2012 Candidate Manifesto – Andrea Horbinski

Why did you decide to run for election to the Board? What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

There is no way to talk about why I decided to run for the OTW Board without sounding like an egomaniac, so with that having been said, let me move on to the questions. I have been planning on running for the Board for a good year now, since just before the contested election of 2011 brought the OTW’s structural problems – familiar to me since my service on I&O began in 2010 – out into the open. I have long experience with majority-female volunteer organizations (I have been a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts USA since the age of five) and with the fractious politics of relatively tight-knit institutions (such as academic communities), and I felt that joining the Board was the best way both to give back to fandom as a whole and to put my skills and experience with running organizations and managing people to work for the OTW at the broadest possible level. Furthermore, as a longtime member and the current Chair of Internationalization & Outreach, I am always convinced that the OTW could do more to support and enact the committee’s goals across the org, and I hope to work to support their achievement as a Board member.

 

 

What is your vision for the direction of the organization over the next year and how do you see working with your fellow board members to accomplish it?

Having served as a committee chair in this 2012 term, the single most important element of my vision for the Org in 2013 is the need to support the work of the Strategic Planning committee and then, when their review is finished, to take their reports about the state of the Org to heart and to craft a long-term plan that acknowledges both our strengths and our deficits. Along those lines, I’ve also become increasingly concerned over this term with the need for all committees to be responsive to the needs of other committees and the rest of the org. I find the question of “how do I see myself working with my fellow board members to accomplish this?” somewhat odd, as anyone who’s worked in these arenas can tell you that politics, like sausage-making, is a process that no one really wants to see happening in detail. Everything is going to get accomplished by discussion, and by being able to convince others that what I or the people I’m representing want isn’t a threat, is doable, and is worth doing. There are a lot of emails in my future, obviously.

 

 

What is your experience of the org’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Please include AO3, TWC, Fanlore, our Legal advocacy work and Open Doors, though feel free to emphasize particular areas of the org you’re interested in.

As an I&O member and then Chair, I’ve worked in passing with most if not all of the Org’s committees, and I personally have been associated with Translation, Journal, and tag wranglers as well as with I&O. I’m also lucky to count a large number of OTW staffers and volunteers among my personal friends and acquaintances, and over the course of this summer I’ve met, spoken with, and visited many of them as well as many people I hadn’t met before. I use and have contributed to Fanlore, have an AO3 account and was a tag wrangler, read and have contributed to Transformative Works & Cultures and write for the TWC blog, and have read some of the Open Doors materials that are available online and am part of a research project that is planning to donate an archive of fannish oral histories to the University of Iowa thanks to the OTW’s connection with that institution’s holdings, to say nothing of using the DMCA exemption that the OTW’s Legal advocacy obtained in many of the AMVs and vids that I make. As much as I love AO3, I think some of our other projects such as Fanlore and Open Doors are equally cool, and I’d love for them to become better known and more widely used. I know a lot of committees that don’t deal with the Archive can easily feel like they’re not feeling as much of the institutional love, so to speak, and I hope as a Board member to more equally redistribute it, and to equalize the usage of the OTW’s resources across projects.

 

 

What does transparency mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

I find the question of “what transparency means to me personally” to be (ironically) somewhat opaque, but that being said, I think transparency both inside and outside the Org is very important. I do make a point of talking, when inspired and as far as I can without violating confidentiality, about various OTW topics on my legal name journal, though in my experience, unfortunately, transparency can only do so much. Making information available is no guarantee that people will read it, whether inside or outside the Org, and I think it’s important to recognize that limitation. That said, I absolutely believe that the OTW should be as transparent as possible within the legal and operational limits of its status as a non-profit organization incorporated under U.S. law.

 

 

What does diversity mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

The work of I&O is to “work toward inclusivity, accessibility and visibility for the OTW and its projects, both from a fannish and an international standpoint.” As an I&O staffer and then Chair, I have constantly tried to solicit a diversity of opinion within the Org for our work and our goals (diversity of opinion yields a higher likelihood of reaching consensus), and I have also tried explicitly both to foster and to support diversity of members and of opinion across the Org and its projects. One of the reasons that the I&O committee decided to conduct the audience survey in 2011 – which became a committee earlier this year – was because we were convinced that the survey would make visible the fact that the Org’s audience and membership was already more diverse, on multiple axes, than popular images indicated – and I think that the survey results released so far have actually borne this out. I remain committed to fostering diversity within the Org and its projects and to recognizing it within our audience, because I agree with Ada Intiative co-founder Mary Gardiner, as the title of her keynote at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, D.C. earlier this year had it, “fostering diversity [is] not a boring chore, [but] a critical opportunity.”

 

 

What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?

I am familiar with the requirements and expectations of a non-profit board of directors under U.S. law, and I consider all of them to be essential both for fulfilling the OTW’s role as a non-profit to serve the public interest – which I believe passionately, in this role of burgeoning threats to a free and open internet from Big Media, that we do and are – and for strengthening the OTW’s institutional infrastructure. In particular, I think the Board’s advisory and supervisor responsibilities are key. Once we have a strategic vision, it is essential that we on the Board make sure that our strategic vision is implemented successfully. (In my opinion, a good part of the Board’s current work boils down to actually realizing already articulated visions, and strengthening the foundations of existing projects.)

 

 

How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the org, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

Though I have been involved with a wide range of OTW projects, I am currently serving only on two committees, as a member of the Journal committee (through a courtesy appointment due to my status as one of the people writing for/running the TWC blog) and as Chair of I&O. I don’t anticipate, once the three of us on the TWC blog finish our project to redesign it, that continuing to write an average of one blog post a month will be too much of an additional strain on my time and resources. Although I’ve loved being Chair of I&O, I recognize that chairing a committee in addition to serving on Board is going to be too much, and I intend to co-Chair I&O for the 2013 term, with a firm commitment from me to phase out my Chairmanship by the end of next term (and probably by the beginning of the next election). Co-Chairing will allow the two of us to cover for each other while not leaving I&O bereft of stable leadership and not forcing me to default on my Board responsibilities, which can and should come before any individual committee.

2012 Candidate Manifesto – Eylul Dogruel

Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

1) I have a lot of ideas on what is going right and what is going wrong with OTW, and I do find myself often expressing these opinions to fellow staffers, volunteers and public. At some point, I realized that there is only so much you can do with backseat driving. Also, OTW being in the middle of a transition it is an important time to bring forward ideas and start dialogues.

2) There are board members and staffers that I work with that I respect, who are doing amazing work. I’d like to support them better, and help making the structure that supports them better.  

These two are the main reasons why I put my candidacy for the board.

 

 

What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

I have a background that combines art, design and computer science. My technical knowledge includes web technologies, usability, aesthetics and customer support. In terms of managing experience, I have been part of online communities from an early age, occasionally taking managing roles. In the OTW I have been the AD&T, QA lead in 2010, and I just took over Survey co-chairing.

In addition to this, my switching between several fields as well as my experience living in different cultures gave me the ability to translate and synthesize. I don’t mean translating literally languages but cultures and mindsets. I can think like an artist, then switch gears and think like a computer scientist or an usability designer. I can put my middle eastern hat on, but also combine that with my experience of living 7 years in USA, and with an even longer experience of interacting with western fandoms online. This allows me to sometimes help reformulating ideas from one side to another as well as bridge ideas to find out of box solutions to problems.

 

 

What is your vision for the direction of the organization over the next year and how do you see working with your fellow board members to accomplish it?

I want to see an OTW that structurally transitions from the equivalent of a start-up as a non-profit to one that is a larger organization. I think that we outgrew our structure and that it is causing a lot of symptoms, everything from some of the transparency issues to volunteer burnout.

Recently, in a blog post, I suggested a reorganization of the AD&T committee. I suggested splitting project managements away from volunteer managements, and to divide the volunteer managements into role based groups to ensure all of our technical volunteers were supported. The idea here was to identify and propose a solution to a problem, and to start a discussion on any concerns and alternatives. I do plan to continue this work as a board member collaborating with the rest of the board and the affected committees.

Another initiative that I plan to support toward a better org structure is the Strategic Planning Committee, which is already doing a fantastic job, and to ensure their findings and results are applied.

In addition to tackling structural problems, I’d like to support and initiate solutions to our transparency and diversity problems. More on that on the related questions.

 

 

What is your experience of the org’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Please include AO3, TWC, Fanlore, our Legal advocacy work and Open Doors, though feel free to emphasize particular areas of the org you’re interested in.
 
As a former staffer of AD&T, and currently as a member of the category change workgroup the primary project I have worked with as a volunteer is AO3. The rest of the projects I have interacted mainly as a user/reader, or followed their work through the news outlets.

I mentioned in the previous question some of my ideas on how to strengthen and support technical committees. I think it is crucial to better support technical volunteers that work for AO3, and also crucial to ensure Fanlore, TWC, Open Doors or any other projects that needs technical resources are equally supported. However, beyond that, this is a question I’d ask right back at the committees. My first action once I decided to run to the board was to begin talking to volunteers around the org, especially people working on projects and committees that I didn’t have a lot of interaction with. I chat with them informally about the work they do and asked what types of challenges they run into. I do plan to continue to do that through my role as a liaison and independently, so my IM and email is always open.

 

 

What does transparency mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

My approach to transparency is the same as my approach to design: iterative and user/audience centric.

It doesn’t matter if it is a feature, a layout, or an internal policy: ask early, ask often. Start and end with your audience whenever possible. This is why I’d like to see a better design process for OTW projects. This is why the open board sessions was a great idea. I’d like to see the organization that gets better at actively asking and seeking commentary, and at figuring out ways to accept internal and external criticism. We have already done some progress on these points, but we can get even better. This is partially an issue of organizational culture, but it is also an issue of inefficiencies that makes communication look like one extra hurdle in the middle of a sea of emergencies. This is why in part why reforming our structure and to make our work more efficient is important.

 

 

What does diversity mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

As a middle eastern fan I do notice first hand how US and Western centric OTW can be at times. It is why I decided to join I&O. It is not that OTW doesn’t want to be more diverse and that there isn’t any effort toward it. Quite the opposite. The problem, what it boils down to, is a mistake in approach. Diversity is not something one can add on top once the US-centric or western-media centric default is set in place or something the organization should only prioritize when noise becomes loud enough to become bad PR. Instead the focus to stay in equal distance to as many cultures and communities as possible has to be there from day one. It is tough but we need to start somewhere.

I do plan to continue to advocate for all forms of diversity in the organization whether it is regional, fannish or other in the organization as a board member and prioritize supporting any initiatives that comes from committees toward this goal.

 

 

What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?

The key responsibilities of the board is to set overall course and goals of the organization, keeping in consideration its role as a non-profit serving fans. Another key responsibility is to oversee and support the work committees do toward these goals. One place of improvement would be are the decisions of when to intervene with a committee, when not to, and to clarify goals, expectations and accountability so that it is more clear which case is which.

I am familiar with legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors.

 

 

How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the org, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

Right now my current works include Survey workgroup co-chair, I&O staffer and Category Change workgroup staffer. Time requirements of my staffer roles are flexible enough to not cause conflict with board work. Thus, right now the main concern is my position as Survey co-chair. The situation is a bit tricky in that we only took over in August, and didn’t have a lot of opportunity to start mentoring anyone to replace us. I have been discussing the situation with my co-chair through and we are looking at our options. I do plan to gradually hand over my management role there, over the next few months if at all possible.

2012 Candidate Manifesto – Franzeska Dickson

Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

We are at a delicate moment in OTW’s development. Much of the initial enthusiasm has flagged, but we’re not yet a mature organization. I am running for the Board because I have the stamina to help see us through what will likely be a difficult period. Truthfully, though, I view myself less as uniquely talented and more as uniquely situated: I have always used my real name in fandom, and I have the time and life situation needed to serve on the Board.

 

 

What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

I’ve been involved with OTW from the beginning and have experience in several parts of the organization. I’ve been in fandom for my entire adult life, through a lot of different online platforms, innumerable social changes, and many different types of communities. That kind of broad perspective is critical in Board decision-making to avoid unnecessarily narrowing the group of fans OTW is useful to.

 

 

What is your vision for the direction of the organization over the next year and how do you see working with your fellow board members to accomplish it?

Delegate, delegate, delegate. The Board needs to both guide committees in good management practices and serve as an example itself. I see significant room for improvement in our liaising, mentoring, and training practices. Some of that will happen at the committee level, but the Board needs to do its part. I think the next year should be a time to focus on broad issues of usefulness and accessibility across diverse groups of fans. I would like the Board to particularly focus on supporting our staff and volunteers involved in translation and outreach.

 

 

What is your experience of the org’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Please include AO3, TWC, Fanlore, our Legal advocacy work and Open Doors, though feel free to emphasize particular areas of the org you’re interested in.

I edit Fanlore and have run a challenge on AO3 as well as using it for posting fic and vids; I am also working on an oral history project. My experience of other projects is mostly as an interested bystander. For the majority of our projects, I would like to see the Board take a hands-off approach, allocating resources as needed but leaving decision-making to committees and workgroups. Some of these projects, especially Fanlore, would benefit from outreach and greater name recognition among fans, but I see that more as a committee (or a multi-committee) project than as a job for the Board.

The Board’s top project-specific priority over the next year should be improving the committee and management structures surrounding AO3. It is our most popular project with the most complicated arrangement of OTW staff and volunteers, and it has suffered in the past from a severe confusion of duties, priorities, and authority. Like all software development projects, it needs good project management and greater attention to different types of users. The Board needs to explore the various proposals to have an AO3 committee, to split AD&T, and so on.

 

 

What does transparency mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

Nonprofit transparency is about making the organization’s goals, values, and handling of money as clear as possible, even to a complete outsider. The type of transparency people usually talk about when criticizing OTW is slightly different: it’s more about not being able to find information and not feeling like people listen. It also clusters very heavily around certain issues: the media categories on AO3, tags, realistic projections for when items on the roadmap will be finished, etc. Improving how we manage AO3’s development will make such issues automatically clearer and will allow us to set more realistic goals and give more accurate date estimates.

The transformativeworks.org website should serve as a clearer introduction to OTW, and there are many areas where our FAQs could be improved. However, I feel that the Board should leave most of this to committees, especially in cases where the topic falls directly within the purview of one specific committee (e.g. tag wrangling).

I will make transparency part of my service by focusing on the root of the problem (bad management) rather than the symptoms (specific instances poor communication). I was initially dubious about the idea of an OTW forum but have come around to liking it.

 

 

What does diversity mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

Experience has shown us that lack of diversity has serious consequences. My personal pet topic has been “original work” (that means things like original slash, not non-fannish writing), which we used to ban from AO3. This made AO3 an unacceptable hosting location for a number of fandom communities and made people feel unwelcome without providing AO3 and OTW any significant benefits in exchange. While we can’t be all things to all fans, we need to stay aware of this type of tradeoff and weigh it against our mission and values. I fought hard to make original fannish writing better understood among OTW staff. The experience showed me that both consensus and straight votes have significant drawbacks for OTW at present: they are desirable on some issues, but on others, the Board or specific committees need to take a firm stance that future openness to a broad range of fannish cultures is more important than catering to the needs of current AO3 users or OTW supporters in the short term. As a board member, I will continue to defend fans’ right to define “fanworks” how they wish, whether they are from a part of fandom well-represented within OTW or not.

 

 

What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?

The key requirements for a board are to be ethical and to be responsible. As applied to OTW, I see this as a need to be realistic about the time commitment involved in board work, doing work promptly and being available when needed, and working to further our goals of protecting and preserving fanworks and fannish diversity.

 

 

How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the org, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

I have already retired from Abuse, and I plan to leave the Tag Wrangling Committee at the end of the term. I am currently on the Category Change Workgroup as a representative from the Tag Wrangling Committee; we are still discussing whether I should be a part of the workgroup next year or not.

2011 OTW Board Elections – Results

The results of the 2011 OTW election are in. In alphabetical order by family name, the newly-elected Board members are:

Julia Beck
Naomi Novik
Nikisha Sanders
Jenny Scott-Thompson

Congratulations to our newly-elected directors and many thanks to all our candidates! It’s been an honour to have such incredible and dedicated people running, and we are proud to work with every one.

Many thanks as well to all our voters for your participation this election season! We are likewise honoured to have so many fans contributing their voices. Thank you.

Please feel free to contact our Elections Officer, Ira Gladkova, with any questions. For an overview of the election process we used, a variety of preferential voting, see our voting process page.

2011 OTW Board Election Ballot Now Closed

The polls are now closed; many thanks to all our voters and candidates! This year, 555 out of 845 — 66% — of eligible voters cast their ballot. If you would like to pick up an “I Voted!” banner, please check our previous post!

Our awesome staff are working on the election results right now. As per our Elections Timeline, if we don’t have the results ready by midnight UTC (check the time in your area), we’ll post a status report. The deadline for posting the election results is Monday, 21 November. After that, 23 November is the deadline for candidates to request recounts, revotes, or clarification of results, and, if any revote is determined to be necessary, it will take place no later than 7 December. Finally, 9 December will be rollover day, when we welcome our newly elected Board members.

2011 OTW Board Elections – 12 Hours Left to Vote!

We’re now 12 hours away from the end of the voting period — polls close at noon UTC 18 Nov (check the time in your area)! So far, an amazing 60% of eligible voters (505 out of 845) have submitted their ballots.

Thank you to all who have voted so far! We’ve heard a couple calls for something along the lines of “I Voted” stickers, so we’ve whipped one up and made it available below for your use. Anyone else who would like to make graphics is welcome to share them as well!

For anyone who has yet to vote, remember to check your eligibility (membership donation between 1 Oct 2010 and 17 Oct 2011), then check your inboxes for your voter emails! Those contain your voter account username and instructions for setting your password, which you can use to log in with your voter account. Once you’re logged in, the ballot can be found here, and you can read about our candidates here. Questions? Contact the OTW Elections Officer.

Graphic displaying text 'I Voted!' in black on a white field. A red OTW logo replaces the letter O

Feel free to link this graphic by copying the text below the image and pasting it into your journal or website!