Hi Sharders! There are a couple of ongoing discussions that the staff have been having, and we want to fill you in on some of what we've been working on.
In particular, we want to say we realize that we are a predominantly white moderation team, and that our relative lack of racial diversity may make the Shard a less welcoming place for some folks. We've heard calls for more diversity on our team, especially on Shardcast panels. We hear that concern loud and clear and are taking it seriously. It is important to all of us that the Shard is a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds and cultures to form community—both among general members and among our moderation team. We all agree diverse perspectives are incredibly valuable on a leadership team, and that a lack of particular points of view can lead to serious oversights. While we've made some great strides in recent years in terms of increasing representation in some areas (like gender and sexuality), there are other areas where we still have lots of room to grow.
As a result, we've been discussing our recruitment practices. Currently, we tend to observe the membership and take note of people who exhibit qualities like thoughtfulness, patience, or skill at conflict resolution, and then keep them in mind when we feel we need to break out the spikes and expand our numbers. Sometimes we have specific asks—like web design, coding expertise, or content creation—and look at our active membership to determine whether there's anyone with the desired skill-set who we think would be a good fit. We also value different backgrounds (including race, nationality, age, gender, sexuality, occupation, socio-economic status, disabilities, etc.) as an asset in making moderation decisions and producing content.
Our current recruitment method relies on people being active and self-descriptive on Discord and the forums. Otherwise, we have no way of knowing what great candidates they may be, or what perspectives they might be able to add to our team. We are hoping to open up our pool of candidates, acknowledging that some people who love Brandon's books and would be great contributors to our moderation and content-creation team might not feel comfortable being super loud about their background or skills online. While we will continue to shoulder tap people we think would be a good fit, we also don't want to miss out on people who have valuable skills and insights to contribute.
We generally try to consider staff balance, and certain points may become more or less important at different times. In the interest of transparency, here are some examples of what we generally look for when recruiting new staff:
Strong communication skills
Conflict resolution skills or experience
Previous contributions to the community (art, writing, Arcanum, Coppermind, etc.)
Diverse backgrounds and perspectives (gender identity, race, nationality, sexual orientation, age, people with disabilities, occupation, socio-economic status, etc.), especially if it is in an area where the current staff is lacking
Technical skills (coding, video editing, graphic design, etc.)
Ability to work as a team
Familiarity with the Brandon Sanderson works and fandom communities (both on the Shard and elsewhere)
How fabulous you look with spikes for eyes
Going forward, we want to continue to learn and adjust our recruitment practices so they acknowledge the diversity of this community. Having access to different perspectives and insights from people of different backgrounds will enhance our moderation team and creative projects, and it's something we are hoping to continue improving on. If you don't feel represented by the current staff, or have skills you think would be a valuable asset that aren't listed above, feel free to let us know what you think is missing, and what you feel you could contribute.
The questionnaire attached with the post is a new tool we are trying out. If it works, we might keep using it; if not we might try something different. We will not review responses regularly, and may only review periodically when we are looking to make recruitment decisions. The purpose of the questionnaire is just to give us more information to work with than what would normally be available crawling the forums and Discord. We also wanted to give people the opportunity to either put themselves forward or to nominate another person (please ask consent before nominating anyone!). So if you're interested in being staff, even if you don't feel qualified to do so or aren't sure exactly what you may bring to the team, please feel free to fill out the form.
Lastly, if you have any ideas or recommendations on how we could improve, we'd love to hear them. Please feel free to post them in the comments of this news article or the #17s channel on our Discord, put them in the questionnaire, or message a staff member of your choice; we love suggestions!