Michelle S 2022 Q&A: Communication

[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Can you name a skill that you consider relevant for a board member, but that you consider a personal weakness?

Time management is definitely something I consider a personal weakness, and as a Board member, it’s incredibly important! During my time as a chair, I’ve learned to use an assortment of reminders and tools to keep me on track. I anticipate they’ll all see more use if I am elected to Board, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

What aspect of your OTW experience so far have you found most frustrating?

The only frustrating aspect that comes to mind is that, in the course of doing things involving multiple committees, occasionally projects and meetings can feel a little slow. When that happens, I try to remember that taking our time with these tasks leads to better handling of all the steps along the way, and hopefully will lead to less snags in the future.

Share the story of a negative experience you’ve had in the OTW as a volunteer and what you’ve learned from it.

As a tag wrangling volunteer, I ended up wrangling a fandom that had a lot of interesting tagging customs. As other volunteers retired, I ended up alone on the fandom for a time, and struggled with it. However, I learned quickly that asking for help was okay, even on a limited basis! I didn’t even necessarily need someone to join the fandom and be super gung-ho about it, I just needed the occasional person to help me out or listen to me talk through an issue or three.

Eventually, though, I did get teammates to work on the fandom with me on a regular basis, and sharing the workload made things a lot easier in the long run.

How are the works on these platforms important to you, and how do you plan to monitor what content they contain?

All the work that the OTW does is incredibly important to me. From the academic journal at Transformative Works & Cultures to the fandom wiki at Fanlore, I think each and every one of the OTW’s projects is equally important, even if the Archive gets a lot of the attention.

However, and this goes especially for AO3, we do not and cannot go looking for content that isn’t suitable for AO3, though we always have the option to report it as we come across it naturally. The Terms of Service for AO3 even specifically mention this: “The Archive does not prescreen for content. Complaints are investigated only when they are submitted through the appropriate channels and with the appropriate information.” Therefore, I do not have any plans to proactively monitor what content AO3 or any of the other projects contain.

Board work often entails drafting emotionally fraught or tense e-mails, posts and messages — sometimes under pressure from a write-in campaign or a flood of heavy criticism. Do you have experience in communicating under pressure? What challenges do you foresee for yourself in a scenario like this?

I do have experience in communicating under pressure, especially in a written format. The biggest challenge for me would likely be making sure I’m expressing myself the way I mean to. Fortunately, my experience in the AO3 Documentation committee means I’m used to collaborating with other people and accepting notes and suggestions on my phrasing and wording. I anticipate a similar collaborative environment with the other Board members would help a lot with any challenges I would have in these situations.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]