Fall 2012 Admin Meeting

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2012 was the first year two Admin Meetings were held (one in the spring and one in the fall). The Fall Admin Meeting took place September 16, 2012.

Amyrlin

Town Hall Meeting

The format and mission of the Town Hall meetings were reviewed. The purpose of Town Hall meetings is to update TarValon.Net membership on the status of items discussed at the Admin Meeting.

The Town Hall meeting format is working, but by its nature it's rather stilted. We've tried to keep diversity in Town Hall meeting moderators and will continue to do so.

Administration has received feedback that indicates members want a more fluid meeting format, with members asking questions in channel and voicing their opinions within a given time limit. Because of the potential confusion in the chat format with everyone talking at once, we decided to keep the moderated format at this time for clarity.

However, we will try a slightly different system, where members can ask to be un-muted to ask specific follow-up questions through the moderator. This change will be implemented at the next meeting.

Public Service Announcements

PSAs have gone very well so far, so they will continue. Future topics will come from the Director of Research, who will talk about our library and the wealth of information that can be found there; and from the Keeper, who will talk about our different departments and all the different ongoing projects and positions.

If you have additional suggestions or ideas, please send them to us at officers@tarvalon.net and executive@tarvalon.net.

Transparency

Publishing the agenda for the Admin Meeting in conjunction with opening the results forum after the previous Admin Meeting was, overall, a successful method of transparency earlier this year. The Admin Meeting results forum will go active again with the results of this meeting. This time the forum will be more heavily moderated. Along with the Directors and Officers, we will ask three to four current Administrators to assist in moderating the forum. At this time, this forum will continue in it’s current form – active for several weeks after the Admin Meeting with a focus on the items discussed there.

The option of allowing truly anonymous feedback was discussed. There seems to be a feeling among the membership that reporting issues to the Administration will be held against them.

Let me say unequivocally that this isn't the case. While we may not always end up agreeing with everyone, we welcome criticism and the opportunity to improve and to make the experience of all members better. The admins decided no special email will be established to provide for anonymous reporting of issues, as it becomes almost impossible to resolve things and help if we don't know who the people involved are and what exactly is going on.

However, a specific policy will be adopted and placed in the Membership Manual regarding reporting problems and issues, since members expressed that it's not always clear who to go to. A piece will also go up in the Membership Manual that informs members how to report issues and who to report them to. This will also be released in a PSA.

Bullying

The admins spent quite a time talking about this topic and going over the results from the bullying survey. They definitely agreed with quite a number of respondents that bullying happens on the site, but that it is the exception rather than the rule.

Many comments by respondents on the survey indicated that members were not aware of a resolution to issues that happened or that were reported. There were indications of fears of reprisals for reporting. The survey also indicated that many members report issues on behalf of another person.

Consequences of bullying actions will be further discussed in the Membership section of this article. A definition of what is considered bullying is being worked on by the Executive team and will be added to the Membership Manual. A policy regarding reporting incidents is being created and will be covered in an upcoming PSA.

The Code of Conduct will be reviewed for intent and wording so that we are clearly communicating our intent and our rules.

The Keeper found this definition which we also found helpful:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
An Imbalance of Power: People who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Admin Meeting Attendance

Going forward, the Mistress/Masters of Revels will no longer be invited solely due to their position. Decisions regarding upcoming parties are no longer handled at this meeting.

Official invitees will include: The Board, Officers, Executives and special invitees of the Amyrlin.

Keeper

The nomination period for the first annual Keeper's Awards has ended and we received many nominations for each category. So far, Administration is pleased with the success of this program.

Announcements will be made in the coming weeks, and all Nominees or Honorable Mentions will be contacted by the Keeper to make sure they know that their hard work has been noticed.

The work on an Operations Manual has started in Membership due to the transition happening in that department. Some feedback has already been received, along with existing documents from that department. Both the new and phasing out Directors will help finalize and detail these procedures. The Keeper will continue to work on other departments going forward.

Shatayan

The Shatayan reports that we are solvent with no unexpected expenses. The PSA about our finances that he posted in the summer was well received by membership.

We will be purchasing additional server space at the end of 2012. Please see the Technology section for more information.

Archivist

The old phpBB2 forum archiving will be completed by the end of 2012 unless new archiving assistants need to be hired. If that is the case, it will be completed by the end of January 2013. The majority of the phpBB3 forums should already be archived, if necessary, due to the method used on those forums. A review will be undertaken and archiving will be completed in full on the last forums by the end of March 2013.

There is a list of possible Merits that stemmed from the last meeting. The Archivist will release this list to the membership of the site for feedback by mid-October. The Archivist will also solicit new ideas from the membership at that time. Once suggestions are collected, each member group will submit 1-2 members to form a committee to discuss and finalize new Merits. These new Merits will be rolled out after the Servant of All Program.

Department of Administration

Exit interviews have been created, vetted by the Executive team, and are now in action.

Annual reviews have been completed. In the future, review questions will be more detailed.

Job descriptions are currently being written.

The Membership Survey for 2013 is already in progress and will be ready to go in late January or early February and will run for two weeks.

Department of Community Outreach

Servant of All System

The Servant of All system will be launched site-wide in January 2013. A Servant of All Coordinator has been hired and the program has been under review for process and streamlining. Beta testers for the system will be solicited to test out the system in December 2012.

Community Outreach is working with the Marketing group to create badges for this system that are similar to our current Merit badges. There will be Bronze, Silver and Gold achievements and public recognition of recipients.

Reporting for this system will likely be through Google Drive.

Official Charity for Anniversary Events

The Director would like members of the site to vote on the type of charity we will support for Anniversary Avents. Once the charity type has been decided, Community Outreach will research to find an organization of the correct type that is nationwide (United States). The charity will be decided on and announced by January 2013.

Timeline for selection of local charities

Charities for Local Events should be announced no later than one month before the event takes place. Selection of charities for events will include runners up from our list of possibilities from the Anniversary charity, submissions from Mistress/Master of Revels and local liaisons and the Director of Community Outreach. The department will continue to focus on charities that accept donated items along with monetary donations.

Pop Up Fundraisers

The Department wants to be able to host small, “pop up” fundraisers to react to current events (for example if there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world, like a tsunami or earthquake). These fundraisers would not have large goals, but would be more focused on letting our members react to and support their local communities or our global community in the event of disasters/catastrophic events.

The Department will also consider running smaller fundraisers through the year for charitable groups. The Outreach Activities Team will work with the Director to advertise and coordinate these events.

Charity Selection for 2012 Feast of Lights

Several options were considered, included successful past charitable groups. The decision was made for Partners in Health to be our official Feast of Lights charity for 2012.

Fundraising Possibilities

Future fundraising possibilities include donating items for an online auction and selling official shirts where proceeds go to fundraising. We're also looking into ways/options for fundraising directly for the Scholarship, etc. A current Wheel of Time licensed vendor has expressed interest in working with us.

Department Structure

A Servant of All coordinator has been hired and will hire staff for tracking this program. The Outreach Activities Coordinator will continue to manage the Outreach Activities staff. A new position will be added to coordinate Event charities, pop up fundraisers and liase with the Outreach Activities Team and the Tar Valon Times Editor. All of these are admin positions.

The Director will continue to handle the Scholarship, Annual Fundraiser, Feast of Lights fundraiser and external activities along with managing Administrators in this department.

Outreach Activities Team

Feedback from members indicates we have too many holidays. Beginning in 2013, official holiday celebrations will be: Bel Tine in the spring, Feast of Fools/Sunday in the summer, and our large fundraising event in November. Shaoman will stay on this year’s schedule, as planning is already underway, but we are not planning on celebrating it in the future.

An email address will be created for the Department to facilitate birthday wishes. People can write in to have themselves added or removed from the public list.

Department of Events and Conferences

South Pacific Events will move to the model currently used for Continental Europe. Currently for Continental Europe events, the Director of Events and Conferences will solicit bids for an event. If a bid is approved, the local liaison will act as the Mistress/Master of Revels for the event.

Due to the dissolution of the Wheel of Time track at Dragon*Con, that event will no longer be an official event for the site. JordanCon in the spring still counts though!

The Department will add two additional official Events Marshals to staff. Our Marshals are already performing this work at parties, and adding this position to our staff will help standardize safety practices at events. Marshals are not required at events, but they are a benefit. Additionally, if only one Marshall is in attendance, they can officially take the lead in physical challenges at our events.

Next year’s Fall Ball location is scheduled to be announced at Fall Ball 2012. Dates for Euro Party 2013 will be announced as soon as possible. There are currently no bids for a British Isles and Ireland party for 2013.

Department of Marketing

Avendesora Tree

This project has been started and worked on, however it currently lacks a volunteer with the time and skills to complete it.

Ajah/Company Logos

Work is progressing on Ajah/Company logos, and each group will have several options to look at. These options, once finalized, will be presented to the Head of Ajah/Company Commander and the group’s Hall representatives for feedback via email.

Merit Badges

Merit badges are complete and have been released to the membership. They are amazing and the team did an amazing job. Thank you so much, everyone!

Making the Tar Valon Times Forum Public

Having this forum open to everyone is working well, so we're going to keep this way.

Promotional Media

The department needs to finalize the official design of fliers and a tagline representing TarValon.Net at various events.

The proposal for distribution is that three members will keep physical items to be distributed upon request; one in the United States, one in Britain, and one in the South Pacific. Digital versions of promotional media will be provided to members upon request. Policies for use and quality of items printed will be established and given to members along with any promotional media.

Ideas for a tagline will be solicited from the membership of the site for final items.

Copyright Policy

A proposal has been submitted to the Executive team for review. At this time, the inclination is for TarValon.Net to keep full ownership of rights of graphics made for our website and items that represent us officially (event logos, Merit Badges, etc.). TarValon.Net would have right of use for graphics that are offered on items in our Café Press store. Once the policy has been made official, it will be released to the membership.

Department of Membership

The new Mentor system for the male half of the site is in place and is working well. Feedback from the Captain of Recruits, the Captain of Soldiers, and the male Junior Members will be solicited at the end of the year to evaluate the system's performance.

A list of Senior Members, as well as Soldiers and Accepted who are available to answer questions for new members has been collected and placed in the Introductions forum.

It can be scary and sometimes bewildering trying to figure out what to type in your introduction thread. A list of 5 questions has been created and posted in the Introductions forum. The purpose of this list is to help new members in telling us a bit about themselves.

The Invited Guests program was launched and each Senior Member group entered into discussions about whether to allow it. Some groups are still discussing this program, some groups have decided not to opt in, while a few have already approved the program and a process. The groups that have approved this program are Gray Ajah, Red Ajah, Brown Ajah, San d'ma Shadar, Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb and Dai M'Hael. At this time, it is not required for a group to make their invited guest acceptance process public, but they can make it available on their Community page in the Library if they wish.

Consequences for behavior on the forums

We need consequences for bad behavior on the forums. Currently our options are either a reprimand or banning. These options are not sufficient. A formalized process for failure to comply with moderator and admin requests will be adopted.

We've discussed this in exec, and we're now bringing that process to membership for you to take a look at and offer suggestions if you have them. We'll then look at any suggestions given and will have the final policy ready to go, most likely, in November. (How long this takes depends on how many thoughts come in and how active this discussion stays.)

Essentially, we're looking at a 3 strikes policy that looks like this (please forgive the brevity, this will be prettied up when the final version is announced; if it's hard to understand please let me know and I'll clarify!):

Strike 1:

  1. Someone says something that isn't appropriate, moderator places a general warning in the thread.
  2. Warning is ignored, action continues, person is directly PM'd/emailed by the forum moderator and warned to chill.
  3. If this is also ignored, person is then banned from that specific forum for 2 weeks


The first strike will be handled completely within the Department of Moderators.


Strike 2:

If the same behavior happens again within 6 months of their return to that forum, then moderators will jump straight to step 2 and notify the individual's membership administrator about the behavior via email. If the behavior escalates to step 3 again, the member will be "confined to quarters" by the Director of Membership, so can only see Ajah/Company (Senior Members) or Hall of Novices/Garrison (Junior Members) for a period of 3 months.

Strike 3:

If the same behavior reoccurs within a year of the individual being "confined to quarters," then the issue will escalate to step 2 again, with an email coming from the Director of Membership to address the behavior.

If the individual continues the offensive behavior after this entire process, the individual will be placed before the Hall for a site-wide ban. The Keeper or Amyrlin will determine how long the ban lasts and will consider advice from the Directors of Membership and Moderators when making this decision.

This round happens again with moderators notifying membership immediately, and all correspondence is handled by the Director of Membership, Keeper, and/or Amyrlin.

If someone goes through step one of Strike 1 and 6 months pass with no further behavior problems, then the clock resets and any future offensive behavior will be addressed with step one of Strike 1 again.

Department of Moderators

The Chat Operator Training Manual and Guide has been completed and released to the Chat Operators in their forum.

The Creative Endeavors forum was split into Hand Crafts and Literary & Fine Arts. The new format works well and will be adopted on a permanent basis.

Department of Research & Records

The Classroom was opened to Citizens, “real life” topics were approved and a quarter system was implemented after the last admin meeting. These processes are working well and will be kept.

The Director of Research and Records will create the next PSA for our membership. This PSA will focus on information we currently have available in our Library for our members.

Department of Technology

The transition to vBulletin is complete. The Technology team continues to work on the theme and on functionality requests from membership. There are still a couple threads for these topics in the "Ask the White Tower" forum.

The Membership Tracking System has started with information solicited from the Executive team. Further work on this program and implementation will wait until the Technology staff has finished working out any bugs or issues with vBulletin. This item will be revisited in January 2013.

The Shatayan has approved the purchase of backup server space for our website. Currently, our backup is on a member’s personal server.

Google is the provider of our TarValon.Net email system and document storage. They are switching to “Drive” instead of “Documents”. This transition should be transparent and have no effect on our current procedures or documents, and will give us more functionality than we currently have.