Transcript for Second 2010 Candidate Chat

The following is a transcript of the OTW Board candidates’ chat, held at 9 pm UTC 24 October 2010. Current Board members Rebecca Tushnet and Allison Morris 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

Please, let’s get started–open questions as last time, so anyone who has one please fire away.
If we run out, I do have some prepared! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Zooey Glass

I have one ๐Ÿ˜€

Rebecca Tushnet

You have the floor!

Zooey Glass

I’d like to hear a little about how you see the role of Board liaison for in-org committees, and more generally how Board might support staffers

Kristen Murphy

ooh, good question
I see the board liaison as a resource; someone who can be there to support the committee chair or any of the staffers if they need it. It’s important to cultivate a friendly relationship so people feel comfortable coming to the liaison with a concern.
I also think the board liaison needs to be a bit careful not to step on the chairs’ toes — the liaison needs to offer suggestions but let the committee make its own decisions, unless it becomes clear that something is really dysfunctional/broken.

Ira Gladkova

Oh yes

Kristen Murphy

I think the liaisons can be really helpful as mediators in case there is any sort of problem between committees.

hele braunstein

true

Ira Gladkova

hat was really well said, Kristen: the liaison acts as a resource — and in both directions

hele braunstein

I think this is always the case in liaison positions — you’re not the chair, you don’t make decisions, you’re there basically to help. yep — I think the board liaison should understand how the committee works and represent the interests of the Board (which would the interests of the org at large), but at the same time support committee initiatives in the Board itself — the balance of which I’m sure it’s not easy.

Zooey Glass

*nods*

Ira Gladkova

Yes — liaisons are extremely valuable advocates in that sense, and are also in a position to spot issues that *should* be brought before the Board

Zooey Glass

Supplementary – how would you cultivate that friendly relationship?

Ira Gladkova

So that those can be discussed with the chairs and staff and represented fairly upwards into the Board

Julia Beck

(that’s a pertinent question, Zooey)

hele braunstein

well, I’ve found that actually participating in the committee as staffer and/or volunteer tends to make it grow naturally

Kristen Murphy

yes, hele

hele braunstein

most of the time, if I want to liaise with another committee I just jump in and volunteer

Kristen Murphy

If it’s a committee that the board member hasn’t been involved with before, then she should make a point of introducing herself early on and perhaps attend a committee meeting every now and then.
Although I think attending *all* of the comm’s meetings might be too intrusive (see: not stepping on chair’s toes).

hele braunstein

but I’ve never been a board liaison — it’s just as a member of another committee

Ira Gladkova

Direct communication, outside of scheduled meetings, with the chair and staff members can often help, too — the dynamic depending on the committee

hele braunstein

yeah, it’s not even needed to be a staffer in the committee, I think — if it’s a committee with volunteers, one can just work there. Knowing what is actually the work can help enormously with communication in general

Ira Gladkova

Quick responsiveness to questions and concerns, and generally making oneself a clear and inviting resource, will generally encourage people to step up to you more anyway

Kristen Murphy

Yes! As a chair this year, my own board liaison has been enormously valuable as a shoulder to cry on. (<3s allison)

Ira Gladkova

(seconding, allison, your shoulder was my second home)

Julia Beck

right, but that’s because there’s an intimate acquaintance with the issues at hand

allison morris

(nawwwww ::blushes, rusts::)

hele braunstein

yeah — if one takes allison as example, being available pretty much 24hours O_O
(I’m not sure when she sleeps)

Julia Beck

(oops, sorry) which is why I think hele makes a good point that actual involvement may be key; but that places an even greater burden on poor board members shoulders :/

Kate Mollen

no kidding *throws sparkles on allison*

Zooey Glass

I have had some wonderful support from Board, formally and informally, so it’s something that is a priority to me

allison morris

<3 let's focus on the candidates :p

Kristen Murphy

I think casual interactions, like in the Water Cooler and in allstaff meetings, are also important for making people comfortable.

hele braunstein

also! Not making people feel they’re bothering you with questions, even if they’re kinda inane sometimes (I say this as a producer of inane questions myself)

Kristen Murphy

(Water Cooler = social chatroom for OTW staff)

Ira Gladkova

Yes! Just talking, outside of the formal context

Rebecca Tushnet

Other thoughts? I actually have some questions from copracat if we’re ready.

hele braunstein

I wish the water cooler was more popular with all the volunteers, actually — I get to know lots of people from ad&t and tag wrangling, but not so many from other committees. We should promote it more inside the org.

Ira Gladkova

Good point, hele

Zooey Glass

Thank you! These answers touch on some of my key concerns <3

Rebecca Tushnet

I’d like to know more about the candidates’ experience in managing either paid or unpaid staff and what they consider the key aspects of good communication between office and non-office holding volunteers (i.e. boards, committees and other volunteers)
(she can’t make the meeting but asked these questions via email)

Zooey Glass

(I’m going to skip out and catch up on the transcript, thanks all and yeay you!)

Ira Gladkova

I can step up to bat on this one, if no one else wants to jump in first!
(thank you Zooey!)

hele braunstein

go ahead, Ira

Ira Gladkova

thanks =D
I’ve had some experience in both paid and unpaid positions — the unpaid one right here in the OTW. In both cases, the key to good communication has always included keeping your people up to date and involved — and wise delegation that distributes work well according to strength and makes everyone feel valued
The paid experience I had was on a smaller scale, interviewing applicants for a newly-created position at my work (that my manager and I put together), and then supervising their introductory period
Getting people caught up to speed in a new position without making them feel overwhelmed is a hard balance — and I had this experience again in Support, where some of my staff were entirely new to the OTW
One of the most valuable things I learned, from these experience and from managers I’ve watched and admired (many of them right here!) is that showing trust in your volunteers and staff — demonstrating that you understand and value their abilities — has really helped both productivity and communication. A light touch, stepping in to resolve issues and conflicts.

Kristen Murphy

I can go next, if you’re done?
whoops. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ira Gladkova

That trust has always felt amazing when bestowed on me, and I always want to try and give it to others. and done!

Kristen Murphy

๐Ÿ™‚
Besides my OTW work, I have some experience supervising undergraduate student employees. In one case it worked really, really well; in another, not so much. It worked best in a situation where I was able to give the person substantive, interesting things to do that fit with her strengths. (The other person was basically filing things — not much opportunity for challenge or creativity there.) Itโ€™s important to delegate well and to trust people to deliver (while giving them the support they need to be able to do that).
As Ira pointed out, good training/orientation is really important. I got some good experience with that this year in the Webmasters committee, when I led the development of a training curriculum for our new members. One of the things I would like to see happen next term is for all the committees to develop strong training programs for new recruits (if they donโ€™t have them already).
It’s really handy to have training materials already prepped so that committee chairs don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.
I think one’s management approach also needs to be flexible depending on the number of people involved. For example, the committee I chair has four members who know each other well and have worked together for a long time, so I am able to be pretty laid-back about it.

Ira Gladkova

Oh yes, thank you Kristen!

Kristen Murphy

With a larger committee, a different approach would be needed.

hele braunstein

yeah, in IO we have task groups

queenfanfiction

*tries to sneak in quietly* Did I miss the time for the Yuletide open chat thingy? >.>

Kristen Murphy

(and I’m done — take it away, hele!)

hele braunstein

you kinda did ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rebecca Tushnet

This is actually the elections chat right now!
I will look up the Yuletide info for you forthwith!

hele braunstein

if you’re interested in testing in general: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/volunteers%20and%20recruiting
write there and clarify you want to test
well, most of my experience comes from the org, actually — I’ve been a volunteer and then a staffer, and Translation in particular is a committee that runs on volunteer level effort. I think transparency is one of the keys — anything that will impact on the volunteers work should be communicated quickly and clearly; and giving as much liberty to do their work as they feel it should be done as possible.

Rebecca Tushnet

Thanks, hele. Sorry, queenfanfiction!

hele braunstein

Also, being available and, basically, well, nice when one is available. And lots of patience, because people in general tend to get overwhelmed really quickly, so one should start intros slowly and making sure everything is clear before moving on — this has also to do with types of communication; finding out what types of communication and work the volunteer(s) prefer is really important.

Rodo

Hele’s translation team happens to be the best we have too.

hele braunstein

(types of communication: chat or e-mail, that kind of thing)

Ira Gladkova

hele, that’s a really good point — it’s not just what *work* is best for volunteers, but what kind of *communication* works best

hele braunstein

like, there are translators that really better follow the initial explanations on how everything works if you’re in chat with them writing them
others prefer to get an explanatory e-mail and doc and work on it at their own pace
basically, one has to be flexible and transparent

Rebecca Tushnet

Any more, hele?

hele braunstein

I’ve learned a lot about working with people and directing people and liaising with the org, really — I’ve only been a lowly employee in meatspace. Working in the org has been one of the best experiences I’ve had.
and done

Rebecca Tushnet

Thanks, sorry for jumping the gun.

hele braunstein

no problem

Rebecca Tushnet

Copracat’s second question: I’d like to know about their interest in or commitment to non-technical professional development for board and staffers (i.e. learning skills other than the technical skills necessary to build the archive/websites.)
RT in here: for example, we did do some communication training at the very start.
And there are sometimes opportunities to do things like learn more about development (grant-seeking).
End question!

Kristen Murphy

wow, that’s a great question.

Ira Gladkova

Yeah, wow

hele braunstein

Well, I’ve been very thoroughly trained for chairing (i.e. leadership) by my translation and IO chair (lian), and I think all staffers have the opportunity (if they want to) to learn to do that.
and our translators are almost all non.professional people learning how to translate
though that may be technical?

Ira Gladkova

Working in Support, too, has involved learning a lot about this very particular kind of work — how to communicate effectively with people not involved in your project

Kristen Murphy

Honestly, this is something I haven’t thought much about except in reference to myself, i.e. “wow, as a board member I will really need to read up on best practices in volunteer management!” But people-management skills would be useful for all committee chairs. Another useful area for training would be public relations/communication with the media, particularly for our Communications and DevMem folks.
Yes, Ira, cross-committee communication is really important.

hele braunstein

yeah, liaising with other committees in general teaches you a lot about communication

Kristen Murphy

I wonder if it would be useful for chairs, particularly of large committees, to get together once in a while and just talk about the challenges of chairing and the solutions they’ve come up with.
just sort of a chairs support group. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ira Gladkova

That sounds like it would be amazing >.>

hele braunstein

it also sounds like it would be great for inter-committee transparency

Kristen Murphy

yes

hele braunstein

I think the org is in general a great environment to teach yourself lots of different skills — some may be technical and some may be less so — and that’s an important part of its purpose.

Ira Gladkova

Definitely.

Kristen Murphy

yes!

hele braunstein

but that has been the case with most fan-run things, in my experience!

Ira Gladkova

we like sharing *g*

hele braunstein

heeh, yeah, I think that’s it

Julia Beck

(cross-comm chair meeting: Kristen, I suggested that at the start of the 2010 term)

hele braunstein

sharing knowledge in particular is very satisfying, and very much part of the fannish culture

Kristen Murphy

(good thinking, Julia! *g*)

Julia Beck

(I feel it would absolutely be useful. Chairing can be, uhm, hard.)

Kristen Murphy

More questions, RT?

priusplural

i have one, if we are waiting for questions.

hele braunstein

I think we are? So shoot

priusplural

fanlore has a bit of an image problem in some circles of fandom, and is plagued by controversy and bad word of mouth (in the form of negative fannish journal posts etc) and there have been complaints that the wiki committee is largely absent or silent. i see a lot of stuff about outreach and inclusiveness and whatnot in your statements, but only one of you seems to have had anything to do with the wiki at all and it was mentioned only in passing in her bio (Francesca, who sadly is not present today). as someone who has done some edits and would love to see the wiki thrive, does anyone have any thoughts on fanlore in general? ๐Ÿ™

hele braunstein

It’s a good question
and as someone who has done edits and would also like to see it thrive, I totally agree with your concern
priusplural
(also, to be clear, not asking you to address specific situations or controversies!)

hele braunstein

I think the wiki faces a lot of problems that the other projects don’t
and as I’m not part of the committee, I can’t really _say_ I know how they will get resolved, but I can say I’ve total trust in the committee as it is
I don’t think I can really comment on most things — I’ve never been involved in it more than as a sometimes wiki editor

Kristen Murphy

I have not been involved in Fanlore at all, so my knowledge of these issues is mostly derived from reading the DW comm, the OTW newsletter, etc. I think Fanlore has really delicate ground to tread on, perhaps more so than any of our other projects, as hele says. I think it is important for the Wiki comm to listen closely to users’ concerns and to respond in a way that demonstrates they are doing so, no matter what they end up doing in terms of policy. Transparency and communication are really important, imo.

hele braunstein

I’ll say that I’m deeply interested in international outreach re:wiki (other languages specially), and I’ll be involved in trying to work on it in any case

Ira Gladkova

I, too, have not been involved in the wiki, but from what I do know, yes, the wiki, and the wiki committee, have a pretty unique situation. Better communication, which we’re all learning and working on, is a first step to helping the wiki thrive, and I know they’re working on that already — so I second the trust
which hele said better =P
And thank you, Kristen, yes

hele braunstein

they are

Kristen Murphy

I think it’s important to keep in mind that different segments of fandom have different standards of etiquette developed over long periods of time, and none of those are going to change quickly, so it’s really important to communicate with diverse groups and try to address those viewpoints as best as possible. Keeping in mind, though, that it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Unfortunately. :/

hele braunstein

and sometimes it’s too easy to forget that from the outside the org is not, uhm, as transparent as when one volunteers in it

Rebecca Tushnet

This is actually a very important topic, and I don’t want to cut off discussion even though our promised hour is up.

Ira Gladkova

Heavily outward-facing projects straddle that line; it makes it hard =\

Rebecca Tushnet

I have to do childcare, though–can I ask someone like NN to step in for a bit?

Kristen Murphy

Yes; Fanlore relies on contributions from non-staff users in a very different way than the other projects do.

hele braunstein

so sometimes there’s a _lot_ of work behind the scenes, and people have just forgotten to communicate on it because there are no results to present

priusplural

has there ever been consideration of publishing edited minutes?

hele braunstein

which is not trying to excuse lack of transparency — just to explain it

priusplural

of the meetings?

hele braunstein

of the wiki committee?

priusplural

of all committees, and the board.

hele braunstein

ad&t does something like that

allison morris

ad&t does updates, not minutes
to break in

priusplural

i understand they are on your other wiki, and viewable to staffers (not sure if this is accurate).

hele braunstein

we try!

allison morris

i think that our newsletter is very much meant to serve that purpose
and some committees keep minutes, not all
it’s up to the individual committee and their work style. that said, all do present digests of their work in some way
i see what wiki has been doing recently on their dreamwidth comm as much like this

hele braunstein

yeah

allison morris

i mean — similar to ad&t’s digests
a lot of our committees, the minutes would be pretty opaque, or entirely redacted
or just really boring
๐Ÿ™‚

hele braunstein

also, it’s not that people don’t want to be as transparent as possible, really. That type of documentation would add a lot of work.

priusplural

understandable!

Kristen Murphy

We could, perhaps, do more to encourage people to ask questions. Say, a note at the bottom of the newsletter inviting questions.

hele braunstein

that’s a good idea

Ira Gladkova

Yes, there’s only so much we can feasibly do in terms of output — but when we know exactly what people want to hear more about..!

Kristen Murphy

It’s hard to know what people are interested in, yes.

priusplural

thank you for your answers!

allison morris

thank you!
okay, we should wrap this up
as i recall these chats being a bit exhausting
๐Ÿ™‚
there will be a transcript and screenshot up in a few minutes
for anyone who missed part or all of the chat
thank you, everyone, for attending

priusplural

i had a question specifically for Francesca. can i paste it here for her to answer when she has time (as previously)?

allison morris

and for your awesome questions and answers

Naomi Novik

(sorry RT, I was in other window coding, ty for jumping in AM)

allison morris

could you send it to rebecca?
moment, i will get you the link

Ira Gladkova

Thanks everyone for being awesome to do this with!

priusplural

sure.

hele braunstein

(thank you, allison and RT, for moderating!)

allison morris

and then everyone can prepare an answer to it
๐Ÿ™‚

priusplural

i would like to thank ira, hele, & kristen for taking the time to meet with us ๐Ÿ™‚

Kristen Murphy

yes, thank you! This was fun. (And much less stressful after having been through it once!)
you’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for attending and asking questions!

Ira Gladkova

thank you, priusplural =D

priusplural

it was actually specifically about something Francesca said in her statement and doesn’t apply to the others, so no need!

allison morris

ah

priusplural

good luck to all!

allison morris

in that case, rt can pass it to francesca

hele braunstein

thank you all for attending and asking questions

allison morris

http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections
and she can email you
๐Ÿ™‚

OTW 2010 Board Candidate chat begins soon!

Our second one-hour chat with our Board candidates, open to all of our members and to the public, will begin very soon!

We start at at 9 pm UTC 24 October (What time is that where I live?). If you are unable to attend but have questions for the candidates, we encourage you to submit them via our contact form to our elections officer, Rebecca Tushnet, who will present them on your behalf.

The chat will be held in the OTW public chatroom, accessible at this link: https://fanarchive.campfirenow.com/28473

As a reminder, voting is restricted to current OTW members; this includes anyone who has made a donation of US$10 or more between 1 October 2009 and the end of our current donations drive, to best accommodate all time zones. To renew your membership, visit http://transformativeworks.org/how-you-can-help/support before then (What time is that where I live?).

Upcoming OTW Events: Membership Drive (October) and Election (November)

The OTW will be holding its next membership drive from October 11 to October 18, 2009. This is important for many reasons (not least of which is our continued need for your support!) but please note that should we happen to have a contested OTW Board election this November (i.e. more declared candidates than open seats), you must be a member of the OTW in good standing by October 18, 2009. That means you need to have made a membership donation of at least US$10 in the last year, or since October 19, 2008.

You can, of course, become an OTW member at any time, and we will always accept your donations! But if youโ€™re not a member and want the option to vote in a potential election, please be sure to join the OTW before the end of our October drive.

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