Tyme LaDow 2020 Q&A: OTW Multiculturalism and Growth

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.]

How would you deal with potential culture clashes as there are more and more fans from different cultural background? And how would you address the issues outside US?

The OTW is a large multicultural organisation, and there is always a chance that misunderstandings will occur. How would you work to prevent them, and what would you do if a volunteer disclosed that you offended them/made them feel uncomfortable?

We definitely are a very international organization! The majority of volunteers I interact with on a frequent basis are from outside the US and I know Translation, Tag Wrangling, and Accessibility, Design, & Technology (AD&T) have significant non-US representation. Misunderstandings and culture clashes definitely happen from time to time, both in the Organization and in our user base. Both our internal Code of Conduct and our public Terms of Service encourage people to settle disputes of these types amongst themselves as the first step. If that fails, users can report the issue to the Policy & Abuse Committee, and volunteers can contact their chairs, and they will resolve the issue following the current written policies on how to resolve the type of issue that person is having. What we can do to try to prevent these issues is to follow through with our attempts to increase communication of information, and have heightened transparency around these types of issues. For myself, if I were told by a volunteer that I had made them uncomfortable or offended them, I would apologize for my actions, the hurt I had caused them, and the fact that I hadn’t realized it had hurt them before they came to me about the issue. Then I would make a note of what the issue was and do everything in my capacity to never repeat the incident with anyone.

It appears externally that even the small things take a long time for the organization to make decisions on and then take action. Do you see this as a problem, and do you think this is something that can be improved on?

It does take a long time for the organization to make decisions and take action. It’s the downfall of being run entirely by volunteers who may have to dedicate time to their real lives before the organization at times, and the issue with having such an international team, as that makes communication take much more time before decisions are made. It definitely can be a problem at times and could possibly be improved, but I don’t currently know how we might implement a solution to this issue. If anyone had ideas, I would be very open to hearing about them.

How would you balance the OTW’s need for funding with the membership amount being prohibitive for a lot of users (especially those outside the USA and/or with low minimum wages) therefore leaving decision-making only to those who can afford it?

Do the candidates believe the org needs employees? If so, how should OTW avoid disincentivizing volunteers who may feel upset? What roles would they prioritize for employees? How would you fund employees and how would you decide how much an employee should be paid? [merged question]

I do think that as an organization we could use a few paid employees. The current plan is for any paid employees to only fill positions that are not currently a volunteer position, only new positions created to be paid positions specifically. I’m not currently following this discussion enough to say what positions we plan to prioritize, but the decision of how we fund these employees and their pay would fall more on the finance committee than the Board, to my knowledge. As for how we will balance the OTW’s need for funding with the membership costs being prohibitive for some, we currently have plans in our Strategic Vision Statement for diversifying our fundraising. If we have more ways to gain funding that don’t go against our anti-advertisement stance, that will help us to offset costs of running our websites so we don’t have to place those costs as heavily on our users.

ETA July 15, 2020: The note at the top of each Q&A post was updated per a recommendation by the OTW Legal Committee.