Danielle Strong 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)?

Working with Abuse means dealing with stressful communication situations quite regularly. When dealing with users who have breached the Terms of Service they can sometimes become quite upset with our rulings, so it is vital to maintain a calm and professional demeanour in our correspondence. We have had issues with trolls and dedicated groups flooding us with reports for things that are not against the ToS, but which they feel should be, which can be frustrating at times, but as a team we remain polite and professional in our responses no matter how stressful the situation may be, as we do understand why some users may feel that way.

Additionally, in my professional life I used to work for the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for a large city hospital. This role was, essentially, intended to resolve patient issues before they became official complaints. As a result I have handled everything from parking cost issues to full blown harassment cases, and was known for my ability to resolve many issues amicably without needing to get the complaints department involved. I have been physically threatened by a patient, been verbally attacked on the phone, and have had to deal with very difficult clinical staff who considered our role a waste of time and who didn’t want to speak to us. I developed the ability to remain calm in high stress environments, and used my communication skills to defuse potentially volatile situations on a near daily basis. These skills have proven invaluable to me in later professional roles, and have helped me to deal with other stressful situations in my day to day life as well.

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

One vital skill for a Board member that I consider a weakness would probably be seeing the bigger picture rather than focussing on smaller issues. Sometimes I can get too bogged down in the nitty gritty to fully appreciate a situation, but I have been working on this issue for some time and am definitely improving at stepping back and looking at a problem as a whole rather than smaller, individual problems.

[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?

One of the things that Abuse deals with on a regular basis is maintaining our stance on the Archive being a strictly non-commercial space, so I understand why this could be seen as a problem. However, I don’t feel that creators soliciting donations on their personal social media outside of the Archive is an issue, as long as it is not mentioned anywhere on their AO3 page or works. Fanworks can take a huge amount of time and dedication to create, and I don’t feel there is any reason why creators shouldn’t receive financial assistance from their fans if they are willing to provide it. From the point of view of the ToS, users are welcome to link to their social media using general language (such as “come and find me on my Tumblr/Twitter page!”) even if they have donation/sale links, as the commercial promotion is not taking place on the Archive. Direct links to Patreon/Amazon/Ko-Fi etc are not allowed, and should be reported to the Abuse team.

As for being seen and shared on a level platform; I have never found this to be an issue at all. I’m not on most people’s radar as a writer, I don’t get a lot of recs from big name fans in my fandom giving me extra exposure to readers, and searching my fannish name on social media returns mostly conversations between me and my friends, with the occasional one of my works included in a rec list by a stranger. Despite that, I have some works that have thousands of kudos, and I receive kudos almost every day despite not having written anything new in over a year. So I don’t really see this as a pertinent issue needing to be resolved.