If someone in a guild does something wrong to another person, doesn't every guild member have a right to know? Shouldn't it be made public?
The short answer, in my opinion, is Yes. I am a firm believer that each individual not only has the right, but also the responsibility, to be well informed and make decisions for themselves about what to do for their own protection.
The long answer? It's complicated.
Let's go back to That Guy in trade, whose entire justification for shouting NINJA in all caps is to warn others. Looking at it from this perspective, it absolutely makes sense. Yes, they absolutely have a right to know. And the best person to tell them is the officers, because that enables the leadership to control the way the information is released, in an (ideally) unbiased way.
In the security world, classified documents are only to be released and discussed on a need-to-know basis. If I took a similar approach to discretion amongst officer decisions, it brings me to the debate over the difference between right-to-know information, and need-to-know information.
The problem lies in knowing where to draw the line. As officers, we encourage others to come to us privately if they have any complaints or things they want to discuss. We want to foster open communication between officers and non-officers. In order to preserve this communication, it requires a lot of discretion on our part. The unfortunate part of this required discretion is that we are often perceived as some power-hungry clique of officers, sheltering secrets.
If WaltTheWarrior comes to me and complains that he doesn't like the way HarryHunter bosses people around in vent, it is my responsibility to take care of the problem (assuming it really is one) without telling HarryHunter specifically who all has complained. Harry doesn't need to know this information that might make him bitter - if the complaint is a legitimate problem, it is our job to take care of it. We have to be confrontational for all the non-confrontational people. It's really not fun.
When players have a problem with one another, they do not HAVE to come to us. If they so choose, they can communicate directly to the person who offends them. That is their right, and if they choose to do this, we can only hope they do it with maturity. But, that having been said, it's none of our business if two players decide to hate one another, as long as they act properly whilst in a raid. We aren't your life counselors. If players who cannot get along choose to use the guild/raid/alliance chat or forum to air their grievances, it now becomes our business - this isn't the place for it, children, fight elsewhere.
Once you bring the officers into the problem, you have to expect that we are going to treat it with the same discretion we treat every other problem we encounter. If an officer cannot treat these scenarios with discretion, they should not be an officer.
When you agree to join a community and follow their rules, once you bring a problem to an officer and expect them to handle it, you no longer have control over how that problem is handled. We're supposed to be unbiased (and most of the arguments amongst officers are based around trying to achieve that lofty goal) and that means that what YOU think should happen is no longer all that relevant.
If you don't like the way your guild is run, you are absolutely free to start your own. This is not a "piss off" or "take it or leave it" statement. It's simply logical fact. We can't make everyone happy. If you want things to be a certain way, then take responsibility for it yourself, and DO it yourself by starting your own. Hell, I've considered doing this myself quite often.
Reputations are very important in the WoW Raiding scene - and this can be tricky to handle amidst the ever anonymous internet. Serious accusations, taken too far, can ruin someone's raiding career. What if it really WAS just an accident? I'm all about letting the voice of the people speak for themselves, but I get very concerned when emotions run high and the mob mentality begins to surface.
The thing is, do you announce an issue if it turns out that it is a NON issue? Do you tell all the members "hey someone was accused of Ninjaing, but after a week spent researching the issue, we have decided that is not really the case." That is going to turn into "shouldn't all guild members be allowed to make the decision about whether or not that is the case? Like a jury of your peers or something?"
Well, that is an incredibly valid suggestion, and this is why I have been so on the fence about how to handle these situations. I have come to the decision that discretion is the better part of valor. Do I expect all the guild or alliance members to faithfully trust my judgment and simply agree to do what I say? Absolutely not. I do, however, hope they understand that I, as an individual, do my very best to represent them and make decisions that will benefit them as a whole.
Author's Note: I actually wrote this Monday, and am only posting it now. Yesterday, there was a very interesting post by Elnia over at the Pink Pigtail Inn on a very similar topic to the things I have been writing about this week. It's really entertaining when several people in the Blogosphere seem to have the same ideas at once!