Rant: Guild Recruit Spam
It's been a while since I've done a rant entry in here, so today I figure I would touch on something that has been driving me up a wall in the last few MMOs I have played, Guild Recruit Spam. Chances are if you have played any MMO, you have seen these guild recruit spam messages flooding one of your chat channels. I saw them in AoC, WAR, Darkfall, and now in Aion. While general chat is hardly the place to have scholarly discussions and intellectual persuits, spamming people with your guild advertisement pretty much makes you about as cool as a telemarketer.
A vent server and a website?! Holy shit! Where do I sign up? Maybe back in 1999 when I was raiding in the original Everquest this would have been exciting, but I don't see how this is really even worth mentioning at this point. I'm sorry guys, but this is 2009. It is pretty much expected that if you are a real MMO guild, you are going to have a ventrilo server and a website. That's like me trying to get people to join my swimclub by telling them I have a pool. It's just a given, isn't it?
Well apparently it isn't. During my time in Darkfall, I was in a position where I was able to talk to a lot of people in a lot of various guilds for interviews and political dealings. I was absolutely shocked at how many people are still using Teamspeak. Compared to Ventrilo, TS sounds like you are broadcasting on some sort of shortwave radio from World War 2. If you are really serious about building a guild with lasting appeal and a strong community, splurge the couple bucks a month for the vent server.
I also love when I see a guild recruit spammer claiming their guild is elite or hardcore. Elite and hardcore groups of people don't take any random jabroni off the street into their ranks. That would be like having the special forces accepting applications in a kiosk in your local shopping mall. Let's assume for a minute that you were an amazing player with PvP skills placing you in the top percentile, what guild would you join? The guy standing on street corner wearing gear from a garbage dumpster looking for friends, or a group of like-minded players who are on the cutting edge?
Aside from recruitment spam being one the worst ways to attract quality members, it also ranks you right up there with gold spammer as one of the most annoying people in the game. People will always remember the name of a guild who spams the chat box because you felt the need to remind them every 3 minutes. As a result, don't be surprised if people's reaction towards you and your crew in less than favorable. Just remember, a gold spammer doesn't have to live among the people they are annoying, your guild will.
Up and coming guilds need to ask themselves what is more important; having more members just for the sake of having members, or settling for less members who are solid and likely to share your vision. I look at guilds as more than just a bunch of people playing a game together, it's a family-like community. A good guild will not have its lifespan limited to its duration in any given game, instead it will become a community of like-minded people who travel with each other from game to game. I've used this model in Inquisition, and it is no coincidence that many of the strongest guilds in any MMO are typically those with long histories that span across many games.
The best way to find quality members is obvious and at the same so often overlooked. MMOs are games based heavily on community, and if your looking to find good players you should be socializing in the game with people you meet. Spamming chat channels is a good way to make your guild appear as cheap and catering to the lowest denominator of player. It is far better to have a smaller roster of loyal friends who will stick with you, then a large roster full of random selfish members.
One quick antecdote to wrap this up. Back when I played World of Warcraft shortly after release, my guild at one point had over 130 members at its peak population. We recruited everyone and anyone we could get our hands on. I soon found at that peak population did not equal peak performance. One day me and my co-leader decided we were going to reroll the guild on a new server, and cut the guild roster in half down to our best 60 members literally overnight. Once we reached max level again on the new server a month later, we were able to defeat content that we could never imagine winning with our old roster. These were the members who were friends of friends who shared our vision of the guild, many of which still play with us years later. Consider this a page from a guild leader's handbook.
Co-Leader of Inquisition