Intended for our members, The SOK Handbook is a listing of our responsibilities, rules, and policies that are used to govern our guild and determine how we operate. By retaining your membership in the Sterling Order of Knights, you agree to abide by the rules and policies set forth on this thread.

For applicants, this handbook allows you to learn our policies and procedures prior to making a commitment to joining our guild. Pay special attention to the next section 'How To Get To Know SOK', as a great primer on how to acclimate to our community.

Guild Management and Responsibilities

While many online guilds function as a democracy, I feel that given the opportunity, many people will vote in their best interests and not in the best interests of the guild. For this reason, majority rule does not work effectively for us. Our guild can best be defined as a dictatorship, though hopefully a benevolent one. I hope that this outline helps you to understand how our guild management team operates. While we may have a different management style than many guilds out there, I feel it works well for us. Everyone has responsibilities towards the management and operation of the guild.

  • Knights - While the buck may not stop with our members, their input is absolutely invaluable. The Officers could not run this guild as effectively without the discussion and feedback they receive. Knights use the Round Table and Applicant Discussion forums to assist the Officers in making decisions. With Round Table discussions, the Officers read the feedback to learn how a decision will affect our members and which course of action is best. In Applicant Discussions, the Officers read the feedback to learn how an applicant is interacting with our members and how they will fit in. Both of these forums are necessary to us, it would be incredibly difficult to make decisions in a vacuum without feedback from our members. While our decisions aren’t based on the majority's wants, we certainly take everyone’s views into account when making them.

  • Leaders - Occasionally the Officers select individual Knights to help them for a time with various tasks, either in-game or on the forums. These Knights are designated as Leaders, and help coordinate group gatherings or raids, moderate chat, recruit members, and other tasks.

  • Officers - The Officers of the guild operate and run the guild in all aspects except what the Guildmaster alone can do. The Officers are the true management of the guild. The Officers control the operation of the guild in game, and make the majority of the decisions that are required of management. The Guildmaster does not micro-manage the Officers and stays out of the daily decisions that they are required to make to operate the guild. The Guildmaster's involvement in in-game operation is minimal at best. However, for definition purposes, the Guildmaster is also an Officer and can fill that role as well when it comes to in-game/guild management. This is a separate and additional job from Guildmaster of SOK.

    This system is effective as the Guildmaster selects people that he trusts to run the guild, and then gets out of the way and lets them run it. The Officers are responsible for the management of the guild, and the Guildmaster is responsible for the Officers.

    The Officers of SOK are Aalain, Alex, Androdameia, Aulwewen, Jubal, Kodoir, Leod, Nirrudn, Talferian, Trubador and Xia.

  • Guildmaster - The Guildmaster has three important roles. His first and most important role is to choose the Officers that lead the guild. It is the one decision that he makes that is solely his, whereas every other aspect of guild decisions is or can be shared by all of the Officers. The Officers have full autonomy, and can potentially make any decision and judgment call alone, except for this one.

    The Guildmaster's second role is to intervene in the decision-making process when the Officers are in disagreement with something and cannot reach resolution. This is an important role with so many conflicting ideals and management styles that each of the Officers have.

    The Guildmaster's third role is to execute The Whim™. The Whim™ is actually a very important aspect of our guild management. Used sparingly, it allows him to bypass any of our rules and regulations so that we don't get wrapped up in our own red tape. This is an important aspect of our management system as it allows us to have absolute control and not reach a conflict if we wish to accomplish something we would otherwise not be able to due to our own guidelines. The Officers can use this aspect of our management system through the Guildmaster when needed.

Suggestions on Getting to Know Us and Learning Our Expectations

How would it be best to get to know SOK and its members? There are many ways and lots of resources available to you if you’re interested in becoming a part of our family. This is meant to be a guide with more info and examples than in our Join page.

First off, you must realize, it is SOK. It is not SOoK, and it is definitely not SoK. We are the Sterling Order of Knights.

We have a website at http://www.sok.org where you can find information about how SOK came to be, where we have been, and where we want to go. There is an extensive message board where you can learn lots of information about SOK as a whole, and about its individual members. There are areas that are accessible to the public, where you can post a suggested event, or sign up for an existing event. Please make sure to note the suggested (sometimes recommended/required) level for characters that wish to attend a particular event. If you’re unsure, or would really like to participate, feel free to send a PM (private message) to the individual leading the event. Spend some time looking around – you can learn a lot about us by reading our posts. Some of these forums are private, and you must ask for “Friend of the Guild” or “FoG” access by e-mailing officers at sok.org.

Take a few minutes to read our charter and history pages as this is the foundation for SOK. If you think you're honestly interested in joining SOK, be sure to read these closely. The charter, history and many other links are accessible off the main page. You might also try using the Roster to see which characters people play in the various games we find ourselves.

So how else can you get to know us? The very best and most effective way is to spend time around us. Experience groups and events are always an option, and as long as you’re in contact with one of the Knights, it should be fairly easy to join in either of those. Check out who is online in game and send someone a tell. Most will be happy to talk to you and let you know if anything is going on that you could participate in. Perseverance will usually pay off – just because a group wasn’t available one day, doesn’t mean it won’t be available tomorrow; or even 30 minutes later. Keep trying – we’ll note your persistence.

You can also join our chat channel in game (if applicable). If you’re serious about becoming a Knight, we suggest you auto-join it every time you log in. Many members use that to chat, to communicate about raids, XP groups, and to ask questions. It’s a great tool for us to know who is serious about becoming a member, and stay in communication with those people.

Becoming a Knight is a long road. We invite the player, not the toon. What this means, is we are more interested in the person behind the keyboard than the character that you play. Being a higher level only matters in the sense that you will usually be able to interact with the other long standing players easier.

The guild as an entity however has no real interest in loot. Members will want to see what you have or just got, will be interested in hearing stories in the way friends want to hear about your new car or how your job is going. The guild doesn't really care one way or the other about what you have, what you just got, has no opinion on who should get what. The guild does not value the toon over the player. There will be gear disputes, you will be sorry you missed out on an item or may be envious about another persons equipment. Handle it as a mature adult and remember that while it may be a good estimate of your worth as a toon, it has nothing to do with the actual person's value. That is what we are interested in at this level - we are a family and if your main interest is getting something for yourself, be it gear or to see content, this guild is not a good fit for you. While it will provide for opportunities for those things you will be most unhappy here if they are your focus.

To be clear – we do not recruit. We sometimes close applications but they are usually open. We are not looking for people to join, we don’t need bodies and many of us think we’re too large right now. We never look for a particular class, we have no interest in your toon, what areas they have access to, what your buildout is, how many hit points or resists you have. Those have merit for qualifying for groups and raids. SOK requirements are that the player behind the toon fits with the other people in the guild.

Our member base is older than most, we have an average age of around 35, ranging from teenagers to people in their 60s. We have 200+ members all in all, many of which don’t even play any particular game SOK is in right now, but they remain active regardless.

Read the charter again and read through the Join page; make sure this is where you want to make your home before you apply. We expect our members to be long time members, although there is no required commitment to length on your part when you join. SOK goes beyond Everquest, Camelot/WAR, Warcraft or any other game we’re in. We’ve been around nearly 11 years, and will be around many more. When SOK moves to a game, if you’re playing that game, it’s expected that you would want to be with your family in that realm. If it wouldn’t be your first and primary reaction to want to be with SOK in that game, then you should probably look elsewhere for a guild.
The Process™ for Applicants

How do you know SOK is for you? What do we base our choices for members on?

We make sure that a person is a fit for the guild, and the guild is a fit for that person.

Levels/Rank, class/profession/career, playing ability, availability, all those things are interesting and often fun to discuss but they are far down the list in terms of what we look at in the application process, and in some cases not at all important. The only thing level and availability have to do with membership is how much time you can spend with the average SOK member to get to know us. Higher level more active people will get much more time in front of the membership and people will get to know you. Playing ability has some basis, as if you really just can't play worth a hill of beans, no one will want to group with you and you wouldn’t be a good fit.

There is no defined time limit for the application process, or any step of it. The average application takes months to process. Months. Not one month, but several. Generally, it is evident within a meeting or two (raid, groupings, events, etc) if you're not a good fit. SOK is not a good fit for a great many people, and that's fine. Those people usually figure that out before ever stating intent to app and there is no issue. Generally within a week or two, it becomes apparent for the crowd that might or might not be a fit, and sometimes it's just very apparent very quickly that you are a fit for SOK and SOK is a fit for you.

A month would be a fast application process and generally only happens to people that already have a long history with the guild and several members. Going weeks or even a month without hearing hardly anything on your application is not abnormal, you should expect it.

We have a Process™ for applicants. If you want into SOK and you are a fit for the guild and the guild is a fit for you, then you will make it in, but everyone goes through the Process™. If you want in this family, you will do the work necessary to make sure you're a fit. It will take as long as it takes but a good rule of thumb is – if you’re in the app process, or intending to app, and you're not enjoying hanging around with SOK then you should drop out or not apply.

Regardless of how fast you yourself understand if you’re a fit for the guild or not, it takes a good bit of time for the Process ™ to get rolling. This is by design and will not be changed – we like the slow, drawn-out process. The application process would go ideally something like this:

A person decides he/she wishes to be a part of SOK and posts that intention on the boards. This person would nearly always be guildless. Certain exceptions are made from time to time but generally, we won't take you seriously if you're guilded and say at the same time you wish to app to SOK. Asking questions about SOK while being guilded is fine. Thinking you're an app to SOK while you're guilded elsewhere is silly.

After posting your intent and receiving support from several members you will likely receive an application. You should fill this app out like you would a Term Paper. You turn in crap, we will give you an F and ask you to re-write, or turn you down right there. The more you write down honest answers, the more people will be able to determine about you and we can make an intelligent decision as to if you are right for SOK. Be honest on the app. If you lie on it to make it look good, it will be apparent at some point in the application process.

Then your application is posted in a private member-only application forum (personal information like name, email, birth date, etc is removed from the posting). Remember - this is the only place most of the guild has to experience you at this point. Only maybe half of SOK plays the ‘main’ current game SOK is in at any level of frequency, and everyone's opinion count. Most commonly, members in other games that don't have any experience of you save your app will not make comments on those applications, unless something about it jumps out at them that you and SOK are not a match.

If there are issues between members and an applicant, whether they be personal, game style, ability based, etc, they could be brought up and worked out, or they might remain silent. That is up to the individual with the issue to bring up and discuss it with the applicant, or an officer in their place. I highly suggest that if a member comes to you with suggestions, questions, or issues, you listen carefully and work them out.

Do not ask any member about what others have said about your application. Do not view your own application. Ever.v
The comments made on your application are made in confidence. A member can discuss his/her comments about an applicant with that applicant, and members can talk about it with other members. One member can not tell a non-member what someone else said about an applicant. Asking about your application is fine but you should go through an officer. Asking members about your application to find out what others are saying about you will likely get the application declined.

If you have questions about your application, you should speak with an officer in game, PM one on the boards, or you can email us at officers at sok.org.

The Process™ for Members:
  • - People to Keep an Eye Out For thread lists what players are currently applying, or may apply in the future. It's a who's who thread. There can be multiple posts here on a single person, but it isn't needed unless each person is providing more information on the who they are.

  • - People We Should Give an Application to thread is where you can support a potential applicant if you think they should receive an application. If you met someone that you think is pretty cool, or you want to learn more about a someone that you've grouped with a few times, post it here. You don't need to sponsor a person here, but you should briefly explain why you think the are app-worthy. There is no set number of posts that equals an application, but the more support a potential applicant receives, the more likely they'll receive one.

  • - Applicant Discussion will now be that, a discussion. If you liked an app's application, tell us why you liked it, or what response stood out for you. If you have grouped with this person, or met this person in real life, or they are in you regular Night Crew, tell us about them! Leaders that have firsthand knowledge of applicants are encouraged to post their feedback and assist with the discussion.

  • - We are setting a time limit of 6 months to make a decision on applicants. This makes it very important to provide feedback once an application hits the forum.

  • - The first weekend of every month will be guest weekend. Applicants will be invited to the guild for the weekend so that we can get to know them better. Guest weekend starts when someone invites the applicant, and they will remove themselves when they log out on Sunday.

  • - The last weekend of every month will be a good time for the Officers to review the current applicants, make decisions on who should receive applications or be invited, and clean up the app forum. *

*(unless Jubal is napping)
The Round Table

The Round Table Forum is an important part of how the Sterling Order of Knights operates. It allows each individual member the ability to discuss their views and give feedback that the Officers can use to make decisions. While SOK is a dictatorship, we absolutely take the suggestions and feedback posted here strongly into consideration. Any member can post a thread to discuss an issue which you feel is important for the guild to address.

  • - All posts in this forum should be respectful and on-topic.

  • - This forum is private and information contained within shall not be shared with anyone outside of the guild. See Forum Sanctity, below

  • - This forum is not a complaint drop off box. Specific incidents with members should be discussed in email to officers at sok.org, they do not belong in the Round Table.

  • - You have a responsibility as a member to bring a guild-wide concern to our attention, either through the Round Table, or by private messaging or emailing the Officers.

The following is our procedure for establishing a new branch of SOK.

SOK has defined what a multi-gaming guild is really all about. The definition is centered on a policy on our presence in games. We all agree that if SOK shows interest in a new game, we should allow a branch of SOK to be established in that game. This branch would follow all SOK rules for recruiting and conduct. We have settled on a two-tiered approach. (The numbers used are a guideline, and may be adjusted depending on the particular game/realm and or ruleset.)

New Games - Tiered Approach
  • -Beta Games
    The guild will not be formed in Beta games and there will be no recruiting from these closed games. For the rare exception that the officers decide there is enough support to form the guild in a beta game, the guild will consist of current knights only. No recruits or recruiting will be allowed until the game goes live.

  • -Assessment Period
    - It takes 6 knights to open SOK at this first tier. Guild suitability will be evaluated in a minimum of 30 days.
    - Members of the guild playing in the game are asked to support the effort by joining the server/faction chosen
    - An officer will be the one to create the guild and set up the ranks, if no officer is present, and there are enough members to open up a first tier, the officers will discuss the plan to move forward on creating the guild.
    - If after the 30-day ‘honeymoon period’, there are less than 6 knights that want to play the game, the branch will be disbanded. If there are 6 knights or more, the branch become an official branch, and will be re-evaluated in 6 months.

  • -Active Branch
    - After the minimum 30 days, if the branch has maintained its numbers and has support from the officers, it will become an active branch.
    - Knights are expect to play with their fellow Knights. The same rules apply about different factions/server type. (As per the exclusivity requirement)
    - You are allowed to play on another server/faction that is not supported by the official server type/faction. IE, In world of warcraft, we are on a PVE Alliance server. You may have characters on a PVP server, or Horde character on another server without issue.
    - Formal recruiting will be allowed (i.e. guest invites, potential app threads). Guest invites should be for a very short term, such as a raid or other type of event.
    - Every 6 months, an evaluation will be made on whether or not the branch stays open.

  • -Evaluation
    - Every 6 months, an evaluation of the game will be made. If the game falls below 6 Knights, the Active Branch will be closed, and folks still playing can either stay in the SOK guild that was created, or feel free to do as they please. Members wearing the SOK tag are still required to follow the rules of being in the SOK Guild.
    - If guild membership drops below a healthy level, branch suitability/viability will be evaluated at that time and the branch will most likely be disbanded. If the officers deem the branch viable, the branch will be reevaluated again at a later date.

*IMPORTANT:These numbers and this policy are a guideline only, and may be modified to fit a particular game or realm. It is important to communicate to individuals that are interested in joining the guild that board presence and RL interaction are not enough for a prospect to get an application. We are a gaming guild, and in game interaction is the primary method to garner support. Any interaction with a knight is positive, but games and gameplay are the reason for the existence of this guild.

Rule Breakdown
  • -Assessment Period
    - At least six Knights must be playing regularly to begin this period.
    - Exclusivity requirement applies.
    - The officers will create the guild and ranks.
    - If a branch has maintained or grown its numbers after the thirty-day Assessment Period, it may be deemed an Active Branch by the officers.

  • -Active Branch
    - Exclusivity requirement applies.
    - Every six months, an Evaluation will be made on whether or not the branch should be Active or Non-Active.

  • -Non-Active Branch
    - Exclusivity requirement does not apply.

  • -Corollaries:
    - Any time anyone is tagged as SOK anywhere, regardless of which type of branch they're in, they are bound by the leadership of the guild officers and the sterling behavior described by the Charter.
    - Anyone tagged SOK must have gone through the full recruitment process, unless it is a temporary guest invite.
    - The numbers used above are a guideline only, and may be adjusted by the officers.
    - If a Knight was playing a previously released game before a branch entered an Assessment Period (generally because it's an older game that SOK never existed in previously), then that Knight is exempt from the exclusivity requirement in that game.
  • -Behavior - Respect and integrity are a must amongst any Knight - we do not shout obscenities in public channels; we do not slander other people or guilds in a public situation; we don’t train, jump, or ninja loot; we don’t cheat. SOK was founded in Diablo I where cheating was rampant. Some folks came together and formed a guild of people that would actually play the game without using hacks. This ethic comes through to today. If there is a bug in game that is questionable or against the EULA, you would naturally respect it, not abuse it.

    If these things aren't your style, then there’s no need to read any further, there are plenty of other guilds out there that will suit your needs better than SOK. Incessant cussing, d00d speak and lack of an ability to actually type out the word “you” will also raise eyebrows. Words like "gimp" and "peeps" are deemed disrespectful by a lot of people, and speak a lot about your character. If you are one who likes to uses words such as that, we suggest you take a look at your intent, then your speech patterns, then see how they match up. If your intent and speech patterns are correctly matched up then this is not the guild for you.

    SOK guildchat is kept PG-13, although given the mature nature of our membership, we don’t moderate any private channels (group speak, tells, etc). We do expect you to remain respectful regardless.

    When attending events with SOK, use your head. You may see lots of people on raids with SOK as we have a long-standing history with many other guilds. These individuals should be treated the same as you would treat one of us.

    Be respectful of those leading and follow their instructions. Chances are they’ve done it before and they probably aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel. If you have a suggestion that you would like to share with them, you’re certainly welcome to send them a /tell, understanding that they might be receiving lots of them and if they don’t get right back to you, do not take it personally.

  • -Exclusivity Requirement - If SOK has an Active Branch in a game (in a particular faction or server type), all Knights doing the same are expected to be a member of SOK and only a member of SOK there.

    For example, if SOK has an Active Branch in WoW on a PvE-Alliance server, then any Knight playing WoW on a PvE-Alliance server is required to be playing on the same server and be in the guild. If a Knight is playing WoW instead only on a PvP server, or PvE-Horde, that Knight has no requirements. If a Knight informs the officers that they want to play apart from an Active Branch in that game for whatever reason, that Knight is welcome to re-apply in the future without judgment or punishment. Finally, exceptions may be allowed at the discretion of the officers (this is generally when a Knight contacts the officers and says he plays 90% with SOK, but 10% of the time on another server of the same type with his son or something along those lines, and requests that the officers grant him an exception as long as he still overwhelmingly mostly plays with SOK).

  • -Forum Sanctity - Our private forums are part of our foundation. Each member has the ability to discuss his or her views. This only works when members can trust their words will stay private. Our Application Discussion forum, the Round Table, and any other private forums, are bound by a mutual promise that none of us will share things inside them.

  • -Following Leadership - The guild only works if its leadership is trusted and respected. You may disagree on one issue or another, but following what the leadership decides overall is required. That said, always feel free to email officers at sok.org or PM any individual officer with any questions or complaints about any matter at all. Just as members have duties to follow leadership, the leadership has duties to protect its members and look out for the best interests of the group.
Members must abide by the rules and policies of the guild in order to maintain their membership. Breaking our rules or policies can result in disciplinary action, up to and including reduced forum permissions or guild rank, restriction from guild functions, in-game character sanctions, or removal from the guild. In almost every case, the officers will contact the individual first to discuss these issues. These matters are always ultimately decided by the officers.
While the SOK Handbook outlines our rules and policies, it may not cover every scenario. Anything that is not covered under here will be handled at the discretion of the Officers.

This handbook is a living document, and is subject to change (and probably will). When this thread is changed, the date in the subject line will reflect the most recent update.