2013 Membership Survey
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A PDF version is available
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Department of Adminstration
- 4 Department of Community Outreach
- 5 Department of Events and Conferences
- 6 Department of Marketing
- 7 Department of Membership
- 8 Department of Moderators
- 9 Department of Research and Records
- 10 Department of Technology
- 11 Executive Branch
- 12 Final Thoughts
Each year the members of TarValon.Net, Inc. participate in a survey to gauge their opinions on how the site is run and how it is operating.
Of our 527 Senior Member, 86 Aes Sedai and Gaidin took the survey. This means a response rate of 16.3%, but it is not accounting for inactive members. There are actually 398 active Senior Members (269 active Aes Sedai and 129 Gaidin.), indicating a response rate of 21.6%. Based on these numbers, the sampling error is approximately 9.4% with a 95% confidence interval.
For Accepted and Soldiers there were 20 respondents of a total 99 active members, indicating a response rate of 20%. Using this information, the sampling error is 19.7% with a 95% confidence interval.
The overall sampling error came to 8.2%.
This year we have added several members to the Survey Team. Each person had a hand in helping to put together this report. You will see that we have provided the name of who wrote each section. Mirandha Laflor, Calypsa al'Nicolai, and Kelgan al'Moranwin have compiled and edited the report to present a cohesive document for your perusal. We hope you enjoy this snapshot of our community.
Written by: Alena Mysana
A very diverse group of members submitted responses this year. Almost 70% of the survey takers were Senior Members (Aes Sedai or Gaidin). Around 16% consisted of Accepted and Soldiers. The rest of the survey takers were Novices, Recruits, or Citizens.
So, out of those Senior Members that responded, what areas of the site did they come from? The biggest turnout from the female members came from the Green Ajah with 19%, followed by the Blue Ajah with 15%. For the male members, Dai M'Hael led the group with 8% followed by San d'ma Shadar with 4%. The other Ajahs & Companies were represented as well.
The age category showed we have members from under 19 years old to 55-64 years old. The biggest age group of the respondents was the 25 to 34 years old group with 51%. The next largest age group was the 35 to 44 group with 24%.
So, what countries do we hail from? All over the world! It's amazing how many countries are represented. Sixteen countries appeared in the survey with the United States capturing the most members at 63%. The other two countries with large groups are Canada (with 7%) and the United Kingdom (with 7%).
There are also many states and provinces represented in the survey. The top represented region was Texas with 4.5%, followed closely by California, Michigan, Ontario, and Virginia, all with 4% of the respondents.
Ethnically, respondents were not as diverse. Many of the respondents did not provide a response. The responding categories were White, not Hispanic (54%); Black or African American (1.6%); Hispanic or Latino (0.81%); and 6.5% preferred not to disclose. As a reminder, this question was asked of members who live in the United States for tax filing purposes.
Looking at the educational backgrounds of the survey respondents, 28% have some college under our belt while 30% have a bachelor's degree. We also have Jr. High, High School, associate degrees, master's degrees and several doctorate degrees.
Over 20 different occupations were listed by respondents. The highest number belongs to students at 12%. Three other areas came in a close second: Education (1%), Health Care (8%), and IT (9%).
We also asked respondents how long they had been members of the TarValon.Net community. The largest group fell into the 7 to 9 years category (30%). 26% of respondents were members from 1 to 3 years. The next biggest group was a length of 4 to 6 years (17%). Others responding ranged in length of membership from 6 months to 12 years.
Finally, how did the respondents learn about TarValon.Net? 46% of us found the site through search engines. 29% were referred by someone from the site. Other avenues to our site included ads, social networking, and Tor.com.
Department of Adminstration
Written by: Zashara Sho'am
More than three quarters of respondents (78%) have applied for positions at TarValon.Net, with the numbers for Senior Members being the highest. There was approximately a 5:1 ratio of Yes:No answers; adding in the unsure/prefer not to answer gives a ratio of 7:2.
Of the 171 positions applied for, 48.5% of applications were for Staff, 33% were for Administrative, and 5.3% for Executive (with about 7% of people choosing not to answer).
68% of respondents have applied for a staff position. Matching this against those who indicated that they had applied for a position, we saw that a majority of applications were for staff positions (86%), while there were 14% of applicants that choose to apply only to another position (administrative or executive).
Based upon the results, it's clear that many members applied for positions at multiple levels.
A large majority of the people who responded thought the application process was simple, while a few were neutral about it. Only a very small percentage found it to be somewhat difficult.
A majority of respondents thought the current application process was fair, with 35% saying it was very fair and 26% saying it was somewhat fair.
A few respondents did note that they felt getting chosen for a position depended on knowing the correct people in the community, and perhaps not on qualifications. Other comments mentioned that there will always be a bias when it comes to choosing positions, thus making the process not 100% fair. It was also noted that fairness in hiring seems to be based upon the department in question. One comment brought up the emphasis on choosing people that have not previously held positions in order to fight against the idea that the same people are always picked, and how that itself is not fair. However, another comment thought the process had improved as the same names are not being picked over and over. A dissenting comment did state that people may perceive the system to be unfair simply because they did not get the position they wanted, and one executive mentioned that he/she knows that it can seem that there is a bias but he/she attempts to avoid that.
One respondent mentioned that the position of Sitter should be chosen by the Head and Membership Director, not by voting, as it makes merits based upon being a Sitter a popularity contest, while another comment mentioned that the application process itself seems to be biased at those who are good at writing.
Reasons given for not applying for positions included time constraints, being comparatively new to the site, not being qualified for the desired position, not being a senior member, and just plain apathy.
Members were asked if they would prefer to have specific changes made to the process – an essay, application form, or no preference. A majority of respondents wanted an application form (67%), while a minority preferred an essay (42%).
Based on these results, it does seem that members would prefer a more structured application process, with the majority preferring an application form.
Comments on the application process mostly were in favor of an application process. Additionally, interviews, recommendations, and resumes were mentioned. It was brought up that an email/essay format may not work when the applicant is unsure of what to say. Sometimes it is unclear what the position is looking for. It was also mentioned that an application form may not be useful to the hiring admin or executive.
For the annual report, most members seemed to find it valuable, with only a few finding it worthless (4%). Members liked having the events of the year aggregated in one place, along with getting insight into what is happening behind the scenes and statistical breakdowns of fundraising, membership location, and transparency. A couple comments mentioned that it was easily understood, while some mentioned it's very long.
One member commented that reports should be posted in locked threads and an alternate discussion thread should be available, as she/he believes that while expressing opinions members may forget their manners.
It was mentioned that the Annual Report takes too long to come out, while a couple members did not care for it or did not know about it.
Of the members that took the survey, 76% had done so in the past. 12% of respondents took the survey for the first time.
Reasons respondents have not participated in the survey previously included being new to the site, inactivity during survey time, apathy, and not knowing that it existed.
Department of Community Outreach
Written by: Alena Mysana
Out of 123 respondents, 24% have been a part of a community outreach online activity. 20% were Senior Members. The highest responses were from the Green Ajah at 64%, the Blue Ajah at 52%, and Dai M'hael at 28%.
13% of respondents participated in active free weeks multiple times a day. 15% participated in active free weeks once a day, and the majority, 51%, participated in active free weeks occasionally.
11% of respondents felt that Free Weeks are very important to their membership experience. 24% found it somewhat important, 23% were neutral and 20% said Free Weeks were very unimportant to their membership experience. Senior Members accounted for 69% of respondents to this question; 26% of Senior Members said that the Free Weeks were unimportant.
When asked what their favorite type of Free Week event was, 41 of respondents said the Match Up Events and 40 had no opinions. However the most popular of all was the Group Theme Competitions with 75 people saying this was their favorite type of Free Week event. Because respondents could choose more than one option, a percentage would not be an accurate way to gauge response to this question.
48% of respondents said that they utilize the birthday list and receive birthday cards. 22% of the respondents had no idea that such a list existed.
For the most part, members enjoy and participate in Free Weeks when they can. Overall, it seemed that people either really liked Free Weeks or hated them all together. Some of the comments were:
- “Look forward to Free Weeks”
- “They are fun”
- “Great way to interact with other members”
- “Creative and boost camaraderie”
- “I don't care”
- “What's the point”
- “They were more fun as a Novice or Accepted”
- It's “hard to win anything when you are a small Ajah.”
- “There should be an equalizing formula and not be vote based”
- “Miss the photo and story competitions and most of all the large involved mysteries.”
- “Too many spammy muppets spamming.”
The community loved getting to change avatars, photo contests, and the RP battle (though a few were quite vocal on NOT wanting the RP). The newer members said Free Weeks were helpful in feeling engaged in the community.
There were some suggestions for improving Free Weeks such as providing more time between Free Weeks to encourage more members to be a part of them, giving additional days and times for the trivia contests, making it easier for those on the other side of the world to get in on these events, having more stories or poetry contests, having more photo contests, more chat events with time frames manageable for non-US members, and cutting down on the spam.
Respondents also indicated that they have trouble knowing what all is going on. Suggestions to remedy this included giving more of a heads up prior to the Free Weeks and making sticky threads in each Company and Ajah forum, the City, etc. when it is planning time. Some straight out said they do not have time to participate in Free Weeks, no matter how they are run. Another suggestion was to change up the different offerings during Free Weeks such as rotating games and contests.
Many would like to see more Free Weeks for avatar changes. Additionally, respondents have asked if there could be a summary of the free weeks in the library, though they did not elaborate. Some comments include:
- “I'd be more involved for Free Week online events if we didn't get stomped on in competition because we are small.”
- “I wish we would vote on things that were not popularity contests.”
- “It's not really a Free Week, is it? It used to really mean Free Week when Novices and Recruits couldn't be in Sr. Forums.”
- “I would like the four Free Weeks back. Now I forget when they are coming and I feel like we've lost the chances to come up with creative themes.”
- “I have no time or energy to participate. There is too much spamming and mentally 10-year old hyperactive members”
- “An rpg would be fun like what we did with the empress taking over.”
- “[the spirit of ___ awards] should be mixed around to let other people be nominated. If you win once for Shaoman, you can't be nominated again for Bel Tine or vice versa.”
- “Less RP-ish spam.”
- “I really enjoy the themes with the avatars and sigs. The forum games and spam threads are so-so. Fun to peruse on occasion, but usually after the second day of the free week I'm over it. “
- “I really liked the forum that was opened up in the city during the Bacon vs Chocolate freeweek, it was a fun forum to post in. New forums for freeweeks are fun.”
- “Mafia games specifically themed on that freeweek.”
When asked how important to their membership goals TarValon.Net's philanthropic endeavors were, 44% said very important, 36% were neutral, and 7.4% said it was very unimportant. The majority of those who answered this question were Senior Members.
When asked if they have ever made a donation to TarValon.Net, 66% said yes and 29% said no. Again, the majority of those who answered this question were Senior Members. 6% of the members surveyed have given donations to TarValon.net 7 or more times! The majority (44%) have given 1 or 2 times. Again, most respondents to this question were Senior Members (74%).
32% of respondents participated in or donated to a Real Life Community Outreach aspect of any official Tower Parties in 2013. Of that group, 81% said they would try to donate in the future.
The great majority of respondents (93%) were aware that we annually award the Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship and 80% are familiar with the selection process. 36.6% of respondents were neutral about the importance of the scholarship to their membership.
Most respondents (56%) were very confident that their funds would be used appropriately; 29% were somewhat confident and only 0.8% were not very confident.
On the whole, most respondents were excited, proud, and happy that we give back. Many do not donate because they are unable to financially. They like to see TarValon.Net giving back. Some were just not interested in giving to anything. Others did not see a charity that interested them. Some participants said they spend all their money to get to a RL event and do not have any money available to donate there. Others thought that giving in RL was fun and easy to do.
Several did not donate because of international money transfer issues. Some mentioned not enough space between fundraisers and some would rather donate items instead of money.
- “Giving to RL outreach is what makes this site different than so many other fan sites.”
- “Giving is part of the reason I joined and could not justify being here without it.”
- “I feel this is a huge factor in what sets us apart and gives us a true feeling of being 'Servant of All'.”
- “I haven't donated because of transparency and use issues.”
- “External auditing with an annual report of money taken in and where it was used” would make them more likely to give.“I dislike the general concept. I donate regularly to organisations I choose and work voluntarily. TarValon.net should just concentrate on its own business - maintaining a website and fora dedicated to a series of books which lead to a community.”
- “I love our outreach programs! I think it's something that sets us apart from other "regular" online communities.”
- “Annual revision of funds (Either monthly or even weekly) by at least two-three people would be a wise idea.”
- “I feel like my money is asked for an awful lot. This makes me want to do the opposite; not donate.”
Most support the scholarship program and how it is used. Many were proud of the Tower for offering a scholarship. Some, though, were worried about the selection process and said it made them uncomfortable. Specifically, a few mentioned that it should also be made open to Grad students and that we should work towards making it available for non-US members as well. One member also worried that it's “too easy for friends in the Hall to talk up a friend's application and the potential for the appearance of impropriety is high.”
Department of Events and Conferences
Written by: Yelenia Hylraren
Of those who responded, 80% have been to 5 or fewer events and just shy of 80% indicate that events are an important part of their membership.
This year the Department of Events and Conferences wanted to gather information specifically about Fall Ball. When asked about which length of time respondents preferred for this event, over half (59%) of the respondents gave a preference for the length of Fall Ball. The majority of respondents (59%) prefer the current format. Similarly, just under half (41%) of the respondents said they would prefer that rooming be excluded from the Fall Ball ticket price. The majority of respondents with an opinion (71%) would not be more likely to attend a Fall Ball if finding a room was up to the individual member.
Based on these numbers and comments, there is no strong indicator that Fall Ball should change in format or length. Similarly, there was no strong indication in the comments that Anni should change in length or format, though we had comments requesting both longer and shorter, more and less programming. There were a few comments requesting the ability to move the Euro dates to different parts of the calendar year. The comments also included a request for more reminders for bid due dates and the inclusion of alternate methods of online payment. The overall feel is that events are appreciated, and while some members might appreciate tweaks, other respondents are happy with the current product.
Department of Marketing
Written by: Izabella Serra
Looking at circulation for the TarValon Times, 59% of respondents said they read it, 33% said they did not, and 7% preferred not to answer.
Respondents stated that they were most interested in reading Member Spotlights (58), Book Reviews (40), Comics (38), as well as write in favorites: Ask a Wise One, and Ask Kessa in particular; also mentioned were event reviews and summaries, humorous articles, horoscopes, food lifestyle, theme issues, citizen corner, real life gathering reports, site related articles, and opinion articles on current events in sci-fi. Because respondents could choose more than one option, a percentage would not be an accurate way to gauge response to this question.
When asked if they would be interested in receiving notifications when the Tar Valon Times comes out, 40% of respondents were interested, 41% were not interested, and 19% gave no opinion.
Preferred methods to receive notifications were Forum Announcement (18), email (27) and PM (3).
Respondents use many different types of social File: 19 use Facebook, 6 Twitter, 6 Google +, 2 Instagram, 2 Tumblr, 2 Pinterest, 1 email, and 2 stated they use no types of social networking site. As this was a multiple option question, percentages would be inaccurate.
When asked if they were satisfied with the availability of the Tower News 69% of participants were, while 8% said no, and 23% said that it was not applicable to them.
When asked if there was an interest in receiving other fandom news, such as Tor news, Brandon Sanderson news, or other news from other authors such as George R.R. Martin, 53% said they were interested, 23% were not, and 21% had no opinion.
When polling interest in a newsletter highlighting recent news and upcoming events within TarValon.Net 72% were interested, 11% were not, and 17% had no opinion or preferred not to answer. Of those who expressed interest, 5 people would like to receive the newsletter weekly, 13 biweekly, 63 monthly, 2 quarterly, 4 had no opinion, and one said it depended on what was going on in the Tower at the time.
Suggestions for other types of news members would be interested in receiving were Raising/Bondings (78), job highlights (79), Outreach events (71), Tower events (80), information on Free Weeks (details like if we can change or modify avatars), payment deadlines for events, silly threads (i.e. Hands of an Aes Sedai), wider WoT community news, and class offerings, and 8 had no opinion.
When asked if members would be interested in submitting their own work to official Events, the TarValon.Net store, TVT, or Marketing in general, 13% said yes, while 46% said no, and 41% said N/A. When asked if there were specific products that respondents would like to be able to purchase but are not currently available, 21% said yes, 24% said no, and 55% had no opinion. Product suggestions included flyers, business cards, stuff to hand out to promote TarValon.Net, buttons for events, mobile cases, calendars, bookmarks, shirts of previous Anni Parties (with artwork from said Anni Party), tankards, and products that don't require prior knowledge (e.g. inside jokes) to appreciate.
Additional comments to the Marketing Department included:
- “I've been very glad to see announcements when the new TVT issues are published lately.”
- “Sometimes the announcements are posted to social media rather late.”
- “I think that some of the prices for items in the shop are just too high to sell at a larger number.”
- “Is there a way to use our Facebook/Twitter account more actively instead of just for announcements? We could organise competitions, [and] have polls.”
- “[Marketing does] such an amazing job with everything.”
Department of Membership
Written by: Alena Mysana
The first question asked how comfortable participants are contacting a Membership Administrator on any subject. 68% of the respondents were very comfortable contacting a Membership Admin. Of those responding, 50% were Senior Members. A few felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable contacting their Membership Admin.
The next question asked if respondents have had to contact their Membership Admin in the past. 58% of respondents replied yes and 39% replied no. The remainder of the respondents said this was not applicable to them.
Next, the respondents rated their Membership Admins with a scale ranging from Exceeds Expectations to Needs Improvement. 36% said their Membership Admin Exceeds Expectations. 46% say their Membership Admin Meets Expectations, and 5% said their Membership Admin needs improvement. While some respondents would like to see improvement in some areas, for the most part the responses about their Membership Admins were positive.
The next question asked if respondents use social networking to talk to people from TarValon.Net. 92% do connect with fellow members outside of the TarValon.Net boards and chat rooms. Of those, 103 respondents connect on Facebook, 82 call or text each other, 53 meet in person, 51 utilize email, and 40 respondents use Google Hangouts.
So how often do we connect outside of the site? 27.6% of respondents socialize outside the boards more than they do on the boards, 24% socialize about the same off site as onsite, and 39% of the respondents socialize with others outside of the board only occasionally. The final question for this section asked respondents if they have served in the Hall. 52% have served in the Hall. 46% have not (remainder were not eligible). The Green Ajah had the most who served in the Hall with 8%. They were followed closely by the Blue Ajah with 7%.
Many of our folks prefer to meet in real life. For those of you who live closer to each other, you prefer to meet face-to-face. Others would prefer to correspond to their friends from the site via text, email, Skype, and Whatsapp.
Some comments from this section include:
- “We've really grown!”
- “Absolutely true. It does not feel like a small intimate site anymore because it is not.”
- “You choose where you want to be active and how much information you wish to share – remember that Admins and members of the group are posting in can see what you post.”
- “Remember – if something is posted in a private forum the expectation is that it does not leave that forum.”
- “We'd like to see a reply (it can be automated) that says your email has been received so members will know if they need to resend the information.”
Department of Moderators
Written by: Morrighan Daghdera
When asked “Have you served as a moderator?”, 48% said yes, 49% said no and 3% said N/A. 48 Senior Members said yes while 34 said no. The “prefer not to answer” group split their votes with the rest of the groups voting “no” as the majority.
“How important are the message boards to your membership?” was posed and the majority of groups reported that they are very important. Only two Val Curan responded, one of whom said the boards were “somewhat important,” and the lone Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb respondent noted that they were “very unimportant” to his membership.
The next question was “How often do you use the message boards?”. Nearly three quarters (72%) reported daily usage. With the exception of the lone Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb respondent, who reported weekly usage, a majority of every membership group reported daily usage.
The rankings for the top three favorite forums were (1) Affiliate Public Room, (2) Affiliate Private Room, and (3) General. Comments regarding the moderation of these forums included one person missing the Guilds while another stated that Current Events requires regular review of its moderation practices just to keep them on top of new people and opinions. Two respondents mentioned that their favorites were not listed, the administration forums and the forum in which the respondent was an unofficial guest.
The least three favorite forums were listed as: first least favorite – Current Events, second least favorite – Sports Fanatics, and third least favorite – Education and Employment. Comments or concerns regarding the moderation of these forums included expressing a dislike for certain forums although there were no concerns regarding its moderation. Another expressed a desire to have the Current Events split into two forums – one for US and one for international politics/news. There was no mention of concern regarding the moderation.
When asked whether they have had to personally contact a Moderator (such as to report a problem) during the past two years, the majority of every group responded no at a ratio of 93:21 with 9 preferring not to respond. Comments elicited from the question “which forum or Moderator?” yielded the following: a fellow Moderator in the same forum, Current Events, and Keeper. One interaction was described as a feeling of frustration that there was no response regarding if anything was done or not. Likewise, another stated that it was handled well but there was never notification of the outcome. Another said that the interaction was orderly and efficient. One person reported that not much was done, as there seemed to be a trend for liberal minded people to curse and bully others and not get asked to edit. “It is almost like the moderators are too scared to ask them to edit or else several current moderators are also playing favorites”. Finally, one described the contact as “very good”.
The poll for “Do you feel the Discussion Halls adequately cover appropriate Real Life Topics?” yielded 76% yes respondents, 7% no and 17% N/A. Of note, all groups predominantly chose yes with the exception of San d'ma Shadar who chose N/A over yes at a ratio of 2 to 1. Comments elicited for what additions or changes would you recommend showed a request for a parenting forum. Another suggestion was to place non-WoT books under Real Life topics and not the Library. Also, another idea was to break Entertainment and Technology into two different forums as the topics within that forum are kind of different.
The results for “How often do you use chat?” showed the overwhelming majority of most groups rarely use it. By majority, Citizen/Resident Citizen never use chat and the Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb used it weekly.
Accordingly, “How important are the chatrooms to your membership?” showed the majority of participants choosing “Very Unimportant”. Overall, the most common chat room frequented was “#wheel”. Blue, White, and prefer not to answer evenly split their votes between #wheel and affiliate chat room.
The indication of the moderation in official chat rooms showed that most felt there was adequate coverage. Those groups whose majority preferred not to answer were: Blue, Green, Yellow, and Citizen/Resident Citizen.
Comments regarding the message boards included a dislike of Hand Crafts and an expression of love for the boards themselves. Regarding the chat rooms, one person reported only going into chat to speak with one person. Everyone otherwise just ignored that person. Another expressed having past bullying issues and the moderation in chat is virtually non-existent for the number of “Chat Ops” that are there. There was a statement that IRC is outdated and the feature should be built into the site. Similarly, one report said that there used to be a button on the first page to get into chat that is no longer available, which makes it harder to find chat. There were requests for a “beginner's guide” and more chat events.
Department of Research and Records
Written by: Izabella Serra
When asked how often they visit the Classroom, 3% of respondents visit daily, 14% visit weekly, 8% monthly, 6% quarterly, 37% regularly, and 28% never, with 4% preferring not to answer. When asked what classes members would like to see, many members said they would like to see classes on real life topics such as finance, budgeting, and graphic composition/editing. Other suggestions were more classes on other book series, gaming topics (history and lore of WoW, Halo, Pokemon, etc), humorous classes (not too serious but still informative), and more Citizen-based classes.
When asked for suggestions to increase participation in the classroom, members suggested giving more varied selections of classes on a regular schedule. A few members stated that we should make taking a class or two a requirement for raising; many members said they would be more willing to take classes if there were no homework, and there was a suggestion that we give polls to see if there is a desire to take a specific class, that way there will be adequate participation. Many members stated that they regularly forget the classroom exists; lack the free time, or bandwidth. General consensus was that if we could let members know what classes were being offered and when they were going to start (either in Site Announcements or the newsletter) participation might be improved.
When asked how often they visit the Who's Who, 11% of respondents visit very often, 25% visit often, 42% visit sometimes, and 2% visit never, with 4% preferring not to answer. When asked about the Who's Who, most members stated that nothing else was needed, that it just needs to be updated more regularly. One member didn't realize it exists.
Ajah/Company pages in the Library were somewhat less frequented by respondents: 10% visit very often, 15% visit often, 33% visit sometimes, 25% visit rarely, and 12% never visit, with 5% preferring not to answer.
As to the Library in general, 10% of respondents visit very often, 22% visit often, 46% visit sometimes, 19% visit rarely, and 2% never visit, with 1 person preferring not to answer. Suggestions about what new kinds of content should be added to the Library included Who's Who pages for Resident Citizens so their contributions could be credited to them, more articles about WoT vs RL subjects, and more information for each member (such as holiday avatars).
When asked how easy it was to find what you are searching for in the library, 20% of respondents said it was very easy, 42% said somewhat easy, 20% were neutral, 9% said somewhat difficult, and 8% of participants preferred not to answer.
When asked about difficulties and what could be changed, several members stated that the search function didn't work, a member suggested using more meta tags, and a request was made to separate the WoT content from the TarValon.Net content.
Comments for the Research department included that the team has done a great job, that the wiki needs to updated better, a request for training both for the wiki editors and just for the members who want to be able to use the wiki to find content.
Department of Technology
Written by: Izabella Serra
Most members access TarValon.Net via a PC/Mac/Computer (74% stated using this method very often, and only one person stating never access the site this way). Additional ways of accessing TarValon.Net included smartphones (23% of respondents overall, 28 very often and 11 never accessing TarValon.net this way); tablets (13 very often and 20 never); and any other way of accessing TarValon.Net (1 very often and most choosing N/A).
Currently 39% of respondents serve in a position with moderator/administrative functions, while 58% do not. Of those that do serve in a position with moderator/administrative functions, 54% found the functions easy to understand; 37% stated they were somewhat easy to understand; and 8% remained neutral on this question.
Respondents were asked whether they experience any delay in e-mail notifications being sent out for subscribed threads, PMs, and the like. 15% of respondents noticed a delay with email notifications, 34% stated they did not, 37% said it was not applicable, and 15% preferred not to answer. Most members only noticed a few second to 10 minute delay while others notice it lasting several hours and have found other methods to keep track of their favorite threads.
And finally, the cheese question. 90% members said yes to cheese, 5% responded no, and 5% declined to answer.
The cheese question was supposed to add a little lightness in an otherwise very serious survey, and many members found this question to be fun, some even voting for their favorite cheese (brie was the winner with cheddar in a close second place) but there were a couple of members who found this question in poor taste, and we apologize if we have offended anyone with this question.
Image compliments of openclickart.org and has been labelled for reuse
The few non-cheese related comments for tech were that the department of technology is doing a fabulous job and to make two requests: that we update the community on SSL and other projects, and to request that we get the ability to have additional functions for the board, such as built in chat. It was also noted that Erin's exec blog posts are great.
Respondents also asked that members rank be added above their Avatar in the forums, because if they have a special title it can be hard to discover their rank, and to find a way to include their ajah/company.
Written by: Morrighan Daghdera
Five questions were asked and a space for additional comments was provided. The questions were as follows: “How familiar are you with the organizational leadership, i.e. familiarity with the hierarchy, should you need to escalate an issue?,” “How accessible is the Executive Branch?,” “How well do you feel the executive team performs?,” “How responsive is the Executive team to provide feedback regarding questions, complaints, etc?,” and “How quickly does the Executive team respond to questions, complaints, etc?”
The majority of respondents overall are very familiar or somewhat familiar with the organizational leadership (95%), which is reflected in the number of Aes Sedai and Gaidin who responded that they are very familiar (68%).
The accessibility of the Executive Branch was almost split between very accessible (38%) and somewhat accessible (37%). Interestingly, the majority of Brown, Green, White, and Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb found them somewhat accessible while the rest of the groups' majority found them very accessible.
Assessing the performance of the executive team, 48% of respondents felt that they met expectations. The majority of Blue, Dai M'Hael, San d'ma Shadar, and Accepted/Soldiers voted that they exceeded expectations.
Most respondents found the executive team very responsive to requests for feedback, questions, complaints, etc. The majority of Brown and Red described them as somewhat responsive with San d'ma Shadar, Novice/Recruit and Citizen/Resident Citizen evenly splitting their votes between very responsive, somewhat responsive and neutral.
The speed with which the Executive team responds to questions and complaints was also evaluated. 30% believed that the Executive team responds somewhat quickly, closely followed by very quickly (24%), and neutral (21%). Half the Novice/Recruit respondents preferred to not answer. Gray evenly split their majority of votes between very quickly, somewhat quickly and neutral. Most of the Green, White, Yellow, and Dai M'Hael found that the Executive team responds very quickly.
Six additional comments regarding the Executive team were in response to the lack of visibility from the upper echelons. There were two different comments for the situation regarding the former Shatayan. One applauded the way in which it was handled; another requested closure. There was a feeling of losing an active member of an Ajah to the “Admin Ajah” when that person became an Executive and that there should be a requirement for minimum posting in smaller Ajahs. One felt than an unresolved issue yielded low marks, as the Ajah was losing members due to the situation. Working with the executive team, one person remarked that some of the executives needed prodding to meet deadlines. Another respondent suggested term limits for executive positions. “Since we now have "merits" to include serving as a director, then we should have time limits on that position like we do HOA/CC. Two years should be adequate. Other than the Board, Amyrlin, Shayatan, and Keeper, there is no reason for the other positions to be "lifetime" until they quit. There are too many qualified people here that would like to be a part of TarValon.Net to not do this. This would also eliminate the "good old boy" syndrome that is pervasive in a lot of the Director positions. It would also eliminate the issue of people only picking their friends or people that they know for certain positions. Nothing wrong with introducing "new blood”. Several have had no interaction and could not make comments regarding them while another felt sorry for them for dealing on a volunteer basis with the issues that arise. Another felt that the team responded very quickly considering they are all volunteers with real lives. One respondent has met them in real life and so felt comfortable with them. One final respondent called the team “rock stars”.
Written by: Morrighan Daghdera
Collectively, the comments shed a positive light on the community at large. Although there were some outliers, there were also novel ideas presented in different sections, as well as echoes of past survey topics. The sections were: “Please provide any comments you have regarding the Membership Survey,” “What do you feel is the best thing about your rank?,” “What do you feel is the worst thing about your rank?,” “What do you appreciate the most about the TV.net Community? Why?,” “If you could suggest one improvement to this community, what would it be, and why?,” and “Please list any additional comments/suggestions regarding TarValon.Net.”
Regarding the Membership Survey, the most commonly repeated remark was a desire for a “back” button. There were split opinions about the survey being too long, while others felt that it was more efficient than in years past. One respondent expressed a wish for more people to take the survey.
The best thing about the different ranks were mostly noted by Senior Members. Many liked the sense of accomplishment and the lack of requirements, as well as the opportunity to help new members and being able to contribute more to the site. More than one spoke of enjoying their respective private Ajah areas and having access to more forums. Some Junior Members expressed a feeling of Senior Members being exclusive and difficult to approach. Several Accepted, specifically, mentioned that guesting was the best thing about their rank. A couple of Novices noted that there was more ease in mingling with the Senior Members since joining the Tower, as well as receiving support from the Mistress of Novices and Mentor. Both a Citizen and a Resident Citizen reported a feeling of being considered a valuable member of the community even without the advancement in rank. A couple of humorous outliers were “wearing a pretty shawl” and “making aspirants fetch me a beer”.
Some Junior Members thought that the worst thing about their rank was the difficulty in achieving the next level and the gap of time between aspiration and raising being indeterminate. One Junior Member felt that being “looked down at” was the worst thing. Soldiers not being encouraged to mingle between themselves was mentioned by one respondent. Several Senior Members expressed concern that new members may be intimidated by them due to rank. Overwhelmingly, Senior Members described feeling bored despite there being positions to be filled and merit badges to be earned. One interesting suggestion called for the creation of Who's Who pages for Resident Citizens who have held positions or been a member for a certain length of time. The idea was based upon the fact that Resident Citizens may hold positions and theoretically earn merit badges, but there is no way for others to access that type of information.
Almost exclusively, the most appreciated thing about TV.net community is the people. The friends, especially the international friendships, as well as the sense of family were all mentioned. “Awesome kindred nerds” and diversity were also included. “As it says – TV.net COMMUNITY…”, the belonging and acceptance of people and real life events were other reasons why people appreciated the TV.net community.
Suggestions to improve the community reflected comments regarding past survey topics, such as bullying and integration. There was more than one comment regarding the continuing need to address bullying and one arguing that the concern needed to be dismissed. Likewise, there was more than one member who reinforced the idea of integration with a couple of comments requesting that integration not happen. There were a couple of suggestions to remark that Mother and the Keeper should have more of a presence on the boards. One interesting recommendation included making Estes Park, Colorado the only location for Anni. Another suggestion was to have an in-house instant messaging function. A third said that we should focus less on Facebook and Twitter while another specifically recommended that we support related items such as: fan projects, work with Harriet and Brandon on more things and see if we can do fan art/media to infuse new things into the fandom in order to attract new members, as well as sustain current membership.
Additional comments/suggestions ranged from more transparency to improvements to the mobile application to allowing second demotions. Publishing a set of guidelines that is easily found for people submitting bids was mentioned a couple of times. However, the majority of responses were positive and to the effect that we are all doing a good job and to keep up the good work.