Katarina Harju 2015 Q&A: Other Questions, Group 2

Can you say something positive about three of your fellow candidates?

I’ve served on committees with three of my fellow candidates, and I have no trouble finding positive things to say about them. I feel somewhat bad about leaving Lady Oscar (Atiya Hakeem) out of my answer, whom I’ve only really learned to know better since we became candidates, but it makes more sense to talk about people I have personally worked together with.

Matty Bowers is the chair of the Abuse committee, on which I currently serve as a staffer. She is, in short, extraordinary. Matty has been instrumental in making the Abuse committee a well-functioning and enjoyable work environment, despite the fact that Abuse work by its nature is often quite thankless. I don’t think any of my fellow candidates will be surprised, or offended, when I say that I can’t think of anyone better to be elected to Board than Matty.

Aline Carrão is a fellow staffer in the Translation committee. She is friendly, helpful and easy to talk to, and manages to combine that with a healthy professionalism where needed. The Board could definitely use someone like her.

Alex Tischer is also a staffer on the Translation committee, and no one in our committee will be surprised to hear me say that in all of the OTW I find Alex the easiest person to work with. The reason for this is the fact that I would never, for any reason, hesitate to argue with Alex, because I know that no matter the disagreement, it will never affect our ability to work together. Besides this, Alex is hard-working, possesses an integrity that I admire and has time management skills that I think most of us can only dream of.

A lot of the current problems seem to come back to a lack of scalability, especially with the massive growth of the Archive. A) What are your short-term plans to make this growth spurt work, B) What are your long term plans to avoid this problem in the future, when there’s another massive increase (of traffic, users, and/or fanworks etc.), a.k.a what structural changes would you strive for to make the OTW, and especially the Archive more sustainable.

There are many OTW committees that would not be affected by a growth in the Archive of Our Own in any way, because their work concerns other areas of the OTW and not the Archive, or it may even only help their work with no contingency plans needed at all. For example, Archive growth means more tickets and more work for Abuse, while for Translation it means more visibility and more recruits in more languages. The committees that do work with the Archive are impacted in very different ways by its growth because they do different things for the Archive, and no single solution can work for all of them. The Board cannot, and should not, try to implement solutions for these issues, because it is the committees who have the experience and knowledge that is needed to figure out what needs to be done. What the Board can, and should do, is to ensure that the committees in question get the resources they need in time to implement solutions, like for example approve funds to pay for software training and contractors where it makes sense to outsource work.

Whenever internationalisation is brought up in relation to fandom, I often hear the argument that it’s not needed yet, since there isn’t an “insert country/language/non-English fandom” presence in the OTW/on the Archive. Personally I feel like this is a chicken/egg situation. Is the OTW/AO3 so American/English language focussed because there isn’t enough of a non-English fandom interest, or is there no interest because there’s not enough non-American/English accommodation?

A) Where do you fall on this? What should come first?

B) If the next growth spurt is of a non-English, different fandom culture nature, how will you accommodate that?

This is an argument I have never personally heard, which might be because I am not a native English speaker and I work on the Translation committee, which has as its goal to make the OTW’s work accessible in as many languages as possible. There is also the fact that there are definitely quite a lot of non-English works on the Archive. To me it doesn’t matter which comes first, no matter the current number of non-English works, I believe that we should continue to strive to make the Archive accessible to international fans. Currently we can offer the Archive FAQs and Tutorials, and answer Abuse and Support tickets in several languages, and as soon as it becomes technically possible to translate the Archive interface, I can promise you, no one will be as excited as the Translation committee.