While sort of related to starting a guild it can be something that happens well after starting a guild, if at all.
First, a definition. All of these can be done with two or more guilds but for simplicities sake we'll just talk about 2 total guilds at a time.
Mergers are when two guilds get together and form a new guild. It can also be done where one guild merges into another guild because the guild name is liked by all. Mergers usually give both parties equal representation in the leadership and a agreed upon system of rules forms.
Acquisitions are a type of merger but one guild holds the higher cards and leadership is not divided. Sometimes no leadership remains from the guild that merges into other on. The guild merging in follows the other guilds rules. Sometimes Acquisitions are though of as mass recruitment's.
Alliances are when two guilds get together to form a partnership to get something done, usually raiding. Each guild provides some amount of assistance to the other guild to get whatever needs to be done, done.
Now another First, if you are going to think about any of this you need to be up front with your guild. Do not chat with other guilds behind your members backs and then spring it on them hoping they will be ok with it. Let them give you feedback from it. They may have been in the guild or know many people from it or have had dealing with it and can give you feedback.
No Vacancy is a guild built out of bad mergers and we are 100% against any merging. So my initial advice is DO NOT MERGE!. That being said, merging usually is the worst way of going about things. Mergers just don't work.. There are always people who liked it the way it was in their previous guild and one guild tends to have some superiority complex making the other feel bad. Attrition rate on both sides of the equation usually is pretty high. I have never seen a guild merger that went well.
However, if you decide to do it then make sure you completely disband both guilds and star a brand new one with new leadership, new agreed upon rules, new dkp, new everything. Nothing should remain from either guild. It is a fresh start and no one should have the upper hand. merging is a democratic thing, if you were a dictator in your guild then your process of merging means you lost all that power to the common man.. You helped form your own coup, congratulations.
Alliances are great if you are struggling to get people together to do things, however, they have their own complications. If it is for raids then you need to figure out an equal loot system between the guilds and you need to figure out who is going to provide what. I do not personally have any experience with this form of collaboration so I cant comment any more than that.
Acquisitions on the other hand usually work out well, for the most part. No Vacancy has participated in a few acquisitions with the first one being our largest and most successful. None of the new members were offered officer status' and we kept all our systems in place. For some reason people seem to mesh more because they feel like they are needed. The superiority complex doesn't manifest itself as much and people seem more welcomed. Maybe it is because people feel less threatened by it. Maybe it is just because of the way we run our guild. Everyone earns their own spot so we could have 500 people in the guild but there are only so man raid spots and everyone, old or new, must earn those spots. Either way we haven't had a bad merger yet. There can be some attrition but it's no where near as bad as losing the brunt of your raid force because you merged into a guild without the guild wanting it to happen.
The key word to any of the above things is communication. If you are not communicating on both sides as to what you want to happen then it will be a mess and people will hate you for it and you will have to transfer to another server because you lost all credit as a leader.
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