Citizens' Corner: Staff Positions
Author: Zandera Sommers
Some members like to give back to the TarValon.Net immediately after joining. There are a few ways to get your feet wet right off the bat, such as serving in staff positions.
When most people think about community service, they think of people working at food banks, donating spare clothes, and raising funds for charities. However, volunteering for a non-profit to help keep it running is another way you can embody volunteering and be a Servant of All.
Are you a new member and want to know how to get involved in the administrative side of the TarValon.Net? Take a look at these amazing and fun staff positions that are open to you! Some of them were even created with you and other citizens in mind.
Community Outreach Staff & Outreach Activities Team
- Supervisor: Aryawnah Federov Sedai, Director of Community Outreach
- Forums: Department of Community Outreach Forum (additionally the Outreach Activities Team *Forum and the Fairegrounds Forum if you’re a member of the Activities Team)
If you’ve never heard the name before, the Department of Community Outreach is responsible for running activities by and for members on TarValon.Net that recognize the good work done by our members and help others in need. Some of the projects under the purview of the whole department include awarding members with the Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship and other recognitions, running the Shaoman and Bel Tine festivals, and raising money for the Tower during the Feast of Lights Fundraiser. The Outreach Team also leads fundraisers to gather money for organizations outside the Tower. If you want to embody community service, this department is the place!
There are two staff positions listed in this category: “Community Outreach Staff” and “Outreach Activities Team”. The general staff help brainstorm ideas for events and support the team by filling in here and there where they can, while the activities teams specifically run the popular festivals that take place on the Boards each year.
If accepted into this position, you would work in the department for 6 months (unless you need to leave for extenuating circumstances, as life does happen.) This is one of the positions where, at the end of the term, you will be asked if you wish to stay on, so you could serve here for much longer, but 6 months is the initial term of commitment. Remember when applying for a staff position, you’re agreeing to do a certain minimum amount of work on a semi-regular basis, and the other members are counting on you to fulfill your responsibilities! is an example hiring post if you wish to learn more about what Aryawnah Sedai would expect out of you.
I took a moment to ask Aryawnah Sedai about why a new member would want to join the team, and she said, “This department is a great starting point if you wish to get into volunteering for the Tower or if you don't have an insane amount of time to contribute on a regular basis. I'm not saying this job is easy, but it's easy most of the time.
“I feel that this department is extremely rewarding as well. Between our pop-up events, such as donations for the Earthquake in Nepal, or Events Outreach to places such as the Ronald McDonald Houses, we also raise funds to keep the Tower going strong and cover its cost and give out a scholarship annually that’s so successful, we’re now giving out a second scholarship.” It seems that belonging to the Department of Community Outreach provides a high-energy environment where everyone is working for a common philanthropic goal with best intentions!
Why is this position unique? In Aryawnah Sedai’s words, “Without all of the above to help advertise, create graphics, and run events, most of our philanthropic endeavors would be a bust. I feel as though this department is especially fulfilling as you help those in need.”
Tar Valon Times Reporter
- Supervisor: Maibella Rhoiden, Editor-in-Chief
- Forums: The Tar Valon Times Department Subforum
As you might expect from someone who leads the team of writers and editors and publish’s the site’s monthly newsletter, Editor-in-Chief Maibella Rhoiden eloquently describes what’s so great about the Tar Valon Times Reporter position and why you should join. I’ll just let her do the talking:
"The position of Tar Valon Times Reporter is a great way for site members of all ranks to get involved with the community. The position requires basic writing skills and the desire to convey information to the community as a whole. Unlike other positions on the site, the position of Tar Valon Times Reporter (or “TVT Reporter”) allows you to share your own interests and passions. Where else can you explain in detail why Pretty Little Liars is such an amazing show, or describe the specific flavors of your favorite beer, or review a book you read and loved? All of these have been the topics of recent articles as of May of 2015. Maybe you love a particular band beyond all reason, or you are an armchair traveler, or you collect insects - here's your chance to share your joy and passion with the whole community! Writing for the Tar Valon Times is a great way for new members (and long time members) to get to know a small group of people well and also to connect with the community as a whole."
Oh, and you can earn Merits for writing for the Tar Valon Times! After a new revision to merits, there is a new Publishers Category where those that contribute their writing and editing skills to the site can earn recognition. In general, all staff positions (including those in this article) count as progress toward a Staff Merit in the Administrative Service Category, but it’s definitely notable that the Tar Valon Times has its own category!
Tar Valon Times Reporters serve a 6 month term but are welcome to remain on staff for more than one term just like the Outreach team, and there is no penalty or stigma about trying it out once and then doing something else later! And if you're reading this in the monthly edition of the Tar Valon Times newsletter, you know how awesome it already is so don't hesitate to join.
Graphics Development Team
- Supervisor: Arie Davion Sedai, Director of Marketing
- Forums: Department of Marketing Forum, Graphics Projects and Requests Forum
If you can turn out a nice looking signature or have other illustrative or graphics skills, you’ll find a creative heaven as a member of the Graphics Development Team (shortened often to the “GDT”). As detailed in the Library, the Graphics Development Team is responsible for all visual assets used on or in conjunction with TarValon.Net, including logos banners, icons, web work, and printed material such as advertisements, brochures, handouts, and posters. In Arie Sedai’s words,”the nice part about all the marketing positions--including the GDT--is that there is no limitation or on rank or skill. Anyone with the desire to contribute can apply and succeed in Marketing. The big key is creativity, since a lot of what we do builds off that one main component, but everyone is able to provide insight and feedback to all our projects.” The GDT is supervised by Siera al'Cere Sedai.
This humble reporter can tell you she served on the GDT for a short period of time, and everything Arie Sedai said is definitely true. I would also say that if you are a little apprehensive about your skill level, don't be worried at all. It’s a great place to learn, ask questions, and potentially improve so you can make better images. If you’re not ‘that good,’ don’t worry because the department is very accessible under Arie Sedai--or at least that was my impression when I was a member. When I asked Arie Sedai about this, she said, “My personal opinion is that everyone starts somewhere, and if you want to learn, you pick up skills on the job. Sometimes it's just sharing an opinion and other times it's about being able to take feedback and constructive criticism. The hardest part, I have found for new people, is being able to develop something for someone else's taste over their own. For more experienced artists, the thing they often learn is knowing when done is done and not to get too hung up on the details.”
What’s so different about the Graphics Development Team compared to other staff positions created for citizens, Arie Sedai?
“Graphics is all about making shinies! It uses a different voice to share a perspective than the TVT or other groups. You don't have to be particularly verbose with the GDT, but you likely have an eye for color and expression in a more artistic medium. As a fellow signature-maker, there is a lot of personality that can go into making graphics for just one person... now put that perspective into practice in order to make something personal and shiny for an entire community? Sounds like a great fun challenge to me!”
The term rotates every 6 months, but like the other positions listed so far, it’s a soft rotate, and you can stay as long as you like. Arie Sedai usually likes to send out feelers and applications for new staff while also allowing those that don't have the time or desire to participate a chance to leave without any bad feelings. Most of the staff opt to stay in like with the Tar Valon Times, which she also oversees, until they feel ready to leave. Some, like Siera Sedai, never leave at all, of course.
If you’d ever like to apply, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org The Graphics Development Team is ever-flowing and whenever someone shows interest, Arie Sedai confesses to trying to pull them in even if it’s outside the general rotation. “You don't need to have a fancy profile, just access to some kind of graphic editor (which is standard with most computers) and a desire to contribute ideas!”
Moderator & Operator
- Supervisor: Kelgan al'Moranwin, Director of Moderators
- Forums: Department of Moderators Forum, Mod Squad Forum, Op Squad Forum
Unlike all the previous positions, the Moderator and Operator positions have a more clearly-outlined term of six months, with the mafia administrators the exception (for them terms are a length of one year). While it’s still a soft rotate where you may stay longer if you wish, moderators are assigned to specific forums, so team members may shuffle around and have a different jurisdiction.
Let’s look at moderators a bit more before discussing operators. In short, a moderator’s job is to ensure that the posts on the Boards of TarValon.Net adhere to the Code of Conduct, and that spambots or advertisers don’t infect our forums. If you ever want to see which moderator is assigned to what forum, scroll down to the bottom of each page, and they will be listed. Operators, on the other hand, keep an eye on the Tower’s chat channels, and they all govern the same rooms. Operators come online and moderate whenever they have time around their every day life schedules. a look at this article to learn more about the real-time chat on the Tower, which we call IRC.
So what do moderators and operators actually do? Kelgan phrased it very well when he said, “a moderator is a firefighter. This job is to make sure fires don't start and, failing that, to put out the blaze as quickly as possible. Because the coin of our realm is respect, you really need to have an established presence in the community to be an effective mod or op. I generally try to hire people who are already active in the forum they would be moderating in part because of this. That's not to say that I would not consider an application from a newer person, just that I would be unlikely to give a position to someone who's just been around a few weeks.”
Upon asking Kelgan about whether his staff members get a choice as to which forums they moderate, he said that when you apply (or stay on,) you let him know which forums you’re interested in watching, and you are assigned to one of those you select. Under no circumstances are you asked to govern a forum you never visit, though you might be approached to see if you would be receptive to covering one if people are needed--it is always at your decision.
While serving in an administrative capacity, I was fortunate enough to serve as a forum moderator as part of being Mayor (though I’ve never served as a moderator or operator staff member). I got to see how the team discussed and responded to issues brought before them through post reports and was very impressed with how well the team was run. Any member may report a post by pressing the small exclamation point on the bottom left of a displayed comment, and such posts were displayed in the forum for discussion and response. It seemed to me that being fair in your judgement was a very valuable skill for moderators and operators, and new members that like to put a lot of thought into what they say and understanding what others say would truly enjoy working in this position.
In Kelgan’s words, “You really should apply. We always need a few good men and women to help us police the boards, and even in the Current Events Forum, it isn't a constant flame war. We have a generally very reasonable community here, and that makes our jobs a lot easier than it might otherwise be, but we do still need people who are willing to help maintain the harmony of the community. I hope to see your application in the next round!”
- Supervisor: Zandera Sommers, Mayor of Tar Valon (Yours truly!)
- Forums: Welcoming Committee Forum
At the time of writing this article, I am the current supervisor of the Welcoming Committee, so for the final examination of a staff position on TarValon.Net, I hope you’ll indulge me as I speak about the Welcoming Committee Team (sometimes just called the "WC").
Do you remember the folks that welcomed you to TarValon.Net by posting in your introduction thread in the Introductions Forum when you joined? Much of that was the Welcoming Committee. The person that sent you a visitor message, helped you figure out which avatar to pick and how to add that image, or perhaps a signature, to your profile? That was the Welcoming Committee too.
The Welcoming Committee has 2 major parts--the staff members, who receive official credit for volunteering--and non-credited volunteers who take part of the Friendly Face Committee. The latter helps plan and run other projects and events in City Hall, much like the Outreach Team does, and consists mainly of senior members who love to reach out and meet new people and have a chat. Both staff and volunteers alike hang out and mingle in the Introductions Forum whenever it strikes their fancy. In the process they try to orient new members to the site and show just how cool we are.
Sometimes the administrators of TarValon.Net like to spice things up and give the Welcoming Committee more specific roles, such as a Scribe, who organizes the files and spreadsheets of the team, and the Renaissance Men/Women, who run events, help moderate the forum, and basically fill in the gaps where needed. These roles may not always be the same as they are now, but you will always be able to greet people if you join the team, and if you want a good place to give back to those who got you oriented when you first joined the site, taking up the mantle and doing the same for other new people is the perfect place to do so! You’ll also find yourself working with a lot of the people you just met if you just joined, and as a resource to answer questions for new members, you’ll find a lot of answers to questions you might have about how the site runs so you can pass that information on to others. This is a great position in which to learn about the site.
Under the current Mayor’s leadership, the Welcoming Committee Forum is a thought cloud, or in other words a place to share your opinions about how the team is run, share ideas for improvements, ask questions, and work together with senior members and citizens alike to create cool events and projects before snatching the curtain back to deliver something amazing to the membership with a flurry and a bow! You can have a unique satisfaction to work on projects that not only directly improve the quality of life for your own usergroup--but the entire body of membership as well--since all citizen events are open to the whole site, and doors of the City Hall Forum, thrown open to everyone.
The term for the official staff positions is a hard rotation of 6 months. Anywhere from 3 to 5 members are selected based off email an application. Multiple terms are not unheard of, but as this position is good for new members, the team generally rotates in inexperienced people. (However, volunteers are allowed to stay and contribute afterward, so you may definitely stay if you find this a good home for yourself!)
I asked the previous Mayor, Avendaella Tikvah Sedai, for her opinion on the type of person who would want to apply to the Welcoming Committee so you can get an opinion besides my own biased one (since this is my personal team and all). When looking at applications, she said, “Well during my term I looked for new people. Maybe someone who hadn't been on in a long time. I know that you can do back-to-back terms but it's nice to see a rotation. Each committee was so different, but I think that’s a good thing. I typically had a mix of both men and women, and senior members and citizens or other junior members. Because let's be honest when you are a new member the senior members can be kind-of scary, (especially if you were like me and had never really been on an online forum before).
“The hardest thing for me to explain is why each of our members wanted to be on the team. It's hard to write out when you’re so excited to join! When I was Mayor, all those that applied were just people who were just being themselves when we all worked together. People shared some personal reasons why they wanted to apply even if they didn’t have a lot of experience, but that’s what this position is for in a lot of cases, and I still gave those applications a serious consideration. Stories do help but mainly it's seeing that you are going to be active and doing things for new members!”
If you have no intention of applying to the Tower, either because you don’t want to read all the books or you just don’t have that much time, the departmental forums which you can join by becoming a staff member can be a ‘home’ for you--at least that’s what I found when serving as a staff member as a citizen. Such forums have a limited audience and are set aside as private social spaces where you may connect with members of every rank--at the same time getting some good work done. If you find that you like to keep yourself busy by building and crafting new things, I’m going to bet that serving in a staff position is a perfect place for you. (And maybe one day, beyond?)
You may see all the hiring posts for positions currently accepting new members by visiting the Announcements Forum at any time. If you have any questions about any of these positions, just send an email to the address listed in each hiring post. As a final note, the administrative aspect of the site is a whole additional side of the Tower of which you may interact and explore if you so choose. While it is not required, it can be a big part of your Tower experience, and it definitely keeps the Tower going so it continues to stand for you, your friends, and everyone who gathers beneath its roof.