In regards to ranking.
I agree with the conclusion that there is no perfect system., that being said, I don't think the way described under the very bad word 'favoritism' is necessarily the worst way, I also do not think 'favoritism' covers it totally. I am sure you are right a lot of times, I wont dispute that, but it also depends on the leader(s) and the type of clan.
Having been in and lead quite a lot of clans and friends-chats, I concluded a variation on this method was the only workable one for me and my clan.
It has thrived using this method for 6+ years now.
Voting ( a method you missed ) leads to jostling for position = drama.
Equality, which I tried, since people are of equal value in the end, has the problems described by Stop, in that it has no hierarchy to help shape and protect your clan(mates).. as soon as you ad one, by adding admins and such you are back to the same problem: how do you decide on them?
Duration, xp gain and points amount to the same thing: it ads an objective factor, where points is the most comprehensive system. This can work for some types of clans, but for clans, like mine, that value attitude, being nice and such over all other factors it does not.
Someone who gained 100 million xp fast, by dungeoneering all the time might be totally wrong for a high rank that requires having to deal with people and problems.
So.. I made a hybrid system. We do have a spreadsheet, with information on seniority, xp, who brought who and other notes and use this to give people their first ranks, up to bronze star. Basically attendance and not standing out negatively does it. BUT for ranks above this, captain and general people need to stand out in a good way, present a standout example for others. this usually takes time and most will never get beyond lieutenant or captain.
TO make admins and up we need more, we need to really start to know the person, feel they set a great example, are on a lot and at the right times when we need the help etc..
All this talk about having the right attitude, setting the right example is very subjective and you can not put it in to an objective points system. Since I believe democracy makes for drama and has destroyed to many clans I know of, I decide myself in the end and members van vote with their feet.
I admit , even though I constantly ask for advice from all members it still is not totaly fair, the ones who play mostly during times I am never on.. are less likely to get noticed, on the other hand those are the times I go out of my way for to get good leaders to represent me.. which compensates a little.
I am sure I make mistakes, but.. without wanting to get a big head.. and without wanting to jinx it.. together with all the others who help me I have got a clan here with over 300 people, that is almost 7 years old and has remarkably little drama. ( also has a little to do with not recruiting 'of the street' and talking at length to all potential new members. )
Now.. this method has a lot in common with you 'favoritism' and in a way thats what it is: I rank the people up that I favor, because they show great attitude, maturity, dependability and such. On the other hand.. I am not actually promoting my friends.. there are quite a lot in the clan whom I consider friends , but who do not fit the admin mold and there are some admins that I wouldn't want to have to talk to all the time.. but that who do a great job for the clan.
Wile re-reading this, before posting I noticed I missed something: it is certainly not all ME, a good clanleader, even a 'dictator' needs some others who are honest and opinionated , to act as a conscience, a sounding board etc. I am lucky to have quite a lot of these..