Rachel L.’s Bio and Platform

Bio

Rachel L.: Rachel L. (she/her) has been writing fanfiction for more than a decade. She wears a number of hats in the Organization for Transformative Works as a Tag Wrangler and Wrangling Supervisor, and Policy & Abuse Committee member. Off the internet, she’s a grad student, D&D player, and metaphorical hat collector.

Platform

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I care very deeply about the Organization for Transformative Works and our mission to preserve and promote fan works and culture, and I believe I have the persistence and skills necessary to be an effective member of the Board. I’ve been particularly inspired by our current Board, who have made much-needed improvements in a number of areas: for example, the management of public Board meetings has improved massively, and the creation of the Board Assistants Team (BAT) has increased support for the Board and improved transparency with regular communication about Board projects and activities. I believe I’d be able to work well with them to contribute to the initiatives they’ve spearheaded and continue to build the capabilities of the organization.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

I’ve been a volunteer with the Org for almost six years now, and I’m a Tag Wrangling Supervisor, Tag Wrangler, and on the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC). I’m consequently very familiar with both the OTW as an organization and with how users interact with the Archive of Our Own, because I see your tags every day! As a Tag Wrangling Supervisor in particular, I mostly do personnel work, so I have a good view into how we train and support our committee members, as well as the gaps that still exist in those processes. I think the Board has a dual role in serving both our volunteers and our users, and I believe I have the experience to understand the needs of both.

Off the internet, I’ve previously worked in management consulting, mostly in operations. I’ve worked on projects that focus on both people management and process redesign, so I have experience with the kind of problem-solving involved in trying to implement changes in a big organization while still keeping the lights on. I also know the amount of thought, effort, and time that it takes both to make these changes and to bring a large organization collectively down that path, so I also think I can bring a realistic perspective to what we can accomplish over my three years.

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?

The two goals I would plan to focus on are (1) building out improved infrastructure for volunteer management and (2) improving the experience for non-English users of Archive of Our Own. The current Board has been doing an amazing job in moving the needle in both these areas, but we still have some distance to go. For example, currently volunteer management is decentralized and managed committee-by-committee, which means that a committee’s chairs are responsible for addressing the behavior of their own volunteers. Not only does this sometimes lead to inaction, but it leads to different standards across the organization. I want to help build out processes and resources to standardize how we respond to issues between personnel and ensure we can do so in a way that is fair, consistent, and prioritizes the safety of our volunteers.

Second, we have an ever-rising number of users who interact with OTW projects—particularly the Archive—in languages other than English. Since we are an international organization, we need to be prepared to serve those users as effectively as we do our English-speaking users. I want to help continue to grow our volunteer base and resources to ensure that whether they’re interacting indirectly with Tag Wrangling or directly with Support and Policy & Abuse, non-English-speaking users can have a comparable experience. Right now, a lack of translation capacity dramatically slows down responses to users in non-English languages, especially languages with large user bases. It also means tags in those languages take longer to wrangle. Improving our capabilities here–as well as working on localisation of the Archive as a whole–will do a lot to improve the experience for our non-English user base. I’ve been honored to be a part of continuing to build out this support; I do translation of Japanese tags as part of my work as a wrangler.

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.

As a user, I’ve benefited a lot from all of the OTW’s projects. I’ve followed our Legal committee’s advocacy work for a long time and am a big fan. As a fanfic reader, I’ve also benefited from the work Open Doors has done importing fanworks from fansites in danger of going offline; their work has enabled me to read fic that was written before I was in fandom (and, on occasion, before I was born!). I’ve also used Fanlore many times to look up concepts while tag wrangling–and been very flattered to find my fic listed there on occasion.

I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of being a part of our new outreach initiative and tabling at conventions! Aside from getting to meet users in real life, I really enjoy introducing people to our projects beyond AO3. I hope we can continue to raise the profile of Open Doors, Fanlore, Legal, and TWC so that people know we’re not just a fanfiction website.

And, of course, I’m extremely familiar with the Archive, as both a fic writer, reader, and Tag Wrangler. My work in Tag Wrangling and PAC has also enabled me to interface with a number of other committees, including Open Doors, VolCom, Support, and Legal, so I also have some visibility into their work as well.

The current Board has done an amazing job of providing additional support to committees by stepping in to assist with short-term projects, provide manpower, and drive larger-scale initiatives to build capabilities over the longer term. As a member of Board, I want to continue to work closely with committees to ensure they have the support they need to both continue their work and to make improvements for the future.

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?

I already balance multiple roles in the OTW, and have a schedule in place to make sure I have the time to dedicate to all of them. However, I’m also aware that being on Board is a different animal entirely, and am prepared to take a step back from some of my other roles as necessary; for example, I currently wrangle on a number of very large fandoms, but will leave some of those teams for the duration of my time on board if necessary.