs that make people uncomfortable, no discussing things that make people uncomfortable with their sexuality, doing little things like when people join the guild what I do is I ask people what their pronouns are.  This is baseline, basic, decent stuff.  If you are a guild that says that they’re inclusive to different sexualities, different gender expressions, asking people stuff like what their pronouns are and using them and sticking to that is basic human decent behavior.  But it’s particular to labeling yourself as such.  You cannot say that you are one kind of guild and then not practice that sort of thing.  So if you want to go on record as having very specific labels like inclusive or feminist, it comes with a set of standards that you have to uphold and certain behaviors you have to protect.

Tzufit:  I think that’s absolutely crucial.  I know that – and this really depends on what exactly you’re attempting to go for as well.  I know this probably would not necessarily be the case for a lot of safe space guilds because they might just not necessarily encounter it.  But for us, I very rarely have issues with people using inappropriate slurs or inappropriate language in guild events, as we’ve discussed.  However, when it does happen on those rare occasions, having a conversation immediately with the person who said it – this came up not too long ago.  We had somebody use the word “rape” inappropriately in a raid and it caught me completely off guard because I have never, in all the years that I’ve been in this guild whether it’s in PvP or PvE content, I have never heard anybody use the word rape.  So I was shocked when it happened and spoke to the person immediately, let him know immediately why it was inappropriate, let him know immediately that it was not to happen ever again, and just – again, that’s not a situation that would necessarily come up in safe space guilds because people would know better or if they didn’t they might be removed immediately.  So I think that if you are dealing with an environment where you have people that are not as good about that kind of stuff, who don’t necessarily realize – although they really should – that that stuff is inappropriate, making sure that you have those conversations as soon as it happens and get them on the same page with expectations.  If they can’t get on that same page, then it’s time to have the conversation about “is this the right place for you” because it sounds like it’s not.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Well that’s the thing is that even though I have a safe space guild and you’d think that that would sort of preclude certain kinds of things being said, you always have to be vigilant.  You always have to enforce and be vigilant because it’s that important.  We’ve had people say some kind of off-color, gross sort of stuff.  It happens a little bit more when we do out of guild events, like when we do events with other people, but most of the time if someone doesn’t 100% understand the whole feminist thing and says something untoward, publically say “That is not Ok here,” because it lets everybody else in the guild know that that is not Ok and it sort of sets an example.  But you also let that person know that they are being watched.  It’s a check.  It’s like, “We don’t say those sorts of things around here,” and it also is kind of a test for their behavior as well because if the person’s like “Oh.  Had no idea.  I’m so sorry,” and then they don’t say it again then that’s cool.  If they double down on what they say and don’t apologize, then you know immediately what’s going to follow after that.

Tzufit:  Right.  It is really a test at that point because you’ll know immediately if this is going to be a successful conversation or not.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  If you really want to have an inclusive or safe space or respectful guild, having your punishments or your enforcement be public and fairly swift is also really good in keeping people feeling comfortable, because if you let something like that go without confronting it immediately – I had this problem very early on in my GMhood or even my late officership.  It was a situation where somebody said something racist in guild chat and we didn’t handle it just immediately because they were a long time member and we thought that they would know better.  We sat on it for a couple of days and that was really just not a good call because you have to confront those things really quickly or else you run the risk of people feeling really hurt and really betrayed by you not dealing with something as obvious as racism.

Tzufit:  Right, and while I know a lot of people will probably have a reaction to the idea that discipline in any form should be public, because a lot of times that can be a really difficult idea to get behind, I have to agree with that there because we certainly have run into the issue that if you don’t do it publically, people will assume it has not happened at all.  So that means that either people think they can get away with that now, or people get resentful and feel like maybe this is not the right place for them if that sort of behavior is tolerated.  So the one thing that I can say for that is that sometimes – and I would say that this is highly situational and depends on how serious whatever happened was – but, for example, if we get people bickering in guild chat and I need them to stop doing that, I will give a sort of general all call in guild chat of “This is not appropriate.  We need to calm it down.  Everybody go to your corners,” kind of thing, without necessarily calling out any specific names.  Even stuff like that is helpful because it shows to everyone who is online currently, not just the parties involved, that this is the standard of behavior that we deem acceptable.

Apple Cider Mage:  Exactly.  Also the general sort of stuff is a good way of not making it too pointedly personal when it’s something that just needs to generally be enforced.  I tend to do that a little bit in raid, like if people are messing stuff up I tend to be like, “We need to all play attention to this mechanic or that mechanic,” as opposed to calling people out specifically, because unless it’s something that they are specifically personally doing that’s harmful, it’s usually just good to focus on the entire group not doing something like that.  So we’ve talked about having an inclusive guild, but what if you’re just a regular person who just wants to start a guild or got handed a guild or you just want to be a GM in general.  Here’s a couple of our final thoughts about absolutely essential things that you should probably do as a GM.

Tzufit:  Like I said before, if you are a raiding guild, unless you’re a raiding guild that has like exactly 10 people for your 10 person raid, have someone else be the raid leader who is not the GM because having both of those responsibilities on one person can be really devastating and really difficult and cause burn out so quickly.

Apple Cider Mage:  Make sure you have somebody in charge of your guild bank, preferably not your GM, but if it is you – because it probably will be – try not to take it too seriously because your guildmates can and will fill up the bank with shit.

Tzufit:  Absolute vendor shit that should have no reason to be in a guild vault ever.

Apple Cider Mage:  Have a deposit tab and don’t let your guild mates deposit anything anywhere except in that tab.

Tzufit:  I may have to do that myself.

Apple Cider Mage:  #3 – Have some you time.  Roll and alt on a different server or let your guildmates know that you are “taking off for the night,” but make sure to give yourself time alone where you’re actually not dealing with guild things because you can get burned out really fast.

Tzufit:  But also related to #3, when you do choose to take time off, make sure that you stay in contact with your guild because one of the easiest ways to completely demoralize a guild is for the leadership to check out for an extended period of time without giving them a heads up and giving them a sense of “Yeah I’m gone, but I’ll be back.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Also remember – delegate, delegate, delegate.  The reason that officers are so important to a GM is because, like a cart without wheels, you’re just one person.  Always make sure to pass off stuff to other people so that they can help you with it.  That’s what officers are there for.

Tzufit:  Right.  If you don’t have officers and if you don’t delegate, you’re never going to do anything but GM stuff.  You will have no opportunities to enjoy the game yourself and at that point you’re just going to be resentful every time you log in.

Apple Cider Mage:  Also be willing to make mistakes.  You’re not a perfect person and you’re also not a CO.  It’s a video game so sometimes you’re going to screw things up.  Sometimes you’re going to do or say the wrong thing.  But accepting that you’re going to make mistakes and that you aren’t a bad person for them and don’t take them super personal means that your guild is probably going to be a lot more healthy.

Tzufit:  If you are leadership in a large guild especially, make sure that you maintain contact with your membership, whether it’s through forums, Twitter, a website.  Whatever you choose to use, try to be transparent about your decisions.  Obviously some things have to happen behind the scenes.  That’s natural.  It’s going to happen that way.  But guilds really want to know that their leadership is working on something and they want to see that you’ve taken the steps to reason out where we’re going next.

Apple Cider Mage:  Remember, do nice things for your guild.  A lot of times the reason that a guild actually functions is because the members make it a cool, fun place to be.  Give stuff back to them, whether it’s enabling guild repairs with the money that you’ve gotten from quests or doing fun events like RP stuff or giving out mounts for a costume contest.  Anything that increases morale and helps people feel valued and having fun in their guild means that they’ll probably stick around.  So I hope you enjoyed our discussion about being a guild master.

Tzufit:  I hope you have somebody that is going to run your guild vault for you, because it sure won’t be me.

Apple Cider Mage:  Just remember that you might get frustrated about being a GM, because we’ve been frustrated, but at the end of the day it is just World of Warcraft and the guild that you’re in is preferably a bunch of people that you like playing with and are friends of yours.  Being a guild master just means taking responsibility for some things that other people might not.  For the most part, it’s having a good time with people that you really care about and putting a lot of love and effort makes dealing with all the time that your guildmates completely drive you up the wall and make you want to drink everyday a less common occurrence.

Tzufit:  Exactly.

Apple Cider Mage:  We will see you next week!

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