Greedy Goblin

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Guild democracy?

Elnia of Pink pigtail inn wrote that MMO guilds are dictatorships where the leader have all authority over guild resources, invites and kicks. He thinks a democratic voting system would be better. I strongly disagree.

At first, we can't blame the game programmers for this. The players many times found ways to implement things in the game that the programmers did not. Before there were official guildbanks, the guilds had bank characters with addons keeping track of of who can access what. Players implemented DKP systems for distributing loot. There is still no Blizzard implementation of DKP, yet most guilds distribute loot via DKP (or EPGP or whatever variant).

There is one and only one reason players did not implemented democracy: it would not work.

This can be pretty surprising considering that most successful countries in the World are democracies. However I believe there is a special niche where democracy is better than a dictatorship and MMOs are not in it.

You might find it surprising as you most probably learned that "democracy is the best". However even in the most democratic countries there is dictatorship in every single families. The parents decide everything for their kids, the kids have no right to decide where to live, which school to go, what to eat, who to meet with and so on. Still, most people believe that this blatant tyranny is good for the kid, and most people don't hate their parents after his "liberation" for his former "slavery".

The reason why dictatorship is better for kids is their obvious inability to decide what's good for them. If they could vote how to spend the family money, they would spend it on toys and candy instead of bills and soon would find themselves evicted. The adults are aware that they were dumb kids, so they are happy that their parents protected them from their own dumbness.

Theoretically this system could be extended to have some "wise king" who look after his "children" and take care for them. Considering how many stupid mistakes we did as adults, sometimes we wish that some "wise king" would save us from these. However - and this is the niche for democracy - if we are educated, intelligent people there is simply no one who is wiser than us. We have to turn to ourselves in lack of other options. Of course it doesn't mean that we are the smartest men in the World, it merely means that smarter people don't (and can't) know our situation so they cannot make decisions for us. To decide if law, medical or engineering school is better for me, one have to know my abilities so deeply that is impossible for everyone except myself.

A population of intelligent, educated people cannot have a "wise king" therefore must make the decisions themselves.

In WoW all knowledge is available. In the real world no one knows how the customer needs will change, so no one can take the responsibility to tell someone "craft electric cars and they will sell", we know exactly that Anub'arak will leach 20% HP in P3 so we must have enough AoE healers to handle this. Someone who reads all material about WoW, is a "wise king". Even if I read it too, all I can get is the same solution. Someone who has different opinion is simply wrong. Giving him the right to vote would do no good.

If someone comes up with a better idea (like different raid setup), it can be mathematically easily proven and added to the "world database" of EJ that makes every "kings" wise.

If everyone in the guild knows every game data, any of them could be wise king, so any selecting method (including democracy) is equal. However as long as there is just 1 M&S in the guild it should be run without giving him a chance to make any calls.


PS: with the same logic, it's easy to be "wise king" in an undeveloped country: check what the developed ones did when they were underdeveloped and implement their solutions. That's why enlightened dictators can make miracles with primitive countries.

50 comments:

Sven said...

I'm rather baffled by your logic here, Gevlon. You argue that it is the knowledge of the populace in a democracy that makes it the most suitable form of government in those cases and then you say that in WOW "all knowledge is available".

Surely this means that we are in exactly the case you consider suitable for democratic rule, i.e. there can be no "wise king".

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the boat here. Enlightened dictatorships typically work better than modern democracy during the lifespan of the dictator. The rule of the masses really does result in stupid decisions. EG California recently made eating horses illegal.
The problem is more evolutionary.
Dictatorships have weak selective pressure against stupidity. If the guy following the enlightened one is an idiot, the country is in for some hard times...
In a democracy, an obviously incompetent governing body will usually be thrown out of office eventually in a peaceful fashion. (EG Bush)
So, back to guilds...
A guild could be run as a republic - with periodic elections for guild offices - but politics is painful. My guild does have a canvas voting system for new admits.
Currently guilds are quite democratic - you just vote with your feet to support the party (guild) of your choice.
They are maybe extra democratic - since the candidates (guildmasters) can even refuse your vote.

Hirvox said...

The crucial thing missing from the stated reasoning here is the implicit assumption that the general guild population are M&S. While this may be true in some cases, there are also guilds where everyone knows everything, and democracy could plausibly work. And not even raid encounter strategies are 100% unambiguous, as Stars has proven, so there's benefit to be had from differing viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

A somewhat democratic system for guilds would actually be better - as a compromised guildmaster password wouldn't instantly bankrupt the guild.

Gevlon said...

changes made to text to answer some questions

Anonymous said...

don't forget also that in a democracy their are campaings to get elected. a lot of drama unfolds in an election and drama is bad for a guild.
we do have a form of democracy in regards to guilds anyway, it is called gquit. we vote for our guild leaders by deciding which guilds to be in. guilds with strong leaders survive while guilds with crappy leaders tend to implode.

Armond said...

Democratic government is based on the oft-flawed assumption that everyone involved is not only intelligent enough to do good (not just to not do harm), but efficient enough to not bog down the decision process.

I cannot think of a single time I found a working democracy with more than 15-ish people. I also cannot remember the last time I saw a vote that was useful for deciding something important and not just e.g. the background theme for a forum.

Gusztav said...

As a side note, WoW / guilds / raiding is similar to a war. We're waging war on the black dragonflight, the blue dragonflight, Arthas, etc. you name it. While we don't have to be afraid of a counterattack from them while 25 ppl are voting if they should use the X or the Y tactic, still it's a battle, where one general's orders should be obeyed (and he's a general for a reason, he knows tactics and game mechanics).

Democracy doesn't work in war / military situations, history proved that a couple of times.

victor said...

I think I agree with the Anon above. The democracy in WOW is that people choose what guild to be in. Anyone can sign up to be a guild master, but that doesn't mean that everyone will be a successful one. The guild leader is the democraticly elected leader of that guild, because if he was disliked by the majority, the guild would disband. (I'm not talking about being liked personally. I mean, if he does his duties as a leader well.)

Xanthul said...

A very Hobbesian post Gevlon, I love it. In my experience, I have also found the more democratic guilds are the biggest fail guilds. You are right that democracy is not always the superior option, underdeveloped nations being a prime example (look at all the coups in latin america during the 1970-80s).

Gid said...

It depends on the sort of guild. I'm sure a "social" guild would love the idea of a democracy: the candidates, the campaigning, the voting and so on. It would provide enough social excitement to keep them going for a very long time.

On the other hand a high end raiding guild is focussed on one thing - beating content before anyone else. Whatever gets in the way of that drops by the wayside. A democratic raiding guild where people voted on how to tackle a boss (for example) would lose out to one run by a well informed raid leader who simply said "this is how we're doing it..."

Since the main reason for high end raiding guilds to exist is beating content first when they stop doing that members leave. Hence the only such guilds left are those that work in the quickest and most decisive ways.

By far the hardest thing for a raid guild is transitioning guild and raid leadership. Precisely because the effectiveness of the guild is so tightly bound to the person leading it.

The only people I ever see advocating democracy in raid guilds are people who have no practical experience running one. If they did they would know better.

Sten Düring said...

The observations are both correct and wrong.
They're always correct if you view a guild as a project, but if it's meant to be a sustained organisation things start to change.

To begin with: The current programming implementation doesn't support guild democracy unless you place a TRULY NEUTRAL AND HONEST third party as GM. Basically such a GM is not part of the guild but only logs on to carry out whatever the elections/votes resulted in.
Sounds nice in theory...

Hence you need a system where you can set up a guild (and I'm talking in terms of functional implementation) where there is no GM.

That said. Let's pretend we have an implementation that allows us to do this.

For a VERY small guild despotism or anarchy probably works best. We're talking a bunch of friends who happen to play WoW together. Probably not even raidcapable to begin with.

Sorry, Gevlon, but if you just accept that some people like to hang around and grab a beer together then we'll have a working analogy here.

The beer-guzzlers work by anarchy. You show up or you don't. Maybe you make ad-hoc agreements where you hope you're not the only one arriving in the pub, but there's no leader deciding per se.
Those who arrive drink beer, get drunk and are happy. Works fine.

You can also run despotism. One person decides everything and as long as voting with your feet is an option and you think the leader runs things well enough, well, things DO work well enough. You do what you're told to do for the simple reason you don't see a reason not to.

Small guilds, say 30 players or less, won't work well as a democracy either.
People still know too large a percentage of the total population "personally".
Elections and friends is a lousy combination. Feel free to insert your theories about ape-subroutines here. I don't agree with all of them, but in this case they're depressingly correct.
Most likely run by one person with a staff of "powerless" officers.
If you think this looks like a smallish company, we'll there's a good reason.
You have an organisation large enough to get the job done, but still small enough to have to think on their feet, which means acting fast.

Large guilds. This is where I'm uncertain. A population of 200 or so FEELS too small for a working democracy.

Huge guilds. With thousands of members you definitely start benefiting from implementing a distributed democracy. The sheer numbers of people make depostism, or even an oligarchy unpractical from a time-management reason.
The investment in time and effort to build and run this juggernaut also makes the cost for imploding the organisation too high (we're assuming there's some kind of intrisic value to having a huge guild to begin with).

Why you would want a 3000+ members guild in WoW is beyond me, but I have no problems seeing a different MMOG where it would be a huge advantage. Think warring clans. If you're part of a guild/clan truly able to bring down the hammer of doom on people ganking others, well, there's a distinct advantage. And of course there's the benefit from going on a raiding rampage when you outnumber your surrounding clans 10:1 or more.

This is the type of organisation that needs to be able to run with dictators/leaders/benevolent despots being absent. Maybe it starts as an oligarchy, but it needs to develop away from this vulnerability, or it will, as you indirectly pointed out, never rise beyond being primitive.

Gid said...

@Sten Düring

"Huge guilds. With thousands of members you definitely start benefiting from implementing a distributed democracy."

If you look at EVE Online where large corporations have many hundreds of members and alliances of those corporations have several thousand they also seem to work best as dictatorships. For example:

http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/72504

"I don't know what it says about humanity or even if a broader comment can be made from what occurs in a spaceship game, but democratic alliances in EVE tend to be flaming disasters."

Azzur said...

Civilization didn't 'work out' that democracy was the best solution overnight. It was brought about by many centuries of change.

The top nations didn't start out as a democracy, they progressed from small tribes, etc.

Democracy trived because the system is very effective in succession (what small tribes can't do well).

Leave a game to evolve long enough (e.g. 100 years) and I believe that the top guilds will be a democracy.

It has nothing to do with knowledge, etc that Gevlon is arguing.

DarkKnight said...

I am totally for a dictatorship in guilds. Preferably not by one person, but by about 3 or 4 to keep some form of discussion at the top.
More democracy and you will have people with no clue about leadership/rules/etc deciding for you (because they also have an equal vote in a democracy).
Already see it in my current guild which says/pretends to be democratic, that people with no idea about leadership or how e.g. a raid should be run, are trying to get rules and regulations through which are just total rubbish. Worst part is that because it's a democracy, they have to be "voted" away properly, or else they keep moaning about it forever.

ps. Anyone who thinks that the Real World has anything which is totally democratic is a fool. And I am glad there isn't. Or does everyone think that e.g. presidents (yes, the example of a 'democracy') has total control or that everyone can vote for the ideas/laws that a parliament will implement? No, of course not. The actual decisions are done by people that are there because they know what is best for the majority (whether they are right I am not going to argue about).
Even in a country with compulsory referenda like Switzerland, which is the only one I know of that does those kind of referenda about laws, most of the laws from citizens are not passed. And only laws thought of by the government gets through the referendum.

@whoever said about the "in democracy in competent governing body gets thrown out":
True, but still it takes time (took 8 years before Bush left the building ;)), and is most often not even decided by the people, but by the opposing faction. Only in rare cases the people overthrow a governing body, simply because it is hard to get 'the people' rallied as one. Which is where total democracy fails, and why I think that a total democracy will never work. But... that's all just my opinion.

Rem said...

Wrote a response to Elina's post, won't repeat myself.

Anonymous said...

'A population of intelligent, educated people cannot have a "wise king" therefore must make the decisions themselves.'
You are right. But if there would be such a population, there would be no place for Goblins, and as you know - they happen to exist (and thrive pretty well) in both WoW and real life.
In most European countries the medical healthcare insurance is obligatory and taken straight from your paycheck. Dunno what's the argumentation of it in other countries, but where I live it's "because if it would be voluntary, people wouldn't pay it and if they got sick, they wouldn't have any money for the care"... so the assumption is that majority of the people are dumb and not able to take care for themselves.
In democracy your vote (of an intelligent and bright lad I assume) is worth exactly the same as a vote of an alcoholic who beats his wife and kids because he doesn't know better (kinda exaggerated, but you get the point?).

Yaggle said...

I think this begs the question of whether RL democracies should be changed to work like WoW guilds. The problem is, in WoW, you don't have to join a guild and can get by okay without one. In RL, every person is thought to belong to some country whether they want to or not. Which is really more of a dictatorship?

Anonymous said...

I'm currently a counciller in a democratic guild, and i must say it works out quite nice.
We're a raiding guild, although filled with people that have work/lives besides wow, so we're not able to push 5 days/week of 25-man progression.
We do a vote for counciller position every 3rd month, which usually goes very drama-free. We're about 70-80 active members in guild, and run 4 (soon 5) fixed 10-man raid teams, and 1 25-man raid team.

Councillers are responsible for basic desicions, setting up raids, handling guild bank, etc etc. It just works.

We most definetly do not vote for everything (far from it), but if someone feel a counciller is doing a bad job, or not listening to the suggestions from members, they'll be out by the next election, just like in a "real" democracy.

It's possible, but i agree it's not for everyone.

Joe Nothin' said...

No, no.

Democracy isn't about the people being smart enough to decide for themselves. Most people are M&S, and that logic means that they shouldn't vote.

No.

Democracy is about the belief that we are all equal in terms of rights and potential, and that to ensure we are all govenred fairly and justly, a code must be made for all to follow. To that code, that law, all must bend, and to make sure that happens, no one man, no one group of people must be able to change it alone.
To make sure the law is fair, sovereignty must be given to everyone who lives under that law - otherwise, eventually, the people who make the law will bend it to thier own needs.

Democracy is a system to ensure equality in rights, equality in the ability to make ones life good. It is sucssesful becuase of basic statistics - when more people are able to compeate in the large market of ideas and work, there are more successfull and smart people who are able to run things.

I'll expline with some made up numbers, just so you'd get the idea itself - lets say that 1 out of 50 people can run plant in the most efficiant way. In a country of 1000 people, you'd have 20 people able to do that job. However, if you allow only men to run the plant, you'll have half as meny people to take from, and roughly half as meny people who are actually good in that job.

This is wht democracy works - since all people are equal in political rights [to work, to learn, to write and share ideas], there is a bigger part of the population that takes part in shaping sociaty, and therefor a bigger part of the good, smart people who contribute. If you exculde all women, you also exculde the ideas of all the smart women. if you exculde all black or jewish people, you exclude all the work of smart, able black and jewish people.

However, in a guild, there are about 50 people. We know them all personaly, we know who can do what. There is no chance here, becuase it is a selected group of people. Here, democracy works as well - we choose one person to lead us, the guild leader, and we all follow his lead, his organization. If he is good, we stay. If he is bad then the guild is bad, and we leave. This is represntitive democracy in a very pure form.

Ben said...

From my blog:

A hilarious post by Gevlon on his philosophies on Guild Politics. He makes a very strong argument for a dictator-style leadership in guilds, and I'm very inclined to agree with him on the most part. However Tumbleweed is a casual, social guild - in the eyes of Gevlon we are useless compared to the hardcore raiding ones. Although on paper we should be slower at progression, we managed to get the realm first Twin Val'kyrs and Anub'arak down on 10 man heroic. So - there are always exceptions.

In the comments to that post, Armond makes a good point I agree upon. Even in the case for what music I should use in my boss kill movies, Tumbleweed can rarely seem a sensible conclusion. In the end, someone has to decide on something, all we can do is hope it is for the good of all of us.

Anonymous said...

@Joe Nothin'

People are NOT equal. your point is invalid.

Anonymous said...

You missed the fact that those countries are not TRUE democracies. They are democratic republics where elected, or chosen, officials "vote" on behalf of the people. A true democratic government has not existed for some time. A good chunk of guilds are democratic republics. You have the GM and a group of officers. The officers are like members of congress or parliament. They represent the rest of the guild and discuss topics of interest to the guild in a whole(how to manage the gbank, strats, promotions, raid schedules, etc.). To have a dictatorship, the members of the guild have to either willingly give up all their rights in the guild and follow the GM or by some means be forced to, which cannot happen in the game as the player has freedom to gquit at any time.

Hirvox said...

Let's switch gears for a while. There is teeny weeny part of guild management where nobody has all of the relevant information: People. To even get to the point where the guild can worry about the mathematically optimal way of killing Anub'Arak, the guild needs a certain number of people that can work together. For the sake of the argument, let's assume that we have an infinite number of applicants available, representing all class, race and spec combinations, and have all of the information about the mathematical aspects of the game, and they can apply their knowledge flawlessly. But which 24 people are you going to raid with?

No "wise king" can know all of their personalities, likes and dislikes and thus all possible ways their interactions could go. Maybe person A goes bonkers whenever person B mentions the latest Internet meme. And person C will always talk about politics issue X, which person B hates. Here the group can use their collective knowledge of people to vote in members who are most compatible with each other.

Tonus said...

"You missed the fact that those countries are not TRUE democracies."

I think that this is the pertinent point. Centralized leadership is used in many endeavors (government, sports teams, chess club, etc) because it's more efficient than a true democratic setup where everyone votes on every decision.

Most democratic countries are representative governments, where voters elect a leader and a parliament, and they work together to lead the country. WOW guilds are similar to this, as others already stated-- players "vote" with their guild membership and support, and a guild leader and officers handle most of the decision-making.

Any of those situations can also poll the membership (or citizenry) to help guide their decision-making. But they're not required to, even under the threat of being removed in some manner (or simply losing support). A guild leader may act like a dictator, but he's not really in that position, as he has no real power to prevent a mutiny, and no power to force individual players to do as he wishes.

re: the "wise king"-- throughout history, the person who wound up leading a dictatorship didn't get to the top by displaying wisdom, as much as by displaying shrewdness or simply by being violent and merciless. Few people ever accept the ascension of a dictator. The leadership position is taken, usually by force.

Anonymous said...

Sucsessfull raids require teamwork. Teamwork isn't everyone on their team doing what they think is best. Teamwork is the team coming together as a whole to complete a goal, even if some of the team isn't thrilled with the way it made, or didn't make that goal. It is more important for everyone on the team to be doing their assigned goal then it is that the team is doing it the optimal way. Team work and the optimal way, obviously is the best solution.

Graylo said...

The problem with Democracy is that is relatively inefficiant form of government when compared to a "wise king." A dictator is able to make quick choices that are best for the governed very quickly. In real world terms a "wise king" could see that green house gases are going to kill the planet and quickly take steps to limit them or approve a project that will create a lot of economic development even though it will have an environmental impact. A democracy will take years to approve such things, but limits the down side of a dictator ship when compared to a "stupid king."

That said, MMO guilds are a democracy in a way. In the real world we are tied to our countries, very few of us have real oppportunites to leave if we want to. So, if our country is run by a dictator then we are pretty much stuck with him.

In an MMO the members of a guild vote every day to support guild leadership or oppose guild leadership. We choose to stay in the guild. We choose to show up for raids. We choose to participate. If we are not happy we leave.

The MMO equivalent to the "wise king" will attract newer and better members, encourage loyalty, and boost moral, by running successful and fair raids.

Stupid kings will limit their guilds growth by making poor choices. The good players in the guild will then seek out better opportunities.

So while guild may be run like dictatorships, the members vote with their feet every day.

Joe Nothin' said...

@anon:

That's why i said "equal in rights".

And back to the subject, guilds aren't democracies nor dictetetorships, since they are volnetry assemblages. You may come and go as you please, and the GL has no power over you outside of the guild.
A country is something you cannot choose, at least not at birth, and its something you cannot ignore or live without. Guilds are closer to compenies, not countries.

Anonymous said...

Too many chiefs and not enough indians.... I have been in a guild like this.... very frustrating and mired down in a bog of fail.

I think a guild with a team of 5 and maybe more on down the road once established is enough. Also the officers have to have roles, they should discuss things amongst themselves but shouldnt all be jack of all trades. One leads raids, one does dkp/lootsystem, one does consumables, ect ect. They can help each other but you need one to take lead in separate catagories so there is not any overlap and everything gets done. If someone cant meet the challenge then they should ask for help or enlist raiders in the guild to help. Theres a gillion ways to skin a cat.... team work starts at the top and filters down. When you have 12 different officers, some bust their ass and some dont it is not goint to get you anywhere.

Armond said...

@Joe Nothin': I'm not quite sure how you tricked yourself into believing that, but even if you were right, it'd still be a stupid system.

Anonymous said...

I has nothing to do with knowledge and such shit. A strong lider is always better than a democracy, the problem is that the larger amount of people to be leaded, the more worthy have to be the lider. to lead a 100 people guild to success requires low skill, although, to lead a whole country to success requires high skill. if the dictator fails, the country crash. if the president fails, he loose the elections and the country dont crash. thats why democracy wins. but always a really skilled dictator will be beter for a country than a democracy, though we are very short of very very valuable people.
if the dictator wins, the country WINS, if the president wins, a lot of stupid people will ask for a change and the country will "less-win".

my english is not as good as it should be, sorry.

Zanthor said...

As a guild leader of nearly a decade I can agree with Gevlon completely. Over the past decade I've run my guild by council, by guild vote, and by an iron fist. In the end the Iron Fist of Dictatorship has been the absolute best solution for the guild.

The point is brought up that the information is available for everyone, this is a valid fact. At the same time most players will ask a question in game, guild, general, or just of another person before they will go view that information. People are lazy. This is why democracy doesn't work.

Now the important part here is that not all dictatorships will be successful. The leader needs to keep an ear to the ground and know what is going on in his guild. The leader must keep council with his minions to know their feelings. I have a well developed network of loyal players in my guild who keep me very well informed. Without them, I wouldn't know which decisions to make for my guild.

Feralangel said...

There is a difference between a democracy and a democratic republic. Most Guilds are democratic republics, in that the guild chooses who the guild leaders are. If they don't like who represents them they form new guilds.

Dick said...

I've been part of guilds that had democracy, had elections, GM's that got voted in, and then officers that were chosen by the voted in GM's, although they couldn't remove officers already in place, there were always those that stepped down.

Now though, things did go wrong. The guild started as a casual friendly guild, but, due to the people who got voted into power, it became a hardcore raiding guild. This means that those who established the guild got screwed over and most left, because it wasn't the guild they wanted. This included me.

But they did become very successful at raiding, making the top 75, last i checked, in the world. So if that's what their player base wanted, and voted in leaders to do that, then they were successful in their democratic system, which continues to this day.

So I know of a guild who's GM's were elected every six months. There was no dictatorship.

Sidhe said...

Here's why I agree with Gevlon:

Being knownledge available for everybody, and being there only ONE way to do things right; If a guild is totally composed of intelligent people that have read a studied the info available at EJ, then democracy is irrelevant, since everybody is gonna vote the same.

IF somebody votes different to the rest of the "enlightened" members of the guild, that person is a stupid M&S.

Why?

Because there is no place for such things as "opinion, ideology, or alternative strategies" in WoW. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO DO THINGS RIGHT. If you have another way, you're a moron, unless you prove it valid and it's added to the World Database of EJ. Until that, you're just a noob and should L2P.

Therefore, if these morons are allowed to vote, they'll lead the guild to failure.

I think the democratic vote should be used in a guild but for things not related to progression or loot distribution, but more superfluous/aesthetic things like colors of the guild tabard, etc...

KevMar said...

I ran as a dictator when I ran my guild. There was one voice to say what you could and could not do. I had my officers but I treated them more as advisers. The guild rank I gave them was called the same as everyone else except they had officer chat access.

I ran my guild like I ran my home. While my word was final, it was not very often I put in the final word. People that had valid advice to give were able to do so. I also had the full trust of everyone that the call I made were for the good of the guild and not self serving.

In the end I got burnt out and left the game because I failed to delegate anything. I was a master at dealing with drama, but I also delt with all drama.

The guild is still together and has traded GM's several times. Each one did things a little different and I don't think it mattered much to the members.

Sean Sullivan said...

Channeling a bit of F.A. Hayek today, Gevlon?

I agree that Democracy isn't the best form of government for a guild. That is because, as Graylo pointed out, labor has high mobility in WoW. Unlike countries, we are free to leave guilds and servers as we please. So any King, whether wise or dumb, must act to keep the best players in the guild content.

WoW is also different in that the guildmaster has no control over the "rule of law" as it were -- Blizzard does. If someone ninjas the guild bank, items can be restored and players banned. Guilds don't have laws and can't take your property if you don't choose to give it. Governments can use force while Guilds cannot. Players have vast liberties in-game, which weakens the need to have a say in the guild government.

Guilds are just services in a free market with low barriers to entry, so guilds must maintain a high quality of service to keep the best customers. The only service they offer currently is a consistent group of players to work with for mutual advancement. Democracies don't typically work for businesses, so we shouldn't expect that for guilds either.

It'll be interesting to see how Cataclysm changes this with their guild talenting stuff, but it should only be a change in degree not kind.

Anonymous said...

Democracy have to power throw bad leaders out, dictatorships do not.

Most players vote with their feet and quit guilds only because they do not have the power to enact new leadership. This is option most poeple living in real world dictatorship do not have.

Anonymous said...

"A very Hobbesian post Gevlon, I love it. In my experience, I have also found the more democratic guilds are the biggest fail guilds. You are right that democracy is not always the superior option, underdeveloped nations being a prime example (look at all the coups in latin america during the 1970-80s)."

Most of which were enact on behalf of non-democratic large corporation in coopreation with the United States to further their Business advantages over the local, elected government.

Anonymous said...

in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king

Carl Lewis said...

I would like to point out that there are no industrialized countries the practice democracy as the Greeks did. Democracy is Dictatorship, it's just the Many dictating their decision to the few. All G8 countries are either Parliamentary Democracies or Republican Democracies. That being said I agree that a democracy is bad for guilds simply because Guilds of the Progression variety, which are the only guilds that matter, are completely different from Governments. The single important difference is that everyone in a Wow guild is there to archive a single goal, to complete endgame content. Governments exist simply to maintain the Status Quo. Even trans formative administrations are only viewed as trans formative because they seek to maintain the prosperity of their people in a different way than is currently practiced. The less a country has in wealth the less the populace with participate in the maintenance of that wealth.
Along with the other reasons laid out in the comments democratic guilds are a bad Idea. You don't like what the GM is doing? Find a new guild or start your own.

Dugrik said...

What's needed is the Pirate Ship model. Amongst pirates, the captain of the ship is democratically elected. Once elected, however, he can (and is expected to) rule with an iron fist so long as he gets results and the crew profits. If he's ineffective, the crew votes in a new captain.

A MUD I used to play (LegendMUD) had a feature where you could democratically elect the leader. Each clan member would PLEDGE to their candidate; the candidate with the most pledges became the leader. A member could change their pledge at any time, so a leadership change could be a surprise if there was clan drama.

Jurandr said...

It really depends on who the leader is. I've been in plenty of guilds, and I've seen guild leaders who are not strong enough to lead; they get bullied by the members and the whole guild ends up failing. I've seen a leader that was too strong and the guild ended up reforming with a new leader under a new name.

The most successful guilds I've been in were ones with a firm leader that knows how to deal with people, typically people who are managers of people IRL. They have a few officers who they either know outside of the game or have played with for a long time that they trust and take advice from, and the members get along with him nicely.
And I've seen the democracy guild. They actually voted on who would be the leader, officers, and on what the loot distribution standard would be. It took FOREVER for a decision to be made, which is bad in a video game where a few seconds seems like an eternity. And when the slightest bit of drama comes into play, the whole thing blows to pieces. Guild democracy is simply something that should not happen.

Verilazic said...

Guilds are "democratic" in that people vote - with their feet. If the guild isn't successful enough for an individual, or is'nt successful enough to justify the dictatorial actions of the GM, then the individual will leave and find another guild.

Sidhe said...

**You are right that democracy is not always the superior option, underdeveloped nations being a prime example (look at all the coups in latin america during the 1970-80s)."

Most of which were enact on behalf of non-democratic large corporation in coopreation with the United States to further their Business advantages over the local, elected government.**

Dear anonymous: As a latin american I have to ask you: How were the dictatorships in the 70s-80s something better than democracy?

Unless of course you mean "better" for the foreign vultures that saw their businesses grow as the dictators erradicated the last vestiges of popular resistance, removing the presidents elected by democratic vote and -killing- their supporters.

Verdian said...

Ultimately, though, it is futile to compare guilds to RL polities and political experiences. There is simple not enough overlap between a system of government and the guild system in WoW. For example, there is a degree of accountability in governments that is severely lacking in guilds. I can either exercise my right to vote for whoever I want, or not vote at all. However, I have to live with the outcome of that election for the next 3,4 or 5 years. I do not have the right to change this situation until the next election. In a guild, I can just leave if I don't like the direction it's taking. Sure - I could move to Canada, but I'd still have to live with their government there.

The 'wise king' of dictatorship has been a pipe-dream of politics since the Ancient Greeks. Why is it such a fallacy? Because it relies on a single person being imbued with the best of all possible character traits, knowledge and justice. This is incompatible with being a human. Who decides what the 'best' is? Who defines what the 'wise' is? Surely no one but the 'wise king' himself could possibly know!

Democracy seeks to rectify this by trying (often vainly) to bring the 'best' people together to make a decision together. Obviously getting 150 people to agree on something will take longer than 1 person - but this does not automatically invalidate democracy. What many of you are forgetting is that (a) you have never lived in a dictatorship; and (b) democracies are just as likely to make 'good' decisions as they are to make 'bad' decisions. Democracy serves to offer the greatest benefit to the majority and the least harm to the minority, which is the best we can hope for in our modern nation-states.

Keith said...

You hit on Plato's Three Forms of Government here Gevlon! You should perhaps read up on your classical philosophy!

In short, Plato claimed there were Three Forms of government, and each existed in 'pure' and 'corrupt' variants (or good and evil, or w/e). Rule by the Many. Rule by the Few. Rule by One.

Of the 'pure' forms, Rule by One was the best - a 'wise king' who is benevolent is clearly the finest of governments - he can act unilaterally, and if he acts rightly, well he will be beloved.

But in it's 'corrupt' form, that of a malicious dictatorship, Rule by One is harsh and dangerous. Far from ideal.

Rule by the Many is the reverse - in it's pure form, its not ideal, because it can be slow. But in it's corrupt form, it is the least of all evils, because we each get what we deserve. Better the mob than the jackboot as it were.


On an unrelated note: Blizzard has too implemented DKP in game in the form of Emblems of Triumph, and their requirement to be used in concert with Trophies of the Crusade to receive the 25 man Tier pieces in the Trial of the Crusade. Quite frankly, it's a horrid implementation and a terrible idea, and I think most serious raiders would agree with that.

Stupid Mage said...

"On an unrelated note: Blizzard has too implemented DKP in game in the form of Emblems of Triumph, "

Don't want to derail this thread train but please elaborate-

Anonymous said...

The main problem is that everyone works under a different generalization of "The Guild". One person imagines a random guild and thinks hard core raiding, in which everyone has to pull their weight and follow orders in order to participate, but gets the most done. Another person can think of the casual guild, in which what people want to do determines what there are numbers for. And yet another guild is the new guild, struggling to its feet and recruiting M&S in a desperate bid to do anything.
Different governmental systems work best to accomplish different goals. Obviously, in a performance-oriented guild with plenty of resources, a Dictatorship is best- not because of the lack of freedoms of the members, but because of the discipline it instills. It's much easier to take orders from the same person than having to bicker and argue over every decision, and if the wrong choice is made repeatedly, you can just "depose" them, while a "Wise King" would make the guild not just survive, but flourish. In either case, however, snap decisions can and will anger members of the guild, and with no democratic outlet to vent that anger and a leader unwilling to listen, the best case scenario is months of building frustration followed by a flame out and a guild quit- something I've seen many times. In a social or casual guild (with entirely different, and some would say idiotic, priorities) a Loot-council style Oligarchy or a completely free democracy can work better, since less emphasis is on results and more is on everyone having a good time. Guilds that are full of M&S, on the other hand, will fail in any EXCEPT for the wise king scenario, simply because, if left to their own devices, they'll self destruct.
I like to think of guilds as less like countries and more like city-states, or even tribes. Small and tight-knit, large enough to only interact with each other for day-to-day situations, but small enough that interaction between groups is still both needed and wanted.

Feist said...

Emblems of Triumph are DKP. They are points you acquire for showing up to a raid, which you can 'cash in' for loot - including the best tier 9 pieces availiable to the vast majority of raiders, the non-heroic, ilvl 245 Of Triumph sets - and they take /a lot/ of badges too. even if you do the heroic daily every day, you're looking at AT BEST 1 piece a week.

The one advantage Blizzards built in DKP system has over the real thing is the ability, once you have all your gear, to 'cash in' otherwise worthless DKP for Crusader Orbs or Runed Orbs, to be turned into GOLD GOLD GOLD.

In every other respect, they are a pretty poor emulation of the idea sadly.