Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guild applications – secret or public?

When you apply for a job you don’t expect your possible future employer to make your application public, available for anyone to read at a website. But in WoW, for some reason, it’s more or less standard procedure when you’re applying to a guild. I would say that a majority of the guilds which are serious enough to require applicants to answer a bunch of standardized questions choose to handle it in the open.

If you consider applying you have to count on that anyone on your server, former guildies and friends as well as possible enemies you’ve made on your way, will be able to read it and react on it.

Advantages of openness
So, how should you regard this habit of open applications? What are the reasons for it?

If you see it from the guild side, the future employer, it’s quite handy to keep track of your appliances. You get a good overview and can easily see which ones have been handles and which are in pipeline. The whole guild can take part in the process and add comments if they know the wanna-be-guildie. Everything is transparent, which shouldn’t hurt as long as the applicant is honest about himself. If the person is lying on some point it’s less likely that he’ll get away with it.

From the applicants point of view, reading what other have written and seeing how they were received by the guild, will give you a lot of information. Judging from who was accepted and who wasn’t, you can get a good picture about your own chances to pass and make an informed decision if you meet the requirements or if you’re just wasting your time applying.

Advantages of secrecy
What about the other way round? Are there advantages in offering people the possibility to apply to a guild away from the public eye, by sending an e-mail? I think there are.

From the guilds perspective you don’t risk that candidates will be inspired and more or less copy previous successful applications. People will be forced to think for themselves and make an effort of their own applying, especially if you have some questions which are open in their character, not only the yes/no-sort of questions.

Another point is that you won’t miss applications from players who for some reason wish to be discrete about their plans to switch guilds. You don’t add the unnecessary obstacle of publicity.

For those applying I think most will appreciate not having to expose themselves to the public. It can feel pretty awkward “selling” yourself with other readers; it can easily be regarded as gloating. Maybe you’re not quite finished yet with your old guild and feel guilty showing the world you’re applying for something else. (That said I DO think that it’s best for everyone if you can leave your current guild before you’re applying to a new one.) And what if your application is denied? It’s a lot easier to cope with if you don’t have to inform the world about your failure.

A solution
If you sum it up I’d personally vote for the second, discrete strategy for guild recruitment.

But you can ad a twist to it to make it work a little better and involve the guild, without exposing the applicants to anyone on the server. This is what we’ve done recently in my guild. From now on the applications will be published on guild forum, which only is available to guild members. In this way guild members who have valid information will be able to comment and thus help the officers to take a wise decision.

Another advantage about this is that not only the officers, but the whole guild, will know a little bit more about the newly arrived team members. It will make the process of getting to know them smoother.

The only thing to remember is to take away the thread of evaluation once the applicant is let into the guild. If there have been discussions for and against the candidate, there’s no reason to let him or her read about it, once the decision has been made.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of public guild apps mainly because of what devious people use them for, as well as the poor Application management that alot of guilds have.
When I was applying for an alternate raiding guilds I submitted a public application that sat there with a load of others for around 3 weeks - I eventually was rejected for that I was not geared for sunwell and that several weeks after my rejected app - with most of the others the App still sat there on their public recruitment forum. I can deal with the public App if they are handled in reasonable time periods, but I find it extremely unprofessional to not reply for three weeks - AND have a 'shame list' of people who were rejected for various reasons.
While I have come to terms with that it is part of wow - There is no need for it to be a permenant record on their forums.

Rohan said...

The problem has more to do with technological limitations on forums than privacy issues.

Officers need to be able to respond to the application, to ask questions and clarifications. And the applicant needs to see those questions and be able to answer them.

If you have a private application, you have to come up with another method of passing questions and answers back and forth. Most forum software won't allow you to set permissions such that the applicant can see her thread, but not anyone else's. Just setting it to guild view only is not enough.

So the easiest solution is just to make application threads public. It's the quickest and easiest solution. Yes, there are privacy issues, but resolving them would take a lot of officer time.

Administrative overhead is deeply underestimated by non-officers. Officers that do too much end up burning out, and that hurts the guild far more. Most guilds consider the loss of privacy to be an acceptable trade-off for reducing the workload on the officers.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread, i think open is better though as if someone has left or is leaving a guild for bad reasons then sometimes its good to be told in the same instance though if i was a GM and recieved a private application explaining that they did not want to upset there guild and if they never got in they would stay where they are etc i would still think that was a good application.

Anonymous said...

As Rohan said, I suspect that if the bulk of guild keep them public by technical reasons and forum-like web organizations more than by conscious choosing.

Said that I like them being public for two main reasons.

Members can dicuss it in privacy, but we want everybody to be able to see it, I have a bad feeling about people who “wish to be discrete about their plans to switch guilds” , Guild menbership [at least in our guild] is not a job, you are not payed and we do not tax anyone, the guild hardly could hurt anyone but a wrong can really hurt the guild. As larisa says : “former guildies and friends as well as possible enemies you’ve made on your way, will be able to read it and react on it” we really want them to react”

The second reason is for aplicants to really see our style, as we do not maintain a big public discussion forum , you can see what are our interests and “our way” by looking at two or three old applications.

Gevlon said...

The "former guildies, friends and enemies can see you" is exactly the point I guess.

You are anonymus, you can tell anything. I can claim I killed Kil'Jaden before the achievement system, I disenchanted the loot since got better from lvl78. I'm an Uber-Pro raider, your guild can be honored to have me. However if I have to write it down publicly, there is a chance that someone who knows me, finds this thread (Google is your friend) and adds a comment about my real raiding progress.

I strongly believe that "privacy" is only good for criminals, child-porn watchers and people cheating on their wives.

I have nothing to be ashamed of, therefor I have nothing to hide. Of course I made mistakes, but I've learned from them, and not ashamed to be a n00b once, I'm rather proud of now being non-n00b.

Anonymous said...

"From now on the applications will be published on guild forum, which only is available to guild members. In this way guild members who have valid information will be able to comment and thus help the officers to take a wise decision."

One potential problem with having the guild discuss an application in a private forum is that the applicant is unable to answer to any criticism that may arise. If you imagine a situation occuring where a guild member remembers some "bad" (in his opinion) incident with the applicant, it may only be by further discussion with the applicant that it becomes clear that it was a genuine misunderstanding, or an accident, or a moment of n00bishness that happened months ago, or... well, you get the idea. :)

Even if this would be a pretty rare occurence, I also think that in general people should be able to see any criticism about themselves and be offered the means to reply.

Anonymous said...

@Pugnaciouspriest: I think you have a point about not letting old denied apps lying around for ages for others to look at. While recruiting I think it's important not to let the applicants come out with a bad feeling in their mouth. Even when they get a negative response you should try to treat them so they can keep their dignity and self esteem. It will give the guild a good server reputation in the long run. The player you denied one year may be the very one you would anything to get next year. You never know.

@Rohan: aaah... yeah I can understand that argument and I certainly have full respect for the workload of the officers. However I don't know if it would be much more demanding to make a short interview online than to handle a conversation back and forward through a forum? Maybe it depends on how many applicants you have. If they aren't too many I think a chat probably could give more information quicker than posting in a forum.

@Esdras: well there are good reasons for both ways to handle it, aren't there? Either have advantages and disadvantages.

@Eishen: yeah, but the problem is: if outsiders react, how are you to know if you should trust them or not? But I think you're right about that the responses can tell something about the guild, provided that you put some effort into the answers.

@Gevlon: I don't think the risk of people lying is a big problem. We have a trialist period and I can assure you that the guild is pretty picky about it. If you falsly have claimed having raiding experiences it will show up very clearly the very second you're starting to raid. You'll be noticed. And gear tells a story too, as well as achievements will in the future. If you're unsure it's also easy to take references.

@YeOldeGit: well, you've got a point there. However it's easy to take care about. The recruiting officer may write a ltter to the applicant, informing about the critizism that has come up. "We've been told the following... what are your comments aobut it?" giving an opportunity to answer. Remember the possiblity for guild members to comment doesn't mean that the guild members make the decision. It's still the duty of the officers. The guild members only give some imput - among other.

Gamer Hudson said...

I liek public apps, but secretly also copy the app to an officers section and discuss. Public Apps are good because it keeps the asshats from spamming multiple guilds with apps.

Let em suffer, let people see what they do and if they are lying

Fish said...

Wow, that sounds an aweful lot like work!

There are things that I will never understand/appreciate about upper level guilds. I think I feel a blog post coming on, and speaking of which, I sincerely appreciate your comments on the blog!

Anonymous said...

Having been an officer (hunter class leader) - public vs. private applications are about trade-offs.

The system we used were private applications that went to a "veterans-only" forum. Officers, class leaders, and "veterans" of the guild only. It didn't make a lot of sense and eventually caused me to leave the guild...
I joined with a friend of mine who had been GM of the guild almost 2 years ago. She ran it pre-BC through MC and part of BWL and left to join a guild with her then-husband.

The first couple of months in the guild, she kept telling me about whispers and slighting that she was receiving from some of the officers. I wasn't sure if it was a little overreaction or if it was true, but thought maybe she was being a little too sensitive. She became a member and they promoted me to class officer...

Cruising around the forums once I was class officer, I saw both of our guild applications still there, and I was shocked with the responses to her application - the main tank and the raid leader (separate people) both denied the application stating that she had left them and showed a lack of commitment to the guild. The GM overruled them though - when she left, she passed over the AGM for promotion because he wasn't a good fit for the guild, and the current GM is the one she had promoted over 2 years ago. She had left the guild in good and stable hands.

Eventually, a spot was offered in multiple consecutive raids to an "initiate" over her (a "member") by the raid leader, and it was clearly time for us both to leave the guild.

I suppose that if the app was public originally - we would have known their concerns/objections, and moved on to find another guild. On the other hand, they might not have voiced their concerns if it was public.
It's a very tough call.

Anonymous said...

@Hudson: do you really think they'll suffer that much?

Asshats spamming guilds with applications, is that really common?

I guess I've been blessed with some limited sight: I tend to only see nice people in the game, it's extremely rare that I think "hey, there's an asshat". I haven't got that radar I think.

@Fish: I think there's no way around it. If you're aiming high it WILL mean a lot of work one way or another. But if you've founded it well being picky and careful recruiting and putting an effort into building a long lasting guild organization with good officers sharing the burdens and members who also get involved and overall a mature, stable atmosphere, you'll be able to harvest further on. It will give you less work and worries in the long run if you've built it well.

And I think comments are half of the fun about blogging and reading other blogs. The PPI is built not only by me, but by you and everybody else who keep comming back commenting. It's awesome, really, and that's why I also try to reply to most of them, although I can't guarantee a personal answer to every single one. We enjoy our pints in front of the fire and we share views and stories with each other. THAT's what blogging is about to me.

@Protectorate: oh, that's some story and it gives you something to think about - not only about being public or not in recruitment, but also about how to treat officers forums overall. Never forget that the people you discuss there in the future may end up reading it as officers...

Anonymous said...

We have a similar situation where applications are posted in a forum where only officers can read posts, or even see the very existance of the forums.

This works well for us, because it allows the officers to communicate with each other about the applicants, but it keeps a measure of privacy for the applicants themselves.

And of course, applications be they sucessful or not are never shared with the guild.

A rejected applicant would never be allowed to see the comments that were made about them. Not that we snipe about our applicants, but still.

Anonymous said...

I'd be cautious of public guild apps. It's hard enough to keep certain officers from making fun of the really "amusing" applications. Open that up to the entire guild and who knows how far that news will travel.

Most people might say "so what?" and they might be right, but I'm a believer in if you don't need to know...

Beth said...

You make valid points. I was recruitment officer for my guild for about 6 months, and we recently completely changed the application process, removing the need for my job (I moved to social events coordinator).

It used to be that anyone could post an app in our public Pledges forum, members could read and comment, and occasionally we restricted it to "referral by a member only" since our guild is friends and family and random people more often than not don't fit in and end up leaving (which we DO take personally).

Recently, the guild leader changed applications so that people can only apply if a member sends them the app. The member has to fill out a recommendation portion and the officers go over it in private. This addresses the "random people who won't fit in" part of the issue as well as privatizing things.