I've been involved with a total of four guilds now, since I started playing earlier this year. The first was a brand new "family" guild that seemed to be recruiting fairly heavily. They specifically said that they hoped to help new players along, and I was getting to the point where I thought I could benefit from the wisdom (and firepower) of others as I began gathering more and more group quests. I did meet one or two people my level that were fun to play with, but the guild itself didn't survive for more than a few weeks. Within the first week, the GM stepped down and left someone else in charge (never a good sign), and recruitment totally ceased. I decided I'd better look for an established guild...
My husband mentioned that he'd heard good things about The Amazon Basin, a guild that was also quite active in Diablo II, and a bunch of other games as well, apparently. So, I checked out their website, submitted an application, and rolled a new character on one of their servers. They were really a great bunch of people. I wasn't with them long enough to really take advantage of this, or even play with many of them, but their guild chat revealed them to be a bunch of smart, funny people with a great camaraderie.
I never formally left The Amazon Basin. I just disappeared from the server, because when my husband started playing, he decided to join the server where his brother plays, so he could potentially group with him. So, I rolled some new toons on that server as well. I didn't have much invested in the other servers, so it wasn't a huge loss (in gold or gear, or anything else). My brother-in-law mentioned that he was a member of a couple different guilds, but he didn't seem that excited about any of them, so I just kept an eye on the channels, looking for something that sounded interesting.
Essentially I wanted a friendly group of folks near my level to group with, and I was interested in an RPish guild, mostly because it meant people would be typing in complete sentences. I don't mean to sound too cranky about this, but given the choice, I prefer grouping with people willing to take the extra half second to type out "you." I also don't understand how it is that nobody can spell "rogue" anymore. I'm really not much into RP, but I'm perfectly happy to greet people with "Lok'tar" if it means they'll use punctuation in their response.
While leveling up my fishing in Orgrimmar one night, I saw a group recruiting that sounded perfect. Light/medium RP, small guild looking to expand (I know, I wanted an established one, but...), plus a really cool guild name. (Funny how important this felt at the time, but it's true -- when I see guilds recruiting and they have a stupid-sounding name, I think why would anybody join that?) I didn't respond right away. I thought about it quite a bit, did a little google searching (and found that they were recruiting in the main WoW forums), and found some other stuff about them. Several of the members were friends in real life, who had been gaming together for years, and this guild had mostly served to help them group their alts together. They were hoping to expand and become a more active part of that realm's community. So, tight-knit central group + typing in complete sentences + active recruiting + cool name... it all sounded pretty good to me. I sent a letter to their recruiter, and they immediately sent me an invite.
They were a great bunch of guys, but ultimately we didn't play together much. They were hustling toward the end game, and I was still plodding through the early game. We'd chat while we played, and they encouraged me to ask for help if I needed it, but really, I wasn't sure what they could do for me aside from speed me through instances. (I really prefer to slog through instances, too, so this wasn't all that great for me.) It seemed like they stopped recruiting after I joined, which unfortunately meant that there was nobody in the guild for me to play with. Then, when they hit 70, they started grouping with some 70s from another small guild, and decided that it might be beneficial for all of them to merge.
I wasn't a huge fan of the new folks, and unfortunately they did not seem to be doing any recruiting post-merge either, so I decided that this would be a good opportunity to look for a new guild. I had begun to play my mage a bit more, and since she had not joined this guild, I applied to a friend's guild with her as my main. This friend was someone I only knew through WoW, but I'd grouped with him many times after a chance meeting in Stonetalon. We always looked for each other, helped each other through the group quests, and although he eventually got away from me levelwise, we always chatted and he was always eager to help me (and share loot that he'd found doing other stuff). He spoke highly of his guild, and I checked out their guild website. Again, light/medium RP, with an emphasis on helping people. No services or items were to be sold to other guild members. They had a clear looting policy. It all looked pretty fabulous, and upon joining, I found it to be exactly as I'd hoped. Very helpful, active folks, constantly giving goodies to each other, sharing consumables. A really nice community.
While I was getting acquainted with this new group, I hardly logged on to play with my other toon in the old guild. I was avoiding those guys, unsure how to tell them I wanted to leave. Finally I got up the nerve to log in and play a bit, and observe the merged guild dynamics. Two things I saw within the first 30 minutes:
1) After completing a run together, one of the new folks told the whole guild, "Here are the things I'm putting on the AH. I'm telling you so that you can bid first if you want it."
2) Two of the new folks were bragging about the tradehacking and duping that they used to do, and about how Blizzard had changed the game so that they wouldn't work any more.
Gah. So, I talked with my friend from the other guild, and he agreed it looked like a pretty bad situation. He said that his guild wasn't perfect (that "most people" were really nice, and I think I know what he means by that now), but that it sounded like this old guild of mine had some really sketchy characters in it. I wrote a letter to the same person in the old guild that I'd sent that first note to, and told him I was leaving. I said that I wanted more folks my level to play with. (I left out the part about how I thought the new people were shady.) He said he understood, and with that, I gquit and this toon (formerly considered my main, but now technically my alt), joined my friend's guild as well.
The new guild has been great. All my alts have now joined it, and I've found it to be an incredibly supportive community both socially and in terms of helping me progress through the game. I'm continually amazed at how much stuff people are willing to share with each other, particularly consumables that would bring in some pretty decent gold in the auction house. People share crafted items, enchants, and just about anything you could imagine. It's almost exactly what I had in mind for a guild. (Almost in that when I say, "Hey, anyone want to do WC?" I don't immediately get 4 others on board, but I know I can't have everything.) And even socially, it's not all perfect. I've seen some arguments, some RP that's gotten out of hand, but it's all passed over, and generally people seem to like each other and treat each other with respect. I look forward to getting to the end game with these people.