I think that most of us, at some point or another in our WoW experience, have been in a guild. And if I had to guess, I’d say almost all of us have, at some point, been dissatisfied with our guild for one reason or another.

The reasons that this can happen are as varied as guilds themselves. Maybe your guild used to be exactly what you wanted, but membership & policy changes make it less fun than it used to be. Maybe your guild was never really what you were looking for, which happens when either leadership misrepresents the guild in attempts to recruit, or when you fail to research a guild before joining. Maybe you’re unhappy because you didn’t really know what you expected from a guild.

Guilds really come in four major varieties: raiding guilds, PvP guilds, RP guilds, and leveling guilds. Of course, a guild can also be a hybrid of any two or more of these.  Additionally, different guilds put different values on the harder-to-quantify “social” and “fun” modifiers.

It’s easy to tell if a guild has failed in it’s primary mission: for example, a raiding guild that doesn’t raid. Measuring the success or failure of a guild’s stated intent to be social and/or fun is far far more subjective.

As a guild member, if you’re not satisfied with your guild because it fails on one or more of it’s stated, quantifiable objectives, there aren’t a lot of options. Sure, you can try to push people back towards the objectives you’re interested in, but it’s likely that it will take more than just the efforts of one person in a non-leadership role to turn things around. More probable you will be faced with two options: find another guild more suited to your preferred style of play, or wait it out to see if things improve. Even having discussions with guild leadership is unlikely to have any real effect – the guild leader and officers know that their raiding guild is not raiding.  They may or may not be willing to discuss with you the whys and hows of it, and that may influence you to leave or to wait it out.  In cases like these, though, I feel that the onus is on the guild leadership and not the individual members to improve the experience of being in the guild.

However, when you feel that a guild is failing in its mission to be a fun place, often some of the responsibility for that lies on you.

Guilds are an ever-changing social construct. Every time a new member joins, or an older member leaves, the social balance is thrown off just a little. After a larger change in membership – such as a recruitment drive – it will be thrown off a lot. All the members – old and new – are going to feel this imbalance.  Depending on the primary focus of the guild, guild leadership may not always have the time or energy to play social director. In these situations, where a guild is successful in meeting it’s primary focus, that I believe the responsibility for each individual member’s happiness lies on that person.

Discounting cases of abusive behavior, and cases where a member or group of members behave in a way that goes directly against a guild’s stated code of conduct, it’s unfair to expect guild leadership to moderate personality differences. Each guild member needs to make the effort to pinpoint what is bothering him or her about the social environment of the guild, and then further decide if he or she can modify his or her own behavior to help solve the issue.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard or read about someone leaving a guild because “no one talks to me”.  While I’m sure it’s possible that in some of these cases the group really was just that anti-social, I think often people cannot see what might be offputting about their own behavior.

For example, I know that I am often terrible about responding to things in guild chat, and even sometimes to whispers – not because I don’t want to respond to them, or that I’m not interested in the person who is talking, but because I have a bad habit of sitting in Dalaran tabbed out, or wandering away from my computer and getting distracted by other things. Because I am aware that I do this, I make a concerted effort to scroll back through as much chat as I can (and I have a special tab which filters out trade & general for just this reason), and apologize to anyone who tried to speak with me directly while I was /afk.

The bottom line is this: If you find the social atmosphere in your guild to be not quite what you had hoped, it is up to you to try to remedy that. Start random (preferably non-controversial) conversations in /g. Turn on the option in your chat interface that shows you when guildies log on, and greet everyone by name. Frequent your guild’s website, and read and contribute to any “getting to know you” threads. Ask if anyone would like to join you before you queue for an instance. Offer help when you’re willing & able without expecting anything in return.  Make an effort to include the quiet people, in both your conversations and your activities.  Make an effort to be more friendly and sociable, and you’ll likely find that more people will behave in kind towards you.