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Guild Guide: When to use the more specialized features for guild sites

What specialized features do you need on your guild site - and do you do more harm than good by including ones you don't need?

The last column I did in Guild Guide talked about the stuff you need on your guild site. But there are a lot of features I didn't include in that particular rundown, several of which are in fact super useful. So why would you leave those out? Isn't more features necessarily better than fewer features?

No. It is not. And while I ran down the general stuff that pretty much every guild site will want in the last article, today I want to talk about specialized features that you're only going to want some of the time... and more importantly, why.

Think of guild sites like video games. Imagine if your favorite FPS included an elaborate dating minigame - would that make the game better? Or would it just mean that it had more stuff in it? I venture that it would be closer to the latter than the former, for much the same reason that you don't want a butcher knife attached to a fork attached to a chopstick. More features are worse than useless if they actively detract from the main point of a thing.

That's the case with several of these features. When used properly, they can be a major asset to your guild and provide you with useful tools to make management easier. When just thrown in without a care in the world... they're actively destructive to your long-term organizational health.

DKP tracking

In the interests of stating my bias up front, let me just say that I generally dislike DKP systems in general and find them to foster a certain degree of distrust and anti-communal behavior. A DKP system means that you're stating up front that you either cannot or do not trust your members to handle loot distribution like adults, and thus you need to layer another system on top of the game's existing systems so that everyone behaves maturely.

That doesn't mean you're wrong; I've seen plenty of places where not trusting your membership to be mature about loot was the entirely correct conclusion to draw. But it sends a certain message, and that message is that you're here just for loot and that's all you really want. Which is why you want to be careful about having it on your site, since it immediately sends the message that this group is:

  1. All about the loot
  2. Not even a little bit afraid of what it means to be all about the loot.

This is, however, very useful for organizations where it's accepted that the group is formed less for the purposes of working together as a team and more for the purposes of just getting something done. Some MMOs really reward that kind of play in short bursts, and there it can be super useful. You aren't trying to be friends, you're trying to all keep things fair. DKP is a clinical way of doing exactly that, and while it doesn't foster warm feelings it's not supposed to.

So, if you've got a group going that's all about pure efficiency and worrying about who gets what, by all means, make use of this. Otherwise, leave it to one side.

Guides and tips

Actually, this is a bit of a corner case - guides and tips are almost always useful. The trick is which sort of guides and tips.

For some types of group, this is vital. If the primary focus of your group is helping people learn the game, your focus is providing both static and dynamic resources. So if you've got a Heroes of the Storm team going with a site, one of your goals is to provide plenty of guides and walkthroughs for players to get a handle on the various available heroes. The whole group can benefit from that.

On the flip side, if your team is more focused on high-end competitive play, providing basic guides on how to play characters isn't useful. Providing detailed breakdowns of the best characters in each role and figuring out how to make the best use of map features is useful. It's the difference between teaching your fellow players how to play and making sure that you're all sharing refined strategies to improve your play.

The nature of your group also determines whether or not dedicated guides and tips are a useful investment or not. If you're going to make a big deal out of your guides, you need people who know the ins and outs of what's being described who can also spot-check whatever is put forth - you don't want someone posting a dungeon guide for World of Warcraft when the names of several classes wind up being inaccurate. If the focus of the group is on clearing content, high-level play, or teaching players, you probably should think of guides as a core part of your play experience. If your guild as a whole has other foci, guides might be nice, but they're not the biggest element to worry about.

Wiki features

If you're going for the whole knowledge base thing, wikis can be very useful. They can be really useful for roleplaying guilds in MMORPGs, too. But before you start one up, consider two questions - is this feature something that exists elsewhere, and is it actually going to be used?

The former is especially a concern when it comes to knowledge and the like. If there are already well-known community guides out there which have all of the information you're going to be referencing, starting a new wiki is probably redundant. A wiki needs to be curated, checked on, updated, and so forth; if those resources are already out there, then making your own half-a-wiki is a repost of existing information at best and a useless mishmash of unnecessary information and in-jokes at worst.

Actual use, on the flip side, is something that you need to determine on a case-by-case basis. For guilds that have a heavy focus on things like roleplaying, a wiki seems like a no-brainer... if you think the players in the group will actually make use of it. Done correctly, it can be a resource for players to learn more about other players and about characters. Done incorrectly - or not used - it winds up just being a graveyard of half-assembled facts and out-of-date anecdotes. Not useful.

Also, consider the amount of time that a wiki will take. Much like forums will need moderators, wikis need people maintaining and cleaning up. No, you don't have just one person writing the content, but sometimes that just means more work for whoever takes on the wiki cleanup project.

Character profiles

Lots of games have the tools necessary for pulling character data and embedding it right in your guild site. This can, in fact, be really useful... if it corresponds with something that your guild is actually trying to do.

If your group is involved with pushing progression endgame content, having character profiles is really good insofar as it allows you to see what gear people are wearing, for better or worse. It lets you check up on how people are playing the game and provide useful feedback regarding mistakes and sub-optimal choices. That's a good thing, that's the point of the group. In a similar vein, if you're a high-end competitive MOBA or FPS team, having stats and profiles for your players can help identify who's pulling their weight, who's doing well, and who needs improvement.

On the other hand, if your group is a casual group of players coordinating chiefly for social benefits, having character profiles is an easy way to generate arguments. Profiles are simultaneously an act of bragging and of examination - you're at once asking other people to see what your character/account has accomplished and giving others the tools to take those accomplishments apart. So don't put them forth unless you're creating an environment wherein a bit of examination and evaluation is expected.

These are the most common "optional" features, and of course, there are others. But you get the idea - in general, you want your site to feature the things which advance your guild's goals and interests. The parts that don't aren't just extraneous extras, but elements that can have negative impacts on what you really want to achieve.

You can use all of these features and many more at our sister site, Gamer Launch! All tools are tweakable and customizable to fit whatever your guilds' needs are.

Published Jan. 29th 2016

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