Noemie B 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?

I think that many different skills (like patience and communication skills) are needed for Board. Thankfully, Board members’ skills can complement each other and bring balance. In my case, I believe that being proactive is a skill I could improve. When it comes to volunteer work, I often have to react instead of anticipating what could happen and suggesting solutions preemptively. This is due to the nature of the tasks, but maybe also some personality traits. I am more independent in my day-to-day job, where I often bear sole responsibility for my work and have to make decisions alone and anticipate many situations, but I am often cautious and don’t like to make decisions alone when doing teamwork. This is why I tend to be less proactive in groups. It could be seen as a weakness or a strength depending on perspective. When making important decisions or when in doubt, I reach out to others before acting.

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

The aspect of my OTW experience I have found the most frustrating so far has been the time needed with certain tasks. Some tasks take more time than I would like (answering inter-committee requests, abuse and support tickets, organizing bigger wrangling projects like opening No Fandom wrangling again, etc.). I think that I am not the only one who is sometimes impatient or disappointed because of delays. However, the more I got to participate in those tasks, the more I understood why time is necessary. The OTW is entirely dependent on volunteers’ work, and I completely understand that the energy and time one can dedicate to volunteer work varies. Being able to see projects carried out and succeeding after a long time is all the more satisfying.

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

I genuinely do not think I ever had any negative experience as a volunteer for the OTW.

The volunteers, supervisors, and chairs I have exchanged with are all respectful and benevolent. Whenever I make mistakes, the feedbacks are always more encouraging than discouraging. I truly appreciate that you are allowed to make mistakes and to have doubts and questions. There is always someone who is willing to help and I am very thankful for this.

Some experiences were less pleasant than others. Pointing out the weaknesses or difficulties of others (during experienced wranglers check-ins for example) or not having a preferred format chosen (when deciding on a new canonical tag format for example) were not necessarily pleasant. However, I do not tend to dwell on negative feelings since I believe they should not impact my work and do not matter much in the long run. The most important aspects are to have clear goals and to act with purpose while communicating appropriately.

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

The works hosted by the different OTW platforms are incredibly important to me. I use Archive of Our Own almost daily and see it as an amazing online library. The articles hosted by Fanlore and by Transformative Works and Cultures are unique resources and contribute to the OTW’s goal to archive and preserve the history of fanworks and fan culture. They are great learning tools and should be developed and protected.

Board role is not to monitor the content that those projects host. Each platform has its own rules (Submissions and Author Guidelines for Transformative Works and Cultures, Terms of Service including Privacy Policy, Content and Abuse Policies for Ao3). Content that violates these rules should be investigated and removed if necessary (in case of illegal content for example). This is taken care of by the relevant committees. I do understand that some content may be upsetting to some users. Even so, excessively monitoring the content posted on our platforms could lead to censorship and its associated dangers. I firmly believe in freedom of speech and stand by the OTW’s values.

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 have had many experiences in communicating under pressure, whether in my personal life or in a professional setting. My job revolves around communication and interaction so I am no stranger to tense discussions and compromises. I always aim to not let emotions impact the way I communicate with others. The main challenges I can foresee for myself would be having to express myself through written form instead of verbally since this is what I am most used to. Thankfully, being a volunteer means I have seen and read many emails and messages sent by chairs and board members. Those are good models I want to keep learning from.

[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.]