Feb. 18, 2013: Roundup of Meta on AO3 posts. Several posts by OTW members linked in OP. Thread highlights: Discussion of the hosting of uncredited art and "the hemming and hawing response to people wanting their art taken down"; anger over one OTW member's claim that it's up to users to "lead" the OTW before the OTW can adequately support them; snide remarks about said victim blaming; nonnies headdesking about the OTW not having built up the functionality to support all its content and being quite blithe about that fact, with speculation on why that is; one nonny saying of this post, "So elf (link when Elfwreck page is up) is looking forward to AO3 getting its first C & D orders, I guess?"; and more links.
Feb. 20, 2013: another OTW board member leaves. The board member is Julia Beck. OP asks, "Where are they even going to find people to run for board positions when a) they aren't accepting volunteers so aren't creating a pool of available people and b) the board members they have either don't go to meetings, get burned out, or leave?" Another nonny notes that Beck was "the ninth person in the last two years to leave or resign from what was, until recently, a seven-person board." A third recounts their dismaying experience in offering to volunteer for the OTW.
Feb. 21, 2013: OTW Strategic Planning Report 1: Tag Wrangling. The OP links to a PDF, part of which another nonny copypastes for everyone. Copypasted areas of contention are "Tag Structure," "Communication," and "Staff Volunteer Frustration." Some key quotes:
- "Several answers implied that they believe users would use fewer 'Tumblr style' tags if the user base understood how AO3 tagging worked."
- "There were several mentions that there is a distinct perception that the Tag Wrangling team is “not as important” as AD&T [Accessibility, Design & Technology]."
- "Board: Staff members referred to communicating with some Board members (who were left unnamed) as 'belittling' and 'upsetting'. It was also mentioned that sometimes the communication is easy/“great” depending on the Board member."
- "Organization politics: The perception on behalf of volunteers and staff is that organization politics often interfere with getting things done. Several people mentioned believing that “higher-level” organization members have their own agendas."
- "None of the 62 respondents had left Tag Wrangling and then came back to volunteer as a wrangler again."
- "What sort of changes, if any, would convince you to come back as a wrangler?" Answers include "Less 'smacking down' discussion."
Mar. 21, 2013: In a thread titled "The AO3 Fairy Appears To Grant Your Wishes," a pissy AO3 coder shows up to blame users — oh, excuse me, "fucking users" — for not giving coders complete bug details. Despite AO3's known problems with email notifications.
Mar. 31, 2013: Is the blurb on the AO3 Frontpage misleading? Wank about whether other fanworks besides fanfic should be included on AO3.
Apr. 1, 2013: OTW Volunteering update. OP links to this AO3 admin post. Another nonny criticizes a commenter for complaining that expecting volunteers to be on a schedule, and to show other signs of commitment and professionalism, is somehow harshing their fannish squee.
Apr. 8, 2013: AO3 fundraiser fanfic auction. OP links here and asks, "Some people on tumblr are organizing a fanfic auction to fundraise for the AO3. Thoughts?" One nonny links to the OTW's statement on this and notes, "Can't and won't endorse anything but welcome the monies, short version."
In this Apr. 10 follow-up thread titled "More on the non-profit nature of the ao3auction," the OP links to the Tumblr blogger's replies to people who "have questioned the ethics/legality of having a fanfic auction for the AO3." One nonny snarks, "'I have a Bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law' is not a qualification for speaking about legal issues, wtf." Another observes, "I don't think they've really thought the implications of what they're saying out very well. The fact that other people profit from copyrighted goods doesn't make profiting from copyrighted goods any less illegal."
Apr. 9, 2013: (Headdesk) Oh, AO3. I love you, but tone deaf. So tone deaf. OP shakes their head over receiving a form email that includes the words, "Please enjoy this automated response as a sign of our appreciation."
Apr. 23, 2013: OTW publishes report on Volunteers comm which is the second of the OTW's reports from the Strategic Planning Committee. The OP links to a PDF and offers the following summary: "It seems the VolComm suffers from high burnout and also some feel that their work is not valued by the rest of the organization (even Board members; there are a fair amount of complaints about individual board members), as well as communication issues." One nonny asks,"Why would people think the HR unit of an organization is doing 'useless' work?" Another nonny asked whether "disrespect by members of the Board" was an issue with other committees as well. Multiple current and past volunteers confirmed it as an issue faced by other groups in the OTW.
Jun. 22, 2013: Report on OTW Open Doors Committee, which is the committee that oversees the archives and the preservation of fanworks. The OP links to a PDF. One commenter quotes the report as saying that from 2009-2011, one staff member systematically isolated the Open Doors (OD) Committee from the rest of OTW by stymieing their communication with other parts of the org, which "stunted" all projects OD worked on during that time. That staff member has since left, but "the impact of their problematic behavior" lingers.
One nonny remarked, "Frankly, I'm completely unsurprised that it dragged on for three years. The OTW board members seem to be big on theory and dreams and academic credentials, and light on actual knowledge of how things work in the real world. Mix in a repeatedly stated goal that everyone has to be happy and you have a recipe for disaster. The OTW is riddled with people with grand schemes who don't play well with others, and the Board's reaction to such people ranges from simple heads-in-sand to insisting that all is well because the progress reports look good."
An AO3 volunteer replied, "YES. THIS. The head-in-sandfuckery and the refusing-to-do-anything without at least three different opinions on whether something is problematic or potentially offensive. And after they've been repeatedly assured that NO THIS IS OKAY, they 9 times out of 10 just go, 'Oh, well, why change what's already working? Let's just leave it alone.' And NOTHING FUCKING GETS DONE."
Jun. 29, 2013: OTW Diversity Statement. OP links to the statement and adds, "This blurb has been 'years in the making.' I'm wheezing. Other opinions?" Nonnies obliged, of course, with comparisons to Dreamwidth's diversity statement, the opinion that it was "hilariously awkwardly worded," and an assertion that it was "lip service."
Jun. 29, 2013: The OTW Board and accountability. OP writes, "So the more I see from the OTW this year (and the more I hear from those who volunteer from the organization), the clearer it becomes for me that things are getting worse - not better." They add that the board of directors has "actually structured things in such a way that there isn't any real recourse for anyone," volunteers with complaints are silenced by the threat of removal at any time, and directors can't even be removed in any practical way.
Another nonny snarks, "Well, this is the same Board that chose not to take any action against those Board members who were missing more than half of all their meetings, but decided instead to add Board members so they might still be able to have a quorum while allowing the ones shirking their responsibility to continue to do so."
Another laments that "The organization loses SO MANY PEOPLE who are amazingly skilled and brilliant simply because they get sick of putting up with the ridiculousness of it all or they get completely trampled on and abused by the Board because they had an opinion, idea, or method of doing things that didn't mesh with their (often unwritten) expectations. It's demoralizing to be appointed as a chair of a committee in one's area of experience and then be continually told 'No, you don't know what you're talking about, we're in charge so we're going to do it our way.'"
Yet another nonny, who was in the OTW at that writing, replied that said dynamic "is happening right now to at least two committees. :(" Another OTW member added, "In one case the board is give a free pass to someone who is wreaking havoc left and right, because they only see the pretty outside cover, not the growing disaster that's underneath, and they brush aside any proof of the problem." Other nonnies chimed in with bitter comments about "[Novik stans"] and Nikisha Sanders.
Jul. 3, 2013: Help Me Understand the OTW Complaints, OP begged meme. Meme obliged with lots of explanations. This list continued into the next comment. Another nonny said, "The OTW in general has a tone problem with making pronouncements from on high about what Fandom wants. Most of which have nothing to do with me and my opinions." Aside from issues that have been mentioned in previous paragraphs, there was criticism of AO3's hiring process, of militant OTW cheerleaders, the org's martyr complex in combination with its refusal to take advice, and the "aca-fan" emphasis and tone-deaf language of OTW's official communications.
Jul. 8, 2013: OTW announces new Board President and VP. OP links to the announcement of Ira Gladkova as the new Board President and Cat Meier as the new Board Vice President. Also referenced is the resignation of Maia Bobrowicz from the Board, announced Jun. 12. One nonny expressed being "quietly optimistic" for Ira as the new President, but another pointed out they'd had similar hopes for Nikisha Sanders and were apparently disappointed by "her recent criticism reactions."
Aug. 11, 2013: Was the OTW a good idea? In which OP asks, "For the critics though, do you believe the OTW is a good idea, but not well implemented, or are you opposed to the concept of the OTW in general?" Opinions were mixed, with some nonnies outright saying they were opposed to the principles of the OTW, some thinking it was a good idea but poorly executed, and others expressing indifference. Reasons for opposition included the idea of speaking for fandom "as a whole," the AO3 being less of an archive and more of "a political or philosophical statement instead," and the opinion that it is too focused on "western slash fandom." A common trend in statements of support was mention of the OTW's legal work.
Aug. 12, 2013: OTW looking for volunteer...applications? OP links to a recruiting post and asks, "Does this give anyone else the heebie-jeebies?" Others confirm that this is the new recruiting method for the OTW and that it's what other nonprofits do. One nonny even suggests that the OTW "experimenting with a different intake procedure doesn't seem like a bad sign." Also, in this thread, a nonny reports, "Last I heard, OD was down to one person, with someone, who had been doing a majority of the work, getting fed up with the untechnical Board of Directors trying to constantly interfere with the way things were put together and quitting."
Oct. 28, 2013: OTW elections coming up? OP, who had recently quit the OTW, wrote, "….even if things were not the greatest pre-2013, they've absolutely become much, much worse since [Novik] left. The current board members don't know what to do without someone to blame all the problems on but refuse to take any personal responsibility for actually trying to fix things. Scapegoating doesn't work when your scapegoat refuses to hang around and continue to be the victim of vindictive bullies. Though I hesitate to label all these other board members as 'academics'. Doing so would indicate they have a level of intelligence that I haven't seen from many of them. And their behavior - both in terms of personal interactions and the way they dismiss all logic when it comes to the technical work of the OTW - defies the idea of any sort of academic thought being a part of their process…"
Dec. 8, 2013: OTW Volunteer Committee chair takes issue with elections post. Renay responded to this post, calling it "a misrepresentation in public of my committee's work." While nonnies agree that the Board has problems, one former insider who had worked with Renay wrote, "I'm too tired of Renay's mantra of 'I'm the solution, never part of the problem' to read all of it."