A tribal merger, like a marriage, can yield a whole stronger than its parts — or it can end in utter disaster. So it seems a tribe has merged and they are asking how people feel about it, you can read the full article here.
Tribes may fall in bad times, I know that from first hand, with dwindling members online, OOC drama or just plain being invisible on the radar of other tribes.
Tribes have their own culture, way of doing things, by overlooking cultural rifts trouble could be looming in the near future.
3 basic lessons I learned when Luna Caleeng Panthers merged with Forest Moon were:
Lesson 1: make sure cultural alignment is a prerequisite to any merge
Divergence at top level influences in a top down way to lower echelon members, as they look up to their leaders in defining a tribes culture. In some cases one leader may be more ‘visible’ or ‘aggressive’ in deciding which culture will prevail.
For example leaning towards pew pew rather than role play. Or one that is weak about banning ooc drama and one that will hit the ‘eject button’ without a second thought.
Members once used to one leadership style and culture will now be confronted by a new unknown leader with her own leadership style who has joined the tribe.
Lesson 2: communicate, communicate and communicate
Nothing is more distressing than logging in one day to find yourself kicked out of a group, the camp or the sim gone and having absolutely no clue why. A notice sent out saying the leadership decided it was best way just doesn’t cut it. Or logging in and finding the name of the tribe has changed and your ava on screen is standing there surrounded by unknown panthers.
I am an advocate of involving members in the decision making progress at the earliest oppertunity. A vote whether it be online or via note card is the very least you can organize in advance. If there is broad support after this vote, then by all means go ahead with the merger.
Don’t rush into a merger!
Lesson 3: Preemptively address implications of name change and ownership
I left the hardest aspect of a merge till last. Tribal names and their history can be considered a gem on both sides. How do you assess which tribal name carries more weight? The name that is lost, will leave the other party feeling ‘lost’ and perhaps even ignored. A name may also carry a cultural significance, like a well- known para rp tribe. You see a tribal name is like a brand and that is how you must approach it.
Then comes the question of ownership. Founding members will see their role lost, their name swiped away from that ownership tag. Possible exception is the founder who named the tribe, their name will still appear there, even if they leave. Politics, favoritism starts to also rear its ugly head, rather than a merit based way in which ownership (and leadership) is organized.
In the article I referred to, the thoughts about the merge were split, some were pro, some were undecided, but one statement stuck with me and you can read it below.
Do mergers work? Perhaps if they are done gradually as described over a period of time. In this case..no. If we had met more of FM before the merger and got to know them it might have worked. However as it worked out, I was at the ONE meeting when the merger was discussed (I am the Tavern Keeper bodi referred to) and it seemed most had already been agreed before I arrived. The next thing I know we have a camp full of strangers whose tribe name and flag we will be assuming …err..no..that’s not how it’s meant to go.
Tavern Keeper & Last of the Shekinah
So, mergers are problematical, hopefully lessons can be learned from each one.