Jessie Camboulives 2017 Q&A: Communication and Outreach

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

How would you approach improving org-related literacy of non-staff volunteers, staff, and members for all committees?

Currently, we rely on a centralized repository of information. This means that once a new team member has gone through their committee’s training, the only way for them to acquire knowledge about the rest of the OTW is to go exploring wiki pages on their own. This is not ideal, both because this is a very cumbersome way to access information, and because these pages are rarely complete or kept up-to-date. If we’re going to improve our org-literacy, we need to at least ensure that our internal documentation holds up by approaching committees and linchpins and helping them along with documentation-related efforts.

Aside from this, we have relatively few cross-committee initiatives that offer opportunities for our volunteers to apply org-related knowledge, aside from established communication channels that often rely on linchpins. I believe the best way to improve org-literacy for everyone is to create opportunities for our team members to work closely with other committees, to discover more about their goals, priorities and processes, and to directly use what they have learned. We would all benefit from breaking down some of the boundaries between committees, which is where Board can help by encouraging or leading possible cross-committee initiatives.


What is one way that you think the OTW can improve with regards to how information about its work reaches fans?

Currently, our most visible project is AO3, but many of its users don’t know about the work the rest of the Organization does. I would like to find ways to reach out to these users, to help them discover the work that Fanlore, Open Doors, Legal and TWC do, and give them opportunities to engage with these projects.

Furthermore, while our Communications committee does a great job at managing our online presence, there is still very little accessible information on the organization’s internal workings. Some of the work we accomplish is listed in our monthly newsletters, but these don’t have a large readership, and a great deal of what we do still happens behind closed doors. While it wouldn’t be ideal for committees to have to explain in minute detail what’s behind every aspect of their daily tasks, I believe we could work on more transparency, if only by clarifying the role and place of each committee on our main website.

Besides that, I believe we could improve our offline presence. As it is, we have very few opportunities to reach out to fan-communities in person. I would like to see if we could provide more support to our committees to allow some of their members to attend conventions and conferences voluntarily.


What do you see as priorities for improving communication – both between the Board and individual committees, and between the OTW as a whole and fandom communities?

Our committees’ relationship with Board is currently fairly healthy. Stable points of contact have been established, and trust has been restored. Chairs, staffers and volunteers all have ways to reach out to the Board if they want to, and their concerns are heard and addressed swiftly, with due diligence. There is one remaining issue: people simply do not know when or why they should send a message to the Board. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the purview of our Directors, and the general attitude in most committees is to forward questions to chairs and let them sort it out. In the past two years, Board members have gone to great lengths to figure out what their functions are, and put the proper processes in place. However, there is still work to be done if we want everyone to have a clear idea of when/why they should communicate directly with the Board.

As for the interactions between the OTW and fandom communities, it is a complicated question. The Organization is a simple cog in the complex machine that is fandom: in many cases, the best thing we can do is to listen to all of the conflicting positions fans have, and take them into consideration to improve our projects in accordance with our organizational values.