The Art of Guild Making
Creating a guild truly is an art. These days, your average guild on the Avatar Chat (AC) has a lifespan of a little less than six months. Every day it seems a new guild spawns from the wreckage of another floundering guild, still in its infancy.
Just yesterday, for example, I was lurking the AC when I came across a recruit board for another newly minted guild—complete with that “New Guild” smell. I often like to offer a kind “Good luck!” and a free bump, so to speak, when I see such boards—after all, all great, long-running guilds must start somewhere. As I read on, however, the board became less of a method of recruitment, and more of a reunion for people who had been in another fad guild together.
I myself started my avatar guild days in a guild that soon bit the proverbial dust—due to inactiveness in this particular case. This, of course, was back in early 2005, when the average avatar requirement for a guild was 100+ avatars (whereas now it’s 200 or more). It took me some three years to finally find a guild that had the sort of stability that many “guild hoppers” long for. During that time, as well as the seven months I’ve spent in my aforementioned guild, I’ve noticed quite a few things about the ins-and-outs of guild making.
Things I have observed:
1. Guilds on the AC tend to go through fads. When I first started my guild search, the dominant fad of the day was “guild applications.” In order to gain an invitation to a private guild, a prospective member had to fill out a form of some kind, usually provided by the guild council. Though this system still exists to some extent, today’s pervading fad is the “block guild.” No longer is there simply a short list of requirements one must meet to join. Instead, Avatar guilds these days seem to be looking for a more multi-faceted member base. They no longer simply want Avatar Collectors—funny, since they’re advertising on the Avatar Chat—now all are welcome! Which, if you ask me, rather downgrades the whole concept of an avatar guild. And besides that, roughly 95% of all prospective members are going to ask for an invite based on the avatar block, anyway, if only because that’s the predominant audience the guilds are advertising to.
2. There seems to be an awful lot of attention given to guilds that are marked “BRAND NEW!”, as though being all shiny and new somehow makes them more appealing. It’s not a very good sign, however, if the same person is creating a brand new guild only a few short months after creating another. “Guild hoppers” don’t make particularly good guild leaders. The fact of the matter is, the same guild that dies out after six months could have thrived under the proper leadership. If you create a guild, or even wish to join council, simply because you covet that nice little star next to your name on the member list of the guild, I would highly suggest looking for a guild for which you can feel an honest belonging to, and, with time, if you feel you are up to the responsibility, apply for a position of authority. Otherwise, it is hardly worth your time.
This all having been said, I can hardly leave you without some form of advice.
To Those Searching For a Guild:
1. As the proud member a guild that is well over two years old, I must proclaim the merits of a well-established guild. They have several things going for them that the newer guilds do not: (a) more often than not, they have an experienced council who both know what they are doing and care deeply for the well-being of the guild, (b) they have withstood the test of time, which means (c) you don’t have to worry so much about them suddenly disappearing, taking your post count, donations, etc. with them, oftentimes without warning.
2. If you come across a guild via a recruit board on the AC, stay and chat. It will help you to get to know the sorts of people who are in the guild. More than anything, members can make or break a guild. No matter how impressive the guild seems—no matter its age, member/post count, lendables, etc.—if the members are rude, it’s really not worth it.
3. This really depends on personal preference, but it should be pointed out that the larger a guild is, the easier it is to get lost in. Of course, it depends on what your definition of “large” is. For myself, anything over 75 members is too much for me, and even 70 is pushing my limits. For others, though, they can comfortably go well beyond this. Like I said, it’s all about personal preference.
To Those Creating a Guild:
Despite what I’ve had to say thus far, I don’t want to discourage anyone interested in creating an avatar guild. If you are up to the challenge, then by all means, I wish you the best of luck, and look forward to seeing your guild’s recruit boards on the AC. But there are a few key mistakes that I see people make time and time again in this endeavor.
1. Get a few friends together to start it. It’s so important that the council especially be made up of people who can trust each other. I’m not saying play favorites, or fill up the council spots before you even begin recruiting, but these people are your teammates, so to speak. They’re the ones who are going to be your support, and you them, the ones who will help you run the show. Don’t make a board on AC asking strangers to come make a guild with you. Honestly, just because a person knows CSS/HTML and can make pretty graphics doesn’t mean they’re necessarily someone you want to have in charge.
2. Be active. I shouldn’t have to say this, but apparently I need to. While council should not be the only ones who post on the guild boards, it doesn’t set much of an example if you hardly ever post at all. Furthermore, although it is part of your job to make sure that rules are followed, your posts shouldn’t be solely administrative. I once was in a guild where the only times I ever saw the leader on the guild board was when someone wasn’t adhering to the “two word minimum” post rule. Council is not, and should never be, the big scary authority figure. You’re there to regulate and give stability. Be the sorts of leader your members can respect, but don’t be afraid to be their buddy, too.
3. This is a relatively simple one: Don’t recruit alone. Make a board, post the link on the guild board, and make the experience a chat, not just twenty pages of you posting smileys every thirty seconds. The chat-recruiting boards are ten times more effective. It tells people coming to the board that yours is an active guild, with friendly members who want to see the guild succeed. You’re advertising. Think like an advertiser.
The old, long-running guilds seem to be a dying breed. It’s up to the next generation of guild leaders and guild members to make their mark on the Avatar Chat.