It's my personal belief that a good player who's never raided can become a good raider in two weeks, but a bad player who's been raiding for a year will never really become a good raider.
Without having to qualify 'bad' or 'good', I couldn't agree more.
The people who didn't impress me when we were running strat/scholo and BRS don't impress me today. The people who kicked ass then kick ass today. Focus cannot be taught. Or adaptability. The core mechanics for a rogue could be performed by a fucking monkey, and yet so many people aren't very good at it. It never ceases to amaze me. Everquest was the same way. A cleric only had to be able to count to 12, and yet so many of them sucked at even that.
Because they were playing xbox, or watching some stupid baseball game, or whatever. You want people who will keep their fucking head in the game long enough to get the corpse shot, then they can do whatever the hell they want afterward.
(I have no factual based information purely experience based opinions)
I was an officer in my previous guild who also raided MC/BWL (before AQ was out) and one of the largest things that annoyed me about the way the leaders "above" myself was they would make a rule eg. 'A wipe constitutes -dkp for wasting our time' and yet the rule would never be enforced, something which promotes a sign of weak leadership imo. Poor leadership (imo) could also be considered someone such as a recruit or member (a leader could also do this but I would think most would be smart enough not to) whining about a wipe or doing anything generally negative to the groups morale without contributing information, which directly helps with progression/improvement.
The current guild I'm in was the first raiding guild on the server and formed out of nearly all the "best" players on the server at the time, over time alot of other good players have cropped up but they get left out since we only take on as much as we need. Something I'd disagree with since having the perfect amount of 1 class (lets say 7-8 warriors) can leave a guild devastated if alot of people take a break or quit at once, waiting for natural wastage before replenishing numbers is a risky game.
Having a substantial pool of skilled players, ideally who arent going to cry if they dont get in for the nights raid is a really good way to go, to avoid burning players out too quickly and also to be able to account for any large loss of one class at any given time. Guilds often drop standards when they're being rushed to replace the 3 priests that just left etc etc. (my current guild is similar to yours in this respect Kalman)
Being a "good raider" generally means 3 things in my view (outside of being competent within your class)
1. You've read up on any strategy's/rules you may be required to know to catch upto your current guilds progress.
2. You can follow an instruction.
3. You're willing / capable to put in extra time to getting consumables/items required to raid.
I disagree with you on a certain aspect Kalman. Theres a limit to the improvement you can make to any single player, specifically without babying their every movement/action, which is something you shouldnt have to do. Common sense however can never be taught.
When I was in my old guild, even before I became an officer I took recruitment far more serious than pretty much everyone else in the guild. I took elitism to an extreme... which I liked and I still do, but sometimes on a server where the player quality/availability is limited it meant losing out on a moderate player in search of an exceptional player.
Anyway, after rambling on for far too long summary:
Player base within a long term raid guild is key.
Mosh has already mentioned the big thing for me - recruitment. It's far and away the trickiest, most unpredictable, and at times fist-bitingly frustrating part of running a guild.
We originally took the somewhat naive approach of only recruiting people with such and such experience, and a whole shopping list of requirements, resistances, and attunements. Over time I've realised that that's actually an insignificant part of the 'good raider' equation.
Experience so far, has taught me that the most effective (and realistic) approach is usually just getting the guy on vent and having a chat with them about their class and their gear. You can spot a guy with an iota of sense pretty damn fast in a one to one conversation, just as fast as you can spot the guys that actually sound like their drooling 'lolzor phat epix' online personas. As Mosh pointed out, we have the somewhat unusual issue of language on the EU servers, whereby you have to dodge the "ESPANOL? XD" crew along with the guys that, tactical genius or not, can't string a sentence together.
Over the last month, when attrition hit virtually every server around the world, we had to recalibrate our approach to recruitment and somewhat grudgingly let go of our 'raid core' principles that we'd adopted from guilds like Conquest and Nightmares Asylum due to the smaller, more compact guild being the greatest victim of burnout. Much like others have mentioned, we too saw some absolute gems slip through our fingers and off to other guilds simply because at the time, we'd felt the class they were applying for was just too crowded. Then one month down the road two of those class members have left, and you're stuck without any decent applicants in sight.
We've now taken the approach that anyone with a shred of sense and a working mic can, with a little bit of time and effort, become a valuable raider. And no matter how packed a class might get, at this point in the game I don't think many guilds can afford to turn away decent players.
Just a postscript. as I kinda digressed from the OP in my last post : the most important thing I've found, in terms of leading your guild well, is a clear direction. Be reasonable, and take advice from your officers, whom you should always trust in every facet of management, but have your own instincts and the conviction to act upon them. Of the few times I've gone against my gut feeling after considering all the facts, I have always regretted it. Stay the course, and if your rationale and motivation is sound, your guild will follow you through thick and thin.
I always find this topic funny, seeing as DnT basically operates without a guild leader. Our leader played sparingly at the beginning of retail (when I wasn't in the guild), and continued on playing when he could, raiding with us once every week or so, and generally logging on whenever, until a few months ago when he went completely inactive due to RL. We can still contact him on aim, and a select few have his info, but basically our guild runs on anarchy.
We've found the most useful solution to the various topics you posted is raid slot pressure. Recruit such that no one person, or group of people is essential to your raid. This forces everyone to bring their best every time or *gasp* you don't get to raid. It also gives you flexibility, and versatility. We never stop raiding because X tank, or priest didn't show up. Someone else does the job, and the raid progresses as usual.
Even though I know the answer to this question based on DnTs track record, doesn't this type of motivation bring a very negative atmosphere to the guild? I'd imagine a lot of people end up raiding for themselves rather than the guild, using this system.
Edit: Seperate question: A thing I'm personally very curious about is what attributes guild officers in charge of recruitment look for. By having had BWL and MC on farm for quite a while now, we have the luxury of recruiting based on eagerness to learn, commitment and (unique to european servers I guess) the ability to speak English, rather than based on gear and previous raiding experience.
Can you clarify the first point, I'd like to respond, but I don't exactly understand what you mean.
As for recruitment, I think the things other people brought up are important. NEVER, EVER pass up a good player. Simply let them know that there are other people with more seniority than them, and they may not be raiding much. If they can accept that, great. The most important thing is to be honest with both your recruits, and yourselves. Be honest about what you're looking for, what they're looking for from you, and what your goal is in the game. A big turning point for us, was when we went from recruiting people because they were "nice", or because they were someone's friend, into a real test of skill, and the fact that, we didn't always let every recruit in. Sometimes people weren't up to the standards we set as a guild, and we had to do the hard thing and turn them loose.
I think it can be summed up thusly: Be reasonable, open, accept input but be decisive and stick to your guns once a decision is made. Nothing can be more detrimental to a guild than to decide a course of action, and then continuously make exceptions or ignore it. It's not to say there should never be exceptions.. but they should be for.. well... exceptional reasons.
The most important thing is that your guild members have respect for the leadership. I don't mean that they treat them respectfully (lord knows some balls are broken in our vent), but that underneath their veneer of rebelliousness they trust that you have their best interests at heart, that you know what you're doing, and that you're worthy of following. You also must lead by example. If they see you modeling certain qualities, see you sacrificing for the guild, see you busting your ass to farm consumables or to help guildies farm resist gear, they too will do it. If you don't get discouraged by wipes it trickles down and neither will they.
Its important that they like the leadership, too. If people feel like you're out to get them or that you don't care what they think, they won't stick around very long. If they feel that you care about them and know whats best for them they will suffer wipes and they will suffer chastisement. Anyways, thats the essence of charismatic leadership, and I feel its the only way to really lead a guild. People should feel an obligation and some loyalty to the raid group, but when you have the kind of turnover we have, and have to lower your standards in order to be able to fill a raid as we have had to do in the recent past, that loyalty just isn't there. So the loyalty has to be vertical instead of horizontal. People show up to wipe heavy learning encounters not because they get DKP (we're a loot council guild so the incentive is sort of there but not entirely), but because they trust me not to waste their time going in without a strat or without focused leadership, and they feel that they owe it to me to be there.
The problem is not every leader is capable of doing the charismatic thing. A couple of my officers manage but I've seen it happen too many times where people don't like them or don't respect them and it breaks my heart to do it but I have to demote them because they aren't effective leaders or organizers without the kind of authority that charisma brings.
The problems with this style of leadership is that its very leader-centered. If I don't go to a raid the confidence of the group is shattered and they don't perform well, flake out early, that is if they even show up. Whereas with guilds that are run like bureaucracies, with a lot of unmotivated but well organized smaller leaders, that problem doesn't exist. But there you have power struggles and inertia and malaise. Basically, if I'm there, and my top officers are there, we can instill in the raid a very positive energy which can carry them to do things that are perhaps above their typical ability level, and beyond what they themselves thought they were capable of doing.
One thing I didn't mention when talking with Digo that seems so obvious I didn't bring up but someone touched on:
NEVER, EVER make rules you either can not or will not enforce, it will do absolutely jack shit except eat at your authority.
That includes being prepared for laziness - if it's a minor disciplinary issue that would create a lot of work for the officers online, you will probably see very patchy enforcement (only the one whose pet project it is bothers with it, when he/she isn't online...), which will just make the officers present that much less of a solid front. It's the same problem as parents face if they don't coordinate their stances on issues - you will just make sure members that get said 'no' to will ask around until they get a 'yes'.
Obviously officers can't coordinate with EVERYTHING, since the whole nature of the thing is that new issues emerge pretty much non stop. At that point it's down to how well the leader has ingrained the guild philosophy/vision (like someone mentioned, if you just sort of randomly pick people from pve/pvp and hardcore/softcore axis, you will never have anything like that). Either the officer naturally does it the <Enter Random Guild> way or they do not, the latter basically implying a problem that is probably the leaders fault.
Ascent used to operate very much on loot and pure competitive instict. In EQ we very pointedly set ourselves to be the benevolent (toward those that acknowledged they couldn't compete that is) rulers of the Rodcet Nife server, where we'd crush any opposition as ruthlessly as we could (we literally killed the Emperor in Ssra temple 24/7 to keep others from catching up to us... even the Koreans never got shots at him, no matter when he spawned). Everyone liked this arrangement, and then we could compete on the serverwide level against a rather well defined set of guilds. The whole no-instancing pretty much guaranteed that there'd be a limited amount of "uberguilds" (a term that has been so inflated by WoW that it's next to meaningless)... a single server didn't have the spawns to equip more than 1 guild well enough for the next expansion (and that loot also mattered way, way, way more than in WoW).
Same goals pretty much: rule the server, get serverwide firsts and help guildmates gain massive power through gear.
"Rule the server" sort of worked even with Fury on alliance side (due to their very pointed lack of interest in competing with us in this field), but it was so bloody hollow. Yes people liked co-operating with us and doing what we suggested, but the real impact of that was felt pretty much exclusively in outdoor pvp (until the AQ Gates event, for which we were incredibly well set on the political side) which ended up dying off. Everyone and their grandmother visited the same zones we did. Kazzak and Azuregos were fun additions, and racing to them was quite a bit of fun. Emerald Dragons came a bit later, and they caused another problem I'll comment on.
"Get worldwide firsts" of course was a huge thing, and Ragnaros and AQ Gates were probably most fun I've had with WoW. However, WoW is not a hard game, so getting a worldwide first in a 40man dungeon is pretty much a test of willpower and available time. Or you start with the 2000 Nefarian killing guilds, drop the lazy ones (down to 1000), drop the ones with truly uninspired leadership that just reads guides (down to 100) and then drop the ones who don't have really good tactical skill (down to 80 or 90, I suspect most of these already have). Then it's a question of you farming more potions and training the encounter longer. Or is someone here arrogant to believe that their tactical skills are truly unique in a crowd of 5 million? Add to the mix that going for world firsts also means you deal with the shittiest fucking bugs available, it's not all that fun anymore. They need something different that can NOT be competed by a pool of 1000-5000 guilds... having the servers compete with the gates was extremely nice, though I'll admit that the "winner takes it all" nature (in the sense that if your server was 90th on the third day, none would bother picking a damn thing) and the type of event were bit so-so planned, but the idea was downright brilliant.
Then there's the gearing up. This was already causing problems in MC, where our rogues just plain refused to loot the original tier1 stuff using dkp (since blue gear was so often superior). It was a rather new problem for us, since in EQ the upgrades were so big that people were always more than happy to loot stuff. To this very day, pretty much everyone finds loot extremely uninspiring as a goal in WoW... even the fun of competing for outdoor spawns is undermined when you're DEing items off first kills (those Emerald Dragons)
There's no reasonable goal except the timesink of worldwide firsts, and those tend to be so uninspired (or even extremely ruthlessly cockblocked a la C'Thun) that it's hard to imagine a point for trying while working (During AQ Gates I think I managed to be online over 80h a week even while working).
So as far as I can see when it comes to inspiring the guild in current WoW, I just don't know. The game really doesn't work that well with our original mindset.
Oh but here's a tip: if your opinion of the game resembles, logging in for random stuff out of a sense of duty probably does more harm than good :P
From my experience, the single , most important factors, that lead to a guild's sucess and stability are:
-Most people enjoy their companies, and have fun playing together as a group, 3-4 people that "just don't get along" provide negative mood between guildmembers, and in the end, even if it lasts months, it's just a time-bomb waiting to blow up.
-As mentioned, people that share common interests in the game, be it PvP\PvE or just plain "hanging around" in WoW.
-Maturity.... jackasses and 12 year olds are just time-bombs that will hurt your guild, sure, you can have jackasses here and there, but if they adhere to the first 2 factors and when it's time to get serious, they get serious, it's safe to say they're ok.
Of course, building that playerbase is the hardest part of it all as many have said, however, imo it depends a lot on luck.. why luck?
-luck of finding people that fit those 3 factors to sucess
-luck of finding people within the playerbase of your server
-luck of identifying the qualities and attributes in a player that you're actually looking for your guild
As kaubel said , he was surprised how EJ turned out, and i'm pretty sure most out-of-the "new" succesful guilds, were too. Why?, because there is NO secret formula for sucess, you adopt certain integrity for your guild and you build the foundations and fundamentals of the guild you want, and after that, it's out of your hands, it's out of your hands because you don't know if you'll find the adequate people that will join your ship or jump ship mid-trip.
In the end, it's all about how you build basis of the guild, i perfectly believe Xi in what he says how they run their guild, because if you have a group of guys that respects each other, and value each other's contribution while also not being hand-carried by anyone and putting up 100% of their contribution to the guild, they don't need a "boss figure" , in fact, a boss figure usually leads to bad things, unless everyone in the guilds thinks that the boss is awesome , which is a sorta rare sight, specially in a video game :P .
Server Transfers, as someone already said, will help guilds a lot when it comes to rounding up their roster with people that fit their playing style, of course, it will have it's negatives as well. Reasons why Server transfers will help is because there's so many good and quality players out there, that simply haven't found the guild for them within their server, because either
a) doesn't fit their schedule
b) don't like any guilds on their faction for X reason (loot system, leadership etc..)
c) their class isn't needed\wanted
there's so many reasons i could go on as to why there's a lot of quality players displaced on servers without a guild for many reasons (some listed above) , and those players simply wouldn't roll on guilds they "knew" would fit them because they get so discouraged with having to grind to 60, and pretty much try and catch up in gear (which takes a long time if you dont have a guild helping ironically), then there's the "i don't even know if i'll get in" factor, so people just don't want to even consider re-rolling on an older server looking for guilds.
This is the reason why you see so many people re-roll on brand-new server, in the hopes of trying to get into the "top-guild" or a guild that would fit them from the start, something deemed impossible to them by re-rolling on older servers.
I think I can chime in with a bit of praise for my guildleader and guild spirit as well, considering our circumstances atm.
Yesterday after an excruciating night of two <30% wipes due to Giant Eyeball Spawns chaining 15 of a full raid down, we finally killed C'thun. I suppose to most of you here this is somewhat old news, but for my little server, and for us, it was a landmark. I say that because we're the second guild on our server to do so and the first Horde guild. The first kill was done by one of Europe's best Alliance guilds (I think they were world 8th as well or something, but don't pin me down on it) on our server and while I don't believe we differ much in individual playerskill we really have no hope of ever actively competing with them, not in the least because of they have a better economy, a bigger playerpool and let's face it, slightly easier raiding capabilities.
The first half of this year was a bit of a mess for us. We had recently migrated from a server where we were the top dogs in general, altho the balance shifted back and forth at times. We ended up on what is basically a dead piece of rock called Genjuros.
What happened was that we ended up with around 70% of both the Italian, and the Greek WoW community. Now I don't think you US guys experience something similar during your migrations, but it's been explained in this thread already; compare it to ending up on a server full of Mexicans that go "Que paso! Hablo espagnol?" and refuse to or are simply unable to speak proper English. While the server was A-OK in all technical aspects as opposed to our old server (which was lovingly dubbed "Lagfist" with newly discovered terms such as "Hah you got Bladefisted!" being thrown around to victims of mishap), recruitment, PUG's and the AH came to a screeching halt.
In between that, we had several setbacks: Several of our core members quit in a matter of weeks. By that I mean we basically lost all 3 of our pimped out hunters, a Guild Master, several officers and several highly contributing members including our first Thunderfury. Some went out in style, basically a bit fed up with raiding in general and they still hang around our boards, comms and irc channels enjoying the chats and news. Others made a big drama thread usually bringing up lootwhines and stuff, or just plainly quit on the spot without a word and rerolled on a better server (which is Magtheridon for us EU guys, basically; hi Bal!)
Our first Guild Master is still a great guy, good sense of humour, ability to motivate but very strict on the other hand and very, very selective on new recruits. Him and the core originated from the UK FPS scene which was quite a tight bunch of friends and I think that has been and will be the strongest foundation our guild is based on. His replacement is equally impressive looking back on his track record these past months. We were always a little guild, in the sense that we have around 45-50 people in our guild with a highly active core of around 25-30. This meant filling raids could be a challenge on the hard days (which is basically a euphemism for "learn and wipe" raids) and I think a lot of people including myself have been on the brink of a "Fuck this" moment along the road. He was the one that kept us together without ever giving in to recruiting more just for the sake of always having enough on, to keep the guild's integrity intact and always work to improve our DKP system and refine our tactics. I think one of the biggest steps was that our DKP site got hacked into with that recent discovered leak and we had to do loot by memory and sort of a loot council thing, and nobody complained about people getting loot they may or may not have deserved based on points. Hell, people passed for others when they weren't sure because it was more of an upgrade to the other person.
I like loot, I will always strive to improve my character because it is one of the little addictive things about this kind of game, but it should never be the leading factor in a guild. We literally have new guilds spawning on our server all the time, advertising they will do ENDGAME ZG MC AND BWL, basically maintaining a perpetual cycle of lootwhores bouncing around in a different guild each week. It is not the way to create and hold a group of people together, but these people will never learn I fear :/
Which is the most addicting about this game for me tho is not the loot, it's not the instances, it's not the virtual world around me; it's my guild and the people that are in it. We're a hoot on comms with little bits of music being played, funny sound clips at opportune times but also cracks at each other and balls being broken every day. For those of you who recognize this, I bet you'll smile; for those that don't, you have no idea what you're missing :)
Killing C'thun pretty much culminated in an cheerful outburst of cropped up frustration that derived from 2 continual weeks of making virtually no progress, due to some retards in our guild that just didn't get it. Recognizing Dark Glare, knowing what to do when this happens as well as simply farming and bringing a crapload of consumables, they were just terrible at it.
Now for most guilds this is grounds for removal/replacement, but for us, on the above described server, Horde side, it really wasn't an option: 99% certain the replacement would be an even bigger tard, only this one would be entirely unfamilair with us, our tactics, our habits as well as usually being grossly under-equipped and lacking the ability to string coherent English sentences together. So instead we stepped up and slapped them in their place, which seemed to help because our progress yesterday was bigger than the entire two weeks before it and we finally killed C'thun.
Maybe it's the euphoria of yesterday's kill talking, but I am ever so glad that my guild has remained what it has always been, and a lot of that has been due to our officers and GM(s). In fact, looking back on my rambling, I will probably post this on my guild's forum as well :)