2008 Annual Report

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2008 Annual Report

TarValon.Net, Inc. Annual Report 2008

Property of TarValon.Net, Incorporated

Compiled and edited by Anne Vanolli

With Assistance from Jessica Beaushene and Nissa Reichenbach


"Life is a dream. All dreams must end."

These are words sung by the Aiel, one of many dozens of intricate cultures found within the vivid world of the Wheel of Time, created by James Rigney, Jr. under the pen name of Robert Jordan.

After fighting the disorder amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy for over a year and a half, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. died of complications from this disorder on Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 2:45 P.M. He was one month away from his fifty-ninth birthday. He is survived by his wife, Harriet, who served as editor for his books, and his son, William.

James Rigney, Jr. was born on October 17, 1948. He decided at an early age that he wanted to write, but decided to wait until he had experienced more in life which he could bring to his fiction. Before he became a professional writer, he served two tours in Vietnam through the U.S. Army, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with Valor and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry with Palm. He attended the Citadel in South Carolina, where he earned a degree in physics. He went on to become a nuclear engineer, employed by the U.S. Navy.

The best-selling writer of 25 books had the distinction of spending over 80 weeks on the New York Times' Bestsellers lists for his various releases in hardback and paperback both. His books were published in 22 countries. He was also an accomplished dance and theatre critic, contributing to Library Journal, Fantasy Review, and Science Fiction Review under the name of Chang Lung. Besides Robert Jordan, he also wrote books under the pseudonyms Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly.

He was in constant communication with his fans throughout the world, and touched millions of lives through his writing. In his series, he described the term ta'veren as one who is chosen by the Wheel of Time to bend the pattern of the web of destiny; one thread which pulls others to it and changes lives without even realizing it. Such was the life of James Rigney, Jr. Whether he met them or did not, there are thousands of stories to be found of readers who connected through his books, forged lasting relationships, improved their lives, and worked to serve others through charitable acts as a result of reading the Wheel of Time series.

He will be remembered as a man of constant strength, passion and dignity, who left a lasting impact on the world of fiction and beyond. His influence will continue to touch the world long after his passing; within his books, readers old and new will discover the legends he created for many years to come. The grave is no bar to his call.

Sela Narian

Annual Overview

As we continue to firm our administrative structure, changes within the administration are inevitable. We remain in a balanced state of change and continuity, changing those aspects that are not functioning while holding steady those aspects that are working well.

Changes Affecting Our Membership

As always, a variety of changes that affect our membership were decided upon throughout the year and at our annual administrative meeting. The largest of these changes involves administrators within the Department of Membership. Over the years, we have discovered that there is a life cycle for administrators within this Department. These administrators work most intimately with complex and heated membership problems and complaints, and they have a tendency to need a break from the grind around 18 months into their tenure. While this does not happen with every membership administrator, it happens with the majority, and many of those who need a break end up simply disappearing, which negatively affects the groups that they lead. To combat this cycle and keep good administrators from burning out while helping groups retain active leadership, the administration decided to implement a rotation for all Membership administrators. The Mayor, Mistress of Novices, Captain of Recruits, Mistress of Accepted, Captain of Soldiers, Head of Ajahs, and Company Commanders will rotate every 18 months in groups. A specific person may serve in the same position more than once, but those terms cannot be consecutive. We are hopeful that this change will serve our membership groups well. As with all major changes, we will review it annually at the administrative meeting to ensure that the change is still serving the needs of our community.

Another change involves our mentor program. Previously, all Senior Members were allowed to take as many mentees as they were given. This has both positives and negatives. When it comes to administrators, however, those negatives are a little stronger. The purpose of the mentor program is to provide Junior Members with an immediate, easily accessible resource to answer questions about the Tower. Someone who is responsible for several mentees can feel stretched pretty thin if all of those mentees are very active in their mentor relationship. Someone who is responsible for several mentees and for all of the staff underneath them can feel swamped. Therefore, those present at the administrative meeting decided that all administrators can only have one mentee at a time.

Entering into the Tower as a novice or a recruit is a change from being a citizen and involves more restrictions, which are supposed to mimic some of the experience in the books of entering the Tower. However, this pulls us more closely to an RPG setting, and it detracts from one of our main focuses, which is building a community. Therefore, those present at the administrative meeting decided to get rid of some of those restrictions, mainly those that involve fraternization across genders.

Demotions are a recent addition to our membership options. A demotion is when a Senior Member decides voluntarily to become an Accepted or Soldier again in order to find a new home amongst the Senior Member groups. This is a process that should not be entered into lightly, and it should only be done as a last resort.

Two forums were archived and deleted. Those present at the administrative meeting decided that the Creative Endeavors forum duplicates the purpose of other forums, particularly our Guild forums, and there is no content in the Creative Endeavors forum that does not also fit elsewhere. Therefore, the forum was deleted, and all content will be funneled to other forums as appropriate. The Robert Jordan Memorial Forum has fulfilled its term following Jordan's passing, so it was archived into our Library and was also deleted.

Several changes were decided with regards to our official events. Transportation is now solely the concern of attendees; there will no longer be a Transportation Committee to facilitate. A $25 late fee will be charged to ticket purchases after a date determined for each event. Registration will be open to necessary personnel first (all Executives and events planners, then to administrators, then to the site at large).

Changes Affecting Our Administration

Many changes to our administration and its processes were made this year. Hiring procedures were firmed up. Staff chosen by administrators must be affirmed by the relevant Department Director, and administrators chosen by the relevant Department Director must be affirmed by an Officer. Several Department forums were also deleted and their content subsumed into other administrative forums.

One of the biggest decisions regarding our administration involved Executive attendance at official events. Those present at the administrative meeting decided that it has become important for an Executive to be present at both of North America's Official Events (Anniversary and Fall Ball) and at one European Official Event each year. If at least one Executive is not planning to attend each North American event, the Tower will pay for the travel of one Executive to the event. The Tower will also pay for one Executive to attend one European event per year. Ticket prices for the presiding Executive will be waived, as that person is there to work at the event itself. Ticket prices for the presiding Mistress of Revels are also waived, as they are working the event.

The list of positions invited to the administrative meeting was restricted to Officers, Department Directors or their proxies, Mistresses/Masters of Revels, and positions that are necessary to running the business or running the meeting (Treasurer, Legal Counsel, Financial Counsel, Recording Secretary, Executive Assistants). The Amyrlin reserves the right to invite other positions or guests as appropriate. Future administrative meetings will be held in the spring as an attachment to an event and in more professional environments, to ensure appropriate accessibility to the internet and printing services.

Administrative reviews will be enacted. Department Directors will review their administrators and some staff, who will perform self-assessments as well. These reviews will focus on a person's job performance as compared to their position's description of purpose and duties. Officers will review the Department Directors. These reviews will serve as a springboard for more in-depth reviews at a later date.

Those present at the administrative meeting affirmed the selection process for Official Events. Those decisions will be made by the Amyrlin, Keeper, Director of Real Life Services, the appropriate Mistress of Revels, and one other relevant Executive after receiving the proposals solicited.

Our finances continue to be in a state of flux as we push forward on filing the paperwork that would incorporate us as a 501c3 non-profit. Our desired bank account is not available until we are a 501c3, so we will hold off on acquiring a new bank account. When we acquire the new bank account, the Treasurer, Director of Administration, and Keeper will manage the account. We will also at some point hire an accountant to handle our taxes, and possibly an attorney.

One of the largest concerns the administration has had this year is about avatars and the legality of them. For several years, TarValon.Net has hosted an avatar gallery so that people who are new to internet communities can have an easier time finding a face for themselves. However, over recent years copyright issues have become a major concern in terms of all forms of art and information, and this affects how avatars are obtained. TarValon.Net has always had the policy that it is the member's concern to obtain permission for artwork that is used for an avatar. The administration has decided that in order to further protect itself, the avatar gallery must also be disbanded. In its place, a list of artists who are known to give permission or never give permission will be kept, and an avatar team will maintain this list and help new members find avatars. It is still the member's responsibility to obtain permission for artwork used as an avatar.

Looking Forward

Administrative Projects

One of the biggest administrative accomplishments this year was the completion of the Membership Manual. This working document provides the details of everyday life at TarValon.Net, from raising requirements to official events to Departmental structures, and is meant to ensure that our members and guests have a resource that answers common questions and is updated frequently.

Dralyn Montsier, Keeper

Department of Administration

The Department of Administration was created to assist with the day to day business end of the Tower. In 2008, the Department Director was Arisaema Draconis and housed several members who assisted with legal and financial topics. These members include Leora Oldessroth as Legal Advisor with the assistance of Calypsa al'Nicolai, Tinnlin Fundon as Treasurer, and Gracienda al'Vonde as financial counsel. The Department of Real Life Services was disbanded in 2008, and the administrators involved with our real life events were added into this Department until a more permanent solution could be found for them.

The main goals of the department were to correct and improve documents such as the Bylaws, Mission Statement, and Membership Manuals to be ready to incorporate and eventually become an exempt organization. The two main reasons behind this is to be a legitimate business, as opposed to a sole proprietorship, thus legally protecting administration as well as to provide members with the ability to write off donations as tax deductions. To this end, the documents were updated allowing the next step - incorporation - to proceed in 2009. Countless hours were spent in this endeavor.

Examples of the ad hoc projects that the Department assisted with in 2008 are the many hours spent researching and trying to obtain an insurance policy to perform archery at the Anniversary party. In the end, the activity was dropped as the cost of the required insurance (and other factors) would make the ticket cost prohibitive. Other examples include creating forms for events that protect members and ensure safety and fun for all.

Ubahsur Kindellaer, on behalf of Arisaema Draconis, Director of Administration

Department of Communications

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called 2008 by some, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose in the White Tower, and blew away the annals of this department.

Department of Community Development

2008 was an active year for the Department of Community Development, which includes our Online Events Team, New Member Services, Guilds, Chat Activities, Radio, and the newly added Recognitions Coordinator and Avatar group. This Department saw the creation of several new positions, as well as increased activity and interest from membership site wide.

Position Additions and Changes

Kytheria al'Shea was hired as the Recognitions Coordinator at the beginning of January. This was a new position designed to bring attention to some of our membership for their various positions and help they give the site. She was also the co-team lead for the Annual Membership Awards presented at the Anni party in Colorado as the committee was set before she was hired for this position.

In April it was announced that Darim Pelegro would be retiring from his position as the Director of the Department of Community Development. Yelenia Hylraren was chosen to replace him, and in May her prior position as Manager of General Services was filled by Calypsa al'Nicolai.

The position of Manager of Online Services, held by Madelaine Vitalia, was dissolved in August after review at the Admin meeting. This position was found to be outdated as a result of the addition of the Department of Real Life Services.

In November, the position of New Member Services Coordinator, held by Saminda Meltacia, was also dissolved, and replaced with a Welcoming Committee. The Welcoming Committee is to be made up of three people, and will serve under the Mayor in the Department of Membership.

The Avatar team was created in December, and consisted of Nikole, Alyssa Letherio, and Thalya Nyale. This team was assembled in order to help new members find legal avatars, and to find current artists who give permission for such use.

Also in December Miridyth Al'Landerin was added to the Department as a member of the Philanthropy Team.

At the end of December Meirah Zaïde was added as the Guild Liaison for the Tar Valon Times. This position was created to help encourage exposure of the Guilds in other areas of the site.

Guild Leader Turnovers: Neisa Alibrylla was hired for the Innkeepers Guild in January, Elarielle Mandellon as leader of the Tailors in April, Sean Dragoran for the Martials, Fee Nicoin for the Innkeepers in May, and Enya Tawarwaith for the Artisans in November.

The Online Events Team had their usual staffing changes in January and July.

Goals and Outcomes


These were the goals for the year as discussed in the Executive Forum:

  1. Work on moving all pertinent threads into main forum from current forums that will be disappearing, and work to transfer threads as appropriate from Creative Endeavors into Guild forums.
  2. Work towards review of all admins and staff.
  3. Work to change avatar gallery.
  4. Get avatar committee up and going. Have them ready to help poke people to change their links in the Who's Who once they have access to link to their off-site avatars.
  5. Department restructure (managers).
  6. Work towards Guild icons.
  7. Work on art museum. Do we need to hire a new curator?


  1. The Creative Endeavors forum was closed down due to redundancy and wanting to increase traffic in the Guilds. All relevant threads were moved to either the Gleemen or Artisan's guild, if they were moved at all. Members had plenty of warning to save or request movement of their threads.
  2. Review of admins and staff will be performed later.
  3. Legal avatars are becoming increasingly rare to find, and it is a huge strain on our staff members to find them. Therefore, we are disbanding the avatar gallery. In its place, we will be putting up a page that contains the following information:
    • A list of sites with avatars to consider.
    • A list of recommended artists, with categories for dead artists, living artists who give permission, living artists who never give permission, and artists at our site who would be willing to make avatars.
    • A list of people at TarValon.Net who are willing to help with finding avatars, resizing/cropping avatars, and hosting avatars.
  4. The Avatar Team was created in December 2008.
  5. When we first came up with the managers for this Department, their role was to provide a go-between for Director and the admins/staff of the Department. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Real Life Services was created, which eliminated the need for one of the managers and left two managers. After working with this arrangement for some time, it has been decided that one of the manager positions no longer serves a purpose of go-between. Therefore, the position of Manager of Online Services will no longer exist. All positions that reported to that Manager will report directly to the Director. The Manager of General Services will still exist, primarily to provide a unifying force to the Guilds. The Online Events Team will be the primary planners for online events on the site. We will become more proactive with advertising and using regular members to help motivate membership admins during festival time. Chat Activities and Radio will start working with the festivals for added programming. Chat Activities will also start working on monthly programming, including a newbie night. Radio Programming will alternate with the Tar Valon Times.
  6. The Admin Meeting approved Guild icons, which will be 50x50 images. Guildmasters are currently working in their Department to come up with appropriate icons.
  7. It was determined at the Admin Meeting that the position of Art Curator would be dissolved and replaced with the Visual Resources Lead, and that our art museum will transform from a place housing art by our members to a place that houses great Wheel of Time art. The curator will actively seek out such art and obtain permission for us to display it.

Yelenia Hylraren, Director of Community Development

Department of Membership

The Department of Membership is responsible for handling all administrative tasks related to our membership and fostering a sense of community within each membership group.

City Membership

During calendar year 2008, we received 587 applications, which average about 49 applications a month or 1.6 applications per day. As in previous years, we retain a nearly even distribution of men and women, with men having a slightly higher representation in the City. Unfortunately as in years past, we have no reliable method to truly know how many of these remain as long term citizens.

Tower Membership

Of the 82 new Novices and Recruits in 2008, exactly half of them joined TarValon.Net in the same year. The number of applicants to the Tower is slightly lower than 2007's - 99 new Novices and Recruits.

The number of Novices and Recruits in the Tower was significantly higher at the end of 2008. Part of this is due to the 2008 Membership Clean Up not being finalized. The membership numbers are actually slightly lower in all rank groups due to this reason.

Ajah and Company Membership

Tower membership experienced significant growth in 2008. Some of the increase is accounted for by new membership and some by returning members. Overall females still outnumber males by a 2:1 ratio.


As in years past, our membership remains diverse and spread across the globe with the USA holding the largest portion.

As in previous years, the bulk of our members were born between years 1978 and 1989. We do however have a significant number of members born before 1972.

See also Appendix C for more information.

Summary of 2008

This year was the first full year of having separate membership administrators for Accepted and Soldiers. Splitting the duties of the Mistress of Novices and Captain of the Recruits has given each Mistress and Captain more time to focus on their members, and the administration feels that this division has worked well for each group. With an administrator dedicated to each level within the genders, the Junior Members have been able to forge a tighter sense of community, and those administrators have been able to focus on the needs specific to the group, rather than the needs of two different groups.

The largest change implemented this year involved the length of time served for administrators within the Department. It was decided at the Administrative Meeting that in order to better serve the needs of the membership groups, all administrators in this Department (Mayor, Mistress of Novices, Mistress of Accepted, Captain of Recruits, Captain of Soldiers, Head of Ajahs and Company Commanders) should rotate every 18 months. Members will be eligible to serve in the Department more than once - for example a former HoA could apply for MoA and may be hired - but it is unlikely that the terms will be consecutive, particularly terms for the same position. It is our hope that these rotations will give more members a chance to serve the Tower, their respective groups, and bring fresh ideas to the Department as a whole. The positions will be set to rotate out twice yearly, in January and July. The rotation schedule and the process as a whole will be reviewed at the 2009 meeting.

Looking Ahead to 2009

The Department's focus for 2009 will be working together more cohesively as a group and looking at ways to spark activity and interest in the other members. We will also be focusing on wrapping up items from the 2008 Administrative Meeting in preparation for the 2009 Administrative Meeting. The Director of Membership will be working with the Keeper on developing Administrative Manuals for each position in the Department of Membership, working towards a review of all Administrators and Staff, transferring all spreadsheets to Google Docs and developing a "Brag Sheet" for members.

Serenla Tamowith, Director of Membership

Department of Moderators

2008 saw the creation of a new department at TarValon.Net comprised of all moderators of general community forums on the message boards, and all operators in our IRC chat rooms. To lead this department, Melana Sedai of the Green Ajah was selected in November of 2007. The goals of 2008 included solidifying a rotating moderation staff (though operators in IRC do not fall under this guideline), to work on a set of Current Events participation guidelines, and evaluating the first year as a department. Early in the year it was formalized as to which forums on the boards this new department would be in charge of along with its three chat channels in IRC. These forums included: General, Mundane World, Current Events, Creative Endeavors, Ask the Aes Sedai, and Technology and Media, then in February it also gained Games, Quizzes, and Humor as well as the Olde Warder and Hen.

In IRC, the Department of Moderators supplied operators for all three official TarValon.Net chat rooms including #wheel, #oldewarderandhen, and #wanderingwoman. To assist the Director in the technical aspects of IRC including control of our bot "The Dark One", Miriya Sedai was selected to take on the duties of Mistress of Chat. Other aspects of IRC participation have remained largely unchanged over the years.

In our forums, the Mayor retained moderation privileges of the "Olde Warder and Hen" forum (in addition to the two individuals belonging to the department of moderators) since it belongs to the city and is therefore also under the Mayor's jurisdiction. Creative Endeavors was eventually dissolved, and those topics that normally would fall there were moved to either Mundane or the appropriate Guild forum to help encourage participation there. Later in the year, "Ask the Aes Sedai" was renamed "Ask the White Tower" to more appropriately reflect the type of assistance to be found there from members of all ranks and genders.

For Current Events, it was formalized in 2008 that each term would see four moderators working and that they would continue to have six month limits. During the Administrative meeting in September, a full list of Current Events guidelines was agreed upon and these were presented to the participants. Another shift happened in that Current Events was made a forum that not everyone could see, and people could only gain access through emailing the Director of Moderators and agreeing to follow the CE guidelines.

Going into 2009, goals included making moderator and operator training more consistent and through that making moderation practices consistent through different terms and individuals. The first year of the department saw a lot of growth and interdepartmental cooperation with the Department of Membership which only looks to become more cohesive through 2009.

Vivianna L'antreau, on behalf of Melana al'Cairera, Director of Moderators

Department of Real Life Services

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called 2008 by some, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose in the White Tower, and blew away the annals of this department.

Department of Research

Several staff changes occurred throughout the year. Elia LePhant stepped down as assistant and was replaced by Toral Delvar. Kethaana Nia Khamara continued as Headteacher, again going on Leave of Absence, in September. Shara Nevan stepped in to look after the classroom during this time. Several researchers were removed after failing to respond to check up threads. A new system for adding staff was created so that for the basic staff researcher positions, they do not need to be cleared by the executive panel.

We had a problem with spoilers in the Library, and Ismene Gillandred had to deal with many citizens who were exposed. It was suggested that people stick to the forums most suited for the books they have read to avoid inadvertent spoilers and it is hoped to improve on the moderation.

We are intending to get more short stubs, as there are many articles without a page. This will give us something while we are waiting for a comprehensive article. We have also been seeing articles start to come from Junior Members doing them as contributions. It is planned to open up the Wiki to more members, which was to be discussed at the admin meeting.

We have greatly extended the categorization, which adds an extra way of navigating the Library and finding articles. We also added a new main page for the one year anniversary, with sections for both the book related pages and the site related pages. We are hoping to get more out of the historians for the site related pages and are intending to archive more of the Tar Valon Times.

The Robert Jordan memorial forum has been archived and we are in the process of transferring it to the library and is almost ready to go live.

Toral Delvar, on behalf of Ismene Gillandred, Director of Research

Department of Technology

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called 2008 by some, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose in the White Tower, and blew away the annals of this department.


Appendix A: Award Winners

Amyrlin's Awards
Member's Choice Awards

Appendix B: Membership Statistics

Our City Membership is very diverse in terms of country of origin:

Members statistics by location

As in the Tower, there are a higher percentage of members from the United States, with the next highest numbers from Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The category "Other" includes India, Bulgaria, the Philippines, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, Finland, Israel, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Iceland, Malaysia, Japan, Russia, Slovakia, Argentina, Austria, Brunei, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Yugoslavia, Puerto Rico, Korea, Brazil, and Bosnia.

A total of 82 members joined the Tower in 2008, see graph below.

Tower joining dates 2008

Rank April 1st 2003 April 1st 2004 January 1st 2005 January 1st 2006 January 1st 2008 January 1st 2009
Novice 81 37 44 68 27 67
Recruit 40 21 22 47 27 50
Accepted 20 36 48 71 73 70
Soldier 21 17 14 35 48 46
Aes Sedai 65 90 104 142 192 242
Gaidin 37 54 61 69 88 108
Total 264 255 293 432 455 582

Appendix C: Executives


Amyrlin Seat:


Department Directors

Department of Administration:

Department of Communications:

Department of Community Development:

Department of Membership:

Department of Moderators:

Department of Real Life Services:

Department of Research:

Department of Technology:

Appendix D: Volunteer Lists

Department of Membership

Hall of the Tower – Spring 2008
Hall of the Tower – Fall 2008
Junior Member Administrators

Captain of Recruits

Captain of Soldiers

Mistress of Novices

Mistress of Accepted

Senior Member Administrators

Head of the Blue Ajah

Head of the Brown Ajah

Head of the Gray Ajah

Head of the Green Ajah

Head of the Red Ajah

Head of the White Ajah

Head of the Yellow Ajah

Company Commander of Dai M'Hael

Company Commander of Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb

Company Commander of San d'ma Shadar

Company Commander of Val'Cueran