Fall 2013 Admin Meeting
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The Fall 2013 Admin Meeting was held October 2013
- 1 Agenda
- 2 Notes
- 2.1 CFO/Shatayan
- 2.2 Departments of Moderators
- 2.3 Department of Marketing
- 2.4 Department of Events and Conferences
- 2.5 Department of Technology
- 2.6 Department of Community Outreach
- 2.7 Department of Administration
- 2.8 Department of Membership
- Request for a Financial forum for better tracking and organizing. Suggested visibility: Execs & Board, and anyone as needed.
- Discuss options and need for an accountant. Alternative, seek (cheap/free, online) option for accounting software.
- Status of the privy purse, including debt and taxes.
- Discuss/review (late and fund allocation) fee policies.
- Discuss/review reimbursement of event payments/deposits process.
- Review and discuss various expenditures and prioritize.
- Cash tracking, housing, and sign off at events. (Create form.)
For Dept of Mods & Ops
- Discuss Reinstatement of Master/Mistress of Chat.
- Status of #owah which sees very little use
- Make ops as ops for all channels rather than having different sets of ops for wheel, ww, and owah. Exceptions if we get an applicant who's under 17 or 18.
- Establish terms for chat ops. Rotate in new ops for 6-month terms every 3 months, as we do now for CE mods. Existing ops would need to re-apply to keep their position, as we already do with mods.
- Discuss idle time rule in chat
- Cafe Press alternatives and visibility of store link
- Style Guide- how we can implement it and how we can make it available (via pdf/wiki, etc)
Conferences and events
- Members staying offsite at events / children at events
- Discuss/present new formula/process to arrive at ticket price for events
- SSL status/update
- Database Project status/update
- Site Design progress/update
- New: Automated Raising Test progress
- Avendesora Tree and Leaves for Library
- Community Service Forum status
- Alternative Revenue for RJ Scholarship project update
- Opening scholarship to graduate students
- FOL Update
- Annual Fundraiser recap
- Blood Drive 2014 project
- Annual Report - Feasibility and practicality of continuing with it as it is, or do we need to shift angles to make it easier for Execs and Officers to contribute
- Legal Team - Update, new function, clarification of role
- Making Real: Altering the process
- Length of time to bond
- Admin activity
- Minor Issues
- Avatars - when/how/what people change
- Raising Test Update
These notes are written by Vivianna L'antreau unless otherwise noted.
Financial forum in Exec
There's been enough talk about financials over the past year that it was decided to parcel it out from exec a bit and create a sub-forum. This is accessible by all those who are in Exec (all board members, directors and officers).
While getting everything back under control, Ubahsur Sedai has created a number of spreadsheets, etc to aid in reporting and tracking our funds. Now that she's established what works for her and how she likes things organized we're going to look into actual software that might be able to help her with it. She is currently pricing and researching a number of different options.
We are in better and much steadier shape even if still not quite back to where we'd like to be. Currently, we have charted out all anticipated expenses through Anni 2014, are caught up on our bills (hosting, etc), and are continuing our repayment plan to Caerwyn Gaidin. Ubah has done a heroic job in all of this.
Cash Tracking/Housing/Sign off at events
So up until now, we've created our own on the spot forms at events to track cash that came in etc. Then we'd scan it into the computer so that we'd have a record of it later - it was pointed out that having a standerdized form for this makes way more sense So starting with the Spring B&I event, this is what we'll do. The form itself is still being formalized, but it will also fall in line with our policy of dual control/signatures (so two people are scanning in the form, only one of which has the money to deposit) and will aid in tracking things overall.
So regarding events, there are two fees that can come up - the late fee for not paying the cost of the event on time, and the funds transfer fee which has been defined as being charged if you send us money and don't explicitly state where that money is intended to go (ie operational fundraiser, Euro Party ticket, etc). The late fee will stay in place as it is working as intended. The transfer fee though, has never been used and really doesn't make a lot of sense so we're going to amend the definition of it. Starting now, this will also be an event only fee and it will only come into play if we need to transfer money that has already been paid for one person to another. So if I sign up to go but then am unable to and tell Ubah "I'd like to transfer my ticket to Lireina" I am of course more than welcome to do so! But because of the time and paperwork involved, if it is for a NA party, the fee for the transfer will be $25 (half of our stated deposit cost) and if it's for a B&I or Euro party then the fee will be 10 Euro/GBP/(the deposit for these events is generally 25 Euro/GBP so we rounded down off of the half).
Our policy for reimbursements at events has always been stated that they're a "case by case" basis. We'd like to give a bit more formality to this in order to make sure that we are consistent across the board. The new official policy is that deposits will remain non-refundable. Many times there is already a cost outlie for people who cancel including welcome bags, committee budgets, food orders etc that still need to be paid for even if someone is unable to attend. Now for the balance of the ticket, the refund will depend on what the terms of the venue are. For example: at Anni 2013 in Michigan, the YMCA camp we rented charged us per person that actually attended. So while we initially booked it with 80 people attending (I don't remember the actual numbers) they only charged us for the 76 who actually showed up on check out. In this case, because we were not still responsible for the cost of the person's ticket, we were able to issue refunds for the balance of the ticket minus the deposit. At Summer Euro 2012 though, the venue cost was the same regardless of whether 10 people attended or the max capacity of 30. In this type of case, if someone commits and pays for their ticket, but then can't attend past the cancellation deadline we're not going to be able to issue the refund at all. Similarly, if the YMCA camp in Michigan had held us to our committment of the final numbers we turned into them and had still charged us for 80 individuals, we would be unable to issue a refund in that case either. Most venues are particular about the numbers we give to them regarding attendance, which is why we have final cancellation deadlines that need to be enforced so avoid unneccessary charges that we then are still responsible to cover.
So for reimbursements, deposits remain non-refundable as they have always been. The balance of the ticket cost will be on a party by party basis and will be issued only if our costs and committment to the venue are met without them.
2012 taxes are complete and as we've pointed out before available to the public due to our 501(c)7 status with the United States Government. You are able to access them online, and if you need assistance please let Ubahsur Sedai know or Lireina Sedai or myself and we can help you out!
Departments of Moderators
Status of #oldewarderandhen
Over the years as our average age has gone up we've found this channel getting less and less use to where it really only has regular use during festivals. Because of this, we've decided that we're going to start to use the channel *only* for festivals and not try to keep it staffed on a regular basis. The channel will still remain registered to us, but you won't find any ops there except during games/events and it can be requested or used for special occasions and events.
Op channel permissions in IRC
Starting now, all ops in IRC will have op powers in both #wheel as well as #ww (wandering woman). Due to the fact that we do restrict #ww to people who are 18+ since the conversation can be less restrained than #wheel, we won't require our younger ops to moderate there. In addition, ops won't have to have a full time presence there if they don't want to, but if moderation is needed and an op isn't currently in the #ww channel, then whoever is on duty in #wheel can help out and now have the permissions they might need.
Chat Op Terms
We will start rotating terms for new operators in the department much as we do with forum mods. Hiring will happen 4 times per year to pick up several individuals to serve 6 month terms. If you spend time in IRC and are looking for a place to contribute, this is a great way to do it so keep your eye out!
Master/Mistress of Chat
It was decided that this position will be reinstated to help out on the technical side of things in chat. This is a staff position in the department of moderators that could be eligible to earn the pro bono merit if the holder actively helps to educate ops/users on the technical aspects of chat/IRC. For the initial hiring, applicants will be sought from among current ops.
Idling in IRC
We've been receiving feedback about bringing back the idle rule in IRC. Reason being, people who come into #wheel and see lots of names there get really excited to talk to people! But then to realize that of those 20, only 5 or 3 or perhaps none of them are actually participating actively kills a bit of that enthusiasm. Kelgan Gaidin is working with current ops to establish a time frame (we're not talking 20 min idle guys it will be much longer so don't panic yet ), and then that will be announced so keep an eye out. Now as part of this, Deoan has been working with the bot "Bela" to see if it can be programmed to do this automatically, but will have more information on that when the official policy is published as to whether it will be a manual or automatic process.
Department of Marketing
As you can see, a button was added to the top of the forums to try and make it a bit more visible. We would like to find another vendor that might suit our needs a bit better but need some options of companies people have used and liked. We'll bring this up at some point in General to get general thoughts, feedback, etc, so if you have any ideas or suggestions about this please let us know!
The base of these are mostly done. The next step will be to get these to Heads/Company Commanders, Hearts/Honor Guards, as well as Hall representatives for the input and opinions of a good mix of appointed/elected group representatives. While these are not near completion yet this is the first step to solidifying the design so that we can move forward to complete this project.
Event Fliers/Business cards
The original intent was to have a stock of pre-printed materials that we could then mail off to people when requested for various events. Unfortunately our financial situation being what it is, that can't happen right now. In the mean time then we'll have a service use agreement for people to sign if they'd like to print these materials themselves, then we'll give the appropriate files. This way we can still maintain the quality of materials that we were going for but people will be able to access them more easily.
Under both departments is the Avendesora Leaf project which has been in progress for several years. The design of the leaves themselves is finished! Hanajima is currently working on finishing the tree, but we may not be able to get the flash for it. In the meantime, these departments as well as Research will be looking to add leaves into the library as well as provide signature badge sizes people can wear as well.
Department of Events and Conferences
Space at events
I think there's been a bit of confusion over the last months about accommodations at events and what we do/do not allow or want. Specifically on a couple of topics - so to address two things I've heard lately 1) Other than in extreme circumstances, we do not allow off-site accommodations during events. 2) Families with children are most definitely welcome at our events.
Now to break these two issues down slightly.
Offsite Accommodations: There's several reasons why we haven't ever done this other than in extreme circumstances. First, most of the locations that we contract with don't care how many people we have attend other than their cap. This means that if a facility can have up to say 50 people, we pay the exact same amount whether we have 20 people staying there or 50. As you can imagine, if we have people who choose to try and stay elsewhere than the contracted facility, they're not going to want to pay for the housing portion of the "ticket" twice, so start asking for exceptions on ticket price which then drives our bottom line per person cost up and starts to set us up for the very uncomfortable situation of not breaking even on the event. Second, if a facility has a set occupancy max of say that same 50 people which we fill but then have another 30 people attend daily but sleep elsewhere, we are still bound by that occupancy limit and *still* have no space for the extra 30. In addition, I'm sure you've all had the situation where a friend comes to your home to hang out for the day/evening fully intending to go home to sleep but doesn't. When we only have beds for 50, we don't have room to try and scramble for those other 30 at the 11th hour. This is also a reason why we love it when we can get multiple bids for events - then we have several options to choose from for the location rather than being almost locked in.
Now I'm sure that some of you saw the extreme circumstances I alluded to above this past year at Fall Ball when we *did* ask a very few local members to stay home offsite at night. This was something we hope to not have to repeat, and happened only because the hotel never informed us that they had sold out and couldn't get us any more rooms beyond the initial reserved block. We muchly prefer for everyone to stay together at one location which also allows the party to go on for everyone!
Now as to children at events: Let me say very bluntly - we *love* your families and your children. We love meeting your friends and significant others, and those who are important to you! It is amazing to see the munchkins grow and the tiny baby we met at one event *eyes Lyoness's baby Victoria or Zyathlith's little Camden* turn into the young men and women who have appeared before our eyes *waves to Miridyth's group and Lireina's quad* That being said, our events are designed to be participated in and enjoyed by adults, which means that we don't make special accommodations for those with families. If you choose to bring your children and there is space at the location you are absolutely more than welcome to do so! Within that though, we can't always guarantee private or quiet rooms, and we can't ask our members to adjust their behavior in order to make it more appropriate for a younger audience. At our events those of the appropriate age will indulge in alcohol, most likely language (I admit I have a bit of a potty mouth ) and there even might be flirtatious behavior If you still want to bring your little ones and share them with us knowing that they most likely won't have quiet bed times or uninterrupted naps, then that is always up to you! But these are all factors to keep in mind.
Finally, just to emphasize something that I did touch on in regards to that is rooming requests. For all events where we arrange the housing, we do our absolute best to accommodate rooming requests, but we can't make absolute guarantees and not everyone will get the exact room makeup that they asked for. There are so many different factors in play that it really can become quite the jigsaw puzzle! *lol* If you ever see an arrangement that you have serious issues with then definitely let us know, but otherwise try to look at it as an opportunity to meet new people and still have a great time!
Department of Technology
Database project update
Azi and Elorenya have been working on this and making steady progress. It's more of an internal project (storing join/raising dates, etc all in one clean easy to use place) but we're excited about it So thanks you two and hope to see the final product this year!
Automated Raising Test
We've been working hard to get this back up and running so that we can essentially issue a link to the test rather than doing it through email. Code is being written, Membership has signed off on the questions and we hope to have an update soon!
New Site Design
This is still in the works, but unfortunately the RL monster keeps getting in the way. We have a dev site that tech uses, but it is hard to find the specific skill set needed to accomplish this in someone who isn't already swamped with home/work etc. So progress is coming, but just slowly so bear with us.
Department of Community Outreach
The decision has been made to open applications for the Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship to both graduate as well as undergraduate students. We'll start this during the next application field in 2014 and see how it goes with still only offering a single $500 award. Eventually we'd like to be able to have the scholarship have its own self-sustaining funding which would allow us to expand the program, but until then 2014 will serve as a testing year. A concern was brought up about the potentially higher writing ability of graduate students, but it's important to keep in mind that this award is given based on the intent of the essay and how the applicant answered the question. Hall members are specifically instructed to not take spelling/grammar etc into account for the essays so this shouldn't be an issue. We'll re-evaluate next fall to see if perhaps we need to split it into two separate awards for 2015 or whether it works as is.
Along with this, as I said above we'd like for the scholarship to have its own independent funding which would free it from being simply "what we can afford" from year to year. To that end, we'd like to talk to people from all over the Wheel of Time fandom about types of products they might be interested purchasing year after year which would potentially fund the scholarship (and is of course open to everyone - not just members of TarValon.Net). We'll also be talking with potential companies to partner with over the next year. Our way out there goals with this would be to offer multiple award to both graduate and undergraduate students and perhaps for much more money than what we're currently able to provide. This will be the first step to moving us closer to that model!
The Community really pulled together and raised nearly $4300 of our $4500 goal which was amazing considering that we had just had the "Tower Still Stands" fundraiser only 6 months earlier. Brainstorming has begun for our operational fundraiser Summer 2014 :D Thank you so much everyone!
Blood Drive 2014
The blood drive we ran/encouraged after the Boston Marathon bombing was received really well and with a lot of enthusiasm. The thought is that this would be something we could do year round rather than just for any one incident because as happened after Boston, other incidents happened in quick succession. More will come from Outreach on this in January! If you're unable to donate blood, that's fine - the intent here is not to give prizes or "reward" anyone but to encourage reaching out in their community so if you have other ideas or thoughts then definitely let us know.
Department of Administration
Legal Team Clarification, written by Calypsa
As it exists right now, our Legal Team has a slightly nebulous and unclear structure and function.
Our Legal Team in the past has assisted with many inquiries ranging from copyright concerns, submissions of gaming licenses, and regulatory research into potential venues for live site events, to name some of the more common requests made of the team.
With the addition of Hammar O' Justice to our team, the role of the Legal Team as it is currently known has become blurred. Hammar is TarValon.net, Inc's Legal Counsel, not just a member of the Legal Team. That means that he is the official attorney of record for TarValon.net, Inc. Hammar does not generally participate in the day-to-day legal requests that are made of the traditional Legal Team, though he has chipped in when necessary.
To this end there has been some confusion as to purpose of the Legal Team. The Legal Team as it currently exists does NOT officially represent TarValon.net, Inc. in a legal capacity. The members of the Legal Team are not providing official legal advice to the community or to its members; the Legal Team shares insights and makes recommendations based on our experience and will go forth and do legal research as necessary. This is different from officially representing TarValon.net, Inc. as legal representatives. I know that this may sound very confusing to those who are not legal professionals! But for those of us in the industry, the distinction between "official legal advice" and just sharing knowledge or doing researchis very important: it is a question of professional ethics and can have severe legal ramifications. Unless an attorney is licensed to practice in the state of TarValon.net's incorporation, Alabama, it is impermissible to offer official legal advice. Our structure and definition needs to shift to clarify the actual role of this team.
In furtherance of that goal:
- The Legal Team should be renamed to clarify a separation from official counsel. Even a simple change to something such as the Legal Research Team would suffice, though I am open to other suggestions (and would love them!).
- Hammar O' Justice is our official TarValon.net, Inc. Legal Counsel. He should not be included on the new Legal Team but is welcome to chip in if he wants.
- Legal Team (renamed) members should not be the primary contact with any regulatory bodies. For example, when doing research for on venues, I (before I became Director and was on the Legal Team) actually called and spoke with some state governing agencies when clear gaming guidelines were not available online. In the future, the Director of Administration or above should be the one reaching out like that or else it starts to sound too "official" if that makes sense, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- The firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address will no longer be used. If anyone has a legal question or would like to make a request of the Legal Team, that person should e-mail the Director of Administration at email@example.com and the request will be passed along to a member or members of the team, depending on the request.
- The duties of the team should be clearly defined according to our needs. What do we need?
- State research for events in the US including regulatory responses and applications as necessary...
- Potential research outside the US if deemed necessary...
- IP responses (particularly copyright)...
- Non-profit advice (mostly Hammar, I am expecting)...
- Other as crops up.
The department is still working on analyzing the survey data and getting a report put together. As so often happens many factors have come into play and delayed it including a restructure of a department that handles a lot of diverse areas, a lot of staffing changes within that restructure, and once again that RL monster that has reached out with a liberal touch. Results are coming though so on behalf of Calypsa and her entire team, thank you for your patience! thank you so much though to everyone who helped out and participated in the Integration Survey Bee Hive - your input and assistance was invaluable.
Department of Membership
Making Real Process
A suggestion was made to move the making real requirement from raising to Aes Sedai/Gaidin, to the raising to Accepted/Soldier to try and filter out people who might only be here to harass certain members. It was decided to keep the process as it is, since we also have the requirement that someone be made real prior to attending a RL event. This also as I'm sure you can imagine could potentially be extremely difficult to even try to track, and the potential liability if we said "we'll keep you safe" when we only know what people share with us is just something we can't take on. Things to keep in mind is that if you are made to feel uncomfortable by someone on our forums please make sure to let your membership administrator, Sa'areah Sedai, Lireina Sedai or myself know. Also remember that nothing on the internet is ever 100% private or protected so be judicious in what and how much you choose to share as well as where you choose to share it. If you have any questions or concerns about this please let us know.
When someone chooses to demote to Accepted/Solder and they have a bondmate, that bond is automatically severed. This topic was just more of a clarification that once/if the demoted member has returned to the rank of Aes Sedai/Gaidin, the two can have their bond reinstated just as soon as they advise the director of Membership that they'd like to. If they choose to instead bond other people, then normal wait times still apply.
More of just a reminder that if you intend to change or alter your avatar on a permanent basis, then permission needs to be asked of the director of Membership. Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process. Remember that if you're using art that wasn't created by you then it is *your* responsibility to obtain permission to use it prior to asking the director if you can change.