Fall 2014 Admin Meeting

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Agenda

Amyrlin

amyrlin@tarvalon.net

  • Welcome to the new Amyrlin!
  • Integration: current progress and next steps

Keeper

keeper@tarvalon.net

  • Hall of the Tower: old and new responsibilities
  • Membership Manual: due for some updates

CFO/Shatayan

shatayan@tarvalon.net

  • New fiscal year schedule
  • Review of Budgets/Financial planning
  • Status update of past year tax amendments

Archivist

archivist@tarvalon.net

  • Merits: current status and discussion progress

Moderators & Operators

moderators@tarvalon.net

  • Reorganization of Discussion Halls
  • Return of the Guilds

Marketing

marketing@tarvalon.net

  • Logo Progress
  • MAC/EMC review
  • Future Logos
  • Looking ahead- incoming projects

Events & Converences

events@tarvalon.net

  • Event numbers and views on new CE / BI selection process
  • Process review for bidding for events for NA

Technology

technology@tarvalon.net

  • vBulletin status update (upgrade to 5.1)
  • SSL Status
  • Raising Tests
  • Membership Database

Community Outreach

outreach@tarvalon.net

  • Welcome to Aryawnah!
  • Feast of Lights
  • Upcoming festivals/community event planning

Administration

administration@tarvalon.net

  • Upcoming MS prep
  • AR prep with planning on having all sections received by 31 Jan 2015.

Membership

membership@tarvalon.net

  • Merging Mayor emails - changing city apps
  • Conclusion to giving admin delete rights
  • Allowing admins to see who is in their user group

Notes

Written by Rhed al'Tere, Amyrlin-Elect, unless otherwise specified

Introduction

Welcome to the Admin Meeting Discussion for Fall 2014!

Though I wasn't yet Amyrlin on the day of the Admin Meeting, I sat in on it (as a member of the Board of Directors). It was a very long meeting with a lot of discussion about a lot of things. I want to thank all of our Directors and Officers (and two of our other Board members) for working hard on a Sunday. I know you all could have been doing other things, and I'm glad to have such a dedicated Executive Team. Emote-hug.gif

If you've been around the boards in the last couple of weeks, you know that we have a new Amyrlin-Elect (that would be me). I've posted an introduction in each Ajah's/Company's Chambers, in the JM admins' offices, and in the City Hall.

To recap: I've been a member here for 12+ years. I've held several positions, including Director, Head of Ajah, Sitter, and Board member. I was a member of the Red Ajah for about 11 of those years, though now, even though I'm not fully invested as Amyrlin yet, I already feel as though I'm of All and None.

In my real life, I work for a medical journal, helping the review process move smoothly and in a timely manner, along with other, various tasks my bosses assign me. Emote-smile.gif I'm a reader, a hiker, a knitter, and a seamstress. I have a husband (Nethanel al'Tere of San d'ma Shadar) and two cats who drive me bonkers.

I'm very excited about my new role, and I'll be sharing more of my vision for our community in the coming weeks and months. I want to let you know that my PM and email inboxes are always open to you, whatever rank or role you have (amyrlin@tarvalon.net).

We have a big change coming up: Integration. This was one of Mother's dreams to have implemented, and I'm excited to be able to help it come to fruition during my training period (and beyond).

We have other, smaller changes and decisions that came out of this Admin Meeting.

You don't have to agree with all of them. You don't have to like all of them. I know not all of us will. I encourage you to have discussions about the changes that are coming, with each other, with your membership admins, with the Directors, with the Officers, with me. But please, remember that we're all working for the same goal: The betterment and longevity of this community.

With that in mind, be kind to each other when you discuss these changes. Remember that change is hard for some, and the unknown is scary for many. Speak with passion, and also compassion.

Don't make me regret accepting this position. Emote-silly.gif

Emote-hug.gif

Integration

amyrlin@tarvalon.net

Definition of terms:

Tier 1: This term refers to people who are Novices or Recruits.
Tier 2: This term refers to people who are Accepted or Soldiers.
Path: The process a Junior Member follows to either become Aes Sedai or Gaidin.

First round demotions

  • Folks who demote for the purpose of changing paths in January 2015 will not need to go through the Hall again.
  • If Bob Gaidin thinks he wants to be Aes Sedai, he may demote on January 1, 2015. Bob will guest with Ajahs and Companies, and he picks an Ajah. When he’s ready to be raised to Senior Member again, his Head of Ajah will email the Director of Membership, and he will be raised to Aes Sedai. He will not have to go in front of the Hall if he switches from Gaidin to Aes Sedai.
  • If, however, Bob Gaidin demotes, guests with Ajahs and Companies, and decides to go to another Company than he was previously in (thus not switching paths), he will then be required to pass through the Hall again, as a normal demotee does.
  • As with a regular demotion, if Bob Gaidin is Bonded when he demotes, that bond will be dissolved.

Advancing Through the Ranks

  • This was one area where no consensus was reached in the Integration Focus Group. So we're going to keep our titles as they are for now, and we can revisit next summer to see if it's working.
  • Citizens coming into the Tower will have the option of title: Novice or Recruit. This does not reflect the ultimate path they will follow. They will remain a Novice or Recruit until they are raised to Tier 2...
  • Where they can choose either the Accepted or Soldier title. Again, the title they choose at that time does not necessarily reflect which path they will follow. Accepted will be able to guest with Ajahs and Companies, and the same goes for Soldiers. Soldier Bob will be able to Aspire to an Ajah if he chooses, and Accepted Bob will be able to Aspire to a Company.
  • Upon Aspiration, the Junior Member's title will change to reflect the path – those who aspire to a Company will become Soldier, and those who aspire to an Ajah will become Accepted.

Mentors and Mentees

Note: Current JMs will not be automatically switched to the new mentor system. It will require an email to your membership admin to get a second mentor or a mentor of the other path.

  • Upon entering the Tower, Novices/Recruits will fill out a survey, as will SMs who wish to be mentors, and mentors will be assigned based on those surveys. This is to ensure that you have something in common with your mentor/mentee. Mentees will be able to request a specific mentor, but that assignment depends on how many mentees the requested mentor already has (read on for those details!).
  • Tier 1 folks are assigned a mentor who, well, mentors them. Mentors provide general guidance through the steps of becoming a Senior Member, answering questions, providing an ear to listen and possibly a shoulder to cry on when naughty Novices get slippered by the Mistress of Novices.

The (previously) male side of the Tower has had a 2-mentor system in place for a while now. It's working! So we decided that it may well work for everyone. Here's how that will look:

  • Each Tier 1 member will get two mentors, one Gaidin, one Aes Sedai, gender irrelevant. However, if the Tier 1 Junior Member specifically requests same-gender or opposite-gender mentors for their own comfort, gender preference will override the two-track mandate until we have enough women as Gaidin and men as Aes Sedai to meet stated gender preferences. (Meaning: Soldier Jane requests female mentors, but there are no female Gaidin yet, so she will have 2 Aes Sedai mentors.)
  • Individual Senior Member mentors will be restricted to two mentees, and mentors will go back into the pool of mentors when one of their mentees is raised or deemed inactive after a period of 6 months. Mentors can be in two mentor teams at a time (one team for each JM being mentored).
  • If a mentor becomes inactive, a secondary mentor with no active mentees will be chosen to replace the inactive mentor. If the inactive mentor is in two teams, two secondary mentors will be chosen.
  • If an inactive mentee returns and their previous mentors are unavailable, new mentors will be selected. If a mentee posts an extended Leave of Absence and returns, they may petition their membership administrator to have their previous mentor.
  • If we reach the point that we have more mentees than mentors, we can reevaluate these guidelines.

Junior Member Administration

  • We currently have four wonderful people serving as administrators to the JMs (Mistress of Novices, Captain of Recruits, Mistress of Accepted and Captain of Soldiers). When we integrate, what the heck do we do with four membership administrators when everyone’s in Tier 1 or in Tier 2 treated as the same rank?
  • The four currently in office will stay in office until their terms run out. Eventually, we will have a Mistress of Novices and a Captain of Soldiers. These two will serve their terms, and then when they’re done, we will hire for a Mistress/Master of Tier 1 (title to be determined) and a Master/Mistress of Tier 2 (again, title to be determined).

Junior Members of the Tower Forums

  • We’re going to combine the Hallways and Gatehouse. This forum will be open to JMs and SMs.
  • We’ll have the Barracks/Dormitories combined. JMs can choose their roommates by gender, if they'd like, but if no preference is stated, you may end up with men and women.
  • There will also be an understanding that you should be invited into a room to participate. If you are asked to leave, you should do so gracefully and without flouncing.
  • Barracks/Dorms will be open to JMs and SMs.
  • We will have two membership admin offices, one for Tier 1 and one for Tier 2. These will be open to JMs and SMs.
  • A Junior Member-only forum will be created.

Keeper

keeper@tarvalon.net

Lireina Dormerus t'al`Bearach will be reviewing the selection process for Sitters and Warder Councillors within membership groups. We've been asking the Hall to do more than process raisings; for example, the Spring 2014 group were asked to be the Integration Focus Group, and the Fall 2014 group was asked to help with logos.

A big project for the coming months is going to be working on assembling operational documentation for the Departments.

Finally, we're aiming to have the Keeper's Awards back on schedule for 2015. This means the 2014 Keeper's Awards will be announced around Halloween this year, and in 2015, at the beginning of October.

Shatayan

shatayan@tarvalon.net Ubah and her team are currently working on past year tax amendments.

Our fiscal year, which we shifted at the Spring 2014 Admin Meeting, ended August 31, 2014. We went through the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. One of the major financial goals for the coming year is to pay down our debt. The budget will be shared in the Annual Report, due out next spring.

Archivist

archivist@tarvalon.net

As you may have seen, there was just a huge Merits update. Serenla Tamowith and her team will be doing follow-up work regarding Merits, including verifying items that are so far unverified and catching up on missed Merits.

Coming soon: New Merits! (And when I say soon, I mean sometime next year.) Thank you to everyone who participated in the Merits Focus Group!

An upcoming project is an update of the Membership Manual.

Department of Moderators and Operators

[mailto: moderators@tarvalon.net moderators@tarvalon.net]

Thank you to our hard-working Director of Mods & Ops, Kelgan Gaidin. He helps keep us all sane. Emote-happy.gif

Evaluation of Mafia

We evaluated the transition of Mafia and Assassins to its own forum. Overall, things have gone very well, and our two mods, Eli and Eluial, have done a fantastic job in their new roles. There have been two significant changes to the administration of the game in the last six months.

First, we introduced a system of mentorship to let newer players get a feel for the game without getting dropped in the deep end, and to let new game mods shadow and assist experienced game mods to get some experience in running the game so it’s not completely new territory when it comes time to run their own.

Second, in response to some difficulties we've had with controversial game moderation decisions, we have developed a set of guidelines for game mods. These are non-binding but are intended to give game mods some ideas on how best to resolve issues that may arise during their games.

Reorganization of the Discussion Halls

We also examined the levels of activity in the Discussion Halls in the hopes of making sure they’re organized in a way that reflects how the community actually uses them. This was prompted, in part, by results from the Membership Survey. This year, for the first time, we asked whether the Discussion Halls were adequately covering real life topics. The one repeated theme among those who said no was that Entertainment and Technology were really at least two different topics, with one member going so far as to say it didn't look like we had a gaming forum.

What we found is that Entertainment and Technology was seeing far and away more use than any other Discussion Hall save CE and that the threads were readily topically distinguishable into three kinds (Entertainment, Gaming, and Tech Talk). It was also noted that gaming seems sometimes drowned out by entertainment and vice versa and that they both tend to drown out the tech talk.

Given the level of activity, we decided that moving to three forums was likely to produce a salutary effect. To that end, we determined to break Entertainment and Technology into three forums, which was implemented when we transitioned to the new boards earlier this month.

Return of the Guilds

The possible return of the Guilds was discussed at some length. It was noted that formidable administrative roadblocks remain to be resolved and there is not a clear vision for the form in which Guilds might return or the role they might play in our community life going forward. Moreover, we are already in the midst of two substantial cultural changes (Integration and the training of a new Amyrlin), and it was the sense of the Board of Directors that the Guilds would represent another substantial change for which the community does not have the bandwidth at this time.

Therefore, the Guilds will not be returning at this time and will not reappear on the agenda until next Fall, by which time we should have had the opportunity to get Integration settled and start looking at how we might resolve the difficulties facing the return of the Guilds.

Department of Marketing

marketing@tarvalon.net

A big thanks to our Director of Marketing, Arie Sedai, who heads up lots of various projects.

Group Logos

This was a huge project! Arie really got the ball rolling back in January 2014 with representatives from each membership group brainstorming ideas for what best represented their groups. Arie and Siera created icons for each group, and then expanded from there. The Hall members from the Fall '14 term were asked to participate in the finalization of the logos, and I will say: they are stunning. A lot of work went into each one of the logos. She's already posted the icons as a sneak peak, and the full logos will be released in November, a full month ahead of schedule.

External Marketing

We have plans! We want to share with the wider WoT world how awesome we are, and what TarValon.Net is all about. To facilitate this, we may look at creating a new position, as well as a person or people to help with social media marketing. If this is your area of expertise, feel free to contact marketing@tarvalon.net and share your ideas!

We're also looking to have a fan table at JordanCon in 2015. If you're attending and don't mind sparing an hour out of your day to man the table, watch for the opportunity to volunteer!

Department of Events and Conferences

events@tarvalon.net Our former Director of Events, Sonea Sedai, has retired from the position. We thank her for all her hard work.

Of course, that means we need a new Director! Do you have exquisite organization? Do you like planning events? Do you like finding totally awesome places for your friends to visit? Check out the hiring thread and see if you qualify, and apply! You have until October 27 to shine up that resume and send it in.

Other than our Director change, we have no big announcements for the department. Planning is well under way for 14th Anni, to be held in North Georgia in March. Euro Party 2015 will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in October 2016, so start saving up and watch for more details!

Department of Technology

technology@tarvalon.net

Many thanks to our Director of Technology, Erin Sedai! She and her team have been working very hard the last week or two with the vBulletin 5 update. Read on for details from her!

SSL

After much gnashing of teeth, and a change of server software, we finally implemented SSL on our website. What does this mean for you? Well, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. Many thanks to Azi al'Thone and Defen for doing the backend work, and to Technology staff for all of your attempts (and successes) at breaking our development sites to send Azi and Defen back to the drawing board. Yay for being more secure!

vBulletin 5

We purchased vBulletin 5, an upgrade of our website software, on May 28, 2014. Over the summer months and into fall, Technology worked with the new software. We tested, we poked, we prodded, and we basically configured it into a working semblance of what we needed and desired for our website. Our site design team, Megana and Siera, worked together to create the new theme. Our plan is to do a backup/clone of our current website the weekend of October 3-5, 2014, and go live with the upgraded version by the following weekend. While we are tweaking things on the upgrade, the boards will be “in exile,” with any new posts not carried over to vBulletin 5.

Notice: As these notes are being released after vBulletin 5 implementation, here is a quick update. We backed up and cloned the website on October 3, 2014. We were able to expedite the process, and re-opened to the membership at large on October 6, 2014. Since then Technology has been working to put out any fires that have cropped up, and we will continue to do so until it’s once again smooth sailing.

Looking Ahead

Once we've settled into vBulletin 5, Technology will be focusing on two long-standing, slow-moving projects: creating custom raising tests for Membership and creating a database to track information on our members for administrative purposes.

Department of Community Outreach

outreach@tarvalon.net

Aryawnah Sedai is our most recent addition to the Exec team, and she's jumped in and kept things rolling!

Fundraiser Against Humanity

Winners for our Fundraiser Against Humanity fundraiser were drawn at the admin meeting. We wanted to recognize folks for donating, and one grand prize winner was chosen along with 5 other winners.

Shaoman

Almost upon us! Start planning with your membership group about your theme and costumes. For this year’s Shaoman, we're encouraging your group to come up with a short story about your theme. It can be why they are in Tar Valon or Randland, and how they got there, or anything else you choose. There is no required length or topic. We ask that you keep language and content to a PG-13 rating as we do have minor members. We thought it would be a fun way to collaborate with your membership group and expand on your theme.

Feast of Lights

In the past, we've chosen a charity to raise money for as a group. This year, however, we're doing something a little different.

We're Servants of All. And that doesn't always mean giving money. Sometimes that means helping serve food at soup kitchen, or giving blood, or donating coats to a homeless shelter. This year we'll have a theme for FoL, and ask our members to participate however they can within that theme. For example, we might have the theme of "Feed the Hungry," and members could give food to a pantry, or do the soup kitchen work, or be creative and come up with something else that fits under that theme. We'll ask that you take a picture of yourself during the donation (of time, or goods), then run a best photo contest. We'll have some way of sharing the photos -- Pinterest or Tumblr, perhaps.

Watch for more details -- this is going to be a fun way to give back to communities across the world. Emote-happy.gif

Department of Administration

administration@tarvalon.net

Calypsa, as always, is keeping things moving along in her department.

We're aiming to have all Annual Report items submitted by January 31. We have a goal of releasing the Annual Report by April 1.

The Membership Survey will be moved to the summer next year, as we have a big change coming in January and we want to be able to capture data about it.

Department of Membership

membership@tarvalon.net

Sa' continues to hold down the fort here. No changes!

Department of Research and Records

library@tarvalon.net

Toral continues to keep the library up and running and updated. No changes!