How's the guild finder working out for you?

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a while. I was quite excited about the introduction of the guild finder in 4.1. Of course it was never going to replace the full application process for a raiding guild, but at least people would be able to see that we were out there, right in the game, without us having to do any special advertising!

Right after the introduction of the thing, we actually managed to find a discipline priest who was kind enough to sign up for our guild website and ended up joining us as a somewhat infrequent but loyal raider. Then there were two or three people who applied to be social members and were invited straight away; they usually chatted for a few days and then left again or simply never logged in again.

Since then however, ninety percent of the applications we've received either contain no text at all or something like "i need a gild". I reject them with no comment, but it gets tedious. The other ten percent actually do write a line or two but then never seem to log in again either, as you can tell from the guy who applies at level 15 and says something like: "I'm a really fast leveller and will be able to join you guys at the cap in no time!" Twenty days later he's still 15 and inactive. It kind of makes you wonder just how serious the churn in this game is, or whether there are really that many people who keep rolling up new characters just to abandon them again after 5-10 levels.

I originally volunteered to take care of in-game applications, but I've been finding the task increasingly depressing. I've written so many in-game letters to people, telling them that they are welcome to join us and to just whisper any guildie next time they're online... and yet the recipients are never heard from again. It wouldn't be so bad if we still got some serious applicants every now and then, but I just haven't seen any in months. It feels as if all the energy that I'm putting into these attempts at being welcoming and friendly is being poured down a bottomless hole; it shouldn't be surprising that this gets draining after a while.

I don't know if that's just my guild, my server or what. Still, I can't shake the feeling that the guild finder is at the end of the day too much like a dungeon finder for guilds. Press button to queue apply, later press "accept" to join the group. No talking required. I would imagine that if you're running the kind of guild which only exists for the perks and to collect some money from Cash Flow, this could work very well. However, the "classic" guild is a purely social construct with no inherent gameplay elements, and you can't be social by just pressing a button and not interacting with people.

I could see it working much better if guilds could set up some simple filtering mechanisms for applicants, such as a mandatory "why do you want to join us" field to keep out the pure button pushers. On the other hand the tools for prospective applicants could use improving too - I can't imagine any half-serious raider (or PvPer... or roleplayer... or anyone who genuinely cares about what kind of guild he's going to join) trying to apply purely via the guild finder right now, where they'd struggle to find out anything about any guild beyond the little paragraph that the guild master can fill with information.


  1. I'm not really convinced a guild "finder" was a good tool to even work on. Especially since what they ended up creating was a relatively useless tool. This wasn't worth the time they put into it.

    There's a game out there which has done this pretty well, called EVE.


    Old hat, I know. But Blizzard loves their own Koolaid. It's like they don't watch what anyone else is doing with these ideas, they just lock themselves in a room and watch themselves. It's what happens when your game is over-successful.

    The game had taken on a vastly different direction by the time they decided to think about guilds. The time for guild finders and guild leveling was long, long ago, no later than 2.0. Ideally, though, these would have been features that went hand in hand with things like unique Auction Houses. This makes for some interesting "what if" scenarios the more I think about it ...

  2. "there are really that many people who keep rolling up new characters just to abandon them again after 5-10 levels."

    I find this to be the case most of the time.

    I spent some time trying to use the guild finder during my last month in WoW in order to find a guild. The guilds who put in their description that they only accepted apps through a website were the most likely for me to look at. I think it works fantastic as an ad to direct people towards a site, but as a guild app tool it is awful. Plus the filters are terrible, and you never have any idea of the actual activity of a guild you are looking at.

    The picture isn't prettier on the other side, is what I'm saying.

  3. Yeah the filters are terrible.
    I tried using it to find a guild on the PTR and I had to page through pages and pages of guilds to try to find some that matched my (minimal) criteria.
    I wanted guilds that had more than 30 people, and a description that seemed appropriate to what I was looking for.
    A lot of guilds were either very small, had no description, or had a description opposite of what I wanted to do.

    In live realms, I've found the same as you about the tool being very hard to use for inviting people to guilds.
    My guild is pretty casual and if someone wants to join we want to invite them. However, we can't even do that because they don't log on again and they MUST BE ONLINE to receive the invite.
    If blizzard allowed us to invite offline characters and maybe send an ingame message to them the next time they log on ON ANY CHARACTER that would help.

    Another option would be for them to FIX the broken idea of "Real ID." My real life friends don't play wow. I don't want to know my wow friends in real life necessarily. I do want to be able to add friendly wow characters to my cross-realm friends list. I do want to be able to invite people to the guild even if they aren't on the toon that requested the invite.

    I posted on the Blizzard forums a while back trying to communicate this kind of sentiment to Blizzard.

  4. er... here's CLICKABLE link to that post I made to the Blizzard forums: guild finder suggestion: delayed invite

  5. Isn't there much to be said for the value of barrier to entry? Too much accessibility resulting in a decline of interest? "Easy come,...."

    Achieving a gold nugget of a recruit is just like sifting through pounds of dirt. Unless the vested interest occurs on the parts of both the individual (seeking: group) and group (seeking: individual) can anything else really be expected?

    While some marriages might "stick", far more will lose faith in a system that does not provide retention, from both parties. While there can be much said for improving the feature (filters that you describe), will anything ever replace active, headhunting recruiters combing the population? Would adding/tweaking the feature somehow achieve that which it set out to?

  6. I think the issue with this is simply that it's too available - too effortless to make guild applications this way.

    I wrote a post several months ago on why I think written forum applications are so important; they are the best filtering mechanism you can get, it doesn't even matter so much how long they are. you don't want people to apply to your guild who haven't even taken the time to write a short resumée, think about why they want to join and what they expect from you. that's the minimum anyone should have to do who asks to join a dedicated (raid)guild.
    the finder tool circumvents this - press a button or two, there you go. it's too easy, too non-commital and anonymous. and we all know how people behave when they feel anonymous.

  7. The raiding guilds with require a complex application ritual are, in my opinion, hurting the game.

    Writing a good guild application takes hours and that's an amount of time many people aren't willing to spend on an out-of-game activity. Most raider don't even care to watch the youtube link for the next boss which was provided in the raid forum (which they never read anyway).

    Sure, if you're going for world first such a procedure might be justified but most guilds require more "paperwork" then what would be acceptable for their level of progression. And then they often complain that they can't find new raiders. :)

    WoW in its current state doesn't really fit with the idea of long approval procedures to join a raid.

    Ant that why I think that the LfG is not for guilds which require such a procedure. And Blizzard can't care less to supply you with the tools to "annoy" their customer with more paperwork.


    I didn't want to sound negative with this reply. I just think that the majority of paying customers don't like extensive application procedures and that's probably why Blizzard tries to make it easier for them to join a guild, they are not trying to help you.

  8. My guild used this feature too to find some new players but our experience was mostly the same as yours:
    1. Players who apply and are never online to accept the invite
    2. Players who didn't really think it through join the guild and leave a few days later to go back to their original guild
    3. Players join even after careful explanation about what to expect in the guild, tell you it's all fine for them and leave because the guild didn't meet their expectations

  9. @Kring
    well, you are probably right. and that is exactly the type of player I would NEVER want in my guild and would show to the door right away. also one big reason why I have left WoW and its continuously deteriorating crowd of lol-kids. Blizzard is obviously trying to help them.

    no offense to you, of course. but if somebody seriously thinks he can join a decent, dedicated guild with officers pulling the bandwagon for free, and then shows this sort of 'consumer behaviour' where he cannot even spend 30mins on an application - screw him. it's people like this who hurt the game, not raidguilds who put time and love into creating solid communities and epic guild moments for everybody.

  10. @Ahtchu: I honestly don't know whether the guild finder would actually become considerably more useful with some tweaks. I was just trying to be optimistic instead of simply discarding the whole idea as too flawed. :P

    @Kring: I'm actually not a fan of overly long applications either, but if neither side provides any kind of information about themselves (as they currently often do), the chances of finding a good match are very slim. I don't see how that helps people who want to find a guild quickly either - right now they blindly apply to ours for example and then their application sits in a queue until someone can be bothered to sift through all the uninteresting apps and reject them. Waste of time for both parties! If, upon applying, they were faced with a message that they had to fill out an application and knew right away that that's not something they want to do, wouldn't that save them time too?

  11. I recently changed server and guild. First, I looked in the LFG. I dismissed all the 'we are friendly and fun, we will raid as soon as we have enuf peeps' guilds, as well as all those with 10 members.
    When I saw a guild that sounded interesting, I looked them up in the armory, and checked out their achievements. It's amazing how many guilds with hundreds of members have done very little as a guild; those guilds I also rejected.

    Once I found guilds with a decent amount of members and achievements, I looked up their websites. Finally, I applied to a guild that required me to fill in an application form.
    I was accepted as a triallist, and s few weeks later I was accepted into the guild.

    If people can't even be bothered to fill out an application form, then how much commitment are they going to bother making to the guild?

  12. I think it was Tobold that recently made a very wise post about how MMO guilds started out as a venue to play with your RL or in-game friends. Over time, MMO guilds have deteriorated so that they are a venue to play with people that share roughly the same goals and times available, even if you don't like them all that much. And as cynical as that sounds, that's a best case outcome. If I see a healer recruit that can raid our 3 nights a week, has the right gear, and has roughly the same aspirations we do, that's a pretty good result! As long as they aren't awfully unpleasant, it's good with me.

    I'd be perfectly tolerant of a new raider with good gear, 100% attendance, the right mindset, followed tacs, but didn't really speak on vent or guild chat. And isn't that a terrible, damning indictment? I sure as hell wouldn't be RL friends with someone who wouldn't ever speak to me or drop me a letter. I'd be horrified to have a colleague at work like that, never mind interact with someone who didn't even want to speak to me in my social life!

    I find it rather depressing that MMOs have conditioned us (taking "us" as the more involved MMO players that read websites etc etc) to have reached the stage where a "good" outcome is a non-friend that isn't actively ruining our day and rough shares the same timetable, and a "bad but perhaps necessary evil" outcome is maintaining the dreadful Guild finder and the total dross it spits out at us. I think Guild Finder is just another example (albeit a very good one, with the outcome thoughtfully described by Shintar) of the dehumanising nature of MMOs. Same with MP FPS also, that's pretty gosh darned dehumanising as well.

    I have terrifically enjoyed WoW and the Guild I am in. No way I will play another MMO. To have experienced one (and found a decent Guild) is a fun thing to have happened in my life. Once. Guild finder, LFG, soon LFR and all the bad PUGs it entails, official forums, unofficial forums... I don't need any more dehumanising!

    PS Yes I did have a bad Zulroic experience earlier but that just made my rant a little more cogent and forceful. I think I will stand by the sentiments even when I calm down.

  13. Syl, I agree. LfG is not going to be useful if you try to build a dedicated raid. And yes, for a dedicated raid it makes sense to screen new members and save everyones time. (A dedicated raid aims for server firsts, in my opinion.)

    My comment was that I think that's not the focus of the tool. Blizzard wants to make it easier for the big part of player who don't like to use a guild forum or spend an hour filling out a form.

    And my other comment was that I think that most guilds require way to extensive applications and some even harass applicants. They gain nothing from that but might lose potential useful recruits.

    > If people can't even be bothered to fill out an application
    > form, then how much commitment are they going to bother making
    > to the guild?

    This is where I don't agree. Commitment to out of game application writing does not correlate to the expected attendance or in-game performance. (Or does it? I don't have numbers but I would be surprised if it does correlate.) It probably does on both extremes but not for the biggest chunk of player.

    A good mage with a good attendance might have zero interest in using a guild forum. Nevertheless he might still become a core player of a raid that's able to clear the current non-heroic Tier plus some hard modes. Maybe he wouldn't be good enough for a server first aiming raid, but he would be a good player for most raids.

  14. LfG, from the recruiter part, just lacks a ton of options. When we opened our guild with the tool, most of the applicants were low levels that after some time disappeared. And the ones still logging in are very silent. Others just do BGs and don't seem to care when asking for people for a hc run.
    It would be nice that Blizz puts filters like which is the minimum level you want to invite, class (and even subclass), interest in hcs, bgs or raid, just social, etc
    And btw, I'm really tired of guilds that autoinvite you without asking or just sending an automated /w first.

  15. Listening to responses, I wonder if there would be a solution to the design. Playing your game, Shintar, and trying to find a silver lining...

    What if there was a back-end policy? You can easily join a guild via the feature, but you cannot leave it for an arbitrary period of, say, 2 weeks? And, during that time, you are being watched (obviously) by the guild. If you leave the guild within a month of joining, the guild leadership can rate you in different criteria: involvement, socialization, login frequency etc. You know, a performance evaluation.
    Based on the evaluation, you cannot use the feature again for a period of x weeks.

    Clearly, this would never be implemented. We all know the 'pat on the wrist' (not slap, pat) Blizz has with regards to warnings et al, but the goal clearly needs to be to give meaning to the guild and guild application concepts. Adding a feature is great, but only so far as the feature enhances something that has meaning.

  16. more and more 12 year olds and less and less adults combined with the developers attempt to keep everyone grouping even if it's with people they don't want too.

    the idea of a game that makes groups for you seemed cool, but the reality of being thrown into a random group is horrible. It's not that all players are bad it's that people with different expectations are forced to deal with each other even if they aren't compatible.

    As subs slowly drop it'll just get worse and worse.

  17. This is where I don't agree. Commitment to out of game application writing does not correlate to the expected attendance or in-game performance. (Or does it? I don't have numbers but I would be surprised if it does correlate.) It probably does on both extremes but not for the biggest chunk of player.

    Really does commitment to preparing a good resume correlate to better quality employees? Do people that take more time to prepare thier college applications tend to do better? Probably. people who prepare are more likely to have proper expectations and fit in. But 12 year olds are the new wow player and they aren't going to do that.

  18. I'm not sure if applying for a job can really be compared with applying for a raid slot in a computer game. I certainly spent more time applying for a new job then applying for a new raid.

    And then it's all a question of supply and demand. A company might get hundreds of people applying for an opening. They can and have to take the easy way out and discard everybody without a perfect application. It's unrealistic to take 100 people for a 1 month trial in a company. :)

    It's not the same in todays WoW, raids have problem to fill their roster. If you only have one candidate for one opening you must invest a little bit more time in finding out if he isn't good enough and you can't afford to drop him just because you don't like his handwriting.

  19. I admit I did activate the LFG when we started recruiting but we only seemed to get a couple of names that way. I still push for the web application though. It was even part of the Guild spiel in the LFG feature. If they say no or just want an instant invite, then it's not likely to go any further.

    We also used the forums and advertised in trade every now and then which had the most success for us.