Casual Guilds Are Not Easy! is a weekly series (usually) on Destructive Reach which is devoted to the running of those oh-so-mysterious creatures, the ultra casual World of Warcraft guild.  This series covers many of the problems which arise in the day to day running of a casual guild, possible solutions to these, and the implications of these solutions.

So, you have recruited some people, and your guild has grown to a decent size.  Everything seems to be going swimmingly… until a couple of people leave.  Suddenly, you have lost a decent chunk of your core membership, and you aren’t sure how it happened!

Attrition is a fact of life for guilds.  People will come and go from guilds, and while it can be difficult to take (especially the first time it happens) it is something which is healthy and sometimes necessary for guilds to survive and grow.  However, there is a point where attrition reaches extreme levels, and this can often hit guilds hard.  Most people have been in a guild where a large group of people have left and gone else where, and it is a challenging experience. 

People generally /gquit for 3 basic reasons.  Quite often, there is little a guild can do about this.  However, sometimes things can be changed within the guild to try and keep members.  If your guild is losing too many people, you might need to consider assessing the situation and seeing what things could possibly be changed.  However, you do need to balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the guild!

1.  The goals of the individual no longer coincide with the goals of the guild.

This is one of the most common reasons for people leaving guilds, and one which little can be done about.  In a casual guild, this generally means someone is leaving because they want to go to a raiding guild, or another form of more hardcore guild.  Generally speaking, most people will leave on good terms if this is their reason for leaving, and it will have very little harmful impact on a guild.  It can be a good opportunity for a guild to forge ties and relationships with other guilds in some cases, by maintaining a close relationship with old guildmates.

However, sometimes people leave because they feel the guild has no goals.  It is difficult in a casual guild to maintain the balance between personal freedom and guild achievement.  While I will be going into guild goal setting in a separate post, it is always a good idea to ensure that your guild has a goal and at least a monthly organised guild activity.  A guild activity does not have to be ‘progression oriented’ – it could be knocking over some old instances, an RP event, a trade fiesta… whatever you can come up with.  Your officers should also be helping to keep people interested and participating in guild life, especially if the interest is there.

2.  The guild is no longer a good fit for someone personality wise, or through some other personal issue.

While you can’t force everyone to get along, and some people just don’t mesh well with other people, you can try to avoid people leaving through personal issues by ensuring that drama is kept to a minimum.  You can also never completely eliminate drama, but you can do your best to ensure that it doesn’t have a huge impact on the guild.  Set clear standards for chat channels, especially guild chat.  Discourage offensive language and behaviour – it may not offend you, but the odds are it may offend someone.  I remember two people in a guild I was in who would quite often use incredibly offensive language with each other in guild chat.  While everyone knew they were friends, and they were just bantering, it was incredibly uncomfortable and off putting (not to mention incredibly inappropriate in front of our younger members!)  Behaviour like that needs to be kept to private channels and whispers.

When there is a dispute, try to encourage people to resolve these through private chat.  If they can not resolve it themselves, offer to create a private channel with an officer, or ask them if they would like a mediation on vent.  At the end of the day though, if someone is a bad fit, it can be a good thing if they leave.

3.  ‘All my friends are leaving!’

A very common reason, which is generally started by one of the above reasons.  An unfortunate side effect of people leaving a guild is that they quite often take all their mates with them.  Annoying as all heck!  To combat this, you really need to do the above suggestions, and hope.  If people feel that they really fit in your guild, they may think twice before leaving, even if their friends are looking for something different.

At the end of the day, as I said… attrition is going to happen.  While prevention is great, there is no sense beating yourself up over it when it happens.  Casual guilds do tend to fluctuate in size…a LOT.  Especially once an expansion pack has been out for 6 months and people are looking to get into more serious raiding.  Fortunately, casual guilds are not so dependant on having set numbers, classes or specs, which makes the guild much more tolerant of this fluctuation.

So, in brief:

  • People don’t want to be bored: organise things for people to do occasionally
  • Encourage friendly chatter and develop a community within the guild
  • Accept that not everyone is going to be a good fit
  • Accept that people are going to find new goals
  • Try to create an enjoyable experience, and enjoy it yourself!
3 Responses to “Casual Guilds Are Not Easy!: Combating and Coping With Attrition”
  1. As an officer and a recruiting ambassador, I definitely agree with those being the top 3 reasons I see people gquit. If a 4th would be listed, it would probably be due to quitting (or more accurately, taking a break) the game.

    Casual guilds certainly can suffer from the turn over, especially early on. Ours has a pretty good retention rate and generally reason #1 is why they are moving on. I could say so much more.. but I shall save it! ;)

    (Recently found you and have to say Yay! Warlock blog!)

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  2. Yea, my guild lost some of our most involved members recently, since they were ready and geared up for raiding, and we weren’t.

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  3. One of the things we’re running into now is that attrition hit an all time high, making it difficult to organize events. In this case, attrition seems to bring on more attrition and there isn’t much you can do to stem the flow. Add to that the fact that when an expansion comes out, it seems everyone has their own goals, and it gets very difficult to organize events.

    This is great advice, just wanted to say that sometimes organizing things is easier said than done. It might be a good article to suggest ways of encouraging guild even attendance. We’ve considered things like prizes, etc… but that brings its own problems too. In any case, this is just my two cents.

    Good job auto-poster :-).

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