Here's how I got started.
Zeav got Shags started, then Shags got me started, so it was entirely word of mouth. A couple of the questions I had at the time though were "How do you find out about a game like this?" and "How am I supposed to know what to do?" because it was my very first time on a MUD and my very first time playing a textbased game of the sort.
I've gotten a couple of people to start playing, but they quickly lost interest at the time and found it too hard and too time consuming to play. I'm not saying the idea here is to make the MUD easier, I'm just explaining their reasons.
Darke is a game that requires a lot of time and energy, it's also a game with a pretty steep learning curve, especially when you're new to MUDs. If we are going to be recriuting new players, easing their transition into the MUD would be a good start. I'm not saying once again, that we coddle them or anything like that, but just something where they walk through and learn the basic commands. Maybe have something at creation that asks if you're a true newbie, and clean up creation so that it's actually readable. If you're a true newbie, you could have messages come up randomly, like after the newbie area, something that could direct you to a list of guilds and their locations, or where to find armour, weapons, basic things a newbie player needs.
I think if we're gonna start advertising places, it might not be a bad idea to be ready for new people first, any 1 person who starts, once again, can use word of mouth to get more people. If we lose even 1 person, we could be losing many more potential players.