julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
[personal profile] julia_beck
There's been a flurry of talk after the Oct. 17th candidate chat, so if you're looking for a one-stop overview, check the information digest compiled from candidate statements & chat [personal profile] facetofcathy created. Highly recommended, also: unbiased.

A look at the OTW Board of Directors elections and the candidates.

My other recommendation for you, after facetofcathy's digest, would be to read read OTW Board member [profile] hele's OTW Election post, because it articulates very well what the current challenges inside the org are by giving a candid high-level overview from an inside perspective.


I think the org is coming (has been coming) at a crossroads. It's growing, and it's really big already, and diversity and sustainability are becoming Issues. I mean this seriously. There's a lot of talk, and I want you, if you care about the org (and I know this sounds patronizing, sorry, but yeah), to pay attention to what is said by each candidate, because it's true that there's a limit to the org's resources, but that's a given, and the fact is, if the org doesn't start pulling itself together on those issues, it will only become harder. Failing at it not only will weaken the organization, it also means that it will be failing at its mission.



My post, though, is inspired by my tl;dr reaction to [personal profile] elz's comment in [personal profile] jennyst's journal. Different perceptions of the state of OTW, basically.



When I talk about the importance of processes and guidelines, I don't mean "let's pile on more tools/requirements/hoops to jump through, harr!"

What I mean is: let's whittle down those processes and choose our tools so that they're as intuitive and simple as possible. (This is hard. I'm so unhappy with the translation process atm, let me tell you. But we'll keep trying.)

What I mean, most of all, is: clear structures, consistent guidelines and transparent processes are crucial, because they help create an equal environment.

They translate to lowered barriers for participation. They mean that you don't need to be personally influential, know the right people, or secret pathways in order to create a successful initiative. (As an example: if the structure is clear, purview becomes clearer, so you know who to turn to and ask for support or collaboration. It also fosters accountability.)

Sure, no guideline can actually make things happen -- personal initiative is always key. But if the structure is opaque, and you're new or not the most socially adapt person out there, you'll end up stepping on people's toes, creating a lot of friction and losing goodwill ([personal profile] jennyst writes about that experience.)

I've managed to navigate that more or less successfully, like many others, so obviously it's absolutely possible to create successful initiatives and projects inside the OTW! But I didn't know that when I started out. I was so very intimidated in the early days and felt as if there was an unspoken, but clear limit to what I, a lowly staffer, was allowed to do.
It took me about two (three-ish?) years and a lot of mentoring (my eternal gratitude, [personal profile] jinjur) and support (too many awesome people to list -- actually, I should make an appreciation post some day, there's an idea) to really grow beyond that, and I'm a pretty assertive person. (Hi! running for Board!)

But two years to feel you're "arrived"? Even as an individual/subjective data point, that's way too long.

We can't wait for people to struggle their way to the top -- not least of all because it's a selection process that is detrimental to diversity. No, really. Think about it. It's not only about certain personality- and neurotypes prevailing -- it's also that advocating for non-mainstream perspectives always, always takes more energy. So simply saying that everyone is welcome without adapting internal structures to match? Doesn't cut it.

And despite everything I wrote above, the OTW has still, overall, been the happiest and most supportive working environment I've even been in. And -- yeah, here my starry-eyed idealism is showing, but -- if people are willing to put in the work, they deserve to have that opportunity, an even chance at making their experience inside OTW satisfying and meaningful.

[personal profile] lucyp has a wonderful post that focuses on how you translate this into practice inside a particular committee; I'd like to take this and adapt it into a kind of best practice for mentoring, and we need both this personal approach that Lucy embodies so well, and the volunteer training and clarity of processes and structures that Jenny is advocating for (and that we are already trying to implement, tiny initiative by tiny initiative.) And sanders understands this fusion intimately, and on top of that has shown a clarity of focus that I admire.

What I expect of the OTW Board is that they communicate better, that they foster transparency by example and by driving for clear structures and processes, and that they *consistently* equip chairs with the tools and the support they need.

And I expect you to hold me to that if I'm elected.


Date: 2011-10-21 09:31 pm (UTC)
extempore: (balance)
From: [personal profile] extempore
Thank you for the links and for your thoughts on that matter. Reading through the various postings as a complete outsider, it seems to me the OTW is at a pretty crucial point of its history, a clash of fundamental ways to handle things. From my limited experience with this project (mainly Fanlore and the occasional AO3 reading), I can't do more than agree with you on this in a most heartfelt manner:

What I mean is: let's whittle down those processes and choose our tools so that they're as intuitive and simple as possible. [...] clear structures, consistent guidelines and transparent processes are crucial, because they help create an equal environment. They translate to lowered barriers for participation.

I read about the need to transform the OTW into something that is suistanable, that can continue to work when the founders are long gone and the board is in its 137th incarnation. I'm not sure how that can be done, but my guess would be to start with cutting down the multiple communication levels to a very simple structure, to give more autonomy to the various projects and above all for the small group of people that decide the course of this ship to not lose themselves in details and power fights.

In my opinion, the job of a board member would be to agree on a common goal, on a few basic rules and guide lines, and for the rest let the various divisions do their job. Keep people connected, react quickly to emergency situations, but beyond that just try to have an overall eye on the balance of things and the course the ship is steering in.

I have seen on occasion some official postings of board members that made me go *FACEPALM*, because it was so obvious that they had either a very limited view of things or didn't know how to include/exclude/address various fandom branches (thus ending with a message that unwittingly offended people and perhaps even destroyed groundwork particular commitees had already done), instead of letting one dedicated part of the organization (I think that would be the outreach committee or some similar PR division) go over the message and adapt it for the public. The people "down there" are usually closer to the folk you wish to address and they often know much better what is acceptable and what not.

The Doujinshi post on the DW community of Fanlore reminded me again, how very western-exclusively this project is. Honestly, I don't think that will change as long as there is no possibility to use Fanlore in different languages, for example, unless the first thing someone sees when entering AO3 for the first time is the possibility to switch to a language of choice.

This is huge, seriously, it's not just about different historical fandom cultures - which, by nature, are already pulling in various directions - it's about language barrier as well. And in case of fandom, language = fandom culture. If people can't feel at home in the OTW, because it simply isn't their language and thus their culture, they won't stay, probably won't even come in the first place.

The more I think on this, the surer I am that the board should let most of the topics, situations, projects etc. "go", let them be decided and done by commitees, groups etc. and only supervise a simple, clean and structurized implementation throughout the entire OTW. Don't break your head over how to word this or that statement, don't try to solve The Coding Issue #1, don't fuss about which tag should be a sub-tag to what other tag - instead keep an eye open on the big picture. Check, if there is - despite all the different projects - an easily recognizable thread keeping all things connected (thematically, ideologically and perhaps even visually). Try to work out ways to simplify the strucutral part of The Machine (and then put a simple graph online so even the youngest non-academic fan understands the workings of the OTW company). Try to connect the various branches and decide in cases of disagreements what is to be done.

I think I could go on about this, but I'll stop now, since it's late. ;) Anyway, here you have my completely unqualified outsider's opinion.

Date: 2011-10-22 12:43 am (UTC)
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)
From: [personal profile] hl
Just as a note, the Board already doesn't do all those things you say. Board members may have other hats, too (I'm particularly guilty of this, I wrangle fandoms, answer tickets as Support staff and I translate stuff as part of the Spanish team), but the Board itself *doesn't* code or wrangle or anything as a group. It approves motions from committees and decides on issues that are elevated from the committees, as well as keep up with what's happening generally by the members being liaisons with the committees.

Date: 2011-10-22 06:28 am (UTC)
extempore: (cloud)
From: [personal profile] extempore
Board members may have other hats, too

Mmh, that's pretty much the point I was getting at. I understand that this is a labour of love and everyone needs to get their motivation from somewhere, so doing something at the side that may give back a more direct gratification or provides a closer connection to the project is probably the way to do that for some.

In my experience, though, from having worked in similar structures, at some point the "at the side" can become a hindrance to the whole rather than a driving force for few. Or in other words: the energy and time put into side work is missing for the main work.

Again, I have no deeper knowledge of how the OTW's board members actually work - all I can base my assumptions on is what I see from various postings and what I encountered when I first met the project. And the impression that I got is that people spend themselves on too many fronts at the same time.

Date: 2011-10-22 07:05 am (UTC)
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)
From: [personal profile] hl
Ah! I thought you thought board work included detail work like that.

Theoretically, I agree with you. And yet, if we lose every board member (if they stop wearing their other hats) many many parts of the org would suffer dreadfully. If at some point we're at a place were we can not need this, I'll totally cheer, but as a quick example, I don't think the AO3 can go on on the same rhythm if NN stops coding if she wins the elections, and most other people who step up for election are key people in their areas (that is mainly because they're the ones most involved, obv). (If it's a given that she will have to stop coding, I may have to start campaigning for her to lose. /0\)

In the meantime, I pretty much think chairing is the biggest drain of all. Most plain volunteer and even staffing roles (depending on which ones, of course) are not draining at all. (At least, to me. I'm taking time to myself, but I'll still wrangle and work Support if I'm accepted by Support's chair next term, because it's not so terrible and every volunteer counts. On top of being rewarding, of course.) Someone said that board members shouldn't chair -- I kinda agree with this. It's the biggest stressor, and a lot of work in itself, not mentioning great practice for future board members.

TBH, I found board work a lot to take in, and it wasn't my other roles which caused the problem (except maybe chairing Translation). (And people may be lying to be nice, I guess, but no one has told me I failed at my work as board member, and some people have told me the opposite.)

Date: 2011-10-22 07:59 am (UTC)
extempore: (cloud)
From: [personal profile] extempore
if we lose every board member (if they stop wearing their other hats) many many parts of the org would suffer dreadfully.

This is where the work towards sustainability comes in, I think. From what I understand, the current way to recruit is a passive one (inviting a mass of people, not specific people in particular)? The aim in this case should probably be to replace the board members through other people ASAP in those side jobs, so board people are free to do what they should do.

There are 7 board members currently (is that the set number?) and if you say that the org would not be able to work properly, if they all stopped participating in side projects, and this after almost four years of OTW existence, then something is running wrong on the recruitment and motivation front (or people simply don't want to let go of certain responsibilities/tasks). Or there are simply too many board members compared to the size of the entire OTW staff.


Someone said that board members shouldn't chair -- I kinda agree with this.

Whoa, that's even worse than doing occasional coding/tag wrangling on the side. It's having two full time jobs and it can't work out without *something* suffering. Not to mention conflicts of interest that may arise in such cases. The projects I worked on (most in RL, some in fandom) always had a pretty strict line drawn there. Either it was departement heads meeting, but in that case always a single person above them decided on everything based on the good of the entire project, or it was a board of people above the departement heads, in which case they decided, but had to refrain from doing apparent lobbying as that would be contradictionary to their task of keeping a balanced view on the project.


Most plain volunteer and even staffing roles (depending on which ones, of course) are not draining at all.

It's not the draining part, although that can play in as well, of course. It's the "in the time I did this side project I could have tried to find a better solution for this structural problem" part.

Why I even brought this up in my first post was the impression that I got over the last years that people talk about how they "should" find more helpers, how the org "should" grow and become self-sustaining etc. - but steps that, in my point of view, would be key steps, haven't been taken. Instead it's a lot of talk and talk and trying not to offend while at the same time trying to push ones own believes through etc.

Perhaps it's all entirely different, but that's how it looks like to me from the outside.

Date: 2011-10-22 09:12 am (UTC)
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)
From: [personal profile] hl
I do think we need to become more sustainable (it is, indeed, one of the reasons I'll be voting as I'll be voting).

(Seven is the set number, yes.)

(I didn't say the org wouldn't be able to function, I said that AO3 coding would suffer in its rhythm from the lack of NN, as other projects from the lack of other people. The org would def be able *to function*. (Still, we have various coders, but relatively few senior coders, so losing even one would be pretty awful at this point.) Using myself as an example, the Spanish translation team has three other members that can do work perfectly well and do so on many occasions: it wouldn't disappear as a team. It would, however, lose one of the most invested people in it.)

There *are* projects to improve sustainability. Personally, I think the org has improved a lot in these issues (from my experience as a volunteer in 08), though obviously we have a long way to go.

I don't think any job in the org is a full time job. Maybe they should be? They have never been, however, and I think it would hinder recruitment if they suddenly become so, not in the least because they're not paid work and people have to live. I'm not, indeed, I think, failing at any of them, and I'm still doing them all on top of studying. I'm not saying it's not a lot as, indeed, it was personally a lot for me, and I've decided to scale back my involvement so that I can concentrate on studying next term, but it wasn't impossible to accomplish. And also personally, it was the draining part that was the problem, not the time part. I never lacked time, I only lacked energy because of what was going on.

The org recruits a lot on several levels. Obviously we are always open and get people who just come in without an specific idea of what they want to do, but we do also put out specific 'job' calls, as well as make posts about different spots of the org so as to attract volunteers. I've also (and I think most chairs have) approached people especially when I thought they would be interested in working in the org and/or their specific abilities and/or perspective had especial relevance.

I think the key to do it is rather widening our prospective pool so that we're a more attractive place to volunteer and doing a better job of volunteer retention & recruitment by improving on issues of diversity, transparency and inclusivity. (We could discuss how each will help with both retention and recruitment, but it's almost 6am and I ought to go to bed, so it will've to be later for me.)

The org gets a lot of volunteers all the time. That doesn't mean they are trained or ready to take over the work in a jiffy. I know, for example, that coding training is a lengthy business, and even in Translation, in which we relay on people knowing their mother tongue (so the basic skill is there), there's a learning curve related both the task itself and the tools, not mentioning the part of it being collaborative work. And there's the amount of time people are willing to give it. Volunteer work is very flexible, and a lot of volunteers just do some tasks every now and then. (Which is, btw, totally welcome. Every little bit of work done helps, and I think becoming even more flexible can only help us. But it's still not what moves projects forward.)

Support work, which doesn't require tech training nor has a particularly steep learning curve (at least in my opinion!) has a pretty effective big team after efforts towards recruitment were done, but the same efforts haven't shielded a lot of more specialised people; even, say, translators. (I'm personally convinced we will have more translators once the bigger projects will have the potential of being truly available in other languages, but, again, that in itself is a big volunteer effort (which is underway and has been for... uh, since I'm in the org, pretty much).)

I do think it's entirely different as how you see it (in that I think we are doing many things), though there's certainly a lot of talk (I'm afraid that's the nature of an organisation that attempts to rely on consensus on a lot of levels) and as all collaborative endeavours, attempts to not offend one's coworkers (and I hope that keeps being so -- all the instances of discord I've witness and had to mediate made the job itself rather harder than it had to be). It's frustrating that it doesn't come through, but we do have pretty big issues with transparency, which luckily will soon not be my problem :P (along with other people, I've attempted to tackle the subject this term and helped along one or two projects to fix it, but they don't appear to work as well as I assumed they would).

But I've blathered on too much and not entirely coherently (I'm afraid I tend to do that):

Which would you think are key steps?

Date: 2011-10-22 11:45 am (UTC)
extempore: (cloud)
From: [personal profile] extempore
Key steps... well, from what I receive as a fan on the user end of the project, I am missing a few things:

- Outreach. In none of my anime or game related fandoms is the existence of the OTW known, none of them even realize what AO3 is or that there is a fanlore project. In fandom, when one has a shiny new thing they want to present to others in the hopes of getting more fans to join, they actually *do* present that shiny thing. Nothing of the likes happened within a major sector of my fannish life. As far as I'm concerned, nobody went to the various anime or game core communities and did some PR work, presenting the project, and trying to specifically address an audience that probably needs the presentation done in a bit of a different way than OTW usually does their PR stuff. And now, four years after the OTW has been founded, it's an established machine where other fan cultures (not even just talking about animanga or game, but they are a pretty big group) at this point may join as guests, but not as builders.

Despite that, especially in animanga, there is still such huge potential of getting new enthusiastic and active participants and volunteers - if the OTW just *went* there and made contact. Of course, the problem seems to be the fact that most of the responsible people in the OTW simply don't understand animanga community workings, coming from TV-fandom or similar backgrounds. (Again, from what I read in various topics on DW. Obviously, I don't know OTW people aside from Julia and Doro, so yeah.)

- Connected to that is the accessability of various OTW projects, most notably AO3, but also Fanlore. Right now, things seem to target adult fans, heavy on the textual side of the profile, thus ignoring basically the majority of animanga/game fans who often are not just quite young, but also focused on the visual aspect of things. The Shiny. ;) And also the community. I started to edit on Fanlore a while back, but I quickly lost interest, because I missed an active community forum, a place where I'm familiar and comfortable with and where my interest in volunteer work is constantly refreshed and sparked anew.
Animanga fans populate forums, that's one of the major differences to, I don't know, zine-fans, filk-fans etc., I think. The current OTW structure with all its projects has not one single forum, as far as I'm informed. There is no central community, no place one can go as a newbie to get an idea about the people involved, about the culture practised, about the topics discussed. It seems, the OTW and its projects is consisting of solo fans who do their thing and occasionally connect via DW or chat. That is so far away from being attractive to someone in animanga/game fandom as I just can imagine.

My suggestion would be to create an OTW forum with various sub-forums for the projects, so a new person can find immediately all the branches of the OTW, all the people to contact and gets an idea about the culture. So that there actually *is* a community.

- Which leads me to connections. When I look at the AO3 page and the fanlore page, I miss some form of connection. Yes, AO3 has in subheader that it's an OTW project, and fanlore has it somwhere down in the text, but on first glance I can't see that. Remember, animanga, visual? ;) I am missing a visual thread, and while seperate projects could/should have different optics, placing the information about the umbrella project on different places and in different formats isn't helping the new guy to find his way around the system. But that's just a minor example and it's more about keeping the thread running easily recognizable through all parts of the org.

I know, I'm primarily targetting the AO3 and Fanlore, but that's what newbies come for, usually. So I think the barriers of access need to be lowerd immensely to encourage 37 year old academics as well as 14 year old video game fans to contribute. I wasn't joking when I suggested a simple visual roadmap of the OTW's structure and/or projects in a prominent place on the OTW site, because this will lower barriers. This will give the random anime fan neccessary information on the first glance in a medium he is used to.

- In general give the various projects as much autonomy as possible and concentrate resources and efforts there.

- Transparency, as you mentioned, is a key element of an organization such as this. (Again, a central forum could help as well, as it allows people from different "sections" to see what in other branches of the org is discussed, and, possibly pipe in with their own view on a subject, if the discussion is made public.) Also would be the acceptance that not every tiny detail can or should be controlled. Once the projects run more autonomous, decisions are made by a small group of people who sit directly at the source of the issue, or by the respective chair man of a committee, within the parameters of the OTW, of course.
I always thought that was the goal - to create a fannish room within various worlds, the academic, the artistic, the legal... but for that to work, I'm rather convinced that it can't be involving too much hierarchy. Rather it has to be a group of mostly independently working teams who are connected through the board which supervises the consistency and, as Julia said, an equal environment.

So, to close this wall of text... I know, it's wonderfully easy to sit on the outside and to say "this and that should be done and changed!", but it's the only perspective I can offer. =)

Date: 2011-10-23 10:10 am (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] unjapanologist
My suggestion would be to create an OTW forum with various sub-forums for the projects, so a new person can find immediately all the branches of the OTW, all the people to contact and gets an idea about the culture. So that there actually *is* a community.

Just jumping in to say +1 to the public forums idea, very very much. And more damn pictures! Yes! There may be very good reasons for not slapping, say, fanart at the top of OTW pages, like not giving the idea that any particular fandom is being privileged. But surely we can send out a call to people who'd like to draw something pretty for the OTW.

And user icons. User icons everywhere! I barely manage to feel at home in any online space if I can't scribble my name all over the pages. Ahem use my icons.

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Date: 2011-10-22 02:17 pm (UTC)
extempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extempore
I don't think any job in the org is a full time job. Maybe they should be?

Another point to think about could be to actually make one or two tech jobs paid jobs for professionals, part time or full time. I don't know, if that would be even possible, financially. But I know that once the tech side is taken care of, people are free to focus on other parts.

I agree with senior coders being hard to come by, that's because a) it takes quite a while to learn it (after all, entire business branches circle around coding, for example), and it's one of those areas where freelancing for profit is the custom, the way to earn your living.

I understand the OTW was conceptualized to be a non-profit volunteer based organization, but even in such organizations some core parts need to be fully staffed, with payment. Especially if things start to reach a certain size.

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Date: 2011-10-24 11:33 pm (UTC)
aethel: (amanda [by taraljc])
From: [personal profile] aethel
> I'm personally convinced we will have more translators once the bigger projects will have the potential of being truly available in other languages

catch 22!

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Date: 2011-10-22 03:21 pm (UTC)
cathexys: OTW icon: fandom is my fandom (fandom otw (by Laura Shapiro))
From: [personal profile] cathexys
to start with cutting down the multiple communication levels to a very simple structure, to give more autonomy to the various projects and above all for the small group of people that decide the course of this ship to not lose themselves in details and power fights. This is a really great point!

From my experience, there've been more rather than fewer communication levels recently as a way to create transparency without and communication within, but personally, it makes me interact less rather than more, because I get overwhelmed by the various channels.

Most of us want to just do our work and do it in peace. I want there to be dedicated people interacting with fandom at large, so I don't have to and can work in my own little corner :)

Date: 2011-10-22 06:53 pm (UTC)
extempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extempore
because I get overwhelmed by the various channels

Which is why I prefer the forum structure for larger communities with various projects. For the OTW it could mean to have the public face (the areas all regular members can access) and each committee may also have their closed subforums, visible to OTW staff only.

- Members can chose to just read and follow the proceedings passiveley, ignoring subforums or threads as they wish.
- Members can chose to participate in various parts throughout the forum.
- Staff can make many parts of their work or discussions visible to members, thus providing the transparency of development and encouraging members to participate.
- Staff can discuss and organize on a "behind the door" level as well for projects that are still fragile or for other reasons, making this discussions only visible to other OTW staff, thus providing transparency within the "machine" and also information about the different sectors/stages of development/problems/topics of interest of the OTW.
- All of this would happen on one website, in one space, one community, that would serve as a second "glue" aside from the board, to connect the various divisions (some of which are apparently a bit removed from the fans/fandom, such as finances). Seeing others work in unfamiliar areas can also act as inspiration for ones own work or motivation, can spark interest in new areas of the OTW, can make people familiar with staff and other members and much more.
- And there is probably even a way to give the various subforums distinctive and different looks so they can be associated immediately with their "mother sites" or just show a bit more individuality. ;)

There is a reason why Animanga and Game fandom with its tradition of strong communities (and often transparency, too) chose this form of online communication in many cases. The big drawback of this kind of communication, of course, is that it needs some system of moderating, at the very least to remove spam bots (although modern forum software can do that) or trolls. The seemingly easier way is the current one-way structure of communication the OTW has: blogs, twitter and similar tools that don't allow for efficient and long term exchange of thoughts and ideas, and rather work as some form of Message Dump From The Top. But aside from all the trolling and wanking, fandom has also taught us that large communites with mature people can exist, without having to be dictatorships, instead working in a self-moderated way.

Right now, even if I wanted to invite some gamer friends to check out the OTW and their projects, I'd hesitate, because linking only the OTW main page would be uninteresting and off-putting to most of them. Linking to a forum and the respective main page (fanlore, AO3 etc.) in addition would more likely do the trick to keep them interested, for one, because they'd know that they could make immediate contact to the fandom base there, if questions arise. For another, because they could get a feeling for the community and decide, if it's their cup of tea.

Date: 2011-10-24 09:52 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
Well, we kinda have that with Campfire. As much as I dislike the interface, it does exactly what you're asking. i actually remember disliking the fact that (a) I would get tons of info on projects I wasn't interested on the top page and (b) there was little privacy to brainstorm and draft in private because everything was visible to all.

FWIW, I'd hate to have to deal with forums. And I like the OTW front. I'm glad there are no splash pages and everything is simple and text based. In fact, I wish the blog weren't embedded and it's be even simpler. Because that's the thing: different people like different interfaces, and images and fan art, for example, may be offputting to some where they appeal to others. (Also, the audience is even more varied than gamers or live action media or anime--at heart, the org is also a nonprofit to inform the public about transformative works, so there the less fannish aspect is useful...)

Date: 2011-10-24 10:13 pm (UTC)
extempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extempore
at heart, the org is also a nonprofit to inform the public about transformative works, so there the less fannish aspect is useful...

Well, that is the problem though, isn't it? Why would the regular fan then want to spend time on and in this project, if they aren't even the targetted group, don't have familiar fannish aspects and instead have to do with dry text and often over-complicated structures? Text only also means basically the loss of the entire Animanga and Game fandom. That may mean nothing to someone whose fandom happens on the texutal side of the web, but it means that the org loses a huge pool of enthusiastic, active people who could bring much to the various projects. Why is it so hard to offer two ways? Text only and customized skins? The most basic blog and forum services offer that - what's stopping the org from doing the same?

What is Campfire?

The nice thing with forums is that you *don't* get unwanted info - because you chose which thread you want to read. No mailing list spam, no blog spam, no RSS feed spam - unless you chose that option yourself. I have no idea how that Campfire thing is set up, but with regular forums there is no "most actual post on top of the page" thing (although one can sometimes chose the option to show only threads with new postings since the last visit). The subform or thread titles only change color/font boldness/etc., if there is a new post within. And usually you have a link "mark all topics read" and that's that.

Date: 2011-10-24 10:31 pm (UTC)
extempore: (bleh)
From: [personal profile] extempore
"most actual post" -- should be "newest post", of course. Bloody Denglish. *facepalms*

Date: 2011-10-28 01:08 pm (UTC)
copracat: The Wrangulator (OTW AO3 The Wrangulator)
From: [personal profile] copracat
Campfire is fancy chat. It's an online collaboration tool OTW uses that has security features.

http://campfirenow.com/

If you attended one of the election candidate chats you would have been in a public Campfire room. OTW has rooms for committees for their meetings and such. We have a tag wrangler room that we can drop into and talk wrangling issues or just hang out with other wranglers.

Date: 2011-10-28 01:45 pm (UTC)
extempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extempore
Ah, so it's the same tech as the Fanlore chatroom? I have been there once to discuss a site I was working on with one of the committee members. Chat is very useful for instant feedback or for Q&A sessions (as is IM or similar instant communication tools), no doubt about that.

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Date: 2011-10-26 01:38 am (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
I kind of just want to heart your entire comment, because yes, yes, yes, forums could solve so many problems. They're not the answer to everything obviously, but forums exist to facilitate a lot of the communications issues that the OTW seems to face at the moment. I mean, I see how people might prefer realtime communication via chat (which is what Campfire is and how most things in the OTW seem to happen at the moment) but chat has accessibility issues for so many people and forums are common to fannish communities even outside anime/manga fandoms.

Have appreciated reading your other comments as well, for the record!

Date: 2011-10-26 08:34 am (UTC)
extempore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extempore
The problem with chat is that it's instant and without archive function (unless someone transcribes it every time). That is highly complicated in terms of accessability (people who can't be there at the time, for example, have to rely on others to hear/read what happened) and prevents lengthy discussions or even a basic structure. Chats can't be linked to - I can't include a chat discussion in a post, I can't quote, I can't add my own thoughts later to it - unless someone transcribes and that is really wasted work and time (and it wouldn't even be a first hand quote I could do from that), since for that kind of discussion other means are already long developed. 10+ years ago chat was the way to communicate in fandom, at least in my fandoms it was. IIRC channels were the place to hang out, to get anime episodes or mangas etc. With the birth of blog-systems (LJ most notably) and the incredible development on the forum front, chat rooms couldn't keep up (talking about fandom and community building here). I'm not sure why the OTW still insist on chat rooms being a good tool to connect.

I'm not saying "don't ever use them" - obviously there are still situations where a chat room tops other forms of online communication, such as the candidate chat. What I'm saying is "don't justify networking or community building with an existing chat channel", because that's just not working anymore. If a chat channel isn't accessible to everyone it divides, not connects. A website is easier to access - each of us does it every day, and there is no time limit tied to it.

Date: 2011-10-26 02:51 pm (UTC)
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] fairestcat
The problem with chat is that it's instant and without archive function (unless someone transcribes it every time). That is highly complicated in terms of accessability (people who can't be there at the time, for example, have to rely on others to hear/read what happened) and prevents lengthy discussions or even a basic structure. Chats can't be linked to - I can't include a chat discussion in a post, I can't quote, I can't add my own thoughts later to it - unless someone transcribes and that is really wasted work and time

Campfire, the internal chat format does include the option to keep transcripts, which is why it works well for committee meetings.

But this conversation is really clarifying why campfire doesn't work well for more casual chat. I stopped looking in on the watercolor chat room, because there was never anyone there when I got there. A chat requires everyone to be online at the same time to have a conversation and also to be able to form their thoughts quickly for a real-time conversTion. Forums by contrast allow people to join into conversations at any time and to take their time in formulating responses.

Date: 2011-10-26 04:00 pm (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
Heh, no disagreement from me. And I'd add that even when anime/manga fandom spent most of its time on IRC (and still does, actually), all the major fansub groups had their own forum sites. In fact, if you were outside the fansub staff, it was a lot easier to get to know people on the forum since the main channel was usually too busy with distributing files. (Uh, yes, in case it wasn't clear, anime/manga fan here!)

I've heard from Julia elsewhere that they are working on developing internal forums first in order to support the idea of external forums available to the public, and I hope that really happens.

Date: 2011-10-26 04:29 pm (UTC)
extempore: (ribbit)
From: [personal profile] extempore
IRC! *facepalms* Comes from never using that abbrevation anymore, but instead iirc...

@Internal forum: Coming from a heavily forum-based background, I admit to having diffculties in understanding why people even need to be convinced of the benefits for community building and structural clarity a forum can offer. *^^* But if it helps, I'm all for small steps.

I'm used to, you know, just doing it, opening a forum, starting with a basic layout and structure and moving on from there together with the community. People (especially fans) accept a lot, if they know it's a start and it will improve with their help. To me it seems it's somehow needed for the OTW to have a thouroughly tested and several times reviewed and approved completely finished product, before they dare to bring it to the attention of the public. For some parts that's good (anything having to do with press, with law, with money etc.), but for some it's better to rely on the community not only to help, but also to accept that the OTW isn't perfect and that something might still change on relativly short notice, because it has proven to be better done in a different way. That would be a more open and lively way of interaction. But probably that's a too fannish way to tackle things. ;)

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Date: 2011-10-26 08:14 am (UTC)
extempore: (amused)
From: [personal profile] extempore
So asking users to adapt to the journal-sphere model and our top-down approach (there's no general, unmoderated space for level discussion of OTW matters, at all, except for the anon memes, and we know how well that goes) is a clear signal of "this is not your culture."

This is very true. Unfortunately, it goes the other way around, too - asking people to accept a forum-based discussion culture is sending a similar signal, I think. In the end to me it then boils down to: which way to communicate is the more efficient for the project and its goals? And even without being from Animanga fandom I'd chose the "Forum + additional internal special things" approach. Its advantages for networking are just so much better than the decentralized blog+chat way the OTW is following currently.


Extempore is all about having more options that are accessible to different fannish cultures, so more external-facing.

Thank you for putting into clear words what I am apparently unable to. ;) I keep wondering why I seem to talk in and about a different universe than a lot of other people in the OTW (from what I read in various topics) and your analysis gives me a good explanation for that.

There are many ways to catch the interest of fans and potential helpers, but my impression is that the OTW so far has given priority to content alone, dismissing all people who can be "caught" through easy access or through visual means. Those people aren't by default shallow, becaus they like pictures or easy access and simplicity, nor are they leaving a short while later again, since, apparently, content can't keep them (/sarcasm) - they just need different "hooks" to be caught. Once they are here, like all others, they will either make themselves a nice place or decide that it's not really their cup of tea after all.

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