Lex de Leon 2018 Q&A: Group 3

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

9. What is something nice that you can say about your colleagues that you’re running with/against?

Thank you for asking this. I would absolutely like to have it recorded what I think of my fellow candidates.

Natalia Gruber: Natalia has a fantastic sense of humor and brings a wonderfully different perspective to discussions. Her work within the Abuse and Tag Wrangling committees has given her a unique perspective into the issues various users have with the Archive, and her work within Translation has provided her with a larger view of the OTW.

C. Ryan Smith: Ryan’s enthusiasm and unfailingly gentle spirit is coupled with a conviction in his beliefs that is refreshing. He has a sense of curiosity and desire to learn that emboldens his position. He brings a fresh perspective to discussions that provides an alternative viewpoint.

Michelle Schroeder: Michelle is a kind and hardworking person. I appreciate very much how wonderfully work has gone both between us and within the entire Support committee. As I have learned more about what the Documentation committee does, my respect for Michelle has only grown. We share a conviction that documentation is a vital aspect of the work that the OTW does.

10. A frequent complaint in today’s fandom is that AO3 should be more restrictive with regards to its content, or offer users more ways to avoid content they don’t want to see. What do you think the OTW board’s role should be regarding this?

It is all too easy to forget that the lens through which we individually view the world is so drastically different from how others see it. What is the height of offense to one is culturally normal for another. We must remain individually responsible for ourselves and what we choose to consume while maintaining a balance of cultural and societal norms. It is our right and responsibility to curate our own experience, through the means available to us.

What this means functionally is that there is inherently a two part relationship with any work. The creator posts the work. You and I, as readers, choose to read or not read as we see fit. This does mean that people do have to warn and tag properly, which is enabled through the robust tagging system in use on the Archive.

Much in the same way that we as individuals choose to enter the haunted house and be willingly frightened by the creepy lighting and aggressive jump scares, when we click on a story that has a warning of Major Character Death, we should not be then surprised when a main character we like ends up dead.

What we can do as Board is push for greater knowledge of how the tagging system works, and continue to review existing guidelines on a regular basis to ensure that they are meeting appropriate societal and cultural norms.

11. If elected, would you consider making suicide an official archive warning, since this can be massively triggering for many, many people?

The first problem with creating a new official Archive Warning is difficulty in definition of terms. The current warnings are: Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings, Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death, No Archive Warnings Apply, Rape/Non-Con, Underage.

How is suicide defined? The OTW is an international organization – does the definition match for everyone around the globe? Is assisted suicide or death with dignity to be included? Is accidental death by misadventure? Would “Into the Wild”, the story of Christopher McCandless dying in the Alaskan wilderness, be classified as a suicide story?

If these questions are able to be answered, then this warning or others would be suitable for addition. However, such a definition would have to be not only inclusive, but defensible. I paraphrase former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, as stated in the case Jacobellis v. Ohio: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.”

12. Considering the on-going problems with the archive, how will you ensure that the OTW’s resources are directed to a comprehensive and sustainable solution for the archive?

The OTW absolutely requires a long term sustainable solution. The technical personnel in charge of keeping the servers running are clear in stating their needs, but we need to have some form of paid staff in the future. To go along with that, we need to have the budget and regular fundraising in place to allow us to maintain these payments while also still having the necessary overhead in place to keep the OTW running. Current budgetary disbursement, clearly stated with the Financial reports, are suitable for maintaining current expenses. Paid personnel are an additional cost, and definitely not a cheap one. This challenge is one which cannot be allowed to be without direction. The OTW requires a coherent plan of action to achieve this.

Alongside this is ensuring that there are coherent ongoing plans to not only provide guidance, but also tangible goals. Having achievements that constantly get pushed farther out, while understandable, is absolutely a way to guarantee that there will be increased burnout in affected committees. We all must work together to prevent this end and to do whatever is necessary to increase our reliability.