So I play MMOs with a guild called Shadowclan. We've been in existence since the early days of UO and have since participated in many other MMOs together and we're a very solid, tight-knit group. But, for some reason, we can't seem to keep a large number of members active in WoW. I was mulling over this problem recently and came to the conclusion that WoW not only lacks any community tools or support, but also, simply by its design, greatly hinders any community development beyond the hardcore raiding guilds.
When you join a guild in WoW, the only things you get are another chat channel, a guild tabard (which is hardly noticable on any of the character models) and a guild tag over your head! There is no guild hall, no uniforms or clothing/armor customization. Huge gaps in the crafting patterns available make it so that guild crafters have minimal use and the separation of players by zone/level leaves little opportunity for face to face interactions.
In fact, the players are so severly segregated by levels, that really the only chance to form strong bonds comes when everyone gets to level 60 and you can start hitting the high-end instances together. Unfortunately for Shadowclan, we're not really a raiding guild.
But the hardcore raiding guilds have their own issues. Squabbles over loot, players coming on going on a regular basis, membership restrictions based on class balance, and often, huge schisms amongst the guild members that usually results in a split, merger or complete abandonment of the guild entirely! Some raiding guilds manage to hold things together better than others, but for the most part, it's an extremely dysfunctional community.
Sadly, this lack of a coomunity feeling has led to my guild gradually dying off in WoW despite several resurgences and even an attempt at an entirely different guild concept (The Cog on The Venture Co. server). I expect another resurgence for Burning Crusade (and maybe even a small one for the new honor system), but given that Blizzard shows no interest in promoting and supporting community and player tools, I don't think that Shadowclan will exist in WoW in the near future with all of the upcoming MMOs next year.
I think WoW is too far involved in itself to make any signifigant changes along these lines, but, for the purpose of discussion and thought, here is one simple way I would go about trying to foster a greater community feeling in WoW.
1. Expand crafting. And I'm not simply talking about adding in more level 60+ epic weapons. The lower levels are really where the crafting system is lacking. For example, I'm an axesmith. Yet, for some reason, I can make a level 18 two-handed axe and a level 39 two-handed axe, but nothing in-between! That's a 21 level gap where my specialty is completely useless (not that either of those axes require a specialty). If I'm an Artisan Axesmith, I should be able to make all sorts of axes for all levels and classes. Same goes for every other profession. Alchemy and Enchanting are better covered, but they could all use some help.
I don't have any other suggestions off the top of my head. The very limited amount of player interaction and world interaction within the game creates a difficult barrier to overcome. Feel free to chime in if you have any comments and/or other ideas!