Wall of Text Crits you for Over 9000

Here’s what I’m trying to do: I don’t want to start recruiting for Cold Comfort until I’ve got a full website / forum / etc. set up and ready to go.  If you go back through my archives, you’ll see that I’m big on clear and understandable policies, so recently I’ve been working on the guild charter and loot policy.  The problem is that I can be a bit … wordy … at times.   I don’t consider this to be a bad thing – I have a tremendous respect for the written word and I’d like to think that I do a pretty good job getting my point across without resorting to text or l33t speak.  Written communications used to be much longer than the sub-1000 word blips we take for granted in our RSS readers today.

Powerpoint Makes You Dumb

The problem is that not many people like reading through walls of text.  They want the three bullet point powerpoint slide version that gives them succinct detail without requiring an attention span beyond that of a gopher on crack.  Not anyone who reads this blog, surely – but I can’t assume that the people who will be interested in joining Cold Comfort the guild will be of a similar mind as the readers of Cold Comfort the blog.

I can’t just put up the bullet point version though, because while it may be quick to read, it sacrifices detail that may one day be needed.  I can explain how EP/GP will work in the guild in a few sentences and link to the wiki, but the moment a wierd situation comes up, more detail will be required.  Do people have lower priority on pieces that are of a lesser armor class?  What if the community considers them to be best-in-slot despite that?  How do we deal with legendary items?  Is there standby EP?  Are there EP penalties?  What about trial members?  And on it goes.

We’ll Burn That Bridge When We Come To It

As I said in my post on policy transparency, I think it’s a very bad idea to make up policy on the fly during a raid.  When an unexpected situation arises, you should apply the policy as written, then consider changes to address the situation more gracefully in the future and update the policy for next time.  That means that your policy needs to have given some thought to the situations above and others that you can reasonably expect to experience.

To that end, my current loot policy is over 2000 words and 15000 characters.  I feel that it covers all of the above situations (and then some).  I’ve put a TL;DR synopsis at the top, but it’s still a massive post once you need more detail than the synopsis provides.  I don’t want it to be that long, but I’m afraid of compromising my principles by removing chunks only to have to add them back in later when clarification is required.  I could chop the expanded version of the policy in half if I wasn’t so … wordy.  But then some of my meaning might be lost, which misses the point of the entire exercise.

Policy by Example

What I’m toying with is starting off with a TL;DR synopsis along with a longer (and separate; this is key) post that covers the details.  The longer post won’t go into much detail (the length will come from the variety of edge cases it describes).  Then, any time that someone has a question or asks for clarification of the policy, I’ll create a little Q&A post that covers their question and the answer (as well as justification of the answer if required).  Perhaps I’ll clarify the longer post instead of making a separate post.

The point is that rather than assuming that I know what parts of the policy need to be explained in full detail and which do not, I’ll let the users tell me what isn’t clear by example.  For all I know, even the 15k version of the policy glosses over some details that are blindingly obvious to me but might be confusing to someone who has never used EP/GP before.

The more I think about this idea, the more I like it.  It puts the members into the feedback cycle, helping to make the guild easier for people to work in, without asking the members to do any more work than they would normally.  It’s easy to find members who want to discuss how things could be better, but at the end of the day the guild leadership need to be willing to put in the work to make things better.

I’d be interested in hearing other opinions on the topic – wall of text or short and sweet?  What’s you’re approach?  Or am I completely over-thinking the entire thing?

Until Next Time

Image by Doug Sheppard and Katrin L. Salyers