Chat Transcript – July 28, 2018

briar_pipe

Hi everyone, and welcome to our final Candidate Chat of 2018!

Once again you’ll have the opportunity to speak with all 4 Candidates: Michelle Schroeder, Natalia Gruber, Lex de Leon, and C. Ryan Smith.

My name is briar_pipe, and I’ll be hosting the candidate side today. On the audience/open_chat side, your host will be my fellow Elections Committee member Jenny.

Jenny, can you wave so everyone can see you?

 

Jenny

o/

 

briar_pipe

Thank you! <3

Transcripts of the candidate side of the chat will be posted publicly on our website. The open_chat transcript will not be posted there, but both its transcripts will remain visible until after the election. During the chat, you may see candidates fix their typos; this is to make Elections Staff’s job easier later.

We will welcome your questions in just a moment. (We have 2 questions from the previous chat to cover first.) As the candidates discuss each question, audience members can notify Jenny that you have questions for the candidates – either follow-ups or new questions – by raising your hand like this:

o/ (for new questions), or

o// (for follow-ups to the current question)

Jenny will pass me the questions, and I will ask them during appropriate pauses in the conversation between the candidates.

Jenny and I welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

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

– Refer to everyone in the room by their username in this conversation. Don’t use other names you may know them by.

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

– Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the platforms (http://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2018/2018-bios-and-platforms/) or the Q&A (http://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2018/2018-qa/). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

And now, let’s start with our first question that wasn’t answered in the last chat.

Similar to question 4 of the Platform but delving in a bit deeper: “Could you speak briefly to any ideas you might have for the continued growth and support of our non-AO3 projects in the coming years?”

 

Lex de Leon

Our non-AO3 projects such as Fanlore, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, etc, should have input on their ideas for how to effectively grow. Our volunteers in those projects are there because it is a good fit for them and they would know better about possibilities of outreach, recruitment, or advancement of their individual project goals. What I would like to do is to actually hear from them on their needs and wishes for the future. I’d like to see us continue to promote these various projects in a more cohesive fashion, such as the recent news postings on the Archive regarding the planned Open Doors import of FictionAlley.

What I can best do as a Board member for these projects is to actively listen to the direction of those who know better than I what they need. As someone who has been on both sides of that exchange in my career, I cannot stress enough how important that is.

 

C. Ryan Smith

The absolute best way to support our non-AO3 projects is to listen to the relevant committees who work on them. Our projects cover a wide range of interests and niches, so we can always look into increasing outreach in those specific areas. We shouldn’t arbitrarily do anything that would bring these projects into a setting in which they might not be comfortable or able to adapt to.

 

Natalia Gruber

The best possible people  to say what each project needs to grown are the people working on that project. As I have mentioned before, I believe the Board should be open and available for committees to communicate what they need. I can not, not being a member of TWC, for example, tell them what to do and how to get it. What I can do is be as accessible as possible and do what I can to help them get what resources they need.

 

Michelle Schroeder

I’m unfortunately pretty AO3-based in my volunteer work so far, so I don’t have any solid ideas at the moment. That being said, I would very much like to see non-AO3 projects like Transformative Works & Cultures and Fanlore continue to grow, and I’d be happy to support them however I can, including listening to the people on all the involved committees to find out what they would need from the Board to grow and prosper.

 

briar_pipe

Sounds like everyone’s on board with listening to the committees involved. 🙂

 

Natalia Gruber

XD

 

briar_pipe

Our next intrepid questioner asks “All candidates: What is your favorite fanfic trope and why? I’m assuming these should be SFW 🙂 “

 

Natalia Gruber

SFW? oh no! /o\

Do you ever read a slow burn fic that’s so slow, but so slow you start questioning if the fic will ever burn at all, recheck the tags, for real, it’s been 400k words?

I like that. xDDD

 

Michelle Schroeder

I’m glad this was asked during the last chat, because it took me all week to sort through my top tropes and figure out which one was my favorite, haha.

 

C. Ryan Smith

Well. I love Royalty or Nobility AUs? Or really anything with a bunch of world building involved! And I suppose this is technically SFW because it’s not. Like explicit or anything, but I do love mpreg and A/B/O stories as well.

 

Michelle Schroeder

After much deliberation, I have to say my favourite trope(s) would be fake dating/arranged marriage.

 

C. Ryan Smith

Soul mate stories are also the bomb!

 

Natalia Gruber

World building! <3

 

Michelle Schroeder

World building is so great.

 

Natalia Gruber

But also, ‘there’s only one bed’ is pretty. 

However obvious. xD

 

Lex de Leon

As long as it ends happily, I’m usually happy with whatever trope comes up. I actually just had a conversation with a coworker who asked me how I handle my stress. It ended up with us both going back on forth on having a lengthy road trip where they have to get a hotel but oh dear, there’s only one room left and oh my gosh there’s only one bed! ONE BED! How will they ever survive?!

I love slow burn, quick get togethers, fix its, high school AUs, soulmates of all varieties, werewolves, pirates, exploration of minutiae of the world that was a one off throwaway comment….

 

Michelle Schroeder

I also love best friends who’ve been in love for like, 10-15 years and only just now realized it and then they have to sit there going “oh no.”

 

Lex de Leon

I’ve been around long enough to have seen drabbles slowly grow in length, but the original flavor of 100 words exactly remains dear to my heart when done well. Challenge responses! Summer camps!

Enemies to reluctant allies to wait we’re friends when did that happen to oh god why do I even love you are an idiot.

 

Natalia Gruber

Love some enemies to – lovers

for fluffier things, I also love found families and OT3 and OT4 and OT5 and…

 

C. Ryan Smith

Ooh, 5+1 stories! That stuff is like my own personal brand of heroin. [/twilight reference].

 

Lex de Leon

Writing exercises like 5+1 or epistolary works are a definite bonus!

 

Natalia Gruber

Epistolary! \o/

.

Michelle Schroeder

I love everything that has been mentioned so far. All those tropes are great.

 

Lex de Leon

There are only a few tropes I’ve ever run across that I didn’t like. I’m still bitter over the “soulmates where the last words you ever say to each other are written on your skin” fic I accidentally read.

 

Natalia Gruber

I’m not huuuge on soulmate fics, but then, I did read some amazing ones at some point. xD

 

Michelle Schroeder

I accidentally read one where you see color when you meet your soulmate and then it goes back to black and white when they die. QAQ

 

Natalia Gruber

I used to say I didn’t like coffee shop, but you see, the right author can probably sell me anything. xD

 

briar_pipe

So in conclusion: we love them all!

Alright, to get serious for a moment, let’s talk money. A volunteer asks “All candidates: Given that we are just about to nearly double our hosting cost and we are going to spend over $100K on servers this year how much do you think we should try and raise each year from donors and how do we fund employed staff ?”

While no one here is from the Finance Committee, I do believe we have DevMem (Development & Membership) in the house.

 

C. Ryan Smith

(*waves hands* Hi! I’m on the Development & Membership Committee. I will say that in 2017 a roundabout number on what we fundraised in total was ~$300k.)

In any case, this isn’t just a Board related question. The budget and fundraising goals are set in cooperation from multiple points within the organization. I should also be 100% clear in that I am not speaking on behalf of the Development & Membership Committee for my answer, but I believe that we should be gradually increasing our fundraising goals, especially when we have concretely increasing costs as well. We have also started in the recent past to look into alternative funding sources other than just our fund drives. As far as funding employed staff, the best way to go about that would be to prioritize the most needed positions and budget correctly, in conjunction with increasing fundraising goals.

 

Natalia Gruber

Thanks, Ryan! <3

And agreed this is not a Board only thing. We can’t speak of exact numbers, but I know we’ve been slowly working towards building a reserve and making a few secure investments to increase that reserve.  As Ryan said, we’d need to budget how much would it cost to employ someone, and try an make our goals reach that.

 

Michelle Schroeder

I’d love to see our fundraising numbers increase every year to keep up with our growing costs to maintain all of the OTW’s projects, so I’d definitely want to talk to both Finance and DevMem to see what our projected budget for the upcoming year(s) will be, and how much we should be trying to increase our donation drives by. But yes, like Ryan said, I don’t think this is just up to Board, and I would want to talk to all the invested committees before making an informed opinion. As for staff, I’d love to see us be able to hire paid staff if we had the budget for it, but I think we’d need to increase our fundraising pretty significantly before we could afford to hire anyone.

 

Natalia Gruber

As we’ve been discussing  internally, we need to make sure to have sustainable funds for this, and not just for a short duration, so I do believe it’s be best to no start employing anyone before we have a safe reserve to pay for said person for a reasonable period.

 

C. Ryan Smith

The sustainability point is really good Nat!

 

Lex de Leon

I agree that a lot of the direction on where the money comes from and is apportioned is something that does not come directly from the Board. Having continual growth requires us to look at the proper experts to help guide us in the right way. I’d want to see appropriate prioritization and diversification of our funding sources and appropriately prioritized internal disbursement, as the others have said. However, we will also need to be reviewing these needs on a continued basis as things can and do change quickly.

 

briar_pipe

Thank you, everyone!

Our next question is also for everyone: “What is something you wish more people knew about the OTW?”

 

Lex de Leon

I’d say two things. As evidenced from the last question, what kind of investment it takes to actually run the OTW is something that I feel a lot of people just plain aren’t aware of in a real sense.

By which I mean, people simply don’t know that we have the hosting costs we do, or that we need to cover personnel costs.

 

C. Ryan Smith

It’s not necessarily a “thing” but more of a concept. I wish more people understood the level of time and dedication that our multitude of volunteers put into the OTW.

 

Lex de Leon

Secondly, I’d want to have more people know what all the OTW encompasses. While it is the largest aspect, the Archive is not the only part of the OTW.

 

Natalia Gruber

It does seem that many people can’t quite grasp how much effort is put into keeping everything running smoothly.  How much work is needed, and how few volunteers we (comparatively) have.

“I just sent a report yesterday and haven’t heard back yet” is something we do occasionally get. xD

 

Michelle Schroeder

I was going to say how much time volunteers put into their work, but Ryan beat me to it XD I think another thing people don’t always realize is that all of us at the OTW are fans too. Volunteers read fanfic, we write fanfic (if we have time around our real life stuff and volunteer work xD) and we tend to participate in fandom a lot!

 

Lex de Leon

To expand on that, I’d also say the mystery surrounding the tagging system is something we could do more to clear up for fandom at large, though that is predicated on a lot of discussion and planning before anything could happen.

 

briar_pipe

Thanks, everyone! Now to get more personal, “What do you think makes you unique as a candidate?”

 

C. Ryan Smith

In this particular round of candidates, we do have a pretty heavy AO3 focus. I, think, that I’m the only one who isn’t in a project-specific committee (at the moment).

 

Lex de Leon

I think my experience with IT as a career has given me a different perspective than others. Because I’ve worked professionally on huge projects, I’m aware of the many moving parts that can occur in installations such as this, and have spent a lot of time working closely with people of varied backgrounds and cultures.

 

Natalia Gruber

My hair is pretty unique- No, but one of the reasons I decided to run and why I feel I’m up to it is that I’ve had the opportunity to work on a few different committees, and this gave me some perspective about the whole that I didn’t quite grasp when I first started on the OTW. I think being able to see beyond your immediate work and more about how the org works as a whole is a very useful thing. 🙂

(and I hope to continue learning <3 )

 

Michelle Schroeder

I’d say one of my unique features is that I volunteer on three different committees, so I get to see things from a few different angles already, and I think that helps me see things from other committees perspectives as well.

Of course, Nat already said that, so now I sound less unique, but I’m going to stick with that xD

 

Natalia Gruber

o/

We’re both very unique u.u 

 

briar_pipe

Such an awesomely unique group!

Lex, we had a quick follow-up question for you.

“Can you expand on “the mystery surrounding the tagging system” and what steps you’d like to see happen to clear it up? Or… anything about the topic, generally.”

 

Lex de Leon

Absolutely. The tagging system on the Archive is similar to what I’ve seen in many of the databases I’ve worked with during my professional career with business and government archives. Having clear rules in that environment is something that requires extensive training, something which is not as clear cut in an environment such as the Archive. Specifically within the case of the Archive itself, the rules for how tags are used are available and findable for users through numerous avenues. We have tutorials and guidelines available to the users of the Archive. What I’d like to see is people becoming aware of this institutional knowledge, whether through OTW outreach or whatever solution is able to be found to increase this awareness.

 

briar_pipe

Thanks, Lex!

Our last question is for everyone: “What do you think of digital citizenship? Do you think this concept impacts the running of the OTW, or that it should?”

(I’ve provided the accompanying link to the candidates but am not placing it here to avoid advertising in the transcript for a group we are unaffiliated with and have not reviewed.)

 

C. Ryan Smith

Okay, so in the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I am not at all familiar with that concept and in the interest of time, I only really skimmed through it. It seems to be mostly a sort of code of ethics and a kind of pledge towards responsible use of technology and the internet in particular. That being said, we do already have our own Code of Conduct that we agree to as volunteers. This is actually an incredibly serious agreement that we make that can be followed up with if necessary. We don’t necessarily have an equivalent for regular users though outside of the usual Terms of Service(s) that govern our various sites.

 

Natalia Gruber

I’m hearing about this concept for the very first time now, so there’s very little I can say. As briar_pipe just pointed out, we haven’t reviewed this group at all to be able to know what/how they could possibly impact the OTW.  If i’m understanding the basic idea correctly, which is about responsible, ethical use of the web, than yay? But i don’t feel we currently have enough information to make an informed comment.

 

Michelle Schroeder

I also haven’t heard of the concept before, and I haven’t had a whole lot of time to review the concepts involved, so I don’t have much of an informed opinion on this yet either, unfortunately.

 

Lex de Leon

I feel that digital citizenship guidelines and mores are already folded into the overarching mission of the OTW as a result of the founding and our existing terms of service. In the origin of the internet, such behavior as espoused within digital citizenship manifestos were not only ridiculed, but led to severe backlash. It was out of these nascent days both before and after Eternal September that we now have the digital environment we do. I do think that digital citizenship is in and of itself a positive idea within its specific sphere of online schools, as it does provide a framework of focus for self-determination and ownership of one’s own experience within a clearly delineated space. That being said, I do not anticipate that it serves as much beyond a manifesto without widespread adoption and enforcement with tangible consequences, neither of which are within the scope of the OTW.

 

Natalia Gruber

Seconding Ryan in his statement about our Code of Conduct, which anyone interested can review here: http://www.transformativeworks.org/code-conduct/

 

C. Ryan Smith

Oooh, thanks for the link Nat!

 

briar_pipe

And with that, we are at the end of the allotted time and questions. Great job, everyone!

Thank you to everyone for being here today!

The audience was lovely, as were the candidates <3

 

Lex de Leon

Thank you everyone for being here and asking questions!

 

C. Ryan Smith

And thanks to the Elections staffers for being here!

 

briar_pipe

Aw, thanks Ryan!

 

Natalia Gruber

Agreed! \o/

 

briar_pipe

In particular, thanks to Jenny for hosting! <3

The transcript will be up on the site shortly; last week’s is already up.

This is our last chat – everyone please remember to vote on August 10! If you didn’t receive an email with voting instructions yet, please go to the Elections website and check the instructions for fixing that.