The Elusive Quest for Guild Settlement
As a devoted Neopets player of almost ten years, I have joined my fair share of guilds: big and small, active and inactive, public and private. However, one factor has always remained constant – whether or not I am captivated enough to stay. It is a trial to entice new members through advertising, but a completely different kettle of fish to keep them! What makes a guild worth staying in? What makes a difference to whether a member stays or leaves?
Over the last 500 issues of the Neopian Times, there have been countless articles advising on how to be a good guild owner, how to be successful, how to survive in the ever changing Guild World, and similar tests of fortitude. Yet, there are still none on how to keep those new members, despite the lessons on how to entice through successful advertising campaigns.
The eternal question remains: How to make new members feel welcome, to create that sense of homeliness, that desire to come back for more: a challenge not just down to the current members but a collaboration of efforts from both the new and the old.
In my opinion, it lies concealed in the message boards and the way these are conducted upon the presentation of the elusive new member.
- Introduce yourself. Until you put yourself out there, there is very little chance that anyone will try to include you. This is not to say that they are not interested, but more that until you make the first contact, most members will not know you are there. You don’t need to post your life-story, but your name, that you’re new, and looking forward to meeting everyone should suffice. Tell them what you enjoy doing on Neopets, or about some of your interests off-site, to speed things up. Someone will spark a conversation with you based on what you tell them. Guild members are interested in getting to know you, too!
- Include your preferred name in your NeoSignature, or if this doesn’t suit you, make it clear on your user lookup. It is much easier to develop a friendship with someone if they are able to refer to you directly, and it becomes much more personable if it is not simply your username. “Hey, you” has never formed the foundations of a lasting friendship.
- Take note of any guild rules. Is there a literacy policy? Other requirements? You may have had to adhere to requirements in order to join, but these have less importance to the current members once you have joined. People are not likely to take you seriously, or warm to you, particularly, if you do not take them seriously. They may seem petty, but a common ground between members increases equality, and your consistently ignoring them, particularly if you have been reminded, may make it seem that you believe you are above the rest of the guild. As an addition, remember to adhere to any Neopets rules. It may seem obvious, but a guild member who is frequently banned is hard to get to know if they are never around!
- Don’t get offended if no one responds straight away. Many smaller guilds may be quieter during certain hours. Someone will come along eventually, but just stick it out. Look back over the boards, when was the last time someone posted? What are the regular intervals between posts? Don’t post an angry message about being ignored – it is not intentional, and may put you in a bad light with the members. If, you have not been noticed and a conversation has begun, try posting again – introduce yourself again, state that you are new, and try to make a contribution to the current conversation.
- Join in. What are the other members talking about? A book you haven’t read? A film you haven’t seen? No worries, say that, but take the conversation in a slightly different direction? What about another book or film? Ask questions. Take an interest. Ask for advice, they are there to help you. See someone has a game avatar you have never been able to master? Ask for tips. If the members were not friendly, no one would be there – and you’ll never know until you join in! Be friendly in your posts. If you take an interest, your personality will immediately shine through. Let your guard down and take a chance!
Of course, despite your best efforts, a guild might just not be for you. No common interests with the members, inactivity, too many members or a myriad of other reasons that could be to blame. Not a problem – no reason not to try again! The next guild you try could be your perfect guild – but you will never know until you put your best foot forward and give it a go!
Although the hard part is done and you have already got a member willing to try to fit in and be a part of your close knit community – it is not okay to assume that it is a given that they will stay, just because you love it there. It is just as equally up to you to include him or her in your conversations and to make an effort with them as it is for them to try!
- Introduce yourself. They will have done the same on joining, so greet them, tell them you are glad they decided to join and that you look forward to getting to know them better. Tell them your name, respond to any points they have made.
- Already having a conversation? Maybe you are talking to another guild member about a game - has this new member ever played? You have just painted your dream pet – what are they aiming for? It can be inordinately difficult to break in to an already formed circle, so open the gates and let them in. If you make an effort, they are likely to to feel like they are not intruding!
- Be careful to not ignore a new member. Call them by their preferred name. Nothing makes someone feel less welcome than not being noticed, and if they have tried to join in, nothing will make them regret their decision than the feeling that they have been ignored! Quote their posts so they know you are talking to them directly if there are a few people online – it can be easy to think that members are continuing their conversations without the new member if no effort is made to include them. Obviously, once he or she becomes more comfortable, and willing to join in with conversations without fear, this isn’t such an issue, but still, board etiquette remains crucial!
- Be an example – if you include a new member, they will respond and other members will follow your lead. Keep a check on your message boards if you are online, welcome a new member if you see them. You might not have time to stay and chat, but a friendly face will keep a member until someone else is available!
- Take care of your older members. Although it is vital to include a new member, it is important to not forget about those who have been around for a long time. If you invest too much time in the new member, it is possible for older members to also feel forgotten which may look bad to a new member! In which case, you may not only lose the new member because they fear being ignored further down the line, but also an older member with the experience and enthusiasm for the guild that must shine through!
Although I’ve been in my current guild for two years now, that has included a long hiatus during the school year between September and April, during which time a lot of people I had known had since gone on hiatus, meaning I was throwing myself back in at the deep end, meeting the guild members for the first time, almost as a new member. Yet, having been a member for so long, I also could put myself as a long-standing member, able to welcome new members and help them adjust!
Having been prided in the past on my ability to make new members feel welcome, and having spent a lot of time on both sides of the fence over the years – having seen members come and go along the way, hearing people complain about having been in other guilds where they have not been so welcome, I feel it is an issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency. Yes, it is true, that having good advertising techniques is important, and that having a strong council aids the guild, but the normal members have an equal responsibility for the ultimate success of the guild; and the success of a guild, really, lies in the familial feel that keeps people coming back: for the company, the friendship, the advice, and the laughter.
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