Andrea Horbinski

Andrea Horbinski is a candidate for the 2015 election. For more information, see Andrea Horbinski’s Bio & Manifesto.

Andrea answered the following Q&A questions:

Andrea also participated in 3 candidate chats:

Chat Transcript with Alex Tischer, Aline Carrão, Andrea Horbinski, Atiya Hakeem, Katarina Harju, and Matty Bowers – October 30, 2015

Anna Temel
Let’s get this started! 😀

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! My name is Anna and I’m a member of the Elections Committee. I’ll be hosting today.

This is the last in a series of five 90-minute-long chats with our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Alex Tischer, Aline Carrão, Andrea Horbinski, Atiya Hakeem, Katarina Harju, and Matty Bowers. The purpose of these chats is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Transcripts of this chat will be posted publicly on our website.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished asking your question.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Refer to everyone in the room by the name given in the sidebar for them. Don’t use other names you may know them by.

– Please keep questions reasonable and polite (these are our expectations: http://elections.transformativeworks.org/node/534).

– Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://elections.transformativeworks.org/candidatebios/2015) or the Q&A (http://elections.transformativeworks.org/node/512). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

ok, that’s it for the intro! do we have any questions? 🙂

Priscilla D.
o/

Anna Temel
Please go ahead, Priscilla! 🙂

Priscilla D.
What do you think are the biggest challenges the org has in the road ahead with regards to changing its internal tools? I realise a review of our tools is a future goal in the SP—I would like to hear each candidate’s point of view regarding which internal tools they think are most important to reassess, and why this is essential for the org. /done

Anna Temel
thank you for your question! Please give our candidates a moment to type

Alex T.
I think we really have to consider moving away from basecamp. They’ve stopped work on Campfire completely and Basecamp itself isn’t that great a tool in itself.

We’ve been trialing a different chat system for Translation and it is amazing what a difference a functional mobile client makes for collaborativ work /done

Atiya
I think our chat/meeting tool is the most important, both because Campfire isn’t currently being supported by 37 Signals, and because it has some intrinsic limitations that make inter-committee communication harder (definite defined rooms, for example). I think improving our chat tool will really pay off in terms of creating a better atmosphere with more interaction, within and between committees – that would help with volunteer retention, breaking down silos, etc. Our experiments with a new tool recently have been very promising. /done

Katarina H.
I think finding a new chat tool would be important, since that’s an important communication tool for the whole organization. Chat is one of the primary ways a lot of committees communicate and it should be something that’s easy to use and works well. We all know that Campfire is far from ideal, and there’s no support offered for it anymore, so sooner or later we’ll have to move. /done

Aline C.
I would love to see something new to substitute Basecamp and campfire, both of those are considerable outdated and lack functionalities like being usable on mobile and tablets. Basecamp having the additional downside of not being accessible to volunteers that are cot staff. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. Aside from the results of a general security review, which I suspect will yield a lot of recommendations for specific changes we can make to improve our general practices, I think the most important tool(s) we need to reassess is actually Basecamp and Campfire. They’ve served us well for many years and when the OTW started they were basically the only game in town, but at this point a lot of people actually have trouble making them work on modern devices, neither of them are being actively developed (we’re on Basecamp Classic), and we need to be looking into moving on to something that better fits our needs, including a mobile client that works across platforms. I would expect that we’ll wind up on a combination of different tools that can integrate with each other, since that’s another thing that’s come a long way since the org began. /done

Matty Bowers
Two of our major tools are no longer being supported – Basecamp and Campfire. This means we won’t see any new features or updates to functionality. I’d love to find replacements for both, especially for our chat tool. We do have committees trialing one new tool in particular, and it’s already been hugely beneficial for all those involved. /done

Anna Temel
Thanks! Priscilla, do you have any follow-ups?

Priscilla D.
I do, a quick one, optional, just for whichever candidates happen to want to answer

Anna Temel
sure! please go ahead

Priscilla D.
Many of you mentioned chat tools, which I definitely agree with 100%, but in addition to that, have any of you used audio/video conferencing for OTW work? Do you think the org should use that kind of resource more?

/done

Er, *all 😀

Alex T.
Oh, we’ve done a lot of brainstorming for our long reports in Translation via Skype. It works amazingly well to just bounce ideas of each other /done

Atiya
I’ve used video conferencing for work-work (and for fandom writing discussion), but not actually in the Org. I do think it would be an excellent thing to experiment with. /done

Matty Bowers
I haven’t yet, but I’d love to try it out in the future. I know it’s worked quite well for those committees who have used it. /done

Aline C.
We have used Skype for brainstorming and non-official meetings in Translation, and I really like the results. We managed to get a lot done in considerable less time while talking to each other via audio. I do think we should this used more by the org. We are a all-online non-profit composed of mostly tech savvy people, there is no reason we shouldn’t explore it. /done

Andrea H.
The Board has used Skype for some of its work. I’ve actually advocated that we explore getting a conference call service for the org–I’ve previously used Turbobridge and found it to be pretty great, but there are a lot of options. Voice communications can definitely be a lot more efficient in certain contexts and can help to get to know people better, which is always nice in an all-digital organization like the OTW. So yes, it’s definitely something that I think is worth exploring using more, at least for certain projects or committees. /done

Katarina H.
Like Alex said, there’s been quite a bit of that for Translation work, and I think it can be an effective tool for certain kinds of work. /done

Alex T.
Actually, let me add to that, I think it should be used a lot more, certainly /done for real

Anna Temel
(are you 100% sure Alex? :D)

ok, thanks, anything else, Priscilla? 🙂

Alex T.
(I’ll let you know if I change my mind, ok?)

Anna Temel
(sure! :D)

Priscilla D.
Yep 😀 Thank you all! No, no follow-ups.

syllic
o/

Anna Temel
Yes, syllic?

syllic
Thanks Anna. Hey guys, this is for everyone. I apologise because it kind of sounds like something you ask at a bad office retreat, but I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it!

What one weakness do you see in current Board operations that is a good match for one of your strengths, and what is an area/skillset that you are weak on that you see as being essential to Board operations? How do you plan to strengthen that area/skillset? (Andrea, I realise that your answer may be about things you are already doing/currently perceive)

/done

Anna Temel
good question! thanks! 🙂

Alex T.
I am very good at time management, triage and working to deadlines under pressure – it kind of comes with my job, emergency work is nothing but – and I think that is something current Board operations seem to need.

For weaknessess, I have a tendency to micromanage if I don’t check it (it is something that I have to watch in my RL job every day). I think taking a steop back and looking at the big picture while trusting in others to do the fiddly work is a very important thing for Board to be able to do. /done

Matty Bowers
One area I think Board needs to work on more is updating/creating documentation; this is something I’ve done quite a bit of in Support and Abuse. Both committees started out with very little, and most of what was there was completely outdated. It was a huge chore getting our documentation up to where it needed to be, but we did it! I’m hoping this is an area I can assist in as Board.

One potential weak area for me is my lack of connections outside the OTW. I do think Board members should be actively involved in outreach; this is something I’ll need to really work on if I’m elected. /done

Aline C.
One of my strengths that would help a weakness I see in Board is the communication with staff and volunteers—I already work in close contact with people in several committees and really enjoy chatting with people and getting to know them. A weakness I have is not working on things too far in advance: I need a deadline and a schedule, and to know that other people depend on me. That’s why working in a team helps put me to work, and I think Board would be a good fit for that, just like committee work has been. /done

Atiya
I think communication has been a big problem, between Board and the staff, volunteers, and members, and also (my perception) between Board members. As my fellow Org volunteers know, I have a tendency to communicate…a lot. My reaction to any disagreement is to immediately talk about it, and my experience in Support has helped me at being able to do so productively. I would say that something I need to improve on is the ability to delegate. Working with great teams of people in the Org has helped me be able to let go a bit and trust others to get things done properly. /done

Katarina H.
I think one of my strengths would be the fact that I’ve worked as a bookkeeper/accountant (sorry, we only have one word for both in my languages) for several years, so I’m comfortable with talking about and working with finance issues. My weakness sort of relates to that; the OTW is based in the US and I’m not that knowledgable about US-specific nonprofit laws and accounting, but I’ve been reading up on a lot of it already and I will continue to do so (the basic principles and best practices tend to be pretty similar to what I’m already familiar with). /done

Atiya
(and thanks for a good question!)

Andrea H.
Thanks, that’s a great question. As a director and the Secretary I think the biggest overall weakness in the Board’s general operations is that our mandate is just too big for any group of volunteers: to review, we’re currently acting as both a managing board (also called an executive board) and a governing board, and the workload is just too much. We each are putting in at least ten hours a week and sometimes as many as forty, and we meet for two hours just about every week–all of that is an unheard of commitment even for a managing board, and it means that we’re constantly running to do the bare minimum of what we have to do to keep the Org running and to make sure that we’re fulfilling our legal responsibilities. We wind up relying on chairs and committees to work independent of all but the most basic oversight, which gives people the chance to rise to the occasion but also the chance to flame out spectacularly, as has happened with at least one committee chair this year. And since we act collectively, adding more directors would just exacerbate the inefficiency problem since that would mean having to work with more people’s schedules (which is doubly difficult since we’re from all over the world, rather than just a few timezones). My background and skills/experience is actually decently suited to staying on top of the kind of procedural workload we have to deal with, and it’s one reason that I retained the Secretary job in 2015. Another thing I have that the Board needs is a lot of personal connections and experience in the wider spheres in which the OTW operates such as copyright and open culture advocacy, and we can always use more directors who have that kind of resume. But the thing that we fall down on as a whole is being able to offer the kind of personal management and one-on-one mentorship that some committees need and that is also something that I’m not personally the best at. I tend to be much better at vision and at infrastructural trouble-shooting. /done

Anna Temel
thanks for the answers! do you have any follow-ups, syllic?

puckling
o/

syllic
Sorry Anna just reading Andrea’s answer, one sec.

C. Ryan Smith
o/ (not a follow up)

Anna Temel
ok, no problem! 🙂

syllic
No follow-ups. Thanks so much to all.

Anna Temel
oki! we’re moving to you puckling, then C. Ryan Smith 🙂

puckling
As you are probably aware, there was a recent incident in these elections chats involving a current board member. My understanding is that an internal apology was issued to some, but not all, OTW staff. No comment was made publicly by the organization. In your view, what is the ideal handling of an issue like this? /done

Anna Temel
thanks!

Before the candidates answer, I know MJ has something to say – please go ahead.

M. J. MacRae
Thanks for the question puckling. Let me answer it since its directed at my actions. If the candidates would like to add to this afterwards please go ahead. First, I am sorry my apology did not go out to all org volunteers that was a miscommunication.

here is my apology in full:

As some of you may know, I recently participated in two of the election chats using a pseudonym, sbarmarj, that I have used for many years as my fannish identity. I owe an apology to the organization, to the Elections Committee, all the candidates, and to my fellow board members for this decision. My intention was never to mislead the organization or disrespect the election process. My decision was based on the desire to participate in the election process as a voting member of the Organization for Transformative Works when I felt that I could not do so because of my position as a Director. However, I realize that my actions were misguided and wrong. I regret my decision to use my pseudonym, and I apologize for my actions.

While the OTW welcomes pseudonymous participation, that does not mean that it was appropriate for me, as a Board member, to use mine in the chat. It was inconsistent with principles of openness and transparency, and with a culture of trust that I hope to promote. I regret that my actions detrimentally conflicted with these important goals, and I promise in the future to conduct myself in a fashion that better promotes openness, transparency, and trust.

In short, I participated in the chat solely in my personal capacity, and not in my capacity as a Director or on behalf of the Board of Directors. The other directors did not have any knowledge of my actions and do not condone what I did.

I hope you will accept my apology and understand that I never intended to mislead anyone, to disrespect the organization, or to influence the election in any way. I look forward to working with whomever the membership elects.

Respectfully,

MJ MacRae (sbarmarj)

I am happy to discuss this in great detail one on one, but I don’t want to take time from the candidates.

puckling
Thank you very much for your apology MJ /done

M. J. MacRae
you can email me at the http://transformativeworks.org/contact/otw%20board

/done

Anna Temel
Thanks!

We’ll move on now!

C. Ryan Smith, please go ahead!

C. Ryan Smith
Many of you have been openly critical of the current Board of Directors in the past. While I think everyone (including those on the Board itself) can agree that there have been things that they have done wrong, there are also things that they have done right! Could you please name one thing that you think the current OTW Board has done “right” (I was going to ask about something the Board could improve upon, but I feel syllic’s question covered that greatly)? These things could range from actions, stances on a subject, major Org-related decisions, etc). /done

Anna Temel
thanks for great question!

puckling
o/

Aline C.
I’m really excited about the approval of a contractor to work in the Archive full time. /done

Matty Bowers
Many volunteers have been asking for a budget for years. We’re thrilled to finally see one being worked on for the coming year. /done

Atiya
I think that having a budget for 2016 is definitely a step in the right direction. /done

Alex T.
The one thing I can think of is that they managed to come up with a statement during the last membership drive that answered a couple of the questions that people were asking /done

Katarina H.
I really liked the office-hours that some Board members were doing to communicate with fellow volunteers. Basically it just involved a Board member hanging around in chat and anyone was welcome to come and talk with them. I’m sad that those haven’t been happening anymore. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. 🙂 I’ve said elsewhere that it’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with this year’s Board, and aside from the specific things we’ve done this year like authorizing a coding contractor for AD&T, putting together the 2016 budget, and supervising an all-time high in fundraising–thanks to the hard work of DevMem, Translation, and many other committees–I think the Board over the arc of my current term deserves a lot of credit for acknowledging that the OTW had and has significant structural problems that needed to be fixed, and supporting the Strategic Planning committee and process in particular but also committees like Volunteers & Recruiting revamping their processes and imposing much more stringent procedural requirements on the rest of the organization for recruiting and other things. There’s a lot to be done on the documentation end–so many of the goals in the Strategic Plan relate to documentation–but I can’t overemphasize enough how good and even remarkable it is that the OTW as a whole and the Board in particular acknowledged that there were problems and also had the willingness to fix them. I speak from personal experience when I say that that’s not something that every organization has by any means, and I’m really convinced that it augurs very well for the OTW’s long-term sustainability, provided that future Boards can sustain that momentum and adhere to the strategic plan and that process. /done

Anna Temel
thanks! any follow-ups?

C. Ryan Smith
No follow ups from me, Anna, thanks.

Anna Temel
thank you! Puckling? 🙂

puckling
This is a follow up to my earlier question: I really do appreciate MJ’s apology. It’s good to see more transparency from the board and to have that addressed publicly; but will any of the candidate be answering my question about how they would handle a similar situation? I’m trying to get an understanding of how candidates would handle a difficult situation involving the board, rather than about this situation in particular. MJ’s apology is sufficient for the latter and like I said I appreciate it. /done

Anna Temel
We need to discuss this one, please give us few secs

Qem
o/ after

Anna Temel
*elevator music* 😀

briar_pipe
Hi puckling, sorry for the wait. We have 56 Q&A responses to review, but we knew this topic had already been covered. Please check out the candidates’ answers to the last question in this set for a good sense of how they would respond to a situation like this: http://elections.transformativeworks.org/taxonomy/term/58

puckling
okay, thank you

/done

briar_pipe
/done, sorry Anna…

Anna Temel
(i was about to “Is that all? :))))” you 🙁 )

ok! moving on!

Qem, please go ahead!

Qem
As an online organisation we communicate with each other, and other committees primarily over email and chat. We all know that it’s common for misunderstandings to occur with the broad backgrounds the people we’re speaking to may come from (with different connotations of particular words etc) and lack of body language/tone to help modulate. Are there any techniques you find effective for getting your meaning across in an understandable way and reducing potential future misunderstandings?

Anna Temel
Is that all? 🙂 😀

Qem
Yup!

Anna Temel
oki! thank you!

Qem
(sorry forgot the /done /o\)

Anna Temel
(no worries, i take huge pleasure in asking people if that’s all 😀 )

(no sarcasm there! :D)

Carli A.
o/

Alex T.
I overuse emoji to a disgusting degree, but they are a very effective help at getting meaning across. I also have a generally very straightforward way of communicating in the first place, that tends to help, especially when speaking to other non-native speakers. /done

Atiya
My usual technique is just to keep talking until we seem to be on the same page. Brevity may be the soul of wit (as the Archive posting form tells us) but terseness can be the enemy of clarity. I think it’s also important to use a more polite tone online, until one knows someone well. Of course, one can also employ :fish: various :whale: emoji :cat: . :hamster: (i. e. /done)

(sorry for transcript!)

Anna Temel
(Krystal will have to worry about this *evil smile*)

Aline C.
Personally I find it very helpful to be more explicit and direct in my messages. Don’t assume something is a given, explain yourselves and make sure the other person is in the same page. I also try to make sure to explain inside jokes and shorthands to newcomers, since those can sound hostile for someone without context. /done

Katarina H.
Try to be as clear as possible, remember that humour doesn’t always come across very well, or any other tone either. I’m naturally and culturally rather brief and straightforward in my communication, which helps in with being understandable. IF misunderstandings happen, or if you think it might happen, don’t be afraid of explaining yourself. /done

Matty Bowers
I think it’s important to assume good faith when communicating; often misunderstandings happen because people read more into a statement than was intended. Also, if I’m worried I’m misunderstanding what someone is saying, I’ll try to restate it to ensure we are on the same page. /done

Katarina H.
(sorry for random capitals, my fingers are getting stiff and refusing to hit the right keys again /o\)

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. I was chair and co-chair of I&O for two years, and this was a topic that we talked about constantly, from multiple angles. I’m really looking forward to I&O developing training for the organization as a whole related to these issues of inclusion and cross-cultural interaction, and hopefully they’ll include general guidelines and reminders for all of us about these sorts of issues. One thing I’ve wound up doing is to try not to assume that the other person is coming from the same background/knowledge/experience/whatever, which usually means that I wind up being a bit more verbose than I might in a more homogeneous setting. Another thing I try to do is constantly ask explicitly whether I need to clarify or restate anything that I’ve said, and also to explicitly clarify about my own thoughts/feelings/background assumptions so that the other person knows where I’m coming from–some of that is the kind of thing that is often conveyed non-verbally face-to-face, so I try to make up for it by using even more words. I also try to be very explicit and specific in order to reduce potential future misunderstandings. Also, either not using in-jokes or explaining all cultural references definitely helps to include as many people as possible. /done

Anna Temel
Thank you guys! Qem, do you have follow-ups?

Qem
no follow ups at the moment!

Anna Temel
ok! thank you very much then! <3

We’ll move to Carli now! 🙂

Carli A.
Currently there are discussions within/outside the Org regarding over-extension of finances and personnel. Let’s ignore those! In an ideal world, what fandom-related project would you love to see the Org undertake? (E.g., Open Doors, TWC, Fanlore.) — My apologies to those candidates who already answered this at the last Chat!

Anna Temel
(ekhm, Carli, i really don’t want to ask… :D)

Alex T.
(Can I just c&p my last answer here again?)

Carli A.
(sure!)

/done

(for Anna)

Anna Temel
:3

thank you

Alex T.
(Now I wish I had a last answer. I think I don’t xD )

Matty Bowers
(c/p from last chat) A few years ago people were drafting plans for a vid related project, unfortunately the people behind it had to step away. I’d love to have the resources to get that project moving forward again! /done

Andrea H.
pasting my answer from the previous chat:
Thanks for the question! I’m a vidder, and I’d love for us to have the monetary, legal, and server resources to host vids on the Archive. Hopefully we’ll get there some day–and in the meantime, hopefully we can get fan art on the archive in the much nearer future. /done

Aline C.
From last chat: It’s hard to consider entirely new projects with so much already in our plate, and I would certainly prioritize improving our current projects over new ones, but in a ideal world it might be nice to see the org supporting a more social platform for fannish engagement and exchanges like LJ, DW, forums etc. /done

Atiya
At the moment I really think it’s most important for us to focus on the non-ideal world we’re in and get our house in order. If I could dream, though, I’d like to have more con outreach and OTW organizing of RL-space activities for Org people to interact with each other and fandom. (I’d also love direct hosting of vids, audio, and fanart, but that’s more an improvement to our existing project of the Archive, to me, than a new thing.) /done

Alex T.
Man, these questions all blend together in my head by now, I was so _sure_ I had answered that xD

Coming up with a completely new project is a bit much, I think I would rather see the Archive expanded and strengthened too. Hosting more work types like vids or podfic, improving OD import powers, that kind of thing /done

Katarina H.
I’m not entirely sure about what kind of project I’d want to do, but in an ideal world I’d definitely love to do something to help podfic and podficcers. I’d mention hosting podfic (and other types of media) on AO3, but you asked about new projects, so I won’t say that. 😀 /done

Carli A.
Thank you all!

Anna Temel
Thanks!

That was our last question… this year? :O

Huge thanks to everyone present!

Chat Transcript with Aline Carrão, Andrea Horbinski, and Matty Bowers – October 25, 2015

Anna Temel
Ok, we’re going to start the official chat now! 🙂

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! My name is Anna and I’m a member of the Elections Committee. I’ll be hosting today.

This is the third in a series of five 90-minute-long chats with our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Aline Carrão, Andrea Horbinski, and Matty Bowers. The purpose of these chats is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Transcripts of this chat will be posted publicly on our website.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished asking your question.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Refer to everyone in the room by the name given in the sidebar for them. Don’t use other names you may know them by.

– Please keep questions reasonable and polite (these are our expectations: http://elections.transformativeworks.org/node/534).

– Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candi…) or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2…). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

Let’s get started! If anyone has a question, please raise your hand 🙂

Isa
o/

Anna Temel
Yes, Isa?

Isa
Give me a minute to type

This question is for Andrea: You are the only candidate that is on the ballot that did not answer all of the questions submitted via Q&A. Why?

Anna Temel
Thanks Isa!

Please give Andrea a minute to type, too 🙂

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. In the past three and a half weeks I’ve moved from Japan to California to Belgium, attended the OTW Board’s annual meeting in Vancouver, and made trips to Denver and Hawaii on top of carrying out my work as a director and as Secretary. In other words, I’ve been extremely busy and didn’t always have reliable internet. I wish I could have completed all the questions, but unfortunately I haven’t yet acquired a time-turner! /done

Anna Temel
Thanks Andrea! Isa, do you have any follow-ups?

Isa
Not for now

Anna Temel
Ok! Do we have more questions?

syllic
o/

Anna Temel
Please go on, syllic!

syllic
Thanks Anna. My question is for Andrea as well. Hi, Andrea. The current Board has spoken a lot about confidentiality policies and how they relate to transparency. Two chats ago you mentioned you would “try to educate the OTW membership about what confidentiality means in the context of a non-profit so that they can have more reasonable expectations about transparency”. Could you give a quick summary of what it means to you, and perhaps of the current policies in place governing your decisions to disclose/not disclose info?

Anna Temel
is that all, syllic?

syllic
Sorry! /done

Anna Temel
no problem! thank you for the question!

Nerine Luna C.
o/

CJ R.
o/

Anna Temel
Nerine, we’ll get to you right after Andrea answers, if syllic won’t have any follow-ups 🙂

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. The short answer is that the Board of Directors is bound to keep a lot of information about the OTW and/or the Board’s decisions and/or operations confidential in order to safeguard the organization. We’ve seen first-hand that a lot of people don’t understand what that means or that in many cases that it’s not that we don’t want to discuss these things with larger sets of people; it’s that we’re simply bound as directors not to do so because we’re bound to put the good of the organization as a whole first. In terms of my decisions, like everyone on the Board, I’m bound by these principles and specific advice from the organization’s counsel. If you have more specific questions about what directors can and can’t talk about, I’d actually suggest you consult Legal, as they are the organization’s counsel and they can give you the most specific answers, since they are actually lawyers. /done

syllic
Thanks very much Andrea. Anna, I have a follow up?

Anna Temel
please go on!

syllic
This is for all candidates: given what Andrea highlighted above re: possible misunderstanding from OTW members regarding confidentiality, if elected, would you consider publishing a kind of “Confidentiality: What it means, what it covers, and the legal underpinnings”-type post on the site? /done

Anna Temel
Thank you! Give our candidates a moment to type. Then, if you have no more follow ups, we’ll move to Nerine, then to CJ R.

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. This is actually something that the current Board is discussing doing at some point in the near future, though not necessarily in the form of a blog post, or not just in the form of a blog post. The Non-Profit 101 chats that were held about a year ago might be another good model; that would be specifically targeted at OTW personnel. /done

Aline C.
I have nothing against posting something like this. It would require input from Legal and the whole board so the information is based in our concrete case and address the limitations the OTW specifically have, but in general I like the idea. /done

Matty Bowers
I think having a document that clearly outlines Board’s confidentiality policy should be mandatory and would help clear up quite a bit of confusion. /done

syllic
One final follow-up, Anna.

This is for Andrea (or for any other candidate who can answer; asking her as current Board member). You mentioned contacting Legal: how would a member go about doing that? /done

Anna Temel
Thank you!

Andrea H.
Their email is http://transformativeworks.org/contact/legal /done

syllic
Thank you so much to all three of you for your answers and for standing. I really appreciate it. /done

syllic
And thanks Anna for moderating.

Anna Temel
Thanks for the questions, syllic! Nerine please go on, then CJ R.

Nerine Luna C.
This question is for all three candidates. It’s my understanding that the Code of Conduct doesn’t apply to the Board – which I assume is because it’s needed to be able to run the OTW/legal reasons? However, I assume we all agree that we would want a Board that behaves along the lines of the CoC, as long as it doesn’t directly interfere with their need to run the OTW, and generally behaves appropriately – towards the rest of the Board, towards the rest of the Organisation, towards OTW members, and towards basically everyone else. What do you think should be done to make sure there are safeguards in place to make sure a (future) Boardmember would not behave in an unbecoming way, and how would you want to make sure Boardmembers are held accountable for possible violations?

Anna Temel
is that all, Nerine? 🙂

Nerine Luna C.
Oh, I’m sorry. /done

Anna Temel
No problem! 🙂 Thank you for the question, please give our candidates a moment.

Muriel
o/

Aline C.
As far as I know, the Code of Conduct is applicable to board members, but it can’t be enforced, since you couldn’t remove a director from the OTW, only volunteers and staff, as a result of misconduct. That may change now that there is a procedure for board members to vote one of their own out of the board, but even so, that means that only other board members can be the judges of when a board member is out of line. I believe the essential element here is to put in place a way to mediate and, if necessary, remove a board member that doesn’t fall under board’s exclusive purview, one that can be used in last-case scenarios. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. One very positive consequence of the Board’s decision to amend the bylaws to allow for removal of directors by the Board itself is that directors can now be subject to the CCAP process. At the annual meeting the VolCom representatives present said that they might want to rewrite the language of the CCAP policy a little bit to reflect that fact, as the policy is currently written from the standpoint of committee chairs. But, in principle, it seems that CCAP can actually now apply to the Board, which is a very good thing as it should, like you say, hopefully make for a healthier Board and healthier organization overall. /done

Matty Bowers
This is a troubling issue; while a complaint can be filed, it can’t actually be enforced without the rest of Board’s support. If they ignore the complaint, there isn’t much else that can be done. This is one reason I’d like to give our members access to the rights given to them in our Bylaws – they should be able to vote out a Board member who is no longer acting in the best interests of the organization.

I do think we need another way to enforce complaints filed against a Board member that does not solely rely on Board’s active involvement. I would probably want to speak with Volcom and Legal to see what options are available. /done

Anna Temel
Nerine, do you have any follow-ups?

Nerine Luna C.
Yes, I have.

Anna Temel
Please go ahead!

Nerine Luna C.
Andrea, both Aline and Matty mention thinking about putting in place something or someone outside of Board who would be able to enforce a complaint being acted upon if, for example, the Board seems to ignore the complaint. Would you also be in favour of such an option? /done

Anna Temel
thank you!

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. It’s an interesting idea and definitely worth considering. The Ombuds Committee, when it’s in place, should definitely be able to handle some issues involving directors, or at least that was part of the concept in principle when we approved the proposal last year. However, since the directors are the people who are legally responsible for the OTW, that does mean that there are legal constraints on how complaints involving them can be dealt with. That was part of the reason the current Board amended the bylaws to allow for removal of directors by the Board; it gives us a way to police ourselves and makes us responsible to each other in a way that we weren’t before, and it also makes us subject to CCAP. /done

Anna Temel
Thank you Andrea. Nerine, any more questions?

Nerine Luna C.
No thank you, I’ll give the floor to someone else 🙂

Annal Temel
Thanks! CJ R, please go ahead, then Muriel.

CJ R.

The OTW has a number of rather diverse projects, in spite of the common “the Archive and other things” view much of fandom seems to have. While communications within single projects (such as the Archive-related committees) is very effective, it’s very easy for one group of volunteers (say, wranglers) to have no idea what another (say, journal) group is doing. Across a volunteer team that’s crossed the 500-person line, this has lead to communications “silos”, and could influence some of the oft-discussed volunteer burnout, as well as prevent more synergistic efforts between teams. It’s hard to expect the general public to know what we do and why to support us when some of our own volunteers aren’t there. It also prevents volunteer and staff development into roles that might interest them or fit their talents better.

In other large multi-interest non-profits, it’s the responsibility of the leadership team to coordinate cross-project interaction. Do you have any thoughts on how you, and Board as a whole, would help promote and facilitate more effective internal, intercommittee communication? /done

Anna Temel
Thanks for bringing your question!

CJ R.
(sorry, for clarity, that’s to all and sundry.)

Anna Temel
(no worries! I should’ve noticed that /o\ :D)

Sofia
o/ (I’d just like to clarify something that’s been mentioned, if possible?)

Carli A.
o/

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. It’s definitely an issue that we’re aware of and that we’re looking forward to solving during the implementation of the strategic plan, which specifically mentions involving chairs and other OTW personnel in the operations of the organization as a whole to a greater extent. At this point it’s difficult to say for sure what exactly that will involve, partly because it will depend on how the Board itself winds up solving the issue of its current workload. The fact that OTW personnel are so geographically distributed is also an additional complication that a lot of organizations simply don’t have to deal with–but since we’re not all sharing an office, we’ll have to get a little more creative. In the meantime, the Communications committee does a lot of great work covering the work of all the OTW projects beyond the Archive, and if anyone is curious about what they’re working on, I definitely recommend starting there. /done

Matty Bowers
I agree, this has very much been an issue. It’s one that I know many of the chairs I work with regularly have been attempting to remedy. I feel that our current communication tools contribute to the problem; one thing I’d like to do is investigate other options available to us. I know a few of our committees are trialing out other tools that seem to be working amazingly well. As a Board member, I’d like to actively encourage committees to seek out new tools that will help them do their job better.

I’d also like to encourage all committees (and Board!) to submit reports for our monthly newsletters; these are very effective at keeping volunteers updated on basic happenings around the organization. On a less formal level, I’d love to see us start holding more informal chat meetings once in a while – we use to celebrate various milestones in chat, and those informal parties were great for introducing people and opening lines of communication. /done

Aline C.
It’s my experience so far inside the organization that, once the opportunity presents itself, most volunteers are interested in the work that’s being done in other parts of the organization, and many are up to helping with it. So in my opinion, the best way the board can help promote internal communication is by providing the tools and spaces for it to happen. We need to facilitate and give incentive to informal chat and shared, open spaces, breaking down barriers and allowing volunteers to feel comfortable talking to volunteers in other committees (and in board itself) and asking questions, while at the same time making sure that up-to-date information is available on the internal wiki to those who may be interested in learning more about other people’s work. /done

Anna Temel
thanks guys! anything else, CJ? 🙂

CJ R.
nope, I’m good.

Anna Temel
ok! thanks! We dedcided to stick to the order, so we’ll move to Muriel, then Sofia, then Carli.

Muriel
So my turn now?

Anna Temel
yes! please go ahead! 🙂

Muriel
The Board’s in-person meeting this year was early October, after the candidates were announced but before the election. My question is to all candidates. From the Q&A I’ve understood not all of you are in favour of annual in-person meetings, but assuming they will continue to happen every year: what is your opinion on the timing of the Board meeting, particularly considering that departing members were involved in making decisions that will impact the organization for the next years, but not the (future) newly elected members who will be involved in implementing those decisions? In addition, some of the Q&A answers pointed out the benefit of in-person meetings in helping the Board members work together. It seems this would be especially true for new Board members who don’t yet know the people they’ll be working with, and less so for the departing ones. What is your opinion on this? /done

Anna Temel
Thank you for your question, Muriel!

Aline C.
I believe if the board retreats keep happening going forward they should take place at the beginning of the term, allowing the new board members to get to know current directors and making sure they people making decisions will be there for the implementation steps. /done

Matty Bowers
If in-person meetings continue, I would very much like to change the timing. I believe it could be beneficial to meet with new Board members fairly soon in the term to help get them up to speed on how things work and introduce them to the various projects being worked on. Financially, it also makes sense to invest in new Board members vs paying travel expenses for people who will be leaving Board in a just couple months. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. The current Board has had discussions about all of the points you mention, and in particular the desirability of having directors-elect attend the annual meetings: it happened to be the case last year that two of the three incoming directors attended the annual meeting in their capacity as staffers, and it definitely helped us to get to know one another in advance. It’s an issue with a lot of pros and cons to consider, but ultimately there’s nothing stopping the organization from moving the elections forward in order to enable directors-elect to attend, or from moving the annual meetings to some time in the first quarter–due to reasons of costs it doesn’t really make any sense to have the annual meetings from about April through August, given that that timespan is the high season in terms of travel costs basically worldwide. However, there’s advantages in keeping the annual meetings at the same spot in the calendar where they are now, particularly since we’re planning to keep approving the budgets at them and the OTW’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. All of this may be affected by such things as the implementation of candidate training for director candidates, too. So, it’s definitely something that I’m very open to continuing to discuss, but it’s a decision that will have to be made by the whole Board in consultation with other committees and in consideration of a lot of specific details. /done

Anna Temel
Muriel, do you have any follow-ups?

Muriel
No, thank you all for your answers!

Anna Temel
Thanks! We’re moving to Sofia now, then Carli

Sofia
Thank you! Regarding the answer given to Nerine’s last question: I have recently looked at the Ombuds Committee Proposal and even discussed it with a couple of Board members—I would just like to clarify that an ombudsperson can only mediate disputes, not solve them or act on them. Sorry for the interruption! /done

Anna Temel
Thanks Sofia!

Carli, please go ahead

Carli A.
This is to all the Candidates! Currently there are discussions within/outside the Org regarding over-extension of finances and personnel. Let’s ignore those. In an ideal world, what fandom-related project would you love to see the Org undertake? (E.g., Open Doors, TWC, Fanlore.)

Anna Temel
is that all, Carli? 🙂

Carli A.
yes!

Anna Temel
thank you! 🙂

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question! I’m a vidder, and I’d love for us to have the monetary, legal, and server resources to host vids on the Archive. Hopefully we’ll get there some day–and in the meantime, hopefully we can get fan art on the archive in the much nearer future. /done

Matty Bowers
A few years ago people were drafting plans for a vid related project, unfortunately the people behind it had to step away. I’d love to have the resources to get that project moving forward again! /done

Aline C.
It’s hard to consider entirely new projects with so much already in our plate, and I would certainly prioritize improving our current projects over new ones, but in a ideal world it might be nice to see the org supporting a more social platform for fannish engagement and exchanges like LJ, DW, forums etc. /done

Anna Temel
Thanks!

That’s it for today’s chat! Thank you all for coming!

Chat Transcript with Alex Tischer, Aline Carrão, and Andrea Horbinski – October 19, 2015

briar_pipe
I’m going to start the official chat now, so after this, everything will be in the transcript.

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! My name is briar_pipe and I’m a member of the Elections Committee. I’ll be hosting today.

This is the second in a series of five 90-minute-long chats with our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Alex Tischer, Aline Carrão, and Andrea Horbinski. The purpose of these chats is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Transcripts of this chat will be posted publicly on our website.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished asking your question.
  • Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.
  • Refer to everyone in the room by the name given in the sidebar for them. Don’t use other names you may know them by.
  • Please keep questions reasonable and polite (these are our expectations:
    http://elections.transformativeworks.org/node/534 ).
  • Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos ( http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats ) or the Q&A ( http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2014-qa-and-chats ). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

This information is also located in the room topic in the sidebar, via the link to our website.

briar_pipe
To start us off, does anyone have a question?

elmyra
o/

Trey C
o/

briar_pipe
Ok, let’s start with elmyra, then we’ll go to Trey.

After that, we have a question that was sent in to elections staff, so we’ll do that one third.

elmyra
Thanks! Question for all the candidates. The OTW has been getting some very bad press within various corners of fandom recently: the fundraising drive (both messaging and its timing in relation to the elections), the way Nikisha Sanders was disqualified from standing for election, the absence of budget. Some of you have spoken elsewhere about addressing some of the underlying issues. Can you please talk a bit about how you would go about addressing the legitimate questions being asked and restoring the organisation’s credibility and reputation? /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, elmyra! The candidates will be typing for a couple of minutes.

Alex T.
Yeah, I know that the OTW has been getting some pretty bad press all over the place lately. Addressing those questions openly and having as much of the discussion about those subject in public would be pretty high on my list to start resolving the issues and hopefully resorting the org’s credibility and reputation. We need to be approachable and be seen taking those concerns seriously. I think the guys yesterday had some pretty good answers to that question, to be honest /done

Aline C.
As you said, the main point is addressing the underlying issues, there will always be questions from fandom and we have to do our best to address them and be forthcoming with information. The fundraising questions, for example, were not new, we have been getting these kind of questions for at least the last 3 drives. We need to prepare in advance, have concrete information and be ready to answer questions and justify our decisions. I’m a big fan of the approach the AO3 development team has take in the last few years announcing big changes and upcoming news, this gives time to people to get used to changes and also to settle any debating around it and I believe other parts of the OTW could adopt a similar approach. /done

Andrea H.
It’s not entirely accurate to say that we don’t have a budget; we have a draft budget for 2016 that was reviewed at the annual meeting in Vancouver earlier this month and which the current Treasurer is hard at work finalizing. We also did have a 2014 budget which was approved in an open meeting in 2014 Q3. While there is nothing wrong with having a fundraising drive or asking for people’s support to do our work, the timing of this past drive with respect to the election voting deadline was definitely somewhat unfortunate. However, that is a problem that won’t happen again as Elections and Legal are working together to fix the date for the election each calendar year. Finally, I think bad press is an inevitable consequence of almost any action given the reality of how many people there are on the internet and the fact that by definition the vast majority of them aren’t familiar with the details of the OTW’s operations. That said, we’ve come a long way in the past eight years and I think the best way to overcome bad press is to keep building a strong organization that has great projects that people know and love, and also to continue working to extend the organization’s recognition beyond the current areas where we’re well-known. /done

briar_pipe
elmyra, I’ll give you a moment to read, but did you have any follow-up questions?

elmyra
thanks, no follow-up. thank you all.

/done

briar_pipe
Thanks, elmyra!

Trey, what was your question?

Trey C
My question is for Andrea: shortly after the list of this year’s candidates were posted, the Board announced Nikisha Sanders’ removal from her role as Treasurer of the OTW. Given the impact on a fellow candidate, did you recuse yourself from taking part in this decision? /done

Andrea H.
Nikisha Sanders’ letter of resignation was dated before the candidacy deadline. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks! Trey, do you have a follow-up?

Trey C
I do! Let me just formulate.

briar_pipe
Sure, please do!

Sofia
o/ (not realted to Trey’s question)

(*related)

Trey C
The discussion regarding Sanders’ DevMem staff vs Board member ex officio status that ultimately led to the conclusion that she was no longer an OTW member—it is my understanding, given Sanders’ public statements on the subject, that that took place after she declared her candidacy. Did you recuse yourself from these discussions, given that they had a direct impact on the candidacy of a fellow candidate and OTW volunteer? Apologies for the delay! /done

Andrea H.
typing, hang on, sorry!

Sanni L.
o/

briar_pipe
The order now is the question submitted to Elections earlier, Sofia, then Sanni.

Andrea H.
Thanks for the follow-up. I can’t actually comment specifically on anything related to the matter you’re referring to due to directors’ legal duty to safeguard the organization. That said, I have in the past and will continue to abstain from votes in which I have a COI, and it is the expectation that other directors will do the same. One of the things we discussed at the annual meeting was requiring annual COI disclosures from directors rather than just when they start their terms, to make the COI process more familiar to people. /done

briar_pipe
Trey, any further follow-ups?

Trey C
Nope, that was all. Thank you for your response! /done

briar_pipe
Thanks! Next up, I’ll paste the question we received earlier in its exact form.

This question is also for Andrea.

http://transformativeworks.org//about/reports/board-meeting-minutes-13-december-2014

“Andrea Horbinski apologized publicly for her unprofessional conduct. Eylul Dogruel apologized on behalf of the Board and offered her assurances as
incoming President that the matter has been dealt with.”

Could you please elaborate on this instance from the board notes?

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. The minutes are referring to the previous meeting, in which I lost my temper with a staffer in a manner that was wholly uncalled for. My fellow directors called me on it immediately, and I apologized to the staffer directly over email the next day–this meeting began at 23:00 on Saturday night Tokyo time. The staffer in question accepted my apology, and Eylul and I reiterated the apology in the next public session for the record, which is what you see there in the minutes. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of, and as it says in the minutes, I regret my unprofessional conduct. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Andrea!

Sofia, you’ve been waiting patiently. What was your question?

Sofia
Okay, I would like to ask something on a lighter note to all candidates (I also apologize if this sounds like a repetition of anything already asked in the Q&A). If elected, what do you look forward to the most over your three-year term on the Board?

oh, and /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Sofia! We’ll wait a moment while everyone types.

briar_pipe
Hi to everyone who’s joined us in the past few minutes! The introduction is here, if you can get the site to load: http://elections.transformativeworks.org/node/535

Carli A.
o/

C. Ryan Smith
o/

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. It’s been a real pleasure to serve on the Board this year thanks to the professionalism and energy of my colleagues, and the thing I look forward to most about serving for another term (if elected) is the continued opportunity to work with them and with other incoming directors to continue to use my skills and experience to help guide the OTW’s ongoing growth and expansion. I’m also, after a three-year process drafting it, looking forward to undertaking the work of implementing the strategic plan! /done

Aline C.
I look forward to helping improve the internal atmosphere and the experience all volunteers have inside the organization. I have made a lot of friends since joining Translation, inside and outside the committee, and that is one of the reasons we’re all still around and working so hard to make the OTW what it is. Making volunteering in the OTW a positive experience and helping make this an enjoyable work environment is something I truly believe should be one of our goals going forward. This may take structural changes, tool changes, procedural changes, efforts big and small, but it’s worth it. /done

Alex T.
I would actually be pretty happy if we managed to improve org’s reputation in the next few years. We are actually a pretty amazing org, but it has been overshadowed by a lot of infighting and poor PR decisions in the last few years so that it is hard to see and enjoy any more /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone! Sofia, do you have any follow-up questions?

Sofia
No, I’ll refrain from any follow ups, thank you! /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Sofia! Next up is Sanni, then Carli, then Ryan. Sanni?

Sanni L.
My question is for Andrea. According to the policy that the Board approved in August 2014, candidates have to be “a current staffer on a standing committee in the OTW” to run for Board. Are you currently serving in any committees? /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Sanni! We’ll let Andrea work on that one.

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. The Board previously received this query, as did Legal. It has always been the policy of the org that Board service is the same as serving on a committee, so this requirement is satisfied by my service on the Board. /done

james_
o/

briar_pipe
Sanni, do you have a follow-up question?

Sanni L.
Thank you for the answer! No follow ups.

briar_pipe
Thanks! Ok, Carli is next, then Ryan, then james.

Carli A.
Just to avoid confusion that may result from a candidate’s statement, Elections is currently working on improvements to bylaws, but we are not looking to establish a fixed election date. We are focusing on the membership deadline.

Andrea H.
Also, just as a follow-up to Carli’s follow-up, fixing the election date is an idea that Board has discussed adopting as part of fixing the membership deadline. /done

briar_pipe
Ok, thanks for that clarification, Carli!

Ryan, did you have a question?

C. Ryan Smith
In the past, I’ve heard of other volunteers/staff/committees/users/random-passerby expressing dissatisfaction with our current fundraising model (not as related to budget woes or “pulling a target figure out of thin air”). The lead-up to fund drives currently is a huge effort that often times spans committees and into Board. What would you like to see from future fund raising efforts (including but not limited to fund drives)? (PS: I’m talking more about broad strokes changes to our fund raising strategy; for some examples: would you advocate us abandoning the biannual drives in favor of other methods, would you advocate changing how we publicize the drives, or would you advocate for a more open fund drive development process?) /done

(PPS: Don’t feel obligated to answer those specific examples, by the way!) /really done this time

briar_pipe
Thanks, Ryan! It may take a couple minutes for candidates to type their answers.

Alex T.
I don’t think twice yearly fund drives are a bad idea per se, but I do think the execution could be improved a lot. What our users seem to want is answers to very simple questions in the end. Why are we asking for money? What have we done with the last money we raised? What are we planning to do with the money we would raise now? If we streamline our drives to cover those questions and have a banner up on the Archive we will receive donations. All the windowdressing of themed posts is not really necessary in my opinion.

I know there has been the idea of running our fundraising more like wikipedia thrown around but I think using that level of geolocation is a bit beyond our current size, especially considering the drives are OTW wide events and not just the Archive. /done

Aline C.
I’m not sure just moving away from biannual fund drives in one move would be a safe thing, since it is what pays our bills right now. But I do believe there is a lot of strategies we could use alongside it and even, in the future, doing away with it. I don’t think this should come exclusively from board, but from all committees involved in executing the decisions (devmem, comms, translation, ad&t) but I’m very open to talk about new ideas. One idea I always liked personally is making our donation gifts more interesting and attractive (things like limited edition t-shirts, maybe reach out for signed material from fandom-friendly authors and actors, downloadable content for smaller donations) as one way to incentivize donations while making the people helping us feel like they are getting something nice back too. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. I think the current model has been serving our current needs pretty well, thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of people in the Org, with DevMem at the front of that list. Fundraising is a huge amount of work for any non-profit, and I think there’s a certain amount of it that just isn’t going to go away no matter what kind of model we adopted. I’d also like to see ways to get more OTW personnel involved in the fundraising drives overall, which we discussed a bit at the annual meeting as ideas to think about for the future–with 500 staffers, that’s a huge social network multiplier effect that we could be taking advantage of!

All that being said, I’ve talked a bit in other places about how the OTW and the AO3 are now in a relationship to each other that is quite like the one between the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, and while the AO3 isn’t the OTW’s only project, it is definitely the lead project in terms of visibility and in terms of fundraising impact. That’s a position that has some very positive pros and some very large potential downsides as well, and I think the Board would like, as we discussed at the annual meeting, to eventually move to a fundraising model in which our individual donors, whom we love, are not our only source of operating funds. The natural other choice there is probably institutional funders (i.e. foundations), because corporations just are never going to like what we do very much under the current IP regime. And as AO3 costs continue to grow, I expect that we’ll eventually need to adopt the Wikimedia fundraising model of continuous, targeted fundraising, though that’s definitely a ways off in terms of the infrastructure needed to pull it off successfully, as well as the budget requirements that would make it absolutely necessary. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone! While Ryan reads through those, james, would you like to ask your question? Then I’ll come back to Ryan to check for follow-ups.

C. Ryan Smith
No follow-ups briar, thanks! And thank you to all the candidates for the answers! <3

james_
From http://transformativeworks.org//about/reports/board-meeting-minutes-02-october-2015

“Discussion of Elections goal: ideally in the future Elections will understand the bylaws, and also will take a more active role in moderating the Q&A for candidates for clarity and respect.”

Do the candidates believe that electios has misunderstood the bylaws, do you believe that candidates should be censored?

Alex T.
I don’t believe that Elections has misunderstood the bylaws, nor do I think Board should try to influence the Elections committee in any way, let alone censor the candidates. /done

Andrea H.
I don’t believe that Elections has misunderstood the bylaws, or that candidates should be censored. /done

Aline C.
No, I don’t believe questions or candidates should be censored, the process of the Q&A was long and draining, but Elections was helpful and prompt during all of it and I’m very happy with their work. I also do not believe elections misunderstood the bylaws. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone! Does anyone else have questions at this time?

teecee
o/

sbarmarj
o/

james_
Can I have a supplementary

briar_pipe
Ah, sorry. Of course, james!

james_
I think that Sanders has been mistreated in this afair. Do you trust the electorate to vote wisely in this election ?

briar_pipe
Then teecee.

Aline C.
I hope the electorate look through the information they have available and make a wise choice, but one can only hope xD /done

Andrea H.
I do trust the OTW membership. /done

Alex T.
I agree that Sanders has been mistreated in this instance. I certainly hold no particular fondness for her, but the whole process was underhanded. I would hope the membership can see that too and will vote accordingly /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone! Any further follow-ups, james?

james_
Done, Are the transcripts of these going on the web site ?

briar_pipe
Yes, they are.

Thanks, james! teecee, what was your question?

teecee
For everyone: People on FFA/Tumblr have been pointing out the lack of transparency in the OTW, specifically in regards to Board. As a Board member, what practical steps do you think need to be taken to improve transparency?

Alex T.
I’m just going to c&p from the Q&A on Transparency for that if that’s ok?

Having an up-to-date agenda available on the wiki and the website, extensive minutes in both places, and making open Board meetings the standard place to come to decisions — to a degree where a closed section of the meeting would not even take place unless required for confidentiality would be a good start towards transparency.

A transparent Board to me means that any and all discussions and votes that do not concern strictly confidential information are made in a place where people from outside the Board can follow along. Where this is not feasible (because discussions take place on a mailing list or for other practical reasons), the important points are summed up understandably, with the necessary context, and made available in a timely fashion. It’s important for there to be information available about ongoing discussions, and for the reasoning behind Board’s actions and decisions. /done

Aline C.
Also copying from the Q&A :

A transparent board communicates openly with the rest of the org, documents and justifies their decisions, and listens to feedback from everyone involved. In practical terms, this means being held accountable to the same degree that committees already are: the board should do regular reports about what they’re planning and working on; keep up-to-date and comprehensible minutes; set clear requirements for their roles and ensure that these requirements are met; document responsibilities and goals; and have open meetings where relevant topics are actually discussed in-depth and not just voted on pro forma.

elmyra
o/ (if no one else who hasn’t already asked something has a question)

C. Ryan Smith
o/ (follow up to teecee)

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. Transparency is an active and difficult process, and I think some people will be satisfied with nothing less than full and total disclosure of every item related to the OTW’s operations, no matter how small. Unfortunately, we can’t give that to them, since we as the Board have legal responsibilities to the organization that require us to keep a lot of information related to the organization’s operations confidential. I think at this point one thing that we as the Board need to do is try to educate the OTW membership about what confidentiality means in the context of a non-profit so that they can have more reasonable expectations about transparency, as well as understand better why we often can’t tell them everything they want to know. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks! teecee, do you have a follow-up yourself?

teecee
not at this time, thanks.

briar_pipe
Thanks!

sbarmarj
(I raised my hand previously right after teecee. Am I in the que?)

briar_pipe
In the interests of fairness, I want to make sure our last questions go in order.

So that folks who raised their hands first, like sbarmarj, can be sure to get a reply. 🙂

So the order right now is sbarmarj, elmyra, and Ryan.

What was your question, sbarmarj?

sbarmarj
Great. Question for everyone and builds on teecee’s question. In recent weeks individual board members as well as the board as a whole have been public criticized for their actions. I assume that individual members, and the Board as an entity, have not responded to these criticism because of confidentiality policies. As board members how do you plan to handle public criticism that you can not respond to because of your duty to the org?

Alex T.
Public criticism is an unavoidable thing. There will be criticism and I would try to address it as openly as any confidentiality policies allow and would clearly state where my answer stops because of those confidentiality policies.
The important thing, in my opinion, is to show that you’ve heard the criticism and actually considered it, not just brushed it off as irrelevant. /done

Aline C.
I believe the best way to deal with those cases is answering as far as you can, and explaining why you can’t be more forthcoming at the moment. Being extra careful to not sound dismissive or like we are only acting pro forma in our answers. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. Being unable to respond to public criticism due to the need to safeguard the organization is definitely one of the hardest parts of being a director, because there’s literally nothing we can do except ignore it–confidentiality means that directors can’t discuss certain things with anyone except each other and at times the organization’s counsel. It’s simply the way things are, and it’s part of what makes the job really stressful at times. /done

sbarmarj
I have a follow up

briar_pipe
Sure, please go ahead!

sbarmarj
This is specifically for Alex and Aline: you have in fact done some of the denouncing and have implied in your answers here that current board members have behaved unprofessionally for decisions you were not privy to. How do you plan to work with returning board members if you are elected?

Alex T.
Professionally. How else would I work with them? We are adults and even if we disagree we have to work with each other. That means adhering to basic rules of politeness and professionalism. /done

Aline C.
I do disagree with a lot of the decisions made by the institution board recently, but don’t attribute any of my criticism to individual people inside the board, a lot of it has been leftover from past members and conflicts, and pointing fingers will not help us move foward. That said, carrying our own perceptions and grudges to a new setting is an inevitable part of being human, I’m aware of it and committed to not let this interfere with my work. Adopting a professional position and an open mind is the best way we can get past any problem we had in the past and work together to improve the OTW. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, guys!

Ok, in order to fit the last 2 questions in: elmyra, can you post your question, then Ryan also post yours?

That way, when candidates finish with one question, they can start on the next.

And those will be the last ones we have time for today.

C. Ryan Smith
Sure.

elmyra
Thanks briar_pipe. Question for all candidates. Do you feel we have an issue with losing talent, and what, if anything, would you do to retain and attract talent, or to re-engage good people who may have left for one reason or another?

briar_pipe
Thank you both!

To everyone, we’ll be running over about 5-6 minutes.

Apologies for the length.

Transcripts will be posted within the next couple of days, if the website will stay up long enough for us to do so.

Alex T.
I don’t think Board as an entity has (or should have, really) many ways of influencing the retention or attraction of talent and people. That is the job of the committees and all Board can do is to support the committees in that task. Because the different committees require such different skill sets, it is hard to come up with a plan that fits all but trying to lower the work load of committee chairs so they can concentrate on doing just that would be a first step./done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. Volunteer retention is something that all volunteer organizations struggle with, and while we emphatically did have an issue with burnout in the past, I think we’ve seen that taper off somewhat over the past year or so, which is great. I think the new recruitment procedures VolCom instituted have done a lot to help the OTW attract new talent, and I expect that we will continue to do so as the strategic plan is implemented and even more documentation is written, purviews are clarified, etc. In a lot of my conversations with former volunteers over the years I’ve seen that they don’t want to come back, and that is a completely understandable decision. But for those who do, the new recruitment procedures should make it even easier for them to do so in a way that makes it even easier to match their skills and interests to the work of a particular committee. /done

Aline C.
We have lost very good people in the past, for a variety of reasons, retention will always be a problem for the OTW it’s in the nature of volunteer work and most organizations deal with it. I believe there are measures we can take to minimize this loss and make sure we have new people coming in that can take over. Mostly through improving the volunteering experience, creating social bonds between volunteers besides the work and making sure no job relies on only one individual. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, guys!

While they work on answers to Ryan’s question, elmyra, did you have a follow-up?

elmyra
no follow-up, thanks. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks!

Transcriber’s Note: C. Ryan Smith’s question has been moved from immediately after elmyra’s question to immediately above the candidate replies, in order to make it more obvious what the candidates are replying to. Apologies for any confusion.

C. Ryan Smith
To everyone: Building off of previous questions about transparency, what would you all consider “confidential matters?” Given the closed door nature of many Board dealings to which we are not (at this time or ever may be) privy to, it is possible that “our” definition of something eligible as a “confidential matter” and the Board’s current (legal or otherwise) definition might be two separate things. (To Alex & Aline specifically) Do you feel that your stance might change on what would constitute a “confidential matter” should you be elected to the Board and figure out exactly what our current “confidential matters” are? (two questions, sorry!)

Alex T.
I do think that our definition of what counts as confidential is significantly different from Board’s. I have no way of guaranteeing that my stance on what counts as confidential would not change should I be elected, but in general I err on the side of transparency and only treat as confidential what has to be done so for legal reasons, in my real life job as well as any of the organisations I am a member of. /done

Aline C.
This is a hard question to answer without having access to what is considered confidential matter at this point. But the fact we can’t even clearly say what exactly is confidential matter shows to me something needs to change. But as a rule, I have an approach of treating everything as open as legally possible. /done

Andrea H.
Thanks for the question. The Board is definitely aware that the popular understanding of confidentiality doesn’t match with the legal definition of the same, and we’ve begun discussing ways to clarify the latter. Anything relating to personnel decisions, the details of the finances, information that may leave the organization in a vulnerable position should it become public knowledge, and anything that the public doesn’t have a compelling need to know all fit under the definition of “confidential matters.” I’m sure Legal would also be happy to explain what has to remain confidential in greater detail, since as the organization’s counsel safeguarding the OTW legally is part of their purview. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone!

Ok, we are 10 minutes over, so unfortunately, I’ll need to bring us to a close.

C. Ryan Smith
Thanks for the answers!

syllic
Thanks!

briar_pipe
Alex and Aline are able to stay for a few minutes after to casually chat, if anyone’s interested. Unfortunately, Andrea has to run.

Thank you all for coming!

I declare this chat officially concluded.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Transparency

A number of candidates cited the issue of Board transparency in their manifestos. What does a transparent Board look like to you, and what specific steps would you take to ensure the Board you serve on is a transparent Board? / Many candidates talked about the need for transparency for the board to volunteers/members. What does your vision for transparency entail?

No answer provided.

Due to legal reasons, internal transcripts of meetings are purged every year. However with a lack of consistent and comprehensive information posted to internal and external locations, details of Org interactions can be lost to the abyss. This leaves voters with a dearth of details when attempting to learn about the Org, and in this situation, candidates. What internal remedies would you suggest? And what would you suggest voters do in the mean time in lieu of relying on the rumor mill (FFA & emails) and digging through various social media sites?

No answer provided.

The current Board has had frequent issues keeping an available agenda for their weekly meetings, which were often cancelled or cut short due to lack of quorum or matters to discuss. What do you think the purpose of open Board meetings is, and what would you change about the current setup?

No answer provided.