Antonius Melisse 2021 Q&A: OTW Mission/Goals

[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Where would you like to see the OTW in five years? How would you like to set the stage for that over your Board term?

I would like to see the OTW as a whole continue its growth over these next five years; not just in obvious ways, like the number of works posted to the Archive or the number of members, but also when it comes to more sustainability to support our growth.

One of the things needed to achieve this is to continue enabling our coders to work with contractors – and potentially paid staff if needed – and make sure our Systems committee has the resources to access the hardware they require. This investment in our technological architecture will in turn give us a continued stable base to work from when focusing on other aspects of the organization, for example when addressing efforts towards making our projects accessible to people from as many places around the world as possible, by allowing continued effort towards matters like a translatable interface for the Archive.

Another more practical matter I feel we need to work on is more direct communication between the various committees inside the OTW, so they have a better idea of how the others work, and what is involved in setting up a task. I’ll address some of the ways I think we can achieve this in response to a later question.

What measurable steps are you going to take to further the OTW agenda?

The easy way out would be to mention that any of our specific goals as mentioned on the What We Believe page is important.

In the interest of fans, I feel a few things are important that we need to deliver on. We need to support our Legal Advocacy project sufficiently so they can keep up their great work, by continually making sure they have access to the resources they require to protect the rights of fans with regards to all their works.

I also believe that one of the things we need to continue to work on is internationalization. Currently, there already are some efforts towards this, like the cooperation between Translation and Accessibility, Design & Technology committees on a (highly complicated) project to make the interface translatable. I want to expand on our current efforts to become more international. It would be my goal to spread some of the multicultural diversity as already present in some committees to the rest as well. I feel we can accomplish this by pointing out the benefits of this to committees that it might prove useful for (like, for example, some of our teams now directly and specifically recruiting volunteers from specific regions, so tickets can be dealt with more efficiently).

What are you currently doing to address racism in AO3 and in the larger OTW?

My role as a volunteer manager for the Translation committee has given me the opportunity to learn from discussions on prejudice with perspectives from all over the world. I’ve learned a lot from listening to discussions within the OTW and in fandom as a whole.

I also served briefly in the Policy & Abuse committee some time ago, where I encountered the ugliest side of fandom: the racist harassment and so much more. I learned that there are very few horrible things that a small minority of trolls won’t figure out how to weaponize against others, particularly fans of color, and that Policy & Abuse volunteers are badly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work. We need to come up with ways to give Policy & Abuse and users better tools to address these issues, both technical and in the AO3 Terms of Service.

If you were elected, what steps would you implement in combating racism within fannish and transformative work space?

We should continue with the efforts as already set out by the current Board – they are looking at our Terms of Service together with our Policy & Abuse and Legal committees to clarify how we treat various types of harassment, including racist harassment, and the Accessibility, Design & Technology committee is working on blocking, muting and improved filtering options – and expand on them.

For internal purposes, I think we should form a committee to handle personnel complaints, including issues involving racism from our volunteers. This should lead to creating a situation where it’s easier for volunteers to reach out and have these situations dealt with, and bring an increased sense of safety.

I feel we should also look into attracting an external expert on matters of diversity, to function as a diversity officer, who could advise the Board on potential further steps to combat racism. However, we need to remember that while consulting an expert is important to get us started, no one’s experience is universal. We need to learn to listen to the feedback we get from fandom better. It’s often contradictory and chaotic and it’s hard to be responsive in a timely fashion given our many limitations as an organisation, but that’s an area where I think the OTW needs to learn to do better in the future, as we get more stable and start to leave some of those limitations behind.

How are you planning to update the way OTW communicates, both internally and externally (not all details, but general outline)?

I’ve already briefly touched on one of the internal updates that needs to happen in my eyes; committees tend to only know their own processes, and I want to create more ways to get them communicating, so they have better mutual understanding. This could be either through liaisons between committees, or through a system where they do a “ride-along” for a week or so. The latter idea might be a bit too time-intensive for some of the more swamped committees, however, so I’d have to investigate how feasible this really is. Still, by and large, I think we should have a goal to make our committees less silo-ed.

Externally, we need to maintain our current communication methods – our own sites and social media presence – but I feel there are some things we may need to look into expanding and updating. Some of our sites are a bit outdated, and can do with some modernisation. I also think public Board meetings need to happen more often, so people get a clearer idea of what Board members do, and I hope people will feel Board is more approachable this way.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]