Transcript for Initial 2010 Candidate Chat

The following is a transcript of the OTW Board candidates’ chat, held at 2 am UTC 21 October 2010. Current Board member Rebecca Tushnet moderated the discussion; Hele Braunstein, Ira Gladkova, and Kristen Murphy attended; Francesca Coppa did not attend the chat.

To view a screenshot of the chat itself, follow this link.

Rebecca Tushnet

Does anyone have any questions they want to start with?
Okay, I’ll start! What do you most want to see the organization do in the coming three years?

Kristen Murphy

I’ll start, I guess…
I would really like to see our vidding projects, like the TO3, get up and running — because it will be AWESOME, and because it will broaden our inclusiveness and help us gain more support from within the vidding community.

Ira Gladkova

Oh yes!

Kristen Murphy

I think the things we’ve done so far with vidding have been really exciting, particularly some of the legal stuff that intersects with it
so we have good momentum there.
And I’d like for it to keep going and be really successful. πŸ™‚

Ira Gladkova

Hear hear!

hele braunstein

yes!
the legal stuff has been awesome — at least from a non-legal person perspective

Ira Gladkova

May I pick up and ride on that?

Kristen Murphy

go for it. πŸ™‚

Ira Gladkova

Thank you!

Ira Gladkova

I definitely echo this, Kristen — and I would so love a general expansion of multimedia interest, particularly multimedia support on the archive

Kristen Murphy

yes!

Ira Gladkova

I’m ridiculously excited about the archive’s potential to provide a home for a wide variety of fanworks, and I think wider multimedia support will also help broaden our fandom diversity

hele braunstein

that’s one of the most important aspects of it, for me
(of the multimedia support — we’re panfandom, but we could be much more so)

Ira Gladkova

Yes! This is super interesting to me — I’m really hoping we can bring in even more awesome fandoms, and even more fans from fandoms already on the archive but not as strongly represented
hele, I would love to hear more =D

hele braunstein

I would like to see all our tools/resources available in at least as many languages as we’ve translation teams, and the AO3 in particular in more languages than that (getting volunteers to translate that interface is easier than to do almost anything else). I would also like to see things like the Vidding projects acquire a more panfandom approach.
but that’s probably obvious, since I’m all about the translations >_<

Kristen Murphy

yay, translation!
I think another really important goal for the org has to be sustainability, because all these neat things we’re talking about will require server power and people power.

Ira Gladkova

Oh yes Kristen, good point

hele braunstein

indeed

Kristen Murphy

So we have to continue to be effective in getting the word out to potential supporters and volunteers, and also making our work as efficient as we can and taking good care of volunteers so they don’t burn out.

hele braunstein

perhaps here we should mention the money, given the drive in process πŸ˜›

Rebecca Tushnet

And if I can follow up on that–what are everyone’s ideas about outreach in particular? this can be an issue because there’s something of a norm of “don’t walk up to someone’s space on the internet and start pushing your agenda,” so it can be a hard line to toe.

hele braunstein

well, I think it really will depend on our volunteer base

Ira Gladkova

and the fandom cultures in question

hele braunstein

you can’t go in and offer your finished project and expect it to fit that fandom culture you were not taking into account before
we’ve a very varied volunteer base, but I’m not sure that’s impacting our structure as much as it should be — I would like to work on that, and hopefully get even more diversity in our volunteer base in the process

Ira Gladkova

That is an excellent point, hele
It’s reciprocal, a feedback loop
if we can focus on making great use of our existing volunteers to broaden the applicability of our project, we can hope to bring in more volunteers from more diverse fannish backgrounds

Kristen Murphy

yes
It would probably also help to know more about our current volunteer & supporter base.
I mean, there’s this perception that it’s largely journal-based, Western media fandom, etc., etc., but have we ever really surveyed people to know that for sure? I don’t think we have.
We need to find our unsung mailing-list denizens and harness their knowledge. πŸ™‚

allison morris

(we tried to survey last drive, but ran out of time to do it exhaustively)

hele braunstein

well — that is an interesting idea, actually. I wonder how many of our volunteers are reaching out and bringing their own fandom culture into the org, and what’s happening in that process
like, say, tag wranglers is an excellent place to look for, since there are lots of things we vote about

Kristen Murphy

right. Word of mouth is one of our best promotional tools, and we don’t really know where all that word of mouth is reaching.

hele braunstein

I’m sure the impact of that diversity can be seen in the decisions there

Ira Gladkova

An active effort to know and welcome the diversity and backgrounds we already have would probably make volunteers from backgrounds that don’t fit the expected mold — however correct or not that perception is — feel more welcome to bring their different viewpoints into the org structure

Kristen Murphy

Yes, the tag wranglers are probably the most diverse group in the org.

hele braunstein

exactly, Ira

Kristen Murphy

yes
I think we could also try to take better advantage of that diversity in more cross-committee ways.

hele braunstein

how do you mean?

Kristen Murphy

Like, before a fund drive, we could ask all staff: who can reach out to X country? Who can reach out to mailing lists?

hele braunstein

ah, yes

Kristen Murphy

We may have contacts in communities we never even thought about.

Ira Gladkova

I’m almost certain we do

Megan Westerby

If I may be so bold — what about external outreach?

Ira Gladkova

Can you elaborate, Megan?

Kristen Murphy

external as in outside of fandom?

hele braunstein

please, be so. What do you mean by external?

Megan Westerby

heh
it sounds like we’re discussing exploring the demographics of our existing members — what about non-members?

hele braunstein

well, members and volunteers

Megan Westerby

or people who might be fannishly inclined but don’t think of themselves as ‘in fandom’
(labels make some people uncomfortable!)

Ira Gladkova

I think we were trying to think from ways to work from the inside out — but we definitely would want to reach further

hele braunstein

uhm, I think fannish people and fannish inclined people not in fandom would probably need to be reached out differently
but I think the reason we always think of our volunteers first is that there is a certain danger in coming to a community you know nothing about, with your project — it can be of no interest to them, or your approach can be all wrong (And even insulting!) and thus spoil any interest they may have
I think we’re all thinking on trying to get a sort of… insider perspective first, in each community

Ira Gladkova

Yes, I think so

hele braunstein

and besides — the project is defined by the volunteers that make it

Kristen Murphy

Yes – I think an organic approach is best for outreach within fandom.

hele braunstein

that’s why we’re by fans for fans — that holds true also for different parts of fandom or different fandoms

Kristen Murphy

For truly external outreach (outside fandom), I think our legal work and TWC are probably the best things to promote

Ira Gladkova

Yes, though even in those communities, it helps to have an inside approach

Megan Westerby

awesome! i know it’s a nebulous question — it’s a nebulous concept figuring out how to represent fandom!

Ira Gladkova

Academia is particular — to my knowledge; I admit straight off to knowing less of the legal community!

Kristen Murphy

likewise, Ira. πŸ™‚

hele braunstein

I’m not even sure we will ever ‘represent fandom’, though we can be more inclusive of that nebulous concept πŸ˜›
and even those communities are not _one_ community
i.e. surely legal issues are different in different countries, for example

Kristen Murphy

right

Ira Gladkova

Representing: Ha, yes. And I know some people don’t want to be “represented”, either in general or by the OTW
and I think the best we can do there is make ourselves a resource
both for people working from the inside out, and for those looking from the outside in

hele braunstein

yeah, I think that’s what we are, ira — and after all, fandom as such doesn’t _need_ representation

Ira Gladkova

And backing up a bit — good point about international different in legal communities (and I assume, academic ones and other fandoms we’ve been discussing in an “external” sense)

hele braunstein

I’m really interested in the otw itself and its projects becoming more of a point of contact between the different parts or cultures in fandom

Ira Gladkova

(though again, it’s interesting to note that there is intersection, and a lot of it)
yes! hele!

hele braunstein

heeh

Rebecca Tushnet

I have a very different question, this one from my interviewing days: what is your style when dealing with a personnel issue (a volunteer who isn’t doing what she promised or has done something that needs to be corrected)?
again as an all volunteer organization that communicates almost entirely in text messages, we have special needs
and it’s hard to get right!

hele braunstein

what type of something that needs to be corrected? Like, a professional error in a translation, or a social/interpersonal issue?

Rebecca Tushnet

More the latter, though if your experience dealing with the former helps, then please talk about it.

hele braunstein

I’ve had lots of experience with the ‘not doing what she promised’ area in translation (not that my teams aren’t great, but we all have issues and volunteer work usually comes after school and family, etc)

Kristen Murphy

I think for me, it depends on whether it’s a one-time thing or a pattern of behavior. If someone is too swamped to meet a particular deadline, for example — well, that happens, especially in a volunteer org, and probably my approach would be to find help for that person so that the project still gets done, while trying not to make her feel too bad about it.
If it is a continuing pattern of failing to get things done, then I would talk with the person privately about it.

Ira Gladkova

I think one more important thing to consider, especially for social/interpersonal issue, is to check our assumptions — it might be a different way of social interaction
we’re a diverse group, and sometimes we have to learn each other that way

Kristen Murphy

yes

hele braunstein

Usually, I contact the team or member, and try to find out why it is and if it’s something I can fix — like, say, the original text is not comprehensible or has a really difficult to translate tone — and then do it. If not, then I try to get a realistic prediction on the outcome (i.e. find out if the volunteer wants to quit but hasn’t felt up to talking about it, or is just very busy at the moment)
it’s volunteer work, and we can’t force people to do it. Make them feel guilty about it is not only bad for the person, but also doesn’t work; we can only work around it

Kristen Murphy

Yes. If someone’s having trouble keeping up, I try to offer alternative ways they could stay involved with less

hele braunstein

exactly

Ira Gladkova

thirded!
and returning to your earlier point about burnout
we have to take care of each other

Kristen Murphy

yes

Ira Gladkova

We wouldn’t be in this is we didn’t have love to share, and it’s a tremendous insult to imply that that love is not enough. Learning more about our volunteers (as already discussed, if in even more dimensions) and being aware of the variety of work in the org
can help us find best fits for different skill sets, ways of interacting, and amounts of time and resources available

hele braunstein

yep — also, appreciating the work they (we!) do

Megan Westerby

::holds up an ‘i am not a number!’ sign happily::

Kristen Murphy

πŸ™‚

hele braunstein

translators for example, do an enormous amount of work, and it isn’t the kind of thing you get lots of kudos from outside — acknowledging they’re working a lot is essential, because otherwise it can really feel like it’s all kinda pointless

Ira Gladkova

which is so so so far from the truth!
oh gosh
translating!
There are a number of committees whose work is like that — volcom comes to mind

Kristen Murphy

yes!

hele braunstein

yes!
They’re awesome

Ira Gladkova

Haha, oh gosh, suddenly I want appreciation parties for all the committees
throughout the year
it’s volcom appreciation week! go tell the translation folk they are awesome; it’s their week!

Kristen Murphy

Communications used to do “spotlight” posts on the different committees and their work; perhaps it would be fun to start that up again.

hele braunstein

heeh

Ira Gladkova

Our last party was awesome; obviously I want more >.>

hele braunstein

it _was_ cool

Rebecca Tushnet

I promised an hour, so I want to make sure that no one is hesitating to ask a question–Bueller?

allison morris

(insider info! io is all over this! they are going to restart the spotlights!)

Ira Gladkova

(omg yes!)

Kristen Murphy

(yay!)

hele braunstein

that could also help with transparency, Kristen

Kristen Murphy

yes, hele, and with recruitment

hele braunstein

(cool!)

Ira Gladkova

definitely

Rebecca Tushnet

Okay, thank you so much for coming!

Ira Gladkova

Thank you for hosting!
and asking =D

Kristen Murphy

Thanks!

hele braunstein

what Ira said