Atiya Hakeem 2015 Q&A: Other Questions, Group 2

Can you say something positive about three of your fellow candidates?

Yes! Matty Bowers was my first chair when I joined the Org. In the years I’ve worked for and with her I’ve found her to be unfailingly calm, practical, and level-headed. She manages with a light touch, such that one feels like one isn’t being managed at all as long as things are going well, but with help right there as soon as it’s needed. I find her extremely comfortable to work with, because when we disagree, we can productively discuss the issues involved without drama or rancor.

Aline Carrão’s enthusiasm and upbeat personality make her a pleasure to be around, possibly sometimes obscuring the fact that she’s very competent at her work.

Alex Tischer is straightforwardly blunt, overtly competent, and extremely funny. I trust her always to get things done, and I enjoy watching it happen.

I only met Katarina Harju “in person” since the campaign started, but if I were allowed a fourth comment, I’d say that getting to know her has been a definite bonus.

A lot of the current problems seem to come back to a lack of scalability, especially with the massive growth of the Archive. A) What are your short-term plans to make this growth spurt work, B) What are your long term plans to avoid this problem in the future, when there’s another massive increase (of traffic, users, and/or fanworks etc.), a.k.a what structural changes would you strive for to make the OTW, and especially the Archive more sustainable.

I could give a more interesting answer to this question as it specifically relates to AO3 with my AD&T staffer hat on, but from the Board perspective:

A) In the short term, for AO3, I would make sure that the AD&T and Systems committees were allocated the money needed to upgrade our server capacity, pay our new contractor, and obtain needed training and software, and that that money was paid out in a timely fashion.

For the Org as a whole, I would work on getting our fiscal house in order. We need to have a predictive budget each year, in order to allow us to anticipate our needs and shape our fundraising accordingly. We need responsible fiscal oversight to ensure that the money goes where it is supposed to and that the bills are paid.

B) In the long term, I think we need to work on transitioning some positions to be paid, rather than volunteer. As our projects get larger, expecting volunteers to manage them in their spare time is increasingly not feasible. I’d start with Systems, AO3 coding, and Volunteers & Recruiting, with a preference for hiring current staffers, as being people we can trust to do the work. (Our experiences in the Org with paying people from outside have, to date, been rather mixed.) I definitely don’t think we should start by paying people at the top (such as an executive director); leadership choosing to pay itself with no oversight has a great potential for abuse, and I’ve seen examples of such in other organizations.

Whenever internationalisation is brought up in relation to fandom, I often hear the argument that it’s not needed yet, since there isn’t an “insert country/language/non-English fandom” presence in the OTW/on the Archive. Personally I feel like this is a chicken/egg situation. Is the OTW/AO3 so American/English language focussed because there isn’t enough of a non-English fandom interest, or is there no interest because there’s not enough non-American/English accommodation?

A) Where do you fall on this? What should come first?

B) If the next growth spurt is of a non-English, different fandom culture nature, how will you accommodate that?

I haven’t actually heard this argument in my time in the OTW. The committees I’ve worked on have members from many countries, with many first languages, and they are very enthusiastic about internationalization. We’ve also certainly seen significant non-English fandom interest on AO3, as measured by visitor stats and the numbers of works posted in non-English languages and for non-English-language source canons.

Since I joined as a staffer, the revitalization of the Translation committee has been a major change. Their members are, not surprisingly, extremely diverse and very passionate about internationalization, and having them available to quickly and enthusiastically translate as needed both enables and motivates efforts to provide content in non-English languages. Not only have they added international diversity to the internal culture of the OTW, they have worked with AD&T, AO3 Documentation, AO3 Support, AO3 Abuse and other committees to implement items such as translated AO3 News Posts, translated content on the OTW web site, translated AO3 FAQs, and Support ticket and News Post comment replies in many languages.

Thus, my answer to A) is that I think there already is international fandom interest and that the OTW’s committees are working on better serving our international audience, and to B) is that I have great confidence that these committees, led by Translation, will be able to accommodate future increases in international interest.