It has been quite some time since the issue of applications has been mentioned, but I thought it worth mentioning a few changes I have made since our forum has grown.
I receive quite a lot of applications these days, and am not able to process them immediately when they come in. This isn't particularly new, I think most of us had some delay between application and approval. I remember sending Sandy a nice note checking in on the status of my application at the end of 2006.
If you are applying, or know someone who is, please be patient. I try to get to batches weekly, but if work is busy or I am traveling I can get behind.
One change I have made, given the recent decline of some post's quality
, is to raise the standards on the applications I immediately accept. Some of the members of the forum who have been here a long time were starting to get frustrated with the tone, low quality, and general noise growing on our forum. Believe me when I say losing valued long time members is not a good tradeoff for a ton of new members who don't appreciate the forum as much.
These days when I get an application I only accept it right away if the Bio and Interests sections make it really clear the applicant is a great fit for us.
Many applications are really brief or generic, and don't really give me much sense of what they might be like as members. For these, I email the applicant with a very simple request:
To help evaluate your application, please reply with a web link to your favorite Twistypuzzles post or topic and why you like it.
The point of this is that answering it is a good test for what a post from them will look like. This helps me a lot.
A very few applications that indicate they might not understand or value our standards
get a response that mentions the matter in addition to the basic request (favorite post link).
I am quite surprised at how few people get back to me. I'm guessing this might have to do with spam filters (I send them out BCCd to the applicants), or just general apathy if they aren't auto-accepted.
Either way, it is important that a member be reachable by the Moderators and Admins. If I don't hear back I send a reminder and give it some more time, but eventually delete the application.
I realize this can make for a potentially frustrating initial experience, and I want to assure people this is not the intent. It is an attempt to make sure those that join our community are going to contribute and add to our forum, rather than lessen it. For those who get a response about our standards it is a way to have this conversation up front rather than after a number of posts make it inevitable (where too much of my time has been going lately).
A very, very few have been offended by this and withdrawn their applications, which is unfortunate. The vast majority like that we care to manually examine each application and care about quality. I make it clear we don't require perfection but effort and attention, and not one application has been rejected on these grounds (nor has anyone ever been warned or banned for it, although I do send a friendly PM on occasion).
So that is the overview of the new process. It isn't perfect, but it is a response to try to keep our community a nice and friendly group that respects our readers. Frankly, it is a lot more effort than just approving all applications. But I saw where that was heading and I think investment on the front end is worth the time.
To those applying: Don't be discouraged. Many, many people before you have had a bit of a wait. And please, please check your email. It makes me sad to throw away applications, but after a few weeks and multiple attempts at contact we do move on.