Everyone should, I hope, have voted in the EVC elections already by now, but if not, be aware that voting closes on the 17th.
General Elections for the General Coordinator (GC) and Technical Coordinator (TC) will begin soon after that, with nominations followed by campaigning and voting.
As we're nearing the end of this term in office, now is a timely opportunity for me to summarise the State of the... um, Community. My Deputy General Coordinator Silent Hunter and myself conducted a review from 1st November 2011 to 3rd February 2012, which I've mentioned before and want to feedback to you in detail all now. Here are some highlights:
Election and Voting Coordinator (EVC) Robert Longtin noted that an integrated voting booth (rather than using Ballotbin) would be useful, and stated his intention to pursue this with the TC. Robert had also been busy in his capacity as Roles and Responsibilities Officer, contributing overwhelmingly to the legalese which Silent, Contender Jason Andersen, Technical Coordinator Euan Reid, and myself had also been working on and which subsequently passed in three of the recent voted Bills. Most of the Policies and regulations in these Bills still need uploading to the site, and this is something I want the Technical Coordinator to prioritise.
As Sim Support Officer (SSO), Silent Hunter reported a lack of sim proposals towards the end of 2011, but already by the end of the review - and certainly subsequently - things were picking up. We should see successful sim proposals as good things as they broaden our RP community and have the potential to draw in players from fanbases we might not currently be appealing to.
Robert and Silent had also been hard at work as Alliance Building Officer (ABO) and Deputy Alliance Building Officer (DABO) respectively, noting in the review a feeling that alliance-building is properly the province of the membership through members networking with other sites. Robert suggested an Alliance Building Team or some other means of encouraging members to share links with other sites. We also explored approaching fan communities for specific genres and universes (for example Star Trek, Stargate, Wheel of Time, Mass Effect, Doctor Who, etc.), and advertising our existence (and the awesomeness of our sims) there.
Member Welcome Officer (MWO) Kevin Diamond was getting into the swing of things greeting new players as they register. It is a concern of mine that new members haven't always been consistently greeted, and I believe we all agree that a new member's welcome is of paramount importance. Kevin was also working with TC Euan Reid on emailing and deleting inactive members from our User List as per our policies on site AWOLs.
In his capacity as Blog Admin Officer (BAO) and Steam Admin Officer, Silent stressed that he'd really like people to contribute content and comments to the blog, and for the Steam facility to be more active. Deborah, Silent, and myself considered a survey to seek to understand why people aren't contributing, but RL issues got in the way for Deborah and me. As such, this is a project that might benefit from resurrection.
Jason reported slow but steady progress in his capacity both as Wiki Admin Officer (WAO) and Awards & Rewards Officer (ARO). He greatly values people contributing to the wiki, and has been taking the Awards scheme forwards. He's been delayed in the latter by some technical faults, which Euan is looking into, and I for one look forward to this progressing.
A number of Coordinators, Officers, SLs, and GMs didn't respond to the review, and I think next time the GC will need to make it clearer to individuals that they are expected personally to respond.
Several SLs and GMs reported no problems, including Mischa Brendel, SL of the Odyssey, Dondi 'dratliff' Ratliff, SL of the Zombies sim, and Nick Buchanan, GM of the West Star, and likewise several thanked the admin team for the work that we do. I took the opportunity presented by the review to encourage SLs to appoint ASLs and delegate tasks to them, to contribute content to the wiki, and to consider setting AWOL policies. Some setbacks were acknowledged, for example a steep decline in activity on the Greenleaf Skyplex sim after its initial interest, but the impact of the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's holiday season was recognised, and I'm pleased to note Greenleaf achieved the highest Sim Strength Ranking in March. Some sims were identified as concerns both during the review and subsequently through subjective analysis, and the admin team have since compiled a rolling list of sims being actively reviewed and supported, not to mention Silent's objective Sim Strength Ranking measurements which will be useful in providing context for what constitutes a good level of activity for a sim.
A perenial problem identified by the review seemed to be player shortages, and it is my hope that more pro-active advertising and alliance building, especially in pre-existing fan communities, might impact on this.
An additional suggestion arising from the review was to repeat it once every 6 months, not every 3 months as I had initially planned. The review itself took three months to research and collate, and one at the end of a GC's term of office in March or April, published like this one, followed by one in the middle of the following term in August or September, should be sufficient.
Further thoughts I have on projects that will need undertaking in the next term include doing something about the Index. The current order just doesn't seem to me to be the best way of doing it, with the most bouyant areas at the top and sims which could do with more footfall all the way down at the bottom. We've generated discussion on improvements we might make, but so far these haven't been conclusive. Many suggestions have involved what seem to me to be quite tech heavy, but we have a cosiderable backlog of tech projects such as adding a "+1" facility for members to 'like' posts, and adding 'badges' recognising long-term membership, etc. It's my firm opinion that the Technical Coordinator needs to appoint a Deputy or even a tech team so tech projects don't all fall on one pair of shoulders (however broad and strong those may be, Euan!).
Finally, in the interests of honesty, I would add here that I am not seeking another term in office as GC at this time. Having been your GC since the inception of the post - and my time in office having spanned two periods of martial law sandwiching one period of genuine democracy - it's the obvious thing to me to assert before nominations that I won't be running for another term. I hope that this will facilitate the deepening and strengthening of our democracy, encouraging others to run and bringing Phoenix a period of fresh leadership.
I feel like I want to add something positive after that previous paragraph has made this whole post feel to me a bit like a swan song, but all that is really left to say is thank you everyone for making this community everything that it is. I'm so proud of the victories we've achieved in such a short time, and so excited about our future.