Kirsten Wright 2019 Q&A: Group 1

What is your strategy to raise awareness of OTW’s projects, aims and goals in future?

I’d like to see the OTW have more of a presence overall in fandom. Right now, a lot of people know about AO3, and that’s great! But not as many are able to connect AO3 to OTW, and fewer still are aware that we have other projects.

I think Comms is doing a great job with this right now! We’ve upped our engagement across our social media platforms, and we are also looking into expanding to new platforms as they become more popular.

In the past, we’ve been a mostly reactive committee, answering questions when press comes to us, and pitching potential stories to outlets. We’re recently begun exploring pitching already fully written pieces, and I think this will be great for us. Writing our own articles in house will mean talking about things that might get overlooked and bringing in mainstream awareness to what we’ve got going on.

What would you like to see happen with the OTW and its projects over the next five to ten years? How would you lay the groundwork towards this future?

My biggest goal is to increase name recognition of our non-AO3 projects and to clarify the relationship between AO3 and the OTW. A major part of this is the work Comms is already doing (working with each committee on how best to use social media) and our five things posts that different staffers write, talking about their work in their respective committees. I also think that getting more media coverage of our other projects would serve this goal, and we can do that by writing more of these articles in house before pitching.

However, I am fully aware only been a member of one committee, and I am definitely approaching this question from a communications perspective. I would love to talk with each committee further, to see how I and the board can best facilitate their goals. I’ve definitely got a lot of listening and learning to do.

What do you think is the greatest problem currently facing fandom? Should the OTW address it in any way, directly or indirectly? How?

I personally think gatekeeping is the biggest issue facing fandom. It needs to acknowledged that fandom is large and diverse and we might not agree with everyone in it, both in how they fan, and in general. It’s important to note fans come from a variety of backgrounds, countries, and experiences. This diversity has made fandom a rich tapestry, but is also the cause of a lot of friction.

In a way, we’ve addressed this problem both directly and indirectly. The OTW was established in reaction to external entities enforcing their values onto fandom. As such, AO3 has become a place where all sorts of transformative works are welcome, even those that may be controversial to people outside and inside of fandom. The OTW’s dedication to protecting and nurturing all fans has been incredibly beneficial, and has resulted in AO3 having a wonderfully robust library.

Do you think the OTW needs to hire paid staff? Why or why not?

From my understanding, this is a really complicated issue. It’s great that we are entirely volunteer run right now because fandom really is a labor of love. However, it’s also true that we are a rapidly growing and evolving organization, and not having paid staff is possibly hindering our growth. Right now, many of our staff member are completing their jobs in the organization around other responsibilities. If the organization were to have paid staff, that would be more time they could spend on internal projects and responsibilities, and we might be able to concentrate certain tasks.

At the same time, there are the legal and financial ramifications. The OTW serves an international community, but is headquartered in the US, so employees would likely have to be based out of the US. It is also unclear if we would be able to financially support paid staff at this point in time.

In short, I definitely think it is something we should explore. I cannot think of any other nonprofit of the OTW’s size that is operated by an all-volunteer staff, and having paid staff could potentially be very beneficial, but we need to see if it’s plausible before we set things in motion.