Group Management Talk

8 December 2007

This was a meeting at Groups & Guilds day, describing methods for managing a large group within a Dream community.

Emerald Flame: Next we will talk a bit about some upcoming things and then I will open up for comments on managing your groups!
Emerald Flame: First, I wanted to note that the groups who have events going on this months got a bit of extra advertisement! Events are an excellent way to get new members, especially if you give out prizes!
Emerald Flame: I also wanted to mention that since we have so many wanting to participate in G&G Day we will have to start limiting a bit. One of the ways we will limit is that next time (January) will will be requiring participating groups to be loaded to the main map that fits what goes on in their dream!
Emerald Flame: This means that Feral/Ferian dreams must be loaded to The Wylde unless they are Adult, then they can be in Hawthorn or FurN depending on their theme.
Emerald Flame: Strict RP dreams must load to Imag unless, again, they are Adult, then they have Hawthorn for violent and RP themes and FurN for ones of a more sexy nature.
Emerald Flame: Persona Play Dreams should be loaded in AI, but could also be in Imag since they are casual RP.
Emerald Flame: Social and Help Groups have the choice of AI or Acrop!
Emerald Flame: And of course, you are also welcome to load inside other other player dreams and nexuses!
Emerald Flame: I have some news about Group Packages too! This is one of my favorite subject!
Emerald Flame: I cannot tell you a whole lot yet about these plans, but we are looking at what we have ready or almost ready for Group Packages and seeing what kind of a package or packages we can put together....maybe even before the next client update!
Emerald Flame: I will note that this is one reason I want to make sure you all are loading to the right places! You will have to be loaded to one of correct maps for your group type in order to get a Group Package for that dream. That will go for the free "charter" groups as well as the pay for ones!
Emerald Flame: So if you load to the wrong map, time to pick out the best spots in the right ones!
Emerald Flame: You will also need to have a package, be it free or payfor if you want to participate in G&G Day!
Emerald Flame: I will have an area set up for new groups trying to get enough members to charter though!
Emerald Flame: If you are interested to know more about what Group Packages are you can have a look at my talk here
Emerald Flame: Our first test version of them will not have all the features mentioned there but we will add more as they become ready!
Emerald Flame: Okies, now let's talk a bit about managing a Group. I'd like to hear from many of you who have done this before and want to give some advice for those just starting out or who might be having problems.
Emerald Flame: If you are in the process of creating your own group, you should have a look at this article
Emerald Flame: There's some nice pointers there but I don't go too heavily into how to keep that group going once you have it formed!
Emerald Flame: I'm sure many of you realize this, but it never hurts to remind you, but running a Group is alot like running a business.
Emerald Flame: If you want it to be successful you need to have happy employees and you need to be good to your "customers" so that they will return.
Emerald Flame: Let's start with employees! These are the people who help you run your dream! They are hugely important because you just can't do it without them.
Emerald Flame: Like most businesses, the employees will feel a more a part of things and help out more if you give them a share of what you are doing! Give them positions they want and encourage feelings of belonging. They work hard for the group and you should recognize that!
Emerald Flame: On the other paw, like many employees, if you don't know them well, you will want to keep an eye on what they are doing a certain amount. They will understand if they are good. There are tools to know who emits and ejects in the dream. Be very careful who you make an uploader of the dream as they will have access to your alts and patches and such.
Emerald Flame: We will have even more tools for you to use such as a way to share your upload alt without giving the password away, eventually.
Emerald Flame: Now, as far as those who visit your dream! Those are your "customers" and if you want them to stay, you need to treat them with respect!
Emerald Flame: It's always good to greet someone when they come in, especially if you have a social or PP dream! If you are RP, have an OOC area set aside where they can learn more information before they join the roleplaying going on.
Emerald Flame: Try to assume the best about someone. Very few furres are there to cause trouble! They may not know what is going on, they may be new to the game or to RP. Give them the benefit of the doubt!
Emerald Flame: Remember that your reputation and that of your group is on the line here. Teach this to your "employees" too!
Emerald Flame: However, if someone is very obviously there to cause a problem, don't give them the satisfaction of a lot of attention for it, be it positive or negative attention.
Emerald Flame: One polite explanation of the rules (which you should have posted somewhere) is all you need. If they continue very bad behavior eject them and put them on ignore!
Emerald Flame: The ignore is very important! No matter how experienced you are, you will be too tempted to argue with them in whispers. Don't fall in that trap!
Emerald Flame: If they come back and cause more trouble, put them on your dream banish list.
Emerald Flame: Speaking of banish lists, I highly recommend that once ever 6 weeks to three months you clear out old names there. They will be tired of troubling you by then and there's no sense filling that list. You can always put them back on in less than a minute if needed.
Emerald Flame: Now I will open up for Group Leaders to give advice and ask questions about Managing groups!
Orta'ma Akuma: Alright. Just wanted to give some advice... I use to lead a group, called RSF. What I learned from running it, was that you should relax half the time.. Don't do all the work yourself! You may be the leader or RaH of the group, but you don't need to always be there 'baby sitting' everyone. Give some other people a chance to lead, let other people help. It gets very stressful when you do it all yourself, and it leads to problems. So let others help. And listen to EVERYONE.
Emerald Flame: Good advice!
Bloody M: Well, I understand the Whole employee thing, but, Can you give possibly too much power to staff, such as in TDC, all the members are hierarch Goods/Evils, The central of all the decisions and things that go on as well as who goes into different things like professions
Emerald Flame: Yes, you have to be careful of power abuse. Keeping track of who is doing what will help. Being careful who you trust is good too. Talking to these people and telling them expected behavior also helps a lot. You need to train them like any other business!
Definated: Something that we find very useful in The Haven is that if one of the Taneests (or Rah Cinder) banishes someone, another Taneest/Rah will question why they were banished. It keeps everyone fair. ^^; (And makes sure no one gets too powerful!)
Emerald Flame: Very nice way to keep the balance! and if they know what will happen up front, then they will think twice before they banish in the heat of the moment.
Pokemon Central: In my dream, we have a lot of people going haywire and a place we send them, but after two warnings and an eject they just carry on, and I don't really want to banish because it isn't fair or good for reputation, anything I could do to get the message across?
Emerald Flame: I'd guess that you get a lot of young players in your dream. That always makes it a bit more difficult. Having very clearly posted rules might help. I don't recommend keeping them in the dream if they are out of control. I don't believe in the whole "jail" idea. It just rewards their bad behavior with attention. I'd be very clear and eject and banish. Never argue or fight. If they see you in control, it will be easier to keep themselves in control.
Marshall Lee: Just wanna make a note of advice to guild leaders about their application/guild recruitment process. After 3 years of activity, we've pretty much narrowed down how to find the players we're looking for. Our application process can look a bit daunting, but completing the application goes to show that the potential player is serious. Also, our application process is two steps. Initially, we have them turn in an application, then we meet personally with the potential person to answer any lingering questions they might have.
Emerald Flame: For those strict RP dreams being very careful who you let in can really help. You will seldom get the bad behavior then. On the other paw though, you will have fewer member. It must be a balllance.
Wolfpawz: As the co-owner/uploader of Lunar Homes. I just wish to say a few things about the rights/responsibilities of managing a dream. The furres who come to it hold all the keys, and you should use commands such as "banish" and as little as possible. It should be the "LAST" resort to discipline a furre. If they are part of a "crowd" that goes to your dream, such it can cause major problems to discipline them in any way. Make sure *AT THE START* before you let your group get large, you find a "target group" of furres you feel will be interested, or you would like to come to your group.
Gar: This will avoid having to take such action as much. Actions speak louder than words, but can speak the wrong things, too loud. Also, you must treat EVERYONE with respect. This includes customers, your staff, other owners and whatnot. Remember: The furres hold the key. That is my main advice. [excuse my spelling.]
Emerald Flame: Thank you, a lot of good advice there!
Island Joe: I traditionally like to play a slight Big Brother role with the dream. My staff is kept under monitoring through many different methods, such as tracking their emits, ejections, etc. I value the patronage of my "customers" greatly, and after noticing the lack of control my rivals had on their own staff, I committed myself to eradicating the worry of abuse in my dreams. All my staff are on a sort of "temp share" that's programmed in the DS that can be removed at any time. But, I usually have no problems, as my staff is incredibly loyal and helpful.
Emerald Flame: Sounds excellent!
Celes Chere # : Advice: Don't get too bent out of shape over trying to get tons of people into your dream. Numbers don't matter so much as people willing to be with you for the long haul. So just relax and stop counting people. Remember Quality over Quantity is always worth it,it can save a lot of hassle if you are not a Social Dream. My Guild has a core membership of 10-12 players,they have been with me a very long time,thus they have shown they believe in what I am trying to do.
Emerald Flame: Again, some very good advice!
Emerald Flame: Most RP dreams run best around 6 to 15 in them at once! While some dreams have huge numbers, there's also a really nice large group of RP dreams that run 5-15 during Primetime
Youlanda: I've watched a lot of guilds flicker in and out of existence and I wanted to give a thought dream owners: One way to help avoid trouble in your dream is to have checks and balances set up to limit both yourself and your staff from abusing power. Everyone has a bad day, everyone has their buttons. Set up a council. If something is making you upset, delegate the responsibility of dealing it to someone else who isn't upset at it. This goes for IC AND OOC power. Be firm, be fair, follow your own rules, keep your cool and you'll do fine.
Emerald Flame: Very good advice and something I did when i ran a group too!
Island Jib: You should not only watch for staff who are abusing their share, but the staff who are not doing their job very well. There is a significant difference between the two. If a patron feels that they are being wronged simply by the staff member's performance, they may begin to think that your dream process is unfair. In all reality, however, this patron believes this because of your staff member's work ethic. Since no one is technically guilty in this matter, you may pop in and settle things without a problem. Politely show your staff members the way of respect, and this will fall back on the patrons, who will congratulate you for being fair
Emerald Flame: Again, very good advice. I will post all of this up for furres to read later too!
Superstar: I don't own a dream/guild, but I have some advice from the 'regular furres' perspective. A lot of manager furres wonder why furres are so crazy for share/responsibility, so I think I have a pretty good piece of advice. I think that if staff have the opportunity to 'flaunt' their responsibilities, it's only natural that other furres will want that and beg and annoy people for share. So, managers, first of all: just make your 'staff' discrete and modest. Don't hire those who seem like they're in it for the glory. Also, for RAHs who are of RP dreams: You should, of course be selective of who you let in, but who wants to fill out long and tedious applications for a chance of a good RP? :-P Plus, most people (or, at least I) like dreams with an actual population, so don't moderate the population too much!
Emerald Flame: There's some good advice for the Groups. Yes, not flaunting abilities is very important. It's right up there with not giving troublemakers attention!
Gerolkae: As the Vice Rah of Starship Avalon I must say, always make sure, in the case of our dream that can have rather technical RP at times, to keep a wealth of RP knowledge on a website or similar forum. For example, nearly any question you might have, be it an IC or OOC question, rule, or tidbit, can be found on our website, and we CONSTANTLY tell our members to check it, as we're always adding new information to it. :-)
Emerald Flame: Yes, nothing can replace a good set of webpages for your dream rules and general information!
Shayde En'Kiar: My word of advice is this: no matter what kind of guild you have (whether it be feral, purely OOC, Strict RP, et cetera) make -sure- you pay attention to your Guild's newfurres. They are the life of your Guild, and the backbone! Too often I see Guilds who have a very distinct set of 'regular' members and staff, but seem to be unkind to their new members or are harsh and unwelcoming. If you're questioning why your Guild has low membership, look at the way you're treating potential members. Are things in your dream not easy to understand, or is there convoluted information? Are your staff quick with the eject button? If someone breaks the RP with [Heya!] do you heavily chastise them? Then maybe some things need to change. :-)
Emerald Flame: And more very good advice! Just as newfurres are the lifeblood of Furcadia, they are also the life of your group! Pay special attention to them
Youlanda: Emmie, you said that dream visitors are your customers and should be treated with respect. I wanted to add that while one should respect their visitors, they shouldn't allow the visitors to walk all over you. This is especially true when you're operating a Strict Continuity. Like with customers, players are going to stamp their feet angrily when they can't play their demi-god super vampire demon werewolf angel halfbreed. You can't always give in and make everyone happy. Sometimes you have to choose your Continuity over your customers. Any ideas where that line would be?
Emerald Flame: Yes, that's why you post very clearly what you accept in your group and point them that way. Strict RP dream in particular can't really operate without a webpage with rules and guidelines for making characters. If they are not willing to follow those rules, then they probably aren't who you are looking for in a member. The trick here is to be very polite about the refusal and don't let them get you into an argument or discussion about it.
Celes Chere: Don't be afraid to try something new for your Dream/Group/Guild if what you have been trying before has failed, be it New Storylines, A New Premise/Continuity for your Guild, New Rules, A New Look (just don't over do it where you change the look every month), Etc. Things can grow stagnant sometimes, so try to make a change if you have need to. Sometimes a Major change is needed, sometimes it isn't... but don't get so caught up in sticking with one particular thing that you forget the real reason you Role-Play and that is to have fun.
Emerald Flame: Yes, shaking things up once in awhile can keep the community alive! That's why we need updates in furcadia too!
Emerald Flame: I want to thank all these Group Leaders for their very good advice! We will get these posted up on pages soon.
Emerald Flame: I'm going to move on to general questions and close things up here on the event channel! thank you all for participating and feel free to come to the center of the G&G dream if you want to listen in or ask questions! Happy Dreaming!

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