Today I was told that I would not be re-invited to my guild. I posted the email telling me this to the guild website, but it was deleted within thirty minutes.
I am reposting it here, on my personal site, because I want people to know what happened, how it happened. I wanted people to know that being forced out of the guild by bullying will result in a referendum on their membership, not the bully’s, in the guild. I’ve apparently already “crossed the Rubicon” here, so I wanted others to see the results, and judge for themselves. Now I want folks to know how ugly guild politics and censorship can get.
I’m sending this to let you know that you will not be re-invited into the guild as a result of the poll taken among the officers. This poll is anonymous and represents the opinion of the majority of the officers. Since I am one of the officers who made a case against your being re-invited, I want to explain to you why I did this. I can not state this is the basis for any other officer’s decision.
One of the primary reasons I agreed to become an officer was to play a role in selecting members of the guild. I consider this to be a very important part of the job, as it is the members who create the environment that is the guild. I care very deeply about maintaining the cordial, fun atmosphere that we have established here.
When considering an application, whether for the first time or a re-invite, the officers try to determine what is best for the guild. Drama is really what we are trying to avoid. It makes everything less fun and drives drama-averse people, who we really want to keep, to leave in search of greener (calmer) pastures.
Unfortunately, your manner of interacting with your guildmates has sparked unnecessary guild drama on more than a few occasions. Statements in your goodbye post, in your message to the officers connection with your reapplication, and even in your recent podcast, all lead me to expect that this is likely to continue if you return. I will describe some of what has led me to this conclusion:
First, as you have pointed out, some time ago our guild’s prohibition against profanity was being applied somewhat inconsistently. The problem I have is not with your actual dissent, but rather the unnecessarily dramatic way in which you communicated your concern prior to articulating the problem to Balton. As you know, it was quickly and permanently resolved once you did. You said it best in your 1/13/09 podcast, “can I say it more quietly than I have in the past and in more appropriate channels? Absolutely.” Amen.
If that had been the only incident I can state with confidence that I would have voted for your return, especially in light of the acknowledgment in your podcast that you might proceed differently in the future. It was not.
For example, on the eve of the most recent US Presidential Election you were enthusiastically celebrating the victory of your candidate in /guild chat. Your comments were considered by many in the channel at the time to be gloating.
A more reasonable person would have realized that not everyone in the guild adheres to the same political philosophy and would have instinctively understood that such comments were bound to cause drama and upset, that they would give offense. Politics is unrelated to WoW or the guild, and it is a “hot-button” issue for many people. That is why guild policy (and common sense) dictate that one should proceed with caution and, if asked to stop, take the discussion to a private channel without delay or complaint. This was not a case of you causing drama in the role of “Loyal Opposition,” seeking to right some guild wrong.
At first I chalked your comments up to exuberance, or mere thoughtlessness, so I asked you to please refrain. However, even after I and others asked you to stop discussing the matter you flatly refused. At the time you defended your statements by pointing out that it was a historical moment, then continued to discuss the election results in guild chat. Your actions on that occasion displayed a dismaying lack of respect for your guildmates.
Your departure was another unnecessarily dramatic event, capping a long series of public arguments in which you have sometimes played the role of antagonist. In the end, you gquit as an exclamation point in response to a comment no more harsh than that someone didn’t consider you their friend. While that comment is certainly not what we aspire to see in guild chat, it did not even nearly justify your reaction. Someone took a relatively mild shot, you overreacted, and that is how we arrived at the need to consider your reapplication.
For these and other reasons I believe that you have induced guild drama, and that in at at least some cases you did so knowingly. You confirmed my understanding in this regard when you described yourself as the “Loyal Opposition challenging the status quo for the good of the group” in your goodbye post. You confirmed this again in your podcast, when you made several statements such as “I always have the potential for rocking the boat, even if I don’t mean it.” I do not doubt that you were being truthful when you wrote and said those words about yourself.
But there’s a time and a place for everything, and this guild is not a social movement seeking to change the world, one where constant challenge from a “Loyal Opposition” is desirable to keep the movement dynamic and healthy. Rather, the guild is a group of friends who want nothing more than to coexist peacefully in an atmosphere of mutual respect and with a minimum of drama because that is more fun for all concerned. Even when you have had a legitimate grievance, your methods and responses have been unnecessarily dramatic.
None of the issues I have mentioned warranted removal from the guild (although I personally came close to removing you after you blithely continued to offend people last November after being asked to stop). This is because when someone in the guild acts poorly our preferred course of action is to try to help them to see where they have given offense so that they will not do so again. In part, we try to avoid gkicking people because it is highly dramatic when someone separates from the guild under such circumstances.
However, you crossed that Rubicon when you unilaterally caused the dramatic separation event yourself. By quitting, and you should understand this because you are a lawyer, you have “shifted the burden” from the removing officer or officers to justify why a gkick is necessary, despite the drama it inevitably causes, to yourself to show why your re-invitation would be best for the guild going forward.
I read what you sent for the officers to consider with an open mind, searching for something that would convince me that re-inviting you would be the correct course of action here. Instead, your comments firmed up my resolve:
You wrote to the officers “I’m not a drama person, and I don’t really want to bring drama into the Bits. I just want to play my gnome and be left alone by folks who might not be as fond of me as others.”
Ultimately, it was the disconnect between your description of yourself as “not a drama person” and your past conduct as a guildmember that convinced me to vote the way I did.
I accept that you may disagree with my interpretation of these and perhaps other events, but please understand that my opinion is honest, heartfelt, and I have acted and voted in what I believe to be in the best interest of the guild. I know that you will feel hurt by this decision and that realization brings me no joy, which is why I felt the need to explain my reasons to you.
To my guild friends, I am sorry that you are stuck in a place that so fears for its stability that it censors the words of its own officers for fear that others would see. To other MMORPG players, let this be a lesson on guildcraft.
Either way, the moosen is loosen.