Throughout my 4 and a half years of playing World of Warcraft I've been part of my fair share of guilds.
For those not familiar with MMO's, a guild is basically a large group of people where you can party chat via "guild chat" from anywhere in the game. Some guilds have a main purpose, such as Raiding or doing PVP content, other guilds are strict Role-playing ones, where you actually play out your character with other guildmates, and some guilds are just casual ones so you have someone to chat with while leveling, grinding, and questing. It is recommended that unless you're just joining a guild to get people in lowbie areas to quit "ninja-inviting" you to do some research on the guild you are joining. For example, some raiding guilds have strict weekly raid schedule that require you to attend a certain amount each week, others are more laidback - if you want to join a raiding guild it is best to find one that fits your schedule. With some RP-guilds, there are ones that are very strict about RP and you MUST be in character around guildies, with non-character speak/discussion being carried out in a separate chat channel; other RP guilds are more laidback and not as strict. Also, some guilds, you may find, may be very "adult" in their speak and not kid-friendly (people that swear a lot or talk about sexual acts frequently), whereas others may be family friendly during most of the day, but more laidback about language and talk late at night when kids should be in bed.
Anyone can make a guild too - it just requires a few "gold' (in game currency) and 10 names on the charter. And people sometimes get creative with the guild names too, for example, I have a Deathknight Gnome named Weeblez and I wanted her guild tag to say "wobbles but doesn't fall down" so I got 10 random people to sign my charter, telling them they can leave after it's created, and voila! I have my guild tag. (Due to character space though, her guild tag actually reads "WobblesButDontFallDown").
My first guild I joined was on my paladin and the guildleader was actually a sorta friend of mine, who knew my boyfriend at the time. This was one of those RP guilds though where most of guild chat was in-character, with out of character (OOC) chat first being in parentheses and eventually it had it's own separate channel. I was in this guild for about 2 months - there was some initial drama when I first joined, as several officers of the guild had just left and some transitions were being made. The guild leader and his lackey were also not around often, so my boyfriend, being the only officer really active, was somewhat in charge when they were not around and myself and a few others stepped up to help out, especially after another whole group left the guild. When the guild leader and his lackey did come back from time to time, they'd make changes and decisions that affected the rest of us without even consulting the one officer who was around and keeping things together for them (my boyfriend), so a bunch of us, fed up with it, decided that while we didn't want to sever our ties, both in game and in real life, we would create our own "sister" guild, that could assist this guild, but would also include all classes that the game offered and not just some (the original guild was a "holy Templar" guild and thus characters of the Rogue and Warlock classes were not allowed).
In this new guild, my boyfriend was the guildleader and was pretty much just the voice/head of the guild. Now-hubby did a lot of the technical behind the scenes stuff, such as keep track of loot and helping lead raids and learn more about the technical aspect of the game and keep us all updated. I was basically the "mother" of the guild, being the one that dealt with everyone's concerns and being the mediator when there were problems. I also worked with another officer to keep the website looking good and up to date. We also had another officer who was a stay at home dad and played mostly during the day and morning while the rest of us were more evening and night owl people - he pretty much made sure nothing went wrong during the hours the rest of us weren't on.
We got our first taste of raiding a few months later, as a real life friend of my boyfriends left our guild to join a raiding guild that had an alliance with another small raiding guild and was able to get us in on this 3-way alliance. This back in the Molten Core days. Eventually the 2 big guilds got big and were able to do their own raids with their own guilds so were put on backup. And then somehow our "sister" guild got in on it too. Realizing both our guilds had people that wanted to raid, we decided to put together "Templar" raids and do the 20-man content (which was ZG back then) and the 15-man content (remember when UBRS and LBRS were 15-manned?) together. It went well for awhile, until someone in the other guild started complaining, saying we were being "lootwhores" when the reality was, THEY were the ones getting the majority of the gear each week! Eventually drama occurred - there was an issue on one of the 40man raids with one of the bigger guilds from the previous alliance where my boyfriend got the T2 legs over his friend who was the main officer in the other guild - he didn't realize one of the other tanks still didn't have them otherwise he would have passed on the roll, as he was DPS, but too late, back then you couldn't trade an item to someone else in the raid and submitting a ticket back then regarding it barely had any effect (this also created a huge rift in their years of real life friendship - over a pair of pixels! - things were never the same between them). Also, it didn't help that one of the newer officers over in their guild started creating drama that wasn't even necessary. He'd say one thing to us, then another to the "big" guild and then we'd call him out on it and he'd start more drama... it was really annoying and we decided to just sever ties for awhile and let things cool.
We continued raiding with 2 smaller guilds and in our first night together as a 40man, we easily cleared 5 bosses, only having 2 wipes. It was pretty awesome!
At the time, myself, my boyfriend and my friend (now hubby) were also raiding Onyxia and a few of the harder raids that our guild alliance wasn't ready for yet on the side with a big raid guild on our server I came in contact with due to having grouped for non-raid content with them and the guild leader several times. It helped that I was female and the guild leader seemed to be more "friendly" towards the female players (which I definitely used in my favor). Wanting the 3 of us in his guild, but knowing we'd never just up and leave our guild that we built behind, he offered to merge our guild into his, soon after our 1 year anniversary. As much as we were in favor it though, we had to present the choice to the guild. Merging offered more raid opportunities though, as they had Molten Core and ZG on farm often filling spots with alts, which was the content we were currently working on, so our guys would have no problem getting to see all of that content, and it gave us better geared and more skilled players the opportunities to move up into the harder content. It would also mean more members overall, so it would making finding someone to group with for a 5man or a quest or PVP with a lot easier too. Plus they did do some RP events, which was great, our guild was a casual RP guild (RP lite, as we called it) We put it to a guild vote and it passed.
While 75% of the guild came with us, we promoted 1 that wanted to stay in charge of the few that didn't want to go. Most in our guild alliance understood why we did what we did - most of them saw the same opportunities for the guild that we did and couldn't blame us for doing it. Also, by this point, both of the other 2 guilds had gained more members that were coming to raids, so slotting an equal balance from all 3 guilds was getting harder, as all 3 had so many people that wanted to come, yet we only had 40 spots to fill. I knew they would be fine though, as they had the numbers to do it between the 2 of them (eventually merging the smaller of the 2 into the other) and by the time we quit playing a few months ago, they had become one of the top alliance guilds on our server for raiding and had held that spot for several years.
Also, with Burning Crusade (BC) brought the change in raiding, as there would be no more 40man content, replacing it with 25man content instead. This prompted the new guild leader to decide who would be on the 25 man raid roster and who wouldn't make the cut. I was excluded for the obvious reason that my schedule had become a bit problematic for raiding as I worked evenings and there was really only a need for 1 Ret pally (we had 2), which I understood. My ex made it, as he was one of the best DPS warriors we had and was also decent at off-tanking when needed. Hubby didn't make it because when it came to hunters, despite being in the top 3, they played favorites and took Capt. Autoshot just because of his seniority in the guild.
The guild offtank had left the guild with his fiance, creating a spin-off guild for raiding, as he wasn't really in favor of the new system. I was fine with sticking around, until I happened to come across a "private" forum for the group that made the raid roster and I didn't like the attitude that was being displayed - the opening post was by the guild leader and it basically said "welcome, you are the core of the guild, you are the elite, blah blah blah blah." What upset me was that there were plenty in the guild who, while they might not be the best players and didn't make the raid cut, they did their part in farming for materials that the raiders needed and offering morale and support, and here, this post is making it sound like they do nothing for the guild - without the mats these guys provided, the "core" wouldn't have their potions or self-made gear, or enchants or whatever. I didn't like it and I went to the guild leader, telling him I saw it and expressing my concern. He understand and tried to say he didn't mean it to come across how I thought it did. Whatever, I thought about it, spoke with a few others who had the same impression as me, and after running with this guild for over a year (actually being a member for about 6 months) I decided to follow hubby over into the off-tank's guild with a few others.
I really did enjoy this guild - the vibe was laidback, but fun. At the time, Karazhan was the big raid and we had our core that raided that, with a 2nd group the guild leader ran on his healer. The people were pretty nice too and we got along. Things were pretty smooth for about 7 or 8 months. Until some officer drama started up.
One of the female officers was getting a bit too graphic with a member who everyone knew was a teenager. Playfully flirting with someone in game is one thing, but carrying it into guildchat in a graphic way that they were was just downright inappropriate. I never saw it, but hubby's friend did a few times later at night and felt dirty, as she's like 30 and the kid was like 15 - hubby's friend felt like he could be in trouble for just having witnessed what was going on, and apparently a few others in the guild also witnessed the same thing and didn't feel it was appropriate either. She eventually got him in trouble, as they took it to the phone and his mom found out, canceling his subscription to the game! That began the downfall, as she didn't like how a majority felt what she did was inappropriate. Another issue that occurred and led to the downfall of the guild was when the guild leader and his fiance got married and went on their honeymoon... then some officer drama started. One of the officers who was not a fan of the hunter class (not really realizing what all they brought to a raid), made some comments about not wanting hunters as part of the raid and her dislike about them and stuff, forgetting that hubby (another guild officer) and his friend, who both played hunters, were in her raid on alts. Neither of them appreciated her remarks, as they were 2 of our regular raid hunters, and both left her raid to make a point. She got upset and out of emotions, left the guild, taking several close ingame friends with her who were core members of the guild. This led to the guild collapsing.
Hubby soon found another guild for us, which was led by a guy who he had leveled his shaman with one of the guys alts. Things seemed fine, I joined soon after hubby did and signed up for raids regularly, however I rarely got invited to them whereas even if hubby didn't sign up, he'd get an auto-invite. It kinda annoyed me, as I'd sign up and make plans to go to the raid and then not get invited, despite being one of the first to sign up. I spoke to an officer to find out what was going on and why I was never getting to raid and the response I got was that she and the other officers were under the impression that when I joined it was just to be in the same guild as hubby and that I wouldn't be actively raiding. Um, no? I app'd like everyone else, stating my raid experience and that I intended on raiding... since there seemed to be some confusion, I went to the guild leader to ask what was up. He told me he thought I needed more T4 gear, even though everything I was wearing was either T4 equivalent or better - Burning Crusade was a rough expansion for Ret Pallies, as we needed gear that had stats of strength, agility, crit, hit, intellect (for mana to dps), and a few others, hence my gear being made up of both plate and mail. I explained this to him and his response was just "oh" and him admitting he didn't know much about the class to begin with. I asked if him it was my performance and he said no, it was just they were having a rough time rotating out all the melee dps they had and still told me to sign up.
After 2 months, I got tired of signing up and never getting to go though so I left, joining that guild we had once allied with for raids back in original WoW (like I said, they were now one of the top alliance raid guilds1 on the server). I didn't play much though, as I was focusing on finishing school since it was my last semester and worked during the evenings.
This is when I switched over and started leveling up my horde toon, a blood elf hunter.
The first guild she was in was a casual guild who decided to go 70-only for raids, and after a month and a few levels later, I got removed for not being 70. I enjoyed RPing on my Belf though so I looked for a casual guild that did some roleplaying and found one that was allied with another guild for raid purposes so once I hit 70, I got to do some casual raiding on her, which was nice. I also decided to put my paladin in an ingame friend's casual guild, just because he was looking for more members and the guild name was awesome - Luftwaffles. They also had a casual raid alliance so I would sometimes join them on weekends.
Right before the Wrath of the Lich King expansion came out, hubby's friend came back to the game and approached us about starting our own 10 man guild, as this expansion was changing raiding again, giving all the raid content a 25man and 10man option for raiding. We went for it, but didn't have much luck gaining members as the server was too saturated with guilds just like ours. We did run into our friend, the offtank from our previous guild who made the spin-off guild. He was an officer in a new guild that was raiding 10 man content and offered to have hubby and I join them on their runs. After a few weeks, we eventually joined and did all the initial Wrath raid content with them. I also started leveling a druid, as in raids we kept getting so much leather caster gear and tokens for leather wearers but had no one that needed them. After 7 months, and right before I hit 80 on my druid though, that guild collapsed - the guild leader left to join a more progressed guild, as he was leaving the game at the end of the summer for real life reasons and wanted to see much of the new content as he could, and another officer who helped lead the raids had his work schedule pick up, so he wasn't around as often. The person left in charge didn't do a good job of holding things together, so people started leaving. Some formed their own guild, which I joined briefly on my druid, but instead of progressing from where we were in the current content, they had taken a few steps back.
I got tired of trying to find a raid guild on my alliance toons, so hubby joined our previous allied guild, I joined suit, joined them again, and pretty much parked my druid and paladin there, as they only focus on raiding 25man content and my laptop can't handle 25man content that well, due to the graphics.
I decided to go back to my horde character and level her to 80, but learned that my guild had become debunked as, not many logged in much anymore and they were no longer raiding with their sister guild. So I left to find a guild that I could raid with on her once I hit 80. I found one, but left after a month, as their guild chat had numerous gay and sexual jokes with language abound. Now I was warned beforehand that if I'm one to get offended easily, this wouldn't be the guild to join, however I don't get offended easily, I just got sick of hearing the same type of jokes over and over and over... it was like "seriously, guys, grow up a little bit - we're not in junior high."
During this time though, hubby finally leveled a horde character and found a guild that had what we were looking for, and oddly enough, the core members were all from my previous horde guild, so I felt right at home with them. We finished out most of Ulduar with them and ToC. Come Thanksgiving though, the patch with Icecrown Citadel came out and we weren't around much just cuz we had a lot in real life going on that month. We got behind and when I came back, they basically said my gear was too low for Icecrown and I needed more stuff from ToC to continue raiding. I got it, but at the same time, they weren't really running ToC regularly, as the focus was now on Icecrown, and I *hate* instance grinding for badges just to get gear - I have a shorter attention span than most (not a short attention span, just shorter than most) and I tend to get bored quicker than most unless I get really into something. So we both kind of just parked our characters here and decided to take a break from the game - we were both bored and there were a few other games hubby was interested in trying anyway.
I'd be willing to guess when Cataclysm comes out we'll be raiding alliance-side with whatever guild our off-tank friend is co-leading =)