MAA Report #4


MAA Report #4

It's been a month

It's been almost a month since I stepped into this role and it's been an interesting experience so far. As I feel mostly settled in now, I find that I am growing increasingly jealous of the reports that get posted with nice header and separator images, or my fellow DC members that have images in the rolling news banner at the top of the news page. Anyone interested in crafting some images for me to use to spruce up my reports should email me to discuss what I'm looking for. Something appropriately shiny will be awarded to exchange for said images.

On another topic completely, is there anything in particular you would like to see from the MAA reports? I know this is a fairly open-ended question (which a part of me wonders if I'll be dreading before too long), but I'm curious. Thus far I have avoided doing any fiction in my reports. Would you like to see a fiction section added to the MAA report, or not? Is there any other kind of information you'd like to see added to the reports? Comment below and let me know.

MAA Staff

I've decided to open applications for Magistrate to the Master at Arms. Applicants should hold the rank of Guardian or higher. This is going to be very much a learning position. You'll be asked to learn a lot about the various guidelines and requirements around the different promotions and awards that can be given out. You will need to be able to follow instructions, to follow through, and to accept criticism and adjust your actions accordingly. And most importantly, you need to be fair and open minding when dealing with the members of this club.

If this is an opportunity you'd like to pursue, send your application to myself and Howlader and convince me you're the right person for this position. Applications should have 'M:MAA Application' as the subject line.

Updates to Promotion Requirements

We have updated the fiction guidelines on the Promotion Requirements page to use word counts instead of page counts. Given that nearly all of the fiction competitions run in the DB these days operate on word counts, it's probably overdue for us to update details like this. As has also been pointed out by our Voice, there are not any fiction tasks in those guidelines for promotions prior to Guardian. We have some revised guidelines that I need to review, and that should be remedied by my next report

Promoting the Promotions

Last week I mentioned how the rank of Dark Jedi Knight is often viewed as the 'you have arrived' rank. Over the past week we have seen three members elevated to that rank: Miranda Goto, Teia Coran, and Anigrel. We also saw an Equite promotion this week, with Uji being promoted to Obelisk Templar. Congratulations!

Are you still here?

Just before posting this report, I sent out all of the AWOL warning emails for those that have not logged into the site in the last 30 days. Recipients of those emails have a week to log into the site or they will be moved to the Rogues as we prepare for the final chapter of the Dark Crusade.

Summit leaders can send a request to me explaining why they would like to have specific members not sent to the Rogue list. At present the only acceptable reasons I can think of are:

  1. Earned a promotion in the last 30 days
  2. Earned any kind of medal in the last 30 days
  3. Active on IRC
  4. Active on Clan/House mailing list

I ran a quick check through most of the people that were sent the email in order to determine the benefit of updating the AWOL warning code to include items 1 and 2 in the calculations, but did not find anyone in those situations. (That's not to say no one is, just that I didn't see anyone in during this admittedly quick check.) But if item 1 or 2 applies to one of your members, let me know.

If item 3 or 4 applies, please either supply an IRC log showing that member's activity or forward an email from that member to the Clan/House mailing list.

Or, just to reiterate the point again, ask your members to log into the site every now and then and avoid this whole mess.

Awesome report! I think the graphics will spice the report up a lot and there's not much else that's missing from the report. If there's anything that's not secret that's being worked on as a project letting us know would be exciting :)

What if a member has informed their summit that they'll be gone for a while? is that not a valid reason not to be AWOLed?

In signing in to make a comment about this, I realize I also fulfill the requirement for no longer being AWOL. That being said, what about members who are active in the TOR guild almost exclusively, and have no reason to be logging into the site regularly? How do we submit logs of their activity and presence there, since it's just as valid and worthy as activity to not be AWOLed?

Well granted if you're active on TOR you're probably earning CFs but I agree, most members have no actual reason to log in when visiting the site.

I guess not being considered AWOL can be the new reason? :P

Members can take full advantage of the TOR Guild without being in a unit. We need to remember that Rogues are not a place for member's who are "shamed", its just for members who don't want to be part of a unit or aren't active in a unit currently. They can still get CFs and any other award for their TOR activities while part of the Rogues. If a TOR only member is are actively participating in a unit (email, IRC, etc) they'll meet one of the exemptions that Kalen listed above.

That said, we have no requirements that all members in the TOR Guild are members on the DJB main site anymore. I think most of the TOR only players who get recruited to the guild in game really don't have much interest in the main club, and forcing them to register and join a unit is a bit silly. If they hear about the club through the guild and join on their own, for their own reasons, they are much more likely to remain as productive members after TOR is long gone one day.

We also need to remember that if a tor only player does want to be in a unit, that too is their right.

I agree Yacks, if a TOR only player wants to be in a unit more power to them.

They should have no problem meeting one of the criteria Kalen listed. Earning 1 CF per month is very easy to do for a TOR player (join a Warzone with one other DJB member and you've got it), which would keep them from being AWOL'ed. If they didn't play much during that month, but were on IRC or email lists for a unit they wouldn't get AWOL'ed. If a TOR player isn't active in TOR (doesn't earn a CF) and doesn't communicate with their unit over IRC or email... well... in my book (and the MAA's based on this news post) that pretty much makes them AWOL.

As far as I understood it, platforms like TOR (and TOR specifically) have always ad an arm's length relationship with the main club; just because someone's super-mega-active in TOR, doesn't mean they're considered to be a "part" of the club, activity-wise. That said, you run into entanglements when you have already established DB members like Beef who now choose to mostly do TOR-related activities...they're not AWOL, but they're not exactly rushing to participate in the everyday activities the DB has to offer.

But to second Shad's comment...logging into the site isn't a major task. If people read the news page once every few weeks anyway, they just need to take the extra 10 seconds to log in and they won't be marked as AWOL. It's a bit more inconvenient than before, but so what? On the other hand, if they don't even bother to keep up with the DB's happenings and updates by frequenting the news page, then they pretty much are AWOL. :P

But wait, there's more!

The fact that this policy was put in place without much thought 6+ months after it was initially proposed, it was bound to cause some discontent. Sure, the policy has plenty of merit on paper and it sounds like it shouldn't cause too much of a problem, except that it is a major paradigm shift in how AWOLs and activity tracking is done, and it was imposed suddenly and across the board.

You don't enact a change this big, this quickly, without testing it out first or without rolling it out in phases. That's just poor governance.

I guess the main reason why I even mention anything is, as Nitemare says it, there has been an existing distance between TOR and the "main Club," but personally, it's a gap I'd like to see bridged. Elsewhere, on the Wiki particularly, TOR has been thought of, and pushed in the past, as "a major platform." There have been issues over the years of "no new games," and yet, it's a new game, they have things like duels, PvP battles, and now, space battles for PvP, too. I would just very much like to see that gap closed. And yes, I have thoughts on it that I am trying to form into productive, rational ideas to present in proposal form. But I recognize we have a plethora of members who are just as, if not more so, intelligent than I who may also have good thoughts to share on the subject.

I guess the main reason why I even mention anything is, as Nitemare says it, there has been an existing distance between TOR and the "main Club," but personally, it's a gap I'd like to see bridged. Elsewhere, on the Wiki particularly, TOR has been thought of, and pushed in the past, as "a major platform." There have been issues over the years of "no new games," and yet, it's a new game, they have things like duels, PvP battles, and now, space battles for PvP, too. I would just very much like to see that gap closed. And yes, I have thoughts on it that I am trying to form into productive, rational ideas to present in proposal form. But I recognize we have a plethora of members who are just as, if not more so, intelligent than I who may also have good thoughts to share on the subject.

I'd like to thank Tarax for his passion and commitment to the club. It's not often a member feels so strongly about an issue that he argues both sides of it...with himself.

Well, arguing both sides is better than remaining absolutely silent on an important topic. And it brings both sides of the issue to light.

Hopefully those that took it upon themselves to have the authority to make such decisions actually look at both sides of the issue, instead of ignoring the matter entirely.

I do not think that anyone with the authority to make such decisions took these viewpoints lightly before approving the new policy. Logging into the site is a miniscule measure of activity, easily attainable by any active member of our fine organization.

This is an interesting topic. I view the ability to AWOL or not AWOL members as a leadership task. I dislike the idea of taking responsibilities away from the leaders of the individual Houses/Clans, but this might one of those tasks that makes sense. We have never had a standardized AWOL system and this one seems like a pretty fair stab at making it even across the board.

I'm also not under any impression that this policy was not "thought out" or "stealth" implemented. It seems like it was discussed on leader forums, in the DC Summit mIRC channel, and in several email threads prior to implementation. The GM/DGM/MAA and others were all involved in talking through it prior to making the system live. I'll trust their decision and see how it plays out. If it is a catastrophe, well, I'm sure they will reconsider.

By and large I think this is a decent change, but I don't really see the point in taking this ability away from House/Clan leaders... I like the idea of a tool to make it easier to track membership logging in to the site so that summit members can more easily request inactive members be AWOL'd, but I do not like a blanket policy on the part of the DC in removing members from a unit. It just seems unneeded. I get that logging into the site isn't a big deal, and isn't hard to do. It just seems to me like this would be better served as a tool to help leadership, rather than as a DC-mandated AWOL check periodically. That being said, I don't think this is really going to cost many/any members from units that shouldn't be AWOL'd.

Also, this wasn't a stealth change, but the general membership may see it that way considering where it was discussed, and likewise, I am not privy to every discussion, but to me it looked like it was completely shot down by the GM months ago. I'm glad that the new MAA took it up and found the GM more receptive this time around, because I think that as a general idea it's a great tool, my preference just would have been to give unit leadership more freedom.

There's a very specific reason that the clan and house leaders haven't had AWOL ability since 2010.

Houses can be reclanned and clans can be turned into houses based in part by member headcount. Since there were so many disparate methods for doing AWOL checks, we moved the AWOL check function to the Master At Arms office. This accomplished two things: it helped limit the 'gaming' of puffing up headcounts, and it freed up those leaders time so they could spend it on more productive endeavors, like engaging with their members.

The original go-round of this policy i did in fact shoot down. Why? Because it seemed as though it was more of a way for units to burn through one of our very finite resources (new joins) without spending what I felt was adequate effort trying to keep those members around and active (the term you'll see me use a lot is 'retention'). There's been some changes since then. Kalen has made things a bit more broad in as far as how you can avoid getting marked AWOL. We've spent a fair bit of time chewing on different ways to make AWOL checks a bit easier on everyone. And it's not like this is set in stone. If we need to make adjustments, we certainly will. But we need to try it out first.

Another thing to consider: The rogues are not prison. They aren't going to undo your ranks or your medals or anything like that. It's like setting your account to vacation mode. When you have time, come back, and we'll be here. Nothing to be afraid of.

Does the new AWOL check deal also work for DCers/DC assistants who aren't in a unit?

I know it's probably not a likely scenario but I'm pretty sure it's happened in the past so it could happen Again.

I have two recommendations:

  1. If we are intent on sending members to the rogues for failure to log in, then we need to make it incredibly simple to put them back in their unit:

a) When a member is sent to the rogues for failure to log into the site, they should be sent an e-mail with a link in it that will automatically submit a transfer request back when they click on it.

b) If that member does not see that link, there should be a warning and a similar link the next time they log into the site. "Notice: You were removed from your unit on ___date___ for failing to log into the site for 30 days. Click here to submit a transfer request back to your unit."

It's a simple coding solution that can go a long way towards making people less bitter about finding out they were removed from their unit,

  1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If a unit leader comes in and asks for an exception to an AWOL because they have been in contact with the member, then we should trust the unit leaders that we've hired to lead our members. Otherwise, we're just playing gotcha games with our lifeblood.

Also: it seems to me that we are wasting far too much effort on purging our rosters when 99% of that effort should instead be spent on reinforcing them...and teaching our leaders how to better do so.

Jac: I completely agree with you. That's why I shot down the initial changes to the thing. The transfer link email thing was already getting worked on, and I really like the 'login message' idea.

Malik: I believe that it does apply across the board, regardless of position.

I think it's implied, but if any unit leaders have an awol issue they think needs an exemption, let me know. The five-week window seemed pretty fair when we discussed it, but I'd like to help if able.

We're trying this. We'll see how it goes and adjust fire as needed. No one is playing games though and we didn't undertake it lightly.

Appreciate everyone's comments.

Firstly, this topic was heavily discussed in detail by the Dark Summit: a collection of the clubs promiment leaders (including PCONs, AED, and Tribunes) - so I know there was communication on it.

In terms of "not focusing on developing new members" number padding, and some of the other aspects mentioned by Jac and Muz, however, I must disagree.

I can only speak from my experience with being a leader in one of the clubs largest units- so forgive me if some of what I say doesn't carrry over to the same experience as other units have had. Arcona has worked with a steady flow of new members from a combination of random signups to recruits. Of our 17 DJKs this year, I'm going to say that almost 90% were recruits by friends- which by default helped them get started. The Arcona Master-Student program, our veterans and our summit have all worked hard to give every new member all the tools needed to become members of the club. However: there is only so much that can be done for Darkmaul86 (random name example)... who signs up for the site, replies to 0 emails, never logs in, and makes no attempts at contact. These types of members were left on rosters for 6 months at a time- which as a leader is very frustrating. What I like so much about rolling continual AWOL checks is that it will help keep the rosters clean of members like this: which prevents us from wasting time (and yes, it is a waste) on writing emails and reaching out to blank wall.

I think this policy is the closest thing to a working method that I've seen. I do think there should be power in the respective unit leadership. We have Rollmasters- let's use them. Let them, along with the units Consul or IH-QUA look over the MAA's list- and give them the ability to say: "this member text messaged me and said he lost computer/internet, he's cool".

Like Jac (I think) said: You hired us (unit leaders) for a reason- trust us to do our jobs.

Sorry for shortness, limited to mobile.

In terms of the "discussion" debate, even if there was talk about it at one point, I believe that had all been shelved some months ago. To basically be implemented when one thought it was never going to happen is a little odd.

And while having a "set standard" is good, you do need to actually trust your leaders on this. If you trust a leader to handle new recruits then they should be able to handle AWOL checks. You don't complete re-arrange systems because of "abusers". If people abuse the system you deal with those specific people. Like the LoA system...that CAN be useful, but instead it was thrown out because of a handful of abusers. Fix the rule and deal with specific issues directly rather than just throwing it all away.

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