The New Guild Application

October 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Posted in mmorpg | 38 Comments
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It struck me the other day that guild applications are a nuisance at best. They’ve always been a hassle with little benefit. I don’t understand why so many guilds think they’re important on any level.

This comes up because I went to go find a guild for a game I’m playing and they had an application. That’s fine and everything, and their application is probably better than a few I’ve seen but it still irked me.

My real full name is mandatory? Really? Along with my age and time zone. Which for me sort of gives away the game, I don’t live in a well populated time zone.

Maybe I should just skip the application and send my details straight to the identity thieves. My personal information is already far too spread out on the internet and I think guild leaders should be more conscientious of just what they’re asking for.

My real name is a certain level of trust you should earn, not require.

My class should be irrelevant. With some caveats.

My personal interests and hobbies should be something that come up in conversation naturally, not in some impersonal bureaucratic form.

My sex is frankly, a sexist question to be asking.

Look, you’re not trying to be facebook. There are very few things that even the most strict guild structure should need to know about me. Some guilds might want to know my age because maturity does play a factor in who you want to spend time with. I can understand what time zone/times played you might want if you’re a hardcore raiding guild, but for anything less its completely unnecessary.

There is only one real question I would ask as guild leader. Will we get along? That should be it. It’s the only thing that should matter. And you can’t figure that out from a form.

I’m sure there is some guild leader out there with all kinds of defenses for their arbitrary application, but those arguments don’t work with me. Guilds are about people not insignificant details. Maybe they think a lot of minor problems can be solved by selecting or rejecting people based on their applications, but in my experience that has never been the case.

Hell, most guilds accept every application anyway. What is the point?

It’s a far more efficient and natural system to just be liberal with your invites and kicks. If someone wants in, you invite them. If they don’t work out, you kick them. Poor timezone, need space for new members? Kick them. Poor attitude, low maturity? Kick them.

You’ll meet far more people, have a far more active membership, far less bureaucracy, and at least one happier old grumpypants in me.

“Will we get along?” should be the new guild application.



  1. I agree and disagree. I have certain opinions about guild applications, since I’ve been on both sides of the process and there is definitely a positive difference when a guild has an app system in place.

    I feel certain questions like “what are your hobbies” or “what are your interests” aren’t required, but can indeed be helpful. The great thing about being part of the gamer culture is that there’s a good chance many others in the guild will share some of the same interests and hobbies, and it’s a great jumping off point for friendships once you are in the guild.

    Also, you would be surprised actually how much CAN indeed come out in a form, not just its content but how questions are answered. A good guild leader will want to create a good community, and if you will fit in with the guild culture they are trying to foster. A GM wants to know if you’ll get along? A form is a good indicator. I’m personally turned off by things like one word answers, but that’s just me. If people don’t give a shit even during the application process, it’s not a stretch to say they won’t give a shit once they’re in guild. And back when I was recruiting for my WoW guild, this was usually the case.

    Myself, I don’t like the invite anyone and kick them if it doesn’t work out. I’ve been there, done that, and it doesn’t feel good. You can run a guild that way if you choose, but I find it also breeds a lot of negativity and bad blood between your members, and if we have had an app process it would have helped us avoid a lot of unnecessary drama.

    However, I do agree there is no reason why an app should ask for your real name. Age, I can understand if there are rules about being an 18+ guild. Time zone, even, as most guilds I know that ask that are concerned whether or not you will feel lonely if most of the players are of a different time zone than you, not out of any actual curiosity where you live. Class, I agree, irrelevant.

    But you know, you can give a fake name right? Not like anyone would ever know.

    • I really haven’t found that application info has led to a decent conversation, ever, but perhaps you have.

      Since i hate apps, one word answers are the norm. That doesn’t say anything about how i feel about a guild, however…

      I’ve been in enough guilds to note that on some level, you’re right, you can tell if someone might be a bad addition to the guild from an app. I also know that sometimes the apps are dead wrong. The only real way to figure it out is to spend time with people.

      As for the fake name, it may be what I end up doing, but, my first instinct was to be honest, which meant either giving my name or not signing up at all.

      • I personally would have given an alias too, if it were me. I am quite squeamish with having my real name out there too, which was why Google+ suspending my MMOGC account because they didn’t take website accounts or pseudonyms was such a drawback.

        Anyway, in general I like guild applications, if the questions run along casual lines like what are your interests and hobbies, what other MMOs have you played, etc. I mean, I certainly would prefer those over the ones that ask for in my opinion much dumber things like your gearscore or which bosses you’ve downed or raids you’ve cleared before, etc. or those that put you through an insulting “probationary period”.

        My personal favorite way of recruiting is playing the game and grouping. If I meet nice players and they’re unguilded, I ask if they’re interested in joining us, and if they are, I direct them to the website.

        • The last time I filled out an application for a guild that specified full name, I simply left the last name out rather than lie. I was prepared to tell them how particularly uncommon my last name is (as far as google can tell me, the combination of my first name with my last name is unique to me in the world) and tell the officers my name in vent, if it really mattered. But they never asked or commented on the absence of it.

          • Perhaps I’m making too big a deal out of it, but it was something that irked me so I posted about it. Should probably just lie.

        • We can definitely agree that meeting people through grouping and talking to them is a much better way to recruit people. I recruit people this way, guilded or not, and personally never send them to a website, so again we differ there.

  2. Play with me, get to know me, invite me. Don’t make me fill out a form and make me answer you stuff like birthday, siblings, phone number, email, etc.

    There are some more organized gaming clans that require this and while it might make some sense it should be optional.

    Funnily it is the paranoid EVE players who never (or rarely) ask for real names etc. but try to figure out if you are a spy etc. by talking to you. 🙂

    • This is exactly correct. I’ve never invited someone to a guild I was an officer or leader of unless I had already grouped with them and played at least a couple of times with them… And I’ve never accepted an invite to a guild if I had not already had a chance to play with some of it’s members and enjoyed that experience.
      Accepting members because they filled out a form is the next best thing to a “blind invite” which is to say, no good at all.
      I realize the highly instanced form of play in the original GW would have made this difficult if not down right impossible, but in the persistent world of GW2 it would be very reasonable to actually get to know someone as a player and teammate before deciding to join a guild with them.

      • Even guild wars had a huge pug community at one point so playing with people once or twice progressing at the same rate would be possible. I agree about the blind invite.

    • That is a really interesting note about Eve, doing the right thing or all the wrong reasons.

  3. The type of guild you want to join should determine how much, if any, of an app is asked for. If it’s a casual guild, if they require one it should be like first name and your hobbies, or some random questions to get a feel for personality.

    If this is a serious guild geared to progression, then those questions above in addition to your experience, class you play, and why you want to join their guild are certainly musts, in my opinion.

    • I don’t know if I’d say they’re musts. I played a pretty hardcore endgame raiding guild in RoM and essentially we just sought out the classes and experienced players we knew. I mean when you’re playing on a single server at that level you tend to know exactly who you need. However, a guild app in those situations where you don’t know the person could be helpful.

  4. Our guild app does two things, makes sure you are appropriate (age), and ensure you know the rules, laws and requirements of you and the guild (or at least it use to, haven’t seen it for a while). Anything else is rather pointless.
    Once you’re in, people after a while usually post up a bit about themselves. We usualy have a “Person Week (or couple week if they are married)” where we get to ask questions to a particular person and they respond (if they want to). Most people are kind enough to reply. It helps that the guild has get togethers so you can meet people and it’s been around for a long time. I’ve met and stayed with people in Queensland, Sydney and down the road that I’ve played GW with (I’ve met people from the USA and NZ). I’ve loved it, and it adds to my gaming knowing the people behind the characters. Yes, there are times when you have to fight for it, but once you get behind your guild and put the effort in; its rewards are a great big world full of friends who enjoy the same stuff you do. Some are people I would not normally be friends with, but I think it’s made me a better person to have come to accept these people in my game and my little world. None of that would have happend if I wasn’t open enough to talk and be kind to everyone. I would note however that my real name is still not wide knowledge in the guild, I am Melski but Melski is me. Though I do tend to enjoy the small differences there are between Melski and the real me (like Melski gets to play all the games, the real me just works and shit)… Oops, getting off track.
    Being a guild admin or forum manager is very demanding, both in terms of your personal time and your knowledge of handling matters that (in general terms) suck the life out of you. I have to utmost respect for these people and I understand that they get a bit carried away sometimes with their forms hoping to make sure everyones having a great time. They can do what they want, but the best ones make life fun for all, and forms aren’t that fun.

    • I can understand people wanting to make the guild experience best for all, and using an application to achieve that, and if it works for your guild the more power to you, but I just think its extra work with no real payoff.

  5. The application I made for my old WoW guild (which is still recruiting quite successfully, even with the decline)…

    Screenname, class, level (basic info)

    How long have you played? (just to get a feel for their experience level, we don’t discriminate based on this question)

    What aspects of the game are you interested in? (because we want to make sure their interests line up with our playstyle)

    What are you looking for in a guild? (see above)

    Tell us a bit about yourself outside the game. (only whatever they’re comfortable sharing)

    Where did you hear about us?

    None of this is super personal info (real name? age? phone number? that’s insane!) and mostly it’s just to get a feel for that player and make sure that it’ll be a good fit as far as personalities and playstyle go. Basically it’s “will we get along?” in a format that helps us keep track of folks (because most of us are old and our memories are not what they used to be) and to make sure that they get promoted in a timely fashion.

    I’m pretty sure we agree, just in a slightly different manner. 🙂

    • I appreciate that your questions aren’t used to discriminate much, but part of my argument is that applications are superfluous in nature. So while I agree your app isn’t crazy, I’m still sticking to my guns. I don’t like applications.

  6. I HATE guild applications. And I say this from a Guild Leader point of view. I had over 200 members in my guilds and I never told anyone to fill in an application. And trust me, it wasn’t quantity over quality. I also got to know most of them by their name while in game, because as you said above, you earn it.

    Guilds that use guild applications are 1. Lazy, because they would just refer you to the guild app page and won’t talk to you 2. They don’t care that much about you. They won’t study the application, they won’t know who you are at all. It’s just there to make their lives easier and to “avoid drama”. True, to some extent that helps, but trust me, this is just the lazy way. 3. You will always, always, recruit assholes through guild apps just like any other way of recruiting.

    To all Guild Leaders or future guild leaders, if you want to be a leader, talk with your members from day one. That’s much better than any filtering technique.

    • Ah ha, at least one person that seems even more zealous about applications than me. I agree with many of your arguments, but playing devil’s advocate, it does depend on just who is overseeing the apps, some people aren’t lazy and do study those applications. But yes, I agree.

  7. I generally spend more time playing with friends I’ve made in-game that aren’t in my guild or that I meet by random chance that happen to be questing in the same area. In RoM it was often gathering from nodes; I’d run into someone gathering in the same area and we’d decide to share nodes, then ended up talking about crafting, then helping with quests, etc.
    In Aion it is very common for me to either group up with others hanging around an area too tough to solo, then staying grouped for several more quests afterwards, because chances are we’re all doing roughly the same content at the same time and worked together well. Or I strike up a chat with others grinding/gathering in the same area, chat about the enemy assassin trying to sneak up on us then joining a group to chase him/her away. Or all of us getting steamrolled by a group 5 times larger. 🙂
    Guildies (Guildmates?), in my experience, are almost always doing something different from each other or just logging on or off, too busy to help, being a pain and arguing over something trivial, etc. Granted, the few times I’ve been in a guild group and we actually did stuff together it was a fun time. But all too soon guilds seem to break up from some drama and everyone ends up with bad feelings. I’d just as soon skip that bit, which always seems to happen at some point.

    I will say it depends on the game. I’ve noticed players in LotRO, Aion and (recently) CoH, usually seem to be veteran MMO players (even in Aion right from the start), and are willing to actually try working together instead of just wanting ‘fast loots, go go go go’ types, or the even worse troll/jerks that are more common in a PUG in other games. RoM also had a pretty good core of players, although most of us were rather clueless about the game’s systems in beta and after release. I honestly never completely figured out the whole enhancement system, other than crafting runes and minor armor upgrading. And my RoM guild consisted mostly of similar warped humor types and everyone was just grinding mobs while making humorous comments about the people on region or world chat.
    One of the big attractions in GW2 for me is the way everyone in an area can work together without a negative impact on what each is doing, from combat to gathering. I think that will fit my play style exactly and, like GW1, I hope to make some long lasting friends based on doing stuff because we worked well together and got along first, not because we happened to join the same guild. Although I won’t rule out getting lucky and finding a good guild at some point, it just always seems to end up being a big let down when the guild breaks up or dies out as players switch to ‘the latest game’. 😦

    • One of my biggest peeves in mmos are players who say “gogogogo” after getting into your group.

      I had the whole RoM equipment thing figured out, but the problem is once you figured it out you also figured out how much it cost in real money.

  8. […] Hunter’s blog post about guild applications this weekend, I was inspired. It struck me that I have quite a few thoughts on the subject too, and […]

  9. I made a post of my own on the subject.

    • I read it and commented. Thanks rowan.

  10. “Guilds are about people not insignificant details.”

    Well yeah. That’s why we have an application. My guild at its peak was a family. Why would I invite random people to my online family without any idea of who they are and what they’d do?

    A good guild application makes sure that the applicant fits the guild’s needs (class, spec, raid times, etc.). It gets a sense of their personality and whether they’ll fit with the guild culture. Ideally it goes the other way too, letting the applicant know what to expect from the guild. In WoW people pay $25 of their own money to move servers and join a new guild. Why would you do that without a sense of who you’re joining? Why would I let someone pay that without knowing if it would be worth it for them?

    Just randomly inviting and kicking people sounds like an extremely unpleasant guild environment. I would never, ever join a guild that just invited anyone. We call that “trade chat”.

    • my whole argument is that guild applications rarely fulfill anything the people who make up the applications actually want out of them, all while alienating the people forced to fill them out. Personal interaction trumps a form.

    • I would be interested to to know what percentage of players have “taken advantage” of that paid server transfer in WoW. And how many of those that have, did so simply to join a guild they didn’t have RL or online friends in already.

      I never have, though I’ve considered it. But my reasons always involved RL friends on another server. I would never pay to switch servers solely to join a guild of strangers that I have to apply to.

      • That’s actually a really good point. I don’t see anyone paying for a transfer without knowing exactly what kind of guild they’re getting into, and some random application probably isn’t going to do that.

        • During the last 2 months, we had 5 applicants that were all cross realm and transfered/faction changed just to give the guild a try. Three of the are still around, the other two left for their own reasons, although we were willing to bring them in full-time.

          The guild application process was essential to their decision, because after an extended conversation in the forums (which always starts with the app), they decided they wanted to give this a shot.

          I’m thinking that the reason you think that guild applications are worthless, is mainly due to lack of follow-up from the guild leadership.

          • We all have our own anecdotal experience of course, and each guild is different. However, even in your own best case scenario you’ve got a 40% failure rate.
            How is that any different from randomly inviting people? Maybe it’s a bit better but it’s not far off.
            You also, as you say, have followup, which to me sounds like the guild leader is involved and talks to people. I think that is more of a factor in guild recruitment than anything else.

            • Of course there is a failure rate. Sometimes people will feel that they do not click with the rest of the group, or they will depart because they want to give their old guild a chance, or they quit the game altogether. Even then, for the past 2 years, almost everyone who leaves the guild does so because they leave the game altogether. We even have ex-members lurking in the forums, organizing guild meets in other games (Starcraft seems to be a favorite)

              How is that any different from randomly inviting people?

              Worlds apart. By going through all the necessary steps to assure that there is a personality match, both parties involved get a very good deal out of it. The result of our application process shows in the final product: people will stick around in the community even after they quit the game, or will try to find other ways to connect/play with their former guildmembers.

              And, despite what you think, the applications is the first impression that people will get to know you by. Your style of communication/writing and your personality will show through some of the questions some people deem un-necessary: hobbies, what you’re doing with your life, what goal you have set etc. People don’t want to stalk you IRL, they just want to see what pieces of your personality will leak through the Q&A format of an app.

              You also, as you say, have followup, which to me sounds like the guild leader is involved and talks to people

              Is there any other way? If the app is followed by silence and a simple “whisper in-game for inv”, then you might as well have answered a random guild invite.

              That’s why before applying to a guild I check the other applications to get an idea on what to expect.

            • You can’t gauge personality from an internet form or forum or comment. The rest of the internet knows this, respects this, understands this, but throw up an internet dating site or a guild application form and all logic goes out the window.

  11. My dislike of guild applications are why I only join guilds that are organized out of forums I’m already participating in, such as Penny Arcade guilds, or The Older Gamers. My husband also abhors questionnaires and shuns forums and it’s not because he’s illiterate or poor at communicating (he’s a Philosophy grad student); it’s just not something he’s into, but he’ll play nicely in a group nonetheless.

    I suppose guild applications are very self-selecting and thus effective; they get the subset of people who don’t mind filling them out and screen out anyone who hates them, rather than necessarily getting the whole set of type of people that would be fun to hang out with. Works for them, I guess!

    • People like you and me I think are discriminated against on the basis that we are annoyed by useless forms. How that makes us unappealing guild members, I don’t know.

      • It makes you unapplealing because originial train of thought is “is he can not be bothered to take five minutes to answer some questions, he is not really interested.”

        Answers themselves are not important (to some degree), what counts is whether you manage to be a bit funny or at least talkative.

        I see it as opportunity to let people make good first impression.

        Basically, if you ask, for example “What is your biggest accomplishment in game”, compare:

        “50/50, GWAMM, several stacks of ecto, moved on to owning some noobs in ha”


        “I killed pretty much everything everywhere and now zainshen bounties are issued to hunt me down in HA”.

        • If I’m asking to be in your guild, I’m interested. Filling out useless invasive forms shouldn’t be used against me. A form is a bad way to guage intent.

  12. […] with a bit of a rant on the subject, asking, really, just why do guilds need to know all the stuff they often fill their applications with –“Look, you’re not trying to be facebook. There are very few things that even the most strict […]

  13. […] Lots of talk about guild applications recently, a process of which I am all too familiar.  I’ve thought about writing about this a few times this past year, and have stopped every time because I know my situation is probably a lot different than most.  Because I love multiple MMOs and am willing to keep trying new ones, I’m almost always looking for guilds in one game or another. […]

  14. Hoomies.

    I don’t mind guild applications, but I HATE those that ask me for personal (not in-game!) information. 😉

    I don’t see why people think they have any freaking right to that – well, other than timezones.

    Basically I just handle it by putting a nonsense name (like Nugget XD) or simply saying I’m not comfortable.

    If it seems relevant, I will say I’ve raided before, and where. Will say what other games I’m currently playing, and also how much time I can commit (guesstimate).

    And if they want to buy, then great. If they don’t, there are other fish. -_-

    In Forsaken World, after L60, if you don’t have a guild with a base (which needs daily maintenance from its members), you’re basically crippled. So really, all I’m REALLY in a guild for, is the base. Funnily enough, I didn’t fill in an application form for the guild I’m in right now, and it’s going a LOT better than the previous one I was in, that trumpeted family, fun, help and other such stuff, but was incredibly dysfunctional. When you tend to HIDE the fact that you PUG, because you’ll get yelled at and guilted… and you’re only PUGging because your opinion of your guildies’ skill levels is that low… well… XD

    That being said – these days, I’m perfectly happy to be in a guild, and do everything via PUGs or on my own – and just have the guild as a glorified chat. That whole thing about ‘playing alone together’ if you will. TBH, with FW, if there were no guild base perks, I wouldn’t even join a guild. As it is, I pay my dues to the one I’m in. Actual in-game currency dues, not touchyfeely ones.

    And for running stuff that isn’t PUGgy? Isn’t that what a friendslist is for?

    …which brings me to another point. No one ever says on their guild applications that they would like to leech ceaselessly off people and whine constantly for people to run them through simple content, without ever doing anything in return. At least, I gather that no one ever says that. -_- Yet in a lot of guilds I’ve been in over the years, this is precisely what happens. People join guilds because they want other people to boost them, give them stuff, plevel them, basically… they want to leech, pure and simple.

    And what happens when you invite a whole bunch of these people who then do nothing but cry? Eh. The people who aren’t leeching leave.

    >.> I guess what I’m trying to say is that unless you’re recruiting for a raiding guild and trying to gauge the applicant’s skill level, prior to a dry-run with them in an instance to see how they form, guild application forms are utterly useless bits of nonsense. XD

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