Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Guild leader and the Turkmenbasi

Have you heard of the Turkmenbasi? He was the president of Turkmenistan between 1990 and 2006 (until his death). He wasn't the greatest political leader of our time, but that wouldn't make him interesting. What made him stand out of the crowd of mediocre politicians is the 75 meters high monument that had his golden statue on top. No, it was not erected after his death. And it wasn't the only one. The country was littered with statues, paintings, and other artwork (of dubious value) featuring the Turkmenbasi, "the father of all Turkmens". Oh, he also renamed the months, "April" was changed to the name of his mother.

How on Earth could this prime example of megalomania lead a country? Why did the people tolerate him? I mean there was some violation of human rights and some opposing politicians and journalists found themselves dead, but there were no mass graves, concentration camps or revolts on the street. On the other hand in several other countries the people revolted against the tyrant, even when the mentioned leader was much-much less obviously unfit for command. Are they somehow better people than the Turkmens? They wanted freedom more?

I don't think so. I strongly believe that the survival of terrible or ridiculous regimes depend on one thing: does the wealth of the people depend on their own work or not? Let me explain: the golden statue needs ... well, gold. That's expensive. The surveillance cameras, secret police, torture camps, execution squads and such they are also expensive. You don't find brutal murderers for cheap, except for those who believe in some Utopia, but you don't want to give guns to their hands, as they will turn it on you in the moment they believe you deviated from the Utopia. The army that protects you from other warlords (and hasty "democracy exports") is also expensive. Money, money, money.

How do you get it? If you have to tax your people, then their life standards will drop. Most people don't give a damn about politics and rights. Do you think that a 900DPS DK could quote a line from the constitution? Or even name his senator/congressman? As long as their stomach is full, they have a warm room and some substance to intoxicate that non-functional organ in their head, they are fine.

The costs of your army, secret police, golden statues and such risks exactly that. If you tax your people hard, it means they have to work more and "have fun" less. They won't be happy about that. Agitators have easy job among disgruntled people. Also if they have to work, they can easily sabotate because of political reasons. Of course you can punish them, but how do you tell the difference between saboteurs and suckers who just messed up their job. Hang them all? If your countrymen are similar to the playerbase of LFD, you'll need lot of ropes mate!

On the other hand if you could magically make wealth (the currency of your suck country doesn't count) to finance the enforcers and the symbols of your tyranny, most of your people would be cool about it. All you'd have to kill are a few young Utopists. Too bad for every wannabe dictators that there is no free lunch.

Is there not? 85% (eighty-five percent) of Turkmenistan's GDP comes from oil and gas. The turkmens don't make oil and gas. It is just there. So our beloved Turkmenbasi sold it for $ and financed his system from this income. The people did not have to pay for the army and the statues. Strike that, many of them did not have to pay for his own food and drink, as the oil-dollars were plenty enough to allow the Turkmenbasi to hand out some welfare.

Most long-living dictatorships and terrible failed countries have a serious income source that does not depend on their own work. Oil, gas, copper, drugs (as you can't grow them in decent countries), financial aid from outside (or carelessly given loan). Trying to bring democracy into these countries is futile, because they are exactly like WoW. The dictator, like Blizzard, can create rewards out of thin air and hand it out to the M&S for free. And this makes them just as happy as the 900 DPS DK in his shiny T9.

Of course there is a minority in these countries who want a better life, but they are just as small minority as those players who know the class they play. And, just like in the case of WoW, they are not the "target audience" of the system. They can tag along, or they can go to hell.

If the country depends on its own work, the smart people necessarily get into better positions. They get local power and the leadership cannot do anything about it unless they want to destroy the economy itself. These smart people and using the power (money) they gained during leading the local economy can fight for a better world. The French Revolution leaders or the Founding Fathers of the US were no illiterate peasants. They were upstanding citizens, rich men in the old system. They belonged to the top 10% of the country, and recognized that there is no way up for them as the system doesn't let them higher. So they destroyed the system.

The whole thing came to my mind, when people in the guild did not applied for "raider" positions, despite having decent gear and proper skill. When I asked someone why not, he replied, because he is not 100% sure yet that he is perfect and if he fails I'll most probably kick him and ridicule on the blog. I was shocked. I needed raiders. Why on Earth would I kick someone who can be used? Of course I wouldn't hesitate to kick a total failure. But to kick someone who is just "imperfect"?! That would be very-very stupid.

Then it hit me: in "social" guilds, you can be kicked for "causing drama" or "not being helpful" or "insulting someone" or such nonsense. The reason is that they don't need you. Any warm body can take your place. Their rewards come from Blizzard, not from their own efforts.

Our blue geared successes (or failures) depend on our own effort. If I would kick people for not being nice with me, or mentioning my low DPS when it's low, I would destroy the whole guild as it cannot function without able raiders. Therefore I have no power above my raiders, exactly because my "guild leader" position is nothing without guild progression.

In a meritocracy the leadership is just administration, not power holders. In a free-lunch system the leaders have real power over their subordinates. The subordinates need the leaders to give them welfare, the leaders don't need subordinates for any other purpose than "living statues", means of display of their power.


Anonymous said...

You misunderstood, I think. Your imperfect raider was afraid that you will kick him (or her) if they do not perform to your standards, make mistakes, don't do as well on recount etc as you want them too.

Same reason people in top raiding guilds are paranoid about their raid spots and constantly keep researching, crunching numbers, milking that last bit of dps/threat/healing..

It has nothing to do with being social and everything to do with competition. Raiding is very similar to corporate world.

Of course, at this time you need raiders, period, so you are willing to overlook more imperfections, but when you come from a mentality of "be perfect or don't raid", reinforced by your own meter critiques, is it any wonder that your potential raiders are intimidated?

Anonymous said...

Great aticle. Made me understand something.

I've always wondered why most countries rich in natural resources are lead so poorly and survive. (That is, until they are declared war upon and the regime is toppled with exterior aid.)

This is all tracing back to one inherent problem of current energy distribution. I think I understand now why so much effort is poured into non-fossil fuel research.

wickEdgirl said...

If your raiders have those kinds of fears, I would venture a guess that you failed in communicating the exact performance standards you will be expecting of them, since there is a *big*, *big* void between being "imperfect" and being a "total failure". Defining that void is necessary for rationality to kick in.

Combine this with a quite understandable uncertainty how (their) failures will be handled once they occur, seeing they have an outspoken anti-social as their leader and your members face a game-changer.

With any degree of socials you can expect understanding, empathy, ability to ignore certain aspects and focus on others ("well yeah, she is a bad player, but she always tanks heroics when asked"). Also you can manipulate socials.

But with an anti-social leader who can absolutely destroy you with mocking on his blog, you basically do not have the implied trust of common behavior implicit in "normal" or better yet, ordinary, relationships (this trust usually lasts until proven wrong).

In other words, as long as you dont have pure anti-socials in your guild who do not give a flying fuck about what you gonna say (or think!) about them, you will have to apply some degree of social behavior, like for example, communicating and defining the mentioned standards more through your guild's forums (though I honestly do not know if you already do that), more common play with members, etc etc.

Masterwolf said...

I have to agree with the first poster. Anyone that has read your blog may have an inherent fear that any mistakes on their part may be seen as ABSOLUTE failure and get them kicked from the guild. I know from reading some of your posts that anything shy of perfection can be seen as not knowing how to play. While this may not be your true intent, it sometimes comes across this way.

I agree with you that all must make an effort to at least learn to be competant with their selected class, but sometimes mistakes are made and the negative tone you have in some of your posts may lead to people fearing for their raid/guild spot.

I admire you for looking to change the way people look at WoW and that they should actually use their brains when raiding. However sometimes I think you miss out on the fact that you have a chance to educate people without the aggressive attitude that you constantly display. This could explain why you have a lower applicant pool then you would like.

With a little restraint and some more constructive posting I feel you could attract they exact crowd that you are looking for. Namely those that want to push the envelope and make themselves to be the best they can. But until you remove that fear I feel you will fail in your mission.

However I do hope you make it. Would love to see it done in all blues. I just do not think it will happen. And not because of a lack of skill but, because of a lack of people willing to work with you.

wickEdgirl said...

Masterwolf, I think you put too much emphasis on "fear". No rational person is afraid that much if they are certain of their abilities. And if they are not certain of their abilities, they are not really rational, and most probably they are not able either.

I think uncertainty is really the key here, uncertainty of the framework you are dealing with, and not the uncertainty of your own ability to function well within the framework.

Djenerativ said...

Well that's one persons reason for not going through with the 'blue experiment'.

I know at it's core it is basically an 'anti-social' experiment that is being conducted but it is being reported and 'judged' in what is still a public, social environemtn.

There's probably a different reason for each of them. One that comes to mind may be that the reality of the actual experiment is coming closer to home. Given that the gear level of the raiders will stay perfectly static, the difficulty will inevtiably increase as you move up through content instead of staying realatively stable as it does when you raid for new gear instead of enchanting mats to sell.

With something like this you would hope to attract people who are just as interested in the process and the result as you are. Undoubtedly some of them will already feel like, as you put it, "someone who can be used".

Ulv said...

The reaction of your would-be-raider is one of your own making. He'll read your blog, hang on the goblinish wisdom and set you up on a pedestal. He'll have seen your posts, their tone and the ridicule you heap on anyone who doesn't achieve performance that gains the Gevlon Seral of Approval.

Is it any suprise people aren't piling in to the Blue Raid group?

If I weren't busy running my own guild full of the usual 'casual raiders', M&S to you with a smattering of truly standout players I'd have xferred my War over to join in because I do believe you're right about being able to run some content in blues helped along purely by skill.

You ned to attract a group of peolpe who don't give a flying **** for your opinion or approval. OR at least who act as though they don't.

In a meritocracy the leadership is just administration, not power holders. In a free-lunch system the leaders have real power over their subordinates. The subordinates need the leaders to give them welfare, the leaders don't need subordinates for any other purpose than "living statues", means of display of their power.

I'd love for this to be the case - our 10-man core makes this the reality, for 25-man the quality of player varies greatly.

Essentially though the administratiors will always hold power and reap the miute rewards for doing so. Do not diss the admin!

Anonymous said...

Just one thing about Turkmenbasi: The 75 Meter high Monument also rotates with the Sun. This is meant as yet another Display of Turkmenbasis infinite Power. Because the Sun does not move according to Physical Laws; the Sun moves exactly were Turkmenbasi wants it to.

Wildhorn said...

I am always impressed how you can make real life -> WoW relations. It is amazing. When you see that, you can only laugh at people saying: "It is just a game, not IRL".

sam said...

Dunning-Kruger effect.

Read this post it describes your dilema. The short version is this. Most competent people underestimate thier worth because they see thier failures and realize they can fail.

The M&S all think they are great and never see or admit thier own failures.

Sihrtogg said...

Interesting thoughts, both from Gevlon about the response of a population to a natural resource fed dictatorship and from the commenters about the fear of competition in the undergeared project.

When I decided to join I also expected there to be more contestants. Like the first commenter mentioned: the larger your pool of applicants, the more selective you can be. While there are of course many people leveling, I assumed the lvl80 selection process was going to be by the masses: 25-man Naxx raids and only the best acquire member status. Every mistake can be 'fatal'. A part of me was primitively attracted by this with a preemptive shot of adrenaline.

Now it turns out the applicant pool isn't going to be as big as I thought. If the reason for this is that you've scared off players who don't want to face the challenge, then I think you saved yourself a lot of filtering. Then again, it kind of works like a market system: the higher the demand for players becomes, the more enticing it will be to supply yourself. But if the supply does not increase enough, some might already consider the project to have failed, in which case it will, kind of like the stock market.

PS @ Anonymous about the rotating statue

That could have been a Chuck Norris joke. I wonder how many citizens actually believe it.

Eaten by a Grue said...

I think this is a very good post. But your blue run endeavor is not immune from your turmenistan analogy. Blizzard still offers up epics during your run. While the players cannot equip these for this effort, they can certainly use the epics for other purposes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this is one guild-societal ill you can't blame on "social guilds." Raiding guilds are just as likely to kick someone for "causing drama" or "not being helpful" or "insulting someone."

I know you'd love to stick everything you don't personally like to agree with on M&S, but I've seen more raiding guilds kick people for 'drama' than social guilds, by far (barring the time that Big Bear Butt went batshit and kicked most of his guild for having raiding alts in other guilds).

Sven said...

@WickEdgirl /Sam

Very well put, I was about to post something very similar myself.

Ultimately this is down to management style. There's more to running a successful team than bawling out those who are under-performing. You have to understand why they are under-performing and diagnose the cause & take appropriate action.

In some cases, yes, it's because the individual really is useless or unwilling to improve. Other people respond well to criticism and take it as a cue to do better next time. Some others get de-motivated by public attacks, whereas a quiet private coaching session will work fine. Some others just need time to reflect on their own performance and will improve on their own if you give them that breathing space.

The important thing here is that there is no "one size fits all" approach to increasing individual performance.

Now it may be that you understand this perfectly well, but that's where the second part comes in. What matters here is not what Gevlon (or any other team leader) actually thinks, but how others believe you will behave. By repeatedly posting "moron of the week" and "mean guy of the week", you are setting an expectation of your behaviour, that you will publicly humiliate those who under-perform and praise those who do likewise. That is very off-putting for those whose who don't learn well in that kind of environment, which immediately reduces the number of people who wish to raid with you, essentially to those who:
a) believe they are flawless and thus will never get criticised
b) have very thick skins and don't care what you say
c) people who know they respond well to being publicly challenged.

Only a small percentage of the people in each category will actually be any good and, if they're not, the a) and b) types are unlikely to learn, as they either think you're wrong to criticise them or don't care what you think anyway. The type c) ones are rare in any event.

By being more flexible in your management style (or, to be more precise, what people think your management style is), you will make our team more attractive to those who are self-critical. Ultimately these are the people who are most likely to improve in the long term.

Phew! Apologies for the wall of text, but this is a complex issue, where a subtle, flexible approach really helps.

Stop said...

While I don't know how you run your raids, I have to admit, his fear of ridicule on your blog is perfectly legitimate.

Almost every post on this blog is ridiculing M&S, ridiculing social players, ridiculing auction morons, encouraging other people to ridicule others (even when they don't have their facts right, like Kuis, from the most recent Mean People of the Week - sorry, champ, 540 defense is capped for raids, 535 for heroics) ... heck, it seems like all you do these days is post about (1) how your guild isn't raiding yet, or (2) ridiculing someone or something.

arrowrest said...

I'll admit, a bit of me is experiencing "schadenfreude" reading your latest posting.

Personally, I think your undergeared project is a worthy one and I hope it succeeds.

However, I strongly agree with @Sven and @wickEdgirl, you can't expect to continually post "morons of the week, "mean guy of the week" or write a whole series of posts on using the LFD system to purposely weed out and punish "bad players" without any attempts to help improve them before a vote-kick and then turn around and complain about no one wanting to apply for raiding positions for your undergeared project.

You've created a perception of your expectations through your writings and actions. You can't blame this situation on externalities such as what reasons "social" guilds might remove people and therefore it's the players experiences in past guilds to blame. This reluctance to join your raiding team comes from the internalities of what you have created, from the perceptions you have created about yourself and your standards and methods, and not because of something else. There are consequences to what we do and not everything is the fault of some outside system. To succeed you need to do a better job of communicating your expectations to your guild members.

Jindrake said...

Why can't you be my GM? My GM always whines to me when I act out on ppl doing so low dps I do atleast double, say I got to be more nice, what kind of bullshit is that! After reading your blog my hate for socials have skyrocketed

Barrista said...

I have to agree with your first poster. A previous blog post was all about kicking people from heroics if they do less damage than the tank. Obviously, this guildie reads your blog. He also knows his own dps/damage better than you. Maybe he feels he has reason to be kicked after reading your post??

I think you may have shot yourself in the foot. You want your mediocre raiders in their mediocre gear, but complain about mediocre players in your posts.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Let's take a rational look at this.

What is the worst thing that can happen if you participate in the 'Undergeared project'.
The worst thing that can happen, is that you get called out by Gevlon for it it.

While I really don't see the issue when a name and a collection of pixels representing you get called out(you can change your name, race, generder if you really want it), what is the big problem.

Your status might go down a little. However, status is something for socials. Here is the trick: Gevlon's status for socials is VERY low. I can imagine myself they hate him. So even if Gevlon calls you out, the socials won't take it seriously. Even if they laugh at you, you can blame your gear. So what could anyone possible be afraid of?

Bernard said...

You need to walk before you can run. Get the raids up and running before you start considering performance management techniques.

Hardmode guilds can afford to choose the best because they have a surplus of players. You do not, so cannot.

Coeur-de-fer said...

@anon, regarding the "raid guilds kicking as much as social guilds."

Most raid guilds ARE social guilds, at least to some extent. They're not two mutually exclusive groups. Even if you meant to only refer to the top end hardmode guilds, most of them are still caught up in the same sort of social drama you'll see in any other guild. They simply have a performance requirement as well. Oftentimes the egos grow even larger, and in need of ever more stroking.

Frankly, I'm still disappointed I can't take part in the blue project, being on the wrong side of the pond, as it were. The heroics thus far look like they've been fun, and the raids should be an interesting experience (if you can get enough members who aren't quaking in their boots, that is).

Anonymous said...

Leaders do need something from the masses - votes or a lack of a revolt; the phrase from 2,000 years ago is "bread and circuses" to describe bad public policy to bribe them.