Spring 2013 Admin Meeting
Here are the meeting notes.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Amyrlin
- 3 Keeper
- 4 Archivist
- 5 Shatayan/Director of Administration
- 6 Department of Community Outreach
- 7 Department of Events and Conferences
- 8 Department of Marketing
- 9 Department of Membership
- 10 Department of Moderators
- 11 Department of Research and Records
- 12 Department of Technology
First, thank you so much for all of your patience in waiting for this forum. As you all know, the admin meeting was held on April 13, after which I headed out for JordanCon the next weekend. After compiling the notes, unfortunately my work decided to rear its ugly head and demanded more than its share of my attention until I finally had two entire days off in a row this week and had time to work on these posts. I apologize for the delay, but I hope you still find them interesting and discussion-worthy!
The people in attendance were:
- Vivianna L'antreau: Amyrlin Seat
- Lireina Dormerus t'al`Bearach: Keeper of the Chronicles-in-training
- Ubahsur Kindellaer: Shatayan
- Serenla Tamowith: Archivist
- Tree: Director of Community Outreach
- Sonea Ilandred: Director of Events and Conferences
- Kytheria al'Shea: Director of Marketing
- Sa'areah Britthorn: Director of Membership
- Karassa Souladrin: Director of Moderators
- Toral Delvar: Director of Research and Records
- Erin al'Denael: Director of Technology
This time, the session went a bit longer than the fall...clocking in at just under 7 hours. It was a long day, but I think we got a lot accomplished. As you read through each section please abide by some basic ground rules as you discuss the decisions made and interact with everyone:
1) We are a fluid and changing Community...we like to try new things but know that we can always change things again if they don't work. So please don't panic if you see something you disagree with.
2) All those who attended the admin meeting are people and volunteers who gave up part of their weekend to discuss where we are at as a Community and how we can be better. We love this Community and all of you, and only want to help - even if you disagree with a decision made, please keep in mind that we only want things to work and for all of our members to be happy. So erring on the side of kindness or questions rather than yelling right off the bat would be appreciated
3) We know that all of you feel very passionately about our Community which can lead to disagreements not just with those of us who were at the meeting (in which case see #2) but also with each other. If/when this happens, once again err on the side of compassion and try to assume that someone isn't purposefully trying to bait you or insult you but is also trying to get their point across. Also, if someone has said something you disagree with and 15 other people have already expressed exactly what they think was wrong with another opinion - try to not jump in as well to add to the pile. Trust me, the point has been made Lets give everyone a chance to be heard. Even if you might think their opinion is ridiculous, everyone still deserves to think what they will and chances are that there are people who will still agree with them. Restraint is a wonderful thing.
So we'll break things down into the different sections most with their own threads but some combined if they were shorter/not complicated. Feel free to ask questions/make comments in the appropriate threads but you are also always welcome to email us if you have further suggestions, comments, etc. I'll tuck the appropriate email address at the top of each thread. This forum will be open for 2 weeks before then being locked and archived. Thanks everyone!
So there were a few big topics in my part of the agenda this year, so I've broken it down into two parts. These are the more controversial issues, so I especially want to stress the "play nice" (or is that discuss nice? ) request I made in the introduction post! Thank you
Bringing the fun back
So one thing that I've watched happening in the last couple years is that we as a Community almost seem to take ourselves *too* seriously at times. People who make a small infraction are made to feel as though it is more serious than it actually is, or people are on occasion made to feel bad for having fun and being over-the-top silly. I know that a lot of us don't have as much time for the truly silly threads as we might have 5-10 years ago, or the time to spend online to participate in a chatty thread that seems to explode from 1 page to 30 in the space of hours That being said though, that spirit of fun and just enjoying each other's company is part of what makes us an amazing Community and is a huge part of why I chose to stick around back around Halloween of 2002. I saw Novices in the dorms "mattress surfing" down the steps on mattresses that had been confiscated from the men in the barracks I used to "muck the stables" with al'Cary, people would go for long walks in the Ogier Grove forum getting to know each other and creating silly groups that gave a new person a sense of belonging was common practice (*waves to the duckfriends, NBBSC, the lollipop guild and Friends Of Whil).
One part of this that got out of hand a few years ago was sending [Junior Member]s to their respective Mistresses or Captains for "punishment". When we were a smaller group, this function was used both for minor things as well as more serious issues and it worked well. The bigger we got, the more this turned into something that it wasn't intended to and people were feeling persecuted by the sheer amount of issues that were being reported and for the implication that [Senior Member]s on an individual basis had more "power" over raisings etc than they actually did. We then ended the practice for the most part because of this. One part of the reporting system that I enjoyed though, was when it was clearly for over-the-top punishments that were amusing both to the person performing them, to the person who assigned them as well as the person who did the reporting in the first place because everyone was in on the joke. This is the part that we'd like to bring back.
Due to the fact that it's been a few years and we'd like to ease back into it, there will be some pretty strict guidelines on this intially and we'll review how it's going in the fall. First, this system is not to be used for anything that is actually serious. This system of "punishments" has nothing to do with anyone's raising, either for or against, and getting it completed will not effect eligibility for raising. Second, if any of the participants decide that they don't have time, or don't find it fun or just plain don't want to participate then they don't have to. This means that if a SM "sends" a novice or soldier for example to be "punished" and the novice decides she just has too much going on, then she just doesn't have to report (just to make it clear feel free to PM the senior member and just tell them that!). If the Mistress of Accepted or the Captain of Recruits doesn't find the situation amusing, or again just doesn't want to play, then when the Junior Member reports in their office they have the right to say "Naughty Novice Julie!" and send them on their way I cannot stress this enough however, that THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE SILLY AND FUN. IF IT STOPS BEING FUN OR CAUSES HEADACHES AND/OR HURT FEELINGS THEN IT GOES AWAY.
There were some truly creative things done over the years (you can probably find some of them in our library!) and it'd be great to see some of that again. I encourage people to ease into this in a natural way, try not to overwhelm the membership admins right off the bat, but have a good time with it.
There has been quite a bit of discussion the last couple years about avenues available to people when they have questions/concerns/criticisms for or about the administration. Currently when things are brought up in informational threads and the like, we tend to ask that people transfer to email to ensure that it is seen in a more timely fashion as well as to keep a record for the future. We also put out reminders about who to talk to if you have an issue with a specific person (generally to your membership administrator) or an administrator/issue (generally their boss/director).
We've talked the last several admin meetings about other alternatives, from creating an anonymous email (which still makes things difficult since people tend to have issues with specific situations about which we then need details which then negates the anonymity) to creating a separate forum (leading to concerns about how fellow members would treat each other, who would mod it, etc), none of which have truly felt like a great solution and just more of a stop gap.
One idea I had was what if the Hall of the Tower truly served in that function to the degree that members could take issues to their respective Sitter/Warder Councillor for discussion with the other 21 members as well as their community groups? This required reading through our bylaws in order to make sure that it was even possible under our guidelines, as well as coming up with a process to provide clarity and not get the Hall completely bogged down and burned out over the course of a 6 month term.
The others present at the admin meeting agreed with me that this was an important step that was important to us, so starting the fall session of 2013 we're going to give it a try. Now I'm going to give you an idea of what the process will look like starting out for how this can work, but I freely admit that I'm sure it can be more clear/easier so if you have suggestions on how the steps can be improved please let me know!
The only part of this that is non-negotiable is the following: Per our bylaws, the Hall cannot be given any "powers" reserved to the Board of Directors or any Officer (Amyrlin Seat, Keeper, Archivist, Shatayan) position. The Officers are who make all decisions regarding how the site is operated and "all of the business and affairs of the corporation". Basically what this means is that the topics discussed by the Hall are an advisory to the Officers, not a mandate. There will be no voting on any of these topics brought up, and after discussion it won't necessarily lead to either immediate or future action by the Officers. Not to say that action may not happen and things won't change outside of admin meetings and the like, but all recomendations from the Hall are just that - *recomendations* - they are not and cannot be mandates. This will be a means for members to bring their thoughts/ideas/concerns to their elected representative (all Ajahs and Companies choose their own Sitters/Warder Councillors, it is not an administrative choice) for discussion among the elected body of the Community and provide input and advice to the Officers.
I think this function will bring a new level of importance to each group as to how they choose to elect their representatives (even moreso than for input on raisings and the thankfully rare banning) and I'm excited to see how it goes during this first try.
One concern we had was that due to the fact that raisings are still the primary responsibility of the Hall that Junior Members (Citizens, Novices, Recruits, Accepted and Soldiers) do not have equal representation. Unfortunately, with raisings in the Hall we obviously can't have someone with access who might potentially be discussed during that term along with the fact that their rank/status could also change during the term and you could potentially now have a recruit representing citizens which just gets messy. However, for right now (unless someone has a better idea that doesn't involve creating yet another forum) the idea is that the Mayor, Captains and Mistresses will serve to represent their charges so would tell their groups when a topic is brought up in order to get input from them. I'm sure once we see how this first term goes there will be changes to be made going into 2014 as we see what did/didn't work well.
Situation: Rabid Yellow Julie (hereafter RYJ - to fit my example I arbitrarily made her a Yellow Yay promotions? ) thinks that all Novices should no longer be required to wear white, but pink instead because it is oh so complimentary. (I couldn't think of anything good...just go with it!)
- Step 1: RYJ takes her idea to her sitter Lil' Faile (also got a change of group for this exercise ) who agrees that this is very important and should be discussed immediately!
- Step 2: LF (see what I did there?) sends an EMAIL to the Keeper of the Chronicles under whose authority the Hall falls
- Step 3: Lireina checks her email to make sure that there haven't been any other requests made for discussion ahead of LF's, and creates a locked thread in the Hall announcing that discussion will commence on the subject of pink novices in 1 week so that each Sitter/Warder Councillor has time to go to their groups and find out what their thoughts are. During this time the Mayor, Captains and Mistresses will also be talking to their groups to get their opinions
- Step 4: After that week, the thread is unlocked and the conversation begins with each representative conveying their opinions along with those of their fellow group members and a dialogue begins in the Hall. For the first session I'd prefer to not put a time frame on the discussion since it'd be better to just let the conversation come around to a natural lull. However, if we find that the Keeper has a backlog of topics waiting to be brought up, she might give the thread a nudge to be done with.
- Step 5: At the conclusion of the discussion, the person who brought the topic forward (LF) will write up a summation and post it in the thread as well as EMAIL it to email@example.com so that the Officers can see what has been recommended. (if anything...not everything will necessarily have a cut and dry solution per se)
- Step 6: The Officers will respond to the Hall, who will then be able to take that response (along with the Hall's recomendation) back to their groups.
**NOTE** Those are the only 3 things that will EVER be taken from the Hall. 1) the original proposal 2) the final summation by the presentor and 3) the Officers' response. No names of points, no discussion of exactly what was said or by whom. All of those things are still strictly under the Hall's confidentiality and will be violated on pain of dismissal from the Hall and enact a review of your membership. 3 things. That's it. **
Now especially this first session I'm not looking to see more than one discussion at a time - perhaps if it goes smoothly and we've worked out the kinks we can look at 2 at a time in the spring but let's start slow. Also, if she has other people waiting and its been a couple of weeks, that would be a general time frame for the Keeper to wrap up discussion and get the summation process started. Again, this is just how I imagine it working, if someone has any suggestions on how to improve those steps then please let me know!
As to the type of topics that might come up, general site wide issues are what we're thinking. Issues with specific people are a Membership issue and so not appropriate for this forum, or something that is a very specific incident for you might not work either. But things like "I think we should have more leniency on signatures" or "every new member should be required to have seen the movie Stardust" are things that might be good. If your representative submits something to the Keeper and it is something that would be better handled in a different way, she will let you know the reason/s why and we'll work on it through other avenues. We're going to be feeling our way through all of this here at the beginning as well so please bear with us as we find our groove, so to speak. It'll definitely make for an exciting fall term as our new Sitters and Warder Councillors get to be the guinea pigs
Future of our Community Structure
One topic that has come up more times than I can count is the question of "Why are there no Asha'man?" "Why can't I join an Ajah even though I am male?" "I would like to be a Warder, but I am female?" These questions come from all ranges of people from those who are just browsing through to see what we're about to members who have been here for awhile and just can't seem to find their place. We've had members choose to move on because we just don't offer quite what they're looking for, and I even had a former member talk to me in the last couple months and say that if they could have been a member of the other "track" so to speak, they would return in a heartbeat.
Now that being said, we of course have never been about catering or changing ourselves in ways that make every single person happy...it's an impossible dream at best and a ridiculous way to operate at worst. But when you keep hearing a similar thought voiced over and over through the years you start looking at things that are currently hard and fast and start wondering "Well what if we...."
TarValon.Net has never been about change for change's sake. We try to do things thoughtfully and purposefully, with a period of evaluation to ensure that we are doing the best that we can for our members. Once upon a time, there were a few Novices that were able to join an Ajah prior to taking the test for Accepted. Once it was quite the scandal for an Accepted or Soldier to even *ask* about changing their membership group once the decision had been made upon their raising, let alone to actually follow through and change. It was extremely controversial when the idea of demoting was first broached. It was even more controversial when we brought in guesting (to the point where we had separate discussion forums for those who were currently Junior Members so that they could try and process the idea of 1) not choosing their group right away and 2) visiting with more than one group at a time while they found their place). When the idea of introducing the merits system and the possibility of being able to earn the right to recognize a second bond was brought up, each membership group was given a private forum where again they could discuss just amongst themselves exactly what they thought of the idea.
As you can see, some of these things are now issues that with years of perspective seem shocking that there was ever any question as to whether or not they were a good thing for us to try...but in each case, the pros and cons were talked about at extensive length and the changes made were those that it was felt was best both for the current health of the Community as well as for future growth as we drew ever closer to the end of the series that brought us together.
The final book of the Wheel of Time was published this year. This was an amazing milestone for many of us who have been reading this series and learning about the world it inhabits for years (in my case, more than half of my life) One thing that is a central idea to this series that brought all of us together is that the Wheel turns and things that are new become old, then ancient, then new again with each Age that passes. I broached the idea at the admin meeting (following up on discussion about it last year) that the time is approaching when I feel the restrictions on *only* men becoming Warders and *only* women becoming Aes Sedai are not as important as allowing *people* to follow their hearts and be able to join a group of like minded individuals of their choice. After all, once all channelers were titled Aes Sedai.
Take a deep breath everyone, nothing is being implemented right this second, breathe!
It is time to start the conversation about how do we stay relevent, how do we stay true to who we are, and how do we continue to bring new faces/names/personalities into our community as people continue to discover and adore the series that brought us our name even without more books being published in this setting? (WoT Encyclopedia that will come out in a couple years not withstanding)
Essentially the conversation we had at the meeting boiled down to two primary proposals we've heard over the years. One, is that we add two additional groups (one Ajah and one Company) and while the majority of men and women would continue to stay in the "traditional" path, women could have a female-only Company and men could have a male-only Ajah. Concerns with this are that we have always encouraged people to go with their personality and preference - and while for example Lireina and Serenla are both amazing, strong, capable women - those of you who know them would laugh at the idea that these two would choose the same group to join. So why should they be forced to simply because they both want to be a Warder? I'm sure you can imagine similar confusion if Toral and Sean were in the same group purely because of their gender rather than their personality and way of looking at the world. On the other hand, this would be a fairly minor change and would have less upheaval than the next picture of our future. Integrating bonding with this system would keep it gender based most likely (ie male/female) though alternatives could be considered.
Option two, is that we truly become a blended Community. Obviously nothing is even close to policy or procedure, but the idea being that men and women stay segregated as novices/recruits while they learn more about our Community than they did as Citizens and start deciding which 'track' they want to focus on. Then perhaps as Accepted/Soldiers is when they make that initial choice and start guesting with either Ajahs or Companies depending on what that choice is. Once they choose the group that truly fits their personality, then they are raised just as people are today and you might have Sean Sedai of Green, or Serenla Gaidin of SDS. This option would cause a lot more upheaval - one is the same for both choices "how do we change tracks if we're already a SM?" Other thoughts are should we keep (at least for the next few years while everything sorts out) segregated forums for each group so Dai M'Hael would have the Great Room just as today, but then would have a DM Male Gaidin forum, a DM Female Gaidin forum, and a DM blended Gaidin forum?
Likewise for the Ajahs you'd have the Yellow Sitting Room, the Yellow Male Sedai forum, Yellow Female Sedai forum and a Yellow blended Sedai forum. Rather than AS and Gaidin forums, would we have male/female SM forums then the blended AS/Gaidin along with SM where everyone is there? Would there be one Ajah or Company that stayed male or female only? I love our feeling of fraternity and sorority, and think that would be important to maintain in the future - I just don't know what that would look like. Integrating bonding into this system would keep the spirit of our current ideal which is that a bond is a partnership between two people and a connection across the current gender lines of the Tower. In a blended Community the bond would still be that same partnership between two people, but it would be a connection across the two sides of the Tower - a connection between an Aes Sedai and a Gaidin whether or not the holders of those roles are male or female (so you could have a male or female AS with their male or female Warder it's the AS/Warder connection that is the focus not the gender of who holds which title) This might bring more initial upheaval, but long term would it allow people to be true to who they are rather than just delineated along gender lines?
The third suggestion that comes up is why don't we just add Asha'man, but 1) we are Tar Valon. We have the Aes Sedai and Gaidin who occupy the White Tower...the Asha'man aren't there. 2) even though it has been more than a decade (I always forget which book first introduced them) since we learned about them, it is still a bit of a spoiler for those who are on their first read through the series. 3) We obviously don't actually "channel" so what is the point of having a separate track/title for men who don't want to be Warders if they can't become an Aes Sedai? I'll just tell you all upfront that unless someone gave me a completely new and amazing reason to consider this as our solution, I just don't feel it has enough merits to outweigh the other very viable choices we have.
So basically, this is notice that we have started the discussion. You are of course more than welcome to talk about what your image for the future might look like, or offer thoughts on the alternatives given above. Throughout the next 6 months, you'll find Officers and perhaps some of the directors publishing dates and times to each group inviting you to live chats via Google hangouts or skype or the like so that you can *TALK* to us about your thoughts and feelings on this. Later in the year and into the spring, we might continue the discussion in private forums for each group and rank to feel each other out and see how others are feeling about it.
The last thing I want to stress above all, is that nothing will happen quickly or as a knee jerk. This will most likely be at least a year just in the planning stages prior to any implementation if not more. As you can see, we started talking about this last year as a "conversation has been opened, lets start with possible specifics next year" which has led us now bringing the rest of the community in on the discussion. If you're not comfortable talking ot us in person or writing in these forums, I implore you to please write to us via email. Talk to your HoA/CC/Mayor/MoN/MOA/CoR/CoS, write to Sa'areah, write to LIreina, write to me. We will never, ever be able to make everyone happy, but we need as much information and opinions to take into consideration as possible before we do ANYTHING. This Community belongs to all of us, and we all deserve the chance to have our say.
So to sum up, don't completely freak out yet. Lets start the conversation, and see where it goes over the next 6 months-a year.
Lireina will be working with Leora to get the Operations Manual project on track. The Department of Membership has been started and will be the focus going forward before moving on to other departments.
Work continues on revising/expanding the merits program. We still intend to form a committee from all membership groups to work on this project.
Shatayan/Director of Administration
Since these positions are now filled by two distinct people, I'll put which email address to contact beneath the subject point!
Use of Video Media/Google Sites
We talked about both of these and are intrigued by them. However, we found similar issues with both and we don't want to necessarily jump whole hog so to speak into another new huge long-term project (especially for Marketing and Tech) if there are other means we already have to accomplish something similar. While it is true that using video would definitely give a more personal touch than email/text can provide, it's something we'll look at more perhaps in the future rather than immediately. By the same token, while google sites are neat, we can utilize the library and/or the vbulletin pages more and accomplish something similar.
Review of annual reviews of executives
Right now in their present form, they're just not as useful as we wished. Executives reviewing each other isn't always helpful since they don't necessarily work together on projects on a daily basis, and execs already get ongoing feedback from the Keeper and Amyrlin. Balancing the huge amount of hours spent by the Director of Administration against the usefulness of the reviews themselves, we're going to table them for now and reevaluate next year. As always, however, if anyone would ever like to comment about the performance of any staff/admin/exec or officer please forward that on to their supervisor (or myself/the Keeper).
Review purpose of the Membership Survey
We received comments on the survey itself that it should be revised in order to not be primarily a review of the departments. Instead, I'd like to make more the clear that this is an important aspect of the survey! In addition to wanting to get generalized feedback on the Community in general and areas that the membership feel we could improve, each section helps give us an idea of where the various departments are at from a 'user' perspective so to speak. It also is a more useful way to get reviews on how execs and officers are performing as well as how they are viewed than the annual reviews we have been doing. Now that being said, we absolutely agree that it is still long and we'll continue to work towards focusing questions and departmental sections to try to shorten it up.
Review the Annual Report
We talked about various ways the report could look going forward including just making it be from the Officers, or perhaps just putting departmental reviews in the library rather than publishing with the report itself. We also need to decide on who our audience really is. Are we addressing the report for current members who are interested in seeing how the previous year went on, or is it for prospective members who just need an overview of what we're like? Ultimately, we're going to carry on with the report for now and review in the fall for 2014 to see if/how we want to change things.
As to our financial information in the report, it's going to partially depend again on who our audience is. One thing we'd like to do either way is have our net income along with expenses of high level items such as our scholarship, hosting costs, etc then have a departmental breakdown in the library. Also members always have the right (and are highly encouraged!) to email the Shatayan at any time to ask what our balances are and what our costs are, or to ask for the information provided quarterly to the board of directors.
Review PSA project
We really like it! Will move to a quarterly focus, though if someone has a timely topic or wants to address something a bit sooner then they will do so. We'd also like to have a stockpile of sorts that are already written up in order to pull from if needed. If anyone has any specific topics they'd like addressed in this format then please let us know!
Tax exempt status and debt repayment
Our federal exempt status and registration with the state of Alabama are both current. Taxes have been filed for 2012, so we're good there as well. Thanks to our “Tower Still Stands” fundraiser at the beginning of the year as well as Anni, we've now cleared all debts towards individuals except for Caerwyn. Our goal (pending event deposits that will come due for Anni 2014 and Fall Ball 2013) is to get him a payment before the operational fundraiser later this summer, and then to get him another payment soon thereafter.
Department of Community Outreach
Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship/Summer Operational fundraiser
Funding of the RJMS will be no problem this year, it's already budgeted for and accounted for. Look for announcements concerning application dates to come soon! We're also starting to look at long term funding of this scholarship with possible partnerships with a third-party vendor and collaboration with Marketing. We're not to the point yet of having a separate checking account or earmarking yet, but we hope to in the future along with increasing the amount.
The summer fundraiser will kick off in mid-July this year with planning already underway for the theme. Watch for announcements on this as well.
Community Service Forum
The idea is to create a new forum to be a part of the discussion halls, starting in July with new mods. This forum would be a place where people can give each other ideas of ways that they volunteer in their communities, or where someone running a 5k/10k etc for various causes (Relay for Life, Race for the Cure, etc) can share their efforts. People can talk about general ideas ("I like to recycle!"), specific organizations (Humane Society, Red Cross), categories (helping animals, soup kitchens), etc. We're not sure exactly how much activity it'll have, but with the launch of the Servant of All program we'd like to give it a try to see how it goes and will reevaluate at future admin meetings.
Servant of All
The beta release got quite a bit of feedback on the hardline we took regarding service via religious entities. We talked about it and clarified our line which is that service to people/your Community is what matters. We're not super concerned if it's sponsored by a particular political party or church, but rather what the action is to help others. You'll get more clarification of this when the program is officially announced.
Department of Events and Conferences
Just to clarify, because of the cost we only purchase event insurance if a site specifically requires us to. The last time we looked into it a few years ago it was $500/annually for a US only coverage and $5000/annually for a global coverage both of which are beyond us.
Basically we're going to continue on with this being a case by case basis with the site requirements playing a large part. So for example if there are more people registered than spaces available at a particular location we're going to need to be far more hardlined and strict then if we have a lot more room to play with. This is also dependent on when numbers are due to the site and how we are charged for a particular location (ie, this past Anni we were charged per person so the number we gave the site in advance was critical vs Anni 2012 where we rented a certain amount of space and were charged the same whether we filled it or not and were cooking for ourselves). Keep watch on event announcements and we'll try to be more clear going forward. Along these same lines, the early bird specials we ran earlier this year were to solve a very specific emergency situation so we don't intend to make them a regular occurrence in the future.
Timing of Anni
We talked about possibly pushing it back to April/May as a normal time frame going forward. Ultimately we decided that since it is celebrating our anniversary which occurs in March, and due to the fact that the later we go fees tend to rise among other factors, we're going to keep it where it is for the most part but will look at this again next year. Due to Jordan Con in 2014 being moved up to earlier in April, we will be looking at a May date for just next year with the intention of moving it back to its normal time frame in 2015.
Right now this is an event and accompanying merit that is only available at one event on our Calendar. It also isn't very inclusive for people who can't compete in the physical events. At Anni this year we made the ruling that someone could have another person compete on their behalf with the potential merit would only go to one person: the actual participant, or the person they're competing on behalf of. Basically, at this point we're going to keep talking about ideas for this because the reason it is an issue is primarily merit related (since you can never earn this one unless you make it to Anni specifically and then only if you personally participate in all 3 events of the tournament). Once we've expanded that program and evaluated where we're at, we'll look again at the tournament and go from there.
We fully intend to keep up the momentum of getting bids a year in advance and then selecting specific locations and dates as soon as possible thereafter. We've announced that there will be a South Pacific event in 2014, and are working on dates/locations for both that as well as the Britain & Ireland Party. Fall Ball planning is well underway so watch for announcements there, we'll hopefully have dates for Anni 2014 by the end of June which will then be followed by solicitations for next year's Euro event!
Department of Marketing
Tar Valon Times
The Tar Valon Times has really done well with encouraging participation through their public forum, but at the cost of it not being as much of a surprise to the rest of the Community since everyone can see what articles are being worked on n'such. As a compromise, there will now be a public thread for the TVT in the classroom looking for new writers and article ideas, while the majority of the planning will be moved back into a private forum for the editors (Stephen and Taelinn) and their reporters.
Department of Membership
Something that was brought up on the membership survey is that people were wanting more candid answers as to why they were not chosen for a position. While this doesn't apply only to the department of Membership, it is something that we try to do, but people are always welcome to ask for more specific feedback if they'd like it. One thing that has been implemented in the last couple years is the practice of asking follow up questions primarily for director positions, but for some admin positions as well which also helps us to make a better informed decision.
Department of Moderators
Looking to have our bot in chat be fully under the control of tech/mods and for it to have the full functionality of the Dark One. Tech will work on making this happen over the summer/early fall and we're looking at having a contest to name our new bot! Watch for more information on this.
Intend to start a new round of hiring for chat ops probably around the time as mod hiring in June.
Department of Research and Records
Work on A Memory of Light is well underway for our library!
Department of Technology
Intend to upgrade to vBulletin 5.0 once it is officially released and no longer in beta. Funds have already been set aside for this. The changes they made to the back end are fabulous, and it will be really interesting to see how the new group functionality can be used. The mobile site with 5.0 has also been optimized and should solve a lot of the issues we've been having with it. We're looking at late this year, early next year for this.
While someone would really need to know what they're doing, Azi managed to hack himself So we've found a service for a price we can afford, and intend to enact this after our operational fundraiser in the summer. The average person won't notice a change, but our site will be more secure. I'll leave it to Erin and Azi to explain this more if y'all need it because I pretty much understand it as "we pay for a service that makes us have https:// status which makes us more secure