2016 Annual Report
A PDF format is available.
This wiki format report is a work in progress.
413 Graycroft Drive, Huntsville, AL 35815
Property of TarValon.Net, Incorporated (hereafter referred to as TV.Net)
Compiled and edited by Anne Vanolli
With Assistance from Karen Sheridan and Ashley Morgan
- 1 State of the Tower – Amyrlin / CEO Welcome
- 2 Statement from the Board of Directors
- 3 Keeper / COO
- 4 Tower Archivist / Secretary
- 5 Shatayan / CFO
- 6 Department of Community Outreach
- 7 Department of Events and Conferences
- 8 Department of Marketing
- 9 Department of Membership
- 10 Department of Moderators and Operators
- 11 Department of Research and Records
- 12 Department of Technology
- 13 Appendices
State of the Tower – Amyrlin / CEO Welcome
Unlike some previous years, 2016 proved to be quieter than usual. The Tower and the community moved through the year fairly smoothly, with no upheavals or crazy changes.
I was honored to attend our Fifteenth Anniversary party, held in our founder's hometown of Placerville, Calif., at the Glen Morey House, where Eleyan grew up. This was an amazing chance to really go back to our roots and see the place that had so much influence on her. We were lucky to have Jason Denzel of Dragonmount as our guest, and since there were so few of us, we were able to have a special toast wherein everyone told their origin stories with Wheel of Time and TV.Net.
As is tradition, I also awarded the Amyrlin's Awards at that event. Sailea Nerid, Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah, was awarded Member of the Year for her continuous, extensive involvement since she joined. Philanthropist of the Year went to Ivanor Winshaw, Gaidin of Dai M'Hael, for his commitment to the grill. At many Anni parties he has attended, he offers himself up as da'covale and cooks a huge feast, spending much of one afternoon grilling; at the Atlanta Anni, he not only did that, but also cooked for everyone as part of the food committee.
Volunteer of the Year was easy; that went to Cahalan Sothron, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah. Early in her membership, she offered her services as Survey Project Manager, and she has done stellar work. I chose Luna Morn, Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, for Unsung Servant, because of all she does to support her Ajah, her breadth of work in the Tower, and her cheery, dependable "hello"s in the Introductions forum.
The Spring Executive Meeting saw a few updates and clarifications. At that time, we did not institute term limits for Directors. In addition, it was clarified that it is the purview of the Board of Directors to determine if Officers have term limits. We also determined that most Director roles do not require Senior Membership, and most Directors would be allowed to demote and keep their role. The Amyrlin Seat, Keeper, and Archivist may not demote, and should the Shatayan want to demote, the Board will determine this on a case-by-case basis. Finally (in the Amyrlin section, anyway), we decided to disclose how many applicants we had for each position. We strive for transparency, and there seems to be a feeling that the same people are chosen for positions over and over again, when with some positions we really struggle to have any applicants at all.
The Fall Executive Meeting had us reviewing term limits again, and we decided to institute them. Current Directors were grandfathered in, and any future Directors will have a term limit of five years. We clarified further about Director demotions: Any role requiring a supermoderator's access would be required to retire from their Director role should they want to demote. The only exception to this is Kelgan Sedai, since he demoted due to Integration and would not have to go before the Hall of the Tower to be raised again.
October found us at Fall Ball in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, our second Canadian event. We were a small group, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely at a horse show, a food and wine festival, and a lovely Italian dinner out.
Our site-wide re-readalong kept chugging along, starting with book 7 and ending in the middle of book 11. I for one am looking forward to the Last Battle in 2017.
As we move into 2017, we are seeing a lot of controversy inside and outside the United States with the new U.S. administration coming in. We have had suggestions from members that we should take an official stance on US administration policies; however, TV.Net declines to take any official corporate position with respect to those policies. Notwithstanding that, TV.Net encourages all members to speak in their individual capacities to express whatever views they like, consistent with the terms and spirit of our Code of Conduct, which encourages a tolerant and celebratory attitude toward differences, but does not allow for prejudice or hate speech of any kind.
The complete list of Executives is given in #Appendix A.
Yours in the Light,
The Watcher of the Seals
The Flame of TarValon.Net
The Amyrlin Seat
Statement from the Board of Directors
This year has been an uneventful year for the Board compared to recent years. At our annual meeting in April, James Beattie took over as our Chairman, replacing Amanda Keen.
On the officer front, this has been a very stable year for TV.Net. All of our Officers completed the full year serving in their respective roles. They have all worked hard to continue the current stability of the Tower and help us to continue to grow in future. We thank them for their service.
We look forward to what 2017 will bring for TV.Net and its members.
James K. Beattie, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Keeper / COO
2016 has been a quieter than usual year for our community — not as much change in the Executive organizational structure as in previous years, which made for a year of building stability in each department.
The Executive team was, for the first time in quite some time, not impacted by any changes in staffing, with the exception of the decision to eliminate the role of Director of Administration. The teams within that organization have been divided between Events and Conferences (Legal Staff) and Research and Records (Survey Project Manager, Statisticians). Other departments have begun to work on process documentation and review, making updates to those items requiring either clarity or revision.
No major changes to the overall community structure were implemented this year, including changes to the membership or forum structure. However, consideration for possible changes have been lined up for discussion next year.
Looking Forward to 2017
The community will review a potential adjustment to our current bonding structure in 2017. A focus group comprised of Hall members and representatives from the Junior Member community will be formed, similar to the procedure for Integration, to review our current structure and determine if any changes need to be made at this time. Other than that, a continued focus on overall community development, both on the boards and in the social media environment, will continue to be a priority in the upcoming year.
Tower Archivist / Secretary
At the start of the year we had four goals:
- Have at least one Merit release and get all the current Merits fully up to date;
- update the Membership Manual;
- run the Member's Choice Awards, and
- identify any new Merits.
These were mostly met. Not only were the new Merits identified from the previous Merit discussion, these were awarded. The new Merits were:
- Alchemist Merit: For those who have 4 Silvers of the type that do not become Gold in at least 3 categories
- Tournament Winners Merit: Win an event in the Amyrlin's Tournament for a Silver Merit, or win 5 events for a Gold Merit
- Sponsorship Merit: Sponsor 10 people for admittance to the Tower
- Gleeman Merit: Silver for running 2 Mafia or Assassin games, Gold for running 5
- Logo Design Merit: Silver for designing the logo for one of our official events
- Event Participation Merit Da'covale: Silver for participating in da'covale auction three times
There were also changes to the requirements for the Writing Merit, a new Teaching Gold, and an adjustment so that the Staff Merits could also have a second Gold.
The Membership Manual was updated for the main page, for each of the Departments, and the Community Membership section. Parts of the Community Features section were also updated.
Our 2017 goals are:
- Keep Merits on a 3-month schedule. Continue to research old classes, sponsorship, and participation in contests at official events so that all the people who have earned a Merit can be awarded it.
- Run the Member's Choice Awards.
- Keep the Membership Manual updated as changes are implemented. Finish the update for the Community Features and Philanthropy sections. The official Events section also needs to be updated.
Shatayan / CFO
The year 2016 saw an overall financial loss due in part to payments made for 2017 event location reservations in the 2016 fiscal year with no income for those events during the year. Overall financially, the Tower remains stable with sufficient capability to meet all financial commitments with the capability to pay for additional desired items.
The 2017 budget was reviewed and approved at the Fall Admin Meeting with minimal changes from 2016.
The backlog of Member Life Event Gifts has been resolved. At this time, no additional backlog gifts are anticipated, and membership administrators are responsible for ensuring any new gifts are identified.
Looking forward into calendar year 2017, I expect this to be a quiet year, filled only with normal monthly reporting and assisting the departments with their financial needs. Some additional mindfulness about expenditures is recommended to ensure we continue to maintain financial stability going forward.
Financial data is given in #Appendix B.
Department of Community Outreach
Philanthropic Outreach Activities
Real Life Events
- North American Anni 2016
For Fifteenth Anni in Placerville, Calif., we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County. We raised and donated $365.
$295 was also raised for the Tower via a silent auction and donations.
- Britain & Ireland 2016
There was no outreach at B&I this year.
- Fall Ball 2016
Fall Ball was held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. During this event, our chosen charity was Alberta Animal Rescue Society. We collected two bags worth of supplies including dog harnesses, food, and toys. In addition, we raised $100 CAD, along with an additional $150 CAD from the Tower, making the total monetary donation $250 CAD.
- Summer Fundraiser
For our Annual Maintenance Fundraiser, we held a contest of Pugs Vs. Kittens. For prizes, we raffled two "I Embrace Saidar" t-shirts and a grand prize of a signed copy of A Memory of Light. We raised a total of $2,842.91 for the Tower through this fundraiser, falling a little shy of our $3,500 goal. The prize recipients were as follows:
- Signed copy of A Memory of Light: Tallan Daar
- "I Embrace Saidar" shirt: Cahalan Sothron
- "I Embrace Saidar" shirt: Ilissa al'Nari
For a complete list of donors, please see Appendix C / Summer Fundraiser Donors.
- Feast of Lights 2016
This year for Feast of Lights, we once again asked everyone to be a Servant of All within their communities. Donations could be for anything: time, money, food, toys, or any other form of donation. We had a turnout of 15 charitable acts from 11 members. For every charitable act, the member was entered into our raffle to win a CURSES flask. Our raffle winner was Polegnyn Nemeara.
For a complete list of donors, please see Appendix C / Feast of Lights 2016 Donors.
- Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship
This year, we accepted applications for the Scholarship from June 1 through July 1. We received a total of five applications, and the Hall of the Tower chose two to receive a $500 scholarship. The recipients were our own Kassina Tendar and Kristin Gardiner.
2016 Blood Drive
| This year's goal was simply to surpass last year's donations of 32 pints of blood. |
Unfortunately, we fell shy this year with 16 pints being donated.
For a complete list of donors, please see Appendix C / 2016 Blood Drive Donors.
Servant of All Program
Our Servant of All forum is still live and active. We are currently working on ways to generate more activity by reinvigorating the Servant of the Month and coming up with new topics of service.
- In the Black Tower Day
In the Black Tower Day falls on March 27. This year, Mendo was kind enough to run a few games in mIRC for us.
- Bel Tine
Bel Tine was held from April 10–16 this year. Our theme this year was Shamrocks & Eggs. In celebration of Spring, we held several events including IRC trivia, Poem Creative Event, Group Theme Contest, Graphics Creative Event, and Puzzle Games. The overall winner of the Group Theme was The Brown Ajah Gives You the Tingles. Rhed al'Tere won our Trivia, and our Poetry Contest Winners were as follows: Free Verse–Sela Narian, Limerick and Haiku–Shaerlyn Storna. Selvyn al'Aran was our Spirit of Bel Tine, and Cahalan Sothron was our Rockstar of Bel Tine.
The Group Themes were as follows:
- Red Ajah the Musical
- Traveling with the Yellows
- Amyrlin Seat Revolt of the Pugs
- @AcceptedandSoldiers Social Media
- Novices and Recruits Fantastic Myths and Where to Find Them
- DM presents the Sham-Rocks!
- VC Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
- The Brown Ajah Gives You Tingles
- Tardis Blue
This year in honor of Robert Jordan's birthday, we held Homecoming from October 14–17. We held chat trivia and a Homecoming Dance in our Faire Grounds forum. We also held a Quest for Champions! Membership groups served as teams to solve riddles. The winner of our Quest for Champions was the Accepted and Soldiers. Tallan Daar won our Trivia. Our Homecoming Queen was Tallan Daar and King was Deleios Cherchenuit.
Shaoman was held from October 23 to November 1 this year in recognition of Fall and Halloween. Our theme was Zombies. We had a few activities such as a Spamathon and our Group Theme Contest, as well as a Haunted Puzzle. Blue Ajah Reformed Villains was our Group Theme winner. Accepted/Soldiers won the Spamathon. Spirit of Shaoman was Polegnyn Nemeara and Rock Star was Analiese Sinclaer.
The Group Themes were as follows:
- Green Ajah: It Ain't Easy Being Green
- White Ajah Unicorns
- Junior Members: Mad and Ghoulish Delivery Service
- Blue Ajah: Villains... er... friends
- Yellow Ajah: Zombie Mother
- Citizens: Pumpkins
- VC: Desert Wolves
- Gray Ajah: To Go Where No One Has Gone Before
- SDS: Five Nights with SDS
Avendesora is now up and running. All member leaves have been added to member pages.
Looking Forward to 2017
My goals for the department this year is to get Servant of All up and running in a more active capacity. I also intend to try to advertise our scholarship more using our social media channels to receive more applications like in 2015.
Department of Events and Conferences
2016 was a year of learning and development for the Events and Conferences team, as we improved our bidding processes, venue selection, and overall formatting for events both in North America and Europe.
In North America this year, we celebrated our Fifteenth Anniversary with a celebration at the home of our Koyn Amyrlin, Eleyan Teyal Al'Landerin, in Placerville, Calif., from April 1–4. 27 attendees participated in the celebration, including our very special guest Jason Denzel, founder of fellow WoT community Dragonmount. While it was one of our smaller Anniversary parties, it was an amazing time and a great opportunity for us to visit our roots in person!
We maintained our presence at JordanCon again, which was held in Atlanta, Ga., on April 22–24. Around 50 TV.Net members attended the festivities, and we branched out with our Marketing team to begin making ourselves more known to the rest of the event attendees. Members had a great time visiting vendors, attending panels, and getting together with friends both inside and outside the community.
- Fall Ball
Fall Ball 2016 was held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, marking our first return back to the Great White North since our Fall Ball in Toronto back in 2006. Over the weekend of October 14–16, 10 attendees enjoyed a fun weekend of games, touring local landmarks like Spruce Meadows, and enjoying the fabulous local cuisine at the Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival.
Our Continental Europe event took place in Ølbergtunet near Stavanger, Norway, on September 23–25, and hosted a dozen of our fellow TV.Net members from around Europe and the British Isles. Good times were had by all who attended!
Looking Forward to 2017
At the Fall Executive Meeting, we decided to consolidate the Mistresses (Masters) of Revels (MoR) Britain & Ireland (B&I) and Continental Europe (CE). The new region is called the European region, and the MoR will be non-rotating, like the current B&I MoR. The change was made to help with consistency between events, and to provide an experienced leader over all Euro events. The Department of Events and Conference continues to take member feedback with regard to site locations, amenities, pricing, and the bidding/selection process in an effort to provide the best possible experience for members attending our hosted events. If you have any suggestions / comments / feedback for ways in which we can make experiences better, please feel free to reach out.
Department of Marketing
Staff and Position Changes
On December 4, our Project Manager Siera al'Cere stepped down to serve as Graphic Staff, and hiring has continued into the New Year, applications due on January 10, 2017.
Tar Valon Times
The following members served on the TVT team in 2016*:
|2016 Term 1||2016 Term 2|
\*2017 Term 1 began in December 2016. Details on team members for that term will be included in the 2017 Annual Report.
This year we featured articles from several guest reporters:
- Alora Sionn
- Bryher al'Venna
- Relinya Ryviarra
- Cahalan Sothron
- Ixialdor Lathanril
- Aran Cherubim
- Ahmyra al'Ruley
The TVT was published on the first of every month throughout 2016. The highest number of articles in one edition was 23 and the lowest was 6. The average number of articles in each edition was 15. (From June through December 2015, the average number of articles in each edition was 17.)
\ * indicates previous Editor's term
- Member Spotlights of 2016
- January —Zandera Sommers
- February—Mendo Cath
- March—Kassidy Dai'Shan
- April—Reniel Killian
- June—Jaim al'Bearach
- October—Kassina Tendar
- November—Arisaema Draconis
- December—Selvyn al'Aran
Graphics Development Team
The Graphics Team has grown noticeably smaller over the years. We have condensed the team to focus on specific projects, and moved the Graphic Request forum to be more of a public use. This has allowed for all the casual graphic needs of the forum to be filled by any and all members of the community, and the smaller, more specific requests to be filled on an "as needed" basis.
- Completed Projects
- Citizen Logo
- Junior Member Logo
- Merit Badges (ongoing)
- Tower Event Logos (see Department of Events and Conferences)
- Current Projects
- Merit Badges
- Department Badge/Logo
Social media department expanded in 2016 and added new social media channels to our mix: Pinterest, Tumblr (reddit), and Instagram. We introduced several new campaigns and added more consistency to posting schedules. In addition to site announcements, we post general content related to threads on the site, Tar Valon Times, Motivational Mondays, Trivia Tuesdays, and other trivial social stuff.
- The team
- Facebook—Enelya, Stasia, Ne'Mireth, Elania
- Twitter—Enelya, Stasia, Ne'Mireth, Elania
- Instagram—Owena, Stacia
- Tumblr—Relinya, Serenla
- Tar Valon blog—Almira, Tree, Maibella (guest), admin team
- TVT liaison—Mira
- Online community posts—Elania
- Trivia Tuesday—Almira
- Site announcements—Enelya, Stasia, Elania, Ne'Mireth
- Key campaigns
- Tar Valon shop over the holidays
- Feast of Lights
- Memorial scholarship
- Fall Ball
- Anni 2017
Goals for 2017 and Moving Forward
When coming up to the mark of serving as Director for three years, I have spent a little more time reflecting less on what we are doing next and more on what we have been able to accomplish during that time. From the release of all new logos for the site, our Ajahs, Companies, Citizens, and now Junior Members, an overhaul of our shop to suit and fit with these new logos. We broadened our social reach with our Social Media team and have even further reach out into the web than we ever have previously. Our TVT has had an impressive and growing readership and contribution than it has previously, with some amazing stories, articles, recipes, and reviews of books and games.
In truth, it is difficult to see Marketing getting any stronger, as we have had impressive and healthy growth these past three years.
Looking forward, it is my deepest hope that we can focus more on the actual marketing aspect of the department, including providing more assistance to our Social Media team and becoming more closely involved with our external activities and teaming up with Outreach. While there is always the desire to keep making more logos and pretty things for the community, my biggest hope and goal for 2017 is to put our best foot forward into the world and be the staple of what the White Tower really is, especially with the political climate. We are not a political site, but we are a community of strong men and women — a safe space. We have a lot to teach the world through our own light.
Social Media statistics can be found in Appendix D.
Department of Membership
The Department of Membership is responsible for fostering a sense of community within TV.Net. It is involved with the administrative tasks that relate to the membership, and attempts to create a bridge between individual groups and the site at large.
New membership has slightly picked up again, and we hope it continues. Applications came in at an average rate of between two and three a month, June being much higher than others. In total, 39 new citizens joined our community in 2016.
Nine applied to the Tower last year, and four to Accepted and Soldiers. Fifteen members were raised to Senior Member status, and four people demoted.
Summary of 2016
The membership cleanup was straightforward:
- 680 listed members
- 310 responded on site, and 344 were emailed
- 230 members were removed
Looking Forward to 2017
This year we aim to make for some good events and pranks that may be a delight.
Membership statistics can be found in Appendix E.
The complete list of volunteers is given in Appendix F.
Department of Moderators and Operators
In many respects, 2016 was a relatively quiet year for this department. Unlike previous years, we had no significant structural changes to the department. Instead, 2016 has been a year of challenges for this department.
The single greatest challenge we faced in the last year was managing the US presidential election and the fallout from it both in chat and on the boards. Presidential election years always present a challenge for the Current Events moderation team, but the remarkably acrimonious nature of this year's election saw conflict, fear, and anxiety spilling into other fora as well. The election of Donald Trump has thus presented not just the Current Events team but the whole Department of Moderators and Operators with a unique set of challenges. Our job in such a situation is to ensure both that members on all sides are able to speak about what is going on and what they think about it, and that members on all sides continue to feel both safe and welcomed on the boards and in chat, and this year's contest made that especially difficult. I am pleased to say that overall, the community rose to this challenge in fine form and the members of this department acquitted themselves admirably.
The second challenge we have faced has been declining participation in Mafia. The end of 2016 marks five years of Mafia on the boards, almost three of which have featured Mafia in its own forum and under the management of this department. Unfortunately, participation is not what it used to be. We are continuing to look for solutions to this problem, as this is one of the greatest venues for cross-Tower participation and engagement we have so far found.
The third challenge of significance for us has been the challenge of aging technology. We continue to receive requests to please find a new chat platform and move away from IRC, which many see as antiquated and which is no longer nearly so mainstream as it once was but has become a niche platform in some ways. We are beginning a search for a new platform, but we acknowledge that, once we have considered the available alternatives, we may decide to stick with IRC.
Fortunately, application numbers did not make our list of challenges this year. We have consistently had enough quality applications in the past year, which marks a pleasing change from years past. We are very grateful to the community and to all those who have stepped up to serve in this department over the last year.
Looking Forward to 2017
Looking forward to 2017, we have three goals. First, we look forward to continuing to provide high-quality moderation and chat op services. Second, we continue to work toward completion of a Moderator's Handbook, which we hope to see finished in 2017. Third, we will be working both internally and with the Department of Technology to vet possible new chat platforms and hope to reach a decision early in 2017 on whether to change platforms and, if so, to which.
Department of Research and Records
Major departmental changes this year included the integration of the Annual Reports Project Manager and Membership Survey Project Manager into the department after the disbandment of the Department of Administration. We welcome Isarma Maracanda and Cahalan Sothron to the team.
We also had a change in the Historians mid-year, as Bryher al'Venna stepped down and was replaced by Jeffan Caliarthan, and Sailea Nerid stepped into the role of Awards Historian in March. Nyavene al'Meer and Eniara Kisharad continued to serve in their roles from last year, and Charis Delphi continued on as Headmistress. We also continue to have volunteers from the community assist in keeping our library up to date and a great source of reference.
For 2016 our goals were:
- Add spoiler tags to main and principal characters, and to chapter summaries to allow new readers to use our library more carefully and therefore more often.
- Encourage more contributors to the Library, expanding content whether book, site or community group–related.
- Increase the exposure of our Library through social media and within our own membership, e.g. use the Desk forum more.
We made some progress into these goals but continue to work to improve the content and outlook of our Library.
Looking Forward to 2017
Our goals for 2017 are as follows:
- Continue to improve the content flow, quality of information, and originality of the information available.
- Reach out more to community contributors to the Library.
- Aim for earlier releases of Annual Report and Membership Survey results.
Department of Technology
The Department of Technology supports the infrastructure of TV.Net. While the main objective is to maintain the availability of our website and message boards, members of the department are utilized as a technical resource for other projects. In addition to general staff who work on projects, there are a variety of named positions that handle specific areas of support:
- Masters of the Watch — Systems Administrators, maintain servers and deal with any and all server-related functions for us.
- Tower Gatekeepers — Move users into / out of user groups by administration request.
- Site Design Team — Create / tweak themes used by TV.Net
Technology staff underwent a few changes over the year.
- Raising Test — TAO* is moving ahead. The software was implemented, and we are working with membership to get questions loaded and tests structured.
- Abandoned Corridor theme — The theme was completed. Future themes are on hold until site software is upgraded to reduce duplicate work.
- Maintenance — Staff continues to do host / site maintenance as needed.
\* TAO is an awesome open source web based testing software. It will be used in the future to issue raising tests for Junior Members.
SQL injection vulnerability / Password Policy Changes
The version of software that currently run the TV.Net forums was subject to a SQL injection vulnerability that was exploited and discovered in August. We worked to put a hotfix in place to protect the site from the vulnerability and setup a password change policy to help protect user data on the forums.
We are excited about the future of the technology at TV.Net and the site software upgrade work that is expected to be a priority in 2017.
The Appendices can be viewed in the PDF file for now. We are working on adding them to this page.