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 Atiya Hakeem, Katarina Harju, and Matty Bowers – October 18, 2015

briar_pipe
Ok, looks like we’ve got a good group. I’ll get us started.

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 first in a series of five 90-minute-long chats with our Board candidates – the candidates present today are 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://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.

Any questions about the format before we start?

It sounds like no one has questions about the format, so let’s move on to questions for the candidates. Please raise your hand if you have one!

puckling
o/

Trey C
o/

briar_pipe
puckling, go ahead!

puckling
Atiya Hakeem, you mentioned in you Q&A “Third, I think it would be easy to find a company that was not in fact competent at the task, and given previous examples of Board choices of external people to pay, I’m not confident we’d be spending our money wisely.” – could you speak to how you would like to see external contractors vetted? /done

briar_pipe
Thanks for your question, puckling! We’ll give her some time to compose a response.

Atiya
Hi! First, an aside…it’s not necessarily obvious if you’re on mobile, but I got dispensation to have “Lady Oscar” in my sidebar name, so people can call me that, or “LO” to save typing.

I think it’s important that any external contractors be examined in the same way one would when hiring for any company…look at their past work, reviews of their service, references from others who have hired them.

/done

briar_pipe
Thanks, LO! puckling, do you have a follow-up, or is that enough?

puckling
Could I also ask this question of the other candidates in this chat?

briar_pipe
Sure, we can expand that. (Sorry for the wait, Trey!)

Trey C
(np!)

briar_pipe
Matty and Katarina are working on their answers.

Matty Bowers
I agree with LO. In the past when committees have had to search for external tools, we’ve researched them independently, checked with outside people who’ve used them, asked other chairs/staffes who have used them if they liked them, etc.

Matty Bowers
It’s even very important to get things right. We don’t want to waste money donated by users on tools/contractors that don’t work out. I’d rather take some time researching and get things right the first time. /done

Atiya
(agreed!)

Matty Bowers
(sorry for the typo, dog is trying to sit on my lap)

Atiya
(aww)

Katarina H.
I agree with what both LO and Matty, said, Also, I think it would be a good idea to talk about it in open board, so that people can offer suggestions. And of course talk with people in the committees that have the relevant knowledge and know what kind of skills are needed. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, everyone!

briar_pipe
puckling, anything else before we move on to Trey?

puckling
No, I’m good, thank you all.

briar_pipe
Thanks!

Trey, what was your question?

Trey C
For all three candidates: last year, the OTW paid for a non-violent communication training course, and 16 of our volunteers took part in it. If you were aware of this, do you think this was a useful experiment for the OTW? Should we look into either non-violent communication or other communication training again?

/done

elmyra
o/

briar_pipe
Thanks, Trey! Our candidates are working on their answers.

elmyra, you’ll be next.

elmyra
thx

Atiya
I was one of the staffers who took part in the NVC training. It is an example of why I think external services should be vetted. The emphasis of the course was not compatible with our online mode of communication, I found the course instructors to be unprofessional, and the entire process was a waste of my time and the OTW’s money.

I did some further reading about NVC during the (painful) process of taking the course and discussed it with other staffers, and I don’t feel NVC would be useful to us at all, as it does not focus on actually communicating to solve problems.

I was happy to take part in an experiment, but I think any future experiments should be researched a bit first.

It’s possible that some sort of other communication training could be beneficial, but on the whole I can think of many other things that would have a more guaranteed return for our money.

/done

Matty Bowers
I wasn’t able to take part in the actual training, though from what I’ve heard it was problematic in several areas. I also wasn’t impressed with the way it was handled; I know several people finished the course, but there was no followup by Board as had been planned. The whole thing just fizzled out. All in all, it seemed to have been a complete waste of money (several thousands dollars I believe). I would be leery about trying something similar until I’d done a lot more research. /done

Katarina H.
I was aware of it at the time it was happening, but didn’t take part of it. I think it was one of those decisions that would have benefited from more discussion before a decisions was reached, and other options should have been researched. I am personally acquainted with people who do NVC training and talking about it with them, they were very surprised about trying to apply it to online communication. I’m not opposed to some kind of communication training, but we definitely need to do our research before paying anyone for it. /done

briar_pipe
Trey, do you have any follow up questions?

Trey C
nope, thanks for your answers!

and the Q&A answers 😀

/done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Trey!

elmyra, what was your question?

elmyra
Question for all. The OTW has had some bad press recently, in relation to the membership drive (both its messaging and its scheduling in relation to the election), the withdrawal of Nikisha Sanders from the election, as well as our lack of budget and financial oversight. Most candidates have spoken in various places about fixing some of the underlying issues, but could you tell us a bit about what else you think needs to be done to address the image/credibility questions that are being raised and how you would go about it? /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, elmyra! The candidates are typing their answers.

Atiya
I think that there’s no quick fix to undo that sort of damage. I hope that the fact that many of the current candidates make it clear that we are aware of the problem will help. However, we mainly need to simply go forward from here with transparency and ethical behavior and sound fiscal management and work to put systems in place to keep things that way.

I think that among those systems need to be changes to the bylaws to put in checks and balances on the ability of Board to unilaterally take unfortunate actions.

/done

Nerine Luna C.
o/

briar_pipe
Nerine, you’ll be next once elmyra’s question is finished.

james_
o/

Katarina H.
I think it’s important to make the board’s work more open, to tell people about what the board is doing and why they’re doing it. We should try to have more open board sessions, we should have more updates in the newsletter and so on. There really isn’t an easy solution, but doing things right (whether it be finances or anything else) and being open about what we’re doing should go some ways into fixing our image./done

Matty Bowers
I agree with LO and Katarina. I do think many of the problems could have been avoided if certain issues/situations had been dealt with promptly. For instance, it was obvious for quite awhile that we needed to handle our finances better, but nothing was done about it. Requests for budgets were ignored, a bill not being paid was overlooked, etc. In the future think we need to be more proactive about situations and deal with them promptly, not ignore them and hope they don’t get any worse. /done

briar_pipe
elmyra, do you have any follow-ups?

elmyra
i don’t. thanks to the candidates for their answers (and for standing in the first place!)

/done

briar_pipe
Thanks, elmyra!

Nerine, you’re next, then james.

Nerine Luna C.
This one’s for everyone: During this last drive, we saw people getting upset about our (perceived) lack of diversity, mainly surrounding the Fandom is Ageless post, which showed Western-centric and Movie/TV-Show-centric stories. I’m assuming all of us here are hoping to make the Org more diverse, and to show a more diverse picture to our members (and non-members). Who do you believe should be responsible for trying to make sure a situation like this does not happen again, and do you have any ideas on how to do this?

briar_pipe
Thanks, Nerine! The candidates are typing.

Atiya
I think that the OTW is in fact already extremely diverse! One thing that would help with the problem would be to take advantage of the resource of our diverse staff and volunteer pool by sharing ideas and getting feedback before things go public.

Nerine Luna C.
(Just a clarification. I don’t think we’re not diverse at the moment! My questions is mainly about how such a (perceived? possible?) slip-up like that Western-centric post will not happen again.)

briar_pipe
Thanks for clarifying, Nerine!

Atiya
oop, /done

Matty Bowers
I know most committees strive to avoid just this happening, any such issues are addressed while being betad and comments from other committees are encouraged. In this particular case, I believe the stories were based on comments sent in by staffers (the only ones that had access to that post); I think they used all the ones that were sent in. In the future, for this type of post I would suggest committees contact a wider range of participants, for instance, we have several hundred volunteers who may have happily sent in a more diverse set of stories. /done

Katarina H.
I know the Fandom is Ageless post was personal stories that were submitted to Development and Membership, and that there wasn’t a lot of stories submitted and therefore not much to choose from. I think it would have helped to make that clear in the post. I don’t think any of our volunteer pools (like Translation or Tag Wrangling) were contacted about submitting stories, that could have netted more stories in different fandoms. But in general I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we are as diverse as we can be, and if anyone sees an issue with a post like this they should be encouraged to comment on it as early as possible. /done

moth
o/

briar_pipe
Nerine, do you have any follow-ups for anyone?

Nerine Luna C.
No, that’s answer enough, thank you.

briar_pipe
Thanks!

james, you’re next, then it will be Moth’s turn.

james_
This election will be contested which is unusual, what can be done to make that more common in the future. ( As an aside we have some excellent candidates this year, can I please ask the candidates that don’t get one of the two seats that they stand for the next election ).

Nerine Luna C.
(+1 for that last part)

briar_pipe
james, this question is very similar to one that was asked in the Q&A, so the candidates may choose to link to their answers or paste them in, rather than creating new answers.

To save time.

james_
ok

( I have read all the answers that and I am impressed that almost all the candidates mananged to answer them all )

briar_pipe
(It was very impressive!)

Matty Bowers
In the past, committees could not afford to lose staff to Board. Now, many of the OTW committees are thriving and losing, or sharing, key personnel will not negatively impact the committees. This means it’s time to turn our attention to Board. As both volunteers and members are aware, the OTW is facing numerous issues which should have been dealt with long ago. It’s past time for these concerns to be addressed so can we get the organization back on track. /done

Katarina H.
I believe we are all aware that it will not always be easy to change things, but if we can successfully implement clear policies for the Board, achieve more transparency, and in general change the Board’s culture for the better, then I think there would be more people willing to step up as candidates in the following elections as well./done

Atiya
(Summarizing from my Q&A answer.) I think we can get more candidates if we have: 1) A Board that works transparently and has a well defined job description, so candidates know what they’re getting into. 2) A Board that has been in the trenches doing committee work, so new people may have worked with them and can relate to them, and 3) A Board who are approachable, so candidates will have gotten to know them. /done

james_
Thank oyu

briar_pipe
Thanks, james! Any follow-ups?

james_
No thanks 🙂

But thanks for standing

briar_pipe
Alrighty, I think Moth was next?

moth
The org by its very nature has staff, volunteers and users scattered across different time zones, languages and cultures and we have just agreed it is already a diverse entity. What problems do you think this diversity can cause (especially but not solely for Board) and how would you address these to ensure smooth running both of the org’s day to day life and the achievement of its overall aims? I would welcome specific examples of problems and solutions from your experiences in the committees you belong and have belonged to. (We have alredy mentioned the Fandom is Ageless post.)/done

Atiya
I think that a lot can be done by listening. Hear where everyone is coming from and be _aware_ that this type of issue can exist and watchful for when one may be overriding others’ needs or stepping on toes. Maintaining professional communication habits (be polite, don’t assume what people meant, etc.) can also help stay focused on the work to be done rather than potential personal conflict.

Logistical issues such as time zones are another thing that need to be taken into consideration. Ideally, meeting times will be compromises that are never consistently bad for one particular set of people. If this isn’t possible for a particular committee, offline meetings (such as Support’s Basecamp meetings) are one solution, as is focusing discussions on mailing lists.

Awareness of language difference issues and how they may affect the ability of all committee members to interact is another important thing./done

Katarina H.
Well in Translation we do have people from a lot of different places. I’m not sure I can think of specific examples right now, but we’ve definitely found out that people can see the same issue from totally different points of view, which can be because of culture differences or personality differences. It’s important to remember that such differences exist, to listen to people when they bring up issues and never assume that you know why someone feels or thinks like they do. Try to be polite and professional and listen to people, basically. /done

Matty Bowers
On a practical level, the only real drawback I’ve run into is trying to plan chat meetings. Timezones are evil! I’ve solved that by trying out alternatives such as email “meetings” and having weekend chat parties. This way no one is left out or inconvenienced.

In other situations, too often in the past org staffers/volunteers have been asked for their opinions then had to watch them be completely ignored or dismissed. I’ve always found that effective communicating means both speaking AND listening. I value input from all our staffers and volunteers and hope they know I’m always going to be listening to them. /done

moth
Thank you. No follow-up questions but I would also like to thank all the candidates for standing for election.

briar_pipe
Thanks, guys! Moth, do you have any follow-ups?

Thanks, Moth!

moth
Thanks, no – /done

briar_pipe
Since we have no more questions, I plan to turn this chat over to the candidates to talk about topics of their choosing.

C. Ryan Smith
o/

briar_pipe
Hopefully they can be more casual in this context.

C. Ryan Smith
(Is it too late to ask a quick question? /o\)

briar_pipe
Ah, sorry Ryan, sure!

C. Ryan Smith
(Sorry, I thought there would be a last call for questions or something. ^^; Anyway…)

In the past, I’ve heard of other volunteers/staff/committees 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)? /done

briar_pipe
(I should have done!)

Priscilla D.
o/

Atiya
I’d like to see fund drives become simpler…_give people the budget numbers_, thus having a good target figure and letting them know what we need money for, then ask for the money. And, of course, be prepared to listen to feedback people may have on the numbers. /done

Katarina H.
I know how much work gets put into drive planning from Translation’s side, I can only guess at the time DevMem puts into it. Personally I would like the fund drive to focus more on talking about what we’re actually going to do with the money and why we need it, with concrete numbers. /done

Nerine Luna C.
(o/ quick follow up for LO – scratch that, probably all three)

Atiya
Oh, that’s kind of disturbing ^^;

Nerine Luna C.
xD

briar_pipe
Nerine, go ahead and post your follow-up while Matty is working, if you can?

Then we’ll go to Priscilla after this.

Matty Bowers
My main concerns do concern the budget, or lack of one. As someone who has had tools shut off due to non-payment (several times), I am very concerned about how our money has been handled in the past, and I do worry about what could happen if future drives are unsuccessful. I’m very excited about some of the things I’m hearing being planned (not sure if they are public yet) and hope that as an organization we can make drives be as successful as possible. I don’t have any other concrete suggestions at the moment, but hope that by discussing and listening to feedback we can ensure we keep doing well. /done

Nerine Luna C.
Okay. I was wondering, do you mean you would be interested in doing away with the current ‘theme’ of choosing a theme for the drive and posting something related to that theme every day?

(So, for LO and Katarina, it seems)

briar_pipe
Ryan, do you have any follow-ups yourself?

Atiya
It seems like a great deal of effort for DevMem, Translation, and other committees who participate in writing posts. I think from the feedback I’ve been seeing, donors would be happier with that effort being channeled into making budgets and plans available.

C. Ryan Smith
Not really, I should have been more specific as to the intent of my question. I won’t hog the question time. 🙂

Atiya
The more creative approaches could be used at other times, for non-fundraising purposes. /done

briar_pipe
Ryan, it’s fine! If you want to clarify, feel free.

Matty Bowers
I think that’s really up to Devmem; it’s not really a Board decision. I would encourage staffers/volunteers to contact Devmem if they have issues about something like that. On a personal level, I have no problem with a well-executed theme. /done

Atiya
(yes, definitely up to DevMem)

Katarina H.
Yes, I find that trying to fit everything into a theme can end up with problems like the Fandom is Ageless post. On a personal note, this style of fundraising is very strange to me, I’m not used to seeing fundraising like this where I come from, and my answers on the topic are coloured by that. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, guys!

C. Ryan Smith
Okay, clarification: I was talking more specifically about fund raising strategy in that, we change the scheme drastically (eg: doing a model similar to Wikipedia, doing away with fund drives unless in times of need, etc). Would you see anything else done in that aspect? /done

briar_pipe
Thank, Ryan! The candidates are typing!

Folks, we’re going to go over by a couple of minutes. My apologies.

We’ll make sure they get asked in a future chat, at the beginning.

If you’re unable to attend that chat, the answers will appear in a transcript of the chat on the site.

Matty Bowers
I would want Devmem’s input on any major decisions like that – they’d be the ones responsible for carrying out such a plan. As long as they and any other involved committees (Translations/Comms/etc) think it’s doable and would work better, I’m all for exploring those other options. /done

Atiya
I think it’s something that should be considered only after gathering feedback widely, from our donors as well as from within the Org. /done

Katarina H.
I think it’s a good idea to consider alternatives, but yes, it is a big decision and I wouldn’t want to make any concrete decisions before having input from everyone involved and having a clear budget to base our fundraising goals on. /done

briar_pipe
Thanks, Ryan and Nerine! Last question goes to Priscilla.

Priscilla D.
No questions—I just wanted to give a huge thank-you and major kudos to Elections for doing a brilliant job putting all this together and coordinating the Q&As and the candidate chats. Thank you all for your hard work

Carli A.
<3

briar_pipe
Thanks, Priscilla! <3

mumble
seconded very much! /done

Matty Bowers
Yes, Elections has been amazing. Thank you all for your hard work!

Trey C
seconding Priscilla

briar_pipe
^_____^

Aline C.
seconded!

hele
thirding or fourthing!

Ridicully
You really have been!

Thirded or fithed or whatever xD

Katarina H.
Echoing everyone here 😀

Atiya
As a candidate, I really appreciate all Elections has done! 😀

Qem
Fifthing!

moth
Me too.

ubicaritas
To you all…well done!

Nerine Luna C.
A big thank you to all of you, especially since I don’t think any of you could have predicted the number of people who went up for election, and the amount of extra work that probably brought ^.^

briar_pipe
Aw, thanks guys.

We’re very happy about the numbers, though.

Ok, the candidates have said they’re able to hang around and chat casually with y’all for a little bit, if anyone’s interested.

I’m going to call the chat officially done.

Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

How do you plan to engage staff and volunteers in dialogue regarding Board decisions and the direction of the organization? How about the membership?

While I realize the old liaison system was unpractical, I do think Board should be encouraged to meet periodically with chairs to discuss both committee and OTW goals. Board cannot lose touch with committees’ goals, and it’s important to keep open communication in all directions to make sure everyone is always on the same page.

I’d also like to encourage Board members to participate in Office Hours, with each Board member signing up for one week a month. This will allow volunteers and members to interact with Board members informally and give everyone a chance to ask questions and build a relationship with Board.

Talk about one thing a committee you served with did really well and how this taught you something valuable about collaboration in the OTW.

I became Support chair at a difficult time. Not only was the committee itself in a precarious situation, there was severe dissension between many committees and individual volunteers. Trying to navigate such a situation as a new chair was a nightmare. For a while I focused on my own committee, hoping that in the meantime the other issues would resolve themselves. When that didn’t work, I eventually starting reaching out to the other chairs in the hopes we’d find some common ground. Surprising no one, it turned out we all wanted the same thing – healthy committees, happy volunteers, and a functional Board. The details were trickier, but in the end, talking and listening to each other made all the difference.

These days many of the OTW chairs talk on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We generally know how things are going and help each other out as much as we can. We’ve learned how to communicate effectively and it shows in the work we are doing.

I think strengthening the lines of communication between Board and committees is vital. We work better when we are working together towards the same goals.

What are three things you think Board can learn from committees?

  • How to get stuff done.
  • How to get along.
  • How to work together as a team.

What are your thoughts on a more public ‘in person’ presence being established by the Org? How might you see this balanced with the desire and in some cases need for privacy?

I think it would be beneficial for the OTW as a whole to work on our expanding public presence.

While our Communications committee is amazing, it could be helpful to have our Board members also be more proactive about their presence on social media. In most functioning nonprofit Boards, members act as the face of the organization. They help with outreach, fundraising, and boosting awareness of the organization as a whole.

This is likely to be more of a long-term goal for me, though one we should be slowly working towards. At the moment, I feel we need to focus on getting the organization in a more stable place before we turn our attention outwards.

Matty Bowers 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?

Board has regular meetings which are divided into two sections: Open Board, where Board meets in a public chat room which everyone can attend, then Closed Board. After the open portion is finished, Board members move over to a locked chat room that only they can access. In the past year, very little Board activity has happened in Open Board. Since last month, all Open Board meetings have been cancelled.

I would like to advocate that more activity take place in Open Board, not Closed. Matters that are handled via email or outside of Board meetings should be announced or updated during Open Board so that everyone can follow what is happening around the organization. Comprehensive minutes should be posted promptly after each meeting.

The OTW sends out a monthly newsletter; committees and Board are encouraged to draft a quick summary of what’s been happening the past month. With a few rare exceptions, Board never participates in this; I’d like to change that. Monthly Board updates should be mandatory.

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?

Documentation is key here. I think every committee and Board needs to complete a yearly report which clearly outlines issues faced and decisions made, as I’ve been doing each year for Abuse. We also need to be better at recording both the good and the bad. Several committees have started writing up ‘lessons learned’ type reports, which are excellent ways of documenting both in a positive manner. I think this is an example Board would do well to follow.

For now, the best way to learn about candidates is by reading these Q&As and attending the chat sessions we’ll all be attending. It’s not a perfect solution, but it may have to do until we can make some serious structural changes in the organization.

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?

Ideally, Open Board meetings should be held so that volunteers and members can keep informed about new and ongoing issues, and understand how and why specific decisions are being made. They also give everyone a chance to ask questions, share information related to the discussion, and ensures a certain degree of accountability.

In a perfect world, the agenda for each Board meeting should be posted 24-48 hours before the meeting which should be scheduled conveniently so that all, or most, Board members can attend. If, for some reason, people’s plans change and there won’t be a quorum, then it would be a good idea for those who are available to work on things like updating documentation, writing blurbs for the newsletter, talking with volunteers/members who arranged their schedule to attend, etc.

I’d also be interested in trying to integrate voice chat meetings occasionally. I think being able to chat directly as a group will increase efficiency and help Board members build trust as they get to know each other better.