Zixin Z.’s Bio & Platform


Zixin Z. fell into fandom when she became obsessed with Detective Conan and found her way to online fannish forums, though her fannish life probably started earlier when she secretly wrote fanfiction for Dream of the Red Chamber on her exercise books in primary school. Some of her favourite fandoms include Lord of the Rings, The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles (DMBJ Series), Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and Final Fantasy XIV. She is also an avid reader of Chinese webnovels.

She started volunteering with the OTW as a tag wrangler (Chinese language track) in March 2019 when she saw the call for applications on OTW’s Weibo account. She later joined the Policy and Abuse Committee in October 2019, and the Communications Committee as one of the Weibo moderators in January 2020. She has also previously worked as an admin volunteer for the Open Doors Committee.

Zixin has a bachelor’s degree in China Studies and a master’s degree in Labour Studies. She currently works for a non-profit which provides educational services to migrant workers’ children and advocates for educational equity while being a cat mom at home and a bird watcher at large.

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

I decided to run for election for several reasons. The first and foremost reason was planted in my heart in 2020: I want to support volunteers from minority groups. As an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) speaker and East Asian fan, I have experienced difficulties and frustrations brought by miscommunications. I would like to be able to offer my help and support when other volunteers find themselves in similar situations. In the past four years, the OTW has become a hugely important part of my life, and I have made some of the best friends I could ever meet in my life among my colleagues. I genuinely hope that my efforts can truly improve the experiences of my fellow volunteers.

I also want to facilitate changes at the structural level to set up clearer regulations to strengthen accountability for Board members, Chairs, and other supervisory positions, as well as to provide volunteers with resources to foster an environment where all volunteers feel free to express their thoughts.

Last but not least, with the OTW’s rapidly-increasing size, it is necessary for us to transition into a more professional organisation by relying on more than volunteer labour in fields such as human resources. If elected, I hope I can push forward the transition with the help of the relevant committees.

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

I can bring my communication skills to my work on the Board. During my work as the Weibo moderator, I received all kinds of comments and questions from users about the OTW and its projects. I have learned to identify what a user is asking exactly, what type of answer would be most beneficial to them, as well as how to effectively translate and convey the question to relevant committee members for input when the information is outside my purview. I have also developed my ability to work under pressure, as I would occasionally face a rapid increase in workload when there are heated discussions related to the OTW. Working in multiple committees has also helped me understand OTW structure from different perspectives, which I believe would be beneficial experience for a Board member.

I also have experience supervising and training volunteers. I have established and supervised workgroups in the non-profit organisation I work for during the day. I have designed from scratch induction and training materials for volunteers, organised training sessions, and overseen the day to day operations of the workgroup project. I have assisted volunteers who had difficulty in completing their tasks, redistributed workload based on availability, and optimised the workflow with volunteer feedback. I can apply my practical experience in a non-profit made up of thousands of volunteers and a small portion of paid staff to my work on the OTW Board.

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 first major goal I would strive to achieve is to encourage communication and documentation, because I think it is important to increase the level of transparency within the OTW to increase inclusivity and work efficiency. In terms of communication, I would like to explore establishing more open lines of communication with volunteers when organisation-wide decisions may impact their committee, so relevant parties can directly involve themselves in decision-making processes with Board and not via their Chairs as intermediaries. I also want to prioritise the documentation of major decisions and the reasons behind them, so that future volunteers can have a better understanding of past choices and feel empowered to build upon those decisions. Increased documentation can also mitigate the loss of institutional knowledge from volunteer turnover.

My second goal, which I have longed for for years, is to improve the accessibility of the Archive of Our Own (AO3) for non-English speakers. Interacting with Chinese-speaking fans every day, I know how intimidating it can be to navigate a website in a language they might not understand at all. At the time of my writing, more than 11% of works hosted on AO3 are tagged as non-English languages – constituting a total of more than 1.2 million works While localisation of the interface may take significant effort and a longer time than I would have on Board, I have been considering alternative ways of helping non-English speaking fans by creating tools (such as userscripts) that localise some or all of the interface through collaboration of Committees including but not limited to Translation, Accessibility, Design, & Technology (AD&T), and AO3 Documentation.

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 registered my AO3 account back in 2014, but I never really used a lot of its functions other than searching and reading fics before I joined the OTW. My volunteer experience so far has been either as a part of AO3 (Tag Wrangling and Policy & Abuse), or closely related to AO3 (introducing Archive functions and answering related questions from users on Weibo). I would love to learn more about other OTW projects and discuss with relevant Committee or Team members about how Board can better support them.

As for specific ways of support that I can think of, from my experience in Tag Wrangling and Policy and Abuse, assisting Committees in setting up additional administrative roles might be helpful. These roles can help committees manage projects that they have been working on but could not reach the desired outcome in a reasonable timeline or update documentation on policy and practice. At the moment, current volunteers are often occupied with completing short-term goals like taking care of their immediate workloads. As a result, administrative duties are usually either concentrated in the hands of Chairs or left up to any volunteer who has the spare energy to tackle a task. The lack of formalised structure as well as compounding duties for Chairs means that people are often short on time and energy needed to address long-term projects necessary to accomplish structural change.

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?

If elected, I am planning to take a hiatus from Tag Wrangling (and potentially Policy and Abuse) to prepare myself for the increased workload when Board induction begins. After a few months, I would have a better idea of the amount of work Board entails, and if I should reduce my workload through various means. For example, I can reduce the number of fandoms that I wrangle, or suggest to my Chairs that we recruit an additional volunteer to share the workload for Weibo moderation. If the workload on Board doesn’t allow me to continue working in my current Committees even in reduced capacity, I will consider leaving one or more of my committees.