Qiao C (she/her) discovered fandom back in her elementary school days, almost 20 years ago. She stumbled upon a Cardcaptor Sakura fandom forum, and has been reading fanfics ever since. She was motivated by her love for fandom to learn English: she simply couldn’t wait for the translator to update her favorite X-Men fanfic, and decided to read the original text. This is how she discovered AO3, seven years ago.
She joined OTW as a tag wrangler in 2019. She is happy to see that she can make use of her lore knowledge and language abilities in her daily wrangling duties as well as to help users improve their filtering and reading experiences.
She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in materials engineering in Japan, and hopefully will get her doctorate degree next year. She loves to spend her time outside the lab reading manga, playing video games and participating in fandoms: she sometimes writes, translates, edits, and always, always reads.
1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
My first motivation was to support the diversity of fanworks that OTW aims to protect. Being a trilingualist, I am fortunate enough to be able to enjoy amazing fanworks created by people from different cultures. However, during my multi-cultural fandom adventures across the past decade, I have witnessed different platforms, regardless of their language or cultural background, censor and exploit fanworks or sometimes, expel fanwork creators. This consolidates my belief in the maximum inclusivity of fanworks that OTW holds up to. However, I particularly recognize that there is still a long journey ahead for us to be inclusive to fanworks of all cultures, and therefore, I believe that with my cultural background, I can contribute to the diversity of our volunteers and users by offering help to those who aren’t native English speakers during their accustomation to the community.
While I was preparing this platform, protests broke out both inside and outside the organization. The protests were brought by concerns about both recent technology development and the structural issue within the OTW, particularly regarding lack of communication. It is blatantly clear that diversity would not blossom in soil where issues as fundamental as communication were not solved, which further strengthened my determination to protect and promote diversity within the organization, particularly through facilitating conversation and communications.
I made friends and expanded my understanding of fandom during the previous four years as a volunteer. I had never expected to learn and grow this much. By running for the Board, I would like to open up communication: between OTW and its users and members, between Board and volunteers, and between committees and committees, providing a continuous environment for diversity to grow in.
2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
As mentioned above, protests broke out recently within the organization, due to long-time lack of communication in many aspects. This is a consequence of not only vertical structural failure in the organization but also vacancy of diverse volunteers in decisive roles. Taking my first language as example: Mandarin Chinese is the second most used language on the Archive and Chinese-speaking volunteers make up 8% of all OTW volunteers, yet at the moment we still don’t have any Chinese-speaking volunteers in the position of committee chairs or Board members.
As a trilingualist who also speaks Mandarin and Japanese, I am more than willing to help the Board communicate with our volunteers of a variety of cultural backgrounds. As a tag wrangler who has translated and wrangled tags for hundreds of fandoms, I am familiar with doing background research, listening and responding to users’ feedback, and communicating with colleagues from different committees. I believe that with my skill in communication and determination to change, the organization could better embrace the diversity it has promised in its roadmap.
3. Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?
As of now, the most urgent issue is to enhance communication – it’s not only between OTW and users, but also between Board and volunteers, and inter-committee. As representatives for the organization, the Board is responsible for reporting on the progress of projects to our users; as members of the Board, we should listen to feedback from volunteers for they are under the direct influence for the decisions the Board makes. I would like to focus on helping each committee in task assignment and collaboration. Specifically, to help mitigate burnout from too many tasks for our volunteers, and to allocate tasks more reasonably as well as seeing progress make more consistently, I would like to push for the employment of an HR professional. Trust and collaboration are based on transparency, and understanding only grows when words are heard.I would promote Board transparency, create and implement more accessible feedback routes and work with relevant committees in finding suitable professionals to promote communication and trust between the board and OTW users, members, and volunteers.
On the foundation of enhanced communication, I would also like to help facilitate the language diversity of our projects. AO3 has experienced a boom in non-English works in the past ten years, with the ratio in total non-English work count surging up from 3.6% to 11.0%. I hope to contribute to making the AO3 experience more friendly and welcoming for our international users. Specifically, I would like to help facilitate the establishment of the multilingual interface listed in our roadmap. Not only can the Archive better serve its purpose of preserving works written in different languages, but users will be much more willing to participate when they are in a language environment they are comfortable with.
4. What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.
I am most familiar with AO3 amongst all OTW’s projects through being a daily user and wrangler. My experiences with other committees, e.g., Support and Policy & Abuse, also come from my tag wrangling work as we communicate to respond to users’ feedback. I read Fanlore periodically to research and familiarize myself with the history of fandoms that I know little about (although Fanlore is recorded in English, editors from different languages are more than welcomed – please check Fanlore April news for details). Living in an era where technologies evolve faster than the law, I also would like to work with our Legal committee to better support their work and up our terms of service to date. I look forward to hearing from each of our projects and committees: I will focus on not only listening to their feedback, but also facilitating communication between each committee, and providing suggestions on reasonable task assignment and member management.
In particular, I plan to collaborate with our Election committee to call for the candidacy of individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds, in order to draw attention from potential candidates that could introduce more diversity into the Board.
5. How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?
In fact, I have reduced the amount of fandoms I wrangled in the past year to make sure that I can finish my wrangling duties in two nights every week. I plan on focusing on my Board work over the weekdays, and extend to the weekend if needed to.