Flame Posts On Public Chatzones
The Syndicate is one of the oldest guild's in online gaming with roots going back years. It is also the largest guild with more than 500 active people at any one time and more than 4,000 people having been members over its lifetime. That makes for a rich and full past loaded with stories of success and accomplishment but also dotted with the occasional problem.

Any successful, large group, that has lasted for years, will have its occasional problem and as a result of those problems, will have its detractors. Since the average lifespan of a guild if 3-6months, most guilds avoid this fate by disbanding and fading away. Those that last, all have their detractors. All the detractors share one thing in common: A dislike for their former guild. Some of them are vocal and bash their former guilds on public forums thinking it somehow harms them when in fact it has no affect on them and often has the reverse affect (i.e. causes people to look into that guild increasing their membership or notoriety). The guild clearly has something successful about it to be around for far longer than 99% of other guilds therefore most players who read negative things recognize them for what they are and some will seek out more knowledge on their own learning that the vast majority of that guild really enjoy it and that it has to be doing something right to continue to be so successful for so long when so many others fail.

One question sometimes asked of members of The Syndicate is "why does so and so hate you so much?" The implied hidden meaning of the question is: what have you guys done wrong to piss them off so much?

In the Syndicate's case there are several different answers to this.

1) Kicked Out: The Syndicate is a mature, professional, team focused guild. We are highly organized and have years of experience in gaming and in running a successful guild. We have certain core rules that are unbreakable if a person wishes to remain a member. We dont support pkilling. We dont support cheating and bug use. We dont support stabbing each other in the back. And there are various other things that arent acceptable.

Every so often, someone breaks a core rule and gets kicked out. Since the kind of people that would break those rules tend to be the kind who will whine and piss and moan on chatzones, you see them around badmouthing the guild. Often they are egotistical people who would find it impossible to admit to themselves "hmm I screwed up and broke a rule and got kicked out." Instead they feel hostility to the guild since we did kick them out and would like to do whatever they can to cause the guild harm. In their minds, since we harmed them by removing them, they need to harm us in return.

Over years of history, especially in our earlier years before our recruiting process became as refined as it is now, we have our fair share of people who didnt work out and were kicked out. We are glad to not have them as members anymore, and anything negative they say is merely a reflection of being kicked out.

2) Rejoin Denied: The Syndicate has a very strict policy on quitting and rejoining. That too has been refined over the years. In our early years we let people rejoin who quit in many cases. We found that this led to the mindset it was ok to quit because you always knew you could get back in. So we revamped our rules to reflect that if you quit, you are gone from the guild in all but the most rare cases.

Since the Syndicate is a very well established guild that isnt going to collapse, when a player decides to depart the guild and join another guild, often they find themselves guildless after a few months when that guild folds. Often they also dont find the same level of maturity, team focus and friend focus that the Syndicate has. As such, more than 85% (nearly 9 out of 10) former members, apply to rejoin the guild at some point after they quit. Almost all of those are rejected and unable to rejoin.

That rejection, for some, leads to hostility towards the guild. They were unable to rejoin so some people then become the guild's worst detractors. What they fail to tell you is that they very much wanted to rejoin and extolled the greatness of the guild in an effort to rejoin and only after finding out they were unable to rejoin do they get negative. How much stock can you really put in such a person's words?

3) Application Denied: The Syndicate received thousands of applications to join each year. We only accept a very small percentage of them. In some rare cases, rejected applicants become hostile and negative about the guild. Odd how one minute you can sing the virtues of the guild in an effort to become a member but once they were rejected suddenly the guild is terrible and bad. How much stock can you really put in such a person's words?

4) Fought The Syndicate And Died: The Syndicate, in Ultima Online is an Anti-PK guild. In all games we are anti-cheat and anti-exploit. If we catch someone exploiting and cheating, we will report it. If someone is a pkiller, odds are we will fight them. And in UO we participated in a number of major "declared" wars (both sides declared war to fight). You will find some negative speakers fit into the category of having fought us and lost. If you look closer you will find they chose to play in opposition to us (i.e. pkilling or declared war on us) and lost and are now going to badmouth people for losing. That is a sign of a shallow ego but very common among some players who chose that path.

My favorite comment is when someone choses to oppose us or choses to kill innocent players and then says "the Syndicate ganked me!". Ok, lets think about this a second. You are fighting a guild with hundreds of people. You declared war on us and we accepted. And you wonder why we showed up to battle with more troops than you? Come on now. Give me a break. If you want to fight someone with less troops than you, then declare war on them instead. We dont pkill. We dont go around declaring war on other people. But we will fight to defend ourselves and our allies and friends and we will bring massive firepower to bear when we do so.

5) Quit Under Negative Circumstances: The final category is when a person quits the guild under negative circumstances. These can take many forms including not agreeing with a guild rule/policy/direction, fighting with another member or leader, a friend gets kicked out for breaking a rule so they quit too, they wanted power and didnt get it, they wanted something changed and didnt get it or getting in trouble for breaking a rule not severe enough to get kicked and just quitting over it. Because these people quit under negative circumstances, they often try to break off other members to join them or to cause the guild harm. They always fail but they can be noisy about it while trying.

The reality of their situation is: Something occured such that they didnt wish to be in the guild anymore, so they quit. Their issue was important to them but not to 98% of the guild (about 2% of the guild may quit in a negative fashion, or get kicked, over the lifetime of the guild). They are mad about their reason for leaving. They are mad at the guild leadership perhaps. And they are mad that 98% of the guild doesnt share their concern. So some of them seek to cause the guild harm by slamming it on boards. It doesnt harm the guild but it is entertaining to read. Especially when a great many of those same people also try to rejoin at one point, get rejected and get even more vocal.

6) Heresay: The final category are just people who jump on the bandwagon sometimes based on nothing and other times based on the mysterious "I knew a guy who told me that...." type evidence. If everything "a guy" told me was true, the world would be a dramatically different place than it is now. Some people, especially those who frequent flamer boards, just like to argue, like to tell people off and like to try to cause trouble. They will jump into most any fight or flame on whatever side suits their mood of the moment. They add no value, have no tangible involvement but just like to feel important and involved. They need to get a life but sadly, flaming is their life.

In summary, there are boards in the online world known for flaming. There are players who frequent them and do flame guilds on them. The Syndicate receives its fair share of flames. So next time you read those boards and those flames please remember a couple important things:
  1. That person may have once been a member and was either kicked out, quit and tried to rejoin and was rejected or left due to a disagreement in the guild. Of course they have hostility towards the guild. But since they represent about 2% of the total membership of thousands of players, you can hardly call their view, the majority. 98% of Syndicate current and former members are supporters of the guild and have really enjoyed being members. Of the former ones, most all retired from gaming and hence also from their guild and left on a very positive note and feel the Syndicate added great value to their gaming experience. As for the 2% who are negative: We are glad they arent members and we are better off and stronger without them.
  2. Happy people dont tend to post or get involved in flames. Mature people who like their guild dont tend to post or get involved in flames. Syndicate members, for the most part, dont get involved in flames. We recognize the flamers for who they really are and we know they merely want to harm the guild or piss us off so we dont give their flames a second thought.
  3. Most flaming actually helps the guild thats being flamed. Flamers represent a very small percent of the gaming community, they are just vocal on some boards. The vast majority of the community doesnt care what they say and doesnt support their style of communication. They prefer to learn things for themselves. All flamers do is draw attention to a group which gives the vast majority of players something to research and learn about. In the end that groups notoriety increases and usually they meet several new people to join them.
  4. Any group that has thrived for 6+ years, been the largest guild in gaming and done it all under the same guildmaster without ever breaking up, reforming etc.. has got to be doing something right especially when its clear only 2% of former members have any issue with the guild. If you could score a 98% on every test you ever took, would you complain? The 2% may dislike the guild. They may dislike the guildmaster. They may rant and rave, but they are a very tiny (although vocal) minority. And the ironic and funny truth is: Most of them have tried to rejoin the guild and been rejected. They wont tell you that but most of them thought so highly of the guild or so poorly of their decision to leave they wanted to rejoin and only after getting rejected did the guild suddenly start to "suck".

So if you ever hear anything negative about the Syndicate, make up your own mind. We dont pkill, cheat or use bugs/exploits. We dont tolerate morons and kiddies in our ranks and we kick out self focused people or those who cant follow simple, common sense, team focused rules. We have a strict recruiting policy that takes only a fraction of the thousands of apps we get each year. We have thrived for 6+ years under the same leader, being the largest guild that whole time. We have never folded, reformed or fallen apart. We are highly structured and organized with a solid, experience tested set of rules and policies that work for us and for 98% of our members. Nearly 9 out of 10 former members try to rejoin so you could argue it works for more than 98% of members else they wouldnt want to rejoin. And our adult (average age is 28yrs) membership doesnt engage in public flamings and see's no need to make self serving posts extolling our virtues just to counter some flamers useless ranting. The many news articles written on us, offers to beta test games for developers, and thousands of applications to join each year, along with a 98% happiness rating among our members are accomplishment enough.

So next time you see a Syndicate flamer on a board ask yourself which category do they fit into? And is what they are saying worth anything or just the ramblings of a tiny minority? Seek out a Syndicate member and ask them for yourself and find out the truth behind the flamer. Who knows, maybe you will become a future friend of the guild's or perhaps even a member of it. And when that happens you can thank the flamer for introducing you to us and strengthening the guild they hoped to hurt.

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