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SAVE STRATICS! Consolidated Crowdfund Campaign Thread With Q/A

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Zuckuss, Dec 14, 2015.

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  1. Zuckuss

    Zuckuss Order | Chaos
    Professional Stratics Veteran Alumni K^S

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    As many are aware, Stratics is currently up for public auction. On December 26th it will be sold to the highest bidder.

    This thread pertains to the IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign that has been established by the Stratics’ volunteer Senior Staff in an effort to purchase the site and establish it as a community-owned, not for profit asset under a newly-created LLC. The senior staff would act as the “stewards” of the site, via volunteer positions on an initial Board of Directors.

    We have collected information from the campaign and various related discussion threads on this forum, in an attempt to make that information easily accessible to those just joining the conversation.

    All of you are asked, to view the campaign, contribute or share the campaign with all of your guild mates and friends.

    For maximum organization, this thread will remained locked so that we can add questions and information and keep it all compact and accessible. We have collected questions from multiple threads and ask that you read through our answers and ask future questions in this DISCUSSION THREAD for the campaign. We hope that these answers help set your minds at ease and inspire confidence in our commitment and ability to keep the site going in a way that serves the community well.

    Thank you for bearing with us, and as always, thank you for your support!

    QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

    The Board and Staffing
    Financials- The Campaign
    Financials- The Site
    Broadsword
    Site Operations and the Future of Stratics
     
    #1 Zuckuss, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2015
    Lord Trollo, Kolka, Kirthag and 9 others like this.
  2. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
    Administrator Moderator Professional Governor Wiki Moderator Campaign Patron Event Coordinator

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    While we need all the financial contributions we can get, we recognize and appreciate that not everyone can make a financial contribution. Fortunately, you can show your support in another way too! Please feel free to adopt the signature and/or avatar included in this post. Remember to add a link to the IndieGoGo campaign site under the signature: http://igg.me/at/BringStraticsHome .

    Also please feel free to use them elsewhere on the internet and spread the word about the campaign. Every little bit helps. Thank you so much for your support!
     

    Attached Files:

    #2 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  3. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
    Administrator Moderator Professional Governor Wiki Moderator Campaign Patron Event Coordinator

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    The Board and Staffing

    Q: Who will the initial Board of Directors be?

    The initial Board will be made up of current acting Stratics Senior staff. They include:

    • Captn Norrington, Trade Forum Administrator & Forum Moderator
    • Elenni, Wiki Editor
    • Larisa, Article Organizer
    • Nexus, Website Administrator
    • Oscar the Grouch, Server Administrator
    • Riyana, Events Coordinator & Forum Moderator

    At this time (12/30/15), the following senior staff members have withdrawn their names from consideration as initial Board members:

    • Tamais, Editor: has withdrawn her name as a Board member but will continue on the Stratics staff in other capacities
    • Zuckuss, Forum Administrator & Community Liaison: has resigned from Stratics staff due to personal reasons.

    Q: How does one become/qualify for Board Membership?

    Future Board members will be nominated by and voted in by active/sitting Board members. Candidates will typically be recruited from among active volunteer staff who have demonstrated their dedication and desire to serve the community, the ability and any specialized experience required to fulfill the role they are assuming, and who abide by Stratics’ documented staff policies, RoC, and the site TOS. That does not preclude that a future Board member may not be nominated from outside of the volunteer staff pool (ie the Community, former staff members, etc.), but we do believe it makes sense to look first to those who are actively donating their time and efforts.

    The specific procedure for nominating and voting in new Board members will be documented in the Charter/Bylaws for the LLC which holds Stratics as its asset. The Charter, once finalized, will be posted and remain publicly viewable on the site.

    Q: What is the procedure for removal and/or replacement of board members, if it becomes necessary?

    By Charter/Bylaw, the LLC will be required to maintain a minimum of five active/sitting Board members.

    The specific procedure for removal and/or replacement of new Board members will be documented in the Charter/Bylaws for the LLC which holds Stratics as its asset. The Charter, once finalized, will be posted and remain publicly viewable on the site.

    Q: Will the community be involved in or have a say in removal/replacement of board members?

    While we value dialogue and input -- and that input will be taken into account with regards to any Stratics staff member or policy -- we do not envision a process of “open community voting” for board membership or removal.

    Q: If a player has a problem with a staff member or board member, who will those problems be taken to?

    A process for problem reporting and/or complaints will be documented and made publicly available. Submitted complaints will be reviewed and acted on by the active/sitting Board.

    It should be noted that in a single ownership model, the process of petition or appeal ultimately results in a single person's decision as “final.” As noted in the previous Q&A, employing a Board-run model creates a series of checks and balances that prevents any one person (financially-motivated or otherwise) from being able to exert undue influence on the operations of the site or the engagement of the community it serves.

    Q: Who will be running the site, and what is their experience? What qualifications do they have to operate a community-oriented website and forum? (or, “Q: Why us? What skills and experience do the Board Members have that will help them be successful in their roles?”)

    The operations of Stratics necessarily covers a spectrum of functional areas, both administrative and technical. Combined, the senior Stratics staff has over 35 years of experience in voluntary/functional roles managing those various aspects of the site – not including their prior participation as community members. They were identified as “senior staff” by the current owner due to their background, experience, dedication, and willingness to assume responsibility and accountability within their areas of specialization.

    In addition to their UO and Stratics experience, most hold or have held professional positions “in RL” that provide additional background or expertise related to their tasks and responsibilities within Stratics. Among us, we have professional experience in IT, advertising & SEO, content management systems, print and online publishing, personnel management, website design and customer service. Some of this is also publicly posted via our IndieGoGo profiles and linked to the Bring Stratics Home campaign as well, if you want to learn more.)

    In the areas we’ve identified as gaps (ie taxes/accounting, legal, etc.), we have opted to bring in professional 3rd-party consultants to assist in our efforts in forming the LLC and managing the site going forward (or at a minimum, until we add additional staff with those areas of expertise.)

    Q: How will you keep the volunteer positions filled? What incentives are there for volunteers?

    Functional areas within the organization will each have a Team Lead assigned, who will be responsible for recruiting and filling volunteer staff openings in their area. Currently, all staff positions are voluntary, unpaid positions who are typically recruited from the active Stratics community.

    As is generally the case with community sites like Stratics, most staff members volunteer because it gives them personal satisfaction to contribute to a project and community they love and are invested in. Insofar as “perks,” Stratics staff members receive free Premium membership on Stratics for as long as they remain active volunteers.
     
    #3 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
    Kolka, Tanivar, old gypsy and 6 others like this.
  4. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
    Administrator Moderator Professional Governor Wiki Moderator Campaign Patron Event Coordinator

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    Financials- The Campaign

    Q: Why or how is a community-supported, Board-run “owner” a better option for Stratics than a single unknown or financially-motivated buyer?

    Over the years, Stratics has seen a number of financially-driven buyers purchase and attempt to run the site. Each time one of these changes occurs, the site is subject to strategic, technical, and cultural changes which necessarily impact the community. Some of these changes can be good; unfortunately, when those decisions are primarily driven by profit, the community’s needs and desires often take a back seat to the financial goals established by the owner. Further, should that owner be an outsider to the community, it is far more difficult (or even unlikely) for them to accurately gauge and take into account the delicate balance required to maintain that community and meet their needs without disruption or attrition.

    A community-supported, not-for-profit entity employing a Board of Directors to act as “stewards” of the site will ensure that the community and its interests are the number one priority when making any decisions about Stratics operations, policies, or strategic direction.

    In combination with a well-defined company charter and by-laws, using a Board of Directors also ensures a broader experience base for making those decisions, and employs checks and balances against the possibility of any single owner or manager making decisions based on personal bias or benefit.

    Q: Will some of the money contributed to the campaign be used to hire outside sources to handle the operations of the website?

    While we are confident in our ability to manage the day-to-day administration and maintenance of Stratics, we have considered the possibility of bringing in paid contract or other staff should it become necessary, or should special projects require it. That will NOT be funded by the campaign, however – it would be budgeted and paid for out of the site’s profits.

    Q: How will “anonymous” contributors be refunded, if the funding goal is met, but an outside bidder still wins the auction?

    Should we meet the funding goal but still fail to secure the Stratics website, the Campaign team has committed to absorbing the related IndieGoGo and payment processing fees to ensure that contributors receive a full refund of their contribution amount.

    Q: How?

    While contributors can choose to be anonymous to public viewers on the IndieGoGo Campaign site, all financial transactions include the info necessary to issue a refund, via PayPal, and email/mailing information for the purpose of delivering Perks. This information is ONLY available to the campaign organizer(s), who must necessarily process financial transactions and Perk fulfillment.

    More information about IndieGoGo contributions is available HERE.
     
    #4 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
    Kolka, old gypsy, Giggles and 5 others like this.
  5. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
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    Financials- The Site

    Q: How will you handle the financial aspect of the website? What are our plans to bring in revenue to support it long-term and provide for licenses, new additions, etc.?

    A report containing the current monthly revenue and costs for the website is publicly downloadable via the auction website on Flippa, and shows a consistent profit over operational costs. As we will be executing a cash sale, there will be no outstanding loans to repay. Under our Charter-defined not-for-profit model, any additional revenue above the site’s operating costs will be able to be kept in reserve for future operational costs and improvements – including future hosting fees, license renewals and plugins, new features, etc.

    In addition, we intend to do an audit of the site’s current revenue to identify areas where the site may be underperforming, or has the potential for increased revenue with minor effort and impact to the core design and day-to-day user experience. We may consult with outside industry experts to assist us in those evaluations.

    Long term, we will use the annual strategic planning process to discuss and prioritize other potential projects which could increase or supplement the site’s ongoing or future revenue.


    Insofar as managing the day-to-day finances, operating budgets, taxes and other accounting needs for the LLC and website, we will be working with outside professional financial consultants in that capacity.

    Q: If the site has difficulties meeting its Operating costs, what plans do you have in place to ensure it remains operating? Are you able to (personally) absorb costs of monthly expenses? If so, to what amount, and for how long?

    Given the current monthly/annual revenue vs operating costs of the site over the past year, we do not anticipate experiencing any shortfalls in meeting those costs for the foreseeable future. In addition, we have outlined a strategy (see previous question) for auditing and increasing revenue for the site.

    Although we believe it is highly unlikely to occur, should unforeseen/catastrophic events cause revenue to fall below that of operating costs and exhaust the company’s reserves, we are confident that we can cover the monthly operational costs for an indefinite period of time, via our private funds.

    Q: Will you be having a subscription service? If so, what content/features will only be available to subscriptions?

    We have no current plans to place the main Stratics content behind a paywall of any kind. We do plan to continue with the Premium subscription service, which entitles subscribers to additional website options unavailable to unpaid users. While there are no immediate plans to change the Premium subscription model, we may consider modifying or adding features in the future as our technology and the needs of the community evolve.

    Q: Will you (as owners or Board members) take any financial compensation for your work?

    No. Board membership will not confer ownership or partial ownership of Stratics or entitle them to any portion of profits earned by the site, and Board memberships will be strictly volunteer (unpaid) positions.

    Q: Will all staff be unpaid or will certain positions be paid?

    Currently, all staff positions are volunteer (unpaid) positions. There are no current plans to make changes to this practice. Should the operational requirements of Stratics change drastically at some time in the future, this might be considered, but the need would have to be carefully weighed against the site’s financials and approved unanimously by the Board.

    By Charter, Board memberships will be required to remain unpaid positions.
     
    #5 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
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  6. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
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    Broadsword

    Q: Is anyone on the current staff in contact with Broadsword leadership?

    Yes; we are in regular contact with Broadsword.

    Q: Does anyone on the staff have information about the possibility of Broadsword adding a forum to the UO.com website?

    In the interest of maintaining our positive relationship with Broadsword, we are not at liberty to discuss any internal or confidential information we may or may not become aware of as a result of those conversations. Ever.

    Q: If Broadsword adds a forum to the UO.com website, how do you envision that will impact/change Stratics.com? Would it just become a trade forum?

    UO has maintained dedicated user forums on their website in the past (which, it should be noted, were ultimately redirected by OSI to Stratics.com as the new “official UO forum” when that program was ultimately discontinued.) However, during the time when the UO.com forum was still active and operational, Stratics was still the most heavily-trafficked independent UO forum and fansite on the Internet.

    Should Broadsword decide to implement a new company-moderated UO Forum in future, we have every expectation that Stratics will remain a strong, active and on-going independent forum that is regularly visited by the UO community.
     
    #6 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
    Kolka, old gypsy, Giggles and 6 others like this.
  7. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
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    Site Operation and the Future of Stratics

    Q: Who will be responsible for proposed integration of the site? Are there plans to make Stratics look, function, and feel more like the well-known original?

    Any proposed merging of Stratics’ historical content with the current Stratics.com website would involve multiple staff resources, with tasks and timelines identified via a formal project plan. Additional resources may also include outside contractors or volunteers as necessary.

    Insofar as changes to the sites’ look and feel: the future Board have made a commitment to hold annual “Strategic Planning Sessions,” with a process for identifying and prioritizing any major changes to the site. This would include ideas and information solicited from the Stratics community, and would also encompass technical needs, financial goals and operational necessities.

    The resulting strategic plans would allow us to prioritize our major tasks and goals for the following 1-3 years (with emphasis placed on the upcoming 12 month period.) We would then use the decisions taken from those planning sessions to establish the operational and capital budget for the site for the next year.

    The resulting 12-month strategic plan would be would be made publicly viewable on the site each year, for reference by the community.

    Q: Are there any plans to fix the current Stratics platform, or add “basic” functionality? Are there plans to fix the current bugs on the site?

    While we want to keep any immediate or unsolicited changes to the site to a minimum during the transition process and the months that follow, we do have some projects that are currently “in-progress” and/or have had first releases rolled out in recent months. Those projects will continue.

    That said, it is our plan to immediately focus on evaluating and correcting reported bugs and issues. We will also place emphasis on addressing any remaining performance/stability issues, including an evaluation of the benefits we may realize by upgrading the site’s hardware or relocating servers to an alternative hosting solution.

    Q: Should UO be shut down, what will happen to the Stratics website/forums?

    We believe that Stratics, as the oldest continually-running MMO website on the Internet, would continue to have value and longevity due to its unique and historical place in the gaming community, even if UO were to shut down. And while we certainly hope it never comes to that – should that day arrive, we as a Community would necessarily need to explore and discuss what the best options for the website are going forward.
     
    #7 Riyana, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  8. Riyana

    Riyana Operations
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