E. Anna Szegedi 2021 Q&A: OTW Mission/Goals

[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Where would you like to see the OTW in five years? How would you like to set the stage for that over your Board term?

Above all, I would like to see the OTW stable and secure in its position in the upcoming years. The past year has shown that the our projects, especially the Archive of Our Own, helped many fans through difficult times, and I was extremely glad to see that the site was able to handle the increased traffic without hiccups.

I hope that I would be able to ensure that the OTW continues the improvement of its projects in the next five years. For me, this would mean assessing the needs of committees to see how Board could help, and to be as active in Board work as my schedule allows.

What measurable steps are you going to take to further the OTW agenda?

As Board member, I would keep the OTW’s mission in mind during my term, and make sure any decisions I made were in accordance with our long-term goals. Board decisions are never just the opinion of one person – they are the collective opinion, try to get as much information as possible about any change or idea we’d have to make a decision on. Even though right now I might not have full insight into everything that’s going on behind the scenes, I am very eager to learn. Doing the necessary research before making my decision is very important to me, this way I could make sure that I would not regret my choice later.

What are you currently doing to address racism in AO3 and in the larger OTW?

As with all social issues, the first step towards improvement is awareness. The past few years have made me realise that even seemingly small things, such as vocabulary can be incredibly hurtful to others (including minorities and marginalized groups from all backgrounds and walks of life). As a non-native speaker of English, I took the conscious effort to start avoiding words that I know to be hurtful – for some of these, I was never aware of the negative connotation before I came across an explanation online.

I believe that as a person, the most I can do in my current position is to be mindful and supportive of others. Every country has its own issues connected to racism and other social/socio-political topics, and unfortunately, there is no cure-all solution. Moreover, this also means that in an organisation as international as the OTW, volunteers will all have different experiences, and will want different solutions to very similar problems.

Me and my fellow volunteer managers in the Translation committee try to step in whenever we see an internal interaction that would be hurtful to one or more of the parties involved, and to explain why to an often multi-cultural team.

If you were elected, what steps would you implement in combating racism within fannish and transformative work space?

I would keep up with my current efforts of educating myself on the issues mentioned above, as I can only make informed choices if I have the necessary knowledge about the given problems.

The current Board of Directors has issued a statement about the OTW’s future plans to combat racism within fan communities, stating that “…this is a complex issue with no easy answers and no simple solutions. This means that it isn’t something we can fix with funding alone.” I believe that the plans outlined in the statement are an excellent start in this process.

How are you planning to update the way OTW communicates, both internally and externally (not all details, but general outline)?

Internally, my first step would be asking the committees if there is anything they’d like to see improved. There is already a monthly internal newsletter that everyone receives – I believe that is a good start for our volunteers to see what other committees are doing. Translation also has its own monthly newsletter about what has been happening within the committee that month. We also have an internal chat platform, which we use not only for “serious talk”, but also to share pictures of our pets, craft projects and sometimes just to socialise and laugh about awful fashion items we find online.

Externally, we mostly communicate through news posts and the external newsletter (see the latest edition here). We also have contact forms available for fans who want to reach out to a specific committee. I believe that the current options work well, but I would be open to hearing new ideas on how to improve the communication channels we already have.

[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.]