2011 Town Hall Meeting

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The 2011 Town Hall Meeting was held on October 29, 2011. The meeting was moderated by Jeffan and two executives were in attendance, Vivianna and Leora. The point of the meeting was to discuss the changes made at 2011 Admin Meeting and any issues that members of the community felt the need to bring up. Questions were sent to Jeffan prior to the meeting and were received during the meeting, where they were asked in the open chat for everyone to see. The questions were asked anonymously, and no one aside from Jeffan was aware of the who asked the question. Vivianna and Leora both weighed in on the questions asked and provided answers to the best of their ability.

Any questions or comments regarding this admin meeting can be sent to amyrlin@tarvalon.net and keeper@tarvalon.net.

The Questions and Answers

Q: Will musicians and martial artists have a home again on the boards? Neither Creative Endavours nor Health and Fitness/Sports Fanatics really cover that - making music has little to no to do with creativity (as long as you don't compose) and martial arts usually don't have anything in common with both other Discussion Halls. Both topics are nearly at zero now or even not existant at all in said Discussion Halls.

Viv: In my opinion, those things can absolutely tuck into the current set up. When I created the forums (the technical side) I threw up general descriptions of what might be found in them, but they are by no means all inclusive :D As a musician myself, I actually think performing falls under creative endeavours, so would probably put such discussions there personally. I don't see us creating a separate forum for either of those things in the future, but absolutely jump in and create threads for them wherever they might even slightly apply under the current set up! The idea of the discussion halls was not to pigeon hole topics of conversation but to try and bring together people in places that are easy to find, etc
Leora: I agree with Viv. The Discussion Hall forum descriptions are not exclusive. If you don't feel comfortable in those forums, though, we do have General as well which encompasses a wide variety of topics. You could try there as well!
Viv: Agreed!
Leora: As always, if you have suggestions for tweaking the current setup or descriptions, we are absolutely open to that.
Viv: and I echo Leora there as well, if you have suggestions on forum set up, etc - send them to keeper@, amyrlin@ and moderators@ and we'll take a look :D

Q: How different are the Entertainment forum and the Frivolous Fun forum meant to be?

Leora: Well, if you look at them, the difference is apparent, at least to me. Frivolous Fun contains all those game type things people like on forums--like the ^<v game and such. Entertainment encompasses more of Entertainment news about discussions about movies, television, games and gaming, feasibly even things like concerts, etc.
Viv: ditto :D
Leora: Frivolous fun was designed to keep the spammy game type threads out of General where they can clutter up other conversations

Q: What was some of the reasoning behind the decision to limit access to a Company or Ajah's Halls? If none of the members of that Company or Ajah had a problem with letting in member who isn't a guesting Soldier/Accepted, Aspiring, or Bonded, then why was the complaints of a limited amount of members not even involved of such weight that the decision was made to make a rule out it?

Viv: Short answer, it's a very slippery slope :P Longer answer to follow:
Viv: Our Community has been set up to promote a feeling of sorority and fraternity. Places where we can get together in a group of like minded individuals. Each group has a sense of identity, and a general group personality if you will.
Viv: When we start down the path of adding individuals to different groups ie adding a bunch of Blues who are good friends to the Red halls, or chatty DM to the SDS halls, it runs the risk of diluting what that identity is.
Viv: Another concern that was brought up is that if we start picking and choosing individuals, then we run the risk of making clique type thinking stronger, and of running popularity contests of sorts. After all, if Leora is good friends with both myself and Jeffan, what happens if he gets to join Red and I don't?
Viv: WE have established forums where friends can interact across Ajah/Company lines and where men and women can interact together and talk about whatever they please...we just encourage people to take advantage of that and play with their friends within the scope of our forum setup
Viv:places such as general/discussion forums/tavern, etc

Q: That's true but doesn't that already happen when Aes Sedai and Gaidin bond? What about the fact that members of these Groups demote and change groups? Doesn't that mean they already were a bit different than the general identity? And if the person added was approved by the Company or Ajah doesn't that mean they don't think it will "delute" their identity? Don't the Ajahs and Companies define themselves? If that involves adding some people who may not be "officially" part of that group but are felt like they are meant to be there keep the spirit of that group intact? And doesn't this mean that in a way the site is dictating who can and cannot be a part of the group? Does this mean, however improbable this would happen, that the site then has the authority to decide if an aspiring member fits the "general identity" of a group or not?
In regards to the friends reasoning, it's an entire group deciding and not individuals, so how can you blame/get mad at one person as if the decision was entirely in their hands? And how often would a group decide that they would add a bunch of Blues? It seems that this was more of an extremely rare circumstance and was never addressed UNTIL someone examined all of the groups and decided to complain.

Leora: The site already dictates who can and cannot be a part of the group. No matter how much I may want it, I cannot be a Gaidin of X Company. No matter how much John Doe wants it, he cannot be a Red Aes Sedai. So, in that sense, we already do that.
Leora: Also, as Viv mentioned, the Ajah and Company forums are set up for the group and their official guests--bondmates and guesting JMs. They are not set up to be private chat areas for people who are good friends.
Leora: And, no, we have always said that the choice of Ajah for females and Company for males belongs to the individual, no to the site admins
Viv: Also, since this was not a policy that was supported, not everyone in groups where this occured were always on board. Now that being said, one thing that I will throw in is that a few different solutions if we ever decided to go down this road were thrown out at Admin. We will be looking at it again in 2012, to evaluate where we're at and if this is something we want to consider in the future.
Leora: I think it is unfair to blame any on person or persons for this.
Viv: various solutions from having a third forum for each group for whomever, to having to establish a group wide policy on *how* an invited guest was added were brought up. If you have other solutions, please bring them to your membership admin so that they can add it to the agenda
Viv: And I agree with that point as well - it's something that had been noticed and was going to be addressed in any case *shrugs* it's no one person's fault or blame for noticing something that wasn't a secret

The custom of bonded Gaidin/Aes Sedai being added to Company/Ajah forums has been long established. However, if random people are to be added to the private forums without any sort of bond - just because they're "friends" of someone - how would their addition to the forum be decided? Who gets to decide that?
Would Ajah/Company people vote on adding unbonded, non-Ajah/Company people to their forum? That seemsproblematic to me, since with most groups there will rarely ever be a unanimous consensus. Plus, voting on people... that just seemswrong somehow.

Viv: well as I said, that was one of the points that had been brought up. How do you as a group justify adding Leora but not Jeffan or me? *shrugs*
Leora: That's a good question and one of the inherent problems of letting unofficial "guests" into forums. Not everyone would want friends, former bondmates or whoever to be in the private forums. How is it decided? Does it become a popularity contest? If an SM feels uncomfortable with an invited guest, what happens?
Viv: definitely a point we addressed at the meeting and one that makes this a very tough call that could be a huge culture change for us.
Leora: Exactly.
Leora: If we ever implement something like this, it would need to be done with care and with planning and with a lot of member involvement and discussion, in my opinion.

Q: How is that different from bondmates joining the forum that someone may not like?

Viv: So this is absolutely a topic we didn't take lightly this year, and won't in the future...it'd have to be done very carefully if it ever came to be. x2 to Leora
Leora: Bondmates have an official, site-recognized tie to the group--being bonded in. Quite different than simply saying "I want Suzy Citizen to be in here because she's my friend!"
Leora: And, remember, bondmates weren't always allowed into private forums
Leora: That change was discussed and implemented in an official way.
Jeffan: As a note, no more follow ups regarding this topic will be accepted. Any questions you have can go through amyrlin@, keeper@ and membership@! We just don't want to clog up the town hall meeting with this one issue.
Viv: We appreciate y'all bringing it up! I know it's something a lot of people were definitely curious about after the meeting this year

Q: Considering how few members on the site have earned enough gold stars to qualify for a second bond, and considering how most of them have been members for a very long time, are there any plans to discuss revising the program to allow for a wider portion of the site to earn the right?

Viv: There hasn't been discussion on that score at this time. The intention of the merits was not so that a large population would qualify...they were specifically intended to be very hard to earn.
Viv: The merits had it so that there were several that many could earn, several that a few could earn and some that only a couple would qualify for out of all of us...
Viv: So at this time since we're still working on processing 10 years of peoples' accomplishments for the qualifications we have, I don't see us revising them in the near future.

Jeffan: Alrighty, I don't have any more questions in the queue, so I guess this is coming to a close, unless Leora and Viv have anything else they'd like to discuss?
Viv: I don't have anything extra! Leora?
Leora: Me either! I'm super pleased that we had people here for this though. If you think it was beneficial, please let us know!
Viv: Yes! We were really excited to try this and will probably do it again next year :D But with that then, we'll call the Town Hall meeting completed!