a.k.a. What Do I Do With Ten Rank Slots?!


This is a compilation of responses to a thread started on the old Guild Relations forums about why and how to set up guild ranks. This FAQ exists entirely because of the amazing people on the Guild Relations forum. I’ve put it together in the hopes that others can benefit from our veterans’ experiences as much as I have.

This document does not go into detail on how to use the guild control interface. It focuses instead on the reasoning behind guild ranks – the problems good ranks will forestall, and the benefits that accrue to the guild as a result of a thoughtful, fair ranking system. For your technical questions, you'll want to see Ashling's Guide & FAQ to In-Game Guild Creation.

Right, let’s get started.

Why would anyone care that much about making Guild Ranks?Edit

Some Guild Leaders won’t care. But many of the larger, more long-lived guilds have found that having a fair and well-thought out ranking system can forestall problems down the road. Every good organization needs stability, and a ranking system that is clearly defined will provide that stability for its members. A well-designed system can also forestall some of the inevitable power struggles that many guilds face. When members feel they can work within and be recognized by the system, they are likely to support it.

Guilds are about people, and balancing the sometimes very different needs of very different people in order to make something bigger than any one individual. Careful ranks are one of the many tools you have at your disposal, as a Guild Leader, to solve the Problem of People. :)

So what’s my first step?Edit

As a GL, your first step should be to read Wytch’s amazing guide to guild leading. Much of this FAQ will build off your answers to the questions she poses: what is your guild about, and what do you want it to become? If you can answer those, most of your work will already be done.

In case you haven’t looked at it yet, you should also read the official WoW guide to your guild control interface. It helps to know how this works.

Okay, so really, what’s my first step?Edit

Let’s start from the ground up. What do you want to do with new recruits? Most guilds institute at least one “trial” rank. This is the lowest rank, and is designed to give both your guild and your new recruit time to get to know each other. Privileges are limited – you don’t want a bad seed /gkicking all your members. It's generally useful to allow "trial" ranks to listen and talk in /gchat - it's tough to get to know someone if they can't talk. :)

Some guilds will have two trial ranks. Social guilds, for instance, might want a second trial rank to give everyone more time to get acquainted and comfortable with one another. Raid guilds, on the other hand, might have the “green recruit” rank and then a slightly higher rank for people who can become members once they meet level or gear requirements.

The most important part of this rank is the promotion process. Think about what you expect from your members, and design promotion requirements to "test" these qualities in your recruits. For some the process could be as simple as a time limit – after two weeks, you gain full member status. A PvP guild might require Honor Rank or time spent in a guild's town raids. A PvE guild, where dedication and cooperation are vital to the guild's progress, might want difficult level and gear requirements to help gauge a new recruit's commitment. A popular choice for "testing" this kind of dedication is to require a tangible goal like 300 in a secondary tradeskill.

Gertrudis of Feathermoon explains:

When you app to the really high level guilds, they make you do really crazy things, like have a toon with 300 fishing. Same deal. If you're not willing to grind out something easy, for sure you're not going to be there on wipe night number 47. (editor's note: this quote was taken pre-TBC)

Some guilds with advanced progression will require things like attunement to the instances they're running - this is as much a pragmatic requirement as it is a philosophical one, since a character can't raid Molten Core with their guild if he or she isn't attuned to it.

Finally, make sure you let your recruits know what this process is! You are more likely to retain the type of recruits you want if they are clear about your guild’s expectations of them. A good way to do this is to post policies on membership in your guild website – that way a prospective recruit can decide before even applying whether or not your guild will be a good fit.

What’s the deal with members?Edit

Members make up the core of your guild. In the last step you already decided what you expect from members, now it's time to think about what privileges this rank should have. Guildchat Listen and Guildchat Speak are a default privilege of membership. Some guilds will allow members to invite other players, while other guilds will need to be more selective and reserve that ability for officers.

The complete list of privileges you will need to allocate are: Guildchat Listen, Guildchat Speak, Officerchat Listen, Officerchat Speak, Promote, Demote, Invite Member, Remove Player, Set MotD, Edit Public Note, View Officer Note, Edit Officer Note. See the WoW Guild Tab information for a fuller description of these privileges.

What should I do about officers?Edit

This can be tricky. As GL, you need to think about how you want to lead your guild. Will it be a dictatorship? Do you want to have a council of advisers? Will you go all-out democratic? Your answer to this will determine the number and power of your officers.

A few warnings: many of the people responding to this topic cautioned that officers are in a unique position to help or harm the guild. You should promote people that you trust absolutely, because as a guild gets larger your officers will likely have more interaction with the membership as a whole than you will. This could lead to power struggles and even a split guild if you’re not careful. Trust and communication are vital between a GL and his/her officers.

This is also the argument for limiting the number of officers. Too many cooks in the kitchen, and all that.

Officer responsibilities vary greatly, and largely come down to what kind of guild you’re running. Raid guilds, for instance, may have “Class Leaders” in addition to “General Responsibility” officers. Social guilds might give officers specific duties, like website maintenance or recruitment.

Here are some additional thoughts on officers from Fancypants:

There a few general ways to divide officer responsibility that I could think of:
  • Class Leader: Each class has a specialty officer that is in charge of members of their class (promotions, questions, recruiting).
  • Departmental: Each officer has a different department (Guild activities, recruiting, quartermaster, webmaster, Raid management, advancment).
  • Committee: No one has a permanent duty. Assignments are given as they come up (who wants to be in charge of the next raid, activity or project)
I'm sure that some guilds have various hybrids of the three. Two examples:
- Have a Class officer Rank and then a General officer rank underneath it. You could divide the departmental responsibilities between the general officers
- Use the Departmental type organization for a few responsibilities, but divide the rest in the committee type organization.

Almost unanimously Guild Leaders said that letting members know how officers are selected is useful for preventing any concerns about favoritism or arbitrariness on the part of the GL. If you state clear policies for officer promotion, you encourage your members with that desire to contribute more and perhaps take on greater responsibilities within the guild. It’s tough to manage even the smallest guild alone, and creating a system that recognizes the talent within your guild will make your job much easier.

For a very in-depth look at the issue of Officers, see Aerte's Officers: A Guide.

An additional note on Class Leaders: these ranks can really shine in actual raids. Class Leaders often function as circus ringleaders - ensuring their assigned class knows the strategy, watching and correcting performance, and filtering suggestions up to the Raid Leader as needed. They can be invaluable for preventing Raid Leader overload.

What about in-between ranks?Edit

Some guilds like to have a punishment/probation rank where certain member privileges are revoked as a warning to guildies who act up. For example, some GLs have a "mute" rank where people who abuse the guild chat are placed until they either /gquit or learn the error of their ways. Some like to have an Alt rank to distinguish all the Mains from their little siblings. Some like to have "honorary" ranks like Veteran where outstanding contributions are recognized.

An important in-between rank to consider is a Raider rank. This is most useful for Casual Raid guilds, where you're trying to balance two sometimes contradictory goals - end game progression and individual prerogative. The most important problem to solve in that type of guild is how to keep the guildies who want to progress from clashing with players who don't want the responsibilities of raiding.

A Raider rank helps differentiate the different goals and guild expectations of the players, allowing Raiders to get the first crack at clearing new content and still leaving room for more casual members of the guild to fill in when and where they like.

There are two main problems that this rank solves, at two different points in the lifecycle of a guild. Casual guilds just beginning their endgame progression often have trouble filling their raid slots. 15 people may be ready for a (20-man) Zul-Gurub run, but the remaining 6 guild members all feel like leveling their alts that night. A Raider rank allows you to create a class where that's not an acceptable choice - Raiders raid, or lose their "first chance" spot.

Hardcore guilds, needless to say, can just require that members raid on raid nights. Period.

Casual guilds who are further along in their endgame can find themselves with more people who want to raid than available raid slots. Instead of making signups a first-come first-served process - which can discourage the people who've dedicated a lot of raiding time to getting the guild where it is - a Raider rank can make sure your committed players are rewarded for their effort in a systematic and transparent way.

Here are some thoughts from Wytch (Skywall) on the Raider rank, quoted from another thread:

Make a raiding rank - it really does help when it comes time for invites and it helps sort the really casual folks out from those that would like to progress. Be specific about what is expected of the rank. We are a casual guild and we call this rank "Incarnate" - this is the core raid group. We have 8 - 10 of each class in this rank and for the first 15 mins of invites they get slots - after that we open it up to our members, which represent the newest folks in our guild and those hoping to be part of the core raid group.

Can I see some examples of systems that have worked?Edit

Oh, so glad you asked! The original version of this guide, posted in the Guild Relations forums, has many, many examples of guild ranks from various guild leaders.

Finally, once you've decided on how to structure your guild, you might need Icon's A Guide to Recruitment for New Guilds

Good Luck!

Additional Contributions Edit

10/25/07: Tipor from <Heavens Damned> posted this comment on Raiding Rank structure:

I was once in this boat as well. It's one of the reasons I left my previous server. I used to raid for a guild that was on the border between casual and serious. I found, over time, that my temperament doesn't allow for raiding on any continuous level. But the guild that I was in, kind of made me feel like I wasn't contributing if I didn't raid, or constantly asked why I stopped raiding, etc.

I think that's one of the strongest arguments for differentiating between casual and raiding members. Letting those expectations spill across the lines can lead to unhappiness for both groups.

06/24/08: I was catching up on my blog reading, and saw that Coriel had some interesting thoughts on Guild Ranks over at Blessing of Kings.

And here's an excerpt, with my recommendation to click through and read the whole thing:

So what other ways of labeling characters might there be? One example I found on Elitist Jerks (sadly, I don't remember the guild that did this) was a guild which had the "Tank", "Healer", and "DPS" ranks. Now this is very useful way of categorizing members for a raiding guild. It allows the leadership to quickly see at a glance exactly how much of each category they have online. This is especially useful with hybrids, as you could have 3 paladins online, and each in a different category.
This setup was pretty interesting before 2.3, but with the introduction of Guild Banks, it becomes downright amazing. Permissions in the Guild Bank are tied to rank, and having different ranks for each role has a lot of benefits. For example, you could dedicate a Bank Tab for each Rank. Healers would have their own Bank Tab, dedicated to healing materials. (I foresee a lot of mana potions being stored.) Tanks would have their own tab, etc. You could even split up DPS into "Melee DPS" and "Ranged DPS" and give each of those groups their own tab.

Contributors Edit

This guide has existed in thread form twice: once back in the 2006 era forums, and once again in the 2007+ forums. Before that, it was a discussion topic intended to draw out information about various guilds and their ranking systems. Because of this, it would be difficult to list the multitude of people who have contributed to the guide in one form or another. I will attempt to write out everyone whose responses or input made it into the text directly, and hope that those of you who were so helpful in providing thoughts and feedback will forgive me for my faulty memory. :)

  • Written by Anaea of My Other Mount is Tauren - Aerie Peak Server
  • Contributing authors:
    • Coriel -Skywall
    • Tipor -Unknown
    • Gertrudis -Feathermoon
    • Fancypants -Unknown
    • Wytch -Skywall

Original Post: Guild Relations Forum