Back when I was in college, during one summer break I was in need of a job to earn money for gas. I went to a local department store, walked into the human resources office, and asked if they were hiring.
“Are you looking for full-time or part-time work?” the receptionist asked.
“Full-time,” I replied.
“Sorry, we’re only hiring part-time employees right now” she informed me.
“Well, I’d like to apply for a part-time position then,” I said.
“Sorry, we won’t hire anyone who is looking for full-time work.”
I was stunned. That wasn’t an interview, or even a fair opportunity. It was essentially one multiple-choice question… “full-time or part time?” There was only one correct answer, and if I chose wrong I was precluded from any opportunity from employment. I never got to show a resume, talk to a manager, or explain the skills that I could bring to the company. I was shot down by a secretary after one question. Pointless.
That’s pretty much what I think of guild applications.
I’ll be honest – I have never understood why most guilds have applications. This is not a job. Its a pixel-drawn world with monsters and bad guys that, honestly, don’t hold a candle to most Disney villains. Its a chance to hit buttons on your keyboard and make colors and numbers flash on your screen. It is not Serious Business.
If my friend wants to play Rock Band with me, I don’t ask for his prior guitar-playing experience.
If someone wants to play Wii Sports with me, I don’t ask for a screenshot of previous sports game scores.
The typical stated justification for making people fill out an application is that it weeds out the immature, the children, and the slackers.
Do you really think so? I don’t see it working that way at all. I think a lot of guilds have applications just to puff up their own self-importance. If someone fills out your application, it makes you feel desirable. As I see it, most guild applications serve two purposes:
(1) It weeds out those who are too lazy to fill out an application. Is that what your guild wanted when they made an application? When you put out a recruitment message, were you looking for gamers or someone to help you build a house? Almost by definition, some of the best gamers are extremely lazy people outside of Azeroth. What if you just weeded out an uber-geared 5k dps and all-around nice guy because he didn’t go online to fill out an application? Was that the goal of your application process?
(2) It allows people to nitpick at things like grammar and sentence structure in order to justify their completely arbitrary selection process. I see in many guild recruitment forums where the guild members make fun of the writing style of the applicants. Again, would you eliminate a skilled holy priest healer because he made punctuation errors? Does it take great spelling skills to hit 111121111211113111112 in the game?
Lots of people would argue that their application is different, and effective. Its true that some guilds have a careful vetting process that includes written applications, vent interviews, and in-game play. If you’re not doing all of that, then I would claim that your application is fairly meaningless. And if you are doing all of that, WHY? Anyone other than a cutting-edge progression guild should not put prospective members through a gauntlet like that.
People will cite the great players they have found through their application process. But how many players did you miss out on because they never filled out the app? You’ll never know.
Remember – no one will write on their application that they plan to ninja your guild bank.
My guild has no application process. It is open recruitment. If you are interested, and you chat with an officer for a few minutes without swearing or coming off like an ass, we invite you. There is no better application process than actually playing with someone. We get to hear you in vent, see how you talk in chat, and run instances with you. An application cannot even begin to evaluate a player in that depth.
We take precautions, of course. New invitees do not have any withdrawal access from the guild bank for a couple of weeks until we get a feel for them. They only bring one toon in at first – no alts yet – so it will be a quick clean break if we decide to part ways.
Do we get immature people? On occasion. And when then act immaturely in chat, the officers ask them (through whispers) to stop. Eventually, they realize that they are in the wrong guild and they leave on their own. It usually takes a week or two, but there is no harm done.
Do we get children? Sometimes. That’s not the end of the world. One of our guild’s best shaman healers joined us when he was 13. We have a pally tank who is no older than 15, if that. I have no complaints about children if they are well-behaved in chat and vent. If they are not well-behaved, then see the previous paragraph.
Do we get complete jerks? A couple of times. And when it became obvious that they would be intolerable we asked them to leave the guild.
However, mixed in with those characters are the jewels of open recruitment. The burned-out former progression raider who has amazing gear and is just looking to relax. The awesome tank who has done mostly PuGs because his former guild was too small to raid. The incredible dps who couldn’t get a raid spot when he switched spec or main toon.
Any of those players might have been discouraged by a web application full of meaningless questions. All of them are an asset to the guild. Applications are OK for guilds that are pushing for server-first kills. For everyone else, maybe your app is not doing what you hoped.