Spring 2016 Admin Meeting

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Agenda

Amyrlin

amyrlin@tarvalon.net

  • What is our goal as a community?
  • Is it possible to create a simpler landing page that states who we are and what we're about?
  • Is it worth it to spend money on a Facebook ad campaign?

Keeper

keeper@tarvalon.net

  • Bonding discussion, revisited
  • Demoting Directors - In the future, if a Director wishes to demote and change community groups, should they also be allowed to keep their Directorship?

CFO/Shatayan

shatayan@tarvalon.net

  • Update on budgetary info

Archivist

archivist@tarvalon.net

  • April batch of merits and the Membership Survey are priorities. Once they're done, we will move forward with new/extended merits.
  • Membership Manual update is ongoing.

Moderators & Operators

moderators@tarvalon.net

  • Merging the book fora

Marketing

marketing@tarvalon.net

  • Logo update (Citizen logo is 99.5% done!)
  • Graphic Requests - Expanding its purpose and reflecting on the site's needs.
  • Old Logos - Retiring from the shop, and other uses.

Events & Conferences

events@tarvalon.net

  • Revisiting the Events structure

Technology

technology@tarvalon.net

  • How to incorporate more cat butts in the site design even though Mother votes for pugs

Community Outreach

outreach@tarvalon.net

  • Outreach for Anni
  • Beltine dates
  • Scholarship - Important dates
  • Marketing at JordanCon

Membership

membership@tarvalon.net

  • Giving groups more control over unruly guests
  • Raising tests
  • Clarifying some issues in the Hall

Research

research@tarvalon.net

  • Annual Report status update
  • Membership Survey

Notes

Written by Rhed al'Tere, Amyrlin Seat, unless otherwise specified

Introduction

Welcome to the Admin Meeting Discussion for Spring 2016!


Amyrlin

amyrlin@tarvalon.net

There's a lot of hiring stuff in this section, and normally that would go in Keeper, but since we restructured the Departments last year, Archivist now has a department, so I'm lumping it all in together under me. If you have questions or concerns about a particular Director (in general or specifically), you should email Toral at archivist@tarvalon.net or Lireina at keeper@tarvalon.net.

Community Goals

We talked a lot about the goals of TarValon.Net as a community, and how each department supported those goals. I asked all the Directors and Officers to think about how they support what they see as the goals of TarValon.Net.

We are, at our heart, a community of real people. That's what sets us apart from other WoT sites, and I would argue that that's what's allowed us to survive for FIFTEEN YEARS on the internet. We come here strangers, we come as old friends who haven't met yet, and we become family.

Cassie used a really nice phrase that I want to steal: Social philanthropy. We're here to make a difference in each others' lives, in our local communities, and in our world as a whole.

Mendo's Bond

I approved the bond between Mendo Sedai and Spikey the pineapple. It has not been determined whether Spikey will get its own page in the Who's Who; it was implied that there may have been some inappropriate activity with the pineapple. Mendo vetoed the idea of barbecuing the pineapple, to the disappointment of all who enjoy Hawaiian burgers.

Term Limits

A few people suggested that we look at installing term limits for Directors, as the Executive Team can be seen as a closed shop and limit the ability to contribute. We discussed this at length, but came to the conclusion that Directors need a longer term in office than membership admins, because they necessarily take a longer view of the community as a whole. Beyond that, training a new Director of Whatever Department every 1.5 or 2 years would be awful -- especially in a role like Director of Events, when a longstanding Director is a benefit rather than a hindrance.

Furthermore, when we looked at the data, we found that, for the most part, Directors rotate out at a pretty steady rate of about 2.5-3.5 years. We have outliers like Toral Gaidin, who served as Director of Research and Records for 6.5 years, but given he was active that whole time and didn't burn out, there was no good reason to ask him to retire.

Finally, it's very difficult to fill the Director roles. Many of them have special skills as requirements; for example, Marketing needs knowledge of graphics and social media, and Technology needs knowledge of how terrible vBulletin can be.

It is the purview of the Board of Directors to determine whether Officers have term limits, but I have not heard anything from the Board that would indicate that they are considering this. Should you wish to bring this up with the Board, you may contact the Board Chairman, Dralyn Sedai, at chairman@tarvalon.net, or the whole board at board@tarvalon.net.

Demoting Directors

Currently, if a Director demotes from their community group, they are expected to step down from their position -- Kelgan Sedai was an exception made because of Integration. With the limited pool available for some roles, requiring retirement on demotion could be harmful to the community. For most roles, there is no specific reason why a Director would need to be a current Senior Member -- previous time spent as a Senior Member would also qualify. In the coming weeks, Lireina and Toral will review Director roles with current Directors to determine whether active SMship is really needed based on the position.

The Amyrlin and Keeper may not demote; technically, they are raised *from* an ajah to the position, and so have no community group from which to demote. The Archivist also cannot demote, given their access to the Hall and potential to see their own raising thread. Should the Shatayan wish to demote, the Board will consider this on a case-by-case basis.

Filling Positions

In the past, we have not disclosed how many applicants we had for a position. From what I understand, the biggest reason we did this was so that Rabid Novice Julie didn't feel like she got a position just because she was the only applicant.

Going forward, we'll be disclosing how many applicants we had for a position. We think this will illustrate to the community the difficulty we have in hiring for some positions. It can look like the same people are chosen for positions over and over again; generally, the people who are chosen again and again are the ones applying again and again.


Keeper

keeper@tarvalon.net

Bonding

Rather than making any sweeping decisions about bonding from an administrative standpoint, we are turning it over to the membership. We will be using a focus group made up of the members of the Hall, plus junior member representatives, similar to the Integration Focus Group. Should a Hall member not wish to serve in the Focus Group, they may ask to be replaced in that group.

Questions regarding bonding changes will be included on the upcoming Membership Survey as well.

Trolling

An issue arose about the ability of community groups to rid themselves of guests who they felt were only trolling their forums, rather than actually making an attempt to guest and positively interact. The Hall has previously said that it's a code of conduct issue, and if the person isn't breaking the code of conduct, they have the right to stay. The Executive Team stands behind what the Hall decided.

Citizens Joining Tower

A review of the process for Citizens joining the Tower came up for this meeting, as the Keeper felt that sometimes the Hall can put too much weight on the level of activity alone when voting on someone who wants to join the Tower. New members are often referrals from existing members, who post in a limited number of places, and there have been instances where the Hall has been looking for both a large number of posts and a very wide range of forums posted in.

It was pointed out that the Membership Manual guidelines were perhaps interpreted too literally, and so those guidelines will be updated accordingly.A large number of posts can sometimes be difficult to achieve, and aren't always a good representation of the person being considered.


Shatayan

shatayan@tarvalon.net

The first half of our fiscal year is over, and we're under budget, largely due to underspending what we budgeted for Anni.

Financially, we're looking good.


Archivist

archivist@tarvalon.net

Membership Manual

The update is on a rolling schedule, with Toral updating as needed and in small sections.

Merits

Information from the Merits focus group has been summarized, and once the April batch of merits is released (done!), Toral will move on to the proposals for new merits and changes to existing merits.


Department of Marketing

marketing@tarvalon.net

Advertising

A small amount can be budgeted each year for Facebook advertising/boosting posts. We will continue to have no advertising on this site.

Graphics

It was proposed to create an open graphics request forum. We have a lot of talented artists who make signatures and avatar alterations who may not feel qualified either because of talent level or time commitment to join the official graphics team. Having an open graphics request forum will allow people to pick and choose their projects, and hopefully take some of the strain off the Marketing Graphics team.

Logos

A general Junior Member logo will be developed by the end of the year. Department logos are a possibility, though these would be simpler in design than the Community Group logos.

Newsletter

We are exploring the idea of sending newsletters and/or site updates via email. We are planning to add a "Sign up for the TarValon.Net Newsletter" box on the Home (or other) page as a way to opt-in to these emails. We may use @tarvalon.net email addresses to send a one-time, opt-in email.


Department of Moderators and Operators

moderators@tarvalon.net

Book Forums

Book forums are getting a facelift! WoT book forums 1-4 and 1-8 will be combined, as well as 1-13 and 14. In short: We will have WoT 1-8 and WoT 1-14.

Brandon Sanderson Forum

We received as suggestion that as part of the book forum overhaul, we should include a new forum for Brandon Sanderson's current work. We thought that sounded like a great idea, and because of Sanderson's close connection and dedication to WoT, we will be adding a Brandon Sanderson book forum! We will not be doing this for other authors; we are doing this for Sanderson's work because he is an author on the last several WoT books and because his other work has a significant following within our community. The Department of Mods and Ops will discuss internally whether to require moderators for the Brandon Sanderson forum have read his work because of spoilers.


Department of Events and Conferences

events@tarvalon.net

Anniversary Party

Timing

Anni is very often close to JordanCon, and this can have a negative impact on attendance, as two events in one month can be financially straining. We talked about the possibility of moving the event to the summer. One negative could be that we wouldn't get off-season rates.

Format

We're also looking at possibly offering a weeklong summer-camp-type event. We'd have optional additional days before the actual Anni event that were far less structured, and the weekend would be a regular Anni event. So, for example, Monday-Thursday, we might share a cabin, but you're free to do whatever you want and we'd have no official programming, and maybe we'd meet up for dinner in the evenings. Then Friday, we'd welcome all the folks in for Anni.

Ticket Prices

We talked about how best to match actual event expenses to the amount members pay.

Our process for setting ticket prices is to count up how much we think we'll need to spend, make an educated guess about how many people will come, and then pick a price that covers all expenses even if fewer people show up. This is what lets us give members a fixed ticket price in advance. If we end up collecting more in ticket funds than are needed, we try to reinvest that money into the event. If we don't collect enough money (which hasn't happened in a while) the site covers the difference. We've never had to come back to attendees and ask for more money.

However, most money we pay vendors does not scale perfectly with the number of attendees. For example, Sumo suits cost $300 for a one day rental regardless if we have 6 people attend or 600. Likewise, hotel rooms or cabins do not come in units for one person each. (In fact, the only thing that does scale nicely tends to be food for a catered or restaurant meal.) We could literally have a ticket price that is fine for 20 or 22 people, but if exactly 21 people attend, it's actually a small loss for the party.

We are considering ways to give the security of a fixed ticket price, but reduce the need for the Events Department to have a crystal ball to know how many people will attend months or a year in advance. One thought is to provide different ticket prices as we hit different numbers of attendees.

Fall Ball

Fall Ball could become a floating event, like the Britain & Ireland/European events. With the potential shift in the timing for the Anni event, this gives us more potential flexibility with our second main event of the year.

Other

It is very likely that we will be hiring an assistant for the Mistress of Revels-North America (MoR). With our events requiring a good deal of advanced planning and review, this would allow the MoR to focus on active events while progress on events further out would still continue in the background, so to speak.


Department of Technology

technology@tarvalon.net

Webpage

We have already updated the landing page to the Home page instead of the News page. Mendo is looking into the weird thing where the News page tab looks like it's selected instead of the Home page tab. The department is working on various themes.

Database Project

New staff in the department is looking at the database project.

Other tech developments

We will soon have tests for raising! Actual randomized tests instead of emails! Woohoo! We're currently (still) looking for a better platform for the forums.


Department of Community Outreach

outreach@tarvalon.net

Anni

We chose to support a Placerville-area branch of Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Between bead sales and raffle tickets, we raised $590! We split donations down the middle between BBBS and Tower. Thanks to a charity exhibition sumo match between Melelele and Jason Denzel, we raised an additional $70 for BBBS, and we sent them a donation of $365.

Avendesora

Information is now up-to-date and pages should be updated within the next month or so.

Scholarship

We will have funding for two recipients again in 2016. Applications will be accepted in the month of June, and voting in the Hall will be the first two weeks of July. We will aim to have payments sent by August 15. We will be marketing the scholarship at JordanCon.


Department of Membership

membership@tarvalon.net

Raising Tests

The Senior Member raising test is done, and the Junior Member test just needs to be made into a multiple choice format.


Department of Research and Records

library@tarvalon.net

Membership Survey

Membership Survey will run in May; there is no theme yet. Directors have been asked for specific questions.

Annual Report

Annual Report will be released soon.