Board Meeting Minutes: July 13, 2011


July 13, 2011, 1:00 UTC

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


  1. The minutes from June 21 were approved via e-mail.
  2. Hele shared the results of the recent internal survey of Translation volunteers; she and Allison reported that Translation and VolCom will be meeting soon to discuss the results. One finding was that Basecamp does not work well for volunteer translators, so the committee is seeking a more lightweight tool for managing to-do lists. Allison reported that VolCom is in the early stages of developing similar surveys for other internal groups.
  3. Allison reported that the external survey being coordinated by International Outreach continues to develop.
  4. Allison reported that the internal forum is almost ready, pending a software upgrade to enable comment notification e-mails. It will be rolled out slowly, probably starting with translators.
  5. Allison reported that a timeline of the strategic planning process will be ready for the Board soon; Cesy has volunteered to be on the strategic planning workgroup and has been doing stellar work on the pre-planning. Allison asked that we send her (Allison) the names of anyone who might want to be part of the working group.
  6. We finished talking through the list of diversity ideas, as follows:
    1. “Brainstorm for Yuletide now — obvs we don’t make these decisions, but if the mods want to have a conversation about it, suggest a mini-mod w/anime experience, or a focus group that looks at fandoms, or a brainstorming post to create tags in advance?” — There are several interconnected issues here. Rachel: “I’d like for us to find a way to balance our desire to help the Yuletide mods make decisions which won’t upset large sectors of fandom with our need to let Yuletide be its own thing which is run in its own ways (and to distinguish between Yuletide and the AO3 in general more clearly for folks).”Internally, we need to start early on Yuletide work to avoid a time crunch, and we need to ensure that there is open communication among AD&T, Tag Wrangling, and Support about issues that will affect their work, such as code changes, known bugs, and workarounds. Externally, we would like to make it clearer to users that Yuletide is its own thing, and is distinct from the AO3 in general. Hele has talked with the AD&T chairs about this, and Zooey is planning a public post on the topic.

      Ira suggested that one way to increase the separation in users’ minds might be to host some of our own, official events, like April Showers, with the reasoning that it would be easier to distinguish between “official OTW thing” and “NOT official OTW thing” if we *had* official OTW things. Hele, Allison, and Kristen voiced concern that this would be too much extra work and would fall outside our mission; there is a difference between a challenge like April Showers that collects/preserves extant fanworks and a challenge like Yuletide that creates new fanworks.

      Rachel suggested that we make a post listing the many different challenges and fests which have been run via the AO3 as a reminder that the AO3 can be a place where challenges happen, and we’re thrilled when mods use our archive and our code in this way, but each challenge has its own mods and its own rules and so on. We all liked this idea.

      Hele cautioned that no matter how much we disclaim, lots of people will still equate Yuletide (and YT policies, and YT wank, etc.) with the org; we will probably have to resign ourselves to at least some persistent confusion on the subject.

      Allison noted that we tend to talk about Yuletide in official AO3 channels more than we talk about other fests hosted on the AO3; Ira suggested that announcements of heavy traffic, possible downtime, etc. could be made without specifically referencing Yuletide as the cause.

      We also discussed the problem of some staff and volunteers spreading misinformation and responding defensively to public criticism; we concluded that the Board should send an internal message to discourage this. Main points: don’t jump in to answer a question if you aren’t sure of the answer; when you see public criticism, try not to take it personally. Kristen will draft a message and we will plan on sending it in September or so.

    2. “Work form for filk; filk mp3s in the TO3. work form for vids, art, etc! (i.e. all types of fanworks that weíre interested in hosting, or at least giving a linking platform to)” — AD&T is working on this, although progress will likely be slow because of their heavy workload. At present, we can simply keep an eye on it and make sure to include all kinds of fanwork types when the time comes.
    3. “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 has posted a call for more volunteers on the Fanlore Dreamwidth community, and has asked Communications to crosspost it to the OTW blog.
    4. “On the transparency front: how about a monthly post written by a Board member (different person each month) talking about what we do and how we do it? Obviously weíd have to take care not to breach confidentiality, but we could speak in general terms about what weíre working on, and each of us could offer a different insight into what itís like to serve the org as we do.” — We all liked this idea but thought that monthly posts might be too much given everyone’s workloads. We decided to try doing them occasionally without stressing ourselves out trying to meet a specified posting schedule. Kristen offered to go first. Allison suggested that we keep the posts brief or break longer posts into multiple installments.
    5. “Regularly open chat with at least one staff as host, widely announced (in the Public Room), as a place for questions and feedback about anything in the org. Ideally, staff from all committees with interest in the venture would participate. Measure seeks to increase transparency and ease outward and inward communication.” — This would generate additional workload, and several people felt that it could be supplanted by the open house/training chats that have already been proposed (AD&T, Tag Wrangling, and Translation have all expressed interest in offering public chats). Allison suggested that we begin with the open houses and open trainings, which have a clearer aim. Relatedly, Hele would like to try having another discussion in org-wide, and welcomes suggestions of possible discussion topics. She will tentatively plan a discussion of the open house idea for the next org-wide.


  1. Confidential discussion about a fan who has received DMCA notices. The matter has been referred to Legal.
  2. Hele will draft a post about the diversity brainstorming list and identify items that need to be run by the relevant committees before it is posted.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:40 UTC.

Minutes approved by the Board on July 20, 2011.

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