Board Meeting Minutes: June 22, 2011


June 22, 2011, 1:00 UTC

PRESENT: Rachel Barenblat, Hele Braunstein, Ira Gladkova, Sheila Lane, Allison Morris
ABSENT: Francesca Coppa, Kristen Murphy


  1. Prior to this meeting, Hele presented via e-mail a request from AD&T to upgrade the webdev server from a linode 2048 at $80/month to a linode 4096 at $160/month. This is necessary because tests have been failing due to lack of memory. The Board voted unanimously to approve the request.
  2. The minutes from June 1, 8, and 15 were approved via e-mail.
  3. Updates on the diversity items discussed last week:
    1. Fanart hosting on the AO3 — Ira and Hele reported on this. The feedback we’ve already collected on this issue has been made into a wiki page, and AD&T has done some preliminary brainstorming, but recently the project has been stalled due to other commitments. Hele has suggested to the AD&T chairs that they make another public post on the subject once some design work has been done; she has also offered to see whether a coder can be enticed into coming up with some front-end designs. Allison suggested collating the feedback and ideas on a page on which could be linked to from future posts on the subject; such a page could be prepared in advance and kept unpublished until ready. Ira volunteered to “adopt” the fanart project and help keep momentum going.
    2. AO3 language browsing and translation relationships between works — Hele reported that language browsing options are being included in the browsing redesign. The intern who originally worked on translation relationships has disappeared, but another coder is working on it.
    3. AO3 skins design challenge — Hele reported that she talked with the AD&T chairs about this. They are in favor of holding a challenge, but the skins system is being redesigned and that needs to happen first. There are also plans for a skins wizard that would lower the bar for participation.
    4. Yuletide communications plan — Hele reported that she discussed this with the AD&T chairs; they will talk with Zooey about making a public post before Yuletide nominations begin. We discussed the importance of internal communication about Yuletide, particularly intercommittee communication among AD&T, Tag Wrangling, and Support to make sure everyone involved is clear on the processes involved. Rachel suggested making an internal post to staffers and volunteers to encourage them to be clear about the distinctions between Yuletide and the AO3 when posting about it in their personal journals.
    5. Internal discussion forum — Allison reported that she has set up a forum on the VolCom site and that Kristen alpha tested it. Allison sent log-in information to the rest of the Board and encouraged them to try it out and offer suggestions.
    6. IO survey — Hele reported that IO will add the survey question discussed last week and that a draft of the survey will be elevated to Board for approval.
    7. Boys’ Love issue of TWC — Hele reported that IO is enthusiastic about this and will signalboost when Journal posts about it.
  4. Update on Translation’s internal survey, from Hele: Response rate to the survey was one-third. Once Translation has finished analyzing the results, they will give a report to Board and VolCom.
  5. Continuing from last week, we picked up where we left off in going through the brainstormed list of diversity ideas and identifying next steps, as follows:
    1. Encourage initiatives like IO’s internal survey to help us identify org-internal resources for outreach — This is connected to several of the other ideas that have been discussed, and is also related to the strategic planning process.
    2. On turning the list into a public post — We should solicit feedback on the post draft from all involved committees in order to avoid putting them on the spot (since such a post would publicly highlight projects that the committees may not be able to turn into reality very quickly). Rachel said: “I think we should be clear, in the post, that this isn’t an immediate roadmap — rather it’s a list of things we’ve brainstormed, and we welcome further suggestions, but we’re not promising to do any of these things in the near future.” We will need to make sure we have energy/time/people to handle the comments. Allison suggested taking suggestions from the comments and appending them to the post, in a “not yet discussed, but suggested” space, so people can see we aren’t ignoring them. Allison also suggested that whoever handles the comments should focus on nonjudgmentally accepting/acknowledging them without engaging in on-the-spot discussion.
    3. Actively prioritize and consider the potential diversity-related impact of initiatives and decisions — This is not so much a concrete action as a call for mindfulness; it’s an item to add to the mental checklist for existing projects. IO is trying to promote this through intercommittee liaison relationships. One complicating issue is that some committees work very closely with other committees, while other committees work in isolation. We might want to think about ways to help staff/volunteers care about and relate to projects with which they are not directly involved. Allison said that VolCom has been thinking about this. Rachel stated the need to keep in mind that time spent on internal communication may take time away from other projects. Allison talked about how promoting internal communication should ideally be the role of board liaisons and chairs, who are focused on more big-picture issues than the rest of the staff.
    4. Fanlore diversity outreach: publicly put out a call for more wiki project volunteers who could help the wiki committee do outreach to fandoms which are underrepresented on Fanlore — Rachel reported that Wiki is drafting a post about this and brainstorming about staffers who might be able to help; they’re also working on a call for additional staff.
    5. “Just as increasing accessibility often increasing usability for everyone, I feel that some initiatives can have the same effect for diversity. Particularly, I feel that increasing transparency will benefit everyone, but will most benefit those sections of fandom to whom we are currently most opaque and with whom our outreach is weakest.” — Ira said that lack of understanding of the org’s structure seems to underlie many internal and external problems, and suggested expanding the committee descriptions on the website with more information about how the org actually works (possibly including charts and such). This evolved into a discussion about the importance of committees describing themselves, interdependencies among committees, and the importance of chairs identifying and grooming their successors.


No items.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:50 UTC.

Minutes approved by the Board on July 12, 2011.

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