A good Blog Azeroth Shared Topic is out at the moment: Who Owns a Guild?
In a straight answer: A guild is owned by the GM, as that person has final control. It’s a hard and solid fact. If you have the GM authority, you have the keys to the guild.
That final authority aside, the guild is really controlled by the regular players and officers. I’d suggest that the most regular players with good temperament should be your officers, as they are should be the guide for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. These players hold the success and failure in their hands, and should be given input into the choices that occur. The players who login each week are the ones who keep the guild alive, and they’re as important as all the structure and other activity.
The power structure of the guild will be different everywhere, but I’d guess that many raiding guilds have a powerbase directly linked to the core raid team. Those raiders help steer the powerbase, and a raiding guild is established to facilitate their enjoyment. You can level in one, but do not expect to be valued highly unless you’re raiding or supporting (in some manner) the raiders.
The ownership issue is more prevalent in the game now due to the achievements & gear which come with guilds, and how much time it takes if you change guilds. It’s a serious thing to change, and a far more serious thing to kick somebody. A kick is now a loss of all that work. If a character is kicked they are really having something powerful taken away, and therefore both the player and the kicker should take it very seriously.
In our guild [Insidious of Nagrand-US] I am the GM. I was given the title as our raid leader and old GM was feeling the pressure of too many concurrent responsibilities, and it was better to spread the load. For many years I’ve been an officer in a few guilds, and was an officer in Insidious before getting the big job.
The officers and I chat often about all sorts of things. In the current players there is around 5-6 players who directly influence most of the important stuff, and around 10-12 that we consider highly when looking at the future. The needs of the rest of the members tend to be covered by that sample, so it simplifies the brain power needed to work with a sample rather than ask everyone. That said – I don’t make a lot of choices or calls without seeking a minimum level of consensus with the other officers, but some choices come down to the agreement of 1-2 people. That is just the way it has to be sometimes.
My job as GM is to make sure that the choices we are making are logical, consistent, and fair. Sometimes the choices are harsh, somewhat rude, or event blunt, but they are done for the betterment of the guild as an entity, not for the opinions of individual members. Its a kind of “needs of the many vs needs of the few” type feel. Thankfully I’ve not had to make any choices which were overly hard, but now and then the intermix of personalities makes keeping an even hand troublesome.