Erica F.’s Bio & Platform

Bio

Erica F. was around for the founding of the OTW and participated in some of the early discussion groups. After the OTW was formed, she joined Fanlore where she has worked for more than 10 years. She also spent some time as a Tag Wrangler, and later became involved with an Open Doors fanzine preservation project where she has been also volunteering for the past few years.

Her online fannish activities went from email lists to forums to Livejournal to Dreamwidth to Tumblr to Discord while avoiding Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. In 2022, she took her fandom in an extremely retro direction and joined FAPA, the science fiction mailing list (paper, not email) that’s been active since 1938.

Outside of the OTW, she works in document processing and loves her job. She is on the Board of another fannish nonprofit org, has worked in indie publishing, and has been staff at several science fiction conventions.

She has a tendency to join fandoms two years after everyone else, which means she misses out on a lot of the early discussion and headcanons turning into fanon, but there are lots of completed long fics to read. She almost always stays involved in fandoms; she’s still interested in the fandoms she loved on Livejournal and before.

Platform

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I’ve been thinking about it for several years. I finally have time for it: I’m not busy with job-hunting or childcare and all the worries and distractions that go with those. And I believe I have skills that would be useful: Business experience in workflow management, fannish activity in several different kinds of communities, a non-lawyer’s understanding of the legal issues involved.

There are several areas in the OTW I’d like to see improved–less of the “sweeping changes” variety, more “add support to specific areas” so that larger changes, when implemented, work well and don’t make existing systems break. I’ve had a document with a list of “platform items” for a couple of years, with notes on approaches for better public transparency, increased Fanlore activity, and more communication and collaboration between internal teams.

I’m also in a position where it’s safe for me to run under my wallet name: My family knows about my fannish interests and activities; my job is secure and has a very solid “keep work at work and home at home” policy; my physical neighbors would be exceedingly difficult to contact—and if someone did contact them about my fannish activity online, they are not likely to care; I live in an extremely liberal-progressive urban metro area. Even with all of that, after the hostility some candidates received over the last two years, I was cautious.

I’m running anyway, because I think I have the skills to help.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

OTW: I’ve been active in Fanlore for more than 10 years, and have some experience in a few other committees. I’ve watched the org go through multiple communications platforms and seen how fandom outside relates to the OTW.

Relevance: I’m aware of some of our long-time problems and have had time to think about how to approach fixing them. I’m aware what kinds of solutions can get implemented quickly, and which ones require a slower internal cultural shift. I know how the platforms we use affect how we communicate and how work gets done.

Business: I have worked for many years in document processing and process management. In my day job, I create instruction manuals and look for bottlenecks and duplicated effort in our workflow.

Relevance: I see a lot of space for improvement in OTW’s process methods. We don’t have good ways to set up projects to deal with both some volunteers putting in a few hours occasionally, and others providing almost full-time job levels of activity. I’m hoping that discussing these kinds of issues will help us find solutions.

My hobbies: Copyright law, indie game dev (mostly watching, not doing), science fiction fandom, following how fandom works on different social sites.

Relevance: I know that fandom’s locations and interests and communication methods keep changing, but the feeling of “what makes fandom, fandom?” remains the same. We can look to past challenges and controversies for guidance, because what worked in the past is likely to work again–and what didn’t work then, won’t work now either.

3. Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?

Clean up the OTW website; it’s very hard to find things there. That would help our public relations, and the process of changing the website would involve looking at our committee structures and work processes.

I’d like the OTW website to be useful for “what is the OTW and what does it do? How do I get involved?” I’d like the elections info to be easier to find from the front page, along with mentions of activity of our other outreach/communications sites.

Our content and activity is scattered, and so is the public understanding of our activities and goals. We can’t put everything in one place, but we could do better at transparency.

Create an AO3 timeline and roadmap – list of what’s been done and what’s planned for future, both near-term and “eventually we’d like to have this.” Especially, I’d like us to release a statement of features expected for us to be out of beta. And I’d like us to publicly state what features are not on the timeline at all, and we have no intention of adding them. (Like “an app.” Video hosting. Private messaging. Dislikes/anti-kudos. And so on.)

This requires research into early posts about planned features and when some of those were implemented, discussion with Accessibility, Design & Technology (ADT Committee) about current plans, and checking with Legal about what we can reasonably promise.

These wouldn’t fix our internal conflicts, and I would like us to continue working on those as well. But I don’t know enough about the status or structure of those to come up with specific goals related to them.

4. What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.

I have direct experience in Fanlore, Open Doors, and Tag Wranglers. I have brief experience with ADT and Documentation, although both of those were quite a while ago. I’ve had discussions with people from several other committees and teams, and am aware that we have a great deal of specialized knowledge that people outside of those teams can’t easily see.

I would like us to have more cross-team projects and training, like inviting Fanlore people to help Open Doors track down info about the archives being imported, or asking for Tag Wrangler help on cross-checking the archive for the fics before they’re brought in. Maybe ask Documentation to help Fanlore set up some of its help pages, and so on.

Most of my answer here comes down to “we need more communication between teams.” I can think of several ways to encourage and facilitate that. Some would require knowing more about the processes used before making specific suggestions, and some can’t be discussed in public without revealing internal information.

5. How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

My work in Open Doors is not likely to change much – it involves proofreading and editing scans of old paper fanzines.  It is done in erratic bursts, and it’s the kind of work I can do when I’m too frazzled to think coherently. Proofreading does not require much executive function, and working on converted scans takes attention to detail but very little judgment.

My work in Fanlore is likely to slow down a bit, but I have had slow spots before. I expect to attend meetings as usual and keep up with any notable trends or new activity, but may not be as directly active.

It is possible that Board work will actually increase one or the other of those for me. After  focusing a certain number of hours every week on the OTW, it may be easier for me to just shift my attention to other parts of the OTW rather than going offline to read.

I will be talking with my committee heads in both departments about my new time commitments.