Initial 2010 Candidate Chat Transcript Now Available

The first of our two OTW elections chats was held at 0200 UTC 21 October, 2010. We’ve posted a transcript and screenshot for any OTW members or supporters who missed the event and would like to catch up. You can read the transcript or view the screenshot here, on the OTW Elections website.

Francesca Coppa apologizes for missing the chat and will post answers to the questions posed there in the comments to this post on the OTW website.

edited to add information on Coppa

  1. fcoppa commented:

    Q: What do you most want to see the organization do in the coming three years?

    A: It seems to me there’s three really big things we have to do – that were always in the gameplan to do – that we haven’t done yet and MUST do.

    First, as the others have said, getting vidding and art into the archive; I have been the board member most vocal about housing vids (vids in particular, because vids are the most threatened form of fanwork at the moment; fan art has a pretty stable home at deviantart). I was the primary architect of the roadmap and I just this month took Amelia Ryan of ADT with me to the Open Source Video conference so that we could talk to software developers and have an idea of how video’s going to be handled in html5 etc.

    Second, we need the AO3 to be able to back up huge archives more or less automatically. I myself am the caretaker of a huge, crumbling fanfic archive; as former chair of Open Doors, I also maintain a list of other archives whose archivists need help because their software is degrading. We’re talking thousands and thousands of stories, here. ADT is working hard on this – Yuletide will be a test case, and hopefully the SSA, DSA, etc will soon follow—but this is a crucial part of our mission that must happen sooner rather than later.

    Third, we need to get the social networking features of the AO3 together. Amazing as it is, the AO3 was designed to have features that let you follow certain authors or certain fandoms so that it will actually keep you in contact with people you like and deliver fanworks to you.

    After these three things are done, IMO we can seriously sit down and have a beer. 🙂

  2. fcoppa commented:

    Q: What are everyone’s ideas about outreach in particular? this can be an issue because there’s something of a norm of “don’t walk up to someone’s space on the internet and start pushing your agenda,” so it can be a hard line to toe.

    A: This is totally an issue; as chair of communications, I can say that this is a whole lot harder than it looks. You can’t actually elbow your way into fannish spaces and be like, “hey, look what we’re doing, we’re really cool!” Because also, in fandom, if people haven’t already heard of you already, they’re likely to think you can’t possibly be able to do all the awesome things the OTW is actually doing.

    Honestly, I’ve found the best way to approach this is from the other direction – to think about what kinds of services fans need (or what infrastructure they need to throw the kinds of parties they want to throw) and then build them. I think if you build good features, the communities who need them will come and use them.

  3. fcoppa commented:

    Q: It sounds like we’re discussing exploring the demographics of our existing members — what about non-members?

    Non-members or non-fans? We’re always trying to bring fans who are not currently members or users into the OTW by creating projects or features that they’ll like and want to use. Approaching non-fans is easier, actually; as chair of Communications I’ve worked closely with groups like the EFF,, the Center for Social Media, New Media Literacy etc. OTW now has a good relationship with groups like these, and they are more and more inviting us to the table for discussions and policymaking. We’re also working to apply for grants: I’ve helped write a couple (fwiw, it usually takes a few years to get a grant: grant-giving organizations want to see that you’re serious!) And we have new great people who are experts in this sort of thing working with us.

    But honestly, this isn’t the same thing as a donor base or a volunteer base: we’ve found that the people who really care – who care enough to donate or personally do the work to make sure that zines are saved and fanfic is archived and video has a safe home – are fans.

  4. fcoppa commented:

    Q: I have a very different question, this one from my interviewing days: what is your style when dealing with a personnel issue (a volunteer who isn’t doing what she promised or has done something that needs to be corrected)?
    again as an all volunteer organization that communicates almost entirely in text messages, we have special needs
    and it’s hard to get right!

    A: I sometimes tell the people I work with that we’ll—that OTW will—take anything you can give us, and that’s true. There are some people who have the time & energy to do lots of work, and some who can do only a little, and we need both kinds of staff! We also have a lot of different places to slot in – you can be board, you can chair a committee, you can be staff, or you can just volunteer without being staff – sometimes when a person wants to do something without a big commitment I suggest they just volunteer (I have a lot of vidding volunteers for instance who are on a mailing list but are not staff.)

    The problem happens when people aren’t delivering on something they promised or you were counting on them for something, and then honestly, I’ve always found it best to say, ‘look, if you can’t do this work, that’s okay; let’s try to set up a situation where we can benefit from the work that you can do’ without making people guilty or whatever. The other thing is, people have phases and rhythms, and I think that the OTW has tried hard to create a culture that understands that you might have intense periods of work and then periods where you need to step back for personal reasons, school reasons, family reasons, work reasons or whatever.