Newsletter #2, for April 4th, 2022


Welcome to the second issue of our newsletter!

Thanks to feedback from the community, you may notice that we now have colorful headers to help break up the text!

Here’s one now!

Constructive Community Feedback and Flexibility

ThatTommyBoii promoted to Community Liaison!

Y’all may have noticed over the last year and a half or so that ThatTommyBoii has been an incredibly helpful and engaged member of both my professional staff and our broader community. I noticed too, and created a role that suits his aptitude and excellence in both capacities.

I am excited to announce that Tommy has accepted a promotion to the role of Community Liaison. He will be responsible for ensuring that community feedback is acknowledged and added to publicly-visible draft agendas in advance of the appropriate public meetings.

Tommy will also be responsible for ensuring those meetings are streamed and recorded, and that useful summaries are written and published in the following week’s newsletter.

Congratulations, Tommy!

Sure, Tommy is great, we all know that—but, what kind of meetings, Joe?

Quarterly New Business Meetings

Let’s say you have a suggestion for improving the Discord and want to propose a temporary experiment to see how it goes for three months, where do you take that?

You take it to the Discord channel #next-quarter-new-business-agenda-requests! Tommy will make sure that your proposal and name are added to the draft agenda for next quarter’s New Business meeting, during which you or a proxy can present your case either on voice or in writing.

It’s kind of like petitions—except not in character!

Myself and other community members will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment. After review, experiments that seem to make sense at the time will proceed. Each experiment will have a feedback Discord channel created so that folks can weigh in as it runs.

As this is a new system, we’ll hold our first Quarterly New Business Meeting on April 24th at 11am US Central, immediately before the Minecraft Server Roadmap meeting at noon.

After that, we’ll do another Quarterly New Business Meeting each June, December, and March.

Experiments that seem promising can be altered, expanded, or extended at the next Quarterly New Business Meeting.

Proposals for paradigm shifts that are too broad to test effectively in a temporary manner will be considered for inclusion in the agenda of the Annual Patreon Community Structural Review the following September.

Annual Patreon Community Structural Review Meeting

Every September, I’ll host a meeting where I will consider long-term and wide-ranging permanent changes to the structure of the Patreon tier system and Discord server.

We will review some of the experiments attempted after the quarterly feedback meetings and decide what may or may not make sense to roll out server-wide or in a more permanent fashion.

A note on tempo

The Patreon Discord was founded in October of 2016, and I haven’t had the staff to be able to set aside time to really explore and consider significant restructure or changes in an orderly way until now.

When attempting to determine an appropriate tempo for testing and implementing big changes, I realized that monthly petitions for the Minecraft servers have a good feel to their pacing given that those servers run for twelve to twenty-four months at a time.

The Patreon Discord has operated as a community center for six years now, and has demonstrated a value that warrants considering how to keep it running well at a scale of twelve to twenty-four years. Using roughly the same proportional thinking, we end up with a major meeting once per year.

The quarterly meetings will allow us to ensure that that annual tempo doesn’t fall too out of step with emergent needs. Other discussions can also be scheduled as needed to focus on specific topics, such as the Minecraft Server Planning Discussions.

Patreon Minecraft Server Planning Discussions

I’ve previously scheduled a few planning meetings with the community about what kinds of game rules, modpacks, etc. we should consider in the future.

If you’re interested in shaping the agenda for each, you may do so in advance in the appropriate Discord channel.

  • April 10th at noon, US Central: Experimental server discussion based on notes in #2022-experimental-next
  • April 24th at noon, US Central:  Broad server expansion and operator role roadmap planning meeting based on notes in #sustainable-growth (thanks to Aviva for proposing that)
  • May 14th at noon, US Central:  Vanillish “Survival-Comfort” server discussion, based on notes in #tbd-vanillish-next

What is or isn’t in-scope for Tommy’s New Role?

Tommy’s new role is scoped around ensuring community concerns and feedback are heard and addressed.

I recognize that y’all have been ill-served by me mingling the day-to-day planning of my schedule with concerns that impact the whole community—discussion of which y’all deserve to have properly organized and documented.

As such, my project management calls with NJ will be narrowly refocused on my workload, and the Q&A agenda item will be removed indefinitely pending  review on April 24th.

NJ and I have discussed the requests to record those calls, but have concluded that concerns about both privacy and production value distractions would undermine our ability to work effectively during those sessions.

I’m optimistic that the new meeting process Tommy is taking point on will be a more appropriate and productive home for addressing the concerns of our growing community.

This is a pretty broad overview, what if I’d like a clarification about the implementation details?

This is an example of a great question I don’t have a perfect answer to yet. Until I figure out a better process, please post your question in the #sustainable-growth room opening with the word “Inquiry:” in the following format:

Inquiry: will Tommy still be working as a moderator too?

I’ll search for the term “Inquiry:” as I compose the next newsletter and will get back to you with what I hope is a batch of well-reasoned responses that look something like:

“Will Tommy still be working as a moderator too?” asks JoeHills

At present, Tommy’s new duties are in addition to (not a replacement of) his existing moderator responsibilities.

As the community grows in the future, the duties of the Community Liaison may expand to the point where also serving as a moderator is impractical, so Tommy and I will be keeping an eye on that.

Based on the volume and manner of inquiries received, I’ll iterate the inquiry and response process from there.

Serious inquiries only, please.

Everstorm Server Obituaries

  • NJ died at the bony hands of a skinny-dipping skeleton.

Upcoming Events

Two big events this Saturday, April 9th!

Sean Hills to guest judge Earth Day Parade Float Build Contest

The Babilar neighborhood from the Season 8 Vanilla SMP server will be hosting a parade float build contest celebrating Earth Day on April 9th at 11am US Central Time.

All $10+/mo Patreon members are welcome to participate, and the event will be in creative mode, so no in-game prep will be required!

D&D charity stream!

On April 9th at 2pm US Central time, I’ll be joining Quinn MurphyRyan NorthJack Packard, and Kat Welsford‘s D&D party to play for three hours of a 24-hour charity stream benefitting Child’s Play, an organization that helps medical facilities obtain, install, and maintain game systems for children.

We’ll be live at!

Travel & Conventions

Here’s a few events I’ll definitely be attending. I hope some of y’all can make it!

Two videos last week!

In addition to the behind-the-scenes work I’ve been doing this week, I’m really proud of the artistic and collaborative efforts I’ve achieved with my friends in my two latest YouTube videos!

If y’all missed either of them, I hope you’ll enjoy them when you can!

Thanks and so long!

Thanks to everyone who posted in #sustainable-growth over the last few weeks! There was too much valuable feedback to thank everyone who influenced my decision-making by name, but please know y’all are all appreciated.

There’s a few cases, though, where I can clearly say that one individual’s feedback felt like it captured what the community was trying to say in a way that resonated with me, and then led directly to particular actions on my part.

I want to thank and credit for these specific constructive contributions:

  • Em for suggesting a better-defined feedback response methodology to both ensure folks feel heard and allow ample time for other community feedback on suggestions before responding myself
  • Phali for inspiring the creation of this newsletter as well as encouraging a serious review of how I can better delegate
  •  QueenDarkLady for helping me understand that the ability to restructure the community over time is a requirement that demands prioritization independent of my own availability or competing responsibilities
  • SurfRock66 for pondering a self-governance model that provided me a thought-experiment framework through which to explore “what could be the most valuable goals a group like that might achieve?” and “what efforts toward those goals could I most productively delegate to staff?”

And finally, additional thanks to Tommy for helping me review and edit this issue!

Newsletter feedback is always welcome in the #newsletter-feedback channel, so I’ll see you there!

Until next time, y’all, this is Joe Hills from Nashville, Tennessee.

Keep adventuring!