Saturday, February 13, 2010

Building A Successful Guild Part 4: Secure Your Valuables!

Welcome back to the Successful Guild Building series! In part 1, I described how the foundation of a guild is the guild leadership, who must be strong or else everything else crumbles. In part 2, I looked at the parallels between framing the different rooms in a house and in a guild, setting up proper avenues for members to enjoy all the various aspects of the game. In part 3, I detailed how the outside appearances of your guild caused by your website and current member conduct affects recruitment and retention of guild members. Now we come to the fourth part of this five-part series on how to build a successful guild, and more specifically, securing the guild.

One of the most crucial details in constructing a house is figuring out what provisions you will make to secure the valuable possessions and people inside the house both when you are home and when you are away. You can have a beautiful house with well-sized rooms and a good foundation, but without some sort of security system, all of this can be for naught with just one bad guy. Continuing the metaphor, the same is true of your well-constructed guild in Warcraft. One only has to look on the major websites covering WoW or the official forums to see many tales of guild drama and people stealing loots from groups and guilds, also known as ninjas. Just like the robbers and burglars in real life, the ninjas are in your realm and they are always looking for a chance to strike at your weaknesses. So how do you keep them out?

The first step in securing a house is installing door sensors and window contacts to communicate with a security system controller. This way, you know when things are moving in and out of the house through all the possible entryways. In a similar fashion, guild leaders must set a framework for protecting guild assets, usually held in a guild bank. Thankfully blizzard has programmed in many ways to keep track of guild banks so that guild leaderships can implement security procedures easily. The first thing you will notice is the log tab on every bank tab the guild purchases. This is not a thing to be ignored, as you can check every day or two and see which members in the guild are removing items from the guild bank. Ideally, you will have an officer who takes care of keeping the bank organized, and that person needs to check the logs to ensure any suspicious activity (a toon always taking things out of the gbank every day, taking high-value things, etc.) is noticed and brought to the attention of the officers immediately.

Additionally, limits may be placed on how many items you can let a character remove from a guild tab per day. This can range all the way from unlimited to no access at all, thereby allowing you to tailor your level of security. Another method of protecting the guild bank is limiting access to trial or new members. Whenever a member joins a guild, they join at the lowest rank. You should, at a minimum, organize your guild into three ranks: officers, full members, and new/trial members. Full members have moderate or normal access to the guild bank, while new/trial members should have zero access. This can be set in the bank and guild settings for each membership level you have set up. Taking these simple steps when setting up your guild can stop most ninjas right in their tracks.

One example from my days with The Illuminati illustrates this point nicely. We had a new member come in on a Saturday morning a few months ago, and they were talkative and generally nice in gchat. The person even ran a couple instances that morning with other guild members to try and start building relationships. Then just a few hours later, he asks in gchat "why can't I pull these mana pots from the guild bank?" So I and a couple of officers explained the no access policy during the new member period, and the guy flipped out in gchat. "I don't want to be a part of a group that doesn't trust people...this is just not the right fit for me..." He then quit the guild shortly thereafter. It was so painfully clear that the whole time, he was hoping to loot the guild bank and run off with the generous contributions of many others. But just by putting the security system in place, it kept a disaster from happening.

Once you have the contacts and sensors installed in a house, the next important step is USING the system. You'd be surprised how many people forget to turn their security system on at the keypad before they leave the house. In fact, when my car was broken into in real life a few months ago, the cop was surprised that it was an actual break in because he had not had any thefts where the doors were locked in six months! For a guild, that enforcement is easy because once you set your guild bank security settings, they stay in place. However, the use of an officer to organize the guild bank and make sure items that need to stay in "Request Only" tabs do so. However, just like in my story above, you have to make it clear to your officers that these bank rules are to be strictly enforced at all times! There's a reason you went to all the hassle of protecting these digital goods in the first place, and you do not want to waste that effort.

There is another kind of ninja thief in Warcraft, and that is the account hacker. Whether by shoddy account-sharing or dealing with gold sellers, even your full-fledged members and officers can become prone to this hacking phenomenon. When it happens to an officer in a guild, the guild bank is just as vulnerable as the personal bank, AND Blizzard is less likely to replace an entire guild bank worth of goods because you failed to protect them. Malicious people may also try to take over your website and use your ventrilo server, so you need to be careful with who is entrusted with guild information. Thankfully blizzard has provided an easy solution to this problem as well.

This little guy here is a Corehound pet, and he is only active on accounts with active authenticators. The authenticator requires an owner to put in an extra 8-digit code while logging in, and this code changes continuously for each authenticator. This makes accounts with an authenticator nearly unhackable. Therefore, anybody with full access to the guild information and supplies (and the ability to invite members who may turn out to be ninjas) all can be secured from intrusion by requiring an authenticator on every office account. This is not much of a burden as the authenticators are cheap and the corehound can be checked every month to ensure the officers continue to use the authenticator. Full members may get hacked, but the damage they can cause is hopefully limited to a few stacks of items in the bank, and usually a hacked member will inform guild leadership within 1 day of the hacking. However, I highly recommend requiring officers to use authenticators to fully enable the security provisions you have put into place.

With the size of both of my guilds, the security systems are in place and working well to prevent an attack of the ninja. In AIE, the guild bank is not a huge focus of the guild because there are way more people in the guild than a practical guild bank can handle. However, to enter AIE you do have to go through a trial period where you have little access to guild chat and no access to the guild bank. AIE also purges the guild roster of inactive people after a period of time, and recently placed the Authenticator Requirement into place for all officers. Thus, even in a guild of thousands of members, AIE is protected from the smallest ninjas that may try to wreck the guild.

The Illuminati works on a much more reasonable scale of membership, but this guild is more than big enough to be a valuable thing to steal from. The Illuminati has a full six guild bank tabs, and the guild bankers organizes the items into those tabs from raw materials to pre-northrend to northrend and then to high-value raiding materials. Full members are allowed to take 3 stacks per day for the low level items, 1 stack per day of the northrend items, and must request any epic gems and eternals. New members have no access whatsoever, and this keeps the guild savings protected from any ninjas or hacked accounts. While I am currently unaware of any officer policy for authenticators, the guild roster and officer roster is maintained by removing inactive members in each field. Therefore, The Illuminati also deters the potential thieves from looting the guild's bounty.

So with just a few easy steps, all the hard work you have done as a guild building gold and materials to help raiders and new toons can be protected. Security might seem like something unimportant you can get around to, but you never know with people coming in and out of the guild when a ninja will arrive. Like the guy who tried to ninja the bank if The Illuminati, sometimes they are the nicest people and start off building relationships with guild members. Always stay vigilant and keep your officers vigilant as well. Keeping your guild out of the drama threads on the forums and news reporting websites will help ensure the continued success of your guild.

We only have one more installment of this Successful Guild series, and I hope to have that finished up very soon. Until next time, keep your guild safe and secure!

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