2010 Annual Report
A PDF version is available.
Property of TarValon.Net, Incorporated
Compiled and Edited by Anne Vanolli
With Assistance from Amanda Keen, Jessica Beaushene
- 1 State of the Tower Address
- 2 Annual Overview
- 3 Financial Overview
- 4 Department of Administration
- 5 Department of Community Development
- 6 Department of Events and Conferences
- 7 Department of Marketing
- 8 Department of Membership
- 9 Department of Moderators
- 10 Department of Philanthropy
- 11 Department of Research and Communications
- 12 Department of Technology
- 13 Appendices
State of the Tower Address
It is a strange thing to sit here and write out what will be my final introduction to our Annual Reports. I find myself more readily thinking about where we have come in 10 years rather than where we have traveled over a period of 12 months. 2010 was the final year that I served in my full capacity as Amyrlin. Our 11th year is one of transition for all of us; it is certainly a major transition for me.
The following articles will tell you about where we have put our efforts in our 10th year, and what those efforts have achieved. I am not overstating things when I tell you that the people leading these departments have done a fantastic job. Every department worked hard and accomplished goals that are absolutely worthy of praise, especially when we remember that these efforts have come from a team of volunteers. For me, though, their accomplishments in the last year have been especially important. As hands on (or meddling) as you have known me to be, the efforts and accomplishments of 2010 were largely reached without me. I did not hand hold. I very rarely directly managed. Personally, I was able to focus my efforts on the Keeper transition, high level membership issues, our relations with WoT fandom in general, and on 10th Anni. The things I did as Amyrlin were truly those things directly defined by my current job description. I did not hand hold because I was not needed to do so. This was an incredible realization. While I certainly feel nostalgia, my overwhelming sense is one of pride and gratitude. Being able to make the White Tower has been an improbable dream come true. Realizing that it can stand on its own, with or without me, is humbling and more fantastic than I can put into words.
We have transitioned to our new Keeper, and we are preparing the way for our first new Amyrlin. We had one heck of a 10th Anniversary celebration. Merit Badges, Who's Who, Membership Manuals, blogs, message board and site log-in integration, new Board Members, successful fundraisers (some very much on the fly), improved record keeping processes, moving to elected Hall members... 2010 bore much of the fruit we worked for over several years. It has been a good year.
So I suppose my addition to this document is to let you know that you have all done this yourselves. I truly hope that you see and appreciate your part in our success. Whether you have served as an Admin or Staff, if you have moderated a forum or chat, if you ran an event or participated in one, joined a committee, gone to an event, mentored another member, or participated in a memorable prank... This place is the work of many, many hands. Thank you for being a part of it.
10 years ago we were a series of pages on geocities. Moreover, the idea of someone actually being Aes Sedai rather than pretending to be Aes Sedai was (perhaps rightfully) viewed as a fairly insane proposition by our peers in WoT fandom. We have moved from having to try and convince people that we were actually quite well-adjusted to being solidly understood, accepted, and respected for what we do. Of every other thing we have accomplished, this is the one of which I am most proud.
I have absolutely no idea what we are going to look like in 10 years. But it is my hope that, whichever road we take, that we will continue to be a community that celebrates and recognizes the ideals of being Aes Sedai. I hope that we will continue to foster and encourage real life friendships among our fellowship. I hope that we will continue to work together to make a difference in the world bigger than we could ever do alone. I hope that we will continue investing in our own longevity as an organization. And, most of all, I hope we will all continue to make this a place we are proud to call home.
May the Light keep you and bless you, as you have all made me truly blessed,
In Memoriam – Padra Sedai
Dear TarValon.Net Family,
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the news that Tricia Erickson, know to us as Padra Sedai of the Blue Ajah, passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon.
Padra had been battling an incredibly aggressive form of breast cancer over the past year and a half. She fought it with incredible strength, and with the sheer positive strength of will that she brought to everything and everyone in her life.
For those of us who have known her these many years, words cannot express the loss we feel.
In all the world, she is one of the cherished few who I could honestly say had not one bad bone in her body. Never a mean or judgmental moment. All I remember is laughter, support, a bright smile, eyes that twinkled, a sympathetic listener, and a woman who put everyone before herself. I am infinitely and selfishly sad for having lost her. For those of you who did not get to meet her, I am sad for you because you missed crossing paths with one of the most loving women you could have ever met.
Padra was working towards a recovery, and recently underwent reconstructive surgery on her breast. About a week or so ago, she found herself getting very weak. A week ago they found that it had metastasized in her brain and bones. She was admitted to Hospice yesterday morning, and passed away shortly later. It was very quick, and we are told she went peacefully, surrounded by family and firm in the knowledge that her friends were thinking of her.
I will post more about Padra, and her place in this community shortly. And when I have information on the memorial service, I will post that as well. We will honor Padra with a period of mourning on the site, as well as with a forum where we can share photos, stories, and happy memories. Those of us who can attend the memorial service will try to get together before or after to hold an informal wake.
Padra was exceptionally strong in her faith, and always wished those who had passed away a "Happy Home-going!"
Happy home-going, Tricia.
I love you so much. I wish I could have had you with us longer. I hope today brings you only love and eternal bliss.
This year was a productive year for the Tower. Progress was made on a lot of fronts, and some long-standing projects were completed. Our administration changed a good bit with the addition of two new Departments and the dissolution of another, as well as the personnel involved, and the Officers and Board of Directors saw some change-up as well. Other Departments continued to run smoothly and became more efficient as new Directors settled in and found their niches, and the administration on a whole seemed to find its footing.
Changes Affecting Our Membership
Several changes for our membership occurred this year, some larger than others. The largest involves two separate issues - bonding, an old issue, and merits, a new one. The administration completed the bonding impact study in 2010 and discovered that opinions truly ran the gamut. Many members desired changes to our current bonding strictures, both to tighten and to loosen them. Others felt that the system was fine as it was. Another issue that presented itself was actually one that has long been an issue for the administration - how to recognize, and in some cases reward, those who give their time, effort, and energies for little or no recognition.
These two issues crossed to make the merit system. The merits are meant to recognize those who go above and beyond the standard contributions to our community. For those who consistently give, they are eventually given perks that they may enjoy. One of those privileges is the ability to have an extra bonding slot beyond their current limit. Gaidin would be able to bond two Aes Sedai, Red sisters may bond one Gaidin, Green sisters may bond three, and all other sisters may bond two. The administration thought that this was a fair compromise for those who truly wanted to be able to bond above their current limits, while also ensuring that our community's unique culture surrounding bonds was kept intact. A focus group consisting of members of all ranks and all aspects of the administration was chosen to give voice to the creation and implementation of this new recognitions program, which will be released in 2011.
Another major change for our Senior Members was the decision to allow their community groups to choose their own representatives for the Hall. Previously the administration chose the representatives, but we decided that we needed to trust that our Senior Members know their sisters and brothers well enough to choose who represents them in the Hall. We are confident that this decision is a positive one for our community.
This year also saw the end of an era. When we were a smaller community, having Senior Members send Junior Members for punishment was part of the fun of the community, for both parties. However, as the community has grown larger, this bit of fun has lost its allure for many members. In response to many complaints by members, the administration has decided to end this practice. While there are those who will miss it, there are many more who will be happy to see it ended.
In celebration of our tenth anniversary, we are combining our two annual European events in 2011 into one. Details of this event are forthcoming, but barring unforeseen circumstances the Amyrlin will be in attendance. We are excited that she will be able to attend, and we know that she is looking forward to crossing the pond and celebrating this milestone with so many members previously not met.
While there are many positive things that occurred this year, one very sad event held the Tower in mourning for months. Padra Sedai of the Blue Ajah passed away this year. She was an absolutely wonderful person, and I cannot express how her loss has affected various members. Her optimism, her smile, and her bright presence are, and will continue to be, missed. In honor and memory of her, our 2010 Feast of Lights fundraiser beneficiary was the Susan B. Komen Foundation.
Changes Affecting Our Administration
Several large changes occurred for the Officers and the Board this year. Arisaema Sedai stepped down from the Board and as the Chief Financial Officer, also known as the Shatayan within the community. Riley Gaidin, a long-standing member, took on both roles. Late in the year, I announced my retirement as Keeper, and Leora Sedai was chosen to replace me. She will be inducted as Keeper at our tenth anniversary party in Charleston, SC. I will remain on the Board of Directors and serve as the Tower Archivist, a position created to take over the duties of the Secretary as laid out in the Bylaws. All of these changes have been felt by the community, but they are even larger changes for the administration, and so far they have proven to be positive ones.
The Department of Philanthropy has really taken off this year, successfully running several fundraisers and increasing awareness for philanthropic opportunities inside and outside of our community. Kariada Sedai's energy and vision, aided by her staff, have really taken this Department and created something worthwhile. I look forward to seeing what comes of this Department as it continues to grow and thrive.
The Department of Marketing was created this year as well. Its goal is to create a cohesive marketing strategy for the Tower, handling graphics and social media and anything else that deals with our public presence. The Tower Voice, a position created to handle our social media presence, moved from the Department of Research and Communications into this Department, which reverted to its old name of just Department of Research. Meilen Sedai has been another powerhouse Executive this year, using her team and their resources and knowledge to create a more unified presentation of the community.
In our continuing efforts to make our administration accessible and efficient, we decided that the Department of Research was no longer being best served by having a private administrative forum, so we created the Librarian's Desk, a forum where all members are invited to watch the progress being made in our library and participate, if they so choose. Members wishing to contribute may request a log in to our wiki and do so. This change has been very positive for our Library, which keeps growing and becoming more complete.
The Department of Events and Conferences worked with the Shatayan to create a cost model for events that takes into account the financial aspects of running our events as well as local currencies and rates. This cost model will be applied to all Official Events in the future.
One project that finally reached completion this year after several years of planning was the transition to Drupal and phpbb3. This change has had a huge effect on our membership's experience in our online community, and it has changed how the administration has performed its functions as well. This transition allows our community to be more fully integrated with only one log-in required for the main site and the forums, which share the same theme and menus. This project was a huge undertaking, and we are all incredibly grateful for all of the volunteers who helped troubleshoot the new forums before they went live, helped keep members entertained and happy while we transitioned and had no forums, added members to usergroups as they transitioned, and participated in other ways.
Our quest for exemption continues. The 501c3 application was submitted in July, and in late December we received a response from the IRS that shifted our focus from 501c3 to 501c7. We will begin that process and hope to have our approval before the second quarter. This process has required that the administration firm up procedures for a variety of things, such as the scholarship and how it is awarded, which has had a positive effect.
Vendor plans have been put on hold indefinitely, pending a review of how such rules would interact with our non-profit status. We also reviewed other options for international transfer of funds, but we found nothing that seemed comparable to Paypal.
The Membership Manuals have undergone a transition with the loss of data mid-summer. Rather than being housed in a wiki, they are now available on our main site. Revisions have been started and will be completed in 2011, though they are ever-changing and so are never really complete.
Work on the merits began in 2010 and will be finished in 2011. The focus group is working hard with the administration to come up with a system that recognizes the areas that need it in a way that is fair to members of all ranks and groups.
The Department of Administration completed several long-standing projects that had lapsed. An annual report was released for the first time, and the Department is hard at work compiling reports for the missing years. A full-fledged membership survey was held. High-level administrative reviews were conducted. The Department was also instrumental in examining the legal information and compiling the information necessary for the non-profit applications.
As we enter our second decade with fresh faces and enthusiasm, I expect several projects and changes to come to fruition this year. The Who's Who, a listing of all of the Tower members that has been missing for several years, has seen a lot of progress and should be released by the summer. We fully expect our 501c7 approval to come in this year, making us an official non-profit. Servant of All, a program designed to promote and recognize philanthropic activities that our members participate in, should be finished and released this next year as well. The merits will continue to be refined. The Membership Manuals will continue to be updated, resulting in a more current, comprehensive guide for our members. The addition of Leora Sedai to the slate of Officers will be complete this year, which will result in a shift in the administration and in the duties shared amongst the Officers. We will celebrate our tenth anniversary in both the US and Europe. I am looking forward to what this upcoming year holds for us.
Link: 2010 Admin Meeting
Financially, TarValon.Net is in quite a good place, and we are quite solvent. The Shatayan has been working on developing an itemized budget for 2011. Challenges for this largely surround our events, and our reporting procedures for departmental spending.
In regards to events, we are working on accounting procedures for the funds that are brought in, and then spent. The most direct approach would be to include all revenue brought in, and then spent per event, however the accounting for such an approach would be beyond the scope of time intended for this position. Another disadvantage would be that it would make TarValon.Net appear to be a much larger and much wealthier entity than we really are. Time will be spent on smoothing out this accounting and receiving process, with the goal being to have a firm system in place by Anni 2012.
In regards to departmental income, spending, and accounting, a reporting system will be put into place, with easily accessible information. This is most pertinent when it comes to filing our taxes, as the IRS asks for a breakdown of income vs expenditures and it would be most beneficial to easily be able to access real numbers, as opposed to making educated guesses. Ideally, all information will be placed into spreadsheets.
Finally it is a goal of the Shatayan's office to use the resources so generously given to TarValon.Net to improve and upgrade the delivery of our most significant activities, those being our website and message boards. We will be working with the Department of Technology to improve our technology and give our community the best product for the best value.
As of the writing of this report, all of our income is derived from two sources, donations from members, either through fund drives or event related activities, and from the slight "cushion" built into event tickets.
Department of Administration
This was an incredibly busy year for the Department of Administration! We had some staff changes, major projects, and just getting into a groove. But before getting into the details of those changes and projects, it is important to understand what the Department of Administration does.
The purpose of the Department of Administration is to help handle the business of TarValon.Net, Inc. by supporting the Board of Directors, other departments, and handling major administrative projects. Specific items we handle are the Annual Report, Annual Membership Survey, regular reviews of the administration, acting as a sounding board for tax and legal matters that affect the organization, and administrative support to other departments. The Department of Administration also oversees the Job Hunters Forum which was created in 2010.
The departmental staff has been critical to our successes this year. We started the year with the talents and skills of Ubahsur Kindellaer as Department Director, Leilwyn al'Raen as Annual Report Project Manager, Kiana A'Jadein as HR consultant and Membership Survey Project Manager, and Mashiara Al'Kama as all around help. Through the year we added the talents of Naomi Sommers for data evaluation from the Membership Survey and Isarma Maracanda as all around help and filled the Annual Report Project Manager role when Leilwyn stepped down. Mid year, Kiana's focus shifted to Reviews and the position of Membership Survey Project Manager was taken up by Mashiara. Before the close of the year, Kiana stepped down from her position within the department. Additionally, the department houses our legal team which includes: Xander Silverstar, Calypsa al'Nicolai, Hammar O'Justice, and Leora Oldessroth.
For the calendar year of 2010, the goals set forth for the Department of Administration were to:
- Complete and publish the 2009 Annual Report
- Complete and publish Annual Reports from 2006, 2007, 2008
- Develop, administer, and obtain usable statistics from the 2009 Membership Survey
- Develop and administer 360 degree annual reviews of Execs
- Develop and administer periodic reviews of positions that are eighteen (18) months or longer for staff and administrators.
- Work with the Board of Directors on 501(c)(3) application
A note about the dates, as the Membership Survey and Annual Report are for prior year. That is why the 2009 Annual Report is published in 2010. The Membership Survey is to get opinions and statistics from membership from the prior year and to drive decisions in the Administrative Meeting for the current year.
The results of these goals were a mixed bag. The 2009 Annual Report was completed and published; prior years are still waiting on portions to be completed before they can be published. The Membership Survey was administered, with data provided to the Administrative Meeting and a report created*. Three-sixty reviews for the Board of Directors was completed and of Execs completed. The process for eighteen month staff and administrators was not developed. The 501(c)(3) application was completed and submitted, with a response letter received in December.
The 2009 Annual Report is available in our library at: 2009 Annual Report.
The 2006 Annual Report, missing the COO review, is available in our library at: TarValon.Net 2006 Annual Report.
The 2009 Membership Survey detailed results report can be found in our library at: 2009 Membership Survey.
The membership survey was successful, in that we had nearly 300 respondents out of 350 active members on the site. This provided many departments with valuable feedback, including how to improve the survey itself; usage of TarValon.Net email and library, events, guilds, chat, and can be utilized as part of a 360 review for Executive Administrators. The results were reviewed at the annual Administrative Meeting.
The 360 degree annual evaluations of the Board of Directors and Execs, handled by the Department of Administration, were completed. No reviews of positions below Department Director were performed due to staffing and time constraints.
The Department of Administration assisted other departments through the review of the hiring and exit interview process, provided articles and links relevant to the Department of Philanthropy, and provided leadership and other articles in a space available for all administrators.
Department of Community Development
Guild membership was opened up to allow people to join as many guilds as they wanted. The guilds did not have much activity and this was done in the hopes that open membership would prompt more activity in the Guilds and make them a more vibrant and active part of our community. Ultimately, despite great efforts by the Guildmasters and the Department, the Guilds simply did not end up having the kind of activity we had hoped they would have when they were created. At the 2011 Administrative Meeting, Guilds were officially dissolved and replaced by the Discussion Halls.
Tar Valon Times
Under Erin al'Denael's leadership, during 2010 the TVT has become a regularly published online newsletter with many different types of content. Our members look forward to seeing what is new at the beginning of every month! You can view the archived editions of the TVT in our Library.
After the creation of the Department of Marketing, it was determined that a higher quality of visual resources was needed at all levels of our site, including the Online Events Team. The position of Online Events Graphics Coordinator was created. This position works for the Department of Marketing and is a liaison to the Department of Community Development; it focuses on leading the graphics team in meeting the needs of the Online Events Team. During our festivals this individual is also responsible for running any graphics type games/events.
Kytheria al'Shea oversaw the 2009 Membership Awards with a committee of members who attended the Anni and Euro parties. With the announcement of the Merit Badge System coming after the 2010 Admin Meeting, the activities of Recognitions Coordinator were put on hold while the Merit Badge system was developed. The Recognitions Coordinator participated in the development of the system, along with the selected representatives from our membership. It was determined by the end of the year that the job would not be needed in its current form once the Merit Badge system went live, and in October the job of Recognitions Coordinator was officially retired.
- Professor - Rehtaeh al'Navi
- Martial - Gedhan Audax
- Artisan - Naitsirk Boloo
- Tailors - Arafel al Dama
- Innkeepers - Hilwa Katir
- Healers - Niere al'Aman
- Sa'areah Britthorn was hired in February to replace Lenore Carvoe as the Gleemen Guild Leader.
- Marivea al'Corriyi began her term in May after Sa'areah was hired to be the Yellow HoA. Niere stepped down from the Healers Guild in December and her position has not been filled.
- Tar Valon Times
- Sikozu O'men
- Selenia Soandor
- Geneve Da'Guerre
- Jeffan Caliarthan
- Luciana Carera
- Ilissa al'Nari
- Ben al'Den
- Tsureio Far'hama
- Aldus Tyloredrid
- Nymeria Donnachaidh
- Locus Sarania
- Cattrin al'Modrah
- Jeffan Caliarthan
- Tsureio Far'hama
- Sikozu O'men
- Online Events
- Aduiavas Ida
- Halosia Paage
- Xylina Tyloredrid
- Marivea al'Corriyi
- Liiane al'Rhuidea
- Elandria d'ma Mieresouvra
- Daithenar Rosalblen
- Khaona al'Corriyi
- Siera al'Cere
- Satara al'Caelahn
- Ilverin Matriam
- Vallen Draevis
- Vealdan Annalin
- Kaizu Lancari
- Online Events Coordinator - Liiane al'Rhuidea in March
- Online Events Coordinator Assistant - Elandria d'ma Mieresouvra was promoted in March, but she stepped down in May. We tried going without an OECA for a few months, but due to Liiane's leave of absence, Xylina Tyloredrid was hired to this position in October.
- Online Events Graphics Coordinator (via the Dept. of Marketing) - Aldus Tyloredrid on July 14th.
- 2011 Goals
Department of Events and Conferences
The Department of Events and Conferences has had a year of big goals and big successes. We are proud of our accomplishments, and look to grow from these to continue the refinement and growth of TarValon.Net's global events.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; March 19-22, 2010
The Ninth Anniversary event in Wisconsin Dells found our group at a great wooded facility built by Easter Seals. Our first major event in the Midwest since third Anni in Chicago in 2004, the location enabled us to have comfortable lodging and gathering areas as well as a large gymnasium which was well utilized. There were challenges and the requisite health emergency, but as always our members pulled together and created a great event for everyone involved.
Atlanta, Georgia; April 23-25, 2010
The second JordanCon event was held in a new facility at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, Georgia. TarValon.Net made a strong showing and continued to support the event though it was only one month after our annual anniversary event.
Much Wenlock, England; April 9-11, 2010
Winter Euro in Much Wenlock blended favorite activities and casual time together with a new location and more formal awards and ceremonies. Taking some elements from NA Anni to the Euro event was well received, and will be further integrated as appropriate in the future.
Atlanta, Georgia; September 2-5, 2010
Dragon*Con continued to grow again this year, though the size of the TarValon.Net contingent shrank slightly due to increased convention costs. The Wheel of Time track was well received and focused not only on our favorite series, but also on the Stormlight Archive just launched by Brandon Sanderson.
District of Columbia; November 5-7, 2010
The events department was proud to enable an event in the traditionally expensive city of Washington D.C. at a reasonable cost. The group made the most of the plethora of national monuments and museums of the city, including a trip to tour the White House on Saturday morning. When not touring the city, beer tasting and table top games were favorite activities.
Charleston, South Carolina; March 3-7, 2011
Though the tenth anniversary event did not occur until 2011, a significant amount of work to plan the event was done in 2010. The largest event in our history, the tenth anniversary of our site moved us from our typical seclusion to a higher-profile event featuring honored guests and large-scale programming.
Personnel Changes and Department Work
This year brought change to the department's team and processes:
- Naeris Vell'sean was brought in as the Master of Revels for Continental Europe in December of 2010. Naeris has been actively working with Sonea Ilandred on the Tenth anniversary celebration scheduled for England in September 2011.
- Yelenia Hylraren was announced as the new Mistress of Revels for North America, replacing Cassie Dainar. Yelenia shadowed Cassie in her work on the Tenth Anniversary event, and will lead events from Fall Ball 2011 going forward.
The event pricing structure is in a soft roll-out to European events, and has had success so far.
The Events Department, including Serinia Edoras, Sonea Ilandred, Naeris Vell'sean, Yelenia Hylraren, Esteban Diego, Riley Maconnar, Doneavan al'Keavin, and all of our Local Liaisons, committee leaders, and contributors hope you have had the opportunity to participate in the events we have worked to create, and look forward to helping them to become even better in the future.
Department of Marketing
This department was approved at the admin meeting in April 2010. The formal creation of the department happened in June. Meilen Gevedon was hired as the Director and worked with the Keeper and other Execs to flesh out and create the structure of the department.
Obviously, with a new department, many new positions were created.
The position of Product Manager was created to manage TarValon.Net's CafePress shop. Duties of this position include adding and managing current products, as well as generating artwork for use in the shop either through artwork contests or creation of artwork within the Department of Marketing. Ariadne Davion was hired as the Product Manager and has held the position since July of 2010.
The position of Online Events Graphics Coordinator (OEGC) is a new addition to the structure of the Online Events Team, and is a liaison from the Department of Marketing to the Department of Community Development. The job of the OEGC is to help manage the visuals of our online events. The OEGC and the Online Events Coordinator work in tandem to ensure that the various online events are cohesive in both visuals and content. Aldus Tyloredrid has been the OEGC since July of 2010.
The Graphics Development Team is the backbone of the Department of Marketing. The team creates all official visuals associated with TarValon.Net, both on and offline. While the team has a main staff, others in the Department of Marketing may also volunteer skills if they have time or interest in a particular project. As of July 2010, the team included Jaryd Kosari, Jeffan Caliarthan, Ivien Tarkand, and Leese Sulan. Azi al'Thone joined the team in October and Aloren Tarabutton joined the team in February of 2011. Ariana left the team in January of 2011. Valorian Edoras also works with the Graphics Development Team on an as-needed basis.
The position of Tower Voice moved into the Department of Marketing upon its creation. Stasia t'Andrei kept the position, which she had already had. Also, the decision was made to have two Tower Voices instead of just one in order to keep up with the vast amount of news that needed to be posted. Loraella Melodie was hired as an additional Tower Voice in September 2010.
Major Goals and Achievements of 2010
One of the main goals of the Department of Marketing was to utilize the TarValon.Net CafePress shop more effectively than it had been in the past. This included an intended redesign of the shop and adding new products and artwork. All of these were achieved this year, and in a shorter time than I had imagined it would take! The shop has been redesigned and integrated into the main site. The Product Manager, alongside the Graphics Development Team, has been working to generate new artwork for the shop and offer products that members are more interested in buying. We ran a calendar contest during December where members submitted designs, and the winning design is now featured in the shop. Sales have gone up slightly, but unfortunately not as much as we had hoped. A goal for next year is to get even more of a profit out of shop sales.
Another goal of the Department of Marketing was to redesign the Ajah and Company logos. The older logos have a different format between Ajahs and Companies, and the main purpose of the redesign is to create something more cohesive. We sent out a survey to each Ajah and Company to fill out so we could get a better picture of what each group was looking for on their new logo, and we have reviewed a few logo sketches. Unfortunately, we have not been able to finalize any of the designs yet. A goal for the new year is to get this project off the ground!
The Department of Marketing was also tasked with improving TarValon.Net's social media outlets and using the main site to display news more often. With the addition of a second Tower Voice, news outreach has gone through the roof! We have been trying to average with one post on facebook and twitter per day (of course, depending on the amount of news to cover). We have had a lot of success with members turning towards either of these two resources to find Tower news. We have also been publicizing general WoT news in addition to TarValon.Net specific news. A goal for the next year is to post more Wheel of Time related content and post that faster.
We have had a few other ongoing projects that are still being worked on. One such project was the formation of a Tower Style Guide, for use in creating official visuals for all things TarValon.Net, both on and offline. We are in the process of finding consistent traits in all graphics and cataloguing them so that all future graphics will have the same consistency based on the guide. Unfortunately, it is a laborious process to catalogue each image, so it is taking us a while!
Minor Goals and Achievements of 2010
- Graphics were created for our Twitter layout (background design and icons) and our Facebook page.
- Graphics were created for the redesign of the CafePress store, including images for each shop section.
- Graphics were created for the 2010 Feast of Lights drive, including buttons and signature icons.
- Visual representations of the chain of command were created for use in the Membership Manual.
- Several new smilies were created for use on the forums.
- A certificate was created for the Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship.
- A visual identity was created to advertise the membership survey.
- An e-invitation for the Anni 2011 Donor Mixer was created.
- A pricing guide for advertising in the Anni 2011 program was created.
Goals for 2011
- Create more products in the shop in order to generate more profit for TarValon.Net. We have got a start right now, and purchases are on the rise, but we would like to continue improving!
- Complete the new Ajah and Company logos and the various other graphical designs associated with them (products in the store, for example).
- Work with the Department of Events and Conferences to streamline creation of publications for events. It is possible that a new position will be added to handle this.
- Continue to uphold a visual standard for TarValon.Net.
Department of Membership
The Department of Membership is responsible for handling all administrative tasks related to our membership and fostering a sense of community within each membership group.
Summary of 2010
A Bonding Impact Study was conducted and the results were discussed at the 2010 Administrative Meeting. There were opinions on both sides of expanding our current bonding rules, but overall it was decided that allowing additional bonds would not inherently harm our culture. It was decided to allow a +1 bond for people who met certain criteria. A Merit System was proposed to recognize exceptional service to the Tower. A focus group was created to determine what service should be recognized and rewarded. This focus group was under the supervision of the Keeper and the Amyrlin. The Merit Awards System will be presented in 2011.
Membership Administrative manuals were completed and will undergo revision as needed.
Due to the transition to Drupal and our updated forums, we did not complete a Membership Clean Up in 2010. All members who transitioned to the new forums are considered active.
The Who's Who has a new format and structure and is nearly complete. The Technology Department is working on final touches and permissions. The Who’s Who should be available again for viewing in 2011.
Plans for a Membership database to replace our current spreadsheet system have been shelved until the 2011 Administrative meeting.
The year 2010 saw our first Junior Member Summer Camp. This was a special area of the forums for our Junior Members to relax, have fun, and interact more with each other. Summer Camp ran for approximately one month and included online activities and an end of summer dance. Summer Camp will return in 2011.
The latter part of 2010 saw the launching of Project Gaidin, specially designed for the male Junior Members of the site. It has been a great success so far, drawing interest and followers from members of all ranks. It will complete in early 2011.
Looking Ahead to 2011
The Department will be moving back to online testing for raisings. Testing in our Drupal environment, as opposed to via email, should begin in March. The new and improved Who's Who will be finalized and launched to the community. As always, we will be working to create a sense of community and an enjoyable environment for our members. New activities to encourage interaction between membership groups on the site will be explored.
Editor's Note: Charts, graphs, and lists can be found in #Appendix B.
Department of Moderators
The Department of Moderators takes care of all of our community moderators, primarily those forum moderators who do not hold their positions because they are part of another Department, and our chat operators.
2010 saw the year of the switch to new forums. Tech had been working for a long time to switch us over to the newest version of our forums, and it finally happened in March! This allowed the administration to make some key forum changes that we had been looking at for awhile, and to implement some changes in some of our forum procedures as well. First, we eliminated the "Mundane World" forum and combined it with "General" since so much of the conversations overlapped anyway. We also changed the name of "Games, Quizzes and Humor" to "Frivolous Fun", and experimented with embedding forums within categories rather than have all almost 100 different forums (to those of us who can see them all) listed separately.
In current events, we had several goals for 2010 which have been met. The move to try labeling types of threads instead of posting things in different forums has gone into effect, and seems to be catching on nicely. Rather than simply starting a topic and leaving it to people to click on it and decide what the original poster intended, we now attach a simple "News" or "Discussion" label to give people an idea of what they are getting into. We also made it so that any and all members are able to read what goes on in Current Events. However, we still have a usergroup so that members can request permission to post in the forum. This way everyone is made sure to be aware of the rules and guidelines of the forum before participation.
A new forum was also created in conjunction with the Department of Administration that is also a request access forum. Those who are looking for advice or ideas in relation to job searches, can now meet with others in the Job Hunters Forum forum. The Department of Research also teamed up with Moderators in 2010 to find people to watch over all book discussion forums.
The final major forum change was made together with the Department of Community Development. We had eliminated the "Faire Grounds" forum for festivals upon moving to the new boards. However, after evaluating member responses on a couple festivals, the decision was made to bring the "Faire Grounds" back and use it for Shaoman and the Feast of Lights which seems to have gone over wonderfully.
In chat, new moderators were added to the team in specific time zones, and we continue to strive for consistent coverage and moderator actions.
For 2011, we are looking to continue to evaluate our effectiveness. In chat, we will be looking again at moderator coverage, and publishing updated rules and guidelines so that all participants are on the same page. In the forums, we will be looking at the new forums created for their ongoing relevance, and will always be trying to help all members have a positive experience in their online involvement.
Editor's Note: List of staff can be found in #Appendix C
Department of Philanthropy
The Department of Philanthropy had a major year of growth this year. 2010 saw Philanthropy establish itself as a fully functioning department leading members of TarValon.Net in charitable acts and contributions.
2010 goals for the Department of Philanthropy include:
- bring in staff and begin to create an administrative structure for the department
- host a Tower fundraiser
- award the fourth Annual Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship for 2010
- host a Feast of Lights charity drive for 2010
- begin to incorporate charity into real-life events
- create a receipt for members who donate to Tower fundraisers
- develop a Servant of All point system to track member community service
- create more structure for Helping Hands projects
- begin planning for another drive in conjunction with Brandon Sanderson
Applications for staff positions in the Department of Philanthropy were accepted early in 2010, and an initial team of six was hired in February. In August, three official positions with specific duties were introduced: Fundraising Coordinator, responsible for our internal fundraising efforts both online and at RL events; Philanthropy News Correspondent, responsible for the Department's presence in the TVT; and Membership Philanthropic Interest Coordinator, responsible for our Helping Hands projects and for maintaining data in our Servant of All system. These positions were filled by staff of the Philanthropy Team: Tree, Ne'Mireth Delvar, and Branwyn al'Leara, respectively.
In summer 2010, we hosted our single biggest internal fundraiser to date. We raised $5,412 with donations from over 70 members. We were able to exceed our goal of $5,000, earning the community grand prize - the Seanchan Invasion, an RP-esque event where the Tower was invaded by Seanchan attackers. Members were able to choose to defend the Tower or join the Seanchan ranks as the story unfolded in the City Docks. The event featured a full design change of the boards to show the progression of the Seanchan invasion.
Also in summer 2010, the fourth annual Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship of $500 was awarded to Christopher Lipnickas at Wichita State University. 2010 marked the first year the scholarship was opened to all Wheel of Time fans, based on a decision made at the 2010 Administrative Meeting. Over 40 applications were received, many more than in any other year. One winner and five finalists were selected in a blind reading by the Hall.
In December, we hosted our annual Feast of Lights drive to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This drive was in memory of Tricia Erickson, aka. Padraigin Sedai of the Blue Ajah who passed away in summer 2010 after struggling with breast cancer. This drive was open to all Wheel of Time fans, and we raised $3,221 with donations from 112 people. Prizes were donated by the Robert Jordan Estate, Age of Legends, LLC, and TarValon.Net, Inc. The grand prize was a limited edition leather-bound copy of Towers of Midnight, signed by Harriet McDougal and Brandon Sanderson.
At our 9th Anniversary event, we hosted our first ever drive for a local charity organization. At both the US and European events, members were able to donate books which we then donated to Eastern Seals in the US and Severn Hospice in the UK. Between the two events we collected over 150 books. This drive was a great success, and we hope to incorporate more charity activities in future events.
As part of our move towards becoming a 501(c)3 organization, end-of-year receipts were offered for all Tower members who donated to the site. These were made available, by request only, in December. The Shatayan was in charge of this endeavor, with help from the Department of Philanthropy as needed. Because our 501(c)3 application was not accepted, we are no longer required to distribute these receipts; however, we expect to still be able to offer them on request as a courtesy to our members.
The Servant of All system is still a work in progress. Development of this system was put on hold for a time in anticipation of the creation of the merit badges, as the two systems will be integrated with each other. A team of interested members outside of the Department of Philanthropy was brought in to help create this system along with the rest of the Department. We expect to complete this in the first half of 2011.
At the 2010 Administrative meeting, we decided to create more structure around our Helping Hands programs. With our 501(c)3 application, however, Helping Hands would best function as a member-driven program, without intimate involvement from administration. Because we are no longer trying to obtain 501(c)3 status, this may change in the coming years, and administration may begin to play a more integral role in these programs again.
Brandon Sanderson expressed his interest in running another drive with us, as we did for in 2009. The drive will be similar, with an auction for naming rights to a character. It will be run in 2011 based on the availability of all parties involved.
Our 2011 goals are mainly to continue on with the work we have been doing this past year.
These goals include:
- host a Tower fundraiser
- award the fifth Annual Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship for 2011
- host a Feast of Lights charity drive for 2011
- continue to incorporate charity into real-life events
- finish and implement the Servant of All point system to track member community service
- plan and execute the drive in conjunction with Brandon Sanderson
Department of Research and Communications
This year has been a busy year for the Department of Research, which is responsible for overseeing and maintaining our library and historical records. The year began with Toral Delvar as Department Director and Eniara Kisharad as Assistant, with Shara Nevan as Headmistress and Stasia t'Andrei as Tower Voice. The position of Tower Historian was vacant. After the formation of the Department of Marketing, the position of Tower Voice was transferred to that Department. Due to the envisioned large amount of work in updating and maintaining the histories, the role of Tower Historian was made a dual role. Xylina Tyloredrid and Kerna Shedrian took the positions. Later in the year, Xylina stepped down and was replaced by Loira al'Ramoidra.
Further changes in the department were the re-opening of the private Library forums and the continued opening up of the library to any who wish to edit. This was done as it was felt that the people who had agreed to write for the library were not producing articles, and that any other members who had an interest would be put off as there was no clear way of communicating their desire to work. It also made it easier for people who might want to write just one or two articles, or occasionally edit to do so, as they would not be making the sort of commitment previously required. As such, there are no longer specific staff. The second change was to move the main book forums under the scope of the Department of Moderators. This was done so that they would be able to follow the same general procedure as all forums open to the public for dealing with abusive posts and people who refused to follow the rules.
Between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010, there have been approximately 1300 pages added to the library, with around 1.5 million page views in total. The most viewed page in that time was the main page, with around 45,000 new page views. In total, the most viewed page is again the Strike at Shayol Ghul, with 24,814. The most viewed individual pages again are Rand, with 9,578 views and the One Power, with 8,243. Altogether, 719 pages have been viewed over 1000 times and 4375 pages viewed over a hundred times.
The primary goals for 2010 were the completion of the remaining Knife of Dreams updates, completion of the Gathering Storm updates, articles classed as "stubs" (those just a paragraph or so long), to be expanded to give a more in depth overview and character group lists to be written and updated for each list. These were all met before the release of Towers of Midnight.
The secondary goals were series summaries - A "story so far" for each book, annotations - notes on each chapter of mysteries, first appearances, significant things we learn, general themes throughout the books for at least book one, a flash map about the geography of the world in The Wheel of Time and an expansion of the articles categorized as incomplete. Some progress has been made in this area. Book one now has notes, as do the chapter summaries for Towers of Midnight and there is a story so far for book 12.
Of the other listed improvements that were planned, these are still planned and little progress has been made.
The server crash held us up by several months as during the majority of that time, we did not know if we would get the library back at the same point the server crashed. We focused on trying to make sure we would have articles from various search cache's, but as we did not know which articles if any would need to be re-written, little progress was made in that time.
In addition to the book information, a great deal has been added to the Community pages and the history. Each group now has their own pages and the Departmental information is greatly expanded. The parties/events pages have also been begun and we have a much more extensive record of all positions ever held. We have also included a number of statistics pages, such as time served in departments, or as admins.
- Book information
- Complete the Towers of Midnight Updates. New characters are already complete as are all but two of the chapter summaries
- Complete the incomplete articles (categorized as "articles to be expanded")
- Updated of all lists/glossaries and creation of a "terms glossary"
- Identification of any remaining places that do not have an article
- Continued work on the other summaries and annotations for books 2-12
- Community information
- Member pages to be updated so that the current/previous roles are complete for everyone that has such roles
- Party/events to be expanded and some photos from each included
- Completion of analysis and searching of the old forums and web archive for information
Department of Technology
The Department of Technology is responsible for supporting the infrastructure of TarValon.Net. While the primary focus is on maintaining the availability of the website and message boards, members of the department are consulted as a technical resource for other projects and play a vital role in the collection, management, and dissemination of information.
The formative months of 2010 were filled with the slow and steady migration and integration of data into the new Drupal Content Management System. The integration was delayed until the details of the PHPBB2 to PHPBB3 data migration could be finalized. In April and in response to unforeseen changes with the forum virtual host, a decision was made to perform a limited import of accounts directly into Drupal/PHPBB3 and to provide a read-only copy of the old PHPBB2 forums and the Membership Manuals Wiki for archival purposes.
The remainder of the year was spent on assorted troubleshooting and supporting the community during the transition as well as general projects. There were numerous problems with member accounts and how they integrated with Drupal and PHPBB3. After a few months of focused work from the team of administrators in the department and throughout the site, most outstanding issues were resolved. Projects through the year focused primarily on the support needs for other departments, including data collection for events, membership, and community development.
The focus for the upcoming year will be on the continued support of the community, providing services as needed to the organization and streamlining departmental expenses through expansion of primary services and elimination of extraneous and underutilized resources.
Appendix A - Executive Branch
Amyrlin Seat, CEO
- Melissa S. Craib Dombrowski – Eleyan Teyal Al'Landerin
Keeper of the Chronicles, COO
- Amanda Keen – Dralyn Montsier
- Riley Robinson – Riley Maconnar
- Department Directors
Director of the Department of Administration
Director of the Department of Community Development
Director of the Department of Events and Conferences
Director of the Department of Membership
Director of the Department of Moderators
Director of the Department of Philanthropy
Director of the Department of Research and Communications
Director of the Department of Technology
Appendix B - Personnel Changes in 2010
- Hall of the Tower – Spring 2010
Blue - Nyarin al'Batera, Alessandra Estelle (served from January 1 to February 21, stood down to take on the position of Mayor), Rhianna Solstice (served February 21 to June 30)
Brown - Lilli O'Neeus, Ayendra Kisharad
Gray - Mariasha Casindred, Magdalenna t'Zai
Green - Manon Lumen, Jodea Kegan
Red - Osaka ni Demae t'al'Caarn, Leora Oldessroth (until March 30 when she stood down to take the position of head), Mirshann Uuranor t'al'Theorem, (March 30 to June 30)
White - Enya Tawarwaith, Loira al'Ramoidra
Yellow - Liana Ceana, Sa'areah Britthorn (served from January 1 to April 14, stood down to take on the position of Head), Inanna Landred (served April 14 to June 30)
Dai M'Hael - Riley Maconnar, Yngrot Draconian
Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb - Jeryn Lekar, Aves Keynes
San d'ma Shadar - Caerwyn Jolan, Xander Silverstar
Val'Cueran - Rienn al'Etyra, Jasin Bashar
- Hall of the Tower – Fall 2010
Blue - Ibon Caseï, Kyla Sterling
Brown - Ayendra Kisharad, Viola Al'Shinnen
Gray - Ivien Tarkand, Alyria Ess
Green - Lia Kellenit, Miridyth Al'Landerin
Red - Elia LePhant, Valadilene Aldieb
White - Loira al'Ramoidra, Lyara Tieran
Yellow - Inanna Landred, Khisanth al'Danya
Dai M'Hael - Eli Soljourn, Da'mas Tamoryn
Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb - Emp Orer, Vealdan Annalin
San d'ma Shadar - Robertus Cain, Tenedos Therwene
Val'Cueran - Cathel Dreng, Braedan Fearghal
- Junior Member Administrators
- Senior Member Administrators
|Rank||April 1st 2003||Apr 1st 2004||Jan 1st 2005||Jan 1st 2006||Jan 1st 2008||Jan 1st 2009||Jan 1st 2010||Jan 1st 2011|
A total of 66 members joined the Tower in 2010.
At the end of 2010, we had 193 active Citizens on our rolls. This includes all Citizens who made the transition to the new boards. The Mayor's office received a total of 169 Citizen applications in 2010.
Appendix C - Moderators
- First semester 2010
Games, Quizzes and Humor
Technology and Media Forum
- Second semester 2010
Technology and Media Forum
Job Hunters Forum
- New Chat Operators for 2010
- New Book Forums Moderators
Appendix D - Membership Awards Winners
The 2010 Membership Awards Winners were announced at 10th Anni in Charleston.
- Most Effective Guild Leader: Arafel al Dama
- Most Instructive Classroom Teacher: Leora Oldessroth
- Most Discerning Moderator: Bryce al'Mara
- Staff Service Award: Xylianna Paladina
- Administrative Service Award: Marrow Rahien
- Director Service Award: Serenla Tamowith
- Aes Sedai Most Representative of Her Ajah: Sa'areah Britthorn - Yellow
- Gaidin Most Representative of His Company: Soronhen Ciryaher - San d'ma Shadar
- Outstanding Accepted Involvement: Onis O'Leia
- Outstanding Soldier Involvement: Aldus Taivron
- Outstanding Novice Involvement: Samarasin Tavaral
- Outstanding Recruit Involvement: Azi al'Thone
- Outstanding Citizen Involvement: Jenalla Selar
- Artisan's Guild - Most Creative Member: Ivien Tarkand
- Gleemen Guild - Most likely to put on a Show: Lenore Carvoe
- Healer's Guild - Best Health/Wellness Advisor: Maeric Kelskaith
- Innkeeper's Guild - Most Hospitable: Adra Ceana
- Martial Guild - Fountain of Weapons/Combat Knowledge: Ghaul Ronshor
- Professor's Guild - Most Educating: Cattrin al'Modrah
- Tailor's Guild - Craftiest Member: Katherine Avery
- Mr. or Ms. Chatterbox: D`Ran al'Fir
- All Around Board Participation: Winterdawn Lightheart
- Most Like a Main Character from WoT: Bayrd al'Syeen - Perrin Aybara
- Most WoT Booksmart: Axis
- All Around Geekiest Member: Amarande al'Kalin
- The "Jaws of Life": Wen Chang
- Member You'd Most Like to Meet: Jeryn Lekar
- Biggest Lurker: Zhareen Narelle
- Tower Jester: Pip al'Dealys