Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Red Flags

During the restructure of the guild near end of The Burning Crusade, one change I felt important to implement was the need to listen to my "gut" more. Even in the face of all logical explanation proving to me that a situation was transparent or a person was sincere, an awkward feeling lingered -- yet I rarely acted on these feelings. In order to increase visibility to my own intuition, my strategy involved documenting those actions, those behaviors, those very situations that made me uneasy. Things players should really think twice about before saying or doing.

What follows is the content of that original forum post, entitled "Red Flags".

As much as I wished for these red flags to be common sense, I learned as a guild leader, the things I perceived to be common sense...aren't always so to others.

Sometimes...you have to spell it out.


Kerulak mediates loot drama,
Molten Core
Eacavissi recently coined a term in the Officer Forum I would like to make an (un)official dictionary definition:

Cattledriver (kat-l-drayh-ver)
1. A reliable member of a raiding team whose presence is a dependency, who leaves the guild suddenly and offers no forewarning or resolution.
When I asked the guild several months ago what your biggest likes and dislikes were, many of the responses (both public and private) alluded to this single, solitary pain-in-the-ass. It upsets guild members, causes drama, and it stresses out the officer core to no end. It is, bar-none, the most difficult thing I have to deal with as a Guild Leader. My quest to reduce the amount of Cattledriving that takes place in DoD moving forward has led me to many of the changes you've seen thus far, with specific regard to the new "Elite" rank, and how people obtain (and maintain) said rank.

If you'll review the requirements for the Elite rank, you'll notice one requirement is slightly vague in definition:

- Must not, at any point in time, have demonstrated any red flags* to any officer, raid leader, or the guild leader.

So, what is a "Red Flag"?

A Red Flag is something you say or do that brings your reliability in DoD into question. These words and actions can vary from the blatantly obvious to the extremely subtle. A lot of the time, red flags manifest when people confuse opinion with fact. Sadly, the most common type of red flags are from a sheer lack of common sense. Whatever the case may be, once I get a red flag from someone, I'm loathe to start handing out promotions, for the fear that I am knowingly going to regret it at some point down the road.

In an effort to paint a picture of a guild leader who has heard a lot of crazy shit over the last four years, I present to you a list of some of my favorite and most memorable red flags I've ever received. I've left people's names out, but it shouldn't take a lot of effort to remember who they were. For your convenience, I've offered my own feedback on each red flag, so that you may gain a better understanding of why this would cause me to prevent you from gaining an Elite rank. You'll note that some of these may not have anything to do with raiding at all.

"Sorry I wasn't able to buy Mana Pots and respec before the raid, I'm flat broke."

-- With the advent of dailies, no single WoW player has any excuse to be out of gold now.

"Oh, I'm not going to bother saving up for an epic mount, it's a complete waste of money."

-- See the previous point, plus a comment like this denotes laziness, a trait we don't want to encourage in raids.

"Ehh, my PvP gear works fine in here, I'm a (healer|dpser|insert role here)."

-- See the previous point. Denotes laziness, as well as a lack of commitment to raiding.

"My wife and I won't be signing up for raids anymore. We got the gear we came for and we prefer PvP anyway; raiding is a colossal pain in the ass, and I don't need a bunch of kids telling me how to play."

-- We don't raid for gear; we raid to see progression and experience content. If your intentions are to gear out for PvP (which doesn't happen much post 1.0), do us a favor and let someone go to a raid in your place that gives a shit about the guild and not about their own personal agenda.

Zanjina reads a complaint from an ex-guildy, after
being rotated out of an Illidan kill,
Shattrath City
"If the raid doesn't even have 25 people signed up, how about this: Why not just cancel it?"

-- You don't get to create guild rules on-the-fly. We fill empty spots with who we have, as has always been the rule. If, after filling, the makeup/gear/people aren't right, it'll be canceled then. You do not get to cancel it because you're having a bad day.

"Who cares if I didn't decurse well? I was top dps, and never once ate a Doomfire, which is more than I say for the rest of the raid."

-- It's not OK to do you half your job, and justify it by comparing your performance to others. This denotes laziness, lack of sportsmanship/being a "team player", and that you are superior to everyone else, all of which gives me an indication that somewhere down the road, you are going to cause me great amounts of stress and grief.

"Oh, sorry about my behavior the other day, that must have been my brother playing during raid invites. I let him use my account yesterday."

-- Account sharing has been nothing but a source of grief for the guild through TBC, mostly due to communication problems (with the actual account holder) and security concerns, in which many accounts just end up getting hacked.

"Yeah, I wasn't able to raid last night because my friends came into town and I haven't seen them in awhile."

-- Contrary to popular belief, this is not an emergency. This is a personal event outside of WoW that can be scheduled around, much like an oil change, a haircut, or your 9-5 job. Furthermore, if you have a feeling you won't be able to raid, this problem is easily solved by simply not signing up for the raid. The very least you owe your team is to phone/text/forum PM someone and update them as to your whereabouts.

"Don't worry, Kerulak, I'm here 'til the end!"

-- That sound you hear is my teeth grinding together. Nobody is "here 'til the end". Every single person that has repeated this mantra to me is now gone, and these days, just makes me suspicious. If you really truly are going to be here "till the end", prove it with actions, don't say it with words.

"XYZ class is completely OP and has no counter whatsoever. They require no skill to play and should be removed from the game."

"Agility has the same value as +hit"

-- It simply demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the game, and I expect the Elite rank of player to have a deep understanding of the game mechanics.

I would like to point out that I, myself, have made many mistakes in the process of learning WoW. I'm certain you are all familiar with this famous quote:

"Stay away from my shackled target! Otherwise it's liable to kill you!"

I have since backpedaled from my silly statement, and I expect that many of you have also made similar mistakes (and have learned from them). The difference between this mistake and the ones listed above is the people that made the above statements...stood firm on their beliefs. They were stating opinion as fact, and that is incredibly dangerous. I want to encourage healthy discussion/debate on WoW mechanics, but when you bring an argument to the table, you had best come prepared with evidence to support your claim. Otherwise, you make yourself look like a fool in front of everyone, which discredits you, and the officers/guildies are going to be less inclined to take you along to raid where they need people performing at the top of the charts.

The above two examples can be rephrased very easily in a much more neutral manner:

"In my experience, XYZ class is currently dominating arenas by using the spell rotation of X, followed by Y, and finishing off with Z. I have yet to see a class consistently counter this, thoughts?"

"Although agility and +hit affect different attributes with XYZ class, they're both extremely valuable. I'd recommend trying to find gear that has (stat one) first, following that, (stat two)."

Kerulak fields a complaint about a guildy
from a random player on Deathwing-US,
Blade's Edge Mountains
"I don't care what you say, X boss is *hard*, not everybody can do it. I know X and Y and Z and they are all great players, and they all have problems with it, too."

-- An Elite raider doesn't make excuses for their performance. They find out what the problem is, what steps they need to take...and solve it. They know and understand the fundamental rule: It's OK to make mistakes...just don't repeat them. Furthermore, other "great" players may in fact not be so great if they also fail for the same repeated reasons and use similar justifications.

Causing a shit-storm/drama fest on the public WoW forums

- I don't have any examples to give as DoD has typically been pretty good in this dept. Our worst forum whore is an Officer (Fun Fact: It was one of the first things I had to talk to him about when I assimilated the guild he was in), but neither he, nor anyone else, has been blatantly disrespectful or offensive on the public forums. I'd like to keep it that way.

"You can't hear me in vent because I don't speak in vent."

-- Hypothetical situation:

You accidentally fuck up your kick rotation and are about to miss your Spirit Shock interrupt. You need to issue out a command to a fellow guild mate to pick up your missed interrupt in enough time that the person is able to respond and cover your ass (which, by the way, would require a typing speed of approximately 120 words per minute). For the sake of argument, let's say you have fast enough reflexes and a bizarre typing speed...even though your reflexes were apparently not good enough to hit an ability once every 10 seconds. So, after all that, and you manage to issue out a blazing fast command for someone to pick up the slack, what makes you think the person you issued the command to is looking at their chat log instead of their own boss-mod timers?

You are not better than everyone else. Elite raiders have to make decisions on-the-fly and in many cases, there is no time to type out a response. You can solve that problem by speaking. Everyone else does. Show us that you can be a team player. "I don't do XYZ because I just don't feel like it/don't have to" is a very pessimistic, single-minded attitude that offers no benefit to the raid team. Besides, I'm not paying $20/mo. for Vent so you can be silent while we wipe. Speak...and be heard.

"This is total bullshit, that is the best trinket in the game for X class, why the hell does Y class get priority over us?"

-- No class gets priority on loot over any other class, bids are made based on your DKP earnings and what your main spec/role is in DoD progression. A Rogue and a Ret Paladin have just as much right to each roll on a Dragonspine Trophy--they are both in a primary DPS role. A statement like this is also blatantly unsportsmanlike, and denotes that you are not a team player, therefore...not someone I would want as an Elite. If you want to raid more and haven't been rotated in, perhaps a little more soul searching is in order...maybe you are implementing more of the red flags in this list?

"Nobody told me I need a full set of Shadow Resistance gear"

-- Demonstrates a lack of preparedness, in the hope that guild officers will just "give you the knowledge and items you need on-the-fly". This is what's known as doing the absolute bare minimum to get by and is not a trait I'm encouraging.

"Don't look at me, I can't tank this section, my gear sucks/is in the bank"

-- See the previous point. Buy some larger bags.

"I know you have only been in the guild for a week now but some of us have been here since the game started and have earned our place."

-- You don't earn Elite status by being in the guild the longest, you earn it by demonstrating that you excel at both playing the game, dealing with other people and being a team player...the latter of which is completely disproven by a statement like this.

"Oh yeah, I don't use any mods when I raid. I find that I don't need to, this game is pretty easy, and the use of mods really violates the feel of the game as it was meant to be played."

-- Let me respond to that quote with a quote from Blizzard:

No, I think we assume that those who are working on the extreme endgame PvE content are going to be doing anything they can in order to help increase their chances for success. By both embracing the UI mod community and their addons, as well as assuming that players are going to be using them to great effect versus our encounters, we have to design encounters that assume their use or the encounter is trivialized by those on vent, those with a countdown, those with a threat meter, etc. Once a lot of the guess work is removed with mods we have to raise the complexity beyond what a mod can purely assist with. I think at this point we're forced to assume everyone is using mods to great effect versus our design complexity, which in turn forces everyone to use those mods. It's probably somewhat debatable what mods are required and where, but it's certain that we have to take them into account, lest the game be trivialized.

So to summarize: install mods and use them. When we require them to be installed, we expect you to have them. Beyond that, I encourage and support the use of any additional mods, and furthermore, would like to hear about them.

"I don't need to tell you my age because you are not the boss of me and my age is irrelevant"

-- If I am attempting to quell drama before it starts, your age is very relevant. Denotes hostility toward fellow guildies, lack of a team-player mindset, and an unwillingness to be treated as an equal by your peers. Additionally, behavior like this is almost always an indicator of guilt. If you have nothing to hide, why so defensive?

"PvE takes no skill in this game, PvP is where you are truly tested"

-- Both PvP and PvE require skill, some of which are common, and some unique to each type of play. Making a blatant statement like this only proves that you do not understand the game mechanics, or are just trying to cause a shit-storm, neither of which impress me.

"Yeah I don't think I'll be signing up for any more raids, I find raiding to be extremely boring"

-- See the previous statement. If you're not interested in raiding, don't waste my time by trying to feign interest for a few nights. I'd rather spend my time recruiting someone who cares, then invest in training/gearing someone who would rather not be there.

"Can I leave the raid early if we're not killing a boss tonight? I'm not really interested in doing trash..."

-- Explain to me how any part of this statement represents a team-player mentality. If the raid is canceled, you're free to leave. If everyone else stays, so do you. Leaving early because you have "no chance at phat lewts" demonstrates that you value loot over the guild and progression, and is a sure-fire indicator that you could give two shits about DoD. If you leave early, it will result in you being penalized as if you were a no-show.


In conclusion, let this forum thread act as a guide, both to guildies and to the officer core, about behavior that is going to cause us to raise an eyebrow and give us pause before we dole out a promotion.


Ryley Foshaug said...

Ahh, uncommon sense. If only it were common.

Here's to hoping this one doesn't bring out the trolls.
/ cheers

Littlebear said...

"Don't worry, Kerulak, I'm here 'til the end!"

yeah... I was guilty of this. In my defense, I only left 6 months after 25 man broke down, and came back so I could retire as a DoD member.

I remember at the time being sure I could hear your teeth grind after I said it, and didn't understand why...

Anonymous said...

As someone who was raiding leading for a number of years since vanilla, i have to say your blog is amazing and a true insight to the situation back then. The woes and triumphs we passed through to get things done. The excitement of bosses downed, unlike today that repetition took it away from us. The open mouths at things first glimpsed.

I see alot of similar yet different situations you went through and i applaud alot of your decisions and inspirations to how you resolved situations (like the Elite rank) and also your resolve in handling situations with not so great players who kept progression back. I never had the backbone to go that far for fear it would backfire into the current roster and lose half of em.
I tried to follow the more mediocre solution of mediating between parties to resolve situations and offer guidance or even accepting back players again and again. Of course being on a small server with no transfers etc, we didnt have much of a choice in the matter due to the small raider pool available.

Even when actually conquering content we always felt the end was around the corner, dreading we'd lose that amazing tank, or that amazing healer or XYZ officer who offered support. We did things our way as well without so much guidance though it was more a necessity due to having a high number of reliable melee in our roster and unreliable ranged (made fights like Archimonde a nightmare to learn).

Your writing is of a high caliber and has kept me coming back for more again and again. Brings back alot of good memories. The only drawback is its hard to wait for the next installment.
Cant wait to hear more.


Shawn Holmes said...


I'm honored and humbled by your kind words of support. Thanks for being a dedicated reader! Please share this blog with any others you feel would be interested.

You touch on a very important point that is oft overlooked; you only had so many options based on the server you happened to be on. You built strategies on managing people based on the hand you were dealt. This is true in so many cases, yet there seems to be an unspoken rule at Blizzard that overarching changes to the game are in the best interests of all.

It simply isn't true. It's one example where the needs of the many may not necessarily outweigh the needs of the few. Esp. if the "many" are fleeting.

Anonymous said...

Well as someone that after my first guild stopped has tried finding a new home but hasnt managed to yet (and its not for a lack of trying), atm im more than a little excited about the new Virtual Realms feature.
Hopefully it will revitalise alot of the smaller servers with new blood and life.

Tbh i really dont get why entire guilds would move to an already full server, with an abundance of established guilds (talking about raiding since this is what i mostly do in game), that offer the Exact Same Thing they do. Often with long history on that server. What would differentiate your own unknown guild from the ones known.
I hear often the excuse of 'larger raid pool to pick from' or 'better racials' and whatever.
I find em feeble at best. I been a witness to 4 guilds that i know intimately that did this move, every single one of them either went social or its members left or is at exactly the same place it was before moving. Struggling to fill a roster.

Instead of trying to find their niche in their own realm and establishing their identity they often think a new start is better, the grass is greener on the other side.
What they fail to realise is, the reason they are struggling is internal and not external most of the times.

Not sure if the above makes sense since im half asleep at the time of writing.


Anonymous said...

Rofl "went social" a fate worse than death

- Max0r

Shawn Holmes said...


Amen, brother. Social is fine, as long as you can still kill things.