Five Things whetherwoman Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with whetherwoman, who volunteers on our Volunteers & Recruiting committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As a volunteer on the Volunteering & Recruiting Committee (VolCom) I help recruit and onboard new volunteers for the OTW, keep records up to date for current volunteers, give or remove access to OTW-wide tools, and process volunteer retirements. VolCom also helps improve processes for all of these pieces, which might look like helping to improve training documentation for other committees or answering questions about volunteering from potential or existing volunteers.

My favorite thing about being on VolCom is that I get to see a little bit about all the many projects and committees in the OTW. We have over 900 volunteers, and the amount of skill, time, and enthusiasm people bring always makes me feel optimistic about fandom. I love getting to interact with volunteers from all over the world in all sorts of different fandoms and all sorts of ways of interacting with fandom.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

During the week, I’ll usually check on chat multiple times a day, because I am attached to my phone like that. Sometimes I can answer a question or emoji react to something someone else is working on. If there are some quick cases, like filing applications or recording a volunteer hiatus, I might work on some of those in the evenings. On weekends I have time for projects that require more focus, like running recruitment for a committee, auditing documentation, or—my favorite–-streamlining and automating processes to speed us up in the future.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I’ve been aware of the OTW since it started, and I’ve had an AO3 account since 2009. I started volunteering with the OTW as a tag wrangler in 2020, which attracted me because I love organizing things and also because AO3 tags are frequently hilarious. VolCom work is also a lot of organizing things, although less frequently hilarious. I wanted to join VolCom to get a broader view of all the different things the OTW is doing—although we don’t do work that’s publicly visible, it’s one of the few committees that interact with and support every part of the OTW. Fundamentally I’m a database geek, and sorting and reporting on data is how I have fun. I love that I get to combine my data management self and my fannish self!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

The past couple of years have not been boring times for the OTW! There have been some stressful periods due to both external attacks and very necessary but difficult conversations about the internal culture of the OTW. Overall, I’ve always found other volunteers to be super thoughtful, supportive, committed people, which helps tremendously during difficult times.

On a slightly less serious note, I sometimes find it challenging to keep my mouth shut! Being an OTW volunteer in general and on VolCom specifically means I’m sometimes aware of issues or initiatives that aren’t public knowledge yet. If I see someone on the internet talking about the OTW and getting something wrong, it’s hard to not butt in and correct them! Arguing with people who are wrong on the internet never ends well, though, so I stick to venting in private. :)

What fannish things do you like to do?

I love to read and write fanfic! I’m multifannish and both my bookmarks and works on AO3 are a whole mishmash of different fandoms. Right now I’m most fannishly active about romance novels by KJ Charles, and I lurk a lot in MDZS/CQL.

Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

Five Things

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