julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
[personal profile] julia_beck
Quick rec to a couple highly critical (in both senses of the the word) posts:

[personal profile] via_ostiense OTW Election stuff

We are not just an archive, and fandom is about more than reading fic, and if the OTW is to be an advocate for fans, we have to first of all respect our members and fandom enough to think that they care about the organization that purports to represent them and to which they donate, and then we have to prove ourselves worthy of their trust by being open to dialogue with people outside of our staff and volunteers.

[personal profile] troisroyaumes OTW Elections

I've been involved in volunteer organizations offline that had this same problem: it is extremely frustrating and often leads to implosion and leadership vacuum when the one key person burns out or gets sidelined by other commitments. There needs to be collaboration, delegation and procedures for transferral of leadership. To put it abstractly, a robust network needs to build in redundancy and crosstalk in order to tolerate perturbations. That's why biological systems have paralogs and epistasis, people!

[personal profile] facetofcathy Further to the OTW election post.

But worse than that, worse than utilizing the content providers' creations largely unrewarded and unacknowledged, the OTW itself has rarely expressed any interest in the input or ideas of the masses since the first blush of public discussion back on LJ.

I'd just like toss out there: you're a random fan who likes the idea of giving back to fandom a little through volunteering. You get involved in the OTW. You evolve to the level of staffer! (Score!)

But then you realize you have even less say than before because you've traded in the right to publicly criticize it openly for a chance to make things better. But the structure is not set up in a way that allows you to effect much change.

So. What do you do?

This is why critical outside voices (or bold internal ones like via's) like these are so vital at this point.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, or that I agree with everything they wrote. But I don't need to -- I just need a willingness to listen, to take this very, very seriously, and take a lot of notes.

Date: 2011-10-21 09:11 pm (UTC)
anatsuno: Rose Tyler in the crosshairs of the last Dalek (caught)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
hahah, THIS EXACTLY "But then you realize you have even less say than before because you've traded in the right to publicly criticize it openly for a chance to make things better." (my laugh is bitter)

Worse than that, because I was somehow conditioned so WELL into thinking that critiquing the org was 'making the bed of the enemy', I haven't even managed to be critical even *once I was out*. Even though I'm not sure I know who the enemy is, and why I care about 'them' at all, when I should be caring (and, really, I am) about what happens to this amazing, gorgeous endeavour we have here, which I want to see last and grow and get better and better. I am facepalming, really, at my own inability to do the right thing.

Date: 2011-10-22 12:47 pm (UTC)
cathexys: OTW icon: fandom is my fandom (fandom otw (by Laura Shapiro))
From: [personal profile] cathexys
Very true! As is probably clear from my post, I disagree with them on some level (and more importantly, disagree on how this can be solved), but you are totally correct that public conversation and dialog about the org is vitally important.

I am very much reminded of...4 years ago is it now?...when the debates were about founding the org. I spent a lot of time talking one on one with people and was frustrated that the conversations didn't occur nearly enough in public.

I'm beginning to feel the same way again. And I'm glad there will be people like you on the board, who talk and do, who hopefully can move between what I'm fearing to see as a bifurcation in the org between (at it most extreme) a model where those working in the org are a controlling oligarchy that "utiliz[es] content providers" and thus *exploit* fandom and a model where they are working their asses off unpaid to provide platforms and services *for* fandom (well, it's kinda clear where I am standing on that :).

going on tangent...possibility of deletion...

Date: 2011-10-22 03:11 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
Yeah but.,..I just wrote this in response to another post and then felt it might have been too weird in a stranger's journal, so I'm putting it here:

What upsets me is the total dependence on one or two individuals in the first place! ... If there are not enough volunteers with the right skill set, then the organization should invest in training and actively recruiting volunteers who do have the right skills. (source)

Because this is an issue dear to my heart in that I'd love to see people volunteer (or be volunteered...trust me, I have all but blackmailed people into providing their specific skill sets). However, for many of the most important jobs (legal, finance, journal, and, to some degree, coding, and I'm certain others as well...), you need to have the intersection of people *able*, people *willing*, and people even *interested*, i.e. qualified for the job, with the desire to make the choice to give up vast amounts of their free time, who are also fans supporting the OTW. And the thing is, that often the folks able to do the job are also the folks who have enormous job commitments (thus BEING able to do the job!).

There isn't an infinite pool of lawyers specialized in IP law, who are also fans, want to support the OTW, and are willing to dedicate their minimal spare time. Same with academics in the field.

So you can't recruit indefinitely from a very tiny pool, and you can't train internally, because there are years of schooling, working, and, let's be honest, networking involved. So, to give examples, I'm not sure OTW would have been representing vids at the DCMA hearing, were Rebbeca not a renowned IP prof, and i don't think Henry Jenkins would have wanted to coedit a special issue were he not familiar with Karen and Kristina's track record and had worked with them on previous occasions in other contexts.

Now, all of this is only the case this extremely for some projects (that actually aren't as much under scrutiny, because their internal structure and workings may not be as visible or interesting to many fans). But I think a call to training and recruiting, as positive and constructive as it sounds, must remain aware of its inherent limitations.

Certain things *can* only be done by certain people, and to find those able *and* those willing (even to be trained) can be quite difficult.


So, to get back to your point: I think part of the issue is that there's a lot of conversation right now about some folks "controlling" (or, as sanders puts it, What I personally see are some people in leadership positions by virtue of real or perceived status who have articulated a marked lack of interest in projects beyond building the Archive and who have demonstrated an inability to build effective teams to work in other areas despite repeated opportunities to do so in the past. [source]) the org, when from my side, it's mostly people putting blood, sweat, and tears into creating something, and that's why these accusation to me are not only hurtful but seriously unfair.
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
oh, bc of the identification issue. nothing else.

I don't feel I need to hide my feelings. Just that a lot is clearly due to my own situatedness.

I'd love chat. Are you on gmail or LJ? I'm cathexys on both...
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
Uh, I just saw this comment and I hope I'm not making you feel too awkward by responding? You do raise a good point--I hadn't thought as far as law when it came to specialized skill sets, mostly because I assumed that the Legal Committee had enough people. Probably a wrong assumption! But I would point out that I don't know whether OTW needs more IP lawyers or not...so perhaps a fan who is an IP lawyer wouldn't know they're needed either.

And as for coding, finance and even academia...I mean, I don't think active recruitment is the answer to everything, but I do think it's still worth trying, simply because I don't believe OTW already has the entire set of the willing and able and fannish on staff for every specialized position where they're shorthanded. The pool may not be infinite but has the OTW already exhausted it?

Anyway, maybe this is all a bit tangential from your point because I actually don't think anyone really wants to be that one key person bearing all the burden, and I hope that wasn't implied in my post. I think that it takes a lot of structural change for an organization to make sure that it doesn't happen. What I want as a member who has paid dues to the organization is to know that the OTW is committed to making that sort of change, starting with its leadership.

ETA: I forgot to say, in response to the point, "to find those able *and* those willing (even to be trained) can be quite difficult": I don't see that many names from my fandom communities on OTW staff, even though I know there are people in anime/manga fandoms who have extensive programming experience or have jobs in finance or are academics (specializing in media studies to boot!). It might be a bit easier to find volunteers if OTW did better on outreach. All of these issues are rather tangled and interconnected, and I don't think there are any easy solutions. But I think recognizing the problem is the first step.
Edited Date: 2011-10-24 05:02 am (UTC)
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] fairestcat
I can tell you from my four years on the Finance Committee that finding people with the interest and skills to serve on FinCom has been an ongoing challenge. We finally pressganged recruited 3 new staffers in the last two years, but before that we were down to Sheila, who's leaving us after she completes her term on the Board (*clings*), Sanders, who is running for the Board this term, and me.

Based on our experience, I absolutely agree that improving outreach is key to recruiting staff with specialized skills.. Of our 3 new staff members, only one comes from the primary otw membership base of lj/dw oriented fandom.
Edited Date: 2011-10-24 05:35 am (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
For what it's worth, if it would help, I'd be quite willing to ask people I know who have a background in finance-related fields to see if they'd be interested in volunteering. Are you specifically looking for certain certifications or degrees like CPA?
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
No, not at all. I just felt awkward going into someone else's journal and going all OT (and maybe OTT? :), but apparently Julia, ambassador and diplomat extraordinaire is a great place...

I agree that OTW doesn't have the entire set, but believe me that in my committee we really are going as deep and as far as we can. You clearly have pointed toward an issue about outreach, bc why *would* an anime fan desperately want to do OTW finance volunteer work when there may be other closer to their interest places where they could be spending their time. Why should a gaming scholar want to be an editor at TWC when there's a gaming/fan focused journal that desperately needs them? [Mind you though too that the second TWC special issue was indeed a gaming issue!]

I think the founding of the org was drawing from a small pool in the hope that once some of the basic things were in place, we could expand both in services and volunteers. And i don't think those volunteers will come without having a reason to be invested in the org. That's where outreach work is so vital, you are totally right.

But just because someone may be in the s,mall intersection of able and fan may not necessarily also make them want to dedicate that time!

Date: 2011-10-27 04:30 pm (UTC)
rbarenblat: OTW logo. (otw)
From: [personal profile] rbarenblat
I'm surprised to hear you say that that becoming an org staffer means giving up the right to critique the org publicly. Do you think that's a common perception within the org?

Date: 2011-10-27 11:40 pm (UTC)
rbarenblat: OTW logo. (otw)
From: [personal profile] rbarenblat
I'm really sorry to hear this. It makes me sad on several levels; first, that people are frustrated with the org or want to grouse about it, and second, that they feel they can't grouse about it because they've chosen to be a part of it.

Clearly the Board needs to figure out how to establish better channels for communication, and how to better create an environment in which people who feel frustrated are able to tell us what's upsetting them (whether they're within the org, or coming from outside it.) We want our volunteers and staffers to feel empowered to help create the org they dream of, not to feel silenced by their own participation, you know?

I want to say that if anyone who's reading this wants to talk to me, about anything having to do with the org, I am always ready to listen. (Email me or pm me and we can go from there.) But obviously we need bigger measures than that. Thanks for having this conversation with me.

Date: 2011-11-04 10:58 am (UTC)
rbarenblat: OTW logo. (otw)
From: [personal profile] rbarenblat
I'm sorry that the Board of which I've been a part for the last three years hasn't managed to make this dream real; but I am hopeful that the new Board, with new ideas and new energy, will be able to do a better job of it!

Thank you for all of your hard work, on this and on everything else that you do within the org.

Date: 2011-10-28 08:04 am (UTC)
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
From: [personal profile] jennyst
It's certainly been fairly common in the areas I've interacted with, though by no means universal.

Date: 2011-10-28 04:52 pm (UTC)
rbarenblat: OTW logo. (otw)
From: [personal profile] rbarenblat
This is clearly something we need to pay attention to. I don't know if this year's Board is going to be able to figure out good ways to move forward on improving this situation, but I have great faith in all six of the candidates, so I'm hoping that if we have to pass the buck on this one to next year's Board, they'll be able to make some progress on this front.

Date: 2011-10-28 04:55 pm (UTC)
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
From: [personal profile] jennyst
Yeah - at least now we're talking about it, people are aware of the issue and discussing possible ways forward, so we make some progress regardless of who gets elected. I'm just sad it took a contested election to open up the discussion.


julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
Julia Beck

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