[sticky entry] Sticky: 2012 OTW Goals

Dec. 12th, 2011 11:35 am
Hello! I'm Ira, and I'm currently a member of the Board of the Organization for Transformative Works. This sticky post will be used as a list of the goals I intend to pursue for the 2012 term in that role; you are welcome and invited to ask questions about those and hold me accountable!

I anticipate adding to this post as the term goes on, with both updates on existing items and new items entirely. Some new additions will happen because they just didn't occur to me earlier. Other times, I'll have ideas, but they need a little work before I can talk about them here — for example, I may need to talk to certain chairs or other board members, so as to not put public pressure on anyone without warning. I'll be as honest, open, and timely as I can be without putting undue pressure or scrutiny on anyone else. I also want to be clear that lots of people are behind every goal, including, in most cases, other Board members. Where an idea has been explicitly proposed or adopted by another Board member but is also something I'm very interested in, I try to note who those people are.

While I do serve on the Board, this doesn't mean I have a magic wand or anything — the OTW's very strength is that it's the work of many people with many different skills, backgrounds, and opinions, so no one should have a magic wand and that's good — so please keep in mind that this is just me and my voice.

In relation to that, I want to be clear that this is only a statement of interest and intent — and, as time goes on, hopefully also a progress report. These are things I hope to support and talk with people about; my role in most things is largely to enable rather than execute. Some of these things are already underway, some need more resources devoted to them, a few are new; some are big, some are small. All share this in common: effort and input from many people with individual goals, concerns, and purview.


Principles


These are the basic ideas around which I try to orient my actions.

Diversity )

Transparency )

Sustainability )

These are all interdependent: transparency and diversity are part of sustainability; diversity depends on transparency, etc. If you think I am not acting in accordance with these principles, or want to know how some specific goals/actions relate to these, please let me know!


General Goals


These are some of the overall things I want to work towards. Some have already been mentioned in official statements such as our post, Brainstorming for a more inclusive OTW (also on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal); some were mentioned during the recent election by candidates (you can still read candidate statements, chats, and responses on the Elections site); some have been discussed in recent Board meetings (I'll link to the relevant minutes once they're available). In general, I want to emphasize that each goal has support or interest from several people, including other Board members, but would also necessitate input, participation, and work from many individuals and committees. I can't, and don't want to, simply make anything happen — but I can, and intend to, advocate, support, and enable.

Adopt more best practices as: a nonprofit, an OSS project, a legal advocacy project, etc.

Read more... )


Spread our resources more equitably among our projects

Read more... )


Make the connections between the OTW and its projects clearer

Read more... )


Address volunteer and staffer recruitment, retention, nurturing, and burnout

Read more... )


Develop and follow a communications strategy

Read more... )


Work towards helping Fanlore be a resource for anime, manga, and gaming fandoms

Read more... )


Outreach to underrepresented fandoms

Read more... )



Concrete Goals and Action Items


I want to emphasize again that I'm just one person with one voice, and that others may have reasons to vote against a specific action, or have other or better ideas. Most actions also involve consultation with and effort from several committees. I'll try to keep this list updated, including with any actions that have been stricken and why. And, as always, these are not all the things I feel need to be done in general, but the things that are most important to me or that I feel I am most equipped to pursue.

For now, I'm just mentioning these in brief summary; I hope to post in more detail on each as I work on these goals to further elucidate what committees are involved, how much work everything takes, the details that go into each, etc. I'll link any such posts here under the relevant item.

List of concrete goals/actions behind the cut )

I'll make a comment with a special subject line ("REVISION" followed by a summary of changes) whenever I make a major update to this post, so I hope that'll make tracking things easier for anyone who subscribes to this post.

Please feel free to leave questions and any other feedback here; I'll do my best to answer quickly. Thanks for reading!
Hey all, sorry for suddenly going quiet -- work and life suddenly exploded a little. I hope to pick back up over the next week or so. Cheers!
Board minutes cover items from email (Board-only), open session (open to all staff), and closed session (Board-only). Please keep in mind that the information I can disclose varies depending on the arena, and I will use my judgment to balance confidentiality and transparency.

As always, I am only one Board member out of several, and one OTW volunteer out of many. These opinions and interpretations are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other Board members or of the Board as a whole. It is my policy to not discuss other directors' individual opinions unless those directors have already done so publicly themselves.


---

(Everyone who has been leaving comments: thank you very much, I will be doing my best to keep responding! I'm just sort of at a weird cross-section of drafts I had already planned/written, official posting schedules from the OTW, and my own energy/resources. I'll be trying my best to get back to everyone!)

Sorry about the long delay between the last Minutes Monday and this one — the July 21 minutes were only posted this weekend, and I really prefer to keep these in chronological order, since the whole idea is that our work builds on itself. I also really would prefer to keep these to Mondays for the sake of my schedule, and had this all ready to go. I hope that minutes will be approved at a rate that will let me do this at least every other Monday (we do sometimes have to make and approve significant revisions before posting).

So we have triple-header today. I considered saving the 4 Aug minutes for next week in case the 11 Aug ones take a while, but I guess I'd rather try to be timely than predictable. ... Or brief.

Also, I want to highlight a few particular items here. Since I know there's been a lot of discussion about this: I proposed minimum participation requirements for Board members; the relevant meeting (21 July) is covered in these minutes, and I'll give a little more detail on that below. There's also a large and high-level discussion of the OTW's overall structure in terms of the distribution of skills, resources, and needs, which I plan to have a separate post about but want to summarize here. There's also a clarification about where we are with the emerita and advisory boards. Finally, one more proposal from me, for appending some individual Board member opinions to announcements of major decisions.

Jump to highlights:
Emerita and Advisory Boards clarification
Minimums on Board participation
Org structure discussion
Individual Board opinions on major decisions

That said, let's go!


21 July 2012 - Attended


Read more... )

Highlight #1: Emerita Board and Advisory Boards clarification )

Highlight #2: Minimums on Board participation )

Highlight #3: Org structure )


28 July 2012 - Absent (Optional Meeting)


Read more... )


04 August 2012 - Attended


Read more... )

Highlight #4: Individual Board opinions on major decisions )


That's all for this time! Back to trying to respond to comments, working on posts, and doing my job.
(Apologies about the lack of Minutes Monday this week -- there were no new minutes to discuss, but lots of interesting stuff next week!)

Recently some tag wranglers were talking publicly about a letter the staff had sent to them about negativity and criticism. Separately but contemporaneously, one of my closest friends, [personal profile] seventhe posted about her ambivalence towards the OTW.

So! Let's talk about that.

Criticizing the OTW, Inside and Out



First up, I hope it's clear from clear from my history that I have no problem with criticizing the OTW.

Here's the thing. I think criticism is healthy. I think it's necessary. Feeling like you're in a place where you can't even criticize your experience? Where it feels like your experience is being erased? That's terrible. That's about the worst working environment possible. Leaving people in a place where they feel they can't criticize or recount negative experiences is the worst thing the OTW can do to itself and others.

But many of us have seen that there are a lot of issues around criticism of the OTW. I think this comes back to the basic tension inherent in the OTW: fannish project vs. nonprofit organization.

Fandom in general has a complex relationship with criticism: hesitance to criticize labours of love; cultures centered around improvement and constructive criticism; cultures centered around positivity and protection from crit; harshing people's buzz; different attitudes towards critical analysis of canon and fan works; pleas for honest reviews.

On the nonprofit org side is an expectation of professionalism and of a culture of service. This includes being open to and prepared to deal with criticism, up to and including anger and undiluted negativity, all in the name of improving something in service of the mission. However, not even this is without complexity: nonprofit orgs are often run in part or entirely by volunteers, or have limited resources in other ways. This impacts the ability to deal with criticism efficiently.

The OTW lands in the morass in between.

The path to sustainability lies on the nonprofit end of the scale — we cannot forget our fannish cultural roots, but to persist in our mission, we must adopt structures and practices suitable to nonprofit organizations. And here is where criticism comes in:

If you expect us to act like a nonprofit org, you have to treat us as a nonprofit org.

So here are some things I think are useful to keep in mind vis-à-vis criticizing the OTW to make criticism maximally effective:
  • Be aware of the space and audience when you criticize.

    Read more... )

  • Keep in mind our limited resources.

    Read more... )

So I think criticism is great, but I want it to work. I want criticism to be effective and to lead to change. How you criticize and why is your business, but if your goal is the same as mine, then I think these points are essential to keep in mind.




Now then, about a particular recent incident centered around criticism.


The Letter to Tag Wranglers



The full text of the letter, plus commentary )

So I can understand where the frustration and negative interpretation comes from. But I continue to think that the key lies in treating the OTW as, well, an organization.




At this point, I must address a likely concern: how can I expect people to treat the OTW professionally when the OTW doesn't behave professionally?

To that I say: It's symbiotic. We need both sides of that equation to make it work. We are working hard on being more professional, and it will help us immensely to achieve that goal if people treat us as such. It's a good faith thing, I know — but for all that I love and approve of criticism, I think good faith from both sides is absolutely essential to the enterprise.

Given this, there's understandable difficulty in treating the org like a nonprofit with a hierarchy and proper channels of communication. For one, our hierarchy is poorly-understood both within the org and inside it: this is something we're actively working on. On the flip side, however, points of contact are not hard to find for anyone who goes looking for them. It's all about reciprocity: our nascent hierarchy can only be fully effective if people respect it and behave as if it is real.

This includes waiting while the machinery grinds along (or pitching in to push further up the chain) — and in the reciprocal direction, it involves communication and updates on the status of the grind. Hierarchy must be respected reciprocally. This is where the org is struggling, and I am going to be honest here. I keep saying it has to be symbiotic, and I mean it. We need all the help we can get: please help us.

So. People have criticism and negative feelings, not necessarily at the same time but not mutually exclusive either. It's up to each individual what they do with those, but if the goal is to help the OTW change for the better, I hope this gives a little insight into how we work and what the most effective ways to talk to us are.

I do feel that the OTW has at least one good thing going for it in this context: there are a ton of ways and venues to reach us, and overall there's much more availability of direct and personal connection with our personnel. That's pretty awesome — but it's also something that has to be treated carefully. That sense of personal connection can make it a lot easier to interact with us — the org as a whole or individual personnel — as if we're only fellow fans on a fannish project, rather than part of a nonprofit organization. We're both, and negotiating that line continues to be tricky.

As always, thank you all for your thoughts! I hope this helps.

(I also wanted to talk a bit about ambivalence towards the OTW, but this post is long enough already. So chucking that in the pile of to-do tl;dr.)
This is a feature I hope to be able to keep up as much as possible, wherein I use Mondays to give some public notes, thoughts, or details on recently posted Board meeting minutes. If you have questions about anything in the minutes that I didn't cover, feel free to ask! I'll do my best =)

(I have several longer posts waiting on specific topics, and I also owe some people replies. I'm working on it!)

Important disclaimers and general information: Board minutes cover items from email (Board-only), open session (open to all staff), and closed session (Board-only). Please keep in mind that the information I can disclose varies depending on the arena, and I will use my judgment to balance confidentiality and transparency.

As always, I am only one Board member out of several, and one OTW volunteer out of many. These opinions and interpretations are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other Board members or of the Board as a whole. It is my policy to not discuss other directors' individual opinions unless those directors have already done so publicly themselves.


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Today we have a double-header, why not! Let's go!


07 July 2012 - Attended


Read more... )

14 July 2012 - Attended [Meta Edition!]


Read more... )
Heyyy so there was a pretty big announcement: the OTW Board will be expanded to 9 people and the bylaws amended. In case it is not immediately obvious from the length: yes, I had my hands all over this post, with a base outline provided by excellent Elections Officer [personal profile] jennyst and revisions and input from Board, the Elections Workgroup, and Comms. (I also did the graphics; it was a nightmare.)

So there's a lot going on here. I was Elections Officer last term, so I have a pretty keen interest in elections goings-on. I never really posted about my election works much: near the start of elections, I went on leave for a family illness, during elections it was necessary for me to remain neutral (which was simplest by staying quiet), and afterwards, I was, frankly, too exhausted and demoralized. Until recently, I was also too sick. Basically I have a backlog of elections feels thoughts.

The things I want to cover include:
  • What are you thinking with this adding seats business?

  • How did we get into this mess with the seats?

  • What happened last year?

  • How will elections work this year?

But then I realized this would be very tl;dr. I do know I have a problem. So I'm saving the last three items for later; today is going to be all about:



Adding Board Seats, Burnout, and Taking Care of Our People



Just to be clear from the start, the idea of adding Board seats does not spring solely from a need to fix the elections issue. (This is another reason I want to cover the more electiony stuff separately: it is a separate issue.) As the OTW news post linked above demonstrates, it certainly helps. But the Board does honestly struggle with workload in ways that would be ameliorated by being able to spread the work around a little. Our committees are growing; the number of committees is growing; the number, reach, and scope of our projects are growing — and that's all awesome, but it's also simply too much for seven people to cover.

However! Not all of the workload stems from this. A large part of Board's problem is that we are currently still too involved in micromanagement and/or management on a level that causes conflicts of interest. As an example, when some kind of staffing or work gap appears (say, due to a sudden retirement), we often feel like we have to be the ones to step up, either first or as backup. And in the case of filling chair positions, I think it also creates conflicts of interest. We do not do this to hog positions or work, but because we often feel like there is no one else — we are some of the most experienced people in the org with a wide range of skills. But this also gives short shrift to everyone else in the org and robs people of opportunities to grow.

There's not really a simple answer like "well Board should just stop filling these gaps themselves". A lot of the time these positions are pretty key and there is work that needs to be done urgently: we don't have time to wait for someone to train up or to recruit someone. The real issue here is a lack of personnel management and succession planning, not just for chairs — something we've been keenly aware of this year — but for key positions at every level. If we were consistently training people up and had a framework in place whereby anyone doing load-bearing work had an understudy, we wouldn't be having this problem. But one huge obstacle is that the org is collectively often too busy doing its project-based work to also do its people-based work (ETA 01): we're too busy building our projects to also build the builders. And I think that's a real loss and a true tragedy in terms of the org culture. Given the way things are, I'm not sure there is a solution besides just slowing down on projects for a while in order to build up our people. That's a hard thing to accept, both for us and, I think, for our audience: why should the users and beneficiaries of our various projects have to wait because we can't manage to keep our house in order? However, I am, have been, and am increasingly of the opinion that this is what we will have to do.

[ETA 01]: After reading [personal profile] bookshop's comment, I think this (from my response to her) would be a more precise and accurate statement: The org is collectively more concerned with producing popular and/or acceptable output (often in the form of projects) than with doing the personnel support and management necessary to make that work happen in a healthy way. Apologies for the suboptimal initial wording! [/ETA]

And it's not fair. I know it's not fair. It's not fair to our staff and volunteers, who do this work because they love it and believe in it. It's not fair to our audience, who have to wait on things that matter to them. It's not fair because in the end, we collectively screwed up and now everyone, whether part of the problem or not, has to pay for it. We made a collection of mistakes that put us in this position. There is no one person or group of people to blame; the issue is too endemic.

But the status quo, letting it continue— I think that would be even more unfair. It undermines our work. It undermines our people. People leave the org feeling sick and used. Even if people simply leave feeling tired and nothing more, their legacy is tarnished by our poor ability to preserve it: the work they left suffers from the lack of structure, because the people left to continue it don't have enough support, in one way or another, to do the work proud.

Our Volunteers & Recruiting committee does not have the resources right now to handle a huge influx of people at any level, from volunteers to high-up staff, though I know they are working their asses off to strengthen the personnel management aspects of the org (read [personal profile] renay's posts; she is Volcom chair and does mind-boggling amounts of work). But even if Volcom could handle an influx, the rest of the org, for the most part, still can't: almost everyone is already overwhelmed by project-based work, way too much to do the mentoring and nurturing necessary to handle incoming volunteers. This is one huge reason behind the endemic burnout: there's no one there to catch you.

We cannot afford to keep growing our projects without growing our people.

So what does this have to do with increasing the number of Board seats? I mean, reducing Board workload is nice, but — given everything else — so what?

I think an increase in Board seats has to be part and parcel of a movement to decrease Board micromanagement and increase Board's role in (temporarily) slowing down project growth while focusing instead of growing the core of the org: its people. Resource allocation is our call and our calling. And we need more resources in our people. Yesterday. We need Board members who can focus solely on this tremendous task, on shaping us into a more reasonable, professional space. With the number of directors we have now, we simply cannot do that.

Increasing the number of seats does not come without a cost. It'll be harder for us to meet, and all the other possible communication problems that come with any increase in number of people with their hands in the pot. If we're serious about decreasing the trend in Board members also filling other key org positions — and from Board discussions throughout the term, this is the direction we're headed — this means that whoever we draw into Board will leave behind gaps, the very problem we're already having.

But the change has to start somewhere, and I think there is no way around the need for slowdown. Slowdown would make the gaps in coverage a little less dire, as the work will perforce be less urgent. There's no way around the fact that it will still suck. If there is a pain-free solution to this problem, I cannot think of it. The pain is already here. It already hurts. If we do this, it will at least be pain that's paid towards something other than perpetuating the same system we already have.

The bottom line, for me, is this: We need this increase because we are failing our people right now. Board needs these resources so that we, in turn, can give the rest of the org the resources it needs.
Hey, time for some quick hits!

  • Two quick surveys to help put together a panel on sexism in anime fandom for Otakon 2012.

    I belatedly realized that between computer death can subsequent catching up, I totally forgot to signal boost these here. These surveys will help two great folks as they put together a panel on sexism in anime fandom. You can read a little more about the surveys at a post on Altair and Vega. They plan to keep the surveys running past the con, as data collection for possible future projects, but the deadline for data to be used in the Otakon 2012 panel is July 20.

    Research Survey For Otakon Sexism Panel 2012: This one is for any of you who’ve attended a convention. We’re trying to get a sense of how people feel at events and how they connect to the community.

    Sexism in Cosplay Survey for Otakon 2012: This one is for you cosplayers out there. If you’ve cosplayed or do so regularly, we’d love for you to take the time to fill it out.


  • Speaking of Otakon, who's going? Lemme know if you'd like to meet!

    I'm going to Otakon, as per usual. Let me know if you're in the area too and want to do an OTW brunch or anything!


  • Quick note about meta on the AO3.

    [personal profile] bookshop made a post that mentioned the issue of meta at the AO3 (as well as the OTW panel at Ascendio!). In particular, she mentioned concern over popular meta works being left up while less popular ones were taken down. I made a short (for me, okay? short for me) comment in reply, if you'd like to see. Most relevant portion quoted here:
    I wanted to pipe up real quick about the enforcement of any policy on meta. During Board's last open session, representatives from both Abuse and Support were very concerned about equitable enforcement. Part of the issue right now is that we only enforce when someone alerts us to a potentially TOS-violating work — we simply don't have the resources to go out and look for violations. I'm currently the Board liaison for Abuse; I don't take part in their decision-making process, but for what it's worth, I've seen them work, and popularity is definitely not a factor in the internal process.

    So, part of the distribution with the current process depends on the culture of our users — some user cultures may not be aware of the meta policies, some might interpret them differently (which given the current state of things is valid), and some might be aware but choose not to report to preserve the work, etc.

    Looking into the future, there are only three real ways it could go: all meta in, all meta out, or a chronological line past which meta is out with already-posted meta grandfathered in. While I couldn't honestly say any option is fair (even the "all meta in" option — what about people who had already had to delete theirs?), I can say that I think we're all concerned with making sure each option is equitable and equitably enforced. Board still has a lot of considering to do, but I know we're aware of the equal enforcement issue, and I know I'd definitely vote towards a policy that doesn't play favourites, either by popularity or by type/medium (as certain policies could easily target written meta but let visual meta slip through the cracks — where do you draw the line with metacommentary comics? — or target a particular cultural or regional tradition of meta over others simply because we're less aware of other meta traditions).

    ... So yeah. There are problems with the current system, and I do hope that whatever solution we come up with addresses those.

    I hope to write a longer post about the meta issue soon (though considering my tl;dr and writing speed it may end up being post-mortem), but for now I just wanted to add that for me, remaining aware of different meta traditions is a very important part of these considerations. Fellow Board member [personal profile] julia_beck has consistently reminded us that much of the current conversation centers around a very narrow definition of meta rooted in particular fannish cultures and practices. I love this point and I love her for making it. For my end, I also urge awareness of various media of meta as a sub-part of what [personal profile] julia_beck's been saying, as the current conversation is also largely centered on written meta.

    For myself — insert usual disclaimer about Board work, multiplicity of opinions, no magic wand, other Board members may disagree or agree — I'm in favour of allowing meta if only because, outside of said narrow tradition (and sometimes even inside), the line between meta and non-meta fanwork is frankly impossible to draw.

    I'm specifically thinking of art-based and vid-based meta/commentary, which is what I'm most familiar with, but that's only a tiny bit of the range — and that's just my point. As an org, we are simply not familiar enough with a lot fannish traditions outside of a particular scope to make this judgment call. I feel this would be shutting the door in the face of fandoms and fannish cultures we can least afford to keep leaving out. I feel we should instead trust our audience — the very fans we are trying to empower and whose cultures we are trying to preserve — to draw the line themselves. We give that trust in many other spaces — in editing Fanlore, in voting in Board elections, in choosing which Archive warnings to use — and I think this is one more place where our audience knows itself and its work better than we do.

    That said, there are a lot of valid considerations in terms of enforcement; communication; technical, performance, and information structure issues for the archive (i.e. is the archive built for meta?); and — likely of most concern to Board in particular, since this is our purview — allocation of the org's overall resources. One of the longest-standing arguments against meta is that it is far less endangered than a lot of other things, and we're spread pretty thin. I hope to address this and other complications in a future post — for now, just keep in mind that a decision in any direction here comes at a cost and with a price.


Okay maybe that was not so quick but who here is surprised
the tl;dr version )

I am far from caught up yet! But I figured I could do an update on 2012 goals even without that, and then, if necessary, do another update once I'm caught up. But first!

Types and Visibility of Board Work



There's been a lot of talk in the wake of [personal profile] jennyst's post about the frustration of Board member absenteeism. It was a good post and a good thing to be open about, so please do read it. I also want to draw attention to a clarification she made later:
Obviously, it's a problem if someone can hardly ever attend, misses a lot of meetings in a row, etc. But if someone misses one meeting, reads the transcript shortly afterwards, participates in discussion via email and votes via email a few days afterwards, it's not a big deal. So long as people are still doing the work, still contactable, still have time for discussion, it can work. The problems come when someone is too busy to do the work. Attendance figures are a symptom, not the root cause and not the whole story. Statutory holidays and illness can easily mean missing 20% of meetings or more. So yes, I was frustrated by the difficulties in getting quora for votes and particular discussions, and I still am. But that's more about responses to emails and participation in discussions than just numbers of meetings.
This is true! And I wanted to kind of break that down a bit further and talk about the ways Board members participate and do their work. I definitely do not want to minimize [personal profile] jennyst's frustration or concerns, because those are on-point and valid (and I am assuredly included there). However, from what I've seen it looks like it's not very clear what Board does (okay, that's old news), and where, and how. I think breaking that down a little bit may help everyone understand both where [personal profile] jennyst is coming from — though she generally does an excellent job communicating that herself, but I'm hoping a multiplicity of viewpoints can help — and how the Board functions overall.

(Quick disclaimer: This is my interpretation of our roles and work. I'm only an authority in this insofar as I happen to be one of the seven people doing this. Other Board members may have different ways in which they think about our work!)

There are three major things we all currently do as Board members: we hold meetings to talk to each other and make decisions, we hold discussions and make decisions over email, and we liaise with committees/committee chairs and workgroups/leads. Various Board members also perform other tasks specific to their skills and duties: some of these are the positions mandated in our bylaws (chair, secretary, treasurer), and some are less well defined but involve networking, seeking out opportunities to connect with other causes, etc. We also give each other assignments as a product of email or meeting decisions, such as putting together writeboards or emails about something we want to discuss or propose, or contacting person A about topic X, or hosting org-wide meetings. However, the core of our work involves coming together with each other and with people inside the org to make plans and decisions about the overall direction of the org.

So here's how it shakes out: break it down! )


But okay, enough explication. What got done during my alleged quiet presence earlier this year?


Goals Update!



As always: While I do serve on the Board, this doesn't mean I have a magic wand or anything — the OTW's very strength is that it's the work of many people with many different skills, backgrounds, and opinions, so no one should have a magic wand and that's good. A lot of work is done by people who are not me, and I'll do my best to acknowledge that and give credit. Corrections, questions, and updates welcome!

This time, also an additional caveat: I'm definitely not caught up, so this is mostly meant to cover in broad strokes my period of radio silence before about mid-May. I may be missing things still — scratch that, I definitely am — but I'm operating on the principle that a partial update is better than no update.

See the master post of 2012 OTW Goals

See my general approach to being on Board here!



[Caption: A small cheerfully-yellow booklet depicts, in an ink sketch, a house massively on fire. Along the top, handwritten imperfect block lettering reads "SHIT'S FUCKED". Along the bottom, "a positivity guide" in peppy cursive.]



Principles Update



This is of necessity pretty general this time around, but in the future I hope to focus on specific developments as they go down.

let's go! )


General Goals Update



This is, unfortunately, the section I feel least able to comment on right now until I've taken better stock: this is the middle ground between overall principles (which I feel a pretty good grasp on in terms of where we are/overall progress) and specific action items (which are small enough to easily catch up and comment on) where I feel I could too easily miss or mischaracterize something. So I'm going to work on checking in with my projects and people and see if I can put a good focus on this soon. Apologies!


Concrete Goals and Action Items



The fun bit! I'm only pulling out goals/items where I have relevant comments/updates here.

8 items below! )

So that's updates for now. Next time, I hope to be ready to look at adding new goals and possibly revising old ones. We'll see!

Thanks for listening, and as always, questions and feedback welcome and I will try to respond =)
So it's been ridiculously quiet around here — I'm so sorry. I wanted to take a minute to touch on that, and hopefully get to the regular updates I had been planning on since term began after this.

I had really hoped to communicate frequently and openly about my org work this term, and I've really failed at that. I am, finally, in a much better place in my life: before, just doing the work took up all my energy, with none to spare to talk about it. I have a new apartment, a different and much less spoon-sucking job, a better bill of health, and overall I'm hoping for the best for the near future in terms of both more/better org work and more/better extant communication about said work. I apologize for not doing better before: I should have gauged my available time and energy better.

Here's what happened — I'd say "in brief" but that would just be lying. These past couple weeks, my computer has been completely broken, and my OTW work predictably took a big hit — I tried my best to get to the library and such and use public computers, but library hours rarely intersected with meeting times, and transportation issues meant I couldn't always make it to the library in the first place. This was an unpredictable setback.

A more predictable downtime happened right before that: I moved house, changed jobs, and etc etc on the personal-life-upheavals category. This had been coming for a long time, but kept getting delayed by...

My health. Guys, someday I will try to write a post about transparency on the individual level and how that's supposed to work when you have health problems whose symptoms include "utter exhaustion" and "social avoidance". Haha. But this is not that day. The short version is, I had a bunch of health issues that had been plaguing me for a long time which I was finally able to tackle: this is what I spent much of my time doing the first half of this year. I went to over 80 doctor appointments between the start of the year and the end of May. Eighty appointments. Good gravy. During this time my general org-work availability was... manageable? Not great. Definitely not great. But not bad to the point where I was seriously reevaluating my commitments. My leftover energy for talking, though, was nil. The extent and duration of this was only medium-predictable; still, I wish I had taken stock more realistically and realized how bad it was, and posted something during this time. I'm sorry.

So. Now, I hope to do better. Soon, I'd like to check in with the goals I posted near the start of term, and go over the work I'm doing now. Everyone, thank you for your patience and apologies, once again, for being a terrible communicator. Please feel free to leave questions and such if you have any; I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
I know I've been really quiet here — I've been dealing with a bunch of medical issues for all of 2012 so far, and between that and my org work I, well, haven't had the energy to come here and talk about said org work like I very much want to.

However! GUESS WHAT TIME IT IS

OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012. transformativeworks.org




That's right, it's time for the spring Membership Drive! Please show your support for the OTW in whatever way you can: spread the word about the drive and the OTW and our awesome projects, donate money, donate time. Add to the wealth of history on Fanlore, preserve your works on the Archive of Our Own and tell your friends; take part in April Showers. Take a look at our fascinating journal of Transformative Works and Cultures; write for its sister Symposium Blog. Revel in the Fair Use vids test suite, nerd out on the OTW's work with EFF on the petition to the Copyright Office to renew the DMCA exception for vidders and other awesome legal advocacy work. Talk us up at the next con.

Whatever way you do it, it's fandom, it's fan work, it's fanwork.

This will never cease to amaze me: the OTW is a fanwork. It is by fans, for fans. We're growing, we're changing, we're learning. We want to preserve fandom's past and safeguard its future, and we want you to be a part of our future.

Please spread the word! Any and all help is great =D
Awesome news: Board minutes for 2011 are now publicly available!

I want to give our amazing 2011 Board Secretary, Kristen Murphy, many thanks for not only her excellent minute-keeping, but also for proposing, pursuing, and enacting this; this is something I've wanted since I came aboard, but never managed to actively pursue, and I'm really happy that it's happening. Thank you, Kristen!

Please feel free to ask me about my actions in relation to any items you find in the minutes -- I can't speak for the actions of others, nor divulge details of discussions held in or with board with expectations of privacy, but I'm definitely interested in thoughts on my individual work and items anyone wants to see follow-up or explanation on. (As a small reminder, I was on leave for personal and family health reasons from August to partway through elections, so I was much less involved during those times, but at still happy to discuss what I can -- the minutes also note who was present or absent, so you can see when I wasn't around.)

I'd also like to put up a sticky post with the general goals I'll be pursuing for the 2012 term, including concrete actions where possible; I plan to update that post as the year goes on with news on the goals and actions. I hope to have that ready soon!
Voting opened a little over an hour ago, so you have just under two days to vote! Polls close noon UTC 18 Nov (check the time in your area). You can find the ballot here, review the candidate profiles here, and read up on how voting works here! If you have any questions or haven't received any voting emails yet, please use this contact form.

There are also two more posts of interest:

2011 OTW Elections Voting - The People!
You've seen how the voting process works, now take a look at who makes it work, and what behind-the-scenes work goes on during elections and voting to make it all happen.

OTW Elections – What the Bylaws Mean for the Coming Term
This is a heads-up about what the current four-seat election and the bylaws mean for the coming term. This is something I hope to discuss more soon, but as it's a task for the new Board, I'd like to wait on that until after elections are over =)

Thanks for your participation this election season, everyone!
It's here, it's here! This was a lot of work on many people's parts, and here it is:

2011 OTW Elections Voting - The Process!

This post lays out how voting works and how votes are tallied and, I hope, will serve as a tool to help voters plan their votes. It's got awesome pictures you guys! And a text-based walkthrough! And raw tabular data for you lovely data nerds out there! Basically, I hope it's got ways to help folk of a variety of persuasions understand the process, and I couldn't be more grateful to the people who put those awesome examples and explanations together.

There's a lot of nuance to the modified IRV process used for OTW Board elections, which is one of the reasons I love it — I love the lack of hierarchy, the ability to opt into or opt out of each candidate, the relational preferences that make every vote count — but in the end it's also, I hope, easy to use. Rank as many candidates as you want, submit. That's it, and all seats are filled in one go.

I want to thank again everyone who helped make this post possible: Aja, Allison Morris, Candra Gill, Kristen Murphy, Renay, and Seventhe Dragomire. You did amazing work! ♥

Happy voting, everyone; I hope this helps!
dance dance internets at home! and laptop hopefully fixed soon!

I mentioned a little while ago that I'd like to put together sort of "candidate profiles" as a resource for voters, where you can see all of a candidate's responses to all questions together, then the same for the next candidate, etc. I've been pretty flattened since then, but as today was a holiday in my area/at my job, I took the time off to put that together, finally!

[personal profile] general_jinjur/[personal profile] allisonmorris (names linked w/ permission) has lent her assistance in getting those put up on the Elections site, and now we have a profile of each candidate linked from their candidate statement.

Take a look on the Candidates page. Or, for those inclined to less clicking:

All together, the candidates produced over 60,000 words worth of responses over the course of a bit over a week — this is an extraordinary amount of effort and I want to thank all the candidates again for their effort!

*Lucy Pearson has withdrawn her candidacy; while I am saddened to lose her as a candidate, I am also deeply glad for her to have a chance to take care of herself and her needs. I'm leaving the link to her profile up, as her participation in this election has been of great value.

Up next I'm hoping to have up soon a post explaining the IRV process used to tally votes, this time with ~pictures!~. I know the system can be a confusing and can leave people a little lost on how best to distribute their vote to get what they want out of it, so I'm hoping that will help! This was a great idea of [personal profile] general_jinjur/[personal profile] allisonmorris's that she has also done awesome work on; you can see her post here for a preview. We'll have even more pictures/input from other talented and generous contributors to the project. Truly there will not that much work for me to do; I'm just happy that such a thing will exist, and grateful to everyone helping to make it happen ♥
There's a conversation going on right now, centering around the OTW elections and the various opinions expressed by candidates and others, in which I chose to leave a comment. However, I don't want any resultant discussion to overwhelm the person/journal where I chose to comment. I'm replicating the relevant part of my comment below, so if you'd like to discuss this topic with me, please do it here rather than in the other person's space.

It's hurtful for those who have legitimate issues with the org and how it's run to be told they're "encouraging dissention and unhappiness" or that they're being "divisive and negative" when they try to share their legitimate hurt or take steps to make the org a better place by pointing out problems while letting their hurt show. It feels a whole lot like silencing. We all want the org to be a good place and for org work to be rewarding. But a lot of people leave the org feeling hurt and disillusioned rather than satisfied and fulfilled. If anything encourages unhappiness, it's telling people who want the org to be a great place but are unhappy that there's something wrong with them.

I don't want to invalidate your feelings — there's nothing wrong with wanting the org to be a positive space and for its people to also be positive. However, the way you've framed this feels to me as if you're invalidating those people for whom the org isn't currently a positive space, but who want to make it better through their active participation and discussion of the issues.

The original comment in the context of the post.

And here is another post with a different approach.
So I made this big post and then kind of disappeared. I'm very sorry — it's been an extremely difficult year for me in terms of illness and personal circumstance, and in the end I had to take leave for most of the autumn due to an illness in the family. I'm currently trying to return to OTW duties, and I hope with my return to use this space as I had intended to.

Speaking of which! This year, I'm elections officer; while I was on leave, fellow Board member [personal profile] general_jinjur/[personal profile] allisonmorris (names linked w/ permission) kindly performed the election duties in my stead — thank you! She continues to help me by working on the transcripts and preparing the posts and generally being all calm and competent while I run around like a chicken on fire trying to manage chats and questions and wrangle everyone. Which is actually great, because we have an awesome level of participation this year! Six great candidates, a TON of questions, many people attending chats — I love it.

Something I'd like to do, though: I've been hearing a few people say that it can be difficult to find all the various answers/statements candidates gave, either fishing through the transcript while waiting for the concise version to go up, or just poking around the several pages where the statements/answers are contained trying to find what Candidate X said on Issue C.

What I want to do, then, is actually compile a resource that's sorted by candidate rather than by question, so you have Candidate X followed by all their responses to all questions, then the same for Candidate Y, etc. I'm still trying to figure out if there is/where there would be an appropriate place to put such a thing on the elections site. If nothing else I will just post it here, unofficially, since all the same information would already/still be available officially on the site, just in different places.

And there's my little toe-dip back in here. I still have a lot of catching up to do from my leave, but if I have the spoons for it, I hope to do an elections post here soon with some thoughts!
I haven't been talking about my OTW work much — and I feel like I should. It would increase transparency, particularly of the OTW Board, which I know can seem really opaque. There are two reasons I don't talk about my OTW work: one is that I don't want OTW concerns to permeate my entire fannish life; that's why I created a separate real-name journal, to keep the two separate. But I still haven't used it, because of the second readon: I am just plain damn tired. Besides depression and life in general, I'm also just too exhausted from doing org work to talk about my org work.

I'm still too tired, really, so I apologize if the following reflects that — but I felt this issue to be too important for me to not talk about it, however tired I may be.

So.

Fannish Diversity; Transparency and Disclaimers; Timeline; Analysis )


In the end, I think we should have done better with this poll. Maybe it's a small thing, but small things still count. I want us to be the change we want to see. So we say here, at the OTW, that diversity is important to us? Then we need to embody that desire. If our current userbase is not representative, why is that an obstacle to guiding our public materials towards being more representative? Do we think so little of our current userbase that we believe they will resent representative diversity when we explain what happened, why we did what we did? Why continue to acclimate people outside the org to a limited subset of fandoms?

For that matter, why acclimatize anyone, inside or outside the org, to a limited subset? Even if these results are never posted about in public again, some small set of people inside the org would still use them. Why get people inside the OTW used to seeing such a limited set of names?


I want to emphasize that I am not alone, that fans like me are not alone, in the org or in Board, and I invite those people to come and talk about their experiences too, both inside the org and publicly.

I also know that transparency is a big issue, and could have illuminated our thinking during this process if we had let fans talk to us about what they think we should do in such a situation. Transparency has been on my personal docket ever since my term began: I knew Board had to be more transparent in particular, and the org in general. But I kept putting it off in favour of things that were more on fire, more urgent, demanding a deadline. Well. April is almost over. It's not the beginning of term anymore. And as the thread I linked to above demonstrates, it seems, and I agree, that transparency is on fire now. And I will be doing my best to push it up the agenda and keep it in the forefront of our thinking.

I don't know. I am definitely grateful for all the work everyone has done on this, for putting this together and putting it up; to Board for taking the time to listen and deliberate. I'm grateful to everyone who voted, to everyone who left their mark, to everyone who celebrates the results we published. It's your history, your present, your fandoms; it's important.

But to everyone who is unhappy with these results because they see nothing of themselves there, I want to say: I'm unhappy too. I'm sorry I did not do a better job. I want to hear what I can do better — please, please tell me. I want to tell you that I'm not the only one listening — of course I'm not. I want to apologize for being so tired that I never said anything before. And if you're frustrated with the OTW, if you want to believe it can be better but are not sure it can happen, if you're ambivalent over your welcome here, I want to tell you that you're not alone — but I also know that I'm not alone in hoping that it can be better, too.

These are my actions as well as I could explain them. I welcome commentary and discussion here, but I do ask that you please keep OTW-related stuff in this journal and not my fannish one. I also want to warn everyone that I continue to be exhausted and may not respond quickly, but I will do my best to respond to everyone. Thank you for listening.


______________


[ETA 2011-04-30] I'd like to address a trend I've seen in several comments below that I find really troubling: I am far from the only person inside the org or even inside Board who is interested in and actively working on the issues above. I tried to make this clear in my post, but it seems I did not emphasize it enough — I'm sorry. I value working with my numerous colleagues, some of whom share my views, and some don't — and it's the variety of voices that makes us strong. While I definitely acknowledge that the OTW's visible output has largely focused on one set of voices, I do want to emphasize that I'm not alone. Our work is exhausting, and posts may be rare, but we are far from alone, and within the org, we are far from silent.





Notes )

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September 2012

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