Claire P. Baker 2017 Q&A: Personal Interview

[Note: Candidates were limited to 300 words for each answer.]

Can you share some ways that you’ve dealt with stressful communication situations (e.g., handling difficult emails, phone calls or meetings)?

The best failsafe I know for dealing with stressful communication is to have someone available to co-write or provide advice and support on the back end. The committee I chair rarely sends out any piece of communication without at least one extra person checking it over, and my understanding is that our current Board operates in a similar fashion. This is vital in stressful situation: a second eye can help keep a consistent tone across our email communications, one that is open and friendly but firm, and can ensure that each message is being effectively conveyed. This also slows down the sending process, preventing any quick, emotional reactions and allowing for calmer, more rational responses to less than ideal situations.

Meetings are always a little hectic and stressful by nature; again, having a second set of eyes is helpful. We often have a backchat running during meetings which allows us to check in and point out that a speaker needs to be careful with their language, needs to explain themselves better, or needs to move on. If something comes up, it can also allow for a seamless changing of leaders. Sometimes, just having the space to discuss can also be useful, allowing for ideas to be worked out ahead of time and emotions to be shared without taking up space or breaking the mood in the main chat. Usually, however, it’s just nice to know that someone else is there for support, no matter what the situation.

What is a skill that you consider relevant for a board member, but that you consider a personal weakness?

Honestly, a well-rounded knowledge of everything that goes into the Organization.

This is completely normal for new board members, I realize; it’s part of the steep learning curve that comes with each board member’s first few months. It’s part of the reason why the new board members have been the first to check in with each committee after elections over the past two years, and is something that will hopefully play a major role in the new board training which is currently under development. That’s not to say that I’m without knowledge either, but rather to say that the Organization is large and has many working parts. I may be near-expert in a few specific areas, but there are many other places in which I have much to learn.

I am currently working on this by reading more of our internal documentation, and by looking in on the public discussion areas of various committees. I also have developed connections to members of several committees over my time in OTW, and know I can ask them questions if I need help understanding anything. Hopefully, between these and the support of my fellow board members, I will be adequately prepared for the wide reach of board work when the time comes.

[Parts of the following question were lengthy statements, rather than questions, and were removed by the Elections Committee.]

How do we keep fandom non-profit, and also fair to other fans who want their work to be seen and shared on a level platform? Is it enough that fans are trying to circumvent AO3’s non-profit stance by linking to their twitter / tumblr but still advertising donations and patreon pages there? Do the candidates see this as a pertinent issue, and if so, what do they plan to do about it?

The OTW doesn’t represent all of fandom and, by extension, neither does AO3. There is certainly room for creating and selling one’s work within fandom: see Comiket for one famous example. However, the OTW is a nonprofit organization and we strive to keep our sites non-commercial and advertising-free.

We do have a legal committee with experts in copyright law, who are in charge of the Archive’s Terms of Service. In the ToS FAQ, they make it clear that linking to personal and noncommercial pages is fine, even if there are further, more commercial links there. If our legal experts are okay with this, I see no reason not to be myself.

While popularity will always be a factor in hits and works being read (including the popularity of any given author, character, pairing, or fandom), many of us also know the feeling of reading every piece available in an obscure fandom or with a specific focus because we love it to death. There’s room for everyone on AO3, and I hope that always remains the case.