Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Don't Break the Shadowbind! - The man, the myth, the flavour: An interview with Donnie from BBQ.

Don't Break the Shadowbind! is our Wed-weekly column brought to you by Omoikitte. Endgame isn't just killing mobs and splitting up the drops, that is the easy part. Omoikitte will provide her insight on how to do the hard part: the administration and planning of events, deciding on how to divvy up the drops, and how to deal with that one whiny LS member that just won't shut up about their abjuration. An insight into a different method of leadership and a successful linkshell on Odin, Omoikitte talks to Donnie from BBQ about how the cogs mesh in this successful end-game linkshell.

We have heard me pontificate at great length about how my opinions on how a linkshell should be run. Today I am going to diverge from that path and explore the inner workings of a different linkshell, it is famous, it is infamous and it is undeniably a success in its own right. It’s a flavour, an out-door activity and a horde of gamers in FFXI. Welcome to BBQ.

The Essentials

The Man
Handle: Donnie
Orientation: Male
Age: 29
Origin: Bahrain, but lives in the UK now (*editors note – an enlightened man then ^.^
Ls Member: 5 years and counting.

Omoikitte>> How long have you been a part of BBQ?
Donnie>> urgggh
Donnie>> sad
Omoikitte>> LoL I’ve been running Versus for 5 years.
Donnie>> 5 years
Omoikitte>> So don’t worry I won’t judge.
Donnie>> yea lol
Donnie>> LOL
Omoikitte>> LOL

The Linkshell
Average Active Membership: 35-40
Leaders per Member base: 7-8

The ConversationWARNING – LONG POST

Omoikitte>> Hellooo
Donnie>> Hellooo
Omoikitte>> Are you busy right now?

Donnie>> Not really, /sea all Donnie.
Omoikitte>> Still willing to do that interview? It was tactical asking.
Donnie>> Sure.
Donnie>> Its ZNM week and I am bored from taking pictures lol
Omoikitte>> It gets old after the first 10mins of taking pictures, a necessary evil.
Donnie>> Yea.
Omoikitte>> Mostly, I just want to talk to you about your opinions on running an end-game linkshell, what you think about how things should be done what its like being a part of BBQ, owning the shell etc etc. Points systems, a different perspective on running a long living ls other than my own.
Donnie>> Sure, ask anything, there are too many things to consider so if you ask specifically in each aspect, I will give a better answer.

Omoikitte>> Sooo, you are the big cheese, the main man as it were, of BBQ correct, you own the actual shell itself?
Donnie>> Not really, for a good reason BBQbank is the shell holder.
Omoikitte>> Oh? Do you retain executive control over the bank?
Donnie>> No, 2-3 people manage it, and if someone can’t do anymore, someone else does. The reason behind it mainly is just in case I quit, the LS won’t end. There were times that I have taken a break and it didn’t affect the LS. From the beginning our target was to have a system that everyone followed, not a person.
Omoikitte>> *amused* That has come up in the past, do you find it odd that you can go away for a long time and come back and everyone is just that slightly more engaged than before because you are there?
Donnie>> I felt happy it works.
Omoikitte>> Our? Was it a committee that decided to create BBQ?
Donnie>> We had a mission statement that everyone that joins must read, I never say I, lol I know it sounds cheesy but again, the mission statement was that we are not a HNM ls, and if you think you are joining a HNM ls, you are in the wrong ls. We are a group of “friend” that do end-game. So if you look at it from this perspective, it changes a lot of things. For example, there is no main leader, although people would come up to me in some cases, but it’s those cases that 50% say yes, 50% say no. I have to have the final say.
Omoikitte>> People still see you as the final point of arbitration correct?
Donnie>> Yea. But, if I am not around, it wasn’t a big issue either. They solve it through the system. W never have the same rules. Any suggestion or dilemma goes to leaders’ sub-forum. They discuss it and vote on the solutions. If there is a majority yes or no, then it is solved, if it’s still not solved, it is posted in BBQ public forum and all members vote, if it’s still not solved and there was no major agreement it’s where I step in.

Donnie>> I actually stripped myself from any role, so that everyone else is empowered and feel part of the linkshell, so you don’t end up having sub-groups within the ls that works for their own interests etc.
Omoikitte>> You definitely get that impression from the membership base, as quite a few camp out on our Vent server. (*editors note Vent = Ventrillo, peer to peer voice chat program)

Donnie>> Yea, so this way, even if the leader quit, it will have no impact on the ls.
Omoikitte>> You say you have a leader forum, how do you go about electing a new leader for the ls?
Donnie>> There are job descriptions for every role. There are no leaders for the ls, every event has a leader, and that leader is only the official one. For example, sea events has a leader that keeps a sheet of all pop items, managing the event, posting lists etc. and there is a sky leader miscellaneous leader, banker, recruiter, and every one of those roles have specific things they manage which we stated. There are also ZNM leaders. What else.. umm.. aside from all of that, everyone can lead any event. He has to report to the official leader for the farming results etc. and we give a bonus points to people that lead and take lists, to motivate members to lead rather than follow. There are 4 weeks rotation, Sea>Sky>ZNM>Misc.
Omoikitte>> So you have almost a mini network for each event that virtually self-regulates itself? What safeguards do you have to prevent abuse of that system?

Donnie>> Its 2 things. Since points are shared from all events, the item list states who gets what and it’s done automatically. This way, event leaders can’t choose who gets what and do what they please. If in some cases they do, members can revoke him as a leader and it happened before. Not because that leader abused the system, but because he actually cannot lead, so I asked him to step down and let others lead.
Omoikitte>> In a lot of ways this sounds very similar to the Roman senate, in its idealized form of course without the despotic Cesar.
Donnie>> lol Never though of it this way, but in all honestly, I take no credit for all this development in the system.

Donnie>> I can no go on how we actually formed…
Omoikitte>> Everyone enjoys a good “we came from this” story /grin
Donnie>> BBQ was a social LS before all the end-game shells here, and it consisted of about 8-10 people. Those people have joined Metoera, which later broke and reformed as CRX. Once it broke, the people in that shell decide to be in our own ls and make sure everyone joins are a friend or a friend of one of us. Metoera had a lot of problems with mass recruiting and shouting to get members. I was originally in LB, (*editors note LB = Limit Break) back when main NMs were Serket and Roc.
Omoikitte>> Ah the good old days LOL.
Donnie>> But I moved to Metoera because all of that ls were my friends and they were in rival ls. So to fast forward I wasn’t leader of the ls. The leader of that ls moved which was called UnitedBBQ, so we end up needing to reform.
Omoikitte>> To a different server?
Donnie>> Yea, Remora, because they hated CRX leader Jyuzax and don’t want to be near him or whatever.

Omoikitte>> That’s where a lot of the CRX US players went when they opened it up, to start afresh, but it panned didn’t it.
Donnie>> It didn’t go well.

Donnie>> Anyway, the guy was very strict etc, no fun, its “real” challenge etc and refused to recruit members, I don’t blame him. He was trying to be very small Ls, with very skillful players but it just doesn’t work and I had conflict with him in that issue where he left the server and I made BBQ.
Omoikitte>> Speaking from experience here, that comes with time and you can never force it you are correct.
Donnie>> Yea, the problem with small Ls’, one guy don’t log on that day and you can’t do anything and you know back in the day, its rare to find someone with 2 jobs lol.
Omoikitte>> LOL seriously, it was a big deal to have 1 job at 75.

Omoikitte>> Now BBQ has been through quite a number of reformations in its history hasn’t it.
Donnie>> It didn’t go through reform, its not like I quit or something, it was just a periodical thing we did, every time we want to clean ls from inactive members and that sort, the system remained the same. Anyone that comes back has to go through application.
Omoikitte>> And the undesirables?
Donnie>> Not really, although some I don’t like, not as their person but as their skill, but we never actually told them not to join again, that is a very important thing that I enforce many times so that every leader knows it.

Omoikitte>> Personal opinion doesn’t really come into it though, I have had times when people in my ls rub me completely the wrong way, but I don’t let it affect my decisions to use them in the ls, or to penalize their right to lot. I guess I mean more those people who were a negative aspect of the ls, rather than just someone you didn’t like.
Donnie>> If you let personal feeling comes in your way, you are due to over react or abuse the system but they do know that I can’t kick them from the ls, and this is very important. So we respect each other in events etc and actually OK with no. We are not really “friends” or let’s say online friends; anyone who thinks everyone in the ls likes everyone else is delusional.
Omoikitte>> More like work colleagues in a way then.
Donnie>> Yea
Omoikitte>> LOL agreed!

Donnie>> But you have to put a line where it doesn’t get blown out of proportions if you know those 2 don’t like each other, you must talk toe ach and/or invite them to a PT and it works really well. Many of them actually became friends and would be doing things from morning until nights. At the end of the day, most of those who don’t like each other would be because of a stupid incident happened years ago or something. All it took is someone to say sorry and it’s done.
Donnie>> Once BBQ started, the one I lead, I put the mission statement immediately on how its “friends” ls and everyone has to have this mindset, because you will never have a perfect system and you will end up in a brick wall sooner or later. If you are not strong together any issue or dilemma that happens will divide the ls.
Omoikitte>> Now on that point, BBQ does tend to have a reputation for being a bit possessed by the drama llama. What are your thoughts on that?

Donnie>> It’s a huge ls, if I understand you correctly; you mean drama within the ls or drama with other ls?
Omoikitte>> Both.
Donnie>> Oh, ok. Every ls has drama but believe it or not, everyone that came from a different ls or in similar situations, have said that BBQ has the best environment of all the ls’ he has been in and to add more, most people who left BBQ for other ls’ tried to come back and I am talking 99% of them. I only know 1 person who didn’t come back and stayed in the other ls. So there is drama but it’s not what people say and it happens rarely, and the best part of it, it always doesn’t mean anything.
Omoikitte>> Which is the inevitability of the gossip monger.
Donnie>> One you get people playing together 24/7 they end up fighting with each other sooner or later, not each other but I mean 1 of them will pick a fight with another player but they would laugh about it 10mins later. It’s like how family behaviour does.
Omoikitte>> Yes, people will understand that concept spins from any linkshell that is successful, otherwise it just falls apart.

Donnie>> Recent example would be last week where someone was angry because other player told him that he is slow in refresh order, so he left lol. So we knew he is having a bad day, 3 hours later he comes back in the ls and says he is sorry. We don’t /tell him asking him you will get kicked because you did this or you breaking the rules. The mindset is still we are group of friends. As for drama with other linkshells. Every ls had it and mostly the new ones. LB was a nemesis to TK (*editors note – TK = Team Kannican) and they ended up teaming up. We were nemesis to both of them and end up teaming up in a lot of events.

Omoikitte>> What do you think of your teaming with TK and LB? How profitable has it been for your selves and for the other ls’?
Donnie>> It does profit every ls socially if you have many cross friend the ls’ bond more together. Our team ups really on AV which was successful lol, recently in PW which is also successful because not 1 ls can get 40-50 people for that event. So although it’s a mutual benefit the one that drives it is because we have too many cross-over friends. Also we have been in agreements with all other ls’.
Omoikitte>> Do you think potentially that has arisen from the fact that rivalry between ls’ on Odin has never really been that aggressive in comparison to other linkshells, which in turn has allowed for these bridges to be forged?
Donnie>> It was Aggressive. But I have talked to Masago back in the day and other leaders to try to change this. People used to say “this ls did this to us”, we want to say “that person from that ls did this to us” and it works.

Omoikitte>> How long did it take for them to come around to the idea that it would be better to bury the hatchet?
Donnie>> Honestly I don’t know, it began maybe from a stupid thing tat no-one is allowed to use /say in camps and every ls leader should deduct points if someone does that. Believe it or not, it was a rule.
Omoikitte>> I have had that rule standing in Versus since day one. It comes with a warming that I will kick the member if they rise to any heckling from other linkshells, and I always enforced a rule of polite behaviour to other linkshells, so it isn’t that strange of a concept.
Donnie>> Yea, true.
Donnie>> Then the other effect happened after so many end game events emerged, Einherjar, Salvage etc. it made a lot of cross-ls’ linkshells. But to see that rule all other ls leaders agree on is what was strange. Lol. We were to a point where we random before each window to decide who claim the NM before SE patched the delay in spawning. You know ironically enough, I can’t find an Ls now that we have a rivalry with.
Omoikitte>> But that is definitely a positive step towards linkshell co-operation, a sense of fair-mindedness rather than obstructive behaviour, and really actually merging to work as a team for certain events was just the next step along the path in that respect.

Donnie>> The true test of any team is not when they are successful, its when they fail at something or reach a brick wall.
Omoikitte>> And how they deal with it.
Donnie>> Yea, I remember one point, where I went to Odin’s Chamber as PLD/BLM, yes you can laugh -.-, and made the ls fail, timed out on 1%. The members took it lightly and laughed about it, you can’t expect a success rate of 100%.
Omoikitte>> You actually need the failures to remind the membership that you are not invulnerable, as a point to retain perspective.
Donnie>> Yea, that reminded me of how members contribute, one of the main things I found in beginning of ls, there is no way 1 leader can handle everything for the ls, in 1 case, he can abuse it and in another case, he will get burned out. So I split the events to leaders.
(*editors note – I actually paused for a moment at this point to point out that I very much run the linkshell with a pyramidal structure of leadership rather than a committee)
Donnie>> I think it all has to do with changing mindsets towards admins, for example not to call them admins but to call them leaders up to a point where people would be confused who is the leader and find out.. there is no leader, it’s the system that leads everyone.
Donnie>> We are in the matrix!
Omoikitte>> LOL
Donnie>> lol
Donnie>> There are many instances where new members don’t know who is the leader, it was funny. But from the same point, its how our system developed, suggestion form was always filled with options to improve and we continued to vote on this and that until we finally arrive here.
Omoikitte>> Tweaking and refining what you do.

Donnie>> To explain to you the ls rules now would be 10 pages of text or more, but its from years of developing. There was no ls doing point system back when we started, or at least as the way we do it, and I never heard of anyone using item list + point list. We had point list as a matter of value and then we have PP list, which is a formula that is used on the point system to give you a value for items. This formula includes bonus for
1. How long you been waiting for that item.
2. How many points you got… and something else, LOL even I can’t remember now.
Omoikitte>> LOL
Donnie>> And then you get penalties such as 1. If you get a critical item recently, this penalty vanish over time so we don’t get 2 person to leech items, also penalty if you are below 20% activity, but a bonus if you are 90% active.
Omoikitte>> It equates to an even distribution of reward amongst the members.
Donnie>> Thos bonus values though, were tweaked until the item list produced was fair, at the beginning we gave high bonus for criteria that messed up the item list, so it took us some time to adjust all those values.
Omoikitte>> Did you vote each time you tweaked the rules?
Donnie>> Yes, in leaders forum, if leaders do not agree, it goes to public forum where all members vote.

Donnie>> Then we go into the banking thing, there are two channels of money.
Omoikitte>> I know you recently announced a big shake up on how you do the banking in the ls.
Donnie>> Yea, this is a perfect example, first the reason behind leader forum and not putting every single action to vote. It’s because you need speed, if you put things in public as you just showed, it gets huge and takes more time to solve. So if leaders agree, it certainly means members agree, but if leaders divide, then members should come and give their input. It’s like taking a sample vote, or taking a full vote.
Omoikitte>> That makes sense.
Donnie>> Now for the BBQ money, it started when other ls’ began to show up relics here and there. So some leaders started saying why don’t BBQ sponsor relics like other ls? I was on the other side refusing that matter.
Omoikitte>> Why?
Donnie>> Because it’s a narrow view, “this ls has relics more than us!” it’s very childish in my opinion lol, and it shouldn’t be the comparable aspect between ls. In fact I don’t find anything to compare between ls.
Donnie>> Who got the most HNMs?
Donnie>> Who kill fastest?
Donnie>> There are too many ways to list your achievement and argue that you are the best, so the best thing to do is not to compare your ls but rather just feel happy on what you are as a group and what you have accomplished. I mean its funny how people used to say “we kill more” then it changes to “we killed with less people” then it changes to “we kill in this amount of time”.

Donnie>> The other main reason was I am not sure how you can take 150,000,000G and give it to 1 person where everyone worked for that amount, doesn’t make sense. Other ls’ are mostly the leaders who get relics, so that’s a “?” mark, what kind of example would you be setting to your members if your leeching all the money to yourself? I bet you the main reason people would stay on those ls’ are just to get item, there is no feeling that they are having fun with friends, it’s just a job and then they do other miscellaneous events with their friends.
Donnie>> Anyway, we put it to the main vote and people suggested the idea of splitting the gil each month then another person suggested another thing, we end up having a really nice idea. 50% of the gil treated as bonus purely based on points accumulated per person each month, has nothing to do with PP or activity, and the other 50% would remain till auctioned off every Sunday 30p/500k. So every active person in the end would be receiving about 4-8 million a month and that doesn’t come with a deduction of points, just a bonus, this way we removed all the excess gil on the bank. Just keep “working capital” for each month.

Donnie>>For recruitment it’s sad, because I had 2 people who are my friends wanted to join the ls, but they couldn’t, and its good because no-one can be blamed. LoL
Omoikitte>> Why couldn’t they join?
Donnie>> 2 sponsors, fill in application, discuss it for a week, close that topic, open poll for a week, need to get 70% to join.
Donnie>> One of them I think because he didn’t have good jobs, in fact he only had DRG and no merits >.>;
Donnie>> The other was close, he had 64% yes.
Omoikitte>> HEY! Nothing wrong with Dragoon!
Donnie>> Exactly lol
Omoikitte>> There is a lot wrong with no merits, that is just idleness.
Donnie>> Yeah I told him to work on his merits at least and apply again, you can apply again.

At this point we got completely off topic and just started waxing lyrical about how cool DRG is as a job, and how bad DRG are a travesty. Thank you to Donnie for spending a few hours chatting to me about various aspects of his linkshell. I hope you all enjoyed this small window into BBQ.


Potpressure said...

Good stuff. I enjoyed this a lot. Being a BBQ member, was nice to read the sum up of this LS through the eyes of a leader. For the most part it's the same as what I think of it. Great work Omoikitte <3

Potpressure - Odin - Taru face <(^_^)>

JESS said...

I give 2 thumbs up to see this new movie “BBQ”. j/k good interwiew gives insight and good measure on running a good LS.