I am unguilded to all intents and purposes. Oh I have a tag over my head but, as I have mentioned it's the Other Half's brother's bank guild. There is a reason for this.
I've basically only been in two guilds in the three years that I've been playing. In the first guild I levelled my priest from 0 - 70 in and did my first instances in, my first (BC) heroics in, my first raids in. Oh Kara, how I miss you /nostalgic sigh. For a whole host of reasons, foremost being the female co-GM (yeah, the guild was run by a husband and wife team) was one of those female gamers who should have had a sign over her head saying "does not play well with other women". Eventually, dealing with her issues and her ego (all teh boyz are belonging to meeee) got so old I quit (first time I cried IRL over the game). I then eventually dipped my toe into the waters of guild life again with the uber hunter which was totally different. Guild the first had the best part of 500 members (a lot of alts admittedly, but that's still a big guild), guild the second had, I think 12, maybe 13 (including me and the Other Half) active members. I adored them all with the exception of the GM who again had his own issues. I spent a very happy year or so with them until the GM and I hit a wall; basically the other 2 women in the guild were very different to me. They were reserved (I never heard them utter a word on vent) and I am a chatterbox. They were dutiful and respectful, I am...feisty. They were demure, I can do locker-room talk with other guys quite easily. They'd been there forever, I would always be the new girl etc etc. So again, with me in tears, we parted company.
In one of those odd moments where the heavens align or whatever, I had a whisper from one of the officers in guild the first that I'd kept in touch with, saying basically that the co-GMs had server transferred to save their RL friendship with one of the other senior officers. The senior officer in question was hoping to have a chat and 'extend an olive branch' which baffled me somewhat as I wasn't aware that we had ever disagreed. Granted I'd not really kept in touch with him, not wanting to put him in a difficult position 'loyalty' wise but we'd never said unkind words... Anyhow, long story to short I went back to guild the first. (It turned out that he felt olive branch was required as co-GM from hell had felt the need to inform SO-turned-GM that it had been his fault that I (along with numerous other female guildies) had left due to him being "difficult, misogynistic, aggressive" etc etc. I was agape with shock. And that is an understatement.)
Going back to guild the first felt weirdly like coming home. Oh granted there were some new names but basically it was the same guild I had left. With the same issues still festering away. I was quickly (and probably, with hindsight, unfairly and incorrectly) promoted to officer level and it was as though I had never been away. Here I was again, healing my priesty heart out in raids and heroics 7 nights a week. Here I was again, in a state about raid leading (only in my absence a DKP system had been implemented with all the additional admin that requires). Here I was again, stressing about raid sign ups and raid slotting. Here I was again, awake at 3am trying to analyse what had happened. Here I was again, chained to the computer gone midnight pretty much every night. Here I was again, raiding on the nights I promised myself that I wouldn't ("we need another healer" was the line I dreaded seeing on g chat). Here I was again, with a second job that I paid to do. Here I was again, with RL getting lower and lower down my priority scale. Back on that gear treadmill girly, keep that wheel spinning fast.
Only something had kind of changed while I had been away. It had always been a 'strictly casual' guild previously, where raiding was an extra, not the be all and end all. In my absence it had gotten a lot more raiding oriented (hence the 7 nights a week raid schedule) to the detriment, in my humble opinion, of the overall fun feel that the guild and guild chat used to have. Additionally, the Other Half had found himself a raid guild that he liked and had the wit and intelligence to realise that going back was A Bad Plan. But a lot of the people I'd played with, giggled with and had fun with back along were still there.
I think that within guilds, and I know that I speak from very limited experience, there are kind of unspoken but generic roles that get played out. The GM who everyone either does respect (or pretends to) because y'know, (s)he's the GM. There's the officer corps, usually a gang who know each other very well, have their own in-jokes and do the work. Generally, the officer corps are your basic enablers. They are the people who get raids going, keep the guild bank in order, level alts when there's an obvious gap, coordinate bloody everything that happens within the guild, are forever switching characters; to their JC because someone needs a gem cutting, to their enchanter because people's gear needs enchanting ad nauseum, ad infinitum. They administer the website and forums, deal with recruitment and pro(and de)motions within the guild. They're also the people who you whisper when you have something to discuss. That's right, they are the ones who log on to be hit with a barrage of whispers, what I used to call the Pink Plague. Even worse, they are the ones who get whispers from other guilds if people have been acting in an unpleasant manner in PuGs. They do all this and they get nothing for it. Other than a sense of working for the Common Good. Then you have your raiders and the varying different personalities that they contain, give me a good rank-and-file raiders and I was a happy officer. Give me a difficult one, or one with a sense of entitlement, or heaven forfend a Snottydin and I'd be bouncing my head off the wall conveniently placed by my computer. Lastly you have your mixed bag of true casuals. The PvPers, the alt addicts (cough), the ones who didn't want to, or couldn't commit to, a raid schedule. In amongst all this you have your personalities and the possibilities for clashes therein.
I loved my guild but it wore me out. It wore me out enough that I purged my characters, deleted their gear (and them) and all but quit the game. And that is why I don't intend to be 'properly' guilded. I want to potter. To be beholden to no-one. To have my playtime as my own. And because I invest too much in people. And because of this investment I invariably get upset if and when it goes tits up. Better for all, methinks to be beholden to myself and my alts.