North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › NTOS: Updates to our "About" Page

NTOS: Updates to our "About" Page

Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 236
To All,

I am always working to make changes to our "About" page, which I hope most of us will consider to be improvements.

Our "About" page serves several purposes. It is intended to be inviting and informative to visitors who might be interested in joining us. It is also very important for us to articulate the purpose and organizing principles for our growing society, which are used to guide and inform what we should choose to do together, explaining, for example, what we are trying to accomplish and on what basis and how we should relate in our voluntary associations.

In case you have not visited our "About" page in a while, I hope you will take a few minutes to check it out!

If you ever have any comments, suggestions, or constructive criticisms, please let us know.

-- Todd

Edited to correct pesky "?" substituted by Meetup for quotation marks.
A former member
Post #: 28
The About page is gradually becoming a masterpiece in both conception and writing. It deserves to be read slowly.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 348
To All,

Since starting this thread, I have continued to work to make clarifications and refinements to our "About" page in consultation with all our "Assistant Organizers" (Julia, JulieAnne, and Dan), and with special thanks to hours of discussion with Dan.

In particular, we have updated the section regarding our participation standards, especially the subsections regarding our website & message board, civility, and justice. We have also made numerous editorial adjustments that are much too minor to point out in any detail.

In case you have not visited our "About" page lately, I hope you will take a few minutes to check it out again!

As always, if you ever have any comments, suggestions, or constructive criticisms, please let us know.

-- Todd


NOTE: Edited 7-22-08 to update renamed headings since the original post, which otherwise made this post difficult to follow.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 311
I think the updated page looks great.
Besides the excellent content, I appreciate how you used color to break things out. It made it a lot easier to read.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 377
To All:

Based on some feedback and Organizers' discussions since my last announcement regarding the "About" page, I have made some further clarifications and additions. It has been only one month since the previous announcement, but I have made some major clarifications since then.

Our "About" page is important because it is the "constitution" for our local Objectivist society. It states "Our Interest," and it states our purpose under "The Nature of Our Society" and briefly states the reasoning for our purpose. It also states our membership standards and participation terms and provides other important information. It lets everyone know what we are "about." This is especially important because we are trying to attract people who are interested in Ayn Rand's works and her philosophy of Objectivism, who tend to be careful in their evaluations and judgments.

In particular, I have clarified my thinking under the section regarding "The Nature of Our Society" and I have clarified and added more particulars under our "Participation Terms," especially in the subsections regarding our "Website & Message Board," "Social Events" and "Civility." Our membership standards and "Participation Terms" are informed and guided by our central interest in Objectivism and the purpose of our society. We are setting standards that we think are rationally derived, can be objectively applied, and will help our society grow and thrive.

Because our "About" page is rather lengthy, I have tried to reduce the verbosity while keeping almost all the substantive content.

Please check out the latest changes to our "About" page at: www.AynRand.Meetup.com/71/About­

As always, if you ever have any questions or comments about the North Texas Objectivist Society, please use Meetup.com to "Contact Organizer." I take all feedback seriously and will always respond to any questions.

-- Todd
North Texas Objectivist Society
December 10, 2006

NOTE: Edited 7-22-08 to update renamed headings since the original post, which otherwise made this post difficult to follow.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 336
I totally dig the pictures on the about page. Especially that picture with Joe in it.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 638
To All,

It has been nearly a year since I have announced changes to our "About Us" page regarding the organization of the North Texas Objectivist Society. I take this opportunity to call all these recent changes to our membership's attention.

Our Context
Before discussing the changes, I think it is important to say a few words about our context and the nature of NTOS.

Remember, NTOS is a private club. I have volunteered to be the "Organizer" for NTOS. Essentially, this means that I own NTOS. As the Organizer for NTOS, with the advice of the Assistant Organizers, who are also volunteers, we are always working to establish and clarify organizational principles and standards for NTOS.

Rather than operate NTOS based on my whim, I think the participation terms should be rationally derived, capable of being objectively applied, and the minimum necessary and sufficient to help our society to thrive. In establishing participation terms, we are informed and guided by our central interest in Objectivism and the purpose of our society.

Most people would naturally respect such minimal participation terms. In fact, most people feel that such terms should go without saying. As Organizer, my response is that, unfortunately, I have had to invoke such terms to a very few people at one time or another. Remember, NTOS is advertised to the public, subject to our participation terms. In our experience, about 1-2 out of 100 people do not naturally behave well, and we need our participation terms in place to objectively and fairly manage such rare situations.

As I have often explained, I think this objectivity is the key to organizing something much, much bigger than a group of my friends. Someday, we hope to grow large enough to have a representative form of club governance selected by and drawn from its membership.

In less than three years, we have grown to have nearly 200 members, including more than 100 active members. NTOS has the largest and most active membership of any Objectivist club anywhere. In this short time, we have organized more than 80 events and opportunities for people interested in Objectivism to meet, discuss ideas in an Objectivist-friendly context, and enjoy each other's company.

I attribute this growth largely to the thinking that has gone into our structure, including the participation terms. Of course, I and the Assistant Organizers have worked very hard to promote NTOS, organize its events, and personally host many events. Nevertheless, that hard work would would have been for naught without the structural thinking.

We think NTOS is a valuable effort at making a difference in promoting Objectivism in our own lives and the lives of our families. NTOS also offers some opportunity to promote Ayn Rand's works and her philosophy of Objectivism to others who may be interested in exploring Objectivism with us. NTOS can have a positive effect on changing the culture around us.

To my knowledge, there is nothing like NTOS being tried anywhere. Few cities have any Objectivist club at all. The only other group (which is different in structure to NTOS) that appears to be thriving is Lin Zinser's "Front Range Objectivism Group" in Denver, Colorado.

Even if you would do some things differently than us, I hope you appreciate "Old Toad's" efforts as Organizer and those of our Assistant Organizers, Julia ("Mrs. Old Toad") and JulieAnne ("jlife"). We hope you will continue to support NTOS and visit with us when you can.

-- Old Toad
NOTE: Edited 7-22-08 to update renamed headings since the original post, which otherwise made this post difficult to follow.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 639
(Continued.)

Recent Amendments to Our NTOS "About Us" Page
A recent comment prompted me to analyze the relationship between Meetup's service and NTOS. In reviewing Meetup's Terms of Service Agreement, I found some of the wording and ideas would be helpful to clarifying our terms for participation in NTOS.

Accordingly, I made a few amendments to our NTOS "About Us" page, especially in regards to our "Participation Terms" (formerly known as our "Community Standards").

The recent changes that I consider relatively important are the following:

(A) In the first line of the text after "Welcome!" -- I inserted the underlined: "Please read our entire "About Us" page, including our participation terms, and see some pictures. We hope you will consider joining us!"

This is important to make it clear to potential members that we have such terms and that we ask them to review them in advance.

(B) Under "Our Purpose," the subheadings "What" and "How," I have made minor clarifications.

(C) Under our "Bylaws," I have started working on a new subheading "Organizing Standards," which relates to setting standards on management (the Organizers) for promoting and organizing "official" NTOS events. This section is a "stub" and needs much more thought and work.

(D) Under our "Bylaws," as mentioned above, I have renamed the section "Community Standards" to "Participation Terms." I have edited the introduction under this heading to include agreement language similar to the agreement language in Meetup's Terms of Service Agreement. I have also added more "agreement" language regarding "Membership" and "Welcome Guests."

In addition, I have added a new subsection "Release," which is similar to the release already provided to Meetup Organizers in Paragraph 6.3 of Meetup's Terms of Service Agreement.

(E) Further, I have edited the section "Management" to clarify the roles of the Organizers of NTOS and that we are volunteers.

Of course, over the past year I have also made numerous minor and trivial editorial changes to our NTOS "About Us" page to clarify some of my tendency to convoluted grammar, to shorten to make room for other more important content (at the risk of making the text seem more abrupt and less friendly), to correct a few spelling errors, etc.

Please review our NTOS "About Us" page from time to time. I hope you will continue to find our structure and participation terms agreeable to you and our efforts to build NTOS of value.


Criticisms of Our NTOS "About Us" Page
Over the past year or so, I have had heard three basic criticisms of our NTOS "About Us" page: (a) it is unfriendly; (b) it does not have enough pictures; and (c) we need a stand-alone website.

I agree with all of these criticisms.

Regarding it being unfriendly, I plan to continue editing to try to make the text of our "About Us" page friendlier and more inviting, but I think I should balance that with clarity of statement of our purpose and participation terms. The fact is that NTOS is an extremely friendly and inviting organization. I attribute this to the thinking that has gone into our "About Us" page, including the participation terms.

I own a few additional urls that we can use for building a stand-alone website independent of the Meetup platform. We are working on getting more pictures, especially for use with a new stand-alone website for NTOS.


Conclusion
If you have any comments or criticisms of our "About Us" page, I hope you will communicate them to me. The NTOS "About Us" page continues to be a work in progress, and I would appreciate your feedback.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 641
ANOTHER AMENDMENT:

The recent situation with "Wild Man" (see: From the Sixth Dimension) has further prompted me to think a bit more about the nature of NTOS and our Participation Standards.

As I have often stated, I want to build something much bigger than a group of my friends. No matter how much our members may trust my judgment, I want more than that. I also think that for anyone to really trust my judgment, he must be able to know the principles according to which I am judging. This is because judgment is really at least a two-step process: (a) establishment of a principle (e.g., as a government does in passing a law); and (b) applying judgment under the principle to a particular situation (e.g., as a judge does in applying a statute).

In addition, I want to build NTOS so that it could be sustainable or reproducible without me. That is another reason my principles for building it and our participation terms should be clearly established and published.

For these reasons, I have put a great deal of effort into thinking about our participation terms, including with my wife's help, my parents' help, and with Dan's help during the time he was helping me as an Assistant Organizer last year.

I have long resisted suggestions that because my family hosts most of our events in our home, that we can just invoke the rule that "it's our house" and not put so much effort into formalizing our participation terms. To make the point of how important I think it is that we have objective participation terms, I have scrupulously avoided ever invoking such a prerogative, even when it delayed our taking action while considering the principles involved and how to draft them as objective participation terms.

However, as the situation with "Wild Man" demonstrated, I clearly am not one who is inclined to act on whim, but rather prefer to take my time to analyze a situation and reach a well-considered judgment. While that situation with "Wild Man" was already well-covered by our existing participation standards, I have occasionally let such situations stress me unduly (and perhaps also a few of our members) when I do not first have a rule in place to address a new, unforeseen situation.

After nearly three years, I think I have made the point sufficiently regarding the importance of establishing objective principles and participation terms for NTOS. Accordingly, perhaps ironically, I have now added one more participation term, tentatively in the following form:

Organizer's Reservation of Right. The Organizer reserves the right to limit or terminate membership or participation in NTOS for any reason.


I think the rules are developed sufficiently that we are unlikely to ever need this new reservation. But if something new does comes up, I want to be able to deal with it promptly, avoid personal stress over not having foreseen it, avoid stress for our existing members for my not dealing with it promptly, and, if warranted, consider at our leisure a new participation term that speaks to such situations in the future.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 703
To all,

I have continued to make minor edits and clarifications throughout our "About Us" page. Most noticeably, I have replaced some of the quotes of others with quotes of Ayn Rand that I personally find interesting and apt.

I have still not had time to build other web pages to promote our society using the independent urls I have.

As always, I appreciate constructive criticism and any positive feedback you may care to give me.

With the help of many of our members, I think that I have made progress in learning about Objectivism and integrating it more into my own life. Thank you for your patience with me, both personally and as the Organizer for NTOS.
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