Chat Transcript – July 30, 2017

briar_pipe

Hi everyone, and welcome to our Third Candidate Chat of 2017!

In today’s Chat you’ll have the opportunity to speak with these three Candidates: Jessie Camboulives, Milena Popova, and Erica Dulin.

My name is briar_pipe, and I’ll be hosting the candidate side today. On the audience/open_chat side, your host will be Carli for most of the chat, with Stephanie standing by to step in if she’s needed. All three of us are members of the Elections Committee.

Carli and Stephanie, can you wave so everyone can see you?

 

Stephanie Godden

o/

 

Carli Anderson

o/

 

briar_pipe

Thanks! :heart:

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. As the candidates discuss each question, audience members can notify Carli 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)

(Carli has asked that we remember to mark questions like this today, so she doesn’t miss them.)

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

Carli 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/2017/2017-bios-and-platforms/) or the Q&A ( http://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2017/2017-qa/). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

Remember, you can absolutely ask follow-ups! If you were interested in the candidates’ responses to the Q&A question about org literacy, for example, you can ask them to expand on a particular idea for addressing that.

Ok, that’s it for the intro! We now welcome your questions for the candidates.

We’ll start with a question that we ran out of time for previously: What steps would you like to see taken to ensure that the open and welcoming aspect of the organization is maintained or expanded upon in the future?

 

Jessie Camboulives

Do you know if that question referred to our projects or to the org as a workplace?

[Milena reacted with a +1]

 

briar_pipe

The org as a workplace, to my knowledge.

(The requester is not here to clarify.)

 

Milena Popova

I think one of the things that’s been mentioned in board updates as something the board is working on already which I genuinely think would make a big difference is removing the staff/volunteer distinction. I know it’s not intended that way but as a volunteer it can sometimes feel a bit intimidating to approach staff about small things that aren’t actively on fire. (Though staff are generally lovely people and super-approachable! It’s just the implied difference in status that when I was a new volunteer I found a little daunting.)

There are also some things that Tag Wrangling do that we may be able to reapply on a wider scale/where it makes sense to do  so, like having a smaller channel on our chat platform where new wranglers and a handful of experienced wranglers hang out and new wranglers hopefully feel safe to ask questions etc.

 

Erica Dulin

I would rather make it clear that staff are people too and exist to help.

So either making sure the staff that deal with personnel are friendly and outgoing, or having an anonymous way for shy people to put forth an idea or question or problem.

 

Jessie Camboulives

As it is, the org is already very open, at least from an internationalisation pov: we have volunteers from all around the world. However, the repartition between Committees is rather inequal. I’d like to work with Comms and Chairs to see if there’s something we could do to get a more diverse audience to recruitment listings in some specific corners of the org. [That being said, it’s very hard to measure the diversity of our volunteer base: for privacy reasons we do not (and should not) ask for these details except for specific positions that require our vols to be US-based]

As for making it more welcoming, our new chat platform has bridged a lot of divides, but as Milena said crossing out the (frankly artificial) divide between staff and vols would help a lot. Some committees have experimented with more horizontal leadership and it’s been an amazing change for volunteer engagement.

 

Milena Popova

Finally (? 😉 ) I think having a mix of training that’s “go and read this documentation and practice things” and “someone will sit down with you in chat and talk you through these things” is super-helpful in terms of being introduced to people as well as work processes.

[Jessie reacted with a +1]

 

Erica Dulin

I’m on a committee where there is a distinction and the removal would be semantic?

We are moving towards that in TW, Milena, and it’s great.

I’ve gotten to know volunteers and their learning styles and personalities better, and I love it.

 

Jessie Camboulives

(I agree, Erica, there’s a difference in roles, but they’re both volunteering positions.)

 

Milena Popova

Yeah, some of my Comms training was done in chat and it was super-helpful but also super-nice to get to know the chairs better.

 

Jessie Camboulives

I want to give a big hand to Translation for having an amazing text-based, and chat-based combo for training 🙂 It made me a lot more confident for sure

 

Milena Popova

I think Jessie makes a good point re diversity. I wonder if there is a way to monitor diversity data without tying it to individuals, so we have an aggregate data set and can see if there are specific diversity characteristics we’re missing.

 

Erica Dulin

(yes, they are, but a distinction in title has to be made so volunteers know who to go to with questions without overwhelming the chairs)

I wouldn’t want to divulge information on my volunteer application, though.

That would have to be opt in.

[2 people reacted in agreement]

 

Milena Popova

Oh absolutely – I’m not saying abolish differentiation of roles. But i am saying abolish the implied differentiation of status.

Re diversity: it would need to be a completely separate survey from the recruitment process (I have seen this done badly so I know some of the pitfalls :wink:)

 

Erica Dulin

And it would have to clear that it was optional.

 

Milena Popova

Yep

 

Jessie Camboulives

I would rather avoid surveys if at all possible :sweat_smile: We’ll see where the staff/volunteer title changes lead us, but i’m sure it could only be for the better!

 

Milena Popova

Am I allowed to ask why you’d like to avoid surveys?

 

Jessie Camboulives

I can definitely explain it more at length after the chat if you want, yup!

 

briar_pipe

Thanks, everyone!

Our next question was also submitted before the chat: Occasionally, in the past there has been in-fighting between committees. How would you anticipate mitigating loyalty conflicts with your former (or continued, should you stay on) committees to serve the broader needs of the OTW?

 

Jessie Camboulives

I believe that this is something hard to answer without the concrete situation in mind, but if I felt a conflict of interest (or if it was pointed out to me), I would not hesitate to step back from the decision.

The good of the Organization has to come first, regardless of any remaining feelings of loyalty.

 

Milena Popova

For me this about acting in the best interests of the organisation as a whole. A little bit like what I talked about in the Q&A about how I handle conflict. The overriding question for me is “what are we trying to achieve”, supported by “what are our values”. As a board member, the scale I have to answer those questions on is the entire organisation, not any particular committee.

And yes, Jessie makes a good point about conflicts of interest and recusing ourselves if needed.

 

Erica Dulin

I would get input from other people, outside of the conflict. Take a step back and think about the center of the conflict is and try to think of other solutions or compromise.

Gather metadata as it were.

 

briar_pipe

Thank you all! We have a follow-up question to the Q&A: Some of you talked in your Q&A’s about increasing and improving cross-committee communication. How do you envision what these modes of communication would look like, or do you have any examples of projects that you think would benefit from this type of collaborative discourse?

 

Erica Dulin

I’m loving our chat platform for being able to find people on other committees and ask them questions either publicly in channel or by private message.

We have a lot of chairs who are super friendly and easy to reach out to.

(Our finance chair is an angel!)

[3 people reacted in agreement]

I can imagine it helps StratPlan keep on top of everyone and their deadlines. XD

(StratPlan chairs are also easy to talk to!)

(A fun bunch)

(Also my chairs are great for dumping random late night queries onto)

 

Milena Popova

I think there’s a balance to be struck here between following committees’ established processes and breaking down silos. So on the one hand I’d like to see a lot more cross-committee interaction below the chair level/outside the liaison structure, even if it’s “just” social – that would help with org literacy, with cross-pollination of ideas, etc. On the other hand a lot of committees have specific work processes for handling questions both internally and externally, and someone just approaching them informally in chat may mess with their metrics and processes.

So this may be a case of asking each committee “if we wanted to have more informal cross-committee talk, how would you like to approach it so we don’t break your processes”.

 

Jessie Camboulives

Some committees have started some specific shared work channels on our chatting tool, which have made communication a lot easier, and in turn helped us work together more seamlessly. Likewise there are shared channels for chairs that can make information & experience sharing and collaborative work more intuitive. I think this is something we could expand on as new projects arises.

The entire org would benefit from this kind of interactions! From Archive improvements to Communication initiatives to Documentation efforts… In my opinion, we’d benefit from more communication at every level, for both big and small projects.

 

Erica Dulin

With Ao3 related projects, the chat is helpfully to sort that out. I can ask an Abuse person what to do, and they can advise whether to report and make official, or avoid a report and leave a step out of their process.

 

Milena Popova

As I’ve said elsewhere (I think?), I’d also love inter-committee liaisons to become part of the training for new volunteers/staff. Even if it’s just a 15-minute session of “this is what this other committee does, this is how it overlaps with what we do, these are the kinds of issues that tend to arise between us, this is who to poke if you have a question.”

 

Erica Dulin

I agree, that would be great. I think org literacy should be a part of everyone’s training docs.

 

Jessie Camboulives

I agree with Milena on the risk of contamination, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Many committees rely on old tools, or old processes that could be made better with more communication, based on the work of other committees (we saw that recently in Abuse/Support). Change can be good!

 

Milena Popova

I do like the cross-committee channels – I wonder if there’s some work to be done to work out if everyone who needs to be in them is in them. And that may be role-dependent or committee dependent, but as some of these things have popped up spontaneously (which is great) maybe retconning a vaguely systematic approach would help iron out some wrinkles.

 

briar_pipe

Thank y’all for those thoughtful responses!

Our next question is the flip side of a Q&A question you answered, where you talked about what the OTW needs to do in the future. The questioner asked: In an imaginary world of non-conflict and endless money, what dream project would you love to see the OTW undertake?

 

Erica Dulin

I think I’ve started thinking about because some other candidates brought it up, but I would like to expand the legal team to include more non-US projects.

And I’ve just been told about a physical fanworks archive in Iowa that I would love to expand the exposure of.

 

Jessie Camboulives

In a world of endless money, time, and non-conflict? The full Translation and accessibility upgrades to our projects (so AO3’s interface and tagging system, with full media hosting, but also Fanlore etc.)

[2 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Erica Dulin

Oh, full media hosting!

That would be really great, especially since SoundCloud bit the dust. :frowning:

 

Jessie Camboulives

Yeah, and after Photobucket changed their TOS :sob:

 

Erica Dulin

D:

 

Milena Popova

Non-conflict and truly endless money? I’d love for us to be able to offer fandom an alternative to Tumblr for the interactional side of fannish antics. We’ve done a great job offering archiving and importing other archives where the owners have been willing to work with us, but there’s a whole massive chunk of fannish activity where fandom doesn’t own the servers and continuous to be precarious and at the mercy of private corporations. This is obviously a huge undertaking so very probably pie in the sky for at least the foreseeable future, but I’m a fandom infrastructure nerd, so that’s my pet project.

[2 people reacted with :heart:]

Oh yeah, as a podficcer, I’d be totally on board with full media hosting.

[2 people reacted in agreement]

 

briar_pipe

Well, that was very hopeful!

Our next question is also full of hope: What do you think can be done to ensure we have contested elections?

 

Milena Popova

There are a couple of things Board and Elections did this year which I think made a massive difference. The survey Elections rans for people who’d thought about it and the one-on-one follow-up they did was fantastic. The Board chats were also really helpful especially as Board member were super-reassuring to potential candidates who were worried about skill gaps.

 

Jessie Camboulives

I think that the first thing we have to do is to clarify the role and workload of the Board, and minimize the general fear. Our current Board members have been amazing at answering questions, and reassuring potential candidates, but we have to ensure that this gets better from the get-go. I also think that allowing our volunteers to run would be good: it gives us a bigger pool of potential applicants, and many of our volunteers are actually very knowledgeable and perfectly competent!

 

Milena Popova

I think carving a massive stone tablet with “we will scrub any link between your fannish and legal names if you choose to do this and no one will ever know” (or finding other ways to get that message across) would be super-helpful. Also something that helps people realise they do have the skills for Board even if they have some gaps. Maybe leading up to the candidacy period some prompts along the lines of “can you do X? the board needs YOU!”

 

Jessie Camboulives

I didn’t see this Elections process (I wasn’t eligible last year), that sounds interesting!

Oh yes, the fannish/legal name problem is a huge reason why many people don’t want to run…

 

Erica Dulin

I agree and would generally increase org literacy so that people really know what they are getting into. You can be on a project and not know anything about the org, so that would be where I would start: making sure people know what they are a part of, big picture wise.

There are many people I would love to see run but won’t because of the identity issue.

 

Milena Popova

And the thing is, I genuinely think the identity issue is surmountable. Elections bent over backwards to make sure I was comfortable with it and gave me lots of options for how to manage things, even stuff I hadn’t thought of.

So it’s a lot more about communicating up front that we have ways of managing this.

 

briar_pipe

Aw, I’m glad we were able to help with that.

The next question was submitted pre-chat: What question would you like to pose to your fellow candidates? (*you have to answer it as well)

 

Milena Popova

Ooooh, shiny! What part of your work for the organisation are you proudest of?

 

Erica Dulin

I’m proud of my bb!wranglers.

[7 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Milena Popova

Awww! 🙂

 

Erica Dulin

My little chickadees grow up so fast. :sob:

(At least one of my bbs is in the crowd, hello my precious bb!)

 

Jessie Camboulives

I’d say the work I’m proudest of is everything I achieved with our Team French. It’s been a rough trip, with its ups and downs, but we figured out so many things along the way and forged lasting bonds! Also it challenged us to think of gender-neutral options for our stupid language, which was both informative and rewarding, but grammatically nightmarish

[6 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Milena Popova

My first year as a wrangler coincided with the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition. So I joined the wrangling team for that. And by team I mean we went from one wrangler to seven in a couple of months, with all the structural issues that causes. And not only did we clear the epic backlog of 3000 freeforms and hundreds of characters and relationships (DA is… structurally interesting), but we got to the end of the year and destinationtoast did some stats on which had been the busiest fandoms on AO3 that year, and we were second only to SPN. :smiley:

[2 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Erica Dulin

If you could have an org meetup, where would you like all 600+ of to meet?

I’m thinking the top of Mt Fuji, for an epic group photo with a sunset background.

XD

 

Milena Popova

That’s a tough one because there is no location on earth that is cheap and accessible for all of us. :frowning:

 

Erica Dulin

Money and time aside.

 

Jessie Camboulives

Hahaha, if we could pay the trip to everyone, I’d say SDCC!

 

Erica Dulin

Ooh, that would be fandom epic!

 

Milena Popova

I can’t travel to the States at the moment for ~reasons (as I suspect many other people can’t either) but how about Nine Worlds instead?

We’d double the size of the con but hey

[1 person reacted with :ok_hand:]

 

Erica Dulin

We could have a Con of Our Own, as is being bandied about in chat. XD

Anywhere where there is enough room and snacks for all of us.

Australia has lots of room, I think.

 

Jessie Camboulives

So uh, for my question, I actually would like to ask a question that was asked last year: what goal or mission from the other candidates do you most agree with and would you also like to see implemented?

 

Milena Popova

Opens up everyone’s platform page

 

Erica Dulin

I really liked the idea of expanding our work into non-US outreach.

Helping legal and translation and everyone make that possible would be something I would like to try.

 

Milena Popova

I’m going to go with Gimena’s emphasis on internationalisation

 

Jessie Camboulives

And I’d pick your emphasis on improving Board accountability, Milena :heart:

 

Milena Popova

:heart:

 

briar_pipe

So much :heart: in the room. 🙂

Our last question is the same as Friday’s: What has been your best experience so far in the OtW as a volunteer?

 

Erica Dulin

Meeting everyone!

There are lot of different kinds of people from all over the world.

And I’ve been lucky to do some IRL meetups, and everyone is so fun and passionate about fandom.

I’ve learned A LOT about other parts of the world.

And I cannot express how much that means to me.

[7 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Jessie Camboulives

… Outside of meeting so many wonderful people with the same interests? Translating drive content! It was an hectic but fun period. The chat was like a crack fic writing itself in real-time. I forgot the pain and only remember the laughter and creativity now :joy:

[7 people reacted with :heart:]

 

Milena Popova

I am really enjoying working on Fanhackers. Getting to cover the Fan Studies Network conference for that and meeting a several OTW people there (both accidentally and on purpose) was awesome!

[7 people reacted with :heart:]

 

briar_pipe

Aw!

Thank you to everyone for being here today!

The audience was lovely, and the candidates were great :heart:

Thanks to Carli for moderating!

The transcript will be up on the site shortly, along with the previous ones.

This is our last chat – everyone please remember to vote on August 11!

 

Jessie Camboulives

Thanks to Elections for organizing and moderating these chats! :clap:

 

Milena Popova

Massive thanks to Elections, to fellow candidates, and to everyone who showed up to grill us! 🙂

 

Erica Dulin

Thank you, Elections!