There is a core raiding group, usually about half the size of the raid, who have been around considerably longer than the rest of the guild, have accumulated at least double any one else's DKP, as such have the best gear in the guild, and the DKP balance to ensure they have access to any upgrade items that drop in future.
They have earned this position over a period of months or more likely, years.
I firmly believe they deserve this status within the guild. Without this type of member, guilds do not progress, certainly not into end-game content. This core group tends to be very committed, and available to raid most nights of the week. It comes as no surprise when a raid is being formed, that the core group is invited first. The raid leaders will then fill in the gaps with the newer guildies who are signed up and online.
What then inevitably happens is the core group accumulate DKP at much higher rate than the non-core, simply because they are always there. Their DKP is always increasing, as they generally cannot spend it as fast as they earn it.
Not so for the non-core raiders. Not only do they not raid as much, either because they can't or because they don't always get a raid spot, they will also typically be undergeared, as the only time they can receive gear is when nobody else wants it.
Despite this, they still struggle to accumulate DKP. No raid spots, or being subbed in late for partial raids, only cements their position at the bottom of the DKP standings.
So there becomes two real DKP tables. The core will never be out rolled by the non-core. The non-core will never get an item that a core raider wants, so they only really need to watch other non-core raiders DKP counts.
Now the thing about this DKP divide... is that the majority of people are always at the bottom. You just need a higher number of casuals to fill the same number of spots as they aren't around all the time.
Unfortunately those causals are second rate guild members.
Regardless of how they are treated on an interpersonal level, the systems that govern how the guild conducts its raids locks them into a cycle of not enough raid spots means not enough dkp means not enough gear means not enough raid spots means not enough DKP....
After this has been going on for a few months, the gap between the core raiders of a particular class and the non core becomes greater still, to the point where the non-core raiders can pretty much give up on any aspirations they may have had to become more involved with the guild unless someone they can replace quits.
The things about the core raiders, is they have been with the guild for a long time. Chances are they aren't going to quit. So what is the wannabe-core raider to do about this great DKP divide and the ramifications thereof?
Buggered if I know.
It can all be very frustrating if you dwell on it, so I think the thing to do is just play for fun, not for loot. Even disregarding the loot, however, it can still be too much to take for a lot of people after a while, and they tend to guild hop to a guild where maybe their class is in higher demand.
Nobody likes to feel inferior or useless to a group they are part of, particularly a guild.
Personally I have no time for guild hoppers and I value loyalty too highly to ever become one. If all my guild needs from me is to be the waterboy once in a while, so be it. If they still only need me to be a waterboy this time next year, it's probably time to stop playing WoW anyway.
So... is this phenomena as widespread as it seems? Is it just me or does this happen everywhere?
Any great ideas as to how a guild can keep the non-core feeling like they are part of the team and staying in the guild longer than a few months?
As for me, I'm just going to keep doing what I do. Give it my best when I am raiding, sign up as often as I can, and when I'm not needed for a raid, go PvP or quest or play AoC or otherwise entertain myself.
One thing I am looking forward to though, is the expansion. Not only will I have a guild full of great players at my level to grind to 80 with, when we get to the new level cap, all our gear will be relatively equal, so at least I won't miss out on a raid spot because I dont do as much DPS as the next guy who has better gear because he gets more raid spots and therefore... gets better gear, and more raid spots...