Chat Transcript – July 30 13:00 UTC

[​​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.]

Marion McG

Hi everyone, and welcome to our first candidate chat for 2022!

Today you’ll have the opportunity to observe 3 candidates: Michelle, Natalia, and Noémie

My name is Marion, and I’ll be hosting the candidate side today. On the audience/open chat side, your host will be my fellow Elections Committee member Emma.

Emma, can you wave so everyone can see you?

Emma

👋

Marion McG

Thanks Emma!

A transcript of the candidate side of the chat will be posted publicly on our website. The open chat transcript will not be posted there, but its transcripts will remain visible until after the election. During the chat, you may see candidates fix their typos; this is to make Elections Volunteers’ job easier later.

As the candidates discuss each question, audience members can notify Emma] 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)

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

Emma 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, as well as under 50 words (these are our expectations: https://elections.transformativeworks.org/electionsprocess-behavior-expectations/).

– Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the platforms (https://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2021-en/2021-bios-and-platforms/) or the Q&A (https://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2021-en/2021-qa/). If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

Now, I’d like to welcome our candidates and invite them to say hello

Noémie B

Hello!

Michelle S

Hi!

Natalia Gruber

Hi there!

Marion McG

Welcome everyone. We’ll jump right into our first question from the audience; How did you get your start volunteering for the OTW?

Noémie B

I started volunteering in October 2015, by answering a call for Tag Wrangler volunteers on the main OTW site.

I went through the classic recruitment process which was in use at the time and have been a Tag Wrangler since!

Natalia Gruber

Hahaha, I think my story is a bit boring xD I did have a friend a long time ago who was a translator for the Russian team, so I was somewhat aware of what the work was like. One day I just saw a recruitment post and thought I’d give it a try, so I applied, went through the processes, and here we are xD

 

Then I accidentally picked up another committee. And another. And another one…

And now 6 years later here we are xD

Michelle S

A friend of mine was already a volunteer for the AO3 Documentation committee. When they were recruiting, she convinced me to put in an application, because I was a big fan of spelling and grammar and editing things. So I applied, and they liked me, and I liked them, and now I’m co-chairing the committee, so I guess it’s working out pretty well, haha.

Marion McG

Thanks so much for telling us about your experiences! Onto our next question:

Can you tell us about a time (in your OTW volunteering or elsewhere) that you realized you had more responsibilities/deadlines than you could realistically complete on time? What did you do then?

Michelle S

In the Docs committee, we do a lot with co-authoring documents, so that’s definitely a huge help as far as sharing responsibilities. I’ve had to step back from authoring a document in order to concentrate on other tasks I needed to be doing. Communicating with my co-authors and my other chairs is always important so that someone is there to pick up any dropped tasks and make sure they get passed on or completed, as necessary.

Natalia Gruber

When I was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2018, I was a Translation volunteer manager, a Policy & Abuse Volunteer, and a Tag Wrangler. Board training and onboarding involve a lot of reading and a lot of meetings with other Board members and with all OTW committees.

 

At the time, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to dedicate myself to so many roles at once and do as good a job as I would like, so I evaluated my responsibilities and decided to step down from the Tag Wrangling committee, as I felt Tag Wrangling was the committee where other people could more easily take over my work.

Noémie B

I can pinpoint that time exactly since it was during the start of the pandemic. I was unable to complete supervisor tasks anymore and asked chairs for a hiatus of three months. This allowed me to prioritize my work at the time and come back when things had calmed down. I stayed an active tag wrangler since this role is very dear to me, but I didn’t want to be a burden to the supervising team (for personnel-related tasks for example, and because I had less patience overall). I am glad I asked for this hiatus since it allowed me to stay part of the tag-wrangling team (and the chats which were a great source of comfort) while still stepping back a bit.

Marion McG

Thank you for your answers! Now we have a very tough question: If you could canonise one freeform tag, what would it be?

Natalia Gruber

God, i should have prepared for this 😿

Noémie B

I honestly cannot answer this question because there are too many interesting tags in No Fandom that I would like to see canonized ^^

Natalia Gruber

Hardest question!

Noémie B

The one I really wanted to see become canonical when I started as a volunteer was “Hanahaki Disease” and it was the first tag we tackled when we tested out opening No Fandom wrangling again so this was great to see!

Michelle S

My silly answer, because I’ve been reading too much Batman fanfic lately, is some variant on the “Tim Drake has the self-preservation skills of a wet paper bag” tag because it makes me giggle every time I see it. But there are so many good options out there. Taggers are so creative XD

Natalia Gruber

Gdi, Noémie picked a good one xD

I guess Crossover Friendships would be a very fun tag to have xD

Noémie B

Just for the fun of it I will say Found Family (or Accidental Demon Summoning)

(same thing if you try hard enough ^^)

Marion McG

Thanks so much for your answers! Our next question is about your personal experiences within the Organization: What’s the most challenging thing for you about volunteering for the OTW and how do you manage it?

Noémie B

The most challenging thing for me would be spending more time on volunteer tasks and less time on chats (not necessarily participating but reading all your comments /o). I manage it by practicing restraint!

More seriously, I think that the most challenging thing would be tackling tasks that take time because of numerous back and forths between several people. I have learned to like it and hope to become better with experience. The same goes with learning how to communicate with other volunteers, for personnel tasks or as a candidate here 🙂

Michelle S

As I said in one of my Q&A answers, something I’ve often struggled with is time management. The all-online aspect of the OTW means I can’t sit down at a work desk and work for a set number of hours and go home; I have to just pick a time and do my work. Over the years I’ve learned to manage it via a pile of different methods – I have a notes system I use to record tasks, I use reminders in our internal messaging program to keep track of what my deadlines are, and I make use of working parties with my fellow volunteers to keep myself on task for short periods of time as well.

Natalia Gruber

I think the hardest part of OTW work is handling and balancing our big long-term projects with every day tasks that need to happen in order for our committees to function. I have spoken about this before in my Q&As https://elections.transformativeworks.org/category/2022-en/2022-candidates/2022-natalia-g/, but we have so many teams so overwhelmed with their everyday work that adding any type of project into the mix can throw the whole committee off balance.

 

I mentioned before that it can be frustrating for me to be on the waiting side of this situation, but as a committee chair, I’m also responsible for trying to help my team progress on our own projects, some of which impact many other people outside of Translation. Caring for my team’s needs, while also understanding other people are relying on us for something to happen can be very challenging, and I’m really grateful that my previous experience in leadership roles has prepared me to handle this type of stress and balance short and long term goals.

Noémie B

Yes, time management is very different for volunteering for the OTW than it is for a regular hours job. I use several anti-procrastination methods to tackle this and note important tasks in my agenda too

For tasks without deadlines, I often resort to choosing a deadline myself and it helps.

Marion McG

Thank you all. Here’s our next question: Because we’re all volunteers, change can sometimes happen very slowly in the org. If you could pick one slow-moving OTW change or project that you think is most important to prioritize, what would you pick?

Noémie B

That is a difficult question. One slow-moving project that I would love to see happen would be opening No Fandom tag wrangling again, especially because some sensitive tags (identity-related for example) should be addressed. However, this is only from my point of view as a tag wrangler and I am sure that some more general projects that I do not know about should be prioritized, like the current project of finding a diversity consultant or working on improving our public relations. I do not think I know enough about the OTW as a whole to give a pertinent answer for now, and that is part of why I am a candidate this year.

Michelle S

This is hard to pick, because a lot of ones I can think of off the top of my head are slow-moving because they have so many different parts to them, and because a lot needs to get done before they can be fully implemented, but I’ve always loved the project for translating the AO3 interface.

Natalia Gruber

I believe that reviewing our policies to better protect our users from harassment is a very urgent goal, and if I could pick just one to prioritize, I would like for us to make progress on this.

 

Conversations about harassment on AO3 have been ongoing for a long time, and the OTW has started working on reviewing policies to help our most vulnerable users recently, but understandably, this change needs to be very carefully planned and discussed before it can be implemented. I would like to help the teams in charge of this project so that we can move forward and create a safer environment on AO3

Marion McG

Thank you for your answers! Now, our next question: If you were to join an OTW committee that you’ve never been a part of, which would it be and why?

Natalia Gruber

* opens list of committees * Where haven’t I volunteered before 🤔 😂

If you asked me this a few months ago it would have been Volunteers & Recruiting, but now I got to do that 😄

Michelle S

So when I first joined the Org and settled in, I poked around at all the other committees and had a list of which ones I wanted to join and why, and then proceeded to join my first two choices (three months apart, to give plenty of time for training XD) so I have thought about this a lot, haha. The current answer is probably the Communications committee, but Development & Membership is up there as well.

The silly answer, of course, is Board 😂

Natalia Gruber

Hmmmm, maybe Fanlore, on the Policy & Admin team. Or Open Doors, reaching out and liaising with endangered archives mods sounds very rewarding ^^

Noémie B

I would love to be a part of the Translation committee! When I talk about the OTW and it’s projects to people I know ‘in real life’, they often don’t know about it even when they are part of fandoms and read fanfiction, mainly because the Archive is not the main fanfiction archive used by french speakers. Of course, I could not change that by joining the committee but I would love to learn more about the role and participate in helping the OTW become more accessible for these people.

Marion McG

Thank you! That was a tough question – there’s so many great committees to choose from!

Next question is: What do you think that you could bring to the OTW Board that sets you apart from your fellow candidates?

Natalia Gruber

I’ve been on the Board before and survived 😂

Most of me survived, anyway xD

Ahem, on a more serious tone, leadership experience and knowledge of the org is something I bring to the table, and I have always had a love of teaching people new things, both in the OTW (training new volunteers and managers) and in real life (I’m a teacher).

Michelle S

I bring writing and editing experience from the Docs committee, since the Docs staffer on Board will be finishing up their term this year XD I am ready to document and write and edit things!

Natalia Gruber

😻

Noémie B

I haven’t had as much experience as Natalia and Michelle regarding leadership roles so I would say that I bring naive enthusiasm for the role and learning all about it! I can also learn about the other committees and chairs with a new point of view.

But to be very honest, I think that both of them are great candidates ^^

Natalia Gruber

Enthusiasm definitely helps a lot! ❤️

Marion McG

Thanks everyone! Great to hear about all your relevant skills.

Next Question: What’s one OTW committee or project whose work you think will be the hardest for you to learn or understand in order to support its chair(s)? How do you plan on improving your knowledge in that area?

Michelle S

Probably a toss-up between AD&T (Accessibility, Design & Technology) and the Systems committee. I am not a very technical person, but I do plan on improving my knowledge by learning from the chairs and from other Board members to better understand their work in general, even if my brain struggles to understand coding or how servers work.

Noémie B

I would say the Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee or Webs Committee because I know very little when it comes to software design and development.

Natalia Gruber

I think this is a bit unfair because I’ve had more opportunities to work with everyone and learn about how they’re organized and what they do xD

 

From a technical point of view, since I’m not a coder, or a lawyer, or an accountant, there will always be minutiae about certain committees’ work that I couldn’t do myself, but I’m very comfortable working with these committees on an advisory level, and they have always helped everyone understand what they’re working on whenever there’s a question ❤️

Noémie B

I plan to improve my knowledge by asking many questions to chairs and learning from them. I haven’t had the opportunity to take part in any testing yet or communicate with AD&T directly so it is the committee that I feel like I know the least.

Marion McG

Thanks you all! Our next question asks you too look back on your time in the Organization:

From your perspective, what’s one way that the OTW’s changed in the years since you joined? And what’s one way that you hope the OTW will be different in the same number of years from now?

Michelle S

I think when I joined six years ago we were just starting to move away from Old Messaging Platform and onto the new one, so I feel like there’s been more opportunities for cross-committee communication and general camaraderie since then. I hope it will be even more lively six years from now! I love seeing all the friendships and inside jokes across committee lines.

Noémie B

I think that what has changed the most is our volunteer pool. It has expanded a lot and training has become more complex and demanding. I hope that the OTW will be able to continue perfecting our training tools and documents to allow our volunteers to become experts in their roles while enjoying their time volunteering (our internal chat platform has helped a lot)

Natalia Gruber

One thing I find has been gradually changing over the years is that communication between different committees has become much faster and more efficient as more and more committees have moved most of their work from email to our internal chat platform.

 

It’s much easier to get ahold of people in real time now than it once was, and that helps our organization work on cross-committee projects better and also makes it possible for volunteers to get a glimpse of other committees’ work that they wouldn’t be able to before.

 

One way this has helped us in practice is for example, how fast we were able to communicate with all OTW chairs during the attacks we suffered in May, and coordinate messages, restrict access to tools, and just overall find ways to work together during a very stressful situation. I wouldn’t even want to imagine how we’d handle that on mailing lists and our previous, very limited chat platform.

Noémie B

I also hope that other projects aside from Ao3 will gain recognition (especially Transformative Works and Cultures and Fanlore) and attract more interest from volunteers and fans

Natalia Gruber

What I would like to see in the next years is for internal communication to get even more efficient (there’s still room for improvement!), and for us as an organization to find ways to improve how we handle volunteer data across multiple committees.

Marion McG

It’s amazing to think of how far we’ve come, even in a few short years. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, and your hopes for the future.

Here’s our next question: What’s the project your committee (or one of them if you are in multiple) is working on right now you are most excited about?

Noémie B

As stated above, reopening No Fandom wrangling!

Natalia Gruber

Oh my God, this will make it so clear I’m a really tedious person, but I am so pumped to be testing a new internal emailing platform for the OTW 🤩

Like, legit so happy xD

Noémie B

Not that we don’t have enough with fandom related tags, but I am very excited for the many debates and votes to come!

Natalia Gruber

But for things other people might get excited about, Translation has been testing how we might be able to provide translated emails for AO3 users, and that’s going to be really cool too 😄

Michelle S

Docs is working on a few Search & Filter FAQs/Tutorials, which will be replacing our current Search and Browse FAQ. Still in progress, but I’m very excited to see that suite go live when it’s all completed!

Marion McG

Thank you for your answers! On a lighter note, our next question is looking for recs: Could you recommend us a relatively obscure fandom that you love?

Noémie B

Yoko Tsuno !!! Way ahead of it’s time, great characters, a delight to read, deserves more love!

Michelle S

Just one? That’s so difficult. I have so many tiny fandoms that I love. Maybe two? The Murderbot Diaries has some amazing fanfic, and I’ve been refreshing the fandom tag for Triangle Strategy since I beat the game. Already plotting my Yuletide nominations so I can get more fic for both of them, haha.

Natalia Gruber

This is very not new, but I decided to look for fics for a show I saw a long time ago (Twin Peaks) and there isn’t a lot of stuff, but I’ve been having fun xD

Noémie B

Also, the Yoko Tsuno comic series deserves more documentation and fanfiction in English.

Marion McG

Some great recs there! Thank you all so much.

And our very last question for today’s chat: What do you love best about volunteering with the OTW?

Noémie B

I should create a page on Fanlore

Natalia Gruber

The people ❤️

Noémie B

The other volunteers for sure!

Michelle S

I love best all the– okay, everyone beat me to it, but the people XD

Natalia Gruber

Gotta be faster 😉

Michelle S

It’s just really exciting for me to get to collaborate with fellow staffers, both in my own committee and in other committees. And it’s fun to just hang out in all the social spaces and get to meet other people who are also coming from fandom.

Natalia Gruber

Volunteering here has led me to know so many people, from so many places, so many different cultures (and so many silly discussions about how different cultures do very simple things very differently xD). Some of my best friends are people I met through the OTW, and it’s wonderful to see how even though we’re all very different, we all work towards the same goals ❤️

Noémie B

I think this was the easiest question really ^^

it’s because we work with other volunteers and because of all the exchanges we have that volunteering is so fun. There is always someone to talk to or who will relate to what you say (be it a joke or a complaint regarding fandom or a task) so it’s great!

Marion McG

Thanks everyone, and sorry for interrupting Noémie’s answer to the second to last question. That’s entirely my bad!

That’s all the questions we have for today! Thank you to our audience for being so supportive and for submitting questions!

Thank you also to our lovely candidates. Thanks to Emma for modding the open chat. We’ll have the transcript of this room up on the website within a few days. Have a great day, everyone!

Natalia Gruber

Thanks, everyone! 👋

Noémie B

It’s totally fine Marion!

Marion McG

(You’re too kind ❤️ )

Noémie B

Thanks to everyone who joined and thanks for the great questions!

Michelle S

Thanks, everyone! 😄

One thought to “Chat Transcript – July 30 13:00 UTC”

  1. An excellent and informative chat. I liked the question about which tags the candidates would want to wave a magic wand and canonize. You can really tell they’re all fans and use the Archive!

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