July 26: Per an announcement, Tyme Ladow withdrew from the ballot.
[Note: In total, there will be 6 Q&A posts to cover all of the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. The candidates were limited to 300 words to answer each question, but they were allowed to rearrange and combine questions within a single post to more clearly express their thoughts. Candidate answers represent only the views of the individual candidate and are not endorsed by the OTW.
Due to a high volume of similar questions this year, many questions were merged and duplicate questions were left out. Other than this, questions appear in the form they were submitted. Questions represent only the views of the individual questioner and are not endorsed by the OTW.]
In your opinion, which of OTW’s long standing issues would be easier to fix, and what steps would you take to address it?
This would depend on what you consider a long standing issue really. Some might say goals we have had and haven’t met are long standing issues, while others would only count issues like racism or bigotry being able to inadvertently flourish within our organization. For the purposes of this question, as I’ll cover the issues of racism and other hate speech in later question rounds, I’ll touch on goals we haven’t yet reached. From my perspective, I would say that getting a translated interface of the Archive would likely be one of the easier goals to achieve, but as it’s been on our radar for some time, and hasn’t come to pass yet, I’m sure I’m missing some information about why that might be. So the first step I would take would be to get in contact with our coders and translation teams to find out exactly where my blind spots are in relation to this issue, and see what they need to accomplish this sooner, rather than later.
In your opinion, what are the most important threats to the OTW, and what are the most urgent threats to the OTW?
I don’t want to say there are any direct threats to the OTW. I know public opinion can be fickle especially in fannish spaces at times and that might be seen as a threat by some, but I personally would say that is a matter of how any organization works, not something unique to the OTW itself. But in terms of how to address that, I would say that we need to listen to our users and volunteers and see what they are saying, and weigh options to fix the issues that are causing opinions to be shifted against us.
Internal communications, barriers on sharing knowledge, and lack of transparency are perennial challenges for the OTW. What do you think is the most important step we could take to address these issues during your term on the Board? What specific actions will you commit to as candidates to make the OTW a more transparent organisation with fans? [merged question]
Buy-in from committee chairs is a crucial step to enacting any change in the OTW. How do you plan to convince the chairs of the various committees to support your platform, even if it means changes to how their committees operate?
From a personal point of view, this isn’t a question for me. This is a question that should be addressed to the whole Board, as no one member has authority over what steps we as an organization take. Speaking towards specific actions I personally could take if I were to be elected, would be to make sure we have conversations and discussions about these types of issues. It’s obvious to me that we have avoided topics that might make people uncomfortable or change how things are run, but we as an organization should be having those conversations, and being as open about them as we possibly can. So the most important step is step 1, talk about it as a team and hear what others have to say. This also ties into the second question about getting committee chairs on board with new policies and changes. If a new policy or policy update will potentially affect a committee, we should be including those committees in the conversations, whether that would be the full committee or just the chairs, would depend on the exact policy and committee in question. Getting the committees involved in the conversations as early in the process as feasible is important to make sure everyone relevant to the situation is given a chance to speak and be heard before decisions are made whenever possible. In cases where that isn’t possible, taking the time to explain why the new changes are necessary and exactly what the new changes mean for their committee is really important both to get people on board, and also to be sure that knowledge is being shared among our internal teams as a first step towards that overall goal.
The OTW Board often has to speak with one consistent voice when answering questions and requests from the public, individual volunteers, and various committees. This sometimes means enforcing policies for the good of the OTW that may go against your personal preferences. How would you balance this need for consistency?
This one is easy for me. This is how the Policy & Abuse committee already works, and I frequently have to enforce policies regardless of any personal beliefs or biases. The only way anyone can do this is by talking and discussing things to understand why a policy is the way that it is. Enforcing something you don’t agree with, but can understand why things are the way they are is significantly easier and better for everyone involved if you are able to see where the policy is coming from and why it needs to be enforced. This pulls back the discussion about internal communications, shared knowledge, and transparency and makes it all the more relevant that we ensure we are discussing and enacting policies that facilitate good lines of communication.
What would you like to see prioritized in OTW’s strategic plan while you are on the board? Where would you like to see the OTW in five years? How would you like to set the stage for that over your Board term? When you step away from Board after the conclusion of your term, what would you like your legacy to be? What kind of lasting impression do you want to leave on the OTW? [merged question]
As we are currently rewriting the strategic plan, deciding what to prioritize is a little difficult. We have completed the new vision statement however, which will guide our writing of the new plan. Based on the vision statement, I would like to focus the most on Internal Stability and External Communication. I feel the two really go hand in hand and stem from the same problem, a lack of communication and documentation. I’ve done a lot of work in the last year to reach out to unofficial AO3 and OTW spaces to get a feel for how our users interact with our systems, and have found that many have no idea about a lot of our projects and features, and when I look internally to find answers to the types of questions I see our users asking, I often find myself unsure where to look myself too. In five years, I would hope we will have made better and more up to date documentation, and restrategized how we reach out to fan communities to get information where it needs to be. So if I am elected, when I’m not working towards some of the goals we have that are unrelated to the upcoming strategic plan, such as our policies on racial injustices and hate speech or more short term projects that aren’t covered by the plan or vision statement, I would look to find as many possible avenues of communication as we can feasibly try, and figure out which will work the best for our needs. If I am known for any one thing within the OTW when I am finished with this Board term, I would hope it’s for having helped to make our users feel heard, and to have helped users and volunteers alike with getting as much useful, accurate information as we can provide.
ETA July 15, 2020: The note at the top of each Q&A post was updated per a recommendation by the OTW Legal Committee.